A Woman of her Time

Her skin like crumpled paper clung to her hand and the veins stood out like rivers disappearing into her arm. The winter wind howled outside the house as she looked at me, her hand holding mine. She touched my face with her palm, it felt cold against my cheek. She lies slumbering somewhere among my memories. Like walking through a fog on a forest trail I stumble upon them. I recall the cold stone floor as I stood watching her her cat quietly lapping at a bowl of milk. Or looking at my hazy  reflection the mirror one morning as I brushed my teeth and the  quiet breeze rustling the leaves in her farm outside. The nurses carrying her to bed as she was paralyzed because of a fall. I remember looking out of the car window as my mother pointed at a two floored building. It was my great grandmother’s clinic she said. Did I walk in and see the five roomed structure now rented out? Or did I imagine it. Pictures tell me that she held me in her arms as a baby, they tell me about her cats lazing on her lap. They paint a story of her life and the world she lived in. But my one memory of her is more precious than those preserved in Polaroids.

Who is this woman to me? She featured in so many bed time stories. A woman born to a poor family, who was married to a widowed judge as a child and raised two daughters. But this never completed her story. After her marriage she enrolled into a medical school, she failed several times but never gave up. She was limited by her education due to her family’s income, social background but above all else her  gender. She fought the battle when most would have surrendered. She worked to be a trained obstetrician. She supported a husband who was driven to madness as he lost his job and purpose with the revolution that brought a swift decay upon the maharajah’s court. She raised her step children along with her daughters. But who is she to me?

She was a stickler for some rules but in many ways she defied tradition and was ahead of her time. Did she believe women could strive for individual liberty? She lived the role of a single mother by chance not by choice. Did she believe in a society where marriage or motherhood can be a choice? As a girl of seven these questions were beginning to form but it would be years before these droplets of thought turned into a cloud. My grandmother and my mother, the women in my family she raised; have been like her, ahead of their time. But I have walked past the shackles of time, past the prison gates, into a world with open skies and endless possibilities.

And now the world I left behind calls me back. It wants me to climb back into the cast of an immutable tradition. What I often wonder is, would she want me to?ThinkstockPhotos-491904538©ThinkStockPhotos

 

 

 

 

 

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B and Me

I was looking into a still lake on a grey winter’s morning. Thinking about the first letter he wrote me. Of his childlike writing and unmasked feelings. Those simple words in flowing cursive would someday move me to tears like no written word ever could. The fog seemed to clear and staring back at me from the depths I saw a smile upon my face. It was the day love found me.

The cup of hot chocolate felt warm in my hands as I looked across the street. It was a cafe tucked away in a busy street on a hilltop somewhere. A book nestled in my lap, the drolleries of Lear reminded me of him. There he was looking at me as his ridiculous puns and his innocent eyes pulled me into their depths. The mirror from across my table watched as I laughed by myself lost in a memory. It was the day I found love.

That night the piano man played me our song. Every note was a part of our tale that echoed through my heart. From that dusty attic where I hid him I watched him walk up to me and ask for a dance. My mind waltzed across the floor and my soul took flight. His eyes were like I last saw them, a moonlit night preserved in paintings. It was the day love found me.

My diary lay open and my pen traced words onto the empty pages. The ink in tune with my heart. “You write of everyone and yet you never write of me”, he would mock me. How could I tell him his story is mine and without it I will always be incomplete. How could I show him those tear stained pages where he lives. It was the day I found love.

I was as incomprehensible to him as he to me. But like an Eagle’s nest on that far off cliff he was home to me.thelaketoday

Once upon an another time

Once upon an another time,

I found my forever grow with me.

I walked down a winding road,

When did dreams need a hand to hold? 

Cloudy days and rain washed streets,

Cigarettes and fallen leaves,

Tyre tracks and window sills,

Candy floss and carousels.

I walked alone and found my way,

Along that lonely mountain pass.

Tea cups and handle bars,

Sun kissed valleys and humming bees,

Silhouettes and starry skies,

Among them I stood, only me.

I climbed the hill only to find,

I left the child I knew behind.

No enemies to call my own,

No shadows on the porch calling me home,

No letters in the mailbox haunting me,

For I was free like a sailor at sea.

By myself on those summer nights,

I knew that was where I wanted to be.

Piano keys and paintbrushes,

Musty books and ink blotches,

Soaring eagles and scuttling mice,

In unexpected places I found paradise.

Once upon an another time

I found my forever grow with me.

Where I stood my world began,

And my past never haunted me.

I Found You

You, who smile when you find the moon looking at you as the clouds leave her face, like a veil being lifted. You sing of nightingales and forgotten things. You dance to a tune that plays in the orchestra of your mind. You, who appreciate the enormity of life and yet are humbled by its fleeting presence. I found you.

Your eyes are like looking into a galaxy of emotions, the Stars sparkle in the depths light years away. You hold me spellbound with that smile like a newborn babe. And all I ever want to do is smile with you.

We come from two worlds. You have seen more frugality and hardship and believed a prosperous world would be a better one. I had wallowed in excess and romanticised the notion of a more equal world. Our conversations were like a painting, never before had so much contrast existed in harmony. 

For the first time in a long time I waited in eager anticipation for the future to unfold. I knew it could hold sorrow that could sway me to madness but I knew there was a real possibility of finding happiness more profound than the stillness of a lake in a quiet countryside. Because I found you.

