Friday, December 14, 2007

Reality is Different for Different People

Soch... the hindi stage play of out Dramatics Society this year... Reality is different for different people... When I read this line being flaunted on their new sweatshirts, after a long time I felt myself drifting into my world of vague thoughts again.. What is reality?
Hmm... Where had these thoughts actually started? I was introduced to the world of multiple personalities by Sydney Sheldon's "Tell Me Your Dreams"... but that was negative.. One personality was bad and dominated over the others... Killed people... Blah.. Blah..
And then came 15 Park Avenue... And I had my first intriguing conversation right after watching it.. Just imagine... everything you consider real is nothing but your own hallucination... But what's wrong with it? Does it really matter what is real? If I can see something, and it's giving me happiness... why would I ever want to realise that it's not real?? Maybe I'm just imagining myself sitting on a bed and typing these thoughts.. Maybe I'm not actually Shreya, there is no blog, and you definitely don't exist. Maybe I'm actually just lying in some corner of a mental asylum..lost in my own world...with my own own life... Maybe my brain doesn't function at all, and I'm just imagining that I feel love, hate, pain and every other emotion I've been feeling lately.. Maybe at the end of the day it's all a big illusion.. Something that a tiny part of my brain cooked up just cuz it was bored of the clinical white walls of my cell.
Think about it. I'd like to know people's views on this... If I exist in your world, that is.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


It's one of those times... I really hate it... My head feels so full of nonsensical thoughts, zooming around fast that I actually just manage to grasp tiny bits of each at a time, and before I've figured it out, the next thought has already nudged it's way through and is trying to explain itself to me. It's horrible, these thoughts are with me at all times, when I'm studying, when I'm hanging out with friends...and worst of all...when I'm trying to sleep. The latter has become almost impossible lately..and it's frustrating me a lot.. So much so, that I apparently shouted out in my partial sleepy state last night, scaring the hell out of my room mate, who immediately switched off the lights and ran out of the room.

Why am I writing this? Actually the question is why are you even reading this? Cuz this has nothing interesting for you guys... I just needed to unclog my brain and get some of the haunting thoughts out of it. Don't you sometimes wish that you had Dumbledore's pensieve? It would make times like this so much easier to deal with.

Everyone's pretty sure that it's CAT tension that I'm going through. So how come none of my thoughts are about CAT? Or even my future for that matter? How come I'm worrying about how I made my best friend cry the other day by being too frank, or how everyone thinks I'm extremely sensible and mature while one person, someone I don't even care about managed to figure out that I'm not? Why can't I get some of these people out of my mind? A close friend who's suddenly too busy to find time to meet me, someone I love being ok without the love, someone I can't figure out featuring in my thoughts regularly simply because I can't figure him out, someone flirting with me even though both of us know he's just kidding, someone being absolutely perfect and yet being so far from perfection for me......

Why have I suddenly started caring? The last few months were bliss because I had suddenly stopped feeling anything. Numbness.. I loved it... A state of feeling no emotions at all. People could do or say whatever they wanted, and it just didn't matter to me anymore. I didn't feel happiness perhaps... but there was no sadness, no jealousy, no emotions whatsoever. I suddenly felt so above it all... It was beautiful.

And now suddenly I have this huge wall of emotions crashing over me, I'm feeling everything at the same time, and I can't even figure out what emotion is when and for what. Before, I used to push an emotion to it's limits just to pass over into the numbness... With so many emotions on the loose, I can no longer do that.

I hate this.... I want my numbness back... That lovely numbness.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vanilla i decided it was time to start writing my fifteen minute stories again, in which I just pick up a random friend and then spin a story around him/her in fifteen minutes. sadly my writing skills seem to be rather rusty, and I ended up writing it in 25 minutes, and it didnt even turn out great. Oh well.... haven't blogged for a long thought I'd put it up. Please do tell me your!

Amit closed his eyes and took a deep breath, taking in the thick salty ocean air, feeling his lungs slowly inflate with a heaviness he had never been able to comprehend. He had missed this so much, the sounds, the smells. Taking off his shoes, he rolled up his pants and started walking along the beach, the wet sand curling warmly between his toes, only to be washed away by a frothy wave. He looked at the horizon, wondering what all lay beyond his view, beyond his reach. And as usual he had that odd feeling that there was something awaiting him out there, right beyond the horizon, hiding from him, teasingly calling him towards itself.

