Dear Amrita.

I decided to write my 17 and a half year old self a letter, that is, exactly a year ago when I was toying with the idea of blogging. Here it is:

Dear Amrita,

I won’t ask you how you are, because I know you too well to ask you that! I am the only one who understands you in this wide world, because really, I am your future !

At this time of the year, you must be busy worrying about your first year internal examinations. I know that you are really worried about how you are going to cope up with this new life,because after all–this is not junior college, when life was sweet and innocent. I know that you are worried about how you are going to cope up with a combination of subjects you are not comfortable with. I know that you are feeling a sense of ennui, a strange vacuum that has been created because of some of your best friends being separated from you.At the same time, you are excited ! You want to jump across like a childlike doe, to taste the grass of the other side. You want to know what it finally feels like to be grown up. You want to taste freedom. You want to taste responsibilities. And you are very,very curious!

This is indeed a bundle of bittersweet feelings, dear Amrita of the past. But let me tell you, you will get past all of these so quickly,so cheerfully and much more efficiently than you can imagine. Yes, there will be new events in your life. But stay calm ,focused. These things may be out of your comfort zone, but it is those things that will give you the thrill, the kick that you ask from life! These events will be the ones that will make you grow the most.

You will perform really well in the exams that you fear so much, and you will be tempted to think you are invincible. But don’t. I know I am being sanctimonious here, but just like you move on from bad incidents–you should also move on from your good experiences. Trust me, holding on to anything of the past is wrong, for the past is one big, beautiful lie. And living in it can be a dangerous activity.

This is the year you will make some of your best friends . But at the same time, you will realise that the more you give your heart to people, the more pain and damage they will inflict upon it during their brief and long sojourns in it.But I trust you. I know that you will breeze past heartbreaks, conflicts and pessimism to shine.

All I write this for,is the hope that when you start fearing the unknown, when life throws grenades of discomfort and you are ready to give up–you come across this. I write this simply for that time when you are bereft of direction and find some, with this letter. I write this, for that time in a parallel universe, where you will be reading this!

Yours lovingly

Amrita Shenoy, 2015

A day in my life.

I had an eventful day last Saturday. Though it wasn’t the best day in my life, it was one day which will be etched in my memory forever ( for reasons best known to me).

Last Saturday, I had no will left in me. I had no energy to wake up at 6:15 like every day and attend the first lecture in my schedule. For once, I decided that I would skip it. I had been extremely tired the day before and had been down with a weird,oral infection of sorts ( which my mother opined firmly, was because of stress).

As I reached college,I could feel a noise inside my head. It was as chaotic as an Indian fish market.The chaos was actually from the thoughts within:

You have not yet spoken to her about that article you couldn’t edit ! What if she calls you and fires you in front of everyone? Will they like the comic strip, the one that you worked so hard over? TWO EVENTS AFTER LECTURES today! That means I will have to stay back till 4:30…and that further means I will not get a seat in the train today ! A one hour journey standing ! But my legs are already bad because of yesterday’s peace rally !When will you get time to eat lunch?You have not started preparing for your internals…14 chapters in Macro Economics, the entire first module for Indian economy..You have also not met the people for the planning of the skit! You have not even started preparing for the personality contest you want to win so badly! The first round is a quiz..and there will be all sorts of questions..about distant lands, about people you have never known, sports you have never played and current affairs which never reach your ears..and the best part is that it is not a written quiz, it will be held in full public view! You wont even have the privilege of embarrassing yourself privately, you will in fact humiliate yourself publicly by showing everyone how disgustingly poor your G.K is and what an ignorant pea-brain you are! Amrita. If you don’t find solutions to all of these soon,you will be a mess.Wait.You already are one. Wait..what am I sa…..

And such were my thoughts. It took me some time to type them out, but only a minute or two to think them all ! And I must admit that they exhausted me more than the one hour journey to college.I reached my classroom and attended the rest of my lectures dutifully.After stuffing myself with spoonfuls of the rice I had brought to college, and a quick little talk with my friend Sarath, off I went to the first seminar I was supposed to attend.

