Patch of Green

(What is a woman if not the propagator of the species, the symbol of a culture, the conserver of a family. She can, unfortunately, never descend to human wants and desires. She never can be selfish. She always has to be self-abnegating.

What, then, I often wonder, is the point of pursuing my education and career when ultimately at the crescendo of my professional life I’ll be asked to let it go and choose the wiser, better option? This thought of inevitable futility kills me.

Patriarchy in the guise of marriage and in-laws while rob me of the fruits of my labours and claim them for themselves just like municipal corporation workers struttingly took away the fertile top soil from my block on day some time ago- like their names were written all over it.

The men in the poem are evil because of their actions and life-destroying machines. The foreboding aura in the last stanza shows what a lifetime of eve teasing, catcalling and harassment does to you- make you paranoid, and bias your perception so that every guy seems like a potential criminal…

… and how does one get out of this viciousness?

Who knows

Who knows.)

A patch of green

In front of my house,

With me share the seasons

And their troubles browse.

In winter it’s shrivelled up,

In summer it’s parched,

In spring it shoots up,

In autumn it’s abandoned for trees.

But it’s in rainy season we both thrive,

The drops on our parched bodies

Fill up the wear and tear,

Emotional and otherwise.

In its trail from our bodies

You find sins, burdens and repentance,

To leave each of us fresh and pure,

More green and sure.

We mature and proliferate

Beyond limits and boundaries,

But then they come,

Those men in uniform

On evil speaking machines.

They uproot my green

Ruthlessly, for its treasury

And leave it dying

While they rob it in a spree.

It dies a horrible death

And withers in the season of abundance.

And I, I feel small in front of the system;

Mistake my silence for protection.

Every first shower

Reminds me of the doleful destination.

Yet still I look out and await

The men on evil machines,

For myself

Or that patch of green?

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Summer Time

Summers in Delhi are treacherous. When you hear summer you think of light linen dresses, long bright days full of play and frolic with friends as if the sun itself is shining happiness and exuberance on us. Such images are down right outrageous. They absolutely refuse to take in consideration all the sweat I lose and the salt I produce.

Summers in Delhi get overbearing even before you can notice. The temperature rises to 40C and refuses to come down. The wind blows but is so warm you wish it wouldn’t. And when it stops the stagnant heat gets so stifling you wish for it to blow again. There is practically no social life left- the heat puts you under a house arrest and because the peak of Delhi summers coincide with summer vacations even the semblance of your year-round routine is shattered. Lethargy, fatigue, exhaustion, ennui, sweat. Oh boy! Oh boy!

When I perspectivize summer all I see is hours and hours of free time with no rigid schedules to adhere to. Roughly 8 weeks for all that I wish to do. I can formulate multiple plans and still have enough time to be able to accommodate a change. The abundance of time is of course very disruptive but that’s just a problem of the initial stage: my first week finds me slothing in front of the T.V. because doing anything after my semester-end exams seems too much of a task to invest into. After incessant boredom has hit me nice and hard I start my second week by finally sitting down to strategise and consequently battling tonnes of withdrawal. Once I’m in tune with my schedule, I make it and it makes me and days, weeks and then months get filled with tens of different plans. And it feels so good when they get checked off the list one by one.

My day starts at 5, or at least tries, for an early morning dip in the pool; the empty roads, the beautiful blue sky with fat white clouds and the cool air and cool water begin my day like nothing else can… Then I’d return home walking languidly, absorbing the city and watching it come to life: middle-aged and young joggers returning home like me, dogs foraging for food, the density of cars steadily increasing on the roads which will result in the morning office-hour jam in about one hour. I’ll slosh off for about 2-3 hours while reading a novel and then Word Power, more leisurely reading, visiting friends and family, watching the World Cup, talking to friends over the phone, watching old Bollywood movies and shows from my childhood or just writing about stuff and revising it incessantly occupy my remaining day. I’m in no rush. I leave my house early and return late. I go for long walks with my friend and the evenings give way to cool nights and I just love it. Or I walk on my roof whilst listening to music and watch the sky at the horizon change color every minute till it’s dark enough to be called a night. I sew clothes for myself, for my mom, for a very dear kid. I sleep because my eyes are heavy with fatigue.

