The New Wave

Mili was jolted out of her reverie by the rap – tap on the window glass of the car. She looked sideways sheepishly at ‘Sundari’. It was the regular signal stop a few miles near Mili’s house. She worked as a technical trainer and drove to work every day, somehow her thirty eight years of life in the hub – hub of the cosmopolitan was faced with mid – life crisis. She needed money for her kids’ education; her career had hit a dead end. She’d tried everywhere else for better prospects and was tired of this tread mill race. Life got nowhere; the road ahead only seemed to be getting steeper and steeper. She was exhausted; there seemed no purpose, no enthusiasm and finally no happiness in her cumbersome life.

Mili searched frantically in the glove box of the car; finally she looked up and said “Sorry Sundari, no change today, maybe on my way back home?”

Sundari looked down; the sandalwood paste horizontal ‘tikha’ on her forehead seemed to have contained the harsh sunlight. She smelt of Medimix soap, Parachute coconut oil and Ponds Dreamflower talc. ‘Sundari’ was the transgender whom Mili invariably met at the signal at least twice a day.

The signal turned orange, but Sundari stood firm. Mili looked at her again; Sundari clapped her hands in the ritualistic manner of the third gender who considered themselves feminine.

Mili put the car to gear when Sundari said “Give me something that you always have.” Mili was baffled, what did she have? She searched Sundari’s eyes, the cars behind her honked incessantly. Sundari said “Baby smile, you always do.”

Mili drew away, Sundari disappeared in the rear view mirror, Mili realized that Sundari had that ‘missing’ piece of puzzle that completed her life. Smiling, she breezed through the day. It was twilight, the air was cool, Mili’s mind latched on to the tranquility that was reflected from Sundari. She waited that evening to talk to Sundari. Sundari came along like a whiff of fresh air.

“Baby, nice to see you here.” She said

“I want to know you, Sundari, I see that the smile on your face is intact irrespective of the situation. How is your life? What makes you so bewitching?”

“Baby, come I’ll buy you coffee” said Sundari

As the steam of the coffee wafted through the air, Mili accompanied Sundari to the yellow, red and black, tricoloured shores of Cape Comorin – the land of the virgin whose nose pin was the guiding light for many lost souls at the seas.

“I was born a transgender; I have no idea who my parents are. My family, friends, confidantes, my world was my fellow community mates. There was no school that admitted any of us, no formal records of our births or death. Yet we existed in the society, seen by many, heard by few and recognized by none. In a small village, people’s hearts were large and hands were warm and giving. There was no dearth of food and odd jobs came along, not to mention the string of customers, mostly truck – drivers.”

“I never felt hungry or lonely, I felt loved by my family. In our village our community has a tradition of visiting the ‘Kanya Kunari temple’ once a year. We empathized with her, the one who waits eternally for her beloved. We sought her blessings and hoped that one day our beloved will come along and we’ll be blessed with the sacred bond of matrimony.”

“I don’t know how old I was, but was one among those whose hair had not started greying still. I still attracted a lot of income and my charms were endearing to many. It was at this time that we went to the temple, we finished our rituals and had reached the sea to offer our prayers.”

Mili realized how different both their lives were, it was as if they were from different unknown universe. Yet she felt drawn to this fantastic being that sat opposite her, gripping her in her tale of a distant land.

“We could sense the unusual dead stillness of the water. For some mystifying reason, this calm created unrest in our minds. It was as if my heart was crushed by the icy hands of this eerie silence. Then out of nowhere rose water, water that towered over us, it touched the skies. It was as if mother earth had spilled her guts and had parted land and water to engulf all the Sitas that were wronged.”

“It was futile to even consider running, though I saw that all hell had broken loose around me. I knew that my wait for my beloved was over. I surrendered.”

