Letter to Pa and Ma - 1

Dear Pa and Ma

It's been close to 3 months since i resigned. i thought i was pushed to being brave. Felt very lost and dejected at being the chosen one. i have more plans than i can execute. You allowed me to leave home. You allowed yourselves to trust me. You allowed me to trust myself. You have a fervent wish that the break from academics is temporary and that i will come home. You are also aware that i have outgrown that place but we also know that i always carry my home everywhere with me, the number of times you call me during a day and small notes and instructions, only if you were here physically.

It is not easy to say it was tough. i was a leper to some and a lost child to some. i was moving into a new house in days, all plans backfired on my face. Even tears deserted me. i go on with the backfired plans, life surrounded by cartons and bags. Wish you were there around, simply like you were there when i walked out of jobs over a difference or two. i felt a lil' alone. Before i could finish unpacking, my new companions announce they are leaving, not a difficult choice for them. The bogey is empty and it does not feel eerie. i am packing once again,finished some.

Many things happened besides the ones i tell you everyday. Did i tell you what happened when i landed in hyd? Yes,i did. The city dint feel strange. Did i also tell you, i moved out of the guest-house on the 1st of Jan, and believers laughed at me saying i'd be moving house so often? Yes, i live to tell the tale, i have moved house so many times. i made friends,hurted and reconciled so many times. i am still undiplomatic and call the kettle black. i never had to look for a job but found one. It's a humble beginning, i recall all my humble beginnings with you, Pa and Ma around. This time, wish you were here. No one was there to see me off till the gate,Ma. i remember Pa, you'd put a half-day CL to drop me to work and be with me. i dint get that extra pocket money to come and go by taxi. There are good samaritans in this city, some make me feel at home and some make me feel wanted. Some have been kind, some very nice and some loving. i hope and wish to believe that the samaritans and i become/are family.

It feels good to hear dining table stories from my senior colleagues at work, what their lil' ones do at home, warm moments of sharing a small meal. i also want to share such stories but i have none for now. i feel grounded but not rooted. i need some assurance that everything is ok and alright. It pinches me a lil' to have my meal from the canteen. i manage breakfast and i prepare dinner. i dont want to live like this. Pa, i recall how you'd beg and bug me to eat and stop me from working like a maniac. Ma, i remember how you'd coax me with those dishes you'd pile before me. i know what it feels when your labour of love is not acknowledged, i guess, i am paying for it. i dont have time to cook my lunch! i cook to eat and eat to breathe. it feels strange to cook just for myself. There is hardly anyone with whom i can sit and eat or discuss dining table tales. Few and far between. Restaurant matters are social dos and one-off meals are get-togethers. All my roomies were younger than me and rarely ate at home, if they did it was because their parents were here. If they dint, it was because there were social dos.

i am enjoying the bus-rides despite nearly losing my life. i am special and not special according to god's plan. In a week's time, i move into my new house with a new roomie. Dont know how long i will be in a room of one's own till a house of my own happens. This is to tell you how much you and your loving and caring ways are missed. Ma, i still bug you to wake me up. i miss Pa's pulling off the blanket in the morning. i miss shouting for breakfast while i am in the bathroom. i miss that 20 rupees on the dining table. i miss the shouting after i get back home to change and freshen up.

i wake up to my mobile alarm. My breakfast is on the move, sometimes i give it a miss. i come back to empty quarters hoping to reverbrate with some life and music. i read more and write somewhat. You always complained i dont read enough, i still dont but i have improved.

It feels good to know that in times of distress and those just-like-that moments, without a care i can call you anytime even in the middle of the night without having to say sorry. That is unconditional love to me, when my call is not cut with an SMS for some genuine reason. i dont tell you how broken i am but i pick up when i hear your voice.

