Thursday, December 16, 2004


Restlessness bit me again today. Again I felt heavy feeling in my chest, a quickening of breath, my limbs itching for action, my eyes roving and seeking, my mind saying, "Anywhere but here..." Where does this come from, this constant need for change - an irrepressible wanderlust that makes you seek, to transform, to stretch yourselves beyond the boundaries? Is it a sign of fundamental insecurity or is it a need for expression of your innermost self?

Actually, this wandering need not always be for seeking, sometimes it is also running away from something. In fact, come to think about it, you don't even need to physically move about to be a wanderer. All you need to have is a restless spirit with a hunger for change.

I remember character of Vienne in film Chocolat. She inherited the wanderlust from her clan, they said. From village to village, town to town she wandered, her cute little daughter in tow, seeking something which even she could not define. She found it finally or gave up, I could not figure out which, and blew the ashes of the past to the wind, much to the delight of her daughter who was tired of their constant moving from place to place.

Is this what happens to all the wanderers of the world? Or is it just for a lucky few, others being consigned to their restlessness for life?

I think people deal with it in different ways, some just resign to life and suppress that itch for change, others choose to run. There is a legend in India about a musk deer who runs till it dies in search of the source of the perfume that has been haunting it. The scent actually comes from the musk gland located in the deer's own body. Those who run behind that elusive desire for change are actually like that musk deer. More they run, the farther their goal seems to be. Desires are like sun rays that come through cracks in the roof. They form a sparkling circle, beckoning you to hold them, but when you try they slip away from your palm leaving behind a shadow.

This need for change is actually good or bad depending on how you choose to live with it. On one hand it is rejuvenating. It urges you to reinvent yourselves again and again. But if you let it decay into expectation and desperation, it can haunt you and gnaw at your heart.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to sink like sediment at some point, to plant oneself saying,"This is where I belong, this is where my journey ends!" The idea of being steeped and satisfied, plump and settled seems romantic at times. But the wanderer in me will never die. She may only lay quiet for a while. Then again, invariably, she will wake me up and cajole me into seeking what is there beyond.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

You and I

When was it that I saw you first? When did I realize you were there? Did I try, hesitantly at first, to ask you to fulfill my childhood dreams? You probably listened, for I remember that warm feeling of being cared for. You have been there, always. I cried you listened; I asked you provided. Sometimes you gave right away, sometimes when I felt that all roads were blocked and there was nowhere to go but to your feet, and I would just fall at them devastated, entreating, beseeching you to help. You came then, you always did. On your face you wore peculiar smile -half kindness, half mirth.

I sometimes wondered, do you mock at my weakness - my ignorance about you? But I hid nothing from you, not even the worst, and never will. In any case you would know it all but to tell you myself meant building an attachment with you. Sometimes you were an understanding mother, sometimes a long lost father. You have been a doting brother, a gentle guardian from past. You were a creator, I was the muse; you were the torturer, I, a victim. You were the destroyer and I lost it all. I loved you, I trusted you, I hated you, despised you. You have done it all, you seen it all. Yet you smiled, yet you came.

Today I stand on the crossroads again. Again, I am struggling for something which comes easily for some and seems trivial to others. I am alone and, again, I am lost. I have been in such a state many times before and every time you have given me a new lesson in surrender. A little of me has merged into you each time. Little by little, piece by piece, that mighty ice of ego has melted and I have come closer to you.

There is still a long way to go. A long tortuous path has to be led to know that you are me and I am you and this is the way it has been, always. I am still a child, you are still a father. I still struggle and cry and hope and pray. I have not yet acquired the quiet acceptance of an adult - a serene ability to accept your wish - to say it is what it is. I am not ready to look at you in the eye yet. I don't have the courage to jump, unperturbed, into the chasm that would lead me to you. For a while I will hesitate. For a while you will have to come for me. You will have to to raise me when I have fallen, to dust my bruised knees and nudge me to move on.

But dear lord, trust me, wait for me, I will come. I will come to you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

I proposed, you accepted

And it was all over

Just like that

All that was between us

Was mummified in a moment

Crystallized into memories

To be admired later

Those dreams, so vibrant then

Are still colorful

But the color is morbid now

For they are just specimens

That we might watch later

Through a glass of future

Knowing well that they are dead

And now are on a post

Those markers of beautiful time

But will the spur of that moment

Fill this daunting void?

