Marriage. Does it Work? A happy and long Marriage – an oxymoron?

Is it imperative? Does it become a (bad) habit? Must one taste it to reject it? 

Still socially relevant, or are we are better off without it? 

Are they made in heaven after all?

 

Cake marriage

Friendship- the founding Stone

Uhuh, nope, not made in heaven: tis a friendship between two grown-ups, an ever-evolving one. 

What is it, if not a mundane knot, that goes on to unravel a lifelong companionship? These two lovers, as they are, attempt to imbue this ‘sacred and legal tie’ with the perfume of romance, and make it last by some slutty, hormonal boomerang-like monkeying around; many ifs and buts, and juggling the quotidian later, dust begins to settle, more accurately, unsettle this holy bond – albeit, stealthily. This sparkle-free dust mysteriously reappears, routinely, on the slate of marriage, and expects to be cleared up. If you see it not, a thick layer forms pretty quickly. Ignore it at the peril of arriving at that greedy black gown’s doorstep (read divorce lawyer).

 If marriage is based on friendship between two consenting adults- it can and should work. Friends fight. They make up. Friends empathise, and they rally for you. Friends have your back, always. Friends also tear apart, and turn distant when they find other more interesting folk, after years of knowing you. You’ve become predictable and boring and lost your sense of humour, so friends drift apart, and away, as is the hum in the stream of things matrimonial.  Later, if this friendship so merits, there’s the cajoling, the apologies, the revival of interest but in a new paradigm.

Sound advice : show the chinks in your armour early on- get them out of the way. And, never ever put your best foot forward- leave it for later. Make your ‘marriage’ rise and shine when the chips are down, because it surely will if timed thus. In any case, the longer the marriage, the harder one must work.

We’ve tried it all – including role play, and drunken nights altho one of us doesn’t care for any drink that’s alcoholic in nature. Sacrificing juice for whiskey- now that’s what i call a selfless act! What would you call it?

What i say is not new- the world out there knows that holy matrimony is only holy insofar as you work at and out its holiness.I know that, I’m married. We work hard. There are dips, and there are highs. We work through them. The romance rumbles, it blossoms, and prospers, touching new highs when apart;Distance, an imperative to keep the embers glowing, if not aroused. 

The home is flooded with light, the afterglow of a fire even. Don’t let that spark go to seed, fan it consistently, go on surprise date nights, use Alexa unabashedly- let her flood your home with sweet music.

We do.

If there’s a paucity of free flowing funds- depends on how much money is needed for ‘true’ happiness, eh! Quite a lot I reckon. Look around you – most joyful companionships, legal ones, are sitting on a huge pile of, yep, you got it, green bucks. Not all though, not all.

Outlaw Attack

Where there is (love) marriage, can In-laws be far behind? Can a marriage survive its In-laws? I don’t know.  Uncertain tremors as I ponder on this perennial cliffhanger of a question. They say, one marries a family, not just the guy or the girl; true, especially so in India. But being able to voice one’s grief, and one’s torment to the child of the said In-laws- can provide succor and much-needed balance. If the parental space is sacrosanct, then things can get pretty vicious and nasty. Not being able to call it like it is- now that’s hard, and damaging. 

We need to air the voice of dissent. The resented spouse is (usually) persecuted by the Laws, albeit often in very subtle and shrewd ways. That is sensed by the oppressed. The One being hunted needs to be able to vent. Behind closed doors. We did.

It is okay to feel resentful about the other’s parents, it’s okay to want them to not overstay. It’s also perfectly okay to want to start one’s life as adults, and live apart from the Laws. Often seen as taboo, or unmentionable, makes a marriage rather unhealthy. There’s always a way around it. Live close-by but not under the same roof, especially not managing the same kitchen, heaven forbid! Not happening.

I am all for loving and serving one’s parents- piecemeal. Be there when needed, don’t be there all the time…it’s detrimental to any relationship. In-law love flourishes in the gap between your home and theirs.

Reversal of Fortune 

Leaving the In-laws where they are, let me take on the arena of our imaginary ideas about Marriage, fed by society including one’s own experience at home – let me just say, once you are in it, a lot of our hardcore beliefs are turned on their head, especially if we’ve grown up under the umbrella of our parent’s bad marriage, and more so, if it’s been a good one. 

