Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Review of Kamala Das' 'A Childhood in Malabar'

Upsi, I can't get to your blog, so here is the link.

Incidentally, will you please enable access to your profile? I think you have to tick something or the other nowadays, so that Blogger Beta users can see it. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Trying to Catch the Memories as They Fly By

We had a guest over for lunch yesterday. (Aleksandra, a Polish journalist. For the records. And afterwards Shuktara came to check out my sari blouse patterns. Aso for the records.) Anyway, so I was cooking. Now, my cooking skills are improving but are still fairly limited. So, a special lunch at our place will probably rate you a rice-chicken curry. If you are veggie like Aleksandra, you get luchi (maida puris), chhola'r dal, begun bhaja (fried aubergines) and some water. Dessert, if we remember. We did yesterday, so Aleksandra got some mishti doi (translation needed?).

Anyway, while I was making this sumptuous repast V had gone to wake The Bhablet from the morning nap. (He -- meaning V -- came and fried those aubergines later, but that's another story. Incidentally, he does an excellent job of that.)

So they came down from the mezzanine, The Bhablet perched on his shoulders, looking adorably sleep-mussed and V chuckling at a joke he insisted on sharing:

V: Doesn't he look exactly like the Yeti in Tintin in Tibet?
Me: What? No, he does not! Now go away, I'm busy.
V: No, he does! Go on, look at him properly. See all that hair sticking up at the top of his head? Exactly like the Yeti.
Me: He does NOT. Now go away, both of you.
V: I refuse to move until you take a proper look at him and agree with me.

(Cornered and harried, I look at them and quickly look away.)

Me: (less convincingly) No he doesn't, now go away this instant.

(Exit V. Re-entry in roughly 30 seconds.)

V: NOW will you admit that he looks like the Yeti?

I look up and see him holding a bewildered Bhablet in one hand and the comic, opened at the appropriate page (the Yeti charges Tintin and Co.) in the other hand.

Me: (speechless)

V: He even acts like him.



The lengths some people go to, I tell you.

The afternoon went on to be unexpectedly nice. I was tired, but The Bhablet ate up his lunch, Aleksandra seemed to enjoy hers and Shuktara dropped in while we were eating, so we had quite a little party. She played with The Bhablet's toys while A took some photos. V sat and grinned. I took the weight off my feet. The Bhablet? He enjoyed the company. Always does.

Rehearsals in the evening. The Bhablet is a major distraction when you're trying to learn lines.

And, now for the grand finale:

The Bhablet and I were picked up by V and came home by 2030, The Bhablet was fed, changed, washed, massaged and sound asleep by 2130 and I had some me time with Lord Edgeware Dies on the couch before falling asleep by 2230. I missed dinner but I slept on till 0830 this morning. Not bad, huh? Given that I've taken to sleeping at 0300 these days? Have designated today as Day of Rest so am not cooking. V is making The Bhablet's rice and he (R, not V) can have that with whatever we have. Look, I'm posting at 1300!!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jiyon's Birthday

Jiyon's birthday yesterday. Today. On the 28th, I mean.

He came over to our place with V last night from Roxy (at 3 a.m.) and we all had breakfast together this morning. Welsh rarebit (which we Roys call dim-alu-tomato) and toast. Found out breakfast is a rarity for all four of us. V and I invariably skip, what with being too busy and J does too. Bad, bad habit.

They left, I ran around fixing The Bhablet's lunch, rice for V's lunch (which he skipped). V very kindly packed some sandwiches for me because Proof rehearsed all afternoon today. Rehearsals went on, were about as tiring as always and then I came home. Four hours of sleep the previous night, damn. I cuddled The Bhablet, dozed in snatches, got badly bitten (by The Bhablet and not by the mosquitoes -- I wonder if they realise how redundant he has made them?) and finally V, The Bhablet and I dressed up and dropped in on J. The birthday boy was planning to spend the evening lazing at home. R had brought him a fantastic walnut brownie cake and some champagne. We ended up having a late dinner at Mirch Masala. Excellent food, although the cocktail was a bit of a failure. The Bhablet spent his time rattling a spoon in one of the brass water tumblers they use there. He made like he was tossing muri -- altogether rather cute.

And now I'm home and dying to catch some sleep. Did the laundry, tidied away kitchen, cleaned part of room. Guest for lunch tomorrow, not to mention rehearsals in the evening. If you don't hear from me again you'll know I dropped dead. Send all wreaths, wishes, remembrances to V and remind him that it's all his fault, by pre-nuptial agreement.

God I love that man.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I've stopped sulking :)

And I'm back, because I feel like company. So welcome, y'all.

I'm holding fort tonight because V has gone for one of his six-monthly men's nights out. I got home kinda tired after rehearsals tonight and Jiyon called, asking if we fancied a trip to Roxy. It being Saturday night and all that. I did, but my knees didn't. The high heels I have to wear for this play have caused my knee problem to shoot up and although I'd like to dance, I don't think I can stand up long enough to do so.

I'm glad he went. Roxy always has batchmates of his from school and college and he needs to socialise more. Besides, thanks to me going crazy trying to balance Blank Noise, Proof, Calcutta Walks and domestic duties (cleaning, tidying, laundry, ironing, cooking etc.), V has been babysitting Rahul most evenings these last six weeks. It was about time he got into this once more, but you can have too much of a good thing.

The pros of all this heavy-duty babysitting? He now understands and anticipates R's needs much better than he had got into the habit of doing. And R has finally taken to turning to his father in times of want.

A serious con is the clinginess R now displays towards me. He spent a few days being very depressed after we returned from Madras and V and I were quite dismayed. For once such a social little boy didn't want to meet people, no matter how much they petted him or played with him. He didn't smile all the first day, and he does have such a special smile. He was listless all day, something that always alarms me, given his normal levels of exuberance. He was tired, but this was something beyond his usual whine of exhaustion. When you add the clinginess to this you will understand why it's a little distressing for me.

