A love so sorry

A flame lights in a dark corner. It lights up a soul. That soul burns away, it feels that flame scathe it, and just as the burn is being covered up, the soul reaches your lips. Tenderly, your lips kiss the soul and it starts crackling and it burns brighter. The soul can’t understand — why does it hurt and yet feel right. As the soul burns brightly, crackling away inches from your lips, it sees you inhale with satisfaction. It sees you content… All it takes it for the soul is too burn a little. And you, you keep bringing the soul to your lips. You’re engulfed by a haze, is it so thick that you can’t see that soul burning, killing itself every time you kiss it?
And as you kiss it one last time, a bright spark holds your attention. But the soul, it has nothing more to give. And you? You heartlessly think, “Damn, I need another one!”
And then you pick another soul to burn, to crackle as it destroys itself for you… Yes, you!


For You, Munchan

You made a mother out of me. You loved holding my finger in your mouth and biting it lightly as the vet gave you your vaccine shot. You loved coming out of a corner randomly to scratch me playfully and you loved scratching my hands so much that people almost thought I had an abusive boyfriend. True, these scratches caused pain, but they made me smile. Sitting on the second last bench during a Sanskrit class, I’d break into giggles thinking of you jumping up and chasing me around.

Taking you to the vet was an event. And yes, the vet said that no matter who hurt you, you just had to punish one and only one person- me. I remember being dejected. I remember thinking ‘my cat hates me’. Until one day the vet said that every cat has this unique relationship with one person. It is a love-hate relationship but by hurting you like this, they depict how they love you and take you for granted.

After that, every scratch became so damn important to me. You remember the first time I ever tried to get your fur shaved? I do. There’s a faint milky white line that runs on my wrist to remind me of that time. You got violent (no need to explain all the violence was targeted at me) and we sedated you. When you woke up, you just wanted to cuddle in my arms, pushing your wet nose into the eye of my elbow, to hide from the doctor.

I lost you. It was probably my fault. Only God knows what you were trying to do that Tuesday afternoon when you took that nasty fall. I can’t believe that you, the most agile thing of all, fell down 3 floors. I rushed to you, and like a mother knows her child’s pain, I knew you had broken something. As you tried to move, the pain got unbearable and you bit into my hand, the fiercest that you ever bit anybody in your whole life. That bite made me realise the magnitude of pain that you were bearing. I am proud of you. You didn’t give up. You, a 15-year-old Persian cat who could have succumbed to the shock, held on tight and tried your very best to live. The last six days of your life were immensely painful, but your 15 years with us were fulfilling, I’d like to believe. I tell myself that I don’t have to mourn your death. You lived a full, happy life. I mean, you ate fish flown down all the way from Malvan, cooked in a special recipe. You made sure that anyone coming back from an overseas trip brought back at least 5 kilos of the gourmet cat food they make there. You had a strong hold over every single person’s heart in the house, family and even extended family.

Dad brought you in our life to teach Nani and me a thing or two about love, responsibility and care. And in turn, you taught us how to live in your own way. Even in your death you taught me why one shouldn’t give up on the ones they love. And you made sure that I knew. I woke up that morning and I knew that this was it. As I held you in my arms for your visit to the vet, you let out that long sigh and I knew. Even as the vet fought to revive you and support your heart, I knew. But I couldn’t let go. I still can’t. I look ever so often in a corner of the room and think you’d be there enjoying the cool air-conditioned air (I loved how you forced us to leave the a/c on with that purr). I sometimes stare at the basket and think you might be napping there. I won’t let mom rewire the cane chair that you rightfully claimed as your scratching board. I can’t get myself to wash your hair brush off the few tufts of gray fur that stick on it. Yes, I hold on to every dear memory of yours. I know you’re gone, but I hold on to these tiny things. My heart holds onto you.

