I confess, I am an addict. Even when it has been weeks since I read a new book, I will still go back and re-read the part where Snape produces his doe- Patronus and weep myself to sleep. Even when I am having a bad-tummy-day and must ignore the delicious vathakozhambu my mother has made, I will still fantasize tasting Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and chugging on some Butterbeer. And even when I know that nothing including doubly-strong iron chains that could anchor the Titanic firmly in place could keep my parents out of my room, I will hang up a poster on the door and will it with all my nonverbal- spell-casting skills to ask anyone who seeks to enter for a password. I am a Potterhead and the promised worldwide release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, set 19 years after Voldemort is dead has got me all riled up.
Since the launch of Pottermore, an entertainment website to which Rowling officially contributes, we have had more than enough to satiate our appetites for any news from the magical world of Harry Potter. And Rowling has delivered. From sorting us into houses, allowing us to explore Diagon Alley (and pocketing stray galleons on the way) to sharing with us the back stories of characters, one can say that the boy who lived has pretty much lived on. But there lies the conundrum. Did we really want him to live on, and live thus?
I must say, I was partially disappointed with the Epilogue to the series in itself. Yes, Voldemort is dead. To have the snubby-people-like-Fudge ridden world suddenly transform into a warm, friendly place wasn’t the worst part, in fact, it was totally understandable especially after Rowling proved she was only second to George R.R. Martin in making the world gloomy (read Sirius, Lupin, Fred, Dobby and Dumbledore- enough said.) But to find that the trio ended up being pretty much where they wanted to end up in life, married to the people they “loved” during school and all responsible and gay struck me as slightly odd. I mean, how many of us end up marrying our childhood sweethearts, doing exactly what we thought was our goal in school and name our kids something they are bound to be teased for the rest of their lives? Rowling gave us the imperfect marauders whom we fell head over heels in love with, and everyone from that generation surprised and delighted us (a 25- minute movie called “Severus Snape and the Maruders” made by Potterheads and uploaded very recently on Youtube will tell you exactly why we made such a fuss over that generation). Then she gave us the Potter generation, and they had their moments too, making us feel bad for Draco in parts and call Ron a complete ‘arse’ for ignoring Hermione. Rowling was employing the oldest trick in the bag of character constructions- making us see the perfection in everyone’s imperfections. We wish the epilogue was similar.
But let us not dwell too much on the past. After the seven books came, we busied ourselves with Mugglenet, reading fanfiction and rooting for Drarry. We busied ourselves with Rowling’s stories on Pottermore. What we did not expect was a whole new magical world thrust upon us, complete with new magical schools, sorting and histories of their own! Yes, I was miffed when I discovered that the American counterpart of a muggle was a ‘no-maj’, because it came from a woman who flaunted her French with Vol-de-mort (you are no Potterhead if you did not know that) and her Greek mythology with at least half the other characters and creatures. But I was overwhelmed and overawed when I was introduced to Ilvermorny, Mahoutokoro, Uagadou and Castlebruxo- wizarding schools other than Hogwarts all over the world. The Ilvermorny story (the North American wizarding school) was revealed on Pottermore a few days back, both to the delight and chagrin of fans all over. The latter was sparked off by an indignant letter by a Native American Potterhead which went viral on the internet. She felt Rowling had been insensitive in her research on the Indians and hadn’t given them enough space in the story. But for a non-indigenous fan of Rowling’s who knows very less to nothing about Indian folklore (yes, I am being selfish here), the school and its houses opened up a world that promised to be as magical as Hogwarts itself. After going through the magical sorting, a revamped version of the Hogwarts one with questions like “What would you exchange for your heart’s desire?” and “ Do you prefer to remember/ experience?”, I was declared to be a Horned Serpent. I was confused if this was in any way related to Slytherin, and only heaved a sigh of relief when I read that it “Represents the mind” and “Favours Scholars”.
