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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Of lives - their lives

She had a lively pair of eyes. Intelligent and inquisitive. Her hair done in braids and tied in a knot on top of her head. She was wearing a black knee length dress that caressed her body playfully. Chewing on a toothpick, she was efficiently calculating the money and delivering the order from the small window behind the bars. The place was cozy (read small), dark, plastic chairs arranged around plastic tables that were not in any order. There was pumping music and cigarette smoke in the air. She at times came out from behind the bars to settle orders personally with the customers or to give change. But most of the time, she was poised behind those bars, chewing on her toothpick and ardently following the movements and requests of her customers…whether it was that of buying a single cigarette from a packet or whether it was a cold bottle of beer, she managed it all with a smile. 

The customers are all male, and her business skills are deftly adapted to cater to the customer style.

I tend to believe, she is a provider.

She was wearing a zebra tshirt and a pair of jeans. Her walk had a swag, and her hips catering to the music as she moved from one table to another serving drinks and food as ordered. She was polite, inept with her English, but with a winning smile that more than made up for her English. I used sign language with her for our next order of Kilimanjaro (a Tanzanian beer), and she promptly served us. Her hips continued to move to the music that prompted me to leave my seat and join her for a few minutes to test my “shaking” skills in between the disorganized tables and chairs. She barely moved her feet, but her body moved to every single beat that the music had to offer. Her plaited hair settled on her head and her arms close to her torso as she allowed the music to play with her senses. I admired her dancing skills while my own two feet forcefully moved themselves to accommodate any movement of my body. She smiled, as I gave up and settled back on my chair after a while.

I tend to believe, she enjoys living life.

She had a white shawl wrapped around her. She seemed aloof yet interested in him. She was as if the morning cup of tea. The cup that knows that you are craving for it, and yet with great nonchalance the cup observes the tea being brewed, sieved, poured and sipped…bit by bit. He needed his morning sip, every moment, as he touched her face, her hair, her hand, her chest. He knew he would need her, again, the next evening. She knew he would need her, again, the next evening…the wait from the brewing to the sieving to the drinking...he will need her. But they both knew that soon the morning cup of tea will be forgotten as the day will progress between usual coffees and sodas and juices. She smiled at him teasing him with her eyes and rested her back on the wall, her purse on the plastic table next to the bottle of a Castle lager and her hands placed on his. He looked at her intently, the passion in his demeanor was as if nothing existed in that dinghy room amongst the scattered people, their lives and nicotine suffocation, but for her being, her white shawl and her aloofness. He engaged her in a conversation. It was important for him.

I tend to believe, they have lives, away from each other. But every evening in that local bar cum kitchen, they crave each other like you crave for the morning cup of tea.

She was wearing a yellow kanga. Her daughter was wearing yellow slacks. As the sea lashed down on their feet, they giggled and played with the salinity of life. Her yellow Kanga matched her hair ribbon. Braids tied neatly by a ribbon, the yellow setting sun to her back, her world paused at that moment with her daughter. The salty sea wind touched my face as I suddenly realized that I am fondly looking at the two, breaking the small waves and kicking sand in their moment together.

I tend to believe, that this mother and her daughter will always paint the world with a bright and shiny yellow!

Her stilettos clanked the glass staircases as she climbed her way to the rooftop bar. Her cocktail dress with a bare back and the beads that lay loosely on her breasts proclaimed her place in the society. Her weaved hair bounced as she held his hand and they both walked towards their corner on the top floor of a bar. A stunning view of the city, the latest music in air, expensive drinks pouring in, she had a pleased smile on her face as they settle down on their table. Her designer clutch next to his packet of Marlboro. Her ringed finger, next to his watched hand. They smile and they kiss. They order food and they swing. To the music. To the life. To the contentment it offers.

I tend to believe that they are content. 

*Moments from my visit to Tanzania.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Of scattered lifes...

Life lay scattered. For some reason. In front of me. It was your life.

Your dreams I did not know. You were meant to be back where you belong. You do not BELONG where you are now. You cannot. It is not fair. I did not know you well. But I saw you smile. It was bold and beautiful. It was full of life. I saw intelligence. In your eyes. The eyes were full of life too. Is that what you really wanted? To take the life off your eyes?  If that is not what you wanted, then why did it happen to you? Don’t they always say, you get what you want in life? Then why would you ever want that? Why would you ever want your beautiful smile and the spark in your eyes to leave forever? Who decides this? And how?

You had plans. I am sure. To watch a movie? To have some home cooked food, may be? To work harder? To raise a family? It was a usual office day. Wasn’t it? You had a late shift, I learned. And you were going back home. It was simple. Not complicated. Not difficult. You must have ridden on that road several times. You are a good biker. I heard. Today, you were not allowed to finish that journey. You loved mountains, hike them, trek them, I hear. Are you at the mountains now? Are you off to some mountain and will come down. Soon. And dazzle us with your smile.

I cannot come to think of how she is. Your mother. It hurts my head. It hurts my soul. It blinds my heart with a pain, I have rarely known to have existed. It wipes off the smile of my face. It wipes off feelings of my eyes. I cannot think. Of her, your mothers. Of myself. Of today.

I cannot some to think of how he is. The one behind the wheels. Of the truck. I do not know if it was his mistake. If it was not his mistake. Is his life scattered too? The life of those near to him. Are their lives scattered too? Why? Why do we have to have so many lives scattered? Why does this have to happen?

Why didn’t you leave a few minutes late? Why didn’t you leave a few minutes early? Why didn’t you stop for a moment to watch the sun rise? Why didn’t you take a moment more to swipe out of those office doors? You would have been here? Wouldn’t you? Why will I never have answers to my Whys? Why?

Life lay scattered. For some reason. In front of me. It was your life. But it scattered my life too. For an hour. May be for a day. Could be a few days. I haven’t written anything. For months. You scattered my silence. You scattered my getting used to mode. You scattered my comfort. We all lay scattered. All, who knew you. On some level. We lay scattered. Because it is not fair. It is not right. Because it is not LIFE. It cannot be. 

*I pray for her family. Strength and courage. And sanity. And justice.

Friday, March 6, 2015

I take back my wish...

I still remember the morning. I was in a car, driving towards the airport. To go to Andamans for my annual vacation. It was a winter morning of December, 2012. Something inside me broke that day. Because she died. I wanted her to be with us. To prove that they cannot break our spirit or our bodies.

3 years later, I take back my wish. What would’ve you witnessed if you were alive today?

1.       It has no remorse for what It and the other Its did with you. It concludes prophesying that all rape victims will be killed

2.       Thousands of rapists are alive, some in jails, some in their homes, some in their bedrooms, some teaching children

3.       The prime minister meets your parents on woman safety. His government meanwhile bans what "appear to encourage and incite violence against women." Well, what are they doing to ban violence against you or me? Meeting your parents?

4.       People I know feel “India’s daughters” need to dress decently. They are highly educated, respectable members of the society. It’s interview substantiates their beliefs

5.       100s of gang rapes since that fateful night. No social change. Ironically social media is abuzz.

6.       Convicts and lawyers were paid some say while others say that this is outrageous and culling down of basic freedom. Meanwhile, in the one hour that I watched the documentary in the comfort of my apartment at least two women were raped somewhere in India. And your courage did not change that statistics, even 3 years later.

Yes, I take back my wish. Because something else inside me broke again.