“I woke, don’t know when, to find the world inside out, I saw the floor of the ocean, the only signs of life were the scavenging birds overhead. I struggled to my feet and trudged along directionless. I don’t recollect for how many days I walked, I survived on dead animals and tender coconut water. Finally I reached the station and camps to search for my family. But I felt cheated. My gut told me that they had all reached Lord Shiva while I was the only one who was damned.”

“I spent a few days in the camp, I was weak and dehydrated. The camp had started smelling of death. Diarrhea affected me and there were only make shift toilets.”

“It was during one such night that my life transformed. I was returning from the filthy toilet at night when a tiny hand gripped mine. I was bewildered to find a child. She was as cold as the dead and as scared as a hunted animal! Her vacant eyes unfolded a story of destruction. No amount of coaxing got her to speak. But she latched on, unrelenting. She returned to the camp with me.”

“I searched the photos, contacted the police and did my best to find her family, but to no avail. I named her ‘Deepa’ – My lamp. Something told me that she too would become like me, someone who just existed but did not live. After knowing that no one would come to claim her, I decided to leave KanyaKumari, decided to uproot myself and find new soil for Deepa to grow, thrive and for her life to become more fruitful.  I sold my earrings and my nose ring – the only jewelry I had with me and the next day I came to Bangalore with Deepa.”

She continued “Here too, like my village, the narrow lanes of the slums have large – hearted people. I’ve never led a high society life but those people seem cloistered and suffocated in their magnificent houses and chauffer driven cars. I came across ‘Rani’ a transgender whom I met at this signal fourteen years ago. She heard my tale and offered shelter, she also taught me to read and write. She warned me about the people and the police here in particular. Rani was from Bangalore and was shrewd and smart, but her life as a transgender was no different than mine. She’s spent her life like an outcaste as the community here is not as closely knit like in our village. Just a few years ago Rani was hit by a car that jumped a signal, she’s now a cripple, manages quite well with her artificial leg, but has given up begging in junctions or even otherwise. As you know Baby, I beg in the morning and prostitute at night. But my nose ring is a guiding lamp to ‘Deepa’.” She laughed “I mean” she continued “With the money that I got after selling my nose ring I’ve enrolled Deepa in a school, a deaf and dumb school. It’s been fourteen years now.” She switched to the present

“I hear of a lot of changes and rules and regulations, some ‘cry for identity’, for people like us, but Rani and I are too old to understand them. We’re simple and happy with what life has offered us”

“I’ll never visit the past, now I live with Deepa and Rani. She takes care of ten children whose mothers go to different jobs, like selling flowers, cleaning houses, driving rickshaws and such. They pay us in cash or kind and our life is more than fulfilling.”

“Baby I always smile because I’ve found my beloved in ‘Deepa’. I’d never imagined that I could ever be a mother. And I’ve also found a mother in ‘Rani’.”

“When water changes its course, it also changes the course of many lives. Like three rivers converging into an ocean, we three have become one.”

“So Baby, I always smile. I’ve lived, I’ve laughed, I’ve loved, I’ve lost and I’ve gained.”

Mili was petrified; they bid each other good night. Mili returned home knowing that she’d also found her beloved. Her problems still existed, but they didn’t seem so huge. She still had no solution to any of them, but she felt less miserable. She had just visited a new realm filled with bliss and mirth. She felt lucky and honoured to have been chosen to get a glimpse of this new world which she would never have imagined existed so close to her. She smiled from within to know that she would meet Sundari every day until the water of life decided to change its course.

 

  • Usha Srikanth
Advertisements

Nothingness

What’s the veil that clouds

It’s musty and old like something that molds

It’s a hard shell that never unfolds

It’s void and blackness it holds

It reaches out, it plucks you from the foggy grey and rests you in its folds

It’s in this pit of nothingness, that peace upholds

It’s powerful reign of calm, that finally envelops you 

And like a tyrant, forces you, to be with you!

