Friday, October 9, 2015

Behold, the world's changing

Behold, my son, the world's changing;
And you're so young and fresh.
You can run and learn new ways
But I am too old to catch up.

I was young in my time, (sigh)
And a long way have I come...
I did my share of running, too-
A good learner in my day.

I know how you see me
In the sunset of my life;
In your eyes I'm frail and old
A woman with no past.

My journey has been long
There's been many a sacrifice;
Can I teach you my lessons
To save you from that pain?

When I speak and judge you
It comes from experience
And not from ignorance
I now know that's what mothers do.

I also know I'm wrong
You can't learn from my mistakes
You have to make your own
And so it would go on and on.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Just Because.

Click here to read a very similar story in English.

രാവിലെ പത്തുമണിയായപ്പോള്‍ വിശന്നു. അപ്പോഴാണ് ഒന്നും കഴിച്ചില്ല എന്നോര്‍ത്തത്. ദോശയുണ്ടാക്കാമെന്നു കരുതി അടുക്കളയില്‍ കയറിയപ്പോള്‍ വേസ്റ്റ് പുറത്ത് വെച്ചില്ലല്ലോ എന്നോര്‍ത്തു. അതും എടുത്തു വെളിയിലോട്ട്‌ പോകുമ്പോഴാണ് ചെടിക്ക് വെള്ളം ഒഴിച്ചില്ല എന്നോര്‍മ്മ വന്നത്. വെള്ളം ഒഴിക്കാന്‍ പോയപ്പോള്‍ നല്ല വെയില്. തുണി വാഷിംഗ്‌ മെഷീനില്‍ വേഗം ഇട്ടാല്‍ വെയില്‍ കളയാതെ ഉണക്കാം. തുണിയെടുക്കാന്‍ പോയപ്പോഴാണ് കളര്‍ ഇളകുന്ന രണ്ടു ഡ്രസ്സ്‌ സോപ്പില്‍ ഇട്ടു വച്ച കാര്യം ഓര്‍ത്തത്. അതിപ്പോത്തന്നെ കഴുകിയിടാമല്ലോ എന്നോര്‍ത്തു ബാത്രൂം ലക്ഷ്യമാക്കി നീങ്ങുമ്പോള്‍ മോന്‍ സ്കൂളില്‍ പോയ വഴിക്ക് ഊരിയിട്ട ഷര്‍ട്ട്‌ നടുവഴിയില്‍. അതെടുത്ത് അവന്‍റെ മുറിയിലെത്തിയപ്പോള്‍ മെത്ത അലങ്കോലമായി കിടക്കുന്നു. അതു വിരിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുമ്പോഴാണ് സഹപ്രവര്‍ത്തകയുടെ കോള്‍. "ഇപ്പൊ ശരിയാക്കിത്തരാമെന്നു പറഞ്ഞു പോയിട്ട് മണിക്കൂര്‍ രണ്ടായല്ലോ."
വേഗം പോയി കമ്പ്യൂട്ടറിന്‍റെ മുന്നില്‍ സീറ്റ്‌ പിടിച്ചു. ജോലി തുടങ്ങിയപ്പോഴാണ് ഡോര്‍ ബെല്‍ അടിച്ചത്. ഭാരത് ഗ്യാസ്. തന്നിട്ട് പോയ ആളോട് പത്തു രൂപയുടെ കണക്ക് പറഞ്ഞു വഴക്കു കൂടിയപ്പോള്‍ കറന്‍റ്ബില്‍ അടക്കേണ്ട അവസാന തീയതിയാണല്ലോ എന്നോര്‍മ്മ വന്നു. വേഗം ഓണ്‍ലൈനില്‍ അടയ്ക്കാന്‍ പോയി. അപ്പോഴാണ്‌ ഫോണ്‍ ബില്‍, തുടങ്ങി ഒരുപാടു മറ്റു ബില്ലുകള്‍ അടയ്ക്കാനുണ്ടെന്ന് ഓര്‍മ്മ വന്നത്. തുക കണ്ടുപിടിക്കാനായി ബില്ല് തപ്പിപോയ വഴിക്ക് മേശയിലെ പൊടി കണ്ടു, തുടയ്ക്കാനായി തുണി എടുക്കാന്‍ പോയി. കുറെ നേരം അവിടെയും ഇവിടെയും നോക്കി കഴിഞ്ഞപ്പോള്‍ എന്തെടുക്കാനാണ് വന്നതെന്ന് മറന്നു പിന്നെയും കമ്പ്യൂട്ടറിന്‍റെ അടുത്തെത്തി.
തുടര്‍ന്നു വായിക്കുക

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"If you were to have one super power, which would you choose?"

