Uncategorized

A Savarna House, in a Savarna world.

I live in a pretty big house in Kerala. I am very privileged. This house was bought after years of my fathers slavery in the Gulf. It was bought right before his oldest daughter began hunt for a groom. The biggest bedroom on the top floor of the house and the living room where guests sit have been inspired by Kerala boat houses. This should explain the wooden panels that surround it on all four sides- making it seem like a little wooden box. It also makes the room very dark, but is that the only darkness here?

***

There is another square building of two floors within the compounds of my house. The ground floor is a store room, and the top floor consists of a bed and an open window. It was made in an assumption that we would be rich enough for a driver. It has been used by many men- a Tamil man who had once come to help in the house, a distant cousin from my father’s village- because it was not appropriate for him to stay where two young unmarried girls live. At the corner of this building, sharing a wall with the walls of the compound, right at the back is a very tiny toilet. This is meant for any outsiders we are not related to and don’t hold in high regard (men especially), or the workers who come to pull out the weed in our garden, or for the help who comes to clean our house to change from her sari into a cleaning nightie, and then from nightie into sari before she leaves the house. The toilet was built initially due to the lack of planning during the house construction, because a spot for a common washroom was not even thought of in the main house.

We have two kitchens, like most houses in Kerala. Both are slapped at the back with terrible ventilation, which increases sweaty irritation in the summer. While one is decorated with white marble tiling and cupboards, the other has wooden cupboards and a granite counter. There are no walls in the second kitchen, except for the black grills that open out into our backyard garden- which has banana trees, coconut trees, mint leaves, tapioca, and other food plants.

The second, outside kitchen is where my mother cuts the meat- fish, beef, chicken- everything. It is also where the separate tea powder, glass with blue flower patterns and sugar is kept for the house help who comes twice a week. She can take the milk powder from the green sliding cabinet inside white marble kitchen. It is kept separate because “if we let them have too much, then they will climb on our heads.”

The workers in the garden do not come to the front door. We don’t need to tell them, they know it. Sometimes, if we don’t hear them calling from the back door, they will come to the front door, only to ask us to come to the back and pour out a glass of water. We will give them water, sometimes even tang, tea in the evenings with snacks….in disposable cups, or glass glasses. “Then you call them in, and sit with them and eat in the house next time, if you have such a big problem with it.”

Opposite our house there exists a tiny shop that has all necessary emergency supplies. Everyone in the area calls it the ‘Nair kada’ (shop) “Now because you are young you feel this way. When you grow up, you will realize, there is a lot of benefit in the name. You can’t say don’t use the name.”

So funny, when you’re a Savarna, you think everyone is mean, everyone is nasty, everyone will jump on your head, because that is exactly what we would do. Sigh.

Uncategorized

Poetry: To the spy behind my webcam

Every message that I sent

To read it he was hell bent.

Peering eyes behind a screen

Looming all over an anxious teen.

Every picture, every text

Always wondering, what was next?

My first internet friend

A personal, private fiend.

But I too knew some secret code

And so I slipped on incognito mode.

Sniggering, laughing, chuckling, howling

Finally I’d escape unnecessary scowling!

But all at once, I stopped and stared

At one big eye that glared and glared.

My first internet friend- a spy!

A powerful man scared of “why?”

There really seemed to be no way

To keep these nosy men at bay.

And so I picked up a thin white sheet

And cut it out to suit the feat.

Over the webcam with tape it stuck

Poor powerful man, so out of luck!

The peering eye over my screen,

Everything seen was now unseen.

The spy behind my webcam
Uncategorized

The first crack.

The first rhetorical question that they ask you will form the tiniest crack in your mind. But a crack, nevertheless. And a crack is all it takes.

Words don’t need too much space to enter, and so the tiniest words – the ifs, ands, buts, thes, ors, hows and whys will all slowly sneak themselves in, through that tiny crack. It will not hurt, so you will not realize them…the sneaks, they will lurk around, attaching themselves to every thought you have and every scene you watch.

It all happens then very suddenly. The sentences and scenes, attached to the trickled in words, become bigger and bigger. They keep expanding, multiplying, producing new thought, new sentences, new scenes. The tiniest crack deepens, widens, lengthens.

