Tuesday, June 27, 2006
It’s a question.
The presentation of a dilemma.
I’ve been trying to write it for several days, but it keeps faltering. So, let me get straight at it, without further ado.
I have a walking-partner who happens to be a classmate from school. We weren’t friends at all way back then. The only thing we shared was a propensity for being painfully blunt, and squeaky ‘good’ [uggg]. He was an ever-so-slightly prissy boy, and I was an ever-so-overt Amazon girl. The other thing we shared was a most embarrassing experience.
We were in the 12th grade, at that renunciatory stage in school-life when you must behave like an ascetic chasing the illusory after-life of a fearsome board-exam. Our prefect ties had just come off a week ago, the baton of upholding moral conduct had been passed on with ceremony. Perhaps it was the relief of stepping off the pedestal, or a certain recklessness that comes with having tasted power that drove us to expand our experiential horizon right then, in one last fling before it was all over…
To cut a long story short, the boy and I, along with two other 12th graders were caught trying to ‘bunk’ school. Two days of suspension, and a compulsory meeting-between-parents-&-principal later we were back and everything died down soon enough – the excitement, admiring glances from the bad-boys of junior school, hushed whispers in the corridor, the staff room etc. But that’s not what embarrassed us.
It was the clumsy blustering-ness of it. We could’ve easily gotten away with it. But that’s what happens when four goody-two-shoes try to be cool. We walked out of school without our bags in the last period, and were caught trying to re-enter four minutes before the last bell rang. Four geeky ex-prefects hanging their heads in a perennially frozen frame that screams LOSERS. Throw in a few angry acne spots, un-plucked eyebrows, unshaved face-fuzz and you have the picture.
Hmm. Well. This was a backgrounder on the walking-partner and I. So you get a sense of who we were then.
Over the years Fate dealt Her hand. The boy went abroad, got more logical and rich with his electronics engineering education. He also learned to be Manly. The girl became more conscious of her outward girliness, but in her head she became more steely and Amazonian than ever.
In all his years abroad that were focussed on Ivy-league College, top job, high salary, green card, the boy had time to like only one girl. The girl went through a series of assorted men, learning many things about herself and the people around her, flitting in and out of jobs and job profiles, running high and running very low on money.
Then one day a baritone-voiced, firm hand shaking, America-returned professional looking man came and looked up the girl. She was thrilled to meet an old acquaintance and soon included him in her casual daily life.
People didn’t comment on the frequency with which she met him, because she was already seeing someone quite seriously, and there was a solid stability about it that was certainly not going to be threatened in anyone’s heads.
They went for walks in the morning quite often. Sometimes they went out for a drink or two, and an occasional film.
She never saw the boy as anything but an old acquaintance who’d become a casual, comfortable sort of friend.
Until one day, the girl found herself quite single again. Suddenly dynamics in people’s heads changed. The boy himself, who’s still quite unaware of the girl’s single status [she’s protected it very fiercely, ha ha] started giving her strange uncomfortable vibes. For him the mathematics of it is quite simple. I’m a man, you’re a woman, you spend time with me and seem to be at ease with the whole arrangement. I’m a settled, well-paid ‘good’ person, and there should be no reason why you shouldn’t want to follow the laws of nature by trying to at least explore this side of our relationship. Besides, you’re a woman with no fixed profession, you might consider needing me.
For others too the mathematics is plain and clear. He’s a man, she’s a single woman and they spend time together. QED. There must be something in it.
But. They forgot to ask me. PISSANTS.
He’s a sweet chap. And they are lovely well-meaning people. They’re my family after all. But hold on a minute here people, isn’t this unfair?
I mean what am I supposed to do about this? Stop meeting him; deprive myself of a walking partner and a general hang-around-bum friend? I won’t cry if I don’t meet him really, but why should these things have to be so cut and clear?
Nobody is saying anything. They just leave it in the air, thick and heavy for me to battle with. But why should I have to be subjected to this unnecessary kind of discomfort?
Friday, June 23, 2006
They like being stereotyped. I have decided.
So there. Be stereotyped.
There will be self-proclaimed ‘intellectually superior gender-sensitised’ women, who think nothing of drooling sexist jokes made at the expense of ill-educated, patriarchal, mainstream men.
