Streets of Secunderabad 

Low lying houses with large airy verandahs, behind low iron gates. A burst of bougainvillea against the whitewashed walls, spilling. The colour of crushed Indian  rose. The colour of blood mixed in gold. In tufts, in bunches, in surprises. The yards lie swept, resting under the shade of Gulmohar trees. The trees are in full bloom.  Against the overcast sky of the city, the warm red petals seem to house the sun in their tendril like veins. Now and then, a breeze rustles the calm and sends a few red petals flying into the wind, to fall lightly in the swept yards, beginning the day’s decay. 

” Look!!!”, I said, pointing out of the car’s window. 

He looks out and without turning back to face me, asks what I was pointing at. 

” That. Looks good” I say, pointing at the rows and rows of trees and vines bursting with blossoms against the monsoon sky, as if to asset summer one last time. 

” I used to live here” , he says and his face takes on an expression between the happiness of revisiting old homes and the pain of knowing it’s only a visit. 

We reach our destination. We were meeting my friends for coffee and breakfast and we were the first to arrive. I look up to see the   cozy place tucked into an old house. It looked inviting. I take a step in that direction when he stops me.

” Take a walk with me” , he says, pointing to the other direction. 

” why? “, I ask. 

” Look”, he says. 

I see a wide Secunderabad street, lonely and lovely, running brown and quiet, it was perfect to walk on it’s banks. We walk, in the shade of bougainvillea, Gulmohar trees, and the dark clouds that promised an evening rain. 

The ashes from his cigarette fall crumbling onto the piles of leaves raked in, to the sides of the street. One cigarette later, we climbed the stairs to the coffee place, picking the seat farthest from the morning crowd, beside a window that overlooked the street. We didn’t look out of the window.     Time just ripened to a comfortable lull from there on, with a game of cards and three sandwiches thrown in the mix. 

Balcony blues 

The light of now isn’t the light that sweeps clean, the remnants of night from the farthest and the darkest corner of your room. No, the light of now, waiting behind the tallest apartment building, morning but barely, awaits the west side of the sky, to try its luck again. 
It escapes, sometimes, filtered, in patches, and pastes itself on my marble floor. What can I do? I am as helpless as you. I tread upon it, dipping my foot in a puddle of morning, and forget about it just as soon as it complains.
It’s time now, it is now waiting, the west windows of my home are painted red in their veins. It again slips through gaps between buildings, snaking its way through gullies, because the night is chasing, and it must hurry. Gasping, stumbling and reddening, it alights on my walls, breathing.
It changes colours, and dies a content death, fading into the fresh paint of my wall. No traces left, but a moist eye here and there, looking out of balconies, mourning.

Mirrors on ceiling 

I stood, my baby weight bearing down on my bread roll resembling feet, gaping lazily at my mother. Her lithe body, the sunrise colour of her skin and I burst up into flames of joy when she picked me up in her long thin arms. My mother, who has loved me that way since, is now no more lithe, her skin is now more red of a sunset than the bright yellow of a sunrise. 

Sometimes, when I tilt my curly head from a chair, letting the hair fall loose and a ceiling mirror reflects my face, with the hair pushed to the ground, I catch a misty glimpse of her in me. Nowhere near that beautiful or pure, but in my own curropt way, sometimes, mirrors on ceilings play my mother’s shadow of youth on my face. 

“The Trip” and how feminism is misunderstood by wealthy media houses.

The Trip

So, one day, I come across this sponsored content on facebook, which was the first episode of a series called “The Trip”. I watched the first episode. It was stylish, the people were pretty and it had Mallika Dua in it and she’s adorable and incredibly funny.  I went eh and watched. I even somehow, got my boyfriend to watch it. We decided it was very pretend and we continued watching. ( Because, there is something soooooo seductive about bad content)

What is the nonsense about?

Four women, one of them is getting married, they plan a bachelorette, they bond, things go wrong for everybody at some level and they live happily ever after like chickens running around with their heads cut off.

