I want to write about many things I have seen this year.


The first time I saw the river Ganges, placid, calm, cool, until she claimed a life, and my toe ring. Mud so soft, so caked, so easily spread over skin just a shade lighter, submerging, coming up for air, cool water, strong undercurrents, knowing, knowing, that one slip is enough to lose it all. (Or to gain it all)

The sight of a lake so big, it was a sea, or so they said. A lake-that-is-a-sea that glittered and seduced, where heat rose, and salt remained collected on the undersides, the undersides of the lake/sea-belly, the undersides of my eyes, the undersides; that one afternoon where I sat and wrote and watched the lake glitter and remembered with so much gratitude that life is here, present, for taking, for giving, for living (but oh how easily we forget all of this)

The sight of that man, the one who broke my heart because my foolish heart thought it could save him. The sight of that man, the one who I couldn’t remain with, because my not-so-foolish heart knew it couldn’t save him. The sight, both times, the joy, the homecoming, the sweetness, then, the inevitable, the goodbye, no see-you-laters this time.

The sight of the clouds rolling in, so softly, so slowly, as the drizzle, so fine, so gossamer fine, landed on tired skin, the moment so perfect in its quiet, in its arrival, in its grandeur that was without assumed fanfare, the sight, oh, the sight.

The sight of my mother, just arisen from the shores of death’s calling, the relief, the sight but the relief, the sight of my mother, drips attached, unconscious, arising again, from the distant shores of pain, the worry, the sight incomparable to the worry, the sight of my mother, one I take for granted on days where mundanity overwhelms, but, the sight.

The sight of these words forming on white, once, twice, but not, the first, the sight of words that were formed years ago, remembering, recognising, knowing, you are not alone, the sight of words on gadgets, on paper, on papyrus, on scripts, scriptures, the sight of words that sooth, the sight of words that satiate, the sight of words that fire, that anger, the sight of words, a friend, a reminder, but mostly, mostly, a return, a homecoming.

Ill for days. Days. Every morning, the same feeling. The heaviness in the head. The soreness along the face. The difficulty in biting anything because of the pain in the jaw, the gum. The inability to breathe. The struggle to take a lungful of air in.

There was a time when it was impossible to find the words to write, to express what was going on inside. A little like the struggle to breathe. A lot like the struggle to breathe.

The loneliness of the exiled. I’ve never understood it. Two weeks, indoors, little contact. Being disconnected. In a surreal, fever-induced delirium.

The cat jumped off a flower pot to catch a bird that was perched by the window sill. The phone has been ringing, ringing, ringing; then, a loud sound. I wasn’t asleep or awake.

Hazily, I watched my mother sweep up the shards and remembered that it doesn’t take long for something that is, to be isn’t. She told me the bird had a blue eye, and that it stared at her with a fierce intensity, with the knowledge that animals and the earth have of life that is always, always, just beyond the grasp of the puny human mind.

I still don’t know if this is a scene from my fevered mind, or if it really happened.

Does it matter?

The sky is a colour of ashen grey. For three years, this was the colour I used to wake up to. It should be familiar, but it isn’t. Even in the depths of despair, there was a comfort to the cold grey of the past. The grey of today, this grey that I am looking at, that sickens the light that falls on my fingers as I type this, this grey smells of trees being burnt, of soil destroyed, of hearts so hopeless with the grime of everyday.

Sick. Sicker. Sickest.

Someone once told me that the disease of today is boredom. I wonder, what would be the colour of disease? Grey?

Does it matter?

(And here, in my fever induced haze, I ask you – what truly matters to you? What drives you to wake up everyday to remember that you are but, alive.)

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. 

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?

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. 


Your daughter.