Friday, February 26, 2010



29.3.06, Pune

“The world is full of uncertainties, and all anxieties stem from our search for the certain”.

This was one of the lines quoted often in our Psychotherapy class by my favourite professor Dr Sathe, and something that made better sense.

Today I know why it appealed to me the way it did. I am standing on the crossroad of life, faced with many uncertainties. My life as a student, the walk to the university everyday, those endless chat sessions with friends in the canteen, is all getting over today. And like all good things in life, I don’t want it to end. It sure is scary to step out into the world of the unknown.

The last few days have been a dream. My friends from my MA class, other friends from Pune and I have had so much fun. Through journal submissions, job applications and hours in class and at the nearby photocopy-wallah’s shop, I’ve lived every moment and loved it, propelled perhaps by the urgency of fleeting time. Never before have I been so agonisingly aware of time. 10 days, a week, 5 days, 4, 3, yesterday and today: the countdown to my life of carefree abandon, where the most I’d have to worry about was giving my exams well. I feel frightened as I see ahead of me this huge mountain of responsibilities and struggle – as a professional, a wife, a mother and so many more. Shit!

Now it’s going to be barter all the way. You love and I’ll love you back, you work and I’ll pay you back, you become ideal and I’ll respect you back. I mean, no more of the free stuff! I wonder how many more times in life will I be allowed to toss over the foulest of my moods onto others as I did on my parents and friends and still be loved for who I am.

It’s six in the morning and my roommate, Avani, is still sound asleep. Outside my hostel room’s window, Pune looks as beautiful as ever. And here I am writing this piece with involuntary tears streaming down my cheeks. Damn! I hate goodbyes. I hate them so much! It’s going to be so hard to pack up half of my stuff later today and head home to Nagpur. Pune’s more home to me than anyplace in the world. I’m head-over-heels in love with this city. Shall I thank God for giving me an opportunity to spend two years of my life here or shall I beg Him to let me live here for some more time?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


And then there were poems about those things that moved me in their small ways. Life, death, heartbreaks, power failures and a great many things that brought forth words just like that. My favourite among those and of all my poems is this one that was triggered by my love-at-first-sight for nature in a holiday to the North of India.

Her willing prisoner (2003)
This year in my trip
To the Himalayas,
I met this woman –
An incredibly beautiful lass.
Then amidst my worldly cares,
Entered beauty,
Into my transfixed stare.
She wore a blue headdress
And green skirts;
Though pretty as she was,
She looked like a flirt.
Her blouse dotted in brown
With pretty white lace,
Made a perfect match
To her fair face.
From that moment on,
When I first set eyes on her,
Her smile cast a spell
And set me on fire.
The twinkle in her eye,
Gave me a divine high;
And her rolling laughter,
Made me her willing prisoner.
The gait in her walk,
Was almost alcoholic,
And her merry talk,
Spoke only of fun and frolic.
Her enchanting voice,
Made promises of pleasure.
A touch of her icy hand,
Had warmth of infinite measure.
The wind in her hair,
Made the loveliest curls.
A million flowers she held,
In her hand, this girl.
By the sunshine and the moonlight,
The smooth skin of this dame;
Looked as if it would put,
A thousand diamonds to shame.
With her breath of incense,
She walked in the light.
Her charm thus led me seeking her,
Far into the night.
I called her by names,
Soft and sweet.
With stars above my head,
And the sand at my feet.
The moment I approached,
She changed her route.
Untiringly yet, I followed her,
In close pursuit.
She kept hiding,
Behind trees and rocks and hills.
But I walked on and searched,
By roads and men and mills.
Long after, tired of her game,
Of hide and seek and flirtation,
I sat me down,
With heartache and desperation.
Then a familiar sound drifted into the air,
And I opened my eyes slowly.
My joy knew no bounds,
As I saw her before me.
The startling revelations then,
In my life have made changes.
But why such games,
My dear Mother Ganges?

