Sunday, August 30, 2009

CHILDREN OF OUR OWN FATHER :)

Normally I have to force myself to write my blog, but today I feel compelled to do so.

I woke this morning to the disturbing picture in the papers, of a 14 year old housemaid in a TV stars home, who was battered by the starlet for having eaten some shrikhand from her refridgerator without taking her permission.

I have been watching some discussions on Television about the same thing, where eminent folk have been talking about this curse upon so many children in our country, but have yet found no solutions.

Should children be allowed to work? Should parents who send their children out to work like this be prosecuted? What is the way out of this evil?

There are no answers.

In a poor country like India, where education and health care is not something that covers each and every individual, there is no option but for children to work and earn for their own livelihood because otherwise, this nation leaves them to die.

The poor young girl who was beaten by her mistress who was obviously no less than a brute. It made me feel disgusted. Disgusted enough to tell something that I have never really written about till date.

I have never written about the four young boy children who worked in my company Tracinema when it was at its peak.

I have never spoken about Loku, Vishnu, Inder and Anil because right until now they were growing up and making their lives.

Today, I feel comfortable telling their stories because the four of them have conquered such heights within themselves, that there is no way that my account of their lives will in anyway give any one of them the feeling that I am taking away from their achievements.

And much more than that, I'm speaking because it is a time that their story be told.

It was way back in the early nineties, when there was a boy at my door asking for work. He was a Nepalese, barely 10 years old, red cheeked, curly haired boy with round soulful eyes asking me to give him a job. He looked like one of the characters from Russian stories which I used to read a lot in those times.

I asked him who had sent him to me and he told me that my buildings watchman had asked him to go door to door to find himself a job. The boy could not speak a word of Hindi and that was all I could gather from his Nepalese speech. I sent my maid to call the watchman to my house.

The watchman was his uncle who had brought him from a remote village in Nepal but had no place to keep him in Bombay. The boy had arrived that morning and had spent the whole day looking for a job which would give him a place to sleep.

It was late on a Sunday evening by now.

The building watchman told me that although the boy did not know housework, he would learn fast and do anything I asked him to.

I asked this most beautiful looking child what his name was, and he said, Loknath Pandey. I told him he could stay in my house.

The next morning when I was ready to leave for my shoot at filmcity, my cook cum housekeeper looked at me and asked me what she should do with the boy. She informed me that he had been weeping all night and she had to ask him to sleep in the same room as her because he was terrified.

Ten year old Loknath Pandey was bathed and ready by then and I asked him to accompany me.

On my sets, where I was the director of a television show, he kept following me around the whole day, so I gave him the duty to carry my files for me.

This went on for days, then weeks and finally months.

An year into his life with me, Loku could speak broken Hindi and had become the manager of all my files and trivia which I would carry to work and bring back, having quickly learnt to manage the episodic scripts for shooting, then editing and finally putting them away in archives.

The rest of my unit gave him a lot of importance because Loku would get to the sets with me and go back home, which was also his house now, with me. Besides he was so cute that he was irresistible and everyone, from the actors to the crew would want to pull his cheeks and hug him all the while.

Then there was this boy Inder, the only other child working on my set who was about Loku's age and was employed by the production staff to serve tea to the crew. He was a long and lanky, extremely wise looking Bihari boy. He would look at Loku all the time and one day when he was giving me a cuppa, I noticed him staring at Loku who was busy prancing around me.

I asked him where he lived and he said he slept at the studio as he had no home in the city. I asked him to accompany me home after pack up that evening and told my staff not to employ children who were below the age of eighteen henceforth. We already had another boy called Anil working and living in our office, who was a little older than these two. Anil by then had requested me to promote him to Loku's position with my business partner at the time, Raman, who was directing another two shows which our company was producing. We had agreed to do that, so he was now the Manager of all the filing for the show 'Tara' which was a super hit in that period of time.

Inder moved in with me as well, much to my housekeepers despair, yet she treated both the boys with a lot of care, ensuring they were hygienic, wore clean clothes and were well fed. It was a small house I lived in then, and it became too crowded for me, so I moved into a bigger appartment where these two boys who were living and working with me, and who were like my shadow, could have a room as well as beds to sleep on.

One day Loku came to me with a request.

Now his speech was a mix of Hindi and English in a Nepalese accent. He told me that he had a brother called Vishnu who was an year older to him and who worked in Lukhnow. He said that Vishnu was unwell and if I'd permit, he would ask him to come to Bombay and stay with us for a few days.

I agreed.

I could never get myself to say no to anything when it came to Loku. He was well mannered, deciplined, loyal and quick on the take when it came to learning.

His brother arrived within a week.

Vishnu was an epileptic child and had been shifting jobs almost every month because as and when he got fits, his employers would get terrified and ask him to leave. He was frail and soft spoken and he was scared. All this I discovered after he got an epileptic fit while he was in my house. We got him treated and neither has he had a fit since, nor did he return to Lukhnow because he stayed with me thereon.

Now my house which was close to my office was more or less a hostel for these boys by night, and a creative office for me by day, because I had stopped directing and had started to focus on writing more. I had other writers working with me at my house through the day, because we had a lot many more TV shows being produced by my company by then.

The boys would leave for shootings early in the morning in the production cars, where they were now assisting other directors hired by the company. Vishnu couldn't keep up with the hectic pace of shooting because of his health, so I got him to start working as an assistant to the editors.

They would all come back at different times, and tell me excitedly about their work. Anil, who was an assistant director in the big bossed team by now, was their role model, because he was sharp, astute and on fire when it came to work. He had also moved into my house from the office, with the other three boys pretty soon, and inspired Loku, Inder and Vishnu to push themselves beyond their capabilities.

One day I overheard Anil telling the rest of the boys, and this was into the third year since Loku has arrived at my doorstep, that he wished he knew English. He was telling them that if he could, he would be at the level of a chief assistant. The only reason he can't be the chief is that the actors are not ready to deal with him because he cannot speak English fluently.

I employed an English teacher for the boys the next day.

Loku and Inder were roughly 15 years old, Vishnu 16 and Anil was about 18. The teacher would arrive at my place at 6am, teach the boys to speak, read and write English for two hours, till 8am, and then the boys would leave for their respective shoots.

Within an year, all four of them were transformed.

Anil was a dude. Loku, Inder and Vishnu were simpler versions of Anil but dynamite. They were doing so well at work and getting along with English so fast because they were like sponges soaking in everything with such ease.

They would party with me and my friends and life went on.

Anil fell in love with Vandana, who was an associate writer with me at the time, later went on to become one of Televisions finest writers, and moved out on his own. He was earning very well by then.

I moved into an even bigger house because I had adopted my Ritchelle by then, who was 10 years old when she came to me. (Hers is a remarkable story I will tell another time).

Loku, Inder and Vishnu stayed with me for another couple of years till all of them had turned 18, and then I let them go into an independent dwelling which was watched over by me regularly for some more time.

All of them continued to learn English for years later even after my company had downed it shutters and they were working for other production houses in Bombay.

Anil, had Vandana to guide him and Loku, Inder and Vishnu was guided by their second teacher Darshana, who had stopped taking money from me to teach them.