Lots of love,Pa and Ma.

your Sana


Quit work, officially. No remnants or traces but for the money, the letters of recommendation and the formalities. Felt weird when the cabbie dint come to pick me up, of course i told him not to come.I needed to go somewhere to come back to a new beginning. I already had a new start. Just wanted to make sure there were tangible beginnings.
Day 1
Took the Garib Rath to Bangalore. It is interesting to see Ivy League management people warm up to each other, one is a young veteran and the other, an enthusiastic newcomer. A lil' lady in a disco outfit looks around for her frooti albeit a yawn while her mother lulls her 3 month old brother to sleep. She was a picture of dignity and quiet for a 3 year old.Sharing food and opinions about rising costs in pre-school and the rat race in school education,all of us retired to sleep. Thankfully, no babies decided to cry.
Day 2
Bangalore station,prebooked auto queues and in no time, I was drained and fatigued (no breakfast and very light dinner on the train) on the Mysore bound bus.A hurried simple meal amidst tears of fatigue and helplessness at the assumption of things.In a move of calculated huff and impulse, I cancel the Qualis tickets to Ooty and just want to hit the sack. Plans looked dangerously derailed, temper flying like swords and daggers.An evening in Mysore, not at all half-hearted but bravely with a Plan B of coming back to Bangalore.I dint have the luxury of too many days and definitely dint want to spend that time travelling to reach destinations,yeah.A tonga ride around Mysore Palace, a roasted cob of corn in the gentle rain,Mysore bhajji and the fluffy butter dosa, lots of raw mangoes and pink cotton candy.Also, had this bright idea of wanting to watch Angels and Demons in a 70mm screen.Dinner at the Residency, decent Chinese.Met two men with your on-the-face wigs.Something told me that Ooty tonight.As luck would have it,the hotel helped me get a bus at 11pm in the nite, until then it was Apocalypto on the tube.I had to sit in a half ticket space on a full one,my legs cried for some breathing space.Bobbed my head many times till Ooty.
I hated myself for not getting enough warm clothes, at 3:30 am getting an auto to reach Wellington killed all my drowsiness besides losing the way two times thanks to the smartass driver.The cold clammy sheets and blankets in the hotel were god to me.
Day 3
Missed the 7:45 am heritage toy train from Wellington to Ooty and probably, Metupulayam.I woke up at 10, had breakfast at 11 and then the rains,magical moment it was.I dint regret coming, thank you. Read all the news and watched TV till enough time to run down to the station. The quaint ticket counter had punch cards and at Cunnoor,lunch was garma garam rice and sambar,and duplicate Irani samosas with onion fillings.The camera was the most popular hero. A Maharashtrian platoon of wannabe husbands and wives and lil' children sat next to me and one of the kids took away a rust biscuit from me through proper channel.Children never show restraint. Parents do get embarrassed but some go along.At Ooty,paused for poses and met so many Tamilians, including a TT who rendered a live MS Subbu number so willingly at the bookshop,both he and I exchanged bows.I got English August there. Home-made chocs and ear covers, colorful ones and the bus to Wellington.It rained and it made for the perfect setting for tea and pakodas, all kinds.
Dinner was light and Chinese again. A quiet walk, life comes to a standstill after 7pm. Ooty looked very beautiful at night,a feeling of oneness in the wilderness amidst the modern settings.Heard some citizen from the city use the f-word very generously over phone in the room-balcony above.The feeling of winter and warmth is exhilirating.
Day 4
Bye bye Wellington.While waiting for the Ooty bound toy train at 7:45am, I meet a Tamil family who quizzed me as though I have applied for permanent citinzenship in the United republic of Tamil Nadu.Who?where from? and the blah.Happens,a chink in the armour case.Took 1st class tickets, sat in 2nd class because the cabin was deliberately left with no space as 3 Bengali families spread their generations all over.The meandering ride in the misty morning had a beauty of its own.A south indian breakfast and Mysore bound on a tata winger.A Haryanvi family with 2 children and an Oriya couple.The Haryanvi husband is abusive and impatient and his wife a picture of fortitude.The Oriya couple, matter-of-fact.Some 42 hairpin turns and landscape by the passing window including Bandipur.Tender coconut water and some slices of raw mango.Reached Mysore on time for the express train to Bangalore not before having the railway meals.It was sheer bliss on the train, economy flight-like seats and modest goodies- biscuits and a bottle of mineral water.The same routine of getting a pre-booked auto to my friend's place,and getting rebuked by the driver for lack of correctness of the address due to being the first time.Ok, extra 20 bucks and disparaging looks of horror.

