a terrible painter, a dreamer, a rebel , a feminist and a self certified bisexual Witch. Who is always trying to visualize whats on the other side of the canvas she paints,just another human- Living alive Life. Now also a green tea addict.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Nectar in a Sieve:- Rukmani keeps living.

A month or two back I was entrapped by the capitalist regime of discounts. In happiness and excitement I had bought six books of certain writer. I have had heard so much about her that when she was selling herself on amazon I was seduced in moments. With ten books and fame for unorthodox life style, she had intrigued me for years. Yet I had never read her. Then on that particular day she was giggling on my cart, riding to my place.

Kamala Markandaya sits on my bed in glorious colours and different names. The amount of pages she had bound in those paperbacks is worth a glance. I pick up her debut novel Nectar in a Sieve and the words of the only man whom I follow blindly pooped in my head. He calls her an average writer filled with irritating pathos. He had similar warning about Doris Lessing as well, he had warned me she was depressing in a twisted way and boy he was right!  Grass is Singing left me so depressed that I refused to touch any new book for a week. I recommend that book to anybody who comes with a negative mind to annoy me.

Nectar in a Sieve  presents the story of most hapless of the lot ‘Rukmani’ a woman from some nameless village in an India, which has just gained her freedom. This hapless protagonist marries and keeps toiling her body with her husband, goes on giving birth to children to dig her own grave to extreme poverty. It’s a Greek Tragedy in Indian garb, fatalism prevails the book. Though hailed by few as the representative of the rural condition of India, I have to disagree. Poverty yes is universal in the book but the rural condition is air brushed. Markandaya is an excellent creative writer, she subtly avoids caste though it peeks now and then. She kept her protagonist aware of scripts and importance of education but deprived of medium and means. In a way she presented her audience the mass scale hunger and human puniness in a chaotic country. The book has its charm in its movement of time, no matter how depressing the condition gets for Rukmani and Nathan, their hope against hope has clung to a satisfaction. A satisfaction aroused from the feeling to have survived another day.

This satisfaction has an eerie feeling to it. It’s a satisfaction that comes from having nothing, to owe nothing, to poses nothing. These characters are so humble and mite like in this vast world that the most drastic situation to them is like a breeze, a passing phase where happiness is a luxury. I could relate and understand tale of Rukmani’s a little more few days later after I was done with the book. I understood about this mite like condition of hers when we were being taught Counter Culture in American Literature. The condition of the African Americans during the time of Great Depression and other economic meltdown had not deteriorated much, because they were already poor to begin with, that the drop in value of currency hardly mattered to their basically battered situation.

The satisfaction of have not is a haunting one.

I could further relate Rukmani in the woman who cleans my landlord’s house and my room once in a while. When the girls living above me asked her to stop cleaning their room, she made no hue and cry over the loss of eighty rupees a month. Rather she gladly stopped working for them, when I asked her, why? The reply shut me up- I live a day each, there is no future for us. Those eighty rupees were not making me rich its loss won’t make me poorer than I already am.

Some may call my approach to reading this book a bit Marxists rather communist (I refuse with all my might) but my biggest complain with Markandaya remains and relays a popular thought. It is the only book of hers I have read, I think she has romanticized hunger and poverty. My professor from graduation days had mentioned a notion- Glorious Championing of Poverty and in one of Gandhi’s philosophy he had warned against this tendency. He believed that chanting and projecting an image of I have nothing and I have suffered so much is harmful. Though Rukmani remains a satisfied woman till the end, she definitely takes pride in her poor condition to have had nothing. She never complains or cries, only once she is furious when her hidden stock of rice is stolen and its acute hunger and source of betrayal taking over her rationale. Yet her living spirit never breaks.      

I have never been much of a person who thinks about the poor and deprived. I am a very self absorbed person who has always seen an affluent lifestyle. My complain against Markandaya may get nullified on this very ground. Yet my eyes are aware, I know the condition of my country well. Poverty has always been glorified is a constant complain I have registered since grade sixth. There was this particular poem called Street Play which compared children from slums and skyscrapers. It had been interpreted to us as- the street children were truly happy and not the video games playing toddlers. I had disagreed with my soul sister backing me up. We were asked to live the class that day. Reading Necter in a Sieve I am left with many complains. Biggest of all that remains why is human suffering the most lucrative study and why we cling to depression so much and zoom it?

