THE PLAN~~Frank meets Nina in Bombay

I watch Nina listening to a lecture. She looks at the lecturer, with a longing on her face, but she does well to hide it; scribbling a haiku on her notepad, she tries not to escape to the land of imagination where he’s undressing her.

Her haiku reads something like this-

Songs of the fallen leaves

Autumn’s introverted smile

A longing.

The lecturer has finished, the class disbands. Nina saunters up to him, her face glowing.

He turns back to look at her. He’s much younger here; his face looked hardened in the future, in the Police Station. His face had lost its softness, its compassion while he will be looking at her through that mirror in a few years. But right now, he’s younger, happier and obviously fascinated by this young woman in front.

“Good day Sir,” Nina is all chirpy and excited. “I was just going through your essay, Dream interpretation, ancient and modern, it’s very well written and it opens a window of Jungian dream interpretation into practise.”

“Thank you, it was a study of his seminar of 1936-41; it is a must for anyone interested in dream work and the legacy of Jungian psychology.” He smiles back at her, so youthful, so peppy; he wanted to reach out and touch her, instead he nodded politely and walked off.

Nina walks in the other direction, a wicked smile plays on her lips.

What a love story this could have been, but it was not meant to! There was a vital piece to the puzzle of Nina’s life and he was in London at this time, his name was Frank.

A photographer and documentarian, Frank was at this very moment trying to get his papers in order to travel to India.

He had always wanted to visit this country; his father had driven to India in a bus during the 60’s, his parents had met there and had him in Pondicherry.

Frank had returned to England when he was three or four, his parents divorced and India was a taboo subject never to be brought up again.

Ah the beauty of Auroville, the meandering pathways as he rode on the bicycle with his dad, the plush, green foliage, the smell of incense and camphor in the air, the smiling faces- all these images haunted him. He tried to suppress these memories, those smells, those colours, but his brain stubbornly held on to them.

Now that he was a grown up, those memories began to trouble him overtime and this time there was no suppressing them. He tried very hard a few years ago; his then girlfriend Helena was all up for it, but when all things were almost arranged the H1N1 scare blew out in full force in their faces.

He would’ve still flown to India, but Helena did not want to risk her life, as she so eloquently put it. “I don’t want to go to a filthy country with Swine Flu at large, are you crazy.”

Frank had to back off and shelve his plan again for the umpteenth time. Life has one definitively quality- it goes on; and so it kept on going until one day everything between him and Helena was over. Those memories flooded his conscious ful force- Auroville! He remembered how the matrimandir glimmered in the sun, the deep silence in it. At that moment he was transported to that white marble room where his parents meditated every evening.

He moved into a studio apartment and got busy with work. During an exhibit from a fellow photographer who shot amazing portraits of holy men or sadhus in Varanasi, their long, flowing beards, hair longer than their height, the wisdom in their eyes, the unfathomable mystery surrounding them that Frank could not wait any longer. It seemed like one particular image of a sadhu, very young, athletic, golden fair skin and piercing black eyes, with cascading copper hair spoke to him. Frank did not know what he heard or rather felt as he gazed at that image, but he knew he had to have it. The deal concluded, that photograph in his hands, he made up his mind. Yes, India, I am coming, do you hear, Mom, dad, I’m going to India, he shouted standing over the Thames in the dark of the night.

He decided to immediately start the process; the paper work at least. It’s true that what you’re seeking is seeking you too.

The same photographer whose mind blowing work had inspired Frank and from whom he bought that photo which hangs over his bed, which he looks at constantly and feels this feverish longing for who knows what, invited him to the Indian Embassy for a gathering.

There he met Dalia Chakraverty from an N.G.O in India; they were doing some great work with street children in Bombay and she was here, in the U.K. to raise awareness and get some funding.

They got talking and he expressed his desire to shoot their work which can greatly aid them in their quest of looking for funding. She was thrilled to have the work of the NGO documented, and gave him an email address which said Ninaray@gmail.com.

Little did he know that this was the moment of reckoning- life as he knew it would be over? A flood of poetry would soon inundate his life.

Dalia told him to contact Nina when he visits India, no they could not pay him much, but Frank didn’t care as long as he had a tiny support system in Bombay, he could make a photo-doc on the street kids for himself; He wrote to that address as soon as he could get to a computer. Nina and Frank began to exchange emails on a regular basis.

He discovered that the NGO did some truly amazing work, they teach inside a bus. Nina is one of the programme-heads besides being a severely talented poet (he had already googled her and visited her website and Facebook page, read her poetry, saw her photos in literary festivals; she looks after a few areas and also teaches, writes dramas, holds workshops and seminars.

She sent him clips, of herself in this unique classroom.

The first time Frank saw her, he was pretty excited. He even scolded himself for feeling something in the pit of his stomach, a feeling he had had when he was twelve and had seen his first crush change in the country club. No, it felt way stronger. It hit him hard. He felt himself get enlarged and found bliss as he touched himself.

He had a stronger feeling this time of butterflies in his stomach, yes definitely much stronger than he’d ever felt before as he watched Nina intently.

Nina, dressed in a salwar kameez,(Indian traditional clothes have a certain allure, he thought) has a puppet of a crow in one hand and a puppy in another. The bus is full of children, some snotty and dirty, some cleaner, better dressed, some have smiley faces and some look like they’re out of Juvenile prison.

There are around sixty-five of them there; quite a number!

Nina performs this puppet show, she asks questions in a naive, puppy voice, questions like, why must we go to school for a math test, when we can play gilli danda? The crow scolds the puppy and replies why education is beneficial. It’s all conceptualized, written and directed by her; can this woman be more of a creative force, he thought.

Although the whole show is in Hindi, Frank understands by way of gesticulations, voice modulations, body language and expressions. He laughs heartily; here is a woman who is funny, caring and very desirable.

He forcibly tries to divert his mind from her, but it’s impossible. It’s like the blood in his veins is like the tide and she’s the full moon.

He cannot stop from watching the clip over and over, until the tune, the words and her silken voice are all embedded in his psyche, and the same with her poetry.

There was a video on her channel; it was in Sunderban, the largest Mangrove eco-systems of the world and the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. She was in this raft going over the turbulent Matla River just as the night descends. Reciting it herself, she almost takes him to that land of magic; her voice rich with emotions. Her poem is called The Magic Lantern.

The rustic landscape,

The babbling brook,

The trees of hoary antiquity shook,

The phantom shapes,

Shadows cast by the lantern on the mindscreen of my brain.

Beautifully insane!

It’s better than any film in which I could escape.

The magic lantern projects my thought foolish,

My hopes futile and my dreams hollow.

The reality I cannot swallow.

I could forget everything and sway on this raft forever,

On the drunken Matla river,

Watching the films I create,

Each time it’s a dream destroyed,

Over and over again.

Her voice echoes in his mind constantly; he could listen to it for days.

He goes to sleep and dreams; once he’s in that raft with her, watching the sunset on the Matla River and then he dreams of himself as a child on that bus, she sings to him, no one else can hear obviously, they’re studying. But he can and she sings to him, and she wears only a diaphanous cloth, a wet saree? Fuck, talk about clichés. He could see her nipples, the hair in her pubic region and all he wanted to do was make love to her. He was twelve all over again and his organ was hard and stiff. He awoke groaning to see he had wet his boxers, he smiled, and it had been ages since he had a wet dream.

Formal it was between them, but gradually as time flew by, they developed a friendship. One day they would meet each other and that day is not far.

Paper work and red-tape always takes time, and Frank waited with bated breath; it would soon be time to experience India, the India of his childhood again, and this time he had made a special friend. The shoot was also exciting, how often does a photog from London gets to shoot impoverished juvenile delinquent street kids in Mumbai? A rerun of Danny Boyle, eh?

He loved the way Nina called it Bombay, just like he had heard in his childhood, Bombay, the city of dreams, Bombay, the city of tears!

Frank finds himself seated at the Heathrow airport one day, yes, the moment is finally here!

He climbs into the aircraft, sits down at the window and tries to surf through a Better Photography edition. He keeps turning the pages, not reading a line, not registering a single image, just thinking; he keeps visualizing the meeting with her. He keeps going through this meeting a thousand times in his head, with slight variations; what sounds intelligent, what could possibly attract her, all these thoughts are running through his mind, but he knows that in order to get her attention he must first be himself.

Just relax, he kept telling himself, speak to her about common interests; we’d definitely have common interests.

His stomach feels like jelly, the plane is doing some sort of freaky circular manoeuvres; they’re waiting for a signal clearance.

His head’s spinning he feels excited like a two year old; the food served had been terrible and not a morsel of it had gone into his mouth. He could hear loud rumbling from down there, yes, he was ravenous.

What did he expect? It had been years since he had waited to come to this very place. The airhostess was announcing something in Hindi and although she had huge teeth and was covered in makeup, she still looked pretty to him, adorned in a red saree.

He could figure out what was being said, but the sound of this not-so-alien language, felt oddly comforting.

He did not have any relatives here, he did not have a home here, the only person he knows here is Nina; yet, he oddly felt at home.

The aircraft landed at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminal and it was some 38 degrees, translation- it was hot!

He managed to take a swig of water and disembarked from the plane. He suddenly saw himself in the mirror as he was going down. He looked silly, smiling from ear to ear. The rumbling in his stomach had settled down. Hunger? It was as if he’d never heard that word.

After picking up his luggage, he goes to grab a taxi. Now the city hits him straight in the face. It’s loud, it’s colourful and then it became really stretched and contorted, like looking through a fish-eye lens.

He tries to take in the sights and sounds, but it’s a bit too much; he’d expected something totally different.

He remembered Auroville briefly in his mind’s eye, but he was not prepared for Bombay. Yes, he’d seen pictures, he’d done all the research on Youtube, but the images, the videos, nothing could prepare him for this!!!

The whole city, he felt like he was making love to it, it’s intense, totally insane, like a forbidden tryst with someone closer than the breaths, yet, at the same time totally alien, like from some other universe!

In the creative circle in Western Europe, living and working in India has a particular kind of misplaced glamour attached to it, a special sparkle that had people crowding around Frank at parties.”You plan on living in India? You were actually born there!!! Wow, really? What’s it like?”

The closest he ever came to answering that question is that it’s like being in a very intense, extremely dysfunctional relationship and that had them in splits.

He had tried to evaluate his emotions, on one level was this immense attraction, then again somewhere there was a deep aversion; how was he going to placate this schizophrenia of his brain? How was he going to exist in this polarity? Time to drop all pre-conceived ideas and notions!

I have known Mumbai, previously called Bombay, intimately, it’s one of those cities, dark and dank, yet budding with life; I’ve seen terrible things – a child of not more than three fall under a train, sliced to pieces, little children with ears that have been chopped off and disfigured, eyes stabbed with hot coal, old, frail men sitting in the rain nursing half-limbs while they beg, infants and their filthy mothers covered in flies, caked in dust nursing on the pavement, beggars with no limbs weaving themselves through traffic on broken trolleys which did not even have all the wheels functional, sweaty men in lunghis working with their nimble hands in tiny corridors with no fans in sky-high temperatures. I’ve seen ghastly things, of gang rapes in buses and local trains, corruption in the Government, bureaucratic red-tape, environmental abuse, and bloody encounters by corrupt Police officers. Time has seen the devastation that is Bombay!

I have also seen the glitz, the glamour, the hard work of actors and artists, films being shot under much stress with sweat and blood, haunting background scores composed, marriages consummated people in love singing in the rain. I have seen life; I have seen death and lots of filmi-giri!!!

Anyway, this poor firangi hops off the taxi, and checks the address on his smartphone. Yes he’s in the right place. He sees the NGO board reading ASHA.

The time has finally come; he’s going to be face to face with her. He feels those butterflies again; he sternly chides himself, stop this shit, you’re no twelve year old, you’re a grown man for heaven’s sake.

He enters through a small gate into the NGO, it’s very noisy like an Indian bazaar, little kids, preschoolers, teenagers, are all seen hovering around. Some are in classes, some are waiting for their checkups outside a tiny door with a red cross, some are playing in a tiny courtyard, some are discussing their studies; Frank is swamped with sights and sounds.

It’s too distracting! He walks up to the tiny desk which says reception; the woman in the desk is having samosas and chai. She looks at him through her glasses, yes, what do you want?

What did he want? The image of Nina comes to his mind, which is correct on so many levels, he smiles to himself.

“I’m here to meet Ms. Nina Ray, we have an appointment.” He sounds all professional.

“Oh yes, she will be here shortly,” says the woman in between munching her samosa and sipping her tea. “Sit down.” She beckons to a wooded bench.

Sitting down, he watches the children, he should probably be checking his emails go on Facebook, but no, he watches, there’s so much life in them, dreams of tomorrow in their souls that it touches a chord in his soul. The world has not managed to crush them, that’s the beauty of children, they are the agents of tomorrow and today can never have a hold on them like it can on adults.

