The lump in her breast. The rock in her soul.

Often we realise that it is our weaknesses that help us discover our hidden strengths. It’s about conquering that battle within, fighting the fears known only to one self, getting over injuries invisible to the human eye. And still standing strong.
Just like challenges always arrive at your door step completely uninvited, a tryst with fate usually occurs when you’re hardly prepared for the moment.

One fine Sunday morning, no one thought that my grandmother would return home from the hospital with a part of her body missing.
Days passed by and now years, and every day when I look at her, I ask myself, ‘How much steel does the lady have?’

For a woman, to be losing a breast is not merely about losing a part of her body, but also about losing a part of her identity. It’s about looking at yourself everyday and feeling how close you were to an end. It’s about knowing the world will look at you differently, sympathetically. And it’s about pulling off a smile and not letting anyone know how bruised you are. It’s about holding on and hoping you’ll still be alive to tell stories to another generation.

She inspires me in the oddest things I do. Like an extra repetition in the gym, or another headline for that ad, or just remembering to smile when nothing’s going your way.
It’s about knowing I’ll be fine no matter what I’m up against.

The realisation of ‘everything is attainable’ comes from knowing that we have just one life to live and it is about making the most of this beautiful gift. It’s about believing in the obvious that we often tend to miss, that we are stronger than anything life can ever throw at us. My 10 year old niece learnt it early in life when she decided to swim across the Alcatraz on a cold, cloudy day just to show her support for her own grandmother and great grandmother who have bravely battled this dreadful disease. The least you can do is spread the word of self examination and regular tests because Cancer can happen to anyone.

Growing up

Here is Nandini, making an appearance once again on my blog. The third episode from the series of ‘A day in the life of En’. Some more slice of life instances from a girl who’s fondly known as ‘En’ amongst friends. Caught between a past and the present, watch Nandini battle it through like a braveheart one more time.

En was enjoying her free time at home, painting her toe nails. Right then, there was a knock on the door.
‘What timing!’ she thought.
Peering through the peep hole, she was trying to catch a glimpse of someone who was relatively shorter. A few strands of hair is all that caught her eye.
She tried harder by standing on her toes this time, avoiding the paint from getting smudged in the struggle. Still nothing.
She was a little skeptical now to open the door, ‘Is there someone really that short? or is someone just playing a prank?’ She was dreading the latter. Lost deep in thought, she heard the knock again, this time shaken and left more cold. She thought to herself, ‘Should I?’
With her heart beating heavily, she looked at the broken chain hanging over the knob on her door thinking, ‘I should get that one repaired… What have I been thinking?’
Slowly, En opened the door and there stood the biggest surprise. A little angel fallen from above. She looked at En with the most loving eyes En had ever seen. And a question shot right back at her, as the little girl uttered, “Who are you?”
En smiled and thought to herself, how she had never managed to find the perfect answer to that one. She replied, “I don’t know… Who do you think?”
The little girl looked deep into En’s eyes and retorted, “My guardian angel.”
En had heard that before. She took a closer look at the kid standing before her in a lavender layered dress, and within an instant, flashbacks flooded her vision. She was all of six years of age, walking through a lonely corridor, and right then, a known face had appeared and offered to help. Holding his hand firmly, she had repeated after him… ‘You’re my guardian angel’.
Still shaken from the horrors of the events that had followed, where she was not just stripped off her clothes, but also her dignity, En was broken from her thoughts as she stared at the vacant corridor before her. The little girl was gone. She had outgrown the frilly dresses, but the wounds had grown deeper with age too.
En stood there with a face that had been drained out of expression. Quietly turning back, she shut the door behind her, telling herself, ‘That’s the last time I’m speaking to that empty corridor’.

An era has passed

Reminiscing at the doorway to infinity,
I realised I had dropped the key.

I wait, an impatient soul,
with fingers gliding into my robe.
In vain, I look fruitlessly,
still riding on a hope of victory.

Voices surround my entire being,
questioning my character, my dignity.

I ask, will I be allowed entrance?
Will I be asked to leave?
With chances so bleak,
will I then come back again?
Will I still seek?

How far will this take me, my new face?
Which I no longer recognise, I no longer embrace.

I wish I knew the answers
when I set off that day.
I wish I would hold my guard,
I wish I would not stray.

While I was walking towards you, little did I think,
my journey so far would be about losing my skin.

Bluff Master!

I hope as a reader you will respect the need for humour in life. I’m very serious when it comes to exploring this side. Bluffing is an art, not everyone can do it. So for those who have not mastered it yet, here’s a how-to-be a bluff master in 5 easy steps! Highly not recommended, but have fun anyways!

Meeting an ex when you’re with your current.
I’m sorry, but my memory fails me. Really?… We went to college together?… I really did go to college?… Oh I tell you this brain surgery.
(Works wonderfully! Each time!)

Oh my God!
You don’t see a Ganapati in this picture? I’m telling you he’s there. Oh wait!… This could be divine intervention. Oh my God! I’m his chosen one!
(I actually told my friend to tell this to her boss, if he refused to give her leave for Ganapati.)

It’s a family emergency. I need leave, Sir.
My dog is depressed because I’ve been staying late hours at work these days.
I hope you understand. I’m her mother. I just had a word with her and she demands that she won’t let me get to work today. Thanks boss!
(I have never tried this with my boss. Well, let’s just say, you do it first and I’ll follow.)

