Who do you think you are?

is the name of a lovely book by Alice Munro.

it’s also what a boy’s posture once asked of me as he stood tall in front of my desk, his finger issuing a warning to me and my table.

Behind him were creepers that had work to do but hung for some reason, on every word I said, every yawn I stole, every fart I managed.

And that day I learnt that very few things in this dreary world are as cute as 18-year-old boys taking themselves seriously.

TIL that ‘Who do you think you are?’ is also the name of a TV show.

Rain: with apologies to Francis Ponge

⁣The rain, by the front door where I watch it fall, is only in its effects. Nothing like the way I imagine it from inside, where it falls on the house in sounds: splatters, drips, trips, pattars, thwacks, & pachaks. ⁣By the steps, it gushes in soundless patterns as if letting go after too much withholding.⁣

Outside the compound, it flows down the road, in a fierce, determined brown, the kind that means the tea is perfect. ⁣In a far away country, I once stepped out to find that it had been raining for a while, with no warning. Where is the rain if there’s nothing for it to fall on, alva? Without gudgud, without laughter?

Like it does here from pipes sticking out of pakkad manè, as the French say. Or freezes itself into white droplets on thick black wires, trickling into each other now, running away now.⁣

On mosaic, it falls with clarity. On granite, with purpose. On marble, with glory. On my palm, with giggles. But no one has quite learnt to catch it like the trees do. After all, only they seem to know what to do when it rains – stand themselves in utter, brilliant solitude, refusing to go anywhere, soaking it all in, shivering only when they want to.

Read Francis Ponge here.

I open at the close

Something they don’t tell you when you first start writing is that when you keep doing it, you lose people. At first you won’t notice it because it’s absurd that this should happen. Then you see it and you can’t unsee it. Then there will be sleepless nights like these where you wonder if you will get people back if you stop writing. You feel smaller than ever when you realise that you’ve actually already stopped. It’s too late. Thankfully, the gates are only closed, never locked and you can open them whenever you want to.

Open,

write.

How to take it back

“Our surest way of disappointing him will be to ask him nothing about it” said Elizabeth Bennet to Caroline Bingley.

There is truth to this.

Don’t ask them questions

— any kind of questions, especially ones that make you feel most naked.

Especially if them is a him.

Take that affection and put it in plants.

At least, they will grow –

even fucking succulents – who are as dramatic

as dramatic can be

will return more affection.

then take that affection and put it into making a nice reading corner for yourself. Preferably where there is light and water to drink. Sit here every morning and think about life on this purple sofa next to the window and think, and ask — and really ask yourself – is there anywhere else you would rather be?

For a while, we are children again – my cousins & I

In the Mannagudda house in Mangalore where the tallest point of the slope touched sky and one section of houses bent their ears to gravity.

We didn’t want to sleep but we had to.

Under the angry eyes of my mother and theirs,

we pretended to sleep, our eyes closed to them and open to us in every other way, grateful. They couldn’t see that we were playing behind the red screens of shut eyes.

I have stayed up many nights after that but never quite like I have on that night.

We lay in silence, stifling giggles because someone tried to find his way to the others and was kicked back to sleep by an awake, upset adult.

Little by little, each of us managed to leave our beds and walk with our palms pressed to our mouths as if that would somehow mute our feet.

We gathered in the backyard and poured laughter

All delight of a sleepless night released.

Then the pointlessness set in. We had escaped sleep, the dangerous quiet it brought, and adults. Now what?

We couldn’t do nothing with the time we had stolen (and stayed up all night for)

So some of us went to gather sticks – big and small

– just so our hands had something to do that early in the morning

And the others dutifully went back to sleep.

30~

As a Tamil woman,

I am fierce in love,

like all Tamil women are –

when they run towards their lovers

with gritted teeth and dancing hair

*

As a Konkani woman,

my laugh will match your fart

— in loudness and vulgarity

*

As a Malayali woman,

my hair is messy, like a dabba joke.

— but if you walk into it with all your heart

you might have a good time

*

As a Kannada woman,

I hug tightly

— and when you wake up next to me

on cold November mornings

like this one

I will hug you with all that I have

— and all that I am yet to have

*

As a Hindi woman

I will open doors and windows

— with the longing of a mother

waiting to escape her life

— with the passion of Chameli

waiting to elope with Charandas.

*

As an English woman

I will make pots and pots of tea

and drink them all up

until my belly swells

and I cannot walk

*

Today I am all these women

and we are walking back home-

arm-in-arm

expertly avoiding all the cows in Basavanagudi.

___

Dear Mr Weiner

**Featured Image Credits: Young Writers Society**
**Featured Image Credits: Young Writers Society**

Dear Mr Weiner

When I think about writers,

I think about you Mr Weiner, from my degree days

you who proudly told everyone –

‘Yoohoo. I am a writer. I write.’

Often you wrote about yourself in third person,

‘But he was different from others. He could write. He could really write and not just string words together.’ (Like I am doing now)

 

When I think about writers, 

I also think about 2 lovely girls

from a class I taught years ago.

How they both hesitated to call themselves writers

even though they wrote like motherfuckers.

So now I want to say to you, Mr Weiner,

‘If at least one inch of your pubic hair can write like those girls, we’ll talk.’

***

**Featured Image Credits: Young Writers Society**