Thursday, 21 August 2008

The Wish - I

The last guest departed three hours after Anita blew out two candles on a chocolate cake. These had been number shapes, a three and an o. Prachi and some of the others behind her yelled Make a Wish! and Anita caught herself hastily addressing an anonymous invisible entity in her mind. She made the wish as one would make a request, politely and matter of factly.

Please let me find someone special.

She hadn't meant to say that. But this was the first coherent thought that crossed her mind, catching her slightly unawares.

Now that she was alone, she was quite confused. She had thought she was reasonably happy with her life. But it seemed a part of her had long acknowledged a missing aspect and now suddenly, the rest of her had woken up to this realisation that could no longer be ignored.

She sat herself down with her diary and a pen. She always found she could deal with things better if they were down on pen and paper. Preferably in lists. She thought for a minute and wrote My Problem, underlining the words twice. Adding a colon, she wrote some more, and inspired, continued in a similar vein. It struck her that she had also created another subheading, Next Steps. This was a manhunt. She was definitely not being spontaneous, "Which should be a key ingredient in a romance, at least in my opinion", she thought.

Which is also when she realised, she wanted romance. Not just a man. She wanted to be swept off her feet. But she definitely needed to aid that occurence. Romance would not come knocking on her door while she sat writing her diary.

The bell rang.

Anita jumped a little in her chair and stared at the door, then slowly went up to it and rose on her toes to position her eye at the peep-hole. A man in a check shirt looked solemnly back, without any apparent weapons or accomplices lurking nearby.


"I am the person that moved into Flat 4A. I just managed to lock myself out. I need to make a phone call. And yours is the only flat on the floor that still sounded like people were awake. Oh and happy birthday. Sorry - it was rather obvious, the reason for the party, after the song, and you know the walls are thin...."

This was the point where Anita, under the influence of three glasses of champagne and another of red wine, opened the door to a neighbour she was not even aware she had had. The man was smiling a little, she still couldn't say much.


"Anita". She shook his hand, and then stood there, until he said very correctly, "Sorry could I make a call please? I really am sorry about this. You must have been ready to hit the bed".

The word bed seemed to ricochet in her brain until Anita willed herself to shut the door and try to locate her cellphone.

"Right there, on the telly".

Wordlessly she handed him the phone and tried to calm her jangling nerves. She desperately wanted to stop thinking, but her mind was playing divine intervention - brown eyes - nice smile - divine intervention - tall - about 6 feet at least - weird checks though - divine intervention - how about that a birthday wish coming true the same night- really sweet smile, in an endless loop.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Excuse Me?

Although I might feel like one occassionally, I am no longer a teenager, exactly. In fact, one might even go as far as to say, my teen years are well and truly behind me. Bat sized spectacles, frilly white blouses, plastic hairbands and the boyband cassettes that I would play on my Sony walkman are now indistinct memories of a bygone era, albeit still fondly preserved by my mother since, as she insists everytime I set foot in my childhood home, you never know when you might need something.

Members of the opposite sex that I am generally presented with, typically belong to a similar age group. If not older. They wear suits to work, have cars and hang framed paintings on their walls nowadays instead of rock posters. Most of them live with their wives or partners and would not look out of place in an advertisement of the Hum Do, hamare do genre.

I therefore find it very strange, when they still act like prepubescent boys and not men.

I have perfected the art of dodging doors that threaten to slam into my face as they stride along oblivious to the fact that I am almost running in heels to keep up. I usually collect my belongings and scamper helpfully out of cars without any expectations unless there is a chauffeur present who inspires the confidence that he knows his job. In most cases, the question of an air-kiss and hug greeting does not even arise. I am wary even when I shake hands for fear of my paw being crushed in an over zealous and steely grip. In fact, so unused am I to genteel behaviour, that when S first took me out to dinner and held my coat out for me, I almost fainted in disbelief. Even now, when he fetches me a drink without me having to ask for it, or unobstrusively flicks the cheque away before I can glance at it, I give him bewildered looks.

For other male friends have greeted me with questions on every personal aspect of my life - right from how much money I make to when I intend to get married, within a few seconds of saying Hi! Haven't spoken to you in years!

While I have inched towards middle age in the interim since we swapped notebooks and sympathised about what a bitch of a lecture that last Indian Eco class was, they are still quite the same. And when I let my dislike for such behaviour be known, they seem genuinely surprised at how I have "changed".

I wonder if professionally, they are as clueless when it comes to dealing with women as they seem to be in their personal lives. Or maybe, the poor women who they deal with on a day to day basis have simply given up on such things. And would collapse right there on the road if they offered to help with a heavy laptop bag when they are running to a meeting together.

Brings to mind a very strange dinner I had once attended. There was a guy there I had met some years back when we were both taking tuitions for CAT. Throughout the whole evening, this person just could not stop making lewd jokes - about everything. You name it, and he would turn it into some kind of an innuendo. I am no shrinking violet, but rarely have I been presented with such a sex-obsessed sense of humour and everyone else seemed just as bemused. I was the only girl present, unfortunately, and I was dying to get out of there before I felt compelled to say something rude. After I had escaped, I pondered over the cause of this erotic mirth in the fellow. The alcohol had not been excessive, conversation had centred around work and how we all felt homesick from time to time, and the people present were hardly the sort to get one's hormones overflowing.

No, it had to be me. Not used to speaking to a girl, the chap simply didn't know what would be a safe dinner table conversation and what was downright strange. If you don't believe me, try this for size - during a lull, I commented on how there were pigeons loudly cooing from atop a skylight in the room. To which, he replied with a peculiar smirk, they must be, you know...

I did know. And I wished he knew too - when to shut up.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Writer's block

The only instance where I cannot seem to suffer fools gladly is when it comes to writing. My house is strewn with books I cannot bear to finish. Mediocre, maudlin and melodramatic writing irritates me beyond belief.

Which is one of the two reasons why I just cannot begin to start working on something beyond a blog. It would be devastating if what I wrote was too unpalatable for even me.

I read The Fountainhead when I was still in school. It was one of those books which everybody who had read would swear by. A few years later, I read Atlas Shrugged and I too, put it down as one of those books I would use time and again to draw inspiration from.

Over time, subsequent re-readings were less than satisfactory. I understood that I did not really appreciate someone shoving a slightly deluded philosophy down my throat. I could not comprehend why a spirited woman would still look for validation from the opposite sex, and it seemed to me, the author worshipped the male ideal a little too closely for a woman to identify with her theme.

Recently, I liked Donna Tartt's The Secret History. A wonderful gothic novel, highly intelligent, with very tightly woven prose. With that unforgiving style of narration, however, you cannot really continue without growing repeptitive. Consequently, her second novel - The Little Friend - lies unfinished by my bed.

What really makes me love a book, is when the story it narrates is so deeply touching, that I forget everything about it except the story itself. The mastery of the craft of writing is obviously still there, but the power of the tale itself is what sweeps you along. I cannot read Love Story without sharing Oliver's sense of loss and hurt. The book carries with it that haunting tune as well.

Which brings me to the second reason why I have restricted my attempts at writing to this blog. The story I want to tell, has not come to me yet. Sometimes, I can almost glimpse the persons I will write about. But beyond a mere beckoning, they just refuse to spring to life. Although, on evenings such as this, they seem just that little bit closer than usual.