Our routine leaves us no time to slow down, stop, think, observe and learn. It might help us in achieving the life we want but it confines, not binds, us and robs us of the meaning of life we are supposed to find simultaneously. Summer breaks might look long and enervating at the first glance but it is a time to catch up; with friends, with life, with the place where you live, with yourself especially with what you wanted to do but couldn’t.

The temperature might be ugly but life, on the path of revival, is beautiful in summers.

For Freedom

(I read Henry Derozio’s Freedom to the Slave in my second semester. The simplicity of the poem, its brevity and its sweet, melodious rhythm is so invigorating and inspiring that it become incomparable for me and I revered it. Sometimes I feel myself a slave, bounded by and held down by my gender. In Derozio’s poem the slave attains freedom through another’s magnanimity but the reality of the women’s movement is completely opposite- no one from the outside is going to give us our deserved freedom out of understanding and empathy or even pity and sympathy. Ours is such a long way to go and we have to plod our way towards the brilliance of liberty and in this sorority and womanhood must unite us.)

I have been confined in the house that you call home,

and made believe to be the master of that zoo. 

You have violated my body for mere muse,

organised a grandiose feast upon my soul. 

By you I’ve been branded erring, always, by instinct,

and deemed fit to be paraded through the streets. 

I’ve been scolded for my questions

and berated for my independence. 

To your own you are ever respectful

but for me there is nothing but contempt and orders. 

You, who has never questioned the fruits I bear

Defiled my temple of sustenance. 

Now self-perception extends to nothing beyond physical existence,

self-worth, a mirage, is completely amiss. 

Never again! No more!

I shall rise from the dust under your feet-

there, where you left me- beneath you

and take away your pride and sense of possession in my heady course. 

If I fail to do so someone else will, someone else must:

this burning passion that engulfs my heart

shall not go waste. 

Eternally it shall burn, if it must

To finally instrument my liberation. 

And then as the possession will depart, the woman shall return. 

Something Lost

( I heard it in some movie that we lose our old cells to new ones every two weeks. Over the course of our lives we remain consistent in this process of losing. We lose parts of our personalities and perceptions in such a way that we find it difficult to identify with our past selves.

After my mum’s remarriage and the consequent shift to a new house (and with new inhabitants) I was unable to call my new house home because all my sentimentalities were deeply rooted in my previous home. Any attempt to root one here through the same old path, like in the poem through the appreciation of Nature’s beauty, or sublimity in hindsight for what got lost could only be felt and not expressed just like its experience, instils only nostalgia and a sense of loss. Instead of being able to create new sentimentalities I get led onto revisiting and revising old ones again and again. With the loss of that home I felt that my childhood too was quickly slipping away, cause I shifted during early pubescence and left behind all the markers of childhood with that shift. Now nature is two outsides too removed: the one outside my current window takes me to the one overshadowing my childhood; the one for which I vie, where I had all the time in the world, where I wasn’t pushed into maturity and relentless work.

Here nostalgia is problematic. It hinders me from accepting my present and moving on from my past.)

When the wind sways in my new house

In the early throes of spring,

There grows in me a pang of nostalgia

For the one to which I now cling. 

Where I used to lay on my bed

With my feet up against the window,

And dwindle the day in the wake of gossips

With mum, while the breeze flirted with my feet

And the rain made my body flush;

The lover inside me blush. 

We would look outside through the gaps between our feet

And wonder as I’m now 

How subliminal this nature be!

I still can perceive beauty:

In the rustling of the leaves,

The whiff of romance in the air, the winds,

The mischief in the calling of the birds,

The allure of the resounding sudden silence,

The blue-ing and golden-ing of the room,

But I cannot feel it anymore. 

Though however hard I may try. 

For every time I look outside

I see not the outside of my house

But the home I left behind. 

And the weight of its lose 

Bears heavier than the pleasantness of the scene. 

For in my childhood the distance between me and the dancing trees was perceptible.

Now the distance is far more than I could imagine. 

There is no time to savour.

Limits

(Sometimes I feel the life of a girl is nothing but limits. Limits of different degrees, nature, by different persons. And all through her life she keeps on dodging these limits strewn all around her which keeps her closed in forever. At such times I vent out my irritation and frustration by writing but when I later look back at it, it always fills me with this dull ache, the ache that seems to reverberate how basic are the hurdles I have to cross and how infinitely they tire me out even before I reach the actual ones.