For years later, even if they were too exhausted and busy to attend class with her at 6am in the morning, because that was the only time possible if ever, she would insist that they should call her at whatever time in the day or night they got, to speak with her in English for at least 15 minutes a day. And the boys did it dutifully because they were hungry for the ability to be one with the successful world.

Anil went on to direct some of the top rated shows on Television including Kyunki... and Kahani..., and can be easily rated amongst the top 10 directors on Television today. Happily married to Vandana, they have three children.

Loku is director of top rated Mata ki chowki on Sahara TV, and Inder was directing the show Dulhan on Zee TV until recently.

Vishnu is a full fledged editor and works on some of the best shows on TV.

All four boys live in appartments bought by themselves with their own savings and dream now of making holiday homes in places outside Bombay.

I am telling their story because everyone needs to hear it.

There are numerous such stories of children, in the film and television industry alone, coming from where Anil, Loku, Inder and Vishnu did, who have made it too.

I admit, that I must have overdone it, but I had the blessings of God on me, who had given me so much, that I was able to do what I did. Some detractors would make a dig at me and ask me if I thought I was God, and I would only smile and think to myself that I was only doing what every person should be doing. It was all coming so easy because the fire in the kids was enabling me to provide them with certain things.

For the boys were so driven and so grateful for what had been destined for them, that they didn't waste a single day, an hour, a minute and never took even a second of their lives for granted.

If each person or even family were to take it upon themselves to give one child an opportunity of which he/she can make a life, the problem of child labor and brutality towards children would end in no time.

Institutionalizing and pontificating can never be the solution for something which can only be done when everyone collectively is sensitized to the issue. It has to part of the curriculum in school for children as they grow up to learn to do something for those who are not as fortunate as they are. It is upon touching the collective conscience of the whole nation through a program or appeal which can alter the way people treat children in general. Only then will society gain at large and acts like these will cease to occur.

The picture of the battered 14 year old should be published in the papers everyday, for it to haunt us and force us to do something about it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

PANSEXUAL

Gosh! Its crazy to write when random thoughts zip in your mind like lazor beams and strokes of lightening, disconnecting each link from the other, turning into one huge entertainment like fireworks in the sky, making it impossible to put one straight sentence in place.

If I go to start with how I'm feeling, then the answer is, fucked!

But then, that's how I feel most of the time, unless I'm dancing to a tune and swaying to a music.

I'm always either running out of time, or away from it.

Feeling suspended in mid air is a constant.

Then I allow my thoughts to rule me.

They are like gremlins and ghosts, demons and extra terrestrials landing in UFO's, roaming around in my head which is like another planet, definitely not the earth, at free will, completely out of my control. They appear and dissapear just as easily, while I'm left trying to grab them, only to find nothing in my hands when I open them.

I try to give them names, and when I call out to them, I hear them laugh but can't see them. I fire them and they roar back at me, but I still can't articulate them. And if, they ever decide to revisit me, they come in different shapes and form, confusing me and keeping me wondering if I'm mistaken. Do I really recognize them?

Time, is the monster, which changes the identity of thoughts completely, an ogre which encapsulates their passings in past tense, making them absolutely irrelevant to now.

I try to keep up with time, but it is elusive and when I attempt to battle it, it leaves me lost and wounded. If I try to get one with it, it ensures I realize its seperation from me.

Because time for me, is like my lovers, each one of whom I've tried should become one with me, and each one of whom, even when they've attempted the same, have failed just like I always do, except for in those few moments that bring us together as one body and soul.

In those seconds when we forget ourselves and lose ourselves to the short yet divine period of the final pleasure.

The oneness of the mind, the body and soul can be achieved within, but much as I have labored to get there on my own, I know that it only comes about at the time when the gaze of the person I love, is upon me, and it is for his sake that I need to bring it all together for myself.

The purpose eventually, is, the driver of my will, like the attention of an audience is to a performer.

That dance with nature as it pours, and thunders, roars and cries, enlightens and bursts upon me is only possible when the sound and image in my mind synchronizes with the heart of the viewer and takes his soul into an oblivion, away with me, where each one forgets the other, as we lift ourselves into a performance and dance in unity.

Time for me, is that parallel with my life, like the two banks of a river are to each other. We can never meet yet have to run along each other, only knowing what is between us, never really knowing what is at the other side.

The closest we get is when we confluence with other rivers.

And because we trust the waters between us, and know what lies within, we let it be and carry on fearlessly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

VULTURES THREATEN THE CULTURE

I'm not interested in news anymore.
It bores me to death.
And before it comes my way, it has already touched me in some way or another and had its impact on me.
I loathe the manner it which it is presented.
I hate the cover ups it creates for all the lacunae in our governing systems.
I detest the way it has started to mislead people to the extent that an entire population of a billion people, have started to feel inept and unable to follow activism which was until a few months ago, pre the last elections in India, actually driving change for the better.
Its almost sick when you have to sit through discussions on TV between respected people, guided and guarded by prepared mediators who have obviously been asked to lead the momentum in a particular direction.
The divide between India and Pakistan is not because of their diverse cultures and different religions, like we are constantly told and thus, these are not certainly the reason for the hatred between the people of the two countries.
If that were so, India, then because of its diverse cultures, religions and languages would not exist. Europe and America would have perished by now, specially after inviting diverse cultures into their space and integrating with them so beautifully.
If we were so averse to other cultures corrupting ours, then would we have allowed all the influences from the rest of the world to shape our expression in almost every field of performing and non performing arts?
No way!!!
We have to realize that the only reason for the terror and trauma in the Indian Subcontinent, is corruption and bad governance.
If today, we were secure within our boundaries and we could trust that our borders were policed effectively, no Indian or Pakistani would fear each other.
If we can believe that no unwanted element or miscreant would be set free, or allowed to have his way, we would feel safe in our own countries and allow each other to travel and visit at free will, across the borders, like it is in Europe, or in other parts of the world.
Its not because the authorities manning borders in other successful parts of the world are lenient that people feel free. It's because they are so strict, that people feel free to roam everywhere, without fear of being embroiled in incidents which they would have to pay with their lives for.
Every part of the world is under threat today.
Every country which has good governance and evolving systems has made arrangements to see to it that it's people are informed, educated and participative in managing security.
But because, we announce huge budgets in the name of security and because we never see where they are being spent, because we have no arrangements within our system which allows civil society participation and because we live in the shadow of archaic laws which corrupt governments are unable to advance with or change, that the people of India and Pakistan, who otherwise love each other and feel one, are insecure, unsafe and therefore untrusting.
And one thing our governments and political parties have mastered the art of, is the marketing of their dishonesty in such a way, that our media is slowly falling prey to their designs and shifting focus on disease, when critical political issues need attention, and making much of irrational behaviour by politicians in the parliament, when lack of infrastuctures to combat disease at the time it is becoming a global pandemic, is what the medias eye should've been on.
How unprepared we were when we were almost the last to be hit by the Swine Flu? At the time it was such a huge threat in so many parts of the world? At that time when we could have gotten ready?
How prepared were we, when 10 terrorists held us at ransom for 72 hours, during the attack of 26/11, when each part of our own country was on fire for years before that?
Television news needs to focus on each area of our Governance where progress is so slow, that it has got us used to shocks and surprises that spring upon us with such regularity.
Not on some nonsensical discussions about what the people of India and Pakistan want, viewed from a place, which completely alienates the people and what they want from their proceedings.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

JAI HO!

