'Forever' is a wonderful word. I am beginning to see the beauty of it.
But the skeptic in me still prefers to dwell only on 'Today' and 'Tomorrow', for now.
Maybe you can help me redefine my Todays and Tomorrows.
Maybe you are the reason 'Forever' makes me smile.
Maybe.. just maybe.. you are my Forever...
I fear calling you that, cause you probably don't feel the beauty I do.
The beauty of my Yesterdays, Todays and Tomorrows all merged into that one wonderful word whose meaning has eluded me till now...
Maybe you will feel it one day too.
But until then, I shall dwell only on Today and Tomorrow.
And make you my reason for every one of them.
'So who exactly is a neu.. mmmm...niro...oh..olo..guest'? - the little 5 year old next to me, questions.
'The who'? - I ask back.
This conversation between Adi and I was from the waiting room at a hospital nearby. I was there with my parents for my dad's Orthopedic check up. Adi arrived with his mom and a huge cast on his right hand. The room was packed with patients from every walk of life and of every age group. Before long, Adi and I got over the introductions and soon got ourselves deeply engaged in conversation. It had already been over a 2 hour long wait and from the looks of it, certainly going to go on for at-least another 2 more hours, if not more. For the likes of us who arrived early to get the initial token numbers, sitting that long on an empty stomach was torturous enough. I couldn't even begin to comprehend how much worser it would be for the tiny 5 year old with the cast on his hand. He was waiting eagerly for his appointment so that he could finally be rid of that heavy addition on his hand and be free for his adventures. To make the wait more bearable, his mom and I decided to keep him occupied so that his anticipation remains under control. As part of that plan, I engaged him in conversation. Something I really love to do. Especially if the age group is less than 5!
Going back to the conversation. In response to my question, Adi points out straight ahead to the door in front of us. Beside it, in big letters, was the name board for the consulting neurologist in the hospital.
'Oh! Neurologist you mean?' - I question him back.
'Yes. Yes. That one. What does he check'? - He is excited.
'Do you know the nervous system?' - I wasn't sure how else to begin to explain a neurologist to a 5 year old.
'No.' - He replies. 'I don't know. But next time, I will break my nervous system and not my hand'. He looks triumphant.
Both his mom and I and pretty much everybody around us, turn to give him a look.
'But why Adi mone?' - His mom joins in now.
'Because there is no rush to see that doctor. We can come and go soon amma. We won't have to wait this long right.'
And that is how the little 5 year old managed to break the ice in the tightly packed waiting room, giving us all a hearty laugh. Taking the cue, adi's mom takes the little one down to the canteen to get him something to eat. My parents find likeminded acquaintances nearby, to share the woes of today's hospital management systems and the frequency of hospital visits given the increasing age number.
Once again bored and badly in need of stretching my legs, I walk up to the window, well aware that I was bidding goodbye to the chair I held on to so dearly for the past couple of hours. Anyways, in a room filled with mostly 50+ aged orthopedic patients, I figured it was selfish of me to hang on to a chair for so long. Preparing myself for the longer standing ordeal in front of me, I was just about to check if my mobile could come to my rescue, when I noticed her walking towards me. Not walking actually. Limping. Literally taking baby steps. What I covered in the fraction of a second, she took minutes to walk. I wasn't sure if I could extend a hand to help her walk faster, maybe. But she seemed determined to cover it on her own. So instead of extending a helping hand, I decided to keep an eye on her till she reached where she intended to finally go. She didn't look much older than me. Except for her gait, which made her look like somebody in the late seventies.
'Hi'. She smiles. In my determination to keep an eye on her, I forgot that I was actually staring quite unabashedly at her while she was walking. Maybe that's what prompted her to smile at me when she came near.
'I am sorry. I didn't mean to stare'. I apologize to her.
'Oh no. You are fine. If at all anybody has to apologize for staring, it's my husband sitting back there trying to save my seat for me. If he had his way, he would have walked with me till here, but I insisted he save the seat instead. I cannot stand for long anyways. Just stood up for a stretch.' - She explains.