Correta is a million dollar baby, the same spunky girl with loads of love,letters-mails-chats kept us connected and here,I am meeting her after 11 years.Peals of excitement and it never felt 11 years, it was just yesterday when we parted at the grove in college.Dinner at Millers Steak,a cool place where waiters are dressed as rodeos and we cut a cake for someone special and also, had loads of non-stop laughter and chatter.

MG Road for reliving old memories dint happen as desired,definitely maybe the next time, sweetheart.In the biting rain,and a backpack to cry for with my camera and non-commital autos, I hated the romantic weather for the first time.At the bus station,a callous remark makes me go jittery, is this what i asked for?do i deserve a lil' less or more?The bigger worry is will that one-legged tramp pull up his shorts?No,all shame washed away, the world can watch and not laugh but the world whipped him for being indecent.He sat in the mud and rain,to hide the remnants of his manhood just in time to remind me of another experience at Majestic -- a conductor who forgot to close his fly is found scratching his assets in public, eeks.

Bye bye Bangalore, it was good times.Laughed, fought, cried.I would not go to sleep with wet clothes on.I wrapped the Volvo blanket and did a stage change of clothes.Sleep descended.Selves reconciled.


A Post-mortem of my living obituary

Just my 3rd day to work and my gingerly feelings continue. I am at the bus stop, a fresh waft of jasmine and a promising dull sky. Looking forward to my first ever teachers' orientation programme in Hyderabad in Tarnaka at Satyodoyam. Boarded a 10H, I sensed trouble. I was in the midst of my one-on-one with the fellow up there whom believers and non-believers call God. The conductor was a middle-aged foul-mouthed resentful employee. The driver looked tortured and was not any less than an angry irresponsible piece of shit. The bus started its dance of tandava from nearly banging an auto on legal parking area to running over many grannies. On hindsight, he should have. I would have been avenged to see his balls crushed and lynched by the mob. I sat on the left, first seat reserved for the "physically disabled", the rest were occupied. After Jubilee Checkpost, at the Venkatgiri blind turn, the driver screeches and we avoid a major disaster of becoming the dear departed by inches. An Infosys office bus and the tandava bus at loggerheads, in right angles, two big monsters fuming. Life came to a standstill, my life definitely did, my heart stopped beating, it flew out of dear life. I flew from my seat and crash landed at the footboard, all expletives buried in the nether world. I was clinging to the window rails and one hand held my huge bag. Divine mission aborted. Recovered and straightened myself, tried to breathe, yelled at the fellow up there for this -- was it a trial run or a prank? Agitated fellow commuters stood stunned, asked me if I was fine. Oh yeah, I am. Resumed the journey. Looked at the watch, it was 8:23 am, lucky moment, blithe me! Nobody said anything and I dint feel that outraged, life is that cheap. Driver shrugged, I forgave him. Infosysy driver blew his top, it was more of get-out-of-my-way. Called up Father Sunder, no prayers for that fellow up there, He cheesed me off.

I am not fatalistic but still wish to go on record that the driver is not a catalyst, it was just not his day. That's between me and the fellow up there. He better cancel any plans, if any. My wishes are different -- I want all my loved ones around me when I die, I want to make sure they are smiling and promise to keep smiling after I go. I felt small and insignificant that moment. A terrible moment of vulnerability. Did not have the heart to call anyone -- did my loved ones get any sign that moment that I could have been gone? I don't want to know the answer. Doubted if people who loved me really loved me or was I undeserving of their love? That fellow up there told me love saved me. I was angrier -- love is not some premium you pay for the rainy day, why is it such a big investment? I don't want that love to be bargained for my life, I feel I am poorer today. I live a life of debt, where I am supposed to be scared and unsure because anything can happen anytime. I have to make sure I say i-love-you to all my loved ones, I am not complaining. Just that, I hate this feeling. I hate all my loved ones now for loving me.