This morning, the last of that bite mark you gave me on my right hand disappeared. With it, I probably let go of another bit of you. All I have now is the light scar on my wrist from the time you made a mother out of me.
I agree I wasn’t the most responsible mother. I did put off visits to the vet and I chickened out of grooming you for the fear of your angry scratches. I wish I had braved them. Maybe I’d have more scars to treasure. Maybe… But for now, this scar I shall treasure. Rest in peace dear Munchan aka Mulayam aka Munnu aka Munya. And thank you for bringing so much love into our lives…

Never had the heart to post this. Today, a year after we lost her, I post this to remember her. We have two pets now who have a hold on our hearts but Mulayam is still missed and the void she left in our lives remains…

The Reason For My Absence

I feel terrible about ignoring the blog. Yes, I call myself a writer. I have a quill tattooed on my wrist and hence, there’s just no excuse for not writing. As usual, Prolific Dyslexic made sure I was reminded of the lack of writing and I was overcome with guilt. Since the last few months, I’ve been on some kind of a drug. Time never seems to be enough (well, not that I had all the time in the world but hey!) The reason? The reason may well be ‘Love’.

I never really shared it on the blog but my family lost our pet of 15 years earlier this year. This angel of a cat, in her passing away, had left a deep void in our lives. My dad had decided that there would be no other pets because nobody could take Mulayam’s place in our lives. But then life suddenly changed. As I sat wallowing in misery, unable to sleep I saw a tweet pleading me to help find a home for a puppy in a twitpic. I clicked on the twitpic and I knew it. This was my puppy. I don’t know how I managed to convince my parents. I don’t know how a dog hater like my mom managed to allow it, but the very next day I walked into our house with a tiny little puppy in my arms.

Of course, he was cute to look at but he liked gnawing on everything, he loved peeing everywhere and he loved pooping on the carpet. Horror! After spending days (and nights!) running after the puppy, cleaning the floor with Dettol and trying hard to train him, life threw another surprise at me. The stray cat who was adopted by the watchmen of our building died leaving behind five day old kittens. When I found them, they were a little bigger than my fingers, furless and their eyes were unopened. They were soaked in rain and in milk that the watchmen had tried to feed them. The three kittens were crying, literally wailing for their mum. She wasn’t coming back. Just the thought brought back traumatic memories of Bambi (I’m not forgiving the uncle who gifted me that video!) With help from some very warm folks on twitter, the vet and my mom, I started feeding the kittens and caring for them like they were my own children. This involved feeding them every 2 hours with a bottle even through the night, massaging their bellies so they can pee and poop and keeping them warm and loving them enough to force them to survive. In addition to Bono’s (my puppy) training and my newly found writing assignments, caring for the kittens consumed me!

Every now and then, the vet would tell me to be prepared because the kittens hadn’t had their mother’s milk and therefore were fragile. But my little kitties were fighters. In fact, after their deworming, one of the kittens- Yoda started throwing up, could not poop and started to lose strength. He lost weight and had stopped eating. I was too scared to check on him, too scared that he was going to die on me. But he didn’t. He fought through and became the most notorious of the three.

The kittens are now a healthy lot. They play, they run and they scratch. The puppy and the kittens taught me that I had a lot of love and care in me to give. And that the greatest joy in life was to selflessly love someone to make their life a better place.

Sometimes I catch my puppy looking at me with all the love in the world and my world comes to a stop right there. In that moment, I feel loved, I feel love and there’s this warmth that engulfs my heart and makes me feel so glad to be alive. I know I gave Bono a home. I know I gave kittens care and love of a mother… But what they have given me is much more. They have given me hope. They have given me a reason to smile. They have given me the ability to feel alive. For that I will forever be grateful.

And much like a new mother I’ve gone on about my new pets. In conclusion, the pawsome foursome is the reason why there haven’t been many blog posts. Compulsive Writer is now a Compulsive Pet Obsessed woman! Forgive her absence?

Pies, an abusive husband, a good doctor… A well baked story!

