The first conversation with my first crush

The first time my body realized

That it could feel things beyond

Pain, fear, happiness,

Oh dear!

I constantly made a fool of myself.

 

The first time I reacted to the

Long island iced tea (of hormones) that

Coursed my arteries was when I was in 6th grade.

I was in LOVE.

I don’t remember the how and the why and the when of it but

Boy! The guy made my cells tingle.

 

And hence began the one sided saga

Of love and other things of a

Uniform clad – twelve year old- rabbit teethed girl.

 

All my free time was taken over

By his thoughts. Well,

That’s what they did in the movies!

Songs that had his name were

Searched, saved and played in a loop;

Smiling at the mention of the name.

Just like those long lost lovers living

In the two corners of the world would do.

 

My lunch in school comprised of three things –

Cream biscuits, fryms / Kurkure and peeking.

Not the peeking-tom kind, but more like

The devotees outside Indian temples,

Standing for 3-4-5 hours

To catch a glimpse.

Just one tiny glimpse

For just one second,

A glimpse of my super – HOT – hero!

 

Now, let’s talk about the ‘HOT’ factor,

Shall we?

I have this tendency to

Fall for people who the crowd

Doesn’t find to be good enough.

 

HAHA yayy! My inner goddess always does her

Ritualistic topsy-turvy step when I say this.

“No competition there woman!’

 

So while my friends saw

His oiled hair;

All I saw was how beautifully they shone.

While they thought he

Was an average looking nobody,

He was my Zac Efron and my Brad Pitt!

While they laughed at

His middle partition which

Ran right from the forehead to beyond,

I…

Well, sometimes even I laughed with them.

 

Just like that, my Mirror

Who otherwise was a good friend,

A friend who was usually supportive,

A friend who looked exactly like me,

Only sometimes a tad but thin and a tad bit not-so-thin

With the change in the weather

Had become my nemesis.

 

Chiding me for the bushy eyebrows I was born with,

Showing me a ZIT!

A freaking real ugly not-disappearing-for-fifteen-days zit!

She had the audacity to point out

At the tufts of hair that grew

Right above my lips. Yes.

I had a moustache!

Also, my dear mother made me

Live with that till I was sixteen.

 

At this point, I would take a moment to bow down

To all those boys who fell for me,

At a time when even I wouldn’t have.

Thank you, for feeding me with false pride

That made me smile at days

I otherwise would have spent

With zero self-esteem.

 

A couple of changes

Discreetly crept into my routine.

Instead of ten, twenty minutes were spent

To look presentable in school.

There was the hair that had to be done meticulously.

Nails kept, kohl applied and

Lip gloss smeared on a pair of lips

That had never seen anything beyond ghee and petroleum jelly.

 

But let me make something clear

Right now.

I never really wanted him

To love me back.

The thought never even crossed my mind.

This pea-brain was happy running around,

Worshipping him!

But all she ever craved for was

One conversation.

 

I remember this one time

When our eyes met.

I have never wanted to be more

Invisible than that day!

I kept staring

With an inane pair of huge, wide, unblinking eyes

Glued to the spot.

Brain dead.

A heart galloping faster than Arion!

He looked away; I ran

To take cover under my self-loathe.

Well, basically I went back to attend my social studied class.

 

And thus went on the days;

He – nonchalantly handsome

Me- Well do I need to say anymore?

Until that day.

 

That day when Him and I were

In the same room,

In the same space,

On the same table

With twenty something people.

 

Oh look!

He is sitting there.

Two chairs to his right, empty.

Let me just run and

Take the one beside him.

 

No wait! No no no no no.

I’ll make a fool of myself.

What if he sees the tiny zit on my left cheek?

What if he finds me ridiculous?

What if he finds me stupid?

What if he finds me absurd?

Wait, don’t they all mean the same?

I’ll just sit on the other chair.

 

But wait!

Who will sit in between?

What if it’s the pretty senior?

What if it’s the guy who smells of fish?

What if nobody sits and he ends up

Terming me an imbecile.

What’s with the synonym woman!

