Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Not quite done yet.

Found this half-finished doodle while tidying up. In more ways
than one, it's something I need to keep working on!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Better than the Beatles.

Every day I sing out loud to Beatles' songs while doing my daily
exercise. A few days ago, I came across a hugely offensive song,
and along with it, came to the sad realisation that my heroes
could buy into the patriarchal bullshit as easily as anyone else
(although fortunately John Lennon redeemed himself by
growing up:  he later said it was his least favourite Beatles song,
and the one he most regretted writing).

It's got a great beat, and a great tune, and what else - oh yes,
it totally glorifies an abusive relationship. I mean, seriously.
In real life, if anyone says these words to you, you  need
to make sure they're thrown in jail, or at least referred to
a psychiatrist, and if not that, then just get the hell away
from them, as far as you can go. And take the kids and pets with you.

Run For Your Life - by the Beatles
(click above to listen)

Verse 1:
Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won't know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end'a little girl

Verse 2:
Well you know that I'm a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can't spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line
(Chorus ..)

Verse 3:
Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead
(Chorus ..)

Naturally, I couldn't sing these horrendous lyrics, so I decided
to make some of my own. Changing the genders around was
no good, because that just sends it from misogyny to misandry.
But I finally put together a version I liked, inspired by
the ringleader of the infamous Delhi rape case, who was
a juvenile (17 years old) when he committed his crimes, and
so has to be judged under juvenile law, in spite of all the public
outrage, and his own family asking for him to be hanged.

They're not the world's best lyrics, but I think they're a slight
improvement on Run For Your Life. They can be sung cheerfully
by anyone, regardless of one's views on capital punishment. Here they are:

Stay in Jail - by me 

Verse 1:
Well, they’d rather see you dead, little boy
Than to see you out on bail
You better just stay put, little boy,
You’ll be safer in that jail.

You better stay in jail if you can, little boy,
Hide your head in the sand little boy
Catch you on the streets again
That’s the end’a, little boy.

Verse 2:
Everyone knows you’re a wicked boy
And you’ve got such a twisted mind
The country’s got better things to do
Than to make sure you toe the line

Let this be a warning,
You might wish you’d been hanged instead
The whole nation’s determined
And they’d rather see you dead.

I shall be testing it out in about half an hour when I go for
my walk. Feel free to sing along, wherever you are.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Yesterday, someone left a comment on my blog, describing it as "a soft, fragile place". It's made me look at my blog and at myself with a new perspective. You see, until she said this, I had never thought of it as something positive. I had equated "fragile" with "flaw".

I often feel fragile when I'm writing for this blog. I struggle with it terribly. Not the writing part, that comes easily enough, sometimes so easy that I wonder whose words those are that seem to just tumble down out of my fingertips onto the keyboard.

My struggle is with sharing what has been written. I am terrified of being judged, of being not good enough, or of sharing too much on a medium that we've all been warned about in terms of protecting our privacy. Scared of being seen as weak or over-emotional, or perhaps just stupid. Scared of being wrong, and of saying the wrong thing.

I'm also a child abuse survivor, who has learned over the past decade or so, that boundaries are important. Like all abuse survivors, I have had a great deal of trouble setting boundaries. We have a tendency to share our stories with the wrong people, give our trust and our bodies away far too easily, let people walk all over us, and believe that this is the right, or "noble", way to live. I have done quite a lot of work on this, and I now know that I do take much better care of myself than I did ten years ago, and on occasion even treat myself with as much respect as I do other people. But still, I sometimes worry that sharing my writing might be one more way in which I expose myself to the world, and again, risk victimisation or abuse.

On the other hand, as a writer, I know that words written down are ultimately meant to be read. I know that there is a gift here, and gifts need to be given. As a survivor, I also know that there is a great deal of shame felt by abuse survivors, and a huge need for the shame to be dispelled and the silence to be broken if we are ever to stop the crime from continuing. I am aware that most survivors will - and should - protect themselves and their privacy, that they need to think carefully about to whom, and when, to disclose their stories. But I also know that some of us need to speak out. Long ago, I decided I would be one of those, one of the ones who would try to "bell the cat".

So there's a constant struggle between what to share, and what not to. Where do I draw the line between what is too personal, and what needs to be heard by others? I am always afraid that I am doing it wrong.

