Friday, 21 March 2014

Should Have, Could Have

I began writing when I was five years old.
I clearly remember taking some lose sheets of paper from an old notebook, stapling them together to make my very own homemade paperback, and writing a poem with a stolen pen from my father's drawer (because I hadn't yet graduated from pencils to pens) about stars--aptly titled 'Stars'--and a fairy tale about a princess who had been turned into a rose-bush  by her evil stepmother. I also gave illustrations to the best of my ability, and yes, a handsome prince did save the rose-bush princess and they did manage to live happily ever after.
That "paperback" is now lost, must have been thrown away by someone unknowingly assuming it was trash.
Nearly twenty years after my first tryst with ink, paper and imagination, I am at the doorstep of a giant idea which I believe will make for a very interesting story. I don't want to mess it up or allow it to die at the hands of laziness, writer's block or procrastination. Writing articles or poetry is easy and I think anyone with any will or desire can conjure up something. A book worth reading, worth buying, worth selling, worth writing--that's the real deal.
I don't want to start right now because of the hundred and one things that I am supposed to be doing at the moment (and this blog post does not figure in the list of things I ought to be wasting my precious time on).
I have a potentially life-changing exam waiting for me on the other side of April, and grad school applications and the rest of that jazz. I should definitely not be giving mind-space to a possible work of fiction.
My father wasn't really too wrong when he said the other day,"How did she manage to become a doctor?!"
I'm all for duality, though.
Yin and Yang, baby.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Animals Are Better

Why do people proudly proclaim rubbish that says that "humans are the only living beings capable of love and expression"?!
I have never heard of ants waging wars against other insects for being too slow. Or frogs trying to annihilate every salamander that dared to exist in its slimy avatar. Or owls murdering peacocks by the dozen for being too flamboyant. Or horses killing rats for spreading too many diseases.
I have, however, heard of Nazis killing Jews for simply being Jewish; Hindus and Muslims hating and hurting each other because of differences in beliefs and religion; Israelis and Palestinians shooting each other down over latitudes and longitudes that define a nation on a political map; Ukrainians and Crimeans burning down each other's homes; men and women being flogged and stoned in public squares for their choice of clothing or  for being too vocal about issues..

I respect people who practice what they preach.
Animals are so much better off than us humans in this regard. They do their own thing, and live their lives without interfering with nature.
Men and women, on the other hand, are dangerous creatures. They might be capable of "expression", but most of the time, the things they express are scary enough to make you want to run in the opposite direction and keep running until you hit the Indian Ocean.
And when it comes to love--if you want to see true love, come take a look at my cat and how protective she is around her babies. Nothing I have seen tops that.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Nothing To Be Heard

Silence has the unique capability of being interpreted as so many different things.
It could mean comfort, contentment, a meditative state of mind; or anger, dissatisfaction, loathing or sorrow.
And then sometimes, it might just be the lack of anything worthy of being spoken because you've already said too much.
But whatever induces the silence, I'll tell you one thing--it's by far the most versatile sound you'll ever hear.
The sound of silence.

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Story Of My Grandparents' Marriage

Sixty four years ago on this very day, my grandparents met each other for the first time. Although, I think I should also add the location of their meet-cute: at their shaadi mandap.
They didn't know each other before this day, not each other's names, not each other's address, they didn't recognize each other by face or by voice or by gait. Their marriage was arranged by their parents because it seemed like a suitable thing to do. Eligible twenty-one year old boy and eligible sixteen year old girl, so yes of course, the wedding bells needed to ring.
This is how most marriages were arranged in my country until not very many decades ago, and obviously, it's an unbelievable risk that both parties were taking when they agreed to marry. What if the boy turned out to be a drunk, useless loafer with no ambition or talent? What if the girl turned out to be a cockeyed kleptomaniac with a lisp? Or if nothing else, what if the marriage turned out to be loveless and dull?
It isn't always necessary for love to be everlasting and true. In fact, that's one of the rarest things in the world. It's probably easier for you to run into Mick Jagger at a club than it is for you to find such a perfect love.
Of course, I've heard tales of disastrous marriages that had to be endured by people simply because of a very myopic examination by the matchmakers. Of course I've heard tales of sadness where women have suffered abuse at the hands of their own husbands.
But these couples (most of them at least) have sat through the whole crazy ride that they got on--unwilling, unprepared, unaware--because of the vows they took for each other and to each other, and because our culture, from its very core, teaches us to respect and honor commitments. A marriage isn't just another Friday night date that you're heading out for, and you can't simply walk out if your date is a bore. It's the real deal.
My grandmother is a beautiful lady, and I'm not just saying that out of love or anything. As a joke, my mother had once sent a picture of dadi from her younger days to the Miss India contest, and well, they wanted this lady to be a contestant. Point proven, I suppose.
Whenever I ask her about her wedding day, she always tells me that all she remembers is that she had to wake up really early in the morning and wash her hair and wear a red sari. She was to head to her wedding ceremony with her hair dripping wet, because apparently, that was considered lucky.
Sixty four years later, I think it's safe to say that this one little superstition, I think it really does work.
It's not always been a smooth ride for my grandparents. They've seen some pretty tough times, historically speaking--India's freedom struggle, World War-II, the Partition, the Bangladesh War..
As if it's not enough to deal with the pressures of being a married couple without these global-scale events.
They've moved together from Amritsar to Delhi to Calcutta, and through times when the fastest mode of communication was by yelling a message from your rooftop to your neighbor (who'd then yell and pass on the same message to the next house and so on until it reached the right set of ears) to an age where you're likely to be Whatsapping someone who's in the same room as you.
My grandfather used to take a train and go to Lahore everyday where he attended University. In those days of political and communal unrest, it was a leap of faith that you needed to take everyday when you hoped to leave your home, make this journey and get back safe and sound at night. I can only imagine the amount of trust that must have made my grandparents make it through those times.
Today, this couple has everything you can possibly need or dream of in life. They have a loving family, a beautiful house, they've traveled the world together, they've had glorious careers, and yet if you look at them, you couldn't possibly think that they've taken anything for granted, or that they've allowed all this to inflate their egos.
You know this is what love is supposed to look like.
My grandfather never ever starts his meal unless dadi is on the table and eating with him. He has a form of Alzheimer's today, and has difficulty stringing words and sentences together, and yet, they understand each other.
They're partners, in the most textbook way you can imagine.
Today, I look at them and I know that they're content, and I guess that's the most perfect thing a human being can hope to be in his/her life.
There are bouquets and cards for them in their room to congratulate them and their marriage, and their room smells like a florist's workshop right now.
But the funniest thing happened when my grandad just asked me what all these flowers are for.
"They're for you and dadi; it's your 64th anniversary today!" I reminded him happily. He replied,"Oh that's today?!" and both of them burst into laughter.
I guess that's what it must feel like to have spent a lifetime with your soul mate: you forget the distinction between time and space and life seems like a happy little bubble of peace and calm.
Here's wishing this couple all the happiness in the world, and thanking them for being an inspiration and an example of what a marriage should really be.