Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Losing Amma

I do not know why I am thinking about this now...

It was a narrow, sharp bend. A blind curve where you wouldn’t see the vehicle until they were right on your face. But vehicles were at a premium that day after a local party had called a strike. Amma was catching my hand (or was it the other way around?) as we crossed the road. Opposite side of the road was the SBT Munnar branch, our temporary abode till we could find ourselves a jeep to take us around the town.

When we reached the middle of the road an auto-rickshaw sprang out of the curve at great speed. I jumped back a couple of steps to where I was standing to avoid the on-coming auto. 

The next thing I remember is seeing my mom standing there in the middle of the road, her newly-bought rain sandals, stuck under the auto's front wheel. Thankfully, the auto driver had applied brakes right in time to avoid an accident.

She looked at me and asked, "Why did you leave me there like that?"

I do not know why I am thinking about this now. But it's a recurring thought – something that has bothered me at odd hours throughout my life. Back in school, when the incident had happened, it had affected me so badly. I had, at least according to the naive minds of a third standard student, performed the unforgivable sin – give up on my mother.

"Heightened odepial years", my girl friend remarked, when I explained to her on a casual afternoon in bed some years back. She went on to explain how young men often thought of their mothers while they were with their partners and it was nothing unique. I did not want to disagree with a psychology graduate, though at that time, the idea had completely disgusted me. There was certainly an explanation beyond a 'sexual desire for his mother' to what had happened that day. 

It happened again on an Onam day few years later. I had changed cities and was trying to make new friends in Bangalore.

"Mallu?" she asked.

"Yes, hence the mundu," I replied.

"One of those Mumma's boys?" she was persistant.

And suddenly, just like that, I thought about the incident in Munnar again. There was my mother looking at me and asking why I had left her.

"Hahaha, how predictable have we lot become," I remarked. But my mind had already logged out of the conversation. It had gone back to contemplating why I had left my mom there on the road. I had seen the auto... I could have pulled her back with me... Or I could have stayed with her... Why did I choose to do what I did?

"What does it all mean though," I asked myself, while looking at the candle melt slowly in front of me. Did it signify something? Why was the incident so alive in my mind? Like it had happened only an hour ago. Why was it that every time I thought about the Munnar accident, I got this feeling that it happened very recently? Why was it never an event of the past? Why was I living it?

Have I let her down somehow? Have I constantly been letting her down? Was that why the image of my mother always remained contextual? But how and why? Did she not know that I chose to stay in India because I wanted to be there when the family needed me. Surely she did. Did she not approve my decision to stay alone, away from marriage and family and everything fundamentally ‘normal’?

Or was I missing the whole point?

She simply looked at me and asked, "Why did you leave me like that?"

But strangely there was a sense of calmness on her face. She wasn't angry. She did seem let down, yes. But it looked like she was shocked. She was startled this had happened. That I had let go off her hands to have my own way. She gave a nod. But it was to herself. An acceptance of sorts. She took the sandals in her hand, crossed the road, and from the other side, looked at me.

There was certainly more to this. 

Why had I not recollected the entire sequence ever before? Suddenly I was devoured by an overwhelming desire to be with my ex-girl friend. I missed her subtle ways of explaining things with psychology, although it never made sense to me. Was my mind re-playing this image of mom, this incident, which probably had no meaning as a stand-alone event, as a signifier to a lesson that was taught to me by her? A lesson she continued to stress upon while my brother and I were growing up?

I was suddenly bombarded by a torrent of visions...

My father hits my mother while she stands next to the bed, her hair untied. My brother and I watch, our excessive anger canned up by an unparalleled fear.

We are in the kitchen now, slightly grown up. My mother is holding a knife, pleading my father to end her life.

Suddenly, I’m at Paakkad, in mom’s house. It is about to rain. I am staring at the palms trees swaying to the wind as my mother searched for lice in my hair.

"You know what the problem with your father is?" she asks, clearly concerned about what her son had witnessed the previous night. "He hasn't learned to accept us as family. His family is back in Kannur. His mother...his relatives... The problem is he doesn't even realise this," she said. 

"Do not be like this kid. Your family is what you make. Not the one who makes you.."

Have I been interpreting the incident incorrectly all this while? It made sense why I thought about it when I was around women, especially ones I like. Maybe this was never about how I failed to live up to her expectations. Nothing to do about being with women my mother wouldn't approve of either.

No. This was a creation of my subconscious mind. It was trying to remind me of a lesson that had its roots in domestic violence. A lesson that my mother took pains to teach. A lesson on families, relationships and how, as men, we should approach them. 

There was an explanation afterall... A closure that I had wanted for a very long time.

I stood there staring at the tomb stone. "I wonder if you even remember the event mom. I don't think you would have crossed that road and smiled at me," I said, unable to suppress a giggle.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Moment

The door was shut. He was still inside. She wasn't going to let him go away that night. Not that he wanted to leave.

Soon their doubts made way into explorations.

With his lips he wrote on her cheek, "Who are you?"

"How do I know you so much?" her teeth chiselled on his lips.

For every question he asked, she answered in kind. Each time she pushed him away, her hands tightened its grip on him, asking him to stay. Over confusion, they bonded. In the uncertainty, they found assurance.