Proof is being difficult on my nerves. Specifically, my character Supriya is. That is not just because I am returning to the stage after four years but also because of the play of emotions I am expected to display. She has a difficult relationship with her younger sister and for this I draw upon the uneven relationship my brother and I have. My brother and I have a strange relationship. After all these years I think he really is proud of me, and of what I have achieved. And I am proud of his attempts to carve out a life of his own. But we have always had a crazy current of sibling rivalry running strong between us, fostered no doubt unwittingly by our father and nurtured by our relatives, and we never, not ever, openly communicate how we feel.

He has his problems. Certain behavioral problems which are psychiatric in nature but can be controlled, should he so desire. All my life I have watched him fall and suffer insults and ever since I can remember, I have been protective about him. But he is my older brother and doesn't, obviously, like the role reversal. Nor am I very tactful about it. Just thinking about him makes me go all tense. We understand each other very well. But we don't seem to be able to accept what we understand.

It is easily the most difficult relationship in my life, easily outstripping the tightrope my father and I walk around each other.

So when I draw upon this relationship to fuel the love-hate Supriya and her sister share, it is an enormous drain on me. It physically tires me out. I remember the day I gave up on my brother and consciously decided to walk out of his life. When I realised that he took more than I had to give. And while the pain of that memory is an effective aid to acting, reminding myself of it over and over again is a lashing that is not cathartic in the slightest.

There are also a lot of scenes that require raised voices. Now, I can lose my temper with the best of them. And when I do let fly, my voice rises with my temper. But the fact is I am scared of raised voices, of physical violence. I have seen so much of that firsthand, I fear it still as a child might. So I am ok with me shouting but when I am shouted at, my instinctive reaction is to calm things down if possible or else back down, run away. Which Supriya would not do.

Tamping down on instinctive reactions is part of the training of an actor. Four years ago, when I was acting regularly, I had become a very emotive person. My emotions were always on my face, apparent from my body language. Two years ago I deliberately set out to change that. I was sick of being so public and, for the first time in my life, had real pain to hide. I didn't realise how much I had succeeded in wiping out the expressiveness I had come to take for granted until I was told, gently and tactfully, that I was showing as much emotion as a tree. (My words.) Now that I'm trying to get back to being a louder, larger person once more, I'm glad I decided to do this play. If nothing else, it has restored my belief in myself -- something that the first year of marriage and subsequent motherhood had largely wiped out.

I'm sorry, there is no point or form to this post. I felt like rambling as I used to in the old days.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm Off

I need a break. I'll see you all around when I feel like company. Be good.

Tagged -- Mating Rituals, V Ishtyle

It was V's birthday on Wednesday and he celebrated by sleeping most of the day. Since we got back to town in the middle of the night before, I thought he deserved it. The Bhablet slept too, thanks be.

I would have have written a maudlin post about him but we may fight tomorrow and then I don't want such a post annoying me so I've decided to do DotMom's tag instead. (At last.)

So you want to know about our courtship, huh? It's not a madly exciting tale. It has its funny moments though. Mainly when we got drunk. (Rahul, if you are reading this, let that be a lesson to you not to propose to anybody when you are drunk. You hear me, boy?)

When I joined uni I was soon dragged into a crowd consisting of folks from various years as well as departments. A shining light of this, the JU lobby crowd, was the brother-in-law to be, mostly famous as Kingshuk. We used to hang out at his place a lot and V was the quiet, 'good boy' brother in the next room. I vaguely remember meeting him for the first time at her house, at some party, but that meeting was memorable only because I hastily ran away. He and his brother look a lot like each other at a first meeting, and since I was a trifle, er, floaty at the time, I found it too much to take.

NOTE: V insists that it was love at first sight as far as he was concerned. In which case I would like to know why he decided to hook up with another girl a year or two after this.

That was some time in 2001. (I wasn't blogging then so you can stop looking at the archives.) Time passed and he and I met at parties. I had an impression of a really nice guy, the dependable sort, very friendly. A rather blurred impression, given the speed and smoke that filled those years, not to mention the alcohol that filled the veins. (Not speed the drug; I'm talking of the quick passage of time. Just to clarify.) I left S (the first boyfriend), began afresh with B, and went on a roller-coaster of a relationship. Being with B was exciting but I learnt to miss the solidity that S had always given me. And then things finally fell apart with B and I went into deep depression because, oh because of reasons which didn't have anything much to do with B, and I suddenly felt that life as I knew it had come to an end.

There was, just before this point, another Uni party. You can read all about it here. Suddenly I found myself hanging out with V and his gang because they were the easiest on my nerves. The closest to the kind of people I had grown up with. And things just went downhill from there. Wherever I looked, there he was. Ferrying me around, carting me off to unknown weddings, looking appreciatively at me in my favourite green silk, petting me and spoiling me silly.

Pujo 2004 saw me back in Madras, mailing V everyday. No idea why. (Although I have to admit that was some pretty good writing from both of us. I cherish those letters, they are all so funny.) And when I came back to Cal, I broke up with B, hung out with V and spent a lot of time alone with myself enjoying my depression. By the time Saarang 2005 happened, I was about ready to snap out of it. This was what I call my Lost Weekend. It all passed very nicely among very sweet guys with lots of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll thrown in. Now, I don't want to lose Sunny Days its G rating so I'll gloss over the details, but you've to understand that I had fun and I always knew V was kinda interested and sort of hanging around in the background. To me it was very important then that he let me be, that he let me do the nutsiest things without it altering his perception of the girl he always saw underneath. Because not too many people saw that other girl I was usually careful to hide.

Life went on as usual, never did stop for me just because my heart was breaking. And as I tried to deal with the death of a beloved great-uncle and other wracking stuff, I realised how much I had begun to lean on that eejit V. (Very smart strategy Joe, never think I don't appreciate it.) And one fine day, I felt a little braver and decided to take a chance on life again, and agreed to marry V. The actual story I've told before, but this is what lay behind it.

