I have a lot to write about, many things have grabbed my attention in the last couple of days. Being a social animal who takes pride in his skills of observing others and finding out the stories behind their faces, it is not only my interest but in some odd way my duty to write and narrate these stories. In writing these stories I use the data gathered from my various faculties as well as employ the power of my imagination. But this is where fact and fiction separate into almost two parallel lines, never touching each other, but always staring at each other from the same fixed distance, ad infinitum. Imagination is the key ingredient which makes fiction different from fact. It adds that little bit of spice which makes reality a little more appetizing. Fiction, standing on the thin line between what is and what could be. Fiction: What dreams may come? That is how I like to think about it. Dreams written on pieces of paper or typed out on a word processor, running on an ancient almost obsolete machine- purchased with other pieces of paper that came out of my father’s pocket or from that little plastic card. After all there are few things that money can’t buy, for everything else there is dad’s credit card.
There is this nice little eating place on Cathedral Road where I go quite often. The quality of chat items is amazing and the ambience is really nice. A lot of young college people hang out in this place. One day as I was going about savoring every last piece of my order a big Gujrati business family walked in. There was an old lady who was probably the head of the house hold and accompanying her were her three daughters-in-law with a whole bunch of toddlers.
The old lady was a domineering woman with complete control over the workings of her family. Her sons kept calling her on the four mobiles that each of them were carrying and asking her permission to do this and that. She made the owner of the place take her order even though the place is a self-service restaurant. She sat like an old powerful queen on the chair with her family members sitting all around her trying to please her and elevate themselves in her eyes. I was impressed by this matriarchal display of authority in what seemed to be an otherwise traditional Gujrati Indian family.
But then my eyes fell on the three daughters-in-law. All of them were wearing sarees and their heads were covered with the pallu as a mark of respect towards their mother-in-law (or maybe they had no other choice but to keep their heads covered). None of them looked a day over twenty-five and in fact one of them looked even younger than me. She had a baby in her arms and every now and then she would look at it and give a small, almost invisible and inaudible sigh. All of them had a smile on their face, a very synthetic smile, a very artificial smile which was not in keeping with the great food I was having.
I stopped eating to take a better look at them, to peer through their eyes and see the truth behind those fake smiles. All I could see were broken dreams and crushed ambitions. All around them were young people talking excitedly about their future plans, their careers, the new film in the theatres; and sitting there with their heads covered and listening intently yet uninterestedly to an old queen were these three young women. Marriage and motherhood slapped on their faces.
One could argue that they were happily married and what woman wouldn’t want to be a mother. May be the only ambition they ever nurtured was to become a house wife and raise sons who would grow up and marry more women like them or raise daughters who would be married off into other such families. May be they all enjoyed covering their heads with the pallu and listening to the words of wisdom of the old queen. But why did I hear the faint cry of a dream, a dream which knew its end was inevitable. She looked at the baby and took another sigh. May be a new dream was born.
An Ode and a Stanza went out on a date.
They had a few drinks of Romanticism
And decided to mate.
After a few syllables a poem was conceived.
Ms Ode couldn’t hide it
Such news is hard to conceal.
A few rhymes later the poem was born.
They decided to call it an Epic
Since it smelled like Bourbon.
© Anshumani Ruddra
I think I suffer from Pathetic Fallacy.
I see a human being in a lump of clay.
No cure can be found for my disease
After all I am the protagonist
Of a surreal post-modernist play.
© Anshumani Ruddra
I will end this session of musings with these beautiful words of Spike Milligan:
This evening in the twilight’s gloom
A butterfly flew in my room
O what beauty, O what grace
Who needs visitors from outer space?
- From Spike Milligan’s collected poems Hidden Words.