Everyday is different.

One day I wake up feeling upbeat and another, with a sense of despair. Nothing has really changed but the feelings inside me are neither consistent, nor same.

I know I am treading on the cusp of change every year, every month, every week, every day, every minute and every single second of my life, and with the next mail or the next phone call things can turn dramatically different for me, and then, even that as a circumstance will not last forever.

And now, as life goes on I have gotten used to it and don't worry too much. The one thing I have managed to master within myself is the resolve to remain steady and be who I am, as I know that I have no control over anything other than my own self.

The one who drives and steers me to ride the constant crests and troughs of change is me, myself, adapting to each reality as it comes upon me and absorbing shocks as well as pleasant surprises as they try to get me with their stunning quality of mystery and intrigue.

I have managed to contain my reflexes and release them with care at different times, intelligently and with precision, lest I lose the ability to surf the waves that are often threatening and more often than not, soothing.

I have managed to seperate myself from things to the extent that what goes on inside me runs parallel to what is going on outside of me.

And by that I don't mean that I have desensitized myself.

As a matter of fact I am much more sensitive when I view things and allow things to view me from afar.

The distance I have managed to create between the two is, what to me seems to be my third eye, which not just makes me more aware, but heightens my emotions enough to make me react practically.

I feel empowered with this capability. And therfore trust more ferociously.

Having faith in the universe, essentially comes from having faith in yourself. It is about trusting that you will not flow away with every tide that comes your way not knowing where it is taking you.

It is about trusting that you will ride and surf and climb and fall, yet remain unhurt, because there is more ahead for which this is preparing you.

Independence to me is about this freedom that I pocess and the fortune with which I am born which gives me the right to be who I am.

In that I feel a responsibility to achieve getting as many more less fortunate, on to my side, so that they, who do not have the power or the strength to, can also sense the exhilaration and feel the joy that I feel when I am not in despair, which is of my own making.

I want others to revel in the luxury of relationships like I do, and be liberated in love like I am.

And the only way that can be made possible is when each and every person on earth is free from the war they are waging in the bloody battlefield of hunger, poverty, illiteracy and lack of opportunity which is caused due to the irreverence, ignorance and apathy of those who are more blessed.

When we as a mutitude of haves' are able to share our knowledge with those who don't have, and distribute our wealth sensibly.

When we as a nation are able to inculcate the habit and decipline of being responsible socially, not because it is a fad or a trend that works financially, but because it is a norm.

A prosocial approach has to be a behaviour rather than an attitude alone, and it will bring economic dividends across the board, instead of limiting them within a chosen few.

Its time for us who have the freedom and feel liberated, who have the opportunities and feel blessed, to reach out beyond ourselves and push the envelope further.

On this 62nd year of Independence for our country, it is important for us to view within, act correctly and affect what is around us in such a way that we impact change enough to veer towards the right things.

Towards places which need to be swept by such altering experiences that the glow of happiness and joy that we feel inside, spreads far and wide.

Jai ho!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

REMEMBERING ANIL 13th April 1965 - 14th August 2008

Anil.

My best friend for 20 and husband for 2 years.

Anil, the guy who was a marine engineer, studying when I first met him so long ago when he fell in love with me.

At that time I was not aware of what love meant and he scared me away by coming on so strong. I was hugely attracted to this guy I had met through friends and started dating him, but the day he professed his love for me, I didn't know how to react.

I ran away and stopped seeing him.

I would go to shoots at that time when I was an assistant director, or be at edits and return home really late in the night, and find him waiting there for me almost every night. He would tell me he loved me and wanted to marry me, and I would tell him to go away.

Then I fell madly in love with somebody else, or so I thought at the time, and started to run after the man like Anil was running after me.

I could not reveal to anybody who it was I was obsessing, so there was nobody who knew.

Finally, realizing I must tell Anil, because he wasn't giving up, and I felt like he thought I was leading him on because for all practical purposes I was single, I waited for him to turn up one night, instead of him waiting for me.

We went off to the beach, late in the night and sat there, because I told him that I wanted to talk to him.

He listened patiently as I told him that I was in love with this man who was married and was my boss. That I was in a relationship with him and that nobody knew about it.

Anil sat silently as I started to cry and only put his arm around my shoulder and drew me closer to him. He kissed me softly on my cheeks and told me that he would be there for me as long as he lived. I told him not to do that but he was determined.

I didn't think he meant it.

Life went on for both of us, and Anil went to sea soon after that.

Each year, without fail, whether he could be in town or otherwise, he saw to it that he was there at the stroke of midnight on my birthday.

Every party, every place I was at, on my birthday each year, Anil would find out where we were and be there, with a bunch of red roses and a present. The present was always the worlds best and the most expensive perfume. He would stay over the night after the party and right through the day of my birthday until the next day. We would talk about everything under the sun and I would update him about my love life and he would tell me about his.

By now, my life was known to one and all and the man I loved was unable to take a call between his wife and me. Life was a mess. His wife knew what was going on, and the most painful days spent by perhaps all three of us were, my birthday, his birthday and his wife's birthday alongwith New Years Eve etc, because he would be torn and all of us would be miserable.

As years went by, Anil had been out with every girlfriend of mine, married or not. And I would ask him why he was not settling down and he would tell me that he will settle down in marraige once Lippy settled down.

Lippy was his ex girlfriend.

Anil was Lippy's first boyfriend and she loved him to bits. Anil loved her a lot too, but for reasons unknown to me, they were not seeing each other anymore, and had moved on to being the best of friends like he and I were. He would tell me that once Lippy finds someone, he will be ready to take the plunge himself.

Then, as life went on and I began to learn to live with the complications of my life, Anil dissapeared.

For five years in continuation I did not see him.

I waited for him each one of those birthdays but he would not turn up.

I would recieve random calls from one end of the earth or the other, but none were too clear about what he was up to. He had moved to the US to live with his mother and sister and would go to sea from there and tell me that he never wanted to come back to Bombay again. Then for months and sometimes even a whole year I would get no call from him and I wouldn't know what he was up to.

Lippy and I had still never met each other. We had only heard of each other from him.

Thing went on and my life started to fall apart as my relationship with the man I loved started to end and although he was there for me whenever I needed him, it was over.

I couldn't let go and was afraid.

It was Holi roughly 7 years ago when Anil suddenly landed up at my doorstep with some friends. Lippy was with him and this is the first time Lippy and I met.

As Holi came and went, so did they, and neither Anil, nor I got in touch with each other. He had told me that day that he was now back and resettled in Mumbai, after having tried to make a life in the US. He had got married to an American and got divorced and never wanted to go back to the states again.

Anil was very like that.

I had told Anil nothing about what was going on in my life. There was nothing to say. It was all over for me, but I was holding on to threads of the past to make my present work.

