Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The train that brought me all the way from Kerala, into this big city was whistling its way into the next station. Just getting down in this station is making me nostalgic. Twenty years ago, getting down here, catching a local train to my college, all that was a routine we all loved. And now, I am back to the place so dear, back to the memories – alone. Let me sit on this cement bench and wait for the local train.

Today, I, Meera turn 50. Yes, 50 years since that dark, rainy night of June, when I announced my arrival into this world with a fierce, defiant cry. The fact that I was the first child of the third generation in the family did, to a small extent, reduce the disappointment of my being a girl. And I went on to disappoint another family 23 years later by delivering twin girls. Well, that is another story, for some other time.

My married life was not exactly what you’d call tough. Hari was a nice man who used to do all the right things. He used to buy me gifts at the right occasions, pays all mandatory visits to my house, and was a nice dad to our twin daughters; he was pretty good in his own way. I had a nice job, a ‘respectable’ marriage, two beautiful daughters – everything that a woman could hope for.

My life was so smooth and ‘normal’ until that day my daughter told me that I had breast cancer and I need a mastectomy. I was only 42 and I felt God was being unfair to me. Now, I loved my breasts, I loved the way they made me a woman. The resentment that I had for my breasts in the adolescent days was gone. Back then, as a child who grew up a bit too soon. I was pretty unhappy with my breasts. They drew a hell lot of unwanted attention – groping fingers, hurting nails, from all places – crowded buses, visiting ‘uncles’... Well, that was long back; I’ve grown up now.

I survived the fear, the pain, the agony of loss, everything related to the operation. I felt of myself was being taken away from me. But my daughters understood, I would not have made it but for their support. Hari also tried his best to be supportive. But somehow, for him, the change was a bit too much to come to terms with.

After I came back from the hospital, I could sense the difference in his attitude towards me. In our bedroom, he kept his distance from me. The loss of a breast has made me unappealing for him, I guess. I, his wife of twenty two years, have suddenly become a Stranger, a not-so-wanted woman. Day after day I found the resentment, the disgust, taking shape and choking me with its cold fingers in the dark confines of our bedroom. He thinks I cheated him, purposely denying him his rightful happiness, by losing one breast.

It was one of those terrible, isolated and miserable days of my life that I saw His face in the obituary column. It is shocking, you know, to get up on a lazy Sunday morning and glance through the newspaper to find that someone who had been so close to you have passed away. Never before had I felt a more acute sense of loss in my life. Well, that too for a man I haven’t seen in last fifteen years. Still, the face in the newspaper looked so very familiar. As I traced my fingers over the picture – the hairline that has receded much farther, the shaven face that once had many pimples, the thin framed glasses- memories came flooding. And then I decided I am making a trip to that far off city, to visit my college. A trip would definitely do me good.

Hari was a bit suspicious of this official tour that came up without a prior notice. And if he realized I am lying, he chose to remain silent about it. There must have been something about the way I told him that kind of scared him into silence. In our 28 years of marriage, he had never seen me this stubborn, this firm. And now, I am sitting on this cement bench in a crowded platform, waiting for that train which would take me to the college.

I get on to the train and manage to find a window seat. The train moves fast and I get a glimpse of a city I fail to recognize. 30 years is a long time.

A whole gamut of emotions ranging from nostalgia to immense joy hit me the moment I entered the campus. 30 years did not do much to this place. A new building here or there, a few trees cut down, few others growing up, new faces all around; but in general it was the same. I couldn’t stop myself from rushing to our old haunt – a flight of stairs leading to an old pond near a dilapidated building.

All I could think of were the shrieks of joy, laughter, relaxed chatter, gasps and sighs of a young boy and girl. These sounds used to fill this place, years ago when we lay down beneath on those giant trees that covered the area. This was the place where we explored each other – bodies, hopes, dreams, fears. I couldn’t stop thinking about the boy who taught me to forget and move on in life, to love, to dream, to live, and then again, much later, to forget and move on. I tied to recollect the smoky walls of the small hotel, where we met for a spicy biryani for the first time. Many plates of biryanis later, our bond was strong and passionate. He could understand me in a way which Hari never could. Now, that is a bit unfair to Hari; he was also a victim in this system that matched horoscopes and ignored people.

Hot tears that welled in my eyes – for the memories, for the man I used to love, for my doomed marriage? I really do not know. It is getting dark and I need to get up. One last look at the dear place and I leave. On my way back, I enter the college chapel. I pray for some time and a sense of peace engulfed me. I light a candle in the chapel and walk back. A candle lighted for love, for memories, for peace. The flame flickers in the wind and then steadied itself. And it is time for me to forget and move on.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love is No Longer Criminal!!!

These days I've started believing that our judiciary is the best thing that has happened to the Indian Democracy. Our judges have time and again proved through various rulings that we are actually in 2010 and not stuck in 1947. At first it was Delhi High Courts repeal of the objectionable clauses of section 377. Now it is the Supreme Court ruling on the Kushboo case. This verdict is a huge boost to all of us who believe in the freedom of thought and expression. But more than the verdict, what interests me are the observations made by the court in this regard. India is waking up to changing values and new moral codes of the 21st century.

The bench has made some truly progressive and modern remarks on Live-in relationships. Here are couple of observations made by the court.
"When two adult people want to live together what is the offense. Does it amount to an offense? Living together is not an offense. It cannot be an offense."
"Please tell us what is the offense and under which section. Living together is a right to life,"
The court also noted that there was no law which prohibits live-in relationship or pre-marital sex.