MM nagged me into re-reading my archives and I was charmed to realise how sweetly they describe our courtship (V's and mine, nothing to do with MM). When I read those off-hand earlier posts, including my casual mention of my acceptance of his proposal, and go through his regular (and love-lorn) comments, it inspires strong feelings in me. Mainly to go kick the uncaring, unromantic brute he has since turned out to be. But I'm pretty sure he will be loud in his objection and then The Bhablet will wake up, so I've decided to go Gandhian and kiss him silly instead. My revenge lies in the fact that I will be waking him up to do this. Good.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Time to Head Home

The goddess has left for her home and tonight I leave for mine. I was told that once I got married I would appreciate having a baperbari (literally, father's house) to run away to now and then, and I do. Oh yes, I certainly do. But my heart is not in it when I can't bring V with me. The Bhablet, obviously, travels with me.

And after a while, a very short while, despite all the spoiling, I long to be back in my own home. I can understand why Durga only drops in for a handful of days.

Subho bijoya, everybody, and may the joy of the season stay long in your hearts.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pass That by Me Once More?

You know how we Bongs are, right? Come Durga Puja and we wear new clothes. (I would ideally like to have about three sets a day.) And we go all out and get new blouses stitched so that we can wear the new sarees we are gifted for the festival.

So my mum walked out of the bathroom a few minutes ago in a new blouse (and old saree, she is only going to the shops) and began grumbling.

Ma: Just look at this blouse. Only got it yesterday and it's already too tight. When I gave these blouses for stitching they were all loose on me.

Me: (catching up on my surfing, so not really paying attention) Hmmm... you really should lose some weight, you know that.

Ma: (continuing to mutter) It's these last 10 kgs that suddenly crept up on me... they've only been on since the baby arrived.


And she is speaking of her grandson, of course.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Inter-Religious Marriages: Recipe for Disaster?

I was contemplating elongating this mini-break into a proper, week's blog holiday but a comment on my post about Rizwan-Ur Rehman's death demands a post.

Thiagan says:

Non muslim girls marrying muslims are doomed to be a disaster. My objections:

> the girls will be invariably from affluent families and the husband can not afford to maintain her earlier lifestyle
> the girls brought up in liberal circumstances can not adjust to the suffocating surroundings for women in Islam
> in Islam marriage is a contract and can be terminated by the husband by uttering triple talaaq; in Pakistan Hindu girls are regularly abducted, forcibly converted and married off to muslims. Six months later, they are abandoned and they become destitutes. The status of women in Islam is worse beyond imagination.
> I can not accept a teacher marrying his own student; it is against professional ethics.
> the boy has brought dishonour to the family and he should be killed to protect the honour of the family. This is in accordance with shariaat.
> Ram Madhav earlier quoted the instance of a UP senior IAS officer married to a muslim lady. Their son died and there was virtually a war whether to cremate or to bury.
> Culturally they are poles apart and the marriage will never work
> there is a definite attempt by muslim boys to lure Hindu/Christian girls to marriage; it is an effort to increase the market share
> Betty Mohamed, an American lady, married an Iranian doctor and after seven years, she was persuaded to go to Iran with the daughter; the husband became a fanatic and started imposing Arab customs on them. She escaped to USA after great difficulty and she has written a book, ”Not Without My Daughter”. It is favourite present when any American girl marries a muslim. It is also filmed
> muslim girls can cope up with marriage because they brainwashed from birth
> US state department has issued a booklet advising American women against marrying muslims
> This is a very relevant concern of every parent and I wish the media should not make circus of it
What is your response?



Thiagan, I am interested in knowing how and why Rizwan died. I don't think that was entirely because he was Muslim. If you have been following the issue you may have also heard about Manoj and Dolly being hounded by the Kolkata police, following requests from Dolly's father. Both are Hindu and yet being harassed.

> the girls will be invariably from affluent families and the husband can not afford to maintain her earlier lifestyle
Many girls marry into less affluent households. When they do it out of choice they are also knowingly choosing the change in lifestyle. Right now my husband's parents cannot afford the luxuries they heaped on their children until very recently. Does that mean I shouldn't have married him?

> the girls brought up in liberal circumstances can not adjust to the suffocating surroundings for women in Islam
Islam is not suffocating. I have Muslim friends, men and women, and to them their religion is a way of life and comfortable at that. Provided you are not a fanatic, or marrying one, it should not be such a barrier. If it is, then the claustrophobia is usually apparent well before the marriage.

> in Islam marriage is a contract and can be terminated by the husband by uttering triple talaaq; in Pakistan Hindu girls are regularly abducted, forcibly converted and married off to muslims. Six months later, they are abandoned and they become destitutes. The status of women in Islam is worse beyond imagination.
I can only suppose you have not heard of Hindu windows in Benaras or dowry deaths in Hindu communities, to name but two atrocities which seem to occur most often in my supposedly open religion. I like being Hindu because it gives me a great deal of (religious) elbow-space, but I am not blind to its potential for abuse -- in this it is no different from any other world faith, including Buddhism and Zoroastroanism.

The triple talaaq is grossly misused, but that does not mean that every Muslim man (or even every other or every third) divorces his wife on a whim. At least, in my experience, that has not been so.

> I can not accept a teacher marrying his own student; it is against professional ethics.
I agree with you on this. As I pointed out in my post, from some accounts Rizwan seems to have been less than Mr. Perfect.

> the boy has brought dishonour to the family and he should be killed to protect the honour of the family. This is in accordance with shariaat.
I'm not sure I understand this point. Are you suggesting that Muslims killed Rizwan because of his marriage outside the community?

> Ram Madhav earlier quoted the instance of a UP senior IAS officer married to a muslim lady. Their son died and there was virtually a war whether to cremate or to bury.
It is very important, in such a marriage, to know what faith (if any) the children are to follow. If the husband and wife do not work it out before they bring up a child, such tragedies will occur. That's just being practical.

> Culturally they are poles apart and the marriage will never work
I know of at least one such marriage which has worked very well and two others which are working right now. Personally. There must be so many more out there.

> there is a definite attempt by muslim boys to lure Hindu/Christian girls to marriage; it is an effort to increase the market share
I have to laugh at this one, I'm afraid. I don't know what kind of Muslim boys you meet, but most of my Muslim (male) friends are actually very wary of relationships with non-Muslims because of the family problems they will have to face. I'm not saying that they have never entered into relationships with non-Muslim girls, but it was not planned. I'm sorry, I'm still laughing at this point.

