Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The world over, celebrations and food share a deep, intimate, inseparable bond and it is no different in my home either. The kitchen is the heart of all celebrations. Mom loves cooking. We love eating. Onam is a season for the oil to boil. Murrukku, achappam, banana chips, kozhalappam all take their turns to get dunked into hot oil, sizzle and get fried into fresh, crisp and sinfully delicious (a.k.a calorie packed) snacks. Onam being the traditional festival of the land of coconuts and coconut oil, it’s inevitable that oil hog the limelight.
But with Christmas, it is a whole new story, oil and frying take a backseat and watch the fun as the oven takes to centre stage. The traditional fare gets replaced with cakes, cookies, puddings, breads, roasted chicken etc. The home-made wine blushes with pride into a deeper red at all the attention as she steps gingerly on stage.
The preparations for the big day begins months ahead when dried fruits, after a screen-test for quality, are selected, coarsely chopped and soaked in brandy for the Christmas cake. The regulars on the list include raisins, cherries, cashews and dates.
Mom ensures that the cakes are not baked until two days before Christmas because with three ever hungry kids at home for the vacations, the kitchen is always at risk of being plundered.
Cake making is a gala event with the entire family joining in. Mom, the supervisor assigns duties to us the three children and Dad retains his privileged post-the Royal Food Taster. The stereo is turned on and smells of vanilla essence, beaten eggs, cake batter all mingle with the strains of music in the air. Soon the eggs are beaten, butter and sugar whipped, flour, brandy sodden dried fruits and caramel added, batter mixed, fingers licked and remnants of cake batter on the spoons and vessels fought over.
Empty egg shells lying around in clusters, an egg beater dripping gooey threads of egg onto the black granite kitchen counter, a sink piled up with used pans, dishes, ladles and measuring cups, smileys smirking from the white blanket of flour and powdered sugar spread on the slabs are all that remain.
Before long, tummies rumble and minds fantasise as the enticing, rich fragrance of freshly baked cakes waft through every room in the house. But Mom puts her feet down firm on the one area where she rules, “No eating until tea-time.” she says and for once doesn’t let her heart waver to the best of our entreaties.
With the cakes baked and safely locked away, all that remains is for the wine to be bottled and to wait for the big day to walk in with all its high spirits.
The breeze whistles, birds sing, squirrels chirp and Christmas day dawns bright and beautiful. The very air crackles with excitement. No one is surprised when the two boys of the house are up and about in time for the early morning shopping and preparations.
The menu for the day, the highlight of any festival is Christian fare with a western touch. The day starts with a breakfast of fluffy appams and spicy egg curry. Soft home-made bread , a roasted full chicken stuffed with potatoes, a thick savoury gravy to go with it , fresh cucumber and tomato salad and tall glasses of lemonade complete lunch.
The curtain falls on the celebrations of the last festival of the year when the specially decorated Christmas cake is cut and relished at tea.
As Night sneaks up outside our window on Christmas night, all that she can hear is snatches of conversation. The thrilled chatter of a small family making plans for the New-year bash.
“Who wants chocolate pudding?” asks Mom and three hands shoot up.
“So chocolate it is. Should we have a biscuit crumb base or ...........”
Night drifts off to sleep listening to the lullaby of our voices.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
“Amy, we’ve been through this a hundred times. I told you, it’s not safe. You yourself pointed out this morning that the newspapers are replete with reports of harassment against girls and women of all ages. How can I let you go all the way to Delhi just to do a Post Graduation and be at peace at home? Besides, you can very well get the same degree from any college here in Kerala. I know it’s not the same experience but all you need is a degree right? Why don’t you try to understand my fears?
Amy and her mother were alone at home. It was afternoon and they had just finished with lunch when the subject of Amys' future cropped up. Amy was once again the first to bring it up.
A final year degree student, Amy is a young girl born and brought up in a typical middle class family. Her parents are conventional and have their concepts of how a good Indian girl should be. Concepts which don’t always coincide with what Amy wants out of her life.
