Monday, September 08, 2014

Writing it Right

I'm supposed to be writing everyday to prep myself up for some long term writing (courtesy my good old blogger friend who encouraged me to with his kind words), but it's really tough to write when you have to depend on a ridiculous netbook that inserts the cursor into the wrong place in the middle of the wrong sentence when you least expect it. I can come up with several more excuses for doing this that I bloody well ought to but one must admit to one's own limitations.

Every time I come across a brilliant blogger's work, I just step back in envy and admire them from a safe distance. Of course, I do the obligatory liking and commenting and sharing but I wish I could have had their ease with prose. The way they turn words into flowers and shake the petals all over the reader so that you feel welcomed and warm and feel this soft glow inside that powers you through the day.

It annoys me no end when my mind conveniently blanks out a word I was just going to use to capture an expression just when I've reached its rightful place in a sentence. I hate it when I find that my mind has suddenly decided to act like English is a foreign language (when, unfortunately, it's the only tongue that comes naturally to me) and refuses to allow me to use verbs and adjectives as they should be used. It always amuses me that after having read a particular author's work I take on their persona and emulate their style in my next piece. A regular Pretender, I am. It's like how you really get into the mind of the main character of a TV series or a book so that even as soon as you've turned it off or put the book down, for the next couple of minutes, you're seeing your world through their eyes. After watching Orange is the New Black I was drawing parallels with her prison world and my world. Prison won, by the way.

So this week I have to try to push myself to write more. Particularly since my supply of American TV shows has dried up until I can get hold of a decent broadband connection. Prepare for more writing experiments to assault your senses.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

But are you sure?

What do you mean, he never really loved me?
That this love is unrequited yet
How can you say my experiments with love failed
And that now I must live in regret?
Where is the rainbow, you can keep the pot of gold
Why can't I see clearly as you do
For in my despair why do I keep yearning to behold
That which I'd sought in every romantic fantasy
I knew love was a myth perpetuated by the ancients
Who knew well that herein lies the key to procreation
But I'm a mere mortal
In the face of these hormones and emotions and chemical dreams
That wreak havoc with my senses
And turn my brain to putty
So I hang my head with shame; some role model this
She sought to change the world and was somehow lead amiss
I can't even decide if I'm worthy of derision
Hate overcomes me, welcome back sweet frustration

How not to talk to a man

Growing up with an only sister has sufficiently stunted all my relationships with the male species. Neither of my parents were ever around much as they were working parents, and I strictly wasn't allowed to go out, or talk to 'boys', which lead to even more awkward encounters with the opposite sex as I grew older.

For one thing, I never know what to say to a man. Are you supposed to directly flirt with them and laugh at all their jokes? I've found this method is not very convenient in some situations - especially if you're meeting with your friend's husband for the first time or being interviewed for a job by the man you are attempting this sort of behaviour on.

And after the first exchange of names and designations, what happens next? I generally try not to make eye contact, so I don't appear too clingy or needy or strange and either mumble things under my breath or talk a little too loud for everyone's comfort. In one case, I remember laughing my head off at a joke I'd imagined this new male acquaintance said, and how I even tried whacking him (playfully, as I recall) for this imaginary joke (which it appears he hadn't cracked at all). The worst part was he was a priest-in-the-making.

After you manage to fumble your way through and not shake off the man despite yourself, what is the expected way forward? To pretend to want to be friends even if there are vague indications that the new companion would prefer otherwise? I was actually flirted with for an entire evening by a man I'd just met, taken around town with him and our friends and it actually took him burying his head in my lap at one point and asking me if I liked him for me to 'get it' that this was no mere friendship this man was seeking.

And if you do actually manage to get through the embarrassing first couple of dates, is the expected behaviour that you continue to be an empty headed girl who looks pretty, keeps mouth shut and laughs at jokes? Or is it OK if you actually speak your mind? In an attempt to avoid conversation completely with my second boyfriend during one of our first dates, I chainsmoked. Dying of lung cancer seemed infinitesimally better than scaring off the guy by something odd popping out of my mouth. For which, of course, I received a lecture on the dangers of smoking. Well, at least I was nice.

Therefore, I'd like to apologise to all the men I've either ignored (because I was too scared to say something), or inappropriately flirted with (not giving me that job really showed me) or misbehaved with as a result of my naivety. It's simply because I didn't know how to act otherwise.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Avanti's Best Day Ever.

