Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ho Hum - III

...a long, long day.

Various people in the audience then proceeded to assume their most sanctimonious horrified-productive-morally-upstanding-member-of -the-community faces, with the collective intention of making me incontinent. I did a lot of things in those few moments, like quailing and playing cymbals with my knees. But then I realised that paralysis is never really a solution to anything, and that everybody in the compartment was actually expecting me to do something about the man who was threatening to sweep us all to the sea in the tidal wave of his very loud sorrow. Some wise person had once told me (okay, okay, I heard it on TV) that when everything starts happening to you all at once, all you need to do is to take a deep breath, and Time itself will slow down for you and let you deal with it bit by bit. At this point my memory decided to turn sardonic and remind me of how deprived I had felt when I'd first heard this, figuring it was a solution to a problem that I'd probably have to be reborn to face. Ah, the innocent ignorance of the non-happening.

Anyway, I figured that maybe now would be a good time to breathe and let the rest of the world slow down as I figured out how to wipe the mud off my face. Unfortunately, breathing, as it is, is not really always as simple as it is made out to be. Sure, we breathe. All the time. Maybe you'd snicker less if you tried breathing deeply and then, midway through the inhalation, you discovered that your throat had clogged up with the biological byproduct of fear. Now obviously, your brain would be screaming 'ABORT! ABORT!' but your nose would have gone mysteriously deaf. Eh. Noses are routinely deaf, I just remembered. To sum it up, your deep breath would end up as another near death experience of the slow-choke-to-death variety. To add insult to injury, your wheezing grimace would be misconstrued by the breathless audience as a cheeky grin, and disapproval would freeze over into disgust.

Enough. I'd had enough of feeling like a criminal. I mean, HE STARTED IT! But overwrought as I was, I was still wise enough to know that now was not a time to stress on a technicality. So, with a certain amount of difficulty, I brought myself to stop wheezing and sat down next to Cry-Me-A-River to assuage his grief. His eyes were screwed tightly shut, so I had to tap him on his shoulder a couple of times before he let up and looked at me. I blinked, mostly because upto this moment I had omitted to realise that I would actually have to say something.

"Don't cry please!", said my rapid brain.

"Guhh....nghhh", said I.

*Splutter, splutter* went Cry-Me-A-River.

Thankfully, I'd recovered enough of my faculties by this time to actually string a sentence together, no kidding.

"Rona mat, don't cry. It's not so bad, aisa kya ho gaya ki aap itna ro rahe hai?"

"AMMAAAA!!!! Kya batoon aapko!", said he, before dissolving into tears and clutching my hand in a death grip.

Great, I thought. Of all the people in the world that I could have slapped, my hand had chosen to land on the cheek of the living, breathing Spirit of Nautanki.

What next?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Ho Hum - II

...a month ago.

I won't delve into the details of how the day started, because I think that 'It was a bright, sunny day' has been used so many times that now people assume that it was a bright , sunny day unless you specify that it was not, in fact, a bright sunny day. Anyway, you get the point. In the shower, I wasted nearly ten minutes contemplating alternative and more exciting career choices, like becoming a hired killer, before the water got too cold for comfort. I had chocolate covered cornflakes for breakfast that day. I don't know why this is worth mentioning, or even why I remember it. I also remember my mother telling me to wear a scarf along with my white shirt and blue jeans, because I was looking so washed out in white. I know why I remember that, though.

So I left home equipped with a multi-hued scarf, infusing some colour into me. The daily life and death struggle on the streets of Bombay commenced, and I reached the railway station after risking serious injury four times, as usual. As I got on to the platform, the train started moving and I had to clamber onto a general compartment which was closest to me. It was then that I did something unusual, in that I almost fell off. Except I didn't. Somebody grabbed hold of my scarf and pulled me back onto the train. So after a very surreal fifteen second near death experience, I found a pair of fiercely wrathful black eyes looking at me. I've never been the recipient of such vehement emotion, so I was a little bemused for a minute. Then I calmed down sufficiently to notice that the eyes belonged to a face that was topped by a mop of passionately oiled hair. If you're wondering how passion is related to the application of hair oil, it has to do with the word 'drip'. Never mind. Anyway, the hair and the eyes went with a face that was small, round, brown and contorted with rage. I think he was even gnashing his teeth. I was just about to smile in amusement when THWAACK! It took me two whole seconds to realise that the little gnome like man had actually slapped me.

I have never really been angry, but at that moment all other rational thought was completely wiped out from my brain. My ears were buzzing. I wanted to claw his eyes out and subject him to unspeakable violence, but I settled for slapping him back with all my strength, fully geared up for a fight to the finish. But what I was not prepared for was to have that face crumple up and to have a grown man burst into tears and flop down to the floor of the compartment. Everyone else in the compartment started looking at me with accusatory eyes, while the unknown man kept crying, no, wailing at the top of his vocal range. My ears were pounding with the uncomfortable sound of embarrassment, and my face resembled an overly bashful beetroot. I sighed as the realization sank in that it was going to be a long, long day..

*********

So much for Part Two. Apart from writing bad fiction, I also turned twenty four on Saturday. There was a lot of love, some beautiful presents (I'm a greedy pig, I adore gifts) and a lot of whining aboout how I was too broke to celebrate. There was also a lot of grief in my heart about how I am now utterly over the hill, to which the supersensitive 22 year old boyfriend had this pearl of wisdom to impart.

"Don't feel so bad. From now on, you must consider every passing second to be one step closer towards menopause."

Cheers! (The cheers are because I'm hoping that Skaty was spared similar pearls of wisdom. I could make a career out of optimism, couldn't I?)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ho Hum - I

This is Part One of a five part story I'm writing on request by Skaty, as a birthday gift. So it's all HER fault.

Ordinary. That's not always a very nice way to be. It is comforting and secure most of the time, but always? What if, at every moment of your life, you were the one people used as the definitive example of 'Normal'? What if you never transcended everyday life for a bit of shimmer and sparkle? Well, that was me. Jane Doe. That isn't my name, but it should've been. I had the soul of a drama queen trapped inside the body of the most inconspicuous person on the planet. My biggest grouse was that nothing, but nothing, ever happened to me.

I was the third child to my parents who had drunk so deeply of the joys of parenthood with my two elder siblings that my birth simply underwhelmed them. It wasn't as if my siblings were spectacularly talented, but I was the background which made their less than extraordinary achievements stand out. People say things like 'I was an average student', but it would be more apt for me to say that my averageness was so ingrained in me that it was the special something that I brought to everything I was or I did. I studied ordinarily, played humdrum tennis, sang unexcitingly, developed my game of golf from mindnumbing to dull and cooked the proverbial 'daal baraabar' variety of food. I finished college, like a lot of people do. Then I got a job after doing nothing for a while, which a lot of other people do as well. I met a boy whose idea of a passionate declaration of love was 'You have nice eyes and I like your shoes'. I figured that the way I felt about him was the Jane Doe version of love, so I went along with it and let him be The One who completed my mundane self.

It wasn't as though I didn't indulge the drama queen in me. I did the entire sitting-at-the-window-and-sighing-at-the-rain routine, but the trouble was that no one noticed. I clutched at my heart, batted my eyelashes and developed some other mannerisms, but they repelled me so much that I went back to being placid. I even tried wearing loud colours, but they made my digestion go haywire and I had to go back to wearing brown. I tried writing poetry but then people started to borrow my poems for help on nights of insomnia, so I stopped that as well. I just couldn't seem to catch a break.

Well, till about a month ago...