Harry Potter brought in a flurry of firsts in my life. My first literature paper was an eco-critical analysis of Harry Potter. My first application of Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief” was when I imagined the broomstick at home was a Nimbus 2000. The first time I saw what the world looked like at 5 in the morning was when I stood in queue to buy the latest book. I can hardly wait for the magic to recommence on July 31st. For Harry Potter, the excitement is on, always.
Is your mind so cluttered that the silence of an echoing room feels like the white noise of the television? When it does not just sound that way but looks like it too- you blink your eyes to the blinking black and white of chaos. Yes? It cannot be. For then you must be me.
Six months into the year, nothing is new any longer. The prime minister, the phones, the books and the movies have all settled comfortably into the “accustomed to” category. All but the resolutions we made earnestly over that eventful New Year’s-eve.
As the clock struck twelve and 2015 dawned upon us, I remember thinking with steely determination of all the things to be accomplished during the year. The Internet was heavily browsed for the easiest way to stick to the resolutions. Glorious images of one floating around the kitchen looking chic with apron and top hat, a bit like the contestants on MasterChef; a fitter body that didn’t have to grunt every time it tried to touch its toes; and a better-read shelf with Kafka finally done, flitted in and out of the mind. I should have realised then it was the adrenaline and the delicious plum cake speaking.
The first step was to look up challenges. Because aren’t they fun to accomplish? The Goodreads challenge was hastily signed up for and reading a hundred books promised to the book-loving Internet society. Second-hand bookstores were raided and shelves stocked. Ever heard of the squirrel that couldn’t get through even half of its hoard of nuts? You’re looking at it. Sleep became a more important event than exercise. For hey, flab is lost and gained, but the time spent sleeping can never be replaced. So after weeks of setting my alarm early and shutting it off myself without batting an eyelid, I gave up on the exercise routine. And the MasterChef plan, well, um. Perhaps I thought watching the show was better than being one, for that has not yet materialised either.
Sometimes, they say, all that a man needs to succeed is to challenge himself. But sometimes all we need is to do what we want to, and the momentum builds up by itself. True, I did not and perhaps cannot now fulfil my Goodreads challenge, and Kafka has not yet been touched. But I discovered instead D.H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson. The former I picked up quite unabashedly because of the particularly beautiful cover of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and the latter because of a snip of her verse I read – “I’m nobody. Who are you? / Are you nobody too?”. That stood out in stark contrast from the side of me that wanted very badly to be somebody. I skipped a masterpiece, but gained masters of writing. Mother decided, against loud feminist protests from my side, that twenty one was old enough to help her out in cooking, and I discovered strange solitude in adding dollops of sugar to tea and coffee, mixing batter and just contentedly listening to the grinder whir.
The year so far, thus, has been beautiful. I have not visited an exotic place, but have seen the serene quiet waves of the neighbouring town by the sea. I have not caught up on the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series, but have discovered ‘The Newsroom’ instead. And though the daily Guardian Crossword remains unsolved, my interest in the genre of cryptic crosswords grows. You see, as they say, the best moments of life are the unplanned ones.
(This was published in The Hindu on June 16. Yay! )
the housefly goes buzzing across and i’m suddenly thinking of the fan whirring the same way when there’s this continuous sound that has a certain cadence to it and when everything is quiet you can listen to many more such strains of awry music like now you hear the clock going on on on until the battery dies and the heart going thump thump only going faster when someone like that guy comes in front and oh no i just remembered i’m not supposed to think of that guy any more just like i’m trying hard not to think of that girl who made me think of that guy and how awesome should it be for those who don’t have a girl or a guy to think about because all they have is their own conscience to speak to and sometimes isn’t your own conscience the best person to speak to because at present my conscience is asking me to stop spewing out the shit i am and i don’t know if wordpress has a moral police looking at the word shit but who cares there’s enough talk about moral policing going on in the last few days already and i am sick of it though i don’t quite mind because it takes off my mind the impending deadline where i have to make a decision that finally decides what i do with my life and goddamn why does my life have to depend on a decision like i can’t spend it like i want to and just be as i am for i certainly didn’t ask to be born a human that could walk and talk and go to university and make a life out of that when i could rather have been that housefly buzzing about creating a helluva lot of nuisance for humans trying to think lying sprawled out under the whirring fan.