Dear reader - please bear with me. This is my first real attempt at writing fiction of any kind with the express purpose of writing fiction of any kind. There's no plot, or subplot. I just heard a bunch of kids playing in my street and decided to write about it. Please excuse the Tharoor-esque or Bhagat-esque expressions you may find. I really just wanted to see where my keyboard would take me.
"Do I have to drink all of it?" she asked, crinkling her little brow up earnestly.

"You will if you still want to have skin on your bottom" said her Paati in her mildest tone. Paati's tone ranged from deafeningly loud to just loud. The abundance of bitter medicine seemed to have put her in a good mood today, which is why her instructions to her grandkids were only audible to her immediate neighbours as opposed to the whole street.

"But it smells funny. And I don't see why I have to drink it if I'm not sick."

"How dare you talk back to your elders and betters, you wicked little child. Vasanti, get in here! See how your child is talking back to her Paati!"

"What's all this now," said Vasanti as she came in and looked at her little daughter miserably holding a cup of bitter medicine at arm's length. "Your daughter is incorrigible. She's getting worse by the day. No manners and no obedience either. Doesn't know what's good for her. Does she want to become sick and die like those children in the news? Does she, eh?" screamed Paati in her usual shrill tone. "My poor little girl. You don't have to drink it if you don't want to right now. But you must after your play time, ok?" said Vasanti, kindly. "Oh thank you, Amma. You're the best. Bye Paati!" shrieked Avanti with joy as she streaked off to play with her friends. She glanced at her mother's thunderous expression and attempted to sooth her in her gentle voice,"Now Amma, I know she has to take it, but we can't really force the poor child, now can we? Don't worry, you can force it down her throat later this evening." Her mother merely muttered about ungrateful grandchildren as she moved to the TV room to watch a serial or two to calm herself down.

Avanti was ecstatic. Today was a very important day for their gang. Murugan from next door had promised to show her his father's shop which had been ransacked by robbers two nights ago. Now that the police had finally gone away, taking with them the lingering crowds, they could finally conduct their investigation in peace. Her brother, Kishore, accompanied her, as he babbled on about footprints and clues that the police had claimed were nowhere in sight. The kids were confident they'd find something; Kavitha, another crony of theirs, watched every episode of CID with her parents and already had several ideas of her own related to forensics and the criminal mind.

They had all agreed to gather at the scene of the crime. Kavitha and Murugan had already reached several minutes ago and were impatiently waiting for them, thanks to their delay owing to Avanti's odious Paati and her beloved bitter medicine. "Well? Did you bring the bag and the notebook and the pencil like I'd asked you?" said Kavitha who liked to cut quickly to the chase. Avanti proudly held up the bag before her and they all walked sombrely into the shop. Murugan's father's shop was really a little stall that had recently acquired three walls around it. His primary customers were autorickshaw drivers who'd stop by to buy paan masala and beedis from his store, in between fares. The robbers had made good with all available beedis and paan masala packets. They'd even stolen the jars of Re.1 eclairs from the counter that Murugan's father would happily foist on to people in lieu of actual change. The profits were kept in a locked drawer under the counter, so the robbers had cleverly made off with the entire drawer. Murugan's father's weekly earnings of Rs. 3,000 were in the drawer as he hadn't emptied it that Sunday, as was his wont.

The kids poked about in the tiny square room for a bit, digging through every corner. Avanti was in charge of looking for footprints around the shop front, and measuring them with bits of string. This was no easy task given the small crowds that surrounded the store the previous day, after the break in had been detected. Kavitha was in charge of dusting for fingerprints, because she was the only one in the gang who knew how to, owing to her aforementioned CID training. Murugan and Kishore eavesdropped on anyone who usually hung around near the shop, to determine if they had seen or heard anything that night. If they'd gone and asked them anything outright, they'd likely as not have been yelled at and or pulled up for being too smart for their socks, so they wisely used a more indirect approach to source their information.

At the end of an hour, Kavitha had talcum powder on her nose, neck and most of her dress, Avanti was thoroughly covered with dirt from when she'd bent over a footprint too far and fallen onto it face first, and the boys were bored to find that all anyone around wanted to discuss was Trisha's latest movie and how agreeable her various body bits were as evidenced from previous movies.

A little disappointed, the kids gathered once more to report their zero findings and discuss what they could do next. When of course Murugan had the brilliant idea that they could play with the puppy his cousin had adopted a week ago. They all ran off, fast forgetting the robbery and their detective work. Avanti ran the fastest - this was going to be the best day ever, with or without Paati's bitter medicine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cashing in on the pain

I hurt myself today to see if I still feel

One more meaningless hook up. One more false friend who won't even bother to check in on you after your life's been torn apart - even if they lived next door. One more empty relationship with a hollow person who takes sadistic pleasure in torturing you. Isn't that what you deserve anyway?