It was on mindfulness and control over one’s thoughts. I shared some of my problems in the seminar and the speaker ( a Doctor) gently pointed out that I was indeed having problems and that I was gradually falling down the ladder. The ladder, I inferred, was a metaphor for a balance of emotions and falling down the ladder only meant falling to my imbalance because of lack of control on my  thoughts.True that.

So at that moment, I decided that I am not going to let my own thoughts be my illness and soon,death. I was again, very tired. Mentally and physically exhausted. And I had to attend another two hour long seminar. I thought : why can’t I skip this seminar? what is the worst thing that will happen to me if I skip it? Sometimes we can’t fulfill all our commitments..all our desires..Sometimes we have to know that WE ARE NOT GOD! And with this thought, I came home. I came home to vegetable biryani made by my mother. I devoured the biryani with relish. That moment wasn’t going to come back in my life.

My hunger completely satiated, I drowsily walked back to the kitchen to put away the plate in the sink.Drooping, sleepy eyes and an error of judgement was enough to drop a vessel and create a loud, ear-piercing sound of the steel vessel hitting the floor.I hastily picked it up and hoped that I hadn’t woken up my parents who were having their afternoon nap. Some incidents in my life are exactly like this vessel; hollow and weightless–but create so much noise in my life, I thought.

The rest of my day went by with my smartphone for company.And as I went to sleep that night, I vowed that I would change my life!

The hero and the villain.

Last week, India went through a lot. Our media had a ball. After all, they happened to have stories that could legitimately be passed off as news.Last week there took place, the death of two important men in my country.

The first, was a highly exalted man.A beautiful lotus born in a dark, murky pond called poverty. The one who made it out of this pond through values, ideals and qualities we read about only in fairy tales and corny blogs like this. A wise old man with a silvery bob, wrinkles of experience, hard work and age on his face. His lips spread in a smile so guileless,so good natured, so innocent–that he could be mistaken for a child. Teacher, scientist, missile man, activist, the former President of India, Bharat Ratna…he was given many an identity. But APJ Abdul Kalam was beyond these mundane titles. He was in the truest sense, a man one could not descibe in words. He was a force that the shallow couldn’t contain..a personality that didn’t fit in black and white moulds.

On the other hand, was a man guilty of having assisted his brother in killing innocent people. For twenty years, the fears, remorse,hope,madness and fury of this man had been contained in a four-walled room that was his cell in jail. He begged for mercy again and again, but in vain. No one could forgive him for so serious an error of judgement—-the one that separated so many from their dreams, their happiness, their loved ones. No one could forgive Yakub Memon for the crime he had committed,and so, among the chaos of much debating and discussing, much scrutiny and hype—-hung Yakub Memon.

So two men died last week. But one died wrapped in the Indian tricolour with flowers in his grave while the other’s corpse hung lifelessly on a noose built by the anger of the people. One died doing what he loved doing the most while the other died with crushed dreams of being with the ones he loved being with the most. One died gloriously as a hero with many eyes shedding tears for him, while the other died a villain, with the same eyes baying for his blood.

APJ Abdul Kalam's body in Rameswaram

APJ Abdul Kalam’s body in Rameswaram

BUMBLEBEE


Hello readers! Today, I present to you my second short story. I really am not good at writing cheesy, but do consider this my own take on…wait..let me not let out spoilers..read on!

He was so tiny.Actually all third graders were.But he was a little smaller than the rest in size. But very,very aggressive.In the beginning of school, she had only observed him from a distance,she had seen him giving all the right answers in class and later, shouting orders to his dumb, tall friends in the recess.He,she believed, was just like a buzzing little bumblebee.The sort who looked small but would sting people on their behinds.She did not dare (nor did she care) to know him better, she was too scared to approach the likes of him. She had her own little rosy world of herself and her two best friends who she shared a bench and her lunch with. And then,one day her life changed.

“You talk a lot!” screamed the teacher.