The albatross

I was a bud, battling against the storm

I longed to be caressed by dawn

I  longed to be enchanted

I  unfurled my tender petals and was enamoured by your sheen

You welcomed my blossom and embraced my naivete

You brought meaning to my existence, you brought life

You were the pole star, I anchored on you to spread my fragrance

As time and storm gained wistful wings,

your sheen burned and scorched me

The blossom withered against your rage and might

In vain I try to loose the anchor

Only to see that it hangs heavy

Heavy around my neck like the albatross that I’d hunted and

Weighs me down  in the name of culture, womanhood and society.


 


The plunge

dark

Silence that stretched, darkness that spread

Both behold an expanse, a universe

I embraced the silence

The world of peace, of calm

The unspoken, unstirred

The unheard, unmarred

The still, unjarred

The unchartered terrain of your rage and reviles

The deafening tranquil engulfed the garish gores

The inarticulate clamour of stillness, blacked out the Babel

I plunged into the abyss of darkness

The unseen, the unbelieving

The bottomless, the unceasing

The unfeigned obscure

The unremitting breadth of life

The unlit, swallowed the sparks of your self spirited fury

The colossal lacuna that you parented

Awaits like a behemoth

To drift me away to the promised land

Which is unguided by the misleading ray of hope.

Tiger hills

Inseparable they had been as children. Close as two seeds in a cardamom pod,…..he was the one she unfailingly depended upon,to remove the thorns from her soles,to set the world right again……

Another Indian author? I asked my friend. I have been reading only them lately.(I’m scared that my love for Ken Follett will diminish). Reva said OK the next time it’ll be a different one.

As I read, I took flight with the flock of herons to herald a new beginning. Devi , Devanna. Inseparable they are from my heart now. A tale of love and hateful love! A heart that’s tucked away into an abyss of guilt. Emotions so fierce and undying, yet murdered like the tiger by the tiger killer. ‘Nari Malai’the hills that roar with all that’s lying in its belly. But finally perfumes the wind like the jungle orchid.

Tiger hills does complete justice to the spoken and unspoken emotions in the depths of darkness, replete with similes that bring Coorg alive. A book that’ll remain dear to me. Devi leads my way forward to heal the lips of my wounds,slowly together.

Commotion

The eyes fixed their steely gaze
On the only naked face
In a room that was filled with gloom
With faces that were dressed to spread doom
The eyes pinned their look
On the face, till it hid in a nook
Then , the vile mind twirled and tossed the dice
Wasn’t it all a game of half truths and white lies?
A game of mere name and fame
The baffled face sought for the same
The same, warm smile the eyes once held
Before the triumph of having felled
the bare face.
The only stripped face was now mortified
But it smiled back, feeling fortified
Of having been ripped of emotion
Now, all that prevailed was commotion.

The secret

How’s my dress? Said she
It looks lovely and bright. Said I
He’s tailored it to suit you just right
To the shop again you take me.
This a little secret between you and me

The eyes searched me as I went in
There’s new trash said I, in my bin
A secret was bequeathed, a pact made
That I carry this junk till I’m laid
By who? Cried the eyes
By the one who called herself ‘ your ‘ friend till now.

‘Shopping’ was a secret
Dear friend said I
No more baggages will be bought
None will be stored
A free bird am I whose story’s untold
A secret drifts away as doors unfold

A finger pointed has three unfolded
She forgets that doors have keys and holes too
A victim you are, three fingers her bar
A captive she is, of her mind that’s marred
I let the secret out of the door that’s ajar
Lets be free and fly to a land afar.

Mirth!

Triveni stared at the soft board, like she usually did. The staff room was resounding with laughter as her colleagues discussed about each others’ weird habits in a lighter vein. She continued staring at the board and wanted to disappear inside it. She knew that so much laughter around her was harmful. They were mocking at her, she could feel it. It was time for her to vanish and come  back empowered the next instant. A repartee to the party that would put this party to a gloomy end.