They never talked, afraid that wisdom and conventions would take the moment away from them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I am a gypsy, I see firelies.
Around me they twist and turn, like smoke at Palestine.
Drifting from space to space, they carry light.
I cannot help wonder. Does the wind guide you? Or you the wind?

We met on a monsoon evening, in the city that never sleeps.
You were lost in darkness, tremors the wind brought,
Scared in a new surrounding, yet with excitement hard to hide,
You had seen me sing the songs, of the far away land.

I came to you like a firefly, for light I did bring to you.
With wonder you had listened to sonnets and wits, gifts I had received,
From places that you yearned to visit.

But in our conversations, I fell in love and you fell in awe.
There the mistake. For is it not wrong for the gypsy to fall in love?
Like stone eyed Franky says, 'Do they even know what love mean?'

Once struck, what can be more lethal than love?
It transforms your thoughts, it plagues your reason.
Your life becomes still, the purpose definite, to please her beautiful eyes.
You are no more a firefly, the restless and the wild,
That lit up Cusco for the Incas, on their way up the Piccu.

Love they do, for we carry songs and stories from a world they dream.
From the distant lands, spirits we bring that makes wall speak.
But when we leave, the gypsies, nobody feels sad, no tears are shed.
We belong nowhere, we carry wisdom around the world.
But we will not be stopped, never asked to stay, nobody is a Jose Arcadio Buendía.

We shall part, no words need be exchanged, our existence a mere imagination.
Constructed in a fool's mind, who for a brief time, forgot what he was,
And lived in an illusion, a dream, that only love can conjure.
Look around, there is no one who wants us. Not even you.

I am a gypsy, I see firelies.
Green to yellow, yellow to blue, they constantly change,
Like the new moon sky, waltzing to the polar lights.
Sometimes I wonder, do lights guide you? Or you the lights?

I go away today, to entertain another world like all gypsies do.
It was never meant to be. Through the oceans I shall sail,
Mountains I shall pass. But at the town across the Table mountains,
I shall sing a new song, to those curious cross eyed wonderers,
How the pale waters of the Maggiore, or the winds at Wudang,
Could not wipe away, that feeling from this Gypsy's mind.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Good bye

At 3:58 a.m she left me.
'Take care of yourself', she had said, while closing the door.
Ah the sound of door crashing..
The Sikh dude from English Patient had lost.
He had stepped on of them.
Those big nasty mines. Yes mines.
Because Fuck English. A Mine is their biggest bomb.
It was over. The good times.
She had decided to leave me again.
This time, more resolute, than the last.
What she had thought, I would not know.
Were my kisses not strong enough honey?
Was I smelling of the blonde blonde you despise?
What was it baby? What was it this time?

At 2:58 a.m I had checked the time for the first time that night. And we made love.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dear Sheila

The number of times I have stared at the airplanes flying over our tiny house is incredible.  I look at them emerge out of the green eastern horizon (which has been quite mist-laden after you left the town) like a super fast sun and crash on the other side. In those moments I am filled with a feeling of hope. You do remember our sun right? Yes, yes the pun very much intended. The same sun which had invaded our little private moments on the terrace, like the security uncle downstairs, acted as if he had seen nothing. Well that sun has disappeared. Instead, there is grayness. Widespread and omnipresent.  It is slowly devouring our small town. 
Sometimes I am woken up by a dream. I hear screams and prayers. Is it a calling...
The tree folk seem to have stopped fighting. The other day I could hear loud whispers. The gray sky, or 'it who must not be named' had grown darker. His sidekicks were sending out waves after waves of cold winds. "The dark times are here," the trees had whispered. They have begun to fall apart. Some were badly uprooted. Some lost their limbs in protest. They seem to have given up. The leaves fall, as I speak...
In the dream, I hear a voice. It guides me through streets that I have never been to. Through valleys and mountains that I thought never existed. But I do not understand what I seek. Is it a vision of a journey I should undertake?
Gone are the sunny days of our town. There is no more joy. Instead it is filled with a sense of numbness; of the color gray. The 'inseparable mynas' of the North have parted ways. One can't see them together these days. The squirrels which used to roam on the land are hiding in the trees. The eagles of upper-world have taken to land. The monkeys have also begun to show the traits of its evolved kind. Pigeons, contrary to the times when they chewed olive branches, have pledged their alliance the Gray-lord and turned gray.
I must embark on this journey. These visions, these unconventional happenings, are all signs. I think Mr. Coelho is right. The story of Alchemist is true. I realize my moment has come. Dear Sheila, the time has come for me to get you. You, the light of our town, we need you back. Forces that bind me to the town are presently weak and I should make the move before another sunless day arrives. I shall cross barriers, both imaginary and geographical, I shall get to thee. "The time is ripe," as Upagupta once said. Vegetables I might have to eat, cough syrups I might have to drink but I will find a way to you my love.
I could see you. The fragrance, that you have left behind with me in the town, keeps our memories afresh. Each time I rub the face on the towel I feel you. I feel us. Our little moments. I feel you with me when I walk through the corridors. I see a vague image looking at me from behind the pillar. I need you back. Gotham needs its hero back. So today I sign off with love. Wait for me, pray for me. Have faith in me. I shall come to get you...

PS: I have finally managed to get enough money to book a flight ticket honey. The boss gave me off for a month so I am coming. YAY.

Check out this brilliant video from British Airways that will make you fall in love once again : Go further to get closer.

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