Seating himself down on an expanse of smooth black rocks, he sighed. Why was he here? This isolated beach was peaceful, yet it brought no respite to him. He knew there was something here for him; he just had to find it. Looking out at the endless expanse of water, he thought about his life. It had been rocky, and uncertain, but now it was stable. He was rich, had a beautiful wife and kids who loved him a lot. What more could he possibly want from life? Satisfaction eluded him, however hard he tried. It was like a constant itch, which kept reappearing at odd spots every time he scratched it.

There was a pleasant wet sensation on his cheek, and he sat up with a jerk, surprised that he had dozed off. He turned around to see a golden retriever next to him, tongue hanging out and panting from a recent exertion. Patting him, he looked past the animal to identify the owner, but the beach was empty. It was only him and the dog.

“Where did you turn up from?”

The dog barked, wagging its tail twice as fast. It nestled up to Amit, and after a few minutes, deciding that it had had enough adoration, let out a woof and headed off.

“Wait!” Amit looked at the dog, now running away from him. He didn’t want it to leave, somehow, not wanting to be alone with his thoughts again. Then, without thinking twice, he headed after the dog. They left the beach and headed towards an expanse of land with dense overgrown trees that Amit had always assumed was uninhabited. But as he made his way through the thick undergrowth, a small cottage came into view. It was old and tattered, yet there was a homely feel to it. As the dog headed straight through the open door, Amit paused, suddenly very uncertain. As he turned around and started walking back to the beach, a voice called out to him,
“Oi! Where are you going?”
An old man had appeared from inside the cottage, the retriever bouncing along behind him.
“Um… Actually… I was just…”
“Why don’t you come inside?”
Amit looked at the old man. He seemed too frail to actually be dangerous. Finally, realizing that it would probably be an interesting experience, Amit nodded, and followed him inside. The cottage was small, but cozy. The wall was adorned with framed photographs of picnics and what appeared to be the old man’s family. He pointed to a small wooden dining table, and Amit took a seat, the retriever now resting its head on Amit’s lap, looking up at him with sad gleaming eyes.
“That’s Brutus.” Said the man, in a gruff voice. “And I’m Suraj Patel.”
“Amit.” He paused, wondering what he was even doing inside this house with a stranger. “I’m sorry Mr. Patel, I didn’t know anyone lived on this beach. I hadn’t meant to disturb you”
“No no!! Not at all...” Mr. Patel shook his head as he walked slowly towards the kitchen and opened the fridge. “It gets very lonely here at times. Mind you…I love this place, but it’s always nice to have company every now and then.”
He removed a huge carton of ice cream from the freezer and placed a bowl in front of Amit.
“Here… You’ll love this.” And with that he started scooping out huge chunks of vanilla ice cream.
“Um.. Thanks, but no thanks.” Amit hesitated, wondering what was the best way to refuse without being rude. But then he just went along with the truth. “I’m not really fond of vanilla.”
Mr. Patel suddenly stopped, the spoon in his hand frozen midway between the carton and the bowl. He looked at Amit with a very odd expression, whether it was anger or shock, he couldn’t tell. Weirdly, it seemed almost like…amusement.
And then suddenly, the old man’s face broke into an understanding smile. “Aah… you know, I was very much like you when I was your age.” He paused, served out the ice cream for himself then took a seat opposite Amit, who by now was feeling quite uncomfortable and confused.
“In what sense?” he finally asked.
Mr. Patel took a bite of the ice cream, and his face relaxed into a serene expression, one of pure pleasure. “Well, I just didn’t like Vanilla ice cream. I liked fudge, and black current and all those other exquisite flavours, but never plain Vanilla.. it was just too….well…vanilla.”
“Hmm..” Amit couldn’t really think of anything else to say. “It’s not a big deal. I’m just not too fond of the flavour.”
“Oh but it was a big deal for me.” Continued Mr. Patel, still extremely engrossed in his bowl. “Ice cream was an obsession for me. Sadly, my house always had only vanilla stored in it. So I would go out everyday in search of new flavours. And oh my, did I ever come across the most delicious flavours! Butterscotch, cashewnut, mango, truffle, choco chip, strawberry, raspberry…everything imaginable…even bubble gum flavoured ice cream!”
Amit opened his mouth to interrupt but changed his mind halfway. The old man was obviously off his rocker. It was probably better just to humour him for some time and then leave.
“I would set out everyday, to new places in search of more exotic flavours. It was exciting, everywhere I went, I knew there was something better waiting for me out there. Hundreds of ice cream makers around the world, thousands of flavours… but everytime I returned home, I would find the freezers stocked with the same old vanilla ice cream. I didn’t even feel like touching it. Why should I, when I knew there were much better flavours in the world.”
“I travelled around the world, tasting everything possible, the best ice cream makers in every country, and they were delicious. Yet, none could satisfy me for long. I still hadn’t found that perfect flavor, the one that would give me enough pleasure to suffice for life, which I could stock up on, and remove that awful Vanilla which would just not budge from my freezer.”
Amit wanted to ask him why he didn’t stop stocking the Vanilla ice cream, but Mr. Patel went on, by now seemingly lost in his own world. He seemed to be narrating the story to himself, only briefly aware of Amit’s presence.
“I knew I was going to find it, it was only a matter of time. But time was running out. I was starting to grow older, and the obsession for the perfect flavor seemed to have taken over me. Until one day, when a storm came, trapping me inside my house. However much I tried, I just couldn’t get out. The thought of all the pineapple and sundaes and splits out there tortured me day and night. And the very thought of vanilla revolted me. But as the days moved on, and the storm didn’t seem to b showing any signs of giving up, I felt defeated. I dragged myself down to the fridge and took out the vanilla ice cream and took a tiny bite, just enough to keep the bad dreams away for some time.”
Despite himself, Amit felt a slight curiosity arise within. “And you liked it?”
“Weirdly, my boy, I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t believe that the perfect flavor had been right there in front of my eyes the entire time, and I had kept leaving its comfort and going to far off places to search for it!”
But then, it was after all, just vanilla.”
“Just vanilla? Are you crazy?” the old man seemed hurt, and Amit wished he had kept his mouth shut. “Don’t you see the beauty of Vanilla? It’s simple taste, without which no other flavor would be possible? The slight saltiness mixed with the sweetness… the peaceful and comforting colour… and you know what the best part about vanilla is? The amount you can do with it!”
Amit raised his eyebrows, wondering why he was still sitting here listening to a batty old man. Yet, he stayed glued to his seat.
“You can add nuts to it, all kinds of them. You can add chocolate sauce on it, or make milkshakes or mix it up with other flavours, or add strawberry syrup, or…”