Overtime some of these become ignorable. But some are too severe that they demand a choice between relations and self. No one should go through such a dilemma.)

Know your limits,

Speak the truth,

Revere the elders,

Old and new.

Rise and shine,

Do not groan,

Help your mother,

In her chores.

Be presentable

But tie your hair,

Pooh! Don’t wear that

I see you bare.

Always smile,

Don’t grumble,

Never complain,

Or question.

Says my father

And my nani,

My mother chimes in too,

And so do my friends two.

One who apparently cares for my safety

Like the safety of other girls,

Like this might be the only thing he does.

And one who likes me a lot

And wants to protect my identity online

By searching for it himself first!

For the former I say nothing.

I nod in passive agreement

Or close my ears inward,

Because I know this talk is mixed with concern and care.

But with the latter I rally

And raise my voice

So as to reach their hidden reasons

And tell them what I think on a matter concerning me.

And do they listen?

No. Not in the hundred attempts I have made. No!

They treat me like a treat,

Whom they see surrounded by sharks.

But they themselves unsee,

The awful burden of protection

They place over me,

And continue to exercise their will despite my protestations.

So I kept mum and close my eyes

Because I don’t know how to let go off loved ones,

Until that historic day

When the second one crossed a line.

Oh it was dramatic,

And over the top hysteric,

And now when i look back

It also must have been lyric.

We found ourselves at a passé

Staying true to what we thought was right,

And I found myself unwilling

To settle for less than an exile.

But we talked. Oh yes we talked,

And as you guessed likewise me,

It led to nothing but free flying emotions.

But still I did it for our dead friendship,

And to deaden the trail of its consequences.

So cry all you want and beg all you want,

Or call my a thousand names,

Or laugh at my reasons and judge me dumb,

I care naught what you say.

I care not if I’m the one making a mountain hole,

Or if I’m just a dumb stupid mole.

I know what I felt and I know it came from you

And because you have crossed my limit I have erected a limit for you.

You have limits too to adhere!

I’m sorry if this is your first time.

But I’m a petty human and not a counsellor

And its not my fucking job to babysit you for no dime!

If the patriarchy is redundant for you

It doesn’t mean it never existed for me.

(In the ninth stanza the reference to the second friend isn’t singular but rather plural for he comes to symbolise all those who have put and continue to put me in a similar position.)

Dear Diary

(Firsts of everything lasts forever. I’ll never forget my first kiss. My first cheque. My first love. I don’t know why it is like this. I also won’t forget the first home I lived in- my nani’s. Maybe because it coincided with my childhood. Maybe because it grew alongside me. Or maybe because I became myself or atleast the core parts of my personality grew and developed in that place. Whatever it might be, even if there is no logic to it I’ll still prefer dying there rather than anyplace else.

This is the only diary entry I have written outside of my diary.)

9th November 2018

Friday

4:55 p.m.

Old houses speak in mysteries,

About people and their histories.

For when they part,

Then they truly come to know,

That it’s not just some land,

But a piece of their heart.

The death of an affectionated object is …difficult. The accumulation of affection for the object over time, at times, tantamount to sacredness. And you’ll do anything to prolong separation from it, even naturalise its death by letting it coincide with yours.

When talks of selling nani’s house resumed with a serious vigour last week I forgot every other concern. Unlike every grown up involved in it I really wasn’t concerned with what good or bad this act could initiate. I didn’t even want to subject it to moral scrutiny and discuss if it was selfish or something well thought of. All I know and all I am aware of is how I feel. And I feel grievously sad for I can’t see myself otherwise; I am just someone who stands to lose so much. Nothing more. Nothing less. And the sadder part is that I am utterly powerless- whatever I say wouldn’t matter.

That house isn’t just a signifier of my childhood but of otherwise inexorable things. Every corner houses a story from my childhood, preserving ten years of my life lived there. Its bare walls and frugal furniture have remained the same. The floor of the balcony that my nani washes everyday reveals paw prints when the water evaporates. And they always plunge me back into nostalgia- the first dog I ever loved whom my grandfather lovingly called Lallu (literally stupid, naive, gullible). It is because of that house that I can resume chitter-chatter with my childhood friends every month while languidly strolling into the night. And oh! Its sun-kissed balcony gives a perfect vantage point to observe the whole lane while it comes to life as the sun charts its course; revealing a society where the lanes are filled with houses and the homes are filled with people and everyone knows everyone and they all talk through their daily chores whilst hanging out in their own balconies. Their sociability is mysteriously contagious.