Out of the blue, a brilliant idea strikes him. Why not involve these kids in a photography workshop? These children can explore their creativity through photography, what better way to find some meaning in this meaningless world?

Pick a group, hand them cheap digital cameras and make them take pictures, of anything and everything, of the world around them, let them show him what the world looked like through their eyes. He was sort of visualizing this project when Nina walks in.

Nothing could’ve prepared him for the first look, kind of like Bombay. What eyes, the look in them is of so much wisdom is his first thought. Of course she looks even better in person, there’s no doubt about that. And her smile? She smiles at him and he realizes that he’s just gawking at her like an idiot.

Her smile is so radiant, so calming to his frayed nerves and the world makes such a big deal about the smile of the Mona Lisa, seriously they need to see this smile. Then he decides that not only her smile, her whole aura is so luminescent, she’s actually shining.

Smiles are exchanges and small talk begins like any other people who’ve just met; but in all this peripheral niceties, there seemed to be an odd familiarity about them. They seemed to settle into an easy going friendship soon enough, and Nina’s ecstatic to hear his photography workshop idea.

She has work to do, she tells him; can we meet later?

Oh, I thought I would just follow you through the day and observe the whole process. Shit, please let her not send me home, he thinks gloomily.

Ok if you’re not jet lagged or tired, sure come along. She replies.

I think I see a brief moment of excitement in her eyes, they light up like shooting stars for that brief second, or did I just imagine it? Is she happy to have my company? Probably not, but maybe, just maybe she likes me, a little bit, his thoughts are in overdrive.

Nina takes him to the play area, he can see little children painting the walls, some mixing paint.

They become ecstatic to see Nina. They immediately surround her and begin to drown her talking ten to a dozen.

She can barely hear anything in this torrent of words, but she’s trying to listen with a lopsided smile and at the same time, she’s trying to shhhh them. One at a time, she tells, chup hojayo.

With mischievous smiles on their faces, the kids quieten down and begin to talk to her in giggly voices. “Why are you so late miss?”

“We’re almost done”. “We waited and waited.” ‘You did not even select the colour.”

Nina smiles, ruffles some of their heads, pats them on the back, squeezes some cheeks, all these displays of affection are so effortless on her end that it endears him. It seems to Frank like she’s indeed their older sister. And the love she has for them is evident in her face, her voice and the time she dedicates here.

“Ok bacchon, now that I’m here, let’s get this thing going, shuru karein, shall we?” She rubs her hands in glee.

The children are gleefully smiling and prancing around her in animated enthusiasm.

She looks at him, “Helping out?”

He nods, it strikes him now; she’s so full of life, so full of compassion that his heart aches to hold her. Maybe some of her infectious nature would rub onto him, his bleary, dull, cold existence would be over and therein would begin a journey of colours, scents and feelings- all things missing from his life.

She’s so different from the women back home; he’d never met anyone like her before. Her compassion, her exuberance, her innocence, they are called out to special parts of his brain; not the more primitive side assocated with thirst, hunger, sleep and sex, but it quietened his right parietal lobe.

Our Angrezi babu is not one of that mumbo-jumbo metaphysician wanna-be, new agey, hippy-types, spouting OM SHANTI, wearing rudrax beads. He would’ve landed up to be one such person humming Jai Gurudeva, Lennon style if his parents wouldn’t have divorced. Where did all that spirituality lead them? To a divorce, so Frank never bought into that vibe. In fact this entire gander about spirituality with the new age movement in the West got him bored, even angry at times thinking of how he could’ve still been in Auroville if they actually understood what it all meant, but for the first time when he met Nina he understood, if only briefly what it meant to have a spiritual connection with a total stranger.

He quickly nodded yes, as these thoughts were going through his mind; she did give him an odd look as if she could read his thoughts in the bubble over his head.

Nina goes to an old iron cupboard, which had been repeatedly painted over; it houses the coats she wears while painting. She puts on one and gives him the other; it’s really tight and dabs of dried out, washed off colours still form fractals on it, it is small for his 6 two and a half, athletic frame, but he puts it on anyway amidst giggles and laughter from all present.

They begin to mix the colours; it’s all bright and shiny. Mixing colours could be so much fun was a new revelation to him; the children laughed, Nina is saying all kinds of hilarious little bits which has them rolling on the floor continuously and then she has to feign anger to get them back at doing what was assigned.

Even though the kids had put the very first coat of paint, it still needed an expert’s touch. Nina begins to apply another coat over it with straight neat strokes, she hands over a roller to Frank who begins to dip it in the paint and follows her lead. They paint the Sun, the moon, the clouds, torrents of rain and soon the room looks colourful with its bright yellow Sun, pale luminescent moon, clouds shaded grey and blue, it looks wonderful; what a joint effort!!

The air smells of plastic paint, sweat and smiles and giggles; there’s no short of excitement, especially when it’s time for a break and vada pao with tiny mud cups holding cuttings of chai is served.

They all wolf down the food, and so does Frank, who had been told repeatedly in the U.K. to never touch food from the streets, but here with Nina and the kids, he didn’t even stop to think of all the cautionary tales he had been fed.

It all seemed very natural, very organic to him; like he’s always been here, in their midst, sharing their carefree hysterics and just having fun with them, painting dilapidated walls while snacking on Indian street food. He had somehow in such a short while become a part of this, this sincere love, this camaraderie Nina shared with children who were from the streets. She was truly a special girl.

Frank remembers the camera in his bag pack, the day is over and he wishes he’d managed to get some shots of the day. His resolution to work with these kids becomes stronger, yes; they’re definitely ready for a photography workshop. Who knows, maybe he could speak to the galleries back home, if they’d be interested to host a show of photographs from these children.

It is now almost evening; Nina says her goodbyes after reading them all a story, her leaving brings tears to their eyes and she kisses and hugs each one of them and promises to be back soon.

Frank also says his goodbyes and he is sent off with hugs and smiles like he’s been coming here forever; and even he has to commit to the children to return with Nina as soon as possible. A little surprised, he notes how actually he feels like coming back soon to work and play with these children.

They climb onto an auto rickshaw from the N.G.O, and Nina asks him where he would like to be dropped. He’s a bit stunned; he’d expected a meal and some time spent together with her. He tries to politely bring it up; maybe you can show me the city a bit?

Oh, she seems surprised, you’re not flat out tired, and you still want to go somewhere. She laughs. He laughs with her, “I’m insatiable you see.”

“Ya I see that,” she’s got a wicked expression.

“Juhu beach chalo,” she tells the rickshaw driver.

They ride off into the land of dust and smoke that is Mumbai, the rickshaw stops at traffic signals where beggars and transsexuals come to beg for money.

Teri jori salamat rahe, coos a transvestite and makes strange gestures with her hands, she even reaches out and cups Nina’s face; instead of cringing Nina gives her a ten rupee note and smiles.

The transvestite blows a kiss and moves on. “What did she say?” asks the curious Frank.

“Oh nothing, it’s just an age-old strategy to get some money; she blessed us.” Nina has a lot of explaining to do.

“In this country, the blessings of a transvestite are supposed to hold good, you know, and she said that we’ll be very happy together.” Laughs Nina.

Oh, it finally sunk in. “She thought we are a couple.” Frank’s already in dreamland.

“Apparently so.”

Only if that were true, he thinks. Only if he could kiss her and hold her, if only he could be a child again; a burden would be lifted off his shoulders, but could that be possible?

I’m getting ahead of myself; he scolds the excited voices in his head. Shut up and just be.

They come to this open beach, it’s Juhu Beach she tells him. After paying the rickshaw off, they walk towards the numerous shops selling pani puri, chole batura, ragda pattice; they find a vendor and she orders pani puri.

“You ate the vada pao earlier, all’s well with your system.” She asks him.

“Yeah, I think so.” He replies.

“Are you brave enough to try pani puri?” She’s simply teasing him.

He beckons to the vendor to hand him a paper plate as well. Water filled puris are served with hot ragda to them, Nina eats hers while watching Frank who puts the puri in his mouth and then almost gags as the spicy tamarind water full of green chillies is too much for him to handle.

Spit it out, she tells him, but no, he just wants a minute or two as his mouth gets used to the stinging sensation, he gobbles down the other puri which has been waiting in the vendor’s hand for some time. One after another he downs the water filled puris like he’s been doing it all his life.

They finish two plates each, their stomach’s on fire. Nina points to the Golas. “Popsicles,” she tells him.

“Let’s get one,” he nods.

They each get two golas; on her suggestion, he tries out the kalakhatta flavour.

As his tongue licks the ice and syrup, he finds the tangy taste of the gola really appealing; he tries to make sense of the taste, it kind of tastes like a version of Coca Cola with black salt and lemon she tells him, but it’s not as poisonous as a coke. The added colouring will not kill you; the water might, only if Malaria or Dengue doesn’t do the job before. They burst out laughing.

Nina wipes his mouth with a tissue and their eyes meet; although its casual, although it’s just a glance, he feels something happen between them, an eternity compressed into a moment. He’s sure she felt it too, but you could never say that from her face, she wipes her own mouth and tragic-comically points to her mouth which has turned black from the colouring. She opens her mouth and rolls her tongue out, it’s black and he just that. She nods and laughs, it’s the same.

They walk on the crowded beach, my god; he’d never seen a beach quite so crowded. The air is pregnant with the smell of salt and fried food.

The sea is a peculiar colour, neither grey, nor blue, nor green, as if on this day it has not made up its mind. The sky above is a curtain of pollution and smog and there are hardly any clouds above. The Sun is dazzling in its brilliance and getting a heat stroke seems very probable for poor Frank.

There were only domiciles and huge skyscrapers in the horizon, not much of a sea-side view, but what could you expect in the heart of Bombay suburbia. The sea is more of a hiss than a song, and it swelled silently, but the diminutive waves seemed to be juveniles, not sure of themselves as they crashed and rippled half-heartedly. Clumps of garbage are washed up on the beach, a dupatta here, a discarded shoe there, broken glass bangles, the head of a plastic doll!

The real estate here is one of the most expensive in the world, but the sea will definitely cough up garbage every now and then. The beauty of Bombay! The beach seems endless from where they stand, nestled by the shores were highly priced bungalows, mostly owned by Bollywood celebrities.

Cawing crows are scavenging and flying overhead in huge numbers, harassing the beach-goers in their search for scraps. Tongues rolling and stomachs growling, the stray dogs come wagging their tails when they see you take a bite of your food. Ah the masti of Juhu beach!

There were people strolling around eating, kids playing, shrieking their lungs out; women in bright sarees dazzled his eyes, glass bangles tinkled in their hands and they just walked up and down the beach.

Women in burquas, all covered in black also walked up and down with numerous kids of all ages. He could not imagine how they tolerated the heat under all those clothes.

“What’s this? Does no one swim?” he asks her.

Nina nods her head, nope Mister. This is not your typical Baywatch scene.

“So Indian women swim in sarees?” he’s very surprised.

“I don’t think they’d ever swim here, in front of so many people, it’s just not our culture here.” She says

“Do you swim?” he asks cautiously.

She gives him a glance, smiles mischievously and pulls him towards the sea.

“Why not? Let’s swim.” She responds

“No, no wait,” he’s shocked. “I have all my equipment.”

“Oh that’s your problem.” She’s run into the sea, fully clothed.

People are looking at her, some are pointing, youngsters are laughing; she’s managed to get everyone’s attention.

Frank was captivated by her bashful innocence; he kept his bag with the pani puri vendor and ran after her.

They swam near each other, never close enough to touch, but he felt as if her presence enveloped him and it felt wonderful.

A policeman pops up to watch what’s happening, people crowd around the beach to watch them as if they were about to perform a duet, Bollywood style in the water.

Well after a little bout of swimming, their hearts jubilant, they make their way back to the beach. People are smiling at them; some folks are obviously disapproving, especially elder women.

“Yemaya assesu, assesu Yemaya, Yemaya olodo, olodo Yemaya…

Nina hums so softly that he had to crane his neck to catch on, the background noise is no help of course. Her soft, mellifluous voice in its pure magic transports Frank to some other realm altogether.

“What was that? The song?”

A smile lit up her eyes, “Oh it’s from the Yeruba tribe in Nigeria, it’s an ode to the goddess Yemaya.”

“Yamaya?” Frank has never heard that name, but yet, he felt like he had.

“This chant celebrates the journey of the river to the Sea and the final annihilation of its personal identity to be merged with the great ocean, it’s an allegory, the journey is actually of the soul to be immersed into that one supreme truth…beautiful and so poignant…whenever I’m near the sea I sing this song, don’t know why it reminds me of my mother, although she never sang it, I don’t even know if she’d heard it, but still somehow it brings her to me, in a small part, but it does…” Such intensity in those eyes, Frank wants to kiss her, but he says or does nothing. He figures, she’s lost her mother, but somehow he could not say “sorry” the way most people do when they realize that the person in front has lost someone important to them, but in this case, the sorry would seem so superfluous, silence spoke volumes instead.

