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Amma’s yellow nightie makes her face shine. She looks calm when she wears yellow. Except when I am late. Then she is never calm.

When I walk up to my room, one heavy step after another, my brown leather bag slinging morosely over my shoulder, strands of hair getting caught in the strap, I wish she is asleep. But she never is. She only sleeps after she has seen my two-wheeler parked outside. And when she has seen that, she doesn’t even see me. She walks back quietly to her room and I wait to hear the soft thud of her bedroom door closing. It’s only then that I can breathe out. My steps are far more confident when Amma isn’t home. I can breeze in happily through pa’s soft snoring and the slow, dry whizzing of the fan.

One morning I stood on the balcony and watched them go for their daily walk. My parents seem older and weaker when they are walking, especially when they are walking away from me — slowly, like every step counts, their backs slightly bent but quickly straightened after sudden remembering, their bodies – heavy and round, yet their fragile clothes hanging loosely.

Pa in his wrinkled white pajamas, eternally torn under the sleeves, forgotten, worn, taken off and then worn again. The small patch on his glistening bald pate looking smaller and helpless. Ma in her colorful chudidhar, her dupatta carelessly thrown over, so that one half of it is always traling after her loudly.

What were they talking about? I’m sure this and that. Loans, construction, BP tablets, my marriage, thyroid tablets, blood test, my brother’s tuition teacher, my marriage, granny, lunch, my marriage. That day I stood and watched them for a long time. I watched them until my neck could no longer be craned and until the road ended abruptly, rudely.

Like in most homes, we all know when pa is angry. I think Indian homes are built to acknowledge the man’s many moods. The home would shrink and become hot making it unbearable to live in pa’s anger’s aftermath. Even the kitchen smells would withdraw into a corner and there they would stand until it was safe to step out. When I was small, I wished that whenever pa was angry, all the volumes on all the TV’s and radios could just mute themselves. It was just too terrible when he was going to explode and Urmila Matondkar’s Kambakth Ishq was playing obscenely loud. Which meant that that day we were all going to be lectured not just for watching kachda Mtv but also for watching it on that obnoxious volume.

They rarely fight and I can only rememeber this one time that they fought. I learnt that Amma doesn’t cook when they fight. She sleeps the morning off and pa walks all over the house in a haze. His face is calm but his lips are gently pursed and every now and then, a tcha tcha can be heard. His hands run constantly against each other – the fingernails touching, grizzling, moving up and down in one swift motion. Baba Ramdev’s exercise for quick and thick hair growth. It has been over a decade now. No hair, nothing. But pa hasn’t stopped doing it. It’s a habit now. Hair can go to hell.

Pa goes out to buy food on these days.  On the dining table there are 5 newspaper packets — idlis, vadas, sambars and chutneys — all rolling in one thick Darshini smell. We’d eat some and save the rest for night.

The next morning when I’d finally see Amma, her eyes would be small and puffy and she wouldn’t linger out of the bedroom for very long. They’d patch up soon and the home would go back to being room temperature again, and all the smells would come out slowly, except that there’d still be a faint trace of the darshini idli chutney smell and this I’d only discover when I’d lock up all the doors and switch off all the lights and tiptoe towards my room. And here the only sound to accompany my dull footsteps would be the bright hum of the fridge.

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To Georgie

My grandfather had nice, white, round teeth that he removed every night and put in a tumbler of cold water before sleeping. We were only allowed to touch it when it was in his mouth. In the morning when it was all there, my sister and I‘d see him and ask him to smile for us. He’d laugh and my sister and I’d make plans again to wake up extra early the next morning to watch him wear his teeth. As it turned out, no matter how early we woke, it was never early enough to catch him wearing his teeth.

Maybe he never took them off. Maybe he waited for us to leave and put them back on before he slept every night. Either ways, the tumbler he put his teeth in came alive like a new story, only in the night. During the day, it stayed forgotten under the cot it was pushed.