Start fresh. Get rid of brain-fluff, and dry-clean that area in the head which is marked:

Human Marriage – do’s and don’ts

Try not to keep a score sheet.

Well, it’s a bit like setting yoghurt, innit! You warm the milk, but do not heat it. A terracotta bowl is lined with the perfect bits of homemade yoghurt to aid the process (impossible without). The temperature has to be just so, in order to produce the most creamy, soft to the touch, white bowl of delicious curd, which mustn’t  let off water. To achieve such yoghurt sounds dead easy, however it takes patience, skill and affection. Do not undermine the power of a sweet melody sung to your settling yoghurt!

What you put into that bowl – the perfectly luke-warmed milk, full-cream preferably, is what you will be served, sweetened or just as it is. The reverse will happen, if you do not attend to it in time, and leave it unattended and standing beyond its time: it sours, it curdles and can go rancid. Ultimately the expertise wielded will be yours to expedite.

You’ve permitted the rot of bitterness to creep in, and left  unattended the hurts hurled in stressful times, on time. It’s all about timing isn’t it? It’s all about not waiting it out too long. It’s about taking the heat off, and holding hands every once in a while, and above all, it’s about mindfulness.

In the meantime, marriage counselors are thriving. There’s hope yet, for at least one seeks remedies. 

Do Children cement marriages that aren’t rolling?

We often hear an older parent meting out good counsel, inevitably unasked for, “Have kids and all will be well dear child.”

“Kids are the solution to your failing marriage, trust me.” 

“Nothing like the sound of children’s feet to fill all the cracks that your marriage seems to have developed.” How subtle, and really now, you don’t believe that for a minute! But society is watching, yours, mine, ours.

This simplistic, unreal and catastrophic advice, is telling you to  walk through a summer campsite with no exit route? No, thank you!

Fight

An article in the Guardian says, “Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples. In the event that a pregnancy is unplanned, the parents experience even greater negative impacts on their relationship. The irony is that even as the marital satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them divorcing also declines. So, having children may make you miserable, but you’ll be miserable together.

Parents often become more distant and businesslike with each other as they attend to the details of parenting.”

Counselling in marriage

Of course once the curd is well set, children are welcome, and add zing, joy and flavourful variety. They also oil the wheels of your consistently serviced and tuned up vehicle. It’s an image i find irresistible. When there’s a creak in the crank, pay attention!

However, a marriage that’s a crumbling wall, needs a slight push at its weakest, and kids will do that, unprovoked.  

Marriage Clichés

You’re either a man or a spouse.

You can either live it, or outlive it. 

Marriages are for the weak. 

Marrying your best friend heralds the end of your friendship.

 Husband is the HEAD of the family and wife is the NECK that turns the head around!!

Not all true, but close. 

Unhasty Conclusion

When you’ve found companionship, and wish to tie the knot, know it’s the very beginning of a long road ahead.

You’re aboard an all-terrain vehicle.

Share the driving, it makes it that much more pleasurable- allow each other to see the passing fields, the hills, the gorges, the rivers and lakes, in turn. Thereafter role reversal happens with ease.

An suv is an ideal vehicle, allows room for more than just your breath on the rolled-up window panes, as the case may be.  

A happy marriage is not made in heaven- it’s pretty much a screenplay that you co-write, and co-direct, and then you spend your life, enacting. Tweaking the dialogues, edits and dynamics to suit the era you’re in, is child play if all is a cooperative undertaking.  

Ask me, i’m married and we drive each other around every bend we encounter, laughing all the way. Okay, not every bend, and not all the way, but we do laugh a lot, it keeps the adrenalin on a drip!

Hand holding

– It’s a start-up, do not forget, and will reap dividends, eventually. I’m reaping, what seems like a version of surplus shares.  

Godspeed!

 

 

 

 

 

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O Heavens, it’s a Girl!