When Anil went on the ship again, Lippy called me. She told me that we should meet up. I was excited. I was lonely and pained and needed to do things other than my work.

I was uncomfortable with my friends from the past because all of them had a look of 'we told u so' on their faces when I met them. Oblivious to the kind of things that had happened in their own lives, they were judgemental about what was happenning in mine and it used to make me sick. They had all predicted at one point in time or the other that it would never work out for me, and that I was headed for disaster.

They were right. I was now in the post disaster phase, hunting the debris for my soul.

Lippy, her sister Dolly and I became the best of friends and started hanging out together. By now Lippy had told me that Anil had asked her to call me, before he went to sea because he had felt like I needed friends.

When Anil returned, he turned up as a surprise at my office with a gang of friends to pick me up and whisk me away to Lions Gate where we were going to go aboard a ship.

We spent a fabulous evening together, at the end of which he asked me to his house and I went.

We made love for the first time.

We were inseperable thereafter.

I was making White Noise and he would go for short trips to sea and return before I could say I was missing him.

So much water had flowed under the bridge by now. He would take me in his arms and I would cry for hours.

My film got released and I hit disaster.

I tried to recover from the hit but it was endless.

Now came the time when me and my ex married lover were not even going to remain friends.

As the world around me crashed, Anil held me in his arms four birthdays ago and told me to leave it all and come away with him.

I made the decision to do it in a split second.

By the early morning, we were on a flight to Goa and the next day, we were married.

We returned to our shocked and surprised friends and celebrated like there was no tomorrow.

While here I was thinking all my problems had ended, I had no clue that there was a a bigger disaster awaiting me.

A seperation worst than a ugly legal divorce between a man and wife, was taking place between business partners who had been ex lovers.

There were debts and there were creditors hounding us. There were legal suits against us from people I didn't even know, whom we apparently owed money to.

There were strange guys at my doorstep every day, causing chaos and commotion, calling me names and threatening me.

Anil would ask me what had happened and I, who had no idea what was happenning, had no answers. He was perturbed, specially so when guys started turning up at his door step. We were living in both houses, his and mine, as how we felt like.

It was difficult for me to say whose fault it was. Things had just happenned like that out of the blue and it was impossible for me to blame the man whom I had loved for more than 15 years for having done that to me. It was hard for me to tell who was the victim and who was perpetrator of the crime. We had brought ourselves to this and now as it came to a closure, it was uglier and dirtier than I had imagined life for anyone could ever get.

Between crisis management and absorbing shocks, there was nothing else I could do. Everything I tried to do, failed and I was a wreck. I knew I was breaking down and dared not to take Anil with me. I had a daughter to bring up and a life to put together again.

On his birthday, the next year, while Anil wanted me to get away with him, I couldn't. I had a hearing at a court and at that time I was crazy enough to fear imprisonment each time I went to the courts. I knew no difference between a civil and a criminal case. (I'm a half baked lawyer now, thanks to my inability to afford one due to which I have to stand for myself most of the time).

Anil walked out on me that night.

A week later was Ranjits birthday party on Salims terrace, and I begged Anil to come along with me. He refused and said he was now with another woman and made me talk to her on the phone.

Don't know whether the world had come to an end for me because of Anil who had walked out on me, or because of what I was going through on the other side.

Anil and I never spoke.

I ebbed and closed in. I gave up and succumbed.

I started letting things happen around me, and stopped trying to make anything happen.

I stopped working and closed my doors to everybody.

It was the year 2007, and my birthday came yet again.

I was alone.

Salim and Ranjit had landed up at my place to be with me because I was bedridden.

At a meeting with some creditors I had frozen with a few more shocks a day earlier, and as I tried to get up from the chair I was sitting on to leave, I couldn't.

I was taken straight to the doctors and then through the x ray machine, and I had a slipped disc.

Anil never came to see me.

He turned up at my door the day after my birthday, hugged me and said sorry. He spent the night with me and went away the next morning, as it was Dollys' birthday and made me promise I would be there for the party he was organizing for her.

My back was hurting bad but I went that evening.

Anil was a stranger. It seemed like I had never met him before, and it was the first time we were meeting.

I had probably hurt him so bad, that he wanted revenge that way.

I came back, knowing that I would never meet him again.

We never spoke again, neither on the phone nor otherwise, and also never saw each other.

I never asked anybody about him and never knew if he ever did.

As I fell into a hopeless zone I lost touch with everything.

Salim, was my only friend and Ranjit was there on and off. Salim took care of me like a mother would look after her child. He helped me get close to my family again from whom I had distanced myself so much.

He bridged my friendships and took me away from my troubles with a genteel like I have never seen before.

I wasn't working and he told me it didn't matter.

Between Ranjit and Salim, they saw to it that I was never alone when I went to the courts every month. Either of the two were by my side in seconds and saw to it that I got what I needed.

They took me away from the city every time it seemed like I was caving in and would bring me back healed.

And while time flew by, I still had no idea what I was going to happen next.

I would wake up and go to sleep aimlessly and began to expect nothing from life.

It didn't make a difference to me that I was living on small amounts of money I earned through odd jobs, and small funds I borrowed from my mother, sisters, brother and some friends.

I had even detached myself from my house which I loved so dearly and one I had made from my hard earned money.

Selling it to come out of the mess became inevitable but I kept delaying it.

It was 3am on the 14th August, last year.

A year had gone by since I had last seen Anil.

I couldn't sleep and tossed and turned.

I lay awake all night and called Salim as soon as it was morning to tell him that I could intuit an impending tragedy. He asked me to cheer up. He told me he was taking me away to Khandala the day after the next for a long weekend with his mother and himself. Ranjit was going to come along too.

Dolly called me at 1.15 pm. She passed the phone to Lippy. They were both in Pune. Lippy told me that Anil had died. He had been found lying on the floor of his house.

I was shocked. I wanted to go there.

Salim and Ranjit came running to my house and held me back.

The next two days are a blurr.

On the day of the funeral, after the post mortem and after having found out that he had had a massive heart attack I went to see Lippy, who was back from Pune, at her house in Mumbai.

She was ready to leave for the cremation. She said she would take me.

I told her I couldn't go. I hugged her tight and told her that in meeting her, I had said my goodbye to Anil.

I couldn't face Anils mother. I couldn't face Anils sister. Both of whom had been so good to me after we had gotten married.

As they took Anils body away, Salim drove me past Anils house and took me away to Khadala with his mother and Ranjit.

When we came back three days later, I put my house together and started to work.

I worked and worked like I have never worked before and slowly all my problems began to fade away.

Something told me inside, that Anil wished for me this before he went. Something told me that there was another power within me which was giving me to strength to be this person I had never thought I could be.

I was reborn and different.

I was fine.

Nothing henceforth was ever going to stop me.

I celebrate his life and know that he always loved me.

Much more than I could ever do.

Much much more than I will ever be capable of loving anyone...

He left this world one year ago, giving me his life...







Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ABSTACTACUS

Theres no way I'm going to write today.

No way that I'm going to rack my brains and tire myself out, in trying to impress you with what I do best.

I do it best, because there is nothing other than this that I can do better.

It's just that I don't do anything else.