Of late I have been hooked to Castle, the TV series starring Natahn Fillion and I have been gushing to all and sundry about what a cutie pie he is. So I was steered toward this movie about pies which stars Nathan.
Of course, I started watching it reluctantly. I’d never heard of the film, I am on a diet and the last thing I needed was to watch a film about pies and start craving them. But I was suffering from a massive writer’s block, not much was coming out of the writing effort and the film was downloaded and sitting on my desktop. So, I began watching it.
Right from the get go, the film sucked me into feeling the underlying emotion, maybe it had to do with the fact that it was a bleak Wednesday evening.
The Story:
The Waitress takes us into the life of Jenna, a girl working hard for a living in southern America only to surrender all her money to her abusive husband, Earl. She longs to get out of the marriage, win a pie baking contest and be happy, but when she learns she is pregnant, she feels helpless and desperate. She goes about weighing her options as she invents a new pie each day (I can’t wait to try the bad baby pie and the ‘im having an affair pie’). Her only friends her co-workers. There’s also Old man Joe, a difficult customer who loves Jenna’s pies and is fond of Jenna.
In her quest to be happy and be appreciated, she ends up having an affair with Dr. Pomatter. All the loose ends of Jenna’s life are tied the moment she holds her newborn daughter, and thats the moment where Jenna takes the decisions she had always been putting off.
I’ve always loved films revolving around food or films that use food as a metaphor… The Waitress uses ‘pie making’ ever so adorably to tell us that we can reinvent our lives if we wanted to. It’s a shame that the film never made it to India, but I can understand why. To understand the film, it is important to understand the life in the American south. The America we outsiders see in popular films or TV shows is very different from interior America. It’s hard to understand why a girl like Jenna sticks with her husband even though he’s a jackass without understanding the life in interior America.
Keri Russell does a fine job of taking the audience through the emotions of a pregnant woman who goes from not wanting the baby to deriving the strength to dump her husband from her baby. She effortlessly lets you feel her desperation, helplessness and she makes you fall in love with her pies….
And may I add, I enjoyed mulling over about the film as much as I enjoyed watching it. I love films that seem light hearted and simple but give you a lot to think about… The Waitress is certainly one of those films…
And other films that involve food and are also good food for thought:
Chocolat: The metaphor is just wow!
Julie and Julia: Two women, common factor, food… Their journey
Sideways: It uses wine, but hey… Wine is food…
Ratatouille: Anyone can cook!
… and many more…

Judaai Is Not The End of Pyaar

My dad’s friends’ love stories always amuse me. Some of them started dating whilst in college and stuck to their relationship even as they travelled to different cities to pursue their careers, post grad degrees and all that. ‘They didn’t even have telephones back then, letters were their only hope,’ says Dad. ‘Besides, breaking up was not an option for them. They had decided already that this person was their life partner. They did what they had to and made it work!’ And mind you. There were no mobile phones, no pagers, and no email back in their day. ‘People didn’t even have telephones, you had to go to the neighbours’ if you wanted to make a call’ Dad tells me.

Next morning my phone goes frantic. SOS messages. ‘I think I am getting dumped,’ one message says.
‘She’s moving to UK, I am breaking up!’ another message says. Wow! Last night’s gyaan is totally out of date, I tell myself as I get out of bed. Most of my friends, me included, strongly believe that long distance relationships are just not worth the effort.

‘My girlfriend went to Singapore for her masters and within 3 months all I had left was astronomical phone bills, crazy amount of time wasted on the computer, cartloads of angst and a dysfunctional relationship,’ says Mr. J. Add to it, facebook made it prominent that his girl was busy but with parties and fun outings. ‘If a guy flirted with my girl when she was here in Mumbai, I wouldn’t give a damn but a picture with a guy randomly putting his arm around her on facebook pisses me off now that she’s so far away!’ he adds. They finally broke it off because their relationship started becoming a liability.

‘There’s no point of being in it if everything about your relationship bothers you. Not having your guy around to hug you, to tell you it’ll be alright is just not cool. I miss him, but I don’t miss the online fights. I’m glad it’s over,’ says Mr. J’s girlfriend.

Kinda paints a bleak picture about long distance, doesn’t it? As Ashish Chand accurately puts it, for many people a long distance relationship is the kiss of death. Ashish firmly believes that they can work, however, this is conditional. ‘If you’ve just met someone and the relationship goes long distance, it’s going to fail. At this stage you crave for each other. You want to be physically close. But if you’ve gotten over the clingy phase, there is hope in spite of the distance,’ he explains.

Poo, a self-confessed commitment phobic agrees with Ashish and thinks that long distance relationships just get a lot of bad PR, ‘Long distance isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. If you are someone who values your space, it can be a boon.’