I look at her husband. He didn't seem much older than me either. But the pained look on his face gave him shadows that aged him much beyond his actual age. He was still intently looking at her. Ready to be at her side at the tiniest hint of discomfort in her. And she turns back to give him a smile. He relaxed a little.
'I made him write me a vow at our wedding you know. The for better or worse kinds. You know.., in sickness and health and all that blah blah.' she continues. 'But we didn't know that the trial would come so early in our life. Anyways, so far he's sticking to his words you know. I think he really meant it when he said that, even though he just flicked the words from the internet'. And her face lit up with the brightest laugh in that hospital room ever.
'Well. You are damn lucky then.' - It was my turn to smile at her now.
'I am.' Her face turned grave again. 'I used to fight with him that he never told me I love you's often enough. But now, I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world'. Her eyes on the verge of tearing up now, she hastily mumbles about feeling tired and wanting to sit down and turns back. In a jiffy, he is by her side, escorting her back to the chair. I watch the husband wife duo make their way back to the chair. Once settled, she gives me the faintest hint of a smile and turns her attention to the mobile in her hand.
It was quite amazing, how, in that sea of people in the room, I, a random stranger, was suddenly the one to know something so deep in another.
Maybe we need to start writing vows at our weddings too. Not the cheesy I love you or To the moon and back kinds. But real ones. Real ones that we remember when life throws a curveball at us. Real ones that make us feel glad about having that hand to hold on to or that shoulder to lean in to.
And maybe I really do need to stop writing about meeting random people and their lives !
I have always envied people who can sing, dance or paint. After pestering my parents, they did attempt to get me trained in all these arts in my school days. Needless to say, I was quickly back at square one. The closest I have come to rendering my music talent is by lip syncing at group songs during annual day celebrations at school! Dance certainly fared much better, leading upto professional training in the Kathak dance form, but the usual stigma of being an adult and juggling a career led to it being eventually still remain just a dream and incomplete. As for painting, that's ventured only upto the extent of liberally using the paint for the teeniest bit of art on my forehead I like to call my version of the 'Bindi'.
Why is this suddenly featuring in my blog? - Cause the agenda in my long career break, also included mastering a new talent I have never tried or tested before. After much contemplation, I zeroed in on the supposedly easy 'Gardening'. It runs in the family and I proudly realized that everybody closely associated with me had what is lovingly called the 'Green-est thumb'. Thus inspired, I too embarked on this journey.
Now, three months into this venture and with the depressing realization that not only do I not have the green thumb, I have inherited the dreadful 'Brown thumb' from some unfortunate ancestor nobody seems to have a clue of. My six year old nephew fared better at sprouting grams as part of his school project than I did with trying to get my simple creeper grow out of the soil ! As is habit, I decided to do what I can do best about gardening - Write on it. And here we go.
It all began when a visit to my grandaunt's house in Kannur had me witness her harvest bumper yields of organic home-tended greens. Her tiny stretch of garden included space for spinach, okra, ginger (My favorite kind - The mango ginger), tomatoes, chillies, papaya, snake gourd and many others which I am unable to name, but tasted like heaven when cooked. What peaked my interest more was the fact that all this was entirely organic (Yeah exactly ! I had my eureka moment too). Since she was the closest accessible expert in this topic, I earnestly questioned her on the do's and don't's, ambitious to be the new name in organic veggies in the neighborhood. I even dreamt of the day when I would be supplying the harvest for free to all my neighbors and bask in the glory of my noble deed!
For starters, I was given a root of ginger by my mentor as it didn't really require much tending. It was the season of monsoon here and the monsoon rains are torrential in Kannur !I managed to dig up a small patch for my gardening venture and plant the ginger root. Content that the monsoon was doing it's job of enriching the greenery in my patch, I relaxed. Maybe a bit too much relaxation. Cause by the end of four weeks and plenty of travels later, when I set out to inspect my patch and search for the new leaves from my ginger plant, I was horror stricken to realize that a gazillion plants had taken up the spot in my patch, so much so that I couldn't even identify where the root had been planted. In vain, I dug up pretty much the entire patch with no trace of the root! For a minute there, I was hopeful that my mom had actually used my first harvest. The look on my mother's face when I questioned her about it was answer enough for me.
