Tag Archives: essay

The Sunday Disconnect

I would rather write about a glorious Sunday. One that we all have painted out and ready in our heads, you know, a pretty little virtual movie with one of those watermarked Audiojunkie happy tunes in the background. One where I sleep in late and wake up to the familiar warmth of the midday sun or the sounds of a busy kitchen or the annoying screaming of kids playing cricket in the streets of a utopian gated community or the crackle of oil and the smell of breakfast or the floral scent of soap from Amma’s morning shower. Whichever happens first. But it is not to be. I wake up early, early for a Sunday that is, and try to remember what it is that woke me up, waiting for the all too familiar gushy feeling of I-have-nothing-to-do-it’s-a-Sunday to spread through my veins and provide the adrenaline to do nothing. I hit a blank. I just woke up, it seems. Outside the window the sun is bleak, looking like it did not sleep very well. Or maybe it just hasn’t reached its full potential yet. I realise all I ought to need is some brisk morning air to wake myself up. I step out into the garden.
The air is still and the ground is wet. It has apparently rained through the night, and this should be a relief. Google tells me today’s forecast for Coimbatore is 34 degrees with a thunderstorm. There’s nothing in there about the calm before the storm though. So much for the high hopes that the cool morning breeze will ruffle me up. The leaves stand in attention and the ants silently make their way up and down the stems, pushing me into a deep existential probe about the similarities between Sisyphus and the Ant. Out of the blue, I decide to sing to the plants. Surely that will wake both of us up? Unfortunately, I am not well informed about the song choices of the venerable Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and start humming Aerosmith’s Dream On . Like I discover, the song does not become humming very much and I growl out the refrain. I swear the plant shudders, and the thought disturbs me more than the fact that I have been unconsciously singing to the beat of the distant barks of a dog. At least somebody’s got their thing going this morning, I think.
I abandon the singing and pick up The Hindu, lying half wet on the porch. The paper boy must have overshot his aim today. It sits there, looking well informed and meaty and a little demonic. If newspapers can look that. It is Sunday and there is Jerry Pinto’s column to read, my mind rejoices. It is about snow. The article is well written, of course, but Pinto’s despondency only adds to mine. The two lines in the entire essay that I can relate to is when I picked my nose and found my finger completely red too, not due to low temperatures like in Pinto’s case, but from when I had dengue fever. That mental image refuses to make way for any more snow imagery and I sigh and give up on the article half way. The Sunday Disconnect weighs heavily upon me.
I trudge back to my room and put on my Sennheisers. The muffs need to be replaced, but my ears love them anyway, like the one pillow you love to hug though it’s not fluffy anymore. I hit play on my phone, and the tune picks up from where it left off.
Kitni dafaa subah ko meri tere aangan me baithe maine shaam kiya. Channa mereyaa..
How often my day has morphed into night waiting for you.
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When half a year’s done, a balance-sheet

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! )

Can not the world be vague?

Bound books, thick and theoretical and imposing intelligence on students still unaffected by the many masks the world wears, abysmal aberrations they are indeed. There is this animal instinct in mankind to define everything, as if every grand and trivial object on earth can have a definite form. Define man. Define woman. Define love. Define the ray of sunshine that graciously streams in from the open window forming criss-cross patterns as it falls on the tiled floor. The sense of satisfaction when one has something succinctly defined and written down in a neat hand is as they say, out of the world.

But we must beg to differ.

If anything, this satisfaction can only be next to that of not being able to label, bring to form, delimit. The sense of joy in knowing the unknown is out there, the thrill of anticipation of something beyond words- the knowledge of being ignorant is bliss.

For words cannot define the moment your puppy pushes his wet nose into your hands. Words cannot define a cuddle that lingers long after.

Words cannot define that sudden jolt of fear when you find him not beside you. Words cannot define the shudder running down your spine.Words cannot define the quiet relief when you see a familiar face in the crowd. Words cannot define the fact that you remember the scent long after they left and no, words cannot define the abyss of longing that follows separation.

But no, it is also not possible to define why man feels hungry. Not for food, but for love. For something that he claims he has found, but lacks the next moment. They cannot define how his heart houses someone one moment, and quite somebody else the next. How his heart refuses to let go of a person long after they’ve transcended through to Elysia. How his heart guards his soul. How his mind is a jail his heart is bound in. How even as his life goes on, his heart stops living.

How his heart breaks into crumbs of nothingness even as it pumps blood.

How love makes life seem like a bag of old leaves waiting to be raked up.

Man is complex, and complex seems to be an underrated word. No we are not defining man, for to put the mass of physical traits and emotional anomalies with its bagful of conflicting emotions and unattainable desires in shapes of ink is sure to be unyielding. Try to define man, and you find volumes of poetry; but try and leave him uninhibited in his space, and you find in his complexity unnerving simplicity. Simple because a smile conveys the tremendous joy that lifts a man to the level of frenzy. Because a tear contains the battered remains of a broken heart. Because a kiss has in it the constrained longing of a besotted soul.

Define not the innocence of first love, define not the trembling shyness of lovers, and define not this world.

Let the bound books, thick and theoretical and imposing intelligence on students still unaffected by the many masks the world wears, abysmal aberrations as they are, not misguide you.