29.12.05

Eh, so I should be luvin' it?

I do not like discussing work-oriented subjects here. But it has been a couple of months of an amazing peep into human nature.

Everytime I wrote earlier too there would be a horde descending on me, but at least even the personal attacks then were because they did not like my views. Now...I don't think you need to do much psychological research to figure out motives.

Was meeting D after years. It wasn't even a meeting. Bumped into him on my way to the doc the other day. He stopped the car, looked uncertain, and then broke into the familiar grin. He was as always well-dressed, but he had decided to do away with the "corporate shit". This one was a biggie in one of those agencies that figure out where to position what. He lived mostly overseas.

There was no time to talk, so he called today.

I was telling him about what I was doing...and since he is not into my kind of thing, I had to explain. The website,. the plans, the writing, the reactions.

"Aha," he said...

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that you come in as something and people start discussing it?"

"Yes...I mean it is strange..."

"Are you sure it is not being managed?"

"By whom?"

"By your website?"

"You are crazy! These are independent voices, often just making a noise...doing it on their own."

"So you are getting all this mileage for nothing? Without shelling out a single penny?"

"Mileage? This is plain stupid..."

"Woman, do you know how much agencies pay to get themselves written about? Do you know they use strategy to create envy, anger, competitiveness, possessiveness because these get reactions? And you are getting them for free!"

"But work does not mean..."

"Is this stopping your work? Are you not managing? Are you not doing what you like? Are you not having fun?"

"Oh, all that is happening.."

"Then lie back and enjoy."

I am not the lying back and enjoy kind. I am a risky-rider.

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be too cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build wings on the way down.
Annie Dillard

25.12.05

Silent Night


I looked at the Pieta again. A small replica in white stone, chiselled almost to perfection. When I had seen the original, alien emotions had overtaken me and I unashamedly wept. Spires, stained glass windows and frescoes just lost all relevance for me then.

One is accustomed to seeing the Virgin Mother with a baby Jesus, but this one is with a dead Christ, an adult in the lap of a woman, who seems ageless. We know of the woman as nurturer, but here what could she nurture?

Is it possible to nurture another's death? Or to project one's life onto the dying? Isn't dying for the living a kind of life?

I still do not know why I cried. Today as I watch the statue I just experience a little pain...a pain I do not wish to explain even to myself.
- - -
They say this is the time for giving (forgiving?). It is easy. But accepting?

Accepting anything is always left to us. I accept gifts (material, emotional, intellectual) with grace and if I can I do try to return the gesture, but the returning is not a hisaab-kitaab thing. It is like being embraced...one's arms naturally encircle the one hugging you.

For me getting even disappointments and grief from those I care about are 'gifts', for they show me what I would have failed to see otherwise...

I accept...it is my acceptance of anything that enriches me.

By that same token, there are things I do not accept: gaalis, curses, innuendo. The people giving them to me remain burdened, for since I have not taken their 'gifts' to me, they stay with them. They will have to live with their own conclusions.

I do not become what they call me, I am not what they think me to be and I have not done what they assume I have done.
- - -
I looked at the Pieta again...

20.12.05

Wanna come along?

"Please take someone along with you," he said.

"I will manage on my own, I always do."

"What is the opposite of martyr, that is you."

I used a saucy phrase...may as well be called something interesting. But can I really manage on my own? This burden of 'self-contained' can be disconcerting...frightening. If I am so much in control, why is my universe in such turmoil always? Do I bring this upon myself? Only because I like being alone sometimes does not mean that I "would be happy all by yourself".

I did not ask to fall, so if I manage to get up on my own why is it considered a move towards being alone?

I do reach out...perhaps my hands are not long enough...
------
A happy moment: An acquaintance said he was reading an old column of mine on the bus from Goa. This column is from a few years ago, it is not on a website, so he could not have downloaded it. "Oh, I have a register with the print version, a scrapbook of your works." He is from the media world, a more glamorous one...I wondered how he connected and to what...Of course, I was happy. Who wouldn't be?


I regret: Not spending enough time with my cousins and nieces. All I have is a 'card' drawn on a piece of paper -- a house with a chimney taking up a quarter of the space, the rest is the sky with a huge sun...behind are the words, "To bg (big) khaala with lots of love." I cannot frame it for if the picture shows, the words will be hidden; if the words are visible the picture won't be seen.

Why can we not have both? Why can we not get everything? And where are the cards that came every day? Why do we stop valuing what we have only to seek what we don't?

Someone wanted to know if I was dead or alive.

Somewhere in between. My sleep is fitful these days and the wakeful moments are as thick as velvet clinging to me.