Once back at home base and with the imposed restrictions of being in a tiny apartment with the tiniest bit of balcony space, I resorted to planting the sacred Tulsi and the easily multiplying money plant (Let me be honest here -The prospect of getting money, even in the name of a flower less plant, while jobless, certainly seemed all the more appealing then!). With the added knowledge from the vast wide web, I also decided to be an enthusiastic conversationalist with my plants. Every morning, I eagerly rushed to the balcony and very vocally requested them to not let me down this time. A new leaf, the tiniest hint of life in them, that's all I asked for. I discussed the fluctuating gas prices with them. I enlightened them on the plight of the Syrian refugees, the current governance in our country, my take on the extravagant onam celebrations in the city. I even read out inspirational quotes from the numerous Facebook updates in my news feed. Other than the fact that my neighbors didn't have to bother reading the newspaper in the morning (All thanks to my live feed on the balcony), my plants decided to die out on me and turn the nastiest brown anybody could ever lay their eyes on !
Dejected, I was contemplating starting one more round of the venture, this time purchasing the soil and manure, when my parents unanimously declared that they would find some means to have me arrested for my multiple attempts at murdering harmless lives (Read - plants). I consented and reluctantly gave away all (but one) pots to the security guard who keeps watch downstairs. One pot, still with the decayed remains of the Tulsi, I handed over to my mom and challenged her to fare better.
I resist going to the kitchen these days - My mom safely kept the pot in the window corner on the counter there and it's a thing of beauty to look at, especially with the first rays of the sun streaming in and washing the leaves giving it the greenest glow ever.
Maybe this is a wrong time to convince my folks to get me a dog or a cat or atleast a fish bowl !
Sigh!! I am back to working on my 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle which has been lying strewn around for years now. Atleast it doesn't take a green thumb to finish a puzzle. So much for going green ... Errr.. growing green !!!!!
Edit note - September 16,2015.
Adding a picture of the now flourishing and back to life Tulsi plant I almost killed. Thanks to my mom's green thumb, it has a new lease of life!
'Are you asleep' - She asks.
I feign sleep.
She persists. 'Have you slept'?
It's our routine. Mine and hers. Every night. I tell her good night at-least an hour before her favorite soaps in the regional language are done for the night. I love to read and then fall asleep with my headphone still playing my current favorite tracks. I wake up somewhere in the middle of the night to settle for my proper sleep. And she knows this routine of mine, better than anyone else.
Yet, every single night, we replay the same scene.
She with her persistent questions which I know will not stop until I actually give the usual 'Ammaaammmaaa' (Meaning grandmother in the local dialect).
'Yes. I was sleeping. And now you have me wide awake.' - I crib.
And as is habit, she doesn't wait for my response, ever. She begins by telling me about the tormented daughter in law, the beast of a mother in law, the coward of a son, the innocent orphaned girl, the shrewd sister and every other single character in the relentless soaps aired on television night after night. The same spiteful, 'supposedly' heart wrenching story.
I tell her, every time - 'You sure have some great amount of patience to actually look forward to watching this lame excuse for a soap every evening. Sit with me one day and let us watch f.r.i.e.n.d.s. We can at-least have a hearty laugh.'
'Which friends house are we going to' - She questions me back. And I smile. My smile in the dark which only she sees.
'Stop teasing this old lady' - She continues.
'So what's our topic for tonight's midnight discussion'. - I ask her.
This was our game. when the rest of the world goes to bed in preparation for a tomorrow, this granddaughter grandmother duo use the time to reminiscence the past. Sometimes, even way back upto 60 years ago. It hasn't been long since we embarked on this.
