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Spark

March 2014

Word. World. Wisdom

“She” Fiction | Non-fiction | Poetry | Art| The Lounge

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Spark—March 2014 | She


05 March 2014 Dear Reader, We are happy to share the March 2014 issue of Spark with the theme, ‘She’. This issue has been put together keeping in mind the International Women’s Day and focuses on various thoughts that comes to one’s mind when we think of the word ‘She’. There’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry and art that bring together interesting perspectives. We hope you like the issue and would be happy to know your feedback. Mail us at feedback@sparkthemagazine.com. Wishing you a great month ahead! Cheers

Contributors Anupama Krishnakumar Bakul Banerjee Gauri Trivedi M.Mohankumar Parth Pandya Prajna Tejaswi Ram Govardhan Rohini Manyam Seshasayee

Editorial Team

Sarita Jenmani Shirani Rajapakse

All rights of print edition reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Spark editorial team.

Sudha Nair

Spark March 2014 © Spark 2014

Vinita Agrawal

Sunil Sharma Vani Viswanathan Vasundhara Vedula

Individual contributions © Author

Cover Art

CC licensed pictures attribution available at www.sparkthemagazine.com Published by Viswanathan

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Inside this Issue POETRY Her Smile by M. Mohankumar Angels and Demons by Vinita Agrawal Black by Sarita Jenamani Women of their Ilk by Bakul Banerjee She by Sunil Sharma Woman of the House by Shirani Rajapakse A Primer on Obedience by Bakul Banjerjee FICTION Solitude by Ram Govardhan Niloufer’s Birthday by Parth Pandya Mrs. Commissioner by Sudha Nair City Mouse by Rohini Manyam Seshasayee NON-FICTION A Good Bargain by Gauri Trivedi The Beach by Vasundhara Vedula Being Out by Vani Viswanathan THE LOUNGE SLICE OF LIFE| From a Granddaughter by Anupama Krishnakumar ART Mother by Prajna Tejaswi

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Poetry

Her Smile

By M.Mohankumar A woman’s mesmerizing smile is the essence of this lovely little poem by M. Mohankumar. Read on.

Amazing how an impulse is set off in the brain, how the neurons get fired, the message is transmitted down the line, and the facial muscles, hundreds of them, work together to produce a smile. Mohankumar has published seven volumes of poetry in English. His poems have appeared in almost all reputed literary magazines in print in India. His first collection of short stories in English will be brought out by Authorspress, Delhi shortly. Mohankumar retired as Chief secretary to Government of Kerala.

But this smile is so transparent and so exquisite that you feel it could only have come from a guileless heart- never the product of a calculating brain.

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Fiction

Solitude

By Ram Govardhan Solitude could be a terrifying experience, a pain to live with especially when one’s life partner isn’t around physically. It’s also the time when one realises that certain things in life lack meaning when that togetherness vanishes. Ram Govardhan writes a touching story about a woman and a man.

The news from ground zero of our lovely bungalow is that your death has given birth to my loneliness. No, not of the sort we felt in the aftermath of every nasty fight that always left behind a hope of its vehemence dying down sooner rather than later. But this one is blunt, persistent and deathly. Yes, this one seems to have enough venom to sustain a long crusade, enough to break me down, and enough to go all the way.

in the handmade book we named The Book of Our Poems languished on the attic refusing to come down. I had neither the nerve nor vein to bring it down and open it without you by my side. Four years later, at long last, summoning rare resolve, I brought it down, dusted it clean and tried to recite them aloud, just the way you loved, imaginary you by my side. But the poems seem hollow now, all of them, every one of them. The very same ones we adored, cherished and the very same ones the publisher sought but we had declined, calling them our private treasures for our old age, when we would no longer be writing. Bereft of euphony, they now sound too mundane, unpublishable and, to my horror, false. Perhaps the sweetness was hidden somewhere in the lyrical ambience spawned by our togetherness and the verses. Along with you, their intrinsic mellifluence seems to have flown away, leaving the skeletal, insipid words behind.

Even for a voluble bloke like me, articulating this one seems tough. Every word I stumble upon seems flimsy, inadequate, and, worse, ungainly. The verses about solitude by great poets must have meant this very sort of loneliness but, mesmerized by their rhyme and jingle, back then, perhaps, our togetherness missed the throes between the stanzas. And the myriad poems we wrote, rewrote and polished together defying the demands of metre 5

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When the bungalow is so huge, high and empty, loneliness is amplified and when the emptiness is so big, I am too small to be meaningful. It was your idea; you had dwelled at length on living in spaces or, in your words, a spatial life, calling temporal existence ‘pathetic’. The living-room had to be large enough to take a walk, and walk a take; usually your take on several of my takes. The hall table must sit no less than twenty. And the bedrooms had to be forty by forty in any case, and, the bigger, the better, to bask in early morning sun as age had eased sensuality out of our night lives. Even bathrooms had to be large; so large that they could be living rooms for many. And the opulence of interiors must be grand enough to induce a jaw-dropping awe in our guests. The outhouse, you insisted, must be roomy enough to lodge, at best, seven retainers. Those were your ways of living a larger-than-life fame, not knowing simple ways of outliving me or ways of departing together.

and your memories. And when you have so many such square yards, it is tough to manage your absence. You didn’t know, nor could I grasp then, that the very spaces could turn so melancholic, so shadowy and so hideous. The outhouse too has turned a morose shack hosting ghosts—every one of the maids has left frightened of the apparition.

When we argued, mistook, misjudged, and blamed each other, the feeling of revulsion was mutual and, in twenty eight years, not a day had passed when both of us did not prefer solitude, albeit within the realms of conjugal orbit. Sometimes sitting a little away was hatred enough. Sometimes going on with daily chores as usual except saying a word to each other was solitude. Sometimes sleeping in separate rooms was. Sometimes going away for a couple of days was. Sometimes a week. Sometimes a month. But the common thread among all the modes of solitudes was the promise of one fine morning, one Every brick was set before you, every square fine phone call, one fine sentence of 140 characyard has your stamp of brilliance, your warmth, ters, one fine email, or one fine abbreviated

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SMS.

still supports the dangling cobwebs.

