Friday, June 26, 2009

NC and the Art of Vehicle Non-Maintenance

It is a known and proven fact that a camp without disasters doesn’t quite feel like a camp. We almost look forward to the stuff that isn’t on the itinerary. But this time, we didn’t know what we were asking for.

I have limited knowledge about the anatomy of an automobile. But the vehicles we hired for the North East camp this year made sure I got a crash course in atleast naming some of the monsters that slept in the depths of its engines. From time to time, the parts of our vehicles made their presence felt by bursting, leaking, tearing, blowing off or just mysteriously coming to a standstill.

Also, as if it were a small mercy (or not!) the Motor Gods granted us, not all of this happened on the same day. It happened every day. Once the radiator blew, another day something was wrong with the gasket. Our tyre goddess had lawfully wedded the puncture god in the mountains of Mizoram and there was no telling if we ever had a brake in the first place.

Beyond a point we realized there was no point in worrying about the performance of our glorious vehicles. If they broke down, we walked when possible or just waited. When there was a biker who crashed into our bus (and escaped with surprisingly less injury) the first aid wallahs of the group hopped out to attend to his wounds without batting an eyelid. It was as though we were here to learn about the highway disasters.

But things eventually got better. Not that the vehicles worked fine, but we didn’t just pay that much attention anymore. Somewhere in the spirit of things on an NC camp, getting cranky doesn’t fit in. even those who made a few feeble attempts at complaining eventually gave up.

And in the same spirit of things, we learnt the biggest lessons of these camps. That long forgotten lesson of kindergarten. We learnt to share and adjust and squeeze in. we learnt to inconvenience ourselves just a little, and just be happy campers.


I sat there for a long time. Unable to move. Unwilling to move. It was dark now and the rain was beating down harder. I cold wind was blowing. I knew the porch roof had leaks. It would be all wet now. He knocked again…

“Please! I beg of you! Please let me in. Help!”

I felt dark. Like someone switched off the lights inside me. And it all came back again. I didn’t remember if I had cried back then. In retrospect, maybe I did. It was all hazy and yet, painfully clear. It seemed to be very cold in those days, even in the summers. I would often be alone in the afternoons, when others kids would be asleep. Their mothers wouldn’t let them out to play.

I would sit about listlessly, with the few toys that my mother would get on the way back from work. Cheap china-made dolls from stalls by the roadside. I never really remembered when it first started happening. All I could remember was the touch. The raw, hideous touch of his hands. I probably didn’t know what was happening, but there was instinct, the most primal there was, which told me it was wrong.

He came back often, sometimes several times the same day. I would try to run away, but he would always stop me. There was a smell of dust on him. Dust and alcohol. And despite his stupor, he was always to strong for me.

I could still smell the dust in nightmares sometimes. Now I could hear the howling wind…

“Let me in!”, he cried again. I could hear the pain in his voice. “I’m bleeding! Please!”

It was this voice, this very voice that I would dread. It was a voice that would change a lot too. When my mother came home, often late at night, he would be sweet. He m\would make sure the alcohol wore off. Sometimes he would even bathe. He would be clean. I never felt the same way in those days. I would wash myself, my clothes, several times. I would spend hours in the bathroom at a time. It was only less time that I had to face him. Despite my blurred memory, what I could remember best, or worst, was this dull pain. It was a pain in my heart. Beneath my little ribs, a nine-year-old heart used to cringe, squeal and throb with that dull pain.

“I’m in pain! Please listen to me…let me in…it’s…hurting….They stabbed me….took everything away….i can’t go anywhere…please let me come in….only for a few hours. I’ll go away”. His voice broke in through the cold shrieking of the wind.

I now stood with my back to the door. I couldn’t bring myself to forget. My mother come to know eventually, when she came home early. What happened after that, I didn’t know. She sent me to my room. I sat there for a long time. Trying to listen to the muffled noises outside. Then she came back and let me out. We never spoke about it. I discovered he had left with his things, never to come back, till now.

