Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Memory Keeper

12 years ago, on a balmy evening, Krithika (my sister) and I went to one of the bag shops in Mandaveli (Chennai). She had promised to buy me a bag if I scored 100 in Mathematics in my Class 10 board exams. My sister, unlike me, always keeps her word. And she always works out the budget first. "500 rupees for you!" she declared. I agreed.

We walked a couple of kilometers, from Mylapore to Mandaveli. There were a lot of shops in Luz Corner too. But for some reason, the shop in Mandaveli appeared fancy. I spent five minutes browsing all the shelves and settled with this blue bag.

The price tag read Rs 750. I began to sulk. However, she didn't pay heed. She snatched the bag from me and went to the billing counter.

An hour later, I emptied my old rectangular bag that had The Flintstones' pictures, and arranged my books in my newly-bought bag. In many ways, I reckoned then that my sister's gift made me feel like a big, mature girl. No cartoon characters on the bag. I stopped using lunch koodai. Instead, I packed my steel-boxes in a plastic cover and carried it in my bag. I shoved my water-bottle in the small holder in the side. While a lot of girls still used old-fashioned bags, I flaunted my sister's gift, which I thought was uber-cool.

After all, she bought it with her hard-earned money. She was a tuition teacher then. I also knew that she saved for about five months to afford this bag for me. Despite appreciating her gesture and realising how special the gift was, I never thanked her effusively.

Today, a delivery boy from one of the online shopping portals, knocked on the door, with a gift box in his hands. I hurriedly unwrapped the gift box and was delighted to see this bag.

And this beautiful note:

I've always told my friends that I'm a sucker for tiny warm moments. Tiny, tiny things keep me going. Like receiving a note from friends, a smile from a stranger, reading quotes from my favourite books, buying new books, using a newly-learnt word, and solving a crossword puzzle. It sounds cliched, doesn't it? But, these are the things that define me and many a time, help me find a purpose in life.

Above all, I also glorify memories; memories of all kinds. Every once in a while, when emptiness envelopes me, when I begin to forget all the nice things that happened to me, I remind myself that there are a very few people, who know everything about my bumpy rides and sunny days; the people, who keep the memories that we made together. I go to them when I struggle to recall some of the beautiful times that would restore faith in life. They never fail to pull me out of my abyss. While it's superfluous to say that my sister is one of them, today, I am overwhelmed and so, I am stating the obvious.

It's a luxury to have a sister, who is a keeper of memories that can help one rise above the darkness.

Monday, November 3, 2014

After the Halloween party

Kavitha: Where the hell am I?
A random dude: You are in Heaven. Glad to meet you. I can help you settle down.

K: Oh?
ARD: Yes. You died last night. After the Halloween party. I'm sorry. But this is a beautiful place. You are going to like it.

K: Okay. Get this straight. I'm an atheist. Now my only question is how did I even get here?
ARD: I knew you would't trust me. I have to show this to you. This is the picture that you clicked last night right?

ARD: How did I get this picture? Let me explain. The Lord of Death asked us to make your character real, because you are an Indian, and you celebrated Halloween. So, we had to punish you. You played a random accident victim last night. And you lost your life in a road accident after the party. I'm very sorry.

K: That's a very blah story, man. The characters have turned real? Okay. So, has Sudhir gone to Gotham City?
ARD: No. He is on his way to Goa with his friends. They are conducting a memorial for you there.

K: That's so sweet of them. But wait. Why was he not punished?
ARD: We chose people randomly.

K: This is so weird. And unfair. I'm going to be here forever?
ARD: Yes.

K: Then I might as well start following my routine. I am going to sleep for a while. I will wake up, and run for about an hour. I can make my own breakfast. I will have some bacon tomorrow.
ARD: We are all vegetarians here. You will have to be on a plant-based diet too.

K: This is atrocious. I need to go for my classes. I dance. And I want some Bachata songs.
ARD: We play Carnatic music for an hour everyday. Will that help?

K: Man, this place is shitty. And I can't party? No alcohol?
ARD: Absolutely no alcohol.

K: May I at least read Harry Potter?
ARD: We have some books on 'life after death' by Osho.

K: This is not helping me. I'm finding this strange. I think I'm just dreaming. This is just a nightmare. I should wake up.
ARD: No. You are not dreaming. You are just confused.

K: Dude, I have watched nine seasons of House. For all we know, I'm just hallucinating. Maybe, I am stuck in an accident. I should wake up. I should. I should.


Sudhir: Kavitha! Kavitha! Ezhundhirru. This Winky wants food. Wake up. Winky, stop biting.
K: Fuck. Okay. Winkoo. I'm coming.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

12 responses that a childfree woman gets

I phone a dude, who doesn't know me quite well. We talk about stuffs related to work first, and end up discussing this and that. Then he asks what my husband does, and if ours was "an arranged marriage or a louue marriage." After I explain, he reluctantly asks how many children I have. I say 'nothing'.

Awkward silence. He clears throat, and says, "I'm sorry." He is really sorry. I smile, and I so want to tell him that he doesn't have to be sorry. But I choose to ignore it. Because almost everybody, who learns that I am childfree, struggles to digest it. Many find my response rude. Some find it naive. And a very few find it sensible.

The kind of reactions that my answer produces are funny, and sometimes annoying.

These are what folks usually say when they face the fact.

1. "Oh. You don't have a child. Oh."
This means, "Oh. You don't have. Interesting. I am curious. I want to know your story. But we are not THAT close yet. I will ask you this question again sometime soon."

2. "You don't have? Why are you wasting time?"
This means, "You moron. You are becoming old. You don't want to look like a granny to your own child."

3. "I'm very sorry."
This means, "I will include you in my prayers. Maybe, next summer, you will call me for your baby-shower."

4. "When are you planning to have? You guys have been married for ages."
This means, "WTF are you doing with your life! Having a child makes you look responsible. Do you even understand it? And you shouldn't miss motherhood. Becoming a mother makes you feel complete."

5. "You can never be independent all your life."
This means, "You will be lonely when you are done with life. You need to have children, because they will take care of you."

6. "Is everything all right?"
This means, "Do you need medical intervention? Is your husband cheating on you? Are you guys going strong?"

7. "Do you think your dog is your child?"
This means, "Stop anthropomorphising. Do you see how empty your life is without a human-child?"

8. "You guys are so different."
This means, "You are very weird."

9. "You don't like children?"
This means, "Do you think it's cool to hate children? Or not to have one? No. It's presumptuous. You think too much of yourself."

10. "Is your husband okay with it?"
This means, "Why are you being selfish? Why are you robbing him of his privilege?"

11. "You are going to change your mind soon."
This means, "You are so immature now. You will grow up soon. I really hope."

12. "Okay."
This means, "Fuck it. It is your life. I don't give a damn about it." I personally like this one though. :)

These responses and questions crack me up. Almost every time. Maybe, I have exaggerated here. But we must admit that so many of us haven't sensitised ourselves to others' non-standard decisions.

I look forward to the day when my answer would be received just as a piece of information, and not as an element that defines my identity.

Also, stealing a quote from one of my favourite articles on being childfree.
"[Legendary anthropologist] Margaret Mead suggested that the generative impulse could be expressed in other ways, such as passing ideas on to the younger generation through teaching, writing, or by inspiring example."