 

We sat in the lobby, or reception as it were, surrounded by mothers and children, with various disabilities, or special needs. The Doc’s door opened and shut at regular intervals. Whenever his eyes met ours, he would smile warmly, asking us to be patient- and how well we recognized that expression. We had been patient, and we knew we would require far more with what we were going to share with him. We loved this doc, and we trusted him. We needed to trust him more than ourselves. He’s been our boy’s messiah and friend, and confidant for the longest time. We had just moved to Gurgaon from Bangalore, and we carried news, earth-shattering news, and rushed to share it with him: our son was a girl- he had gender dysphoria! What’s that?

As defined by google : the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex.

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The boy has never had it easy, and therefore nor have we. At age 16 when your male child announces that he is ready to reassign himself to the female lot, you baulk. Why you might ask? Well, for one there had never been any signs thereof- how can one miss seeing the strangeness, which is part and parcel of gender dysphoria, right?

Then, apart from not reading the signs that should have jumped out at

us- he was always a naughty, wicked little fella, up to tricks that are

generally associated with ‘boys’; then he has had umpteen phases of

this and that- and none lasted beyond a week, or a fortnight, at best.

That’s not all. He’s always had girlfriends!

That should seal his boyhood, right? Not right.

What was this noise all about? So our reaction was nothing short of expressions betraying shock and disbelief, and rejection, totally so.

“Okay, so now this….honestly what next?”

“Why this- when did you feel this way, and why now?”

“Honestly, what else are you going to cook up?” “Enough is enough, try and finish your school education- that should be the focus, not another phase for heavens’ sakes!”

We tried shutting it down before it began shaking the family terrain, yet again….but could we?

The boy had been diagnosed with ADHD at 4 and a half years, and hypo mania (borderline bipolar) at age 15. The episodes were so hard for us to handle, and so terrifying, that we had sought help, at 13, when there had been self-harm. Only in Bangalore did a psychiatrist tell us that it was clearly hypo mania and he could very well harm himself irretrievably. Medication was imperative. So that was that, and there were periods of calm, punctuated with periods of manageable unrest. However all through our boy’s life, there has been a kind of indefinable angst, a sentiment that nothing is enough- he has always wanted more than what we’ve considered his fair share. The sister has taken the brunt of most of his riling, his angst, his fears and his grief. None of us could fathom what it was that made him so, what it was that would make him happy; what was it he sought from this world, from us, his family. We plodded on, loving him, taking it in our stride, communicating verbally- seeking therapy of every type- including cranio-sacral, reiki, PLR (past life regression). None of it ever worked because the boy has always outsmarted it all. The only thing that did, partially, was medication, which belongs to the physical world, so once ingested it helped a wee bit. Even in that sphere, he has cheated and even overdosed- to what end? To feel, said he. The day he took all of his tabs, he talked non-stop for ten hours at a stretch, and a lot of it was not gibberish. He repeatedly asked us for our forgiveness for hurting us through his life- for being who he was etc. It broke our hearts to see him spout what he did. Was this the dysphoria that made him thus, I ask myself.

Once he had said to me that he cut himself so that he could feel his body- because he felt nothing, at least hurting himself would yield some feel. But we knew better, we knew that he felt a lot- perhaps too much, but was unable to express what drove him, what exactly he felt. He would cry, then he would laugh. But mostly, his eyes wore an expression of another world- a world we couldn’t parry with, one we could definitely neither enter, nor attempt to understand.

Was all of it this, I ask myself, the dichotomy of his existence- who was he- or was she?

Today, we know our son’s a trans woman- we’ve accepted this fact. The Doc is by his side, as are we. He is on hrt (hormone replacement therapy). I have connected with many trans women, and tried to grasp what they have been through, and what they must continue to live. It is a hard journey in a country like ours, where trans are regarded as half and half- whereas they are wholly one gender or the other, trapped as it were, in the wrong body. I’ve been alerted to the existence of such folk, and the government, bless them, has provided for a third gender- it’s a beginning. Although I still wonder why a reassigned trans, who is then a woman or a man, as the case may be, cannot get the passport he/she merits after surgery?

