Archive | October, 2009

Girl, Much Interrupted

31 Oct

Every time we were having sex, his mother would call.

That doesn’t happen anymore, though.

We just don’t have sex.

~A conversation between girlfriends.

Q & A (i)

29 Oct

Q: So what do you do not to cry?

A: I guzzle a litre of chilled water, then I have to urgently pee and the water comes out the other end.

Elementary, Aunt OJ

26 Oct

My nephew D-Cubed will turn 3 next month and two of his favorite things to do are:

1) Iron (it’s a toy I got him from Mothercare, before you call child services!)

2) Call me and chatter about the inmates of his residence

which has me believe he’s a middle-aged hausfrau in a spindly boy’s body, but never mind that.

He also specializes in stating the obvious, like so:

D-Cubed: Hellooooooo? OJ? Mummy stomach is paining, Daddy having a bath.

OJ: And what are you doing?

D-Cubed: Not having a bath.

What’s the going penalty for ditzy aunts?

Death Warmed Over

21 Oct

One wonders if all endings begin this way. When, as if by mere routine, words are spilled, severing frayed ropes, and the universe doesn’t come crashing down, and remains in startling suspension instead. Particles flash-freeze whilst orbiting the present and you join them willy-nilly, mouth agape, eyes puzzled, the back of your voice small and bewildered.

But I haven’t finished washing all the curtains yet, you want to say. And there’s that curry still out of the fridge. Aren’t you proud I put on the futon cover all by myself, cursing softly as my back strained against its cottony bulk? There are tea lights wrapped on the dressing table, you point out, certain he won’t notice, although the baked-apples-and-cinnamon scent would give away their hiding place to a more observant soul. And the cook has a new green dish to match his Thai curry. Stacks and stacks of diyas in traffic light colors. Mounds of pedas and jalebis with their burst of sweetness. Marigold garlands to match the centre chattai, its gilt edges complementing the patterns on the cushions. The missing urli I coveted with the single-mindedness of the barren.

Who will receive that call from Westside, asking to pick up the new jali bench? Will you tell the man I hounded all week before Diwali that I was an apparition and am now exorcised? Can you tell our friends in passionate detail how the pearly white of its new cushions was meant to offset that of the futon? Put away our pictures, take down the lights, the faux toys of the lamp hanging mock the silence, the plants remain unsung to, crumpled at the edges, the sea we gazed at spooningly an outsider in its home.

But you’ll see me in the fold of the coverlet, hear my song in your drawer of holey socks. My toothbrush lies there, brittle and waiting, and the shampoo you used to smell of me. You’ll discard slippers in defiance, but my voice won’t cease to drone. And my spirit will wander in that restless hour when the sun’s last rays grudgingly dim.

Maybe all endings begin this way. But those curtains, they’re only half washed. Put them in a spin cycle, won’t you? For I am frozen still.

How Goes The Day, Ms. Havisham?

15 Oct

Sometimes the hardest challenge in a relationship is the ex who spoiled you silly.

Maithili’s Confession

13 Oct

Right before Harish comes home at 1 for lunch, I pleasure myself in the store room and call out my ex’s name.

It’s been 25 years since my wedding day.

And 3 since He ended it.

Must be off now, I can smell the food burning.

Harish likes his sambar hot and his rice sticky.

Weighty Matters

9 Oct

a.k.a. Is That Flight Going Light?


Even airlines have baggage restrictions.

So why not men?

~ Me to her, during one of our many conversations in which we ponder the nature of the universe (read swap angst / bitch the place down).

Taking a Shine

7 Oct

Everything is easier said than done.

Eating glazed donuts, however, is the exception.

Bugbears of the Heart

5 Oct

And that there is the

trapeze woman,

hurtling toward faux destiny;

Fault lines perched upon her lashes

downcast and flattened genetically.

An arm and she is swung,

the other grasping sheer veils

that reveal cruelly, vindictively, the

horrors of her future.

The past, it will not have her,

the present populated with too many

red couches;

Would you live in a moment you had to

share with crimson suede?

Mid-air tastes salty-sweet, it

crumbles around the edges

and when she streams down they


Oh look! No



Her smile is upside down, and wide,

the skull late autumn’s bloom,

A lifetime of couches is


painted a bloody


Heeding Cultural Memory

1 Oct

I came across this phrase in the last book I greedily guzzled from my library and it struck a deep, sonorous chord too personal to ignore.  It implied that every culture disseminates its core values and practices deep within its holders, where it is sometimes held dormant like a capsule, and even though we may outwardly reject the mores of our milieu, there comes a time when we subconsciously succumb and are drawn to the very acts we shunned. It may not be as extreme as a vegan reverting to his lassi-chugging Punjabiness, but second-rung beliefs and commonly practiced routines often heed this siren’s call. And, surprise surprise, we find ourselves walking in the footsteps of our forefathers.

Some weeks before this concept popped out at me, I had the opportunity to meet someone who has given me a lifetime’s insight in a matter of hours. And in the course of seeing life patterns emerge before my very eyes, I have had it pointed out to me how much a product of my socio-ethnic culture I really am. And for all my rebellion against the values my parents in particular and my community in general hold dear, I am, inseparably, a composite part of both.

It’s the little things, really. Insignificant details that ought never to govern a life but they do. Nudge it, at any rate, and prod it in the direction their owner wishes to move. The firm belief in wearing slippers in the home (or else you’re a ghata-ghariya who deserves to curl up and die.)  Knowing more people at a western classical music concert that any other congregation on earth. Growing up hearing about the “good old” (i.e. Raj) days. Wearing Queen Elizabeth in your ears. Watching grandmothers hold office jobs and balk at cooking. Recognizing aunts thrice removed by their uniform of bobbed hair and sleeveless frocks. Dancing the Birdy Dance at weddings and singing Chaiyye Ame Zarthoshti amid raucous uncles down several Parsi pegs. Taking pride in the family gara. And kors. And vintage pearls. Smiling indulgently at Duke’s raspberry, an insider secret the community still holds close to its chest (and there, I just let it out.)

Putting education first. Especially if you’re a woman. Tasting brackish water from ancient Gujarat village wells. Sticking a fravarshi on the back of one’s car (and sometimes the front as well.) Being aghast at the merest hint of dishonesty. Being aghast at another Parsi not being aghast at the merest hint of dishonesty. Guarding your Sunday dhansak with the zeal of a Rottweiler. Always, always going back for seconds. Snapping “ovaryoo” at inauspicious talk and basking in the fragrance of lobaan, never mind that the smoke kills your tonsils every time. Dwelling in high-beamed homes where your grandfather grew teeth, the ones in which you could tricycle to dinner. Listening to your neighbor play Chopin and willing her fingers to fly across the ivory.

Tossing your head with cosmopolitan pride, declaring you have no Parsi friends, generating conversations across time zones and immersing yourself in the 21st century globe, but that tug, that teeny tiny tug, on hearing the accent only you fully understand and no one can replicate, nodding in agreement over disciplining children, cooing over plaid dresses and understated frills on display at Bambino, eyeing lemon tarts at RTI, coveting familiar cuckoo clocks and wanting to be that charming Aunty Hilla 40 years down the journey.

This is my cultural memory and whether I’m ready or not, this I know: the heeding has already begun.