“I will die here if you don’t help me.” His voice was feeble now, almost like a polite request, like he was asking for more tea, please.

For one small moment, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, I turned around and opened the door. The cold wind came in with the smell of dust and alcohol…

The Insult after the Injury

After I fell down the stairs with a fairly loud thud-thuda-thud-thud sound and got up with a reasonable amount of muck all over my hands and behind and the limp induced by the heel mentioned before, a very concerned woman asks, "Did it hurt?"


The colour of my heel (which I hurt this morning by falling down the stairs at Santacruz station) has now turned an exquisite shade of Magenta, after spending most of the morning being deep purple, and is reminiscent of Aamir Khan's eye in Dil Chahta Hai...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For All My Closest Friends...

I will not tag anyone in this post,
it is for my closest friends,
they know who they are,
and they’ll find themselves in this poem:

This is for the one who sends me the ‘I love you behna!’ messages out of the blue,
and I know he wants to talk,
the one who truly understands claustrophobia,

This is for the one who can brighten up the day even when it’s dark outside,
she’s my child, mine to protect and to look after,
when I am unsure of things myself,

This is for the one who has the energy to care, the energy to mother,
and of course, she can cry,
the one who can drape a sari for me,

This is for the one most unlike me, the wild child of us all, the one with no regrets,
the one I can scold,
The one who taught me to hug,

This is for the one who I once called at a frantic 3 a.m. on a very depressed night,
the one I have learnt to respect and adore over the years,
She took away all my monsters, maybe I took away some of hers,

This is for my twin, the other me, and not just because we look alike,
for her style and that heart of gold, for the constant frown,
Together we learnt to gossip,

This is for the one I talk to everyday, who patiently listens to me ramble on,
for those really sweet messages at midnight,
the one who always makes me smile,

The one who I might have missed out here,
because I probably don’t know you’re there yet,
the one who makes me dream,

I don’t know why we are such good friends,
I barely remember how we met,
all I want to say is Thank You,
for all you’ve ever thought, done or said.

I often think about it and tell you all,
that none of this will last
someday we’ll go separate ways
friendships will die away quick and fast.

So I take this chance to thank you,
for sharing all my smiles and tears,
never saying that t'was gonna be okay,
for letting me handle my fears.

For discussing all your love interests new and old,
and saying my judgmental opinions were just fine,
listening to me patiently,
not saying anything about mine.

For telling me it’s okay to cry, and standing by silently,
for witnessing all the happiness,
and all the good things in my life,
without the slightest envy.

For making me feel special, and worth a lot,
on my birthday at midnight
for treating me like a little kid at 20,
and telling me it’s just alright!

Thank you for carrying my luggage when it gets too heavy...

For travelling from Malad to Ghatkopar to Santacruz,
at 11:30 a.m. on my wild impulse,
for laughing when I rhyme this line with,
a bag full of thickened skulls.

For letting me share your monsters,
for letting me hear your heart,
for not letting me become family,
(will you laugh again if I rhyme this with fart?)

For telling me I write well (despite the above!),
knowing that’s probably my only hope,
for being a part of all the fun times,
for being high without dope!

I thank you for being there,
and sometimes for going away too,
I thank you for who you are,
for not expecting this thank you..

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Another FYBMM...

Another day will dawn and Wilson College will throw its gates open.

ID-cards in their hands, dreams in their eyes and not a clue in their head, they’ll step in.

Another FYBMM will embark on their journey just like we did.

They’ll have that first lecture with Sudhakar Sir again and they’ll be scared of him...

They’ll make those quick friendships, those sudden ‘love’ affairs, started by some teasing...

They’ll spend rainy afternoons by the beach and of course,

Click those pictures...

They’ll have fun through their first Polaris, the ones in Security...the ones in 104...