Though not purely career oriented, among her dreams about her future, what reigns supreme for Amy at the moment is a job in the field of writing. But her parents’ ideas differ. They want her to get married as soon as possible and then settle down as the perfect wife, daughter-in-law and later, mother. It is this point that infuriates Amy the most.
Amy gets up and goes to the washbasin to wash her hands as her mother starts clearing away the dirty plates and dishes on the table. She knows that this battle of words with her mother is not going to take her anywhere. But for the time being, that’s all she can do. She looks up at the dark haired girl staring back at her from the mirror. Frustration gleams in her eyes. She lets out dejected sigh, dries her hands on a white towel hung beside the maroon washbasin takes a deep breath, turns to her mom and gets straight to the point.
“O.K mom, I understand your concern for my safety. But......What problem do you have with me taking up a job? Don’t you see how happy I would be if I could land a job in the field of my choice? Besides, safety is a concern not just for girls. It is an issue for everyone. Life has to go on, right? Why don’t you like the idea of me working?”
Her mother carries the pile of dirty dishes into the squeaky clean kitchen, dumps them in the sink and starts to wash them. The sunlight falls in slanting columns through the bars of the open windows onto the white marble floor. The clanging of the steel plates and the hiss of the running tap are the only sounds heard.
Amy follows her into the kitchen and stands behind her with arms folded waiting for an answer.
Her mother looks up from the dirty dishes in the sink at her 20 year old daughter. “Amy”, she said, “Do you know why divorce rates are so high these days? Why more and more young children suicide? Why the number of drug abuse cases etc. among young children is rising? Divorce rates go up because today’s girls don’t have tolerance and tend to be selfish. Financial independence makes them arrogant. So they don’t bother to try and patch up when relationships get strained. The lives of young children go haywire because with both parents working, the child is not properly taken care of. The parents are so preoccupied with their own lives that they don’t have time for their children. The role of a mother and a wife in a family are so demanding that, to have a job would be a hindrance to giving complete dedication to your family. Besides, you should understand that financial independence and money are not everything. There is lots of other things in life that matter more and the foremost amongst them is your family.”
Amy gapes at her mother.
“Whoa! Mom!! What are you even talking about??? I’m just 20, I’m single and I’m NOT a mother!!!!! I am talking about now. Not 10 years later. I want to take up a job next year alongside my studies. It’s not about money mom. It’s about doing what I love doing. Don’t my dreams mean anything to you?”
“I don’t care what you say. You’ll get married someday right? As long as you are with us in this family, I’m not going to let you travel for work or anything else. After you are married, you may do as you please. If you are lucky you’ll get a man who is not as boring and conventional as your parents. Happy?” Having said as much, her mother rinses the soap suds off the last plate in the sink, washes her hands, dries them on the kitchen towel and walks off leaving behind an irritated daughter.
Amys' is not an isolated case. In 90% of such cases, the child ends up doing what her parents want her to because, well, they are the ones in charge. Argue as they might about feminism, equal rights etc, at the end of the day, there are plenty of Amys out there who lead lives akin to that of a baton in a relay race - passed from hand to hand. First taken care of by their parents, then handed over to the hands of the man of her life and in due course of time onto the hands of her children.
But what happens when a girl decides that she wants more? What happens when a girl dreams of a life beyond the fences of a domestic existence?
How can dreams and aspirations, (considered to be must-haves in guys) be considered selfishness in women?
Girls too are human beings with dreams in their hearts and NOT ‘wives waiting to happen’.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Fading away the candles fair,
Stood on to the coffin's head,
Where you,my friend slept in peace.
Dressed in gloomy white you lay,
An angel at her well-earned rest,
Brief was time and hard was life,
But perfect were the moments you spent.
Life was a cross hanged on your neck,
Like the one in your folded hands,
But the vim with which you met
The questions of life made you great.
Never did fate smile upon you,
Ever did friends ignore you,
But I think the time has come,
When God cared to look at you.
Oh! dear look at them cry,
Whom at death-bed ignored you,
They weep their hearts out,
Soon to be filled again with blooms of joy.
