Thursday, March 27, 2008
It is not my story, though. I was already a feminist before I got married, and though the Guy disdains the term, he was, too. Consequently, we didn't go through much of that struggle to conform to stereotypes. We only encouraged each other to defy them.
The last sentence, though, could have been written for us!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
A touch of Economics
Over two cups of tea.
It proceeded over packets of milk,
Issues of a magazine
And a bike ride through crowded market streets.
It strengthened over the birth of a newsletter:
The prolonged but joyful labour
And the shared triumph.
It was nurtured by unspoken but understood feelings:
The grief of one,
The steadfastness of the other.
It was sundered by blind resolve,
By poisonous tongues,
By inadequate trust.
It survived months of distance ,
Of feelings of betrayal.
It revived through one sudden wish:
By one taking back her destiny into her hands,
By the end of silence.
It blossomed through the reaching out of both,
The building of trust,
The discovery of each other – and themselves.
It heightened in the meeting not just of minds,
But of souls
And of bodies.
It was marked by a recognition by law,
It lives on through honesty,
Through their need
And their happiness.
- We started talking - really talking - in the college canteen, where I remember the Guy once gave me a long lecture on Chanakya... Somehow that's one of my fondest memories....
- For our summer training, he worked at Amul researching their milk distribution, and I at Outlook trying to boost sales. Both of us needed to visit various markets and talk to shopkeepers. It was a hot, weary summer, and one day we decided to go together. Neither of us were from Delhi, and it was easier to find addresses together: plus I got free rides!
- We actually first began to meet and talk because we were made the team for bringing out the newsletter. It took us months of work and overcoming bureaucratic obstacles before the newsletter was finally out: and by the launch we were the best of friends.
- My father died, and I was in shock for months. The Guy stood by, then, trying to make sure I was never alone: he seemed to sense, instinctively, that solitude was hell for me right then.
- And for reasons that I didn't probe well enough then, I stopped talking to him.
- We got jobs in different cities, and didn't bother to keep in touch. He wrote me one email that I deleted. We didn't even have each other's phone numbers. Then, after a couple of months, we exchanged a few emails, and talked one day, before deciding to call it quits again.
- It had been months since we had talked, but I still missed him, I still wanted my friend back. And then I decided that I would have him back. And I got his number and called him. It was the end “of silence”, not “of the silence”, because since then, there has been no silence or loneliness in either of our lives.
- We talked on the phone for hours each day. We were better friends than we had ever been. And we began to realise that we were heading towards something bigger.
- And then he came over to meet me, for one glorious weekend. And soon after, I moved to his city.
- We are both atheists, so we wanted our marriage to be just a recognition by law. But after the registration, we still had the ritual offering of mangalsutra and sindoor to the bride, because our families desired it. And with our family and friends endorsing our union, with us being seen together as a married couple, our marriage gained societal acceptance as well.
- We need each other to be happy: without the other's presence life seems, not impossible, but meaningless.
I had written this over a year ago, but could find nothing to add or change.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
It started out as a normal weekend day, enhanced with the realisation that it was the beginning of a longer weekend than usual. Having promised to give ourselves lots of rest, we went to sleep in the afternoon after watching Ice Age on DVD.
When I got up, something was different. The hot summer day had changed into a lovely cloudy day with cool breezes blowing. It was such lovely weather that we had to go out, and we did, without knowing where we were going. We executed normally cumbersome errands with pleasure: the sheer pleasure of being out in such weather. We drove around endlessly, talking incessantly. The flow of conversation was uninterrupted even after we got home; interrupted only when I insisted I was hungry and we moved to the kitchen to cook dinner.
We watched a bit of the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Don on TV, and I was impressed by the man’s performance (especially as I’ve never been much of a fan). And then we ate, and talked, and went to bed early.
But couldn’t sleep. Maybe it was the nap we’d taken earlier, or some magic in the night… I was too restless to stay in bed and got up to play Age of Empires on the laptop. The Guy relaxed with a book I chose for him. Two hours later, we finally decided to sleep. And soon changed our minds.
It was after 3 a.m. when we got up to have Maggi noodles and watch a Hitchcock DVD. (And what is it that nothing other than Maggi is nearly as satisfying as a midnight - or early morning - snack?) The movie was somewhat disappointing, but still interesting enough for us to watch till the end.
It was about 6 a.m. when we finally went to bed, and the sky was infused with a dull red glow.
Why does it feel adventurous and youthful to have been up all night?
And is that why I wasn’t very perturbed when the Guy triumphantly discovered my first grey hair as soon as I got up in the morning?
Thursday, March 20, 2008
When I feel awful, it seems unthinkable to go digging into the dark caves of my past, when it seems hard to even get through the day.
