Love & Marriage: Life is a Rollercoaster

Today, a festival called ‘Karva Chauth’ is being celebrated in India, mainly in the northern parts.Married women fast, without drinking water, from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands.Sometimes, unmarried women observe the fast for their fiances or desired husbands.

It is marked by many rituals and practices which focus on the beauty of the woman, as well as  the sacrifices she makes for the family. Mythology points to that aspect of feminine power which is central to her role as the nurturer and thus crucial to the continuance  of the human race.

Of late,the festival has been criticized as being inherently sexist by some because there is no reciprocal fasting by males . It has been categorized as ‘anti-women” and that which perpetuates the notion of women’s dependence on men.Feminist ire has  branded it  as a symbol of cultural repression of women by  their husbands.

Needless to say, the institution of marriage, comes in for a lot of  criticism on this day too!

I received two cartoons on Whatsapp from my friends. The one from my male-commitment-phobic friend was this, with the cryptic words of Ambrose Bierce “Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage”.

Karva-Chauth-special-for-all-married-couples

The one from my female-recently acrimoniously divorced-friend was the picture below. It was followed  by a message which read “Longed for him. Got him. Shit “

karva-chauth-vart

That got me thinking about  marriage , which I really don’t hold much of a high opinion , frankly. But somehow Rilke’s words makes a wee bit sense  of it . He says “The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky ( Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet)’

 Perhaps,then we need to marry the right person ? Somewhat like Maya Angelou says “I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with”.

Jeez! The accidental sufi has got her tail in a spin! Her most beloved guy is such a person.

He  also told her he wants to hold her her hand ( and slay the dragons). Do you know what that means ? ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand. ? ( reference the Beatles song)’  “First single. Fucking brilliant. Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That’s what everyone wants. Not 24-7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche or a blow job or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have a feeling that they can’t hide ” ( Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist)

I feel faint! Life is such a rollercoaster! Ta, guys!

Of Maroon Dahlias

When we talk about Latin American literature, we feel the deep connect between literary expression and political expression/activism. Much of the terrible beauty and aching sense of loss that the Latin Americans write about springs from their ravaged lands as much as from personal experience.

Juan Gelman ( is  one such contemporary Latin American poet. He is one of Argentina’s finest and most acclaimed poets and  won the  Spanish equivalent   of the Booker – The Cervantes Prize- in  2007.His works are a powerful and moving mix of the political history of his country as well as the tragic history of his family under the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina between 1975 and 1983. Gelman , like many other intellectuals, was forced into exile. His son and pregnant daughter-in-law were ‘disappeared ‘by the military regime. Much later, Gelman was able to be reunited with his granddaughter in 2000.

Most of his works haven’t been translated to English as yet.Here is one of his poems , from, which springs hope, despite the depravity and horror all around him. The powerful imagery of this particular poem , I find , to be particularly relevant today where the world is being torn apart daily ,by hate and violence.

Lunch at the Depot Hotel

“I love this crazy world and I am not
without hope.

Sonoma lettuces, Sicilian olive oil, a few
remaining shrimp, bread from the grasses, invented
by women eons ago, Dubonnet from the red vine of the French,
lovers who honor the Blood, coffee from beans of the South—

this soulful feast inspires me to share with you,
while provincial voices on money and strangers rise
in the next room amid laughter and heavy home-grown wine,

to share with you that no matter how much change,
no matter how fast, no matter the winds, spreading viruses,
unexpected explosions, rapings of women and babies, grand upheavals
of the Earth—no matter how annoyed Mother Earth becomes,

Life does survive, oh inexpressibly beautiful, that makes dahlias maroon
and huge open their faces to us with—what else can we call it?—Love.
And if there is a better word, let us use that.

Love flowers no matter what,
rest assured.” ( Selected Poems by Juan Gelman, translated by Hardie St Martin )

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Hello Helios

“So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the
loss, no matter how important the thing that’s stolen from us – that’s
snatched right out of our hands – even if we are left completely
changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to
play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to the
end of our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off
behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday.
Leaving behind a feeling of insurmountable emptiness…
Maybe, in some distant place, everything is already, quietly, lost.
Or at least there exists a silent place where everything can
disappear, melting together in a single, overlapping figure. And as
we live our lives we discover – drawing toward us the thin threads
attached to each – what has been lost. I closed my eyes and tried to
bring to mind as many beautiful lost things as I could. Drawing them
closer, holding on to them. Knowing all the while that their lives
are fleeting.” ( Haruki Murakami, ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’)

Have you ever felt …the perfection of a moment…and the fleeting nature of it , the next day ?Did it make you cry ? Did you burn ?

