So this weird thing happened today. Mom was upset about something in the family. And she was loudly retrospecting on why does this happen to us alone. Me, not okay with mom feeling bad about anything, immediately pitched in on how it is not just for us. Things go wrong for everyone and we just don’t get to know since its private. Tada, did my part and I was ready to move on from the topic. Out of nowhere, my sister weighed in her perspective of things and elaborated my point with some neighborhood stories of similar experiences. And mom seemed visibly calmer. Maybe because she realised our point is valid and began to share the perspective. Or maybe because she was surprised about how her daughters are all grown up. I’m not sure what she thought. But I personally am quite proud of how insightful my sister has grown up to be. Last I checked, she was just a kid!
Off topic, if you feel bad about how 2020 has made your life horrible and feel miserable, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Now think of all those 2020 desk calendars eating dust on the locked up office tables. With no one to flip their leaf and with no realisation of life’s purpose! How does that make you feel now? A tiny bit better is the right answer. 😉
Janaki bhai. Or Janaki ammoomma? She made a transition to and fro between the two. She came into my life as my pseudo-nanny. She didn’t really baby-sit me, but picked me up from kindergarten and walked me to a day-care nearby. I’d spend my evening with Valsala ammoomma till dad came to pick me up. Valsala ammoomma had many kids my age to cater to, and an assistant, Mani chechi. By the time I reach the day-care, everyone would be up, having their evening snacks. Mani chechi would play with us for a while and soon leave, as the kids start leaving. One by one, all of them would leave, and it’d be just me and Valsala ammoomma. She’d then take me to her home adjacent to the day-care. I’d watch her make tea and crush the areca nut, layer the tobacco and make a cute betel leaf pocket with a touch of slaked lime. It is a beautiful sight to watch her meticulously prepare the murukkaan (paan’s Kerala version). Then she’d offer me a piping hot cup of tea to relish. I was hesitant initially, mostly because tea was a new thing and I was worried if parents wouldn’t approve of it. Mind you, I was barely 5. But when I finally took the cup, I tasted the most exquisite ‘chaaya‘ and the taste still lingers in my tongue. Every ‘good’ chaaya ever since takes me back to Valsala ammoomma’s kitchen and the kitchen doorway where I sat watching the bustling traffic. Memories like these come with a tinge of loss and a lot of happiness.
That was an unplanned digression. But one is incomplete without the other. Back to Janaki ammoomma, somewhere in the middle of all these, she got promoted as a house help for my working mom. As kindergarten came to an end and when day-care was not very exciting, I started coming back home to Janaki ammoomma who waited for me at the door. She’d clean and I’d watch TV, and she’d keep me company till parents come. Things changed when sister came into the scene and I grew old enough to be home alone. Amidst and beyond all of that, some things haven’t changed. The memory of she running to reach home lest I be alone, the rare occasions where the ‘auto chettan’ who picked me up from school picked her up too, panting and running on her way to our home. Her overgrown mole in the middle of her chin, her frail build, her rough hands that used to hold my hand walking from school to the day-care, her alcoholic son, and most of all her calling me “Soumyakkutty…”!
P.S. Ammoomma is Malayalam for grandma.
Recently, the most stupid decision that I took was the 30-day blogging challenge with myself. I’m glad I didn’t invite anyone else into the challenge and put that person through the torture of reading what I write. The last couple of days whatever I wrote isn’t the best of me. Not just that, some of them are even utterly horrible. Somewhere between this challenge, I started looking at this as just another chore of the day. Somewhere, I did lose the spark of thoughts and the fluidity of words. Almost mid-way now, should I let go of this challenge then? After all, the content is bullshit. But no, I’m not letting go. Think of a sport you enjoyed before the Lockdown. Or a regular activity you did outside of your routine. You miss them now, I’m sure. And once the lockdown is lifted, you’d want to rush back to that routine of yours. With no practice for the last couple of months, would you have your best shot right away? A little warm up and some extra effort would make all the difference there. So is the case with my writing. This 30-day challenge is indeed with myself. To make me convinced that I can resume writing – write without a pause. Perhaps not the worst decision eh!
Strong, or weak? It’s a debated topic. Boys shouldn’t cry, men shouldn’t show their weakness and so on. Sometimes it’s beyond gender. Crying is somehow always associated with weakness and fragility. It’s weird though, that the other extreme of emotions aren’t associated with weakness or vulnerability. If you ask me, I think a person is the most vulnerable when they are angry. Of course, crying is perhaps the saddest phase, but anger is when you have no control on your words, your body language, your psyche as such. Anger is when you say things you wouldn’t have said otherwise, anger is when you lose your mind – anger is your vulnerability. When you cry, you expose your vulnerability, of course. So do you, when you are angry. The difference is, one vulnerability is exploited in favour of others but not necessarily against you, and the other vulnerability is almost always exploited against your own interests. When in tears, you might agree to give away half your wealth to someone empathizing with you. But in anger, you might just end up breaking the most expensive vase you bought last week. Without having to explain, wealth and the vase are all just metaphors and not literally about their physical worth. I always fear being exploited in a way that I lose something cherished, than someone else gaining something from me. But again, I cry as often as I lose my temper and throw stuff around (atleast inside my head!). It’s a balance most people struggle to establish. I would totally like to say crying makes you stronger, but that could be very one-sided since I don’t know how strong you get without crying. One thing I can, however, is that anger makes you equally fragile and weak in the knees. Should we not start a saying that ‘Boys shouldn’t be angry’? Perhaps, take out the gender and rephrase – ‘People who make it are people who start with inner balance!’