He had the nicest smile. It was always a small smile that lasted no more than 5 seconds regardless of how well one knew him. The corners of his sometimes unshaven mouth would glisten under the heavy spectacles he wore. He had short white hair and soft blue eyes; blue of the Indian old people eye blue- blue; the silvery, agile blue that will stick to your finger if you are ever brave enough to poke the eye.

He lost his vision 5 years before he died and for 5 years, we saw many nurses come and go. The longest he had, stayed for 6 months. She was an unruly sort of a woman who yelled at him when she thought no one was around. She’d sit in the balcony for hours together fighting with her lover on the phone. On days that there was no spat, she was cheerful and sang songs that upset my grandfather.

When ma first told us that he couldn’t see anymore, I wondered what he’d miss seeing the most. The answer was simple. He had had the biggest crush on Preity Zinta. He’d miss seeing her dimples the most.

***

Ajja told us stories of The Ramayana and Mahabharata. In Bhadravathi, where we went every year for Diwali, the cousins and I’d gather around him and listen to the stories. He’d close his eyes, his palms resting evenly on his lap, his white Lux bunian and panche softer and warmer than ironed clothes. He told us stories about poor men who became rich, about greedy men who cut open a hen’s stomach to get golden eggs, about princesses who were sad, about housewives who watered fingernail trees, about crows, monkeys and other animals who fought and became friends again.

We knew the stories by-heart. We knew points in these stories where his voice would dim into whispers and the points where it’d rise into fury. When he narrated Sita’s tragedy, his voice quivered, when he spoke about Hanuman, his voice took charge of his posture, his hands flailing about imitating Hanuman’s. When he spoke about Ram and Lakshman, his voice was demanding and angry but never forceful in a masculine way. His story voice was determinedly and uniformly feminine.

In all the time that I’ve known him, I don’t think my grandfather ever wore creased panches. Dipped in a bucketful of water, I imagine they broke apart and came together like cotton. Not like the bunians he wore – torn here and there in small, bird-bite sized holes, sometimes near the armpit, sometimes near the middle of his chest.

***

In his quieter moments after he lost sight, Ajja would sit by the door, on a chair that was decidedly his in the Veranda, eavesdropping on conversations. At any given point, my grandfather would be the only man in the house to know why the women in the house were fighting. He was never one to dismiss these fights as silly. He took great interest in the things that happened at home. He knew the lazy maids by the shoddy way in which they swept and swabbed the floor. He also knew them by the days they wouldn’t turn up and this he painfully reminded my mother at the end of every month when she handed them their salary. He knew his wife’s moods by the kind of shit she watched on television. He knew not to ask for an extra helping of anything during lunch if the afternoon was still brewing in the warm remains of a morning fight.

When he agreed with the Udaya TV news on any given day, he’d loudly say Bhesh! When he wanted to decry what he watched, he’d shake his head quietly like an animal trying to get rid of flies. In any case, he took the news more personally than his marriage.

***

Ajja

I realized that my grandmother did not talk to my grandfather only after it was pointed to me. For a long time, I was oblivious to their relationship. They seemed like any other old couple. They shrugged and nodded to communicate. She’d bang his breakfast on the table and he’d complain about the food loud enough for everybody to hear. I assumed that that’s how they always were.

I cannot picture them talking to each other, the way my parents do nor can I imagine them in the company of others – laughing and making merry. I learnt much later that what they did and how they went by without talking to each other was something that nobody understood but everyone knew about.

The eldest son my grandparents had was their favourite. When Ajja got his PPF money, Ajji told him to save it so they could buy a house for themselves. He refused to listen to her and gave his eldest son all the money. This, I am told, is the reason why Ajji stopped talking to Ajja and started a cold war that lasted well until his death 4 years ago.

I am also told that Ajja had great love for his wife that he showed only in moments. She was the stone-hearted one, they all say. But I’m inclined to believe that Ajji was well within her rights to be demanding. She is a fiercely independent woman who suffers even to this day from the curse of having far too many men around her.

Ajji’s harshest critic was her younger sister, Sumitramma — A husband- worshipping woman who wouldn’t let a day go by without attempting peace between her sister and brother-in-law.

