The Listener

An early Sunday morning-why-can’t-I-sleep-late-dammit-browse. A cue. An idea. A burst of writing. Hit ‘Send’.

Write it. Forget it. It was literally that.

Today, I remembered, and thought to check in. Nearly overlooked it. But it’s actually out there. So please read it.

Yes, I’ve still not completely gotten over my blues. But the blue is lighter now. A bit.

Meanwhile, I’m heeding sage advice from Dory: Keep swimming.

Follow The Feet

When I wrote the previous post, I was already in the middle of the worst funk I have ever experienced in my life. Absolutely nothing was penetrating that thick fog I was in the middle of, cold and alone, barely seeing things, just aware of drifting shapes in the periphery.

I was on auto-pilot. I woke up as usual, attended to the house and its inmates, met my deadlines at work, did my usual walk-n-talk exercise routines…nothing was outwardly wrong. But inside, I felt scooped out, hollow, just a shell. I spoke to my inner circle, trying to figure out what was going on. Tried reading, music, exercise, the works, but circled back to the same desperation, the same hopelessness that nothing really mattered any more.

Then, as if clutching at straws, I signed up for a Bollywood dance class. Now I’m not a complete stranger to dance. I prefer choreography. I used to watch the dance-drama ballets on DD avidly. I loved music that ignited my imagination. I thought getting out of the house and moving my body would help.

Picking up the steps required a bit of effort initially, but was not exactly difficult. Remembering the steps was also not an uphill task. But getting the body to follow exact instructions? Ah! That was a different ball-game altogether!

Neurons lying in a state of disrepair and disuse were revived. They wheezed and coughed and grumbled through the cobwebs and dust. The wiring was all faulty. Every now and then, a circuit completed successfully, and a light bulb crackled alive.

I sweated buckets. The blues didn’t miraculously disappear, but they did seem a bit paler with all the flashing lights. The body bent and stretched and twisted, the mind untwisted and relaxed a little.

Then, this Navaratri, non-stop garba/dandiya filled my world for a slice of time with other colours: reds and yellows, oranges and greens, mirrors and silver that caught and reflected the light in a hundred different directions. Step by step.

I’m learning to let my body take over for a change, to follow my feet. Let’s see where they lead me.

Nothing More To Say

I took a Songwriting course on Coursera last year around this time. Needless to say, it was an awesome course and made me marvel at how little things mattered when it came to perfection.

Here’s one of the songs I wrote. I like this song. I like the melody I put it to. It’s mournful, it’s fatalistic, it’s very me.

NOTHING MORE TO SAY

Searching for the right words
Diving deep
where the shadows weep
Chasing hidden pearls
But when I paddle to the shore
it’s clear I have
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say

Always been a winner
Soared up high
Where the angels guide
Basking in the shimmer
the spotlight shone on my soul
I smiled — I had
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say

Move on
Gotta move on
Move on
Move on move on move on move on

Fighting harsh terrain
This darkness grows
And the ghosts encroach
Breaking under strain
And when I curl up on the floor
I know I have
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say
Nothing more to say

I think I’ve reached that point. I’m tired of all the noise. I’m curled up on the floor. I really have nothing more to say.

I’ll be back when I do have something to say.

Until then, hasta la vista, baby.

Raking It In

Though my tagline says that “Thoughts fall around me…”, I have seldom (I think never, actually) written on a collection of thoughts. I normally choose one thought and write on it. Today however, I feel like raking it all up and cleaning up the mental garden. So here goes:

1. Had an interesting discussion with another mother on how never to lose your temper with your child, and how to always allow them to choose between multiple choices. My take? We, the parents, are human too. We will lose our tempers now and then. Doesn’t mean we are terrible parents. I think the important thing for us is to ensure that the children understand that feelings are not all that bad, showing feelings is natural, and at the end of the day, even if we lose our tempers some times, we still love them and will always be there for them. Honestly, I think never losing your temper and discussing everything in an eerily calm manner is unnatural and unreal, and not a realistic environment for a kid to grow in. Tempers are lost; how we recover is an equally important life skill.

The other thing is about choices. I’m all for giving choices, but isn’t it equally important for kids to realize that sometimes there’s really no choice (or Hobson’s choice at best, if you insist)? Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it (like going to school! :D), no?

All in all, I stand by my view that parenting ought to be tailored to the personality of the kids and their needs. Blindly adopting popular fads is rather risky.

2. I just hate old age. I’ve begun to hate it with a vengeance. The way it erodes the confidence, wreaks havoc on the body, plays games with the mind, strips dignity, burdens with helplessness… I feel I will never wish anyone “Aayushman bhav” again!

3. I attended a meditation class. My left brain always starts to tingle during the initial stages of any kind of meditation. This time, apart from the tingling, tears just rolled down my cheeks. I didn’t really feel any emotion, it was just tears rolling down. I felt incurious about them. I just let them roll their way down and they dried out on their own. Apparently, it is an outlet for suppressed emotions (from what I read up on the internet). Really?

