Thursday, June 26

The God of Small Things

Everyone has a soul song. I have a soul book. I have never connected with any piece of literature,music or movie the way I have connected with "The God of Small Things".

I love the book.

The first time I read this book was in 1998, I think. I could not get prints of the book at Patna, so I picked up a friend's copy and photocopied it shamelessly.

Arundhati Roy had happened to the literary scene. Everyone had sung their paeans. Jug Suraiya ( Juguleir vein, TOI) had dedicated a Sunday column to her, so awestruck was he by this literary wonder. Bunny his wife met Arundhati Roy and said - Its a pleasure to shake the hand that wrote " The god of small things." India today had devoted another two pages to her excerpts beside a review. I was very curious.

I am glad I did what I did.I read the book first time on a photocopied print under a yellow bulb in the wee hours of night.

Arundhati's in-the-face story, her complete disregard for social mores and above all the child eye through which the story was told gnawed at my heart. There was a bittersweet after taste that lasted for many days.

But above all, I loved the English, the way she rotated the words, deadly red was redly dead. Later became Lay-ter. Sharp dialogues found its way : 'History's henchmen came to retrieve its detractors." and "It was the culmination of What will Sophie Mol think week?"


I was in TISS, when Arundhati Roy was invited to campus for her stand on the Narmada issue. Let me go on record to say that's the only social work seminar I attended at the campus. My reasons were far more personal. I wanted to see the person who wrote GOST. Probably get a fleeting glimpse of the heart that could feel so passionately and the mind that could pour it out. Without edits.


She was short, frail, very fragile, her description of protagonist in the book is actually her own description and no wonder it is so heartbreaking. What better way to write about love and loss than to tour your own innards.


I went back to the library and pulled out the book again and read it cover to cover this time.

And I wept. My favorite remains this passage

" In that brief moment, Velutha looked up and saw things, he hadn't seen before. Things that had been out of bounds so far, obscured by history's blinkers.

Simple things.

For instance, he saw that Rahel's mother was a woman.

That she had deep dimples when she smiled and that stayed on long after her smile left her eyes.He saw that her brown arms were round and firm and perfect. That her shoulders shown, but her eyes were somewhere else.He saw that when he gave her gifts they no longer needed to be offered flat on the palms of his hand so that she wouldn't have to touch him. His boats and boxes. His little windmills. He saw that he was not necessarily the only giver of gifts. That she had gifts to give him too.


Chapter : Welcome home, our Sophie Mol ( pg 176-177)

The second time, I was stunned by the chill that spawned after I read the book. The brutality of Love Laws , which lay who should be loved and how and how much.

The loss that permeated you long after you left the book was like damp walls after rains. I psychoanalysed Rahel in my psychoanalysis assignment and got straight A with no background in the subject, so high was my involvement with the book.

Since then , I have read this book four times over. There were nights when I would just open a page and read it. Sometimes I cried for Sophie Mol, sometimes I traveled with Estha Mon in Chennai mail towards a silent future. Sometimes, I sat at the banks of river Meenanchal and saw them , the untouchable and the touchable, making love ( How could she stand the smell? observes Baby Kochammma) breaking the laws of love, offending history. And sometimes, I stomped the paravan with my history boots and legitimate handcuffs.

GOST is more than a book to me, its an expression of loss and sadness that comes with it.

Lunatic sadness.

Its a pity Ms. Roy hasn't written another book. And she contends herself with caustic data rich, opinion laden essays. But then maybe its a blessing in disguise.

There can be only one god. " The god of small things".

Wednesday, June 25

Oh! Please

Is somebody aware of this large scale mindless production ?







Mysterious death makes so much sense for media, the frenzy to dish out"lack of information" to an extremely perverted audience, which watches this and and makes depravity in media a vicious circle.

I want to remember the 14 year old girl who died. Her life unlived.

Here's to the memory of Arushi Talwar

A 14 year old girl had died
Pretty and bright
Nice smile, kohl eyed

Fourteen is a
lovely age to be,
Its when you tuck your skirt
Many inches above the knee,
And grow like vine,
Around a strong tree

That age, neither child,
Nor adult, is the best.
You giggle at the swell
Of your own chest.
And sigh and long,
For love forlorn.

It is that age when you ask,
Yourself too many things,
And believe in human beings.
It’s when you see dreams
And resolve to make them true,
You want to change the world
Without half a clue

You like rock music
And all such noise
You dance awkward
You lack poise.
You feel pretty
Wear real junk
You tread the other road
A stolen swig, a long puff
And try some other stuff

Sometimes, only sometimes
(If you have real talent for trouble)
My friend, you blow
On most occasions, you just grow

Out of a fourteen year old skein
Into an adult mould
And your story stays
To be told and re- told

But this girl
This fourteen year old
Was murdered in cold blood
She died, no shriek, no thud
She would not date, love
She would not be nor grow
Who she would have been
You & I would never know.