Do such moments have power

To sustain this endless life?

And who will answer those questions

That haunt me through the night?

Would you have stopped

And looked back just once?

What would you have done

If you had seen me there

Crouched in anguish

That passed through me like a sword

Looking away to hide

What my eyes really had to say?

I feel the distance now

As you drift away

Whether you feel it or not

I will never know

But I don’t have the means

To bridge this yawning gap

That hope left behind

When it took my love away

Monday, November 29, 2004

The War of Love

I look into your eyes and see you go far away. You have a steely demeanor of a businessman now. Your eyes have hardened and mouth is set in a deadly resolve. I desperately search for that warmth of innocence, for vestiges of tender love - all that sent us into a rapture not very long back. My eyes moisten as I entreat you to stay, to live this dream with me just for a moment more.

I am aware of the tug of reality that pulls both of us towards life. I know this dawn is not ours to keep and this cozy enclosure that we have around us is a fragile bubble, ready to be burst at slightest of a breeze. Yet I plead, desperate to live in the illusion that you are mine and I am yours and yours only. I want hold on to you tight, to make you break away from all that pulls you away from me.

Why am I like this, I wonder. Why can't I love otherwise? The only way I know is to fall deeply, irrevocably, passionately, possessively, with all I have got. Do you know of another way to love? Then why this analysis, these calculations, these measurements? What did I do for you and what did you do in return? How much we owe and how much did we sacrifice? Do such questions need to be answered? Do we really have to burn on the stake of cross examination?

My dear, what we have is so precious. This fragile, forbidden feeling of being in love. Let us not trample it in the war of our egos. It can give us the strength to fight the vagaries of the world, but it cannot survive the strife between us. What is this my love? A war of love or a love of war? Why do we have to indulge in a matchless duel in which the only casualty will be that what we have between us?

Yes we can live without it. Just as we lived for a long long time. But, tell me, now that we have tasted it would it be possible to live without each other? Would you not turn to the sound of footsteps hoping they would be mine? Will my laughter ring in your ears even after I am long gone? Can you live without the dreams that we built together? If you can, then there is nothing more to say. But if you think otherwise, for just a little while, can you stay?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Oh I am feeling so stupid!!!

The color on my cheeks just faded

My eyes moisten a little

I look away to hide my face

Blurt out inanities and hope

What I just said will be washed away

And buried deep into time

I hope the earth opens

Or the sky falls to hide me now

No time is left for analysis

Or to mint a memory to share

A little of my honor I seek to redeem

A bit of that ego I want to sustain

I try to retain that fragile respect

And run for cover from a snicker or sneer

I search into the eyes of those

Who were witnesses of this jest

For any signs of impounding mirth

Or of derision delayed

I want to shake them and scrub them clean

I want to rewind them to that moment in time

When I still posessed my shining honor

And the stupidity wasn't possible

But alas, the arrow has left

And has struck its blighted target

And I am left with smarting cheeks

And an ashen face of the dumb

Ah! thats okay, no hard feelings

For even the worst is forgotten

Some day I will look back and smile

And love this girl foresaken

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Paradox

I am to seek you yet to spurn you

To love you yet despise you

To long for that tender touch

Yet cringe away from life

What a fate, oh what a fate

For I dare not plant a dream

In the desolate land I tread

I fear it will live and flourish

And beckon me to the shade

The right to which I have never had

It will then turn into a shadow

And melt in the heat's ardor

Leaving me pining forever

Full of a parched remorse

I look at the mirror and see

All that you cherished so much

Wither away with the wind

Replaced by a vacant longing

To which there was no beginning

And there never will be an end

My lips are closed and empty

For the song of the rapture has left them

My eyes don't moisten anymore

Since your dreams have abandoned them

That sweet anticipation of your touch

That would make my bosom swell

Now hides in the mire of questions

Littered along the way

What can I say my love

How can I apologize

I am such a pauper

For even the words of regret

Are lost from my heart forever

I am but a slave now

A mere playmate I am

Locked in a steely embrace

Of fate which has won the chase

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Other Side of Tears.

Everything has another side, even the walls that seem so high and endless...

Yesterday was a day when I had thought this is it; it is impossible to be happy after this point. I gave myself to the darkness that surrounded me. I thought I could mingle in it now that the past, present and future all seemed dark - as dark as the darkness itself. I broke down into a torrent which knew no bounds. I cried until I was the tears and tears were me. Heaving, sighing, breathing, choking and crying again, I let my pain engulf me into the abyss until my mind and body was an expression of its power.

