Sunday, March 02, 2008

One day in Doon

This is where it was sucked out of me. Commas, colons and stops. And all the words in between. So it is befitting, in the deeply subliminal [because we never display overt signs of it, ever] neat virgoness of my brain, that it should begin, once more, right here.

Here, where my amma wrung my wrists with her baby hands, tugged at my jacket [and something deep inside] and kicked her legs. Life is a tenacious bastard. And pleading, I learnt, doesn’t help. But she got away. On a plump morphine cloud, in a nappy with the last deeply unreliable memory of two generations of her blood, red and alive, spilling salted sorrow and relief and regret and prayers and thanks in a pool, in a spool in a spill in the still around her and above her, hovering between being and not.

She went in peace. I’ll tell myself this. I will believe it.

She went without the burning, bastard catheter. The trickle of an insolent bowel, the embarrassment of it. The ripe blue sore that spread in abiding companionship to the purple rubber sheet, and the years that crept into the cradles of her bones.

She slipped away, thief like, with something that belonged to me.

Stories. Her stories. My stories.

Stashed away in her head, frittered carelessly to passing angels, I’m sure, she made off with my past.

Recollections of baby sized lisping fathers. Of kidnappers and bandits. Of fighters and freedom. Of death and widowhood and resurrection. Of three strong sons like the Sun the Moon and Earth. And of love.

The love she lost half of a hundred years ago. Love so quiet deep and constant that 52 years after she last beheld him, like a naughty, haughty, eager bride she crept away, early in the morning before the household awoke, to be with him once more.

How would I know?

Because she said so.

Frail fingers ran through my hair, my head lightly nestled in the bony crook of her arm as she spoke of her love. “He’s waiting for me” she said, the last time we spoke. “He keeps coming to me in my dreams”.

She even showed The Sibling, her favourite grandchild [I was the least favourite] an ivory brooch he gave her. I LOVE YOU it said, ornately. “What does it say amma?” asked the Sibling, winking at me. “Pah” spat amma, flushed and smiling and getting angry and coy and excited and shaky, “something in English. I shan’t say…”

By the end he did away with all decorum expected of the dead. Sauntered in wherever he pleased to claim his bride.

“There he is, in the doorway, calling my name,” she said once, waving to him coyly from the hospital bed. “I need to go!” she pleaded with my sobbing father.

He. That’s how she referred to him. “When he was ill…” or “When he was transferred to Lucknow…” or “he used to buy me English perfumes…” or “He was a good man, your babaji. The best there ever was”.

He. He had a fucking name. A name as sharp and handsome as he. A name that smells of pine nuts in the Himalayan foothills. A name that ripples with the thunder of thickly muscled Gods. A name befitting a king. Rudra.

And now that Rudra has his bride on the other side; my amma no more, just Shakuntala – princess Shakuntala – age fallen away from her bones, cheeks flushed sparkle in her eyes; I think we’ll begin a new story. One in which she and I could like each other.

***
For Duck [somewhat], because you asked. And because I couldn’t explain adequately, why.

Most of all for Amma, and three generations of her blood.

18 comments:

B Ditty said...

I was thinking myself of what a tenacious bastard life is today. Could not bring myself to blog about it though.

Prude said...

Passage of time...I wish I'd reached out harder at ur temporary lapse from our world...
It was worth the wait to see the least favourite grandchild write.

go(ld)phish said...

Oh H.

H said...

Ben, you blogged on the 29th which is good enough.

Prude, thank you, dear girl. Your email was much appreciated.

Go(ld)phish, ...

Anjali Sinha said...

god bless... hugs

Non-Sensei said...

:-)
I've always liked that name - Rudra. Such a feeling of power.

B Ditty said...

just wanted to add..you are an amazing writer H :)

Witness Street said...

Wow. Talk about a comeback.

"...and thanks in a pool, in a spool in a spill in the still around her and above her, hovering between being and not."

and -

"A name that smells of pine nuts in the Himalayan foothills."

My dear H, where do you get this? Where do you get this power? Is it from grief, from literature, from the magic of living where you are?

My condolences to you and your family. Last night I was thinking of how, when someone close or someone in the family died, the others stop thinking of those who are living. Your case is totally the opposite. This piece resonates like an unwavering heart beat and promises new life from one of my favorite blogs of all time.

Cheers!

H said...

Anjie, hug back.

Nonsense Bwoy, me too.

Benjamin, just wanted to say - you're a doll.

Precious Migs, your eloquent praise has just sent me over the moon. I suspect my amma's grinning too.

Something tells me, Delhi is just as magical as Manila. Burgeoning populations have this way of adding a meaty robustness to things, don't you think?

pRicky said...

Regards and more importantly loads of affection...

derrin' do said...

bastard words, did you say? they help create expression and vaccum. more power to them, and you with/against them. :)

H said...

Pricky, thank you. :-)

Derrin' do, no no no! you got me wrong. I was quoting 'him'. I'm all WITH. doooooooooooood.

Anonymous said...

hey,
gr88888 read

losingit

H said...

thanks & welcome [here], Anon.

The Darkling Thrush said...

first, a huge *hug*.
do take care.

next, bastard words?
think words are the best examples of infidelity. deserters just when need packages of grief to leave, wrapped neatly in words, words are the first to leave. traitors.

i hope writing helped.

and i'm sure your amma's in a better world. and she's smiling, what with her little shrine here.

H said...

Darkling Thrush, who are you? such familiar words... it's oddly... soothing?

Thank you.

You write with an uncanny grasp on things [read your blog]

And welcome here.

Non-Sensei said...

aha. the thrush and the h meet.
nice.

H said...

and it pleases you, nonsense bwoy?

The thrush is warm and charming.