The Ebb (2002)
One does not dare
To see any more,
After looking around.
Life’s so unfair!
To suck the life out of
A new bud.
Our faiths in God,
Become an object of doubt.
Tears in a mother’s eyes,
Watching her lap emptied
Every day is an agony
And those pitiful sighs…
What helplessness and desperation
Before death’s cold stare.
All prayers are but fruitless
On fate’s cruel condemnation.
What? Ebb so soon
Of the new spring of  life
That is yet to taste the air outside
Yet to feel the warmth of noon
The equation is distasteful.
When the old yearn for death
The young ones go to their tombs.
Is life beautiful?

The Two Little Devils (2002)
The mind plays annoying games, you know?
With the naughty accompaniment of the heart.
You may get angry as you want,
But these guys are really very smart.
They bewilder and perplex,
And puzzle and confuse;
And if these were not enough,
They tempt and you cannot refuse!
They make you believe in improbabilities,
Then make you chase impossibilities.
And then it’s not long before you see
That they laugh at you in mockery.
Admonish them, they will abscond,
Reprimand, and they will race.
You try to catch and bind them,
And you’ll fall flat on your face.
With impatience and fortitude,
If you’ve learnt to tame,
These two little devils; I’ll wager
For your victory in life’s race.

…And The Heavens Weep In Concurrence (2002)
If the tears that flood
Are for an earnest sorrow,
The oceans will show reverence
And the heavens weep in concurrence.
Sighs that are heaved,
From a heavy bosom,
Make the winds blow in turbulence,
And the heavens weep in concurrence.
An intense pain
That wrecks the wretched self,
Causes the earth to shake in violence
And the heavens weep in concurrence.
The anguish, the hurt
That make the heart burn
Setting mighty forests ablaze
And the heavens weep in concurrence.
When anger in vanquished,
And the soul surrenders
To calm, peace and silence,
No more will then
The heavens weep in concurrence.

Reflections (2003)
Today is the day –
I knew it was coming,
Coming my way.
And it has created ripples
In the still waters of my life.
Though none is responsible,
But I.
So, I’ll have to be alone
To face this strife.
But what is my fault?
Where did I go wrong?
Maybe it’s my heart,
Maybe it’s the pain it feels
Because it has been torn apart.
Or maybe it’s my mind,
Which cannot concentrate
And flutters like a butterfly.
Which does not understand
No matter how hard I try.
And why?
Why does it love the one
Who never cares?
Or maybe it’s me,
Who has caused hurt to another
And the tears that fall,
Fall off my eyes,
Is the price I’m paying
For every tear of the one I hurt,
Of the one who loved.
God, forgive me.

Perceptual Difficulties? (2002)
The race for money, the fight for status,
The hunger for fame, what will it get it? 

These are the questions, that scream and shout,
And make me look at life, with an uneasy doubt.

It is a difficult place, this world, to live in
A ruthless people, with a dishonest grin.

Is it only money that matters? Looks that way to me.
If there’s another perspective, I’d really like to see.

Competition, competition: is the only way to live.
Relationships are business; I take and you give.

Emotion, emotion…where are you?
You were a close friend in a time I once knew.

Name and fame and wealth and lust,
As they come about, bring along distrust.

Life is beautiful, as good as it can be,
But is a price tag attached? Or does it come free?

Nature is wonderful; so is the building of 100 feet.
Feelings are weaker than bricks and concrete.

Show me a world, where man has a heart,
Made of flesh, not steel and is God’s integral part.

Without Electricity (2000)
Last night we went out to see,
A play: mummy, daddy and me.
Blast it! When we reached
It kept us all waiting.
There I saw faces –
Dismayed, flustered, worried
And I saw people moving,
Hither, tither and harried.
It was then that I realized,
How helpless were we
Without electricity!
I sat there bored,
Observing, wondering –
Then a good look around
Set me thinking…
What was life like
When lights were not there?
To move on with their lives,
Did people not care?
Was it like what
Happened last night
When everything came to a standstill
When out when the light.
What did people do
Without an AC or a fan?
Did he act like this,
An impatient, restless man?
How did man spend time,
Without a TV or a tape?
And did he never cook,
Without a microwave?
Did he not clean the house
Without the vacuum cleaner?
Did he not do the dishes
Without a dishwasher?
And the housewives’ love
A washing machine by name,
About the laundry,
What was done for the same?
I’m sure things were done,
Before, as they are today.
The only difference is,
The change in the way.
Why can’t we live life
Like people in the past?
Where power wasn’t a factor,
In making happiness last.
Nah, I must be crazy,
Isn’t it too plain to see?
That we are plain crippled,
Without electricity! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Bong mom syndrome

