Of cloudy days and clear skies

With her eyes closed, in the lawn she lay
Reminiscing the good ol’ days
When, with mom she used to trace the clouds
Making out animals and faces
Creating stories out of those characters
Until the clouds changed into something else
Say, a puffy little chicken and the shape of a skirt
And they would remake the story
Where the chicken wore a skirt and danced to Old McDonald
And laugh, clutching their tummies
Until their eyes got misty and their side caught a stitch.

Tonight, tonight the sky was clear of clouds
That took her back to the night of the flooding
When the lightning had first fascinated her
And how after all was good and okay
She still had dreams of clear skies and thunderstorms
That crazy, beautiful night
When she wasn’t afraid of how hard anything could fall
Or how damaging it could be.

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Mr. Homeless Man

Weary eyes, wiry hair,
The dirty jacket, a messy affair.

I always wonder your real face,
The reason why you walk in such a daze.

Is abandonment where it all began,
When you became Mr. Homeless Man?

Homeless, the word I so abuse,
That’s the reason why, you’re my muse.

Family, they say are the ones with our blood,
Are they, I wonder, who threw you as a dud?

Or were you, let’s say, just an unlucky lad
Did you, I wonder, lose all that you had?

No, let me tell you, you have Tommy & Lee,
The ones, who just love to lick you with glee.

Also, don’t you have us, for the water and bread,
And sometimes for shelter, Mr. Stubby Man’s shed?

But, do tell Mr. HM, what’s your real name,
And really, tell me, how it all came.

Know that girl who arrives home at midnight?
She knows she’s secure, when you’re in sight.

Know that little woman with a boy so carefree?
She threatens him of your plight, of what he could be.

Know that sad uncle with the corduroy hat?
He became less miserable, since y’all had a chat.

Know me, the kid in a hurry, always eyes averted?
She writes about you and wonders, if to you she could’ve read.

So really, Mr. HM, your presence is needed
In case, that ever had to be said.

One day, when I’m older, tears I’ll shed,
I know you’ll leave, the story unsaid.

Mr. Homeless Man to me, you’ll always remain,
And you will be born as a story again.

Em and the Big Hoom: A review

Set in a 1BHK flat in Mahim, Bombay, the story talks of Em, the manic-depressive mother of the narrator prone to microweathers, the simple love story of Imelda(Em) and Augustine (the Big Hoom), or Angel Ears as Em calls him, her memories, her letters, the wants of a child for a normal, non-dysfunctional family, the views of a neo-atheist, the relentless pursuit of some semblance of normalcy(what is normal anyway?) and how children are ‘parents’ to their parents.

Em with her uncontrollable mouth and a sense of humor that would make you giggle despite the darkness of it all, is someone you’d fondly remember long after you close the book. She is, of course, the center of the story.
Hozzinner, or the Big Hoom is the stark portrayal of the unbelievable beauty of love, responsibility and the person who loves the challenge of life.
The love between the two of them, the course of their courtship-especially the  bookstore moments, the letters, the marriage-all of it is simply moving.

 ‘I am no I. I am now a part of a we. Wee wee wee!’

 

Susan, portrayed as the stoic sister and the reasonable one reminds you of the too-early responsibilities as a daughter and matriarchal feel that comes with it.

 

‘I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to deal with the world. It seemed too big and demanding and there wasn’t a fixed syllabus.’

The journey of an adolescent, learning to ‘deal with the world’, the fears of what the future holds, the fear of being afflicted with the disorder by heredity, the acceptance that comes with having and loving a mother with mental illness is what makes the narrator the most fascinating character in the tale.

 

Bombay has been described all too well-the love for arts, the Marine drive, the local food–Coke float especially, the curses that are thrown so carelessly, the crowd, the palpable energy- the imagery of it all makes you fall in love all over again for the city that breathes for itself.

 

Pinto is quite a genius with dialogue-the flow with which the story is narrated is truly intriguing and yet, pretty easy.
The sprinkling of quotes here and there laden with wisdom makes for a truly remarkable journey.
While this is a book about mental illness, it is also a book about looking for and finding both humor and hope in despair, and it is about the defeat of despair.
Em and the Big Hoom is a gentle and a well-told tale, a pleasure to the end.