Give us girls some credit. We know when we are wanted for ourselves, you know.

> Betty Mohamed, an American lady, married an Iranian doctor and after seven years, she was persuaded to go to Iran with the daughter; the husband became a fanatic and started imposing Arab customs on them. She escaped to USA after great difficulty and she has written a book, ”Not Without My Daughter”. It is favourite present when any American girl marries a muslim. It is also filmed
I've heard of it. I can only repeat, I have not met any such Muslim men. I'm sure there are such fanatics all around me, but that does not mean that my friends who are not fanatics should be have to be ostracised as well. You think it out, is that fair?

> muslim girls can cope up with marriage because they brainwashed from birth
Brainwashed into what exactly? My oldest friend, someone I have known for the last thirteen years, is Muslim. Her four older sisters are all independent working women who have made very good marriages, have nice husbands and are great mothers. Did I mention that all the sisters are practising doctors? If that is brainwashing I could do with some of that.

> US state department has issued a booklet advising American women against marrying muslims
You need to check your facts about this.

> This is a very relevant concern of every parent and I wish the media should not make circus of it.
It is regrettable that some sections of the media is blurring the lines, I agree. Our focus here should be on finding out why the Kolkata Police cannot be questioned upon their dubious behaviour and why the investigation into the death of Rizwan-Ur Rehman is being hidden under a smokescreen. Our focus is not really on whether he and Priyanka Todi should have got married. It's none of your business or mine and I applaud you for recognising that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

'Round an' About

We're alive and well and down South.

The Bhablet and I docked in today, accompanied by my brother (who has my eternal gratitude for allowing me to snatch a nap on the flight by taking over his nephew's inflight programme).

The father ship sets out from Calcutta tomorrow.

More later.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Sue by Any Other Name?

DotMom has decided that I rock. Because I'm not anonymous. (And one or two other reasons, but we will spare my blushes here.)

Coming as it did, just before I met Praanadhika from Elaan (I'd link to her blog but she's gone private) who looked meditatively at me when I introduced myself the other night and said that she had heard of me, this whole using-my-real- name business needed a re-think.

Let's face it, my lack of anonymity was not a conscious decision. When I wrote my first ever post I had no clear idea what a blog was or what function it was supposed to fill. At a tender age (twelve) Baba had impressed upon me the need to write out my full name for my signature and to always use that everywhere, and I somehow carried it into the rest of my life as well. I remember once adding my name in the form of a formal signature to a birthday gift that us friends gave the brother-in-law (who was not, then). It had become an automatic reflex. I'm Sue. I'm also Sunny, Sunne, Ayesha and Phuli. But mostly, I'm Sunayana Roy. When I use a pseudonym I tend to plump for Ayesha, merely because it's unexpected. But even Ayesha is a name of mine, one that half my acquaintance, and V, call me. I suspect The Bhablet refers to me as Ayethaa too. I know I caught my mother trying to teach him to call me so.

But I digress. Anyway, once I started Sunny Days (at Rediff) and named myself, it followed that the people who read it also knew me, and therefore there was no point trying to be mysterious. A couple of years down the line, I did think about it. Mainly when I suspected that Baba had found my blog, and had read stuff like this. When you consider that he still won't allow me to meet those guys, I hope you will understand why that was a big deal. (Yes, at 25, and being a married woman and a mother I continue to sneak out to meet certain friends. Qu'est-ce qu'on fait?) So I did consider going underground. My readership was still within two digits I'm sure (including stray visitors) and I might have been able to pull it off. But once I started writing about my marriage I suppose I crossed the Rubicon. Or did I do that when I took a leaf out of V's book and began adding my phone number and blog url as a part of my signature in emails? Either way, everybody who came here knew exactly who I was.

Praanadhika's response rattled me for a minute because it suddenly hit home just how small a city this is. Within the circles I move in, however many they may be, there are always connections and links. So most of the people who read about my problems with V knew him or his brother. When I bitched about my aunt they knew which aunt I referred to. Is that acceptable?

I don't know. V says that he is fine with it. That he will tell me when he is not. And in my mind, so long as V and The Bhablet don't mind what I write, I'm willing to sign my name to it and post it. But when I write of other people am I not compromising their privacy? So I began to use intials or odd letters instead of people's names. (That and because it saves me some typing. Some of the names my friends-and-relatives have would end up crippling my fingers.)

So I continue. I have my moments of doubt and indecision. At such times, folks like DotMom and V bolster my courage. And I remind myself that I am, above all else, strictly truthful. I record events as best as I know, and if I find out any errors afterwards, I do go back and correct. If speaking the truth is not a crime now, and provided my intent in speaking it is not to spread hurt, I can think of no real reason to go anonymous. To tell you the truth, I wish more of you would, too. It would make my life easier, for one. For another, it might just add a bounce to your step and a smile on your face, all that extra confidence. I have gone beyond blogging with some of you and we meet on networking sites and email and phone each other. Each time, the part I enjoyed most was getting to finally 'see' the real you. I understand the blogger is a part, and it's so nice to see your faces, hear your voices, feel you for the people you are.

I already passed this badge on once, to people whose writing I enjoy, so I'm not sending it out once more. What I am doing is sending a wave and a nod to all those out there who enjoy blogging under their own names. It's a very liberating experience, provided you are aware of the costs.

Kiran
Dipali
Lali
Rohini
Sunita
Dipta
Tharini
Yashodhara
Vijayeta
Parul

There are many more, some of whose links I have lost, and yet more whose names slip my mind right now. Whoever you are, know that I appreciate the company.

Where There is Light

V and I went out for dinner last night with Shuki, Beanie and Joy. S and J are old collegemates of mine (we go back all the way to the first days at JU) while B's sis was another member of our gang. So we had lots to chatter over, and since we went to Mocambo, the food was pretty good too. V and I went the whole 3-course-plus-drinks way and I enjoyed it so much. We've been on a very strict budget since last month, trying to economise because of our debt pileup, and I had set aside some of the money I have earned these last two months for just such an evening. In the end it didn't matter that we didn't dine alone, because we all had so much more fun than I'd expected.