She continues, “it’s so strange, this reality, the meandering river seeks the sea as the soul seeks the truth, but in both cases, the individual ego is destroyed…the river exists no more, it is the sea, but then the sea is also the river, they’re one and the same…I long for my sea…” a sigh escapes her lips and in this dreamy state she’s oblivious to the crowds staring at them as they stroll leisurely towards the vendor’s stall.

Frank collects his equipment from the vendor, and looks at Nina for some clue as to what would be their plan of action next.

“Shall we take a small walk,” she asks smiling.

By now, there are stars in the sky; the moon is a smiley face and it’s her face he sees in it today.

They walk all wet and soggy; the wind’s quite strong and is doing a good enough job of gradually drying them.

They walk to a small restaurant and order masala chai. Nina opens her bag to take out a cigarette and out pops a book. It lands on the sand and Frank retrieves it.

He looks at the novel- THE TRIAL, by Franz Kafka.

“Are you wondering why I have that book, besides reading it of course?” She reads his mind. “Have you read it?”

“Yes, ages ago,” he replies digging into his memory.

“I love the way Kafka deals with our dual nature…our propensity towards evil and our struggle between intellectual introspective reason and self sacrifice…” her voice sounds like a lute with magical qualities to it and he feels warm in spite of being soaked like a wet umbrella; he’d never known a woman to explain Kafka to him.

She continues in her velvety voice, “Imagine to be executed in the state of ignorance.” His face is a blank, for the life of him; he cannot seem to remember a single line from any of Kafka’s work.

She knows his dilemma, “Well, The Trial is one of Kafka’s best known works, it tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote inaccessible authority and the nature of his crime never revealed to him or to us, the readers.

“Oh my, so you don’t know why this bloke was incarcerated? That’s tragic aye?” He is surprised.

“Nope, I don’t and yes it is tragic but there is a dark humour to it. Imagine being put away by the Government for something you’re not even aware of, how scary is that.”

She’s toying with the book and sniffing it.

Frank watches her.

“I sniff books; they take me to different places in my mind. They remind me of different things. They memory capsules; say today page 27 may remind me of the first time Dadu( my grandfather) took  me to the Kali temple at Kangra valley, then again tomorrow it might remind me of the day I submitted my paper on Cognitive dissonance. Today PAGE 49 may remind me of the Coffee House in Calcutta and tomorrow it might remind me of the shelter and the fudge we ate from Lonavala.” She smiles

To him it all seems like a film, he feels like the viewer, watching this beautiful screen siren playing her part, the intellectual and the beautifully sexy, only this time, its slightly different; he, the viewer is being allowed to participate in the film.

He is a part of the film and yet, he’s just a viewer, watching the exposition in a dark, cold theatre, it’s surreal, his very own Un Chien Andalou. The moment is so rare, the breeze, the smells in the air, the background sound of the waves crashing mingling with the excessive honking creates a kind of symphony for him, and it’s not offensive anymore. But then again, he tries to concentrate, she’s saying something, but her words are not making any sense to him. The film suddenly seems like it’s in a foreign language and there are no subtitles.

The moment is escaping, he wants to hold onto this feeling in his being, this feeling of dreaming, yet, awake, and he wants this moment to stand still. But I do not wait for anyone, I must pass I must flow like a river, you can never touch the same bit of water twice, remember the flow continues and will never remain in one place. Time and tide wait for no one!

The channel changes, suddenly it’s back to English again and this time he can participate in the film again. But what happened to all that time he was lost in this dream, looking at it through the lens of his unconscious?

“Society is capable of reducing a human into an insect and lesson number two- humans are selfish and self absorbed living in a world of give and take.” These fragmented words came to settle in his ears.

He looks astonished, so she shakes her head and asks, “Were you not listening? I was talking about the most important lessons in Kafka?”

Frank orients himself and nods.

She bursts out laughing, “I promise to stop, no more Kafka okay…”

He smiles sheepishly.

“Enough of my banter, tell me about your exciting life, anyone special back home?” so at least she’s curious about that aspect, it gave him a boyish hope.

He shakes his head, “People scare me mostly.”

“Hell is other people.” She retorts. “Sartre hit the nail on the head.”

He can certainly relate to that.

The walk on the beach with a crescent moon and twinkling stars to keep them company becomes a special memory to both the protagonists, etched into their minds forever.

Advertisements

The Mansfield Story

BELOW IS A PART OF MY NOVEL CALLED THE MANSFIELD STORY.

IT IS ALSO DEVELOPED AS A SCREENPLAY.

HELP ME PUBLISH~ BECOME MY PATRON

 

CHAPTER 1

SHAMBHAVI’S POV

I am not going to pretend that I’m this master story teller, in fact I’m seriously beginning to question my choice of vocation as writer/ filmmaker. No HD has my film on it and the analogue era was before my time. I have made all these films, in my head. From script to post prod, I’ve created these monstrosities and they exist. Don’t know where, don’t know how, but they do. Mistakes are portals of discovery, right Joyce. Works every time, doesn’t it. But then you were seeking to be immortal, hence the elaborate subterfuge, but for me. I am the nothingness, the mistake. These films that I’ve made in my mind, over and over, lead me nowhere in the real world, for they don’t exist. Neither does she, but there she is, invading my senses, my ideas, my dreams.

I think of these bizarre stories and it’s not even that I write them, they write themselves. I’m just their victim. They laugh at me, they torment me, they wake me up at four in the morning in jest, they drive me insane tossing and turning in bed at night. They are my oppressors. Not always. There is a friendly angle to our relationship. It does exist.

To the world, I’m this depressed writer who types away for hours on end on her laptop, writing God knows what. I’m in the fraternity of paid-poorly writers who are paid next to nothing to develop content. That’s my day job, at night I’m batwoman! You wish right?

I write screenplays and then make my films over and over again. And then there are these surfeits I have to deal with, like my friends from these stories, they begin to cohabit with me. These characters, they decide to pop right out of the Final Draft document and strut their stuff in front of me. There’s a reason why I’m constipated. How do you drop the excrement off your body when someone is reciting to you, a fluke line out of Keats, or no Shelley, I think. The Romantics definitely. Or you have this beer bar dancer doing make up! She keeps wanting to know if she’s looking saxy, not sexy, but saxy.

How the fuck is someone to shit in peace? Then there’s this boxer, he’s got tuberculosis and I write about it. Bam! I develop this terrible cough and an unbearable pain in the chest. The next day, I go to clear my throat and the phlegm sitting in the basin has blood. What does the boxer do? He laughs at me.

Then there are these pregnant women. I don’t think I’ll get into that right now, but yes you guessed it right. My periods stopped coming. Who could be the father? There were three possible candidates, but no one I could discuss this with. Not like they were my live-in boyfriends. They were nothing, not even friends. I stared at the pregnancy stick, yes, two lines. It didn’t matter how many times I re-took that test, it was the same. Now I’m no fool, I use protection. So did it not work? Did the bloody condom burst? Am I… I don’t think I could bring myself to voice that word. PREGNANT!!! I was and I did what I had to.

Not only am I plagued by these people, but strangely the things I write come to pass. No don’t think of  it as some kind of gift, it’s a fucking curse actually. It might have been a gift if all I wrote about was unicorns and fairies, but here I sit in silence and type away. What do I see? The desperate situation we’re in, yes us humans. I see the pain, no I think it’s more like I am in pain. I suffer day and night, sometimes with reason, sometimes without. I’m just a sucker for pain and my heart is perpetually broken. These films that I make are extensions of my tragic self and the most persistent theme of them is suicide.

You can say that I have a morbid fascination for suicide. My mother committed suicide when I was four or five, her mother too killed herself and so did her father, so yes it kind of runs in the family. I’ve been subjected to hours and hours of counselling so I don’t jump off a high-rise or hang myself with a dupatta. Morons! As if those sessions helped.

You see to me suicide is an art-form. You’ve got to be an artist to kill yourself with grace. You’ve got to see the beauty in death and embrace it. You’ve got to worship the power you have, the power to decide when it’s over. There is no fucking God, there is just you and the choice is yours.

My mother named me Shambhavi, I have an abbreviated form that I’ve chosen- SHAM! Yes I’m a sham! I’m not artist, if I was then I’d have already created the master piece- my death! The suicide, but I am not an artist, just a writer.

There are these three projects that I’m working on- developing for filmmakers who are too lazy to write their own shit and need to hire morons like me. The boxer does tend to get on my nerves, otherwise I am actually pretty involved with the rest. They tell me what to write and I do. It seems to be working. Of course there are times when these directors feel the need to impose upon my feeble intellectuality and ask me to make corrections. Temper tantrums will be thrown, but somehow we manage. We don’t exist without each other. We need each other.

Then there are these turbulent characters that take birth from my mind. They wreak havoc on my life, depressed, suicidal, maniacal, it’s difficult to deal with them. There is no sense of closure, no sense of comfort with them, only angst is the best way I could describe the feeling.

I have also tried setting MSS on fire, but once they’ve been conceived of in my head, there is no annihilating them. They are a part of my life, actually these creatures are my life whether I like it or not. The only way I can get rid of them is to finally begin work on the masterpiece.

It was so strange, when I met her that night. She stood in front and for the life in me, I couldn’t fathom her identity. There was something so familiar about her. P.S- I don’t subscribe to God or reincarnation. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alive as I did when I saw her.

Don’t ask me how I landed up there, but I’ve had such strange and absurd situations happening to me recently that I just let go and watched her. She was tiny and her hairdo reminded me some old flick on Joan of Arc. Dressed in all black, there was this pendant around her neck, a spiral in jade and it looked like a fern would spring right out of it. Waist-upwards she had this sphinx like quality, her short crop was unkempt, her bangs fell on her forehead. She blinked her eyes through thick glasses as she looked at me. It had to be me, right. There was nobody else there, just a cat.

She lumbered across the vast living room. I could see her legs did not carry her well and she was stooping. There was a fire in her eyes which I could see even through those thick glasses. She sat right in front with a cuppa tea. I was not offered any. We sat like that for I don’t know how long. I was looking to say something. “Hello, I’m Sham,” “Hello, I’m a sham.” But I said nothing.

There was something that caught my eyes- an old calendar that screamed 1922.

Okay officially I have lost it, I know it to be 2017, not 1922. That made me look around. The deco was very vintage English, complete with Victorian furniture and then there were books. Quite a collection! I could happily bury myself in there for the rest of time and not bother about those people who live in my head or even the person in front with her sparkly eyes. She was not old, maybe thirty, but she looked much older. Her body was bent out of shape and her face showed signs of physical pain. I could tell she was sick and ailing. I looked on.

That belligerent and witty tongue could lash out at me, but it remained mute. It could raise a tempest but the waters remained still.

“You know I want to be like those ballerina’s of Dega, frozen in their graceful posture…” Those were the first words that came out of her mouth.

A reply, it came quite effortlessly. Then I bit my tongue. Crap! I sound like an idiot, I thought. “But those ballerinas are frozen, there is no life in them. They’re dead, like dolls…”

She threw her head back and laughed. That sound awakened a primal part of me and the ballerinas of Dega were right in front of me, suspended in space. There was this one figure of a ballerina and right next to her was this strange woman whose face you could not see, hidden by a hat in black attire and they both seemed to be waiting. It felt like us, that moment that time. I felt like the ballerina, massaging her foot in eager anticipation to perform and she was like the chaperon, waiting for that moment when I would set the stage on fire, pushing my body for fleeting moments of grace that would captivate one and all. I do that every day. I push my mind so I could come up with that work of art that would have entire generations enthralled, now you see what a SHAM I AM.

She wanted to be like those ballerinas. Why? Did she not feel their pain, their exhaustion? Did she want to be frozen in time?

“I never leave the house anymore and don’t like having servants,” She told me.

“T.B is painful and in 1920 it is incurable and you also have gonorrhoea, you must be in severe pain, most of the time.” I replied.

“You speak as if you come from some other world.” You can tell the gutsy woman she is.

“I come from the future…” I burst out laughing as I said it. “It sounded like some corny Sci-fi that no one would go to watch.

“You mean the motion picture…” She sounded interested, but then who is not interested in film.

“It’s very interesting that you would bring up the motion picture, because I have this story that I’m working on and the protagonist makes motion pictures, but from a feminine perspective, you know…”

I knew. “You want to explore the feminine angle? You seem content telling us stories through the male POV, Point of view…” I had to explain as she had no idea. Feminism, not one of her strong points.

But then what do you expect from her in 1910? Seems a bit bizarre, absurd if you ask me. I reach out in my pocket to stroke my I phone 6. The screen is cracked, just like my life.

