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.

Books I Could Not Read

I guess this is a strange post for a person who is such an avid book-lover. However, this is the first time that I borrowed four books from the library, and I could not bring myself to complete even one of them! That in itself is such a remarkable event that it’s worth recording.

The four offending books are:
1. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. This was a book I plunged straight into and I found it really engrossing in the beginning. A few hundred pages later, and I became weary of it. There was nothing uplifting about it, the characters were all rather dreary and just f***ing around with each other, and even that was so listless. I gave up half-way. There’s enough gloominess and ennui in the real world without having to be subject to it in a concentrated form through this book.

2. Letters from a Father to his Daughter by Jawaharlal Nehru: I tried very hard to be impressed by the fact that he was in prison when he wrote this, and his daughter was just ten years old, but honestly, it did nothing for me. I felt like I was reading Lil D’s school book.

3. Migraine by Oliver Sacks: I love anything related to the human brain, and enjoyed greatly his earlier book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. This book, however, was a huge mistake because I did not open it before borrowing it. Horror of horrors, the print was so fine that I actually tried reading it with a magnifying glass, and then gave up. It was ironical — I could have ended up with a horrid migraine reading this book!

4. A book that will not be named. It was by an Indian author and I don’t want to take names, but this was just unreadable. I barely skimmed a couple of pages, then gave up and shut the book.

So, there it is. A day I never thought I would see. A sad day for me. :(

A Matter of Trust

In my school days, we had a Hindi lesson about a very good and pious man called Baba Bharathi, who possesses a beautiful horse. A notorious dacoit Khadak Singh (if I remember right) desires the horse. So he poses as a beggar in distress, and when Baba Bharathi goes to help him, he seizes the horse. Baba Bharathi stops him, not to recover the horse, but to tell the dacoit not to reveal this incident to anyone, because then no one will ever trust a person in need and help him out. His words affect Khadak Singh to such an extent that in the dead of the night, he returns the horse, much to Baba Bharathi’s surprise and delight.

I remember this story now because in one stroke, Mustafa the rapist has destroyed the trust parents repose in the school their wards go to. Now everyone is suspect, school staff are viewed with a jaundiced eye, and parents can never rest easy.

Not that these things never happened before. How many reports have we read of abuses in government schools? But we haven’t bothered because it didn’t affect our world directly. Now that this has happened in a school that one of our own kids could possibly go to, we are hit in the stomach. The invaluable bond of trust between teachers and parents has been breached.

For all the teachers out there who are striving tirelessly, this comes as an added blow. Not only are they busting their chops to do the rather thankless job of educating the children, but now they have to deal with the entire burden of suspicion. Being a teacher is not easy at all, and my sympathies are with the teachers who try so hard to do a good job.

This incident has made everything so much worse in terms of trust. We learn not to trust anyone, and we teach our kids not to trust anyone either. This does not bode well for the future, where trust becomes a low-value commodity.

What we can hope for is:
a) better CSA education by both parents and the school
b) more stringent checks on staff backgrounds
c) more random checks at school to lower the probability of this happening
d) more accountability from schools for the safety of the children
e) and most importantly, swift justice and stiff penalties for such abusers

As I was remarking to a friend before all this happened, I am so tired of protecting my child from all that is horrible in this world. Sometimes, it feels almost a waste of time to focus on the positives.

But then, that’s all we can do, the best we can do, and what we simply must do, in order to survive, right? Sigh. Some days, existence itself seems rather futile.