 

Thus began the never ending clamor

Between my inner goddess and me,

Till only the chair beside him was empty.

 

My Inner Goddess did

Five flips and a split.

She was on fire!

 

I went and sat awkwardly

Beside him, aware!

Aware of every word that

Left his mouth.

Aware of his every breath.

He breathed and I

Consciously tried to breathe in a rhythm

Trying to match it to perfection.

 

Twenty five times, he clenched his palm,

Six times he shuffled his feet.

 

Concentrate Amrutha, concentrate.

There are others, look. Look at them. 

Oh seven shuffles

Look the fan! It is swirling.

A spider web! But his voice.

Can I talk to him? No!

The spider.

Yes! The spider isn’t in the web.

Where is it?

Our legs are two inches apart.

Chocolate! Yes. I have to learn to make them.

I have to ask Neeta Aunty to help me with..

 

His palm accidentally brushed my fingers.

Oh lord the butterflies!

Butterflies from all over the planet

Seemed to have disapperated right

Into my stomach and

The part if my skin

That layered my finger,

Which he accidentally touched became

The most prices possession of my body!

 

“Hey! What do you think?”

“Huh?” I looked up.

 

He is asking me!

ME. Oh my god!

ME and NOT the twenty something faces

That all seem to stare at me.

They seem to see right through me.

They know everything I was thinking.

 

Then,

I looked at him.

And at that moment it was just him, I see.

Just him, I feel.

I grinned sheepishly and in a voice replied,

“I think it is perfect.”

(I don’t know what I was calling perfect. It was mostly, him.)

 

“You think so?” he asked with

Eyes, wide and curious.

Eyes, black and questioning.

Eyes, beautiful and smiling.

Eyes that want a YES.

And that is what I gave him.

“YES, I think so.”

 

And hence on the

Nineteenth day of the ninth month in the year 2007,

I had the first conversation with my first crush.

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Masks

Depression. A word used often, but not always as it should be. People say, “I am depressed.” They sometimes confuse it with being sad. Depression is a disease. A disease that effects every 1 out of 4 people. A disease that should be spoken about, heard, redressed. Let’s talk, trust and carry the message forward.
This piece is a poem within a poem. One thousand seventy three words, and I still think I didn’t do justice to it. I hope, this helps someone somewhere. Also, if you feel anything like this talk to someone. Talk to me, if you want. Get help. You will be fine 🙂
Here it goes.

I am a mother
I saw my daughter in a shroud.

It was just yesterday,
When I held her;
And the midget was crying,
Life filling her with every breath.

And today
She just lies there, denying to stir.

I cry out loud,
Cry her name,
Piercing the silence of the humming crowd.
I hold her like I held her for the first time.
But; she denies to stir.

It was just yesterday when
She took her first step towards me.
And another and another.
I stood there with arms wide open to catch her
If she falls.

And today,
She just lies there, denying to stir.

‘Tis was the autumn of the year 2002.
She rode a bike for the first time.
She laughed as she sped down the road, a laugh
So beautiful! Oh the autumn seemed to blossom out.

And today
She lies there, denying to stir.

“Maa..
Can I..?
Should I…?
Shall I…?
Would you…?
Could you..?
Can you…?

I..I think I said NO to half of those requests
Or probably more.
Is that where I was wrong?
Should I have said a YES to them all?
Cause may be, just may be
She would stir.
I remember when she was in 3rd grade.
Her best friend fought with her.
She cried,
Clutching on to me for
3 hours 22 minutes 13 seconds.
And I held on to her.

Why didn’t she cry this time?
Why didn’t she come running to me?
I would have caught her.
I wouldn’t have let her fall.

But she didn’t.
And just lay there, denying to stir.

The other day, I saw some videos,
Videos on the World Wide Web.
Videos that might have answers
Answers as to where did I go wrong.
It said:
“The following are the signs of depression –
Appetite change, long periods of hopelessness,
Social withdrawal, concentration problems..”

Oh! That one time she didn’t attend the neighbor’s wedding!
Was that a sign?

