Posted in close to heart

Remembering an Iron Girl

” I was a failure in my personal life.My life is a open book. Everyone loves MGR ,even I did. But I was not accepted in a legal relationship. That made a fire in my mind to make an identity for myself. I would always feel that if my mother was alive in my crucial hours ,my personal life would have been more better than this. But I want to prove that Dr.MGR is my identity. So I entered the politics. An Indian tradition is that a girl is born as a daughter, then a wife and should die as a mother. I couldn’t achieve myself as a wife. But I will definitely die as a mother”.

A lady radiating poise and charm , making the men in general go weak at the knees passed away to the other side. At 11:30 PM on 5th December 2016, the nation or the world at large, lost an icon who had been a sensation in her early years, an encouragement to women all over during her prime and an absolute fighter towards the end. Jayalalitha Jayaram or “Amma” as she was known. The world lost a woman who was a rare concoction of vanity and valour.

Most of my girl pals are dumb and totally ignorant when it comes to politics and political figures. So it kind of surprised me that they were all quite emotionally posting stuff online as the news about Jayalalitha’s death gained momentum. As I read through the posts , i slowly realized that I shared the same sentiment. It wasn’t like I knew her personally or even followed her on any social platform (pun intended). On a serious note, till very recently I was confused between who was who in TN Politics. Of course I had heard about “Amma” from my dad who claims to be a distant relative of MGR who is her, well lets just say mentor. A few years back, i happen to see a video of hers and I started reading up on the person she was. A lot of my perceptions began to change within a few days.

Her first political campaign was called a ‘Cabaret Campaign’. Even for a woman as intelligent and charismatic as Amma with unmatched oratory skills, honour was still considered to reside between the legs.What differentiates her from you and me? Nothing. She was as much a girl as you and I am. I prefer to call her a girl, because when I look back and think of all the discussions and interviews I have seen of hers, she has constantly adorned a sense of innocence, stubbornness and recalcitrance that is more often seen in children than adults.  However, unlike most girls, she made the difficult choices and stuck through them despite almost always being in the wrong place or situation as fate would have it.Well behaved women rarely make history and it wasn’t very different in her case. Broken heart, glass ceilings, slut shamed and every other disgrace and depression that most of us are subjected to. What kept her going in spite of all this was her assertiveness, poise, sense of humor and grit.

The lady was corrupt in the sense that she did amass a lot of wealth but she was also extremely philanthropic. She made sure the people of her state had every item necessary to run a house. She empowered women. She made sure girls were given education. She built hospitals for the poor and she convinced the people of an entire state to elect her as Chief Minister 6 times! Down south, when everyone makes fun of the way we speak English, Amma made sure to give it back to any media person who ridiculed south indians. She spoke impeccable English and her control over 7 languages, stunning the world at large. She was bold, direct, fierce and powerful. What was most important was that none of this had come to her on a silver platter. She took pride in the fact that unlike a lot of people of her generation, she was self made. There are rumours that she was mentored by MGR but a little probe reveals that while it is true that MGR was her political guru, she took centre stage and revolutionized politics in TN with no support. She rose from the ground. It was her impudence and head strong attitude that paved the way for her, politically.

Everyone knows her as the person who silences opposition and who creates sycophants who fall at her feet and worship her. This was the only possible way she could command, consolidate and hold on to the otherwise elusive power. If she was any more cordial than this, she might have as well been an airhostess.

It will be several years, even decades, before another woman can even remotely achieve what she did in nation like India. In a few generations, I hope the tags attached to a woman changes. From “wife”, “mother”, “subtle” and “peaceful” to “brave”, “strong”, “powerful”.  To the woman who didn’t ask to be treated equal to a man, To the lady who was strong enough to stall even death several times. Last but not the least, to the girl who silently addressed millions of girls to not succumb to the ever dominant male society and to keep listening to your heart no  matter what the world says or thinks!. Ms. Jayalalithaa may your soul rest in peace. You will always be second to none. Thank you. God Speed.

