Monday, October 30, 2006

And do you know why, she won't break down and cry? She says adios, says adios, goodbye...

And this jagged pain shooting like pin-pricks across my nerves, this pain of bereavement, over and over again, this loss, the loss, spiralling across, spiralling down, and suddenly one fine autumn morning nothing, a vast stretch of nothingness, enveloping all, and everywhere people are busy, vacuous hours, rituals empty of meaning, all but meaning, and this is not what it is, not what it is meant to be, in this hour, this busy hour, reminiscences of years in motion, alone, together, life like brittle china, chipped, broken, the shortening breath, shortened, short, and your eyes laughing, in happiness, eyes, fluid, fluent in pain, knowing, the shadowy descent to nothing, this endless night, this dying fall...

Goodbye Prosperity...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

And is this what you wanted, To live in a house that is haunted, By the ghost of you and me...

Do you think of your childhood often?

Every time I go home, to that four-storeyed non-descript apartment tucked away in a small lane, the smell of my childhood wafts across to me. There, in a room on the first floor, time stands still. There I am a month old baby lying nestled in the arms of my grandfather while my family rushes off to the airport to receive my aunt on her annual visit home from Riyadh. There I am a five year-old who cannot sleep till my grandmother comes to bed and tells her bedtime stories--not fables, but tales about her childhood, with her grandmother. I am 10 and I still sleep with my grandparents. I dream of being a swimmer and drag them off to my daily practice sessions. No rain or unexpected visitors can hold me back. I am 12. My father gets his first outstation posting. Ma tells me we might shift soon. I know what to do. I appeal to my guardian angels. My grandparents--the fulcrum of our joint family--delivers on my faith. I can stay back with them.

I am 16. Dad is finally back home. I don't know how to react. I am ill at ease. There's a huge flat waiting, which is being done up so that we can move in as quickly as possible. This time only Dadu backs me up valiantly. I shuttle between the two homes. When they are with us, I stay put. When they come home I follow suit.

And then somewhere in between I grew up. I think it was after Dadu passed away nine winters ago. Then in a span of a few hours I knew what it was to be on my own. Completely. It wasn't just his not being there. It was the sum total of all the small things that went awry, all the things that I never imagined could go wrong. Ever since I have always strived to be independent. To be capable by myself. And I almost managed. Except for that one old, indomitable woman, who knew she would always win. My grandmother. Every time I book my tickets home I know that amidst all the happy faces there will be one face which will wrinkle up in unadulterated joy. Who will ask me everytime I call home, "When are you coming back? Why do you have to work there?"

There are some people of whom you think age can't do much. Thamma's one of them. In our matriarchal family Thamma has always been the law. But there are things time can do. I can't recall perfectly when Thamma changed from being the head of the family to the frail, infirm woman restricted to the confines of the bed. I don't know when that smiling booming voice changed into a whisper--"I have a feeling I won't see you again." I laughed and told her it was nonsense. That my bags were packed and I would be home in no time. This time I won't hurry back because I had all the time in the world to be with her. She smiled.

Thamma passed away this Monday. Two weeks before my scheduled sabbatical. A month and a half ahead of one of the most important days of my life. Hers too. She had more dreams about it than even I dared to see. Now, with all the time in the world as I sit here doing nothing, I know I lost.

I think of my childhood often. What you risk shows what you cherish the most. But this is one gamble I know, even Thamma, wouldn't relish winning...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Open to everything happy & sad,Seeing the good when it's all going bad,Seeing the sun when I can't really see,Hoping the sun will at least look at me

Today is a dangling sort of day. I am waiting for so many things to happen simultaneously that I really don't know where to start. There are things that I need to do, things that I am waiting for...people, events, moods, moments--it's a kaleidescope of expectancy. Pregnant. Poignant. Weighed down.

Sometimes I feel this wait will never end. There are times when I can sense that things are happening. Feel the motions of the journey. My work, my family, my friends, my growing universe. And then there are times when I don't notice the pace. When every day is exactly the same. Boring. Listless. Uneventful. Or strenuous, stressful, disturbing. I hate the uniformity, hate the unalleviating linearity of things as they are. I know that the truth is that they are actually happening. But it isn't always enough.

So what, then, am I looking for? Why is there always a longing for the things to come even when the present is right there in front of my eyes? Why do I always know in the middle of extreme happiness or defeat, that this too shall not last? That there's more to come.

This unsatiable longing will be the death of me some day.