Earlier this year, when I finally resolved to put into action, my big move, of the many things I knew was sure to come my way in life, I wasn't prepared for this renewed bonding with my maternal grandmother. Until then, she was grandmother. The grandmother who cooked and cleaned and swept and wept. The grandmother in her pale starched cotton sarees, perpetually loving to be in the kitchen and conjuring up dishes which could summon an army a mile away just by it's aroma. The grandmother who's still only slight grey hair, smells of the home made herbal coconut hair oil. The grandmother who impatiently checks the clock every five minutes past sundown to make sure she doesn't miss the beginning of the long line of soaps in her favorite channel.
So when I had the option to choose one of the two spare bedrooms in the house, I asked her hesitatingly if I may share the room with her. To be honest, the intention was selfish. It is the only room in the house with a direct view of the night sky (Read - the beautiful unpolluted star studded sky and the occasional full moon) from the bed. She was more than happy for the company.
I complained to her after the first night in the room. That she kept talking at length and didn't even let me get a wink of sleep. It was pure frustration on day one. Day four was acceptance and day seven was compassion. Compassion for this new woman I began to see. In a new light.
The woman who transformed from an old slow moving grandmother to the jumping-running volleyball star in her school days, the young blushing bride fighting against all the odds in her new life, the new mother totally unaware of how to handle a baby, the mother who spent all her days and nights toiling to feed and clothe her expanding family, her phase as a mother in law, the delighted grandmother holding her first grandchild, the widowed wife mourning the untimely loss of her pillar of strength and support. The stories never progressed after that chapter in her life. She admits unhesitatingly that she ceased to live from that day on. It's only been mere existence since then. Invariably, most nights she recounts how that one day disrupted and turned her entire world upside down. How since then, she hasn't even had a permanent roof over her head.
As the days passed and the night stories told and retold progressed, I began to realize the depth of the emptiness in her life. How the simple act of recollecting a life gone by is making her feel more of a person. How the only thing she ever really needs in life now is a listening ear. I tease, I probe and sometimes even accuse her in response to her narration. She smiles each time. Her response to everything.
By daylight we are what we are, generations apart with a long era separating her life from mine. And after sundown, we are the same. She, with a past she fondly remembers and a future she dreads. Me, with a past I repent and a future I look forward to. This perhaps, is the magic combination for night long conversations. And yet, I cannot start the charade without the usual drama of cribbing on being rudely awaken from my feigned sleep. By my ammamma.
Years later, when I am stuck with dementia and Alzheimer's and everything else that is in trend in that era, I figured I would need something to remind me of the life that has been. If not of everyday, atleast the ones which matter. Thus inspired, I embark on making a note of the lessons learned in my half (presumably) of a lifetime so far. The good, the bad and the ugly.
- It always takes the wrong person to inspire you to do the right thing.
- It is but, natural to think that as you age, your thoughts and actions are smarter. But never forget that your parents have aged and gotten smarter too. They never stop making sense of the situation. Atleast not less than you. Ever.
- When somebody has been heartless enough to hurt or break you more than you can endure, do not hesitate to cut them out from your life for good. Wish them well, but never forget. It may take years to forgive too, but do not let them be around to hurt you the same a second time. Sometimes people do not hesitate to repeat the same mistake over and over even when they say they understand you. Everybody is selfish enough to ignore your pain over their gains. Maybe you will be too.
- There isn't anybody without shortcomings or helplessness in their lives in most situations. But when somebody cannot be honest with you about it, do not assume your presence makes a difference. It will not even be missed even long after you are gone.
- Blood is not thicker than water. Random people at different phases of my life have literally saved me and helped me become who I am now. And not all of them are related by blood. Vice versa too.
- It is never an offense to love or to dream of a life together. But never make promises you cannot honor. Or even actions that reek of unspoken promises. Lot is at stake. Hearts are precious to everyone. Especially when it's your own.
- Make money. Plenty of it or atleast enough to own the ground beneath your feet. Because people come and leave your life for want of it or lack of it. The only thing that kept me going all along was a career affording me my individuality and an opinion. Every woman needs a financial security to keep her dreams alive.