Amit sat on the rocks, staring at the horizon, waiting, for what, he wasn’t sure. He was so used to it by now that he barely felt anything wrong with sitting on the rocks and gazing at the sea for hours. Yet something was nagging him, a constant weight inside him, but he couldn’t understand what it was. It had been there for quite a few days now; it had been tugging at him, following him wherever he went. It stayed in his mind even when he sat on the rocks, or when he slept. Nothing seemed peaceful anymore. He wanted to get rid of the feeling, yet however much he’d try, he just couldn’t go back to his old state when he used to come to the beach. As the sun set over the horizon, casting a red blanket on the surroundings, something in Amit’s mind clicked, and he finally made a decision. And he knew it was the correct decision, the weight inside him already seemed a bit lighter.

He went back to his room, and within fifteen minutes had packed all his belongings back into his backpack. Getting into the car, he took one last look at his surroundings, and for once didn’t regret it at all. This time things were different, he could feel it, he was different.

He drove back home, back to his family and his life, humming to himself all the way, stopping just once, to buy himself a tub of vanilla ice cream.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Paradise Gained

Everyone has a favourite place…. That place that is almost paradise…. Which gives you satisfaction, happiness, peace, a rush, calmness…all at the same time. And when you’re there, time comes to a standstill, and nothing other than the avalanche of conflicting emotions matters anymore. This place could be anywhere, a specific spot in the city, a park, a coffee shop, or even your own room. Everyone needs such a place – an escape from the rest of the world.

I get my thrills from the wind. I know it sounds weird, but just the feeling of something hitting hard against my face, blows away all my troubles and worries. So I love sitting at the terraces of high buildings, or opening the window of the car while driving at top speed through the city in the middle of the night.

