Perspectives- #2 Frank Bruni

This New York Times columnist is a revelation to me. His writings are smooth and provoke me to think emotionally. I happened to read two of his pieces, both fine ones, and it left me going back in time to look into my own life and my relationships with my father and sibling.

I have supportive parents. When I say supportive, I don’t mean someone who would go to the extent of sharing a drink with me, but someone who actually were available when I wanted to talk something or confide in them. May be that is what enabled me cruising through my troubled teenage without much of an issue. Even with such parents, I found his piece on his father relevant. I saw my life with my father when I was reading that piece. I will explain.

Fathers in many Indian homes are silent warriors. They strive every moment to ensure that there is food on the table and that his family is comfortable and not lacking anything. He might slog for long hours, do jobs that he doesn’t really like or having issues with his friends or colleagues, but we are not shown that side of his life. We are rendered blissfully unaware of those.

Growing up can do a lot of things to you. In many homes, girls grow up to move closer to mothers and boys to their fathers. This might be stereotypical and could even have stemmed from the set gender bias norms in our country, but that is how it worked for a lot of people I knew. This was in fact reiterated by my father when recently he called me up to tell me that until the age of four, I was extremely close to my father, such that I didn’t really fancy staying with amma. He mentioned this while he was trying to highlight that these days I am closer to Amma than I am to him. How I wish to tell him that nothing has gone wrong or it is not out of deliberation that I am closer to amma and that it was just how it happened. How I wish I could tell him that there are certain issues which would be better if discussed with someone of the same gender. Sigh!

There were times when I was told that my father had confidence and faith in me and my choices. Even if he did not highlight that himself, amma always ensured that she conveyed it to me. His confidence in me is what amazes me till date. Believe me when I say that I did not know it the moment when I was born. I took my own time to realise it and see it, all by myself. Till then, I had thought may be my father thought I was a dud head, who was confused about her life and who didn’t know the evil ways the society worked. He was and is a silent warrior. He suffers in silence and rarely speaks out what he is going through. That is how in fact we are cultured, isn’t it? Men are supposed to be macho and steely all the time while women are allowed the privilege to cry their hearts out. Men crying is seen as a sign of weakness. This generalisation actually is adopted as a vicious circle. Fathers don’t cry and seeing them serious all the time, sons avoid crying too. This goes on and on because, for any son, their father is their hero, their invincible emperor who is out to rule the world. My brother considers my father that way, I am sure.

I have a brother, who is like a baby to me. Even if he is 40 years old and I am 49, he would still be my baby. There are times when I have ruined his dreams when I joked about him being a marine engineer and a tea-master (Of course I did not know then that tea had strange strings of fortune with it). He has, in turn, made my life full of fun and laughter. I would have been a lonely, miserable kid if it was not for his presence in my life. We have tiffs even now. He seems to have a strange super power to gauge when I would be asleep and he could call and ruin my sleep. Hell breaks loose if I ignore his calls. Period. There is no appellate authority to plead to, for this heinous crime, FYI.

These write-ups, left me thinking if I would even stop to think about people and their actions twenty years down the line. The power of having an open communication channel, the significance of trivial bonds, the leniency that we are supposed to give our parents etc are usually under-rated. I wonder why. Is it because we are not afraid of losing these relationships? After all, it is our own family we are talking about. So what about the other working relationships? Are they working mainly because we put in that extra effort to maintain and nurture them? We could ponder over these issues for many a sleepless night, and I am sure we would be awed at the amount of taking-for-granted that we do.

 

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The New Journal In The Town

Remember the good old days when diary writing was a fad? It was one of the ways we recorded memories and revisited them whenever we wanted to. It was also one of the trails which we had, to check how far we have come, as a person. My earliest memory of diary writing is when I used to write in a notebook, about all the silly fights in the classroom during sixth grade. It gave me a lot of perspective and solace until it was read by one of my other classmates. 😀 End of the story.

The advent of the internet has given us many other means to record our lives. Instagram, Facebook etc act like an online diary, at times throwing a wrong memory at us. Still, the charm of writing on a paper lingers around.

I got this journal for one similar purpose and had already earmarked it for that. Matrikas Paper Products sent me this in a day. To start with, I was floored by the swift action from their side. That is how you gotta win customers.

The look of the journal was aesthetic, something that you would compare to the visual scene of a Mani Ratnam movie. It was not over the head with grandeur, but classy and elegant.

The single lined sheets were smooth and the feel was good. It felt like premium paper thick. To get the feel, I jotted down a few lines and it felt smooth too. I certainly would not need a butter-flow pen to get the smooth flow of ink on the paper.