With no such promises to wait for, these days, when the gloomy nights conspire with the spectral silences, I kneel and throw my bare back, throw my hands up in despair, exactly like the forlorn man in ‘Solitude’, the Jean Henner painting. The fact that it was that painting that had caused our first meeting is too eerie a reminiscence to study the chemistry of the glue that subsequently brought us together. Creepycrawlies have almost eaten away the painting, while the hollowed out olive-green-purple frame

But I go on, seeing glimpses of you in our bundles of joy: our children, who have moved on, leaving the crumbling bungalow to me. And I persist; I visit them, sometimes for a day, sometimes for a week, but not beyond seven successive days for, your memories haunt me, and your memories are here in the ruins. So I come back, to go back, and to come back.

Ram Govardhan’s first novel, Rough with the Smooth, was longlisted for the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize, The Economist-Crossword 2011 Award and published by Leadstart Publishing, Mumbai. His short stories have appeared in Asian Cha, Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore, Saraba, Muse India, Asia Writes, Open Road Review, Cerebration, Spark and several other Asian and African literary journals. He works, lives in Chennai, India. Email: ram.govardhan@ymail.com 7

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Poetry

Angels and Demons By Vinita Agrawal

Vinita Agrawal’s poem throws light on one of the ugliest social ills of India - female foeticide. The state in which I reside Is notorious for female feticide

I cringe with shame When I write 'I belong' against Rajasthan's name

If the foetus is not slaughtered and makes it out of the womb somehow She's left to die on railway tracks or hacked to death by ploughs

If she lives, it's for monetary incentives by the government The sand grains here are bloody with ugly male firmament

Girls mean nothing, they are just vehicles to bear more boys They are nothing more than a male's pleasure toys

This is the real cold wave, the real freezing point

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Not the one in January that brings aches to your joints

But this despicable act makes my soul ache That society can be so lop sided, it's values so fake

Ah! You can't save your girl child, can't stand up for an angelic doll Men who can't save future mothers, shouldn't exist at all

Sex ratio, what a sad story it tells Of berating little girls and perpetrating hells

Sadly I belong to that beautiful north-west state A grandeur of dunes but also a land of contemptible hate

I want to be proud of the terra firma of my birth And revive the fair attitude that restores its worth

Vinita is a Mumbai based writer and poet. Her poems have been published in Asiancha, Raedleaf Poetry , Wordweavers, OpenRoad Review, Constellations, The Fox Chase Review, Spark, The Taj Mahal Review, CLRI, SAARC Anthologies, Kritya.org, Touch- The Journal of healing, Museindia, Everydaypoets.com, Mahmag World Literature, The Criterion, The Brown Critique, Twenty20journal.com, Sketchbook, Poetry 24, Mandala and others which include several international anthologies. Her poem was nominated for the Best of the Net Awards 2011 by CLRI. She received a prize from MuseIndia in 2010. Her debut collection of poems titled Words Not Spoken published by Sampark/Brown Critique was released in November 2013.

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Non-fiction

A Good Bargain By Gauri Trivedi

Two mothers, different worlds, decades apart. And yet, wonders Gauri Trivedi, at the core, didn’t that mother want the same things for her children then, as Gauri does today for her own? There is one side of the world where woman empowerment is within reach and there is this other side where a woman is either still completely unaware of her right to choose or does not possess the means to do so. But the other side does exist, there is no denying that. I must have been twelve or thirteen when Radha first started paying us visits. She was probably born only five or six years before me but looked a lot older in her married attire of a sari and the sparse yet customary jewellery of a nose ring and thin gold bangles. She had a schedule of sorts and till date I don’t know how my mother had knowledge of those unscheduled appointments. On a couple of random days during our summer vacations, mom would take her nap in the living room on the couch instead of the bedroom so that she didn’t miss the knock. Radha always knocked, she never rang the bell. And if you paid attention, you could hear the sound of her heavy footsteps climbing the stairs to our second floor apart-

ment even before she knocked. The first thing she did on reaching flat ground was to take the load off her head and set it on the floor. She would then plant herself next to it and breathe a sigh of relief that came distinctly from being unburdened. If you looked at how much she carried on her, you would think she wouldn’t be able to walk even half a mile, but she was young and strong and some days she claimed to have covered a couple of miles on foot with all that. It always amazed me that she could appear happy even after working so hard. Mom would fetch a glass of water for her, and it was only after she finished drinking would the barter begin. Mom would go inside and bring out a bunch of used clothes and put them in front of Radha to assess. Radha would arrange them neatly in three piles; the gently used and like new, the old but usable, and the rags. The ‘no longer wearable’ pile was a donation and the bigger that pile, the happier she was. For the clothes that still had some life in them, she

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would offer to trade a couple of small or medium sized utensils. This part of the deal usually went down without a haggle. The ‘just like new’ commanded a utensil bigger and thicker than what was being offered, according to Mom. Radha would in turn find ways to convince otherwise. Mom would go through the dishes and serving spoons and pots and pans arranged efficiently in a space-saving pattern in a huge concave steel container and make a counter offer. An amicable agreement would soon be reached and with both sides content, the traded goods would be put away, lest either of them changed their mind! Radha would then linger on and small talk would ensue. Occasionally, Mom would ask me to make tea and they would have a longer conversation than usual.

ing that free hand, while another pair of feet tagged along holding on to the corner of Radha’s sari. I thought it was horrible that she would expose her existing children and her unborn child to such risk and put her own body through grave danger with every step she took. Mom, being a mother, knew better than to judge. If anything, she was nicer and kinder. She would let Radha’s kids sit on our chairs or couch or wherever they wanted to and always give them a glass of milk or something to eat. It wasn’t until so many years later when I saw all those unused utensils gathering dust in the loft that it struck me that mom never needed to trade old clothes for pots and pans. In a small way she was trying to make a difference.

I remember, as a teenager, I was irked somewhat by the way Radha had handled her life and more than once I had said out loud “Why does Radha’s visits continued for the next ten years she keep on having babies if she can’t feed or so. We would see her twice or thrice a year them?” To me, it seemed that all of Radha’s and it was hard not to notice the change that problems originated from her womb. overcame her with every visit. The smile weakened and her steps got slower. She gave birth to “Because she doesn’t have the freedom of three girls and a boy in that period and it was choice. You are too young to understand what it quite a disgusting sight to see her pregnant body means, but consider yourself lucky that you have climbing our stairs with the huge container on been granted the power to make your own decithe head supported by a hand, a bag of clothes sions,” Mom would say. hanging from a shoulder and a tiny hand clasp11

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Coming to our place a couple of times in a year sit on the floor. The image of this mother’s happrobably helped Radha on a different level too. py face, sitting cross legged on the floor at the She bartered for entrance of our clothes but got house, tired, but full much more. In a of love and pride way those visits for her girls sharing gave her hope, esa chair in our living pecially when she room is a memory brought her kids that stayed. Maybe along. It meant a she dreamed of a lot her to have her different life for children treated them some day or kindly and at par maybe she just lived with the other chilin the moment. It dren in somebody’s was hard to tell. house. She gleamed when her kids got to sit higher, up on the chair. Radha herself would however, always

Gauri Trivedi is a former business law professional who makes the law at home these days. A Mom to two lovely daughters, her days are filled with constant learning and non- stop fun. All of her “mommy time” goes into writing and finds itself on her blog pages http://messyhomelovelykids.blogspot.com/ and http://pastaandparatha.blogspot.com/ and if she is not writing she is definitely reading something!