She was tall, with a creamy complexion, the hair stuck to her scalp and looked well oiled. She always plaited it. A bindi always clung to her forehead. A six yards saree could not quite complete the roundness of her broad frame. Her worn out and faded bra was an old inquisitive hag that always peeped out of the blouse. It was metaphorical of Triveni’s own character. She masked her curiosity behind a flimsy cloak of false divinity. She hid herself in slokas of the Hindu Gods. But right then in the midst of happy people, she felt out of place. Her soft board told her to be creative enough with the repartee. Too much happiness did not suit her. She thrived on sympathy.

‘Sympathy’ yes this would be it again. Play on these cords with the boss and the brownie points start rolling in. She looked at her side, her eyes narrowed and gave her a good view of her colleagues Ritu and Sneha.

Ritu had her hair cut upto the shoulders. It fell softly with light curls giving her rounded face a youthful, joyful look. Triveni loathed Ritu’s existence. She reminded her of everything that she had longed for. Smartness, elegance, friendly attitude! She shifted her gaze at Sneha. She was slim, tall and graceful. Her quick wit tickled everyone’s funny bone. The male colleagues too joined in merrily.

She ran down her check list of making Ritu appear small and unimportant. In the past eight years that they had worked together she  had used every trick in the bag. The memory flooded her and pumped her adrenaline.

She recalled the day when her chat show was telecast on TV in the local channel. She remembered the huge effort she had put, to keep the opportunity clandestine. The letter was still with her! The invitation was official. Yet, she was careful in concealing it. Ritu had questioned her about leaving late for home. But she had managed it well. The day arrived, she wanted to see Ritu’s face. She’d imagined the despair on it and had rejoiced. But Ritu had walked down the corridor coolly and congratulated her. Triveni had never felt so dejected! The telecast did not give her the pleasure that she longed for! Everyone always became friends with Ritu. But this time she had chosen her words well! The staff room became sober as Ritu , Sneha and a few more of them left for their classes.

The male colleagues remained seated. She checked her tone, tuned it to sound doleful and said”Mr. Hari, you seem to befriend only well – dressed women.”

Hari was taken aback by the brusqueness of this remark. He smiled and retorted “Ms. Triveni why don’t you too dress up well? I don’t see the point in not doing so.”

Triveni was thrown off guard. This melodramatic dialogue of hers had won her the expected sympathy many times. She was successful in depicting Ritu as arrogant and she’d dropped hints to portray Ritu as a bossy snob. She decided to try her luck some other time. Sitting on her chair, she stared at the soft board. Again her eyes looked up and centre, bringing back the days when she used to be the Principal’s assistant.

Twenty year old Triveni, clad in a faded salwar kameez wiped a tear. The Principal of the school watched her from a distance, she wanted her to. Later she was summoned to the cabin for questioning. Her eyes and lips concocted a story of utter desperation. The story highlighted her marital life which was filled with misery.

“My husband is infirm, hence cannot sustain a job for long.” She said. “The burden of his parents is thrust on my frail shoulders,”  She continued “My salary is hand to mouth, my colleagues snigger at my pathetic sight,” seizing this opportunity firmly she lamented further. “I am the most diligent worker. I go hungry for long hours and work . Many times, I complete my colleagues’ share of work too.”

The lady Principal was overcome with sympathy. There was another school which was supposed to commence from the next academic year. If she played her cards right, she knew she’d land herself in a new job.

“There’s another school being built nearby, I have contacts there. A new job, a new designation as a teacher with a better pay packet will be yours. Don’t worry!” She knew that this would head in exactly the same direction as planned. So, here she was!

In these years, she had eked out a comfortable life style for herself. But was careful to dress in the sloppy manner that was so her! The biggest achievement was buying an apartment. her confidence too had manifested into a hugely blown chauvinism. The new school, as she remembered was quite accommodating of her in-capacities. Her influential entry had secured her position. Her lacuna in talent, subject knowledge and the incapacity to be a team worker had all gone unnoticed. Her uncanny ability to find scapegoats for covering up her lacuna had always excelled. Until,the school expanded and brought in newer and younger employees. If at all there was some threat to her job, it was from Ritu and the others. With the entry of Ritu in her department, Triveni’s existence had paled. She had a general appeal that fused with the others. However, Triveni was repulsed.

