Bring Home Some Sweet


Have I ever told you that my father subconsciously has an excellent taste in sweets? Probably not.

Well, every time my dad comes into the city, he makes it a point to bring us two or more boxes of sweets. Traditional, Indian sweets to be precise and not any mushy candies or chocolates. And somehow he always knows the right kind of sweets to buy! He would never buy those syrup laden sweets gushing like valleys filled with jaggery streams or those sweets irrationally sprinkled with sugar powder. The sweets he buys are always neat. A nut or two or sprinkled saffron atop and not much fancy about it. They are dim coloured and juicy on the inside, but taste homely and wholesome at the same time.

I have always had a very deep attachment with opening presents. The speed and frills about me just come to a halt whenever I have to unwrap a gift. The wrapping paper ends neatly folded and fresh as ever, and the box remains candid and unscratched.  You can imagine the delicacy I would treat a box of sweets with. Ironically enough, I poke a fork right through the middle of yellow coloured decorative film over the box and cut it to strips and snitches like a cat with a ball of wool. The lid however is always removed slowly and steadily, revealing neither too early nor with overwhelming and prolonged suspense the contents inside.

I would like to take this moment to mention that in India, like in many countries, there is an immediate link between happy occasions and dessert. Sweetening is never missed in any good menu. Exquisite desserts are always a part of special occasions. People in Indian families are born attached with a sweet tooth. In tradition, sweet curd is eaten before starting any venture, and kheer is cooked on birthdays. Spending strenuous hours preparing time-consuming dessert recipes becomes a matter of the day. This is what I had always picked as an idea of a typical Indian family reading rooted novels or storybooks. Alas, against all odds, I am not a person with a taste for sweets. Hence, the only way sweets get into my house is when my father buys them while coming home.       

But as I eat the spongy nameless yellow puddings he brought home this time, it occurs to me that it is only the sweets that my father gets home that I ever tend to eat. Had the same sweet been presented to me by anyone dear or at home I would have never considered robbing a bite into it. It is perhaps the sentiment attached with the homecoming present which gives it its exclusive taste. It is the happiness of my father being home that thrills me instead of the perfectness of the sweet.

Yet this realisation does not lessen the beauty of the sweets. Anything that indexes a halt in the endless retreat and arrival of loved ones is a boon. And if sweets shall be it, then I can gallop quite few. 

February Evenings


Aren’t February evenings a beautiful part of the day? After a long tiring day of work, when the sun has set having given us the most picture perfect closure, there is nothing better you could ask for. The sky is painted a beautiful light carroty, the colour of orange skin, and it gradually melts into brush strokes of purple and mauve translating into the blackness of the night, harmoniously giving way to the starkly virgin lights of the celestial! Ah! What beauty! The sky, especially on beautiful evenings, is like the canvas of a daring artist- offering unending possibilities.

For many, February evenings mean the right time to sit and recapitulate- pen in diaries, cook a meal to fit the mood, stroll when pensive, and make plans for the next day. While for others, it is a time to reunite and joinder with family and friends. There is the tale from office of a project saved at the eleventh hour, a metro incident, a story from the past, a joke shared and the interesting gossip about TV sitcoms. And how can I forget evening munchies! The crisp of chips sprinkled with green onion and cheese grilled under caterpillar tracks. The spoon stirring into cups full of soup and coffee only to release hot vapour the shape of dragon breath – yumminess gets immediately associated with the idea of an evening. 

Another reason why February evenings always amuse me, is the very idea that there is still another part to the day. That the end is far, and redemption quite near. That there is still unmissed opportunity to create better memories for today. It is like the clock is taking its own time to wind, and for the first time in centuries, it is savouring its passage slowly, and it is in this period, that we have the aleatory chance to do the things we couldn’t. Evenings offer much needed breaks, a time to pamper oneself and look back to what the day has given you. It has a certain adventurous tranquillity about it, a much enjoyed paradox.

But over all its perks, I love February evenings most of all for it makes people feel good about themselves. Self-indulgence and luxurious expenditure become happy ideas. The weather is bliss, the sun- a blessing after killing winters, and things fall into place for people who shudder and stumble often at January’s kick-starts.  For reasons unknown, I can always associate the month with safe pace.

February evenings fascinate me. The cool wind gushes by, and the trees sway as if they are having a picnic of their own. There is a boat sailing somewhere in the fictional river near my window. The cold of winter is sweetly waving goodbye and there is the chatter of cars returning home. And then there is the moon, pancaking and dressing itself in makeup, before it gleams in the clear night sky that the evening has given it. The money plant looks fresh as ever, and each star ray is a unique spotlight on the damp road. The world is beautiful for just a moment. And then, quicker than ever, the 28 days pass me, and the clock gets running again…  

Leaving [Behind]


It would be fair to call today’s piece’ title fugitive or inconspicuous for that matter. Underneath however is an exploration of truth. I am no defeatist, yet I often come to terms with the understanding that people do always leave. The separation is of course tough, like the pain instilled by the insertion of a strong syringe. But it is not their leaving itself which hurts as much as idea of what they leave behind- memories that imprint themselves on the mind’s eye- which stays with one like the shadows of an immortal scar.

Sometimes, when people enter your life, they gradually gain importance and claim space. Certain things become bounded rituals, to be shared with only particular personalities. They help us create our own stories, and a treasure chest full of personal jokes. It is with the people we meet in our lives, that we paint memories and live moments that we later come to recollect, smile and weep instinctively at the thought of. Secrets get filtered, and the darkest ones are reserved for sharing with a few closed ones. We break our walls, we trust them with blind faith, we save the currant on our priced pastries for them. Had we known, that distance will grow us apart from those whom we are closest to, I wonder how different our respective paths of friendship would have been.

At times, when people leave they leave behind spaces that are probably too large to be filled. The time we spend with people – friends, family, strangers- is the strange leaf from the oak tree. It dries with passing time and weakening roots, but it never leaves the branch it hangs on. It stays there, the shade of mud, to remind you in pensive stroll of the times you still have with the people you have lost.

I wish people came with statutory warnings. That would have made things so much easier, but I guess it is this difference which makes us all human, causes of each other’s suffering, and fragile in our own way.   

People always leave, they said. I kept my head high, and like mice to the piper’s tune, followed the beat of my heart. I wept in heartbreak, and struggled through rejection. I stumbled and stuttered when people left, yet I believed I could go on. Not everyone leaves; the ones who are supposed to stay always find a way to, I told myself. But more than once on occasions of separation I have inwardly doubted my own optimism.

Yes, we all would agree that it hurts when people leave. There is deep sadness when people go away from our lives. But for me, there is no pain greater than that of realising once and for all what it is that they have left behind.

So then, are people who come into your life nothing but impersonators? Are people always meant to leave?  And do they deserve the space we give them? Do questions even make a difference?

I have to tell you, I do not have an answer to any of those. But then, I am afraid of finding these answers myself. The possibility of their not being to my likes troubles me. So for now, I choose to believe in a version which makes me happier. No, people do not always leave. But when they do, they always leave something behind. And that bitter truth is the only consolation we can afford.