You do not abandon your husband in 1920, you’re a woman and your place is right by his side. There are no other options, do not seek them. She seemed to know about real people, not some theoretical characters, but people of flesh and blood. That captivated me for years. How does a woman of her class and upbringing understand the human condition that well?

How does a marriage last only a day? There are no answers to such theoretical questions? Are writers really so crazy to get married to see what it feels like? Is this research? What is a marriage anyway? There was so much to talk about, but we sat silent.

 

CHAPTER 2

MANSFIELD’S POV

The tuberculosis has drained all my energy, the pelvic pain is getting worse, but my dream portrayal must continue, if anything today there is a seeing that I have felt. It’s not writing, it’s seeing. There are moments when I see all black before my eyes, need to sit down and gather myself, but the imaginative process never stops, it’s akin to breathing.

Much of my work remains unpublished and there are days when I lovingly gaze at them as a sign of acknowledgement and appreciation. Writing or rather seeing is a need and it must be done. In fact this sabbatical from my amorous lifestyle has given me time to write and I am thankful for it for all my stories come from the depths of my being.

Bliss and other Stories has just been published this year and it seems to be doing rather well. But there is suddenly a story inside me. I don’t even know what it is, suddenly I see Maata’s face and her breasts like a motion picture, a silent film and once again I’m back in the Hippodrome and I see the audience. Predictable! Their hands, their heads, their expressions.

I dreamt a story last night, every little detail etched in my mind, down to the smells and sounds and I was a part of it.

I see her eyes. A dark melancholia! An intense hankering for experience in the world of echoes and shadows. Who is she? She could be my alter ego. Her olive skin glows like logs burning at the fireplace, her long, dark hair is threaded like the negroes. Her mind is where she lives, the outside world has no fixity for her. I remember gazing at the audience, why not, I was a part of them. In this story I’m a part of both- I am her and I am the audience.

This story about her, this absurd protagonist who writes these films. Could it be that she makes them? Lumbering away with that heavy contraption of a camera? Who knows in the future there just maybe such women? I’d have loved to discover that platform.

Story-tellers tell stories, it doesn’t matter what the medium is. I have been told my writing is descriptive, just like the way they do it in the studios in America. I could have gone there, but travel for me is not a possibility. It’s why I cannot even go home- New Zealand!! Oh my pain and pleasure.

I’ve been criticized, compared to Chekov, snubbed for my hankering to be free, my will, my feisty nature, but people forget I’m just human. Where is the time? I’ve lost so much, I’ve gained so much. I have cried, I have laughed, I have lived and now I will die.

But this story, it wants to be written. Murray will surely publish most of my work even though I’ve told him not to. It sells, my writing and so shall its fate be, it’ll be sold! I need to sit down on days when the pain is bearable and write. I want to give my readers hope, yes everything is twisted, but there is hope. I was tired of reading every single thing out there from the perspective of a man, I mean how long is society going to ignore us? The fact that the women in my stories have decided to speak up shows me there is hope for us. Our voices need to be heard.

The Fourth way may just be my way, reading Gurdjeiff is a complicated process, yes it has opened up new portals to my experiencing life, but then there is so much left to be discovered and do I have time? Regret, don’t we all have a pinch of that with every sip of life we take. I for one, am swamped with regret. I regret my childhood, I regret the taunts and mocking because of my rather hilarious glasses, I regret not writing more often, I regret not supporting the women’s suffragette in the U.K, I regret not being vocal about it, I regret not telling Maata how much I loved her, I regret my obsession with Chekov. No I take that back, no regrets there. I regret my brother dying like that. I can still see him in uniform, bloody and dusty.

Although I have been quoted as saying that I do not regret anything. I have asked my readers to never regret, but that is only the half truth. Yes regret is an appalling waste of energy and nothing can be built on it, but it exists. I wish I could just erase it away. REGRET ERASED!

The Work must be done, it’s 1922 and here I am in colonial India, Calcutta to be precise, all alone. A sick white woman in the midst of all these natives.

Then I saw her, she was vibrant, her olive skin was smooth as it tasted the Sunlight which played on it and created so many hues that I just watched. I don’t know how she arrived right in front of me, definitely not dressed like the ordinary native girls or like an English lady. She had on trousers like men, I think they’re called denims. The road workers in America wear them as overhauls. I never expected a woman to dress in them and then her long, dark negro like hair. I thought she was a figment of my imagination, the medicines playing a trick on me. After all I was a sick woman. I waited for the apparition to disappear. But she sat there and just stared back. I think we briefly spoke, about Dega’s ballerina’s, but it made no sense.

Theosophy and Gurdjeiff! You know the three types of men or women found in this world- those that are centred in their physical bodies, then the ones centred in their emotional space and those that focus on their minds. What type am I? I have never been able to quantify myself in any one category, I’m indeed a mixture of all three. I have lived centred in the physical, more than not I have existed only in my emotions and then of course my mind is one of my favourite places to visit and spend some time. So yes, I’m a bit of all. All writers are as we have all these stories inside us where we become those people when we write them.

I remember alluding to this story of this woman who makes motion pictures, these dreamy silent films. I think she is my protagonist.

Right now, all I can think of is Van Gogh’s painting- the self portrait. I consider myself a writer/painter. I paint too like Van Gogh, I paint with words.

I just wish I had more time. I want to be healthy again, to experience a full, living-breathing life. I want to be with the Earth and see all the wondrous things- the sea and its infinite waves, the mellow Sunrise of a perfect morn.

I know I exist in this state of hypnotic waking sleep. I want to wake up and I’m willing to see if the Method will help. This story needs to be written. I need to find her again. That woman, no she’s more like a girl. I need to find her.

And then I see it, the Insect scuttles away and there are these strange voices that I can hear. Sounds like some Hindu chants. What is it?

Is my illness getting the better of me? I see myself, is it me or some other woman, no wait it’s her, dressed as Van Gogh, holding a gun to her face. She pulls the trigger!

I see a thick manuscript by the coffee table and note that’s its rather gloomy this afternoon, the wind shakes the trees so. Flashes trouble me- I think I see Lawrence. Murray tells me that THE LOST GIRL is modelled on me. I know, I know that my writing and me in person have had a significant influence on him, and he’s drawn parallels between me and some of his noteworthy characters, but why do I see him, in Colonial India?

My neighbour from Cornwall, my friend, the eminent D.H. LAWRENCE. I am his Albina and we both struggle everyday for our independence and outcasts we’ve become. We shared a number of things in common, I was a colonial outsider; he was from a working-class mining town. I am more like Lawrence than anybody. We are unthinkably alike, in fact. Four of us did form a peculiar brief and uneasy friendship in bleak Cornwall, yet, I treasure those days.

And now I find this letter from Murray. It does nothing for my mood right now, but leafing through it seems to be my only option. So I do it.

“You are all about me – I seem to breathe you, hear you, feel you in me and of me.” I actually wrote those lines for him and felt like I was home in his tent, sitting at his table. It seems far away, back here dreaming of silent films and Virginia Woolf.

There were times when I wanted to strangle my beloved Murray. I go back in my mind to one such incident. It left a sour taste in my mouth. I was cruel, we were verbally bashing one another, oblivious of who was present. I’d like to think it was tragedy that kept us together.

There’s nothing I want more than a cigarette. The curls of smoke rise up to meet their oblivion as I take a pull. It calms my frayed nerves and I take a sip of the tea. Darjeeling tea from the foothills of the Himalayas, a colonial addiction. Tea snobbery!

As I relax, she appears in front of me. Seated in a cluttered desk, she seemed to be looking at something. It looked like a boo, but a light emanated from it. She seemed to be typing like it was some sort of type writer. I couldn’t see properly, the smoke and mist clouded my vision.

The Plan ~~ A Novel by Tinaheals

MIZPAH

The smell of death, the touch of suffering,

The hungry mouths, the tired bodies,

This is reality, wait, its buffering.

This is what it embodies.

The sleep, the dream, the dream in the dream!

 

I force my memory to return to that day, that fateful night.

I feel so divorced from reality that everything seems to be from a film, some experimental film, where the maker is purposely using disjointed close ups, to display the brokenness of the characters, to make visible the dehumanising of them.

It’s like when I look at advertisements- dismembered body parts of women are made to mimic products, a torso becomes a bottle of alcohol, and two legs become scissors. The woman is not only sexualized, objectified, but her body is not even allowed to remain whole, it is sliced up. What violence!

But here in this scene the filmmaker has perceived of slicing the characters to convey to me that they are somehow not whole, they are somehow disintegrating, they are fading away. The film I see, has a burnt out texture, the whole shot seems to be fragmented; there is an emptiness evident in the mise scene; the atoms are 9.999999999999% empty, so reality is essentially emptiness and I am more not here than here.

The camera is fluid, the shots keep going out of focus and then the subject gets refocused on. Wait, is this some film festival? Nah, it’s my life, more like a snapshot of my life.

That day!

I see her face; her mascara is running down her face, she looks like some character from a horror flick. Dressed in torn jeans and a white tee, her feet bare, her  messy make up, the alcohol on her breath and her cigarette smoke, they all surface at different times in my mind, like abstract close ups. They help me conjure up that very moment and I am there again.

A few weeks ago we had gone to the Police Station to file an FIR against this bastard. Not much was said that day or the following weeks of what had transpired because my sister was pretty much catatonic and has been since them, but this evening I get a call from her, drunk out of her head asking me to drop by. I ask Frank not to come as she might open up easier without a male presence, so hopping into a rick, I went straight to her Andheri apartment that she shared with Mel.

Anxiously I waited for her to get the door, and the sight that greeted my eyes shocked the living hell out of me.

Zeenia is wearing the same clothes in which she was raped and has painted her face very dramatically, presumably depicting the way she feels. I’m fucking scared. All these past few weeks what seemed like an eternity to me, she had suffered terribly from rape trauma syndrome and it has devastated us. We have all pretty much given up smiling or talking about anything normal, we just eat when hunger threatens to burn a hole through our stomach. Between Mel and me, we supervise her day and night, never allowing that one moment of weakness to overcome her. Slowly, slowly, she began to sleep for a few minutes, which has become a few hours. She’s stopped screaming in her sleep and the hallucinations about the rape have also lessened.

Only on days when we went to court, she’d be pretty much devastated to see the perpetrator sitting across the room, all smug and confident; lying through his teeth. Today the session at court was traumatic and this night is the reaction to that.

The night begins…

There are red Sula bottles strewn round the floor. I’m in Zeenia’s apartment at Yari Road, at least that’s where I think I am, my senses and understanding have abandoned me; we’re smoking spliffs and cigarettes like it’s going out of fashion.

The tiny apartment is smoky, it reeks of that cheap, sweet Sula smell that I detest; never been much of a drinker, in fact I do not care for alcohol at all, but today’s different.

Zeenia is drunk with a capital D and she keeps thrusting the bottle in my hand while petting Bhola, a stray puppy she rescued from the alleys of four bunglows. I keep sipping, knowing that she has something to say, but it is one of those things which can be mouthed out when one is sufficiently inebriated.

So I keep quiet, I drink on; we’re getting sloshed, Zeenia appears to be crying, hugging Bhola who stares at her surprised.

I see her face, a close up shot, her smeared mascara, and her face pale. What’s happened to you, my dearest friend, my sister? Why’re you wearing the same clothes? Why would you wear such ghoulish makeup?

Zeenia breaks down, she’s sobbing her eyes out. Bhola drags himself and sniffs her; he cannot walk as his hind is paralyzed, he carries his whole body weight on his front paws. There is a cello playing in the background, “Nothing else matters”, the celebrated Mettalica tune plays; there are no words, just the haunting tune spoken by the cello. It is spooky, it is surreal; eerily it plays on, the cello is hell bend on making me nauseous.

This nausea is different; it is filled with anxiety, with trepidation, with a doomsday feeling. Something bad is happening, no, no, it has happened and she is trying to tell me about it.

Birds fly high,

Heart as heavy as sinking iron.

The dusky twilight of today.

My haiku for the day, as I wait for her.

She is trying to work up the courage to speak about it, yes, something horrific has happened and she’s kept it bottled up for so long. Life as we knew it has ended, even Bhola can sense it.

Zeenia is on all-fours, on the floor, pulling her hair, screaming out in pain; all this while she was holding it in. I want to comfort her, but nausea is all I have. Where is Dadu? Where am I? Obviously not here, this body is here, pissed out of her mind, but where am I?

Am I in her scream? Am I in her pain? Am I even there? Do I even exist?

I just want to type away all this pain, yes, that’s what writers do, don’t they? A fucking fucked up cliché.

He raped me Nina, she’s saying. For the first time, I hear the words, the sinking feeling gets worse, as if it could get any worse. Since that day at the police station, she’d remained mute and unresponsive to everything, but today the flood gates have broken. I think I handled it better when she was silent, seeing her like this, with such a painful rawness is actually very scary.