- Children, babies, music and pets are the best remedy to any problem. They can do away any scar, no matter how deep it runs.
- Sometimes the best ever feeling is to be hugged so hard you beg to breathe. Or to wake up next to a warm little baby sleeping in the cradle of your arms. Or a smile from your parents. Or a wonderful spread of your favorite things to eat. A happy stomach is a happy heart too.
- Every time you fall down, take your own time to get back on your feet again. Because once you are up, you should never fall down again for the same reason. Once is a mistake, twice is stupidity.
- Always embrace solitude. If you don't find happiness on being on your own, you cannot expect somebody else to find happiness in you.
- It is perfectly fine to lie and stare at the ceiling for hours because you cannot convince your body that to get up will not hurt anymore. It is equally fine to think that making your morning coffee is the biggest achievement of your day.
- Relationships are meant to be made or broken. But you are not.
- Never give up on your dreams.
- Always muster enough courage to apologize to people you have hurt. Never leave anyone with unanswered questions or incomplete phases. Karma is a b***h indeed.
- Never assume responsibility for somebody else's lack of character.
- Love is always action. Everything else is just words.
- You are never perfect. But to the right person, you will always be the perfectly imperfect better half.
- Expect nobody to always reciprocate your feelings for them. Teach yourself to respect their freedom of expression too. But hate yourself if you let them take advantage of your words or actions.
- It is always possible for somebody who meant the life to you to suddenly just become a stranger who knows everything about you.
- Never wait for clarifications or explanations from people who refuse to acknowledge their part in it. Be gracious enough to save them the trouble and walk out.
- The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman's love with no intention of loving her. Forget your heart and follow your head when it advises you.
- Do your bit to give back to the society you live in. There are people with real issues, issues bigger than just broken hearts and failed relationships.
- Make your life a journey. Have a companion who complements the journey. It is better to be single than being with the wrong person.
- Age graciously, with maturity. Appreciate the finer things in life.
- Always have a hobby to make you forget the monotony of daily life.
- Learn to fall in love with the beauty of your own smile and laughter.
Sister - The best friend god gifts us even before we have a chance to ask for one.
That is how you came into my life. Without my asking.
And that is how you made all the difference in my life.
I don't have memories of you teaching me to ride a bicycle or having pillow fights.
I don't remember us making plans for a lazy weekend afternoon or discussing what clothes to exchange.
You didn't teach me to make my hair or do my makeup.
We never discussed our favorite authors or heroes.
Mom didn't teach us her secret recipes.
We didn't share fancy stilettos or branded jeans.
You didn't teach me how to paint my nails in bright colors.
We didn't hold dreamcatchers over the beds or enjoy ice-creams at midnight.
You weren't around for any of that.
But you were there when I got my life smashed the first time around. You held me while I let the tears flow uncontrollably. You gave me the strength to get back on my feet and move on. To let the past behind me and to look forward to a future. You made me believe that there are still good people out there in the world - Good people who can see and understand pain. Good people who are not out to take a broken person and break her more.
But most importantly you taught me to believe in myself. To know that no matter what happened, it is not a reflection of my personality or character.
You made me strong to say what I believe and do what I say. You inspired me to have a roof over my head and the ground beneath my feet. You made me believe that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. That my dreams will get wings again.
You with your fancy musings - 'Experiences are the best lessons you can gift yourself. Learn and move on. If you don't find the right person, at least you will have figured out who is wrong for you'.
And now I come to you - Broken for the second time. Can you heal me again? My dear sister - Say you can heal me again. Just this one last time. Once more.
Because I stand in front of you with your worst fear. Unlike the first time, I don't hate just the world now. I hate myself now. I hate myself for letting my guard down. For letting trust take over me. Over my better sense which should have prevailed. For having been a fool again. A fool to just be tread over. A fool to be silenced again.
You with your fancy musings again - 'Once was a mistake. Twice is stupidity'.
You refused to let go of my hand. Again. But this time you did it with an uncertainty which scared me even more. You didn't shell out any optimism. You merely listened. You didn't even shed a tear. And I couldn't stop mine.
