The Flying Man

It is said that books and people find their way into your lives. A mere meeting or a cursory glance at a blurb might not amount to much, if it is not meant to be. How else could I explain being swept off my feet by Roopa Farooki’s Flying Man? I received the book as a birthday present almost three years ago and never managed to get past the blurb. And here I was, maniacally reading through day and night, finishing it in two days!

The protagonist is very unusual, in that he is a very ordinary man and yet, much larger than life than you and I could ever imagine. It is a story that is as mundane as Life can be and every bit as extraordinary.

“It has always mattered to me, that once upon a time, a long time ago, He loved Her, and that She loved Him back.”

That is the only thing that probably mattered to Maqil, the despicable man who is also the Hero of the story. Just like the ones in his life, the reader also goes through moments of extreme hate, love and helplessness in response to his actions. Strangely enough, you don’t feel anger towards Maqil, no. That’s just who he is. He is just compelled to live life in his head, where he is always larger than life, where it is always eternal sunshine. All dreams have to come to an end, however and in a very unusual fashion, Maqil’s disappointments with reality are yours, too. I guess we all have a Maqil, a Mikhail , a Mike : hiding within the labyrinths of our soul.

I also found the unravelling of his daughter’s character very interesting : she inherits his coldness of character without the flightiness.

The writing provides literary references without any presumptuousness, almost carelessly. The humour is sardonic and witty. One is reminded often of Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’ : certain imagery, certain words. Reading the book is like being on a roller coaster ride, tossed mercilessly on the oceans of feeling. Yet, like Maqil, like Life, it is predictable : you do know you are on the ride, after all.

This is a book written like poetry, about a mundane life made extraordinary. It is a performance, like everything else we do in life.

A brilliant performance.

“I’m a child in the womb, once more, buried in ink and blood, waiting to see if there might be darkness, or light, on the other side. Black or Red. I’ve waited too long for this; this time, I’ll take a chance.”

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Reflections of an ordinary life.

We all have those moments of extraordinary clarity. Those moments where we realize how ordinary we are, how meaningless our lives are in the larger scheme of things. You know, grow up, get married, work, die. Thoughts that would have depressed me in my twenties. Surprisingly though, they liberate me in my thirties.

It has been a journey of extreme emotional pain, my transition from the twenties to the thirties. A journey that questioned my identity, killed my self-esteem and threw me off balance in ways that I could have never imagined. I probably sleep-walked all the way, just to escape all the hurt and pain. Yet, it was all my fault. I went through the pain because I was not smart enough. I was not “me” and so I paid the price.

I can now see a lot of people for who they are. I know nothing really matters and so, everything I do matters. It is tough to explain if you are somewhere else at this point of time. We all have a map to traverse, a certain journey to make. And sometimes, you don’t understand things if they are not part of your map. Yet, the ego loves doling out advice, so here goes a few pieces of advice. To all those souls who are struggling to fit in. Or wriggle out of.

The throes of society.

The hypocrisies of the mind.

Those unseen labyrinths of fear and monotony.

Well, the very first thing is,

Never, ever do anything that does not make you happy. I am extremely serious about this one. Fights end, arguments get smoothened over – but the resentment from doing something that you did not wish to do? That requires serious nerves of steel to get rid of.

Which brings me to the next thing,

There is no one “normal” life. I know, we have heard this many times before. But now I know it’s true. We are all products of probability, all our life events are victims to chance. Meeting that one person, landing that one job, meeting that one fertility expert or adoption agency, winning that one lottery. See how ridiculous it is? Let go.  When you die, none of it will matter. It might sound negative but is actually a very liberating thought. Just give an F. I mean, damn. See how easy that is?

Once you have done that, go back to the first thing. Do what makes you happy. You’ll do it really well, whether or not it matters. Keep doing it.

Over and over again.

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A song..

I am in one of my crazy moods so I  am posting a song that I had recorded on Soundcloud. I am not a great singer but I  love to sing. The same can be said for my writing too. So here goes :

This is probably the bravest thing I have done on my blog, so let me run away before I change my mind!

 

 

On the wings of Time…

Many eons ago, humans and Gods lived together. It was a time of abundance and joy. Thirst or hunger were unknown and the slightest flicker of a desire was fulfilled. Into this world of bounty tiptoed Love in her chariot of flowers and myrrh, not to forget her gifts of passion and lust. 

With Love visiting them, the humans and Gods were put in a state of disarray. Suddenly, desires were not crystal clear as before. Their minds were often in the throes of passion, love and lust to think  without pause. They were like leaves on waves, tossed about mercilessly. 

For the first time in history, a conference was called. Humans and Gods and animals and plants and insects and birds – they wondered how they could address this strange yet seemingly unsurmountable problem. Love was an extremely powerful force and they couldn’t stand up to her. They had never seen someone like her.