People empathise with my situation. Friends understand that it can’t be easy, and it isn’t. As my boy undergoes both therapy and HRT, he has mood swings, dizzy spells at work, and nightmares that disallow a long spell of restful sleep. No, it is not easy. I birthed a boy- and I have now to contend with two daughters. Why is it that difficult? I’m not sure. Mostly I suffer with the boy child. I have learnt that the reassignment surgery is tricky as it is painful, and the recuperation thereafter, long, tedious and agonising. Talking to other trans’ helps, and they all say, despite the pain, they would not have it any other way. I didn’t ask for this, nor did the father. Yet, here we are. Time to celebrate perhaps- still the pain that the boy has had to undergo and suffer in silence?

Someone asked me, “But nature doesn’t make mistakes, does it?”

Well, you only have to look around you and see how many trans there are, to know that the possibility, while not huge, exists. Being a parent to a trans woman- it’s got to become my strength, not my weakness. I love my child, very much, and were he to have been born a girl for starters, would I have not loved her all the same? So the point of the matter is that there lies a person within this lean frame- he’s a pretty boy, and a soulful, caring person- a bit lost, a bit unworldly and very talented. I love this person deeply. The boy will soon be the girl- and we will embrace her in her new form with gratitude and complete acceptance. It is we, the parents, who will help the world accept her beauty, with her multifarious capabilities, and so she will start afresh, reborn as it were.

IMG_20180603_172632

Conversations at Kabi

I entrust my feet, and half of my newly-waxed legs into very warm, swirling waters : Heaven with a pinch (the temperature being just a little over perfect). They settle in nicely, my feet, leaving me to savour the ambience this sensory experience is creating. I am already praying, may this last for the rest of the day, when the pedicurist, a stranger, albeit a gentle one, asks me in hushed whispers, “Is okay naa Madam?”

Pedicure
“yes, yes!” I mouth, even as my mind says, ‘shush! let me be, o let me live gently for this one hour of complete unadulterated bliss- using my legs as a means for salvation and a route to higher thinking.’

On cue, Parmod, as this no-longer stranger, calls himself, lets me be for the rest of the pedicuring hour. But does the world let me be? Nah, not a chance!

I pick up my juicy novel, written by a friend, no less, and recommence Paula’s journey, when I overhear snippets of a conversation, that cannot be ignored.

“Arrey, vohi toh, she thinks she’s some angel dropped straight out of heaven,”

Pause

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying yaar, she’s not blameless. I’m sure she’s had it out with others as well. That guy is loaded, why would she….”

Interruption from the other side.

My side is going, “haan, haan, right, right. Husband hai aakhir!” (after all he’s her husband!)

Dialogue pause.
“Ok, so then you dole out advice naa, don’t tell me all this.”

Interruption.

“Ok, so then you tell her naa. I can’t. I won’t. Mujhse toh nahin bola jaayega.” (I won’t be able to spell it out).

A long dialogue ensues ostensibly from the other side. 

“Ok. Theek hai, we’ll catch up tonight at Meena’s, but careful what you say in front of the others haan. Sound sympathetic, abhi toh, you sound like quite a bitch!!”

Titter, titter. Some more laughter, the other side must’ve taken this ‘critique’ well. The laughter I hear is clearly fake and to appease. I can’t suppress a giggle myself.

In the meantime, my legs are being well soaped, lathered and massaged. I remember where I am, and gleefully return to the savouring.

Just as I re-settle myself in the sofa, I hear a young child yelling,

“No, no, don’t cut my hair, nooooo!” Chilled to the bones, I turn back sharply: a little fella is being harassed by three adults. The helpless mother repeatedly asks her son, and not a daughter, which is made clear by her sermon – “If you don’t let bhaiya cut off your locks, you will be girl, not bwoy! Kaatney do, see good man, gentle man, hair uncle.” Hairy uncle would’ve been closer to the truth- the man had hair plentiful.
crying haircut

I get the gender bias, and it irks me. The kid would not stop protesting, and my gentle pedicurist begins cruelly grinning at the little fella’s plight, urging at me to join him. Why must they bring the kid here, I am thinking. The locks could just as easily have been chopped off at home, and the day’s job would’ve been done. But style is something else- his 3 year old mop had to be styled. Good lord!

I sit there wondering how to smother them all. I decide against doling out advice. Who was I to tell them anything, although they were in a public space, destroying my peace of mind- and ruining the hour that I had culled out of a very busy schedule. No problem. Aaaargh!