“Hey! Are you okay?” Asked Sneha who pulled the chair beside her. “You seem lost in profound thoughts!” Said Sneha in a jovial tone. Triveni bolted back to reality. “Why? Don’t I have the right to think?” She retorted in a loud, icy tone.

Her garrulous nature took charge. She stormed out of the place. Sneha shrugged off her feeling of contempt and returned to her place.

Triveni hovered near the Principal’s  cabin. This was where she loved to be most of the times. It was very important to look busy in front of the boss! She created an opportunity to enter the cabin and wiped her eyes with the pallu of her saree. With moist eyes she said “My colleagues are the most insensitive lot, I haven’t had a morsel to eat since morning, I was busy with a lot of exclusive work. They find pleasure in mocking me. It’s impossible to be in peace there.”

She finished her stretched monologue  without gulping even one breath of air. The Principal was flabbergasted! He knew she was a complaint box, a pack of lies personified but was helpless. There was no rule in the book which stated that liars, manipulators,trouble creators should be shown the gates.  He blocked her  out of  his mind and told her that he would look into the matter.

She emerged out of the cabin and made sure that she wasn’t seen. She was aware of the reputation that she held. The reputation of marring others’ reputation, the reputation of presenting herself as an extraordinarily talented personality, the reputation of contradicting what she ardently read in the hymns of the Hindu Gods. The sweet smell of  corn wafted through the air. This aroused her buds which salivated profusely.

The stairs led down to the canteen. She took them one at a time.

A five year old Triveni appeared before her. The steps led down her memory lane. Her cousin Priya skipped alongwith her. “We’ll race grandpa, the winner should get a chocolate.” Said Priya. Grandpa adored his granddaughters. They ran gaily , like two daisies prancing in the wind. Priya won the race. She was turning around to shout out to grandpa, when Triveni fell beside her, ripped off her own skirt and started crying. Priya stood rooted to the spot. Grandpa approached them and carried little Triveni,  wiped her tears and consoled her. The chocolate made its way from his hands to Triveni’s bawling mouth. Priya’s victory was buried in the dust. Triveni handed out a piece of the chocolate to her cousin. Victory was hers! Chocolate was hers! Mm…. it tasted so good!

she descended another step, a twelve year old school girl passed by. Triveni envisioned herself in her uniform so many years ago, when she twelve and in the seventh grade. The final exams were fast approaching, she cast a look at her brother who was working out sheet after sheet of algebra. He was a hardworking boy. Mama adored him. “Sharan will make the family proud.” Mama always said. He was in the ninth grade. Triveni paced around from the room to the hall listlessly. Hardwork was for donkeys! She thought this over and smiled. Days went by, the exams were over . One day Kushali, her brother’s friend ran towards her. She wore a bright smile across her face. “Hey Triveni, your brother’s topped the class this time too. He’s broken the record in the quiz too. You’re a lucky girl to have a bro like him.” “The PTM  is three days away, he plans to surprise your parents. So, don’t spill the beans.” Three days, thought Triveni.

Brother and sister reached home. Mom served lunch. “My stomach’s aching, I can’t eat now.” Said Triveni and pushed the plate away. Later she sneaked into her parents’ room to sleep. She also sneaked into papa’s wallet and helped herself to some money. In the evening, she told her mom that she needed to meet her friends and helped herself to a bakery. For three days she didn’t touch a morsel at home. Mom grew worried. She told Papa about their daughter’s strange intermittent stomachache. Sharan declared that the PTM was the next day and that it was compulsory. The next morning, Triveni wouldn’t leave the bed. The house was frantic with worry. No one was interested to visit the school. Sharan went all alone. The parents took her to a doctor, who was baffled by the nature of the ache. Various tests were recommended and performed. By evening she was discharged and was told to be kept under observation.