There will be no-leather, no-foreign-brand, no-deo, everything-that-moves-eating men and women of the earth who think it a moral undoing to disturb the earth that settles on them by either bathing, combing or brushing.
There will be committed-to-gender-equality men, who’ve had their fill of free-love and must return to the toiling wife and three children for a hot meal and a bed.
There will be men and women who have dismissed the notion of commitment, marital or otherwise in lengthy M Phil theses, who make a fine display of their loneliness, desperation and bitterness.
There will be secular atheists who taunt and laugh at people with faith.
AAAAAaaah. Try writing a word to describe an activist’s work without incurring some sort of disdain at your complete inability to GET THE POINT. Here I’m struggling with 200.
Okay. Venom spilt; off I go, back to toiling at suspended crap.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I mean, nobody likes to meet people from the media. Least of all if they aren't getting anything out of it [tangibly], and more so when the intruders are a couple of unreliable-looking self-professed filmmakers.
[Fact: All filmmakers, self-professed or otherwise wear an opportunistic, inherently unreliable gleam in their eyes. It’s embossed on their peepers when they pass out of film/communication-school – one of those secret rites-of-passage that no one ever talks about. It comes with a complex-glance-decoding, how-to crash course on recognising other such predators, complete with a strict territorial rulebook.]
But this man was positively opening his arms out to us, ready to take us into his all-embracing-NGO-bosom.
Anyway, sense-of-relief soon changed to is-this-guy-for-real? He called a colleague and said, “we have a couple of friends here, who’d like to visit our centre”, as he smiled at us disarmingly.
"Friends"!!? Hmm. Really no. Please don’t. At least ask us what fucked-up notions we probably have about children on the street, their lives, and what we plan to do with what we learn from you.
Ask us something.
But he didn’t. He chose to trust us.
Cut to today. There were four more such willing angels ranging from ages 30 to 70, with varying perspectives on children, streets, life and sex, who chatted with us happily for over two hours. Print outs were shot off, copies distributed, and experiences over the last two decades offered up as easily, warmly and plentifully as the coffee.
All of them spoke about trust – winning it from the children and giving it back, not only to the children but also to all others who showed the inclination to be part of that world.
But is it really that simple?
The discomfort won’t go away. This utopian camaraderie doesn’t sit well in my head. I still don’t feel deserving of that trust. It isn’t like I intend abusing it, but what if I had? What if I do, unintentionally? Is it enough merely to have ‘good’ intentions?
More importantly, within what parameters does one qualify ‘good’? Over the last few years, experience [of an admittedly limited kind] has taught me that my sense of normal, family, friends, respect, good, dignity and other such defining ideas, is nothing but a narrow, blinkered, graspable way of constructing a very small petty kind of reality.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with it. We live with limited intellects. It is inevitable. But then does it give me the license to step into another space, unquestioned and unconditionally accepted, when I’m not sure I’d be able to return the favour?
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Are they now our more sleazed-up, glossified, anglicised replacement for the Bhajpaa-and-associates run moral policing mafia?
TOI was never the model newspaper, but now they've just gone ahead and won themselves the smutty-tabloid-of-the-year title. It would’ve been okay had they just stayed at their bordering-below-respectable position. But marketing decided that recycled barf bags are far more lucrative that plain old boring honest reportage.
They’ve broken every code in the book.
1.) First, they published the most skewed interview with RS, taken by some cocky bulge-in-his-pants adolescent who couldn’t get over his lower half to actually consider that the person he was interviewing had made a career choice to present her persona in a certain way, which does not necessarily mean that she’s going to allow any wandering p****** into her pants at any given time. These are the sort of people who think that a sex-worker should not complain if her clients brutalise her, simply because she’s a sex-worker and has therefore given up all rights to being a human being. [And the poor brain-deprived idiot actually tries to make a display of his fine-wit with some priceless wise-ass questions. Funny boy]
2.) Then they bring out glossy spreads on Sunday to drive the point home. [aah]
3.) And then, they print an obscene colour-image of the offender having a go at RS. Did you know spike-brain, that it is a moral offence to publish anything in a newspaper/ magazine etc. [any other mass-medium that you’ve considered defiling] that might cause discomfort/ offence to the defendant/ the survivor of sexual harassment? You could be sued for it Mr. [Messrs] Non-compos-mentis.