I try the novel again, hoping to restore some inner balance via Padma’s story. The mobile rings. I ignore it, till I note the face displaying, <maa>. Panic. I had forgotten to check in with my mother. I decide to shut the quiet novel, and speak to maa.

“Hello dear, are you okay, you sound tired?” and I haven’t spoken a word yet. See, this is it, mothers always know.

“No maa, I’m fine, energetic, bursting with kind thoughts,” I sarcastically mouth. It’s lost on her.

“Ah nice! I just thought you sounded tired.”

“No maa, am not. You slept well? Have you eaten?”

“Yes shona, I have slept very well, I have eaten well. I’m having a good time with my great grandson.” Music. If mother happy, child happy. No complaints.

“That’s great maa. Chalo, I’ll…..” And am interrupted.

“So what time are you leaving tomorrow?”

“At night.”

“Hehehe, I know that, what time dear?”

“11ish I guess. Not sure. Tomorrow is too far away for me to ponder upon time or any other such related philosophies,” I sardonically say, since I hear the little fella screeching, under the shine of the murderous scissor dangling from the expert hands of the petrified male hairdresser! Should I be seeing some humour in this, I wonder.
Apparently my mother does :

“Hehehe, you are so funny Reena. Okay then, I’ll let you work.”

“Yes maa, am very busy right now, I’ll call you tomorrow with my exact time of departure,” and I disconnect. I’m irritable, of course I am. Wouldn’t you be? Maa was sweet, but not enough to take my mind off the little fella who’s high-pitches are spreading like dark ink in Kabi. I’m certain every employee is cursing their owner for not putting her foot down on small people being disbarred from entering Kabi.

How long does it take for such a small head to be styled? Gosh!

“Madam, chai, coffee, kuchh?”

“Nahin, thank you!” Go away. Leave me alone. Everyone out of Kabi
please.

No one moves. The music plays, a song by Linkin Park, I woefully
recognize:

Everything you say to me Takes me one step closer to the edge
And I’m about to break”

How appropriate is that! I let out a laugh, much to the pedicurist’s consternation. I look away. I open the novel. An immediate
interruption, as if I am being watched, and the minute I decide to
read, the novel’s opening switches on the interruption switch :

“Kaunsa nail colour, dekhiye naa.” says dear Parmod. (which nail varnish would you like, please choose.)

What!? I had missed the massage, I had missed the deeply pleasant
feel of my muscles being made to relax. I would have to pay
anyway, NOooo!

Now I am faced with the tough choice of nail varnish- colours galore, and none that I like. Life is filled with sudden anguish.

I choose a deep purple, reflecting my irritation, and ask him to use a silver one to finish off, what I consider a stylish look. I don’t really care anymore. Actually, I’m okay now. I’m done. I decide to return another day, when my weary feet ache and I can’t deny them any longer, and I will have prayed to the Lords above, to grant me a day of pedicure minus interruptions. I will reject my mobile, discarding it in a bin at home, and will come unarmed, and re-enter Kabi, with an
open mind- one that will cherish any and every experience.
Amen to that.

My feet look as rested, as my mind is restless. I am seated in front of a mirror now, and wondering when I grew this old. Suddenly I am
asked,

“Pressure theek hai?”

Ah! My shoulders are being massaged. I didn’t know they did a
shoulder press after a pedicure. This morning isn’t over yet, and it might still be salvaged after all. This is divine. But I can’t peel
my eyes away from the vision of me, and I shudder. I am aged. I am
ancient. The journey downhill hath begun. The day is a seesaw between joy and agony. I will survive yet.
And then I hear someone say, “Okay, happy now? Dekho, kitna good bwoy ho tum. Ab Lollipop milega!” (see, what a good boy you are, now you will receive a lollipop!)

The little fella, in the meantime, has been styled and is about to be rewarded for having yelled his lungs out for the better part of my
time in the beauty parlour. Seesaw is stuck downhill. God save our
kids from us parents! I cast a last forlorn look at the mirror,
before paying my bill, and quite automatically thank the receptionist for ‘an awesome experience!” when I am asked, “How was it Madam,
happy, satisfied?” How can you spoil someone else’s day by speaking
the ugly (pun intended) truth about yours? You just mutter, and leave.