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Poetry

Black

By Sarita Jenamani Black is a colour that signifies enigma, attraction and power. However, the Indian mindset is such that it doesn’t favour dark skin tone in women, says Sarita Jenamani through her poem.

She Comes and casts a spell on the banal moments of your insignificant existence Rage of her black silence burns down the constellation of your absurd ego without your slightest knowledge

You who always remained oblivious of her illuminated self fall into her fathomless darkness in oblivion

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Darkness that exists in the womb of your mother in the bewildered-black eyes of your baby the darkness that lies beneath the earth your last asylum that engulfs your entire universe and dazzles you

Sarita Jenamani was born in Katak, Odisha. She studied Economics and Management Studies in India and Austria. She writes in English, Hindi as well as in Oriya, her mother tongue. She is the author of two books of poetry. Her Poems have been published in a number of anthologies and literary journal including the prestigious PEN international. German translation of her poetry, “Splitter des Himmels” has been published in Austria in a book form. She received many writers fellowship in Germany as well as in Austria including "Künstlerdorf Schöppingen" and Heinrich Böll foundation. She is a member of PEN Austria. Presently she is living and working in Vienna.

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Fiction

NIloufer’s Birthday By Parth Pandya

A family comes together to remember, in different ways, a woman whose presence is still strong in their lives, each for a different reason. Parth Pandya tells the story.

“Her shoes. I married her for her shoes”, Ar- nation. Niloufer had saved him from the curse deshir said, his hands leaning on the table. of solitude, for it would have been none other for him. The ten-year-old boy was toying around with his fork when his grandfather’s statement made him “Jawa dene dikra, you won’t understand” stop. “Pleaseeeeeee Bapawajee”, insisted Cyrus. “Shoes, Bapawajee?” asked a wide eyed Cyrus. His mother Kainaz gave Cyrus a stern look Ardeshir smiled and looked to the wall. A which made the boy go silent. young Parsi girl dressed in the fashion of the “How’s it tasting, Pappa?” she asked, changing sixties, mounting a Mona Lisa smile, smiled the topic to the dhansak she had made for the back at him in black and white. His wife. His evening. Niloufer. “It’s good. It’s good”, nodded Ardeshir veheHe had sought out Niloufer before they got mently. married. Spent time around where she lived, stalked her at her college, slipped in notes to “I have to thank Mamma for teaching me this. I her, and finally mustered the courage to ask her remember the first time I tried it after I married out on a date. At least, that’s what kids would Rustom. I don’t think my mother’s dhansak was have called it today. Back then, he simply scrib- a patch on this.” bled a few words on a chit of paper, asking her to meet at Bandra bandstand at 4 pm on Sunday. That she came was a surprise for him. That she spoke to him was beyond his wildest imagi-

Rustom raised his eyebrows a little, looking up from his plate and smiling mischievously at his wife. “I love the bonhomie, my dear wife. I wonder if your memories of your early days in

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Bandra that fateful afternoon. They got married of a sense of tension pervading the room. six months later. “She may be the love of your life, and she may He remembered it as clear as day. She, a re- be Rustom’s favorite parent and she maybe splendent bride, in her saree. He, the reticent Kainaz’s hero, but I don’t worship the ground groom, in his jama-pichori. she walks on.” They sat opposite each oth“Khush!” said Rustom, finding er, separated by a cloth curhis own voice rising. tain. The priest placed his “Now you speak up, big brothright hand in hers. He then er”, Khushnum continued, sarfastened them with raw casm dripping from her tongue. twist, which he put around “Where were you when your the hands seven times. That mother, our mother, was messgirl was inextricably tied to ing with my life?” him for life. “I didn’t agree with her Khush. I didn’t side with her, but I respected her choice, just as I respected yours. You could have done what you pleased. Walked away to a life of your choice”

“Are you back in the sixties again, Pappa?” asked his daughter Khushnum gruffly.

Ardeshir looked at his daughter gently. She had an anger that he could never assuage. An anger that always simmered on the “That’s easy for you to say. My own mother opposed me, my father was not willing to supsurface. port me, my brother remained silent through it, “I think you could grant me that today, couldn’t my sister-in-law …. Forget it!” you, Khush?” Kainaz was waiting for the time she would be “Why this ritual each year, Pappa? Why this dragged into this conversation. “We all have our need to talk about her? Why take your family reasons, Khush!” down this memory lane? Not everyone has fond “But of course Kainaz. Why would you go recollections of days past!” against your mother-in-law? Why would you “She is the tie that binds us. We gather to celeever go against a woman who accepted you debrate her, Khush. Not every story has a happy spite your weakness for getting pregnant before ending, but for you to say that there are no fond you got married?” recollections of your mother is disingenuous.” “Khush!” shouted Rustom with more fervor, Cyrus shifted uneasily in his seat, not underbarely containing himself from slapping her. standing the discussion going on, but fully aware Ardeshir’s face turned to stone – he was 16

