Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Who is She?

I hear the rhythmic sounds, muted screeches of metal on metal, spaced a second apart. The mind takes slightly more than that to register the source of the sounds. I walk over to the balcony and lean down to look. Fourteen floors below, I see the swing in motion, swaying up and down – the rider a tiny apparition in the distance. It is dark all around; the setting sun has long since surrendered to the starry skies. I only catch blotches of white; I believe it to be her skirt billowing in the soft breeze - the same breeze that rushes up to meet me as well.

It’s always a ‘her’. It has to be a she. The mind refuses to conjure otherwise. I see her hair flying haywire with every drop and getting whipped up with every climb. I hear her giggles echoing through the night. She’s played a hilarious prank on her colleagues today, one that they’re going to remember forever. She’s acquired lifetime bragging rights over her acting skills as well. They tell her it was Oscar worthy.

Or maybe it isn’t that. She is there because she needs a break. Her sobs make her way up to me. Her five-year old has thrown yet another tantrum and overturned everyone's dinner. His doctors want him to be labeled as an autism case and she is fighting them tooth and nail. Her husband would rather have his child committed to a nursing center than bear the burden. But she would be damned, if she lets anyone brand her son. Her cell phone resounds in the pitch of the dark, a shrill tone piercing the silence of the night. If only she could get a few more minutes of quiet, but sigh.

Or maybe, she just is. No high flying incidents. No saddening moments that pull her down. Just another day. A light jog in the morning, some rushed words with her loved ones, a hectic day at work, catching up with friends. There’s nothing particular she has achieved, yet there’s a sense of accomplishment. A day well delivered. And so she swings, up and down, catching up on moments through the day, pondering over snatches of conversations, feeling one with herself, recognizing her own self grow with the world around her. That’s probably it. She probably is; she just is. Nothing more; nothing less.

And as the cadence continues to make music, I wonder if it’s just the flowing breeze that binds us or if there is more in common between all these women and I, invisible intertwining threads that weave in and out binding person to person, differing combinations of snippets of life stolen from a huge master list and assembled to make us whole? Most days she swings, on some days she doesn’t. Those are the days she’s lost, but then she always comes back. Every day is a new day; every day will be a new ‘her’ and the possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Age No Bar

Image Copyright: YashwantNaik.com

I see her standing at the other door of the compartment. She watches me from all the way across. Mentally, I give her thirty seconds to come stand by my side. In thirty more, she will probably flash me an alluring smile.

I underestimate her. She has done all that and much more within twenty seconds. She’s staring at me now – her unyielding gaze making me squirm under its effect. I feel paralyzed. I do not smile back. Her hand slides down to my cheeks and I blush. The tip of her thumb grazes my brow and I flick my hair aside. Around us, people start giggling.

There’s electricity in the air. The ladies in our compartment seem charged, some of them on their toes as if trying to witness a spectacle. How shameless. Some point their fingers at us as if we are on display. Well, in a way we are – what with her public display of affection reaching new heights every minute. She doesn’t miss a beat. Reaching around my neck, she pulls me close to her.

And then laughter erupts peppered with phrases like “Awww”, “How cute!”, “So sweet”, and “How adorable!”

“How old is he?” The lady holding her hand asks my Mom.
“Thirteen months.” Mom quips as I look up at her. “Yours?”
“Just eleven months. And she’s already going on eighteen years,” the lady chuckles.

I look at her standing next to me. She just winks.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Two Sides of the Same Coin

He hefts the overweight bags onto his right shoulder. Walks ten steps. Pauses for fifteen seconds. Shifts one of the bags onto the other shoulder. Walks twelve more steps. Lowers the bags to the ground. The contents shift treacherously, threatening to spill over on the street. Hurriedly, he picks them up again. Mentally curses himself for having forgotten his cell phone at home. His son would have come running to help had he known. With a long deep sigh, he puts one step in front of the other and starts walking again.

She whooshes past him leaving a strong flowery fragrance in her wake. For a second, he is reminded of the Rajdhani Express that his mother used to tell him stories about. There one second, gone the next. But then she stops and turns around. Looks at him and squints. Like there are gears turning in her head. Silently contemplating. She comes running towards him and asks “Is it okay if I help you carry this to your house?”


“Kids of today, they are so ignorant!” he exclaims heatedly.
“What happened, Aniruddha? What is making you grumble even as you enter the house?”
“This generation, Baba. They know nothing about our culture and religion,” Aniruddha replies as he downs a glass of water and shuffles around in the kitchen.
“What are you looking for?” He asks, following his son around the house.
“The matchbox. I think we ran out.”
“I got us some. I went to the market. Had to buy the monthly stock of groceries.”
Baba, how many times do I tell you to not go alone? Why carry such heavy bags home?”
“It’s ok, Aniruddha. Bless the girl."
"What girl, Baba? You really need to stop talking to strangers."
"She was a kid, Aniruddha. Must be all of twelve. But she saw me struggling with those bags and offered to carry them for me. Now, what were you griping about?”
“Nothing, Baba. It’s not important. Just call me next time. Now, did you take your medicines?”


Dear Diary,
That old man reminded me of my Grandpa. I wonder if he has any grandchildren. They say what goes around comes around. I hope someone helps my Grandpa the way I helped this man.

I got chastised today. Severely. How was I to know that while going around Shiva’s idol I am not supposed to cross over the channel? We go around idols all the time. It’s called circumambulation – the going around. Daddy spelled it out for me. Might be helpful for my spell bee, he said. I hope my good deed for the day does not get nullified by this religious infraction. That would be bad for Grandpa.

PS: (It means Post script): I used 2 medium and 2 complex words in today’s entry. That makes the total so far – 47 new words for the bee.

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