Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beauty without the Beast(s)

There is an odd sense of being conspicuous and invisible at the same time when you - a 21 year old ex-student - walk into your school , clad in a black burkha , veil and all.

Anywhere else , be it the supermarket or a park , being veiled gives you the liberating zest of being comfortable in your healthy , de-glamorous body while wondering why you impishly enjoy your path of anonymity as opposed to that of the non-burkha , non-veiled woman.

While in your old school , as your step into its premises , you smile : a veiled smile. You watch unfamiliar students passing by ; a few cast curious looks as you walk guardedly , comfortably aware of your direction. You love to walk its gravelly ground and under a deep blue sky , standing on the playground of your school , with the winter sun teasing your wind-chilled body , there is an overwhelming sense of peace and loneliness - when you stand at the ground which is empty , while the classes go on in classrooms where you can never sit in again , not as a student ; classes where you can never , listen to soporific lectures on the chemistry of amino acids , experience the flurry of submitting assignments under basilisk-ian deadlines , never write a biology exam with the exhilaration of knowing most of the answers...

And many such humdrum activities that to you , are forever lost in the fog of ageing.

It is in school where you still find the impulse to de-veil while inwardly conflicting with your lessons in Faith. Its so very tempting to smile hugely at your old teachers with your misplaced front tooth pushing forward with the rest being primly in line !

At the age of 13 , you sneaked to the beauty parlour for a 'facial'. The beautician's assistant - a slim 'parloured' specimen with lovely eyebrows , no teeny-weeny hairs on her pretty face , a pout on her peachy lips - suggested a removal of your facial hairs prior to the steaming ; and you , entranced with visions of a smooth , glowing face consented...

You did not subject your thick eyebrows to her threading on that fatal day ; for which you remain heavenwardly grateful at preserving their natural blatant beauty.

Years later , and perhaps as long as you look into the mirror closely , you murmur apologies to your mirror image for the extra growth of hairs on the sides of your cheeks.

Ofcourse , you could do it again , and again and yet again or even permanently have them removed. But you have learnt your lessons in Faith and Beauty. If you wish to preach , you must practise!

Without faith and knowledge , you may have succumbed to the pains of creating artificial glamour (and 'confidence in your beauty') without realising the beauty that was naturally perfect in yourself , and others with their crooked teeth , their hairy appendages , their bushy eyebrows.

You have been told to visit the dentist and there are gentle innuendos regarding your complacency with no-parlour policy...yet you are stubbornly firm on your perception of beauty.

To end this harangue , you quote yourself :
' If he cannot see you as beautiful as you 'really' are , you must become an opthalmologist....'

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Baby Full-House

Our Kuwaiti-house-cum-building is a curious place. On all sides it is enclosed by walls. When you walk through the strong metal gate , you arrive into the 'Courtyard'. There is a big tree in the corner. In winter days , the sun sparkles through its branches , casting pretty shadows on the wall of my bedroom. Other than the actual two storey house-cum-building , there are small living quarters squeezed around it.We live on the groundfloor rooms ; it must have been a 'diwaniya' once.

It is almost a mini-village.

A motley group of people live here. Men , women and children alike roam about the courtyard throughout the day. Mostly families come and leave in a year or two.

Since the past year it has become a baby full-house.

We have got Mannu bhai , Paki darling , Foogi , Sunny , Baby Aunt and the Bengali Bachchi.

In order of adoration :

Mannu Bhai

He hails from Hyderabad. His real name is Manthan.

Introducing myself to him was no difficulty ; he loves the Courtyard as I do. Everyday he would totter through their doorstep , casting sly glances at his Mamma hanging the clothes to dry. If she worried , he would loiter close to her bucket of clothes and bask in the freedom outside the confines of home.

First came the stares. Then I smiled. He stared back wonderingly. Then shyness overtook his innocent inspection of 'who is this girl ?' and he would look away with a smile : 'pleased to see you'.

So the days went on. Staring and smiling ; then blowing kisses. When I felt we were friends enough , I went out and kissed the long pending cheeks.

Chocolates , chips , oranges , biscuits , bananas were baited to lure His Littleness , Mannu bhai smiles and kisses.

He kept the Courtyard lively and clean with his babyish charms and toddling feet. There were days in dhoti , in banyans , in lungi ; even a girl's frock.

The Bengali Bachchi (coming up later) was his favorite girlfriend when it came to pinching cheeks and throwing his little arms with the affectionate gusto springing with the trifle inattention of their respective guardians. Once such zest sent both of them tumbling to the ground ; much to his surprise and the alarm of the poor girl. However it did not dampen the baby hero from his naughty courtesies.

He would kiss his hand and imitate blowing the kiss across my window.

Now isn't that gallant?


In Konkani language , we call a balloon 'foogo'. If we want to feminise it , it would be 'foogi' , won't it ?

