Tiny tales

Rains make me sad,

my tears washed away

in the torrents that lash

at my borrowed window panes.

I  am no queen, fair and noble

with my life etched on marble.

I am no battered slave,

whose name is called out in pity.

And no, I  am no warrior princess

with arms of steel or a soul of gold.

Like the rain-laden cloud,

I  carry my tears.

Like the brown earth,

I bear my blows.

Like the fluttering leaves,

I fight my battles.

I live and I  live.

Rains make me sad.

 

 

 

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns…

khaled

I read Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner ten years ago, as a girl. I enjoyed the depth of his writing, but felt that it lacked style. The story was gripping and the writing was brutally honest, but there was a little something that I felt was lacking. It is difficult to explain without coming across as presumptuous. Today, a decade hence, the Afghan born doctor cum writer crawls back into my (grown up) heart all over again, with A Thousand Splendid Suns.

The book touches upon Afghanistan, fresh from its upheaval of monarchy and takes us through its journey of war, Soviet occupation and finally, the dark regime of the Taliban. When Mariam’s mother gives her lesson for life at the beginning of the story, little do we realize how much impact those few words have over not only Mariam’s life, but also Laila’s (the other protagonist) :

“Only one skill. And it’s this : tahamul. Endure.”

Mariam’s life is made up of one difficult situation after another, one pain after another. The reader’s heart feels her pain but just like her, is helpless. You almost endure it all over again. And again. Suddenly I think of these lines from The Kite Runner : When tumblr_mcdbhoF9671riifgzo1_500

You know that what Mariam really wants is to escape it all, like in those lines above, but she is trapped into her life, that husband, that country and her mother’s curse : to endure. When you think of women like her, who are still battling reality in patriarchal societies all over the world, your heart is sure to bleed and suddenly, your own life feels like an enormous luxury.

The descriptions of Herat and Kaboul evoke very strong feelings about the places and country. The Boudhas of Bamiyan, the minarets of Herat and the night life in Kaboul stay etched in your mind long after you have closed the book. It is the city of Kaboul that is behind the title, too.

Kaboul

Beautiful, isn’t it? As a person who gives away her soul to certain places and cities, I could totally identify with it.

If Mariam’s curse was to endure, Laila’s was to wait. Waiting for love, waiting for clouds to pass, waiting for times to change.

“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”

While Laila’s story can retain some hope, Mariam’s is devoid of any. Probably the story of many women in Afghanistan and in many other societies as well. Khaled Hosseini’s might touch upon aspects of politics or history but the central story is always that of these two women, stuck together by kismet, born into a world and a time that was cruel to its women. The book is poetic and poignant, very hard to put down once begun. It is an extremely heart-wrenching tale of life, that goes on, despite all odds.

“Each snowflake was a sigh heard by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. All the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women suffer, how quietly we endure all that falls upon us.” 

An affair with….

Tristesse.

Pathos.

Yes, you got that right. I am in love with a certain way that sadness makes me feel. I remember being very impressed with the title o a book by Françoise Sagan, “Bonjour , tristesse” : Hello, Sadness. Something that I would love to say.

I did not sprout this seed of melancholy on a whim. It has been cultivated over the years and been watered diligently, too. I often imagined how I would react if my parents or siblings died and cried for hours. I read and re-read sad poems, letting the sadness engulf my soul. I would think of less than fortunate people around me and let it make my heart heavy. I could cite many more incidents where I was one with an emotion that, for most people, seems destructive and self – defeating.

I did try to reflect upon it. On why I could always the melancholic strain in everything : was it my way of escaping the world? Or a means to be philosophical? I did fall off the bandwagon many a time, succumbing to self-pity, the very ugly cousin to sadness,  but I always pulled myself together.

Like most people obsessed with sadness,  I laughed a lot. I tried to deny the sad feelings I had on an everyday basis.  I tried to be happy go lucky,  I tried to “spread smiles wherever I go” , as the saying goes. What it actually did was to inhibit me, for I was basically denying my very existence. The sadness was so much a part of me that living became difficult.

At times friends would find me in grief and try to help – “Cheer up! Look on the bright side.” Of course! Sadness or melancholy is not pessimism, just like happiness is not optimism! The former is a feeling, the latter an attitude! I would smile and reply, “Of course..”

As I grow older, I am more at peace with this. I am trying not to deny myself and accept it as who I am.

Yes I still wish upon rainbows and lick dew off leaves.

I like to tell children about fairies and magic.

I  always believe the best is yet to come and tomorrow will surely be better than yesterday.

I enjoy comedies and funny videos and guffaw like a monkey.

Yet…and yet…

My heart will always be heavy….

Perspectives…

images

While you chose to worry about a few gray strands in your hair, somewhere in the world a river is slowly graying itself to death : filled with filth from your homes and from our souls;

While you demand for gold and fanfare at your son’s wedding, somewhere in your country, a whole family weeps because they gave birth to a girl.

While you ground your child for not standing first in the class, somewhere in your city, a mother of a child with special needs is moving mountains just to hear her child call her “Amma”;

And while you berate yourself for all the perceived imperfections in your body, somewhere in your soul, a sliver of joy melts away…..

Into oblivion.

 

Image courtesy : Google search, no copyright infringement intended.