There is no ‘comments notebook’ otherwise I could’ve possibly put
down my mean thoughts.

 

 

Hudson upon the Hudson

Giant barge sliding by,

Leafless trees bid spring,

An ungloomy farewell. IMG_1101

Winter reflects its glacial face,

In the Hudson,

IMG_1100A Gull rides stilted,

its slowness,

Even as the river displays

Fractions of gray sky,

Lazy waters scroll by.

A mother, her daughter,

Observe, smile, giggle,

Contrasting the solemn geography.

Selfies feigning to mimic,

True photography.

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A row of crows lined up,

On an old forgotten

Bungalow’s rooftop.

 

Torrential rains, dripping chimneys,

The duo’s cosy airbnb,

Gazebos galore,

Church steeples of lore,

Grass both green and brown. IMG_1088.jpg

A discreet native pub,

Sizzlers with Beer,

Surprises with local cheer.

 

Hudson by the Hudson

Displays stillness in winter,

A perfect getaway,

The routine splinter,

An imagery’s mosaic,

Drawing a collage eclectic,

Befitting the holiday album.

Elixir, a book within a book

So I finished Elixir, the debut novel by Sinjini Sengupta. I did not finish it at one go, and I’d like to confess, I was floating away in my first attempt; the writing was languorous and soporific, despite Manisha’s hard trials at work, both inside her being, and outside of it.  Amit’s strange and insensitive conduct also got to me. Lost, are we? Well these are the two main characters in Sengupta’s ELIXIR, an interesting read to boot, and one that cast a spell of sorts on me- however during my second inning.

Is it truly possible to live a life parallely- i.e, can you actually step into another full-blown existence, even as you are trying to do justice to the one that you had been born into? Is it truly even conceivable? Well, Sengupta does a fine job of pushing the suspension-of- belief envelope, that anything is possible once you taste of it-and discard that voice that repeatedly says, nah, not possible! You embrace it head-on. I am a believer of parallel existences, have always been, so I was good from the word go.

The first half of Sinjini’s debut novel is a bit like Bangla poetry, it whets your appetite. You need to put it away to fully savour what she is trying to build your literary and hungry mind up to. Once you’ve gotten over that ‘hump’ , if I may call it that, you are onto something rather magnetic- you inch along, then you are on a ride that has you by the….stirrups. You want to live Manisha’s parallel life with her- it’s beautiful, riddled with watery drops of romance, and perfumes and love and all that makes life a living heaven. But you return to Manisha’s ‘real world’, the one she must tackle, along with interacting with her blameless husband, who knows no better, boil tea in her kitchen, peek into her fridge, and mix with her professional colleagues. Well what do you know, Moni, as her father lovingly calls her, is quite the gal! She takes it all on, begrudgingly, but not all the time. She knows she wants out- she doesn’t want to re-enter the real world, but who’s going to buy her tale, definitely not the very worldly Amit. He’s befuddled, and he strikes out, using psychiatric means too.

What we have here is a novel with a stark message. Is the message obvious? To me it was. And the distinction lies in the fact that I know I am being made aware that I am also living parallel lives perhaps, but not with dissonance, which allows me to survive each day. Sinjini is telling the reader that it’s perfectly natural to live thus- and it’s a possibility, a real one and infinite possibilities of such like exist. I believe her. I also believed Richard Bach in his novel named ONE, when he and his wife travelled through different dimensions of existence. So why can Manisha, creature hacked by Sinjini’s mind, not do likewise? Sure can too.

Sinjini’s flair for poetic prose, her deep relationship with rain-water is superbly harvested in this novel. I could almost hear Robindro Shongeet playing in the background- no, not almost, I did hear it. My parallel life peeps into this one, and vice versa as I put away Elixir, and sip from a glass of cold water, to suppress the rising heat. Also, i might have failed to mention the fact that this was a screenplay, that Sengupta has deftly ‘rewritten’ as a full novel, no mean task this. I, even as i enjoy the art of writing, would not attempt such like. More power to Sinjini Sengupta and her fertile, creative mind!

