Thursday, February 24, 2011

I’m generally an honest person

Ever since my diary – yes, yes I wrote diaries – ran out of pages tenteen years ago, I’ve taken to eructing little pools of vomit in unswept corners of my work files.

It's not uncommon that on occasion an unaccustomed client – actually not really, more the studio really, and not even them, my boss mostly – has discovered, in a word file detailing the content of a brochure on the range of tooling devices at an automotive glass company, an edifying piece on the goings on in my abundantly rich internal life, as A says.

With memory fuzzing embarrassment I remember – hazily – an impassioned never-to-be-read-piece addressed to an author by whom I was/am much infatuated, which my boss read out to me over the phone, followed by a scathingly torturous “this isn’t part of the script, I hope?”

Well anyway, here’s one such piece I discovered nestled among notes I’d drawn up for a senior client’s scrotum-fondling bio.

Looking back, I’m certain it was the wrinkle birthing brow furrowing distress of scripting a collection of half truths, quasi untruths and blatant fictions about his sterling leadership and visionary influence that provoked this. But I’ll be honest – I can’t be sure.


I’m generally an honest person. In fact not generally but very specifically honest.

But I can’t help making up all sorts of shit every now and then. I’ve become alarming prone to spinning untruths that are dangerously close to the truth, and then believing them, because really, there’s no other way of making sense of the million shades of grey that just refuse to be verbalised.

There. I did it again. Million shades of grey? Whoever fucking heard of them? Whoever fucking bothered to count up to a million? Well okay, maybe someone did. And if they did, I haven’t heard of it.

And there’s a lot I haven’t heard of.

So there’s a lot of shit I have to keep making up to compensate for what I don’t know, well not for a fact at least – hearsay and finely calibrated logic notwithstanding. And there’s a lot of THAT out there.


At which point I lost the plot and resumed work on the bio, because there's a lot of THAT out there. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Story time

Memories depart on deft toes. Softly, lightly, stealthily. Before you’re aware, there's a gentle hollow where a memory once nestled taking with it the faces that crowded it.

And they return, often, with the sharp illuminating crispness of a crack of lightning, and suddenly your life is a fuller place.

That’s how I met S yesterday.

One day she reappeared, real as a biscuit in an eff-b email. Remember me H? We went to college together.

And then, not two months later, yesterday, we sat across each other grinning.

I thought I was the only one who had grey and did nothing about it she said giggling.

N reached out her finger to count mine. Masi, you have ten. N is six and she’s a Delhi bred baby tyrannosaurus. Controlling her mother, telling me I should let the kitchen decide how much sugar goes into my fresh lime soda because that’s their job, not yours and how she’s going to get lots of rakhi gifts out of her little brother. She turned to S and said it’d better be a girl or a boy, not some mixed up girl-boy thing or we’ll throw it away. And masi, liiiightly she said removing my hand from where I’d placed it on S’s belly, don’t disturb the baby.

But soon we became friends because I put salt into my fresh lime soda and it bubbled over because I will never learn the exact amount no matter how old I get so I said to shift blame — oh no my glass has done susu and N squealed.

You’re her favourite now S said picking N’s fingers out of the sugar. She was worried that her gestational diabetes would affect the baby. She was tired of having no house for the last one year since they shifted back from Dhaka into her in-laws’ house and she was not looking forward to the baby coming early because she’d thought the March delivery would’ve fitted nicely with N’s spring break.

Amid all this, N discovered to her delight that mummy was older than H masi. So that means you’re going to have to listen to EEEEEEEEEEEEVERYTHING mummy says because she’s older, na? She grinned. Nooooo I said. Who EVER told you it’s about age? I’m taller so mummy has to listen to me. Nooo. Yessssss. Noooooo. Okay then tell me N, why do people say you can do things only when you grow UP, not when you grow OLD?

For the first time N was flummoxed. She looked at mummy, but useless mummy was giggling yet again. She turned back, perplexed.

Game change she decided. Masi, tell me a story. Okay, I said. Okay. But first the magic word. Pleeeeeeeassse she squealed, and with nostril flaring delight I was reading her a story. I love when children look up at you, hanging on every word and you can stop in the middle and say – but do you know what rustle means? And they’ll say no, and you’ll explain and they’ll listen with that same spellbound expression and you can pick up the story from anywhere and know they’re still listening closely with their mutant-Delhi-tyranny slipped away leaving an innocent kissable sweetness on their faces.

I could’ve hugged N and not let her go.

You’re good with them S said, smiling not giggling.

I laughed, embarrassed --- not if you leave them with me for 24 hours, I’ll be as cranky if not worse I said, a warm glow spreading inward.

Later S leaned over. I wish I was working too sometimes she said, patting her belly. I’m so glad to see you’re so independent. You’re really happy doing what you’re doing, aren’t you?

I looked down at little N’s hand in mine, and said yes, that’s true.