Without Love

Without Love

You think you’re okay
and then, every once in a while,
you stumble upon that beautiful verse,
that disarming canvas of art,
that balmy air up the mountain,
and it just stops your heart.
Because you remember
what it was like to be in love!
To be irrevocably intoxicated,
unabashedly euphoric,
and hopelessly undone.

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Thoughts on a plane

I’m flying to Phoenix this weekend for a quick getaway with my girlfriends. Well, Arizona is not something you plan for summer, but it was the only place that’d work for all of us, so here we are!
My work week has been pretty chill, that is, until today. I was slammed with meetings that continued through my ride to the airport until I boarded my flight. I’m mid-air now, and it’s a long flight from Atlanta. (Well, it’s only 4 hours, but 4 hours without internet isn’t pretty!)

I’m reading both Don Quixote and Songs of Fire and Ice and have been switching between the two books for 2 hours restlessly. Why wouldn’t the plot move along! I tried to get some shut-eye, but repetitive announcements make it quite impossible. So here I’m writing my thoughts down.

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A Ghost Story?

It was a chilly February of 2014. I was in college and had participated in a robotics event at the IIT Kharagpur Tech Fest with my team of four- consisting of my then-on-and-off boyfriend and a ‘new couple’. As awkward as it was, we are not going to talk about any cute love stories or get into the inner workings of our earthquake detector bot. This is about a series of strange events that started during our 2-day stay at Kharagpur.

College fests are a foreign concept to many outside India, so I will tell some more about it. Most reputed Indian colleges conduct fests that are 2–7-day events at the home college open to participants from universities across the country. During my time, fests had two major nomination categories – Cultural/ Arts fests and Tech fests. I was a member of the Robotics Society, and our team often participated in competitions during our engineering days. Our finals were on Day 2, and that’s where our story begins.

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The human heart could not possibly endure the loss of a child and sometimes, sons end up paying for the sins of their fathers. While funerals may vary between the rich and the poor, the grappling grief remains the same.

“You shall not bow down to (idols) or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

– (Deuteronomy 5:9-10, NIV)

Meet my Grandma

My grandma is older than India’s independence. She’s no taller than 4 feet 9 and I call her ‘Amma’. She was married at 16 to my grandfather, who she says looked like a Bollywood superstar. I have no memory of my grandfather but judging by her pride, I bet he was a catch!

Recently, I got a notification Amma was live on Facebook and I instinctively clicked to see her singing one of her favorite songs too close to the camera. The other day, I got a concerned call from her when someone commented on my display pic, “This is sick!”. She religiously explained to me how to make the perfect herbal tea to feel better. She also insisted I send her pictures of me drinking the tea for the next five days. She is addicted to online games and I often see her posting her results from quizzes like “Which Game of Thrones character are You?” or “How will you die?”. Now she’s on Twitter and her tweets crack me up every time.

Growing up, whenever I would come home after my day’s shopping, try on the clothes once again, and show them to my mom and her, she wouldn’t hold back and tell me the dress looked absolutely awful. Her complete lack of tact in ripping off the bandage amazed me every time and I would look at my mom who would say I looked beautiful anyway. That’s also the reason why I could not trust my mother with things like these!

Although deeply spiritual, Amma was never the religious type and when I would see my dad and mom going these extra miles organizing religious rites and rituals, I would see her sitting nonchalantly in a corner munching peanuts. There was a constant tiff in our house for the TV remote between my dad who wanted to watch news and godmen, and my grandma who wanted her daily dose of Ekta Kapoor soap operas. She told me one day, “Your dad is really superstitious and morbidly boring.” I mean between the two, definitely my grandma knew how to have more fun!

She was my best friend growing up and she still is. As a kid, I would look forward to accompanying her to local markets because I would get my pick at anything I wanted. Everyday before school, she would pack my lunch. She was also my go-to home tutor for Math, English, Hindi and Sanskrit. I remember asking her the same question every other day and her explaining it to me over and over again, with the same enthusiasm as the first time. She has not been cooking for years now as her health deteriorates, and I stopped eating ‘Malpuas’ the day she stepped out of kitchen.

We have our own secret handshake that ends up with me hugging and kissing her cheeks and her pretend annoyance with the whole goddamn thing. Once I was late for my flight and left the house in a hurry just kissing her goodbye only to learn later that she cried I forgot about our secret handshake. So, I made sure I did it right the next time and I saw her getting worked up and annoyed and absolutely thankful at the same time!

I have been seeing her less and less over the years and we’re not even in the same continent anymore. I try keeping up with her, but she can barely hear me over the phone. Whenever I video call her, she tells everyone I came home to visit her and my heart breaks a little. I know she won’t read or understand this anymore, even if I tell her myself, but I really do hope she knows that I carry a bit of her with me every day wherever I go!

Per Mahabharata, the epic Hindu mythology, Savitri was Satyavan’s beautiful, loyal and devoted wife, who was able to revive him after his demise by outwitting Yama (the God of Death). Side note: she was also deemed ‘Sati’, a title conferred to the most chaste of all women. Sati practice (widow burning) on the other hand emerged when the original Sati from another tale sacrificed her life for the love of Shiva, the Hindu God. Sati practice dictates that the widow must immolate herself alive on her husband’s funeral pyre should he die. The husbands do not need to burn themselves if their wives die of course. We abolished that in 1829, so I’m grateful for that! (I’m aware of oversimplifying this- it started as a voluntary tradition for widows, progressing quickly to become a forced practice that did not discount a widow’s wishes, much like every other blast from the past – topic for another day!)

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An Open Letter to my Ex


Dear Ex boyfriend,

I miss you sometimes. You, or the idea of you, I’m not sure. Never mind. Today is one such day.

Let’s try to catch up. I met a lot of people in the short span of the life after you. You will never know about them. I’m sure you have come a long way too and there’s no turning back.

Apparently, I am an amazing kisser. Apparently, I am not as bloated as you made me believe. Apparently, I am a strong woman and it turns out, I have dreams and aspirations too.

“How could he leave you?”

“How can anyone leave you?”

But, then,

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Femme fatale


There were holes in heaven and humongous ice towers swelled earthbound. Chic-clad men, women and children lurched out of tight spaces dug in the tower, belching thick tar and it rained in the realm. There was no land anymore, only bogs of currency soused in oil and blood. The marshes sucked everything in, till the quagmire softened into a decisive reality- a perfect corporate ghetto. The Heaven was hell and the Hell was heaven.

“Silent night, holy night…”, she hummed as she scanned the wall with a scalpel in her left hand. It was almost time, she must hurry. But, the perfectionist that she was, she continued the sgraffito and mellow undertones squinted out. The painting was complete.

“All is calm, all is bright….”

The exhilaration in her sprightly gait reiterated through the quiet mansion. A warm shower later, she donned a blush-coloured gown playing off her skin-tone. There was something very calm about her demeanour. It would not scream glamour directly into your eyes, but kick you in the face in your own sweet time and leave you to gasps. T-strap shoes and a turquoise necklace sealed the deal. That deconstructed extravagance and careful insouciance created a definitive idiosyncrasy, just the drama that makes you want to know the woman more.

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