Storms ruled the first thousand years of life.
By the time I claimed my room, I turned into a zombie...
Suspended somewhere between the worlds within and outside...
Vaguely aware of either...
But then, existence needs more meaning, and spectacles need a windowpane...
Right here, I found mine…

Who am I? An average woman - trying to work on my share of maze through layers of haze...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pipi's Summer (Part-II)



The train rocked violently – but there was music to it. It was nowhere close to the ‘ku..uuu jhik jhik’ Pipi was made to expect, but rather a thundering form of ‘ghanta ghatang ghanta ghatang ’ in a never-ending loop.  It was a rhythm that initially sounded scary – as if the train was being ripped to pieces, as if the boxes were being crushed with a monstrous hammer - and her heart thumped wildly to the very same music. But when enough time passed, Pipi came to like it. Just in the way she liked the howling of wind during a raging storm, or the roar of thunder amid the pitter-patter of rain. 

She braced herself up and walked to the first bed of their box. “Hi, I’m Pipi.” – She introduced herself. “I’m going to my mamabari for the first time. My mamabari  has Dadu, Dida, Boro Mama, Mejo Mama, Oli Didi, Riku Dada, Chhoto Mashi, and… and… ”. She briefly paused to remember all the names Ma had told her. But everyone around giggled and pressed her cheeks so hard that the girl got all messed up. Grown-ups sometimes did things that Pipi despised with all her heart. It always hurt her when people pressed her cheeks. They turned rosy and tingled. And grown-ups found it funny!

To add insult to injury, a very plump lady then tried to lift her up to her lap, with complete disregard to the frown on her face, and offered her some toffees. Didn’t Pipi immediately know that she was in the hands of a kidnapper! She hurried off to the other beds, her heart pounding again to the rhythm of the train. 

Fortunately, no one tried to kidnap her again that night. Rather, people on the rest of the beds opened their eyes wide in surprise when she told them that her Shona Mama could play a REAL mandolin, and that her Ranga Mama had a pet German Spitz! The girl gained a dozen of new grandpas, grandmas, uncles and aunties in the next couple of hours. 

“Trains are good places to be IN”, she told herself, although she couldn’t stop imagining what it would be like to sit ON the train with her Mom and newfound friends, and touch all the clouds on their way to the land of mama-s.



Finally Pipi came to the last bed in their box, where a knight sat reading a book! On the opposite bed, Snow White munched an apple! They had hair of gold, their eyes were as blue as the evening sky, and they were taller than anyone Pipi had seen in her entire life! The girl was so astonished that she stood looking at them for a very long time, trying to figure out if they were fairer than the banana milk shake Ma would often prepare for her. Finally, running back to Ma, she asked her to come and have a really good look at them so that she could find such a boy for her to marry. But Ma burst out laughing and no one knew why!

Pipi went so grumpy at this latest instance of despicable-grown-up-act that she herself asked Ma to put her on the highest and scariest bed in their area. And there she lay all by herself, occasionally making faces at the bunny-toothed boy sitting a few beds away. Luckily, the boy replied by rolling his tongue in and out while pulling his right earlobe down with his left hand and vice versa. Wasn’t it by far the BEST new thing Pipi had learnt in that entire day? She couldn’t wait to demonstrate it to Papa once he rejoined them at mamabari!

Shortly, Ma climbed up to lie beside her. And as usual, she right away went to sleep hugging her so tight that Pipi could no longer sit up to look around. With nothing else to do, she thought and thought. Were all babies born with black eyes, and did only a few pair of eyes ripen later to become blue, brown or green? If it indeed did work that way, would Pipi’s eyes turn blue as well when she grew up? Wouldn’t enough talcum powder make her look fairer than Snow White? 


Finally her thought-train halted at the hair of gold, and Pipi missed Papa again. Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White and most of the fairies, dwarfs and princes in her picture books had strands of gold on their head, but none in their apartment block had so. The girl had crucial questions to ask, but Papa wasn’t there. And all her thoughts had left her in yawns. So she dug her face into her Ma’s neck and cuddled up under the blanket.

And then the train, the first real train Pipi had ever seen, rocked her away to the station of sleep. 

Notes and Translations:

Mamabari: Mother’s home or maternal uncles’ place.
Dadu: Maternal grandpa
Dida: Maternal grandma
Mama: Maternal uncle (mother’s brother)
Mashi: Maternal auntie (mother’s sister)
Boro: Eldest
Mejo: Second eldest
Chhoto: Youngest
Didi: Elder sister or female cousin
Dada: Elder brother or male cousin

Pipi's Summer (Part-I)


As some of you will remember, this chapter has already been published in the same blog in Mar'13. However, subsequent reads made me hate the original write-up to the point that I was driven to rewrite it.


When little Pipi finally saw a REAL train, she was so upset that she hardly wanted to travel to mamabari any longer.

Well, it was a chain of boxes alright - and that too with doors, windows and wheels which her matchbox-train didn’t have. But as luck would have it, they expected Pipi to sit IN a box, and not ON it!

Pipi went all grumpy while Papa carried her into one of the boxes and got her seated beside a window with rusty metal rods.  The scariest of beds, high and still higher, hung all around. One look at them, and she knew that the naughtiest of kids would be banished to the upmost beds. There they’d have to sit alone all through the night until the train reached mamabari, or worse, they fell down and broke their teeth!


The poor girl was so scared that her heart galloped like a race horse and her teeth began to chatter. All she could think of was to curl up in Papa’s lap and be the quietest little kid the world had ever known.