Or that time when her grades slipped for a month.
I remember chiding her; was that a sign?

Or when she stopped having pizzas!
I stood there, thumping her on her back
To have finally listened to me; was that a sign?

She did come to me once.
She said, she sometimes didn’t feel.
I slighted it to be one of those times
I feel aloof.
Ignored it, to be a teenage whim.
“It shall pass”, I said.
“It’s just a phase.”

Is that why she denies to stir?

Or was it because I was less of a friend and
More of a mother.
The video said, I should have talked.
Words would have helped.
Words, the never ending plethora of sounds
Imbibed with meanings
By us.
Could that be a mistake?

“Give me my space mom.
I’ll tell you if I feel like.”
I gave her, her space.
I should have pressed on
Shouldn’t have given up on our daughter
Who lies there, denying to stir.

And thence,
I played and replayed every memory
I could grasp, trying
Trying to solve the puzzle my daughter had become.
Trying to find my fault,
Right from the first cry till the last breath.

27 days 14 hours 32 minutes later,
I chanced upon a journal
And these were the last pages:

I sit.
Clothed.
Writing.
Talking, smiling a smile that never reaches my eyes.

You see,
I weigh one hundred sixty six pounds.
I am an acne clad, love tires armored
Lone battalion.

Couple of centimeters below the
Average Indian height.
Foot size – US size 9;
I could easily pass for a hobbit.

Short, overweight, myopic.
Just above average in everything.

Getting these (teeth) aligned
Required four extractions and
Metal wires strung for another four years.
Marred at places, broken too.
Striving every day,
Every day to be acceptable.

Pitted,
Torn.
Bit I denied to break.

My feeds on Instagram and Tumblr
Filled with scores of people.
People with perfection.
Tall smart hot rich beautiful witty.
And there sat a girl
Holding on to the phone
Just above average, denying to break.

Fifteen years of outstanding performance,
Reduced and shattered to mediocrity.
Some scoops of peer pressure,
A dollop of ‘society ka burden’.
Expectation.
Pitted.
Torn.
Yet, I denied to break.

Anxiety,
Raging like a storm, harbinger
Of sleepless nights.
Breakups, hair fall, a broken arm.
But I denied to break.

You see, I had ignited a fire within me.
And all I needed was a unicorn to sweep me off my feet.
And thus, I lived on a life,
Of Paradoxical sonnet.

But unicorns don’t exists.

Three rotis became one.
Social gathering, a headache.
Sunny days turned pensive.
I was draped on the outside
With yards of skin and layers of clothes,
Adorning a perfect mask
Of nonchalance.

But what about the inside
The part that lay bare, naked.
Naked; to be trampled.
Naked; to be whipped.
Naked; to be touched, stabbed once twice,
A hundred times?
“Get a grip of yourself.
Take deep breathes.
Count forward, count backward – 1.. 2.. 3..”

There were nights in my room
Days in the bathroom; lights on, lights off- it didn’t matter.
And I cried.
Cried behind doors, cried myself to sleep.
Sleep that stopped coming.

My BMI screaked at me to stop!
I couldn’t.

Friends became people.
People became crowd.
Crowd became beings with two arms and two legs.

Moving a foot felt like moving boulders.
I didn’t know what was happening to me!

Maa told me to talk.
But words;
They failed.
Failed to express, failed to know,
Failed to come out of the bourgeois.
Failed to form, failed to articulate.
Letters became mere arrays of – A B G P X Y Z.
No switched to turn off, no anchors
To hold on to.

Till,
I had no choice but to silence
The disarrayed words, figures, body, mind
Heart and soul.

Thus, I write one last time.
The last time ink shall ever leave
The tips of my nib.
The last time I shall ever
Struggle to breathe.

Let me sleep.
Good night.

I sat there holding on to it.
Stunned and lamented.
Lamented for reasons I didn’t understand; but would have.
Lamented for reasons I couldn’t wrap my head around; but would have.
Reasons, I knew I would have solved
If only, if only she would have
Let me catch her
Before she fell.