Many years ago, the sisters and my mother went to watch a Malashree film about a family that is saved by the daughter-in-law. Savior AKA Malashree looks deep into the camera at one point and says something about Mangalya being the biggest swarga for women (Read: husband is heaven, god and all those things)

This is the moment that Sumitramma wisely chose to instruct her sister. Keldiya akka (Did you listen to that?), she asked her sister. Ajji calmly stood up and then walked off to sit seven rows away from Sumitramma. She watched the rest of the film alone. My mother who found the whole thing funny reported this to us with great, strong laughs.

***

From my father, who inherited his father’s baldness, I learnt that Ajja didn’t let him study Hindi in school. This is something that dad continued to hold against him for a long time. But ma thinks he’s far more upset about the baldness.

When they were travelling once – Ajja and my parents – dad told ma to breathe in deeply every time they passed a forest area. Ajja, needless to say, overheard and reported this to Sumitramma. Usradakku helkodtane. He teaches her how to breathe also.

Sumitramma only told him that he is after all, Ajja’s son – loves his wife far too much for his own good. When Ajja heard this, he walked off and never brought it up again.

***

My Beef, Your Beef

I remember how his eyes became really small and seemed to disappear into their sockets when he was going to hit me. This was in 2009. We were at a hotel in Mussoorie eating the breakfast buffet. I had on my plate, a full English breakfast. When he asked me what the lump of red meat on my plate was, I said ‘Bacon’.

Is that pig?’
‘Yes’
‘OK. But sometimes they serve beef also so be careful’
‘It’s OK, I like beef’
-Silence-
‘You eat beef?’
‘Yes’

He looks at my mother who is sitting the way she always does when she knows something terrible is going to happen: her eyes boring into mine, fierce but saying nothing, pleading to stop. He says I have become like Arundhati Roy. I smirk. Two weeks ago, I had found out that Roy and I share the same birth day and I was still celebrating it.

I am just going to say ‘It’s ok, I like Arundhati Roy’, but my Bombay aunt can sense danger from a mile, so she pinches my arm. Now I am mad.

-I don’t want you in my house, he says. Two children are enough for me, I don’t want you.
-Ok. I’ll leave when we get back to Bangalore.

He has stood up, the table has moved back. The waiters have stopped whispering and are looking at us with devotion. I am wondering if they are taking sides. Whose side would they be on if they knew the whole story? I thought. He is leaving the table but before he does, he leans over all the plates and cutlery and my English breakfast to slap me. Mother has stopped him and has begun to pull him away.

I start weeping, my aunt starts patting my back rather rudely. I don’t know if she is trying to console me or taking revenge. My sister looks at me understandingly but there’s so much pity in her eyes that I must look away.

They say family fights make holidays special. I don’t want to slap the person who said this because later I will discover Lorelai Gilmore who said ‘there’s nothing like a family to screw up a family’.

I have a functional/guilt- induced relationship with my father, the same that most women seem to have with theirs. Have I mentioned that I love Freud? I refer to him in all my classes, especially when my students are being smartasses. While we were discussing a movie that I had just shown them, they said that the ending was kind of clichéd because it
rained and everybody was happy.

I said ‘Sigmund Freud said that if it rains at the end of a movie, then it’s a good movie’. They called my bluff but shut up. Since then I use Uncle Freud in all my classes when I have to invent something famous someone once said.

Every year on the 14th of April, my father sits us down to tell us we are what we are because of Ambedkar. It doesn’t matter that he was going to hit me for admitting to having eaten beef. It doesn’t matter that he insists on inviting Brahmins for lunch on all festivals. Because on the 14th of April, my father becomes the lanky Dalit boy that he was in his youth.

My mother recounts his childhood with a pain that I think he has chosen to remember only very rarely. When he studied engineering in Davanagere, he had no money. His father would send him 10 Rs every month. When he ran out of toothpaste, his friends lent him theirs in exchange for labour. He had to complete their record books. This arrangement ran like ration. For every assignment he wrote, he got a blob of toothpaste.