The accidental sufi has. She cried. She burned.

For she knew, in order to rises from her own ashes, she needed to burn first. Like the phoenix bird.

She rose  to claim the Sun 🙂

Ilion---metopa

NB :The phoenix  bird is  pictured in ancient and medieval literature and medieval art as endowed with a nimbus, which emphasizes the bird’s connection with the sun. In the oldest images of phoenixes on record these nimbuses often have seven rays, like Helios, who is  the personified Sun of  Greek mythology.

Fingerprints On Concrete

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Phir Kuch Is Dil Ko Beqarari Hai
Sina zoya-e-zakhm-e-kari Hai

Phir Jigar Khodne Laga Nakhun
Amad-e-fasl-e-lalakari Hai

Phir Usi Bewafa Pe Marte Hain
Phir Wahi Zindagi Hamari Hai

Bekhudi Besabab Nahi Ghalib
Kuch To Hai Jis Ki Pardadari Hai” ( Mirza Ghalib)

Translation:

“Once more, my heart a restless rhythm beats
Once more, my bosom fresh wounds seeks

Old wounds begin to run red anew
To lend this spring’s flowers their hue

This heart yearns for that torment once more
That life, long past, calls an encore

This blissful state, Ghalib, some hidden cause implies
There must be something that undisclosed lies”

Late afternoon sun rays  wash over me. I wait  with great pleasure for my afternoon Earl Grey tea.I had ordered the tea ,’Imperial Earl Grey”,online last week (http://www.teabox.com/imperial-earl-grey ). Somehow, I couldn’t pass by a tea which was described as ‘ mellow, smooth and intensely fragrant”. I am also listening to Neil Diamond’s ‘Hooked on  the Memory of You”  ( featured in the movie clip above from ‘Bridges of Madison County’) and reading Mirza Ghalib.

See, How I left With Every Piece Of You

“Was it hard?“, I  was asked.
Letting go?”

“Not as hard as holding on to something that wasn’t real”, I replied.

What did you do then?’, I was asked again.

 “He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry ”, I quoted ‘the little book thief’. I went back to that boy, who has become a man, and cried. Not because  someone broke my heart, but because I realized that without the boy/man who steps on my heart, I was  missing a piece of myself…he is the only one who makes that  aching, gut wrenching emptiness fade away.

I am the Dark & the Light

The  song is explained below.It has a deep, philosophical meaning which speaks of unconditional love that God gives us, which makes Him accept the stains on our being. Kabir says “Kahat Kabir Daag Tab Chhuti Hai,Jab Saahib Apnaaye Liyaa” or These blemishes shall disappear,Should the supreme master own me.

Manawa mein mere aandhi hai uthi : (A storm has risen inside my heart)
bas stubdh khadi hoon main : (and I am stunned)
Saanson mein baandh apani hi saan:(My breath is stuck within)
nishabd khadi hoon main:(I am standing speechless)
Duniya se jeeti jeeti, khud se haari :(I have won from the world, but lost to myself)
bas dhwast khadi hoon mein:(I am just standing shattered)

Aaina main aur aks main :(I am the mirror and the reflection}

madmast khadi hoon main:(I am standing intoxicated)
Laaga chunari mein daag chhupaau kaise :(How do I hide the stain on my veil)
Laaga chunari mein daag (My veil is stained)
chunari mein daag chhupaau kaise :(How do I hide the stain on my veil)
Ghar jaanu kaise:(How do I go home)
Cham, cham cham cham chamchawaat:(Its shining, sparking and reflecting)
antar mein gunje divas raat:(The pain is echoing inside me day and night)
Ek shunya shunya kapti vishal :(A zero and huge deceit)
maaya ka madhyam mantra jaal :(A moderate magical net of delusion)
Mann ki dasha se ladati main phirati :(I have fought with the state of my heart)
vishwast khadi hoon main:(Still I am standing for sure)
Mari laaj main hoon, chunar bhi main hoon:(I am in great shame, and I am the veil)
chunar pe daag bhi main:(There is a stain on the veil)
Ho gayi maili mori chunariya:(There is lots of dirt on my veil)
kore badan si kori chunariya :(The veil as untouched as my body)
Jaake baabul se nazarein milaau kaise:(How do I go home and look into the eyes of my father)

ghar jaau kaise(How do I go home)
Main dhwast dhwast, main nasht pasht:(I am ravaged and destroyed, I am robbed and ruined (of my honour)