Anyway, we went an hour early, V and I, because I wanted to spend some time at the candle-light vigil that is being held everyday from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. in front of St. Xaviers for Rizwan-Ur Rehman. I'm glad we went. Took our own candles (scented long-lasting ones from Pondicherry that I'd been gifted years ago and that I had been saving for a special occasion) and wrote on the poster and in the book and stood around for a while. Thought about his death. And his wife.

1. He was no saint. From some accounts he seems to be a kind of person I wouldn't exactly run to be friends with. But most of the world consists of people I am not running to be friends with, and I don't think his nature is of importance to me. It is vital that we focus on the injustice. He was a dutiful son, a loving husband and a good friend. So the reports say. But above and beyond all that is, whether he was Mr. Perfect or a total slimeball, he did not deserve to be murdered. And despite today's declaration of suicide from the post-mortem authorities, I do not believe he killed himself. It is very important to me as a person, as a citizen of my city and my country, that cops do not collude with killers. And that the cops who do are caught and kicked out of the force. I believe they should be punished and for all their lives, because they have a special duty towards their fellow citizens, and by evading or ignoring that duty they are not just harming some people but everything that the force stands for.

2. I wonder about Priyanka. I do not hold, as some do, that it is her duty to return to Rizwan's family. She only stayed with them a short while, and why would she want to return when her reason for living with them is dead? If she had wanted to, I'd have understood, but since she hasn't shown any such inclination, I don't think any of us have the right to say she 'should'.

What kind of a life will she have? When it is more than likely that your own father caused the death of your husband, what kind of a life does that leave you? I'm sick of the psychologists' opinions the newspapers see fit to print every morning about how they think she is feeling. Only she knows and I think it behoves every single one of us to respect that. Let her deal with it as she thinks fit. Whether she deals with her grief in her father's house or parades it on the streets, is it not her grief to deal with?

The NGOs currently manning the vigil, as well as the non-affiliated volunteers seem to be fairly level-headed about it all. No ranting, no unseemly grief for somebody they didn't know. But a determined stance for justice. I'm all for that too. I want to know what happened.

I do wish those kids would re-light and straighten the candles that fall down, though. Tending the flames ought to be one of the duties at such a vigil. That request apart, they won my respect with their calm and obvious dedication.

I appreciated The Indian Shitizen's piece on the issue. Rimi'di also writes often about this, and to the point.

I'm adding here a letter that was sent to me by Shuki a few days ago. At the bottom it contains a petition and the email addresses you can send it to. Please take the time to read it, and if the issue bothers you at all -- as friends, parents, men and women, it should -- please, copy it out and send the email. It will add to your good karma, I think.

(Oh and you can make changes to the covering letter, if you like. Some of us did. Just make sure you don't mess up the facts.)

Dear Friends,

Allow me to share a small story with you. A story that most of you might have come across in fairy tales or sometimes even in real life. A story of love between two people from two different social backgrounds that usually ends with "… and they lived happily ever after" or in a classical way where both or one of the lovers dies due to the evil forces that ply against their union.

Rizwanur Rahman and Priyanka Tody fell in love with each other and decided to marry. Rizwanur was a graphic designer by profession and Priyanka was his student at the multimedia center in Kolkata where he worked. In spite of coming from a lower middle class family that lived in a small, tin-roofed house in one of the poorest colonies of the city Kolkata and narrowly surviving through a fatherless childhood, Rizwanur and his brother managed to grow up well-educated and well-groomed gentlemen. Priyanka, on the other hand, came from one of the richest merchant families in the city spending her days in extreme luxury in her palatial house in one of the most posh areas in Kolkata and should never even have dreamt of stooping down to get inside the house where Rizwanur lived. But little could she resist the charms of Rizwanur and was perhaps bowled over even more by the creative hand of Rezwanur that drew mind blowing graphic images on the computer screen which sent loud and clear messages to Priyanka saying "Love him…".

Priyanka's family was flabbergasted by her decision. Being a merchant family too used to the concept of purchase & sell and the curves of profit and loss, it was clear to the Tody family that this venture of their very 'prized' little daughter would reap only losses and bring in a huge threat to the fame and prestige of their 'traditional' family that was protected meticulously over many centuries. They tried to disassociate Priyanka from her 'madness'. They warned her of the consequences. But Priyanka would listen to none.

On 31 August 2007, Priyanka and Rizwanur, both being well over the permissible age for marriage, silently went to the court and got married. From the court, Priyanka went straight to Rizwanur's home, empty handed and penniless, even without her personal mobile phone to save Rezwanur from the possibility of her parents accusing him of abduction or robbery.

That night, hours after Priyanka informed her parents of her marriage, her father Mr. Todi, who owns Rs. 200-crore-plus Lux Industries, came to Rizwanur's home in Tiljala Lane and tried to convince her to go back with him. He even called the police to intervene. But Priyanka would not go and the police had nothing to do as the couple was consentingly & legally married by the Indian court of law. Todi went back without his daughter and Rizwanur assured Priyanka that everything would be all right. Little did they know about the intentions, the power and the rage of the Todis. As, from the very next day Rizwanur was flooded with interventions from different law-enforcing agencies, all suggesting, in different ways, to change their decision, dissolve the marriage and let Priyanka get back to her parents. The police repeatedly tried to counsel the couple, the detective department carried on continuous interrogations, but none to much avail. Priyanka lived happily with Rezwanur's family. She had no difficulties in adjusting to the new way of life. She even cooked for the family and Rizwanur's mother was only too happy to have her daughter-in-law.

