Raisin Ration

As a child, I never loved raisins. In fact, cherries and berries were never my favourite fruit.

Every time my aunt would cook vegetable rice with nuts in it, my raisins would quickly end up in my sister’s plate, with a trade in for cashews- her dislike. I would skip spoonsful of raisins in pineapple pudding, nitpicking the pineapples first to serve my taste for the tangy.

This escape at the dinner table was my only chance at skipping raisins. I would graciously offer the cherry of my vanilla pastry to my elder sister. Who would pop them in her mouth almost instantly, knowing how I dislike cherries, very well. And then would I heartily cut through the scrumptious baked yeast flour, and savour the thick cream.

I was never a fan for extra sweet and sappy. So raisins were a no-no. I never did like their puffy sappy surreal taste of sugar and syrup. But burnt raisin cookies I loved. It was like they had the fire I needed. You know?

The only place I liked my sugar, other than in my coffee, and on coconut cookies, was of course, the sugar jar.

I never hated the innocent raisins, do not get me wrong, but my love for them was, let’s say, undiscovered. The mere happiness to get them out of my plate was filling enough to blow my heart.

So, this happened as a courtesy every time. Raisins out, cashews in. But I believe I never understood the deeper meaning of this sacred affair until now.

More important than not having to have raisins, was the understanding that someone will always be there to fall back on. To help me not do what I do not want to. A spree-a-liser. A friend. A make-me-happy with simple things. A Correct-me-right if something’s wrong. A help-me-get-through. My sister, was not just my rookie to raisin ration, but she probably swayed everything else in my life as well.  Of course I didn’t realise this then. That this raisin quota was not just a trade in for dehydrated grapes.

It is only now that she is gone so far away; that I have developed a love for these raisins. For their sweetness, and their sap, and the little sour that I have manifested in them. I have learnt with time to appreciate them, now that my raisin allowance is gone. Eating them bit by bit with care, so that they do not miss their former eater as much as I do. But the anticipation of her returning isn’t gone. And she when she does come, I am sure, I can manage to rebound our raisin rations.

 

Daily Post: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/daily-prompt-waiting/

Hair Oil and Other Bonds

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Tales have elucidated the divine, inseparable bond between the grandmother and her granddaughter since time immemorial. Everything from Red Riding Hood, the young girl in a red cape who had gone to give her grandmother some cheese, pie and honey when she was ill, to poetry talks about the strong love and affection which a grandmother has for her granddaughter, and the other way.

In the process, a few things have remained. The utopic Grandmother is the best person to oil her granddaughter’s hair. She takes all the time in the world to caress her granddaughter’s locks, untangling them with utter care and precision, and delicately combing through them. She uses her special secret perfect oil recipe on her young grandchild’s hair, whether it be coconut or almond, brushing and parting all along. Teaching her about being a lady all the while.

In all of this, this hair oil and this periodic ritual of getting one’s hair combed from granny, has strengthened other bonds.

I once read a poem by Grace Nicholls, titled Granny, Granny, Please Comb My Hair, wherein the poet says

“Granny, Granny

Please comb my hair

You always take your time

You always take such care.

You put me to sit on a cushion

Between your knees

You rub a little coconut oil

Parting gentle as a breeze.”

She goes on to say that her Granny is so much better than her mother, who is always in a rush, and often tugs her hair!  The idea has been adopted in modern day novels as well, like the famous chick flick series by Meg Cabot, called Princess Dairies, which trails a young girl’s journey to become a princess, guided by, of course, her royal paternal grandmother.

For all of us, the conformist position between granny’s knees has remained the ticket to listen to the tales of her young love with grandpa, the ever-fascinating tale of the axiom fox and the queens of Neverland, learning to play cards, eating her triangular pancakes, and sleeping in her lap. The cushion between her knees, has been the wormhole to all the world’s pamper and mollycoddle that a young granddaughter needs.

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It is this unflinching care that a grandmother has for her granddaughter and unending affection that she has for her granny which inspires so much literature, and has such precedence in our lives.

Why does a grandmother love her granddaughter’s hair so much? Does her locks remind her of the young girl she was? Is it her rookie to get her tireless grandchild to sleep? Or is it just to buy more time for her moral lessons?

I know not why, but I know that the young girl her grandchild grows to become is all because of this hair oiling ritual, and the many other bonds that this greases. The hair oiling, which buys the grandmother her time to talk of the old days, her time to shape the mind of her young grandchild, enough time to teach her about life, about its mannerisms, and just about enough time to bond well the beautiful lady with strong long locks which she grows into. It’s really, all just hair oil.

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Eagle Course

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I am standing in the shade, at quite an altitude, and someone is whispering rants in my ear. Concerned, melancholic, distressful rants. I am offering an ear, and after some time I turn deaf. The sky is fair and readying for sunset: a little blue, still a little white, purple at the closest horizon. It is full of mighty black winged birds retracing their course in one single direction. They are returning home. But it’s much before their ebbing time today.