Alsotft unit new

Out with Lanterns by Alisha Kirpalani (a book review)

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This is a beautiful piece of work that, strangely enough, resonated with my own life story- the eternal need to write, and be read. My life, as it were, has caught me by surprise repeatedly, just as Karin’s does in Out with the Lanterns. My internal existence, I believed, rested heavily on my writing, and my dancing feet, believing them to define me. The protagonist of Out with the Lanterns, is also someone who is passionate about writing and dancing, which took the wind out of me for starters. Does she know me?

Alisha’s writing is exquisite- her mastery over the language, tantalizing as she enfolds authenticity of emotion, in every passage, and each email exchange between writer Aksh, and Karin. It is engaging, and keeps you riveted. You are swept up in the labyrinth she creates and lose yourself in this brave world of Karin. The lady is vulnerable, quirky, humourous and bright. The writer Aksh, pitted against Raoul, the hubby are excellently etched characters, complementing Karin’s longing for life itself. Encompassing two distinct worlds, Alisha is able to carry us back and forth, cleverly exploiting the gifts of the modern world- letters on a screen. She nails the bridge that links and brings it all together, with great dexterity. The catch line describes perfectly what this novel aspires to: ‘A discovery of life, love and everything in between’.

It is possible for a tale such as this to transpire- an inexplicable love, that captures your heart, and becomes the trigger for unraveling and unburdening that which may have sat like an Albatross around your neck. Her use of literary references are again, timely, and clever. Once its job is done, it is no longer needed, this relationship which develops and takes on a life of its own.

Alisha manages the complexities of relationships with great maturity and compassion. There is something really quirky and fulfilling about the exchanges between the famous author, and the wannabe author. I fell for these hook, line and sinker, chuckling to myself, even as i realized the dangers of the territory the two were exploring. I suddenly wished to find one such in my own barren land.

I read the book in two sittings, as I turned page after page to delve deeper into the psyche of both Karin and Aksh. Will they, won’t they?

To not present any spoilers, I would like to say that Alisha’s conclusion of the story she has woven is on point, and to my heart and mind there could have been no other. So it’s a winner of a book all the way, because endings are like closures, and if one is left hanging, a strange after-taste disallows the feeling of satisfaction needed after a good read. This one was perfect.

 

The Perils of Communication

‘Hello! howz u gorgeous?’

‘Gud, rmmbr my msg – r dnnr- the pics? So tht’s de latest, in hngo’er state lol ’

‘Ya, I saw. Lovly n all. Wassup?  ’

‘Uh, since last nite? Nthng yaar, tryin to catch sum sleeeeep- zzzzz. CYL. TTYL.’

social-media

And so on and so forth- a minute to minute catching up, sometimes less, sometimes with   longer gaps. But what’s there to catch up with- we are in constant communication. There’s not much curiosity left, is there? What are we talking about anymore, where are we headed, what’s happening to us? These are some of the questions that assail me time and again, and I’m afraid of cutting myself off at the same time. I’ll miss out…but what is it exactly that I’ll miss out on? Unclear. The sad happy jokes? The woman-centric video-clips? And not just those, all the information-laden articles, and the wisdom being passed around every morning via a Good Morning! And a Rumi or a Shakespeare quote from the greats promptly accompanies the cheerful greeting. I like, and I smile back. And there are more wise folk out there, so often, the quotation is a simplistic one by an Anon. person. I like and I smile back with equal zeal.

And just by the way, I woke up at 6, had a cup of tea and made awesomely soft idlis with onion-tomato chutney. Served it up with a flourish, and then….but really now, do you need to know all this stuff about my daily routine? Nah. I suppose not. But I insist on telling you, coz I have this aching need to constantly share. Again, is it my need, or is it something I caught, you know, like a virus out there? Everyone’s sharing, be it on FB (‘I feel so tired today’- c’mon guys, some empathy please, or at least ask why), ‘The Metro sucks, and it hasn’t rained today’….yea, right, it sucks and it hasn’t rained, we all know it. It’s out there, all of it, and a lot of it sucks. One feels obliged to check the Like box, especially if it’s someone you want to have on your side to check your boxes too, haah!

Hang on, let me just put up a photograph of the road I traversed this morning, strewn with potholes and make a noteworthy statement of the rather ailing state of our state….it does make good copy.