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shocked at the words and worried about their was the parent he preferred. Today, he needed effect. her more than ever. He was mad at Khushnum but was also sympathetic to her plight. He finalKainaz was stunned at that utterance from ly walked over to her and placed a hand on her Khushnum. Never since the wedding had this shoulder. topic been brought up in the house. She thought that Khushnum looked up to him everyone had accepted the with pleading eyes, begging for past and moved on. She understanding. “If she could was wrong. Hurt ran deep allow you, why not me?” in this house. She was in her teens when she Khushnum realized she had had fallen in love with a Mahacrossed the line. The rashtrian boy, who lived just wound had been inflicted outside their Dadar Parsi coloand she now felt overcome ny. Niloufer, for all her liberal with guilt. Quietly slumping attitudes, was staunch in her into a chair in the corner of stance. Parsi girls should not the room, all she could do marry outside their religion. was mutter “sorry” under Khushnum had pleaded, proher breath to anyone who tested, tried everything to conwas still in a position to vince her, but failed in doing listen. so. She had considered running away and marrying that boy, but couldn’t bring Kainaz was shedding gentle tears in her chair. herself to abandon her family. She remained She thought of the woman who had accepted back, and the hurt festered within her. her with open arms when she and Rustom had timidly stood before her, with Ardeshir telling “Because she was flawed. Because she loved them that they had committed a mistake. Ar- you.” deshir was not willing, but Niloufer had conKhushnum raised her teary eyes and looked to vinced him that it was the right thing to do. the balcony. She recalled sitting in the warm Rustom paced around the room with his head summer evenings with her mother in the balcodown, willing himself to calm down. His mother ny, enjoying the light breeze that filtered was the one who had always helped put a lid on through the concrete jungle. It had always been his temper. He missed the cool comfort of her an easy relationship, no matter what they said voice, the way she held him as a child when he about mothers having testy times with their would cry out with nightmares, the friend he teenage daughters. It was never meant to confessed to even when he was in college. He change. And yet, she had gone from loving her admired his father, but loved his mother. She mother to hating her. But she never could build 17

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indifference towards her, no matter how hard the first time we were supposed to meet. When she tried. she arrived, the first thing I noticed were her shoes. She was wearing flats instead of heels. I The ghost of Niloufer hovered in the room, knew right then that this woman was caring and filling the silences that stood between them. understanding.” Niloufer was gone. Lost to the family that mourned her, celebrated her, reviled her, loved Before Cyrus phrased another question, Arher. Each year, they gathered together on this deshir clarified with a smile. ”She didn't want day. Each year, Niloufer brought them together me to look too short." even when she wasn’t there. He then looked up to the picture on the wall “Cyrus? Do you still want to know about why I and muttered, “Happy birthday, Niloufer!” married her for her shoes?” said Ardeshir, acting oblivious to the storm that had passed. “Yes, Bapawajee”, said Cyrus meekly. “I was nervously waiting for your grandmother

Parth Pandya is a passionate Tendulkar fan, diligent minion of the ‘evil empire’, persistent writer at http://parthp.blogspot.com, self-confessed Hindi movie geek, avid quizzer, awesome husband (for lack of a humbler adjective) and a thrilled father of two. He grew up in Mumbai and spent the last eleven years really growing up in the U.S. and is always looking to brighten up his day through good coffee and great puns.

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Art

Mother By Prajna Tejaswi

She is Earth, She is Nature, She is a Tree, She is a Mother. Stop slaughtering her in all forms, stresses Prajna Tejaswi through her pencil and charcoal artwork.

Prajna Tejaswi is a simple person who likes to find happiness in the little things of life. She holds a Master degree in Biochemistry. She is an amateur writer, passionate photographer, avid reader, an average illustrator and a learner for life. She is constantly awed by the beauty of nature and the mysteries of life. She blogs at http://prajnatejaswi.blogspot.in/

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Non-fiction

The Beach

By Vasundhara Vedula The stage seems all set for wedlock when She and He visit The Beach. With the beach in the backdrop, events unfold and the sea becomes all the more relevant. Vasundhara Vedula draws on the sea-life metaphor to narrate the experience of two people. She remembered the second-last day of her trip to San Jose. He had been telling her about The Beach since a long time and She was very excited to see it. They had trekked up a mild elevation in Pfeiffer State Park that morning and She had recited her favourite Hindi poem to him on a lone bench atop a hill. Later, as they walked towards the waters, she had shivered slightly in the breeze. They found a place to sit, and She had stared at the sea in awe, his arm in hers, almost secure. There was something about the sea that She felt made life easier. It was as though the sea was watching and waiting, like a silent guardian, for the day She would be ready to embrace its vast lessons. Its waves were a testament to her life, and its sounds were a cure for her aches.

distance – the only one along an otherwise naked stretch. A few minutes later, the rock moved slightly.

She was teary-eyed with joy again, as She had been quite often over the last few days. She’d found the love of her life, and the sea seemed to be smiling with her that day. The sun was sinking slowly, and She could see a black rock in the

Whatever you want, babbu. Why do you like the sea so much?

What is that? It could be a seal, they get washed up along the shore all the time. I thought this beach was my find. But there’s an old couple there. Look. That’s us at 80. And there are two more people there. Damn. Just when I thought we had some privacy. (Laughing)Then those are our children! Oh, wow. Another guy. He’s the surprise one. The seal could be our puppy! We can have two boys and a girl, right? And a puppy?

I don’t know. It’s so full of violent possibilities and seamless peace all at once.

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She wanted to take a closer look at the seal. They walked up to it and He stopped a short distance away. She went closer and began talking to the seal in that cooing voice girls often reserve for tiny, soft, furry creatures. He asked her not to go too close to it lest it bite her. She knew little of these sea-dwellers but couldn’t believe the seal could so much as snarl. The seal stared at her with warm, vacant eyes, as She wondered why He was so afraid. She thought of the seal ten days later, when He told her He wanted to call off their marriage plans. He said She was too strong-willed for him, and He was afraid She would eventually lose respect for him. He was afraid She spent too much time with his parents back in India. He was afraid that the way they had fallen in love was too wrong and too quick.

had been. She was afraid She would never love again, and die alone. Worse still, childless. Above his bitter words though, She heard the sea in her ears that day, uninvited. She wondered irrationally if He had called her up from The Beach. The sea was asking her to drown His voice in its roars. It was embracing her salty tears as its very waters. It reminded her that day that it was still her guardian. Through all those years of believing she was headed to the shores, the mysterious horizon had ever so often looked more tantalising. The sea had always teased her to come and experience these storms it kept hidden - like handkerchiefs in a magician’s cloak. It would playfully rock her adventurous ship but also kiss her wounds with healing salts. The sea was her companion in her loneliness, and its greatest lesson to her was to be unafraid. She needed to remember always that just like the sea, life was full of violent possibilities and seamless peace. Just like the sea, she needed to wait and watch.

She had always believed the answer to her life lay in the shores of marriage and children and the security of an arm in hers. All those dreamy years of waiting and searching had culminated in that trip to The Beach. Perfect happiness had In that crashing instant, the sea promised to seemed like a knot away. And yet this sudden show her more shores, newer beaches, not to storm had tossed her back into murky, uncertain forget delightful seals that needed petting. waters. For a moment She was afraid just as He

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Poetry

Women of their Ilk By Bakul Banerjee

It is the women who often end up choosing the sacrificing side, highlights Bakul Banerjee through a poem.

