Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mehendi memories- Part 2

Mummy smiled when I showed her my new mehendi.

I ran to where Kittu was sitting- swinging her feet perched on the red chairs that had been set up earlier that day. "Pura Thumbs up piyogi?!*", I asked astonished. Mummy didn't allow us to be that lucky. She said we'd waste it but I thought she didn't understand how thirsty you can get when you drink that kind of thanda**. Lucky Kittu, I thought enviously.

"What do you think of this haan?", I said putting my hands under her nose. Kittu said it was bakwaas. But I didn't care. I didn't have to play with her anymore. So I just stuck out my tongue and ran off picking up my lehenga to not trip over it again.

I found you just in time to see the kids were playing hide -n-seek and that you were the denner. "Bhaago!***", we cried in a chorus, giggling as we snuck under tables covered with white tablecloths, chairs and those huge potted plants that lined the corners.

I hid myself behind an enormous pile of marigold garlands. Someone forgot them I think. So I sat behind them, huddled in a corner with knees hugged by my arms and legs drawn close to my chest. I thought I was so smart, as I waited to hear your footsteps.

"Game is over. Kunal was caught first.", he said smiling showing his batteesi****, " but you look like a kid like that", pointing to me.

" Kid?! YOU maybe a kid but not me. Besides, kid is the child of a goat, and my Mummy isn't a goat. Go see for yourself if you want. Kid-ha!", I said indignantly.

"Accha theek hai! Gussa mat ho na. Yeh lo*****" and he opened his hand.
"Dairy milk!!"

Then I didn't know I was a 7 year old chocoholic but he had pleased that huge side of me.

I don't remember what stories we made up that night as we tore the petals off the marigolds and made a fragrant heap of red and gold like autumn leaves. But we didn't know what autumn leaves were like then, we just waiting for my Mama to finally take rounds around the havan.

"Was the panditji late", we wondered. "Whatever else could be taking so long?", you said and then told me the story of a curious girl stuck in the strange world of talking rabbits and cards.

* You will drink the entire bottle of Thumbs Up?! [an Indian soft drink]
** thanda - cold drink [in this context]
*** run!
**** a hindi expression for a wide smile- battes = 32 hence showing all your teeth and smiling
*****ok Fine. do not be angry with me. Take this.

Update: Mehendi Memories Part 3

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mehendi memories - Part 1

Droplets of sweat caress my brow, speckled with creamy white chandan. Black sequins adorn the wine red lehenga, sparkling in the inky fluid night. The mehendi annoys me as it circles and flowers my hands and I remember.....

..... we were young once again. Mehendi was mud meandering on my palms. Or so you'd said as you smashed my palms into each other and laughed. Boys can be like that.
I cried.
I couldn't go to Mama's wedding like that I had said. All the girls had beautiful mehendi and I was left with ugly filthy looking hands.

"What if Mehek Mami notices them too?", I asked with fresh tears sliding across my plump cheeks. Was that a look of regret that passed your face? I couldn't tell. 7 year olds can't read faces very well you see. You grabbed the nook of my arm and made me wash my hands.

"Yaheen ruko aur hilna mat. Theek?"*

What is that you were holding on to as you ran back to where I stood in the aangan- a sketch pen?
"Yeh kyun? "** I ask with a frown wondering if the 8 year old you wasn't as smart as I had thought. Maybe Kittu was wrong about you.

"Art M'am says I can draw well. I'll sketch like this" ,you said pointing to Geeta Kaki's 100 Bridal mehendi designs page 10 under the Fair & lovely ad. "Then you will have pretty hands too" and you smile

I look uncertain but you hold my hand and begin without waiting for my answer.

*stay here and don't move, ok?
**why this?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

55 - Alvida

The tickets to Toronto had arrived.

"kabhi alvida na kehna" he had crooned in front of all their friends. All gathered to say their goodbyes.

Him and her- best friends forever.

A tear slipped out of the corner of her eye as she watched the oceans come in between.

She would be back.

For him.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

An attempt of sorts- for the first time. Like everything, this is also fiction/fiction-fact mix.


"I don't understand what her problem is", he fumed.

"I told her I was sorry. I didn't want to miss her birthday bash. But it was an emergency case for Christsake!"

Such is the life of a cardiac surgeon. Aren't you glad you didn't take up obstetrics?

"She said she couldn't believe I bought her a sapphire ring ......"

Sapphire as blue as the depths of an ocean. Sapphire like the ocean at night.

".... Didn't I know that her jyotishi had forbidden sapphires? ......"

Does he also forbid loving someone?

"I thought asking her at Lakeshore would have been perfect....... "

The velvety night, the diamonds in the sky, the lapping waves. It would have been perfect.