When I feel good, oh, how can I deliberately dive into darkness?
I am reluctant, because I know that such a journey will leave me feeling drained and weak.
I am reluctant because these are scars that still hurt: and I am to probe them?
Wouldn’t it be best to try to forget it ever happened?
But then, how would I heal?
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I walked on a beach that seemed to have no end, on soft warm sand and inviting waters.
I saw seashells form pretty patterns on the ground, and was too lazy to bend down and pick one up.
Even the hot sun, the afternoon sun that I flee from, seemed friendly as it winked at me from a bed of wet sand.
Palms outlined the beach that had just enough people on it for comfort, and nowhere enough to make a crowd.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
This week, nothing has changed.
But everything seems dim, dark, distant.
A demon has cast its shadow over me again.
I sleep, but get no rest.
I awake, but get no solace.
I see scratches on my face.
Is the demon inside me?
Turning me against myself,
Against all I hold dear?
That will be defeat indeed
If I lose what I love.
Even the warm embrace of the Guy
Seems cut off from me
As if I am trapped
in a glass cage.
How do I fight what I cannot see?
I suspect the demon must have
sprung up from my own life:
so I must go back into my past to fight it.
Into all those dreary, distant days
that I would rather leave behind.
Where do I get the time (I have work, you see)
and effort (weakened as I am already)?
But I am going on holiday.
Surely no demon would follow me
To the blue sea and white sands
I shall be at peace there.
But what if it is waiting for me
When I return?
Will the fresh memory of wet sand
Help me fight?
Thursday, March 06, 2008
She had just sat down with her cup of coffee when the phone rang.
“Hi, darling… No, I’m not home, I’m out in the mall… What’s that? There’s so much noise here. You can’t imagine the crowd! It’s like the whole city is celebrating the weekend in this place… Not alone, sweetie, I’m with my friend Pratibha…. Yeah, she called up and suggested going shopping. I was getting so bored at home, I thought it was a good idea. There’s a new bookstore here – a huge one. I had lots of fun browsing through books… Don’t worry, I only bought two books… We’re sitting in the café now.
“How has your day been? Ah, you’re going for that movie! Have fun, sweetie.
“No, don’t worry, I’ll be careful to go home before dark… Yes, I’ll leave soon… No, she doesn’t drive either, I’ll take a rickshaw. I’ll SMS you when I get home, don’t worry!
“Yes, bye, have a great time!”
She placed the phone on the table and took a sip of the delicious coffee. Then she noticed that Shantanu had a quizzical look on his face.
“Don’t look like that,” she said.
“I’m surprised,” said Shantanu. “I took you to be an honest person.”
“I am,” she sighed, “as far as I can afford to be. But I can’t just lock myself in my house all the time and not talk to people. My boyfriend is the kind of guy who has a fit if I tell him I’m working on a project with only male colleagues. If I tell him I’ve been to buy vegetables, he’d probably ask whether I went to a sabjiwallah or a sabjiwalleeh.”
Shantanu shook with laughter, indignation forgotten, while his friend calmly finished her plum cake.
Monday, March 03, 2008
The heat oppresses me and weighs down my body. I find it hard to drag myself out of bed: yet the heat makes it uncomfortable to sleep. At night, I have disturbed dreams and wake up with a parched throat. I spread myself on my side of the bed, carefully arranging myself so that the breeze from the fan reaches as much of my body as possible and yet making sure I am not touching the Guy. I hate going out during the day. I only stepped out of the house once this weekend, and then, it was the thought of having ice-cream that tempted me. I am cranky: I sound and feel like a rusted metal door.
Assam, where I grew up, was sultry. The heat was balanced by an oppressive humidity that made people sweaty and lethargic. I sweated, I felt lazy, I showered frequently, but I slept like a log at night. Here, my skin feels like it will crack open, and I am thirsty right after downing a glass of water. The heat stands still, waiting ominously, unlike the stormy weather of Assam. And there, my mother welcomed me with a cool glass of lemonade or slice of watermelon: here, we order in a hot greasy dinner because we are too hot and tired to cook.
I tell myself, I have it easy: an air-conditioned car to ride to office in, an air-conditioned office to shelter in all day, and the fact that I live in Pune, not the hottest of cities. I wonder how I ever survived in Delhi. There, I lived in a tiny room with no ventilation or air cooler. (The hostel managers, in their infinite wisdom, decided to shut off the AC that summer.) I remember dipping my bedsheet in a bucket of water in a desperate attempt to cool my bed, and waking up a couple of hours later with the bed as dry and hot as ever. I went walking around various markets in the afternoons for my summer internship in temperatures that were well above 40° C: I did get unwell, but only mildly.
After that summer, I felt like I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Now, though, I would rather buy an AC than build character.