I can see I am treading the path of typicality, and dreading it. But I can also see that I’m not making an iota of effort to stall my steps. Slowly, very slowly, I’m realising every woman’s worst fear: becoming like her mother. Though my mom is my heroine and all my life has been about emulating her; this bit, I never thought would become part of me – the Bengali mother.
Not that this stereotype needs any description, but for those who’ve not had the good (or bad) fortune of seeing one, she is obsession personified. Obsessing over her child/ren is the mark of the Bong mom. Most modern Bengali couples have two or less children and hence the capacity to obsess never wanes. And God help it if it’s a male child. This Baba-Bacha has to go through life without being able to hide even the tiniest of holes in his underwear from his doting Ma’s eyes. The biggest obsession, though, is feeding. Perhaps it is true of all mothers, but a Bong mother’s need to feed her child borders on the psychotic. I remember this family friend of my parents (a late-mother), who once sent her husband about town in search of fresh carrots in the middle of a scorching Nagpur summer afternoon just so that the little prince could have his glass of carrot juice.
It’s like a Bong mom’s life pauses till she hasn’t fed her child’s face.
That’s exactly what I caught myself doing yesterday. In an ironical coincidence, the revelation came about on my mother’s birthday. Since Jishnu is quite ‘travelable’ now, we decided to go out for dinner – mom, dad, I, Jish and some acquaintances. The couple, who accompanied us, also had a ten-month-old daughter. I was appalled at how underweight the child was and how ‘underconcerned’ her mother seemed. That perhaps triggered a comparison of our mother metres.   
    By the time everyone was ready to leave for the club, it was nearly quarter to nine – Jishnu’s time for sleep. Feeling rather bad for my sleepy child, I dressed him up and took him along. A bottle of milk, baby wipes, a diaper, a change of clothes, powder and a rattle, needless to say, were stuffed in that sack of mine that is my excuse for a handbag. Perhaps he had sensed the excitement, or it probably was one of his moods, but Jish hadn’t finished his last feed either. So since Jishnu was half-fed and half rested, his mother was have mad with anxiety by the time we sat settled on the plush couches of the club.
    My idea of an outing with Jishnu nowadays is a go-order-gulp-run home in an hour routine even when everything is hunky-dory. So, when I saw my dad first ordering a round of drinks and then lingering over two more, I seethed. ‘How can dad be so insensitive towards his nati’s needs?’ I grrred.
     While my darling son seemed happy to be savouring the new sights, I kept trying to give him the bottle every 15 minutes, and despairing each time he refused it. Only when he finally drank the full 4 ounces, did I enjoy a piece of fish tikka.
    Later that night when I lay in bed looking adoringly at my cherub’s sleeping face, I laughed at myself for having stepped into the shoes I so despised. Then suddenly I had this flash of insight that solved the mystery of the Bong mom syndrome.
    Bengalis love food. Food is the centre of their universe and the core of their identity. The greatest love of any Bong, even ahead of Tagore, is food. For some, it’s the whole point of living. Food for celebration, food for desperation, food for salvation; trust any Bengali to have his luchi-torkari and mishti ready.
    For such a food-loving race, then, it is hardly surprising that feeding the child is sacred duty. Bengali mothers can never let a child be. Hungry or not, food must be pushed down the gullet so that it becomes clear that this khoka or khuki belongs to a bhodroloker badi, who, God forbid, never eyes another’s meal.
    I hope Jishnu gets the advantage of being a multi-cultural child and not curse me for the rest of his life for those rolls of fat around his waist that refuse to come off.     

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lovey-dovey dos

Sound cheesy as they may, these poems are the result of real tugs at real heartstrings of a real love in a real relationship. These are the words of a young woman in love studying English literature.

