Monday, 21 July 2014

To kiss a boy : Ruby Iyer Diaries 4

This morning, my cousin Sonya told me about the gym class she attends at high school. Her family is staying with us on their annual trip from the US.  Gosh! Imagine a full hour of doing something so physically challenging. The idea of being able to swing from ropes is so exciting.  I bet it’s just like flying.
All I get to do in my school is P.T. with Sister Maureen.
Just to tease me she did a few cartwheels around the room. Incredible. I had no idea real people could turn head-over-heels. Know what I mean? I thought this happened only in the movies or in the circus. Of course, I had to try to it. And that is how ma caught us: me standing upside down on the bed, with Sonya holding onto my legs trying to show me how to balance. My frock was around my ears, legs waving in the air. You can guess what happened next…!
Ma walked up to me and pulled the frock down over my legs. I promptly lost my balance and fell; almost spraining my neck in the bargain, not that she noticed it of course. She was too busy having the usual tantrum; the usual words you know? “Don’t you know you have to make sure your frock covers your legs at all times? Its okay for Sonya, she lives in the US. You live here in India, so learn how to behave… blah, blah.”
So, was living outside the country permission to do as you pleased, and not worry about fitting it or what people had to say? Is that what I had to do, to follow my heart? Leave the country?
Well the other amazing thing Sonya told me was how she would go running in the morning sometimes. Her path took her past a lake not far from her house, passing by a forest on the way. Imagine, a real lake? I wonder if I will ever see one. Or be able to simply walk across to one. You know, like a normal everyday occurrence: like walking to the corner shop to buy my bourbon biscuits? That’s my daily ritual every afternoon after school. After finishing my lunch I am still so hungry, that I have to go to the shops, buy my favorite biscuits and finish off the pack. Only then does that craving inside me subside somewhat; at least for a couple of hours. Dad tells me its because I am growing very fast.
I think its because I like to eat.
The best thing about Sonya’s company, though are the books she brings with her. My favourite is: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I love it. I wish I could be Margaret, and be part of a secret club; and have a cool friend like Nancy with whom I could share all my secrets.
It’s only after reading Margaret I realized it was actually okay to grow breasts. Hmm! I am still coming around to that idea. I do wonder if I will ever have a boyfriend, like Margaret does. Do I have to move to another country to kiss a boy?

Pic: courtesy FanPop
Sonya had to leave and go back to her high school life. I hid the book though, and now Margaret is all mine to enjoy.
Atleast, I am not the only one who is trying to grow up.
Ruby Iyer, the novel is out November. Meanwhile, stay tuned for an occasional, sneak peak into Ruby’s innermost thoughts, as we raid her diary to take you inside the mind of this brash, bold, new heroine from Bombay. Sign up here to find out about the book release. Follow @RubyIyer on twitter.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

You can be chirpy and abrupt, but never dour

After many attempts, at trying to get through to me on Skype, phone and email a friend from the US finally tracked me down on the phone. Steeped in the agony that is the last twenty thousand words of Ruby Iyer, I was pretty short with her; eager to get back to the figment of my imagination, whose skin I inhabit right now. 

She's burning me up  -  Ruby: I feel her rage bubbling under my cells, ready to cut loose at the slightest provocation. No, I am not a very pleasant person to be with right now.

Right after I hung up, of course, me being me, I fretted about our conversation. Should have made more time, should have carved out more mindspace; yah. The usual would've, could've, should've.

So I settled for mailing my friend an apology - to which she replied: "I don't mind chirpy and abrupt; but you just sounded dour."

OMG, me dour?

Yes, of course, I didn't mean it. I was in the middle of this crazy other world I am carrying around in my head. It will be a relief to have it out there. Or will it? 

In my saner moments I wonder? Will I put down my load for it to probably turn into someone else's dirty laundry? Nope. Shouldn't think like that. Pointless. 

All I can do is focus on the next page, and the next, and the next. Tell the story and let Ruby take care of the rest.

Yet, I couldn't help but wonder. Was it my intellectual arrogance that was turning me into a rather anti-social creature? One who inhabited imaginary worlds in between the walls of the building I dwell in. An organism, which runs through train station platforms, where none exist. 

Either way, I have resolved. I shall henceforth be chirpy and abrupt, but never dour. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

All my life I have had one Enemy... Me

Ruby Iyer Diaries 3

Thwack! The ball hit the bat, and Sid batted it away, before running like crazy between the wickets. One run, two… Three runs! Wow!  Not that he deserved it of course, considering he and that Tania— what kind of a name was Tania anyway? — were going steady now.

