Somewhere a child died today:
He was malnourished.
Somewhere a mother died today:
Domestic violence in the time of lockdown
Somewhere a girl died today:
Raped on a schoolbus
Somewhere a man died today:
Took his life by jumping from a building
Murder suicide death by accident, the average newspaper reader struggles to understand the gravity of it all.
Privileged as we seem to be to have a roof over our heads and someone to help us in the kitchen.
Privileged to live with our family
Privileged to have an income in these days
Feeling-fatigue drives us onward with our tired journey on a merry go round of a rat race.
Nothing will change
Everything will change.
We are like that only?
And that is the beauty and tragedy of it all.
In the face of the immigrant exodus, the pandemic, the lockdown and isolation, we, the privileged middle class are overly sensitised and desensitised on a daily basis by an onslaught of media and humanitarian vigilantism.
We don’t know anymore who died, where what happened, the trains, the hospitals… it’s all a blur. All we can see as real as the bread we bake and the dalgonas we beat is that we struggle to retain a semblance of sanity. Sometimes it’s the hailstorm and the peacocks in our gardens too. But everything as we knew it has been thrown out of gear. When our own centres are destabilised, the family, the finances, the emotions, and the physical fatigue are all churning — from this terrible “manthan” we can only pray that humankind emerge kinder and stronger.
Do people die? Of being alone?
We regret to inform you of the passing of Gulab Sundari. She died of being alone.
She felt alone in the shower, in school, with kids, while cooking, while driving, while drawing, while talking, colouring, reading. She felt alone while laughing. Alone while being loved. Alone in her thoughts, alone in her memories. Always wondering if the things that happened really happened the way she remembered them.
One day. Just one day of not being alone.
Do you remember crying? Processing, feeling each disappointment, breaking apart with every bit of paper that you tore up?
Do you remember waiting? Waiting for a one? That kind of love, that exact sharing protocol, seamless, interested, communicative? Do remember the eagerness to open yourself up? The rush to share, to feel what he felt?
Do you remember shushing yourself? Making your mind quiet? Squishing yourself into roles you never thought existed?
Do you not see how it is time?
Everything and everyone you can.
I can feel something change. The axis’ of my being are shifting.
I want to step out. Be more. Be more true to me. I have learnt, in the last decade, how to be someone else. For the ones I love, I can be something else. For me, I want to be me.
I meet them at the grocery store, at the dairy shop, at the school. I meet them in car parking spots.. And I say thank you. What do they say in return? These helpers, attendants, their whole lives start from deprivation, malnutrition, neglect. They scrape together a living. Work at these stores, clubs, shops, parking lots, grocery, vegetable stores. They help me pick my bags and walk me to the car. I say thank you, and they say thank you.
I wonder at the sentiment. Do they wish, ever, that they were walking to the car, and I was carrying their bags? When they utter the words, are they in fact feeling, with all of their being, bitterness?
When they say thank you, in response to a thank you, I wonder if they know that the answer should’ve been a ‘welcome’.
I look outside the window, and all I can see is loneliness. The pine tree is alone. Out of its natural habitat, it struggles to survive here in this strange unforgiving gamut of temperature and weather changes. The palm tree is alone. The hibiscus plant is bursting at the seams, tripping over itself, trying to outdo itself with the number of flowers bursting for attention. The champa tree, in competition, has outdone itself with fragrant bunches of white and yellow blooms. The gardenia rules the fragrant world at night. With its single bloom, it fills the whole room with an ethereal fragrance. Tropical, sweet with a certain je-ne-sais-quoi.
The gentle breeze has forsaken us, as has the electricity. Nothing stirs, no tiny little sunbird comes to my balcony. No tiny delicate butterflies fluttering here. Only a blanket of humidity envelopes every single living creature, plant, vehicle. You could swim in it.
It’s so still you could hear the grass grow in the humidity under the warm sunlight.
A faraway airplane roars across the silent sky. It leaves no trail.
It’s like a litany in the head. I must write, I must write. Everyday. At least a little. Paint my world with words and stories. Pinpoint feelings, elucidate them. Write about them to feel them.
Write to create a world. Write to create some friends for myself. Infuse a little bit of me into an imaginary world and watch it come alive. Isn’t this the burning reason why everyone who writes writes?
It makes my feelings come alive, my thoughts and dreams take shape. It makes the people in my head begin to live…..
Who lives in my head?
There are dead stories that I must fish out. There are new stories that I haven’t even glanced at. There are thoughts and moments colored with memories of people and places long gone by.
I must write, I must write..
Every evening, ten parrots perch on the sariya of the incomplete house in our lane. My vigorous walk takes me across the house many times. With each turn, I watch the sun set a little more. The bright burning diffuses into a golden glow, and then into sunset hues. With the slow onset of dusk, the perched parrots quieten down, and slowly, the gently swaying sariya lulls them to sleep.
At night sometimes when I can’t seem to fall asleep, when even the dullest of fiction on my poor kindle can’t make me drowsy, I close my eyes and picture those parrots.
Bright green bundles of feather hanging on tight against the clean blue newly washed sky of GuruGram. Their loud chatter slowly dying down as the swaying takes over. I sway, in my head, and fall asleep too.
When I was around 13, I came across a book called the Surprise Party Complex. It was a story of three girls. One of them had a permanent feeling that just around the corner, there will be a gaggle of friends with a cake, balloons, birthday banner, music . The whole gig. For her.
I’ve gone around my whole sordid life feeling pretty much the same way. I’ll wake up today and: surprise party. I’m going home and something amazing is going to be awaiting me. Today when I open my mail, Facebook page, Whatsapp, there’s going to be a surprise for me. A surprise from someone who loves me, from friends who miss me, from a stranger, from someone I knew and forgot, or from a mystery company that wants to hire me for shopping, and wants to pay me a bomb to have fun. I walk on the street anticipating a bouquet of flowers to spring out from air, from the road, from my car. I enter a mall and wonder what new free gifts are awaiting me around the corner.
Pretty much of a let down, everyday, every moment. Imagine living like that.