On September 8, 2007, Priyanka reluctantly agreed to go to her parent's house for a week after hearing that her father was ill. Her uncle even gave them a written note of promise stating that Priyanka would surely return to Rizwanur after a week. But Priyanka never returned after that. Moreover, Rizwanur couldn't even get her on the phone. He tried calling her father, but his frantic calls were only respond through the 'no response' message. But he did get responses from other avenues… from the same law-enforcing agencies, threatening him of dire consequences like jail or third degree torture if he didn't leave Priyanka alone. Rizwanur reportedly knocked the doors of several NGOs and Human Rights Agencies. But it was perhaps a bit too late…

On September 21, 2007, at around 10.30 am Rizwanur's lifeless body was found on the rail tracks in the suburbs of Kolkata. The first declaration by the police was that of a suicide case. But by then, the NGOs, the Human Rights Agencies and the Media were well aware of the actual proceedings. There was a big out cry over the issue. Thousands of common people and humane organizations came out on the streets in protest…. So, the government could not ignore the case (though they would probably have never disturbed Todi, had the matter been a bit more subdued).

Today the case of the murder of Rizwanur has taken a political shape with the intellectuals and HROs demanding justice from the government, the opposition parties demanding an explanation and the government itself ordering a higher level probe into the matter.

We from Drik India, at first did not know what to do in facing this kind of a situation. It seemed that the needful reaction was on to see that justice prevails. Indeed the way the media and most importantly the common man has come together to protest against the atrocity was a commendable proof of the fact that the world still has the good old people who believe in peace, harmony and coexistence . We decided to pay a visit to Rizwanur's mother. She told us and we quote, 'I don't want this to happen to any other mother like me, and want that it be assured that this happens to no other son… I will be happy if you can ensure this for me.'

We came back. Can Rizwanur's mother's wish be ever fulfilled? In West Bengal, one of the most democratic and peaceful State in India, ruled for the last 30 years by the left front government, we thought that we are in the safest hands. That was until the communist (!) government of the State decided to go for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to support industrialization by seeking agricultural land and in the process had to Kill or rape thousands of villagers who were not ready to give up their soil for an industrialization that they (the illiterate villagers!) thought would yield no better benefit to them than their mother soil which gave them their daily fish, vegetable and rice….

We protested a lot even then, but little did happen in actuality.

Isn't this something that happens in every corner of the globe? And isn't it also true that most of these cases go unnoticed and unheard? We are at least at position to raise our voice… for failure or for success is a question that should be put to broader perspective. Therefore we ask you friends to give it a thought and if you feel that your contribution to this incidence would somehow, in a miniscule way, be effective in reducing the imperial state of industrialization and globalization of our lands as a whole, please do sign in the petition of protest and of reproach written below and send it to the websites mentioned below which should carry it to the ears of our Chief Minister and his cabinet as well as to the Indian Prime Minister. If we succeed, some way or the other won't you succeed too! It's a success of basic humanity that we are talking about… about the fundamental rights of people to exist out of the chains of fascists.

LETTER OF PROTEST TO THE GOVERNMENT OF WEST BENGAL & THE GOVERNMET OF INDIA

I strongly condemn the barbaric act of atrocity toward innocent, consenting & adult citizens of your country which spelled the death of Rizwanur Rahman. I feel it is a matter of shame and disgrace not only to West Bengal or India but our humanity as a whole. I have known India to be one of the strongest democracies in the world but this incidence has hugely shaken my belief. I therefore urge you to take immediate steps to track down the violators and do the needful to ensure that no other person meets with the similar faith as of Rizwanur and set an example for others to follow.

In anticipation

(Your Name & Address)


Please copy the above mentioned letter of protest and send it to the following officials:

cm@wb.gov.in (Chief Minister of West Bengal , Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee), governor@wb.nic.in (Governor of West Bengal , Mr. Gopalkrishna Gandhi), presidentofindia@rb.nic.in (President of India , Mrs Pratibha Devisingh Patil).


You are free to change or add to the content at you will. Thanks a lot in advance for your support.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Quick Bhablet Updates

Ok, most of the news has gone into the newsletter as always, so here are a couple of things that I forgot to include:

1. The Bhablet is pretty much weaned. Has been for the last few months. I mean, I still breastfeed him once a day most days, and twice if he looks poorly, but it's pretty futile apart from the comfort factor. "Mummy's Yummy" has not filled his little tummy since he was let loose on the solids. Perversely, now that I don't have to, I continue to feed him early in the mornings, telling myself that it's good for his health. Even though I cannot complain of feeding problems, not anything serious anyway. And even though he takes his time, sometimes lazily taking as long as an hour, which I hate! I mean, lying in that weird twisted position for an hour is just not fair.

2. He can walk little distances if we hold him by one hand. We discovered this in a funny way. Normally he is happy to push this plastic chair we have round and round the room, or walk supported by us; but the last time Ma came to town, for Cousin T's grandfather's funeral, she absent-mindedly started walking holding on to one hand only. Since he was already standing holding on to her legs, it didn't strike her that he couldn't walk on his own. And it was only after they had both walked several feet that it struck her that there was anything the slightest bit odd about the whole thing.

3. Himself had a growth spurt a month ago and managed to outgrow everything he was wearing. So now his t-shirts are back to hovering around his belly-button. He has lots of new clothes but I'm reserving them for Durga Puja. Hey, what? It's only a week away. Ok? Ok.

4. He has finally figured out how to sound his chimes. That not only must he pull the cord but that he must also let it go. Perhaps he is finally sprouting a few brains after all. Actually, jokes aside, it's fascinating watching him at play. He has this thing about putting stuff tidily into boxes and then taking them out. He tries to see what shapes fit into what other shapes, what sizes go into which. I'm thinking of checking out some Montessori training guidelines. If he'd not been interested I wouldn't have bothered, but since I'm at home and he is finally showing signs of dawning intelligence, it may be worth exploring.

(I'm cross-posting this on the family blog. Now to wait for all that indignant mails from adoring Bhabblemanics!)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Just Kill Me Now and Let's Get It Done with. Please?

A friend (let's call her Miss Smokey McPot) emailed me the other day, comparing The Bhablet to her holy terror of a nephew.
the bhaeblet is getting increasingly chotke shesh korey fyalo types.

soon he will be wiry and fierce, like my nephew who is now four.

The other day he refused to get on his school bus, lay down in front of the bus, on the street. (My sister pretended he didn't belong to her). The bus conductor, school teacher accompanying kids in the bus, everyone on the street tried to convince him to go. He kicked his legs in the air and said "Ami jabo na, school ta baaje, bus ta baaje, shobai baaje... miss o shundor noy."