17.12.05

'Strangers' in the light


I am not too sure what friends really mean…I think a passing smile, a fraction of a glance, a polite voice over the phone by strangers is less cumbersome to deal with.

At least there is no exchange of unspoken guarantees and promises of no expiry dates like all sturdy friendships demand.

I have resisted several friendships because I was not sure the person was genuine or if I felt that I would not be able to give my time and space. I am happy enough with those fleeting moments connecting with strangers who do not even have to say goodbye.

A friend who comes and goes is as much a stranger...a friend who takes another for granted is behaving in a strange fashion...a friend who has to keep several considerations in mind to keep up the friendship is a stranger...a friend who you are close to physically but cannot share things with is a stranger...a friend who inhabits your mind but not your heart is a stranger...a friend you feel for but can do nothing about is a stranger...

There is a world of friends and there is a world of strangers...and there is a world of choices we have to make and those that others make for us.

Often we get hurt because we cannot tell the two apart. Sometimes, one takes time out to sort out the confusion. For example, I know I am committed to certain things...I am willing to go half way. The question gets complicated when after reaching the halfway mark you find you have either lost your way or the point you are at is the same where you started.

Nothing can exist in isolation. From now on, I will let life do the talking for me... it always did, making me pretend that it was my voice. I shall go where Destiny takes me. It is anyway a better judge than I am.

15.12.05

Cheese is just another cheez

A friend, gauging the state of my mind, sent me a link where it says, "Roll mouse over the letters and say cheese". The letters move around and the mouse stays stuck to a smiling face wherever you move.

Strangely, I was looking for words in those letters, sentences with those words.

I was looking for a forest when I should have been sitting beneath the shade of a tree.

I suppose the earlier blog of today could be the reason. Perhaps, I just feel trapped by my own smiles that crawl like long branches that cover the roots, the essence of me.

Is what is visible always happiness?

Tomorrow never comes?

Melancholia. It suddenly takes over my entire being. Every pore in the body seems to cry out in pain and in vain.

One bit of trivia I read says that if the stomach did not produce a mucous lining everyday, it would eat itself. I see an analogy here. I see it when I watch myself looking calm and composed. I hear it in the words that some people I meet and know use to describe me: Vivacious. Effervescent. Lively.

Where do these come from? The other day a friend asked me whether I was attending positive thinking classes. With so much negativity around, I think it is that mucous lining in my system that prevents total self-destruction.

But, am I safe? I know that the first opportunity I get to be lost in a maze, I will use it. I find in those endless dead-ends the only way to test my stamina and my desire to live. Or die.

And live for what? Die for what? Tomorrow?

I want to know my future. But wouldn’t that be boring?

No. Not anymore. I have had too many surprises and shocks to last me a couple of lifetimes. Now I want to know what tomorrow holds, and even if it holds nothing, I want to be aware of the emptiness that awaits me.

Besides, what is so boring about awareness? Why would the knowledge that at the end of the road there is a gate/a park/a dragon/a friend/a bookstore/a musician/a beggar/a stranger/a haunted house/a warm home/an unknown hamlet/a felled tree/a blooming flower/a bench/a blind alley fill one with ennui? Each of these carry within them the potential to challenge us, make us, unmake us … and we would react to them not as we do today but as we would feel about them tomorrow. So where is the boredom?

It isn’t what we get that adds excitement to our lives, but what we do with them. Sometimes people treat unusual happenings with disdain for they have not been able to understand fully the immensity of their extraordinariness. And sometimes, we can take the most mundane events and make them seem like such a wonderful boon.

I want to know about tomorrow. I need to touch something more tangible than the sky.

4.11.05

You want to know where I am?

I love the scent of Bengay. These mentholated smells are beguiling. I apply the ointment to my shoulder and arms, then cover myself with the comforter and feel transported in a cold-hot atmosphere. Like fire on ice.

But I ought not to love it so much that I mistake it for toothpaste as I did yesterday.
“Do you know you are absent-minded?” a friend asked.


“Hmm…yes, sort of…okay, I know.”

“Do you know what happens?”

Was this the right moment to discuss? The dark twilight vista was spread around me. Should I be getting visions or be confronted with myself?

I sat there smiling - partly from knowing and partly from seeing myself from another’s eyes.

“You are holding conversations or listening and suddenly you are lost…you seem to have gone to a different place, a different thought and then when you ‘come back’ you snap…”

“Snap out?” I asked.

“No, you snap at whoever is with you.”

I flickered like a candle in the wind -- or was it the candle doing the flickering?

