Saturday, 12 December 2015

Chandragiri, On your shore is where I'd rather be.

Among the many questions that confuse (and most often, infuriate) me, "Where are you from?" tops the list. Frankly, I have never known. And if I did have an acceptable answer to it, why would it matter to anyone where I really am from?

That being said, I am fortunate to live multiple lives in a single time, mostly owing to the places I come from. I was born in a small town in Kerala, Kasargod and my formative years were spent in Dubai. After my too-big-for-Dubai dreams and other circumstances forced my exit from a closely guarded, protective environment in Dubai, my world expanded so much more once I stepped into a newer home, Mangalore.

Mangalore is not the ideal place to live in, considering how communally sensitive it is (when it is). But still being in its developing stages it is a perfect amalgamation of  the traditional and the modern, which suits all lists of the introvert I am. Looking back, it seems to me that in spite of the love-hate relationship Mangalore and I had over the years, this city has finally won my heart- and the usual answer to where I'm from is Mangalore, if we don't delve into further details that is.

Thekkil, my ancestral village is only a two-hour drive from Mangalore. While my sibling passionately hated life in Thekkil, it being cut-off from most amenities,  I had an insatiable need for regular doses of village life tracing back to as far as I can remember. We never lived in Thekkil after we migrated to Dubai, me at the age of 5 and my sibling at 2 and half years. Only this August, we spent two whole nights at home, ensuing my granny's demise.

Disappointingly, I do not have much travel experience to compare Thekkil's beauty with other places in similar settings. But with some effrontery that I have cultivated over the years, I believe enough to call this place one of the most beautiful villages in Kerala. With a serene river abutting most independent houses, beautiful moonlit nights playing the highlight, towering palm trees all over and a caressing monsoon, I can hardly be proved wrong in this regard.

I can't vouch with statistical correctness, but Thekkil comprises mostly of a young adult population. Most of its middle-aged men are first generation Gulf-toilers, the result of which can be seen in the form of bungalows screaming out all kinds of grandiose. The bigger your bungalow, and the grander your child's wedding function, the more successful you are in life, it seems. This has always put me off.

But in general, the residents here are not overly sophisticated or pompous. As a child, I would often wake up in the mornings listening to the loud noises of domestic discussions in our kitchen that usually hosted them; who is marrying whom and when, who's child just went to the gulf for a new job, who is building a new house, what's for lunch at who's place- life in Thekkil was as transparent as it could have been. Things have changed a little through the years, or so it seems. Or probably it should be attributed to my  growing up, specially being a girl.

While the aforementioned bungalows have huge emphasis laid on the entrance arches and doors, there is rarely any communal activity that happens not involving the rear doors of houses, mostly where the areas that confine women are located. It seems to me now that most of these rear doors are more shut than open and welcoming. Sitting on the porch, at a safe distance from which the river proudly presents itself  as a stage to the moon's reflection, I'm told is a taboo for a 24-year old lady. Too many men and ill-intentional young lads tread those mud roads after all.  It has also been difficult to fake/hide my identity here. Everyone in Thekkil knows everyone from Thekkil.

These are however not major issues to someone whose wild-spirit is still untamed after strenuous effort by a traditionally, conforming, conservative family. You can hardly ever drag me away from the river banks and I sit even on boundary walls, reading books if that's what it takes. I also find the chai that the vendor across the street sells pretty good for the standards of the shop. I wonder how many other women have tasted the same.

The women in Thekkil have chosen a subservient role in their families and largely, in the society. Patriarchal by all means, a woman's role seems confined to their houses, raising the family. Power to them if that is what they wish. But growing up, I have heard of several instances of fathers not wanting to educate their girl children lest they grow up to defy the roles already assigned them. Most kids in Thekkil go to the government school at a short walking distance, where there is absolutely no emphasis laid on quality education, and this is an issue that worries me.

The better part of the story is that I now remain only a visitor to this village. The time I spend here mostly involves quenching my recurring need for its beauty and heeding to a natural affinity towards the little world it houses in itself, and its people. The bitter part is that, there is only a little portion of this beautiful village that leaves me even as I walk away from it.

As I sit in Dubai and write this, it has been only a little over a month since I last visited Thekkil. But Chandragiri, on your shore is where I'd rather still be.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

At 23.

There's a war in my head. And I'm not winning.

23? Passion. Aggression. A peace like never before. Far too much love, too much hatred. Wanting to carve a name, etch it on this earth forever. Needing to retreat into my shell.  An incomprehensible love for art. An urge for creation. Inability to focus. 

There's a war in my head. And I'm not winning. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

The one that matters.

I'm far far away in a distant land, and I don't see you anymore.  Not as much I would have desired to.  Not in all your colours and their shades,  not in your details.  But you're with me on my mind,  as you always will be.  A part of you will always live in me, like it does,  reminding me so constantly of our time together.
Tonight feels like one of those nights where I'd ask you to continue speaking, even when you had nothing to say,  only to listen to the vast dimensions of your thoughts.  One of those nights that I would choose to sing for you; you'd join in and I would reprimand you for the incorrectness of the lyrics. Or the night that we strolled along the moonlit shores listening to lethargic waves, letting them whisper their stories as we whispered ours. The night of endless adventures. The night that felt shorter than the conversations we wanted to share.
Tonight there's only gratitude. For being my shore that I lashed my troubled waters at,  the one where we built our castle of memories when nothing else seemed to remain. 
For choosing to walk into my life and being the closest definition of "altruistic love" that I will ever know. For doing everything within your reach,  and beyond to make me happy.
For calling me "sunshine",  even when I brought in more darkness than I should have.
For loving me even in my broken fractions and parts,  when I couldn't find the whole of me. For helping me find myself back,  not closing your doors on me everytime I walked away, for the kindness. 
For allowing me to love you.  For letting me know just how much I could.  For setting the standards high for any other person that will ever enter my life.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am for you.  And how apologetic I am to have caused the pain and the tears- something I can never forgive myself for.
Today is your day,  and if there's anything I want you to know it is that
I love you.
In all your colors and shades. In your most intricate details.  In the purest form of love I have ever felt.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Nights and Stories.

2AMs, the sound of the ticking clock, heavier breaths, and cold breezes forcing their way in through the crevices in the glass- they all have their own story to tell.  The nights hold an unworldly charm for those who can see through the dark. 

As it caresses in its bosom the noisy crowds, the poets, artists,  writers and thinkers awaken. How in love am I with these hours that belong solely to them!

Up high in the sky,  the moon shines bright and on it are silhouettes of moon children dancing in a winter light to faintly lullabies. They disappear to the morning sun. Are the craters the indentations of their tiny feet as they hurried back home?

On some starless nights,  the lone star appears meekly and carefully, like a little brat giving away the playful  crimes of its comrades when they're away. Little does it know, the  the fallen stardust on night sky carpets at 2 AMs are my playful crimes. 

On a distant land, I hear the warring waters.  The ebb and flow of the tides.  Their fickle mindedness.  Ebb or flow?  Why this war with a welcoming shore, I think.  Ebb, then flow. 

Where I am, the nights birth a new story with every deceptive wink of my eye.  There's another world in these nights.  A hundred new worlds in some.  How in love I am with these nights and their stories!