Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Letter

 

Dear Chronic Illness,

I saw you in the morning while on my a.m. walk around the compound. After exactly ten strides, you made an appearance on my hips. They danced from left to right giving Michael Jackson a run for his money. After ten minutes, you told me to stop and sit down.

As much as I like to rule the world, I hate the fact that I am ruled by you! I am like the head of state who is constantly guided by a leader in the background. People term me as a meek person who gives up easily in various circumstances despite the picture seemingly looking fine. Oh well, they don’t know about you, the ‘wind’, sorry, the ‘storm’ beneath my wings.

The other day I had to visit a friend who lives in my old building. I was slightly nervous that you will meet me there and spoil my mood. It was meant to be a fun evening of chit-chat and good food, but you don’t like any of that, do you? As soon as you saw that tiny step at the entrance of the building, you cried for help like you were drowning in Titanic. You knew the drill and had experienced this a million times before. Yet when the moment came, you caved and became nervous. You could have worn a life jacket, asked for help and glided through, but you couldn’t just let go of your constant need for attention, could you? My friend felt guilty that she didn’t extend her hand on time and I felt bad for making her feel that way. All because of you.

It is not like I ignore you – infact you are all I think about. Then why do you behave like an insecure lover constantly calling me, messaging me, tracking my whereabouts and then pouncing on me whenever I seem to be having a little bit of fun? You clearly need distraction.

Even though you pull me back in nearly everything in life, I have befriended you indefinitely. Yes, I don’t have a choice, but I do have a choice to resent you, don’t I? Yet I think God chose me to handle you because He thought I could take it. Of course I don’t relish you, that would be very saint-like and heaven knows, I am not one! I am proud of the person I am despite you constantly by my side, mistreating me. However, in my 38 years, I have learnt to abide by your ever-changing rules and being upbeat in all circumstances.

Like I do every few months, I am planning to take you to yet another rehabilitation. We have not tried this one before and I am sure you will be extremely reluctant to this change. Like every time, you will try to pull me down so that I give up. But like you, I am a fighter. Let’s learn to co-exist in peace – I will not push your limits, you don’t take me to the edge.

Or else? Ah, I can’t do much, can I? I will call you names, struggle, cry a bit and then think of a new program that suits both of us. I am not giving up. Nah. Never.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Dog Walkers of Vista Villas


Mini, Manas, Mark, and Mohammad

All got a dog each to play

They sit inside and cuddle them

While the walkers take the canines out every day.

 

I see them with a leash in their hand

They come in groups of two

Chatting away like on a mission

Discussing everyone barring a few.

 

I want to overhear their conversations

But their language I don’t understand

They cook, clean, and slog in the homes

To earn money in this strange, strange land.

 

Yet when they are out with these dogs

They seem as free as the ocean

Guiding the animals, giving them orders

I envy their laughter, love their motion.

 

I wonder how many stories they know

Of the family they and their friends work for

I’m curious about their lives back home

Of their children, of what their future has in store.

 

I call them the dog walkers of Vista Villas

Who stroll out of their rooms at dusk and dawn

Hiding a story, sharing a secret

Forgetting their troubles while life goes on.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

In the blink of an Eye



Nothing in life is permanent

Things change with a dramatic event

It becomes your before and after

You wish for monotony rather.

But it is not up to you, is it?

Even if you want to quit

These events shape our lives

It’s about who loses, who survives.

 

Your learning all these years is determined by

What you do

When life changes

In the blink of an eye.





Sunday, December 6, 2020

Travelling to India during the pandemic Covid-19

So, the Boy and I managed to travel to India from Bahrain in the dreaded year that is 2020. I was so nervous before the first flight that I forgot to take my house keys (thankfully I had locked the door with my spare key which I gave to a neighbour), missed switching off the air conditioner and packed haphazardly – all very unlike the pain-in-the-ass organised me.

Before getting on the plane to India, we called up a taxi driver who would take us from Delhi to the Boy’s home in Panchkula. A friend in India had advised me to get the transparent shield between the driver's seat and the passenger’s seat at the back. On requesting the service for the same, the driver informed us that there is no Corona in India now and so they have removed the sheet from the cars.

That was our sneak peek into what lay ahead. From a complete lockdown to Diwali card parties, India had transformed in the last few days. As the numbers started going down in October, the masks started slipping too.

Tough ride for tough people!!!

There were four types of people we encountered:

 Covidiots – Corona is a hoax; we don’t have to wear a mask. It is a sham by pharmaceutical companies across the world to make money. (How I wish our world leaders were so cordial with each other to even collaborate on a thing like Covid-19!)