Tania cheered from the sidelines on the opposite side of the cricket pitch. I tried to be envious of her and failed. Truth be told, I was actually more resentful of her boyfriend. Not about the fact that he was her boyfriend: more that he was able to run like the wind, with complete abandon; and jump and play like there was no tomorrow.

Oh! I wanted to be down there with them. To once more feel that sweet shudder running through my hands when the ball was hit away for a four. That was the sensation I lived for; which woke me up every day and had me racing through school. So I could run home, finish my homework and be down at the playground by 4pm: the first person at the pitch on Oval Maidan. The smell of the freshly cut grass, the feel of the sun warming my skin, the thud of my sneakers as they hit the ground, the dust flying in my wake as I ran towards the crease to score a run. If there was a life to live. It was this… Until, just a few months ago.

I could if I wanted to still go down and join them.

I really did want to more than anything in the world.

But, there was a part holding itself back now. I didn’t want to not go, know what I mean? I actually very much wanted everything to be as it was. Yet, this new emotion budding inside me: it was something so delicate I could not yet put a finger to it. It was there though. Could not ignore it. It was for real. Like a stone, which had entered an oyster shell, and now could not be cast out? So that you simply had to make peace with it, until finally with time it would transform it into a pearl.

Not that I am an oyster, far from it.

But you get what I mean. It’s the first time I felt hesitant about anything. Till then, life had been like a super fast train. I had been right along hurtling at top speed; refusing to stop for any stations, chortling gleefully as I left the passengers on the stations stranded far behind. Pushing aside any barricades, which came my way. And, then I had come up against the most unexpected of barriers; myself.

I looked down at myself.

Under my long sleeved shirt, I now wore a second shirt, and below that, a third skinny, sleeveless vest. The layers almost smoothed out the ripples. From a certain angle, I could almost pretend my chest was as it used to be. Flat.

If I closed my eyes as I ran, I would once more be that straight sharp line, cutting through the wind, euphoric in my single-mindedness. There was nothing more to worry about than reaching that point I was hell bent upon crossing.

Yet something had shifted within. Even then I knew it was monumental. It was that emotion, which was making me hide on the side, burning up with frustration, while the thirst to be out there with them was consuming me. Yet, here I was chained, pulled back.

I mean if I wanted to run, why didn’t I just jump in and join them regardless of how I thought I would look. Conflicting isn’t it? Now imagine multiplying that by a thousand times through the years. You get where I am now right?

The ball appeared in front of me and involuntarily I put out my hand; grasping it.

“Catch!” Screamed the bowler

“Catch?” Sid scowled

“Howzzat!” Smirked the umpire, holding up his hands, bouncing on his heels as if a parody of a bird flapping in joy.

“What? How can that be howzzat, I am not playing, I am just watching” I protested, my heart sinking, at the look on Sid’s face.

“We know you, so you are part of the team, so you count as a fielder, so Sid is out.” The bowler was now almost turning cartwheels in joy.

“Howzzat! Howzat!” The fielders chanted.

“Ha! Your girlfriend got you out,” the umpire sneered, to my mortification.

Sid walked up to him and holding his bat hit him on the head. Forgetting my promise to myself to not run, I broke into a sprint towards him, hoping to console, the various parts of me bouncing in that much hated way reminding me why I had decided to stand aside in the first place. I stopped, so suddenly the fielder behind me crashed into the ground.

“Ruby!” I looked up from my perch on the muddy ground, the other boy sprawled on top of me. It was ma. Dressed in her silk-kanjeevaram saree on her way to another party. She looked like a goddess. The others thought so too obviously as the rest of the team descended into silence.

“Too busy being a boy. When you finally want to be a girl, no-one is going to want to look at you.” Pausing to brush a piece of lint from her shoulder, she moved on, leaving behind the remains of me.

That was the day I realized, I never wanted to become her.

Ruby Iyer, the novel is out November. Meanwhile, stay tuned for an occasional, sneak peak into Ruby’s innermost thoughts, as we raid her diary to take you inside the mind of this brash, bold, new heroine from Bombay. Sign up here to find out about the book release. Follow @RubyIyer on twitter.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

All by my #selfie

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Ruby Iyer Diaries #2 : Dare you