Love attended the conference in her robe of jasmine flowers and lotus leaves. She heard them speak and listened.  And then, she listened some more.  Finally,  she told them they had a choice. 

A choice?

Yes, she said , in her strong, clear voice. It can help you stay calm and yet seat me on your mantle, worshipped with incense and doused in perfume.  

Time is the choice, she continued.  You have been living a timeless existence. But just a little distance away, unknown to any of you, lies the eternal dark. A darkness that can be transcended only by me. An obscure land wherein lies the most beautiful thing in the world : death. When life can begin again.  Where we can begin, again and again. And that is my choice.

You can live timelessly without me . Or you can choose to step over into the dark, where time can heal and soothe your soul. Over this wondrous thing called Time, you can become one with me and we can flow seamlessly over time (again), beginning again and yet again. It is your chance to be as powerful  as I am. The creatures of the world were perplexed. Love spoke again, 

When you choose Time, you also choose me for but a short while. For I cannot fly but on her arms. And my charms are powerless before her magnetic, radiant smile.  

It is decided then, said everyone.  We, the creatures of the universe, choose Time. We welcome her into our world.

And that is how Time, Death and therefore Life, came to be.

(This story has been submitted to the Bluebell Books Short Story Slam  at :

http://bluebellbooks.blogspot.com/2016/07/short-story-slam-week-49-july-21-august.html)

On cleanliness, godliness and the like.

This post is going to be full of opinions, thoughts, you name it. On things that matter to me, but in ways different from how I see it matter to other people.

Over the past few days, I have been  trying to teach a few prayers to my three year old daughter. I have been showing her how to light incense, light a lamp and pray. It is true that my faith has been shakey of late. I have questioned many rituals and still do. Yet, I  want her to receive this faith ( even if pretended) for now. As a gift. I have my reasons for this.

The very first one being that rituals provide a template for the study of spirituality. They help you adhere to an idea, a concept. It is a form of meditation.

The second reason builds on this first concept. If you don’t learn a structure, what will you test or break? Like how Tagore says, without restraining the two ends of a string in your veenai,there is no music.

“I have on my table a violin string. It is free to move in any direction I like. If I twist one end, it responds; it is free.
But it is not free to sing. So I take it and fix it into my violin. I bind it and when it is bound, it is free for the first time to sing.” (TAGORE)

Indeed, how will my child learn to  sing with the joy of faith if I don’t provide her the framework to do so? To lead her a little into the realms of the soul, not as a religious person, but as someone who constantly searches her own self, someone who seeks a bigger goal, a farther star. I believe it is faith, not love, that makes the world go round.

Wouldn’t my own wavering faith pose problems? Yes, but nothing that cannot be resolved without an honest chat . Who knows, it might get me started on a entirely different spiritual journey altogether.

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We live in a sprawling house with loads of greenery, visiting birds and enormous amounts of sunlight.  Time and again, people who visit comment on that and then almost on the same visit say,

“Oh, it is a nice house but way too much maintenance. It is especially difficult with a young kid, like yours!”

I smile it off for it probably means our house is not clean enough by their standards, but it also makes we wonder. What exactly is ‘maintenance’?

Is it a shining, spotless floor? Will a clean, scrubbed floor not do?

Is it a dust-free shelf? Will a shelf with well-loved books, read, re-read and savoured not make the mark?

Is it a cobweb free ceiling?  Will a corner in an unobtrusive corner of your home with the most intricate spider  web fail to amaze you?

Is it a pet free bedroom? Would you fail to understand the warmth of a four legged one in the dark of the night, despite all the hair?

I remember visiting grandparents, aunts and relatives as a kid. I have seen moss on their bathroom walls, earthworms in their courtyard, dust covered objects flung into an unused room, scorpions in unused shelves and of course, cobwebs in places that were unused. Surprisingly, none of those aunts or relatives ever apologised for any of this nor was it considered a lack of “maintenance”.

I am not advocating a slovenly existence, far from that. I  appreciate freshly laundered sheets and a clean smelling bathroom as much as the next person.  But I  do wonder if  our standards have been increasing over the years, and might slowly pass over into the realm of the “unrealistic “. The ‘hubs’ of a home need regular cleaning,  like the kitchen, bathrooms and the bedrooms. The other areas,not so much, in my opinion.

Call me a slob but a few (or many) cobwebs or a dusty storeroom don’t make me feel less of a homemaker.  What fun is a home with no creatures to observe or no junk to explore?

 

Blues…

The sun streams in through our skylights. Many spaces in my kitchen and living room are drenched in gold. I sit on my favourite bench in the house, watching the dogs nap. The little one is on her cycle and as I  sip my tea, I  think of all the things I want.