Over-smart – We wear the mask below the nose because we can’t breathe in it. Doesn’t matter if we get corona, mortality rate is low in India. (Ask my friend who lost her mother, another who lost her uncle, an acquaintance who lost her father, the list is endless.)

Afraid of the fine – We wear mask under the chin only to pull it up when we see the police because we eat turmeric and drink magical concoction by Swami Diecorona and can never get Covid. (slow clap for the 'brightest minds' in the world who are making vaccines in the form of Ayurvedic solutions and sweet homeopathic pills, Pfizer and Moderna need coaching! Doesn't mean I am a non-believer, I just feel if it was that simple, we wouldn't have been here in the first place.)

The paranoid/ outcasts/ anti-social/ ‘darpok’ – These people wear their mask, follow all the rules, step out only when necessary and feel extremely uncomfortable when the people around them don’t. I bow down to them and salute their resilience. No kidding.

5- Attention seekers with masks like these

We went home because we were missing family. We did an RT-PCR test before leaving Bahrain and took a rapid antigen test five days after reaching homeland. We have been tested after coming back too and by God’s grace and smart precautions, we have been spared.

When we were in India we did the following to protect ourselves and our families:

   - Wore a disposable surgical mask every time we stepped out (which was mainly for long drives, take-away coffee, airports, and a couple of outdoor restaurants) and threw it the moment we were home.

 - We finished almost three 100 ml bottles of hand sanitizers! I used hand cream to hydrate the palms at night otherwise I was on the verge of developing bruises on my skin.

 - We did natural things that our parents were doing like taking steam, drinking hot water, having turmeric milk at night, etc.

 - We went to eat out but did not step indoors at any restaurant (except two because there was no other option due to some reasons). All places were outdoors with a lot of ventilation. We wore our masks while interacting with the staff. 

- While travelling from one city to another, we wore masks, used hand sanitizers intensively, used face shields, and made use of alcoholic wipes to disinfect spaces.

 - While booking our flight tickets, we paid extra to get the front row so that we are in less contact with people. Indigo is selling ‘double seat’ in flights so that no one sits next to you - we booked those for the three domestic routes we took. They made us feel super safe.

 - We even did a 3-night staycation in Goa at a five-star resort. Although that wasn’t part of the plan and it wasn’t the most important thing to do, we took our chances. We did all the above things and tried to be as safe as possible.

First covid test is always special and poseworthy!

We were not 100% safe, but we tried our best. Maybe we were lucky, or maybe our efforts worked – we shall never know. However, we wanted to do our bit for the tourism industry, and we are so glad we took that step. Now, now, don't roll your eyes!

 I came back with a content heart and a smile on my face. For anyone who is missing family, haven’t seen their parents in over a year, I’d say take the plunge. Be careful, mindful and smart. It was a very hard journey for us which took almost 14 hours from one door to the other. Being in a mask and constantly being cautious of your surroundings makes it torturous. But I would do it again in a second to meet my loved ones, and take that awesome vacation in Goa. You know, just to help the tourism industry!

Practice Social Distancing :)


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Yaadein


I am grateful that I and my loved ones are safe and healthy. I am grateful that these are the only things that I am missing and not the basic necessities in life. Yet I wonder - why this suffering at all? Don't we have enough misery on Earth.

Hoping and praying for this to pass. Please take care..


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Z is for... Zen with my Zen


I started driving a car in the year 2004 and began an adventurous journey. Although I love my life in all its glory and don’t regret a single moment, I have to say my years with a car were the best years of my life.

You see, I started dating the Boy in the same year, and without a car, I don’t know how I would have managed to romance him. His college was in the outskirts of the city separated from my B-school by 25 kilometres. The journey involved driving alongside enormous trucks, and deceiving cows, my parents, and the college guard - not in the same order. I must say, with great finesse, I made the trip several times the result of which is a successful 11-year old marriage. *winks*

This red Zen was initially bought for my sister-in-law, but I, in a not-so-dramatic way, snatched the keys to my freedom from her. The two years that I was in college, we could have made a Saas-bahu saga in my house with me being the crafty nanad. I strategized a lot when it came to taking the car with me, and she, poor thing, just let me be. Also, she was the sole secret-keeper of my story with the Boy and was terrified of being an accomplice to my crime in front of the entire family. I guess her strategy to let me be with the Boy so that I can get married to him sooner worked well too. She now owns every key in the house.

My B-school adventures would have been dull without my red Zen. Apart from driving to college, I drove my friends to their homes, restaurants, theatres, Xerox copy places, several corporate offices, hospitals, etc. Hospitals? One fine evening, the Boy met with a massive accident. Now his 10-year-old bike could compete with any bicycle, yet it could not handle a new road on the highway! Imagine! He was admitted and underwent a surgery, I made several visits with my friends to the hospital, and that is how I met his family and his friends. Ah, that story is for another day.