That's how Foogi got her name. Chubby all around. She is Fatima in real and belongs to our Keralite neighbours.

She clung to her mother with the cement of adoring liquidity. If you have managed to unclasp her from her Amma's bosom , it would be only due to a deceptive play that she cares for no longer the moment it takes her away from her beloved mother ; wails of pitiable tremors and tear-filled haggard eyes were her tools to lure her mother in leaving household chores undone to attend to baby's wish: 'schtay-with-meeee'.


His folks call him Sunny ; nickname for Sandeep.

He is very fair , and has eyes like a light grey , calm sea in winter. Very interesting shade. Its not just plain grey. His eyes give him a touch of glitter.

Chubby tubby fellow , cries almost not at all (his parents worry about it!) and weighs masha'Allah (caused some nerves near my right upper ball and socket joint side to strain badly) !

Smiles like a gentleman. Not too much , nor too less.

You can hold him in our courtyard for an hour and he would be enjoying the breeze , looking up into the tree and in general seeming a nature-lover.

The only thing he really dislikes enough to wail about on a daily two time basis : the bath tub!

Through our kitchen window , we first realised his existence. His cries , morning and evening , floated over and thus we bonded with the familiarity of knowing his voice without seeing him till many months later.

He sleeps without needing motherly pats nor songs. Three fingers go slowly into his mouth : 'I wanntu schleep pleezh' . Just lay him down on the bed and he is off to La-La-Land.

A serene baby soul.

Only he says : Please please , pretty please , don't give me a bath ! Me good sunny boy , no soap and water for me !

Paki darling

As her name suggests , she is a Pakistani.

Huhhh , huhhh are her favorite words.

Mother and daughter have interesting conversations involving morose crying , scolding , imitation cries , screaming , loving endearments and further wailing monotones.

Their voices are a live audio entertainment.

Baby Aunt

She was born to her parents in their autumn years. Their third daughter. Since her niece is a couple of years elder to her , it seems proper to call her 'choti aunty' .

A delicate baby with a beautiful rose hued complexion.

Once , her mother was visiting us and had gone out of her line of sight , on all fours she set the course , tiny hands and tiny feet sprang with monkey steps and found her mother a few feet away.

Bengali Bachchi

The youngest of a trio.

She is a quiet , don't-mess-with-me toddler.

Manthan loved to irritate her.

I would watch her and she would smile discreetly.

Last note:

Three more babies were on the way , two have gone away to India , the third will be joining the ranks of this full-house in a couple of days. Cries and smiles yet unknown. Welcome to the village !

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Gift of Gabbling

It is wonderful to be able to talk ,
To voice your joys , wails , dreams ;
Day to day mundane chatter ;
To answer if you are thinner or fatter.

Those who love pen and paper ,
Have found worthy company ;
One writes the ravings ;
The other feeds the cravings.

'Once upon a time....' , I can tell you a story ;
Letters I can write , which would have no replies.
One cannot please my literary longing ;
The other bestows praise instead of a hopeful reply.

I know the 'I' is supreme.
It is 'I' who can change my state of being : happy or sad.
I love you , for 'me' ;
I love 'i' - it sounds strange , ugly.
I believe , hopelessly , in 'you' and 'i' yet ;
You cannot have me ; 'I' cannot leave you.

I have been profoundly prolix ,
In showing my loquacious laurels ;
A verbose vagary , so volubly uttered -
With such giddy glibness ,
That you think me surely ,
A garrulous gnome ?

GARRULOUS : talking a lot - about nothing , annoying chatter
LOQUACIOUS : talkative
PROLIX : wordy in speaking or writing
VOLUBLE : characterized by rapid speech
GLIB : speaking or writing with ease, perhaps superficially
VERBOSE : wordy, implying dullness

I wanted to string all these words together , so thus the above was strung.
If anyone can employ these words to a better , humourous effect , let me know : I shall be pleased to read.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January Blacks

There are days , some hours of those days , when -

the morning full of winter sunshine is devoured into an empty space , a blackhole , that is your heart...

the twitter of birds inspires no poetic delight ,

you want to stop the ticking of snail-paced clocks ,

the prayers you say , tell nothing of prayers...

you cannot cook, with a zest , for those who are the salt and spice of your life ,

you do not feel you love anyone , and doubt if anyone loves you ....

your body should have slept but is conspiring to give you an infernal wakening time ,

you cannot drown yourself in your flooded , numbed , nothingness of thoughts...

books , babies , bars of chocolaty sins seem as if they would fail in consuming your naive hunger ,

there is no one to whom you could reveal just how you feel , every single time you felt like this...

you wish , it was night ,

you wish , you could lie on your bed , draw the blanket , squeeze yourself into the comfort of foetal rest ...

you pray feeble words , hope guilty hopes , seeking Him to hear , to see , to set you free ,
into that Sleep of death ; into that Life of no such days , such hours....