Of love, hate and raindrops


As the rains are dominating the background music of my mornings these days in New Delhi city, my mind has turned more contemplative than usual. For one, I have found it the toughest to write and/or blog again. Complacency, of course, is always the most visible reason. But there are demons I am fighting that are preventing me from picking up the pen again. Lest I pour out feelings I have blocked so well in the past couple of weeks.

As I stand in the balcony worrying about the supposed demons, the wind blows and the raindrops splash on my face. I wonder aloud about Suri, a cat I raised (not alone but sometimes, it did feel like he had no one but me and I had no one but him). Introducing Suri, who he was and what he means to me is rather a futile exercise for my brain as I organise my thoughts on a windy morning. But the one thought that refuses to leave my mind is this: was my Suri, really, as pensive as a cat. Or was he too smart and evolved from all these cliches and similes?

If Suri were around, I wonder what he would wonder. Lying and lazing on that balcony. Staring into oblivion. And sometimes, even, leching after the pigeon on the opposite fence. Would he think it’s too mundane out there and just sneak back inside and curl on the bed? Or would he try to gnaw on one of my bags that haven’t been blessed by his teeth marks? Well, maybe none of this. Perhaps he would rather relieve himself and simply pee on an old rag or an abandoned mattress on the floor rather than the litter box filled with fancy kitty litter granules made exclusively for him (No. Despite whatever he may believe, it certainly is designed for exclusive feline use). The wind makes you want to pee, he’d argue. With his large, green eyes. And soft, rhythmic purrs.

Suri.png

Pic credit: @soorishoonnya

If Suri were around, he would not let me even type this much without creating some nuisance or the other. He would slyly slid inside the blanket and campaign for a strategic posture between my legs. The 0.05 mm space is what he would want to claim as his own. And he would fall asleep in a second rendering me helpless to move my body or position lest he wake up and create the commotion all over again. I have lost count on the number of days my legs went numb protecting Suri’s right to reclaim his space. I have also lost count on the number of times I have smiled every time this has happened.

Bansky once said: “They say you die twice. Once when you stop breathing and the second, a bit later on, when somebody mentions your name for the last time.” As I shut my eyes and let the rains tell me their story, I think of Bansky and what prompted him to say this. Did he lose someone he loved? Or worse: did he lose a cat he loved to hate and hated to love, just like me? My relationship with Suri was so complicated and convoluted, I lose my chain of thoughts thinking about it. We have been through so many opposing emotions together: love, hate, affection, annoyance, joy, guilt, beauty, envy, calmness, chaos and more. And in exact equal measure too, I believe. It is hard to concentrate on the rains. Suri’s enigma continue to fog my mind.

A couple of days ago, I purchased a photo frame to (supposedly) immortalise a particular photographic moment in Suri’s life. Suri died over a month ago and, ideally, I should have done this then. It isn’t a time taking exercise. The market is nearby. There are plenty of pictures to choose from. And it doesn’t cost a lot of money to do it. But it took me the longest time to act on this long pending task. I was not procrastinating, I realise today. I was still mulling over Bansky’s words. Trapping him in a frame and putting him on my wall seemed to confirm that this would be the last of him. Would this be his second death? When all that survives is a single moment? 

The rains haven’t stopped. They will probably answer my existential queries some time later. But I am still fighting my demons. Demons that paralyse my fingers as I type my most vulnerable thoughts. Demons that make me think if Suri has, indeed, died twice. And demons that also make me wonder if he had eight lives before. I was guilty of hating him when he was alive. I am guilty of loving him even more when he isn’t around. Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Or is Suri trying to tell me that that’s just another pseudo-literary rationale? Maybe the raindrops will tell me. I am waiting. . .

Of intimacy, closeness and building familiarity


I have been reading a lot about intimacy these days. Mostly, articles about building solidarities in movements, trying to save a failed marriage by building a strong female friendship with a gal pal, understanding the complexities of various kinds of friendships in our life—whether inside or outside of wedlock—regardless of sexual orientations and gender identities. I have also been sitting, for a long while now, on reading Purple Hibiscus, a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, that explores familial relationships closely that also has intimacy and closeness at the center of its theme. Much of these readings and writings have propelled me to wonder about intimacy in my own life. How they have changed as I grew up. How they have shaped me as I moved on. How they have made me a presumably wiser person.