A gracious Russian mother Anna was but chose to give up her child for vain Vronski. Why did she make the railroad ties her last bed and let drifting snow be her final shroud?

In Iraq, a girl protested and ran off with a boy, then lay dying in the pool of her own blood Did she know that women of her ilk must make their bed of dirt with a coverlet of stones?

An Indian girl refused to bankrupt her father urging him not to fulfill the demand of the dowry. Why did she choose to die writhing, choosing the rat poison as her last love potion?

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Women of their ilk never gave up breaking rules, but others broke them without mercy.

Award winning author and poet Bakul Banerjee, Ph.D. published her first volume of poems, titled “Synchronicity: Poems” in 2010. For the past fifteen years, her poems and stories appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies throughout U.S. and India. She lives near Chicago and received her Ph.D. degree in computational geophysics from The Johns Hopkins University, Maryland.

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Fiction

Mrs. Commissioner By Sudha Nair

A Commissioner is very formidable when it comes to dealing with men at work but she faces a very different scene back home. Sudha Nair tells the story of this powerful yet sensitive woman.

MRS. SHANTHI VARMA ASST. COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX read the shiny black letters on a dark polished wooden plaque outside the room. The name seemed as formidable as Mrs. Varma’s reputation in the department. She sat at her desk, as was her routine every morning, having her midmorning coffee with a plate of sandwiches. She didn’t mind keeping Mr. Motilal, her client waiting outside. After all there were still five minutes left for his appointment at 11.30.

“It must have been an accident,” he said, “Believe me, madam. I have declared all my income.”

“There are no accidents, Mr. Motilal. What about this purchase?” She pointed her finger at a line that she had highlighted. “There are several such items in which the source of income is questionable. This would incur a fine that you have to pay immediately. I need you to bring the required documents for the marked items.” He looked crestfallen. He was breaking into a sweat. There was no doubt that Mrs. Varma would not At 11.30 sharp she rang the bell, and Mr. Motilal spare him at all. was sent in. “Good morning, madam,” he said, “That is all,” she said finally. “See me in my oflooking nervous even before they had begun. fice at 11.30 on the same day next week,” and She nodded and motioned to the chair so she sent him away like a school boy sent out of the could begin her inquiry. One by one she quesclassroom for bad behaviour. He paused for a tioned him about the discrepancies in his documoment on his way out and said, “Madam, I ments, pointing to the mismatch in his bank have a request. My wife has asked that I invite statements and the documents that he had subyou and your family for lunch next week. She is mitted, the penalty that would be slapped on a very good cook. Many officers have eaten at him for income not declared to the government. 24

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my house and complimented her cooking.”

started making dinner, folded the laundry, helped the girls with their homework and sent “I’m sorry, Mr. Motilal. I don’t accept such fathem to bed, and sat at the dining table chopvours from my clients. I shall see you next week ping vegetables for the next day. in my office. Have a good day.” She began to dread Mr. Varma’s mood as it She could sense that Mr. Motilal had been inneared 10 o’clock for he sat with his bottle of sulted. She had little patience with dishonesty whisky, pouring it out peg by peg into a glass, and bribery. She had left him with no escape accompanied with a plate of fish that she had route. Mr. Motilal would have to cough up the just finished frying. penalty no After three pegs, he matter what turned belligerent. trick he tried. “Why is this fish so Mrs. Varma’s salty?” She pretendstressful day ed not to hear the continued irritation in his with such casvoice. “I must have es. There were added a little more more meetby accident,” she ings and more said gently. She was clients who used to this by now, walked in and his frustration at out of her office all day. At 6 pm it was time for work pouring out in the form of abuses at her. her to go home. She trudged slowly to the train She had learnt to ignore his fury and let him station, stopping to buy roasted peanuts to eat vent. “Accident! There are no accidents,” he on the way. The train was packed and she didn’t fumed. “You think you can make an honest and get a seat. It was a 45-minute ride home but she hard-working man like me take this crap that preferred the train ride to riding in a govern- you serve me every day. You! You don’t even ment paid car. At least it saved her a lot of time care that I’m talking to you. One day you burn and got her home in time to carry on with her the fish, the next day you’ve made it too salty. household chores. You think I am like the men who line up outside Stepping into her home, Mrs. Varma saw that your office, palpitating like idiots and twiddling Mr. Naresh Varma was in a foul mood that their thumbs while you reprimand and belittle evening. “Why can’t I find anything in this them. To me, you are just a good-for-nothing house? The newspaper is missing, and I did not wife.” He continued ranting in an ascending even have time to look at it this morning. And pitch. why are you girls watching TV? Do you have In the past she would have retorted at him. That nothing to study?” he went on. Mrs. Varma evening she didn’t say a word, but her eyes were 25

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clouded suddenly. It blurred her vision, and she almost nicked her finger with the knife. She slowly took the chopped vegetables back into the kitchen and calmly brought out his dinner and laid it on the table. “Have your dinner. I’ll make you something else for tomorrow,” she said, then left the room. She knew that he would eat dinner and then watch TV for an hour before he went to bed. She went to clear the table when she heard him wash h is hands. Then she closed the kitchen and went to bed. He slumped into his easy chair, his eyes beginning to droop. He started flicking through channels and finally settled on a movie for the night. By morning he would have forgotten everything he said. She didn’t like his drinking habit but she’d given up on him a long time ago. She knew she could handle tougher men at work but it was different at home. After 20 years of marriage, she knew her true power was her silence. If she yelled back at him it would frighten her girls into

thinking that their parents were having a fight. Her kids were growing up and asked her why she tolerated their father’s abuses. Did they not love each other anymore? “If a couple of drinks comfort him, let him be. All I want is peace,” she said. All she cared about was a good education and marriage for her girls, a well-deserved pay check, and peace at home. At one time she may have dreamt about a loving father for her girls and a doting husband, but now all she wanted was a good night’s sleep. Mrs. Shanthi Varma sat on her bed, clutching a balm that she started to apply to her aching feet. She remembered that she hadn’t eaten her dinner, but was too tired to go back into the kitchen. She thought of Mr. Motilal’s invitation to lunch, of how he had bristled when she had refused. She envisioned Mr. Motilal taking out his anger on his wife, seething with anger at the authoritative commissioner who had taken him to task that morning, and rejected his lunch invitation as well. “Poor Mrs. Motilal,” she sighed as she pulled up the cover and switched off the lamp.

