Friday, October 17, 2008

Pink hope

Asha aunty, being my mom’s best friend within a radius of an entire city (and a bit beyond that too) she usually visits our house for a quick gossip session which sometimes gets me tuned in too, not for the stories, but the way she narrates them without altering a single line across her countenance. Misgivings can harden a person inside out. She is pragmatic and never understands why my mom gushes over how lovely the gerberas are while arranging them in a vase to beautify the house.
Her resilience shines through despite losing her husband untimely to a car accident 5 years back. She is a physiotherapist by profession and raises 2 extremely talented children by herself. When my drastic career decision had mom in a convulsive state, it was Asha aunty who was so supportive and literally pacified mom, cajoling her to extend her support too. She would save the Education Times pages that carried articles which might be of some help to me.

One day mom came home looking misty and said Asha aunty has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The shock of it elicited a foolish laugh for the first few dizzying moments until I was leaped violently into gravity. The inequity of fate can only be an ugly mockery.

What followed were events of mental and bodily decrepitude. She had to undergo double mastectomy and chemotherapy cycles. She has lost all her hair after just one cycle of chemotherapy. She has severe gastritis and nausea meaning that her appetite has shrunk enormously. Chemotherapy can’t tell the healthy cells from the cancer cells so she has a constant feeling of her body being set on fire (I won’t even try to delve into the agony of her mind)

Now how do you empathize with someone who’s anguish you, try as much as you will, can’t even begin to fathom? And as for sympathies, they balk at the dead ends of pity. You sit there carefully avoiding the gaunt manifestation of a dilapidating life, the sore veins of her hands pricked numerous times and the ill placed wig. They say the eyes say it all. She says, puckering her ulcerated lips, “kya karna hai itna jeeke, I will live while I can”. And that, there, as sheer as a gossamer of an undeterred soul, sums up the instinct of a survivor. You don’t need anyone else (their support or words) to validate your own hope. The eyes gleam with the reflection of that unfaltered hope. Unfaltered asha.

Epilogue : 27th October is the world breast cancer day. Please visit for more information on breast cancer - the detection, the shock, the stages, the survival, the myths and how you can help. If you are above 35yrs or have a family history of breast cancer, ask your gynecologist about a mammography. Wear a pink ribbon to show that you are aware and that you care.

And on a selfish note, please also pray for Asha aunty.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crash and borne

Every time the bus that I took to college slowed down in a traffic commotion, discussion of an accident would erupt among the passengers. The route mainly being a national highway, seeing accidental events of varying degree, at its varying stages, from the gaping window was a routine sight. Some wreckage erode through time lying abandoned by the side of the road, taking the form a morose art and sometimes even a landmark. Kids from the nearby slum make it their adventure-laden playground. Stray dogs make it their easy urinals, labor rooms even. Seedlings dispersed by the friendly breeze make it their nidus. Life finds a way, even in a wreckage.
Sometimes you see broken bodies with scattered viscera. And sometimes just sparkling diamonds scattered to add an euphemistic effect. A spot on the road where an opera was conducted. That was the spot where time stopped for someone. The spot where someone crossed over to the other side. Someone stopped living. Someone started living. The spot will bring back scrapings of indented memories every time it is passed. A friend will look away ruefully every time he drives by there. A mother will wait there to feel the relics of her loss. The azure skies will witness the tides of survival and defeat.
The cars will keep passing. The friendly breeze will keep blowing.

Recommended watch :
Crash (academy award for movie of the year 2006) by Paul Haggis
parallel stories of people facing bigotry and the repercussions of racism in a multilingual society, their lives come crashing together at one common epicentre where they have a choice to either turn away or tolerate.