Of course, Poo firmly believes that in addition to constantly reassuring your partner of your love, you have to have mutual trust and the ability to be very open with your partner (which is where the Js failed) ‘With email, chat, skype and other such tech innovations, long distance is definitely possible!’

But what happens when you’ve had a bad day and all you want is a hug from your partner or when you miss them so bad, you can’t take it?

‘It takes a lot of time and patience,’ says RV who believes that one has to invest a lot of time and emotion to make up for time apart. Much like V had to.

‘Knowing that the long distance was only for a couple of months, made it easy. I missed him like crazy at times. Sometimes, it got so bad I almost thought of ending it, but then I’d remind myself of the big picture. You love this person enough to want to be with them? Then the long distance is just a hurdle you have to cross…’ says V. She is now married to the guy, so yeah, she crossed the hurdle.

If your partner is in the same country as you at least you are in the same time zone. Honey had to battle a transatlantic time-zone war to keep her relationship going. This essentially meant that when she slept, her guy was awake and vice-versa. ‘We both were sure we wanted it to work. Ending it was not an option.  We web-cammed, shared filmy music, shayari and photographs to reassure each other. If you want to make it work, you can,’ she explains. She also thinks that observing her parents, who shared a LDR for a while, has taught her that the distance can actually work in the favour of the relationship. It can make you independent, strong and it can teach you the value of the much spoken about ‘space’ between couples. ‘It is not for the weak hearted, though. You will spend a lot of time away from your partner and that takes strength,’ she warns.

In conclusion, if you really love this person and the idea of long distance is bogging you down, think again. Give it a shot, it’s worth it. And finally, based on the yapping I did on twitter, here are three things you should focus on.

1.    Be strong. Remind yourself of the big picture and be ready to do what it takes to make it work.

2.    Keep communication channels open. This will reduce misunderstandings and reassure your partner of your sincerity

3.    Use technology. Skype, email, IM etc are free. They will reduce your phone bills!
And yeah, good luck, I say!

PS: SMSers I hope you guys give it a shot. This one’s for you

Woh 7 Weeks: End of a holiday

Past 7 weeks have been pure bliss; ups and downs included. Quality sister time, unique relationship insight (how I love my older friends!), a dash of disappointment, blistered feet, emptied bank balances, crazy credit card bills, tons of food, serving portions I can only dream of finishing, jeans feeling a bit too snug, not fretting about the weight, the beach, pride, inspiration and more than anything LOVE.

7 weeks have passed since I left Mumbai, all starry eyed. And now I shuttle out to Miami airport sobbing. Yeah, you heard me right. I am grateful for all the madness of the past 7 weeks. I sobbed because my sister (she never really was a baby sister) is independent and brave, far braver than I could ever be. Here I was leaving for India, why did it feel like I had forgotten something, someone? The truth is I was leaving behind a big chunk of my heart in Miami.
I hate that I am early at the airport (paranoid as I am, I am always early!) Check-in and security checks, all taken care of, I still have another two and a half hours to kill. I could either brood over how much I was going to miss my sister or see pictures and giggle with glee about the lovely times we had exploring her city with her, going to Disney world or while battling bed bugs (bed bugs was not fun but hey, I m trying to see the glass half full here!)
I could sit and smile about the fun times I had in New York with Roger, Baa and Tarlet. I could think about what an adventure it was discovering what I didn’t want from a relationship… There, I started again. So much happened on the past 7 weeks that I *almost* feel like a whole new person. Okay, I’m exaggerating but, I do feel like Shakti Salgaokar version 8.0.