I have always been wary of having a “best friend”. I have always found it to be limiting, I think the reason I began thinking like this, right from an early age, is probably because of my upbringing in a joint family where you never have one best person. Your best person changes according to situations, needs and wants. When you want that chocolate bar that your father just won’t buy for you, it’s your uncle who becomes your best buddy. When you need a signature on a test paper that you fared badly in, it’s your sibling who comes to your rescue and emerges as the new buddy. When you know your mother is super mad at you, you seek the comfort of your aunt. My best friends kept changing in my family. And by the time I grew up to understand what “friends” are—you know, the ones we choose and not the ones we are born into—I knew I’d never have a single BFF. And I was right.

My mother recalls the story of one such BFF. She claims that I have never been so clingy and attached to one person my whole life. Apparently, I faked stomach aches on days she was absent in school because those days just felt sad and lonely without her. I also ended up actually feeling sick when she wasn’t around. We ate together, read together, played together. Hell, our moms exchanged recipes too. I was 8. And I have very little memory of all the things we did together, which according to my mother, are aplenty. I don’t remember how we grew apart. She changed schools, perhaps. Or maybe was shifted to another class section. But that was the end of what I would call my first “female friendship.”

Nearly about at that age, I also formed my first male friendship. I was 10 maybe, and attached great value to terms like guy friend and girl friend. I also strongly believed that they are very different primarily because of the genders involved and nothing else. This boy was so dear to me and I to him that we always flaunted the fact that we were people of opposite sex and yet friends. Nothing less, nothing more. Even at that age, having “just a friend” of the opposite sex was seen kinda cool by some and kinda lame by many. But that didn’t bother our friendship. I have the fondest memory of having a blast at each other’s birthday parties. And then, we drifted apart. His family was transferred to another city and that was the end of it. That ended my first “male friendship”.

So many years later, I have a handful of friends who are my “besties” regardless of their age, sex, gender, class, caste, region, religion, country, ethnicity and/or sexual orientation. But the reason why I recall those two specifically is because they are the ones that taught me intimacy. They are the ones I remember most vividly (is it possible that I recall it all so well because of the fact that they are no longer in my life and there’s nostalgia to blame?). I remember their faces, their comforting presence around me and the ease with which I shared my personal stories with them, however minuscule or insignificant it may have been at that time. I remember feeling intimate with them at every level of my relationship with them. And it is a feeling I cherish even today, despite time taking its course on them.

So many years later, I have also become wiser, learning to ignore the unimportant, forming my own judgment of what and who are important to me, mastering the art of not-giving-a-damn. Does age do that to you? I am not sure but I look forward to growing older and more (in)tolerant to people. I have lost friends, resumed friendships, gained newer ones and some have simply rusted away with time. But reminiscing about the two strong intimate friendships I have had as a growing child, I have understood what to expect in a relationship when I am getting intimate with someone. And contrary to popular belief and common assumptions, intimacy isn’t about just a physical connection. It’s purely about comfort—in being who you are, in not trying to pretend, in being relaxed as a person and in wanting that comfort some more. An intimate relationship is as rare as it is beautiful. And it’s also something that perhaps comes with an expiry date. If it hasn’t expired yet, it’s worth holding on to! Here’s hoping that the year 2016 is filled with intimacy, closeness and affection for you! Love and peace xoxo

muah!

I end this post by sharing this image that seals a friendship I formed during my Europe travel days. This picture is dated December 2013 and was clicked at a small railway station in South Germany when we were on our way to a mesmerising ride through the Black Forest. 🙂 

 

 

Disciplined Desires


The lady hasn’t brushed her hair in three days. Work hasn’t given her the luxury to enjoy such a mundane activity. Her life has become as mechanical as she had anticipated the day she signed the company contract. Every day, she gets up at 7, narrowly escaping burning her hand while boiling the milk, picks up breakfast on the way from the roadside idli shop, as she heads to her office after commuting for 45 minutes. She works around ten hours every day, with some lunch and dinner thrown in between, and is back home by 10 pm. She’s usually too worn out to calculate if she worked overtime.

It’s Saturday today. The lady has a rare weekly off. And that’s how she has had an additional luxury—the opportunity to meet him. The man. She hasn’t seen the man in weeks now. He is as busy as her. Or so he claims. She reminisces on the days when she used to dress up, spend hours thinking of the colour of her bindi and wipe out that extra eye-liner that spread at the corner of her eye, minutes before meeting him. Today, her hair looks messy and she has no bindi; she hasn’t had the time to buy a new sheet since the last one got over a month ago. Where is the time? And does he even care how she looks? Should he at all? The lady brushes aside such rhetorical questions as she waits for him patiently at the station. Again a luxury. No, an indulgence she hasn’t had the time or energy to appreciate in the recent past—awaiting the man’s arrival in anticipation.