The number you’re calling, is out of coverage area. (for 8 hours?!?!)
Honey, ever since I’ve gotten this new network – Dolphin, it’s been a task to get through to me. The thing is every time the poor chap (dolphin) has to come out of the water to find these signals. It gets taxing on him, the poor fella! I know you’re really understanding that way!
(To the women: Dump him right now!
To the men: She’s obviously not bluffing, come on!)

A pauper within a second.
Holy shit! Where’s all the money from my wallet gone?… Gosh! I was just watching Mind Freak when I left home, I think Chris Angel’s using his magic on me through that 21” screen in my living room! If you were not around how would I ever pay my bill? Thanks!
(I have never tried this one before. If you do, tell me if it worked or you got disowned as a friend.)

I hate to hate but what if there’s nothing else to do.

A scene from the Parliament House that I watched on TV yesterday, intrigued me to write this post. Of how the people who are representing us keep growing in number while we keep getting more and more defenseless in the bargain. An irony of sorts.

I walk with fear in my heart every time I step out of my house, whether some man will again walk brush passed me, will I return home in one piece, whether I will return home at all.

I enter the local with my heart beating heavily, looking around trusting no one. I enter a mall, a taxi, a theatre and even a temple with doubt in my mind. Will I be alive to narrate stories someday before a news hungry media or will my parents be greeted with the news of my body strewn in many parts?

I have wondered this for long now but of late something that baffles me is how our dear politicians won’t let go of their security personnel at the cost of our country’s safety resources.

I mean does Shivraj Patil need 200 men to protect him? Does Amar Singh need 120? And what is Varun Gandhi afraid of that he is moving around with 30 men to guard him? How come he spoke so unafraid at Pilibhit delivering a speech that was meant to divide people into communities, so he could secure a seat for himself in the parliament?

What is more appalling is that our politicians are willing to say so unabashedly that any one who tries to cut down on their security personnel will be sent to jail for doing so. Do we really need these guys to use our precious tax money to guard themselves and their families and their grand children and their nieces and nephews so lavishly while we are thrown at the mercy of a possible threat at any given point? Do we really need these guys to help us build a secure nation?

I hate to be scared. I hate to be so vulnerable. I hate to be at the mercy of mindless power hungry politicians. I hate to be a target like any other common man in this country. I hate it more when it is at the cost of someone eating into my tax money. I hate to be compromised on my security after being a law abiding citizen. I hate the fact that all this is decided by a few men who care a damn whether I live or not.

The day that was and today

Here’s a first from ‘Pages from my life’. A personal account of a rainy day in Mumbai. Whether you’re influential, not-so influential, rich, poor, otherwise, you cannot escape a natural calamity. An incident that brought every Mumbaikar at common ground and made them all equal. An incident that brings to light the incapability of the political system of the financial backbone of India.

How about being nicely cuddled up in bed, watching the rains pour down your window pane? Always a fabulous option over getting out of that bed, getting ready and making it to work amid the havoc. I am late any ways because I decided to spend 5 extra minutes in bed. Those 5 minutes got stretched to a whole half hour because on that blessed day the snooze alarm on my phone died out of battery. I am 2 minutes away from the bus stop and the clouds cast their spell again. I realise I have forgotten my umbrella at home between all the rush. I make a quick decision, get wet or get more late. I decide on the first. I enter an overcrowded bus and people look at me like, ‘Dude, have you saved your umbrella for the winter?’

The bus starts moving, at a pace that could give a snail some competition. I can’t do much, hence I wait and wait and wait. A 30 minute journey that takes over 40 minutes on that day. Ten minutes is a huge amount of time when you are running late. Finally relieved I have reached my stop, I get off and start walking. And what do I spot? The place looks alien. I have gotten off at the wrong stop. Really? Am I dreaming?… Look again. No point. ‘Have I to do this on a day like this?’ I look behind, my bus had just left. I make peace and take a rickshaw. The saga with the potholes continue, reminding me of that adventurous camel ride back in Rajasthan. So, after another 15 minutes or so, there I was, walking into my office, as my boss was stepping out. He greeted me, “Good morning… oh is it morning yet?”

And if that was not all, let me tell you, this would have still been an ordinary day knowing the space-struck creature that I am. But it was the monumental 26th of July, 2005. It wasn’t complete without a 3-hour long walk on my way home in waist-deep water.

Four years later, I don’t think I’ve changed so much. I’m still as much as a space cadet as I was then. I still get off at wrong stations now that I travel by train, put steel spoons in microwave, walk into glass doors and miss my home on my way home. ‘But where’s the water in Mumbai?’ Is building a freaking bridge over 9 years and then debating what the name should be a bigger concern than rain water harvesting? ‘The Joshis, the Deshmukhs, the Dutts, the Thakreys, are you guys planning to kill us either ways, if not through choked drains, then with the mere stench of human perspiration this time?’ Let me tell you, if you came out with a brilliant idea of a car pool, I have one for you. Save water, bathe with your opposition party member.

Crossing the mile and spaces in between

Taking my thunder under its wings,
my angel flew a distant dream.

In milestones, laid out far and wide,
a memory etched of love and pride.

Unfulfilled visions, incomplete goals.
A dying wish, a flickering hope.

Take me with you, my sweet angel, I sang the holy song.
I heard nothing for eternity, believing he was gone.

One day I woke up to my windows broken,
to realise, of love and compassion he was a token.

With sounds from a far-away world,
I had finally got my call.

I knew I had to go,
to a land of no friends, no foe.

To be united in a space unknown,
to return to a piece of my soul.