But submission is not conquering and the pain is a flighty Prince. Before I could catch his hand, he rode away on his dark horse leaving me behind - alone and empty. I had thought that, at least, this pain was permanent, all permeable, all powerful and I had found something that could be my companion for life. At one point it even seemed heroic, romantic to face the sorrow in full. But as he went he swept away everything - all the bitterness, the helplessness, the frustration, the expectations, the anger, the supposed happiness and even hope - everything that I thought was me. I was left with a void - a numb, steely lack of emotion like the darkness that he left behind as a parting gift.

I thought this was the state I was now consigned to be in but that's when a glimmer of sunshine tore through the night and I was taken aback. I had expected no such thing in the dry and desolate land that I thought I was in. Some part of my mind had played truant. Throughout all this drama, it had stayed unscathed, serene, ardent, positive and full of faith. As the tumult died down an the dust settled, a little seed took to the ground with a fierce passion for life. It needed nothing to burst to life. Only an unshakeable ardent faith sustained it. No concoction of expectations, duties, obligations, traditions, ambitions - all that is supposed to make us grow - was needed to fertilize its soil.

Soon it caught the sunshine and pulled the warmth towards it. How this fragile thing had power to beckon the sun, I don't know. But now my mind witnesses the dance of a plant fed by the sunshine and the sunshine sustained by the plant.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

This will pass..

Some day this will pass and I will be able to look back and smile, we have to tell ourselves when we are faced with a terrible blow. The yearning, the restlessness, the regret may even seem ridiculous in time. But, till then we have to break the time into tiniest of parts and try to squeeze life from each of the them.

How long can one carry this burden - unfulfilled desires, unmet expectations, wrong perceptions, unrequited love and broken promises? Life is littered with disillusionments but we have to move on. It took a Buddha to realize that desire is the root cause of suffering, and it took a Buddha to get over all desires to reach Nirvana. For the rest of us, the task is not easy, even if we listened to what he said. We stumble, we fall, we question, we cry. Sometimes we rise, sometimes we just resign. But there must be something worth living for we are still here.

A dear friend asked, "Arundhati, why is it so hard to live alone?" She is going through the horror of a bitter, long drawn divorce. For several months I have seen her coming to terms with life sustained only by an ardent faith. She breaks down like this sometimes, when the burden becomes unbearable. She cries her heart out and when she is done she wipes her eyes, stands erect and tries to negotiate with life on her own terms. I can't do much for her except for lending an ear. But I am in awe as I see her rise again and again from the ashes of her conscious. Yet, when she asks, why is it so hard to live alone? I have no answer.

Through our lives we get into various relationships - brother, sister, parent, husband, wife, lover, friend. Each relation comes with a baggage of expectations. If they are not fulfilled we are hurt, if they are fulfilled we end up with still more expectations. At some point of time, when the burden becomes too much to carry, we start struggling to get out. But more we shake our limbs to escape more we find ourselves entangled in the mire. Liberation does not come easy and loneliness seems like the greatest of the curses.

Just as a flame would burn till the end of its fuel, a relationship would sustain only until it has substance. So many of our relationships burn out. Some exist as mere shadows - sometimes just for the sake of society. Yet we cling on to them either out of social pressure or emotional dependence. We try to stoke them, struggle to breathe life in them only to be disappointed again and again. For so many of us end of a relation seems like the end of the world. We get desperate to a point that we are willing to sacrifice our self respect, our dignity, our principles and values to sustain a relation.

But, if a relation demands the sacrifice of your self esteem, is the relation worth it? You fall in love with a man who is not even willing to take responsibility for his actions. Is he really worthy of your love? The ability to love unconditionally is the greatest power of all. Yes, you are prepared to make greatest of the sacrifices for the person you love and that is noble. But if your love rips you off of your self, is it even love anymore? How far can you go and how much could you loose?

Any relationship should be based on the pillars of attachment, trust, sacrifice and mutual respect. If any of these is weak it would not take time for the relation to crumble.

If there is anything we are entitled to in this life, it is dignity and self respect. It is our right as the children of God. Any relation which crosses these boundaries should and would die.