Sudha, a mother of two, is constantly trying to pursue new avenues to push her creative boundaries. A chronic daydreamer, she is in awe of people who have followed their heart. Sudha is passionate about music, fitness, her family, and most recently, writing. 26

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Poetry

She

By Sunil Sharma A woman around who life revolves in a house is no more. ‘She’ is a tribute to that woman. A poem by Sunil Sharma.

A lean quiet river that irrigates The parched soul in hot summers; A bunch of dew-covered, multi-hued flowers Kept in a delicate white vase on a glass table, Scenting the empty drawing room for hours, Where a person silently waits, straining to hear A repeat of the music of dainty footfalls That echoed daily here, years ago; Now, fading light, hugging shadows, And the autumn peeping from behind The closed windows of the ICU; She is suddenly remembered vividly By the prostrate figure lying on the steel bed, The woman who became a river, vase, sculptured goddess, Assuming different forms, at various stages, both malleable and firm; The woman—slender, small and smiling, patient, full of verve, 27

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Working all the time, a clock that regulated their lives, unobtrusive, And then abruptly stopped; Time stood still in the house and nothing chimed afterwards; Shadows lengthened further, silences deepened, the spring failed to arrive, Forever. Only remained, relics of days past, Few faded photographs, corner shelf, Pale-grey letters, tied together by a red rubber-band, And certain moments of joy, inscribed indelibly, That can never be obliterated by a moving finger, From a tiny nook of a bleeding heart.

Mumbai-based Sunil Sharma, a college principal, is also a bilingual Indian critic, poet, literary interviewer, editor, translator, essayist and fiction writer. His six short stories and the novel Minotaur are prescribed for the undergraduate classes under the Post-colonial Studies, Clayton University, Georgia, USA. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural poet of the year award 2012.

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Non-fiction

Being Out

By Vani Viswanathan Mumbai showed her a whole new side to being out late in the night, says Vani Viswanathan, in this account of rediscovery. “It’s 11pm!” she squealed. With joy. “AND I’M skies. A group of girls cackling loudly, clicking OUTSIDE!” photos, eating candyfloss, and sometimes taking a few puffs. I smiled; it was something I had taken for granted, but for this fresh college graduate, it was It was about discovering train journeys: the something. And then I remembered – it was my pleasure of dashing across the long corridors of first night in Mumbai, having landed from Sin- CST to buy tickets for the last train, jumping on gapore only a few hours earlier, and I was to a moving train after confirming it does go to amazed to be out on the streets at 11pm too, your station, rushing into the women’s compartwith someone I’d known for a couple of hours. ment. It was about seeing who got the better My friend squealing didn’t seem so strange any- seat, and who remembered first to stand by the more. door. It was about hanging on to the pole and leaning out to feel the salty wind – and the occaOver the next few weeks, I discovered the sursional sweet stench quintessentially Bombay – prises that being out in Mumbai late in the night on the face. It was about looking occasionally at meant, thanks to her. Being out late in Singathe male guard stationed to ‘protect’ the women, pore meant nothing more than the public train and sometimes feeling reassured by his presservice not being available and a higher taxi rate. ence. It was about singing songs full throated Here, it was a whole other world. one really late night for a game of antakshari. It It was about rediscovering Marine Drive: that was about being told by the guard to not lean you could safely sit there even in pouring rain, out late in the night because some truant boys even at 4am, play cards even as the wind threat- would pelt stones at the coaches, and soon ened to drive them into the sea, lie across the enough, hearing a few sharp clanks on the train pavement and look up at the clouded Bombay walls. 29

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It was about begging cab and auto drivers to take more than the allowed number of people. That the smaller girl would duck if a policeman came in sight, and the occasional tense moments and unnecessary ducking due to false alarms. It was about waltzing into campus long after the gates closed, and entering (often random) names, phone numbers and room numbers in the register, and the few moments of controlling laughter and the joyous moments of eventually bursting out laughing at the names she entered. Of sometimes hoping to walk by without being noticed and asked to enter details in the register, and those occasional victories when it actually happened. It was about being found alone near one of Mumbai’s dingy local train stations, desperately hoping for an auto and wishing those leering men would go away.

lowed, and dropping off the friend in the other hostel, giggling all the way. It was about late night walks, clandestine hugs, outpourings and long phone calls, swatting at mosquitoes all the while. It was about holding out placards on women’s empowerment while waiting for a bus, after walking at a rally. It was about realising that you had the right to be you, no matter where, and at what time. It was about reclaiming the night. It was about getting the freedom to loiter. And telling the world that being a woman had nothing to do with it. It was about rediscovering freedom. Freedom that I had so easily got as a 17-year-old being redefined as I turned 25. All thanks to a screechy she.

It was about drinking beer where it wasn’t al-

Vani Viswanathan is often lost in her world of books and A R Rahman, churning out lines in her head or humming a song. Her world is one of frivolity, optimism, quietude and general chilled-ness, where there is always place for outbursts of laughter, bouts of silence, chocolate, ice cream and lots of books and endless iTunes playlists from all over the world. She is now a CSR communications consultant, and has been blogging at http:// chennaigalwrites.blogspot.com since 2005.

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Poetry

Woman of the House By Shirani Rajapakse The expectations off the woman of a house are many, the foremost being obedience without questioning. Shirani Rajapakse captures this in a poem.

His voice lifted her. She was caught in the light of his eyes. His words guided her on her way. He moved his lips and her arms rose to obey. She picked up the load silently groaning at the weight. Too heavy for a frail body like hers already battered like an old ship in a stormy sea.

He told her it was so and she did as he bid. He left her to her chores to indulge in more important things. Later in the evening he returned to inspect and smiled at her effort. She moved back into her shell. Her day was done but rest was still

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far away. The clock hadn’t struck the hour. Her silent groans unheard, swallowed, hard and dry like old chapatti.

Shirani Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan poet and author. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013. Her collection of short stories, Breaking News (VijithaYapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s work appears in Cyclamens & Swords, Channels, Linnet’s Wings, Spark, Berfrois, Counterpunch, Earthen Lamp Journal, Asian Cha, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking Poet, New Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project and anthologies, Short & Sweet – an anthology of Sri Lankan Hint Fiction (forthcoming 2014), Music Anthology (forthcoming2014), Poems for Freedom, Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence. She blogs rather infrequently at http:// shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com. 32

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Fiction

City Mouse

By Rohini Manyam Seshasayee In a work of fiction that revolves around a lady and her maid, Rohini Manyam Seshasayee highlights emotional insecurities, the need to wield power and validate one’s otherwise insignificant existence.