  Today in Dalit Literature class one of the juniors asked why should acceptance from someone in higher strata be given more value over self acceptance (well the fellow did not say self acceptance, he got stuck in first part). This question has nothing to do with Rukmani, yet somehow I had a feeling her condition did seek acceptance, though she herself never did. Her son chose to fight, her daughter found an independence in prostitution. And again I agree with the person above, Marandaya has an irritating pathos in her pen. A sweet fragrance that tickles your nose is what I feel after reading her.

After reading this book my only question remains, why did Rukmani never gave into despair? 

the Common Man walks on....

I compare Rukmani to our favourtie Common Man. But the true understanding of this book will only happen if we read P. Shivkami's- The Taming of Women, which follows Markandaya's narrative technique and presents all the vices left out from Rukmani's tale. But both Rukmani and Anandhayi keep on living in a humble and not so humble world.  

P.S- if one wants to feel privileged and thank their luck,  Nectar in a Sieve is a weekend read.

thanking you to bear with me

Sunday, 23 August 2015

On Green Tea and Cucumber Sandwiches

yesterday's lunch, green tea and cucumber sandwich, the glossy edit happens thanks to Instagram

I have started to carry lunch to my university, when I say lunch I do not mean an elaborate meal that many of my classmates cook for or feed themselves in canteen. Almost a year back I technically moved out of my hometown into university life and since then I have been practically suffering from a serious but worthless thought almost every day. What will I have for lunch?

My mind says I wish a cup of green tea for lunch as well.

I who once was a legendary foodie have given up my lust for food for almost seven years now. I eat to keep my energy intact. So every day when I am faced with ‘thee’ question of lunch my peace strings tune into cacophonic ballad. It’s not like the choice laid before me to eat are versatile and healthy! I have to choose between one big belly filling of Rice Meal (something I am incapable of finishing ever) Bread-Omelet (which is actually a conspiracy to make me cry, as its layered with chilies), Chowmin (that has nothing to do with Chinese Cuisine) and the infamous Luchi Ghungnee(which once was a Sunday delicacy at my humble home).

Fifteen days ago when I saw my classmates the one who inhabit this town bring lunch boxes from home I was angry, not because they got home cooked food. (Yes I love my mother’s cooking) I was angry because they were free of the stupid question “What’s for Lunch and where will we have it?” On that particular burning day I decide I am going to bring myself lunch too.

I am not a random radical thinker; I just know what I want for stomach. There are five things I absolutely love to eat corns, eggs, peas, cucumber and chicken. I am incapable of cooking chicken, peas and corns are rare thing, so I am left with eggs and cucumber. When I announced I will take lunch to university my landlord had a fit of hysteria and my landlady was cheering my brave move. My mom was waving green flag as the blood of great cooks ran in me. Few others asked what was I going to cook? How could I cook rice was their worry, they said it look lot of time to make all those fried things and biggest worry was taste which would change after four or five hours.

I hate rice, I am lazy and I can practically eat anything that tastes nothing like gourd. My sister before leaving this country with her evil-half had left me a sandwich maker and electric kettle. I exchanged her kettle for a better one. Now my new kettle allows me to boil eggs, boil noodles, make cup soups and I can make green tea all the time without the worry of leaking pot.

Hence the lazy cook was born a week back. My dear friend made me a list of absolute necessary things for any new cook. The list had- knife, peeler, chopping board, five essential spices, salt and containers for them, oil, proper utensils bla bla bla.

The lazy cook over took me and I decided to unheard most of her to-do’s. I had concretized that my lunch box will have one thing, something I know I will eat, feel good and be fine with. At end of half day I really don’t want to think of food, I just want it in my stomach and be healthy.

I have perfect answer for the long list my friend had. I did get a peeler, instead of knife I use my paper cutter it cuts my cucumbers fine. What is oil? I have no idea what that elite Latin word is; I got myself small tiny packed boxes of butter that last five days straight! And salt, I got myself a salt sprinkler, I don’t need spices or containers to keep them, but the most important is magic food called Mayonnaise, which to my great surprise is a diet mayo.

