Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Angrezi & I

U wants me to blog about it.

He feels I’ll be more honest then.

You see I’m making a short film about my relationship with English. It’s like a tragi-comedy. This relationship that English and I share. English has flooded my brain. It’s the language I speak, think and dream in. It takes me time to construct complete thoughts and sentences in Hindi. I can do it. It’s not that I can’t. I’ve been ashamed about losing my conversance with Hindi for very long. So now, deliberately, I can.

But all it takes is a short circuit in the emotion department and Boom; I’m off blathering a completely nonsensical English-Kashmiri-Bengali-trying-to-be-Hindi mix of incoherent nonsense.

And yet somehow, I never seem to be able to speak it [English] quite as well and fluently as I’d like to. My sense of grammar and pronunciation are purely instinctual… and often completely off the mark. There are times when I go so horribly wrong that I feel close to tears over my ineptitude. Like right now… I wasn’t sure if it should be ‘about’ or ‘over’ or ‘at’ my ineptitude.


The thing is, I had set out to find evidence of how I learnt to speak English – the structured formalness of it that we inherited as part of our education, from the British; and juxtapose it what it’s evolved to today. I was hoping to find a certain sense of exuberance and vitality in the way that I use it today, that I hoped would be a departure from the fossilised package that I received it as.

However, I find that while things around me have changed… and the language ‘on the street’ is adapting very quickly to this fluid, non-structured, organic, grammatically irreverent, linguistically multi-tonal [and now often Americanised] expression, I too have somehow been marginalised in my quest to keep the sanctity of English as I received it. I am as much an oddity as the people I thought I’d hold up under the microscope.

So where does this take my film? What am I achieving through it?

Have I just signed a contract to create a charming little self-lampooning portrait of myself for an audience that really doesn’t figure in my life except perhaps for its intrepid ancestors who put me in this bloody spot to begin with?

Suddenly I feel like I’m back in nursery learning ‘London Bridge’, so I can sing it back in my flat Indian accent for amusement.

Gosh. I’m…

Pissed off.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I should write this down before I forget it, completely.

It’s already begun – that fading of detail when the sharpness of the edges goes first and then like burning celluloid, the rest becomes large gaping holes and frayed nothingness in a heavily pregnant head.

But I’m straying, from the richness of the room. Large cushions propping his head and shoulders, draped in rust and gold. Motifs from the Far East and India and I can’t say from where else anymore. It’s just an impression, much like the rest. Much like all of it.

And I really must stop being indulgent. I must resist the urge to get caught in what I feel about the act of ‘putting it down’. That isn’t important. Or at least not important to what occurred.

Right. To business.

Somehow the sibling was involved. It isn’t clear now how. But the sibling had a part to play.

for a
Visiting dignitary.
here for
Goodwill hunting.

He was visiting from somewhere important. He was important. Spiritually? Politically? Of royal descent? Like a nawab... it isn't clear. I don’t know, I can’t say. I am like the thoughtless princess in fairytales. Things happen to her. That’s just how it is.

And his sole purpose for the visit? To spend a productive night with the most eligible woman in the country. Why? We can’t say. It’s a flawed story.

Somehow it didn’t seem odd. It didn’t seem demeaning. It didn’t seem a whole lot of things it should have. Instead, it was sacred.

Like ghosts they played a part in setting it up. Other people. The room; and everything else that it shut out. The scene. The space. The time. There has to be time and space to mark an event. To limit it. To make it tangible. To slot it in a memory. Because eventually, it is and was and will always be only him and me. Through rocks and water, skin and flesh, blogposts and dreams; through dust and ether and eternity.

Just him.
Just me.

In a tiny room, on a floating boat with one large window overlooking river water and a sprawling bed. Gold rust drapes on the window, on the bed, on the cushions… everywhere.

And she knew she would only ever give herself to him. Completely.

To him. With love. For love. In love. Mixed with semen. Mixed in vagina. Mixed with bits of brain and thought.

In love. For love. Grey green gold white brown black tangle.

That night I became pregnant. For nine lifetimes.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Is it a pig? Is it a pig tail? NO! It’s a Song Bird!

The first nursery rhyme that I recited on auto play was Piggy on the Railroad.

My parents apparently thought it very charming to see their little girl in two pigtails singing Piggy on the Railroad with gusto, and they rarely hesitated to include others in this happy ritual. Only thing was, once I started I wouldn’t stop.

These singing sessions would invariably start like this:

Mum: “Baby, sing a song for Auntie X”

H [deep intake of breath. gulp. Eyes shut, mouth opens, top volume]:
“Pigggy on the raaaaaailroad, piccccking up stones
Daaaaauwn came an engine…”

Clap clap clap clap clap!

Auntie X: “That’s lovely little H!”

Mum: “thank you baby. Now run along and play”

H [another deep intake of breath. gulp. Eyes shut, mouth still open, top volume]:
“Piggggggy on the rrrrrrrrrrraaailroad…”

Mum: “Ummm baby don’t you want to go play with your toys?”

Blink blink

H: “..picking up… “

Auntie X: “Look at what I’ve found in my bag! Only for little H!!!.“

H: “… stones…“

Auntie X: “Who’s going to take this chocolate from auntie?! Who’s going to pop a nice sweet chocolate in her mouth [and shut the bleeding hell up]?”

H: “…Daaaaauuuun came an engine and broke piggggggy’s bone

Mum [smiling purposefully]: “Baby that’s enough.”

H: “… that’s not fair!
Oooo said the engine driver…”

Mum [gently, firmly steering me back to my room]: “Baby really that’s enough. Auntie’s going to get a headache now.”

H “… I don’t care!”

After one particularly intense session of piggy getting mauled on the railroad, repeatedly, this ritual stopped. Mum didn’t seem to want me to sing for nice chocolate carrying aunties and uncles anymore.

I didn’t really think about it till a few days ago when I remembered this.

Copyright to this masterpiece belongs to little H [5yrs].