It’s the only time when I love being alone. Standing near the ledge of the terrace, looking at the world below me…the one time I realize that I don’t really need anybody. Thinking of people who have hurt me makes me smile. But at such times, I have nothing against any of them. None of it seems important anymore. All that matters is that beautiful feeling that slowly spreads throughout my body, and more importantly, through my mind. It’s the most amazing experience in the world. A natural high. Nothing other than that moment matters.

I was warned by my friend yet again about my goals in life. He said it gets lonely at the top. I stood at the ledge, cell switched off, arms spread wide, as that beautiful wind stroked and kissed every inch of my body…and I smiled.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Divide and Rule

Recently, a friend of mine messaged me at night asking for help. He had been out for dinner with his friends when they were approached by a friendly Afghani man who was in Delhi for his father’s treatment. They chatted with him for quite some time, and before leaving he asked them for their phone numbers. Silence. Nobody said a word. Perhaps feeling the awkwardness of the situation, or perhaps without any thought, my friend gave him his number. Later, all his friends kept telling him that he shouldn’t have. Now, a little disturbed, he asked me for my views. Did he do the right thing?

My first reaction – What??! Are you crazy????
After a few minutes – Well….you shouldn’t give your number to any stranger, let alone an afghani man.
And then – Oh relax, he can’t do much with your number you know. He probably just meant well.
Followed by a few Taliban and terrorist related jokes.

Later, I couldn’t help but imagine myself in that man’s shoes. Here he was in an unknown country, probably because he didn’t have a choice but to get his father here. Yet, everywhere he went instead of finding help or friends, he ended up getting suspicious looks and cold stares. What was his fault? He was from Afghanistan.

What struck me was that this was the condition in India – a country where Shilpa Shetty became a national hero for facing the so called racial discrimination at the hands of Jade Goody. My views? The comments weren’t even meant to be racist and were simply said because Shilpa was acting like a pompous bitch. But coming back to the point of this article, what right do we have of accusing others of discrimination, when we ourselves are no better? Be it the roadside Romeos hitting on the “Gori chhokri”, or the recent quota for OBCs, discrimination on the basis of race or caste, we are as much a party to it, if not more, than any other country.

No, you’re not a road side Romeo, nor did you implement the quota, so obviously you have nothing to do with discrimination, right? Think again. How many times have you used the term ‘Chinks’ for all the students prevailing from the East? Whether they’re from Assam, Nepal, China or Japan, they’re all Chinks. When I pointed this out, one of my friends said that he didn’t mean it in a derogatory way…in fact it was rather cute. Agreed. But I doubt if they find it cute. How is it any different from being called a Black? Its discrimination, pure and simple.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect and don’t engage in discriminating activities, the very beginning of this post shows that. But maybe, we do need to think a little more into ourselves, before pointing at others.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Have you ever....

Ok, so i really wanted to tag myself for this one...but didn't, cuz I was sure it would turn out damn boring with me saying "no" to most of the things. But then I'm vella, and I promised someone a post here goes!!

Smoked a cigarette?: No... Somehow, i find that equivalent to sticking my head up a the idea never appealed to me.

Crashed a friend's car?: Uh...this is embarassing...I still don't know how to drive!!
Stolen a car?: So I obviously cant steal a car....

Been in love?: Am in love.

Been dumped?: Sadly, yes, once.

Shoplifted?: Nope, I was a nice innocent little kid.

Been in a fist fight?: Yes, once....back in the second grade. typical fight between a guy and me - something about boys and girls, how girls can't fight - so i punched him. One of the best feelings in the world! What I hadn't counted on was him punching me back. One of the most embarassing feelings in the world.

Snuck out of your parent's house?: No.... it was always very properly locked.

Had feelings for someone who didn't have them back?: Yup.

Been arrested?: No!!

Gone on a blind date?: No... Came very close to it once, but backed out at the last minute. Thank God.

Skipped school?: If that means making an excuse and staying at home, then yes, loads of times!!! If it means leaving the house but never reaching school....then I said before, I was an innocent lil kid!

Been on a plane?: Yes... Quite a few times. I just love the feeling of take off.....

Seen someone die?: Yes.

Been to Canada?: Nope :(

Purposely set a part of yourself on fire?: I'm not crazy!! (No offence to Jayant) Though i did set the kitchen on fire once...BY MISTAKE (I swear I didn't do it on purpose!)