But to her utter surprise, Papa touched her chin, ran his hands through the curly mess of her hair, asked her to be a good girl and strode towards the door of the box. In the blink of an eye, he was standing on the other side of the window – waving goodbye to them! And the real shocker was the huge, unruffled yawn let out by Ma, following which she too waved back at Papa. No questions were asked. No eyebrows were raised. Poor Pipi finally realized that she had fallen prey to yet another hush-hush conspiracy of the grown-ups.

Now the box was full of huffing, puffing, sweating and jostling strangers Pipi had never met before. As tears swelled up in her eyes, Pipi could almost hear them whisper to each other – ‘Who’s this girl with a bird’s nest for hair? Now see what an annoying crybaby she’ll turn out to be!’ With her face pressed hard against the rusty rods, the girl whimpered as softly as she could; but Papa showed no sign of moving back inside. Rather the floor started swinging, there was a loud and very long whistle, and he just shifted slowly out of the window without moving his legs! 

Pipi couldn’t believe that Papa had a real pair of roller shoes, and he’d never bothered to show them to her! How much more could she take in one single evening?


Decidedly, Pipi boohooed out - loud and louder. She had to have Papa back. What if she never saw Papa again? What would she do without Papa? How could she make the train move backwards so that her Papa could board it? Why did nobody listen to her? 

Pipi decided she’d flood the entire train with her tears and drown all the staring, whispering strangers, unless they did something to bring her Papa back. And she’d definitely have tried it out hadn’t Ma wiped her tears away with a hanky that smelt of fresh jasmines. Pipi loved jasmines. Unlike the loud roses, the jasmines in the small grilled balcony of their apartment spoke to her with a warmth that smelt of truth. She chose to believe Ma when she told her that Papa would join them in a day or two – and right at her mamabari

Meanwhile, it was getting dark outside. Wind blew in through her window. Lights and giant shades of many a shape ran in a mad rush outside their box. “Has the train entered a magic tunnel?” – wondered Pipi. Initially she was excited and curious. But within an hour or so, her eagerness gave way to monotony. The tunnel grew dark and darker until all the shapes merged into each other – and all she could see was the strange assortment of tiny lights spread out high above and below. 

“Who knew how far the tunnel stretches – may be right up to the land of the mama-s!” - She thought before she turned her attention to the many odd faces around. And for the first time, she felt somewhat sad that they’d all go away to their own mamabari-s, never to meet her again, once the train reached its station. 

Pipi decided to talk to them. 

Notes and Translations:

Mamabari: Mother’s home or maternal uncles’ place.
Dadu: Maternal grandpa
Dida: Maternal grandma
Mama: Maternal uncle (mother’s brother)
Mashi: Maternal auntie (mother’s sister)
Boro: Eldest
Mejo: Second eldest
Chhoto: Youngest
Didi:Elder sister or female cousin
Dada: Elder brother or male cousin

NEXT

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pipi's Summer (Part-I)









When Pipi finally saw a REAL train, she was SO UPSET that she hardly knew whether she still wanted to travel to mamabari!

Well, it was a chain of boxes alright - and that too with doors, windows and wheels which her matchbox-train didn’t have. But as luck would have it, they expected Pipi to sit IN a box, and not ON it!

Pipi went all grumpy while Ma and Papa carried her into one of the boxes and got her seated beside a window.  The scariest of beds - high and still higher - hung all around. Although no one told her about it, didn’t Pipi know for sure that all the naughty kids would be put on the uppermost beds, and they could NEVER EVER come down unless they turned really good!

Then Papa touched Pipi's chin, ran his hands through the curly mess of her hair, asked her to be a lokkhi meye and walked away. Even before she could start wondering, Papa was standing on the OTHER side of the window and waving at them.

Now the box was full of uncles and aunties Pipi had never met before. So she started with a soft whimpering – and saved bawling for later.  But Papa still showed no sign of moving back to HER side of the window. Rather, the floor started swinging, there was a LOUD and LOOOONG whistle, and Papa just shifted slowly out of the window WITHOUT moving his legs!  To think of that Papa had never bothered to tell Pipi that he had a REAL pair of roller shoes!




Of course, Pipi bawled out loud this time – and why would she stop unless Papa was back? But Ma wiped her tears away with a pink towel-hanky that smelt REALLY good, and told her that Papa would join them in a day or two.  Pipi chose to believe her. 


Monday, December 03, 2012

The Immortals of Meluha: Extrapolating the Grains of Myth


 

                                                                                                                  
“Finally crossed the barriers of distaste caused by the 'thrust-it-on' promotional drive and the ill-designed cover page of 'The Immortals of Meluha' to take the first look at what lay inside...” – I posted on Facebook the day I chose to check for myself whether it was marketing gimmick alone that made Ameesh Tripathy’s debut work an overnight bestseller.

And bang came the first comment that buttressed my skepticism - “Antara my dear, it’s a disaster, I fell for this deal and ordered both ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ and ‘The Secret of the Nagas’. The first book made me ‘LOL & sob’ at the dialogues and quality of the language used…”

Well, now that I’ve completed the book, I’ll rather liberate myself from evaluating it on the basis of its literary merit. To me - ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ owes its phenomenal success to a GROUND-BREAKING IDEA, teeming with ingredients to sell like a hot cake – of course, with the right visibility. It’s an idea trivialized by a quality of language so mediocre that the book risks being dismissed by serious readers; but an idea bolstered by marked originality, ample drama, and of course unforeseen promotion – so that it was readily lapped up by the film makers of prominence. The book, for all its appeal, cannot be called a worthwhile piece of ‘literature’, and yet for me - it has been quite a read that has significantly influenced my attitude towards history, religion and mythology.