The man has been busy. At least, that’s the rationalizing he has relied on in the last couple of weeks. February has never been an easy month. Not because it is the conventional month for the proverbial blossoming of love—he’d frown upon such a morose assumption. It is the month when his students at the school have exams. He has hundreds of erroneous papers to correct and stamp their future careers with an A, B+ or a D-. If he is unlucky, he gets the job of invigilating exams during this time. It annoys him to be in a class not to teach but to merely watch sixty students vomiting together what they gobbled up a night before on the answer scripts. It makes him question the methodology of his teaching. It makes him wonder if he can even teach anyone at all. It makes him question his own skills and whether he has any that can facilitate a stable livelihood. Thirty-three isn’t a very cheerful age for a man who neither has a steady job nor a steady wife. Or even a girlfriend. His mother worries he might be gay. Well, he might as well be. That would solve a lot of his problems, anxieties and worries.

The lady tries to vaguely remember the discussion they had the last time they met. The man had then said he really liked and enjoyed the company of a certain woman. But he wasn’t sure if she was the right one for him. He had never been sure of anything. Not even himself. He was a brilliant singer but he barely cared to facilitate that potential. He ended up being a teacher because he frankly had no idea what else to do after having acquired his graduate, post-graduate and doctorate degree. His ease with the campus life had made him so comfortable in a student’s environment that its insulation became too reliable to let go. But when age and poverty hits you, you turn tables around. He loathed the idea of working for someone. His pride was too big for that to ever happen. He enjoyed the company of kids. He adored them. He believed they were the only species left that still possessed unadulterated innocence. He may not be sure if he ever wanted a wife but he definitely wanted kids. With whom didn’t matter for now. Maybe with the woman he has been thinking a lot about. The one about whom he wishes to talk of. To the lady who is waiting patiently at the station for him. Is there an irony here? He is more excited to talk about her with the lady than being with the woman he thinks he likes a lot. Perhaps he has feelings for the lady? Na! He dismisses that thought immediately. The lady would never be interested in a lost soul like him. In any case, why was he giving the lady a thought anyway? He is losing focus, he tells himself as he systematically tries to arrange his thoughts.

As he approaches the station, he catches her glimpse from the corner of his eye. The lady’s hair is messy. She isn’t wearing her bindi. And she looks tired. The company is sucking every ounce of beauty out of her, he infers. No. Wait. Why is he giving a damn about her beauty? He’s here to tell her he thinks he loves another woman. Not to wonder what the hell happened to her orderly hair and why has she suddenly separated from that little red spot that lightened up her forehead. She is texting someone. Probably me, he muses and feels a strange sense of glee at that thought.

The man arrives right on time, as the lady flashes him a friendly smile. After the customary exchange of greetings, he plunges right into “business”. He rants about how much he thinks he likes this woman. And how tormented he feels when the woman refuses to reciprocate his feelings. As he talks, he notices the lady’s obedient eyes: trying to absorb every tiny detail he shares. Why isn’t she wearing her eye-liner today? He enjoys taunting her for having spread them at the corner of her eye. He revels in pointing out her clumsiness. Today, he has been denied that little joy. As he talks of the woman, he pierces his gaze into the lady. She is too aloof. He’d never be happy with her. And no, he does not want the lady. It’s the woman who he likes, damn it. The woman. Not the lady. The lady is too sophisticated for his taste.

The lady listens patiently to his story. She likes to listen. It is an easy task. Easier than talking, she believes. As he finishes his tale, she waits for a couple of moments before saying anything. It’s a lot of information to process for the day. Things have certainly changed between him and the woman since the last time they met. Well, time runs, she muses. At least things aren’t stagnant. That’s a good start. she convinces herself. She has to convince herself before convincing him. It doesn’t work otherwise. She is no expert on relationships. But a divorce inevitably teaches you stuff. She is occupied today in work because that keeps her divorced from her ex-husband and his thoughts. Drowning in work is better than drowning in suffocation.

He doodles ‘anarchy’ on his jeans as she lectures him on love.