Looking at tomorrow (2000)
To wake up in your arms each morning,
I dream of growing old with you.
I imagine walking hand in hand,
On grass wet with morning dew.
To bring you bed tea each morning,
Want to argue about the colour of your shirt,
I think of experiencing myriad emotions
With you – healings and hurt.
I want you to despair over my cooking
And smile at  my little victories,
I’d expect you to kiss me each time
I help you solve life’s mysteries.
With you life’s journey, my trusted friend,
I want to live a fairytale with you.
But when I say that; don’t mistake
That bickering and quarrels will be few.
Each time yet, I’ll come to make it up
And imagine you playfully turn away,
I dream of an evergreen relationship
Whence new love awaits each day.
I imagine being your support
And dream of you as my strength.
I know that saying matters; trust me,
Each word I’ve said, I’ve meant.

Farewell my trust (2000)
That’s what I’ve always known you as
My faith, my trust.
Though it tears my heart apart,
Bid farewell I must.
Today we are separating,
Just bodily, not by mind.
I’ll not lose you forever
For you are one of a kind.
People come and they will do so.
They come and they leave,
But I’ll not let you go.
How can I do thus?
When you are my credence,
When I gain my strength from you,
When with you is my alliance.
But a goodbye is inevitable,
For you’ve played your part.
You have a fresh future ahead
And a new life to start.
Leave you might,
But I’ll detain your care.
For without it,
My soul will be bare.
Stifling a sob,
Striving to smile,
I take my virgin step
Towards my first lonely mile.
Through love and laughter,
And hatred and pain
You’ve been the best of friends,
And will be the same.
Of heartaches and disappointments,
I hereby apologise,
The depths of my remorse,
Perhaps you’ll never surmise.
The days, the months, the years,
Have swiftly passed us by
With you by my side
Within the blink of an eye.
I’ll treasure the times,
With you which I’ve spent
For in my life you were,
An angel God sent.
With a prayer for you,
This bond I untie,
Though it breaks my heart,
To say the last goodbye.

Stirrings (2001)
Talking about past tense,
Love seemed like nonsense.
Couldn’t see how intense
Is love’s pure effulgence.
It is only of late,
That she smiled upon me – fate.
Now united with my soul mate
After this interminable wait.
Love is an infinite possibility,
Exposing lucre’s naked frailty,
No more ego, nor vanity,
Trust is now the eternal verity.
A whole new world I see,
Come share the sight with me.
Boundless joy is love’s decree,
Will last us an eternity.
Love’s depths I cannot surmise
Not to fall in love, but rise,
Have no desire for paradise,
Just a place forever in his eyes.

Endeavour (2001)
Strange, how we never know,
What we’ve got,
Until it is time,
For us to let it go.
But I’ll live and love you everyday,
Through tears and through mirth,
And wait not till the day you leave
To know all that you are worth.
You’re my most precious dream,
The one that came true.
 Who has loved me for real
With pains, and seen me through.
With you love’s no mystery,
Oh, simple-hearted angel of mine.
It is bright. As pure daylight
Rips through despair to come forth
And shine.
Can I lock you in my heart?
Can I keep you forever?
For the love that is an eternity,
A promise, an endeavour?

Modern lovers speak (2001)
Love is as changeless as the sun
That every lover knows.
But expressions change over time,
This is how modern lovers speak.
And it goes…
“Why can’t it move the clock hands?
Love moves mountains they say.
The moments creep by inches,
Damn this long interminable day.
Are dreams just dreams?
Hopes seem fragile indeed.
But isn’t love tough?
Isn’t it strong enough
That we may name it our creed?
Indulgence, innocence,
Ambition, desperation…
Components or conflicts of love?
After shedding all the false shame,
Love leads to salvation.
Acceptance of society,
I guess is yet the bare necessity.
Do we dare ignore it?
Meanwhile, love me pure love
No doubt, no guilt, no fear, no pity.
SMS-ing our hearts out,
Phoning in our feelings.
Do we look clichéd?
No, I conclude I love you just like that,
Even as I stare at the ceiling.
‘Will you be my souse?’
Oh, it’s just a routine question
Over the click of a mouse.
What is true love?
Bank balance, a car, a house?
No, no again. Love is what I feel for you.
No logic, no reasons, even so
Neither a justification.
It’s plain love,
Not without expectations though.
I need you, you time and attention.
Not very unreasonable either.
Is it?
A future together?
Depends on fair weather!”
Long before the sun rises,
The sky glows with a warm red hue.
Love’s effulgence is brighter.
Lucky enough to bathe in this light,
Let’s cherish it – me and you. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


With the beginning of junior college, began the quest for finding myself. A school-going kid no more, I did what most teens do - rebel. My rebellion came in the form of an obsession with ISKCON. I fancied that place from the time I visited their headquarters in Mayapur, and when their centre came close to home in Nagpur, there was no stopping me. I’d spend hours at the temple, getting involved in more ways than one even as my parents protested louder and louder. Meanwhile, gathering puppy loves became another favourite game, much to the chagrin of my father. The next few poems were written in the phase where I found love and inspiration in God and some men.