I sat,
Holding on to the non-existing body
That denied to stir.

 

(29.04.2017)

The Train for Mundane

I sit by the window sill.
The world passes by,
Not stumbling once.
It’s as if it was born to
Walk and talk and never stop.
The cooing of the birds
Silenced by the never ending blare
Of the passers-by.

Rumbling along the crevices
Of the city untold
Undeterred, stopped by a red light or two.
The train continues its course.
A woman smiles looking at her son,
A man hastily picks up his phone.
I sit and watch it all unfurl
On my 7:01 to Luxembourg.

My day goes down
Like a mundane show
That is played with a hope to have
A visitor someday.
A life of utter brown and dull
Is what I live every day.
But I wait for my way back on the train
To look at the world alive.

Unseen in the never ending crowd
Of suited men and masked faces
I trudge back and wait for my train.
Stuck and beaten
By the things around
All I house is disdain.
My train to Luxembourg and home
Is my only track to reign.

The Vanishing Whisper

To all those stories that didn’t happen when they should have
To all those stories that have unfinished business
To all those stories that would never be written
To all those stories that would never see an end.

He loved her.
She didn’t.

He saw the sun
And the stars
In her eyes.
She didn’t care
To look him
In the eye.

He waited till
The vines of
Solitude
Strangled him.

Unbound.
He left.

The tree
Was bare
And the sky
Was bereft.

She remembered.
The glimmer
Of hope
In those eyes.
Those eyes
That she didn’t
Care
To look into.

She begged
And vowed
And cried
To no avail.

She wanted more
He didn’t.

She matters.

v

This is a short play on gender stereotype. The protagonist of the play is Sameer. The words of his Alter Ego (S)Ameer (or Ameer) are written in bold, the thoughts of his inner voice SAMEER are written in Italics and the rest is written using the normal font.

-The Beginning-

I am Sameer. Oops! (S)Ameer.

No no ; not the guy who cries watching Taare Zameen Par.

Neither the one who cannot stop thinking about the new neighbor who smiled at him yesterday. Yes, he thinks she is pretty but I think she is out of his league. Well, we will see about that later.

You must be wondering – What the hell is he talking about? Let me elucidate.

Sameer calls me his alter ego. I prefer to call myself the real him. Not the guy who touches his parent’s feet in the morning (They make him do that!). But the guy who smirks at the passer buys when they ogle at him. Well, he is kind of good looking . I am the badass, nonchalant and the aloof part of him. And come what may, I don’t let the sheer prattle get to him.

The other day, Sameer heard some crap about Feminism.

Yeah, that word is being used more times than Indian soap actresses cry. Most women are like, “I need feminism because I want justice”.

And they are the ones who expect men to open the car door for them. Now THAT is a gentleman’s gesture. Have you ever seen a woman doing that for a man? Or do we have a separate line at the security check? Or reserved seats in the bus?

No. And the ladies will elegantly claim those advantages and still want ‘equality’. Don’t listen to that bullshit Sameer.

Shushhh! Stop Ameer. Enough is enough. If you can’t help, at least don’t poison Sameer’s mind with your witless words. You all! Don’t mind him. Ameer is a spoilt brat who thinks he can have the best of all the worlds without moving his butt from the sofa.

I am SAMEER.

This world is consumed by so much of negativity that Sameer sometimes finds it difficult to tune it out. That’s when my voice (kind of distant) keeps him sane.

I am the one he comes to when he feels guilty, sad or frightened. He almost lost his best friend because his ego had gotten the better of him.

My voice helps him get up every day with a smile on his face.

Scene I

(Enters Mother. She finds Sameer watching Suits.)

Mother: I am making dinner Sameer. Make the salad, will you?

Ignore her Sameer. Your mother sits home every day. If you help her cook and clean, she will be dead bored in her own home because she will not have anything else to do.

Go Sameer. You are done with this episode anyway. She looks tired.

Sameer: I just came home Mother. Ask Ashna to help you.

(Sameer’s father is watching the cricket match)

Father: Ashna is working on her project Sameer. Your Mother needs your help.