"The Green Lantern's watch," replied my son without a moment's hesitation. Little children. They know exactly what they want. (Read this old story - Twitter of the Linkedin.) As they grow, somehow this certainty fades and they learn to stray between this and that and in between.

Apparently, using the watch, the Green Lantern can do pretty much anything. Which is really cool because the super heroes I used to know had certain definite types of skills - like flying, super-strength to bash up the bad guys or to stop trains, thought-reading, crawling up walls, swinging from spider webs, manoeuvring a flying car, and so on. These days a watch is enough for all this and more.

Anyway, a few years ago when I was asked this question (in a public forum, no less), I said, "I guess I would like to be invisible." Clearly an answer that was delivered with no thought behind it. I assumed that if I gave some answer then they will move on. They didn't. "Everyone wants to be invisible," they said. And within a few minutes, my "dream" super power was reduced to a creepy idea that I wanted to be invisible so as to overhear what others are saying, see what they are doing and so forth.

Actually the answer is (then as well as today) that I don't want any super power. Think about it. I am a Mom who loves her tea and writing and books and movies, and who needs to hug her son and listen to his tales and yell at him everyday. I don't want to be out in the sun with my very own super strength to bash up bad guys. (Though, I must admit, a little Taekwondo training for self-defense is a good idea these days; just in case.) No crawling up the walls, no flying cars, and I definitely don't want to be overwhelmed with everyone else's thoughts in my head, à la Superman.

I would like to vanish into thin air only when I have royally embarrassed myself in front of someone.

I would also like to erase some memories from some people's heads while I am at it.

I certainly don't fancy flying over Bengaluru with my hands outstretched and my cape flying behind me, just because I am stuck in the traffic jam and there is somewhere I need to be. Or swinging from one building to another over the heads of people. (I won't mention the outrageous costumes here.)

I suppose it would be politically correct to say that if I had some super power (i) I would try to bring all the criminals in the world to justice and (ii) I will fight for global peace and (iii) I will try to reduce global warming and close the ozone hole with my very own fingers, and (iv) I will put an end to poverty and suffering and illnesses, but if we really think about it, even the known superheroes have been able to do nothing much about poverty or illness. (Most of them haven't even seen real poverty or suffering, as far as I can tell; they being generally confined to the other side of the globe.) Besides, if all the human evil in the world was eliminated, what would organizations like Human Rights Watch do? Heck, what would the superheroes themselves do? See the massive lay-off looming in the horizon that will bring in more problems, more unemployment, more poverty, more starvation? (Oh, how in the world can a poor superhero rest in peace!)

Putting all those powers (and jokes) aside, let us look at what we dream of every day. Yes, there are certain things that we all wish would happen to us. Put a thought in someone's mind (someone who is influential enough) to show us a bit of kindness. Push our file / email to the top of some important person's inbox at the right time. Allow a critical someone to accidentally see our work. And if we are less talented, make them think highly of us for no reason. Ever heard of Bruce Almighty?

We might like to call it a miracle - such a coincidence! - that we were noticed by The Someone. We would narrate it to everyone - she saw it just by accident! I was so surprised when he called! I had no idea my work was this brilliant! Oh, I am so darn lucky.

But deep inside, we would know. It's called cheating. Maybe it will be smooth sailing for a while. But then we would need more such miracles if we are to keep up the show. Do we really want that? Think Bruce Almighty again.

Mothers are usually known for juggling too many things and trying to be SuperMoms, and for feeling guilty despite everything. We would certainly appreciate it if Superman could go get the groceries or look after the baby or do the chores while we rest our backs, but I'm afraid he might consider those tasks beneath him. We merely need some human support (sometimes as little as a kind word!). Or some magic wand that erases the misplaced feeling of guilt.

So the answer is that there is no real super power that can really help me the way I want to be helped. When a person is given a superpower, he is not expected to use it on himself (think Bruce) but to help others. How selfish of me to think only of myself.

But, wait.

Maybe this can't be called 'super', but I would really like to have a power that helps me with my son's studies. I mean, it was one thing to pass my own exams, but now half a lifetime later to be confronted with the same old questions? I could really use some super-human help to keep me from going insane, as I struggle to first understand the stuff myself and then explain to him.