I need your support (1999)
Lord, today I am really alone,
And am feeling very lonely.
I feel I have got none,
To care about me.
Nobody is concerned,
About my feelings.
There’s no one to bother,
About my dealings.
At this moment,
I feel very dejected.
Very avoided and very neglected.
The people who I thought loved me,
Are not by my side,
They have abandoned me,
To face the lone fight.
At this juncture,
I need you Lord,
I need your help,
I need your support.
You are always beside me,
And that I know,
In moments of sadness,
In moments of sorrow.
You comfort me,
When I am disheartened.
You give me courage,
When I’m frightened.
And yet I need you all the time,
All the moments, all the while.
Help me wake up
From the slumber of grief.
Help me be stronger,
And find some relief.
That is all I have to pray,
To you my Lord,
Throughout the day.
In the fight for justice,
In life’s court,
I need your help,
I need your support.

Your role in my life (1999)
I am so happy to have you near me,
And that life’s beautiful, I’m beginning to see.
You have brought back the smile on my face,
You have taught me to run life’s race.
You have brought joys in my life once more,
The joys which I never knew before.
Each time you see me; I feel a gush of pleasure,
So I think of you in my leisure.
You have occupied a very special place in my heart,
Though it’s only a short time since we met,
I fear you’ve become an inseparable part.
The very thought of separation scares me,
I don’t know without you how life’s going to be.
I do love you dearly with my soul and heart,
And our bond will be like “Till death do us part.”
Now you know what your role in my life is,
Do not forget me, cause I never will.

I’ll be missing you (1999)
 Right at this moment, I do not know,
The feeling I have is very new.
But all I can say is that when you go,
I’ll be desperately missing you.

You were my strength when I was weak,
Your love for me was so very true,
You were the help that I did seek,
And so I’ll be badly missing you.

Yu were dear to me right from the start,
Your value in my life I always knew.
You’ll be in a special place in my heart,
And I’ll be sorely missing you.

You’ll always be precious t me, so,
In every little thing I do,
In every little place I go,
I’ll be truly missing you.

I ask you to forgive me,
For the faults more or few,
And I always want you to see,
That I’ll be really missing you.

It’s time for you to leave this track,
And for me to bid you a sad adieu,
I’ll pray to God that you come back,
Because I’ll always be missing you.

I’m always there for you (1999)
If life is a song, I’ll sing it for you,
If life is a gift, I’ll bring it for you.
If life is a journey, I’ll walk for you.
If life is a burden, I’ll carry it through.
All I have to say is that,
Wherever you are,
And in whatever you do,
I’m always there for you.
If life is a mystery, I’ll solve it for you.
If life is a game, I’ll play it for you.
If life is a battle, I’ll fight it for you.
If life is a storm, I’ll brave it through.
All I have to say is that,
Wherever you are,
And in whatever you do,
I’m always there for you.
Because my love for you is pure like dew,
My love for you is really, really true.
In times when you’re sad,
I’ll be there by your side.
In times when you’re in pain,
With you I’ll abide.
Whenever you need me,
Call me through.
Because, my life, my love,
I’m always there for you.

An unspoken relation (1999)
The bee hums by,
And sits on the flower.
Sipping on nectar,
Buzzing by the bower.
Asks the shy flower,
“What is the meaning,
of this bond’s formation?”
Answers the bee,
“It’s an unspoken relation.”
The sky turns grey,
Clouds come fleeting by,
The peacock dances joyfully,
With spirits very high.
Asks the coy bird,
“What is the meaning,
of this union’s creation?”
Answers the cloud,
“It’s an unspoken relation.”
The moon rises high,
Shining in full splendour,
The tuberoses smile,
At his endeavour.
Ask the flowers softly,
“What is the meaning?
Of this affinity’s generation?”
Answers the moon,
“It’s an unspoken relation.”
I come near you,
And see you with arms open.
My heart skips a beat,
My feelings for you deepen.
I ask myself,
“What is the meaning,
of our attraction?”
Yet you answer,
“It’s an unspoken relation.”