The way you filled my paths with love,
Made you a good pal of mine,
Never will I forget how you cared,
Me, who had only pains to bear.
The deafening silence your mind conveys,
Like sword pierces my inner soul.
Ah! I feel the world around me,
Collapsing into grains of sand.
Now, with tears streaming in my eyes,
Let me kiss you for a final time,
Time to move on to a heavenly world,
Where, May your soul rest in peace.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
@Copied from The New York Times
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
How brilliant he weaves this story using Facebook as a narrative tool. Just read it. Thanks
A Facebook story: A mother's joy and a family's sorrow
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Thank you Adarsh for sharing that wonderful homage to life and its meaning. Let us read it again to see the nuts turning inside the great writing which touches our hearts.
“We need to go buy you a pistol, don’t we?” he asked quietly. He meant to shoot myself with.
“Yes, Sweet Thing,” I said, with a smile. “We do.” (See. A conversation always puts you in a place. We want to overhear).
The nerves and muscles pulse and twitch, and progressively, they die. (The action and the sudden crisp death).
From the outside, it looks like the ripple of piano keys in the muscles under my skin. From the inside, it feels like anxious butterflies, trying to get out. (Metaphors take you a long way. They are the ladders in 'Snake and Ladder' game, that's another metaphor)
But it’s hard to smile, and chew. I’m short of breath. I choke a lot. I sound like a wheezy, lisping drunk. For a recovering alcoholic, it’s really annoying. (When emotions run high, people use short sentences. We get choked as we get caught in a deluge of them).
If I let this run the whole course, with all the human, medical, technological and loving support I will start to need just months from now, it will leave me, in 5 or 8 or 12 or more years, a conscious but motionless, mute, withered, incontinent mummy of my former self. Maintained by feeding and waste tubes, breathing and suctioning machines. (Look at the series...your article must contain at least one series. It has the effect of a drum roll. And see the role of a fragment sentence at the end. It works whenever there are things go out of balance)
When the neurologist gave me the diagnosis that November, he shook my hand with a cracked smile and released me to the chill, empty gray parking lot below. (At the turning point, the writer jump-starts our senses. Chill(tactile). Gray(Colour). And a specific place- The parking lot. Suddenly the spectacle pops into life).
It was twilight. He had confirmed what I had suspected through six months of tests by other specialists looking for other explanations. But suspicion and certainty are two different things. Standing there, it suddenly hit me that I was going to die.(Understand the implication of twilight. It is half here and half there. It reflects the moment described).
I had a dinner scheduled in Washington that night with an old friend, a scholar and author who was feeling depressed. We’d been talking about him a lot. Fair enough. Tonight, I’d up the ante. We’d talk about Lou. (Using humour at a pathetic situation can deepen the melancholy the reader is going through. And I believe that the phrase, 'to up the ante' was once formed just to be used in this article. So apt. So touching)
The next morning, I realized I did have a way of life. For 22 years, I have been going to therapists and 12-step meetings. They helped me deal with being alcoholic and gay. They taught me how to be sober and sane. They taught me that I could be myself, but that life wasn’t just about me. They taught me how to be a father. And perhaps most important, they taught me that I can do anything, one day at a time.
Including this. (Repeating the word taught. Music. Monotony in learning. And see the short sentence single para at the end).
She was being bathed and diapered and dressed and fed, and for the last several years, she looked at me, her only son, as she might have at a passing cloud. (no comments).
I have a plan. If I get pneumonia, I’ll let it snuff me out. If not, there are those other ways. I just have to act while my hands still work: the gun, narcotics, sharp blades, a plastic bag, a fast car, over-the-counter drugs, oleander tea (the polite Southern way), carbon monoxide, even helium. That would give me a really funny voice at the end. (Using another series of specific things. And at the end again humour at a sad situation).
The song that transfixed me, words and music, was “Dance Me to the End of Love.” That’s the way I feel about this time. I’m dancing, spinning around, happy in the last rhythms of the life I love. When the music stops — when I can’t tie my bow tie, tell a funny story, walk my dog, talk with Whitney, kiss someone special, or tap out lines like this — I’ll know that Life is over. (I wish, the writer had stopped here, but he continues.)