Recommended listen :
The coda of the movie is illustrated with a stirring song “In The Deep” by Bird York

art title - wreckage, Canon D30
artiste - Chris Dodkin
url -

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Regret

So I wish for these moments to blur
The regret of some unspoken words

While I dread another course of conversation

I will take refuge in silence, golden

So I wish for these hours to turn
The regret of a forgotten errand

While I spend another night for the day

It will never be the same again

So I wish for these days to fade

The regret of a touch undone

While I feel through a numbing vacuum

That peels my skin like a burn

So I wish for this life to end

The regret of wasting a friend

While I live a world of vultures

I will cherish us like an old treasure

P.S. This poem is an ode to one of my favorite movies "The Hours" which I think gloriously embodies the feeling of Regret, a feeling innate to every human.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Early slices of winter

The air is pregnant with an impending winter these days. The westerlies blow over the Arabian sea in a festive trance while I take a ritualistic post-dinner date walk along the Carter road promenade. Our hands contemplating with each other and minds contemplating with the idea of an early-October sex. The succulence of a fig sorbet spreading across the continent of our taste buds almost rolling out the red carpet for the crispy winter delight. Faces around have started to look less damp. Bodies have started to smell less sultry. And motions have started to seem less lethargic.
The remnants of a feeble autumn will scatter into a little more disparate winter (Sacrifice of the deciduous goes unnoticed here) We, the dwellers of Mumbai, have learned to segregate and bask in a much-needed and a much-elusive winter. Next coupla months are going to be marked with trials of season refining. Making the most of the minimalist drop in mercury. Letting our joyous anticipations overtake our wearisome moods induced by the virtue of undertaking a life in this city. Diwali will bring in the incandescence and Christmas will usher in a brand new year of unattempted resolutions, new habits, futile vacation plans and ofcourse a Santa’s bag full of trite daily routines.
Guess it’s time to bring out all those songs I have been saving for the winter.

Recommended listen :
Sarah McLachlan - Song for a winter’s night

“If I could know within my heart
That you were lonely too
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you”

P.S. We should have let our hands loose. Emotional diffidence can cost you a season.

art title - autumn, oil on canvas
artiste - Tina Hellier
url -

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Belief files

I saw the movie X-Files over the weekend. And although I am not essentially an ‘X-phile’ (that's what the X-file fanatics are called.. cute I say!) But anyone who was feeding themself on television during the 90s knows about the iconic stature of X-files and the reminder of this knowledge made it essential to watch the movie. Here let me add the fact that X-files is single-handedly the reason for words like ‘paranormal’, ‘government-conspiracy’, ‘unexplained phenomenon’ etc becoming household.
Anyway, turned out it was nothing of a great movie. The suspense wasn’t earth-shattering since I guessed it a bit before the intermission. And what didn't help was the realization that Mulder and Scully had lost every shred of chemistry they ever had when they kissed (yes, final-fucking-ly) with the fine-lets-get-done-with-this look.
But the unperturbed optimist in me was craving for something to take home from the movie. Then I passed the movie's poster in the hallway - “X-files: I Want To Believe”
Belief eh?
So the mind actually sees what it wants to believe? Who vouches for the existence of an object suspended in the spatial dimensions around you?
Your belief?
All your senses join forces and send out confirmatory signals to your brain and that’s how you conclude the presence of an object. Ofcourse there are the people around you who corroborate the conclusions of your sensory perceptions. But what if they disprove of it? Does that object cease to exist in your mind because there aren’t others to support your belief system. Will you become an apostate if you are ridiculed or dismissed by others because your perceptions don’t correlate to their definitions? And who decides the norms? Maybe that’s why we have psychiatrists and mental asylums. To correct the perceptive deviations one might have, termed as ‘illusions’ or ‘delusions’ by the ones who claim to be cognitively correct. After all, mental disorders are layers of basic human nature but only in the excess.
But I guess it’s your loyalty to these benign beliefs that are deep indented in your minds, whether or not authenticated by the belief-police, overpowering your senses, that assures your own self that you are fine, or that you will be fine. Fine in the larger picture, that’s above any demarcations of intellect.
Just make sure your belief system respects the concordance of the system of life.

Scully : do you really believe in this?
Mulder : I want to believe.

P.S - I think if there ever should be an alien invasion, they should consider playing the theme score of X-files on the speakers of their spaceship to register a more believable arrival.