All these years, they told me “Look at the bigger picture!”
And now when I look back, I realise the little things, the teeny fine details are all that matter.
All these years, they told me “Look at the bigger picture!”
And now when I look back, I realise the little things, the teeny fine details are all that matter.
How many times have we all answered the question “Why do you write?”
The answer is supposed to get easier over time. But I find that things turn complicated when I try to simplify the answer.
Its probably got to do with the fact that a lot of indescribable emotions and thoughts cloud my mind, making expression difficult. Tell me something.. How do you explain to someone what goes through your mind when you eat your favourite dish? How do you put a thought or feeling across and ensure that the other person comprehends or experiences it in its entirety? Because I don’t know.
Maybe this sounds a little lame. Maybe this sounds like another futile attempt to describe a writer’s inner dilemma without really answering the question.
Maybe that is what it is.
I could sit here all day writing poetic lines about how every alphabet in the English language is a friend. And maybe I would mess that up too.
But, that’s okay.
I don’t write because I want a thousand people to read what I write. I don’t want to become famous or get quoted. I don’t even think I want to write a book.
All I know is I want to write for myself. I write for all those moments in my life when I want to pen down and immortalise what goes on my mind. It could be a moment when I feel like a poet, or one when it rains and the world is painted red when I look around. Maybe it could be after I have had the shittiest day at work and I just want to distract myself from reality. It could be when I look around and see some beautiful stories dressed up as people going about their lives. It could be this and infinite other things.
That’s what it is. I want to write because writing is a journey and a destination by itself. I love how music takes me places while I sit here in my corner and words paint pictures effortlessly. Oh.. and another beautiful thing about songs? Those words were once written by somebody who felt something deeply too..
Right.. So that’s been fifteen minutes of free-writing a.k.a release of inner turmoil. I obviously haven’t re-organised my thoughts as this was written in response to the prompt shared by the Blogging University Team as part of Finding Everyday Inspiration.
Now that you have patiently read my piece of writing, let me know what makes you write in the comments below. Oh yeah! Thank you for reading. 🙂
Does it happen to you? Does an indescribable sorrow fill your soul and make you want to write when you least expect it?
Where you want to find the exact word that explains what you are feeling and put it down on paper. Where you want someone to understand what you are trying you write, find the perfect word and finish your sentence for you. But it just doesn’t happen.
It’s a weird kind of loneliness that few will understand. Where you stand surrounded by your own kind, yet feel like there’s something missing. A longing that’s unfulfilled. Like when you know all your alphabets and words, yet you can’t pen it down. You know you want to write, but you just can’t. You sit there staring at the wall clock or the back of people’s heads. Waiting for that moment when something magical will hit you and all the right words will flow.
Have you ever felt like time just slipped out of your hands? Like if you could just relive some moments over and over, without clinging onto mere memories instead?
I’m living in that moment right now. Trying to conjure up moments while I gather up as many memories as I can. Of my childhood, family and friendships. Good and bad, happy and sad.
Somewhere between fleeing in pursuit of a long sought after freedom and finding it, I grew up. But how I wish I didn’t.
I long to be home. Back within the comforts of four walls, shielded by the love of my own. Where every day is no longer a new battle.
I’m learning. I’m growing. Discovering myself. I’m happy. Maybe this is just one of those days, when I wish I could have it all. I wish I could have it all – at home.
We have come to a place with a name so vague to me that I cannot even spell it right. I walk two steps behind her like any other visitor would – simply because I know nothing about the place. I shadow her movements and mimic every action of hers lest I do something foolish.
As we go down the road of mud, I bow my head and my hands fly to cover my mouth in reflex to the foul odours that begin to pierce my nostrils. However I grimace as I see faeces strewn on the same road that we are treading. I recall the instructions given to me – do not give away hints that you are disgusted no matter how repulsive your environment may seem. Looking up at Vasudha, our customer care representative walking ahead of me, I secretly wonder how this woman goes through the same ordeal everyday.
We continue walking down the lanes that become narrower with each passing step. We cross many by-lanes as we move forward and for some reason it feels like someone has placed us in an odd maze of people and things. Needless to say, Vasudha knows where she’s headed – I am the only one who’s lost without a clue. Add to this the inhuman conditions and environment I am exposed to.