Sharan displayed his marks sheet and trophy proudly,but Papa was only disheartened at Sharan’s lack of sympathy and insensitive attitude! The stomachache continued for two more days and finally vanished alongwith Sharan’s happiness and glory. No one bothered about her poor scores, they were thankful that their daughter was fine. After that all that mattered was her good health.

She neared the door of the canteen now. She saw that various fruits were on display. Bright red apples, yellow sweet limes, pomegranates and many more. Food had always been her weakness. She placed an order for apple milkshake. The cook put the fruits in a big jar and placed it on the electric mixer. It made a loud swishing noise. This loud noise took her back to the noise, a soft humming one of the monitor that displayed the pressure of blood and heart beat. Her father had met with an accident. He was crossing the road when a bus had hit him. Locals had admitted him to a hospital. Triveni was seventeen. It was already a week since the mishap. Doctors gave no hope of Papa moving out of bed. He had gone completely numb.

Only the eyes moved and cried every now and then. Relatives poured in, bringing with them delicious looking fruits and bakery items. Triveni couldn’t resist them. But Mama maintained her stoic hunger. Sharan was even more exasperating as he tried to feed Papa and Mama the goodies. She couldn’t fathom the idea behind feeding people who didn’t deserve to be fed. Papa couldn’t eat anyways and Mama wouldn’t eat. No one noticed the juices inside the fruits except her. They were adamant on shedding futile tears for a juiceless body that was her father’s. She also realized that the relatives consoled and showed concern for the bereaved wife. The only way in which she could contribute to this situation was to help herself to the goodies and wail!

The relatives continued to pour in but their attention was shifted to her. Fruits  were brought in especially for Triveni. For Triveni lamented the most! That was the best summer ever. This thread of memory brought a triumphant smile on her lips. She relished a plate of corn manchurian alongwith the milkshake.

The place was filled with young faces, few of her colleagues stood with filled plates at corners. Each face was lit up with happiness. Smiles and hugs greeted each other. She hated so much laughter! Triveni’s smile too crawled up her lips. It sneaked up to her eyes and they glistened. After all, if and when she wished to, she could strip these faces off , the ornament that they so proudly displayed. She was happier than happiness herself! She derived mirth from misery.

Note :-
I was asked why I created such a negative character. I’d say “Why not?” This was created for the sake of a course that I am doing. My discussion with a friend inspired me to create a character which is not stereotypical. Enjoy the piece of fiction as a piece of fiction.

Can you? Yes you can!

I have often wondered why some people are super achievers and some of us get sucked up in the vortex of stress , tensions, anxiety and many such impediments.

My NLP sessions with Dr.chaya Nair, (paediatrician, adolescent counsellor ) have helped me discover my potential, face my fears and reinvent myself. It is a well known fact in the present times to seek for happiness within oneself.  To seek help from oneself and believe in oneself. But what many of us lack is the knowledge to do this.

We need a map to charter the unknown domain. We also need a guide to steer us ahead. Neuro linguistic programming provides us with the right knowledge to do so. I am lucky as we had the right guide to  help us on this journey.

So, what are the areas that NLP helped me with?
To get a positive Outlook of myself, in the correct sense
To discover my submodalities and use them aptly
Rapport building
Reframing the mind
Acceptance of others
Goal setting and it’s importance
Face my fears, negatives and how to deal with them
To channelise my potential towards a healthy objective.

The sessions were replete with real life examples and healthy exchange of thoughts amongst our peers and the mentor.

The crux of NLP sessions is that it re programmes us at the subconscious level hence the learning remains for a lifetime.

Finally, NLP steers us towards a  better personal, professional and a more meaningful life.
image NLP team