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Voicing Silence 7

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Blog-a-thon for Blank Noise Project










image courtesy: Blank Noise Project

To mark their one-year foray into the blog world, Blank Noise Project have decided to host a Blog-a-thon on the issue of street harassment. If you’d like to participate, send an email to blurtblanknoise@gmail.com before the 6th of March. Here's my entry, a story posted a year ago.

Tonight

It was just a few hours since she had been married and the excitement from the wedding ceremony had given way to an exhausted lull. She was sitting in the marriage hall surrounded by cousins and aunts. Her younger cousins were chatting away while the aunts were busy gossiping. Soon she would have to get ready for the evening reception. "So", began her aunt, "are you ready for tonight?". At this cue, the other women started shooing the kids away. This talk was not meant for their ears. The new bride lowered her eyes and pretended not to understand. "You know, it's going to be your first night. I am going to tell you something important" the older lady proceeded. So this is going to be sex education, the bride thought, bring it on.

"Do you know what happens on the first night?", another aunt quizzed. The newly-wed, feeling utterly embarrassed, did not answer. She was thinking about that time, when she was nine, when an uncle put his hands up her skirt. And how this went on for months. She remembered the time when an old man pressed himself against her in a crowded bus. She recalled the day when the college peon had exposed himself to her at the college lab. She pushed the thoughts away, lowered her eyes and nodded as the aunt proceeded to give a graphic and crude version of what she was to expect on her wedding night. There were giggles and chuckles all around.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A quick tale 111

A conversation

‘Tell me when it’s convenient for you.’
‘I’m alright, don’t trouble yourself. It’s okay.’
‘No, I’d really like to visit you. Tell me when.’
‘Listen, I’ve recovered quite well. So…’
‘Are you saying you don’t want me to come?’
‘Of course not. You’re welcome anytime.’
‘You’ve just been down with this big illness and I’d like to look you up’
‘It was not that big. Besides you have to travel for nearly two hours for my sake…’
‘That’s no problem at all. What’s a couple of hours for you?’
‘Are you sure you want to come this far for me?’
‘Not if you don’t want me to’
‘No, no, that’s not what I meant. I’d love to see you. I just don’t want to inconvenience you.’
‘Nonsense! It’s my duty. Would five o’clock today be alright with you?’
‘Five would be…’
‘I can make it later if you like’
‘No, no, five would be fine. Are you sure you want to come this far?’
‘Yessss. Unless you don’t want me to’
‘No! I want you to. Just that…can you come tomorrow?’
‘Oh, I’m sorry, did you have plans for this evening?’
‘Well, some other friends are coming home today…you are more than welcome to join them but you may feel a little out of place.’
‘Okay then. What time tomorrow?’
‘Yeah but mom…’
‘I know, you’re 27 and you can take care of yourself quite well. But you’ll always be…’
‘Alright, alright. Tomorrow then. Say 5 o’clock?’, said the daughter rolling her eyes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A quick tale 110

A Russian author is read

This woman, who has small feet, lies on her bed reading Dostoevsky. She pauses to place the book face down on her stomach. Then she lifts her head and plumps her pillow with both hands. She drops her head and sinks instantly into the recent plumpness of the cushion. She picks up the book and as her eyes graze listlessly over the text of the 'The Idiot', her mind wanders.

Tomorrow she will tell her colleagues at the accounting firm where she works as an executive assistant, that she spent the night reading Dostoevsky. She will make sure that she says 'Dos-te-ove-ski'. The Russian way to pronounce the name. Then she will go on to tell them about the apocalyptic framework of the book, the characters and their conflicts penned across a moving landscape of pre-Soviet Russia. She will talk about it during the second half of the lunch break so that her colleagues give her more attention than the sandwich in front of them.

And later at coffee break, Brian, the handsome one, will mention how well-read she was. She reads some Russian author and all, he will say. And everyone around him will nod in assent. Some years later, when they will have moved on to different jobs, someone will say something about their favourite author and someone else will say, ah, I used to know this girl from my last job, she has even read Dostoevsky (pronouncing it 'some Russian author').

