Wednesday, February 3, 2016

We believe in mending


Whether it’s a thing or a relationship, I believe in mending, patching and restoring rather than discarding.

I learned this years ago from my then fourteen-year-old son. We couldn’t afford good furniture, so we bought cheap ones made from discarded wood. Shelves, tables and chairs bought from wayside workshops served our needs; including study tables for our two children. We covered the tables with plastic sheets for smoothness and good looks.
        
With time, the table covers started tearing. So hubby and I went and bought new ones. My teenage son refused to use the new cover, saying, “The old cover has a lot of battle scars, I’d rather keep it.” So he patched it up with black tape and continued to use it.

Our daughter has the same philosophy. She’s begging us to keep some old cane furniture we considered getting rid of.

Now, we have this old suitcase which has travelled far and wide, has suffered wear and tear. Recently, it was under threat of being chucked for a new one. But a bit of needlework has made it travel-worthy again. Thus we get to keep our old friend and it escapes being thrown out to become another environment pollutant. And we save a few grands too, which may be put to good use.

Even difficult human relationships can often be restored, depending on how much we value them and how hard we’re willing to try.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Two Muses


The two are so un-alike it’s hard to believe they are sisters. They share the same father but their mothers are different.

Pi Fangi,[i] the elder one, is magical, whimsical and totally wild. She is thin and wrinkled with white flowing hair. She is full of fun and frolic. She laughs merrily, sings merry tunes and dances in the meadows. She gets quite crazy and scary at times, though. She runs a race with the wind, howling and hooting. Or drives down the river, swooshing and swashing and gurgling and galloping. Sometimes she screams like a banshee for no reason at all. Or she may sulk in silence like a sahuai ni do,[ii] no amount of poking and prodding will make her talk or respond to you in any way.

Pi Fingi[iii] is the younger one. She’s sober, sane and sensible. She’s tall and straight, with black hair neatly tied, never a strand out of place. She’s a lady in every sense of the term. Quiet, dignified, never speaks out of turn. Sobriety, Sagacity and Serenity are her catchword. Her feet are firmly planted on the ground and she never goes on a wild goose chase. She has a solution for every problem. She’s always right. She commands and demands immediate and full obedience. She doesn’t allow you to make noise or to sing loudly.

I’ve been keeping company with Pi Fingi. Pi Fangi scares me, so I’ve mostly avoided her. I’m quite fascinated with her, though. I’m a little afraid of Pi Fingi too, but with her, one always knows where one stands.

Sometimes, Pi Fangi looks at me, winks, and beckons with a glint in her eyes. But then Pi Fingi glares at me from the top of her specs, waxes a finger and says “Shalt Not. Not Safe.” I have to agree. If I follow the elder sister I may end up on a mountain peak or the bottom of a pit. Who knows?

But then, I’m now wondering. Maybe, just maybe….









[i] A good witch in a Mizo folktale
[ii] A small creature who refuses to look at the sun in a Mizo folktale
[iii] Madam Wisdom

Thursday, April 10, 2014

fountain

april is the cruelest month”*
so is may
so is june.
all the land is parched
the wells have gone dry.

sky of bronze
ground of iron
waiting for heaven’s sign
waiting…

ah, love,
what can I give you
out of my emptiness?
what can you give me
out of your emptiness?

there’s a fountain
on a mountain
ever living
ever giving.

come, let’s drink deep
at the fountain
fill our vessels
to overflowing
overflowing…


*TS Eliot’s The Waste Land

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chhinlung

That’s where I came from: a cave of stone with
Jagged edges, its belly dark and dank; joined to
Earth’s boiling bowels.

One day, they say, out of this cave
Our ancestors emerged; out they marched
in groups, tribe by tribe.

First came the Sailo tribe, with bearing proud
Their faces grim, set with intent to reign,
That will no resistance brook.  

The Luseis came in sight, their lordly stride
And genial mien a courtly role portend.
Their dialect rules the roost, unites the state.

The Lais appeared a humble lot at first
Yet eyes belie a fearless warlike race
Who fight to the death and know no flight.

The Hmars have magic in their blood;
To rule or conquer not their aim,
Shaman they were to play a priestly part.

At last surfaced the Ralte tribe
With cheery chatter, merry clatter
They filled the cave with jolly din.

The first-come tribe, who claimed superiority,
Curled their noses at such frivolity,
Decided it must end.

They commanded all the tribes
To shut the cave-mouth and at once!
Before more noisy crowds advance.

And so they took a boulder huge
They closed the cave – a heinous deed!
Shut their brothers in, denied them daylight.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Formal Trouble

What can an elderly woman wear at a wedding?

 When i was teaching in a Bangalore college, the dress code for women lecturers was the saree. It was tough going for the likes of me who weren’t born into it. But i did manage somehow. Once we moved to Mumbai and i took up a non-teaching job, dressing became free and easy. We don’t deal with customers; we don’t have to impress anybody. So we can wear what we please—within a level of decency and common sense, of course! A pair of corduroy pants, bought from the men’s clothing section at a mall, became my favourite wear. [It’s hard to get women’s casual trousers since they come in tights and slim fits, which i don’t want to wear. Same is the case with footwear, men’s section has interesting sandals and things while the women’s side is filled with silly, icky designs. Isn’t this part of gender harassment?]

But then, thinking of clothes for formal functions is such a headache! Some time back, we went for a Northeast hill folks wedding. Wanting to highlight regional solidarity, i went dressed in ‘puan’. But most of the other guests were in Westerns, and i felt so conspicuous in my ethnic. There’s another wedding coming in a few weeks. Someone is telling me to wear a silk saree. But i don’t want to, especially in this wet season. The situation reminds me of the lines from TS Eliot’s ‘The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock’: Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach? I have heard the mermaids singing each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.

Well, what does a female Prufrock do? Any suggestion?

Monday, April 9, 2012

in the garden

in the garden
reverberates
morning stars’ song
heaven’s symphony;
hearts in tune clap
rivers dance
clear pool mirrors
the image.

there in the garden
we embraced the serpent
desecrated the image
shut out heaven’s song
poisoned the rivers
muddied the pool;
serpent’s foul breath clouded,
the mirror cracked.

defiled
exiled
dying of serpent bite
trapped in cracked mirror
how can we
get back
to the garden?