Once in a while, I ramble



I haven’t been able to write with feeling for long. My writings feel like stick figures without a soul of their own. Enacted pieces, cut and pasted from somewhere. This is not entirely me, I miss that part of me who could evoke emotions in a reader, compel him to stand and stare and think. Reflect. I rarely reflect on events myself these days. I rarely dwell on incidents. My mind is either numb, or overworked or asleep or on a low attention span. I have mastered ignoring, moving on and letting go, procrastinating, filling my time with chores or random Instagram reels, that I rarely make time to stand and stare. Once upon a book, I reminisce childhood days, mortality, the fast paced life, dwindling friendships and then move on to the next book. Books are my only yearly goals now, it seems, meant to fill in my social media posts, and my timelines. I just jot some sentences and post an update in my bookish Instagram account, not bothering to do a full fledged review in my blog. Where’s the motivation, where’s the energy! All the bloggers I used to follow somewhere between 2011 - 2017 when I was very actively blogging, are either facing the same issue or have shifted their energies to Instagram. My energy just vanished. And I stopped bothering. 


What happened? Nothing slow is left, everything is fast paced. Change is suffocating at times. I don’t want to cope up. Money matters more than meaning these days.


On loss, grief and longing. I want to read so many books. 

Crying in the H Mart

Where the Cobbled Path Leads

Notes on Grief

Loss


Why would someone continue doing something that didn’t feel rewarding? I write this now, as I was in need of a space to ramble. Free Write, without the effort of being coherent. Disjointed thoughts. Yesterday I was going through the old laptop, browsing through folders and folders of photographs, old and new. Gigabytes of videos shared over whatsapp and pendrive. Aaja’s old album pics taken sometime during his years of service. He is no more, lung cancer consumed him five years ago. I miss him some days, and more so because I couldn’t see him before his last journey, before he was taken for the final funeral rites. And sometimes I miss him consciously, to keep him alive in my memories. I forget things, my memory for years past is not vivid enough. When there were no friends in touch from my schooling days in Nirmala Convent School, where I had spent eight years of academics, I had forgotten all about that time, almost every memory, till my husband came to my life, and he nudged the irritated me to remember those days. I want to remember Aaja, and my time with him, those precious years of childhood, till I leave this mortal world. Watching Coco filled me with dread, that not remembering those gone away, might wipe them out from the spirit world - the child in me wants to believe it and I want to remember him fondly over dinner at times. Going to Prabhuji English Medium School in Bhubaneshwar, him dropping me in the morning and picking me up in the afternoon. Standing at the front of his scooter, while he drove. Him bringing me water colors, that small blue box, with 12 small color cubes and a brush inside. Stories from Panchatantra. Him preparing me rough copy, sewing paper pages together, sharpening my pencil. Calling me ‘Gudia’, ‘Guddu’. No one calls me that after he passed away. I lost an identity with him gone. I remember one particular day distinctly - when we were at Dada’s place in Bhubaneshwar and my cousins were to pick me up from school. They were late. All of 5-6 years old, I kept waiting, filling with dread as the gates closed for prayer assembly for the afternoon shift students. That short yet heavy feeling of abandonment, missing Aaja, and thinking he would never have been late. Then the relief when I saw my elder cousins peep through a hole in the gate to assuage my fears. I was lonely as a child, after leaving Bhubaneswar, yearning for friends every time, yearning for stories, and for story-time with elders. No one in our family was a storyteller, and no one was in need of a story. I was provided with Champak, Gokulam and Chandamama every first week of the month to satiate my need for stories. After leaving Bhubaneswar for Rayagada, the only time I remember being narrated stories was in 3rd standard when Mamu had brought me a hindi comics book and narrated it to me over a few days entirely, as I suffered Mental Maths in between. 


What else do I remember about Aaja - that he wore lungi, read newspapers. Wore loose fitting shirts, never tucked in. In summer he used to get prickly heat rashes all over his back, and would tell me to scrap as many off as possible. We used Nycil powder and hand fans and went up to the terrace when there was a power cut. I climbed and stood over his back as he lay down on his stomach on the bed, whenever he had a tiring day, walking over his shoulders and legs till he told to stop. It was almost a weekly activity, and I felt important. Sometimes I would dance on the bed to the tunes of the cassette playing on the player. He would switch that on on Sundays. Weekdays were for homework and a bit of drawing and colouring for me. Sometimes Mausi and Rani would come and Rani all of two- three would dance together with me on the bed. We would then eat pakhala, macha bhaja, and click pictures in reel (negative wala) cameras. I remember one distinct memory of Mama and Baba leaving for Daitari as I looked down from a window and watched them hop on a scooter. The pain was inward, always, a few quiet tears, and seering loneliness comforted by Aaja and Aai’s love. Mama wore her hair long then, I remember her long black braid. Her chiffon sarees. 


In the later years, when I was in BTech, I related less with them, as I was growing up. And was making more memories, seeing more life, and childhood times had taken a backseat. I was more into books, assignments and college friends. There grew a distance, that was inevitable. I didn’t talk much over phone, so keeping in touch was only during events, functions, visits to Nayagada, and their visits to Bhubaneswar. Reminiscing about childhood days was still a favourite topic, we would talk of all my antics, food eating habits, what a nuisance I was at times, and Aai’s broken arm when she was playing with me on the terrace, me getting bitten and bullied by my friends at school.


I sometimes yearn for newspapers. Reading physical copies in the morning, when half the household is yet to wake up, with my cup of chai and four round Marigold biscuits. Those mornings, I search for the special pages in Jio News app and satisfy my hunger. But its a cheap solution, needing no hard work. I want to go to pre covid times when newspapers in a household was the norm. I loved the Wednesday Telegraph, the thick special weekly edition. And Sunday Times and Sunday Hindu. Loved those. The immersive articles, entertainment sections, opinion pieces, book reviews, lists of trending, weekend getaway destinations, and so much more. Education and Relationship sections also I devoured with great pleasure. I miss those simpler times. 

Comments

  1. Thanks God for this magic moment. My Gudia has started to recompose herself. Best wishes with tons of blessings.

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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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