It’s time to be gone.
For instance, assume the branches of the palm are the detail of interest. Without any word of transition, only a twist of zoom lens represented by the comma, the sentence can now read: "The rhapis palm sat in a large, white container, the branches stretching into the air". The writer can place a comma after air and zoom up something framed in this part of the sentence. This time the zoom can only be on the branches of air bcause the "camera" has focused on them, cutting the general description of the palm and container out of the picture.
Suppose there is nothing of interest about the air, but the branches have interesting joiunts or nodes. Zooming in on those, the sentences would now read: "The rhapis palm sat in a large, white container, the branches stretching into the air, fibrous joints knuckling the otherwise smooth surface.""
- Writeful (Gary Hoffman)
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Very few words are out there to describe a smell. What is the solution? How can you touch the sense? Some writers find a way out through giving their readers a cocktail of senses. A room stuffed with milk smell (for the last seventy years), smoke and cooking can easily be imagined. Some other writers try to mute other senses to accentuate the sense of smell. When the character moves through darkness, the reader also try to grope things in the darkness, heightening his sense of smell. See this:
“Hand-in-hand we climbed the dark stairs, knocked on the doors. I shivered, held Grandma tighter, remember still the smell which was curiously fragrant, a sweet soup of talcum powder, folded curtains, roses pressed in a book. Was that what years smelled like?”
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.
Look at this. The fruit getting stabbed, assassinated, the lettuce murdered.... Those are not the proper verbs needed there in the strictest sense. But now these hot, frenzied, perverted verbs show the hyperactive character behind ir. It opens a door to the mind of the character. It shows her grit. Look at the verb 'galvanised'. I think that word is from the world of science. The whole meaning changes when you pick a word from a different register to illuminate a point.
Look at this piece. Why is it special? The writer has taken pains to get the proper nouns of all the trees and tools he has to use in this writing. when we read such piece we feel safe in the writer's hands. He knows the stuff, he deals with. So next time you write get those names right and give a good journey for your readers. Many famous writers make a word list(terminology) of a particular genre before they get down to write about that subject.
So here is the question: What is the English name for that particular tool we use in our backyard, called 'manvetti'? (Mal)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
and it was a feeling after all..
When the rain splashed on my windows,
When the cool breeze caressed me,
When the turned to wind...
I realised this is heaven afterall,
To close i felt to my past,
Felt like i have felt such am emotion,
Today i sit beside my window
looking past the grill,
A cuckoo sat on the branch,
Each time i heard her,
I knew am not home,
I missed ma home even more,
more than ever,
A tear fell from my eye,
along with a rain drop on my window sill,
contentment filled me...
few more days
to huddle on my bed,
The breeze again
i drifted along...
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Could have some more colour here? Why don't we all pick a thing of our interest, a pastime, a picture, a celebrity,a book, a place,a movie, a historical event, a favourite dish? And write about it. The first ten things that come to our mind when we think about them! This has got to be fun.Add a little punch, maybe a slide in a storyline, or perhaps pleat a poem out of it. Who's in?
Do you guys think capital punishment would stop the crime??Time to scratch heads.Just think if it was just here and there we could handle but this is recurring.
On my way to the lab in tvm i actually saw criminals guared by police.And almost in the whole month there i saw new ones most of the days.And the shocking part is, all were charged with sex crime.On my way in train I had to travel with similarly charged criminals guarded by police.I noticed the criminals too late,lest i wouldnt have choosen that bogie!!Just scared people..dont know,once bold person surely gonna change after reading those crimes.
God knows where the respect for eachother have gone!To travel alone have become a third thought.Maybe later a history.
Hoping to a change of human mind.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Am like tide..once i get onto the shore i sweep of almost everything i get in ma hands...
I actually have deactivated my other account in public sites because i realise how important wordsmaid is for me...I sign in for a short span and waste time on the mails i get...