It sprouts new branches, it spreads all across your little mind.

The bigger words enter. They rush in to meet the other sentences, they attach themselves, reproduce, duplicate, shape shift, do a macarena, until your little mind can’t take it, and the lid blows off.

You now have, an open mind.

Uncategorized

In Sickness…

I first met him when he was admitted in the little hospital room buried deep in the corner of the long corridors of Baby Memorial Hospital. I stared at the 50 year old man curled up in fetus position, his bulging eyes stared back at me from the two dark hollows that spread underneath them.

He was terribly upset, and as soon as the caretaker left the room, his about to explode stomach and the brownish maroon hernia that had usurped his belly button, rose from the bed and slothed till the table.

“They don’t want to make it nicely for me, all kanjoos. Whose money it is? Mine only no?” He asked as he poured some milk from the thermos into the little white cup he had received as a complimentary gift from a Mc Donalds in Dubai, back when he didn’t have to visit the hospital almost every 2 weeks. The shaky spoon scooped up a large heap of Horlicks and drowned itself into the milk.

He slowly released the pink rubber band settled around the Marie biscuit, “You want one?”

“No, I ate big breakfast.”

He took one biscuit and handed me the packet, I tied it back as he inched towards his bed again, one swollen foot at a time.

“Wash that cup and keep, and you see that white bottle? bring that and come here.”

After a cup dripping with water was placed back on the table, I took the tiny bottle with the shiny transparent liquid.

“Massage my legs strongly, skin is itching because it is dry” he said as his fingers danced above his thigh, imitating a scratch. The tube that pierced the top of his hand danced along, and I felt my hand tighten into a fist at the sight.

As my palms skid across his legs drenched in coconut oil, I stared at his closing eyelids, he seemed awfully at peace for a man with a nagging wife and crumbling debts.

Chumma Stories

Pinty and Minty

Minty glanced at her watch and quickly looked at her sister, “ey, come lets leave, it’s getting late.”

“Oh shit, its 1! I have work to do for tomorrow also, come come.”

“Okay, I’ll go to the washroom, you pay the bill, and then we’ll leave.”

Minty rushed to the washroom as Pinty shuffled through her bag for her purse. “Excuse me, bill?” she said, signalling the waiter. “Oh, and the card machine also.”

She brought out her SBI debit card, she wondered why her sister’s arrival into Bangalore was so expensive, almost 2000 Rupees, even with the Zomato Gold! “Ah anyway, family is family” she said and swiped her card.

“Customer copy ma’am?”

“Yes”

The little machine in the waiter’s hand spit out a receipt, he tore it and handed it to Pinty. “Thank you ma’am”

Pinty looked at the receipt, she instantly took out her pen and signed her name- Pinty Susan Thomas. The waiter was cute after all, maybe he would find her on Facebook, and then they would begin a beautiful romance! Yaa, Minty didn’t approve of all this, but Minty was not here, so her opinion did not matter.

“Come Pinty, let’s go” said Minty, wiping her wet hands on her jeans. She turned to the exit. Pinty quickly left her declaration of romance on the table, looked at the waiter one last time and rushed behind her sister.

The waiter stared at the solitary receipt. He wondered why that woman had wasted paper like this, she could have just said “no need for a customer copy”, no? he cleaned the table and left.

*******

The cab dropped both the sisters off near Pintys PG. “Phew, almost 1:30, you go home and sleep okay? I’ll see you tomorrow” Minty said, hugging her sister. She slowly began to walk towards her PG, it was just 20 steps and a turn away from Pinty’s.

“No Minty, wait!” Pinty almost screamed. “I have been in Bangalore for so long! I know this area! You have just come today. It’s so late also. Let me drop you home!” And saying this, she took her sisters hand and began walking to Mintys PG.

Very soon, the two sisters found themselves outside Mintys PG. “Okay. Now you are safe, Go inside your PG, bye bye, goodnight.” Pinty said as she stretched her arms to give Minty a hug.

“Pinty!” Minty exclaimed. “How can I just let you go like that? You are my younger sister. I am responsible for your safety. What will I tell Mummy and Papa if something happens to you? Come here. Let me drop you first.”

