Thursday, August 29, 2013

Me-Time


 
On the twenty-first, my wife returned after a trip with her girl-friends.
‘How was it?’ I asked her.
‘It was fantastic,’ she replied. ‘I needed that.’
I nodded. It made me feel understanding.
‘I am going for a trip too,’ I told her and when she raised an eyebrow, I added, ‘next weekend.’
‘Are you going with your friends?’ she asked.
‘No.’
‘Are you going alone?’
‘Yes.’
She frowned. Our private moment was interrupted by the arrival of our kids from school.
That night, I told the kids. I am not sure they heard me. The next day, I told my boss. I didn’t have to because I was going to be away during a weekend. But I was supposed to be reachable twenty four-seven. My boss frowned. I informed the team. I think they wished me a good trip. They were busy with an important project.
This morning, I left on the early morning flight. I took a taxi to the airport. My wife had offered to drop me but I insisted on setting out alone. She had shrugged. My kids were asleep when I left.
I checked in at the resort. I lay down on the soft bed. My mobile lay next to me.
‘It will start ringing now,’ I told myself. ‘Darling, did you pay the phone bill? Papa, bring such-and-such game. Did you send your review?’ I could hear their voices.
Before going for lunch, I called my wife.
‘How are you?’ she said. ‘Hey, some friends are here for lunch… let me call you back later…’ She called out to our son.
‘Mama, how do I do this sum?’ I heard him say in the background.  My daughter came on the line, ‘Papa, I am watching Big Bang Theory.’ She gave it back to my wife.
‘Can she watch Big Bang Theory?’ I asked my wife.
‘Silly… it is some science channel. Hey, I have got to go…’
I had a quiet lunch in an empty restaurant.
At three, a text message from the boss interrupted a fitful siesta, ‘where is the review?’
I was typing my reply when I got another message, ‘sent to wrong person.’
I smoked a cigarette, had a long shower, and drank beer at the bar during happy hour. I had a quiet dinner in another empty restaurant.
I went to the casino. I smiled to be friendly. The guy sitting next to me moved away. The lady in mini-skirt sitting opposite frowned. The two men with her frowned too. I lost the day’s quota quickly and went back to my room.
I lay on the bed. My mobile lay next to me. I reached for the writing pad and pencil on the bedside table. I wrote this note. I have one page left. That should be enough to fit in tomorrow.

Planting Roots


 
My granddaughter arrived yesterday. ‘To see you,’ she said. 
The last time I saw her, twenty years back, she was a new-born baby for me and my wife to baby-sit. I should blame my son for the long absence, but I don’t. It stopped bothering me long back.
The granddaughter came to the point quickly, ‘I am a writer.’
I nodded.
She added, ‘I want to write about you.’
I kept on nodding.
She said, ‘I want to write about your village life. How you met and married Grandma. How it was to love in those days.’
I thought to myself, ‘I met her the day after the wedding. Anyway… since your Grandma is dead, I could tell you about our love, I guess.’
She was going through a list, ‘The oppression you faced. Caste, language, region, religion, why you made Dad leave.’
‘Why I made your father leave?’ I wondered.
‘Can’t you write about your Dad’s struggles there?’ I asked.
‘It’s been written,’ she replied.
‘People have written about your Dad?’ I tried not to sound incredulous.
‘No. I meant, others have written such stuff.’
‘But, haven’t people written about my stuff, too?
‘They have. But I am trying a new angle.’
‘Ah,’ I thought. I could not think of anything better.
‘I plan to start the book with your life in Mumbai,’ she informed.
‘Why? What happened in Bombay?’ I was curious.
‘Books on India usually start there.’
‘Ah.’
‘So, when shall we start?’ she sounded like my son when he wanted me to play football with him. When was that? Eighty years back? I am quite sure he won’t remember that. ‘Football, you mean soccer?’ he will probably say now.
‘Let’s start tomorrow,’ I told my granddaughter. ‘I am tired today.’ I am old. I am supposed to feel tired.
‘Cool.’ She looked happy, as if she had already finished her novel.
I didn’t sleep last night. I think I have enough stories for her novel. That’s all I can give her. Let that be her roots.
 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

2 Days in Kovalam


Focusing on Beauty

Carg├Ęse (2000)


Kovalam (2013)




Solitude, was it you?
The brief warmth I felt against my side.
Or, was it you, Loneliness?
The lingering chill I felt without her.
 I tried hard to focus on beauty
But tears and memories played spoil-sport.
Alone,
I focused on beauty.
I saw her with Him.
There is no place for me.