Been jet-skiing?: Sadly no...

Met someone in person from the Internet?: Nope

Taken pain killers?: Yup...but for pain. I did NOT take it in pepsi, unlike some of my friends.

Flown a kite?: yes...but I can never manage to get it up in the air... Once someone does that for me, then i can fly it....which means i can stand there holding the string.

Built a sand castle?: No... :(

Gone puddle jumping?: Yes!! Used to love doing it...much to my mums irritation...since she's the one who had to wash my clothes n dry out my shoes....uh...i still do it....

Cheated while playing a game?: Yes... and still lost. Bah!

Been lonely?: Yes...very. And thats the one thing that scares me. I really admire those people who are just so comfortable being all by themselves.....

Fallen asleep at work or school/college?: Both in school and college.... Some teachers' monotonous voices actually have very soothing dreams ever.

Used a fake ID?: Nope....never went to a place that needed an ID....ya....i know....sad.

Felt an earthquake?: Living in delhi, i think thats inevitable. Though I do get freaked out quite easily now...everytime the window of my room rattles...usually due to an airplane....which passes over my house, like, every 5 minutes. (Disadvantage of staying next to the airport)

Touched a snake?: No... reptiles freak me out.... Though I did touch a fish's eye a fish market....felt eeewwwey.....But I guess that doesn't really count for this question does it??

Slept beneath the stars?: Yes, loads of times!! Everytime there wasn't any electricity at night, we used to sleep on the terrace....It feels amazing. But then the thoughts of a certain Monkeyman scared me out of my wits, and haven't slept on the terrace since. Yes, I get scared VERY easily.

Been robbed?: Nope, thankfully.

Been misunderstood?: ALL the time. Even when I'm not sarcastic, and am actually saying something nice, people just don't believe me. Hmph!!

Won a contest?: Yes, on FM once.... Had to call them and tell them the name of Tintin's dog....and i got free movie tickets as well as loads of candies.....quite cool!

Run a red light/stop sign?: No. Do you havta rub it in???

Been suspended from school?: Nope. Sweet innocent lil kid.

Been in a car accident?: Nope.

Eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night?: Yes!!! At a wedding.... had a bet with my cousin about who could eat more icecream.... I won!!!!!!! (No snacks, drinks, or dinner that night)

Walked the streets drunk?: question please.

Had déjà vu?: Every few days.

Danced in the moonlight?: Yes. Having a terrace can make you do weird things. Actually loads of fun. Another activity thwarted by the fear of Monkeyman.

Witnessed a crime?: Nope.

Been obsessed with post-it notes?: I'd rather not answer that question. I am rather obsessed with all sorts of stationery.

Squished barefoot through the mud?: Yes. Dramsoc workshop. I did NOT like it.

Been lost?: Nope. Sensible, innocent lil kid.

Been on the opposite side of the country?: Only as far as Bangalore.

Swum in the ocean?: Yup!!!! Though couldn't swim much cuz of the waves....

Cried yourself to sleep?: Yes.

Played cops and robbers?: Weirdly....considering I've always hung out with

Recently coloured with crayons?: Yup!! Sometimes I show my hidden artistic talents!! :)

Sung karaoke?: Only when the lyrics were displayed on TV.

Paid for a meal with only coins?: Yes!!! And this is a must....the dirty look the waiter gives you is really worth carrying all that heavy change!!

Done something you told yourself you wouldn't?: All the time. Not too much of will power.

Made prank phone calls?: Sooooooooooooo many!!!

Caught a snow flake on your tongue?: Have never been anywhere near snow....let alone lick it.

Written a letter to Santa Claus?: Yes!! And then put it on Mums bed. I wasn't dumb. I knew how to get my presents.

Blown bubbles?: One of my favourite hobbies!!

Bonfire on the beach?: Nope.... but bonfire in the!!!!

Cheated on a test?: Yes...once.....and i flunked that test. Have never cheated since then.