Chills ran down my spine to actually hear these words- RAPE, RAPE, RAPE, it kept making a din in my consciousness. No, I did not hear it, but why is this word making so much noise, drowning everything else.

You read about rape in the newspapers, you watch it on tele, you see actors getting raped in films, you come across it in novels or short stories; but where do you encounter that word in the comfort of your own surroundings?

Such words do not perpetrate their violence in my mind when it comes to my sister.

As a writer you explore rape through different characters, you feel it deeply, but not like this.

Focus Nina, I hear a voice in my brain. Focus on what she is saying. “That bastard, he’s a fucking doctor, I trusted him…” All these words came to my ears disjointed, like a fragment from a whole dialogue but in the time they travelled to my ears these sound waves had lost most of their substance.

“How do people in positions of power abuse others so badly, I fucking don’t understand, especially women; these cunts create feminazis” shouts Zeenia. Her hands trembles as she tries to cut some white powder into straight lines. She snorts it through a crisp note, her eyes begin to water. She offers me the note; rolled up, ready to aid me in devouring some white powder.

No fucking way man, I did not yet care to fry my brain this instant, and of course the nausea is threatening to take charge. I have to keep it down. How did she get this stuff?

“Tell me all about it Zeenu, forget about the crap his lawyers are throwing at you, just tell me everything, from the beginning; he was about to operate on you, what happened?” I hear a small voice ask.

“Doctors are cunts; they probably rape patients on an everyday basis, who knows? Oh! And so are lawyers, fucking fuckballs…” she vacillates as if in a trance.

“But how, how,” I hear an insipid murmur. “How did it happen?”

“Fuck Nina, you’re just regurgitating the same shit over and over again, I was thinking about the story you wrote remember, about the rape…in the stables,” she reminds me.

I am quietened, I have no words. Yes I am dying to know how it happened, but I must not seem insensitive, as if at this point I can even feel anything. I think I officially know the meaning of hollow inside. I am guilty of writing that rape story in the stables, I am guilty, guilty…just hang me!

Once reminded of my creation of pain, I keep quiet; I know I have to pacify her, to give her some warmth. Why the fuck did I write that story? Oh Dadu, where are you now?

My mind is such a mess that right now even if Dadu appeared and spoke to me I could only materialize a vacuous stare.

Pull yourself together, that voice inside my head would just not shut up.

The scene playing in my mind, this movie I’m watching is boody nerve wracking. I want to shake this character Nina, the idiotic poet, phoo. What on Earth is her problem? Why can’t the bitch just hug her sister?

It’s as if the character in the film heard my cue. I see this Nina person slowly go up to her sister. She hugs her, it’s not a hug; it’s more of surrender. Zeenia had not expected this move, her rigid body turns limp, she surrenders to the power of human touch. The two sisters sob in each other’s arms, it’s perfect. The observer and the observed became one, for a second, I became Nina.

Nina, the writer; no big deal in a country where Chetan Bhagat is a best seller, it’s absolutely mundane now, being a writer that is. It’s officially the death of the intellectual. Besides what does this girl really write? Most would label her work as b.s, too grim, too existential (as if that’s a profanity), basically useless! Entertainment kahan gaya paaji? Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Yes I am a morose writer, a fucking retard, oh, and depressed retard!

Scream of infinite solitude,

Enmeshed in traffic of the soul,

A faint smile.

This kind of shit is running through my head, fuckity fuck!

The night drags on. It’s funny how when I have a pleasurable time, it’s gone before I can even quantify all the sensations I had felt; but when things go downhill, it’s like karma coming full-force to bite me in the ass.

Finally, we both stop sobbing!

Her voice is small, it’s in fact tiny!

I can barely hear it, although we’re so close.

“You know how fucked up this shit is, I went to consult him for that boob job, my producer finally gave me the cash…so I found him online and went ahead, those D cups were all I had in my head, I’m so fucked up, don’t shshhh me, I’m a dumb bitch. You told me not to go for it, but what was I to do. I needed bigger tits, for that fucking part. Fuck, shit’s really hit the roof. I’m fucked, fucked…” She says.

I have no response, my eyes are closed. I am not watching her face, just imagining her reactions.

I could see every single micro expression, every single movement of her jaws, of her eyes, how the lines creased in her face, I saw all the details without actually looking.

I taste Zeenia’s tears in my mouth or were they my own? I have no answers, I have just feelings. The nausea, the confusion is overwhelming and the emotions are transmigrating as words in my mind palace. I wish to document the pain of the dark night, there was an abundant amount of it and my psyche could not hold all.

I wait with bated breath for her to continue and it looks like Bhola did the same.

Her voice has a far off quality to it, like it echoes from some distant world. I listen as she continues.

“Don’t they have the bloody Hippocratic oath, practise medicine honestly, screw practising medicine, isn’t it absolutely unethical on so many grounds to sodomize your patient,” as she says this I realize she has stopped sobbing, so have I.

My eyes are still closed, I’m watching this scene as the abstract, fragmented film, all those extreme close ups to help the exposition along.

She moves away slowly, I just wait. Our embrace is broken, now we sit facing each other. I open my eyes, I see her eyes.

The pain in them is excruciating, it rips my heart apart. Looking into her eyes I know that no matter how hard I try I will never be able to pen down that emotion, that look will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Zeenia’s my baby sister, I came to the world five seconds earlier, so I’m the older sister; in any case I’ve acted like she was my choto bon.

Shey amar choto bon, boro adorer choto bon…yes, I would piss her off to no end when this song came out of my lips. Damn you Nina, cut out the didi complex, what’s with Bongs and didigiri?

And kobigiri? Kobi kobi bhab, chonder obhak. True that. What’s with all the poetry in my heart, it’d be better off being more prosaic, that’s what the world needs.

Anyway, I protected her, I supported her, I guided her; overall I performed all functions of an older sister as well as that of my mother. Dadu was always there, he was our guardian angel.

Sanity is returning slowly to me, I guess it’s the warmth from my sister’s hug. I’m inclined to ramble on, “Your tits are fine, and why did you even need to go to that asshole? I told you not to, you don’t need silicon in your tits to become an actor. You’re not a bimbo, you’re way better than that.”

Zeenu starts shrieking, “I know what you’re thinking, tell me, tell me. You think it’s my fault right?? You’re probably thinking of some fucking haiku right?”

“Nah re baba, how can it be your fault and no I’m not thinking of a fucking haiku?? Nah re shona, it is my fault. I should have insisted and when you didn’t listen I should have done something severe.”

“What severe? Tied me up?” Her voice takes on a lighter note.

“Probably, fuck knows.” A hint of a smile in my voice.

“I have made Dadu proud, gone and got myself raped.” She laughs cynically. Bhola gets excited to hear her laugh and barks loudly wagging his tail, she grabs him roughly and begins kissing him. What violent love!

“Dadu would have never judged you know that, although your desire for the film led to all this…” I murmur.

A slap is what I deserve; blurting this out was definitely not the right move.

“Desire is the root of all suffering he would say,” she smiles.

I think this night will never end and I don’t know when we passed out on the floor listening to Bob Marley- No woman no cry.

The mind is a funny mechanism, it does not remember everything, yet everything is tucked away neatly in some kind of mind palace. We remember things selectively, otherwise we’d go stark raving mad!

The scene begins to fade away, like a slow fade out. And I remember typing lines on to my laptop…

The smell of death, the touch of suffering,

The hungry mouths, the tired bodies,

This is reality, wait, its buffering.

This is what it embodies.

The sleep, the dream, the dream in the dream!

The lines disappear…

Another more menacing scene replaces this one. It has an ominous overture; the sound of water fills my ears.

You know the sound of water running in a shower.

Zeenia is inside and she is scrubbing herself furiously. We’ve lost the court case, after months of painful hours spent in court, the verdict is out. Dr. V is officially not guilty. It’s somehow proven that my sister’s the slut, apparently they had consensual sex. So the case is blown to dust, like a lamp extinguished with a puff.

That night will be embedded in my psyche forever. We’ve returned home after another god-awful day at court, and today was the last day. We have lost in the Mumbai high court. We may decide to challenge the verdict in Supreme Court, but that’s something we’ve got to decide together. For tonight, it is just silence I seek.

Melissa is Zeenia’s partner, they seem to be in love. I quite like her, the girl seems to have her head on her shoulders.

We were talking softly about nothing exceptional, in fact I did not even want to talk, but had to, Mel needed to talk and I was there.

So we spoke, sipping coffee and taking turns to pet Bhola.

I had insisted that Zeenia leave her bathroom door open, she had one too many episodes recently. The breakdown of her psyche bit by bit was becoming more evident and today in court I saw the look in her eyes- the look of defeat. It broke my heart.

I heard the water run in the shower and the words to her favourite song floated out. We kept on talking, the water kept running, the beats marched on. It was as if time was set in a loop. I registered nothing from the conversation with Melissa, I’m sure she didn’t either; we were both trying to keep from breaking down.

Then she politely asked us to leave her alone and went for a bath which seemed like ages. We also wrapped up and I went to see her to kiss her goodnight. Yes she was in bed, smelling wonderful, hugging Bhola. Kissing her I left, Mel went into the shower, finished up and crawled into bed.

That night I saw baba and ma in a dream, it was prophetic. I ran after being woken up by my dream and the thoughts that followed. I went into her room.

 

The air had turned chilly, if that was even possible in a city like Bombay; and I miss you like the deserts miss the rain, said the song.

We ran. I saw this happening in slow motion. My life in film- we ran to the bed, and what I had expected greeted my eyes.

She lay on the bed, all snugly hugging her Bhola who was not making any noise.

Mel shrieked Frank ran in; I don’t know what happened after that. Some sort of primeval hardwiring in my brain took care of things.

Zeenia’s mouth was wiped dry, she had to be changed into jeans and a sweatshirt; after cleaning her up, her clothes sat snugly on her body as we put her down in the couch.

I remember seeing her face, all the troubles had vanished, and she seemed to be in deep sleep. I remember Dadu singing “Amaro shone chandero kona, bhubone tulona nai re…”

He sang this song sometimes; it was apparently our mother’s favourite, her mother would sing it to her when she was a child.

Where is she? I barely remember her now, but she’s there somewhere in my psyche; sometimes I hear her sing, her smell, her touch, for a micro second I remember.

Today she had come to see me, in my dream. She had told me something which made absolutely sense- you are her, she is you…

The reality was beginning to fragment again, my head was spinning and I could hardly focus as parts of my dream danced around my mind.

I imagined her last moments; she kept her pills hidden somewhere, maybe in the cistern. I see her take out a fistful, while her tears and water all get mixed up, you’d know she’s crying if only you watched the agony on her face.

She stuffs the pills in her mouth, chokes on them but swallows them down. Reflex action, she feels like throwing up. But she clutches her mouth, forcing them down.

I cut back in my mind to another scene, we’re sitting in the bathroom floor, she’s fallen flat on her face, she’s hurt, purple blue bruises adorn her face.

“Please Zeenu, stop taking this shit. Are you trying to leave me alone, do you want to kill yourself?” I tell her.

Suddenly a smile breaks free from all this torment; she whispers softly, her voice like silk.

“Nina to be something I am not is also a form of suicide, listen I want to hand in my resignation from this fucked up life, before I get fired.”

I hear her laugh softly as if this idea had amused her.

“Quite the philosopher, to be or not to be,” I say.

“Has always been the question,” she says definitively.

“Don’t do anything stupid ok, remember what Dadu would say, all this shit is unreal.” She sensed the urgency; the request in my voice touched her somewhere I know.

She looked at me long and hard, “I’m the fucking poster girl for stupid at this moment,” She thinks, probably about Dadu as her face softens. “I doubt Dadu would quite put it like that, but I get the gist.”

We sit in silence on the cold, wet tiles, we embraced our tears instead of suppressing them and calm washed over us.

“Some fucked up illusion this is…why can’t something good happen to me for a change? She blurts out; I feel her heartache. “At least your Muffin has nine lives right, can’t he give me a couple?”

I smile. Do cats have nine lives?

Mel is touching my hands, she is trying to bring me back to the present moment. I cut back to the scene in front- my sister’s body is stone cold, she finally did the “stupid” thing.

Was it so stupid after all? My grandmother also handed her resignation and so had her father; after all we share the same mitochondrial DNA.

Somehow this incident had made Zeenia hate herself, it made her hopeless; I did not understand what could make her as full of despair as to end her life, not just hers, but end our lives.

After Dadu’s passing, she is, I mean was all I had. I’m still not used to referring to her in the past.

I can still feel her vibrations; our feelings exist as vibration along the nervous system and we feel what another feels. I feel my sister.

I hear the sound of an approaching ambulance; she will be taken away soon. Bhola is whining, his tail stiff and he just keeps licking Zeenu’s hands.

Mel was ready when they walked in, thankfully she sorted everything out. She tugged at my hands and nodded, signalling it was time to move.

I got up zombified, it was time.