Yes, it will hurt when the relation to which we gave everything comes to an end. But if we step out of the pain and regret and open our hearts wide enough, we will see that, actually, we do have a choice. We could choose to close ourselves with hatred and wallow in self pity or rise above ourselves with compassion and strength. Our dignity is our legacy but it is our responsibility too. We are the guardians of the divinity within us and we have to maintain its purity and respect. For this we have to be emotionally self reliant. We have to find within ourselves the strength to live this life away from the context of all the relations - accepted or imposed.

Words of song waft through my mind...

Khulke muskurale tu dard ko sharmaane de

Boondonko dhartipar saaz ek bajaane de

Open your heart and smile and let the pain run shy

Let the drops of rain play a melody around you...

Monday, October 25, 2004


What makes me a woman? I have been asking myself for past few days. My body? My spirit ? My thoughts? My actions? My preferences - both sexual and otherwise? Is it even possible to encase womanhood in words? It probably isn't, but it seems to be a need of times for something haunts me.

Is ability to reproduce foundation of womanhood? If I am not able to reproduce, does that make me less of a woman? I ask myself, as I come to terms with my difficulty to conceive.

It is strange how age old traditions and beliefs haunt you when you think you are above them. They seem to make a back door entry and dig into your mind where you are most vulnerable.

Images of age old suffering conjure up in my mind - images of women persecuted for their inability to bear children. Women tortured, rejected, insulted for bearing daughters. So many before me have died living deaths of relentless torture and insult. So many have lived in the burden of self deprecation.

No, I have not been tortured. I have not been insulted. In fact I am fortunate enough to have some of the most incredible people around me. I am blessed with a mind which has an ability to think and a spirit that, at least, has a concept of freedom. So, I have a privilege to ruminate, to question, to redefine my womanhood.

But confession has to be made. For a moment at least, I have betrayed my sensibilities by feeling incomplete, inadequate, stunted. It has taken a lot of effort to gain back my senses. The hurt to my ego was terrible. The pain lasted for days. How could I lack this - something which is so much a part of lives of any woman I have known? Why am I being denied the experience which seems to be such an important part of the life of a woman? The fact is that when something is denied to you, it becomes even more important.

What is it? Pollution? Stress? Mistakes in my upbringing? Past Karma? Curse? Black magic? I have tried to come up with so many reasons, silly and otherwise. Mind never fails at surprising you, does it? The rationalization need not be rational at all! And for a person like me, who has supreme ability of never forgiving oneself, it gets even worst.

If it were someone else, I would have given her comfort, understanding, perspective, support. But why am I not able to give that to myself? Recently, I read about a woman who was suffering from a rare condition, where she did not have any reproductive organs at all. No uterus, no ovaries, no cervix and no vagina. Inside a perfect female form, she hid an emptiness that was beyond comprehension. Her identity crisis seemed worst than mine, I almost cried with sympathy. But for myself, I don't even have tears. My mind is on fire and I am letting my heart burn. Compassion is the greatest of virtues - not only towards others, but towards oneself too! When will I understand this? Mind can be your greatest friend and it can be your greatest enemy!

So it is time to discover that woman in me.

I look at the mirror and see a perfect female form. The curves of my body, the softness of my skin, the grace of my gait, all whisper my femininity. My heart quickens at the touch of my man. I seek the warmth of his skin, the roughness of his touch. And I possess the greatest gift of all, I am able to open myself to accept him.

I have the ability to cry at will, to laugh at the smallest of things. I can look at a flower and marvel at it's beauty. Gossip gives spice to my life, applying nail paint is greatest of my joys and heaps of clothes is my idea of heaven.

I have compassion, tenderness, empathy to all that is little, fragile and weak. I am flighty, shy, moody, mysterious. It is hard to fathom the depths of my soul. I breathe fire one moment and break down into tears the next. I indulge in romance and human relationships fascinate me.

I can fall in love and how? I can fling myself completely, uncontrollably, passionately, with everything I have. I can suffer in love and love in suffering. Love speaks from the deepest of the places in my heart. Sacrifice does not bother me for I can loose the world for a twinkle in the eyes of a loved one.

I may not be able to reproduce, but I can create - a poem, a story, a thought, a smile, a word of care. I may not be able to give birth, but I can nurture - a sapling from a seed, a cat from a kitten, a human from a child.