This is truly historic for country whose people are too steeped in pseudo-moral codes,hypocrisy and age old and meaningless customs. In this country, we still have neighborhoods that would take up arms to "discipline" people who choose to live their life differently. we live in times when pre-marital sex in becoming a part of life for most of the youth but then again, these are the times when hymenoplasty is becoming more and more in demand. Well, we are still obsessed with the idea of virgin brides and we can not tolerate comments like the one made by Khusboo.
It is in this kind of an India that our Supreme Court makes this radical judgment. They even cited the example of Krishna and Radha - so much culture and tradition fanatics.

It is not as if the Indian society is eager and waiting for this kind of a remark. Protests and criticisms have come up from various quarters on the society. Individuals, groups and political parties have come up with their protests and reservations on the remarks made by the court. And I'm sure it will take ages for the general society to come to terms with the reality. For most people, pre-marital sex or live in relationships is something done by 'those' people, the kind of people that they can frown upon. Daughters from nice families do not indulge in these kinds of stuff, they believe.

It is high time we started facing the new reality. People have started questioning the once invincible institutions of family and marriage. A new moral code is being formed at least in the cities and I believe that this new morality has come to stay. Let's applaud the court for upholding the values of democracy and more importantly for knowing the pulse of the youth. Let's hope this need for respecting the other person's privacy, this need for looking at our friends, bothers, sisters and daughters and individuals, this need for a new moral code, this need for acceptance of change will spread to all parts of our society.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


"Today I lost my love
Today I lost my heart
Today I lost my world"
I got up today morning and found this message from a friend who lost is first love and is terribly upset. Then I came to office and found this status message in another friend's gtalk.
"Girls and boys these days fall in love due to misunderstanding and when they understand, they start hating each other."
Well somebody is heartbroken someone else is philosophizing. In almost everything that we do, we cross and recross paths of love in some way or the other.

And then comes the call from the past. Accusations, complaints, obscene language, expressions of hate that hasn't died out even after two long years. I wonder how human beings are capable of hurting each other so much. Like that single cancer cell that remained out of the surgical blade's reach, its grown back into full strength with all the malignancy possible. That is how hate is - it possesses immense powers, power to grow back, power to strangle, power to kill. And the strangest thing is a germ of hate lies dormant inside every seed of love. As long as the love is there, or rather as long as you think there is love, this germ remains dormant. But once seed of love disintegrates, hate takes over, it grows, it smothers the heart. I strongly believe that the deepest hate we can have is for people we love that most at some point of time. Keeping all these theories of love and hate apart, I believe human beings have immense capabilities of hating and hurting each other.

This can be seen as a confession for messing up a very much avoidable situation. This could also be a general statement of my perceptions of love and hate. But for some reason both love, hate and messed up situations are becoming a part of my life. And in any case I don't regret any of these. For me, these are the things that make life livable.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Things I Miss About Calicut

There are a few things that I really miss about Calicut. The order has nothing do with the importance of these items; it’s just the order in which they came to my mind.

Paragon Biryani: There is nothing like it. It's special right from the aroma that fills the whole area to the taste that grows on you. They have this special date pickle to go with it. This pickle again is something that is not readily available everywhere.

Street book stores: There are these book sellers who spread their ware on the streets. They have this irresistible offer of “Pick any book for Rs.10”. It is a fact that most of these book are just pulp, but if you have time and patience enough to search and sort through the junk, you may come up with some real good finds. I got stuff like “Raisins in the sun” from one of these shops. Those shops are too good. Sunday shopping for us invariably included a trip to those shops. I miss them like anything. 

Ice Floe: This is the small fresh juice and ice cream place located at the corner of Focus Mall food court. Their fruit salads are simply too good. When we were just acquaintances, when we hadn’t discovered the common interests, likes and dislikes of each other, Anju and I used to drop in at this place for a fruit salad with Vanilla. Later on it became one of our favourite haunts and from then on, birthdays meant ice cream from Ice Floe, New Year meant bigger ice cream from Ice Floe. Now, I miss that place like anything. And I miss it more when I think of the two idiots I left behind having ice creams at Ice floe.

Indusree: Indu… well I really do not know what to write about this one. We come from different backgrounds, do entirely different kind of work, and don’t even have common interests or anything. The only thing that brought us together in the beginning was love for food. We used to roam around sampling food from almost all available places in Nadakkavu from Salakara to Choco Tree, Ojin being our favourite. Ojin was on the verge of issuing us a “Gold Membership Card” when I left Calicut. I miss her, one of the best companions I have ever had in life.

SM Street: No shopping experience in Calicut is complete unless you take a trip to SM Street. There are shops, shops and shops there. You can shop for clothes, footwear, accessories and most of the stuff is reasonable priced.

My crazy roomies: I have been staying in hostels for more than 5 years when I moved in with these weirdos. Never before and I’m sure never again will I get roommates like these two. Staying with them is what you call once in a life time experience (not many can take it twice). Achu the romantic kiddo and anju the cynical auntie would never look anything like the terrific combo that they actually are. The numerous shopping trips, eating outs and parties we had were too good to be forgotten. I miss this crazy pair more than anything else in Calicut.

Calicut Beach: It is definitely not one of the best kept beaches; there are times when it does stink. In spite of all this, a walk along the beach on a lazy Sunday evening is one of the best experiences that you can have in Calicut.

Autos of Calicut: You may wonder what is special about a rick or a rickshawalla. They happen in all cities. But in Calicut you have some of the most fair and well behaved rickshawallas. No fight over the fare, no taking the longer routes, no misbehaving in rickshaws in Calicut.

Well there are many other places and things and memories like all the silly things that we used to do, all those places which serve real good food, all those silly messes we got into and our anecdotes like "Varkey's", "Irish Coffee", but then each of this is another story, for some other time.

I miss all these and much more about Calicut. It was one of the best places I've ever stayed.