Pinty could not disobey her older sister. She followed her silently all through the 20 steps and the turn.

Once again, the two sisters found themselves where they started.

“Here! Now I can rest in peace. Come on, you quickly go up to your room now.” Minty looked at Pinty, with a wide smile. “Bye bye! See you tomorrow!” She turned to go to her PG.

“Oh Minty! I am a terrible sister!” Pinty cried, with her hands on her face. “You love me so much! You have always taken care of me, ever since I was a little child. And me? I have only thought about myself.”

“Pintyy…That’s my job…”

“NO. This changes tonight. I will prove my love for you by dropping you home. Let me give back to you my dear sister!” and saying this, she pulled her sister by the arm and began to march towards her PG.

Soon enough, the two sisters were near Minty’s PG.

“Okay enough. Now I will go up to my PG, you go back to your PG. Goodnight.” An exhausted Minty said to Pinty.

Pinty stared at Minty.

“What?”

“Nothing Minty. It’s just that, I took so much effort to drop you home and you…you’re just going off like that? Not even offering to drop me back? I mean, what’s that about?”

“Oh My God. You come. I’ll drop you.”

“UFF. Now I am a burden for you is it? Fine. Don’t come. I’ll go alone only.”

“Shut up, just come with me.”

They walked silently through all the 20 steps and the turn. Soon, they were outside Pinty’s PG.

“Okay, Love you, I’ll see you tomorrow!” said a happy Pinty, about to run up to her room.

“Wow Pinty. Just wow. You know what? I am the one who just came to Bangalore. I am the one who’s exhausted from travel. What if I faint?  I don’t even know anyone here. And you? You’ve been here for almost 1 and a half years and you want to run off? Desert your poor sister so late at night? Okay.”

Pinty was speechless. The two sisters began their long hike to Minty’s, they reached halfway, the tenth step when they decided they were too tired to go any further,

“Lets sit here for a while?”

“Ahh okay. I’m tired too.”

They sat on the footpath, staring at a dull wall.

“Minty, you’re a good sister, you know that right?”

“You’re a good sister too Pinty.”

They looked at each other, smiled, got up, and as they walked their own separate ways, they were found thinking to themselves- “She should have dropped me home.”

Gloom time

Wednesday night gloom #metoo

It took me 1 and a half years to finally accept that I was raped.

You just never really expect it to happen to you, not in the way that it did. You weren’t dragged into a room and nobody forced themselves on you, the way they show it movies.

It happened because you drank a little too much one night, you let yourself go to a strangers place, and you climbed into his bed, too tired, too drunk, and definitely too incapacitated to say “no” out loud. But you didn’t say “yes” either. You vaguely remember screaming “no” when he shoved it in, but maybe that’s just you.

The next morning, You remember nothing much. You remember much pain the night before, and if that’s not enough, your swollen, hurting labia will remind you.

You will tell no one. The friend that came along with you last night will assume you consented to those loud screams she heard last night and will laugh and give you knowing smiles. The guilt and shame you feel will temporarily hide itself and you will smile back- you just lost your virginity!

You will go home and take a shower, staring at one side of your labia that’s more swollen than the other. You have a headache from the splitting hangover, but you feel disturbed.

You have to catch a flight in five hours, to meet your boyfriend.

He knew something wrong happened last night, because you stopped replying to his texts, he knows it would’ve involved another man, because he thinks, no, he knows, that you, are a slut.

Three nights of crying and one night of him “loving” you and realizing that you are no longer as tight as you used to be (two fingers are now three fingers) will lead to him violently hitting you repeatedly on the face, on the footpath.

You cheated on him. You allowed another guy to touch you.

The guilt and shame will resurface, fresh and hot, like the sensation on your cheeks.

Everyone will know about the ex who hit you, they will know it was because you cheated, but no one will know that you were raped, not even you.

One and a half years later, you read that drunk consent is not legal consent. That, is your trigger. The proof. This is what you needed to hear all this while, especially that morning of November 2018.

You didn’t know any better, but your rapist…. he was 25 or so,working, he should have known.

You were raped, and it took you one and a half years to accept it.