For the moment, the woman whose feet are small, shuts her eyes and sleeps a dreamless sleep.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Alert

Is there anyone reading who went to Children's Garden School in Mylapore, Chennai in the 80s? Please email me at ammania@ gmail.com
Thank you.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A quick tale 109

At your insistence

That’s the trouble with books like these. You love them so much that you reccomend it to people with an evangelical zeal. Oh, you’ll lovvvvvve it, you promise your friend as you stuff the book in her hands. You make her read the blurb and watch her face eagerly for reaction. Read the prologue, read the prologue, you urge her hoping that this will get her ecstatic. I know you’re going to lovvvvvve it, you keep repeating while making sure that she takes the book with her. A couple of weeks later, you bring up the book again. Casually, hiding the impatience in your voice. Has she reached that bit where the girl finds out about his past? No? Oh dear, what have you done! Forget what you said and get on with it. How far has she read then? She mumbles something about the early bits which you are sure is a mistake. Because it’s such a quick read.

Some months later, she returns the book. So what does she think? Great, wasn’t it? Yes, yes, she nods, she has never read anything quite like this. You beam like a mother who has just been told that her child has won the Nobel Prize after winning an Olympic gold medal during lunch break. By the way, you wonder, has she ever been to this restaurant? They serve the most amazing food! She has got to try it. She’ll lovvvvvvve it, you just know.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A quick tale 108

Relating to worldwide church

Some years ago, a young girl chanced upon the word ‘ecumenical’. She ran it past her tongue, slid it down her throat and discovered a pleasurable sensation. She found it the most intriguingly wonderful word and being a young girl, she was keen to use it in a conversation. But ecumenical being ecumenical, is not an easy word to slip into a casual talk with friends. However, a year later, the opportunity presented itself unexpectedly when she was travelling by train. She overheard two people in the next carriage discussing clues to a crossword puzzle.

‘Relating to the worldwide Christian church, ten letters’, said the fat one. ‘Hmm…catholic?’ ventured the younger man. ‘No’, said his friend, ‘third letter U’. Then they both went silent for a while. Ecumenical! Ecumenical! She wanted to scream. This could be her only chance to use the word she reckoned with rising panic.

‘Papal? Churchical?’ guessed the younger man once again. Churchical? CHURCHICAL?? She wanted to yell. That’s not even a word, you moron! She had to hurry up. Or this occasion could be lost forever. But how could she walk over to two strangers and offer an answer to their crossword puzzle? Won’t they assume that she had been overhearing their entire conversation? That she was interested in them? But isn’t it her duty to use the word? Hadn't she had waited long enough? Such were the thoughts pulling her in conflicting directions when the fat one said ‘16 Across. Researched dissertation. Six’. She knew the answer. But she no longer cared if they knew their 'thesis' or not.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A quick tale 107

One morning in January

You have to pee. And the teacher looks forbidding. So you slip out when she has her back turned to the class. The watchman at the gate is busy savouring the day's first bidi with his eyes closed that he barely notices you scrambling out of the school. It should be easy tracing your route back home. Or so you think. You've noticed things on your way to school each morning. There's the green tree with pink flowers, the lamp post with a donkey tied to it, the fishmongers with stalls of dried fish laid out, Nimmy's house, Pillayar temple, green tree with yellow flowers and then it should be home. You quickly shuffle past the landmarks one by one.

You see your house at a distance. You break into a run. This is it. You cannot hold on any longer. There. Another few steps. A second more. You've reached home. You run inside pushing past your mother. Sadly, you'll have to change your skirt. But that doesn't matter, you're home now. Mother's full of questions. Did you come home alone? Didn't they see you leaving? Is there no toilet at school? And then she grabs you, hugs you, kisses you and starts to cry. What if you had been run over by a car? Or a lorry? The way they drive! Oh my god! My child! What would have happened to you? She's practically wailing now. And you don't understand what the fuss is all about. It's not like you're a baby. You're nearly four.

I've started so you finish - Update 4

Maverick

Sandhu was 13 when she discovered the joys of exaggeration. 15 years later, her husband seems to be enjoying it.

Charukesi

Sandhu was 13 when she discovered the joys of exaggeration. Her mother despaired, "haven't I told you a million times not to exaggerate?"