Monday, July 16, 2007

Her eye's view

After a hard day's work, she was sitting in a swing in the balcony of her flat, with a cup of coffee in her hand. Nowadays, this has become her favourite way of destressing herself. The swinging action gives her body a rhythm which brings back the memories of her childhood. It reminds her of the summer holidays which she used to spend in her grandma's house. The innumerable hours, she with her cousins, used to play in the swing, in the mangrove. Big battles were fought to decide who will swing first and how long. Those were the memories which refused to leave her, which brings back a smile to her face even after so many years.

Looking down from her balcony, she could see many glimpses of a busy metropolitan city life. There were buses and vehicles rushing past in the road below. People were frantically rushing towards their destinations. Everyone is busy with their own lives. Everyone is in a search for a better life, a better job, true love, more money and many other things which they feel will bring them happiness. This mad rush had been a part of the life for some time now. Four years back when she came to this city with a job, leaving the close comforts of her home, she had no idea that life in this city will change her attitude and views to such a great extend. It had transformed her into a different person, a person whom she herself finds it difficult to relate to, at times.

She shuddered at the flow of these unnecessary thoughts. She glanced around. Towards her left, inside the flat in the floor just below hers, she could see a woman in her kitchen. Her face is red with all the smoke and heat that is emanating from the vessel. She was preparing something in a hurried manner. Maybe her husband is about to reach home after a day's work and its already dinner time. It made her wonder whether she will be there in that woman's place any day. A marriage? She hasn't found a person to get married to and she is already thinking about cooking a meal for him. She laughed at her own folly. After all dreams, they are sky bound.

In the balcony of the flat two floors below, she could see two cute little girls playing with their dolls. They had got a papa doll, mama doll and two other dolls as children. They were enacting the whole play as in papa goes to work, mama cooks and cleans, children go to school, the whole happy family drama. It reminded of her own childhood games with her girlfriends and dolls. How much fun they had while acting as loving mamas, bringing up their dolls as their own children, cooking meals for them and dressing them up in beautiful frocks. She still has the first doll which she got as a present from her aunt, somewhere deep inside her cupboard. She doesn't feel like giving it away though it had been years since she stopped using it. Maybe we cling on to certain things because they give us a breather in those moments when we feel like giving it all up.

Suddenly she could hear the loud music and feel the thumping on the floor. A bunch of teenagers must be partying in the adjacent flat. Those carefree days, when all you worried about was what clothes to wear and which classes to bunk. Gossiping all the way through a plate of pani-puri, those hush hush conversations about secret crushes, the teachers you silently admired, the list of craziness never ended. She misses her friends, friends who have chosen their own paths and moved ahead in life. Friends whom she lost contact with many years ago. Sometimes she feels being ambitious makes life much more difficult to live. Somewhere down the line, in the process of being successful, you miss out on the small happy moments with your friends, family and loved ones. At the same time, she is happy about whatever she has achieved in her professional life. She let out a sigh thinking about the irony of the whole situation.

In the balcony of the flat on her right side, she could see an old woman in her armchair. She has seen this lady at the same place so many times. Someone had even told her that the old woman is a widow and her children are all settled aboard. She is living in the flat with a servant. She imagined what it feels like to be living all alone when you are old. Inspite of being young and having a hectic work schedule, she finds herself lonely at times. Boring weekends, lonely evenings have all become a part of her life. All of a sudden, she felt sorry for the old woman. She said a silent prayer for her.

Different lives, different phases. She may have donned a dozen roles in her life, but she has more to don and many more acts to play.

She continued swinging, sipping coffee.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Another gem from the writer who have given us the internationally acclaimed book 'The Kite Runner'. Never ever had a book made me sit up and read the whole of it in one go. But this book did that to me. I was so engrossed in the story of Mariam and Laila that i could not keep the book down till i finished it.

Set in Afghanistan through the late nineties, the book tells the story of Mariam and Laila, both brought together by fate and locked up in a loveless marriage to a egoistic person. Both Mariam and Laila, the central protagonists of the story, had beautiful childhoods in their own small worlds. During the course of their lives, fate plays havoc and they are brought together in a very strange, uncomfortable way. From there starts their struggle for survival, supporting each other in every possible way they can.

During the initial pages of the book, author tries to draw parallels between the lives of Mariam and Laila. Mariam is denied her father's love during her childhood and Laila her mother's. Both of them realises their mothers' love for them only after going through similar situations in life. All these incidents in turn helps Mariam and Laila bond better, though they belong to two different generations.

Many a time, i was horrified by the gory details of the torture inflicted upon Mariam and Laila, by their husband and all those tears struck in my throat came running down as Laila read the last letter addressed to Mariam, by her father. A thousand splendid suns makes a good read, challenging us emotionally, questioning the whole purpose of womanhood, yet, showing us that in the end, everything will be fine.
The two lines of the poem which Saib-e-Tabrizi wrote about Kabul, way back in seventeenth century illustrates the same point:

"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls."



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