Wat to do?But now am free and back..hopefully ill be seen surely...
A strong comeback
Time is a factor we cant stop.Wish we could,but imagine if we could how corrupted our world would have been!This is better be.Everything is made right by mother nature.No objection.
I wonder where my puntuality have gone...thanks to these drastic traffic!!Lord knows wats happening....to travel just few kilometers i spend an hour.I look at those certificates and badges i won for my puntuality...mere memories now.Its not us alone but the society,the life,the development that have robbed our time.
Who cares the financial crisis or the rise of petrol charge??Still the vehicles keep introduced to the potholes..
There is no hope afterall...wherever u go its all almost the same...
Its true that 'Time and tide waits for no one'.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
We all or maybe most of us believed that it is a custom for the decisions to be made by older adults.Maybe the thought made we youngesters fume.There are moments when most of us longed to take up the decision making job.Usually when it comes to gals,when they actually do want to elope from marraige and continue studies.The excuse(or rather we felt for the truth) our elders gave was that they were far more experienced than us.
But, the fact is even science has proved that older adults are better at evaluating the immediate and delayed benefits of each option they choose from. They are better at creating strategies in response to the environment.And the younger adults were better when only the immediate rewards needed to be.Sad but true.
But what I felt is its better to let them decide because people like me are better when with a guide than alone.lolzzz...
And am happy about that too except for the fact that if my elders were wise enough at 40 I would maybe take ten years extra...
Its truly said...'With Age Comes Wisdom'.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Well, officially, including the drafts of them lazy writers, this is the hundredth post! First of all, congratulations all! Thank you everybody, on behalf of everybody, to have contributed to Wordsmaid with so much enthusiasm (don't smirk now, I did post a few right?). A communion of amateur writers is the, pardon the next word, Funnest place to be! It's a raw cacophony of genuine thoughts and emotion, true to the last strand, rough and unpolished yet evolving. I think it's better than stereotyped and predictable. Then again, we just get conditioned without wanting to, but the words we speak are etched with designs from our prime. So go! Find beauty, find love, find what you want to find! At this junction where time meets space You are here for a purpose.Now is all you have. Okay the reality rope that binds me to the earth is starting give a little tug, I can get pretty high on this whole "Life is awesome" talk huh? Anyway, keep posting. I love reading wordsmaid.
And what are you guys reading now? I'm reading the shelf off as I have nothing particular to do these days; Hemingway was the best of all what I read last.I'm awaiting the allotment for my college.Architecture is what I have wound up with at the end of it all. I'm looking forward to it, surfing famous architects and all.Enough of my rambling. Take care.
It was gradual.A cat at a time.
Amy noticed it only when,one evening as she sat reading a paperback novel reclining on a chair placed under the cool shade of the trees,she heard a meow.She glanced up.Her eyes settled on a snow-white cat crossing the grassy yard.
Amy looks around and realises that something is amiss.She can't remember the last time she saw the cats on the wall.Was it last week?Or was it the week before that?Or even longer?
Where did they go?
At the moment,Amy doesn't know that 10 yards away from where she sits,deep in the undergrowth,lies the answer.Two coiled sacks of neurotoxin,ready for the pump.
Seven days later,Amy joined the cats.
Amy Andrews,18,died of multiple snakebites on 24th April 2011.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
The generation has changed...so has the nature.Thankgod history is something we consider!Or else just imagine today never being remembered and erased....
After all there is always a way to everything.
Friday, July 29, 2011
My bond with letters began two years ago when I penned my first letter to a dear childhood friend.I had just shifted out from my hometown to a strange place for higher education when nostalgia bit me.It was a long one, the letter.It ran into 3-4 foolscap sheets filled with descriptions of my new environs.The college,students,teachers,friends,grandma,cousins,food,the atmosphere,everything.I even included a tid-bit about a weird looking eatable that our college canteen served.
That was just the beginning.Since then,I have ,when inspired,turned to the fascinating experience of penning a letter.
