Monday, July 25, 2011


I was looking at our bookshelf. It’s a wooden thing, hiding the wall and its stains. It used to be shiny. But it’s tired now. There must be some few hundred books there. Borrowed, bought, forgotten. It still sparkles sometimes, when the letters on the jackets are legible, when I stand on the sofa and reach for one, when we switch on the bright lights above. It’s like a distended pocket we’ve tailored to house all the books lying around. I’ll miss the bookshelf. And a million other things which I’ve started to pick and keep with me and see me through this change.

Now that I leave in a month, I’ve started packing.

The noisome fumes at the public urinal, a sting of betel juice and tamarind from the chaat vendor, the heady fuel vapors at the petrol pump, the familiar odor of dust that’s settled on the book hawkers lining golpark, the whiff of mustard on the succulent roadside fish fry and a thousand other smells of hurried people and lazy sunday mornings, trams and rickshaws and gutter sewage, all packed into one little resilient bubble of familiarity inside me.

The other day, I crossed the kalighat metro station. It was Sunday and the shutters were down. I felt something interred deep within me move, an insipid yellowed photograph that started to twinkle. And suddenly the delight and dismay; impatience, relief, anxiety and the countless other little bits of me associated with that ten minute commute to college became infinitely dear in a single fleeting pang of clarity.

Then my car started to move, and I was lost again.

Leaving isn’t tricky, letting go is. But I’ll pick the scab in one painful flourish, because I know there’s new skin below.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Someone asked for a line on what the Department of Microbiology at St. Xavier’s College means to me.

My first true sense of competence with an incubated petriplate, my first experience of delving into knowledge at its very best, my first taste of harmony in turmoil, my first second home.

Pathetically limp. It’s like trying to trap sunshine for the dark nights.

Friday, July 15, 2011


I think I’m deficient in expressing myself, and there’s something vaguely stifling about it. It’s no stray inkling, it’s a conclusion derived with considerable certainty. Had it not been for the fact that I’m about to dunk myself in relatively unknown waters, this rather unsettling tendency wouldn’t have caused so much of a ripple. But as of now, without the slightest embellishment I can say that the inability to emote could well be the cause for future turmoil. The silver lining lies in my capacity to watch and follow. I’ve been trying to do so for quite sometime now, but yielding exasperatingly miserable consequences. Undoubtedly I’ve underestimated such a reason for concern.

I seem to have deluded myself into thinking I could write, but the more I read what I’ve written, the more I’m convinced otherwise. My earliest posts did have this na├»ve earnestness, a hint of nervous hesitation. I’ve retained the candor somewhat, but diluted the apparent charm and lost the pretty words. Hence the oppressively bland posts which leave no room for revival.

A slight consolation lies in the fact that I’ve been able to recognize the signs alluding to a social mirage I had until now failed to discern. Which brings me back to the initial hurdle. Of expression. There was once an unexpected burst of victory. But that was apparent in the virtual word, and sometimes barely so. Besides the virtual world unleashes it’s own army of html tags expressing elation and sorrow and most things in between with such brutal crudeness, it took me a few bouts of suppressed discomfiture before I allowed my cursor to select a yellow plastic face that supposedly signals I’m happy. Or smiling. But the mechanics of this whole process is indisputably valuable. By replacing my usual full-stops with yellow faces, I find I’m magically laughing, gracious, ecstatic, disgruntled, irate and a host of other things with minimum effort. Pure genius, as I quote a friend.

But to translate such practiced ease of expression from the virtual to the real world is no cakewalk. Once I’ve sloughed off the excess reluctance, I can hope to take my first step. There isn’t any excuse for my indolence, but even so, a conscious effort doesn’t necessarily mean a correct one. Although, the only risk I run is of being misread. And I’ve dealt with that before. Frosty, condescending, rude. This time it’ll probably drift to what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-her. Oh well. A few stumbles in the bag, maybe, just maybe, I’ll slip right in.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I’m on my knees. I’ve soiled my face and hair, there’s dirt everywhere. But I’m trying hard, so hard. Smile I say, and draw circles in your head. The dirt will cleanse itself.

One day at a time. One day at a time.