Thursday, June 12

Disengagement

You never call,
When I was your
age, I wrote
yellow postcards,
to my mom
every weekend.
She kept
them safe
in a
rickety brown
Cupboard
and I took them
All
Before she died

(She wondered if
They still make any
postcards anymore
She made
a mental note
to Google it.)


I like what you wear
Fashion, you know is
a strange animal
It prowls
At fixed intervals
This cut was a rage
In my time too

( She wondered
What she meant by time
How would one know
There time was over
And done with
Their part played
They need to bow
And leave the stage)


You know, one
should pray
Once a day
Nothing much
Just stand
As such
And light a lamp
That’s all
It will give peace
(and slowly)
Rest is your call

( She thought of
The pink poster
Stuck on a wall
It screeched
" Bad marriage
Erection problems
Low sex drive
No issues
All kinds of treatment
Are done
Don’t lose heart
Just visit us")


Every time
I step out
I am reminded
Of him
Shrouded
In saffron
I cant take
it off my mind
It’s a very bad time
We are living in.

(The smell
Of death fills
Her nostrils
It’s a strange smell
Of medicine and oil
camphor and incense
It seeps everywhere
And the breeze from
The balcony
Does not help)


And then
finally
Fatigued by her
stony silence
She broached what
hung in air
for a long time
We missed you
when that day
came back to haunt us
I wish you were
There
When we fed the
Poor
together

(She knew
It was the final provocation
To a conversation
The last of all
The dreaded topics
Touched
The sanctorum
Desecrated )


She deliberated
An argument
Would mean
Bad headache
Hoarse throat
And no sleep

So she turned
And slept like
A log
Dreamt of beggars
Eating food
And saw the town
Reeling under floods
And woke up with
A bad start to
A new day

Tuesday, June 10

Bangalore

It had started raining. Bombay looked washed from my balcony. The air was misty, and the excuse of a tree outside my balcony looked green and lush.

I was reminded of Bangalore. I cant live in Bangalore for probably the same reasons as any where else in the country except Bombay. And though Raj Thackarey thinks he can change that, he can't, because it is difficult to kill the core of a city.

The core of Bombay is absorption. Osmosis. That’s what Bombay stands for. Try something else Raj.

I remember Bangalore in many strange ways. It has nothing to do with the city, it was about me.

Bangalore will always be the city of beginnings for me.

Too many beginnings.

Of Job life. Of living alone. Of too many questions and too few answers.

I was tugging at my umbilical cord in a strangely traditional town. A town fueled by IT growth, a town in a curious cusp. Bangalore was tugging at its own umbilical cord.

I started my life in a pigeon hole paying guest accommodation in Bangalore. Like the rest of my generation. At 7 am the sharp ring of the bell woke us up for idlis & garlic chutney doled on plastic plates.PGs in Bangalore were amazing in their space management antics or just plain antics. Two horror stories have made it to this blog.

Back from work one day, we discovered the rooms had been rented out in the afternoon to a college to conduct GDs for an entrance exams. My space was invaded, the loos were stinking of too many strangers.

After shouting my gut out at the PG lady stung by her unfairness , I just sobbed sitting on my bed. Adulthood had begun.

Nothing like what was to follow in the days to come

We all hate the claustrophobia that sets in with sharing toilet seats but consider this.In Bangalore city in the year 2001, a woman who paid for her paying guest accommodation was denied entrance because she failed to make the 9 p.m. cut.

I stormed out next morning. I rented my own place. That was the first time I fought against something I didn’t believe in. These days I do it out of sheer habit.

Life was competitive, individuality stifled and the vast IT deluge was producing too many clones. I wanted it out.

I was changing. Bangalore was the place where I first hung up on my mom on something I found unreasonable. In that sleepy little town I flirted with religion and jettisoned it for a practical existence. I tried finding myself. At times I fell. At times I made it.

Most importantly I understood loss. Real loss.

I lost something inexplicable in my hurry to grow up. I bartered it for a non existent adulthood. It was a hopeless exchange.

And one day walking on Marine Drives in the rains on an extended holiday, I decided that Bangalore & I were at loggerheads on too many things. I could not take the chutney mornings and the rasam evenings.

And I left.

Monday, June 9

On death

You were dying in an ICU
In a 5 ft wide bed
With another old man
Dying beside you
He came before you
Was much older also
But you overtook him
True to your habit
I remember the days
When you would wake up first
And read the paper first
So you over took
This slow rickety bullock
Of a man
Who was 90 years of age
He was waiting to die
His relatives tired of his speed
Left his bedside
To rest enough
To come back
When he got his act together
And died
But you had no such patience
You died
Without much thought
And little restraint
Like a newspaper
That dies every sunset
Lies cold and crumpled
And completely read
That evening
It carried the news of a man
Who died
Survived by a proper widow
Two deviant daughters
And a dutiful son

Tuesday, June 3

Monday, June 2

one more beginning

I have started a new food blog

Do check out


www.aromainthewok.blogspot.com