Writing to me is an escape, turned into pass time and later which became my profession, as there was somebody out there who thought I wrote well and could make money off it, so started paying me for doing nothing but to sit and write pages and pages of stuff which went on to be churned into Soap Opera, which in turn turned out to be a huge hit.

People started to like watching actors speak lines I had written and as it went on to turn an addiction for greater numbers, I started to be recognized as a writer. Here I was, running away from the world so I didn't have to face anybody, and out there was one man who turned into a host of others, who thought they could cash in on the endless reams of paper I began to produce everyday.

I had never heard of the word ratings before. Suddenly wherever I went, people began to smile at me and tell me that the program I used to write was the most popular in those times.

I started to feel a sense of power.

Suddenly, a good for nothing, useless person like me, who was constantly reprimanded for not doing anything but day dreaming and whiling away her time, was being praised to the skies and was being made to feel like she was the only one.

The creator of the new idiom.

As week after week and month after month went by, from a pauper, who could barely earn enough to pay a small rent and buy her own ciggerettes and stash, I turned into this genius who had all the answers. My family and friends began to talk of me proudly and not just that, the guys who were making the moolah off my random word play about a bunch of weird women gave me a car, a house and well, almost whatever I would ask for.

From writing two to three hours a day, I was, just about an year later writing 10 hours a day. My name would appear over and over again on television and television was becoming more and more popular.

Shit!

I was in this hell hole with a bunch of 4 to 5 writers working with me in turns and taking my each word for a stroke of genius, for almost 16 hours a day in no time.

I had made it. They hadn't.

We were rocking!

I was bored to death and looking for an exit route.

One fine day, that happened.

Almost like every other wish of mine was coming true those days, this wish of mine came true too.

I was free.

All the schlock I was churning out, came to a ruthless end, with the advent of a new era and a neo culture which was about saas bahus and the rest of all that has gone out of style all over again with the setting in of a new sun on Television Today.

However, I was now a writer but one out of a job.

Still considered intellectually superior, I was expected to make sense with everything I spoke.

I had done it once. I could do it again.

They thought, not I.

As for me?

I was spent force.

I started to feel drained of all my resources but to keep the facade going, because it still managed to earn me my bread and butter, I would either repeat myself or borrow from others.

I had become a master of adapting from other, but leaving my signature on it. The final word on contemporary lives and the neo culture, I felt like I was crowned with a glory I didn't pocess.

Now, filled with emptiness, I began to lurk around corners of life, trying to discover my genius. I went from pillar to post, and town to city, making documentaries, trying to seek that brilliance which others thought I pocessed. I would return sounding intelligent from each trip and when I spoke, it seemed like I had a knowledge which others didn't.

I had to give up here, or else I would be one with the dillusion I had so far kept myself seperated from.

Broke, and hungry for the power to actually write, I started living a life I hadn't visited before. I denied myself my deciplines and reflexes and enforced upon myself a rule that compelled me to be who I wasn't.

I started enjoying looking at life objectively, as I was no longer the person I used to be.

Now I began to write.

Now I started to view things from afar and describe them.

Now it was, when I realized what writing was all about.

It was all about the painful process of wrenching yourself away from what came easy to you, and forcing yourself to enter the mind and heart which was really tough.

And as the sky started to illuminate around me with a warmer sunshine than there used to be, I truely became a writer.

One who was not going to ever write what was expected of me.

One who was only going to write what she wanted to, and what would surprise others.

The struggle, the race to survive, became painless.

I started sprinting with ease and basking in the comfort of having my head filled with thoughts which were getting formed slowly, to lay out a tale or a story which had been incubating in my mind, until it was ready to be given birth.

Years had gone by and I hadn't realized how.

Time had flown and taken me with itself into a new world along with the rest of all those whom I loved, and I hadn't noticed.

Everything had changed around me and so had I.

The 'I' was a mix of many people and many lives of happiness and sorrow which had been lived.

And together, 'WE' move into a new tomorrow.

Which is where 'I' am today.

Monday, August 10, 2009

GIVE ME A BREAK!

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

I hate Dale for having made me commit to this. I'm going simply crazy trying to think of what to write.

The one thing that is on top of my mind is Swine Flu, but I dare not write about it, as it is making everybody sick already. The rest of the things I cannot write about, because they are top secret.

While Salim and Ranjit scale the hills of Khandala having a whale of a time, I'm stuck here, with precious little to do because I have loads of work to do, and I don't feel like doing it. Ritchelles' gone to Naanis' house to stay with Devki because it is holiday time. This is crazy!

The bloody swines whom I had last heard of while watching Macbeth being played out in school, when one of the three witches ran around the cauldron yelling; "Where hast thou been sister", and the other one mutilated her mouth to say, "Killing swine, killing swine!"

I was all of 10 years old then and my sister Meera, who was in the 10th std., was performing the play for the annual day function with her class.

This afternoon she dropped by, with a small box filled with homeopathic pills and very seriously asked me to take three tablets, three times a day everyday for three days. She said to me with a very firm look in her eyes, and a confirmed voice, that I should follow this regimen, as this was the only available medication for the prevention of the swine flu. I asked her how she knows and she told me that she had read it on the net and gone straight to the homeopathic medicine store and picked it up before it got finished.

"Before it got finished?", I said and she went on to tell me what a queue there was at the store and how long she had to wait and whatever else.

Phew! Meera, my sister should've been inducted to the Mother Teresa parish of nuns. She has spent her whole life looking after us. Being the eldest of us four, Radhika after her, then me after Radhika, and then DJ, after me. She has virtually helped my mother bring us all up. When we lost our father, she was perhaps the only adult amongst us, and I don't mean because of age only. She was the only one amongst us with her head on her shoulder and her feet on the ground.

While Radhika floated around taking her brilliance for granted, like there was nothing on earth that could come in her way, I tripped. I lost my center, and have only recently almost gained it again after about 25 years.

DJ, the youngest amongst us, made his choices and paved his own path and found himself a scholorship to the US where he completed his Masters, then Phd., and now professes to be a teacher of OR.

My mother and Meera virtually look after Radhika and me, like we are still babies. My mother is in charge of Radhika and Meera incharge of me. Not that they have ever declared this strategy, but it has become an undesigned pattern that our lives flow in.

Meera goes to the extent of taking charge of my baby Ritchelle as well, despite the fact that she has two of her own, while I struggle on to find my bearings, as I keep losing them, and try to make a living. Shiv and Devki, her two, are constantly confused. They often wonder how I can be their aunt when their mother treats me like one of them.

While Radhika still remains afloat in limbo and glide mode, sailing through life, doing each time only what she feels like doing, she is still more independent than I am.

If Meera is not looking over my shoulder, I definitely fall. Not that I ever give her the credit for not falling when I don't.

My mother, in the meantime has taken time out from Radhika in New York and parked herself here for over two years, which is so rare because she is running off to the US every now and then to be with her. She is giving Meera a hand right now, to look after me.

The last fall was real bad, and I am still recovering.

However, don't blame me for this. Blame Dale. He has forced me to do this to all you guys who are reading this and wondering where it's going.

Had I been in a better mood yesterday, I would've been in Khandala with Salim and Ranjit right now, sipping chai and being an alligator, immoveable and yawning every two minutes without a break.