The earth had known these women for just over seven decades. They had known each other for about two. They had met one afternoon, when one woman had moved from her village to the city. She had been introduced to the city mouse by another maid who was leaving to Dubai in search of better pastures. In parting, she had told them her stories of woe, of having to wear the hijab even while working, albeit in airconditioned quarters. She had impressed upon them how much she would be getting paid. Lakshmi had looked at city mouse with her eyebrows raised. City mouse had ignored her outright, looking straight at the soon to be nonresident Indian. Well, we live in India, she had shrugged. Lakshmi had pursed her lips and looked away. Today, city mouse sat at the dining table, she could no longer sit on the floor. She used a knife now to cut vegetables, a step she had hated to take. This process was tedious. Her legs

itched to place themselves on the end of a long wooden board with a sharp curved knife attached to the end of it. But she could barely sit with her swollen feet together now. Her fingers wanted to hold the carrot on both ends and grate them swiftly on the stand alone knife. The Kathipeta, a relic she knew the future had lost out on. As city mouse’s arthritic chubby fingers laboured on the hard carrots, Lakshmi mopped the floor. Her knees had stood the test of time. She sat on her haunches, reaching under tables and sofas. City mouse looked at her maid wistfully. She lifted herself up from her wooden chair and walked to the old kitchen, cut vegetables in hand. She emptied them into the old deep pan her mother had given her after her wedding, where hot oil and mustard seeds spluttered rhythmically. She added dashes of this and that without a second thought. Her son would be home for lunch. Lakshmi seated herself in a corner of the room and waited for her coffee to be brought. The mosaic floor she sat on hadn’t

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been changed in more than half a century. She law had cried at first. She had insisted that she felt at home here. had not hidden away the jewels her parents had lovingly sent. Why in the world would she do They talked about their dead husbands, as boilthat? City mouse had rung them up and ining coffee swept across both their tongues. Lakformed them that she was perfectly aware of the shmi ruminated that her other patrons did not plotting afoot. She had also added some other ever provide coffee as hot as this. This, this was things that made her own children cringe. City real coffee, she said. She did not understand mouse had looked at her these changing times. City husband for affirmation mouse agreed, coffee should and received it. Her daughbe scalding or not at all. That ter-in-law had become realis how even her late husband ly quiet at that. She had had liked it. In fact, when walked out and never come their daughter had once preback. Even today, her son pared lukewarm coffee for came to visit alone. City them, he had poured it down mouse wasn’t particularly the drain. Quite a ruckus that sorry. She remembered how had caused, and much tears. her son had stood with his Their daughter was too sensihead down, refusing to tive anyway, City mouse dismeet anyone’s eyes. She had missed. Lakshmi nodded, girls are becoming revelled in his inattention, throwing glances of that way these days. Soon, they will cry for even power to her own daughters. She had beamed at grazes from vegetable cutting. Oh, my grandher daughter-in-law’s tear stained face. She had daughter did that on her last visit, City mouse told her daughters afterward that they must shook her head. learn to respect their in-laws or they would Lakshmi sat with her knees up in the air as her bring shame like their sister-in-law had just hands reached forward between them to the done. stainless steel tumbler and saucer with the cofWhere did you get that pendant? She asked Lakfee in them. She raised the tumbler and poured shmi, who was cautiously repacking her greasesome coffee into the saucer and slurped from stained little bag. Lakshmi dismissed her questhe saucer. She slipped for a second as she baltion, she couldn’t remember. No, City mouse anced herself and moved a little too much to her repeated, bring it here, I want to see. Lakshmi left. The cloth bag tucked into her sari at her hip grunted, no way I am letting you touch my tiny came loose and spilt its contents onto the percollection of jewellery, old woman. City mouse plexing floor. City mouse’s eyes ran over them grew restless and insistent, where did you get from her vantage point of the dining table chair. that? She began feeling pangs of guilt in her No, it couldn’t be. Images of a day long past heart and her chest tightened. Lakshmi stopped began to come back in flashes. Her daughter-into look at her old comrade as the pitch of her 34

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voice began to rise. She got up from her beloved mosaic flooring and walked up to the dining table, careful not to get close to a chair, a subconscious old habit. “Here. Is this what you wanted to see?”

Lakshmi became thoughtful. She couldn’t be sure. She had stolen so many pieces of jewellery from so many homes over her long illustrious career, but never from her dear friend. She remembered taking only silk dresses that looked like they would fit her grandchildren. City mouse’s grandchildren had been growing out of them reasonably quickly anyway. Then, she knew. She knew where she had got it from. A young woman in a green salwar had handed a small locked box to her, on her first day at work in this house. She had promised her this pendant if she kept the box out of sight for two hours. City mouse was watching Lakshmi too closely. It made her uncomfortable.

City mouse held the pendant in her hand and stroked it. Her eyes bore into refractions as the ruby caught sunlight that came in through a window. Her fingers remembered this pendant. Yes it was the same. She had sat here, with a spread of jewels on the table in front of her, twenty years ago. Her fingers knew the necklace that had accompanied this ruby. She recalled the other stones in the collection she had so treasured in the short time she had bonded with it. “I must have found it.” Her lips grew morose as all her dashed plans reappeared as regret. City mouse searched Lakshmi’s shifty eyes. She had never trusted her. But how could she possi“Where is the rest of it?” bly know what had really transpired now? She “Rest of what?” had always known Lakshmi to be thief. She had fought with her husband to let the thief clean “Lakshmi, where did you get this?” their home. Who else could she talk to the way “I told you, I do not remember. How could I? I she spoke to Lakshmi? Who else would have have had it for too long. Maybe my mother gave coffee with her and still know her place in the it to me.” household? Lakshmi snatched the pendant away “That is quite impossible. You see this engrav- from City mouse’s limp hand. ing? This belongs to my daughter-in-law.” “I am already late. I’ll see you tomorrow.” “What engraving?” Later that afternoon, City mouse’s son found his mother weeping. Inconsolably.

Rohini lives in the clouds much of the time and comes down to earth grudgingly. She takes life lessons from her pious and wise dog, who spends much of his time gazing meditatively at the sky. She reads and writes because she cannot not. She was recently published in the Bombay Literary Magazine and is slated to be published in The Affair. 35

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Poetry

A Primer on Obedience By Bakul Banerjee This is a relationship marked not by love but by an expectation of submission from a woman. Bakul Banerjee’s poem captures the fate of a hapless woman.

Today, that suave man did not come, but … he will return to alter your shape and state. Where is the space on this earth that you will fill?