Your stories of home and everyday life made me smile at the innocence in your heart. Your simple yet eloquent embrace brought tears to my eyes. I have seen something so mesmerising in our midnight conversations like gazing upon a scene so intense the time stands still.

I found you unexpectedly. It was like soaring into the clear blue sky with the wind caressing my face. I found you when you were hurting  from losing another. I looked on to the swirling sea of pain within you and a wave pulled me into the darkness. 

And I lost you to a sea of faces as you disappeared into the crowd on a busy train station…

  

Fickle love

Her hand was her story and entwined with mine it was ours. And at 24 that hand still eludes me.

Romantic love has a way of making it into stories. Love can be acted out by the players in the Queen’s Court. Love can be destroyed by the sweat of the slaves who built the Taj Mahal. Love thrives in the hearts of a revolutionary hiding from the guards in a darkened alley. Love dances by the light of a flickering candle and a frayed book- narrating a story of freedom, equality and justice. Love dies on a battlefield with the last breath of every soldier. And love is reborn with the first cry of every child.

I implore you to not belittle this emotion with mindless gifts and empty promises. Don’t singe the fabric of this treasure shared by all that grows and breathes with your petty bickering. Don’t confine it to a day of shallow celebration.

If  you don’t realise that love is more than a ring at the bottom of a champagne glass. If you can’t fathom the idea of love existing in multitudes. If you can not understand why forced monogamy may not be what true love is. If you chose to believe love is found in sameness and that it is possible to fall out of love. It is you who  will never find it.

Because love doesn’t have to be forever to be. A gesture, a look, a word, a song, a dance can make the heart take flight. Love doesn’t glitter it shines-through the eyes of those who can feel it. It comes in many hues, like seeing light through a kaleidoscope. Love cannot be chained and it is not the beginning or the end. It might find you at a crossroads and it may not walk the path you chose to take.

Love may be a part of your story if you find it, but it is never the entirety of it. Our stories are not measured by the promise of forever but by the life we live and world we leave behind.

 

 

 

 

For everyday things

   The intricate pattern on the clay like the veins on a leaf. My submerged feet through the clear sparkling water. The light dancing off the scales of a fish as the bird dives in. The tinkling of the spring nearby and the rustling of the leaves. The companionship of far-away mountain peaks half covered in snow . The solitude of the wooden log as it floats silently with the current. The water as it hits the rocks and the spray on my face.

 The lazy afternoon with the solitary star and that blanket of blue. The floating wisps of water higher than the soaring eagle’s reach. The silent sentinels of a time long past the towers in the distance keep a watch. A sombre shade of grey cloaks the obelisk. Like sages who witnessed battles from times bygone they smile at the musings of a girl no more than five and twenty on the river bank.

The sounds of the bazaar that never cease. That lone strand of her hair comes undone and sways in the breeze. The groove in her back as it disappears beneath the folds of her red saree. The earthenware cast shadows tall and stately, the brass pots catch the rays from the setting sun. A girl hops along the dusty road her hair in pleats a frayed blue backpack and her dupatta fluttering with the breeze. The cuckoo flies home and the crickets  begin to sing. I lean on the wide bark of an old banyan tree and watch the fading sky. A rickety scooter with dark fumes runs past me as I walk back home.

  
The night brings the diamonds to light. It cloaks us in darkness so we can watch them shine. Like a sleeping animal the town is asleep, alive only in its quiet breathing. The streetlights cast a dim glow upon the pavement and somewhere a lone dog howls. The moon is but a sliver of its rounded self, it amuses me to watch it wane. The crowded rooftops dotted with temple spires spread across the valley like a fog on a winters morning.

As I watch a new year dawn I wish for the world to endure. Broken it may be, but it has given me a day of silent wonder because it is the little things that make life worth living. It is not for torrid love, it is not for end of terror or war, it is not for treaties of peace, it is not for scientific wonders that will hold me enthralled; it is for everyday things that I want the world to go on.

Lost in translation

They always ask why I chose so poorly when it comes to love. Why I don’t chose the guy at a karaoke bar who sings like Frank Sinatra and asks me to sing along. Why I don’t stay and chat with the boy in a bookstore, who saw me holding a copy of The Idiot and asks if I thought the unevenness of the story made it more whole. Why I don’t stand and listen to the student who sits on a bench by the art gallery playing his violin, even though the strings pull at the chords in my heart.

I don’t chose wisely because I fear love. The possibility that I might find someone who would ask me to dance with him in an empty ballroom or a newly bought studio apartment. That he might have his favourite bedtime poem for nights when sleep evades him, that someday it might lull me to sleep. That I would one day hold his hand sitting side by side on rocking chairs out on the porch and listen to the crickets. It’s like that one frequency of sound which resonates with every crystal in the glass before it shatters. It is those shards I fear because they are impossible to put back together. 

 I imagine that feeling every night before I go to bed. Yes I am a romantic if you hadn’t guessed by now. But every morning as the sun shines through the blinds I put my dream to rest. It does peek out from the grave quite unexpectedly. That I might have met him sometime somewhere but I chose to walk away. That even though I sing like a crow I should have taken his hand as he reached out while singing “if you go away.”  That I didn’t ask him if he identified with the Prince or that he wondered if he world sometimes feels so full yet so desolate? That I chose to walk past and never gave the music a chance to thaw my frozen heart.

I chose instead that which cannot comprehend my love. That which cannot hold me captive to its tune. I chose that soul so foreign that it’s words are always lost in translation. I chose that which I couldn’t love even if I tried. So my heart remains and there it shall lie buried in my chest till the day I die.