Living thru dates, with dates, by dates, is a difficult task. And by dates, I am not talking about the fruit, dates. Nor am I talking about the dates people ‘go out’ on. Oh good lord! How many definitions do dates hold already! As if it is not enough, we have this-day, that-day, not-this-day and on and on, celebrating all kinda dates. And ofcourse those fancy dates. 01-01-01, 02-02-02…..12-12-12. Thank god its over by 2012! And as if none of these are enough, I have my fancy associations to dates! The day I first I joined this school. The day I met that person. The day I left this place. The day I last met some person. The day I first had some experience. The day with this and that and too many such stupid associations. Its funny how I remember so many birthdays that I don’t even want to make a wish on, too many anniversaries I don’t even care to be bothered about, too many days with no relevance to me as a person, still etched in my memory. Like, not even a brain damage could actually wipe them away. Every morning, getting up and actually waking into my senses, the first involuntary thing is to register the date in my memory, and then search for a matching item that corresponds to the date. And each day, has associations. Pleasant, unpleasant, moderate, and I-dont-give-a-fuck kinda dates. And as I pass by each such date, the one thing I so wish, atleast by next year this day, let me forget its stupid cooked relevance in my brain. I don’t want to remember so many pointless stuff. And today is one such day. A date I am trying to forget. Not coz its unpleasant. But coz its irrelevant in the life I currently live. An anniversary I choose to forget, but still reminded all the more, as I am the only one even thinking about it, even at this hour, as the day closes down.Ridiculous dates! Etched down the memory lane!
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Of all things in life, if I am to let go of something, I’d rather let go of my fears. Not all of them together. But may be, one by one. For a long period of my life, I thought I had feline-phobia. I was so afraid of cats. I still am. But then, I guess my greater fear was in acknowledging that I was afraid of cats than the fear itself. So I decide to let go of that one fear today. And I am proclaiming my fear. Yes! I am shit scared of cats though I always preferred calling it hatred or dislike or whatever. Today morning, I was beckoned by someone at the door. It was rather a ‘mya..mya’ that I heard and interpreted as ‘soumya’. But it was self explanatory as I reached the door and saw a cat stretching on my balcony. The annoyance of being fooled and stupidly mimicked – I was so frustrated. But that wasn’t enough for me to kick that creature out of my home. I was too scared to even go any close, that I had to call my grandma to shoo that thing away. “Thankachikkari konjuval. Nee oduvai.” (Your sisters pampers it, and you run away seeing it!) The ‘it’ being that 4 legged creature.
I was insecure about letting go of fears. As anyone else would be. But then, there happens these life changing moments, once in a while. To inspire you to let it go. To push you, a level ahead. I am glad it happens. Its like a sudden revelation that tells me it’s not worth hiding under the covers. That, life just happens once, as we know it, and its never too late to start over right now. But may be, the next moment could turn to be too late. So here I am, letting go of it. One by one. By confronting people and things and all that my fears attribute to.
One of the very first times, today, I had another two wheeler bumping onto mine. I was parked by the roadside and waiting to make a U-turn, when a lady casually brushes against my vehicle and parks and walks away. As she was gonna walk away, I called out for her and demanded an explanation. There was no huge damage, but an apology would have been still welcome, as it was evidently her carelessness. But to my surprise, she yelled and freaked out, as though I came hit her from behind. For a moment, I thought I was her. Too scared to confront. Too scared to accept one’s own mistakes. I could see more of fear than accusation in her. I was her. Most of my life. But the rest of my life, I knew how not to be her. And how much I want to be not her. So the rest of my life, that’s what I would like to do. To let go of fears. And everything else that chains down the flowing spirit in me.
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Which days are gone? I lost the whole thread of my thoughts, whilst I was thinking on it. And debating with my cousin, (relevance as she’s a new generation mom). The topic of discussion was vaguely about the new generation kids, their growth atmosphere, overall outlook to life, blah blah.. And I felt, “Gone are those days…of innocence in ‘my’ childhood.” Which AGAIN, in my parents’ or a preceding generation’s point of view, would be missing lot more from their childhood. So I kinda have a self realisation that it’s just recursive. So I halt my thought on this.
P.S. This photo triggered the post. Adding to it, my three year old niece’s progress report depicting her scale of consideration and compassion. What the fuck indeed!