Yesterday's comment by Chandan told me that perhaps I am not doing it wrong after all.

Friday, 26 July 2013


Sometimes she dreams of him, the one long lost. Even in the dreams he never belongs to her, but she always seems to belong to him.

She is like a little wind-up toy, searching for a parking space and scurrying down the road to him, while around her papers fly, and grey jets. There is always a war going on in these dreams of hers, a fight for justice and liberty and equality. She never finds out who wins, but that is not why she is there or who she is in the dreams.

She is a doll, the war is outside but they are inside, and he holds her as one might a forgotten toy from childhood found years later:  with some tenderness, and a certain respect for that which was once something, and a certain awkwardness at holding something which no longer has a place in one's life.

She is a doll, and he plays with her. Gently. Or not. And his voice is still so soft when he says her name, soft and smoky, and his hands, soft and smudged, and he is always young and whole and smiling and uncertain, and when his eyes look into hers, she feels it go all the way down to her heart.

It is a sweet and nearly innocent tea party, with sugar water and candy for tea and cakes. When it is over, he wraps her in tissue and lays her down in a box and that's when her eyes open, and she finds herself lying alone and unsettled between the fiction of the dream and its almost tangible reality.

Unable to sleep and unable to choose, not sure if going back to sleep will return her to him; she stays awake but really, it is just a waiting and a hoping while her heart beats ribless, so very open and in so much danger but it beats on, unwilling to let go.

And when she truly wakes, she sees that this is all she has of him. Memories. Old memories of what once was - moments and magic and mistakes and misunderstandings. And new memories of dreams that mean nothing, but also something. These have to be enough. They are not, but they have to be. All those years ago, and she still remembers enough to dream.

It was something, to have loved him. It still is.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Finding yourself.

India is the destination of choice for this. People always talk
about going to India to find themselves.  I was always quite chuffed
that, being Indian, I had a head start on all the other nationalities.
India really is a magical place. I'm not sure why. It's also a very
dirty, infuriating and corrupt place. But the magic is still there,
you just have to find it.

So yes, I packed my bags and came  home a decade ago. I had had enough of corporate life, and I had started looking within. If I was going to find me, India was the place to do it.

I've been here over ten years now, and it's only just dawned on me that in order to find yourself, you first have to get really really lost. Desperately, horribly, painfully, unfairly lost. (India's the place for that, too).

You don't just show up at Bombay airport and start anew. India hits you in the face - eyes, ears, skin and nose - upon arrival, and will keep on hitting for quite a while. In retrospect, I think it's supposed to be that way. You can't be found without
first being broken and scattered.

Don't worry. It will be worth it.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

One day I want to be brave.

One day I want to be brave.

I would like to be like the Warrior in the Manual of the Warrior of Light.

Or the little Black Girl in search of God.

But I am not. Not yet.

I am afraid. Very afraid. Of almost everything.

So I hide a lot and do very little.

My friend told me yesterday that I am already brave.

I want to believe her.

She says I am brave because I am afraid.

Because I am afraid but still here.

Still here, still trying.

She says I give her hope.

She says when she needs strength she looks at me.

I wish I could look at me the way she does.

I think I will start trying instead of wishing.

I think I will start now, not tomorrow.

I think I may already have started.

Monday, 22 July 2013


At the bottom of every post, I have a little multiple-choice post-script, that asks you, the reader, whether the post "Made you:  smile, hurt, think or hope. For some reason, hardly anyone clicks on these choices, even though the clicks are anonymous, and don't require any log-in.

So what I'm wondering is - is this post-script hard to see? Is it just lost there at the bottom of each post, unnoticed and therefore unclicked? Or is that the choices offered are the wrong ones? Should I have used different words? Such as "Made me:  puke". Or "Made me:  yawn"? Or maybe just "None of the above"?

It's not terribly important, I suppose. But it does give me a little affirmation that my post has indeed evoked some response. So if you haven't noticed it until now, look for it. If you're an anonymous reader, don't worry that your click can be traced back to you (if it can, I don't know how to - and am not inclined to find out, either way). If you think that it doesn't matter, know that it does, even if just a tiny bit, to me, if no one else. It tells me a bit about the effect my writing has.