Gone skinny-dipping in a pool?: a tub with my cousins, yes...but not in a pool.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lessons Learnt

Tired of traveling for almost two hours in the extremely crowded Dwarka metro, I finally shifted to a hostel in North Campus. Now the first question that most of my old friends asked me was, “Is it a co-ed hostel?”
“Obviously not!!”
Shocked looks…doubtful faces….Are-you-crazy-you-wont-last-a-day expressions.
Ya…thanks for the huge amount of support guys.
First weekend home after a week in my hostel, Dad asks, “Have you fought with any of your room-mates yet?”
Man….nobody could believe that I could actually survive in a girls' hostel. You should’ve heard the number of warnings my dear old sis gave me before shifting, requesting, nay, telling me till the last minute that I was making a huge mistake.
And so, among all the friendly advice and goodwill, I finally shifted into a hostel in November.
And of course, I’m still there, and I barely have any complaints.

Now having been in such close contact with girls, for, pretty much the first time in my life, I actually learnt a lot of things, some things which I knew and were confirmed, and some that I had never thought possible. So here it is, my list of lessons from a girls’ hostel:

It’s confirmed, girls are the screechiest and noisiest creatures on the planet.

Contrary to popular belief, girls can be extremely dirty (I’m talking weeks of pending laundry, which stays pending until the almirah starts stinking. I actually know a girl who lends out her clothes to other girls quite happily, in the hope they’ll wash it and give it back).

When a girl says she’ll take just two minutes, she really means at least fifteen (This gets doubled if she said it for the amount of time she’s gonna take in the bathroom. I have never reached college on time if my roomie got to the bathroom before me).

All those chick flicks (Never been kissed, Mean girls, She’s all that etc.) do not exaggerate anything, some girls are just pure bitches and need to be smacked.

Nine out of every ten girls have a boyfriend who apparently has unlimited balance on his cell, so they can talk all day and night. Now the ratio for guys is something like four out of every ten have a girlfriend. Quite interesting, considering that the Indian Planning Commission is worried about an adverse sex ratio… Maybe the census isn’t accurate enough.

Boyfriends are THE highest priority. Nothing else matters. Period.

Girls tend to go a tad bit crazy (read: extremely asylum suited insane) around Valentines Day. They actually make groups, exchange ideas about heart shaped balloons, heart shaped cakes, heart shaped photo frames…you get my drift…. If boyfriends actually got together and compared their gifts….well they might just be almost identical.

Cat-fights do take place in hostels. I was fortunate enough to witness one on my first day in the hostel. It consists of slapping, pulling hair, shouting, screaming, abusing… all the abuses in the world won’t really make a difference, but never, NEVER call a girl a BEHENJI…. THAT’S what makes the fight really serious!!

A MAJOR advantage of staying in a hostel: your wardrobe gets extended to ten times its usual size….sharing is one of the simplest things our parents taught us.

Girls are also capable of doing crazy stuff, be it dancing on the terrace, or writing their names with fire and deo on the walls. (That actually comes quite close to my brother burning lizards in his hostel using the same apparatus, we’re just not that gross)

Girls are sweet enough to clean your puke when you’re drunk, and stupid enough to pour water on your head to make you stop puking.

Bitching IS fun.

Being bitched about isn’t.

Living with girls for so many hours does tend to turn one, well, into quite a bit of a girl.

At the end of the day, when you’re low, when your boyfriend acts like an ass, and when you feel like crying….. I guess…. Girls are a LOT better than guys to make you feel better.

Don’t misunderstand me. I still prefer guys to girls any day. And I resent being called girly, which is what my friends have started calling me recently. But my patience and tolerance level with girls has certainly increased. They’re not THAT bad after all!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Should I?

I shouldn’t mimic people, simply because my friends are better actors than me.
I shouldn’t sing, because my voice isn’t as good as theirs.
I shouldn’t voice my opinions, for I simply can’t match the intellect of others.
I shouldn’t read Jeffrey Archers, they’re just too kiddish for my age.
I shouldn’t dance, probably because you don’t think I can dance.
I shouldn’t act weird, reason….who wants to be weird?
I shouldn’t hang out with him…who wants to be seen with someone weird?
I shouldn’t go wild….who wants to be called a slut?
I shouldn’t wear skirts…. My legs aren’t good enough for it.
Why shouldn’t I do any of these things?
Things that I love?
Because all that matters is your image, she says.
Image my dear friend?
I look into the mirror and it’s blank.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What Makes You Laugh

WARNING : This is a long and dull post... i do not want abusive comments from some of my particular...ahem...friends!!
I grumbled as the nurse helped me onto the wheelchair. It wasn’t an easy task after all. Come to think of it, it must have been a very unpleasant task for a twenty-year-old girl to pick up an eighty something lady against her wishes onto a chair that won’t keep still. But she did it without complaining.