Muhahahahah. I hope that scared you enough ;)

Translation:

So he kicked his legs in the air and firmly said, "I'm not going, the school is bad, the bus is bad too, everybody is mean... the teacher isn't even pretty."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Good Times, Bad Times

The depression I wrote about in MM's song tag, I didn't show it on the (old) blog.

But this is where V and I came together...

You reading this, Joe? Love you, ok? Let's not fight today.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Tagged -- Naming No Names?

I've been tagged by Aargee and Anitha to do the middle name tag.

The rules are:

1. The rules must be mentioned in the beginning of the tag.

2. You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Ok, I don't exactly have a middle name but I have two official pet names and I'm choosing one of them:

Ayesha. The Prophet's fourth wife, I'm told, and probably his favourite.


A: Ally-the-car. Means so much to me. I had always promised myself that I'd marry only when I could afford a car and was ready to settle down and start a family. I bought Ally from my father two months before the wedding (and before I could drive) and The Bhablet arrived exactly eight months after the wedding (he was a preemie, dammit!) so I guess I got married at the right time, all said. Or so the cosmos seems to indicate.

Y: Young. I'm only 25. I act old and I talk old and I've lived through so much more than most of my friends have faced (and some of them have faced a lot), but in my heart I'm young. I just try to hide it, and have no idea why!

E: My best friend E. I'd mention her by name but she has privacy issues. Anyway, she's just the perfect person to 'mak frensip' with, and I'm glad I did all those years ago.

S: Selimpur. Where I spent two happy years as a little kid. I have such strong memories of the place we lived in, of our neighbours and the local dogs. I started school from there. V lived on the other side of the main road then, only we didn't know each other (obviously). Now I'm living there again and life has completed one little circle.

H: Hyatt Regency, Calcutta. Where I learnt how blissful extra-large pillows can be. When I marry my millionaire I'm going to have a little room just filled with those pillows, and nobody but I shall be allowed inside. A mountain of giant snowy white pillows.

A: Arun. What I wanted to call The Bhablet initially. (Got no support so settled on Rahul. That gets no support either but I love it, so there.) I wanted to call him that because he woke me at dawn every morning as soon as he began to make his presence felt in my womb. He continues to get up at 4 a.m. *Sigh* It's such a task getting him back to sleep when you are dead on your feet.

Ok, in turn I tag

Aditya
Yashodhara (well, I'd have had to even if I hadn't wanted to, wouldn't I?!)
Enigma (I know, it's Sunita, but I can't find a blogger whose name starts with E, so I went with a blog!)
Sujatha
Hiphop Grandma
Art Navy

There's a Song Written by the Hand of God

MM tagged me with I Love Lucy's latest tag (rules here).

So what's our song, V's and mine? Shakira's Underneath Your Clothes.

V and I had recently got together. Late one night I was listening to this song when I realised that it described V and me pretty well. He picked up the pieces and taught me to feel again. That sounds melodramatic but you don't know how low I'd got. For nearly 6 weeks I had stayed at home mostly, sitting in silence against my bedroom wall, waiting to feel better, dying inside trying to accept that the love of my life was going, that I couldn't even dream about him any more. And then came V and late night calls that kept me distracted, and excursions out, and constant teasing, and slowly, I came alive again. It was a long time ago but the pain feels like it's only just gone. And I hope I never forget how it felt to let the pain and love go.

The next time V came over I sang it for him. And I remember the look in his eyes. And it's been our song since then.

I seem to be getting some new readers these days. And mostly, I don't know their stories. So you know, if you've started reading Sunny Days in these last six months, do pick up this tag and come and tell me. I'd love to hear the story behind your song.

The Perils

We went to pick up a spot of dinner lateish tonight, at Lord's. Vicky and The Bhablet went to make the purchase while I got up on Ally's backseat and tried to figure out what was wrong with her passenger reading light. It used to be this dinky little thing that I used to read by when Baba-Ma went into shops and I had been forced to tag along but refused to get out of the car.

Allow me to digress slightly at this point to list what I was wearing:
Item: 1 red lycra Giordano t-shirt. If you know them you know they fit like a second skin -- the one underneath the skin you can touch and see and feel.
Item: 1 black vest-ish affair I wear under these t-shirts to feel less busty and more comfortable. (Wait, that was too much information for you, wasn't it? Sorry.)
Item: 1 red sari petticoat
Item: 1 floor-length crushed cotton skirt. The kind that has about 70 yards of fabric in it.
Item: 2 leather slippers, loose, one on either foot

Anyway, so I had my hands full of car-light parts when I felt something scratching me at the base of my back. The thing continued to poke even though I adjusted my position, so I inserted an impatient finger under the skirt and petticoat bands to push what I thought was a label away. Except that it was a cockroach. It took me a couple of seconds to register the fact and I acted upon it as soon as it did register.

I swear, it's been at least ten years since I moved so fast. Screeched, jumped out of car (on the traffic side) stomped around shaking my skirts and then took to jumping just to get the bloody thing out of the yards of cloth.

V came running, several interested taxi-wallahs looked on while I continued my Snakewoman Sue dance with vigor not to mention abandon. He made me stand still for all of three seconds after which I resumed my cat on a hot tin roof impersonation. Eventually the bloody thing did scamper out.

Did I mention I wasn't wearing panties?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tag -- Dream for a Theme

Heh. Allow me a moment to sit back and admire my choice of title. Anybody else here grew up on Cliff Richard?

Kiran tagged me to write about my dreams. Funnily enough, [a reporter from] our local tabloid called this morning asking me for sound bytes about day-dreaming. Seemingly Ronaan Roy (Katy's son) told her I do a lot of that... I pitched into him at the line-learning rehearsal this evening, because, honestly, when do I sit still long enough to dream? If I'm still I'm usually asleep or halfway there. He grinned disarmingly, as he always does (this family's strong on charm, and he's got it in spades) and disclaimed. His startled mother exclaimed, 'But this child has no time for dreaming, how did you get such an idea?'