Disease. War. Depression. Misery. Death.
The story of the world today chronicles around this paradigm. Be it the Gaza conflict or the bitter news of someone close afflicted by cancer, there’s not a sliver of hope anywhere. The worst part is only the most innocent seem to be given the worst. Is it the brilliant girl’s fault that she lost the love of her life in a society that reeks of ostracizing against widows? Perhaps it was the blind boy’s karma that got to him when his mother got terminal cancer. I am tired of sympathizing with people and sympathizing with myself. Do I become a masochist, inflicting pain upon myself so I may not feel selfish for singularly feeling happy when misery floats around depreciating hope? It feels strangely hypocritical writing about love and joy and anything not connected to pain when there is so much of it around for inspiration. I am leaning too much towards idealism, maybe? I think I don’t really know anything right now. I refuse to delve myself too much into religion, and yet find myself wanting to accuse Him, falteringly because of fear on one hand, of unfairly doling out misery in haphazard proportions to those that least deserve it. Perhaps it is true, the concept of the “absentee landlord” but somewhere my conservative upbringing refuses to believe it, for it it is in my blood that when all is lost, a force helps you. One interpretation of this force is God, but to me the interpretation is forever hope.
Maybe the Indian scriptures are right after all. We are now in the Kali Yuga, in a world chronicling despair. Maybe all this is in the mostly ambiguous plans that the unknown force has laid out for us. Still, it is this submission of life into the hands of some indomitable force, this helplessness that irks. If man were not supposed to take his destiny into his own hands, he should not have been bestowed with the ability to think. But this train of though makes me shudderingly think of all those young girls of four being raped by insane pedophiles, when they clearly do not know enough to think. How are they to save themselves then, how are they to take their fates on their own hand. Worse, how about the cases of female infanticide where hypothetical iron ladies are crumbled to dust before flesh forms? So, yes humans can think, but to think you need to develop, and to develop you need to live. I wonder if it is terrorists we go to begging for our lives, abandoning the moral compass, the government, abandoning dignity, or God, abandoning/ in the quest for hope.
Call me weak. Some part of me says that if I were Atlas, I would abandon the earth. Why do humans have emotions at all? If we did not know extreme happiness we would not mind sadness, if we did not feel hope we would not mind despair and if we did not feel , we would exist, which is more that what a lot of people are doing right now. In the wide depressing ocean of grief then, do the droplets of joy fading into nothingness count? I don’t know. Furthermore, I might sound selfish in saying I don’t want to find out. I just want to live without the hundred voices around me screaming despondently and the one voice inside me asking if it should shout too, just to match the ones outside. Soon, osmosis should start acting up, and the voices outside will start seeping in.
Sigh. Hot pasta awaits. I will be joyous in the tiny ways I can until guilt seeps in again.
How ordinary you seem. Yet that tornado of mint fresh exhilaration that whips out of your smile and blinds me in pure white light is more than just ordinary. You are the metaphysical brew of stars that glow and try to reflect from your soul. That raw energy in you gives off a light so supreme that it gushes like silvery streams and engulfs me. How a midget like you can throttle despair with a snap of your fingers and beckon joy that is so profound, so profound that the soul cries out in its sheer extremity is astonishing. Every breath labours with the mirth it is pregnant with and the mortal earth suddenly seems evanescent. Each strand of your hair spirals into shooting tendrils with flowers the colour of rainbows into magic carpets and carries the soul away to an enchanted land where the mind and soul entwine in peace. Just stay, I deplore. For the misty silence of your presence fills me with thundering storms of peace. The tilt of your head beckons the soul into an intriguing whodunit of mysteries that can only end at the pot of gold. The blink of those eyes transforms the most banal of greys into silver. The wasp learns to glow, the porcupine morphs into a ginger cat and the scorching heat seems to tickle at the beat of your heart. You are the spirit of Zeal that the winds of destiny have decided to bestow me with. The glint of magic in the swish of your dress, frayed with all the soul-dancing makes me shiver with pleasure. I can no longer decipher what emotions lie inside me, for they’ve been shaken up,but I only know the effervescence is so heady that I’m sure I’m drunk in the whiskey of the soul drink.