4. Was reading up on depression and suicides and then Robin Williams happened. Almost as if it was inevitable. The way this fantastic person touched so many lives was almost too much to behold. The outpourings of grief were genuine, aching, the tears heartfelt. The inherent goodness some people possess shines through (like Kannada superstar Dr. Rajkumar).

5. Maids are both a blessing and a pain. Managing them takes more than an MBA.

6. I sometimes surprise myself with the amount of work I manage to fit into a day. Some days I’m so lazy, but the days that are packed teach me how strong I can really be. The proverbial last straw on the back is still a few straws away.

7. My body’s grown rusty. It creaks and needs oiling. I’m still making up excuses. When will I ever learn?

There — all nicely raked up into a heap.

OK, a few stray ones here and there, but I will ignore them for now. :)

Budding Writers

I was invited by the children’s book club in our apartment complex to give a talk as a “writer”. I am still not at all comfortable with that designation, though I can claim to have books in my name! :)

Preparing for a talk with kids is always a challenge. The sheer unpredictability of the audience is what makes it so worthwhile. This was no different. I prepared a fun hand-out, and read up on the most popular authors that kids adore — Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, and J K Rowling.

There were about a dozen kids (including Lil D, who joined the book club on her own, much to my surprise!), and my introduction was typical — I was introduced as Lil D’s mother :) (She is more popular in the apartment complex by far)

I began with introductions and from that moment on, there was no stopping. The kids were so lively, so full of ideas, so keen on everything, and most important, so passionate about books. It was so heartening to see the way they devoured books, absorbing and internalizing every little detail. They were bursting with information, especially about Roald Dahl.

There was a memorable moment when one boy just stood up, picked up a book, turned to the right page, and read out a complete episode about Roald Dahl in connection with what we were discussing! The kids needed absolutely no prompting, and the hour passed by so quickly that I was surprised.

I was happy that I was able to contribute in some small way, but I must say that kids these days (yeah, that cliche!) are just too cool. One girl had this book where she had neatly written down her stories complete with gorgeous illustrations. I was so impressed!

Every single one of them wanted to be a writer. When I asked them to imagine their names on books, you could see their eyes sparkling with dreams. I do hope their passion remains strong and it would be so grand if one of them (or all of them!) does turn out to be a successful writer!

The entire encounter warmed my cynical old soul. The icing on the cake was the fact that so many kids waved hello to me when I went for my evening walk a few days later! Such a lovely experience, all in all.

Grey Matter

What a coincidence that I came across this article today, when I was mulling on the very same topic.

I decided to go grey abruptly in the middle of summer. The salon is just not one of my favourite spots to hang out. As my dye began fading away, I began dreading the countdown to the next salon visit. And then, just like that, I didn’t go. I felt a bit conscious that the grey was noticeably visible now. Lil D hated it. My mom and sis were like what’s the matter with you? But I just didn’t feel the urge any more. To hell with it, I thought. Life is not worth living if you have to worry about grey streaks every twenty days!

I don’t find it liberating in any sense, except for the fact that I don’t have to overcome my reluctance and trudge down to the salon yet again. Sometimes I can see what a difference hair colour would make. Then again, I think I’m ok. I tell Lil D going grey is in fashion. She pouts and walks away, unconvinced. I realize it doesn’t bother me any more.

Deep down inside, I’m actually looking forward to the day when I have a glorious mane of silver hair. It would look so cool, wouldn’t it? I’d simply love that! :)

Stuff (and Nonsense)

I’m sitting in an almost empty living room. Just a couple of chairs and end-tables. The rest of the room stretches out, an inviting bare expanse in which our voices echo.

Our sofa has become sick. Sick of me, I think; I keep sitting on it the whole day! So it’s off to the sofa-doctors, and we are left with this lovely space that makes me breathe in more deeply.

Why do we accumulate so much stuff? Even as I write this, I can see two whole cupboards of stuff we’ve picked up on our travels. Kerala, Goa, London, Lucerne. The Channapatna doll, the tribal from Andamans, the shell from Rameshwaram, the camel from Rajasthan. Stuff I don’t honestly care about. Stuff I would never miss if I gave it all away. Memories? Yeah, they’re in my head, whatever’s memorable, that is.

We clear out our clutter regularly. Give away clothes, books, pots and pans, toys, linen, you name it. Yet it grows, like bacteria multiplying in a culture. Jumps out at you when you open cupboards, keeps you awake at night.

When my uncle passed away, it opened my eyes. An entire house reduced to a single suitcase, most of which was trash. Anything of use that he possessed disappeared swiftly. Nothing could be taken along for the final ride anyway. A lesson worth learning.

The sofa will come back and occupy all the blank space. I will sit on it, day after day, looking at all the stuff around me. There’s no way I’m going to get rid of all of it. Someone else can do that after I’m gone.