Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nothing to say ??

While chatting to a friend the other day , the usual 'Hi ; How are you's?' were followed with the not-so-unusual silence. In a few minutes - an aeon - the friend opened the 'window' with : 'nothing to say ??'

'Nothing' has a non-existent definition when it comes to saying. Plenty of things to talk about ; aren't there ?

About ...
One's day , in detail ;
Why your sibling is an irksome pixie that you cannot freeze, (remember 'Mum' ?), no matter how she makes you boil and blister ;
How tiny , pink and sweet the new-born was in slumber while it could remain innocently indifferent to the wails of the World ;
What was the So-and-So of Such-an-Such-incident (calamity - scientific discovery - economic crisis - ) ?
Of Princess Diana , the Queen of Hearts , forever wedded to an unhappily-ever-after --

Break it : 'No - thing' as 'Nothing' (to say!)

If you find me quiet , it is merely to watch for your green signal : to say something , anything , everything....(that is nothing too ?)
Would you , can you , will you , listen to all ?
My tsunami is at your command.

The mind is often talking to itself :
'Alarm must be set at 3am , no , 3.17am - dawn is ...'

'Maldives - why did he re-marry so soon ? why couldn't he persevere in persuading her ? Aunt - married...divorced - our twin-cousins.... '

'Chapter 112 - touchstone of theology - verse 1 "Say, He is Allah, One and Only" ....Only 'one'...the Odd number...'

'Tonight , I would ask him.... (and proceed with our conversation ,in my head)....'

Rarely , perhaps only in sleep , there is Rest : to the cacophony of a precious mind.

The human mind , at its pinnacle , is waiting to blow out its contents : meekly , passionately ; and the tongue is ever moist , with words carefully jailed or rosary chants - sometimes monotonous , sometimes fervent - willing to chatter away at the slightest opening.

In this virtual world , my fingers - though adept at typing - are checked by an obsession with using the right metaphor , the quaint word , the tidy presentation.
You have been saved by the atrocity of my incessant tongue.

Now , do ' you ' have nothing to say ??

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Smile...and say 'As-Salam Alaykum'

(For her , whose name meant 'Lily of the Valley' : See Image on right)

The final year of our school life was filled with obstacles in the form of assignments , labwork , revision tests , observation book correction , recordwork submission , projects ; the list went on. Most of the time , when not busy completing ever-incomplete work , we would be talking about how we were going to finish it. The rest of the time was thriftly spent in last minute bursts of intellectual learning - before a major test. We were machines pre-set (sometimes , re-set) to produce an expected output.
Time and opportunity to truly relax , converse and connect as friends needed special effort (also read 'cunning').

A friend and I saw less of each other due to our separate subjects ; phone calls became rare (or came to clear doubts ; further discuss how much work we had to finish ; talking about 'so-many-things-to-do' needs to be checked strictly - its a foolish waste of time that could be used to 'neither-think-nor-do-work') . Living in different areas , made it difficult to catch time to drop in home and have food ( the eternal solace ) together.

Instead , we had developed a habit. Into the class , at the start of the day - a smile , a hug and 'As-salam alaykum'.

' Salam ' literally means 'peace'.
'Al-Salam' is one of the names of Allah in Islam. Hence , the Islamic greeting 'As-salam alaykum' translates as 'Peace be on you' and is responded with 'wa alaykum as-salam' meaning 'And peace be on you too'.

Sometimes , I forgot to wish her ; she wouldn't ; vice-versa.
Once , while I was pouring over homework (finished in school), a classmate seated in infront of me , teasingly inquired , "No hugs today ?!"
I replied with a grin , "Thanks for reminding."

Take time to smile and greet ; even those who are strangers to you.
Do it often , everyday ; spread 'salam' and feel the joy...

"Smile and greet each other , it has the reward of charity."

"Do not underestimate any good deed (no matter how small it is) , even if that deed was to meet your brother with a friendly countenance."

- The Prophet Muhammad

Reverie says : Girls cannot be 'gay'. Nowadays they are labelled as 'lesbians' .
Our hugs drew some rather dubious looks ; I don't know if it was my imagination or the gossip I heard by the grapevine , but I sure feel like being catty to the sniggering.
Nowadays , it makes you squirm , even to hug your own kind ....
And I thought , it was the opposite sex you needed to 'keep at arm's length' ....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


It is the King of my Fruityland.

The big , round and plump with a dark green skin colour is the most adorable. The interior : a luscious , fleshy red ; sequined with dark little seeds.

As a child , I used to scoop out the white flesh beyond the juicy red.
They scolded me for it.
( Was I being greedy ? )
As a young adult , the habit persists.
( Am I still greedy ? )
I get more slices , yet I refuse to give up.
Then , there is the craving of satisfaction in cutting them. No matter how busy I am , I like to devote time to indulge in slicing it open. It is a request : Let me have the pleasure of opening its locked beauty , 'first' ; then you can take your share.

Some facts :
(1) Watermelon is 92% water.
(2) Its official name : Citrullus lanatus
Of the botanical family : Curcurbitacae
Related to : cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
( That makes it a Vegetable ?!)
(3) Watermelon is an ideal health food because it doesn't contain any fat or cholesterol, and is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6 & C.

Sweet , juicy , cool -
Have a watermelonicious summer .....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

An Odious Task

Writing is sometimes such an odious task ,
Not because of lack of creative ideas ;
They are swimming in the tantalising depths of the mind ,
Surfacing but not yet ready to metamorphose onto paper -
The more you think of giving them a ground life -
Without a pencil ready to bait ,
The lesser chances of completing a work written without rhyme or reason.

Now , I had wanted to compose an essay ,or a poem , or close to either,
With a title : " The labours of writing evanescent thoughts "
The pencil refused to form lines as required ,
So I let it scribble -
Lest I remain useless in a 'must write spur' ,
and sit agitatedly with a blank paper.

