Saturday, May 27, 2006

Life comes a full circle

This night is different from all my previous nights. Tonight I’m unable to sleep; I’m forced to ponder over my life.

It didn't take long for my mother to realize I was a different kid. Barring the physicality, I didn't have anything in common with the girls of my age. I was born a tomboy.

At an age when girls loved decorating their dolls and dressing them up, I took sadistic joy in crushing and dismantling them. While the other girls would raise their hands and ask parents to lift them while crossing a puddle in our street, I would slap any hand outstretched to help, and jump and cross it myself. That would give my ‘boyish’ ego, a smug boost.

But I wasn't different from the girls only; I was a rebellious kid even by boys' standards. I felt that every societal rule was there to curb my freedom. So I would break them at the drop of a hat. At times, I would even search for societal conventions to commit my faux pass.

I have always been a nightmare for my mom. My antics never allowed her to sleep peacefully, more so after she discovered the real me. I found archaic, every word of caution that came out of her mouth and every rule of discipline she laid for me. No amount of chastening would ever work on me. I was an undisputed apotheosis of a spoilt brat.

“Don’t sit that way”, “Behave yourself”, “Don’t stay out after 7”, “Learn to cook”, “Don’t wear shorts; wear frocks”, “Don’t play with the boys”, “Why can’t you play with other girls of the society?”, “Why can’t you behave like a normal girl?” and so on. My life was a constant questionnaire I preferred to tear apart with my actions.

The only time I behaved like a girl was when my mother was seriously ill. I took to doing the chores and taking her care, something totally unexpected of me. That was the only time I patiently listened to what she said.

“You’re a little girl, so gullible. You don’t realize that the outside world is very bad. You’ve to be very careful with the company you keep. The bad people will use you and throw you away. Why don’t you obey me my child?”

But soon after she recovered, I returned to my old ways.

Life went on, punctuated by altercations with my mom. I was tired of cold stares and loud rebukes that had become an almost daily phenomenon. So, after my schooling, I chose to go abroad for graduation. The move was more to move away from the prying eyes of my mom than for my love of foreign universities. The thought of freedom from having to justify my every action was too mouth-watering for me to feel the pain of separation from my spying but caring mom.

College life, away from home, was fun to say the least. I could mingle with friends of my choice without any botheration. Even here, my coterie had few girls. With my group, I was party to all kinds of outings; even to places considered to be guys’ bastions. I had gone crazy with my newfound freedom and enjoyed it to the hilt.

One such day, feeling groggy after the previous night’s drinking binge, I went to meet my friend. That day, he had not gone for lunch with the rest of our gang. We were not doing anything in particular: watching TV, gossiping and pulling each other’s legs. Suddenly I picked up a magazine with no particular intention of reading it. He snatched it immediately from my hands saying he wanted to read it first.

“Why should he read it first?” I thought.
“How could I let him snatch something from ‘my’ hands?” my alter-ego was too bruised to let him win the physical challenge, even though I was no match for him.

That gave me an instant kick and I snatched it back, for I saw, in his snatching of the magazine, a rule I had to break.

He jumped to grab the book but missed it. I ran and he followed. After a few missed chances he grabbed me from behind. He held my arms and turned me around with such power that I couldn’t do anything but face him. He held my elbows tightly; so I turned my hands with elbows as hinges and secured the magazine behind my back, holding it as tightly as I could. His hands, groping for the book, ran through my forearms, then wrists and reached the magazine. In the ensuing duel, I found myself kicking and pushing him, but in vain. In my efforts to relieve myself from his hold, I tripped and fell on the bed and he - not one to let go off the book - fell on top of me.

We were still fighting for the magazine. During the duel, our eyes met and I chuckled smugly at not letting him take it. Taking this as an insult, he did the unexpected. He planted his lips on mine and my hands that had, until so far, firmly held the magazine released it immediately. My eyes bulged out in shock at the sudden development. I tried to bring my hands out from under me to stop him, but our combined weight was too much for them. He won the book from me; but today that was not enough. He wanted to win me over.