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 This one if for the girl in you. Hope you listen from up above.

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Posted in m@dness

How I regret

Sitting on my porch waiting for the pregnant clouds  to push the rain out, oh such a nice picture. But it is the map(literally) in my hands, the places-to-go on my mind and the stops that I make that give me a purpose to it all. With all that lucky feeling inside, I’ve very nearly no regrets in life so far. But the few that I write below must be the only ones, but I like them. They’re the stops I missed while I fell into a slumber and keep reminding me to sit up, keep my wits ever so sharp and watch out for exciting turns!

I regret outgrowing a few things. Dad used to carry me n walk until I was in 4th standard(I was a thin kid, then). And I loved it that I could smell his hair. In all those frightening moments, I could hug him like I’d hug a never-to-budge-rock that he is. While he watched news on TV with all seriousness, I could sit beside him and note all those features on his hands until he’d affectionately yell – “What’re you doing?”. That I could be endlessly hover around him while he made crispy ghee dosas . Lie next to my mother while she sang to me, wrapped in the free end of her saree to feel safe. The love of one’s parents is the one absolute version of it and I feel full of regret to have outgrown it. To the point that I perhaps don’t need it any more. What a pity, indeed. But then, perhaps it isn’t meant to be drawn out of for ever, nor returned. May be meant to be passed on. I think I am going to spoil my prodigies!

Dad used to wake up early and make breakfast for me and send me off to school. HE would carry my bag all the way till the bus stop. After he’d drop me off he would, he’d come back, put his feet up on the coffee table, slouch on his couch reading the newspaper! And I wanted to be my dad then! Wondering if kings had it any better :p. I dont seem to have time at all! The only time I get to read the newspaper is while I am waiting at some place. At the tailor, the dentist and the likes.

The other last regret is also the much bigger version of the tiny little bit of jealousy I feel towards all those people who have serious hobbies that they’ve nurtured for all their lives. Some of my friends can play instruments, some paint, some do sports and some create endless nice things from nothing. I see such serious indulgence in things of interest to be one additional layer to one’s personality that I so regret not having. Probably the last of the layers when one’s denuded of all others; the one that lets you gracefully and self-assuredly use your time even when everything else is a little dud. I hope reading counts :p! And then, perhaps I should start singing more!

See how nice it is to have regrets and also the remedies to it? :-).

Its raining now!

Posted in m@dness

Remembering 26/3

As I sat on my couch ,I sent a friend a “Happy Birthday” message telling him that his birthday coincided with an unforgettable day in my life. Then I went to bed and dreamt about randomness all night long. I awoke to a gloomy morning, attended a few phone calls, had breakfast and glanced at the calendar. And then it hit me. It was the 26th of march today and it was a day i could not forget, a fact that seemed so casual last night, and so painful today.

I reminisce about the very same day, 20 years ago. The picture is not very vivid in my mind but the memories that I left behind are. I remembered how the previous night she had called me and asked if I would be sad to leave her and go? If I would cry whn I wouldnt see her again at all. and then when I looked confused she told me she was going to god and that I would have to take care of dad and everyone at home,that I would have to be a good girl and to live the life she always wanted to live. I slept off. Next morning I was woken up and taken to the hospital where the only memory I have is of acha giving her holy water. She was lying on the bed with near and dear around. I was asked to come,hold her hand and give her the water. I gave it to her,but it never went down. We had lost her.People cried,my brother,dad,grandma,uncle. Everyone but me. I didnt know what was happening or y it was happening. but I knew somethin was not right and I knew it would not be for a long time to come.

She passed away on 26th march. 6 years after I was born. My mother. I was shocked. I was a child and did not know the significance of the cancer that you were fighting.

Did I ever tell you that I loved you? Did I tell you that I was proud to be told that my personality matches yours? I was happy when people told me i sing like you and that my voice was exactly that of yours? WHen people told me I would grow up to look like you, i would grin! Well I am getting married this year and I know for a fact that wherever you are, youd be watching. Das has definitely done you proud. He has raised me into a fine woman(no no I dont say this, people tell him that he has done a good job of raising me) and is giving my hand to a really nice man. SO yes you should be happy. I know you will be.