I am not scared of death but the close encounter and the near-death experience is scary especially when I shudder to think what my loved ones would have gone thru. How many will come to bear my pall? Confirmed news from the morgue, a call from the police station. Thousands of miles away, an anxious but childlike voice (Ma) will answer "Hello, Sana.." My home receives STD calls from one number regularly. Very rare one-off cases of that number not being mine. It's not Sana, she fumbles and gets nervous. Her phone antics are still amusingly and lovably clumsy. An old frail voice will take the call, Pa. The flashback to old times and the old lanes in Shillong, where a young father takes his daughter to nursery who celebrated her birthday two times in a year. She's fades into a nobody today. All achievements in life pale into shallowness. The regular rituals will happen, from a funeral to a memorial amidst tears and more tears for some more months, years and then just a lingering memory. Pa and Ma will meet some people who touched my lives in this big city. The only regret is they might not meet some about whom I did not get any proper opportunity to talk about. Whoever is reading this now, please count yourself in and stand by my family for that big celebration of life after I am gone. You are family to me. Do get back to my loved ones and do recall and regale to them about the good times we have had.

I am alive and crying and feel like an absolutely lonely stranger in this warm city. I am still cheesed off with the fellow up there for making me the chosen one that morning. Listen God, I have my parents' grace as my shield and therefore, you have to go talk to them and take their permission even if you want to joke with me. You can't and won't -- both of us know why. I know you love me too. I am just a lil' tired and want to lie down and rest my head somewhere. I am sorry Pa-Ma for not telling you this. Forgive me. The STD calls will happen more oftener. And yes, I don't feel gingerly anymore.


I have been feeling gingerly in a long time. Don't know how to decide what is it that ails me. Can't live or do without parents but have managed it so far reasonably ok. Not that going back to Shillong is going to help anything. Loved ones can't see me in a well, i am on life's highway, full throttle.I miss meeting Aroma for nuts over that cheap egg roll for the heck of it and ranting like a chick lit heroine. My soul sister, we assure each other we are a call away.

I want to have a picture perfect happy matinee show of life. I am doing what i love most -- teach, i am looking forward to writing, i am not envious of anything right now. I do not have all that i want but Pa tells me to be contented for happiness' sake. Just that, that gingerly feeling comes back. Some questions,responses and observations which make me assume and shake my faith a lil'.My friend thought i am a philosophical types after i commented about the backspace key that we wish in life, some remote consolation of recalling things that we can script change and control in a limited fashion. Taking a step back, making some room to listen without that crass interjection of a comment and give me that space to breathe and ignore that annoying lil' habit of mine as unconditionally as that flaw on the moon's spotless visage. Being understanding and all knowing is painful if the burden is borne alone. I don't know if this is the way i want to usher things and let it be.

Loved ones are beyond comparison and relative judgement, their enthusiasm could leave one snubbed but all they want is to earnestly make every effort to stay connected and valued. One is trapped to play to the gallery and go through some angst or anguish them with brutal honesty. The worst nightmare is living out your imagination, either ways one punishes them for their simplicity and tears flow in silence. The benchmark hurts, the expectations disappoint. Tears roll and the heart hearkens for the skylark to sing. One needs to be human, assures my friend. It's only natural and there is nothing necessarily that has to go wrong to be fine. I draw strength loving the important people who have touched my life.



Eng'lease' -- whither did you go?

One life so far and i can't claim i have achieved much but i can fairly and proudly say i have enjoyed every experience. There were tough times but they only made me appreciate that i was the special-ly chosen one put to test because someone up there loves me a lot and the collective but individual loves of all the special people i love held me, took care of me and made me spring back whenever, wherever.

I was and am a lucky child, touchwood. Grew up with awe-inspiring but heart breaking tales from my folks that nothing came easy for them. My Pa did not have money to pay for his matric exams, only 50 rupees those days. His father (my late grandfather who lived an English gentleman's life) would not give him or allow other potential benefactors, the reason being studies can wait, the boy needs to apprentice with a vet. His dreams of conquering the skies piloted almost unsung. Ma had to trek 8kms up and down in dusty hawai sandals to reach that govt school, studying in a different medium other than the mother tongue (Bengali), sorry i am not talking about English. The pain of having to keep pace in English all of a sudden in college, thanks to ever changing rules and sudden change in affiliation. There was no concept of helpbooks or tuitions, no TV or lil' radio, very few newspapers and mags. I got all the guidance, went to a prep school, got my books and fees paid on time, avoided tuitions, went to tuitions (what drama and ritual, getting dressed and ready like it was matinee time), got my 1st chinese pen in class 4.