" .....but she said that a proposal needed glitz. GLITZ?! What the f*** did she want? CTV covering it live? ..."

and you like having your moments in privacy away from flashing lights and bright bulbs.

" Melanie had it. I couldn't believe she wanted what Mel had. Mel was horrified....."

and so were you.

".....Dad asked Rohit to propose to his daughter in front of 500 guests..."

you've both disliked that kind of attention. And crowds. Since grade 3.

" Rohit must've been mad..."

...madly in love. Mel is a darling.

" Heck Dad was mad....."

Good press is good for his empire. He's been saying it since you were 9 hun. Even I know it.

" How does it matter Liz?...."

How did Saloni become Liz? You still haven't told me.

" How does it matter if 500 people witnessed it?...." long as you two remember what its about .

" as long as we remember what this is about....."

" Why don't you keep spare ciggs anymore" , he said with a flick of annoyance.

Because it took you 3 years and 8 months to quit.

She shrugs.

" I thought she was the one Liz but I was wrong........ "

" Liz 4 years ........ and she's changed so much "

" Love sucks...."


" How do I even know if it is real and not an illusion we are made to believe in? ...... There is Mel and Rohit... but then you know .... "

I know. Its Mel. How can you not love Mel?

" but I see Dad and Mom, I see Nikhil and Sonam. There's Natz and Varun........."

Try looking closer to yourself.

"I don't think it even exists"

I think it does.

I know it does.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

55 - Remembrance

The cream coloured walls in the dull engineering classrooms were ordinary, except, they bore marks of history.
It had started as an uneventful day filled with the usual flurry of activities of universities. Then 14 young women had their blood splattered on the ground and the walls.
Blood soaked white coffin shrouds.
16 years ago.
May you all rest in peace.


"Will they?", she asked God.

Head bowed, a few tears drizzled onto her clasped hands.

This distance, for how long? And what if....... . Those painful what ifs that she refused to entertain in her heart but her head loved to make them dance until her heart collapsed.They will be. They shall be. Not an if. But just a matter of when, she decided and looked up. The idols may not be on her side, she knew that. But she'd show them.

That night, as she watched the movie, she hoped it wouldn't be another Devdas. Somehow, another Devdas would have broken her heart, as though the screen was her life, playing out her story.

She watched with dismay as the scenes folded out and drifted the lovers further and further apart. "No!", she thought, "please don't let it be like this". It had a happy ending.

Maybe she'd have a happy ending too. She hoped the idols were listening.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


An abandoned chapter. Half-written.

It's incomplete threads tangling the chapters ahead. A knotted mess. She felt forced to finish it. So she did. She completed it.

She wrote: The end.
Those late nights that she listened to you.Somehow it seemed like you just always were the sweet smiling grey haired dear old lady.
Were you really young like her?
Her young dark eyes shone in the darkness of the night. "Why didn't you give me your honey flecked eyes?", she said with a slight pout.
You laughed kindly. You knew you had given her the music. That was you when she danced with such passion and joy. You knew that, didn't you?

She doesn't dance anymore. Not like she once did. You took that rhythm with you.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


A few words. That is all there was in that innocent little greeting. So gentle.

Could hands that hurt, show such softness too?

Somewhere along, she did wonder if perhaps, she had dreamed up that nightmare.Maybe she had made it up. It was just in her head. "It had to be isn't it? ", she thought staring at the card in her hand.

Maybe the monster had found the human in him. Or was she dreaming that too?

Friday, December 02, 2005

55- English class 201

English 201

In this corner I hide myself. Staring. Writing love letters.

2160 so far. Unmailed.

20 minutes past the hour. My love, my oh so secret love, where are you today?

A note slides into my lap.

A sketch.

A slouched girl writing love letters.

"Dinner at 8pm?". I turn to see you smile.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

55- more food

More food to eat. She looked away in distaste. Her 9 year old body refused to take in another morsel after that gluttony her grandmother forced her into regularly. She lay curled on a worn mat, eyes closed as another wave of cramps shook her.

Wasn't there more to her life and body than marriage?

55 - Christmas crash

"one in six women worldwide suffer from domestic violence even during pregnancy..."

A remembrance in this 55 fiction:



Broken glass.


She jammed her 5-year old fingers in her ears.It always happened around the time Santa was to come home. Maybe she should've told Daddy she didn't really want Santa to come this year if he didn't like him.

Why else would he be so angry every year at this time?

55- park bench

She sat on a park bench. Glistening white hair, tied neatly. Kids played in front of her.

She had wanted children when they had been young. He had wanted to grow old with her.

Then he was called for war and two weeks later, when they were to be married, she had recieved his ashes.