I  want to keep this immaculate home and bake all these wonderful cakes. I want to wake up early and steam fluffy idlies to be eaten with coconut chutney. I want to cook these luscious vegan gulab jamuns. I want to  do vegetable painting with M. I  want to  walk the dogs on unexplored paths of joy. Sigh. I  did do many of these things over the past few weeks. But now I  long for them more than ever.

I long for them because I  have less than  a week of my vacation left! Boohoo. If you ask my husband though, I  have had enough holidays!  And yeah, I  cribbed about my lack of intellectual stimulation while at home, too. So better not to ask him anything!

I want to  be a homemaker. I want to go out to work. I want to earn. I want to  grow things. I want everything, all at once, all together.

Can you tell me how?

VeKuSaMo

Ve Ku Sa Mo is a frequent event in our largely canine, mildly human, tiny household. It’s a state that has followed us across homes, cities and time. We have tried to prevent it from happening, but the tugs of this powerful phenomenon never let go.

What is Ve Ku Sa Mo? No, it has nothing to do with NaMo or politics. It is not a Japanese cuss word, either. A new parenting philosophy, perhaps? Now that, I cannot say!

Ve Ku Sa Mo is an abbreviated version of a tamil expression ( there are versions in many other languages too!) : Vecha Kudumi, Saracha Mottai! Basically, it means you do everything  or you do nothing. Sounds familiar?  Welcome aboard!

I wanted to  post about this today as I  am currently in the “saracha mottai” phase, as in the “do nothing” phase . I have no idea how one does a little every day.  I spent the past four weeks cleaning up our home like a maniac and cooking in a frenzy. Here’s all that I made. Drool and enjoy.

Circle 1 : Irani Samosas

Circle 2 : Whole Wheat jim-jammy Nankhatai.

Circle 3 : Peanut-Jaggery Chikki

Hmmm, wonder why I don’t have nine circles, considering all the fire (not particularly hellish, but delish!)  I waded through in making these!

This does not include, of course, the puffed amaranth breakfast cereal that I hit upon or the yummy peppery crackers I made last evening! Also to be added are the non culinary areas of “ativrishti”, viz, the decluttering of the basement, the organization of the pantry and general mental cleaning overall. Oh, I  forget the two whole days I spent on work not related to the house.

And now… you can guess where I am right now.

Just to keep you in the loop (I am very familiar with corporate jargon, you see? Makes me more professional, I am told!) , my “saracha mottai”phase started yesterday. God save my home and my family!

P.S : It’s possibly “lunatic”, don’t you think, all this waxing and waning?

On how little I have learned…

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We all have those days. Those days of utter hopelessness and desolation. Where a lot of ‘revelations’ shower upon you. This weekend was full of moments of such angst.

I was thinking of how I never learned to play any role that was expected of me in life. Barring childhood, which most of us scamper through mindlessly anyway, I have never been able to just “be”. The most acutely devastating phase of this kind of ennui was after I got married. I just didn’t know how to be a “wife”. I still don’t. I have no clue what goes into the making of a wife. I do things my way and hope to be understood. Thankfully, I have been blessed with a husband who is sensitive enough to my quirks. In another marriage, I would have lost steam a long time ago.

Like I saying, I was plagued the whole weekend with thoughts of how I haven’t understood the role of a mother either. I do not know why I seek to learn what is expected of me! It is silly and important to me, all at once. I know how easy it is to lose oneself in roles like these. At the same time, I feel lost without the rough framework of what motherhood is ‘supposed to be’.I realized I had no clue of this one either. I feel extremely jealous of those who seem to have it all figured out. I wondered how I had spent nine years of my married life with nary an opinion on how a home should be kept, or how a curry needed to be made or what philosophy I needed to adopt for raising my daughter. I am just so clueless that it scares me. Shouldn’t I know a little by now?

I have just been acting upon one whimsical idea after other. I cannot tell you what a daughter or a daughter-in-law needs to do; I cannot tell you how I feel as a “wife”. I don’t know how to be a “mother.” I feel so rudderless.

Sometimes, I think, my only best friend is Time. Who, like a river, flows over all my wounds and insecurities and gives me the gift of perspective, over and over again.

P.S : This might be a post full of ramblings, but it is definitely not  a sad one. It is one that is most reflective of the true ‘me’ and we all come in different types, don’t we?

 

Sunrise, sunset…

 

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I wake up, I lie down

and life goes on.

Around me, the world crumbles

and is rebuilt again.

Each day, each second

time flies or stays still. 

I have learnt naught

Or maybe a lot.

Life and death co-exist,

Games of light and shadow

Play upon windows of ice. 

Acts of love entwine themselves

with the darkness of my soul. 

Sunrise, sunset

How can you tell the difference?