Where did I transport myself to in those ‘absent’ moments? I know I get ideas suddenly, line leap out at me and like windy whiplashes I shut my eyes and inhale-exhale with internal fury. I think when I ‘return’, those moments remain with me and having forgotten who/what I was with, I snap.

I am not like that in normal times. But I have no clear concept of what is normal…and most certainly not of Time.

The contradiction is that I am a stickler for punctuality. It is as though I have to reach somewhere before I go away…

21.10.05

Why they say I am not a Muslim...

It was an irony heaped upon an irony in the span of a couple of hours. I was on a long-distance call and this friend was telling me about how he heard a respected academician tell him that I could have become a 'serious intellectual'. I laughed a short laugh; prolonging it would be melodramatic.

I needn't have bothered. I was on test.

While S was quite thrilled with what he saw as a compliment, he said, "You know, I have been aware of this for years. You are the example of a real Indian Muslim woman. And I know you will not let us down."

This man is an agnostic. He knows I am worse. Yet, it was getting to be a strange problem.

Later that evening, the tables turned. I was told, "You don't pray. You don't fast. You don't feel any affiliation towards your religion. You have drifted away - how can you be a Muslim?"

Technically, this was the right analysis. I had done nothing. But I felt it necessary to say those few words that might sound so hollow; I said, "I live by the spirit of my conscience. I know the difference between right and wrong. I try to be honest to myself and to others. And I know that in so many ways I am blessed. If I were a really bad person, then should not I be forsaken?"

He, who has done terrible things in life -- lied, cheated, caused untold harm to people around him -- told me this was not Islam, this was just me.

So Islam could not even encompass me -- little me with my small ideas, my tiny demands, my tinier dreams?

"Will you go on Haj? he asked.

“No,” I stated blandly. “Not now. Not until some major thing changes within me and I genuinely want to.”

"Ok, you are at least frank. But, why do you not pray?"

I said I would when I felt like it, when the consuming feeling came over me. My religion could not be a robot that could be switched on and off. I do not interfere in how others practise their beliefs. I need to be overwhelmed; I need to feel that fine madness of being 'taken', that power over me and for me. There are times when the human can do so...

If people can sweep you off your feet, or enter your heart and mind gently, or make you believe that you can trust them with your life, then that is a faith. I guess fairytales work best as religion for me.

There are times when I would want to go down on my knees and kiss the soil for having let me stand and walk on it.

Would I dare to say that my god can lie beneath my feet?

5.10.05

Colour me

There is a monochromatic painting just above where I sit to type. A man and woman supposedly staring into each other's eyes. Hazy figures. I like black; I like white...to show that I am not so completely rigid, I like grey too.

But I play around with colours. It is interesting that what we did when we were young is still so appealing: giving the first thought that comes to mind when you think of a particular shade.

Black: power; white (white- you cannot see it!): pages; grey: moods; red: blood; blue: bruises; pink: floyd; green: branches; brown: soil; purple: prose; orange: sunset; yellow: egg yolk.

I cannot go on. I have not run out of colours. But I feel black and blue. I shall return to white. A fresh page.

24.9.05

Grainy beginning...

I am just a speck of dust…and you probably have some idea about what that little speck can do. Have you felt the grit in your eye? Can you feel those particles on wet skin as they graze you? Or as they stick to your clothes and you want to dust them away, but so entrenched are they that what you pull out is lint? A grain of sand in an hour-glass is more than just a grain…it is a harbinger of time.

Despite these not-so-modest thoughts I am told, “I don’t think you truly love yourself.”

The insinuation is that I am self-destructive; I invite disasters.In my humble opinion, you’ve got to love yourself to death to court it.

This does not seem like a good start. What is a good start, anyway? Does a good start ensure a progression to something of value, to something that will last forever?

What is forever? For me it is tomorrow. It is also yesterday. Today is the link.

So, today let me tell you why I am here.

I realised I needed a registered blog because I was sent a link that mentioned my home page (I have none) that took me straight to some porn pictures. Now, there are times when I do get excited about myself, but this was not a good enough reason.

I hate it when people call themselves exhibitionists. It is an insult to those who try and connect with you, for would they not be deemed to be voyeurs then?

If one tries to say things without pausing, there is nothing planned about it, as exhibitionism indeed is. At worst it could be seen as a costume malfunction!

Some people think it is not wise to write about one’s life. I just seem to know myself better than I know a lot of other things. I admit this is an open arena, but I write here as I would on paper. I can’t do without paper...sometimes I eat it, after a while it feels like chewing gum. I hate throwing paper. So I preserve them, reams and reams, they gather dust...I can’t eat dust.

One day I will have to...