Nah, it’s nowhere close. My birthday is way over. But looking back from this precise moment, that was one of the only best thing that happened to me recently, making me want to find goodness in every other thing! It’s like this one good day, promising you to give more, making you want more. I had cake! Yay! (Doesn’t matter I shared it with the cousin, whose birthday falls the same day! That WAS the fun after all!) I had midnight birthday wishes! Again Yay! I had wake up calls. Again Yay! I even had a total surprise birthday ‘mug’ with my photo in it. Gifted my cousin-childhood_friend-buddy-my-lechu! And yay is just not enough there! And the surprise birthday card, which technically was the only one this year! And not to forget, I had two full big yummy ‘chocolat’y ‘silk’y heaven, all for myself! Besides all, I had a surprisingly relieving conversation with an old pal! She didn’t talk much. But whatever little we spoke, the spirit of it stays alive to the moment and gives me a all-new drive to life! And there I said ‘Same to you’ to devi akka when she wished me! We missed it all these years perhaps! As if it wasn’t enough, I have aniecenow, born with me, 21 years delayed!
Birthdays have been more good to me in the past. Much better than this years’, where I was away from family and loved ones. But this one seems more special. May be coz it’s the 21th! May be coz it’s the one surviving 2012! May be it could be so many other things. But most of all, I think it was special, coz it was the only good thing, in a long time now. The most beautiful flower is the one that blooms in the face of a catastrophe! Symbolising survival! I survived. Yay!
P. S. Oh wait a min! Did I forget to mention the new Olympus 620! All thanks Vidya! Amma and appa just flipped me out this time! 🙂
“Oh yeah you’re overdoing it. Yes ofcourse that much of it was not necessary. Show off! It was so uncalled for. You really needn’t be that sincere to it. Ah come on, don’t be so nice lest they use next time too.”
A bunch of euphemistic ways of putting it right on your face, that you are showing it off a bit too much and its high time you shut it! Sometimes, people don’t understand when should they be stopping to try and stop the fruitless efforts. And also, at times, people just don’t understand when to stop the pointless comments on others’ sincere efforts. All of us, take our own turns, at both sides of the desk. You go perform, just too much, that judgement itself turns indefinite. Or you always sit back, never performing, never realising the worth of performing, discouraging every source of usefulness!
However at this particular moment of my life, I’d rather choose to believe I belong to the second class now. Iget criticised, often penalised, and overly commented upon, for things that I do out of my willful sense of virtue and morality. “Ninte karyam aalochikkumbo chiri varunnu. Nee enthina ithra involved aavunne?”!! [Its funny thinking about you. Why are you even getting so involved?] That was a senior’s comment on my over – anxiety about certain stuff from college. More and more of it is what I keep getting, from teachers, classmates, friends, loved ones! Why am I being so overly commented upon, if all that I do is over-react and over-do things!
I think here’s my point. The subtlity of mind is what we often lack, when thinking on a broader perspective of things! But the expression of the mind and its inifinite complexity demands to walk over every other hurdle.
P.S. Anyone inspired may stop the accusation episodes of ‘Enthoru showedei!’ [Show off!’]
“People get annoyed when you thank them or apologise, at informal occasions.” I was surprised by that information! Its like, “She’s showing off too much!”, “She is so ritualistic. Doesn’t value relationships at all.”, “What does she think? That I did this for her for her thank you!” “No thank you and sorry between friends yaar!” Oh my God! Really! So much responses for one thank you or a sorry. Its like you can just never be sincerely thankful or apologising, whatever may happen, all gets questioned. But I still always thank and apologise. From the bus conductor in the morning thru the friend who drops me to the next bust stop in the evening,(its actually like I take her pillion and ‘drop’ myself!!), I thank almost everyone who does anything close to a favor to me! And I apologise, when the trouble was really not intended.
With all these, I had almost had ample confidence to be a part of an organisation or to work associating with a larger crew! After all, I had self proclaimed myself as a very ‘down to earth’ person! But there’s this thing about communication you know! Fundamentally, you are to decipher only so much from someone’s words, just as much they said. But everybody digs for deeper implications and often misunderstand the situations. At least with me, it has always been like, it’s what’s that’s said as what that’s actually! Nothing more to dig for! But a stronger theory holds. It is never about how good you’re at heart. It’s about what you communicate with them. Never what you think/feel, but about what you express! Now with the activities of the Union and so many other organisations that I am now a part of, I am to communicate more with a larger group of people, more frequently and more intensely. And there I understand, what my other friend said is so right! I should really start behaving more like my name. More ‘soumya’. Humble and polite. I need to work on it. Really so, that I don’t rupture my rapport with the population around me!
And thanks to that unknown senior! He perhaps really changed something about me. “You talk good, clear and confident.But may be you should take more care about what you communicate. You shouldn’t have said *that* in the last meeting”! Yeah I agree. When hundred people around me point a finger at me, chances are higher that they are right and I am wrong. So, its time I thought about it. And I guess I am implementing the ‘name put to action’ agenda already! Thanks to so many of you who all, in a way, answered my question from yesterday’s post. And thanks, for pointing them out so brilliantly to me. Gratitude. And apologies.