Thursday, 14 August 2014

Why life is like one big hangover

A loss equals
An empty space.
A gap in the shape of a lost child.
A parent looking down on you from another world.
A friend who isn't anymore.
The spouse too far away to reach.
A book whose last line has been written.
It sounds so final, as if it were the last nail in the coffin.
You no longer recognise yourself, the hollows under your eyes belong to someone else.
You notice the shape of your fingernails for the first time in days, the greying roots of your hair, the wrinkles, which are your new best friend.
And, there’s nothing inside.
You are spent, purged, done. Finished

You dont even realise you are in mourning, till you see your face in the mirror and see the downward dog of your lips.
There is a space in your timeline, which can no longer be filled.
You see life stare you in the face, and you wish for death.
That’s the truth isn’t it?
But you know you have to go on.
One word, one step at a time, you built that world and now it won't let you go.
Life is like one big hangover. You spend all your time, forcing yourself to do something, and when finally you breakthrough its time to retreat.
Or perhaps its just you who will not bend anymore.
Knowing full well, if you don't compromise you will be snapped.
And yet you reach a stage when you know, all you can be is… You.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

This is me, alright? - Ruby Iyer Diaries 5

I pick up the glass and fling it against the TV screen, breaking it.  Damn! But it feels so good to give vent to my rage.  I wait there, welcoming that expected explosion of frustration from my ma. Now she has no choice but to notice me.

You must have guessed by now that I tend to lose my temper… A lot, especially if I don’t get my own way. My dad tells me I have always been stubborn. That’s me alright: born obstinate. He is a lot more patient with my tantrums. Guess that’s what comes of being a scientist: and a brilliant one.  He’s quite absent-minded too. When I was just five years old, he shut me out in the balcony of our apartment. I stayed there happily playing with my toys, while the rest of the house was in an uproar. 

When they finally found me my ma gave dad an earful.

But, that was when she still cared for me. I am not sure what happened, but my age seems to be inversely proportional to the extent she cares for me.  With every passing year, she grows more distant. I really do miss her sometimes.

Right now, she is standing there, in our living room looking at the broken TV with a look of shock-fast-turning–to-anger on her face. It’s a brand new set:  Her pride and joy.  As I watch, her face goes an interesting shade of purple. I don’t think I have ever seen her look this thunderous. I love it!  And I pay the price: the next day I find myself on the couch, in Dr. Poonawala’s clinic.  

He is a child psychologist and ma has decried that I must see him once a week: for anger therapy. At least it provides a new topic of conversation. “My daughter, she is in therapy,” she now says proudly, shaking her head.

Well, now you know why I turned out the way I did: the only offspring of an absent-minded, South Indian scientist and a slightly off the rocker, gin-swilling Goan-Portuguese housewife.

The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer, is out November. Meanwhile, stay tuned for an occasional, sneak peak into Ruby’s innermost thoughts, as we raid her diary. Sign up here to find out about the book release. Follow @RubyIyer on twitter.

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.