Travel

Travel is stinky restrooms and small beds. It is the cold night and a warm heart. It is being unable to sleep because silence is deafening. It is scribbling in your diary and sketching that brooding man’s face. It is whizzing greenery, people and windows. It is chaiwalas at 2 in the morning and eating cold maggi. It is animated taxi drivers and over-enthusiastic guides and photographers.

It is strange conversations with normal people. It is playing cards with total strangers and sharing your earphones with them. It is smiling at that cute boy and then looking elsewhere. It is consoling a tantrum throwing kid and playing Aao Meena with it. It is listening to a family discussing the newest addition to the family and smiling despite the blatant criticisms. It is trusting that stranger by holding his hand while climbing the steep slope. It is wandering the same place repeatedly, without realizing it and laughing over the silliness of it all. It is that couple kissing in the corner of the cave, oblivious to their audience. It is the numbness in your legs, and a hot, scented bath after a long day. It is understanding not just the map of the place but also of your fellow travellers. It is sharing a bottle of cold lemonade and arguing over different cuisines. It is getting bitten by an unknown insect and following a local’s instructions on the medication.

It is the overpriced DIY products and free toothbrush, toothpaste, facewipes and soap. It is CCD at every few miles. It is McDonald’s being cheaper than Sai Ratna Vada Pav. It is many Polaroid  photographs of things that make no sense. It is a toothy grin by a rugged, scary-looking passerby. It is that painter at the end of the street. It is that girl who shows you the direction because Google map can’t seem to help. It is that beautiful Church. It is downing 10 glasses of virgin Mojitos just because you feel like it. It is that group of foreigners you dance with, forgetting your stage fear. It is exchanging your email id with this babbling teenager, just because she reminds you of your past self. It is that blind girl selling beautiful earrings.

Traveling is escaping without escaping anything at all. It is like reading a book-finding something new, something amazing, every time you open it. It is a realization. It is self-actualization. It is knowing everything is worth it all. It is not just euphoria-it is peace.

Fear

When I was younger, I used to think of a hospital as a sign of hope. Hospitals, for me, were a place where even the most dysfunctional families united, paving way for some reconciliation. They were a place where the innate character of a person was easily visible. It was a battlefield, and we, the warriors. It was the simplest act of life fighting for itself. It was fascinating.

Death never had any control over my fears. I was, you could say, indifferent to the idea of death. Death was neither a friend, nor an enemy. It was a stranger- that homeless man that frequented your street so often, the rugged wariness around his eyes ingrained in your brain- and hence, very familiar too. Once Deathly Hallows happened, it was gratifying to realize that death had no pain, no suffering, and most of all- no numbness, emptiness.  Death was all white. Peace, I guess. A phase. A transition. And the next great adventure, as Dumbledore so aptly put it. Thereafter, I associated Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes to Death. There was a sense of security there, somehow.

However, something changed. Recently, as I walked past the hospital that I so often pass by, I choked up. Something gripped at me. I couldn’t pinpoint to what it was. I did not want to think of it as fear or an anxiety attack. On pondering over it obsessively, I realized that that was exactly what it was. I was suddenly afraid of Death. Why though? What had changed between then and now?

It wasn’t the fear of growing old.

It was the simplest part of this process of growing up.

It was the fear of not being enough- getting too close to something and not reaching it anyway. It was the greed for more, for more of everything. It was not exactly the passion for life, either. Just plain old greed.

As of now, the smell of blood, of phenol, of spirit is what I associate Death with.

Do Not

Do not let the swamp of rejection fool you

They come bearing vulnus, insecurus and misfortune

Do not let those twinkling caramel eyes blind you

They dazzle for a reason

Do not let the fire of a soul burn you

They’re made of stars too

Do not let the chasm between the not-quite and not-at-all scare you

It ain’t too deep

Do not let the lonely expectations of life take away what could’ve been

Live. See. Be.