As if the open gutters alongside the broken walls of people’s homes (shacks and hutments) aren’t bad enough, there are stagnant pools of water after every ten seconds of walking. Flies swarm around the place that is already littered with all kinds of wastes and I see people sitting on their doorsteps indifferent to any of this while I struggle to keep a straight face. I cannot decide what is worse – the smells or the sights around me.
Soon our walk brings us to our destination – Shanthamma’s home (an odd structure made up of plastic sheets and thatched walls). From where I stand outside the door, I can already see the open back door. Given the dimensions of this room, I imagine if I take four steps from the front door into the house, I would possibly be standing outside the house and probably in the neighbour’s compound.
The strong aroma of garlic and chillies being sautéd for lunch waft through the air and make their way to us from the inside. Shanthamma, our customer runs to tend to her cooking while we follow her inside to seat ourselves in a corner on a modest plastic mat on the floor of her home. I look around in bewilderment at this room that she claims is her home. I simply cannot fathom how anyone can survive here – let alone live.
In one of corner of the dimly lit room I see an old bed with a plastic mat and a pillow on it. Right next to this I see Shanthamma hunched over a small kerosene stove cooking rice and dal. To my left in the corner I see a small wooden almirah, the door of which has come off at the hinges. On top of it I see a small photo of Lord Ganesha adorned with flowers, illuminated by a small lamp.
As sweat trickles down my back I look around to see if there is a fan. But I am surprised when my eyes are greeted by the sight of a bare ceiling constituted from plastic sheets with holes. Involuntarily my mind wanders off to imagine what the condition of this room during the rainy seasons would be, when I am brought back to reality by a tap on my shoulder.
I realise Vasudha is talking to me. Shanthamma wipes her hands on her saree as she politely stands in front of us offering to make tea for us. I remember being told to decline such offers only too well as our company does not believe in imposing any kind of hospitality on the part of our already poor customers. And so, I refuse as politely as possible saying that we just had coffee from a nearby stall.
Then I look at Vasudha for an indication as to what happens next. She quietly informs me that we are waiting for the remaining group members to arrive. Just as she finishes her statement, we hear sounds of some women approaching. The minute they enter the room there is a loud cacophony of voices and I see some of them slap the host on the back. Feeling alarmed I turn to Vasudha for an explanation who for some reason smiles and tells me that these ladies speak Kannada and this is how they usually greet one another. Before she can say anything more, I for one, have decided to maintain a safe distance from the group lest they decide to greet me too!
After a whole lot of commotion, all the ladies squat down on the mats in front of us while a few sit on the doorstep (owing to space constraints of course). Then the drill begins – Vasudha introduces herself and talks about our company, the purpose of our visit and so forth. Just when I think things are going well, she turns to me and asks me to introduce myself to the group. I am caught completely off guard and it takes me a moment to process what she has just said.
Now you might wonder what the big deal is, but let me tell you something. For the past two years of my life, I have been attending various personality development programs, seminars and doing corporate presentations. Not even once have I fumbled or been baffled by an audience. However this was an entirely new scenario. I did not understand a single word of Kannada, let alone speak the language.
“Neku Kannada gothilla..” I mumble sheepishly. (I don’t know Kannada.)
One of the elderly women in the group takes pity on me for not knowing their language and is kind enough to tell me that I can speak in Tamil as a majority of them know the language. I am relieved that one hurdle has been overcome. Then comes the second – what do I tell them about myself? Over the last four months I have perfected my answer to the most annoying interview question ‘Tell me about yourself’. But here that answer just seemed so irrelevant and pathetic. What do you tell a strange group of illiterate and poor women about yourself to create a connect?
So I did the only sensible thing to do. I told them my name, where I come from, about my family, what my job was and why I was here in an alien place amidst them. Call it luck, but it worked. Some of them who had been to Kerala previously actually knew about the State and excitedly started naming all the nearby places and things they could remember about the place. I hardly had to speak complete sentences. Trust me, I have never felt more relieved about a conversation!
Then on, the proceedings went on fine. Vasudha briefed the group about the various loans they had applied for with respect to their families’ or business’ requirements. One by one she questioned all of them about their respective loans to see if they knew their loans’ terms and conditions thoroughly.