You kept your promise to spread a daily banquet and to perform every act in the pleasure playbook. Yet, you failed to ride out the waves of hope to cleanse him with the spring rain of love.

You deserved the hurt, you thought. You were ready to die under the Mimosa tree. You were not a child when you yearned to touch his face and hair, but puzzled about the kisses shunned. Love was the last thing on his mind.

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He wants to own you by killing you with your wrists tied behind your back.

Only then, he may render your brain in the kitchen fire, spreading the essence on his bread.

Award winning author and poet Bakul Banerjee, Ph.D. published her first volume of poems, titled “Synchronicity: Poems” in 2010. For the past fifteen years, her poems and stories appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies throughout U.S. and India. She lives near Chicago and received her Ph.D. degree in computational geophysics from The Johns Hopkins University, Maryland.

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The Lounge

March 2014 38

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Slice of Life by Anupama Krishnakumar

From a Granddaughter Grandmothers are special people. Anupama Krishnakumar’s piece is a walk down memory lane – it’s a tribute and a fond recollection of the many things associated with her grandmother who passed away recently. Dear Thangam Paati, Though I wish I could have, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you this in person because you wouldn’t have heard most of what I would have spoken and would not have been able to comprehend the meaning of it all. Your hearing got poorer and your ability to grasp deteriorated slowly but steadily and before the reality has even sunk in, you are no longer amidst us. When Mother called me on the morning you passed away, I heard her sob and utter those horrifying words. My body shook for a few minutes before I collapsed into the sofa and began to calm myself down. Now that it’s few days past, I have mulled over what I want to say and have decided to write it down and hope that you will somehow know of this. Despite all that I have grasped of death from

the little spirituality that I have read, your passing away has been a tough experience to deal with; especially because I spent a large share of my growing-up years with you. Everytime that I have come back home – from college during vacations, from work during weekends and for occasional breaks after I got married, you were there along with Thatha. Through all those years, you saw me move from one milestone to another, smiled and hugged and blessed me with so much love and adoration, that it brings to tears to my eyes now that I think of it. During those same years, I saw you move from one phase to another phase of ageing and transform from an active person to a quiet, subdued presence at home, staring vacantly into spaces ahead and occasionally springing one of those questions that you kept repeating. This subdued presence and your deep-throated voice will be

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missed terribly, Paati. It’s going to take us lot of I think of those conversations we would have time to get used to your painful absence. about your childhood, especially your mother and siblings and the way you would beam with Today, I think of those times when you would pride when you spoke of Tarapuram, your sit in the Puja room and perform pujas with place. I think of those special words and phrases such ardent devotion, uttering shlokas with a that you would use frequently, words that I have sincere heart, invoking blessings of the Alheard only you use. Not common parlance. It mighty on the entire family. I think of you, your makes me smile. I think of the way in which you face that had aged so gracefully, your gleaming would sit and help Mother in the kitchen, cutdiamond nosering that looked like it was made ting vegetables and how you would serve us just for you, the big round red kumkum on your food. I think of the times when forehead that made you you would fill in for Mother and look so graceful, your curly plait Sister’s and my hair when grey hair that you would we would be getting late for comb religiously every school. evening after applying coconut oil. I think of your frail, Paati, today, I think of all the stooping form, of the beauCarnatic music lessons that you tiful cotton and silk sarees imparted to me through years. that you would wear, the You were my Guru who taught love you had for sarees, the me such beautiful songs – ones wide variety of handbags that I sing to my children today that you stored inside the and put them to sleep. I think of wardrobe ranging from clutches to tote bags. I your affinity for Thiagaraja Kritis and Bharathiyar think of the fragrant Ponds Sandalwood powder songs and the times we would sing together. I that you would dab gently on yourself. can’t help but smile when I think of how frustrated you would get when they played only film I think of those better times, when you would songs and not Carnatic music on TV and radio, sit and watch Tamil soaps on TV, getting conso much so that you would ask, “Idhula nalla fused about the dozens of characters across paatu varaadha?” (Won’t they relay good songs in mega-serials, questioning Thatha incessantly this?) I can never forget your soulful rendition about the plots and the people while Thatha of ‘Akilandeswari Rakshamam’ in Dwijavanthi. would shed tears for those characters. I think of those moments when you would feel genuinely When I think of your music, I think of your sorry for people on screen and in general for handwriting – the fat letters that would curl imthose who go through tough times uttering the pressively and distinctly and all the songs that word ‘Paavam’. You were such a good soul, you had written in your own hand in different Paati. You wouldn’t for once think of harming kinds of notebooks for us to look at and sing. someone or putting someone down. The last time I met you, in a surprising move 40

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which saw you utter a few comprehensible words, you were telling someone of how you have lost your ‘saareeram’ (the voice quality) with a grave look in your eyes. I felt helpless and terribly sad. I felt bitter thinking of what life and age can do to a person. Your voice and your memory were gone. And two weeks since that meeting, you decided that you have had enough of this worldly suffering and that it was high time you had your freedom. You lived with Thatha for 71 long years, something unheard of, and I must tell you it’s such a heartrending sight to watch Thatha alone without you. I am unable to bear it. Mother and Father, who have been with you both for nearly three decades are distressed beyond words. But Father told me this a few hours after you passed away – “it’s unfair (and selfish) of us to have expected her to live on with all the pain. It only

shows our possessiveness. I think she really went through enough suffering that she needed this freedom. “ I agree, Paati. I know this was probably your biggest worry over the last few years that formed the basis of all your persistent questioning – the fear of the eventual happening to you, when nobody was around. I do not know what went through your mind when you lived through those last painful moments of your life but I really hope you knew you weren’t alone. All those who were most dear to you were around you as you departed from this tough world into realms of freedom. Your destiny, it appears, was designed thus. Now that your biggest worry isn’t a worry anymore, it’s time for you to rest, Paati. Rest. Rest in peace.

Anupama Krishnakumar loves Physics and English and sort of managed to get degrees in both – studying Engineering and then Journalism. Yet, as she discovered a few years ago, it is the written word that delights her soul and so here she is, doing what she loves to do – spinning tales for her small audience and for her little son, singing lullabies to her little daughter, bringing together a lovely team of creative people and spearheading Spark. She loves books, music, notebooks and colour pens and truly admires simplicity in anything! Tomatoes send her into a delightful tizzy, be it in soup or rasam or ketchup or atop a pizza!

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Spark - March 2014 Issue  

March 2014 Issue of Spark