Elements of the show and why they were a jarring pain

The branding – The endorsement and branding game in this series was another level. It was overkill.  You couldn’t get through even five minutes of an episode without being reminded to either blush (Because, feminism is aaaaal about blushing) or glow with the Lakme face wash.  I do not know what the objective of such aggressive stupidity was, but I am never buying anything Lakme ever again.

 The premise –  Oh, so a group of friends who have known each other for a while, get together for a wedding, plan a bachelorette and take a road trip? Wow, tell me more. Its not like it has been done  SO MANY TIMES ALREADY!  What was SO NEW about this that you wanted to make a show out of it ?  Huh ?

The Thailand/ Bangkok Obsession – What have these countries ever done to you, to deserve such negative press? I will just leave the question there for you to ponder over.

The boring romance – The romance between Lisa Haydon and the boyfriend ( Cause, he wasn’t cute enough for me to google his name, sorry) was so cringe worthy. It was like watching someone eat cornflakes at 4 am. It’s stupid and boring and I’d rather be sleeping.

The misguided Effort  You want to make a series about women bonding and getting stronger?  And you thought showing four rich, pretty women with petty issues and whiny attitudes is going to bring the message home?  What else did you think? That the moon was a star ?

The glorification of Consumerism – You watch this show, you will believe that money brings happiness, and warmth and love and a boyfriend and world peace. Money is everything. Buy all the stuff, it will keep you warm at night.

Nothing about the show shows women in a good light. It shows women running around, being petty, living undecided lives, all while they blush and glow in their Ford endeavor car while being comfy in their whisper sanitary pads. 

Oh but Mallika Dua, is lovely! She made the ordeal bearable.

 

Ain’t no drape. 

I like curtains. Not the feeble, lace trimmed, airy ones. Those ones entice the casual stalker, by softening the otherwise hard lines of a woman’s silhouette. I like the thick curtains which once shut, shut out the world with them. They are fierce protectors. Hanging by heavy rods, falling surprisingly gracefully the length of the window, theirs is an oath to shield. 

Let morning come, in all its noise and gurgle, making an embarrassment of itself, gilding the window frame. But these curtains, they only let the faintest hint of the morning breaking outside to the house. Should you permit, should you choose to, you may usher the morning. Should you find your eyes comfortably shutting, you may lie in bed all day, or watch sopranos, and the morning will be sent out, on its way, till it sulks into night. 

Tomorrow is another day. Another choice to make. Till you make it, the curtain will act the secretary to a high seat and only whisper of visitors to you. You have the royal permission of sliding the hoops of your loyal protector through the unfailing rod. 

Bedroom chills

Looking up at eye level mirror reflections, smiles shot at self’s lemon tinged dark, half taut skin stretched over a narrow frame, arms encircle the said frame, a hybrid hug stemming out of defense and love, head falls back letting the curls loose in the morning bedroom chill, from where a giggle erupts. It could go on forever, this self love. But, there are flyovers to be climbed, handbrakes to be pulled, coffees to be downed and a witnessing pending, of an afternoon turning into sweet sweet night.

Cistern Dreams 

Lying in the cistern of an afternoon, I extend my hand to the faucet, turn it. Pink, frothy water comes gushing out of it, like blood mixed with candy floss and settles at my feet, warm and consoling. Slowly, it fills the cistern, till the water comes over my chest. I drift into sleep.

In my sleep, I am nestled like chiffon at a woman’s waist. I imagine his voice, like sugar left to caramelise, that refuses to. How long has it been since I’ve turned to take a good look at prison that holds this voice for me? It’s eyes, like windows that opened to a camera badly focused, bright. It’s nose, proud and protruding and it’s lips from whence emanated the sound. In my sleep, I encircle the thick neck and stand on my toes, putting my own two lips to his’s, making a soft chirping sound.
The cistern overflows and I turn off the faucet. The water has grown cold and transparent. I step out, shivering and naked, I curl up into a ball under a blanket and text.

Self Administered Heavy Dose

I love drama. I exaggerate like I am getting evaluated by the drama council of my life. I need to blow things of out proportion for me to make it all comfortable to me. I am my most comfortable when a loud sound is followed by a glitter rain and a tall vase tumbling down the stairs. Keep the tears rolling, keep the eyelashes long and bat those eyes like they are having a seizure. It will not get you true love, but, you will look sensational when you are crying about not getting true love. I am terrible, thank you.