The journal also had good stuff for time-pass. Blank sheets where you can scribble, doodle or zentangle, sticker sheets with quirky stickers to make your own customised messages and lists and also adult coloring sheets to keep you occupied when you are in a bad mood. It is a complete package. And no one needs to know that I am a crazy, quirky, liberated soul inside thanks to the classy cover to bind it all in. It’s super fun, isn’t it?

Another important feature in this journal that I loved was the elastic band that is in place to hold the journal closed. It feels tight and just right.

IMG_20170513_120645IMG_20170513_120602IMG_20170513_120542

It is a good one to indulge yourself in, especially when you are looking for something to hold in all your memories and creative spurts. Stationery hoarders can thank me later too, for this one is a must have in your collection. They come in quite a few varieties as well. I had hoped for a pink and gold butterfly one but got a red and gold feather one. No worries though.

Thanks, Matrika guys for being super-cool. I loved this one 🙂

 

 

A “Quote-worthy” journey

It is almost the end of a glorious year. 2016 is ending. I say ‘glorious’ not because it was fantastically awesome for me, but because it made me rediscover reading. A long lost hobby and craziness of mine,which had slipped into a coma the moment I had given my allegiance to the world redefining rat race that the mankind is proudly a part of.

This post is a collection of my favorite quotes which I had stumbled upon during these 12 months, along with a snippet of explanation to it.

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake   

This quote by Jhumpa Lahiri is simple yet profound. She is one of my favorite authors, whose style of narration, I find, is gripping and beautiful. It is not too much yet not too little. It is just the perfect amount that would need to relive the scene in the exact same way she had hoped for.

These lines, coming from her, made a lot of sense. I still remember reading one of her works, Lowland, and visualising each and every scene in it. The riot filled parts of Bengal, the romance between the protagonists, the love, the despair etc that filled the pages and the story. That was one effective piece of writing that took me to Bengal and made me be a part of the plot.

“human memory is short, and history always repeats itself.”
Devdutt Pattanaik, Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata

These lines are by Devdutt Pattanaik, who I respect for his opinions and take on age old topic of Mythology. I loved the way he retold something as massive as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana without having to pepper it with spice that sells.

The above lines convey a blunt truth, no matter how much we continue to deny it. We, as human beings, have exhibited this trait time and again and this is what is being seen in our political, economical and social scenario these days.

“Don’t take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it.”
Colleen Hoover, Slammed

Now, I have no idea who this author is or what her works are, but this quote from her will definitely stay on for long with me.

I love the way this quote is aired. It has an air of nonchalance and casualness with it which gives us that rare confidence- you know,the one which we get, with a smile on our face?? That type. It is not too preachy. It does not have a false, blingy coat of sugar/honey in it to give us that fake confidence and assurance that all is well with the world. I love it for its plainness.

Well, I can go on, but let me restrict myself to these three for now, lest it gets too long for a quick read.

There will always be a few lines, which will stay on with us, long after we are done with the book. I wish I am able to write at least one such line during my lifetime, then will I consider myself to be successful.

 

Thamizh Mania

This post is long overdue and has been in my drafts folder for a very long time now.

Choosing one’s life partner oneself has been a sticky subject since times immemorial. Although times have changed and parents these days are open to an extent, still there are situations where the couple need to fight it out, figuratively, to win in their love. I don’t blame either of them for this, for I totally understand the sentiments of both the parties quite decently. What amazes me is that, this practice of love, eloping etc existed since the days when human beings were created. I hadn’t thought that deep, to be honest.

The thought struck me when I got to listen to a wonderful piece of literature. This one is a part of the Kalithogai. One of my friends, who is a Tamil Literature enthusiast had taken the pains to choose and explain this to a sizable group of 20-somethings.

It goes like this-

செவிலி கூற்றும், முக்கோல் பகவர் மாற்றமும்

எறித்தரு கதிர் தாங்கி ஏந்திய குடை நீழல்,

உறித் தாழ்ந்த கரகமும், உரை சான்ற முக்கோலும்,

நெறிப்படச் சுவல் அசைஇ, வேறு ஓரா நெஞ்சத்துக்

குறிப்பு ஏவல் செயல் மாலைக் கொளை நடை அந்தணீர்!

வெவ் இடைச் செலல் மாலை ஒழுக்கத்தீர்; இவ் இடை,

என் மகள் ஒருத்தியும், பிறள் மகன் ஒருவனும்,

தம்முளே புணர்ந்த தாம் அறி புணர்ச்சியர்;

அன்னார் இருவரைக் காணிரோ? பெரும!’