I’ve fallen in love with solitude and lost my heart to a city. I love Paris, London and Barcelona. But New York, I think we are headed for a serious relationship and imagine the mess that’s going to be when Mumbai finds out!
And yet, I am back to the city I call home. Despite its pollution, dufus governance (the Frenchman working on Mumbai waste management project on my flight brought this to my notice) I love it. There’s so much this city can be if she got the right things to work with, and yet, she sits there, making the best of whatever she’s got. New York is like the sexy woman you want to be. She’s that woman who has the perfect life. A perfect career, she looks hot, so perfect that even her problems seem perfect. Someday, I’ll come back…

And yeah, on this trip I also achieved acute spiritual maturity (yeah, right!).  And I finally figured the prophecy of one my gurus, Mr. John Lennon: Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

I’m alright to go where life takes me. No more planning. No more superficial goals. Just one principle- have fun.
Btw, Air France: thank you for being a kill joy airline. The cranky me, agrees to go through the ordeal of 19 hours on a flight for two things. Nonstop movies and eating airline food like Charlie Chaplin (dad, u r genius in discovering that simile. Yes I don’t mind airline food. It helps passtime!). Yeh modern day air travel isn’t so bad because food apparently has gotten better and inflight entertainment is supposed to be awesome. Thanks air France for not having a personal screen on my first flight from Miami to Paris and a little note: Hindu non veg meal means a non-veg meal sans beef or pork. It doesn’t mean you serve me rice, veggies and chicken with garam masala tossed on it!

Anyway, the 8 hour ordeal ended at Charles de Gaulle. And look at me, merrily Bon jour and au revoiring people like I knew French, deliberately struggling to read things in French before giving up and settling for English. Whoa! I miss Nani. The last time I was at this airport, Nani and yours truly had flown in from Barcelona on a delayed flight and missed our connecting flight to London. The lady who reissued our boarding cards, issued a wrong one for Nanchan and I put up a classic performance, being the drama queen I am, and got Nani bumped up to business class.
Such funny incidents happen when me and Nani set off to explore the world. ‘Be nice to your siblings,’ is an underrated line from the Sunscreen Song. Love your siblings, pour your soul into them, because trust me, other than your parents they are the only people who know you, your past, your whims, your fancies, your strengths and weaknesses and yet love you like no one else will. My sibling is a part of me, a part of who I am and what I am. I realise this after years of sibling rivalry, friendship, arguments, fights and much more.

So yeah, Nano, this one’s for you. Love life so much that you can be a 70 year old who can tell tales of her life and amuse people by the sheer presence of life in them!
And in case u want assistance, who u gonna call?

Bonds and Memories

Day 13&14, Tuesday 1st&2nd October, 2009

I am sorry. I just can’t fit these two days in a blog post. It’s just so close to my heart, this trip. The story of these two days will be something me and Nani will pakao our grandkids with. Be it the Jurassic Park ride, or missing Ross Geller while reading dinosaur labels. Be it taking mad pictures next to the Cat in the Hat or be it getting drenched on the Popeye ride. Be it being kissed by Chip and Dale or be it riding on a Disney train to Mickey Mouse’s house. Be it taking a flight into Neverland or be it discovering a small small world or be it riding the Carousel of Progress. All these things are meant to be treasured in my heart, I wish I could write about it all but I can’t.

Another reason why I can’t write is that we never got to relish the after taste of the trip. Nani had really bad breakouts all over her body and soon, we discovered a bedbug infestation in Nani’s room. Hell followed. Her roommate wanted to leave the house, the lease was on her name, we found out the landlord was being chased by the FBI and then I wanted to leave the house. We had to wash and clean everything, our luggage, books, clothes, sheets. We had to bake all the books. (I know I love baking, but I never thought I would bake books, damn you, bed bugs!)We had to hunt for a house. And it was hell. My little sister was bitten up, her school had started, she didn’t have a home. And the big sister in me obviously was very very upset. Of course, Moody, NewYorker and Roger were constantly trying to tell me it will be okay and I knew it would be okay. Maybe I was overreacting, maybe I was being obsessive, but the truth is, I haven’t been this disturbed for eons.

We finally did find Nani another place. Everything is ok now as I gear up for my New York trip. But I do wake up at night and see Nani sleeping peacefully despite the red spots on her face, and I get teary eyed (yeah yeah very Nirupa Roy-esque I know!) Why should she suffer?

Disneyland was lovely and strengthened our sisters’ bond, true, but the bed bug issue and the entire upheaval made me realise that joy might bring you closer, but a crisis will test that closeness and strengthen the bond. It’s like the heat-test iron goes through to strengthen it.