I’ve watched episodes over episodes of successful drama series on my laptop. And as drama series go, they are extreme. Happiness, Anger, love, although love isn’t an emotion. I think, it’s an entirely different ballgame. But, that’s the gist of it. The emotions are extreme.  And, sadness and grief are extreme too.

A few years ago, as I watched men leaving professionally successful women with a reality check to ponder over, in a bed rampaged by last night’s sex, I just watched. I watched it like I would watch a commercial.  I watched women hand over their two year old engagement rings and I watched blankly. I watched people lie down on the floor on my laptop screen, looking blankly up at the ceiling, not answering their phone. I never realized the background music is a blessing. Without that, it would be impossible to watch people disintegrating in front of your eyes. To witness a gutting of a person is impossible to go through without being hallowed out of all sanity.

Today, the background music too betrayed. Because now, when I see someone slide down the door they softly closed on a person they softly asked to go, playing two years of togetherness in their head, I know, I don’t want to feel what they are feeling.  I don’t want to feel what it feels like to sit down on your bed and not have the energy to sleep or the resolve to get up. I don’t want to know what it feels like to get your heartbroken.

And scripted heartbreaks are even worse. Someone took time out, to figure out the lighting, the words, the music, the cameras and of course, it’s perfect, A perfect administration of tragedy into my veins, like a drip over the next three hours after I shut my laptop.

Flirtations, Listed.

Most of life’s mundanities unravel to me when I take a sharp left or when I go on an adventure of lazy lane switches. And, almost always, the Radio is blaring. I prefer the bad song sounds to my bad engine sound.

Today, while coming back from work, I was wondering if I could phase out and still drive and still reach safely?  I phased out for two seconds. At a red light. I love life, I am glutton about it. So I crank up the volume and refocus and the radio mulled over ” Two minute relationships”

What are those?  Like a silent pact between two strangers sharing standing space on a divider, waiting to cross the road? An agreement to not die or not push the other under a bus. Sounds like an important agreement to me. Then, I started thinking about all the two minute relationships I’ve had.

Flirtations Listed:

  • The never ending stranger meets in elevator. Who’ll push the buttons? Whats that perfume?
  • The red light romance. I see you, you see me. I turn away, because I have to pick my nose.
  • The co shopper. You and I, same aisle, same cereal? I walk away, muttering prayers for the oats in her cart and mine. Look at our waistlines, we don’t eat oats.
  • The book shop love.That one person who picks just the right book. So long, lover
  • The wait at the chemist’s. I know you are lactating, You know I am constipating. We share a bond beyond words.
  • The salesman at the jewelry store. Everything looks good on me? Can I model? No ? Why are you smiling?
  • The everyday guy gang at the end of my street. They hate me for my obnoxious honking, I hate them for the hoots.
  • My watchman, who is picked right out of a ghost story. We only stare, intensely.

And intensely staring, I get into my car, for another adventure. I lead the bug to the morning sunlight. Bathe, little bug. We have a lot more flirting to do.

 

 

 

My Name is Sacred.

I turn when someone calls my name and I do not stop and think about it. My mother must have spent a year, thinking about it.

My mother had a different name before she got married to my father, before she became a Muslim. She had the name of the Hindu goddess of prosperity. Now, her Arabic name means “Beautiful”. One night, while watching a particularly old movie with her on the laptop, lying beside her, I asked her, “ How do you even turn, when someone calls you by your new name?”. She was used to this name for twenty one years now.

 “I am used to it now”, she said

“But, what’s your name?”, I asked her

“Internally, I start when I hear my old name. It’s a little shock, a little jolt, I am alert, and I turn. But, no one calls me by that now. So, I know it’s not for Me.”, she said

I was about to say something when I realized she wasn’t ever asked this very vital question. I knew she would like to continue. She didn’t and that saddened me more than anything else. My convert of a mother, doesn’t talk much about herself.

My first identity was my name. To that, lot of other identities added and their hold of me was fickle and slight. They slid off, as I grew older. The one identity which stayed, like one’s scent, was my name.