I must admit : I made that title up just now !
No plan of writing of such labours had occured to me ,
It formed shape as soon as I allowed my fingers to move...
See , that's how unpredictable scribbling can be !

Writing - while feeling 'how silly' of whatever written -
Its start is a much needed ignition ;
The middle , a slothful dripping of fuel ;
The end , a baffling ride with a memorable line.

I don't know about you ,
But I like coming to the End -
Good or Bad and all the adjectives in between -
I have presented it 'neatly' : Don't you agree ?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wandering , Working and Waiting

The distant hills , veiled in mist , call for you in the solitude of the evening hours. Standing on the terrace , a halcyon wind blows , swifts through your hair , caresses you , quietens your soul : filling it with momentary peace.

The sun shines benevolently.

The vacation was wasted on idle thoughts ; an uncertain academic future ; a passion for the unattainable at a turbulent age.
In that feverish summer heat of 2004 , I helped with the household chores - Nani* had the most amazing will-power to work efficiently and make others work as well. Her food was always a relish.
The French exercises lent by an aunt were done with half-witted interest. And I had had such engrossing times learning the language a year ago...

The train moves through the nearest hill , approaching the tunnel. Further upward , the cars, trucks, buses move lazily on the road twisting out of sight in the shield of trees. Would they reach their destination ? Did they have one ?

The sound of anklets - chann chann - I listened in recognition : the Rajasthani Housewife. The terrace was a place of relaxation. On some days , a group of housewives from our building complex collected here while the children played in their puerile kingdom.
I conversed only with her : the woman from Udaipur. Her graceful musical steps announced her feminity - even before you saw her. Fair , dark eyes and neatly parted hair filled with sindoor. The sarees often smiled her demeanor ; their hues - greens , blues , fawn - were suffused with the freshness of Nature's treasures.
When her young son had no playmates , she would engage him in learning his alphabets. He had her fair skin and curly hair , tied in a little ponytail ; as per their customs , it was not cut since his birth.
I thought he was a girl , till she corrected me. Often , his voice carried over from the upper stairs to our flat below , ringing with a throaty appeal that contradicted the sweetness of his age.

I achieved nothing during those days. Neither worldly nor spiritual.
A void , useless , desperate existence.
It was a blessing , a thousand blessings when the time for returning back home arrived. The return would mean a new beginning , of which , I never imagined nor considered. A transition from the dreams to the ground of reality ; a spiritual change , a 'practising' faith of character-building , academic diligence.

The bus weaved its way through the hills. The rain spattered on the windows , disappearing soon ; you could unlatch the window , breathe in the sensuous night and soon enough the rain would beat down again. It remained irresolute : about duration as well as direction.

I could not sleep and did not try to ; night journeys were rare. And this was after three months of physical , mental and emotional imprisonment : a subtle release from an almost self-created cage. Three months - where each day had been besought , vexed , coaxed to hurry on - depart !

I was going home.
Soon to be with fleeting pleasures : castle and country , sea and storm.

The hills were dark , alive with the murmur of raindrops. The road meandered treacherously. In the shrouded darkness of the bus , the passengers slept ; while the night passed by them in her revelry.

Now I see cottage and country , sea and sunshine.
I want to go home....

* maternal grandmother

Sunday, May 4, 2008

To the Teacher

Words are fascinating: each one a world waiting to be created.
The lesser known , the more tempting to employ them in writing.

Some of the words have been provided with their meaning , scroll down to the end for them ; I wish to be understood despite the trifle elusive 'simplicity in choice of words'.

To the Teacher (s) :
' Thank You '

A syzygy of memories , gratitude and new horizons
beckon to these logolept musings...

In pursuit of academic achievement ,
Including such :
Byzantine array of equations ,

Coding approximate to galamatias ,
Numbers - an abyss of conundrums ,
Hippocampus - a warehouse of psittacism.

Most would slip into oblivion...

The Smiles ,
Treasured and cherished - always.

SYZYGY : The alignment of two (or more) celestial bodies (as in an eclipse)
LOGOLEPT : word-lover
BYZANTINE : complex
GALIMATIAS : Nonsense , gibberish.
HIPPOCAMPUS : part of human brain associated with memory
PSITTACISM : Characteristic of parrots(Speaking without knowing)

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Trials of donning an Apron

I was making Vegetable Pilaff (aka 'Tarkari Pulao') as the Hyderabadi cookbook said.
Being a dish of rice, my apprehensions surfaced and glided over to take refuge in Mother's expertise on the Art of Cooking. It looks and reads (as in a printed recipe) easy - to prepare a dish of rice - or so I always thought - until I started cooking it myself. Even the simplest everyday rice-boiled-with-salt : 'chawal' as we call it, needs meticulous attention. If you want it 'perfect' - give it your absolute focus and care. Else , like me , if the less-than-perfect standard , set by Lord Knows who , is nevertheless enjoyable to eat : Forget asking Mother for help.
She harangues on simplicity, my mother.
The recipe lay solemly intricate.
She protested against its handsome order.
It beeseched me,to give it a try...those dapper alphabets of its existence : thus wooed and won, I insisted on following the print.
She was adamant on experience.
Tempers flared.
Rice - three-quarters cooked - cooled.

Mother exits (from the perspiring Kitchen) .
And I attempted to assuage my dish's ruffled grace.

It was done eventually. A profusely (try 'overcooked') steamed Pulao. Had I served toddlers, I would have received those oh-I-love-you-so gurgles following a Cerelac session.

The family ate.

Meanwhile , I sought sanctuary under my blanket :
' Those who sow in tears , shall reap in joy. '

I doubt , the latter part ; sometimes.