What have I become

You've lost all sense of self. Your esteem is so low it's nowhere in sight. You're questioning everything you ever believed in. And the answers don't look so great.

Everyone I know goes away in the end

My single serving friend will be done with me soon. So will my one time lover. So will anyone else who walks in to take a look at the train wreck that is my life. Stop and stare awhile and click your tongue and pity me. Then go on your merry way.

I will let you down. I will make you hurt

For I'm just as bad if not worse.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Because I'm ...

Small snatchings of happiness just happen, really. Finding a barnacle encrusted set of algae covered rock in the middle of a Mangalorean beach, when what you'd initially set out to do was to just get out of the house. Turning into your friendly neighbourhood mallu restaurant and being greeted by steaming hot pazhampoli and sweet milky tea. The ever welcoming lake next door, which if you can ignore the smell, is an invigorating spot for birds and people too. Soon, these too shall pass to make way for more little snatchings of happiness. I hope.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

All that glitters...

For years and years she'd searched and searched. Finally, one day she found the one. It glowed so bright and beautiful and strong, she was sure it was worth more than anything she'd ever seen. The valuers she took it to scoffed and said: It's false, can't you see, the shine is temporary. It's a plain old ordinary stone; you're wasting your own time and ours.

'Surely, they jest', she thought to herself. 'They're jealous and don't want to give me fair value but I'll prove them wrong - I'll keep my precious stone with me until I can get to the big city. They'll give me a fair price there.' And so she saved and stored up every penny as she worked in her little field. Thoughts of getting to the big city consumed her whole life. No more did she have time to idle and spare doing the things she loved: basking in nature's beauty and staring up at the clouds in her little field. Now, her life had meaning, she felt - a real true purpose at last!

So she worked all day and through the night, ploughing the field by day, sewing garments to sell by candle light. She worked till her back ached and her fingers grew sore. She collected the pennies till she could count them no more. She wouldn't stop until there was enough to take her there, to where, she'd find the valuer who'd realise the gem's worth and pay. The money from the gem would be plenty to pay for the ride home and the rest of her life, anyway.

But all that work and no rest had finally taken its toll; one day she was hit with a fever and cold. She thought it was nothing to worry about and bravely soldiered on, intending to sell off her harvest, and garments she'd made. But her body protested against this display, as she moved to the door, her legs gave way. Somehow she pulled herself into bed and there she stayed and there she slept.

None came to see her, no doctor passed by; she'd long since shut out every one who'd laughed at her foolish campaign. The night passed but the fever raged on, she was too weak to even stir. In her dangerous delirium, she reached out for her prize. The little stone for whom she suffered and struggled and in which she took so much pride.

She could barely focus but what's that she could see? Was it her fever or it did it not glow as brightly? She turned it over in her palm, her head pounding stronger as she rose in alarm. But it glowed no brighter than a trinket and brought her no joy. She scratched the surface in case it was tarnish that made it look like a coloured callus. To her dismay, the colour chipped away. Underneath was an ugly little stone that was worth nothing just as the village's valuers had put forth.

Her eyes shut at last with the force of the pain. Of knowing she'd lost everything and nothing could be the same. Of knowing her foolishness and pride had caused her ruination and she cried. Her pulse became weaker, she had no more will to survive. There was nothing and noone and no reason to go on. She passed away that night, of a broken heart. When they found her everyone remarked on how even in death she kept that stone grasped firmly in her palm.

The stone that had killed her with its false charm.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ode to an aunt

I went to see your grave today
Knew you weren't there but went anyway
I stood and stared at your grave a bit
Brushed off the leaves and some grit

Didn't really know what to do after that
So I paused a while and thought back
To the warmth in your smile when you
Would see me after a year or two

How like a mother you were to me
When my own gave me such misery
Making my father's house a home
Making me feel like I belonged

But when it came to write an epithet
For my own dear Aunt Violet
The words came out crude and artificial
Did no justice to a lady so special

I'm sorry I didn't visit when
Things got bad and then again
When my parents treated you with disgust
For your old age problems and made a fuss

I'll never forgive myself for all this
My first trip home and your presence here I miss
A five minute visit to your grave won't fix
A lifetime serving others who gave you nix

So I'm leaving now, I came to say
You're not here but your grave will stay
Though the memories threaten to fade away