Him too? Tell him to switch off his match and help Mother. And Ashna is the one who needs to learn all this.

For once, I agree. He should be helping too. Mother is cooking for the guests.

And no Sameer. Ashna has a company of her own to run. She doesn’t NEED to learn anything. She already knows it all. I am sure she can afford a maid when she has a house of her own.

Sameer: There you go. I have closed my laptop. I have a submission too. Mother I don’t even know how to cut the vegetables. Ashna can do her presentation tomorrow. It’s a Sunday anyway. It won’t be due till Monday.

Good. Now we get some much needed silence. It’s the season finale for god’s sake!

SAMEER silent.

(Ashna enters the drawing room.)

Ashna: I’ll help Mother.

Scene II

(Two years have passed and Ashna is married to a successful businessman. Mother, Father and Sameer have reached Ashna’s home for dinner. Ashna’s husband opens the door. He is wearing an apron.)

Husband : Hello Aunty. Hello Uncle. Hi Sameer. Ashna is working late today. Come on in. Make yourself comfortable.

Wow. Ashna seems to have married a lady. *sniggers*

(Ashna’s Mother-in-law enters.)

Mother-in-law: Welcome. Please come in.

Husband (smiling): I am making spaghetti for dinner. I hope you all don’t mind. The maid is on leave and Ashna had an important meeting. So I have the kitchen all to myself.

Mother-in-law: I told him to let me cook. But he won’t let me enter the kitchen.

(Ashna’s family is confused)

Mother-in-law: We have  divided the household duties among us as the maid is out of town. Mondays and Tuesdays are mine, my son manages the house on the next three day. Ashna takes care of the chores on the weekends.

Mother: I am sorry. I’ll talk to Ashna. She seems to be so engrossed in her business that she is ignoring her duties as your daughter-in-law. You shouldn’t be working at this age.

Mother-in-law: Oh you are taking me all wrong. This was my Son’s idea. Your daughter was completely against me or him working. Like always, she wanted to take all the responsibility on her shoulder. 

I was telling you. Ashna has married a wack job.

SAMEER perks up.

Husband (to Sameer) : You look perplexed. What happened?

Sameer: You know how to cook? All I can make is Maggi when Mother’s out of town.

Husband: No offence but what will you do once you move out of the house? Or get married and have your own house?

Sameer: What do you mean? I will have a maid of course. And I am positive my wife will know how to cook and clean for sure.

Husband: Do you want a woman who you respect and love or a cleaning lady to do your daily chores?

Sameer: Ummm…

Husband (continues): I and Ashna, we both have a job. And frankly, she is so much better at it than I am. I make sure none of these trivial issues come between her and her success. After Father passed away, Mother took amazing care of me and the house. She used to go to work, come home, cook, clean, help me with my studies. It used to drain her out. Yet, she never lost that beautiful smile of hers.

Mother-in-law (smiling): I remember one of the days when work kept me at the office till late. I rushed home thinking that my son must be hungry. I was surprised to find salad, curry and half burnt rotis ready at the dinner table. He asked me to sit down, gave me a glass of water. I had the most satiating dinner that night.

Husband: And the curry tasted like sea water. She still scraped the bowl and had it all. From that day, I resolved to keep her and my future wife happy. By happy, I don’t mean I will work hours to feed them and buy them stuff. I will be their equal and share every responsibility. I wanted to build a home that had equal amount of sweat and money from both of us.

Blah blah blah. I think he watches the saas bahu dramas too. Ignore him Sameer. Aren’t you hungry?

(Ashna enters the home. She hugs her parents. Pleasantries are exchanged. The spaghetti turn out to be perfect. Mother, Father and Sameer leave.)

Scene III

(Father is driving the car. Mother and Sameer sit silently. But Sameer’s mind is in turbulence. Ashna’s husband’s words have left a deep impact on him.)

Seriously dude? You are worrying about what he had to say. I mean, ok you have to respect him and everything. But cooking in an apron is just so weird. You just relax man.