I sit on the couch wondering when those pictures will fade, tear, and not be good enough to save anymore, and whether as I age, my memories of you will gradually fade away. I do not want to be sitting on a couch 15 years from now struggling to remember what you looked like, how it felt to rest my head on your lap and you stroking my hair, and how your gentle soft hands fed me as I throw one of those tantrums.How you used to cajole me when I used to be angry at you by singing your song?

And so my dearest amma, here is a weak attempt to capture those memories into one page. I hope that we meet someday up there where I know your soul is resting in peace.

Posted in m@dness

The afternoons that’ll never be

And so it was a looooooooooooooooooooooong weekend but had sooooooooooo much to do:) I’ll writ about it soon. Had to write this one today. Last evening while das and I were driving around town, having our usual chats, the radio made me listen to an old Malayalam song from the early 90’s.  It is not that I haven’t heard this song before. I’ve even hummed it quite a number of times. But today the song brought along with it a memory. Of a little girl and her mother, ears fixed on to the speakers of a cassette player. Pen and paper in hand. Amma. I dont have too many memories of her but yes this is one I’d never forget. She loved this song. It used to be in that one cassette which had a number of her favourite songs.
It used to be our afternoon pastime. Listening to old and much loved songs to take down the lyrics. She had this notepad that she used to write down lyrics on. She would play, pause, write, rewind, play and repeat. I used to learn them then, diligently as though I’d had an examination the next day! It was my way of impressing my mother. I’d always get the tune the very first time but could never get the lyrics at one go. Amma would correct my awful rendering in her smooth, beautiful voice. And I listened to her, awestruck as always.She used to sing beautifully. It is probably the only good thing I inherited from her. Those afternoons, when my brother was out or reading and my grandmother was taking her noon nap, was our time.
I used to sing at the drop of a hat, then. Now, I cant sing even when am forced to. I still remember her asking me to learn one song by myself and I did it real soon. I did it just like her. Play, pause, write, rewind, play….. It was the last one. To this day I cannot get myself to write down lyrics of songs. It hurts too much.
I miss many things in life. In fact too many things that it is probably unhealthy. Today however, this ranks supreme. The ‘our’ time. I think somewhere down the line, there are so many moments that I cherish, with so many different people. Which are simply not there anymore. And that makes it probably even more beautiful.
Posted in m@dness

Where it all began

It rained the night before I was born. An unexpected rain. Susrusha Nursing home found itself walked on by women with lifted sarees and men with their pants hitched higher than the high it already was.

Mother must have screamed, her first and perhaps only emotion when concerning me. And I cried for I hadn’t wanted to be born.

After the many nurses touched me, cleaned me and handed me over with forced emotion to my mother’s mother. It was she who first held me. I remember my grandmother mentioning years later that the doctor came out and said to her that my mom delivered a doll for her to play with. I’d fallen asleep in her arms, tired from my journey.

Taking one look at my not so pink cheeks and the lower half of my body that was wrapped snugly in a clinical white Turkish towel, she’d prayed that my father wouldn’t be too unhappy. The child being a girl.

Father was too high on  joy and cigarattes. He couldn’t have cared less. He was a father, once again! The elder one being a boy was more than enough for him. After all the boy would take care of all his needs when he grows up. What was the use of two boys anyway?

Before handing me over to him, my grandmother had pinched my cheeks to make them redder. And I’d woken up to cry in protest. Through his sleep deprived eyes, father held me uncomfortably and awkwardly. When placed into his hands that formed the most uncomfortable cradle ever, he looked at everyone around foolishly and showed me to my brother. My brother who cared a damn about what it was. it could be a cat for all he cared.He was annoyed because he hadnt slept last night coz he was in the car with mosquitoes buzzing all around him and more so because he thought all the attention his mother and grandmother had showered on him would now go to this thing. He thought.