Speaking of accidents, one fine morning I was driving on an empty road. The tape was playing Mahi ve from Kal ho Na ho, my favourite movie of that year. Like my dad on the wheels, I was dancing to the tunes. Suddenly a car, coming from nowhere, crossed the road without looking in my direction. There was a loud noise – from my brakes, the bang and then my heart.

Thankfully no one was hurt, except my poor red Zen. It seemed someone had punched her stomach and she was holding it in from the front. I parked my car in the corner and called my brother. He came with my father and I was driven to my college in another car. I cried after the first class was over, but that was short lived. My dad called me that afternoon telling me that my red Zen will be fine in two days and I can take it again. I loved his assurance which made me confident too.

That red Zen is no longer with us. It was replaced by another red car which is nowhere close to it. I miss it, and I miss driving. I burnt three clutches while driving the red Zen due to inability of switching my legs. We have automatic cars now, but I fear driving. Although Uber makes everything easier, I will never forget those three years with my red Zen – the best there could ever be.

P.S. If you don't want your children to date, don't give them a car/bike. Also, if you don't want your children to have the best years of their lives, don't give them a car/bike. Catch 22, much?

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Today is the last of A2Z. I am thankful to many bloggers who visited my humble blog and gave me the confidence to write fiction. I am my best critique and so I know where I stand, yet I am grateful for your remarks. And even though this AtoZ is over, I'd be visiting all the blogs that I have been reading. You know who you are since you have my comments...big hug! I will also try and visit the blogs that I could not read due to the stress of writing. 

I am hoping for a long journey with the new ones. See you all on the other side!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Y is for.. Yearbook tale


When I got her friend request on Facebook, I could not recognise her at first. I scrolled her page to see all the pictures and realised she was the same, quiet girl from school.

I still remember the first morning she had walked into our class of 45 students. Her sparkling white shirt over crisp grey skirt partitioned by a brand-new grey and red belt already disassociated her from the rest of us. It was our last year in school, and parents were not keen on spending on new uniform for their 16-year olds. Eager to start a new life, we were not interested either.

‘Where can I keep my bag?’ she inquired upon entering.

‘You can place yourself in the front row, Ma’am will come and find you a spot,’ I replied trying to stop myself from smiling too much.

She kept her belongings on a bench and looked around for the timetable on the softboard, and then started to copy from it for future reference.

My friends and I stood in the last rows and spoke about her in hushed tones. ‘I hope I am not separated from you because of her, you won’t even have much space to sit!’ Payal remarked with her eyes rolling.

‘Shh, now don’t be mean. I can easily fit in with her,’ I said putting my hand on Payal’s mouth. ‘I am worried how the boys will react.’

The boys had occupied the last row at the opposite end and had been chuckling all along. Every student who entered kept his bag on his seat and joined the hullabaloo. Suddenly one of them walked up to the blackboard and changed the number of students from 45 to 48. There was a loud uproar on their side.

Payal and Riddhima could not contain their laughter. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh with my old classmates or feel bad for the newcomer who was, thankfully, unaware of the joke.

The school bell rang, and it was time for our first period. Mrs. Newton entered the class and looked at fresh entrant in the front row.

‘Ah, you must be Yati Shukla,’ she said, lovingly putting her arm around the new girl. She looked around and introduced her to us. And then her eyes stopped at me, the class monitor. ‘Nisha, you will sit with her and help her adjust, is that ok?’

‘Yes Ma’am,’ I answered picking up my already packed bag. The boys looked at me with their mischievous eyes and I pretended to be completely fine with the shift.

Mrs. Newton took the attendance and stood up to scribble the number of students on the board. When she turned, her fingers stopped for a few seconds reading the number 48. We all thought she was conjuring a harsh punishment in her head. There was pin drop silence in class. She calmly took the duster and changed the number to 46. Then she turned around and looked at me and my eyes dropped with shame. At that moment we both knew that Yati won’t be making many friends this year.

And that is why I was surprised to see that only 10 years later, she had 1500 friends on Facebook. Yati now had perfectly sculpted body and oodles of make-up on her face which made her look very different from the chubby girl she was. Many of her photographs included celebrities from Bollywood, and on further stalking, I realised that she was a celebrated Public Relations Manager for countless.

And then there were my other classmates, all 44 of them, on her friend-list, some successful, some stuck in the same era, but none who had bothered to talk to her in that one year of high school.