main saral wirral, main ati vishishta:(I am simple greatly, I am precious)
Main shyam shwet, badal mein ret:(I am the dark and white, I am the rippling sand in the sky)
Nirajhar si jhari hoon main;(I am the rain that cannot pour down)
Andhiyaari raat, deepak main baati :(A dark night, and a wick in the lamp)
Swapnil si khadi hoon main:(I am standing as if I am in a dream)
Kanchan ki kaaya apna hai saaya:(A body as brittle as a glass, and my own shadow)
Bas khud se dari hoon main:(I am just afraid of myself)
Lakdi mein geeti, thodi seeli seeli :(A song in the firewood, that is burning but hidden)
Tham tham ke jalli hoon main:(I have burned in intervals)
Main maaya maaya, main chhaaya chhaaya:(I am the delusion, I am the shadow)
Aatma aur kaaya main(I am the soul and the body)
Nistubdh khadi hoon main, nishabd khadi hoon main:(I am standing speechless)
Vishwast khadi hoon mein: (I am standing for sure)

 Personal note: And that stain on my being which I told him about? He smiled and kissed it.It faded. It could not face the brilliance of him who is named after the Sun God. He whispered”Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds……( Henry Rollins) So the accidental sufi repeats to herself “madmast khadi hoon main ( I stand intoxicated) “vishwast khadi hoon main”(Still I am standing for sure). In her rapture rider’s love.

Spellbound In Your Love

 (umad umad paroon main tore lag I surge towards you, spellbound in your love aaween na sayyaan Come, my heart’s master!  aa we dholna we Come, O beloved! raat nah jaaween we Don’t go this night, please! badra lagi woh shaam Rainclouds gather, dusk… badra lagi woh shaam dhali to Rainclouds gather, dusk is departing aise men aaen ge piya re  raat nah jaaween we Don’t go this night, please! shaanaan ucchiyaan teriyaan peera Great is your grandeur, master! howan door haneriyaan peera Please dispel this darkness, master! aasaan hain wadheriyaan peera Longings are so many, master! sun arjaan ajj meriyaan peera Hear this day my pleadings, master! shaanaan ucchiyaan Great is… shaanaan ucchiyaan Great is… teriyaan peera …your (grandeur), master!  peera Master sun arjaan Hear my pleadings dholan maahiya Darling beloved   gal dil di bolna Speak the words in your heart )

The beloved swirls Japanese single malt in the Albatross @ Golden  Gai, Tokyo….its past midnight here in New Delhi….we hear each others’ voice on the telephone….speaking of everything on earth…except the words which reign supreme in our beings …that …I surge towards you, spell bound in your love.

Some may never live, but the crazy never die

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( Photo from the Internet for illustration only)

“I made up my mind I was going to find someone who would love me unconditionally three hundred and sixty five days a year, I was still in elementary school at the time – fifth or sixth grade – but I made up my mind once and for all.”

“Wow,” I said. “Did the search pay off?”

“That’s the hard part,” said Midori. She watched the rising smoke for a while, thinking. “I guess I’ve been waiting so long I’m looking for perfection. That makes it tough.”

“Waiting for the perfect love?”

“No, even I know better than that. I’m looking for selfishness. Perfect selfishness. Like, say I tell you I want to eat strawberry shortcake. And you stop everything you’re doing and run out and buy it for me. And you come back out of breath and get down on your knees and hold this strawberry shortcake out to me. And I say I don’t want it anymore and throw it out the window. That’s what I’m looking for.”

“I’m not sure that has anything to do with love,” I said with some amazement.

“It does,” she said. “You just don’t know it. There are time in a girl’s life when things like that are incredibly important.”

“Things like throwing strawberry shortcake out the window?”

“Exactly. And when I do it, I want the man to apologize to me. “Now I see, Midori. What a fool I have been! I should have known that you would lose your desire for strawberry shortcake. I have all the intelligence and sensitivity of a piece of donkey shit. To make it up to you, I’ll go out and buy you something else. What would you like? Chocolate Mousse? Cheesecake?”

“So then what?”

“So then I’d give him all the love he deserves for what he’s done.”

“Sounds crazy to me.”

“Well, to me, that’s what love is…” ( Haruki Murakami, ‘Norwegian Wood)

Well, yeah guys, to me love is crazy too!

But the pic posted is supremely ewwww 😀 

Love Doesn’t Have to Smell Of Your Womb

Sometime back I wrote on Facebook that  I need counseling as I seem to have the hots for Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda,  Mohit Raina.  While all these celebrity men are definitely dishy , they hail from Haryana, a state that has the negative image of being anti-women. So, it is taken for granted that  the average girl/woman there is not literate  or financially independent. Dark acts that include female infanticide and ‘khap panchayats’ rise disturbingly in the mind. On the lighter side, the resident majority population of Jat men, are supposed to be all brawn and no brain. While I was studying in JNU,  the word  ‘Jat‘ was the acronym for ‘Just avoid them’.