The journey to the hospital is hazy, a blur in my mind.

I remember her body being carried in a stretcher, with tubes all over her nostrils and face.

What the hell were they doing to her?

It looked to me like some scene from a D-grade horror; hospitals sicken me to the core. It’s a bloody phobia-

Nosocomephobia!

I had this phobia all along which is why I had googled it; it was at least a comfort to know I am not alone.

They say that the fear essentially arises from the fact that one has no control over their lives once admitted.

A control freak, I’m not! It didn’t take me long to realize that nothing is under control and in fact nothing can ever be.

All I can recollect is sitting on a steel bench in the corridor; it’s flooded with lights, the walls are white, and everything smells disgusting! The Doctors in their garbs, mouths covered, the nurses in their uniforms, hair tied severely in a bun, they all looked scary and ugly; all the action was happening in slow motion and it looked like they were experimenting on humans. Maybe they’re aliens, who even knows?

Something about the smell in a hospital, a mix of Dettol, bleach, blood, sweat, puke and faeces; you can also smell the fear, the anxiety, the devastation disease and bodily suffering brings.

And then it just goes blank- fade to black.

Nothing else exists- not matter which is just a form of energy in a matrix of probability.

I see Dadu, his big, white beard swaying in the dark; a fire seems to burn in front of him, I can hear the wood crackle, I can see the fire dance in his eyes. He begins to look like someone not quite like Dadu, but he is him.

Dadu’s face began to morph into the face of Sanyal Mahasaya, his gurudeva. I knew that face only too well; it had been a part of my life as seeing it as the first thing in the morning cemented that face forever in my brain.

Sanyal Mahasaya looked wrathful, fearsome and terrifying. His voice was booing in my head, “Actions or karma can cause bondage, it can also liberate, in the one BEING, the ONE ALL, everything is connected to every other thing. Good and evil are subjective…the Universe is both positive and negative, like the atoms bouncing in your body…it is the whole series of contrasted qualities- NOTHING IS PURE GOOD OR PURE EVIL.”

I saw her face again; the song is playing louder now that the monologue is over, like the sound designer turned it up a notch!

“Now you’ve disappeared somewhere,

Like outer space,

You’ve found some better place

And I miss you…

Like the deserts miss the rain

Could you be dead…

By now the words had begun to scream at me- could you be dead??

It hit me hard- she is dead!!!

I will never hold her again, I will never laugh with her again, never share my life with her again; the same way I can never see Ma or baba or dadu.

It’s over, finito, kaput!!!

I see her again, frothing from the mouth, her body all twisted and blue from the poison, I feel the nausea swimming in my head.

I think about the observer’s paradox, this concept that the observer decides what to observe. What if I am observing all the wrong things??? There are infinite probabilities, so why is this option playing itself out??

Am I in some bizarre twisted way responsible for this? Can I take the blame for this?

I am ready to do pretty much anything at this point to suppress this immense pain; absolutely anything! Muffin where are you?

I’ve got to write, the words are coming, but not as fast as I’d like them to.

I shout, I see it, I hear it,

The pain, the atrocity, it exists….

In me…

HELP ME PUBLISH!

DONATE!

SUPPORT ME AND MY CREATIONS!!! tina@tinaheals.com

the_twins-1382139739m

 

 

The Plan ~~ A Novel by Tinaheals

Notes from the underground
The home of my dreams-

Soft fleeting tears.

Marigolds in bloom.

 

I do not know how I began to tell this story. Why did I begin? It is nothingness, a deformity in my subconscious. It is just a pointless pursuit. It began where I don’t know, but right now, I am sitting in front of a Policeman and a State sponsored Psychiatrist.

I know him- Rustom Mistry, yes, that’s his name, I can see the Faravahar glittering in the light. “It’s to remind me of my true purpose, at least that’s what my mom hopes.” He’d told her when she’d asked about it. The winged disk and the bearded human motif looked very appealing to me, but today it seems scary. The purpose of my life, it’s fucking over! Not even the Faravar can save me!

He is asking me all these questions, with a very stern face. But believe me; I cannot understand what he says. For the life of me, his words are a jumble. I am trying to answer, but nothing. My jaw muscles have gone on strike. It’s like I never knew the powers of speech. I am unable to communicate and totally enervated. Have you ever heard a singing bowl? The sound of it keeps reverberating in my mind, suddenly out pops the Tom and Jerry tune in my mind, some heavy programming by Disney!

I have been forced to shut down, just like when you hold the power switch of a computer and just manually shut it down, you do not take the trouble of performing a proper shut down. My consciousness is the black screen, the product of a forced shut down.

My wretched eyes see everything. Rustam’s impassive face. Yet, the trace of anxiety makes itself known, which he suppresses with dutiful vigour. I sense that I’m watching him as different Ninas. Complicated emotions are tormenting me.
Ting tong! The bell rang. I was dressed in this gorgeous little black number from Yves Saint Laurent, also boasted of wedged heels from the same make- black luxurious suede. I was waiting for him.
I opened the door. Dr. Misty stood there. Ah yes, he was complete with the clichéd bunch of roses in his hands-blood red ones. He was speaking as clear as a bell, trying to implore me with his eyes. He also said something to the effect that he had wanted me for very long, but never had the guts to speak up. He told me he thought about me and was becoming obsessive, like I was under his skin. A chance is what he wanted. He throws caution to the winds and hugs me. The next minute I am in his arms, his lips are on mine, trying to get inside my mouth, as if snaking in to touch my soul.
One of the Nina’s (I have many Nina’s inside of me, fuck!) look at his lips, those same one who were trying to part her lips, to explore her very being. Those lips were now moving, creating geometric shapes, like the shapes formed when a kid blows bubbles from that god-awful soapy liquid.
Evanescent worlds,

Like dews of dawn.

Ghosts in time.

So the shapes his mouth is now making also disintegrates like the transient bubbles. Nothing elucidates impermanence as this act of blowing spherical shapes in the air which disintegrate in a few seconds. Poof! They are gone. New worlds created and destroyed, at the blink of an eye-lid. The bubbles form words. He’s asking me why I am here.

Why is anybody here? There is seriousness to his voice as he asks me why I had gone to Lilavati last night? Obviously I did not reply. I could not. I was physically unable to. Trauma I think is what did it. “Can you tell me why you stabbed this man repeatedly?? You killed him…” he was shoving a picture of a smiling face in my hands.
I have on tight mini-skirts and leather boots that are a few inches above my knees, very dark and Gothic make-up and I have on a wig, a short trendy wig. I try to touch it. Someone watching me from afar would notice a shaky hand moving to touch the hairline with no definitive purpose. But the purpose was known to this man- Rustam. “Why do you have that on?” He asks pointing to the wig.
I sit silently, looking down at the blood drying on this super expensive pair of boots that I bought online from some German fantasy leather footwear company, as a gift for my sister. They were splendid in their craftsmanship- the Germans definitely know how to design and make things. Other words from his mouth also manage to surface briefly in my consciousness. Word association! I normally think of a word when I hear a word. One word brings about the memory of another and so on so forth. The story is never ending. This has been a most fascinating way to tend to burgeoning ideas. Words like “life-support system” made its way to my subconscious. A sting of incredible pain jolted me into nausea. I’m throwing up all over the table, my clothes my shoes, my heart rate through the ceiling, my body drenched in sweat.
Rustam signals to the police behind the mirror to send in lady constables. Two stout Marathi female cops burst into the scene with some medical aid. “Kai zala?” They lift me up, try to stuff water down my throat, wipe me up and revive me. But I almost faint, the pain is too oppressive. I would have preferred to be Mary Antoinette, marching to the guillotine.

Muffin, your softness is what I seek; where are you baby? Come to me, there’s nothing I need more than your purrs and rubs.
And then I saw his face.

 

The face of cobwebs,

Disintegrating like the quarks in an atom,

Of nothingness.
Rustam is looking at me and I think I know what’s going through his head. My beaming face, obviously enamoured by his intellect and sophistication, sitting in the first bench, listening to him talk about Jungian Collective Unconscious, yes that memory is surfacing in his mind. It was a less complicated time. We were infatuated with each other.
But now, everything has changed. Today he stands in front of me as an inquisitor and it’s a witch hunt. A murder! He is supposed to uncover the darkest depths of my mind to know how I could commit such a hideous crime. No sorry- Hideous crimes and now I sit as dead as a doornail.
Dr. Rustam Mistry will be questioned about his diagnosis. He will go with the catatonic stupor characterized by motoric immobility, mutism and catalepsy, followed by the rare bout of nausea, blah fucking bloo.
Frank came to meet me and my mind kept repeating, A hope which is now forever past…A love so sweet it could not last,
Was Time long past…it just broke my already broken heart.

The police officer informed Rustam about his arrival and was asked his professional advice on whether Frank and I could meet. He did consent to our meeting and was there right behind the mirror to observe every subtle emotion that was there or wasn’t there or the ones he just thought existed.
Jail or any form of detention centre is hardly the place for lovers to meet. But Frank just held my hands, kissed them so very tenderly and whispered something about star stuff contemplating the stars…it was a Sagan expression we both loved. Gorgeousity! Star stuff, contemplating star stuff…Malana cream and Sagan. Ah!
When I hear these words I am reminded of another life, in another world where

I remember saying that we are made up of star stuff and he took my chain of thought and elaborated on it. “We’re star stuff, contemplating star stuff…” “As above”, said I and before I could complete my sentence, he covered my mouth and completed, “So below”…for me. We kissed, long and deep, like a Russian Kiss which explored not just my physical body but ignited a fire in my soul, it lasted the whole night. That night was like an eternity!
Frank sobs softly. “I will not give up on you or us…” My heart sobs with him, but I am catatonic. I want to ask him about my cat, Muffin, a majestic British Blue male, two years old and my baby. I want to hold him in my arms, his purring body close to my heart as he nibbles my nose with affection. He is missing me. Two most important males in my life, both from the Great Britain. An irony? The Angrez have not lost their hold on us. Anglophiles formed the part of Bengali society I called my family.

The vilayat, complete with toilet papers to wipe your arse. Who cleans their arse with water? What savages? Don’t forget the knives and forks, eat with your hand and in a jiffy you’re the outcast, chi chi, eating with your hand, as if somehow the toxicity of the hands were confirmed and verified by science.

I’d seen this documentary on Satyajit Ray, where he speaks of how the Western world took to Pather Panchali. He spoke of how some American women had been forced to throw up after watching Indir Thakrun eating with her hands on screen. What a bunch of barbarians, thought the pretty, sophisticated mems.

Okay I might have even fought super hard to be this sexy, sophisticated Angrezi lassie, if so many people around me had not made it their lives’ mission.

They are everywhere, singing Psalms in Convents at the crack of dawn, wearing micro mini, chote chote mini skirts with tank tops, as if showing skin is a sign of emancipation from old oppressive customs; these creatures were allergic to anything that screamed desi, like vampires to sunlight.

Imported goods, imported bathroom fittings, imported brains?
It’s not that I refuse to answer Frank. Believe me, I want to. But my mouth just refuses to speak, my eyes just sank deep into their crevices, my tongue just hangs there like a limp rag; I feel my brain is losing control, like a general who loses his soldiers due to some internal mutiny. The general, my brain has lost power, its reign is over and each of the organs has taken control. But this time, they are not working in harmonious synchronization, they have developed individuality. Screw individuality! Each behaved in the way it wanted to. All they seem to want is to not respond. So there you go, there was no response to Frank’s entreaties. Was this real??? Frank’s face, his tears, Rustam’s face, his stern look- it feels like cardboard scenery, in fact I have the taste of saw dust in my mouth.

I want to thank Frank for caring after my boy Muffin; in a sense he is the be all and end all of my existence when it comes to matters of the heart, and the only male in my life for so long. Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians worshipped the cat in the form of Bastet, killing a cat was punished by death and if a cat died, it’s family would shave off their eyebrows; well, seems like cats have not forgotten that and my Muffin certainly deserves worship.
Anyway Rustam is watching!
Little does he know that a woman is looking to meet me, her name SAPNA VERMA, the wife of the man I had brutally stabbed to death. He had multiple lacerations, a punctured abdomen and his testicles were chopped off. Such gruesome acts were only seen on telly in serials, where you get to see how evidence is collected which ultimately points to the guilty, no matter how much camouflaged the identity of the killer is. My DNA was everywhere in the crime scene, the CSI guys would not break a sweat in proving that it was I who did it.
Anyway Sapna has walked up the Police Officer who’s called Rustam. I have to meet her, she said. Rustam’s apprehensive, but then he sees Frank exit my cell. Sapna follows his glance and instantly approaches Frank demanding to see me, this bloody witch who she would have gladly burnt at the stake.
She enters my cell. Her eyes confront the pale corpse in front, my practically lifeless body. I must say, a shocked expression registers on her face as she looks at me from head to toe. What is this phantasmal entity, she must be thinking. How did this weakling kill my husband? Little did she know that when your mind is set, you can achieve anything- nothing is out of reach? I could have killed him over and over again, a hundred, fuck it, a billion times if I had to. It was like the most important exam I had to take, an exam which would ensure my demotion in the karmic law.