Bumblebee was being scolded for this offence for the umpteenth time.And before she knew it, Bumblebee was made to sit with her.From  the very first day,the vibes they exchanged were far from friendly. He kept pushing her things aside and demanded more space. She,on the other hand–felt that her poor desk was being colonised.And sure enough, he had made it his own within a week’s time. She always felt inferior and small in his presence for he knew all the tables by heart,he did all the divisions well. And she hated maths. English was her forte!

He was audacious.She was not.And he would often use this to his advantage, to have fun by twisting her arm. Sadist!He would make her cry at times. She begged, pleaded with the teacher to change her place–but in vain. The teacher looked like she had a masters in the art of foolishness! Couldn’t she see? She had made a most wide-eyed, defenseless child sit with a foul, devilish creature that appeared cute to some!

The only time she and bumblebee had bonded was when once, there  was a free last period.All the children had sweaty heads and their uniforms too smelt of cool,child-sweat.Some were picking their noses, some were asleep.Some had soiled,tanned faces due to the intense P.T in the previous period.And she was tired too. So was he.She was resting her head on the desk and humming lightly, a popular film song.And Bumblebee, for the first time, joined her.They sang for a while till he stopped to correct her.She noticed a little scar on his brows.He was flashing a toothy smile. His teeth were also of really small size, some, even crooked. ” This one is about to fall, see!” He proudly declared. Looking at that fragile little mass of calcium, she burst out laughing. He laughed too. And that, was the first time they had exchanged friendly vibes.

Her woes, however,did not end there. They ended only when she changed her school.

She opened her eyes, it was time for college.So many years had passed away in quick succession, like the characters from a season of Game Of Thrones. She did not really remember much about her school life. She only had a few highlights–First grade,fifth grade and also the third grade–which was made horrible by a certain troublesome mite of a partner!

As she entered the classroom, she had a few jitters. After all, it was her first day in senior college.Like always, she found comfort with two girls who shared a bench and some hot lunch with her on the rainy July day.She was completely at peace in the arts classroom, tackling away all economic theories and questions from teachers–she had stunned everyone. As class got over, she received a text from a friend from third grade. Apparently,one of their classmates was in the same class as her.Her friend had asked her whether she knew him. She didn’t know this boy,she decided, but she did inquire with others whether there was a guy with that name.Turned out, there was. This boy was quiet and looked somewhat familiar,weirdly. He was pleased to know that she had been in his school once.They talked briefly, but they were both finding it difficult to concentrate on each other’s speech. You see, a young boy and a young girl are always awkward around each other–whether it is because of their hormones within or because of the culture they are raised in,that is not known!

 As she packed her bag and prepared to leave,they gave each other a clumsy smile.And that, was the moment she realised who he really was! No prizes for guessing!Yes! It was him! Troublesome little bumblebee had indeed grown up!She was filled with a sense of alarm, but simultaneously–she could feel a flurry of adrenaline in her blood.She hated him, even now, for giving her so much trouble but she was really,blushing the deepest red when their eyes met.

She was feeling a tingling sensation in her belly.She didn’t want him to know who she really was, for she feared he would go back to his old ways.As he waved her a bye, she thought she saw him blush too.She didn’t want this. She didn’t want this.She didn’t want such a catastrophe in her young life.She wanted to forget Bumblebee’s handsome face, his black beady eyes  and the scar on his brow–the one that could be noticed, only when he smiled.

My ideas of being human.

I had three other topics to choose from, but I dismissed them. The truth is, I am intuitive and it is my heart that rejected them, not my mind. It is my heart that decides what is right for me and what is wrong. What is interesting and what is banal. Sometimes this heart opens it’s doors to many, without knowing the consequences of doing so. It opens it’s doors to forces that keep it warm. But it also opens it’s doors to fears and insecurities that give it great pain.