The Asha Home for the elderly was full of grumpy old people like me. Most of them were ill, the pain making them difficult people to please. But some were just sad, sad because they felt that their family didn’t want them anymore, or sad because they didn’t have a family left.
The nurse wheeled me out into the sunlight for the afternoon. Even after my telling her repeatedly that I hated the sun, she never did seem to remember to leave me in the shade instead. As I closed my eyes to block out the sun’s glare, I felt something heavy being placed on my lap. I squinted at the untidily wrapped package the nurse had handed me, and as much as I hate to admit it, actually smiled at her. It was from my grandchildren.

I opened the pink envelope on top to find a card, which had a lopsided cake drawn on it, with as many candles as would fit on it. Just how old did they think I was? But that thought didn’t bother me much. What mattered was that they had remembered my birthday when I myself had almost forgotten! And for once, the “Happy 100th birthday!!” scrawled across the page by my ten-year-old grandson, Nikhil, just made me laugh.

I put aside the card, being careful that it was in plain view for everyone to see, and unwrapped the bulky package. It was a huge black book, it seemed old but vaguely familiar. I opened it onto the first page and read the note, which my son had written in his neat italic handwriting.

I have always adored you for your zest for life. And I often miss the dinnertime stories you used to tell me of my childhood, and even better, of your childhood. I must admit, I had forgotten how funny and delightful those sessions had been, and was recently reminded of them when I came across your old photograph album. So here it is, mom, I hope you enjoy it.

It had been a long time since my son had written to me. It isn’t like he had forgotten me, he visited me about once every month, that’s a lot more visits than what half my friends got, but when you’re my age, you don’t really have much to do but to count the hours, and even a month seems like a really long time.

I turned the page over and smiled, it was my first photograph ever taken. A bald baby who hadn’t even opened her eyes. As I kept on turning I couldn’t help but laugh. The girl staring back at me had the naughtiest gleam in her eyes I had ever seen, and a smile that never seemed to go away. I remember being thrown out of classes so often because I couldn’t help laughing at the tiniest things, may it be a silly joke cracked by the boy sitting behind me, or the expression on the teacher’s face when I burst out laughing in the middle of his class. Life was fun and every moment was to be enjoyed. The one time I laughed the most was when my father had taken me to the circus. The clowns, with their wide smiles (which I didn’t realize were painted on) and their funny antics had me laughing until my sides hurt. I found it weird that my father didn’t laugh, just smiled, and that too not at the clowns, but at me.

The next photograph contained me holding a pink bundle, and for the first time, I saw my mothers arm around it too, making sure I didn’t drop it. I found my baby sister extremely funny. After all, even my dolls didn’t have such small pudgy hands, and amazingly fat legs. I remember the look of horror on Mom’s face when I claimed that if I felt hungry at night, I could just nibble her ears.

As I turned the pages of the album, old pages of my memory also opened, things I hadn’t remembered for a long time. High school was fun until the last year, the year I turned seventeen. My father was killed in a car accident, and as the case usually is, by no fault of his own. I remember swearing never to drink in my entire life, one of the few promises I have stuck to. Till then, I had had no responsibilities on my shoulder. My mother’s health was affected poorly by the shock and suddenly I realized just how much depended on me. I had to study hard and get into a good college if I expected to get a decent job, something my family was in dire need of. Now that I looked at the photographs of that time, I noticed the major change that had come over me. The naughty smile was gone, to be replaced by a few lines on my forehead. Come to think of it, that was probably the year I laughed the least.

It is weird, how over the coming years things seemed to change, not just for me, but for everyone around me. The happy go lucky kids turned into duty bound cynics. There were no more whole hearted laughing sessions, for the man next to me in office definitely didn’t crack any jokes in the middle of a meeting, and I didn’t dare laugh at the expression on my boss’s face either. Every thing around us seemed to become fake, with strained friendships and forced laughter.