Already in a strange land, I was moved from place to place. I’d stopped crying because I was tired of crying too- yes, even then.The last person to hold me was mother. And when she did I’d realize that maybe she hadn’t wanted me born either. After all, maybe she knew that eventually I’d be the one taking her life away. Maybe. The hostility and hatred penetrated through the warm folds of the blanket and making an effort through all the fear I felt, I’d screamed; terrified.

How do I know all this?
Because I remember everything. That’s the curse I am born with.

Posted in close to heart

Happy Bday Das

It’s your birthday! In a day I mean. Its funny how, as a child, I never considered the possibility that parents have birthdays too. I selfishly assumed that being born and being celebrated for one’s birth is a privilege accorded only to children. Parents were too old and worldly wise to need, or even to appreciate, such trivial things as birthdays. But today I feel the need to wish you a happy birthday, to celebrate your life, your love, all that you give to us that I cannot even begin to understand.

You have always had an unbelievable amount of energy and life in you, and such incredible bluster that the rest of the world never got to know how fearful you always were, of just about everything. It was only as I grew older that I saw your vulnerability and appreciated your grace. You have taught me integrity, the importance of detail, the meaning of multitasking long before it became jargon, how to cook, how to love new clothes, how to be obsessive about things that mattered the most like love,family,perseverance and above all patience and humility. You also passed on to me a complete disregard about what other people thought. It was quite an experience being your child. It still is, you know.

Then you became my child. I hated it, completely. I wasn’t prepared, and I didn’t have the capability to slip into the new role gracefully. I protested, rather ungratefully, and I know it hurt you. Kids are selfish, you know? They aren’t really programmed to think about anything apart from themselves. Sometimes I wonder how things would’ve been if I’d been a little older, a lot wiser. But you didn’t even give up then! You still gave me the courage to take care of you and get you back on your feet and my lord, you are back at it like a phoenix! I used to blame my lack of courage and boldness till a while ago.Now, maybe because of the things that have been happening with me, I think I’ve realized that thinking that I could’ve changed everything had I done something differently is being too presumptuous about my role in the larger scheme of things, that life and death are so much bigger than you and I and what we do or fail to do.

So Das, enough of senti stuff and all that! I know you damn well to know that by now you would be all :(. You have taken it as a challenge and I know I can see you in your glam form in just about 2 months time.I just want you to know that I dont think my life would’ve been any better or different than it already is even if amma was around. You have never made me miss her. I knw how difficult i wouldve been for you to raise me single handedly and trust me you have done a fine job at that. Ya i know I cant say that but I have asked around and people say the same thing too. SO you relax and enjoy your life and spend more time doing things you want to do!!

LOVE YOUUUUUUUU SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH DAS!!

Here’s to this year and many more to come! I promise you ill send you to see EGYPT and AFRICA soon! Have a fantastic bday tomorrow :0

 

Posted in m@dness

To Mom, with love

It wasn’t an easy task for her – I was not easy. I remember, she remained occupied with me most of the time. She’d hug me, kiss me, read stories with me. Make me jam rolls and and she inspite of being really sick, would teach me my daily lessons and teach me songs, sing to me and write notes to me. She was with me only till I was 5 years but the memories we made will last lifelong.
There is only one woman we see who has such beauty, charisma, and style. There is a woman, a captivating lady of such grace. A lady with all the love in the world to give. This exquisite human being has this heart, this enormous heart that is almost as big as her smile. Oh, and her smile can not only melt our heart, but fulfill our souls with such warmth and pleasure. Her eyes, her remarkable eyes. They show the impeccable strength and courage she depicts every day. They reflect all the triumphs and the strife she has encountered in her life. You see, this woman of such admiration is no other than your very own mother. That is correct. The bearer of your being.
And my mother… she was beautiful, talented, had a really sweet voice, was softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel.
You are no longer around, but I will always be proud to be your daughter. Love you amma.