It's because I denied myself some happiness and punished myself yesterday, that I am here and working, trying to make a living for myself and trying to be independent finally.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sensitive Time

I'm gripped with a strange fear every time I sit down to start writing, which is why I keep postponing it. Writing on my blog is not essentially about delivering a job which has a deadline to it. Which is why after having started my blog, I was so erratic and disinterested, that I would update it seldom, until I came to the conclusion and got convinced by Dale about the fact that writing is a decipline.

Whether it is a job to deliver in time, or not, there has to be a certain regularity with it, or else it doesn't make sense. Yet after having updated my blog for four consequetive days, I have ended up skipping two.

Well, the fear I'm ivariably gripped with when I sit to write is the state of BLANK that engulfs me when I do. Suddenly all thoughts vanish, and I grope for my first word. Then I can't help but start writing with a short discussion on the condition, as I slowly slip into the play of words which begin to flow.

Today has been a weird day.

I've woken up feeling a sense of despair. I've started this morning with a cup of tea and a hopeless feeling, that there is nothing for me to do for the rest of the day.

I have a DVD waiting to be watched for the last two days, and although its a film I have been waiting to watch for months, I don't feel like seeing it.

My lawyer is expecting me to make rough drafts of two letters which need to be submitted to the court this week, for his approval and corrections, and I know it is not a task I will be able to accomplish easily once Monday morning comes, but I can't get myself to do it.

I am writing a script for Goldie, the story of which is half way through, and although the rest of it is spilling out of my head ever since he helped me crack a block last week, I can't enable myself to take it on.

I am helping Shiv write his first independent film script for which he works with me every afternoon, and when he called me to tell me that he wanted to skip the session today because he wanted to go to the movies with a friend, I was overjoyed. (The only one state of happiness I've felt today).

Finally Salim, who was sick of my inertia and listnessness every time he called me since the morning, told me he was going to Khandala for some work and wanted to whisk me away and take me with him, and even to him, someone whom I can never say no to, I said that it is better for him to leave me alone.

When Ritchelle returned home after an evening walk with her friends, I kept my back turned to her as she told me that she had had a great time and went on to tell me about all the things she did. I just didn't want her to see my face and guess that there was trouble in my head. She is perceptive, and I couldn't bear her asking me what the matter was, because I have no answer to give her.

Besides all these things, there are all those friends who called me last week, waiting for me to call them back as I had told them I would, or those whose calls I had not answered and texted back saying I would call them back. There is family to be met, and there are chores which have languished with lack of my attention for weeks.

And here I ship myself from my bedroom to my living room every half hour as I get bored sitting in one or the other space. I pick the papers and push them away. I turn on the TV and turn it off. I walk up to the refridgerator and get myself a glass of water, or a bite to eat, which I also realize an hour or so later, is just lying next to where I was sitting last, as it it, untouched.

Charlie moves with me, wherever I go and every now and then nuzzles up to be petted and hugged. He is the only creature I can bear with and can't do without. I let him lie around next to me, oftentimes looking at him for a long time when I find him staring at me with his deep eyes. As soon as I look at him, he stretches and softly walks past me, rubbing himself against me with his tail wagging slowly.

Salim calls me again and again to ask me if I've changed my mind and finally drives off towards his destination with Ranjit. He's having a rough time too, and can do only so much to make me happy, but if I can't respond, he has to give up.

No, this is not depression. This is about me being so consumed with a particular project that I'm working on which is coming close to actually taking off that I am quaking with the fear of it not happening. All the power in the world of positive thinking cannot bring me out of this paralytic condition even when I repeatedly tell myself to think about how it will be when it happens, because I just cannot stop thinking about how it will be if it doesn't happen.

I have been thinking of what it will be like when it happens ever since I started working on it, a few months ago, and revelled in those thoughts for hours and hours at end. But as it comes closer to it actually happening, I'm frozen in this state of anxiety and stress and worry about what will happen to me if it doesn't.

This has happenned to me a million times before. Yet I'm like this again. I've gone through these stabs of terror in my stomach a zillion times before and wished I could consume poison and die now, rather than to live through its failure and die anyway, but yet something stops me from doing that and makes me laugh at myself.

And that something is HOPE.

In all the darkness of hopelessness, pain, anxiety, worry, stress, terror, torture, inertia and listnessness, one little ray of of hope refuses to stop peeping in through a pin hole and it keeps me going.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

To live it on your own terms - for Mona :)

I am a person who gets easily addicted.

From music, to people, to issues and weather, I get addicted to everything that I like. ( Note that I am not refering to any intoxicant here). I know I'm not much unlike anybody else I know, with the only difference being that I'm unable to control my feelings or reactions like the others around me.

Call it impulsive or whatever you may, but I still havn't learnt how to hold back and give one piece of myself at a time. I have to go all the way or else sit back. There is nothing in between for me, and there is no agenda that drives me to show my emotions or to hold them back. They either explode, or just lie there, still and unheeding.

I'm probably half way through my life, and right from the time I learnt to think, feel and say, from the time I was a very young child, everybody told me to watch out. Everybody tried to teach me how not to be reckless. How not to just let go.

I never understood what they were saying and I also never questioned why they were who they were.

They were afraid I would destroy myself, and ruin my life.

I'm still here, so many years later, as who I was. I'm still indestructible, still able to stand for what I say and what I do.

And it comes easy to me...

They could see the pain I revealed and I could see theirs. And they believed they had concealed it well.

Like they didn't dare to be like me, I never attempted to be like them.

Many have told me that my life would have been better had I not done this, or had I done that.

I don't think so. I could only do what came naturally to me, and was never able to do what didn't.

I'm not saying I didn't give it a try. I did try to be different. to them which was normal, at which times, my elders would be happy with and for me.

But I wasn't...

So it wouldn't last long. I would have to go back to my ways and be who I am, and in being who I was, I was most comfortable. My attitude had to fit me like a good pair of shoes for me to be able to walk well.

Oftentimes, I was told that there was no need for me to be different.

I had no words or logic to convince them that it was otherwise. I was born this way. It was they who had given me birth, and they who were responsible for the circumstances in which I was growing up.

And all I was doing was living and breathing...

Only doing what it took to survive.

But hell no!!!

When I stumbled and fell and looked around me, I could see that the eyes watching were speaking to me.

And they were saying, "look we told u so. Now it serves you right and hope that it teaches you the lesson of your life".

When others, who were unlike me stumbled? Everyone rushed to help them. They sympathized with them and gave them a hand so they could lift themselves and walk again.

I would lend a hand when needed too...

But when I tripped, there was nobody to do that for me.

Left with no choice, I just had to learn to get up and force myself to walk each time I fell. Time and again, one lap of life after another, every time I slipped, I built within myself a greater strength and a mightier resolve, to get up one more time. Because according to them, I had made my own choices, thus responsible for them.

I hadn't paid heed to their advice so this was the price to pay...

I did nothing when they had the last laugh. I said nothing when they tried to straighten me up. Because, by the time I was through with my last fall, I had understood one thing. That it was they, who believed I was different. And it was they, who set the rules, write the constitution and lay the law.

