Friday, July 29, 2016

of Serendipity and Sonals

Sonals, Agarwal & Singh
The first time I set my eyes on her, she was dancing without a care in the world. I was to realize later that that’s her general way of being – without a care in the world.

I knew I was going to be the second Sonal in B204; but had no idea of the first. But Sonal the Agarwal believes in no pretence. She looked at me with undisguised apprehension, sizing me up and down and right and left with her big, curious eyes. She thought to herself, and later to me, that I would make a good flatmate who could clean and cook, since I had worn a sari that day.

That’s the thing about her. She can come to shattering conclusions, with such guileless good faith, that you can’t help but love her more. No wonder I dote on her. No wonder many others do.

Candid could be her middle name. There is no time lost between thoughts as they occur to her and as they come out from her. She tells me with a deadpan expression that I need to change my sandals from ‘aunty-like’ to something peppier. I try, and end up with pained calf muscles. She sees me being pestered by a religious fanatic to buy some Krishna gospel, and she shouts at him to leave me alone. Then she scolds me for being tolerant with idiots. Like a parent she advices me to get married, and like a friend she coxes me to imagine how much ‘fun’ it’s gonna be. She enquires into mine and her friends’ private lives with such detail and good intention that laughter overpowers awkwardness (she resembles my grandmother in that sense). She considers my obsession with reading, writing, cleaning, swimming as a respectable mental illness. She pronounces me to be ‘born to become a bahu’. She is ambitious, fearless, bold & original – qualities that endear her to everyone unafraid. And to reiterate what a friend said: for a girl in a profession including maths, she is incredibly hawt!

Patience and sophistication could never win her favours. Her fingers work like blitzkrieg on the excel sheet. She admits frank loathing for cooking, and tosses up great food within minutes. Her standard expressions include dramatic rounding of eyes, extra-dramatic movement of hands synced with the pitch of her voice, messing around with her hair, walking off with a swagger and laughing hysterically and noiselessly at the same time. She makes O sounds while consuming Lindt chocolates. She decides that girls in the house are gonna address each other as Baby because it’s so affectionately cool. She is thrilled driving a scooty on rainy Goa roads, with me on the pillion, and our other two flat mates on the bike ahead, so she screams with pleasure at every onlooker: girls like to swing, baby!

But make no mistake. Don’t confuse her carefreeness with carelessness. If ever you look around for help, you’ll see her there already working up a remedy.

So here’s to the Namkeen element of the house & my cherished chai partner on her 26th: Please Be More of You. Each day of your Life.

Why? Because there’s no other that original.


Monday, June 27, 2016

A letter to Beloved

Dear Rain,

You had been hiding from me for quite a while. I looked around, searched every corner for the slightest trace of you. Allowed my heart to run wild at the weakest indication of you coming…the mildest storm; the gurgling thunder, the incipient earthy smell. But you – you kept my heart on a leash, bruising it unfailingly each time. Bumping it over thorny hope. Tantalising. Teasing. Setting the stage for a grand shower, and ending up in a mocking trickle. Why would you do that to a lover so staunch, only your kind will know, some of who are also in my acquaintance.

Like theirs, I know not your reasons. The last I had a meal full of you was in Bokaro. Then came Delhi, dry and unsparing. Merciless and wrathful. Your lack alone keeps the city of my breeding an arm’s length from my heart. It takes moisture, of form and being, to stay in my soul.

But this time, O! beloved, I chased you straight to your roosting place. Goa. And then it dawned upon me – you too had been waiting for me to arrive. At the right place, at the right hour.

The force with which you took me in your arms, lashing at me with all your splendour, throwing open all guards and soaking me straight to the bone…tell me, this unleashing of passion – did it calm you as much as it stilled me?

We both seem to have a thing for unrestrained outpour. We both also house an entire ocean in our hearts – willing to inundate only those grounds with who we are achingly in love. 

Once again, after what seems like ages, I saw you reach out to me with sheer intensity. Without compromise, pretense or promise. You were omnipresent; omnipotent. You woke me each morning with the pitter patter on the roof. A music I had been longing to hear. You greeted me with friendliness, which soon turned to fiery passion, on my morning walk to the sea. The sea responded to your call with a swell so magnificent, that it awed, intimidated, revelled, and fascinated me in equal measures. Even the pool became a series of childish joy when you fell upon it. The roads turned into paintings, the trees a glossy picture, and the horizon a blurred pastel of grey and blue. Entire existence breathed a new lease of life. You came in pearls, you marched in sheets, you poured in torrents. You reigned supreme. And I surrendered. Like I do to your ilk. Every bit yours. Every bit alive. Every bit grateful.

Thank you for reassuring me that you’ll be there, even if conditionally. Thank you for raining down my sorrows, for throwing open the gates that hold a deluge of tears. For healing all that can be healed. And for laying open those wounds that must stay green. Thank you for keeping my soil moist, vulnerable, and fertile.