People sent in words to me, and I tried elaborating on the first memory that word brought forth.
An exercise in reconciliations.
My first exposure to the kind of love I wanted was Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge.
See why I don’t do well in relationships?
I have crippling self-esteem issues coupled with an inordinately large ego.
Mostly, I’m shit.
Sometimes, I’m the shit.
I always wished for magical powers, so that I could make myself disappear and hear what people said of me.
Then I took the wish back.
I was so afraid of no one ever mentioning me.
The first poem by Emily Dickinson I read was Hope Is a Thing with Feathers.
There’s a picture of Madhubala I put up on my wall quite some time ago.
It was a still from Mughal-e-Azam, with the lines “Jab pyaar kiya toh darna kya?” written under her picture.
My mother stared at the wall.
“Did you know your father had that exact poster on his wall when we got married? You’ve never seen it.”
Like every other Indian kid, tea was the first thing I could make on a gas.
But the thing I was taught right after was coffee. The way dad likes it.
Even now, when I go home, the first thing my dad says it “Make me a cup of coffee. Only you know how to make it.”
Sometimes, I know when someone is lying.
I know extremely well.
It takes a liar to know one.
When you’re always told you’re not beautiful, it gets hard to believe someone actually wants to look at you.
That’s all I’ll say.
Ganpati visarjan is the biggest day in Pune.
It’s crazy, and truly, truly awe-inspiring. My favourite memory of one involves the Deccan bridge. We sat up there and saw the sea of humanity swarm by, with unnaturally large idols seemingly gliding through the crowd. Cries of “ganpati bappa morya, pudcha varshi laukar ya!” piercing through the loud Nashik dhols. The sights, the sounds, the smell of camphor in the air.
We sat up there and had the freshest vada paav I had ever tasted.
It was beautiful, that day.
I wept to my father once.
“I can’t read anymore, papa. The words don’t make pictures in my head.”
He said something I wish I could go back to.
“Maybe you don’t need fiction to save you anymore.”
I call things ‘mine’.
People, objects, memories.
Because I’m afraid I’ll lose them if I don’t lay claim.
I said ‘mine.’ to a boy once.
He replied, ‘Yours.’
Everyone called crows ugly.
But there was certain elegance to them that my 12 year old self saw. The feathers angled so sleekly. The beak gleamed. The crow was beautiful, despite everything people said.
‘Sometimes people find beauty in the most uninspiring things’, I thought to myself, as I stared into the mirror. ‘I know I did.’
‘Black is slimming! Wear that! Dark colours, ma’am!’
I heard this every time I went out shopping.
My mother smiled, encouragingly. But didn’t say a word.
Shopping for an ugly daughter can be difficult, you see. No other way around.
I agreed. For a large chunk of my life, my wardrobe had only black, dark blue, and brown.
Then, I got angry. I got tired. Went out, and bought a kurta in neon pink, despite everyone telling me it was a waste.
I never wore it. But at least I had something I liked.
I stole a book from my school library once.
(Well, I stole many. But this one is special.)
It was an anthology of stories based on dance.
Ballet. Tap dancing. Street dance. Birds dancing. The princesses who stole off at night to dance.
I was in 4th, maybe.
And that’s when I realised that romance isn’t only about love. It’s about so much more.
“You’re like family to me.”
I’ve always believed in the concept of La Familia.
Blood family exists. But so does the family you choose. The family you’re not obligated to protect, but you will, simply because.
The first person I said this to is now someone who can waltz into my house and make a cup of coffee in the kitchen with my mom asking her to make one more.
Yes, you can choose family. J
One thing that defined my childhood was coming to Delhi one summer.
One thing that stuck with me, and still impacts me, is how India Gate looks at night.
Lit up. Majestic. The Amar Jawan Jyoti flickering in the foreground. The hawkers. The ice cream wallahs. The golas. The peanuts. The kadak chai.
Sitting on the grass and staring out at Lutyens.
Marvelling at what power wroughts, and coming back to earth as we giggled over the stains dew left on our bottoms.
My father always has answers.
Even now, if I ask him something, he’ll Google and read up extensively before giving me an answer about something.
I asked him if God exists.
He looked at me, and hesitated.
“I’d say he’s unfathomable.”
That’s when I knew, for sure, that he didn’t. Dad didn’t have an answer.
I gifted my mother a poem I wrote for her, on her 46th birthday.
She sent in critique, and admonishment for being up at 3am.
Funnily, my upbringing has always been about this word.
“Tere se nai ho payega beta, chodd de.”
“Child, you’re incapable of this. Leave it.”
The funniest memory I have is of making tea.
I’m not a dexterous person. There’s no delicacy to how I physically handle things. So when I picked up a vessel to make tea and fumbled, my father looked at me and laughed.
“Tere se nai ho payega beta, chodd de.”
It became a cause. I don’t know why, but I necessarily had to prove him wrong.
So I practiced. I made tea 5 times a day.
We were all at home that day. I picked up the vessel and served my dad the most awesome tea.
“Ho gaya, Papa.”