I know very little about his life back then. This was the first story about him I ever heard and the last I ever asked for. When I look at him in sepia photographs, I see him standing tall and thin, smiling widely. The corners around his eyes are always marked with a happiness that is too easy to believe and too far to imagine. My father looks happy in all the photographs. I don’t know how he does it, standing erect like a shirt on hanger, his hands joined behind his back, his eyes focused on the camera, his mouth breaking into a laugh that I remember as his laugh when we watch Tom and Jerry together.

When I ask them how they got married, my mother picks her answer carefully. She is always preparing her daughters for their lives in her answers to us. She came from a poor family, just like dad. One day when she was lighting choola to heat water in the bathroom, she found a photo ad in the newspaper matrimonial section. She had just picked up this bit of the paper to throw into the fire when she stopped. It was his photo. It said fair brides wanted. My mother was a fair bride. She boldly took the photo to her mother who only saw the words Government job next to a black and white photo of my dad and got her daughter ready. And like that they were married.

They were married in a hurry. My father was afraid of losing his fair bride to his mother’s dowry demands, something that my mother’s family couldn’t afford and something that my father wasn’t interested in.
And because he refused the dowry and became a good Indian man, he was cursed well. His mother-in-law visits us every now and then, more now than then and his mother stopped talking to him because of how nice he was to his in-laws and also because the dowry never came.

My mother says that two days into the marriage, she had begun to get very scared. My father would sit looking at ants early in the morning. He would trap one or two ants in a tumbler, look at them like a wild animal on hunt and smile. He would be fascinated by animals and my mother, by him.
I find their marriage very entertaining. Twenty seven years he’s been my father and he still struggles with Konkani much like he struggles with most other languages.

When we went to Munnar once, he was upset because the Tamil driver didn’t know the route and didn’t know Kannada. It always irritates my dad when people don’t know Kannada, especially Tamil people. My mother has tried to reason with him on this but he doesn’t listen. We think it’s because he adores Vadivel and loves watching Tamil movies so much that he hates to admit that he doesn’t even remember which the last good Kannada movie he watched was.

He thrust the phone into the driver’s hands and told him to call the hotel and tell them that we were on our way. The driver looked confused at which point my father barked, “K.S Anand anta sangu” which is a murder of two languages in an attempt to produce one.

His standard reaction to everything is swearing at people regardless of whether they have made him happy or sad. When we first moved into our new house, everything was messed up. Some walls weren’t painted, some switches weren’t working, and so he called the contractor and agonizingly said ‘Spitting spitting on your face, the saliva in my mouth also got over’, which made me wonder what he was more annoyed with – the unfinished work or the dearth of saliva in his mouth.

That was when he was bitterly angry. Most other times when he is cursing, he is also amused. Like this one time when he was driving and lost, we stopped to ask for directions from a man who gave us a clear map of where not to go. After 5 minutes of listening to that man’s elaborate ‘don’t take right, go straight, don’t take left, go straight’, my father put his head out of the window and said ‘Thoo, may someone pour masala dosa on your face’. Or like this other time when our maid Nagamma put his home slippers into the shoe cabinet for the 10th time that week, he ground his teeth and said ‘may cobras bite cobra-woman’s hands’

It made my mother chuckle with disbelief that he would dole out the most unconventional curses even when he was the happiest. Whenever our cook Shobhamma made what according to him was the best chicken saaru, he would say ‘what curry she’s made may her home fall into ruins’

When we went to Europe for 15 days, I was dreading Amsterdam and true to my horror; he hovered behind my sister and I throughout the shopping spree. He let us enter the first -half sections of all the shops where there were weed chewing gums, the second section was tricky – he had raised his eyebrows at the various novelty t-shirts and mannequins that wore things just to show off parts that weren’t covered.

At the third section where there were all manner of Dildos and Vibrators in fascinating colours and sizes that may have confused him about where to put them, he told us to about-turn and we did because we couldn’t keep the giggles inside any longer.

Of Borrowed Bikinis

It’s what families do to me. It’s what my family does to me. This feeling that they are taking away from me what is mine – my body, my space, my idea of who I am and who I want to be like. It feels the way bodies sometimes react to danger. Like how 5 seconds before your body knows it’s going to touch concrete, it cringes and you taste blood in your mouth, like air squeezed out from your lungs.