Lines from my poem are swimming in my consciousness; as a writer, one has the ability to randomly switch off and travel to other realms. Yes, it’s officially true, we have super powers.
Dadu would not approve. He was the type of man who would not take a shot at the enemy even if his range was clear and the bullet would definitely find its mark. He was an obsolete man in this world, an outdated DOS operating system. He was more interested in questions like who am I? Where did I come from? He preferred to ponder on such things. Self enquiry, he called it. Dadu I was screaming, who am I? The answer rang loud and clear- a killer. I had killed a man.
Sapna is pale-faced looking at me. “Are you her friend?” She asks Frank hesitantly. Frank nods. I’m not looking at them, but I know exactly what’s happening. At that precise moment I’m observing a spider spin its web. Is it spinning the web to catch a prey? All webs are not spun only for nutritious titbits; some webs are spun as hobbies, as works of art. To create something without any utilitarian purpose, but to create just for the sake of creation! What’s the point of that?? Some common-sense lover would say. Nothing honestly. Right? Wait, I think I see a tiny movement in the web. Is there an insect? Or is it the wind? Or is it my fucking imagination.

Ah! Imagination! It’s what always got me in trouble at school.
I was reprimanded for having too much imagination! My skin crawls to think of the parent’s-teacher’s meetings that Dadu had been subjected to over the years. Sheer torture for both of us and of course for the teachers!

They were just trying to help me through life and look what happened! I went ahead and killed a man. How horrified they would be. I imagine my Algebra teacher, Miss. Kalpana, a hard martinet in her late 50’s on the witness box, telling the judge how she knew I will be in trouble some day. It’s her fault, it’s her imagination.
Imagination is the culprit.

Lines from my poems kept ringing in my ears. STOP!

Back from these lines assaulting my consciousness, poetry is truly my life breath. Only if reality could be poetry, then I might have had a chance to do it differently.
Anyway, by now the shock has transformed into anger. It’s quite amazing to note how humans can translate any emotion into a show of anger. I think it’s a shield they hide behind- ANGER! Anytime you are unsure of how to express yourself, just display anger. It’s safe and effective! You can block off the more painful introspective thought processes.
So Sapna Verma takes the easy way out, she opts for anger. She musters all her strength and strides up to me. After a stare at my impassive, immobile face for a few minutes, she can control herself no longer. The oppressive silence envelopes the room like a thick cloak as all wait with bated breath. Then a slap almost knocks me off balance, but somehow my body refuses to be floored. I have no clue how and why. I just sit there. The sound of the slap is unnerving to Frank and Rustam behind the supposed glass, watching everything. But I feel nothing. Then funnily enough I hear the chorus, “I feel numb,” yes U2, and I understood what numb means.
You go through life, learning new words, understanding their meanings, but actually you understand nothing. The words are nothing but words unless you have the pertinent experience stored away in the depths of your being, which leave permanent imprints on your brain and yes, then you understand the word. Not till then.

Rape, murder, death- all these are words which are very much a part of our regular vocabulary. But how far do we understand them? We honestly don’t. Ask the young college student what rape means; presuming she has never been violated, she will have only a vague understanding of the term, maybe from movies or books.

Mine was from Monika Belluci’s incredible performance in Irreversible. But ask a rape victim what that word means and you will be shocked at the difference of understanding. The same word, but completely different levels of comprehension! Experience is what makes us learn new words, not just simply by glancing at a Thesaurus, but by learning through life. I understand the words Death, rape and murder, they have closely associated themselves with me, like the hanger-on friend you simply want to avoid.
Sapna is breaking down, her anger dissipating as quickly as it had arrived. She comes really close to me; I can smell her Chanel 5 perfume and minty breath. “Why did you kill him?” She asks. Very predictable question! You already knew that was coming right? But get this; she then murmurs something totally unexpected. After a moment’s hesitation, she whispers, “I’m sorry…I know what happened…with your sister…” now this should have definitely instigated some reaction from me, she thinks. It did, in the subconscious. But consciously I’m fucked up, incapable of any expression. I sat like a chopped up tree log, destroyed and cut down. If you apply the crescograph on a chopped up log, it’ll be interesting to see what level of consciousness remains.
I felt like writing but my physical body was pretty much worthless.

Poetry will not erase this woman’s troubles and nor will it answer her questions. Will it? Is poetry even useful? Or is it as worthless as me?

Sapna is troubled about an image that plagued her mind. Her thoughts travel to a certain day when she had looked through a crack on the door panelling. She’d seen her husband on the floor, howling with immense pain. A newspaper lay crumpled by his side, which displayed a beautiful girl. But creases had formed on her face as the newspaper sat wrinkled, but the smile was infectious.

It’s bewildering for her to see the physical similarly between the haggard girl in front and the face in the newspaper, but there was a slight difference. Not to mention that the girl in the newspaper was smiling, brimming with life and this girl in front was as lifeless as a cadaver. Still that was not it. There’s something else and I might have been able to help her, if not for the mutiny of my organs. Ridiculous!
I think the stark imagery of her husband’s painful explosion that night is a bit too much for Sapna to handle. Her head begins to swim and she’s about to collapse. But Frank provides support, the rock solid man that he is. Sapna is thankful for this support and the warmth his huge frame provides that she just holds onto him, his aftershave wafting in the air, tinkling her nose. For a moment she forgets where she is, holding onto him seemed the most natural thing. And then the tears came, they breake the floodgates and storm in like huge tsunamis. Sapna’s outcry sounds like a hurt animal and then she says these words. “But why kill him??? You can’t take what you can’t give…only God can take a life…”
Naive humanity! Who is this anthropomorphized God? What kind of a God will intervene- he will create and then destroy! This idea never agreed with me, in fact it nauseated me, every time people spoke about God like “He” was their personal problem solver. Of course I indulged in that odd prayer or two before my results; they were like placebo. And remember God has to always be referred to as HE!
Dadu used to say that Bengalis are a matri-bhakta culture; to them the mother figure is as important as the father, if not more. God to me could not be a He or a She. This was crystal clear in my mind even as a child. I gave it a lot of thought, but nothing made sense.

Gradually I began to avoid the word God. God in the sense society spoke of the idea. Man cheapened this transcendental concept. It is beyond human understanding. With our dwarfed intellects we can never grasp this idea; it’s a waste to try. “Nothing in life is a waste,” another one of Dadu’s lines! Dadu, Dadu where are you? How come our times together ended? You would say, “Nothing ever ends and similarly nothing begins, it’s just your perception which keeps you chained to such ideas of beginnings and ends. You are eternity in yourself…”. I would do anything to lie in Dadu’s lap or cuddle Muffin.

I hear Dadu’s voice- it’s crystal clear, his smell wafts in my consciousness- Asatoma sadgamaya, tamo soma yotir gamaya, mrityrma amritam gamaya!!

These words they play with my consciousness, Dadu enunciates them so well, so crisp, and so effortless, it sounds divine. He said that Sanskrit was the language of the Gods and there was never a doubt in my mind when he spoke it. He made the language godly.

He spent much time explaining this shloka to me- from Unreal take me to the Real, from darkness take me to light, from death take me to immortality!

Everything about this situation my friend is unreal. No you do not understand, a murder, by my hands? It is unreal. I respect life; harming even a fly hurts me. It’s no charlatanism! I do not care if you don’t believe me, it’s not important, not trying to get you to come to my side, I’m just telling you of how things are, no embellishments, no B.S.

It was basenter dupur bela, a spring afternoon; we sat near Dadu, in our living room. It was a Sunday, a lazy Sunday. Dadu had a ritual with us; he’d read to us, from the Vedas, from the Tantra texts, the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita and explained certain parts. Zeenia was less open to this idea as she grew older; she preferred to be on her phone or laptop.

Dadu did not scold her, forcing his opinions on people was not what he sought to do when he read to us from these ancient texts; he wanted us to be connected to our roots, discover what our ancestors had left behind.

I enjoyed his company immensely, his stories interested me on many levels and he brought out the different characters so vividly; this led me to form a fascination for the human psyche. Come to think of it, it shaped my future; I decided to take up psychology honours. My parents has both studied English in college; when I was a kid, I knew that I would probably end up studying it too, but eventually studying the human mind became an obsession.

Anyway, that afternoon it was the Bhagavadgita.

The lines ring loudly in my ears, but in it the concept of Arjuna having to kill all his relatives is what bothered me. But dadu, how can Arjuna kill all these people? Especially Bhishm, his gurudeva, and all his cousins? The thing that plays in my mind today is a question little Nina asked him, Dadu but how can anyone kill?

This question, it’s mocking me, this question’s alluring me, and it begins to take many forms, grotesque, grave, gruesome, until it begins to drive me crazy. All this angst in my mind, but if you look at me from afar, I’m carved in stone, an effigy created to be burned.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Help me publish!!! DONATE!!!

Email me tina@tinaheals.com

http://www.tinaheals.com

the_twins-1382139739m

The Plan~~A Novel by Tinaheals

 

Help me Publish!!! Email ~ tina@tinaheals.com

http://www.tinaheals.com

Rajani and the twins moved from their gigantic ancestral home to a modest apartment,

He continued working, but had lost interest. Only two clients remained with him, the rest hired his son who now also usurped his office. So with a very modest salary he began to educate and care for his granddaughters. He became father and mother, friend and teacher; he became their anchor in the stormy sea of life.

It would be time for weekly nail cutting, ear cleaning, hair oiling sessions; amidst squeals and protests, he would pacify them singing, shohe na, shohe na, kande poranooo with dramatic eye movements and wild gestures, especially when they tried to tell him to stop, that had them rolling on the floor laughing.

Slowly but surely, the trio began to put the past behind them and move on. The girls taught him to laugh again, to live again; life had given him a second chance to bring up his two girls again, he just wished Sita could experience this life with him.
He took them to Benaras, BodhGaya, Hrishikesh and Haridwar; they went to so many places in their country, even remote ones where tourists don’t usually set foot.
They’d be lost in the world of Hanuman as he destroyed Lanka, they’d be crying as Ravana abducted Sita, they’d be deeply moved when Karna would be going to battle against Arjuna knowing he’d lose, they’d be fuming with anger when Duryodhana insulted Panchali and time would fly as dadu would read to them the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagvadgita and other sacred texts. The way he could tell the story, the simplicity, yet, the profundity in them, deeply touched the girls. Even while imparting knowledge from the Upanishads, he tried to make it as palatable as possible for the children, tell me how do you explain Tat Tvam Asi to seven year olds, yet not only did he try, it’d be fair to say, he succeeded too.

He could see his daughter Mita in the girls, different attributes of her visible in each girl.

He loved Nina’s poetry, she had rawness to her emotions, something primordial to the way she described reality even in that young age; surely poetry was to be her meditation and so it was.

The chotto ektakar shingara and the radhaballi,

Breathing furiously.

Inhabiting my Sundays, my frenemies.

She’d written this haiku, barely aged seven and it made him laugh. She’d captured something of Kolkata in those lines; she’d grabbed a slice of their times together as they strolled down Sarat Bose Road on sultry lazy Sundays.

It’s absolutely true that nowhere except Kolkata do you get that tiny shingara or samosa for one rupee, it has peas in it and the Bongs cannot have enough of it. And what of the Radhabollobi? Try it, you’ll see. You may get acidity, but it’ll be worth it, vouches every Bengali.

Rajani loved these girls like he had loved their mother, but being a very enlightened soul he treated them all alike, even Arunava, but at times he was left wondering as to where he went wrong with that one. But Mita was his pet; he had a special soft corner in his heart for his eldest.

None had his spiritual depth except Mita and this bonded them immensely, every time he saw her, his heart wanted to embrace her. Khuku, he called her, his little girl and she was so much like him.

“Aye khuku aye…” he would play this song in the gramophone and Hemanta’s voice would flood the house.

She had his striking peaches and cream skin and almond shaped eyes like the goddess Durga, with abundant tresses swimming down to her knees and an hour-glass body which was as ageless as Time itself and looked like some Kumartuli’s sculptor was sculpting Maa Durga from clay. Shakkhat Maa Durga, people would comment.

Yes, she was breathtaking! Her intellect was sharp; she was thoughtful, critically questioning and deeply analytical. Many an afternoon was spent in discussing literature, philosophy, poetry and the scriptures of all religions. Her father enjoyed immensely the display of perspicacity while she explained some particular issue, idea or philosophy, her face shining red with passion and emotion. What radiance! Then she fell in love with Shubho at Scottish Church English honours class.
It was an exam. John Osborne’s play, “Look Back in Anger”, was the monster in question and 100 marks were at stake. Mita had not studied this play and her paper sat blank. She spotted Shubho in front scribbling away with immense concentration. She poked him a few times. He looked back and couldn’t take his eyes off her. In a state of suspended bliss, he handed her the paper. She took it with a squeal of laughter which thrilled him to the bone, and began to rewrite it in her words.
Now let’s fast forward, SHUBHO and MITA are married in Kartik purnima, the full moon beckoned a life of abundance and plenitude for them.