True. But once I dreamed a lot. Till I was 18 and came to Cal and got a life, I spent my entire childhood dreaming. So I'm writing about the dreams that came true or seem likely to or had a lasting effect on me.

1. Marriage. I dreamt when I was 13 that I was lying in bed, being held by my husband from the back. (I know, precocious.) That was the most secure feeling in the world somehow. And since then I looked for the same feeling. That's how I knew whether a person was worth a relationship, and that's how I knew V was the one. (So yes, making out if not actual sex before marriage gets a thumbs up from me.)

2. Kids. Last year, when I was pregnant with Rahul, I had this eerily clear dream early one morning. (I find the early morning dreams the most articulate and structured, do you?) I dreamt that I was staying in this nursing home with my eldest son, who was ten and had fractured his elbow (I think). V was handling the younger two, a son (4) and a daughter (5) (could have been the other way around). He'd brought them to meet us, and I remember explaining to them that since their brother and I had to be away for some more time, they must look after thier father and make sure they all ate and stayed clean and didn't fight. It was such a sweet dream, and all three children were such darlings. And since then I've often wondered if that is what my future holds for me.

3. My father. Four years ago I dreamt for three days on end, of my father as a young boy (funny, because I don't have any photographs of him as a young boy) and he seemed to be in trouble, to be running away and hiding from something evil. I couldn't dismiss these dreams, they were so persistent, so eventually I called up my mother and told her. She's a believer in dreams, that is to say she doesn't take them lightly, and after I finished my recital, she went very quiet for a while. Then she told me that Baba had been ill and that they hadn't wanted to worry me so I hadn't been informed.

4. I often have these visions of the worst happening to V and R. I know these are just my fears but these come like sudden flashes while I'm going about my work, and I hate the way they scare me. Especially when there is nothing to fear.

5. This is not a dream precisely but more of an intuitive feeling. You know E? The friend I keep missing? Well, she and I have this weird connection. Weird as in uncanny. Since 2000 we have been living in different cities, states and now countries. Now the feeling is weaker but until about two years ago, I'd suddenly sense she was in need. And every time I acted upon that feeling it turned out that she really was going through some sort of low, whether it was a bout of depression or bad news or plain old bad luck. I met her online last night after nearly a month and we spent 15 min or so chatting, and I contacted her precisely because that feeling suddenly came on very strongly once more. She and I don't question it any more. It's very strange because I don't have these flashes for anybody else. Sometimes I can sense that it's time I went to The Bhablet but it's nothing like these urgent feelings.

And I tag Aargee, Yashodhara, Sparx, Anansi and Pat. Come, tell me your dreams. (Cross my palm with silver and I will tell you what they mean.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Google is such fun!

Ok, listen up!

Open a new window (or tab) and go to www.google.com. In the search box enter "vindictive daughters in law" (sans the quotation marks) and hit enter.

Go to the fifth result, click on the link provided and say hello to yours truly.

Why I'm Not Likely to Wear a Scarlet Letter

Cancer admires Scorpio's strength while Scorpio finds a haven in Cancer's emotional commitment. Cancer's sensuality is ignited by Scorpio's dynamic passions, and because Cancer is loyal, Scorpio's jealousy isn\t provoked. Cancer's possessiveness will actually make Scorpio feel secure. Both are extremely intuitive and sense what will please the other. Together they can build a happy cocoon where they feel safe and loved. This relationship has great intimacy, intensity, and depth. Things just get better all the time.
Hah!

They forgot to mention that when a Cancer and a Scorpio fight, the fights are dirtier and less quarter is given than in fights between almost any other sign. I should know, grew up in a household comprising of two Cancerians and two Scorpios. Both signs have filthy tempers and incredibly thin skin.

But yes, the sex is... rather special? I mean, I don't lay claim to a vast experience, but I am reasonably sure that this is more than most people get. Not just because of the sign-compatibility, I know, but that helps perhaps?

This Cancerian is loyal and unlikely to change because she knows just how it feels to be at the unsure end of disloyalty. And even more so because she doesn't find anybody who excites her as much as the twerp she married. It's strange and at some level I resent it, but it's true: I find plenty of other men attractive, sexy even, but I do not find myself wondering what the sex would be like. Perhaps because it's not worth the hassle. If you think about it, adultery is a lot of hard work. I've a lot on my plate already, living a dual life would be the last straw. On the other hand, at home I have this really hot man (he only looks like a twerp and acts like one), so why bother?

Cos I'm a Rock$$tar. Baby.

Or so says Y.


In turn, I am nominating two bloggers who seem to always give me food for a lot of thought. One has been quiet for far too long. Stand up, Rimi, and show them that you can still rock it with the best of them. And Megha ought to post more often, but hey, I'm happy she posts at all with her busy schedule.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Jeep that Wouldn't Start

Here is a story I wrote a couple of years ago for a term paper on Children's Literature. It was written in half an hour, while I was at office (in the middle of the night) while V was at his place and we sorted out the illustration over the chat.

Seems like a long time ago that V would get excited enough over his work to tell me about it. Nowadays, even if I ask he couldn't be bothered.

But yes, most days we are both too tired to want to talk much. I think. Ok, let's say that he's just too tired to listen because I am never too tired to talk.

Some More Gifts

A few days ago The Bhablet received some more birthday gifts. Despite Rohini's misgivings, they were only a day or two late.

When we opened the parcel (and boy do we love opening parcels -- V and I snatched it away from The Bhablet because, you know, he really cannot cope with cellotape yet. Not because we wanted to open it. Not much) out tumbled a book, a truck and a bib. Underneath them all was a card with a little letter from Ayaan.


The Fisher-Price truck that tips its load (a little red ball which manages to get lost every half hour on an average) is The Bhablet's new favourite toy. Which is a good thing because I have taken those bricks away for now. I was getting rather tired of stepping on them and hurting my feet or kneeling in impossible positions to get them out from under cupboards and bed and hurting my back. Oh wait, I've to kneel for the ball as well. Ah... guess what else is about to be confiscated?

Thank you all the same, MM and Rohini. It's easy to see you've had to amuse bratty little one year-olds in your time. Also, your gifts have given V and me hours of fun.