Otherwise, honestly, there’s enough of enough that is quite all right. I love looking at photographs of scenaries and birds, trees and flowers, and see people enjoying their holidays, Oh I do. However, I don’t particularly like watching people in front of buildings, and in poor light especially. I enjoy poetry and writing, but not when it’s abysmally written, hankering for praise, accompanied by – well, let’s not go there shall we, not right now!

 

Surely should an anxiety get hold of me first thing in the morning –

“Shucks, I missed a wonderful quote today- how will I pass my day wisely now!” it would be frightfully wrong, would it not? This being besieged by a feeling of guilt and remorse, not okay. I haven’t wished back, what would my friends think of me?

 

So what’s it that drives us to constant communion? What’s this madness that has us in its hold? Why the need to be in the know of every movement of our friends, or non-friends and belong to a myriad groups that chatter incessantly. When there’s a quiet in-between this mindless chuckling, there’s a void felt- one is compelled to shake the mobile’s face – there’s something amiss, or we put it on and off, like a sparkling diamond, to verify that its shine is intact, and not fading with the passage of the hours. One wakes up to this faithful companion, having charged it to life, and then before shutting our eyes at night, we feel this craving to put in a last word- out there, so as to sleep in peace. But do we? In our sleep-state we are overcome by a myriad communications, said-unsaid. We are living in times that are overwrought with words, images, both moving and still. Can one safely conclude that we are over-communicating, over-reaching and over-dipping ourselves in the mire of ‘too much of a good thing’?

 

Benefits : we can be in touch with those far away from us, like our kids, our aging parents; we get to read some surprising thoughts & essays (seldom, but it is known to have happened), we are able to efficiently organize Ladies’ Night, and ensure that we don’t have to write the same message over and over; so far so good.

What else is good? Ah yes, the instant selfies and photographing…priceless.

 

Disadvantages : fewer surprises, less interesting stuff to share and an overriding need to outdo – be it in flavour, be it in humour, especially when it comes to reacting to whatever it is- fastest finger shows off a faster mind. And the emoticons- O lord, save my soul! I sit guilty of over-and mis-use of some very strange expressions and drawings. Many of us are. It replaces the word, and it sounds out the exclamation we would otherwise have used our vocal chords for. Wow! How does it get better than that!

It does, believe you me, it does. Not using them constantly will make them more meaningful and precious perhaps. I am yet to learn how not to. I am yet to understand how I got here, overzealously communicating day and night with people all over the world. I know I would save a few hours, were I to desist, and put them to far better use. Now what might that be, I do wonder, because, believe you me, I have this itch where I am fretting about how quickly I can finish this post, stick it on to my Blog, and share it via Facebook and Whatsapp and ….O all right, just these two for now. I’ve got to communicate my thoughts, and right about NOW! O the delicious tremor that seizes me as I imagine my world of people reading me and smiling, and shrugging their shoulders, saying, so what’s new? They will continue to ‘talk’ at a speed that both defies and defines time.

 

Is this going to change over the coming years? Are we going to embrace quietude and sometimes just go off the grid and become incommunicado? Do we really need to shed tears, or hair, or moods upon a screen- big or small? There are as many answers to these questions as there are people. Yet I have a sinking feeling that loneliness is on the rise, and the perils of communication are encouraging it, feeding it and permitting its dissemination like toxic weeds that grow unabated unless uprooted as quickly as they sprout.

Just saying :

  • Parthenium entered India with imported food grains in the mid-1950s. It is said to be one of the world’s seven most devastating and hazardous weeds and grows undeterred and wild left unchecked.
  • Facebook entered the world in 2004 and its invasion has transformed our world irretrievably.
  • Whatsapp was actively created in 2009, but it is in 2013 that it became really popular and had about 200 million active users and 50 staff members.

 

Some significant members of the Social Media Society : 

 

  • There’s Snapchat- microblogging, Twitter (instant gratification via handles- what you write is instantly swallowed by the world and gregariously opined about), Instagram (more photographs anyone- photo-blog away!), Youtube (show off your own videos, – you name it, and watch short or long movies!), Pinterest (visual pinning of pictures/videos and follow others’ Pins), Tumblr (posts are living documents) etc. ….and social media is kept alive in its myriad forms by we the People.