Thursday, March 05, 2015

Ban me!

It was physical.
The visuals — most of them comprising just a man talking to the camera, calm and composed — jabbed at my ribs.
Unable to process any more anger, the mind went numb. Tears hazing the vision were the only sign of the remorse, the despair, the desperation.
India’s Daughter has a father and mother talking about their daughter. How they brought her up and how they worked to make her dreams come true. I shudder to think it could be my parents. They could be talking about me, my sister, my friend, my colleague. But she WAS me, my sister, my friend, my colleague.
I know why so many people took to the streets after December 16, 2012.
Because I have been them.
I have been her —

The girl.
Who went to the movies.
With a male friend.
For an evening show.
In Delhi.

Nothing feels real anymore. This life. The simple joys it offers. The length most of us have to scale just to get home safely. When an ace lawyer says he would burn his daughters and sisters alive if they were found ‘off’ track. When another says ours is the best culture. Because There Is No Place For Women. When a rape convict says the girl Invited it upon herself.
But I feel, as Leslee Udwin says, none of this is the malady. But only the symptom.

It was not a Govindachamy who killed Soumya. It was us, the society.

I wish I could withhold paying my taxes. And insurance. And loans.
When the woman that is me, the person that is me, is given no regard and no respect, when all I am told is to be careful and be on the lookout for danger and be alert at every single instance I am outside on the streets, irrespective of the time, and when I am effectively banished from every place I genuinely want to be, why should I care about a system that has no qualms about receiving money for its exchequer while it cannot ensure even a part of what I am entitled to as a citizen?

I care two hoots about the ban on India’s Daughter. Ban me, ban your womenfolk, my beloved country, if all you want is a brooding hum of obedience and the eerie silence after all voices have been muffled.


When Nirbhaya died, I felt as if the country failed me. Now I feel I may never win, after all. 

Saturday, February 07, 2015

A point of no-return?

Whenever I come across news on Ghar Vapasi, my non-religious (or all-religions, whichever way you put it!) self thinks about Ammachi*.
My most favourite idea of holidays was us, her grandkids and children that are our mothers and fathers, huddling around our chubby grandma on a large bed and generally having a blast with her wise cracks and snugly hugs thrown around in ample measures. One of us would ask her, a firebrand leader of the Communist party in its early days, whether she believed in god. She would flash her signature naughty smile and say: Whether I believe in him or not, he loves me for sure!' If Ammachi was here today, she would have laughed at the idea of a god who would love someone more since she chose to return 'home'! 
People have asked me where do I go, to a church or a temple, by virtue of my mother being a 'Christian' and father, a 'Hindu.' I have often been amazed at their inability to understand how someone can just be without 'going' anywhere.
God, and religion, were never part of my psyche when I grew up, but certainly were religious people and places. And I have never felt alien around them. I have never noticed a truly religious person harbouring some kind of hatred towards those practising other religions. I like to imagine that, for them, religion is a matter of the heart. And I understand matters of the heart. You don't have to pray to, or believe in, an almighty (or rituals to please it) to understand matters of the heart. You only have to be human.
The soulful Celine in Richard Linklater's lovely movie Before Sunrise tells her partner, Jesse, as they visit a Vienna church, far away from both their homes: "I can't help but feeling for all those people that come here lost or in pain, guilt, looking for some kind of answers. It fascinates me..." It is fascinating. To think about huge masses of people united by a single entity, or many entities in certain faiths, and trying to find solace. I respect the human urge to do that. But arbitrarily terming a particular religion 'ghar' and pushing reconversion or conversion in a place such as our country, a crucible of so many faiths and ideas, simply feels absurd. It is equally absurd seeing people hurting each other to avenge perceived insult to their religions.
I can only say that if anyone referred to Ammachi as "that old hag," I would definitely be outraged, but my anger would soon turn into pity for the small mind who thought that up, and I would just put the imaginary dagger back into its sheath, most heartily! 


*Ammachi: my grandmother Koothattukulam Mary, a person of unbeatable spirit. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

ധര്‍മം

തിരക്ക് പിടിച്ച നഗര വീഥികള്‍ക്കരികില്‍ ‍എന്തിനാണ് സ്തൂപികാഗ്ര മരങ്ങള്‍ നാട്ടുപിടിപ്പിക്കപ്പെടുന്നത് ?
ആകാശത്തേക്ക് ചൂണ്ടി ആ വിശാല നീലിമ നീ വല്ലപ്പോഴുമെങ്കിലും ഒന്ന് മനസ്സിലും നിറക്കൂ എന്ന് മനുഷ്യനോടു പറയാന്‍ വേണ്ടിയാകാം.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

What do you do with memories?