For all the things I don't remember, I do remember how you always cried with me even when I tried to be brave.
To not see you do that now breaks my heart more. Have I failed you more than you fathomed?
Your still cold hands in my palms drains every ounce of my life out of me. Who is going to heal me now?
My need to be held overwhelms me. One last time. By you. To have you tell me that I will tide over this too. And maybe we can finally get around to getting these men out of our lives and start over our childhood again. To make all those memories we didn't have.
But you just lay there. Draped from neck to toe in the color you detested much. White.
I know you are not liking it there. This I know about you.
God didn't ask me before sending you to me. And now, he didn't ask me before taking you away from me either - When I needed you the most.
I cannot wait to see you again. On the other side. Soon.
Maya - An illusion. That which makes you believe that the nonexistent exists. That which gives a reason to dream. A chance to feel happy. Liberated. To open up. To share.
She was maya - the enchanted and the enchanting. She believed the illusion could lead her from the ugly to the beautiful. And she believed and believed. Blindly. Until the ugly turned uglier. And uglier.
The beautiful was never there. It was never promised. It was just a ruse to lead the blind. And maya, the blind, followed. Led on by the illusion.
Maya was no longer an illusion. Maya was the devastating truth. And devastated.
Maya was not selfless. Maya was the selfish. Unquestioned and unanswered.
Maya was the failure.
Maya was never an illusion. Maya was never meant to be.
Only Maya hadn't known it.
Maya was truth denied. Maya was conscience hidden.
Maya was a facade.
Maya was just a name. Not even a face.
Maya was just a body. Not even a heart.
Apparently disclaimers are not doing their job these days! Every so often when my writings are held against me in my real life, I go tired of iterating and re-iterating that I am not jotting my everyday life in here.
No I am not the love struck paris kind of girl who walked hand in hand with someone. Nor am I the girl in the blue shirt waiting for the arrival of someone from across the oceans. Yes, I am the one who wakes up to sonic memories and so much more. No, I do not go on dates and fuss on the food. Yes, I celebrated my 30th birthday all alone. No, I did not have a young widow as a neighbor growing up and the nonexistent friend did not inspire me. No, I do not have a 4 year old son Aditya.
I just happened to have a hard-to-give-up love for writing and an odd enough crazy imagination to go with it. What I lack is the hard-to-attain 'I don't care' attitude to throw a deaf ear to all these baseless accusations I get my way because of what I write here. Especially when it plays a major role in wrecking lives, when I am evaluated based on my musings here. When people assume they know the real me because of what is here. When even words spoken faithfully are weighed against typed phrases in my blog. When I am denied a life because my blog speaks a different story. Because a woman who voices so openly cannot make a good home or be a good role model? And not to mention a lot more...
Anita Nair is my current author craze. I have read and re-read all her books. My favorite remains 'Mistress'. But each time I read the book, I don't see Ms. Anita Nair in the words. I see only Radha. And Shyam. And Chris. And Koman. I don't judge the author or her personal life based on the stories she writes. They are just mere people she gave birth to. And I have the ability to distinguish between the two. Her real life and her life of words.
Admitted, a blog isn't as sensational as a book. But authors are no different, whether they publish a book or a blog. We share a hard to resist passion for words. So next time you feel the urge to judge a book by it's covers or an author by their words, DON'T. For all you know, they might just be your ordinary-next-door-struggling-to-cope-everyday person.
It is a tough fight to not give up on the one thing you love so much in life and yet, to face the music which ruins everything else in your life because of it.
She adorned the perfect white.
Crystal clear and white.
With millions of sparkling diamonds
carelessly flung all across.
She glistened brilliantly in the sun
Like nothing could shine brighter.
She shone brightly even at night.
The moon shone off her, too perfectly.
I watched her for days together.
Envied her for all the beauty.
But envied her mostly for the brilliance.
And when I thought she was looking no longer
I stole a handful of the shining gems
and wore them on my finger.
It felt cold.
But I finally got my diamond ring.