To buy an envelop, the right stamp and paper.To steal a little while from my selfish schedule.To settle down at my table all alone with just my pen,paper and thoughts for company.To write.
As my pen runs accross the white sheet of paper,in the deep blue ink is congealed my joys,sorrows,fears,worries,thoughts and feelings.The words hold within them bits and pieces of my mind,my heart.As I write, I pour my self a little at a time into each word.When I sign it,I embalm the words with the love drawn from the well of my heart.
Concern and regard is enclosed in the gentle folds of the letter before it is inserted into the carefully chosen envelop.
A pinch of anxiety is sprinkled on the address as it is jotted down....Will this reach my friend.......?
The stamp is stuck and confidence pressed onto it.The letter is ready for it's perilous journey preceeding it's rendezvous with my friend.
I clutch the letter afraid of losing it.For now,what I hold in my hand is not just a piece of paper with some ink on it but a peice of paper with a bit of my heart sealed within the dried ink.
What I feel now, as I walk up to the red Post Box is,I guess,a sliver of what a father feels as he leads his daughter to the altar to be handed over to the uncertain arms of matrimony.
When finally I let go, a void.A momentary sense of loss.
My romance with letters is fresh,young and one-sided.I have only had the pleasure of writing them.Not reading.
I've always wondered what it would feel like to recieve an envelop addressed to me.To hold it in my hands.To run my fingers over it,relish the thrill,suspense and excitement of not knowing what the contents of the virgin letter tucked snugly within are.To open it and know that I am the first to do so.......
Yesterday,while arranging books in our college library,my friend stumbled upon an old inland letter hidden in between the aged pages of a huge,dusty Economics text.A letter written,posted,recieved,read and forgotten in a library book 18 years before I was born.
The date on the yellowed,frail paper said, 28-5-1973.
The pain of the writer at being forgotten by a dear friend and the anxiety with which she awaits a reply still echo in her words.A voice from the past.Did she ever get a reply?Or, is she still waiting after 38 long years.........?
A letter, a chip off a heart.
Friday, July 22, 2011
The monotonous voice dictating notes drones on.I force my heavy eyelids open.My tired eyes stroll accross the class envious of those who sleep peacefully.My thoughts wander to my lunchbox.The tummy utters an impatient growl.A glance at my partner's watch advocates patience.
My thoughts take a walk around and settle down on this morning.Today,a fresh batch of first year students arrived.
Hesitant steps.Anxious faces.Frightened glances.The air was heavy with a heady concoction of apprehension,excitement and tension.Hearts pounded in the darting ,lost eyes.
I accompany my thoughts to my first day of my college life.My initial impressions about the campus.The frustration,disappointment,anger and dislike with which I approached my college and classmates.
The loss,despair and sadness I felt in being rudely uprooted from my homeland manifested as a deep sense of dislike,contempt and anger towards anything and everything associated with the new place into which I was dumped.
My family had just shifted from Kochi-the place where I grew up-to Kollam,my parents hometown.
It feels like yesterday when I,a thin,defiant,lonely girl with a serious 'attitude' walked into this campus for the first time.A girl stubborn not to gel with the surroundings or fellow students.I refused to notice anything good or positive around me.I slammed the doors of my mind shut.
The campus knocked ,then banged at the doors of my heart until I yeilded.The campus which was once a hostile stranger soon became a good friend.
Today,as a final year student,I sit by astounded at how fast time flies.Two exciting,eventful,enriching,enlightning years later,I can't begin to think of leaving behind this campus,my teachers and friends who have become a part of me and my life.
This campus has filled my heart with innumerous warm memories,it pointed out a direction for me to pursue in my life,blessed me with the honour of being in the midst of good people and gifted me with a small handful of sincere relations.....I have no regrets whatsoever with regard to my tenure here........
The teacher stops dictating.I summon myself and my thoughts, back to the classroom.The teacher looks around at the half-asleep class.Heads look up in hope.
"Thats enough for today",she says.A wave of relief surges through the students.
She steps out.The class leaps back to life.Jokes,laughs,chatter,merriment.