 

Demain, dès l’aube..(Blogathon Post Twenty Seven)

What is the point of a Blogathon if there is not even one translation? So here is my attempt at translating Victor Hugo’s poem Demain, dès l’aubeThe poem speaks to me. [P.S :I have not stuck to the original word for word.]

Tomorrow, at dawn, when the countryside awakes, 

I will leave; for I know you wait for me;

By the forest, past the mountains, I hurry;

I cannot stay away from you for too long.

As I walk, my mind on my thoughts, 

I see nothing, I hear nothing;

Alone, unknown, with an aching heart and a bent back-

My folded hands, crossed, block out the day.

The gilded evening holds no beauty for me

Nor the distant sails towards Harfleur, 

I will be there soon, to place my flowers

Green  holly and heather, sprinkled with my tears.

A Poem.. (Blogathon Post Eleven)

On the shores of the endless ocean, 

I wait. 

Love and faith and hope and joy;

They touch my feet, but wash me not. 

The mild breeze sings to me

the waters play- my eyes look

for you; it is you I want

On that endless ocean shore. 

Reason eludes me; I know I am wrong;

To ask for love is to kill it

and to beg for time, a sin;

Will you still come?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I stand in eternal hope

 I wish on invisible stars;

 With all my foibles, therefore

On that shore, I wait. 

The Beauty Of Isla Contoy

 

Me, a racist?

It was an afternoon like any other. In a busy, cosmopolitan city, life was buzzing past. The shopping arcade was full of shoppers, picking up odds and ends for the New Year. Many were strolling around aimlessly, waiting perhaps, for a friend. I was trying to buy myself a new pair of pyjamas and there were a few stalls just for this, offering bottoms and tees for prices as ridiculously low as Rs.75! As I browsed lazily, looking through a riot of colours, I heard a voice behind me.
“See, I told you there is someone strange here, didn’t I?”
It was a mother with a toddler in her arms. For a second, I thought they were referring to me. I was very soberly dressed, so I did not understand why they would classify me as ‘strange’. The mother started to rummage through the enormous pile of clothes, talking in a low voice to the baby in her arms. I realised that it was not about me, but an African woman, at the other side of the counter, looking through the wares.Their conversation reached my ears, and what I heard was not pleasant. Here it goes, snippets of ‘that‘ conversation-
“Do you see that lady there? Do you see her hair? So many little braids, no? Why do you think she has done that?”
At this point, I nurtured a small hope that the mother might go into how different cultures have different dressing styles, but what she said shocked me.
“She is mad, that is why. And if you do not behave, that strange woman will carry you away.That’s why she is sitting here. To carry away babies like you.”
Needless to say, the child did not utter a word for the rest of the spree. I was just speechless. Would the conversation have taken the same turn had it been a white person instead of the African? As Indians, we are subjected to discrimination too, why does it not make us more tolerant? Is brown better than black? And white better than brown? If someone had commented on the mother’s brightly coloured saree, would she have taken it?
Most important of all, should a two-year old be taught to be scared of people who just look different? Does that mean anyone ‘Indian’ looking can be trusted just by virtue of his/her looks or hairstyle? It was a very disturbing scene. I think we must teach our children to accept all kinds of people, more so this day and age, where the world is getting smaller and smaller. Let us not hide behind a hypocritical cloak of tolerance while setting a bad example in action for the little ones around us.
For under our black/brown/white/wheat/cocoa/chocolate/almond/olive skins, we are all one.

Zut!

This morning I discovered my first(few!) gray hairs. For a minute I just stared at the mirror, disbelieving. Until yesterday, there I was, a young thing with a head full of black hair and zup! Va va voom, here sprout my seeds of wisdom! How do you react in a case like this?
Feel proud that Nature has decide to teach you a few lessons in advance?
Or blindly jump on to the bandwagon that millions of women all over the world are in, the one that chases perfection relentlessly in vain?
It is a strange state of mind. Lost, perplexed and age-defying. Hehe, you know what I mean!
As I passed through the day, flashes of a head full of white hair appear in front of my eyes, making my students wonder if their dear madame is exhibiting signs of clairvoyance. Suddenly I recognize how young my students are.. and it wasn’t a great feeling. I felt enormous love, sadness and self-pity, all at the same time. It is true that the graying might stop with these few strands, for the moment and life will continue as before. Or I might decide to be extra stringent about my henna sessions and scrape a way out of this “Gris”ery.
Yet, as my logical mind searches for a cause that resulted in this, I can only think of stress.
Stress that helps us do extraordinarily well at work.
Stress that helps us show off at family gatherings-“Oh, I have been very busy of late. No time to even take a breather.”
Stress that keeps our adrenaline pumping, making us feel alive. Sadly, those may probably be the only instances where we feel alive.
What is so alluring about this high that we get, that put everything else on second gear? Our bodies, our souls, our very lives?
I am known to over-react, so you’d be wise to take my words with a pinch of salt, but I think we would be better off if we did not work up late.
Or worry about who likes us or not.
There’s absolutely no need to work ourselves up over work or family. Ultimately, our bodies bear the brunt of it all, and without our bodies we are nothing. (We are not saints or gods, who have transcended their bodies, are we?)
Just keep asking yourself this question over and over again,
Is it worth it?