Waiting for you (1999)
As the dawn arrives,
And the sun rises,
I wait for it to set,
So that the day soon passes.
But the sun seems to take,
Such a long time.
To cross the whole sky,
As the days crawls by.
A day seems like ages,
When I’m waiting for you,
So eagerly and anxiously,
With love so true.
I sit at the door,
And stare at the road.
Day after day,
Night after night
With such avidity,
At every sound or sight.
Repeating every hour,
“When will you come?
Oh, when will you come?”
I am waiting all the time,
Because without you,
I’m very lonesome.

The New Year (2000)
As the new sun dawns,
In the new sky,
The new dew settles,
And the new birds fly.
Now, I wonder why,
I call everything new
Though same is the sun,
The sky, birds and dew.
Is it an illusion?
Or is it my view?
Is it my imagination?
Or the year that is new?
Maybe it’s the new year,
Which instigates me,
All things seem different,
In whatever I see.
Hoping for the best,
Of all that’s yet to come.
A little bit of sorrow,
And happiness some.
With an open heart,
I welcome the coming days,
And add joy to every life,
That comes my way.

Your eyes (2000)
Your mysterious eyes,
What message do they give?
The look that they have,
Give me the strength to live.
Your assuring eyes,
To me what do they say?
That you’ll be mine,
Near me you’ll always stay.
Your sincere eyes,
What do they speak?
That you’ll hold me tight,
Whenever I’m weak.
Your promising eyes,
What do they tell?
That you’ll lift me up,
On my way if I fell.
Your affectionate eyes,
What feelings do they convey?
That you’ll love me life long,
On every path and way.
Your beautiful eyes,
Have the infinity of the sky,
The depth of the ocean
And the glow of stars so high.
Looking at your gentle eyes,
I’ll live my whole life,
Receiving courage from them,
I’ll win every strife.

Surrender (2001)
I had always lived life
In the way I’d wanted.
Taking things as they came,
Facing life undaunted.
Tragedies failed to rock me,
By defeats, I wasn’t deterred,
Emotions couldn’t move me,
In life, I’d never deterred.
My head was always high,
Held up with ego and pride,
But at that point in time,
You weren’t by my side.
You gave me selfless love,
So much love and ardor,
That it melted my cold heart
And made it your prisoner.
Your love it was
That made me humble and low.
It shattered my pretensions
And faltered my ego.
You taught me what
Life was all about.
It’s love, laughter and care,
Sincere and without a doubt.
Now that I know more
It’s then that I realize,
That with ego and pride I’d paid,
A very heavy price.
Knowing the world better,
I surrender at your feet,
And as a changed person now,
I admit my defeat.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Impressions

There are lots of tags we like to give ourselves, “I am this”, “I like that”, “I detest that other” and so on. But then comes along this tiny human being, who, while deceitfully appearing helpless, rips apart all such illusions and induces changes in you that you never conceived possible.

Before Jishnu, I thought Alice in Wonderland would remain at the top of my ‘unfavourite’ books’ list forever. But the other day, I not only bought a copy under the pretext of buying children’s books for my 5-month-old (yeah, right), but lapped it up pat. And like most adults visiting Alice in her wonderland after getting past the book’s face value, I loved it!

Satires and metaphors apart, Lewis Carroll is adorable in the way he blows into bits the ever so pedantic rule makers of the English language. It’s not hard to see why the lines “A cat without a grin…a grin without a cat” and “I see what I eat…I eat what I see” are memorable.

And oh, who can forget the celebrated absurdity of the plot? (A few months back though, I wouldn’t have found the Duchess’ behaviour towards her pig-baby absurd). Trapped in the grinding reality of raising a child, the sincerely improbable tale felt like a breath of fresh air. In the pages of the book, I found my own little rabbit hole where I could find some moments of carefree abandon.