On Writing, and Colours.

How do you feel when you write, he asks me. 

I tell him that it is a form of meditation for me. To sit in a space, with myself, to bring to the now things that have been promptly brushed aside, swept away, buried deep under the needs of the daily. I tell him it is my best way of expressing.

When was the last time you wrote, he asks me.

I tell him, not that long ago. He asks me again, more quietly this time.

I tell him, longer than it should have been. 

That afternoon, I sit with a cup of banana and oatmeal parfait, and a cup of unsweetened cappuccino, an orange notebook with blue pages, and a forest green pen, and write to myself about all the things that are and aren’t. 

I pen the conversation that happened earlier in the day, carefully, onto crisp blue. 

I think about how I am more partial to orange now, so partial that when I look at the sky dipped in citrusy glory, there is a budding in my heart that I have learnt to recognise as gratitude over the years. 

I stare at the forest green in between my fingers, and think of all the trees I have seen this year, all the rolling hills, all the beauty that is so generously given, day in and day out, beauty that I take for granted because of my 9-5, because of all my material comforts, because, because, because.

I stare at the the scrawl of words on that crisp blue, and look at the way my voice appears in this world, and remember, with gratitude, that I have a heart, and that it both rejoices and bleeds, and does its job well so that the other parts of my body can move with ease, can feel with ease.

It is only in the evening, that I realise, that he had not just been asking about how I feel when I wrote; he had been asking me how I felt when I truly lived with myself. 

The sun disappears into inky black, leaving orange whirlpools in the sky. There is a budding in my heart. 

A Dictionary of Colours

I would like a dictionary of colours.

I would like colours that we have not found names for, to be so aptly described that reading the names and meanings of colours will help us see this monochrome world in a tinted, brighter light.

I would like a name for the colour of young earth. I would call it, earth’s birthing, the colour of lifegiving and freshness, caking soil-faring hands, nails. I would like this colour to represent hope, and strength, and energy, and I would teach children this colour early, so early that they will respect the birth of earth, before anything else in their lives.

I would like a name for the colour of feeling bereft when a loved one is away; the colour of missing. This would be the colour of words penned late into the night in memory of; this would be the colour that airports are painted in, especially the Departure terminal where there is sadness, and a feeling a little heavier, a little deeper. This would be the colour reflected in the eyes looking at old photographs and old journals, the colour of something between yesterday and today, the colour that thinks of tomorrow before you do.

I would like a name for the colour of hope, the lightness and freshness of a flitting butterfly somewhere in the stomach, in the heart, mixed with the colour of a new dawn, and a new birdsong, and all other things new; the colour of something beginning, a shade or two, and the colour of future. The colour of hope must be all of this put together; it must be a colour that is pervasive and eternal, a colour that merges with the colour of your skin and the colour of your heart, and the colour of your thoughts that appear in the dead of the night.

I would like a colour for the buoyancy  of young love, and for the evergreen nature of lasting love; a colour of love that seeps into the very epicentre of the living, a colour that presides over all colours, a colour that is so great, that it could very well be possible that the colour has no name, only because it is so big, so impossible, so divine.

(This is the colour I will paint on your lips.)

Do you see now why I would like a dictionary of colours?

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

I didn’t even realise it was Father’s Day until I woke up and my mother reminded me about it. Time does these things to people. We get so caught up in the quicksand of everyday that we forget important things, important dates, important people. Etc. 

So. It is Father’s Day today. In my opinion, it should be Father’s Day everyday, as it should be Mother’s Day and Poetry Day and Siblings Day and what have you will, every day. But we live in a world that sets aside times and dates to accrue importance to relationships we should be thankful for daily, so, yes, it is Father’s Day today.

These days, whenever I talk about life, I inadvertently talk about death. Or maybe, it’s the other way around. Whenever I talk about death, I find myself talking about life. 

In the last few months, as a family, we’ve seen a lot of death. I nearly lost my mother in May this year. I nearly lost my father in 2012. It has been a roller coaster of a ride, these last few years. In May, strangely enough, I found myself in a place where I had to sit down and think about incidents where I would have to deal with the death of my loved ones. Inadvertently, the first person I thought of was my father. 

(Anyone who knows me, knows that my father is my best friend. He was my first friend, first confidante, first playmate, first guide, first teacher, first partner-in-crime, first buddy. You know what they say about firsts. Your firsts usually set the standard for the type of people you invite into your life. But. I digress)

So there I am, sitting with a pen and paper, and thinking about how I would feel if my father died. The explosiveness of my own reactions over this hypothetical incident completely stunned me. I was writing, and wailing, mouth wide open, tears streaming down my face, feeling bereft and lost and lonely, going through every single emotion I would feel if it were to really happen. It was explosive. It was terribly shocking.