My Ma taught me my first ABC, got me double promoted in nursery. Pa taught me how to write short simple sentences but i end up writing wound up stuff. Pa fought with me not to do an Economics major but English. I love you, Pa. I am here today because of you. But it amuses me and endears me with so much of tender affection when my Ma shies away from speaking in English to/with my friends and over phone. There are times, she calls me up and gets her script ready and right when she is about to speak to new people in new places. I tell Ma, its ok nobody minds -- it was never your mother tongue, you can rightfully and willfully make a few errors. No one should get offended, it is just one form of gentle encouragement. Pa also avoids all the grandiose associated with having to communicate in English. But when he does, the man is a Gandhian... simple but hard hitting, tender and provoking. I have been bugging him to write, god only knows when he will pick up the pen.

I won't say i excelled in the subject or is it the language? But i had my own sweet way with it, loved playing around with the lil' vocab that i acquired and the parts of speech. I taught poetry and fiction to young collegians. Pa and Ma were very thrilled that their big lil' girl is a Ma'am in college, the dough was not great for starters but the satisfaction and smiles is a million bucks! Getting those roses and cards on Teachers' day was an added high but those marks and thank-you notes after exams was the ultimate reward. Research in English almost drained me out, all complicated theories why someone was inpired like that in a poem and all. It killed me that creativity was fighting for space with criticism. I also learned that criticism is not all anti and negative. It became very "yo" to be critically inclined since no one was creative any longer, ok a bad one. Struggled with my fledgling creative spirit and balancing off with the demands of research, problematising-the-issue as one of my theory friends puts it.

Thanks Pa, if not for my English background (yes, the placement of the adjective can be misleading)...i would not have ventured out and met a whole new world altogether. Yes, i was mourning that i was not selected for higher research, they told me i was still raw. Sulking did not help any cause. I decided to take a break from teaching and learning English. Google happened. Learned that i had to facilitate a new kinda English in whatever capacity -- Global English (psst..actually Amrikan English catering to Amrikan clients based there). Ok, felt like it was a very glam-sham posh call center thing (the calls happen later on Avaya deskphones when one gets promoted, they call it direct sales) with sophisticated methods and means. Pardon my analogy. The point is, i learnt a lot of English-es, regional flavours and tweaked ones too! Found it extremely amusing how one and all take the language for a ride and also, everyone is a champion in mastering the language -- the excellent emails and the awesome test-scores, the blogs and the status messages and the ultimate showcase stuff, pick up a twisted, clipped accent in a whirlwind overseas visit of 15 days -- the uhms and the not-so-Phoebe like ahans. Oh, we all lou our Eng'leash'.

My English also underwent a Hyd'badi makeover. Pa and Ma feel i speak with a South Indian accent. They are aware that a Kannada is different from a Telugu as much as a Malayalee is from a Tamil. But you get the drift...Whatever it is, my lou for English got me a research registration at my alma mater which will help build a writing environment -- yes, i want to write in English whatever and anyever (some exercise of crass liberty here) i know in other languages too. I also pray in English. Of course, distressing prayers are in my mother tongue. I know how to speak and also, slang (using it as a verb,allow me this one as well) in my native tongue (everyone does, even in other languages) but mastering the 10k lettered stick shaped script is beyond me.

These experiences of pride and prejudice about the language has taken me to a new pinstripe turn, kinda back to where i was, where my heart was, where i initiated with teaching ABC to kindergarten smarties and now, playing-blogging with the letters and the words.

Yesterday was my first day of learning at school, stripped and shorn of all virtual and superficial essence. There was the fear of treading new ground with no Pa and Ma around. Today was my first day of badging at work, in the hallowed world of teaching at college. Met no students at the gate to greet me or smile at me. The bland gate took me in, the freshly watered garden promised me lovely blooms, the wind whispered the monsoons are on their way to give me wonderful company with chaiand pakoda. The quiet corridors, windswept with light blossoms told me not to worry, the guardian angel is watching over me. It was a new world of shared lunches, protective concern to the point of baby-ing me, ma'am-ing me at my so-called glorious achievement, gentle nudging and teasing to make me feel at home as one of their own, my own, our own.

A kind prayer welcomed me.