Do you see my point? All those years passed when your mother managed the house. You disapproved of Father sitting and not lending a helping hand. But you never took it upon yourself to change it. You ignored me for so long that my voice was becoming nothing but a distant memory.

We were all born equals. We don’t have a ‘To-do list’ branded on our bodies.

Exactly. We were born equals. But woman expect you to make a move.

She will flirt with you but expect you to ask her out. She wants you to pay for dinners and movies. She wants all the perks of being a girl. On the top of that, you have to do the household chores too? If you cry, people are like, ‘Be a man. Don’t cry.’

And now they talk about equality? Nayy. Don’t listen to him.

First of all, not everyone is like that. Most of the girls you dated have spent equal amount of money, time and tears as you have.

You should talk to her about this. Tell her what you feel. You will be surprised to see her agreeing to almost every word you utter.

I am sure you want a woman who is independent, confident and respects you and not a woman who is bound by duties to the extend where she is frustrated. It will ruin your relationship.

What’s the joy in walking all alone when you can walk hand-in-hand together?

(Car comes to a halt. All of them enter the house. Sameer hugs his mother.)

Sameer: I have never acknowledged you Mother. Years have passed and there hasn’t been a day when you have put your needs before mine. I am sorry. You have put in your everything to make this house a home. Teach me how to cook will you? *grins* Father, lets will be students together, shall we?

Father (tears in his eyes): Mother! Will you take me as a student too?

Mother (teary eyed, smiling at Father): Of course. (to Sameer) I am so proud of Ashna and you. You both have grown to be such beautiful souls. I am blessed.

SAMEER : Ata boy!

Ameer is silent.

-The End-

Gender prejudices are seen everyday. A woman is supposed to know and do the chores , even if she is studying or working. This is so deeply rooted in our minds that we tend to ignore it most of the times.

It starts when a  three year old child is asked not to cry because it is something that girls do. And the process continues. Most of us see our mothers cooking, doing laundry or getting up early and seeing us off to school. We think, it is how it is supposed to be and go with the flow.

Not anymore. Lets #ShareTheLoad .

Let us start from our homes. The problem has to be annihilated from the root. Help your mothers and wives with the daily chores. Teach the art of homemaking to your sons as well as your daughters. Don’t let this issue be ephemeral.

Let us all raise our voices and ask #IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob?

Why just HER?
Why NOT HIM too?

This beautiful video will throw some light on the issue.

I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.

 

Battling Minds – a melancholic strain

FUNDAMENTAL (3)

During the last three years in Rachana (School) I kind of discovered my passion to write. Also these were the years when we were introduced to the works of Shakespeare and Frost. It introduced me to myriad of new words wanting me to use them all in my poems. So here goes one such attempt in standard 10th in the memory of my first pet, a turtle called Gicoo.

 

Thunderstorms blew with full might,
Breaking the silence of the night.
The sea was scowling and shrieking,
The waves were raging white.

The shore had grown fatal.
The sky stood raging dark.
The wind grew wilder and wilder,
And the night turned drearier and dreairer.

The anguish in my heart was unbearable,
The bond was completely unbreakable,
I stood on the sandy shore,
With tears streaming down my eyes.

My heart wept like the drizzle,
My knees touched the shore,
The loss was forever,
And the gone would never come back.

I trampled over the sandy shore,
The sore in my heart prevailed.
I was dismayed by the incident,
Which left me grieving and bereft.

What hurt, was that winsome face;
Those beautiful serene eyes.
Which were now, nothing
But a dissipating memory.
What remained was a lonely heart,
The lamented in agony and distress.

Those memories flowed back to me,
Those happy moments at the glen,
Those sweet moments together,
Left me bemoaning in solitude.

The dawn broke and the sun rose,
The birds chirped with zeal,
The sky stood blue and divine,
The sea was vast and calm.

I curbed my agony and solitude,
Fought the feeling of dissolution,
Conquered my bereft heart, and
Wiped away those tears.

With the first blessing of the sun,
And the first swish of the breeze,
I began my life anew and afresh,
With ecstasy, enrapture and enthrall.