A lot of shifting and rearranging happened around us this past month. And we ended up with tonnes of...well, memories! In the small flat we have made our home, it has become virtually impossible not to stumble on some object or document of the precious past. When it came to deciding on what to do with the umpteen number of diaries, letters, and curios from a shared and non-shared past--amalgamated from the 'ancestral' homes of the two of us--we were puzzled, frustrated and exhausted in that order with bits of delight sprinkled across. It was a revelation for me that I have kept so much of stuff from my years of studies and jobs elsewhere. And to realize that I have carried a single earring from Delhi to Chennai to Thiruvananthapuram after losing its pair in its place of origin is amusing and irritating at the same time! A diary from Class 5 where I have religiously jotted down the day's events was given to me by Sr. Vinaya even before I myself thought I could write. And there were letters from Nandini, who will forever be 23 in my memories and beyond...even if I don't have an of these, or they were all lost along the way, I am no loser. Since I am a keeper of memories. I look back and polish them whenever I can, not only for a sense of my roots, but for making space for the happenings of the day. I keep my memories as a reference point. To seek and refresh what I am all about...

And I am glad I have company.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Memories in twilight

It was getting dark when they left, after enrolling me into one of the best colleges in the South. I stood there waving away to them, braving the stinging tears that had already started pounding the depths of my chest. When they finally left and I looked within, I was surprised to find how badly bruised I was -- with a terribly old-fashioned homesickness. I was alone, and somehow I had already planned to be aloof, probably to escape some typical teenage insecurities bound to surface in friendships made and broken...

But I did make friends, rather, some great people made friends with me, and through nasty spells of illness, agony and bouts of anxiety, they saw me through. For the first time, I realised how it was to choose a family outside your home. (I was such a secure kid all through my school days, sharing a special bond with those at home, especially amma. Had it not been for hostel life, I never ever would have dared to open up to 'outsiders'.)

But that evening is still etched in memory, in colours of twilight. Something was broken inside.
Like shattered glass, the pieces reflected enlarged images of happenings-tangible and imaginary. But life only adds to it. Some are replaced by fresh wounds, some healed by people, places, smells, sometimes even by a falling autumn leaf.

It will always be there. I know. Everyone carries them. Each soul has them. Yet, however painful , however ugly, I know I am not going to trade them, for anything in the whole world.

Sometimes I can feel them poke through. Enough to miss a heart beat. Enough to make me hold breath and check whether they sweep me off the present. And no, they don't. they don't anymore.

Yes, ten years have past.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I love my life

Finally, yes, finally!
Oh, can't tell how relieved I am!!!
Life is great :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Dream Movie

I read A Temporary Matter again..The first story in Jumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. I am so fascinated by the story that i would love to make it into a short film some time...or, has anyone made it already?

All through the narrative I will ensure an undercurrent of lost-hope and new-found happiness --bcoz that's what I get from the story. In fact, this a story of a lost baby and the ever-fresh beginnings possible to young adults, or any human being, for that matter.


I can almost see the candle glow on the faces of Shukumar and Shobha..Light and shadow painting their emotions, their intimacy, so subtly...Their home..The kitchen cabinet with pyramid shaped stacks of pickle bottles. The drawing room couch with Shobha's proof reading colour pencils. Shukumar's study walls still carrying remains of the baby wall paper he scraped off, Shobha's white sneakers that she removes and throws away near the refrigerator, the wall-calendar she studies laboriously. The vapour below the glass lid on shukumar's lamb curry pot.

How they both roamed about among the guests, fingers intertwined, when shobha threw a surprise party for Shukumar's birthday...Shobha sitting with Gillian in a dim-lit bar talking silly things about her mother-in-law in a very mature voice; lights going off and on in the neighbourhood during power cut, The doctor forcing a kindly smile as he tells the sad news to Shukumar, The ivy-on-fire with b'day candles...and , and the tears glistening on their relieved faces lit up by the candle, in the end. I will end the movie as the flame dies down in silence...

I guess the movie has already been made in my mind, and is open to editing forever!! Thanks Jumpa, for this fascinating story :)