It crushes my soul and bleeds my heart, Like I can’t breath and survive another minute, Seeing you here, stuck and lost, Waiting for the door to open, For someone to let you out, To the world outside, to your natural self, Embracing life as you know it.
I feel your pain choking my throat, My eyes welling up from an unfamiliar sorrow, Unknown and strange are my thoughts, With the tears I shed for you, no matter the hate.
Scared and hopeless, you and me, I open the door through the fear, Knowing its only for you and for you to never return, And for me to be here without respite. Sans your sorrow, does mine diminish ever? How would you know, after all you are a dog!
‘This is the last batch from here’, said father, tossing in the final jackfruit into the trunk. Inching to probe why, I retracted my words as an afterthought. It’d only pave way to another round of blaming. How much I don’t care about the construction, how I’m not paying attention to its details and on and on it’d go. Why else would I not remember that the jackfruit tree is going down to make room for the Vaastu appropriate kitchen! Sigh!
Decades later, that scene still stays fresh in memory. The chopping down of the tree, starting of the construction – I wasn’t there for any of it. It was only way after the completion of the house did I even come back home. But for some unknown reason, that random conversation and a vague memory of the ‘plot’ linger.
Sitting down in this tamarind’s shade, I feel connected to this strange land and place. Like it was never so strange or unbeknownst. Life has always been full of gratitude for me. Many things to be grateful for and many people to thank. Appumash tops my list of people to be grateful to. Ironic enough, I’d perhaps never thank him for I’ve never really known or met him. A wandering soul in an ottamundu ( ‘a slightly dignified version of a loincloth) that I spot once in a while in the neighborhood. That’s all I knew of the man. But as I learnt that he is the one throwing tantrums and standing against the slaying of my tamarind shade, there grew a new sense of kinship with the nameless soul. And I learnt he has a name – Appumash – as a memory to be grateful for, forever.
After all, it is just a tamarind tree, isn’t it? What’s there to be grateful for a tree? One could say nature’s balance, sustainability and global warming or whatsoever. But it’d be far from the truth. I do not possess such great visions for the future of the world or concern for our existence. Neither would Appu mash have them, I presume.
A companion in my solitary afternoons. The majestic branches arching over the house as a shade. And the fond memory of mother cribbing about the fallen leaves that ruin the yard. And father dividing and distributing ripe tamarinds to everyone who pass by. That is what the tamarind holds for me. An image of my past, a shoulder in the present and a hope for the future.
But is it also the darkness that takes away our share of the sun and the moon? Does it not appear as haunting hands through the windows? One could view it, in all its vicious and dark shades. But to my eyes, it is a magnanimous tree in the brightest phase of my life, being my shade and shelter.
After every withering autumn, I wonder if it’d ever turn green again. With its luscious green, isn’t it protecting my soul more than what I could ever do to save its existence? Somewhere then, a tree becomes more than just the shade as it embraces you and holds you tight to its roots.
Being stupid is perilous? Being called an idiot. Being taken advantage of. Being easily skipped over. It must be a hard life being stupid aka an empty head. Then again, how would I know. I am not stupid. But the head is almost empty. Barely some strands of hair and that’s it. And that’s usual for my age, totally. But then it was not a big huge deal for me for a really long time.
It was a weird feeling though. People would just randomly start staring at my baldness mid-conversation and just wouldn’t stop. That was very awkward. You’d relate better if you are woman when I say this. You know those instances when someone’s gaze would travel down your neck and stop further down at an uncomfortable angle. Well, I had the twin challenge. I had to resist people’s eyes wandering neither north nor south of my face. Trust me that’s an absolute challenge with an average face! It’s not like people get caught in their trails with ‘looks’!
People would eventually stare and offer their condolences for my ‘passed’ hair strands. Some offer oil prescriptions on the go. Some offer exuberant hair therapies. And there was this one lady at the railway station once, couple of years ago. She offered to make an offering to a local ‘hair-specialist’ goddess for my sake. That warmth indeed shook me, and I am pretty sure I have already written about her. Apart from some rare crazy moments, it’s mostly an annoying experience to hear people lament about hair.
Lately, have been feeling bad about it myself. Probably because it’s all locked down and there aren’t much people to whine over my hair, that I thought it’s my turn now. I could use some more hair perhaps!
P. S. All references of self-loathing should be ignored as side effects of having too much time to stare at the mirror, even while on office calls. It’s all about working things out from home after all.
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. 😉
Classical music is something very close to my heart. Neither am I a singer nor can I even actually enjoy it. But it is a very nostalgic thing to me. It reminds me of the ‘horrific’ music classes I was forced to attend, the ‘rich’ family where most relatives have got something to do with music and all those dreadful Navaratri days when I was forced to sing at random homes. Most of my painful associations with music came to a stop ever since I passed on the baton to my sister. The only difference perhaps is that she actually sings. There was a time in life where I was very choosy about the genres of music. Over time, I’ve begun to realize music is all that matters, no matter the genre. I now listen to very random tunes and enjoy the presence of music in life. I’m no longer searching for the music of my life, but merely bobbing my head and tapping my toes to every tune that flows by. Life is so beautiful when you discover the music in it. Wavy and fluid.