They’ll discover themselves as they discover projects

The first night up before Suddhu’s (that’s what they’ll learn to call him) submission

It won’t help really. They’ll come five minutes after 7:30...the train was late of course!

Then they’ll spend the next two days getting him to accept the project.

Phone bills will shoot up, hours spent at home will plummet.

Parents will worry, wardens will warn and they’ll be at this one’s place...chilling...

The fights will happen too, big ones, small ones, i-can’t-do-another-project-with-him ones...

The breakups will happen too.

Bitter and frivolous...and we’ll be friends again

They’ll be divided and united...and maybe someday, they’ll boycott an exam of their own...

All this, before the first I.V.

Another FYBMM will embark on their journey just like we did.

I don’t know if this is their story or ours...

But it sure is one helluva story, isn’t it?

The Last Song of Dusk...

It was only several years after it was written that I came across a work of prose which was in fact poetry. Not more, not less, but poetry. ‘The Last Song of Dust’ is not just any poem. It is a sad one. A melancholy ballad that fills you up with itself till in a gesture of respect or out of desperation, tears begin to shed. I read this book one day, from dawn till dusk and cried my heart out. It must not be mistaken that the story is one filled with tragedy which warrants this catharsis. It is undoubtedly tragic, but it is not the death and separation that makes you cry. It is the style.

The book flows out in volumes of sorrow. Like a child lost. Like the night. Like Dariya Mahal. Engulfing. This doesn’t necessarily go to say that it is a spectacular book, or even an excellent one. It is just a little piece of dark magic, above mere literary accolades. To measure its contents and grade and judge it, would be sinful. It is not even something that will be remembered and included in academic texts to be learnt by rote by bored students in faraway inconsequential universities. It almost an insult.

What strikes me about this book is its ability to stare at me. Not just the panther, but every character stares at me. I stare at a little bit of each character in me. The wildness of Nandini, the calm of Anuraddha, the silence of Vardhaman or the wordless innocence of Shloka. Or was it the other way around?

I will never know. What I do know is that it was written by a 26-year-old, which only reminds me, that it’s always possible.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I see the moon every night, as he chugs along the train with me

He used to remind me of you, when you weren’t around

But today he seems to read my mind and refuses to smile at me

Half hearted he shines in the sky, hiding behind a cloudy veil.

The moon is incomplete tonight, just like my thoughts

I decide now and in a flash,

And delete the memories and lose everything with the click of a button

How I hate technology…

It needed to be done long ago, long before I ever started thinking

But it didn’t; because you didn’t believe me

I often said it would end, and often I warned you,

You refused to believe me and denied my fears

It’s happening now; less to you than me

But maybe you were right, because there never was anything to end

Maybe I made up that pretty illusion…

I hung on to it with all my heart, only to watch it die away in the moonlight

I feel happy now, happy to cut myself away

The cut might hurt, but only for a few days…

There is no cure, but to cry myself to sleep tonight,

And wake up tomorrow and talk to you

To you it will seem the same and nothing will have changed

We’ll meet months later, smile politely, ask how we are

We’ll even share a cursory embrace

You will never know, of tonight

Again I saw the moon tonight, as he chugged along the train with me

I thought of all this and smiled at the moon,

But he refused to smile back at me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Poems that Rhyme

The shadow of a pen on paper in the candle light

A lock of hair that just won’t stay right

Old greeting cards that say ‘I love you’

And pretty pictures that say ‘Seasons Greetings’ too

Paper napkins in coffee shops with tea

With a little piece of cake for you and me

Children who scribble with crayons on the wall

And a little lamp burning in a lonely hall

Memories of warmth and a nice evening walk

Meaningless conversations and a meaningful talk

Lying down on the cold floor in summers

Of rock bands I don't get- Guitarists and drummers

Waiting for it to rain by the window sill

Waiting for the clouds to loom over the hill

A song from about ten years ago

A wildflower voice and away I go

Of missing someone in the dead of the night

The shadow of a pen on paper in the candle light