What are they trying to prove? That they’ve hired the most prejudiced, blinkered people out there to write for them? And worse still, that their editorial team lacks the clarity to weed out juvenile coloured sexist reportage?
Just because there’s a stupid-arse J-run money-laundering evil operation out there that’s willing to put any crap in print, it seems to be generally acceptable that stringing two words of English or Hindi together is sufficient qualification for anybody who fancies herself/ himself a ‘journalist’. Have they forgotten the meaning of 'Responsible Writing'?
If it's so beneath them to consider the points-of-view of people like RS, then why write about it even once, let alone publish their next few editions around the issue? If they think it's merely a publicity stunt, then why indulge the whim?
Fact: ‘Journalism’ is the most abused word in the dictionary.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Why will Malaysia, in every form, colour, taste, smell, and sex rear its Malay head everywhere I go [euphemistically and all]?
I'm curious. How is it that a country with a population not exceeding 25 million [compared with our impressive count of 1-bn-and-still-running-uphill-with-inexhaustible-vigour] will consistently make a show, regardless of other larger and more aggressive presences in world demographics?
Shards of broken dreams, wafting wisps of lost hope [and a whole lot of suchlike pretentious sounding, unspoutable shit] which She holds up in my face to goad me with, to leave me spent with the pain of wondering, wanting and not getting. She’s got G brainwashed and tucked snugly in her folds, with a big neon ‘H not allowed’ sign on the map.
Fate and She will keep my nose rubbed and scrubbed in ‘here and now’, while She continues to strut Her stuff, shamelessly, with glee.
Haah. You can pinch me punch me and haunt me all you want, but you’re not going to see me cry. You haven’t had me yet, Ms. M, I’m going to turn my face and sulk.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Booomp at the mid-point of my brow on an invisible median, like a secret beacon upon my bindi spot, straddling my ajna chakra. [gasp]
I almost feel affectionate towards it, ugly spot. I wonder if it means anything, spiritually speaking?
So much for meaningful blogging. ha ha. [and a third for Paddy Clark.]
M's right, the word 'blog' and all its super-clever derivatives are annoying. Idiotic. Poopy.
The sibling's gone, leaving a big-crater void that I didn't realise had space to grow. Yet again, this same year I am reminded that physical distances do matter. Bombay is not the same as New York. Delhi to KL is not the same as Kalkaji to Nehru Place. It's the distance between an email and a touch. A phone call and a smile. Tears and a hug.
Airports are loaded places. loaded with love, sorrow, pain and longing.
I hate airports.
And then I read the comments.
I can feel the rush to my head. Cold sweat, hot prickles gripping the back of my neck. Fetid memory of that horrid day not nearly two years ago.
A long day that stretched endlessly, punctuated with painful rushes of fear.
He’s going to hurt me.
He’s going to hurt me.
He’s going to hurt me…
At that moment right then when fear takes over, the shapes of things get redefined. It squeezes your brain with iron fingers, strings up your bowels, washes your eyes over with vacuous bleak black. No heartbeat, no limbs, no head. Just a pounding puddle of stinking foul fear instead of a brain.
Bad trip. Worsened with his drunken breath over miles of telephone exchange. No less putrid with the distance. No less comforting for the miles in between.
Just the suggestion of a threat, the thought of his fat fingers curled in a fist, cheap whiskey on his breath, slurring sick words, and so much of pure bottomless hatred…
And I had actually allowed him to touch me once. Smiled at him. It makes me ill. To. Think. Any. Further.
There’s a rising in my throat. Clenching, full and bilious.
Sick. Sick. Sick. Dirty dirty dirty.
Then too I'd wanted to scrape it off me, dissolve it in acid. Smash it crush it trash it, shut down every bit of memory, till it could hound me no more.
Two years down, I thought I was over it, till I read those messages today.
I didn’t want to know then. I don’t want to know now what was going through his head. I don’t want to go there, ever again.
There are some things that are best not experienced.