And in their book, there is no mercy for those who decide to live life on their own terms.

They will not know that I have never had the luxury to live my life on my own terms.

God help them, if I ever had...

This, is just the way I am.

In changing myself to be like they want me to be, I will have to walk in uncomfortable shoes forever.

They will never know, but I know, that in those shoes, which are either too tight or loose for me, but according to them, right for me, I will not just stumble, fall, slip or trip, but I will be left with no choice bu to die.

For me, in making a choice between being who I am, and being what they expect me to be, there is but one meaning.

That is the choice to live or to die.

And I have chosen to live.

To survive...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

TIME AND SPACE

I'm going from pillar to post trying to solve a problem and it's been so long since I havn't found a solution. There is this nagging feeling I have that despite all my gregariousness and my need to surround myself with people, that I'm a loner within.

Why do I long for those moments when I can be homing in, dive into my room, lunge for my chair that makes me turn my back to the whole world, and look into a screen that plummets me into a universe which is so huge and filled with information and people.

The virtual world, which sucks me into itself and makes me want to stay there forever, securing me from the threats of the real world, where I know that almost everyone else I know, is also hiding.

I spend almost all my time in it, realizing that this is really the only place where everyone finds their freedom. Where I, as well as all those who I see appear, express themselves freely. Where the convenience of visiting every place your heart leads you to is made so easy.

I spent the whole afternoon writing a part of a script while listening to music chosen from You Tube. So while I wrote scenes, I went through the files and chose each and every song I could recall, and heard it. From Steely Dan to CSNY and Steve Winwood to David Bowie, I heard them all and emerged from the exhausting session feeling complete and satiated.

Meanwhile Facebook kept buzzing as well, with new updates to messages from friends popping up every now and then. My mail kept me alert every 60 seconds on an average, and oftentimes, I needed to attend to it almost immediately. Then there was no way that I could've resisted checking my horoscope and reading some articles as well.

And by the time I realized that I was tired, and I should put the script I'm writing away, 6 hours had passed and I was astounded with my productivity. I had achieved quite a lot.

Gosh, I forgot about my phone. The buzzer kept going with message alerts and phone calls, as often as my mail.

The only thing not so nice about this fulfilling experience is that I had met not a soul in flesh and blood.

Did that really matter? Did it really make a difference?

As I sat back and relaxed afterwards, my mind jogged back in time, and I began to think about how different times were just about 20 years ago, when I had first arrived in Mumbai and started working here.

One of the places I lived in alone was a one room kitchen appartment, in a Sindhi Society in JVPD Scheme, which was on the ground floor with the society's temple right next to one of the windows, which I don't think I ever opened. I didn't have a phone, no TV, no radio, no gas, no furniture. I had one cupboard which was rented and mattresses, floor cushions and rugs. I had a heater and a kettle with a couple of plates, knives, forks, glasses and mugs, which comprised my kitchen, and buckets, mugs and wrought iron shelves for my kitchen and bathroom.

My most precious pocession was a tape recorder and player, and a suitcase loaded with cassettes filled with songs I loved.

This was about convenience. I would have to move every 11 months, unless I was lucky to get an extension on my lease, and it took two rounds in a cab for me to shift bag and baggage.

Most people living in the society would watch me walk in and out, sometimes at odd hours, and want to know more about who I was. Their curiosity was triggered by my visitors who were TV stars of those days. Guys and gals working in the Mahabharat, Khandaan, Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi and other popular serials and films of the time. Soon they got to know that I was an assistant director on some of the shows which were popular. I also used to do theatre in those days with Ekjute and hang out at Prithvi Theatre almost every evening after work.

There was, and I think there still is, a public phone booth, next to the counter of the Prithvi Cafe. It had a number which I had given to eveybody, and there was a system there that all calls were taken and messages kept for most of us who were living and working like I was, and given to us, as and when we walked in and out of the theatre.

I would make all my calls at the end of each working day after collecting my messages and that is how I remained in touch with my professional as well as personal world.

It was here at Prithvi Theatre where actors, technicians, writers, singers, lyricists and various other talent hung out every evening, waiting to be picked up by casting directors, directors and assistant directors for a days work or a break of a lifetime.

As one series or film that I was working on would come to a close, I would almost always find myself my next job here.

Everyone was familiar with each other, and one knew that one could meet the entire industry in a cycle of one week. In the day, we crossed paths with each other at the studios, where most shootings would be taking place, while from the evening till a little past midnight was spent here.

We had accounts at the Cafe and got subsidized meals as well. The guys would carry their quaters and some beers for the girls and we would walk down to the beach and sit on the benches belonging to one of the wada pao and cold drinks walas who would be closing down for the day, and who would oblige us by giving us glasses and ice, as well as permit us to keep our beers chilled along with their cold drinks in their ice boxes.

Then we would call it a day, and a little past midnight head back to our respective homes, and crash out while another day of hard work awaited us. There are so many people that I would rather not mention just a few, who are famous today, and who lived past this time and space with me.

I find almost everybody on Facebook today, relating and reconnecting with each other and feeling the warmth of those days all over again. There was a period of time in between, with no tecnology to bind us together, while our lives ventured out on seperate journeys, that scattered everybody and flung us all away from each other.

While the whole Sindhi Society would congregate at the temple, every Sunday morning at 9am to watch the Mahabharat on a single TV which belonged to the Society, I would cover my head with my pillow and try desperately to catch a few more winks of sleep, but the sound of the voices of so many of my friends, mouthing lines from the mythological would wake me up and make me think of all the stories that they would tell us each evening, about what went on behind the scenes.

Even then, my Ollivetti typewriter, a blessed gift from my journalist aunt was a part of my life, and I would run away form the madding crowds and home in, closing myself from the chaos of my life to write. I would find myself a couple of hours a day, which were mine, and spend them with myself, until one friend or another would knock on my door and peep in saying, "Chai pilade na".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NOT AFRAID TO WRITE!

However hard it is for me to write everyday, I am going to open this page and tap on my keyboard irrespective. Lets see what comes out in words when you have nothing to say, but are compelled to speak.

Gosh! I'm blank.

And this confirms a truth.

That I don't wish to comment on things happening around me, neither am I going to dig deeper in my heart and explore the world which lies secure and protected from the battlegrounds filled with people waging bloody wars, surrounding it.

These I guess are the usual dilemmas of a writer when he/she isn't able to write. I actually used to feel that my thoughts and my words could change lives of the less fortunate and make a differnce to the rest of the world when I had decided to be a writer, so many years ago while I was still so young. There was an anger inside me, which I wasn't aware of, a helplessness which I could not comprehend.

I was growing up in those years, rebelling against almost everything, when my father would go crazy trying to make me work at my school harder and appear for my exams at the end of each academic year.

Because, unlike the rest of my siblings, Meera, Radhika and Dhananjay, I was unable to just listen and do as I was asked to, I needed answers for everything before I could be convinced to do anything.