I am 14, puberty and all. We are out on a holiday. I spend most of the night thinking about touch and sex and love only to be woken up rudely by mother at 6:30 in the morning. I have barely slept and not fully recovered from fantasies. We have to go out for a walk, all of us together, with the family. I don’t want to go, I say sleepily. I don’t have a choice because they can’t leave a girl alone, all by herself in a hotel room. The reason makes me slightly mad. Now I really don’t want to go even though I am wide awake because mother is being stubborn again.

No, we have to go because we have to see the sun and anyway I get to sleep at home how much ever I want. I fight, they shout, we leave. On the walk, they have a new problem. I am not looking happy ‘enough’. I have to enjoy because I am out with family. I didn’t want to because I didn’t feel like I had control over my body anymore. I had wet the bed, with no time to bathe or change, I was out for the walk with wet panties stinking from between my legs. I felt sicker because they were all watching me, forcing me to look happy.

I am 17, I have PTA. Mother gets there 30 minutes early and stands behind a pillar to watch if I am talking to any of the boys. Fast forward to 5 years later, my sister and mother joke about dad’s expression if he were to find out that she gets dropped home by her male friends on their two wheelers.

I am 20. I have a bad headache. Mother wants the grinder repaired. There are 3 other people at home perfectly capable of getting it repaired. But mother is convinced that I have to go. Maybe because she is mad at me for being in love (which I was), maybe she is mad at herself because she didn’t have enough evidence to prove it, maybe she is mad at me for lying, but for now she is mad at me for not waking up soon as she screamed my name to get the fucking grinder repaired.

I am 20. I want to go for a sleepover. She throws her plate of food away because I asked her why I can’t go. Every one at home is mad at me because she hasn’t eaten that night. I didn’t go for the sleepover.

I am 23. I get a job in Mysore, which isn’t too far away from home. Surprisingly they agree. But mother has cried thrice already because I looked ‘too’ happy to go to another city. I can’t find accommodation. Mother and father have BP issues so I have to quit. I spend more than a month at home, unemployed and depressed and now I have to stomach the fact that my sister is going to Pune to work. ‘They have people we know there’ ‘You’ll get a job soon, don’t worry’.

I am 23. Another sleepover. Dad yells, I yell back, he says he is going to slap me, mother lets me go.

I am 24. I have lied enough to learn that I don’t have to deal with any of the drama at home if I keep lying. So I keep lying.

I am 25. I have to wear a Saree for a cousin’s wedding. I don’t want to wear it but she looks tired and unhealthy and apparently her menopause becomes worse when I don’t wear a Saree. So I say ok. My sister doesn’t have to wear one because our clients only like chubby girls. When she puts on enough weight, she will be forced into a saree and made to stand in front of strangers who will rape her with their eyes. But now it is my turn to be raped.

I feel naked in a saree because I don’t want to wear it. I might wear a bikini and feel more clothed so long as I have decided to wear a bikini. I can’t talk to them about this. I don’t think they will understand.

I am 25. I am going to travel alone for the first time. I am excited. I don’t care that I had to lie to be here, doing my own thing, paying with my own money. I am glad I am here. They can all go to hell because for 3 days now, I am the master of my time on a holiday that I am paying for, where I will wear bikinis and run on beaches. I will think about the Saree later, when I have satisfied my body with a bikini.

Thiruvananthapuram

Traveling with the family has always been a messy affair for me. Dad has unhindered access to me and what I wear and what I eat and how I live; the comments ensue, the match begins. But this happens only now, although oddly enough it seems like there’s a history that’s older than me when I think of all the disagreements we have had. Our travel sprees were a lot different when I was younger. And so were the disagreements.

Back then, I must have been crouching in the back seat, playing referee to the two voices in my head – one his, one mine; making them disagree. In short, waiting to grow up so I didn’t have to travel with them to temples and other violent places children should never be taken to. 