What? That kind of super power is not in the market these days? That's a pity. A real pity.

I guess I will have to tackle life as it is, then.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Fly

It was the Fly.
I knew for a certainty. I knew it when I saw the gigantic, black, gleaming eyes at my window – and their cold, unblinking stare.
I knew it when I heard its shriek from across the years. And somehow deep inside, I had always known it would come looking for me.
When I opened my eyes – or maybe my eyes were already open, how can I tell? – it was gone. There was nothing at the window. Merely the night, and the lights from the streets. But I knew it was there, biding its time, watching me, waiting.
The worst of it was knowing that it was not my mistake – it was not a mistake at all, it was intentional.
I had left it to die, and when it screeched, I had poured water over it.
My Mother always said that we’re allowed to kill only one being in this world. Well, she said we shouldn’t kill any living thing, of course, but I pestered her with questions: What about the cockroach? What about the mosquito? What about the fly?
Scare off the cockroach, she said. We can’t kill it anyway. It is built to survive nuclear bombs. Our poisons would only send it into a trance. Let the housefly out, she said. You can’t kill all of them – they have this employment exchange where when one is killed, the other gets the job. Just let it out.
But isn’t it unhygienic? Aren’t flies the ones spreading diseases, and so on? I didn’t want to let those creatures free.
Yes – for that we need to keep our surroundings clean, my wise Mom said. Give no chance for the flies to come. That’s how we solve that issue, not by killing one at a time.
What about the mosquito? I said.
Well, I think that’s the only creature we are allowed to lay our hands on. She didn’t explain any further.
So we killed mosquitoes every evening, in large numbers. The mosquito army swarmed in as soon as the sun set. We would wave the electric hunter bat, and hear the click-click-click of mosquitoes getting electrocuted. We were fascinated first and then infatuated with the operation. We fought for the possession of the bat. We took turns – every one got five minutes with the bat – and we would compare numbers, who was the best mosquito hunter? There would be a pile of dead bodies at the corner of the house every day, and a smoky smell of burnt life. When the day’s assault was over, one of us would jump over the pile to ensure that any half dead ones were finished.
Never before or since had I found such joy from massacre.
The fly came in one day through an open window. By mistake, evidently. It must have lost its way.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


you are vanishing
into oblivion, just

the same way as
went others before

soon will you fade
from vision, a shadow

that days have 
forgotten to shine on.

a memory in a few
hearts; to be recycled,

diluted by the 
years - to nothingness.

you were but a
bleep in the universe

the tiniest drop 
in the surging tide.

a stone tossed 
into the enormous lake-

sinking to the bottom 
with a quiet ripple.

essential, immaterial,
one among many.

you were here-
and now you're not.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Longing for nightmares

When I dream of you at night
I call it a nightmare...
For, though it does sound sweet,
It brings nothing but pain.

Yet when the sun goes down
I yearn for those dreams;
In a life that promises nothing,
Even pain is a godsend.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My story

These are not my stories - the books I read,
The movies I watch,

Don't misunderstand me-
I like these stories I read; I like those movies I watch.
I can connect with some of them, and those I cannot, I still can enjoy.

But it is not me; their story is not mine. There are characters in those stories who are a little like me, but their choices are not mine, their paths deviate from mine.

Because my story is different; because it is not told.
Because my life matters, and my struggles are real.
Because I cannot go on pretending they do not exist.

And what is my story? I barely know.
That is why I write - I try to find it in that place where I exist. Most of me, anyway.

Every story I write has something of me in it.
And yet even I cannot piece it together and make the whole.

My story is not merry, it isn't enchanting. But it is important and it has to be told.
When I write, I search. I am trying to find and recreate - myself.

I know who I am - and it is a only feeling.
It is not words that I can articulate and you can understand. Not yet.

I try.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Life is full of dilemmas:

To ask or not to.
To beg or not to.
To announce or not to.
To suppress or not to.

To struggle or not to.
To live or not to.
To smile or not to.
To pay or not to.

To laugh or not to.
To play or not to.
To cry or not to.
To yell or not to.

To knock or not to.
To enjoy or not to.
To walk or not to.
To wait or not to.

To let go or not to.
To fight or not to.
To relax or not to.
To restrain or not to.

To rebel or not to.
To love or not to.
To explain or not to.
To obey or not to.

To command or not to.
To suffer or not to.
To endure or not to.
To die or not to.

The chains that the poet spoke of...
That binds us through life...