My soul shaker is here.
Those large drooping eyes- you sink into the abyss of understanding they offer. That large ambling body- both clumsy and graceful at the same time- you want to sink into that pillowy mass and feel the soothing tingle it offers your tired soul. Those hidden ears, black and soft as velvet- you want to search for them and revel in their finding like you’ve found eternity. The Panda. The most effective therapist I have known. Have you ever stared at a seemingly uncomplicated picture of a panda with a piece of bamboo? Do. Because you will immediately feel that sea of calm engulf you, deep breaths that you have gasped for. Have you ever seen a video of a panda slowly ambling along? Do. Because that sense of settling peace offers your scattered mind the respite it needs.
My best friend is my panda. I am one of those people who have found my soulmate in my best friend. She has been there all through- she has fallen down deep abysses with me and climbed that mountain of triumph. We have held each other and cried and hugged each other and laughed. At other times I have just stared at her until the feeling of hot chocolate thawing frozen insides comes over me.. and at times I have screamed at her until tears come tumbling down my face and she holds me and the world is alright again.
She is my diary of thoughts, my blotting paper of tears, my vacuum cleaner of despair, my churner of joy, my Santa of love. She inspires me with her words, enthralls me with her smile. I see her petite figure walking down like a little sun skittering along, hair flying everywhere and I close my eyes in contentment. I see her smiling, and see her soul smiling through her eyes and I soar. She holds my hand and I know I have everything.
I don’t need a stuffed Panda doll to calm down. I have my own breathing, smiling, brawling panda. My soulmate, my panda, my best friend.
Happy birthday, you 🙂
I see why you are miserable. Misery to you is blessed release from life’s arrogant happiness that it selfishly keeps in shelves high above your reach. I stalk you close for weeks, months even. I have seen you defy logic and reason. You are diabolically genius, eccentric and mad. Yet with you I’m happy, with you I’m sad.
I’ve seen what you do, I followed like a shadow. I’ve seen you get high, I know your lows. That look in your eyes when she died? I know that non- existent heart inside of you broke into a thousand shards and cried. That show you put on of guiltlessly moving on? You miss him and you know you’ll be alone again now.
I also know that playful slap on her back wasn’t just playful, oh no. I caught that look of adolescent pleasure in those seemingly uninterested eyes.
I know you loved them. I know you think you love yourself more. I know I love you most.
And now that you’re leaving, your misery has passed on to me. You ironic, sarcastic, dumb witted genius. I shall miss you.
I know you’re smiling ruthlessly now.
(On watching the Season finale of House M.D.)
What am I?
You’re the blush that winter brings and the gleam of summer rays. You’re the curve of a smile, the blink of kohl lined eyes. You’re the grace of ballet and the swish of the robe. You’re the heat of passion and the tingling cold. You’re an electric zing, you’re caressing silk, you’re butterfly wings on creamy skin. You’re hot chocolate on a wintry morn, you’re ice cubes pulled across my arm.
You’re the strange melody that plays on loop and fills my head with radiant dreams. You’re the twinkle fairy’s easy charm, my pied piper of Hamelin. You’re tingling laughter and searing light and piano keys that musically glide. You’re the snug sweater, binding bandage holding together rattling insides.
You’re the cocaine of the poetry of heartbeats. Your soft sigh is my high.
Your zig-zag hair, your criss-cross ways, your blink-back tears, your in-out dimples, your shush-shush words? You’re exhilarating.