First thing in morning is I get myself a nice cup of green tea, I put my egg to boil next, then slice my cucumber, take my bread and butter it, salt my cucumber and go to bath. Forty five minutes later I have my egg and cucumber between slices of bread. I watch them criminate inside the sandwich maker. Five hours later they taste fine when I bring them out of my super cute pink lunch box! And that’s how a lazy, practically food hater feeds herself.

It’s almost a week and I have become an expert sandwich maker. Though half of the world hate my combination of sandwich feeling. No one in my home enjoys eggs with cucumber. One is a cool thing and other a warm cheesy stuff. Well I just love both together. When I bite my sandwich I can intake the cool smell of cucumber and taste the cheesy eggs at same time. It’s a blissful experience.

Still all this actions are trouble for a non-morning person like me. I do all this because I do not want to have that talk “What will we have for lunch and where?” Nope I can no longer enjoy those harmful sun burns just to feed my stomach. I see no point cycling in the scorching afternoon just to put bad oil, stale rice, and unwashed vegetables in my stomach.

If I had the power to do one thing, I for sure would have removed hunger from the world. I would sit on a porch to watch the whole ordeal of civilization crumble. If I look back this all began because of that one thing called hunger, which I feel now and then. Sadly it’s universal but has lost its true purpose in mankind’s belly.

Until that power comes, I shall enjoy the view from my window and devour my sandwiches and sip my green tea.

it says:- Sunday or Monday everyday is Bun-day (Bun is a form of bread)

P.S- But strangely I have dreams of being drowned in pond of breads

thanking you to bear with me

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

View from the Window

a view from my veranda:- before the rain brakes

It’s raining; I can see the transparent drops drumming the banana leaf that knocks my window every night. Stooped by force the leaves are like women clad in green saree, their heads seeking a temporary refuge under the anchal.  The well opposite to my window has always been a thirsty one; today I can see it drinking the lusty rain and spilling out of his mouth- it’s overfed.

Someone had remarked on my love for rain few years back, women have over-romanticized rain and Hindi films have a great part in creating this romantic image. The songs from the 50s, 60s 70s & 80s have done wonder in poetizing the phenomena called rain. He was right in his own way, may be rain is overrated, it sure is troublesome for the one who has no umbrella and is drenched till their undergarments. Its messy, it ruins our clothes, it creates puddles on roads and finally that continuous pitter-patter and paach-pecch may make one tone deaf, rain has its side effects. Nothing is perfect after all.

I have always loved rain, I have had an ingrained tendency to run out and play in shower. It’s also true I get irritated with rain too when it breaks above my head while I am riding my bicycle and the droplets turn my glasses opaque converting me into a wild bull on the dark streets. I have many complains with rain, I hate it when it conspires with wind and forces my umbrella to upturn like Marilyn Monroe’s frilly dress. I groan when I can feel my medusa hair has been drenched with dust particles as if water was not enough. I dislike it when the water droplets hit me like bullets on battlefield.

Yet rain calms me. I can see the green leaves bathed, the green field fed and red soil outside my room has calmed its dry soul too. Back in my home the situation will soon be called flood, the calmness there will turn into chaotic decomposing rage. Rain can be brutal, still I long for the peace it brings after the musical session.

I love driving in rain, I love jumping in rain, I want to kiss in rain, I love watching rain fall on the trees and bring down the flowers splattering them on wet grass, I love hearing the constant hammering of earth and I love absorbing the smell of sudden green fire that burns my mother’s kitchen garden.

Yes it’s overtly romantic and based on visual pleasure of a privileged soul. But I too have seen leaky rooftops and placed buckets under them to collect the water, I have had damp walls with a healthy farm of algae turning into a bottle green carpet, I have had snails crawling up my stairs on rainy days, frogs hopping inside my shoes, centipedes hiding inside my cupboard and slugs walking my basin. The aftermath of rain is often gooey and slimy. Still I love sitting beside my caged window, sipping my green tea, watching nature get a long awaited shower and hear the sky wailing as it climaxes inside earth’s crevices. Right now I shamelessly watch the earth having her orgasm.            

P.S- I can see a green fire burn around me

thanking you to bear with me