Traveling all of South India with a joint family in a matador will therefore only remain a blur that I accidentally found while groping in the dark, looking for something else. Somebody mentions a beach, a temple or a hotel and I find myself donning my best cat behavior trying to locate the blur in my memory, now whizzing like a housefly to be caught, an answer to be found, a page to be filled up.

We covered the temple cities in less than 4 days, stopping very briefly at Trivandrum, which until last year I firmly believed I had never seen. Last November, I discovered the blur in my memory that was Trivandrum and everything did not come rushing back as I had hoped it would. It took me a while to realise that I was seeing 2 versions of a city. One of which is imposed on you by temple going freak shows in the family who turn a blind eye to everything else the city offers. The other is when you catch a passing glimpse of yourself, in a moving vehicle, a showroom, a granite wall, and you smile in whispers and curse your family, when you are out exploring the city all by yourself.

I saw myself, away from home, away from temple people, away from the prying eyes of my father, wearing shorts, carrying nothing but a little bag and waiting to be lost. I walked around the hotel, smiled at all the slopes, coconut trees and little brick homes that gave me all kinds of Mangalore flashbacks. I took random turns, and found out that it is not easy to get lost in this city. Either that or I was too scared to go all the way out and be lost. 

At the turn of every corner, I smelled fish curry and coconut oil, a smell that I shamelessly associate Trivandrum with even today. The city made me see and feed the small foodie I was beginning to take note of in me. It outperformed the beach person that I was throughout my life.

I gorged on idiyappams and Kerala chicken curry in Statue hotel, downed jars of Pankaj Island Ice Tea, scooped chemmen fry with mounds of red rice and fish curry at Mubarak, judged soggy bits of meen pollichathu and forced its taste to match with the taste I thought it ought to have had, wolfed down puttu and prawn curry at Black pepper, all the while trying hard to drown the voices and faces of my part mallu-part mangy mother and her relatives. I could hear them echo loudly behind me. ‘Ti amgel vari khaoche’ – ‘She eats like us’.

Trivandrum’s streets are a marvel in themselves. An India coffee house, that looks like the leaning tower of pisa parked hazily around buses and bikes comes zooming back when I try to retrace my tour around the city. The buses looked easy to climb into unlike the whistling, red ones in Bangalore that are hostile bloody dynamites. At the far end of the street that I call Trivandrum is a little place that serves Biryani chaya – butter beer if I may. At the risk of getting kicked, I am going to say, drink it to know it. 

So when I go to Trivandrum, it is also to devour the best rice and kerala fish curry in the name of all that is fancy at Hotel Villa Maya, which, true to its name stands tall and quiet; unknowing of the city bustling all around it. I am no food expert but the food there is both sleep-inducing and exploding with taste.

This is how I remember Trivandrum, in its streets and food, in its friendly looking buses and pankaj island ice tea, but surprisingly very little in its beaches. However, nothing screams more Trivandrum than that familiar smell of fish curry and coconut oil when I check into its hotel. 

Plot calling the kettle black

Kitty’s life had just changed 

I am going to write a short story about a girl whose life is just about to change 

The eagle is a majestic bird 

I have never been so happy in my life 

How do people find things to write about on days like these? Do I write about how happy I am to be 25 and free? Do I write about the relationship that was stable and different only moments ago? Do I write about more conversations overheard at Parisian Cafe? Do I write about my fears and how they keep changing?

I am scared about a lot of things. I am scared about life and the faint chance that I may not be able to live it the way I want to. The villains who feature in this plot are my father, the boyfriend and the family, largely.

Plot I

A lot of violence makes itself appear dramatically in these plots. The father becomes obsessed with using his power as the father to control rebellious daughter’s life; tries to get her married to some IAS officer who is, as the plot demands middle aged and supports Modi. Daughter fights. Father fights harder. Slaps her. Daughter escapes. Teary phone calls from grieving mother move her into making swift negotiations. But eventually she moves out and has a life of her own.