No, this story does not have a dark ending. After all, no human being can live his entire life without laughter and happiness. There is always a silver lining to everything. At the age of 26, I got married to one of my colleagues. But the time that a broad smile finally lit up my face was when I saw my son sitting quietly on the terrace for an entire hour because there was a butterfly sitting on his knee, and he didn’t want to scare it.

Outside the house, I was a hard-shelled workingwoman who was part of a rat race, and did not want to be left behind. In the breaks I may have taken I laughed at the foolish people who sat around wasting their lives, dreaming of a better tomorrow. Couldn’t they see that there was no such thing as a better tomorrow if they didn’t hurry up and join the race as well? How did they expect to support themselves and their families, and pay for their children’s education?
But at home I was the loving and doting mother I was supposed to be. My children helped me find the sense of humour I had long since lost. I laughed openly at the same jokes they told everyday, and I laughed in private with my husband while discussing the various tricks they had played on each other that day. But probably the time the entire family laughed together was at dinner on Sundays. It is amazing how tales from your childhood can amuse your kids a lot, and its even funnier to see the looks on their faces when they are told of their own antics. This was a tradition we followed for as long as I remembered, one we reverted to at family gatherings even after they were married.

Once up the hill, time seems to take you down the hill quite fast. I soon retired from my job and spent my time with my husband, watching television and bickering with each other. As much as we enjoyed each other’s company, the highlight of the month was when our now 40 something ‘kids’ visited us, with their own kids. The old tradition was still followed, but now the stories were about our grandchildren.

After my husband died, I reluctantly agreed to shift into a home for the elderly, after all, my health was deteriorating and nobody had the time to look after an elderly lady who needed constant attention. Like I mentioned before, the Asha home for the elderly was filled with grumpy old people, filled with sadness and pain. They had, after all, once had a life that was filled with gay laughter.

With wet eyes I closed the album, the last photograph being one I would cherish forever. It showed the entire family, complete with five grandchildren, all grinning at the camera. And I was pleased to notice that there was one common trait in almost all the faces. The naughtiest smiles I had ever seen.

I complained to the nurse all the way to the living room, after all, she had left me out in the sun again, even after my repeatedly telling her I like the shade better. Considering the fact that in old age, people started repeating things without realizing that they had said it before, it seemed I hadn’t said it enough times.

But I soon forgot about my inconsiderate nurse when I entered the living room, to find it decked with streamers and balloons, and a big cake on the center table. But what pleased me even more, was the sight of my children behind the cake, holding up their children who were gaily waving at me. The party that followed the cake was probably the best I ever got, this time with all my toothless friends. The room burst out laughing when 89-year-old Mr. Raman, got up and started dancing with Nikhil, waving his walking stick in all directions, knowing that he would be paying dearly the next day because of this vigorous exercise. Soon, most of the crowd had joined in, and squeals and snorts filled the air. Maybe, that was the day I laughed the most.

Once somebody asked me whether laughter dies away with age. I often wondered the same thing, but finally realized that it doesn’t. Of course there are times when we forget how to laugh, but we soon remember, thanks to small things. In my case, it was just a naughty smile.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Answer

I took a deep breath and looked up at the ladder. It was high, very high. And yet, climbing it wasn’t that difficult. Slowly and steadily, I moved further away from the safety of the earthen ground of this amazing circus called life. I could hear the chattering of the crowd, and I knew they were talking about me. I could feel their eyes piercing every inch of my body.

I finally reached the platform, and clutched the railings for support. I had never intended on coming this far, of reaching this wooden lifeless platform. I could hear snippets of the announcement, “Dare-devil act… 30 feet… bucket of water… will she survive?”

I looked at the tiny round shape on the ground, the water glittering mischievously. Will I survive? I started feeling dizzy at the height, the noise of the crowd filling me up.

But then I took a deep breath again. I tuned all the chattering out. I looked down at the water. I had to think clearly. I knew I wanted it. But it was a big risk. What if I didn’t make it? I turned back to look at the ladder. It was so easy to turn back and reach the ground safely again. I could run into the crowd, who would even notice me again?

I looked around at the crowd, which now was no more than a blur of faces, emotionless, yet waiting with baited breaths and watching my every move.

I took a step forward, and heard the collective intake of breath from the stands.

I looked down again, and this time, I saw the water waiting calmly, a soft bed waiting for me…
That’s when I realised, I trusted the water.

So I closed my eyes and jumped.