Man, my folks really had a terrible time giving me an answer for why I should be forced to sit for tests and exams. Did they think that I did not know enough? "No, no, no", they would say, and go on to try and tell me why all kids need to give tests and exams to know where they stand. Frankly, they would grope for words and search for reasons, but finally have to use the power of force, even if it meant dragging me to school and waiting outside the classroom till the exam was over, to see to it that I would actually sit for them. Bribery never worked with me and no offer made to me, from getting me a new bycycle, to buying me anything that I wanted, made a difference.

This went on right till the day I graduated, by when I was in a hostel in a college in Chandigarh, and my folks lived in Indore, where my father was posted. The poor guy would take his annual leave, come to Chandigarh and park himself in his company guesthouse and make me stay with him, carrying out the routine of making me cram and then taking me to my examination center and waiting outside for three hours, in the scorching summer heat, for each of my exams.

I always scraped through. Right till I graduated and all through school, I just about scraped through, and finally got myself a degree.

It was during my final exams of my final year at college that Papa, who was alone with me at the company guesthouse one day, confessed to me that it was all so useless, and none of it made any sense. He told me that he was glad, it was getting over for me.

I was surprised.

Wasn't it a torture for him to have had to go through this rigorous routine for the last 12 years at least?

Specially when, at the end of each year I got such dismal results?

He smiled as he went on to refill tabacco in one of his beloved pipes, and told me that he never looked at it like that. His time spent, making me reach this stage of life, was more about the time he had shared with me, rather than the fact, that I was on the verge of becoming a graduate, which according to him was no great achievment.

Graduating was more or less a necessity for me to be able to do the things that I would yearn to do hereafter.

This coming from a man who had a double masters and a law degree to lean on. From a man, who had three more children, all of whom went far with their academics and who are teachers today.

I was confused at that stage of my life. I had no clue what I was going to do next, or even, where I was going to go after the exams were over. I was lost and my father must have sensed it. He asked me not to worry when I told him that I would not get a decent job with the kind of marks I had got throughout my educational career, and nor was there going to place for me at any decent university for further studies. There was nothing I could do besides having fun with my friends and party hard. I told him I was not a virgin no more and I told him that I thought I was hooked on marijuana.

My father asked me one simple question. He asked me if I was scared.

I nodded my head and he smiled. He told me that then he wasn't worried.

By the time my exams ended and I went back to Indore with my father, I had said goodbye to Chandigarh forever. I had written a play, a poem and and article which was never published and shown them all to him.

By the time I had set foot in Bombay, now Mumbai, two months later, I had become a cumpulsive writer.

For everytime I worried, for everytime I feared the future. For each time that I experienced sorrow and each moment that I felt confused, I sank into the comfort of writing, allowing it to flow.

I swam in unknown waters, and in deep oceans and I flew over the highest mountains into the sky. There was a world in my head which was infinite and boundless, a never ending yearning in my soul, a hynotic desire in my heart. There were no limitations on my feelings and there was no detail my eye never caught.

It was the quirks of nature and the disorders of mankind and myself that took precedence in my mind and made me laugh till tears would fill my eyes as I wrote and wrote and wrote on, and I knew it would never stop.

For all the questions I ever asked hereafter, I would venture out fearlessly to find the answers and had no expectations from anyone to give them to me. I explored uninhibitedly and flung myself into the depths of pain and happiness, always sure I would return unharmed. My father had set my soul free by inviting me to speak the truth. By not being judgemental, he had simplified my chaos and demystifyed my misplaced angst.

By smiling at my confusions he had shown me the way, he had cleared the conflict and made me realize that we are all human after all.

By asking me one simple question, he had made me realize that we set the parameters within ourselves and can fearlessly explore them as long as we know that the boundaries are limited but possibilities, infinite.

And once I had spoken my truths which I feared, to him, I was afraid no more.

Monday, August 3, 2009

WOW! I havn't written in ages!

I really havn't!!!
And Dale, one of my best friends and media managers since ages, is so upset. He believes I should update my blog regularly, or else it will become obsolete. I tell him, I don't have anything to say and he laughs. 'You? You who couldn't keep your mouth shut for years, have nothing to say? I don't believe it Vinta'. So I contemplate and tell him that I'll try. He's right, a few years ago Dales' job, as my media manager, was to keep sorting out the mess I had created almost everyday at one event or another, or one interview or another, with my loud mouth and completely honest opinion about almost everything. He would tell me at times to ask all journalists who called me directly, to speak to me through him, and I would promise to do exactly that, but lose myself all over again when asked a question.
'Do you realize that one day everyone is going to be pissed off with you and you are going to left without work and penniless', he would say, and I would laugh and tell him that I will work on myself and try to be diplomatic.
Then one day, three years ago, what he warned me of, what he had predicted, happened.
I went from pillar to post trying to ensure that my production company kept running post a serious financial breakdown and huge losses, after the last serial that I had produced called 'Miilee', which was on Star Plus, and I am still trying.
The company has been closed since then and I have been trying to revive it with one attempt after another.
Having lost so badly, I actually took a reverse plunge, thinking it was marraige for me, not realizing that it was an escape I had found, and made the fatal mistake of marrying my best friend of 20 years, only to walk our seperate ways forever within just a few months. It was exactly an year ago, on the 14th of August, 2008 that he expired, having never met me after we had parted ways, leaving me wondering if life was really worth it at all...
Leaving me with so many unanswered questions.
Leaving me bereft of the opportunity to ever be able to sit down and talk to him about why what happened between us, ever happened.
That was Anil Bahuguna, my best friend for two decades, my husband for two years, who became the only person in my life so far, whom I will never be able to clear the air with.
The person, after whom, I have not felt emotional again.
I had been so intimidating to my contemporaries and peers in the business, that they were perhaps glad that I wasn't able to put together a show on TV again.
Now I was wrecked and terrified, and there was no one out there who wanted to do anything for me in my business despite my repeated success in the business for over 14 consequtive years.
I shut up and stepped out of the scene. Well, almost...
I kept to myself, holing up in the virtual world hoping that within this vast universe, I would be lost, keep myself busy so I don't lose the dicipline of writing and keep my machine, my mind, polished and ready when opportunity strikes again, if it does.
I kept trying to find place for atleast one of my toes in the business, but without a company in operation and with an empty bank account, now living on support of my mother, sisters and brother, it's been next to impossible, not that I have given up trying.
Around the same time, about two and half years ago, after Anil and I had gone our own ways, my nephew Shiv, introduced me to the thrills of Facebook.
I registered on it and started with just two or three people in my circle of friends and family there. Slowly it grew on me, and I grew with it, and I was surrounded by the entire world, which I had hidden myself away from, within the next year or so.
Gosh, I'm back in the thick of it and can't help but be a part of it.
I write random stuff now, instead of episodes and scripts, and although it is fulfilling, it doesn't pay me at all. I still have to monetise my productivity to survive and am hoping I'll start doing it soon.
But in the meantime, I have promised Dale that I will write on my blog everyday and put my thoughts down regularly.
Diplomatic or undiplomatic... I don't know.
One thing I know for sure, I have to be honest when I speak or write.
As a matter of fact, if I don't feel it, I cannot speak it or write it.
Whether in business, or out of it, I just cannot help it...
After so long...
I'm feeling it so I'm writing again.
I'm on a roll again... I think?!