I can tell by the way they flap their wings and fly, that they are eagles. Mighty soarers, and high flying species. They are the crown-wearers of the sky, they practically reign its vast empire.

But they are retreating to their nest, sharp at six tonight. I fuse my eyebrows together, no longer concerned of what my companion is saying, concerned why. I map the sky, and it doesn’t take long for me to understand.

A huge black cloud is following their trails. Caressed and dominated by sparks of lightning on its ends. Followed by gorging thunder and colossal sounds.

The white and black clouds fuse together and stitch the little window through which I watch the mighty eagles fly back home. They do not chirp or make calls; they have absolutely no folklore for weathers like today. No warning, and red calls or music of danger, no fear of the storm. They retreat the same brave-heart, steel kings, they had gone.

The sky remains empty for a moment. Grey, and vacant yet anything but serene. And out of nowhere the eagles appear again, flying in random paths, crossing each other paths and refusing to collapse their journey for the day out of their fear of the upcoming storm, but their course has lowered. I can almost touch them. I just need to tip a little toe.

The thunder bites in. Followed by a bolt of light straight into the land. As I turn my gaze to the sky again, the eagles have vanished. They have surrendered to the urge of the storm to take over the sky. They have accepted the superiority and precedence of the rain above them. They wear the sky’s crown of steed, but the rain looms over the throne.

There is just one large black wing, making its way to shed, not flapping its way and cutting through the air current like eagles do, but flipping all the while like a mismanaged kite for the same cold wind that gushes between the skin of my bare legs, refutes it.  The wind with the silence before the storm, the wind with the same ice it has had all month, brewing into its demonise powers.

The sky is clear once again, and the eagles have withdrawn course to let nature have its way. And after a long month of cold winds, and sheer wait, the rain has transpired unto my land. The soil soaks in the water, and the snow is mixing with its sisterly love. Water spurts by me. It patters like stones of iron clad on my face. And at last, after tarrying and tarrying and hoping to see the drought end, winter has come unto my land. 

I stand still, the eagles are watching me feel delight in their rout.

Daily Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/daily-prompt-celebration/

Friends.

Friends.

Why does my title have a full stop with it? I never know. But it just felt like it is required. Like it would add meaning, and enough sanctity, and express the importance the word has.

Ever wonder what you might do if you had no friends at all? The world would have been a horrible dark place.

A world with friends is one beautiful place. It is a little easier to laugh, a bit more easy to share, easier to find a shoulder to cry, not so hard to hold a hand, easier to reach home after getting drunk, and easier to get up after falling.

But what if your world of friends suddenly drifts apart, that too, like it were meant to be. Transition is the hardest thing. Especially in friendship.

All of us have had best friends, some of them kinky and kind, some selfish but sweet, some strong but scared, some bold and hearty. Some funny and pretty, some dull but worthy.  Our friends are like the bone marrow. They fill up the empty spaces in our life, and make us complete in every way. Our friends, we cannot do without, for reasons that need not and cannot be expressed.

We, had a gang.

Of the coolest, funniest and smartest students in the school. We were about seven. And today there is no one to call when I am lonely and these spaces have returned.

Yes I talk to almost every one of them today too, but the distance is greater. We are still at the same place, but in different worlds. Does age has something to do with it? Change in choices? New friends? Fights? Pain, and arrogance? Or just transition?

There are no Xs and Ys in this story, even though love stories played a part in drifting us into pieces, but that is not what I blame. My friends, yes I still believe in the word, moved on, like they say.

No big blew ups ever happened, just the same small old ones which some of us had lost the capacity, patience and will to heal any longer. We had lost the eagerness and the excitement we had in each other’s company. We did not want to run after each other and hold the group together with love anymore, we had started, like they say, to let go.

The story just doesn’t start anywhere, only that my friends found their better halves within and outside the group and their romantic rivalries ironed the cracks I had stitched as a mediator a long time back. My jokes which overlapped the tension and envy and anger we all held deep in our minds were extinguishing fast. All my advice was exhaust and I could no longer be at different places at the same time.  Priorities played politics, and we started exploring the world outside our little cocoon of a gang. The candy outside allured most of us and we chose it over our gang. So old friends were expected to wait around like they do and hold our back, while we explored the new world.

It is strange that I had seen this coming for over a year and all it took was just one month for us to become a b c and d and no longer, b and group. Moment of Impact. I was practically not in school, out for events for over  a month, I would meet my friends for brief instances, steal a bite from their lunch, shake hands, crack a joke like I do and cupid play a little and leave them to themselves. Over the month that I missed school, not only did I get pushed away from my friends, but their ties with each other too weakened. Now when I entered the dorm in school, I would see them walking past each other with their girls and groups and a certain people sitting alone in different conformists spots. We were broke. And unfortunately nothing I could do anymore would bring us back together.