I have always been addicted… To adrenaline.
It was right in the middle of my summer holidays. The sun rippled through the fronds of the coconut tree. Placing my hands on the low wall, which separated my apartment block from the one next door, I heaved one leg onto the top; the other still dangling down. Balancing my full weight onto my arms, my skinny biceps vibrating with the tension of having to hold up my entire body I pulled up my other leg; scraping it against the rough edges of the wall in the process. Heedless of the thin stream of blood, which trickled down my left knee, I surveyed the scene from my now-superior height of four feet nine inches, plus another five feet added by the wall. I looked down at the scattered boys and one girl assembled below.
“Dare you,” pouted Sid.
“Ha!” I sniggered back. I was taller than him, for now and was going to prove just how much braver I was. I stuck out my tongue; and was instantly rewarded by him rolling both eyes towards his nose and sticking his tongue right back at me. Yah! Whatever. I’ll show you now! As light as a ballerina on a tight rope, I walked across the narrow surface of the wall towards the adjoining coconut palm. One of its long, fan like leaves hung suspended. I tugged on it, satisfied that it was still firmly attached to the tree trunk. The leaf was just a little bit older than its mates, which still stood upright, their heads raised in worship to the sun. Then holding onto my hands I raised myself to the tips of my feet. 
Raising my head towards the sky, I let the sun-rays warm my face and neck, enjoying the little rise in my pulse beat, skipping its way up towards my chest. Then, as my heartbeat sped up to tango with the blood now pumping through my veins I jumped. “Kreegah Tarzan Bundolo,” I screamed at the top of my voice, sailing through the air, over the heads of my friends.

I looked down at Sid as I cut through the air near his nose. He raised his hand pointing towards something behind me. Yah! Right, no way I was falling for that trick now.
The ground rushed up to meet me:  I headed straight for the pebbled mud just past where the group was standing, and hit the ground with such force that my nose slammed into the dirt. Something hit me on the back of my head. Sid! How dare he? I shimmied up to my feet, my hands still grasping the palm frond; to find them laughing at me. One of them was laughing so hard, he was literally rolling on the ground holding his side. The large leaf had come loose in my hand; it now dragged behind me as if a large cape.
“Ha! If you are so strong, why don’t you wear your underwear over your pants like Superman?” One of the boys burst out between his guffaws.
“But you are a girl. So, how can you be Tarzan? You should be Jane,” burst out the only other girl in the group. I walked up to her, more distraught than I cared to admit. I don’t know why, but it seemed terribly important to clarify this: “I am Tarzan.”
“No, you are not!” The girl pushed her face right back at me, so we were nose to nose. Losing patience I lifted my hand and slapped her. Thwack!
To see her features crumple, you would have thought I had socked her hard. For all that, it was just a measly little slap. She burst into tears. Can you believe that?
Sid—who I thought was my friend, came up to put an around her. “You really shouldn’t have Ruby.” He looked at me sadly. As they walked away, Sid still holding her—as if she was going to die any moment—the girl looked back at me and stuck out her tongue. Then turning around, she placed her head on Sid’s shoulder and continued her incessant crying; holding her hand to her cheek for good measure.
So much for female solidarity; guess I learnt that lesson quite early in life.

Ruby Iyer, the novel is out November. Meanwhile, stay tuned for an occasional, sneak peak into Ruby’s innermost thoughts, as we raid her diary to take you inside the mind of this brash, bold, new heroine from Bombay. Sign up here to find out about the book release. Follow @RubyIyer on twitter.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

What are you afraid of ?

I have lived my life in fear. I think I am the most scared person on this planet. Paralysed with terror, I dread the outcomes of that, which is not to be.
The easy way out is to blame my genes, my conditioning, for drilling into me that security is the most important facet of life.  So I tell myself, as I plot and plan, and come up with counter plans, the fail-safe plans.
Perhaps, these even work to some extent, for they brought me to where I am now.                                                                                              

Yet, I know instinctively that the biggest leaps have happened when I have risked everything - like really back-against-a-wall-of-fire-everything;  regardless of the outcome. Before that, I was saying I wanted something but I wasn't actually going for it.
I know this is true, can feel it in the pit of my stomach where I get that funny vibrating feeling when something is absolutely, utterly, irrefutably, correct.
But, I cannot bring myself to close that distance. That jump into the darkness, that spring over the gap to the other side of the canyon, that deep breath before the dive from the swimming board breaking through that sheet of blue water, touching bottom then arcing up, breaking through the surface and jiving through air.
I can sense the freedom of that space as I write.
That being alive feeling you get when you are on the edge:  the beating of the heart, the drumming of the blood in your ears, that feeling of flying.
You see the view, realise how insignificant you really are in the bigger scheme, take in the beauty around you,  and then, it doesn't matter how and where you arrive.
So what am I afraid of?                       

This post was inspired by Daisy Nokes