Rebirth

Muyalaka, under your feet he lies,

Agni, in your hands he dances;

Waking up to the sound of your drum

Are all my many dormant souls.

Where is my dance, dear Lord?

Where are my anklets and

the embers of my passion?

Where on my forehead is the eye of truth?

Oh mad man, my heart lies at your feet;

My pride and womanhood destroyed.

My passion maddens, my anklets clamour;

To end my birth with this dance of fury.

Angikam bhuvanam yasya
Vachikam sarva vangmayam
Aharyam chandra taradi
Tam vande satvikam sivam.”

Natarajane…

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Alone, but not lonely.

Sometimes during a conversation, attention drifts away from the topic of interest, to something very mundane. It can be a question, sometimes an exclamation. On rare occasions, it has been a compliment and rarer still, it has come to me as an insult, served hot and garnished well.

It is the ubiquitous issue of the ” mother tongue”.  So where do you come from? Innocent question, which deserves an equally innocent answer. Apparently not clear enough. But what is your mother tongue? In a nice mood, I say Tamil, on the days I miss my Appa, especially. In a caustic mood, I say Telugu, that’s what I grew up speaking. If you catch me in a weird mood, I’d probably say Hindi or English.I am surprised at how such an innocent question could always catch me off-guard, leaving me tense, nostalgic, lost and identity-less, all at the same time.

As a child, Tamil was what I spoke at home. Just at home. I learnt to read and write, appreciate poetry and speak it, all thanks to Appa. Everywhere else it was Telugu or Hindi. Adolescence did not prove to be a big problem with the what re, no ya, cool re! what only fad keeping me far away from an identity crisis.

Marriage brought with it some issues. It was difficult to identify myself with a typical Tamil family, they actually lived in a town that spoke Tamil, and not some “X” language! And I realized none of my Telugu friends identified with me either! To them I was always a ” tamilian”, ” aravvallu”. Where do I go from here, I remember thinking. It was too late to go back to one of these cultures exclusively. I was equally addicted to Yugaadi Pachadi and Nei Pongal. My language was peppered with illai and ledu in equal measure. I enjoyed ramadasa krithis  and oothukkaadu venkatasubbaiyer songs.  To add to all the confusion, I was teaching French too. It would be foolish to believe that language has no effect on the way we live. So where exactly would I be?

Over the past few years, I have jumped at occasions  to speak in Telugu, spoken Tamil in ways that my Appa would be proud of, and ache to speak Kannada like a native. I look for Tamil from certain people, from whose lips it sounds like my Appa’s speaking. My heart longs for Telugu’s sweetness and dwells in Tamil’s rhythmic beauty. Kannada’s prosody, so unlike so many other languages I’ve heard, attracts me. Yet, my steps towards her are babyish. Am I afraid of losing myself once more? Is it is a subconscious desire to belong somewhere, no matter where,  just to feel terra firma? Or am I  trying to defend my own slowness in picking up the language?

I wouldn’t know. One thing’s for sure: I am neither a tamilian nor a telugu. I am neither south-Indian nor north-Indian. I am alone at the moment, but I definitely am not lonely. Think of it this way : A child asked to choose between his mother and father, always chooses both. Just like I’d always choose both Telugu and Tamil, both of which make me who I am today….

Ranga’s day off.

He who sleeps in the sanctum
is he awake yet?
scores of his loved ones have gathered
already in the temple yard;
Oh! their cries deafen my ears!

Ranga, dear one, do wake up!
vaikunta ekadasi comes but once
Shrug off this slumber
and wear your best robes;
hurry now, they have work to do!

The dark one did rise;
and wear his gold and smile;
“Adi”, he said, “take me to our tree”;
Adi refused, today was not the day, he said
but who could resist His lotus-eyed charms?



Under  his tree, our Lord slept,
Adi keeping careful vigil;
Ranga, won’t they come looking, he whispered.
He smiled, Yashoda’s darling, Radha’s beloved;
Trust me, dear Adi, they will not.

Simple Pleasures

Sometime ago, I rediscovered my ability to appreciate the simpler things in life. I had lost it for a while in the process of getting married, creating a routine for the two of us and dealing with the myriad things that couples face.
I thought it would be a good idea to list them down, to be reminded of joy during moments of sadness, during those moments where you desperately look for a pick-me-up.
So here are a few things that always seem to make me smile..

Watching the rain pour down on our huge windows, and listening to its music.

Spending an entire afternoon in the balcony, getting sun-drenched, a cup of tea in hand. The afternoon sun is delicious and the world takes on a languor that’s simply irresistible.

Chopping my vegetables and arranging them on the cutting board, with an eye for colour and shape. Who cares what they ultimately turn out to be?

Soaking my feet after a long day in a tub of warm water, spiced with shampoo. Sensual and relaxing.

Taking a walk late in the night, when all doors are shut, and the neighbourhood prepares to go to bed. There’s just one light on, that of the local ice-cream parlour. Would you say no?

Roused in the middle of the night, only to find a four-legged baby, snuggling up between your legs, making himself more comfortable. Is that what they call a comforter?

Waking up each morning to a lovely cup of coffee, all waiting and ready to touch your lips. Sometimes, it feels like magic, though I am told it is only love.

Watching the neelambari tree shower us with flowers, the ground a purple carpet. A royal welcome, despite the change in colour.

Laughing till it hurts. I never imagined work could be so much fun. Although, wherever there is learning, there is also extreme joy.

Feeling like a child again, reading three books in two days, and being really proud about it!

There are a lot more  of these tiny things, always near and ready to make you smile, if only you make no attempts to capture them or pursue them tirelessly. For as Nathaniel Hawthorne says,

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you”

Wishing your garden of life many more butterflies.



On being a woman.

I was born a girl because of a certain chromosome in my cells, I knew how to truly be one when I climbed trees, played hop-scotch or ran barefoot on the beach.

My body went through the ritual of being a girl: puberty, acne and breasts, even as my soul discovered poetry, literature and the power of truth.

While I dressed up to look pretty, there was always a mad ache within, to move beyond what the eye sees, to be accepted for who I was.

Today, my form implies a woman, yet, my mind is sexless. For don’t we all seek truth, haven’t we all jumped in sheer joy, and isn’t there more to us than what meets the eye?

I am Earth.

I am Life.

Do not give me a name, for I am a soul, sans form, sans boundaries.

I am.