My father found me later during the day, nursing a cup of tea, eyes swollen and squinty, and asked if I was all right. I told him curtly that I had cried because I’d had to go through the death of my loved ones, and his was the first one I had thought about. He had a look of immense surprise on his face. 

“You mean you will really miss me that much when I’m gone?”

It took me aback, this question. It also gave me a much needed slap in the face about the kind of communicator I was (those of you who know me personally will sense the irony in this statement). 

I had always presumed that my father knew how much I loved him. I have always been terrible at telling my family how much they mean to me, but over the last few years, I had begun to make concerted efforts to speak to them more, be more physically affectionate, show my emotions more, etc. 

Clearly, I hadn’t been doing as much of as it as I thought I had. 

I don’t think I answered my father that day.

Only because, well, I’ve always been much better at writing about how I feel than talking about it.

The truth is, I’m the biggest groupie my father can ever have. It’s not because he buys me chocolates when I’m lonely and miserable (milk chocolates with almonds in them, no eggs); it’s not because he used to give me money on the sly when I wanted to buy books which my mother had strictly forbidden  because “too many books in the house, Arathi!”; it’s not because he takes care of my mother (and me) day and night when we aren’t well; it’s not because he always lets me play the music I want when we’re in the car together; it’s not because he follows me to watch my favourite actor’s films even though he hates said actor (not telling you who that is); it’s not because he makes fun of me at every chance he gets….

I’m my father’s biggest groupie because he is the only man I know who lives a life by example; something that I aspire to attain so ardently. He’s the man who first taught me that above and beyond every other principle in life, kindness was what I had to hold true to myself. He didn’t just tell me that, he lived by it. Everything I’ve learnt about treating other people, I’ve learnt from my father. Everything I’ve learnt about being a listener, I’ve learnt from my father. Everything I’ve learnt about discipline, good lord, I’ve learnt from my father. Everything I’ve learnt about breaking rules and following my heart, I’ve learnt from my father.

I mean, how could I ever not love him when he’s given me the most important things in life to live with? 

I know you’ll eventually read this, Dad, not because you actually check my blog conscientiously like I wish you would *cough*, but because I’m going to send this to you the moment I’m done.

You’re an inspiration to me because you’re an everyday hero. You make people’s lives better by being just who you are, nothing more, nothing less. You have a wicked sense of humour, which has taught me that nothing in life should be taken too seriously, that nothing in life is beyond laughter. You have taught me the best medicine to anything, and everything, is love, love, love, and that when you treat people right, the world aligns itself to you in the rightest of ways.

Thank you for being my inspiration, but more than anything else, for being my best friend, even if you’re a little weird sometimes, and even if we have arguments about the most inane of things. 

Your life will always be a celebration for me, Dad. Thank you for teaching me that, as well. 

Happy Father’s Day. 

Love, 

Your daughter.

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The birds on her back.

Of tattoos, memories, and a lifetime of stories. 

I saw the birds on my back woven on the pallu of my mother’s sari, and realised with startling clarity that I was trying to wind freedom around me , without realizing how stifling that could be.

I slip off my sari blouse and the air settles onto the wings of my birds; slowly, slowly, my back flexes into life.


There is something to be said about a woman whose shoulders can comfortably hold the weight of the world and her own freedom. Head held high, spine curving gently, dip of the hip, another tattoo, skin settled so gently over bones, tight muscle.

There is something to be said about this woman, who has birds on her back and blood in between her eyebrows. When she opens her mouth, something like love, escapes.

He watches the curve of her shoulder as her blouse slips down; the moonlight catches the slight shape of bone.

The thing about love.

Sometimes, just sometimes, there is some good in having insomniac musings. 

***

That’s the thing about love. 

You never know when it is going to come into your life, sometimes, so softly that you have no idea that it has arrived, until it has settled into your skin, a light weight. You realise that your eyes are a little brighter, that your smile has started to reach your eyes again, that you are lost in thought about his eyes, his hands, the way he smiled at you that one (and only) night, his smell. You realise that you tremble when you say his name, because name is power, and a name that has so much meaning, so much importance in your life, becomes an echo in your mouth that doesn’t quite go away. You realise all these things, and you wonder when it happened, and you can never quite pinpoint the exact moment. 

It has happened. There is nothing else left to do but to live with it. Nurture it. Accept it. Let the love mould you, as you mould love. There’s no other way about it. It is a beautiful surrender, but nothing short of a surrender will allow for survival.

That’s the thing about love. It finds you when you least expect it. And by the time you realise what has happened, you’re caught. The best part is, you know there is no where else you’d rather be.