 The above is  caving into stereotypes. Margaret Mead says “Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.” The same goes for adults and especially for me.

 Let me tell you  the story of a  family originally from Jhajjar, Haryana, but now settled in Gurgaon, that broke so many of my pre-conceived notions.

Prem Singh works in my office at the  lowest echelon, although he is a graduate. He is about 27 years old, soft spoken and with the uncanny ability of getting any ‘tricky’ work done. I am totally dependent on him for getting the tickets for the first- day- first show movie release, movements of my boss, where one gets the best gol gappa, not paying late fees for mobile/ electricity/ water bills,monitoring ( and snipping) the romance between my maid and driver , ensuring I drink two bottles of water in office, making the perfect black coffee for me etc. Yesterday, he asked me whether he could be given a day off as he had to attend a function in his wife’s workplace. I got curious  because most wives of his colleagues and especially those from Haryana do/would not work.  I asked him what his wife did. ”She is a teacher, Ma’am. She has done both BA ( Bachelor of Arts) and B.ED( Bachelor of Education).”

 I was intrigued.Kierkegaard’s words “Once you label me you negate me ” rushed through my mind. I wanted to know more about him and his family.

He lives with his mother, wife and two children in Gurgaon. His father , who also had a Government job,died when he was very young. He had to struggle hard and long, with many sacrifices to get his present job. It seems he actually wanted to be an engineer. His mother has studied only till Class 4 but she wanted an educated daughter-in-law. Dowry was of no concern and also wasn’t taken. It was his mother who encouraged his wife to take up a job soon after her son was born! So much for the oft quoted tyranny of a mother-in-law!

The couple’s second child is an adopted daughter. The idea to adopt the child was his wife’s. They had gone to attend the marriage of a distant relative.Amidst the festivities and laughter, a little girl sat forlornly. Her mother had not dressed her up, like the other little girls, for her mother  was no more. Her father served in the Army and was hardly ever home. She lived in the ancestral home, most of the times forgotten by all. Troubled by this, Prem Singh’s wife asked him and  her mother-in-law whether they could adopt her ? Both said yes. Apparently, Prem Singh was taunted about this by his cronies. Regarding his virility ! His mother also received flak from relatives for adopting a girl child. At least, you should have got another son, she was told!

So, here we have : 1) A young man  not bothered about taunts/gossip for  opting for adoption rather than relying on his ‘mighty’ semen.2) An un-educated, traditional  mother-in-law who insists her bahu works, smilingly handles the household chores and supports her desire to adopt a girl child.3) A young mother of a son who doesn’t believe in producing yet another son like most of her friends and peers, but prefers to adopt a lost little girl. Her  womanhood and maternal instinct are not insulted by such an act 4). All this happen in  patriarchal, male dominated, phallocentric blah blah Haryana 5 ). All these decisions  are taken by a family  with a relatively low income, education and status in society.

I celebrate the true meaning of freedom, the bigness of their hearts, their courage and  grit. Thomas Hardy says “The beggarly question of parentage–what is it, after all? What does it matter, when you come to think of it, whether a child is yours by blood or not? All the little ones of our time are collectively the children of us adults of the time, and entitled to our general care. That excessive regard of parents for their own children, and their dislike of other people’s, is, like class-feeling, patriotism, save-your-own-soul-ism, and other virtues, a mean exclusiveness at bottom” ( Jude, The Obscure)

Prem Singh

 ( From Left to Right: Shakuntala Devi, Renu and Neha)

prem singh 5

( Neha, Renu & Jeevan)

prem singh  3

(Prem Singh)

I spoke with both the kids on telephone.  Neha chirped  excitedly.She loves mangoes, potatoes and lady finger;her favorite colour is sky blue; she loves to play kho-kho and read books; she wants to be a doctor. Jeevan, like a typical boy, muttered that he loves playing football and worships Messi.

This Saturday I have been invited to have lunch at their place by Renu & Shakuntala Devi.

‘Ma’am, mujhe pata hai ki aap hamara ghar nahi ayenge’, Prem tells me.( Translation: I know you won’t come to our house). I wish I could quote Shakespeare to him : “His life was gentle, and the elements mixed so well in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, “This was a man “. Instead, I  tear up a little,  smile at him and ask him to ensure he keeps Coke Zero, with lots of ice, for me on Saturday.