‘காணேம் அல்லேம்; கண்டனம், கடத்திடை;

ஆண் எழில் அண்ணலோடு அருஞ் சுரம் முன்னிய

மாண் இழை மடவரல் தாயிர் நீர் போறிர்

பல உறு நறுஞ் சாந்தம் படுப்பவர்க்கு அல்லதை,

மலையுளே பிறப்பினும், மலைக்கு அவைதாம் என் செய்யும்?

நினையுங்கால், நும் மகள் நுமக்கும் ஆங்கு அனையளே

சீர் கெழு வெண் முத்தம் அணிபவர்க்கு அல்லதை,

நீருளே பிறப்பினும், நீர்க்கு அவைதாம் என் செய்யும்?

தேருங்கால், நும் மகள் நுமக்கும் ஆங்கு அனையளே

ஏழ் புணர் இன் இசை முரல்பவர்க்கு அல்லதை,

யாழுளே பிறப்பினும், யாழ்க்கு அவைதாம் என் செய்யும்?

சூழுங்கால், நும் மகள் நுமக்கும் ஆங்கு அனையளே

என ஆங்கு

இறந்த கற்பினாட்கு எவ்வம் படரன்மின்;

சிறந்தானை வழிபடீஇச் சென்றனள்;

அறம் தலைபிரியா ஆறும் மற்று அதுவே

A caretaker of a young girl, goes in search of her missing girl. She comes across a saint, to whom she asks, ” Oh respectful soul, did you, by any chance, happen to see a girl and a boy,who have apparently fallen in love with each other, go this way”? 

The saint replies- ” I cannot lie that I have not seen them. There was a boy who was very handsome. Although, I would tell you that, the ever fragrant sandalwood that grows atop the mighty mountains does not belong to the mountain. The radiant pearl that lies in the seabed does not belong to the ocean and neither does the notes that take birth in the strings of an instrument belong to the instrument. In the same manner, you might have given birth to her and raised her, but she does not belong to you.”

The saint then continues to say, ” She has gone with the Man whom she loves with all her life, you may trust her and abandon your search now. She will be safe with her man.”

I found this absolutely beautiful. The analogies drawn to explain the predicament to the girl’s guardian are lovely and exceptional. While I type this, I get reminded about one particular quote that I adore.

Kadaikkan Paarvai kanniyar kaativittaal,

Mannil kumararku Maamalayum Or kadugaam

It means – The moment a glance from the corner of Her eye falls on Him, even the toughest task becomes so much as dust for Him

love

So much for love, eh? 😉

Tamil real text source: http://www.tamilvu.org/library/libindexen.htm

 

The Lost Innocence

And she hid herself behind the first object she could lay her hands on. It was the mirror that was hanging on the wall. She fervently hoped that she would be safe from the raining blows that was coming her way. She knew that pain. She knew that torment. She knew all that too well.

She was scared. For the first time in her life, she was scared. She had always had a soft spot for that man in her heart. She had always known that she was his sweet little princess. She had believed that he would never hurt her, ever. Not even when he kept beating her mommy. She always had trusted him to be innocent and naive, for he was the one who held her first, when she was born. It was him who brought her candies every other day. He had fulfilled each of her wishes. She still remembered the tight grip by which he held her hand while crossing the road. All of it ran through her mind’s eye, like a movie clip.

Things were not fine these days. She knew her mommy and daddy were fighting everyday. But she had thought it was out of love, because everytime she had asked him why he yelled at mommy, he had told her,” Darling, it is because I love mommy very much”. She had trusted him. His words.

Today it was the same old story. She had grown used to this scene of late. She had confined herself to her own world amidst all the commotion. Her world was that happy one, with her beloved daddy. Candies and happiness, smiles and funny faces, hugs and kisses filled her world. Today was just like any other day, she aloof and away, until..

“Daddy burst into the room and caught mommy by her hair. I have not seen him so much angry. May be it is because of me. Have I been a bad girl to him? Did I do something naughty that caused him trouble”? her thoughts ran wild.

In a split second, from between the gap in the curtains, she saw him staring at her. She thought his anger would fade away the instant he saw her face. That was what he had always told her. She gaped at him back with her scared, big, brown eyes. What she saw back scarred her for life.

All she could remember was he coming on to her, seething with rage. All she could do was to hide herself behind the mirror with an innocent whimper. All she could hope was that this would guard her from his fury.

She was scarred. For life. That moment defined her future for her. That moment showed the path on which she must walk.

She is now a social activist, fighting and pledging her life for abandoned and abused children. She is determined to not let any child face a trauma like she had. She cares for their innocence and well-being. Children are our future, is what she says.

When asked about her childhood, all she can remember is this incident. Her terrified life and childhood, much like the dark and deep woods as seen in the reflection.

“This Post has been submitted as my entry to Opening Line Writing Challenge by Ranvijai Ravi on Midnight Writing.”