Is it really so hard to see her, if you open your heart enough? I can glimpse her now, deep inside myself, the woman that I am. She is hiding somewhere behind the veil of self doubt, I know. It is time to find her, to bring her out in the sun and let her breathe free from expectations. She should see herself too and bask in the glory of her womanhood. She should be proud, yet grateful for all that is endowed to her. The triumph of her existence would melt any clouds that fate has chosen to cast upon her being.

I will embrace her now and with her I will sing the song of this life, in a celebration of the divine.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Its one of those days when I speak of love

It is one of those rare, precious days when you feel you are loved by everything around you and you are in love with everything in sight. The rains have just subsided and the sun has blessed the world around me with a fresh, crisp warmth. The leaves that have fallen off with the rains are now in tango with the winds. They are free now, free to waft away or park themselves in a warm cozy nook. They are not worried about wasting away in an aimless journey, for they whisper a promise of life.

As I look at the hills and breathe in the warmth, I feel beautiful. My skin seems to shimmer and my body is a beautiful symphony. This is when I want you to touch me - when I am feeling so beautiful. And this is when I miss you the most. I am jealous of those leaves just as I am jealous of anything that is free - anything that could fly to you at will and play with your hair.

I spread my arms to embrace the warmth and a miracle happens. I open my eyes to see I am in your arms. Your face is close to mine as you whisper messages of love, only to be heard by me. I even twitch a little, as your stubble pricks my ear, and complain half heartedly at the sweet pain of your bite on my now beautiful neck. You have held your hand over my eyes, to protect me from the sun and kiss my lips in full, savoring the taste. You touch me like you own me, like I am yours and yours only, and like the world doesn't matter anymore, for we are where we should be.

As your love seeps into my being, these barriers don't seem barriers anymore. The distance between us disappears as does the burden of life. The sun has the power to melt them all: the thoughts, the duties, the obligation, the pain - all that conspires keeps us apart.

Do you feel this too my dear when you look out in the sun? I hope one of these rays that just made me shine, lighted your face with the same love as mine.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Of rain and such

It was raining here yesterday, the usual Northen California rain - calculated and cold. There is no such thing as enjoying the rains here. We walk out of our little boxes at work and hurry to another box, the car, and then to the last box, our apartment, hating the rains along the way. Rain and cold are now a fixed pair in my mind so much so that I have lost the association with the monsoons.

Not too long back ( or is it?) I would have been on a two wheeler with Mukta, heading for Sinhagad, right in the hardest of the monsoon rains. We would have gone up there in the fog and mist and peered down to see, if anything, of the valley below. It would not have mattered that we could see nothing. The fog would offer infinite possibilities. The sheer uniformity of it would set us free take any direction we liked. It would make way as we moved on, creating a cozy, private enclosure, hiding all that was unpleasant. Some walk in the clouds it would have been!

The fog, though, is treacherous thing, they say. It beckons you to test yourselves beyond the limits of sanity. So much so that I have heard tale of a young man who, mesmerized by the fog, jumped straight into it only to die in the valley below. Once you are in the fog, this does not seem that insane. Anything seems possible there. You are so incredibly close to yourselves that the boundaries between the mind and matter, the inside and out are blurred to the extent that you don't know what is truth and what is imagination. Life seems to have no beginning or end, just a middle, stretched to infinity on both sides, so much like the fog.

I happened to be in Konkan one monsoon and experienced what monsoon is really about. Every monsoon, the earth and the sky play a mating dance there. The sky takes her passionately, mercilessly and she rises to every challenge, soaking in the nourishment he has to offer, demanding for more and more. Who wins, who looses - does not matter. What matters is the pure, raw, primal passion - love as it should be.

In the hiatus, the earth bursts with life. Thousands of species of plants begin their journey at this time with an infinite promise of life. It is green everywhere, but the greenery is not ephemeral. It does not consist of grass that grows in the monsoons and dies with it. The plants are as passionate for life as their mother. They reach into the depths of her for nutrition and soon learn to thrive on their own. Nothing is left untouched by this magic; no patch of soil, no corner of a home, no stack of hay. It is like the earth is making a statement against all that is sullied and impure, displaying, in full force, its capacity to create life.

I am not nostalgic by nature and almost never think about the past. But something touched a chord yesterday, maybe it was the sight of a sapling or whiff of a fragrance of wet soil. What started this reverie, I don't know. But the journey to the past was beautiful....