Shock turned to anger at my inability to be in control. Anger turned to exasperation as I squirmed under him in frantic attempts to release myself. I somehow managed to release my hands and held them against his muscular chest to break the lip-lock. But the bitter-sweet sensation of the kiss had started playing its hormonal games on me by then. For the first time in my life, I didn’t mind being forcibly controlled and subdued. And I decided to go with the flow; force of my hands against his chest reduced and I found myself opening my lips in response to his. The inevitable happened.

I had made a life out of breaking the rules. However, in this quest, I didn’t realize that I made “breaking rules” the rule of my life. But someone, if not I, had to break this rule too for me. The self-imposed rule of my life was that I was to behave like a guy. Someone had to bring out the girl from the fa├žade of a guy.

The next day, I found myself changed in a way that would make my mother proud. The sudden realization of being a woman was too much for me to be the same once again. To my surprise, I drastically reduced the frequency of meeting my ‘boy’ friends, except for him. The two of us had always been the best of buddies; that incident promoted him to a ‘special person’ in my life. I fell for him, head over heels. We met each other quite often and made out occasionally. Those were the best days of my life.

To my shock, I missed a cycle for the first time since puberty. But he, to my obvious consternation, refused to marry me and suggested instead to abort the baby; he then started ignoring me completely. I was staring at the prospect of becoming an unwed Indian mother - a social stigma of the lowest order. I felt that my fate had given me a very crude choice on the same rules that defined my life. Another rule of society was inviting me to break it and yet, I couldn’t find myself amused at the prospect of doing so.

But the recent realization of being a woman and the unexpected, yet pleasant, longing for motherhood made me take the choice of my life. I decided to become a single, unwed mother.

A few months down, I delivered an angelic baby girl. All my worries of societal stigma were drowned in her pleasant countenance and infectious innocence. I wanted to protect her from everything bad on earth. I told myself, ‘I will protect her from bad company, never let her be misguided by people like her father who could use her and throw her away.’

For the first time in my life, I could relate to my mother; I was thinking like her, and I suddenly realized, she wasn’t out of her mind in looking after me the way she did. For the first time I felt, she wasn’t entirely wrong.

My last few years have been wonderful with my little angel around me. She has been the centre of my universe ever since she was born. She has given meaning to my aimless existence.

Last night it rained heavily. This morning was so pleasant that I took my little angel out on a ramble. On the way, we reached a puddle left behind by the overnight showers. I crossed over in one big leap but my angel released my finger just when I was to cross. From the other side, I extended my hand.

She slapped my hand and said, “Mummy, I want to jump and cross it myself.”

No wonder, I can’t sleep tonight.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Memories


Like the fragrance of flowers, I waft.
Never to return, I had left.
Still clinging to time's breweries,
never to let go the hangover of memories.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I want to ...

NDTV selected this poem and published it on its site. Check out

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I wanna be the fragrance of flower;
powerless, and yet full of power.
I wanna be the song of a bird;
singing, and yet never heard.
I wanna be the sigh of wind,
to help tired souls unwind.
I wanna be the hiss of a stream,
to push their hopes upstream.
I wanna be the smile of an infant
and the untiring spirit of an ant.
I wanna be a kid's mirth from its toy
and its parents' tears of joy.

I wanna be the crescent of the moon
and the warmth of sun on a cold noon. 
I wanna be a star in the skies,
and a soaring eagle as it flies.  I wanna unload my past
and truly live until I last.
I wanna live in the present
and make most of every moment.
I wanna get rid of my fear today.
To all, I wanna be near and dear today.
I wanna be the quenched thirst today
and the soothing shade of tree today.

I wanna stretch my limits today.
I wanna break the rules today.
I wanna be everything that is good today
and make the world a better place today.