This heart can keep warm, the hearts of many others. It can listen patiently. It can sacrifice willingly. But can it stand up for itself ? That I do not know. But this heart is indeed very different from the mind. It is naive and forgetful. It often fights with the mind. It ignores the warnings of the mind. It loathes the mind for it’s cynicism. But when it is betrayed or hurt, it quietly acknowledges the mind’s superiority and sheer brilliance. It resents it’s own decisions and even if bitterly, marvels at the power of the mind in anticipating the worst.

source: google images

source: google images

And in all this, it is really embarrassed to acknowledge that it is only needy– just like the other hearts in the world. And all it needs is someone to feel for it. To not be indifferent towards to it. This, is precisely my idea of being human. I can be human only when I am all heart and am able to understand the hearts of others. When I am able to resurrect my self esteem by letting my heart heal it’s own wounds. When I can allow my heart to let in humanity in it’s most pristine form and not give in to the cynicism of the mind.

The above is a write-up I had written to apply to my college magazine. The topic was ” My ideas of being human”.

Raindrops and Indian lives.

As I write this, the air is cool and it is wet outside my bedroom window. I am writing this blog after an episode of the latest season of Masterchef Australia( some of the highlights of the episode are still running through my mind ). Also, I am really tired.

I would have had some will if it was some other day of the year. But this time of the year is that time when I am particularly weak-willed when it comes to battling my tiredness or stated in a better way, my laziness. I can just not work hard during the monsoon!

I have never really liked this season. I know I am going to be very unpopular after this blog ( especially with the romantics), but I must confess that my hatred for monsoon is most heart felt and profound. I find this season, to put it very honestly– gross! The muddy puddles, different kinds of worms everywhere, less or no sunlight, and well, Indian dust and water that produce the world’s best mud ( the same mud was trying to creep up on my favourite shoes).

Monsoon for me, is nothing but one of God’s well executed pranks. Come on. Think about it. When I board a train, the seats look like someone has deliberately sprinkled water on them. Why, the trains are hand in glove with him in this! They can give any diva a run for her money with the amount of time they can make people wait for them! When the trains finally arrive, every middle class Mumbaikar heaves a sigh of relief . But at the same time, his heart lets out a cry of panic. Of doom. Yes, he can reach home . But how is he going to deal with the mad crowd inside a late train in this overpopulated country? Indeed, the rains slow down our trains . And also our spirits and quality of life .

image

Last Friday , it rained so heavily that Mumbai got invaded by floods. As usual, the trains ditched everyone. It was truly a reminder of the disastrous 26th July 2005. When Mumbai had seen its most dangerous floods and many had lost their lives. So Friday was declared a holiday by my college. I wasn’t complaining at all. Why doesn’t our very efficient government declare monsoon vacations after all? The rain disrupts our classes, work and lives anyway!

image

The air is still cool. And it’s pleasant too. It actually feels like this season is God’s little conspiracy to make us fall asleep. To make people fall in love. To make the plants dance and buds bloom. To make the world green and prosperous.
Wait , do I really hate this season as much as I think I do?

Mumbai locals’ mahilas.

Mahila. This,in Hindi means a woman.So today my blog is on some of the mahilas found in the Mumbai local trains! First of all, let me brief you about my situation.I board the ladies first class everyday to college and while coming back.This coach is specially reserved for ladies 24/7 and sure enough, males never enter the ladies coach or mahila dabba.To mark this special coach there is a picture of a woman painted outside as well as inside the compartment. This picture is the portrait of a quintessential Indian woman who wears a bindi, and comes across as demure–holding the cloth of her saree in her hands and sindoor smeared on the head. But these painted pictures are never allowed to be.These pictures are often tampered with by rogue children or others who enter the compartments when no one is around. Sometimes they scrape the paint off or draw over them and this results in the portraits looking hilarious! Today I found a rather scary version while in the train ! Here, have a look:

scarymahila

The paint in her eyes had been peeled off and so, it appeared as if the whites of her eyes were spilling out. The area of her lips had a “vaseline” sticker stuck on it which made her look like a monster with a wide mouth and fearsome teeth! Also, some of the paint on above had also been peeled off and this made for a very scary sight! Though the picture was scary– I laughed, for it is only in the Mumbai locals that life is as interesting as this. Where the banality of the government merges with the creativity( or rather destructiveness) of the population and gives out results that divert your mind from your smartphone,your thoughts or simply–a bad day in life.