Now where am I supposed find a place where time slows down for me to watch it go by?

The bridge to the things I left behind six years ago when my mom remarried is going to be taken down and I seem to lose so much that I can’t see through blurry eyes what gains await me.

If the people you love are your family and the things you possess define you and your relations, then a home puts these on a map, arrange them with care in the matrix of time and space.

Its going to be so difficult not to call those things mine anymore.

But when the house is going to get sold, and someone is going to whitewash my childhood to register their own over it, then certainly my heart is going to break.

I always thought it was going to be my very own ancestry. Maybe I was too sure. Maybe this was my fault.

What is life but a series of comes and gos.

Of dos and don’ts.

Of choices and deliberations.

Of making yours and letting gos.

With love,

Sam

House to Home

(It was a poem in middle school which first introduced me to the concept of house versus home. I found it so captivating that I immediately started analogising my own house/home with it. Cut to class X, life came a full circle when I wrote this poem. The simplicity of this poem kind of embarrassed me initially but recently my friend read it and loved it and soon enough I found myself re-loving it. That poem taught me that the people in a house makes it a home. This poem taught me that the kind of relationship among family members, not one of ownership and subservience but one of care, love and independence leads to the creation of a truer sense of ‘home’.)

I live in a house

Half wood half glass

Amongst misty mornings

And twilit nights,

And though i have adorned it with

Memories and people loved,

And strewn it with my work

Up till the last corner,

I still find it hard to call mine

Even when its deed is in my honour.

Then one day

Amidst my work

I found the perfect solution!

And hopped in my coat

And jumped into my shoes

And zoomed to the nearby grocer

Of pets, of course! of all varieties

Which elated my spirits so high

That I picked up a bird unknown

And ran the return journey barefoot, Oh my!

I put it in its cage

Perched on the very top

And christened it Evangeline,

Pampering it as a new mother does

With food and drinks and lots of love.

And day in and day out

I came in and went,

Glimpses of her

Being my first and the end.

But soon I realised:

Her eyes were downcast,

And her head hung low,

With the feathers ruffled

She looked like a mourner down below.

The truth left me paralysed.

I felt so ashamed.

Shock and grief came

All over again.

How devilish of me

To put her behind bars,

To expect love out of this act

When it gashes her like scars!

Down I had sunken

But something lifted me up once more,

And gave me the courage

To reverse the wrong that i had done;

So I threw open its cage

And undid the windows:

It stepped out cautiously first

And then it rose.

Like the rainbowed Snitch

It fluttered momentarily,

As if testing me, the mean!

I blinked to reassure both

And poof! it became the unseen.

That day

I forgot work.

Instead I cried

For reasons yet unknown,

Sprawled across the floor

My eyes fixed at nothingness

While the sun journeyed its course.

And when all the tears had dried up

And dawn had broken the night,

An angel came and spoke

And rescued me from my plight.

At first I saw her but rarely

Now she’s quite frequent,

She visits and feeds on the grains and water

Readied in her anticipation;

Along with her husband

And two little bundles of joy,

Who fill my loneliness

With their bedlam

And my empty heart

With their love

My still life

With froth and foam

And turn my house

Into a home.

On Sam

Sam has been filling the pages of her diary since she found out in class III that such a thing as a diary exists and on top of that that anyone can make a diary all by himself with a bit of paper and glue. Four diaries so far have been packed for posterity and many more are fated for the same.

Sam prefers manuscripts over typed texts and she usually writes on personal topics and issues. Sam is very possessive about her private thoughts but Sam for the past two years has been debating whether to go online or not.

Sam has finally realised that taking in the opinions of others, discriminating amongst them and learning from them is a part and parcel of life and she can no longer avoid that in her virtual life by procrastinating the creation of her online identity.

What Sam really hopes to accomplish is to shed her inhibition and shyness.

Also Sam thinks that her diary is fed up of her thoughts which read more like articles instead of emotional outbursts and venting outs.

Sam is me. I am Sam.

I have written enough crappy drafts. It’s time I own upto them with a surer, steadier foot.

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