I fought with my best-est friend ever. The only person I could talk fun and serious just the same and the only one who knew that spicy food made me cry. He had found a new group and I hated him for that. I punched him, hugged him and made him promise he wouldn’t let go. He did. And I did nothing to make him stay. With no regrets. For when I let go, I expected him to understand how much I mean to him and turn around and laugh and stay.

But everything is not like a fairy-tale. There are huge cavities in my friend circle as it is today, de facto there are bigger empties in my life. But there is no one to come and take those spaces, for the people who left them made them a little too large to be healed.

What is strange is that no one in my group understands the pain we are in, it was like all of them were my friends and none each others. They talk to me yes, but no one is heard anymore.

There is a young friend shouting inside of me, calling them back, screaming how important they are, that without them I’d be nothing. They are standing a millimeter away from me but they can’t hear the noise. Not because they do not want to. But because they can’t. They alas, have undergone the painful devil some transition of friendship.

This is not a story which says that some friends come and go, nor about how some are meant to be. But just a story which explains that we, without rationale, hope for a certain of these to stay.

How to do I finish this memoir? Would a full stop suffice to give it enough sanctity, or would it still leave me unexpressed like each day I walk past them, people that I had customized fives with, sometime before, making sure our eyes don’t meet today? Would it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Went To Sleep

As a kid, no one used to read me bed time stories, except for the ones about ghosts, instantly cooked by my Aunt, to make my eyes startle and feed me an extra piece of bread by the treason of her storytelling, and the ones which never met an end for I would fall asleep less than half way through them, muttered by Dad long before I was five. This was for two reasons basically. One, that I developed  a love for reading very quickly and second, clichéd as it is, like any other kid, I liked watching the colourful illustrations which came along with stories in books unlike in those narrated.

After having read sets of Disney books that came in coloured cartooned packets  about princesses, beasts, ducks, peas, elves, apples and wicked witches (and houses made of candy and sweet!), I came across my first real novel. My Dad brought me a not so fat, not so very thin, blue coloured book home one day on his way back from work. This, made up for all his inconsistent sleepy storytelling in the past, and was the best thing that ever happened to me. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl came to me like a miracle. It is still, almost eleven years later, the finest I have ever read. No wonder why it is one popular book.

What beats a good story about the greatest chocolate factory (which churns chocolate with a waterfall), and the hard luck of one poor, famished but content boy who finds a golden ticket to tour it? Roald Dahl has held my hand through the longest period of my childhood. In times when no one else had fine stories to speak of, became repetitive and got tired with my pestering, Roald Dahl, became my best friend, and toured me through the most mystical of worlds, and never failed to serve me the best of tales. He took me from stories of evil witches (Did you know they are bald?), of balcony love with a tortoise as a mediator, of giant peaches and grasshoppers, about the book nerd with superpowers, the finest hunting father and his adventures with his son, stories of a painting company that uses a giraffe as ladder, and a lot many more, to a big brown book with stories about prostitutes, mystery filled extra marital affairs and witchy landladies. He practically helped me grow.

Today, I have read each and every book written by that fine old man. He created magic with his yellow pencils behind that tiny yellow door of his white hut (Yes, I am a maniac). What more, his fan club newsletters are the only ones I regularly read. And even though age has set me quite apart from his storylines, my soul strives to stay adjunct with his tales, and refuses to forgo the beauty of the books. And even though I have become more of a Dan Brown, Suzanne Collins, J.K Rowling, Chetan Bhagat, Deborah Levy reading person, I am a Dahl reader at heart. My reader self will always belittle the idea that I have outgrown the time when I could enthrall these books. I trust them more than anything I ever will. I will laugh the same, and dream only as much as I did then when I turn their pages today , but until I do they have taken a quiet place in my book stack, but their coloured spines, have still a higher degree of grace than any other book does for me.

To squeeze in one little thing- Roald Dahl books have a peculiar smell of old paper, which readers like me have a certain nose for. These are books you can read, smell and live (and eat if you can). These are not the conformist childhood favourites, or epitomic bedtime stories or first reads for that matter, but one who has read them knows that their loveliness is way beyond these petty tags.

The title of this article is somewhat unfitting, for my love for Roald Dahl’s books never really put me sleep, it rather kept me awake. Making me turn page over page, chapter by chapter, from one detail to the other, unto the path to discover true pure literal lyrical magic. There is no appropriate way to close word on my article today, for words cannot appreciate a man who went beyond them just enough. But probably how Roald Dahl would put it, his world of marvel is indeed the most dory hunky and glorimptious you can find and if you haven’ ventured it yet, then you are one frothbungling!

On that note, I pick up one book which I haven’t read since a long time, and I ruffle its pages against the flash light by my bed. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory read the first page. I turn to the first chapter…to sweet sleep.