Plot II

Daughter has been accepted to some university exchange program and she is on her way to become the greatest writer of her generation. It’s miraculously an all expense paid program. Father doesn’t approve, protests strongly, wants daughter to be married off before she leaves home. Daughter runs. Dad and his goons chase daughter in government cars to the airport. They are late, she escapes. After a year of learning and travelling abroad and becoming hot, daughter returns. Dad and goons wait for her at the airport. Dad yanks her to the ambassador car and slaps her. Some really cool women protection service people come to her rescue and get her to file a restraining order against the father.

She moves out, continues to work where she previously did and all is fine.

A sadder alternative plot on days that I wake up with a bad mood always ends with the father or the boyfriend successfully enslaving her.

Plot III

Daughter rebels for as long as she can and finally gives in. She marries the IAS officer and torture ensues. The forgotten feminist in the daughter emerges and she kicks ass. She divorces the chutiya IAS officer and pursues a PhD abroad.

Plot IV (The scariest of all)

Feminist daughter wakes up one morning to realise her life’s been a farce so far, sees a betraying pointlessness in all her rebellions and decides that she has lived her life crazily enough and wishes to get back ‘on track’, you know, wanting a husband and kids and the whole fucking pack. She marries long term boyfriend – moves in with him and his family. Soon,  she quits her job to become good bahu and bestest mommy. One morning, as she stands by the big black gate, holding hubby’s lunch dabba and waiting for him to get his car out, she sees all the housewives on the street doing the same. Realizing the horror, she throws the dabba on her husband’s car and runs screaming back into the house. She divorces the husband, moves into an apartment and pursues independent life.

Such are the plots in my head, this is how they thicken when I am showering or cleaning my goddamn bathroom. If I were to live in my own head, which is what I do most days, I would be a full zombie by now.

Runaway Granny!

This is a story that I have wanted to tell for some time now. I didn’t really know it was a story so I didn’t bother looking there all this while.  It became a story this morning when I eavesdropped on a conversation that my mother and sister were having about my grandmother. My father has always thought that I am like his mother. It’s like this general consensus that I’ve grown up listening to. Now that I think about it, everytime I expressed a stubborn desire to do something that nobody approved of, I was told that I am like her. For the longest time, in fact even until before 2 months, this was offensive to me. This comparison. Everytime someone wanted to make me feel bad and  wanted to make me stop ‘wanting’ something I could not have, either because I was too young or because I was a girl, I was told that I am like my Grandmother.  It was said in a tone to put me back in my place.

I don’t remember having spent much time with her except for our long morning walks together in Belgaum. My grandmother is the quietest person I have met.  Too much has been said about her in the houses that I grew up in. Too much more has been said about her in the houses of my mother’s sisters. Stories of torture and stubbornness and arrogance and my mother’s silent battle against this woman who made life hell for her. This is the story that was told to me by everybody who knew her. I see another story here though. I don’t know much of her past and whether or not she was happy in her marriage, whether or not she liked her children but I do know that she liked being on her own. She wasn’t much of a talker, didn’t like small talk, ate on her own, watched TV on her own and stuff. And these were things that she was constantly being judged for.

Women who like their space are never liked in this family. It’s only now I realise how strong she was/is to stand up to all these fellows. Now I can see why my father and I have issues. He’s trying hard to tame me and I am trying harder to run away. Everybody hated her for how often she wanted to run away everytime there was a fight at home.  And god knows how much my mother wants to silence of the lambs me everytime I mention wanting to live alone. It scares them.  When women in my family think of running away as an option, scares the crap out of them.

I think my granny was unhappy  because she couldn’t be by herself and when I think of how much she could have had if only she was born a generation later; it makes me want to hug my parents so I immediately stop thinking dangerous things like that. I look at what I have now and how much more I can have, if only I stop being a lazy chicken and start work on my escape plan.

I think she was fond of me but she liked my sister better because she was the good one.  See, that’s the crazy thing. I don’t know how these things work.  Anyhow, think how much she would have loved to have a room of her own.  Think how many more people she could have pissed off if she had lived alone, just the way she wanted to. Especially my father. Strange strange family. I have daddy issues and he has mommy issues. But she actually has no issues.  She would have been a happy person if everybody just left her alone! If only she could have run away.