I'm curious, and keen, so if you are inclined, kindly click. (I love alliteration; do you?)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Beauty is everywhere.

You just have to keep an eye out for it. Alternately, you just
have to keep forgetting to lock your phone before putting it
in your pocket, and get a nice surprise later when you find
it has taken a picture while in there.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


That's his name. He's  not a tamed bird; I didn't train him to hop
up on my finger or anything, but he's grown to trust me enough
to let me come close. He, in fact, has me quite well trained, to come
running whenever he makes a certain mournful drawn-out peep.
It's really quite emotive. I have learned that this sound means
Hello is hungry/sleepy/bored.

He flies around on my relatively-safe balcony and occasionally
scares the daylights out of me by trying to land on the bridge
of my glasses. He enjoys a nice leaf of mint every now and then,
and is developing a taste for apple, but turns his beak up
at everything else I offer him, including Alphonso mangoes.
He does have good taste in literature, though, and listens
intently when I read to him. We are on Chapter Two of
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. He likes me
to read aloud to him, and twitters softly at all the best parts.
I think he fancies himself a Ravenclaw, but I'm pretty sure
he's a Slytherin. By sunset he heads back to his cage and makes
his mournful little peeps (they start out soft and get louder
until I remember to say good night and fuss over him a bit
before I cover him up for the night).

I mentioned him in my last post, so thought I should do
a proper introduction. Here he is. Hello.


Don't get excited. Those are just empty chicken eggshells from the kitchen.

It's here again.

Just as pretty as when they're on roses.

I do miss breathing in that glorious warm sun-kissed scent off my laundry, but the monsoon has its own delights. This year, the rain starts earlier in the day, often in the afternoon. I quite like it, even though my laundry takes two days to dry on my balcony, instead of two hours up on the terrace. It feels like a real monsoon this time, although I'm not sure what the meteorologists and farmers would say.

Today we had a wonderful downpour - the type that's a little bit scary, but no real threat. It was glorious. The trees get very happy. The traffic, not so much. Like the Thieves' Downfall in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the monsoon washes away all deception, exposing the half-hearted and half-pocketed roadworks contracts for what they are:  more sand, less tar; more words, less deeds. Unfortunately, once the rains are gone, it will probably be the same people getting paid to patch up their own botched jobs, and equally unfortunately, by the time the next municipal elections come around, the citizens will probably have forgotten the gigantic pot holes and hours-long traffic jams, in their excitement over free sarees, promised housing and suddenly-fallen petrol prices. Muggles.

Me, I just stay put in the shelter of my balcony with a cup of hot tea, a little yellow bird, and my damp laundry, and try to focus on the raindrops.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Telling the truth. Or, "No."

I pride myself on my honesty, but there's one area in which I let myself down. It's when I mean to say, "No" but end up saying "Yes" instead. I hate myself for it, not so much for the dishonesty of it, but because I know that my reason for lying is to be agreeable, not to hurt someone's feelings, not to make a big thing out of "it".

The problem is that the "it" usually refers to my own needs. I'm  not talking about the white lies where, when someone asks me, "Do I look nice in this?" I answer with a yes, even though I think they look awful/fat/ridiculous. I mean the times when someone asks me to go somewhere or do something that I don't really want to do, and I say yes knowing full well that I ought to be replying with a sentence that includes the phrase "over my dead body".

I thought about this last night, when a long-lost friend invited me to dinner and I said yes. She has a dog. I have a phobia of dogs. It's not going to happen. I know that. But I still said yes.

Why do I do this? I'm not a child who has to keep the grown-ups happy. Half my life is over (maybe more, but I hope not). And yet here I am after all this time, menopausal and saggy, and still feeling the need to please, and NOT seeing that I have the right to say No. Regardless of whether it is a reasonable No, or an illogical phobia-induced No, it is still my right to say it:  No.

I like to think that after years of therapy and introspection and self-work, I have learned to say No to a lot of things:  dangerous thing, abusive things, things that I consider immoral or unethical. But yesterday's struggle to say No tells me I still don't consider myself fully worthy of that right.

The other day while reading, I came across something a child sex offender said about one of his victims:  I killed who she might have been.

I need to work harder on my resurrection.