When it was Shanthamma’s turn, Vasudha asked her why she needed a loan of Rupees 15,000. I was surprised when Shanthamma replied it was for a colour television for herself at home. My eyes shot up to the ceiling of sheets spanned by gaping wounds and I opened my mouth to say something, but then decided against it. Seeing the look on my face, an amused Vasudha asked me if I wanted to ask or tell Shanthamma anything. Of course, I did!
“Amma.. Do you really need a colour TV now? Is it not more important to fix the roof above your head before the rains start?” I asked her cautiously.
“No.. I can always put some pans on the floor when it rains. But, what will I do when I want to relax? I cannot always go to someone else’s house like a destitute to watch TV, can I?” came the reply.
Hearing this the whole group voiced their agreement with Shanthamma while I just sat there wondering how I could convince my brain to accept the reasoning behind her answer. Vasudha tapped my shoulder and signalled to me to fake acceptance and drop the matter, which I did.
The next one hour continued to be full of surprises for me when I heard the women voice the purposes of their loans – one for a refrigerator, another for a mobile phone, some for their children’s education, some for buying tailoring machines and so on. What surprised me was not the things they wanted but that these were all things that I thought could be purchased by anyone with some savings; things I had taken for granted.
I cannot put into words the revelations I had sitting in that shack during the two hours I was there. When I came to Bangalore to join employment, I had considered only two things – my handsome package and the posh life that came with it. Granted from all those classroom training sessions, I knew our customers were the urban ultra poor. But what I saw before my eyes was far worse than anything I had ever expected. It was a wake up call. The living conditions of these people made me realise how many of us take most things in life for granted.
Now you may think that I am making a mountain out of a mole hill. You are free to think so! The story I shared may even seem very insignificant to you. But I sincerely hope you are able to take away from here the point I am trying to make – to be grateful for all the good things in life; to appreciate the people and things around you no matter how bad you think they may seem; to remind yourself to be thankful for all that you have – for it could have been worse. And honestly, if this post has had any impact on you, I’d be the happiest.
Meanwhile, thanks for being such a patient reader! That’s 1720 words you just read. 😀
Do you know of or have a similar instance that you would like to share? Anything you’d like to say with respect to anything? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
Back in school, I used to love visiting my best friend’s house. (The one from the First Diary if you guys remember!) Now this wasn’t just because her family always welcomed me warmly; it was also because I
was absolutely greedy for loved the Soya dish that Aunty used to make!!
I did try to make it a few times by myself with some supervision from Amma. However, I would always end up making a gravy or a curry out of it. Plus, I would waste a lot of ingredients in the process and burn the pan as well. Our house would be clouded with fumes and smoke occasionally. But with no reports of casualty whatsoever mind you! Okay, I sense you doubting my culinary skills. I chose to digress!
Today afternoon as I sauntered into the kitchen, my eyes fell on a packet of soya beans I had purchased last month. In the background Amma was bugging me to study and I knew this was the opportune moment to declare my decision to cook. (I hope you notice how I inspire myself even in the direst of circumstances!)
I immediately Googled the recipe and found what I was looking for. The recipe on Jane’s blog on Cucumber Town seemed pretty promising and well within the parameters of my culinary abilities. Without any further delay I set some water to boil so that I could soak the soya beans in them. Needless to say there was a lot of dangerous action in our kitchen which is why Amma did not argue and stayed away when I told her to let me cook.
Mission Soya took a good one hour owing to the fact that I was adamant about the dish being perfect. Everything was done as per the plan of action – from chopping two full onions to climbing the backyard wall to pluck curry leaves. Let’s leave the story of how I burnt a pan of oil out of this because nothing can rain on my parade today!
The end result of this disaster you wonder? Ha! Success!!
Look what I made!! 😀
Soya Dry Fry
Now for those of you who haven’t visited Jane’s Blog, here’s a glimpse of what the real thing is supposed to look like!
I think it’s pretty close to what I was aiming for! Even if it’s not, I don’t mind. The whole bowl’s been licked clean by my elder brother! 😀 My family’s given me the thumbs up! Amma owing to her relief that I am finally cooking something other than Maggi and Dosa and Anna because he likes to be fed good food. (Kidding! My brother’s my rock! ❤ )
I have half a mind to start trying out new dishes every Saturday from now on.What about you? Do you like cooking? Or do you save your culinary secrets for later and let someone else toil in the kitchen?!