November 23, 2019

To a grandfather far far away

Happy birthday, thatha :’) I still miss you oh-so-much that it hurts!

You were the magical presence in the lives of your three granddaughters, transforming every second into a learning experience, taking us to museums and book stores and showering us with knowledge in every form and kind.

I aspire to be as inspiring as you were to us to one another person in life. You were a self-made man always finding the next-best thing to make your family’s life better. You made such a difference to each one of us! We have in us your quest for knowledge, your passion for travel and your insatiable love for life. In many ways, you live on through the three of us. But sometimes, it’s just not enough. I wish we could see you, that you could see us and how our lives have unfolded. But that’s just me being selfish, I suppose. You were in way too much pain and it was time. But the truth is — it is never possible to let you go!

Thank you for elevating our humble existence into that of superstars. We always knew how cherished we were thanks to your abundant love. You always had our back and that was precious to our growing selves.

I sorely miss all the silly games, the countless talks, the way you wanted me to pat your head so you could fall asleep. A day doesn’t go by without me thinking of you with a pang. Why isn’t science advancing fast enough to find a way to communicate with those who have moved on?

I still remember how I wept and wept and couldn’t stop crying when I watched Cosmos and Interstellar. Movies for some, but meaning-making gospels for me! Finally, through these films, I could be at peace with the fact that people don’t die and disappear. And that there was always the hope that they’d end up on a parallel plane of existence. Someday, I hope to find you there :’)

Why am I writing into some internet void which you may/may not have access to? Maybe I want to shout out from the rooftops that I have (you still are and always will be!) the best grandfather in the world! Or maybe it is a desperation to immortalize you; if not on earth, then in an over saturated world wide web. Or probably it is a silly hope that you can access anything on that parallel plane of existence, who knows?!

Wherever you are, I hope there are plenty of newspapers and books to read, delightful “titbits” of information to cut out from those papers and share with us, lots of fascinating things to discover and make you shed your happy tears/aananda kanneer. On some level, I also wish there were annoying sitcoms playing in some heavenly TV that will prompt you to do your impromptu dance. I miss even your mockery!

Thank you, thatha, for being you. You’ll always be my inspiration for life! :’)

I hope you always watch over your three Tirupathi laddoos! ❤

November 13, 2019

Karma and I: the story of our fickle relationship

Karma often looks like this in my head
Meet Karma! She often looks like this in my head. She may bear resemblance to Komolika from Kasauti Zindagi Ka. But this was purely incidental and unitentional

If Karma* is real, then I am God. 
Or at least, her left-hand neighbour. 

Once in a while, during Deepavali or Pongal, we exchange sweets. And I feel all-powerful to have consumed that 2 cm X 2 cm of kaju katli* God-ness (terrible pun, intended!) But then again, its effects wear off with all the Tums/Digenes/Pudin haras*/Deepavali legiyams* I am forced to take after all the hogging. 

Karma never favours me. She hoodwinks me, eludes me and hatches all kinds of adverbial getaway plots from me. Last I heard, the city of Mumbai is planning on creating a new escape room on this theme and hopes for big bucks.

This relationship with Karma began way back when I was a kid. I would get caught the one time I stole a sharpener from a friend's house while all my friends flicked things left right and centre without anyone even throwing them a sideways glance. After being made to stand in front of the 3681 idols in the house and "God-promising" never to do it again, I resigned to the fact that this was life moulding me to be good.

Throughout childhood all my crimes and misdemeanours got caught by the radars and somewhere Woody Allen must have been a happy man at all the free publicity I offered in the Indian region (of course with the Cigarette smoking is injurious to health warning!)

And so I grew up as an awkward straight-shooter who only attempts balloon shooting at fairs and the Marina beach. Also, to further underline what a seedhi-saadhi ladki* I was, I absolved myself of all sense of style and always chose to wear clothes that drove the attention away from me. 

I worked really hard at everything I did, from love (burnt my hands) to make a toast (burnt it) to my career (often prone to spontaneous combustion). And all along Karma decided to be a mean girl and go all "Oh-em-gee! SHE will never be in our gang!"

But as Anderson had us believe, many of the ugly ducklings do grow up into swans. And by some miraculous miscalculation of the aforementioned Karma, I turned out just fine in the looks and love department. Word is out that she still regrets that drunken lapse.

But time and again, to overcompensate for that misjudgement, she often drops awkward situations, complicated plot twists and impossible realities on my lap. These are often a career, scheduling, maid, career, travel, career, customer care, career-related issue. How do I know that this is her doing? She never forgets to add a menacing laugh track as the background music to these occurrences.

People call her many names, but there is also a whole clan who believes in her goodness. They often tut-tut and tell me she'll come around and shower me with everything I ever wanted. But we all know how high school bullies turned out!

Being the South Indian that I am, I continue to believe what Rajnikanth once said in his gorgeously thick Tamil accent - "the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer." 

And so, I have forever given up on Karma, blocking her from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, WhatsApp... you get the drift! Even if she tries to reach out to me, landing on my doorstep, I am pretty sure my Google Home would warn me of her arrival and I don't have to exchange pretend pleasantries.

* Karma: fate
* kaju katli: A sweet made out of cashews
* Pudin haras: A tablet for digestion
* Deepavali legiyams: A homemade digestive paste often made around Deepavali
* seedhi-saadhi ladki: simple straightforward girl
© Dryad's Peak
Maira Gall