As Mita adorns Shubho’s neck with the baramala and the shubhodristi happens where they gaze into each other’s eyes, it’s like a dejavu. The breeze outside caresses his hair while he stands there looking at her, she’s carried on a piri by her brothers, uncles and cousins and her eyes are between two paan leaves and in that moment they both knew that no matter what life would bring it would be worth nothing without the other.

Mita gets pregnant which turns out to be pretty complicated with twins sharing the same amniotic sac and placenta, throughout the seven and a half months, she’s under strict supervision and spends much of her time reading, writing and talking to her daughters. During the course of her seven month pregnancy she almost dies twice and the lives of the twins are threatened, but she manages to trick fate into submission.

These girls, they had to see the sky wearing the bright blue cloak of a spring day, they had to experience the rain on their faces, caressing sometimes or slapping away, soft some days and as pokey as thorns on others. They had to see the cheetah run, they had to eat tangra macher jhol, oh, life in its complexity and multitudes had to be experienced by them, she thought.
Karma my dear friends had other plans. Mita and Shubho die tragically young, leaving behind only Rajani to take care of the twins. Their disappearance happened in Kedarnath temple during an annual pilgrimage they always undertook.
Rajani had to don the parent costume once again, this time for Nina and Zeenia and he was determined to play the role to perfection this time. As perfect as it could be! So now to get back to the story. Dadu is what Nina calls Rajani, the Bengali appellation for grandfather.
As she sits in front of this dead body, she thinks of her dadu. He would know what to do; he always knew what to do. Such were Nina’s thoughts. Delusion arises from anger, Dadu told her one day as she was furious with Joida, the Oriya driver who had not given her a minute to stand and chat with her friends after her Rabindra-sangeet class at Dakshini, to top it off he had the gall to speak rudely in front of them.

The dominoes fell,

The words like torrents

It was inevitable.

She’d written this haiku she remembered for the occasion.

Joida loved her as his own daughter and that was the excuse for the harsh treatment. She had almost wanted to slap Joida. But Dadu intervened. “Little one your mind is bewildered by delusion. You think that Joi is being pushy, but actually he is just trying to protect you. See, you lost your reasoning as your mind was bewildered…and one falls down, when reasoning is destroyed.” Dadu fell on the floor dramatically.
That made Nina smile even in her malaise as she sat in limbo, with dried blood on her hands. She deliberated with the thought of saying, “Out, damned spot,” but then decided against it. The dead body just lay there. Her hallucinations where he wakes up as some terrible ZOMBIE in a B-Grade film and chews her down bone by bone is funny, she observes. I can have funny thoughts, even in this scenario.
Then she notices that there were many parts of her, or no, there are many Nina’s inside of her, ambiguous and confused, each thinking that random thought while observing the others and then she notices that there is a Nina who’s also observing, but she has no thought as the others did, no opinion. She just watches. Not for the first time Nina could distinctly hear the separate voices- how diverge, how contradictory, how ironic were they, but this time there was a force to them that was lacking in the past. She tries to swallow, but her tongue sticks to her insides, parched and dry, it desperately needs some water.
The young housekeeping attendant is right outside Nina’s room and would have turned away, but a trickle of blood manages to seep outside. The attendant examines it carefully, and then thinks of what to do. Should he go and inform his supervisor? No he decides against it and taking a master key from his supply trolley, he puts it in the key hole and turns it.

The scene which greets his eyes chills him to the bone and a blood curdling scream escapes his lips shattering the quiet of the early morn. He looks ridiculous, scared out of his wits, barely coherent in his thoughts, he looked like a two year old who had seen a ghost in a Paranormal series on telly.
It’s Nina who surprises me. She didn’t even bat an eyelid at the shrill shriek. She just sits there, stares at her abyss. What did she see?? The abyss staring back??

the_twins-1382139739m

Image is not mine. Not my copyright.

THE PLAN

I am publishing a bit of my novel here…If you want to support the project, contact me to offer patronage. tina@tinaheals.com

But let’s go back to 1965, Rajani who had also lost a child, was trying to cope in his own way. He was invited by a colleague to visit a small village called Palashpur where a saint was coming. Rajani did not believe in such holy sadhus; to him, they were just a greedy, money-grabbing bunch, charlatans! No, no, said Akhileshwar Dutta, his friend. Do not speak like that. He is Shrimat Bhupendranath Sanyal of Nadia, initiated by none other than the avatar Lahiri Mahasaya.

Arre baba, haven’t you read Paramhamsa Yogananda’s famous book?

Yes he had and he knew these names, but he was actually “hearing” them for the first time, which was to become a permanent part of his psyche and which already always existed in him.
Climbing up a rickety set of stairs, Rajani was bathed in sweat, or so he thought, his heart was beating funnily as he followed Akhileshwar closely, to the room where Sanyal Mahasaya was meeting with devotees. He slipped into the room quietly as the master was busy talking to some troubled soul; they’re always the troubled ones who hog the seat before a sadhubaba, always asking for something or the other.

Rajani just stood there and watched the holy man and nothing that words can describe was raging through his heart. It was as if his whole being had waited to see this very face, for eternity. He kept looking at the master, his heart singing with rapturous love. Sanyal Mahasaya was talking about Shri Rabindra Nath Tagore, his very close friend, with whom he had worked tirelessly in creating Shantiniketan; the seven years he had spent there.
Abruptly shaken out of his reverie by a confused Akhileshwar, Rajani realized that the whole room was staring at him, waiting for him to respond to the Master’s question. Sanyal Mahasaya had singled out Rajani in the crowd and had asked him his name. “Arre, tomar namta bolo, your name…” an irate voice told him. It was Akhileshwar who was a bit miffed at not being singled out like that.
“Angey, Rajonikanto,” replied his anxious voice which sounded fake and hollow to his own ears, in a second his life flashed before his eyes. Was that really his name??? Who am I?? He seriously began to ponder delving deep into the fabric of his subconscious which began to dance around like tiny strings of a harp playing an intricate symphony.
The holy man was smiling and beckoning to him to come forward. “esho, esho…” the crowd parted like the seas had for Moses as he took the chosen people to safety and Rajani, with an eager Akhileshwar following close behind walked in absolute silent reverence. That day seemed like yesterday. It was the happiest day of his life and it was also the saddest (more on this later). Ah! The bitter-sweetness of life!!

Rajani was initiated after two days into the age-old system of Kriya yoga brought to mankind by Mahavatar Babaji. Babaji is a superman to people like you, he can bend me, twist me, even eradicate me! Mahavatar Babaji!

Life continued as a bitter sweet symphony! It was his kriya that enabled him to continue swimming in the treacherous seas of samsara keeping him afloat, like a flimsy tiny paper boat that children make on the pond in a rainy day.

Finally things got so bad that Sita just couldn’t handle it anymore. Their finances were drained, Rajani had made some bad financial decisions which sieved away a lot of money, their daughter was suffering from cancer in front of their eyes and was getting steadily worse, which caused irreversible damage in Sita’s psyche and finally one night came the phone call, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Mita and her husband were dead during the chardham yatra and by some divine blessing their twin girls were not with them.

Mita and her husband’s bodies were never identified, so they waited with bated breath for some time, eventually days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months to years. Rajani realized that they were not coming back, but Sita refused to accept it.

Sita hardly ate slept or spoke after that, not even to her bereft granddaughters. Stone faced, gave up everything- eating, drinking and dosed up on her meds; not even the hint of a smile escaped from her lips. Nor did the sunrise interest her, nor was her heart healed by mellow full moon.

Rajani knew that one day life would come to a screeching halt, the way things were going, but what could he do? Nothing was ever in his hands.

He tried to speak to his wife, whom he had married when she was barely fifteen, but she was damaged beyond repair and did not desire to be healed; her eyes were glazed and she remained mute. He had promised to protect and cherish her, but look what he’d done.

Rajani had gone to Khulna, for a gathering in one of his guru bhai’s house, Sanyal Mahasaya was reading from the Bhagavadgita and explaining its meaning.

“Na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato ’yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire” 

“Sri Krishna said: The soul is never born nor dies at any time. Soul has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. Soul is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. Soul is not slain when the body is slain.”

Sanyal Mahasaya looked straight at Rajani; he knew what was troubling him. He got a reassuring look from the master and knew in his heart that all is well, no matter what happens.

After the discussion, his Guru asked him about Sita; Rajani could not speak, but the silence communicated more than a thousand words; he looked down as tears came to his eyes and fervently hoped that the end would be gentle on her. He silently prayed that she receives Sanyal Mahasaya’s lotus feet after death; she had suffered too much for one lifetime.

Sanyal Mahasaya embraced him, and that embrace took all the pain away, it cleared all the doubts and he saw his wife smile!

Rajani went home to find Sita hanging from the ceiling with a rope round her neck. He did not cry, knowing that this was obviously inevitable; he stoically brought her down from that height, cleaned her up, dressed her like a bride and took her to the crematorium. In his mind’s eye, he saw a picture of her smiling, he smiled back. It was her time and she was gone, he knew Sanyal Mahasaya would guide her to the next destination. What is life but a series of stops and journeys, there is no permanent destination, just levels to clear. Like a computer game?

Rajani did not judge her, she had taken her life and to some that was abhorrent, but to him it was just the way it was- karmic; it had happened with Sanyal Mahasaya’s blessing and he knew Sita would be guided to continue her karma.

Thethe_twins-1382139739m granddaughters Nina and Zeenia were told that their beloved Didu had died in her sleep due to a massive heart attack. All except Nina, elder by five seconds, knew the truth; she had seen her grandmother’s hanging dead-body.

#redshame

 I have always suffered like crazy during my periods. I mean CRAZY. Batshit crazy. The pain, the ache, the nausea, the migraine. I cannot explain to you how much I suffered. I grew up eating meat, fish and eggs. All the pain and messiness associated with my monthlies made me dread the. Sometimes they were erratic. Sometimes they were on time and all of the times my chums knocked me the fuck out.

After I turned eighteen and I was seriously practising  yoga, I began to seek explanations for my continued menstrual problems. It automatically happened. Me giving up meat, fish, eggs. I still took dairy. Now all my life I was getting afflicted with headaches. If you ask me, that is the only thing that troubles me. My migraine. 

So giving up all the shit and sticking to a vegetarian diet was the first step towards healing some of that period pain. But still it did not go away. Homeopathic no. Ayurveda no. Nothing worked. After much research and studying, after understanding how sexuality has been so perverted and femininity has been so badly suppressed and exploited that I realised that my period pains were nothing but physical manifestation of my spiritual issues. Like not being in touch and connected to my sacred feminine self.

I abhorred periods and everything to do with it. I shunned it and cursed it. How could there not be pain? Pain is an external manifestation of the psycho-spiritual issues. So the journey began with trying to make that connection.

I began to speak to my uterus as soon as the ache began. I began to invite the blood to gush out. I requested my internal mechanism to flush out the unnecessary. It took years, patience and dedication and a sacred intent to pay homage to my blood and my uterus for making me a woman, a mother. Since I believe in doing my healing through journaling and then meditation, I began to write about the experience of being a woman.

I began to see patterns, thought waves, attitudes, misogyny, patronising condescension..I saw it all. How society has made a mockery of womanhood. How we have become reduced to only shadows of our former selves. We are mothers and women yes, but essentially we are humans. The world sees us through the lens of lust and possession. How then can we have an authentic connection to our femininity?

It is that very thing that will make us slaves…to the structure. How do we embrace it? I know the complexities are numerous and each step I took, I thought I’d never be able to break away from this oppressive patriarchy. Judging, condemning, stifling…there is no way out.

I think mind explorations with psylocybin made me see myself as more than a woman. I saw myself as a part of the great SPIRIT. Yes the lifebreath of us all. Using meditation and mental techniques, psychedelics and Mandala making, I think I could break away from the feeling of being a woman. Because boy, it is stressful! I try to look at people as humans too, not men or women. I give them equal opportunity and space to discover them. No gender bias. It took years and years of self work. On myself and my projection of energy.

Connecting to my sacred feminine blood was such an inspiring journey. It changed my life. There have been ancient secret rites and rituals with menstrual blood. In Sumer, in Egypt, in Babylon. In India too. Yoni tantra. It speaks of the sacred power of the  yoni. It is a symbol of the GREAT MOTHER and if invoked correctly, she is a storehouse of LIFE and POWER.

I don’t talk to you from the POV of Tantra. As a tantric. I speak to you as a fellow human who has done some research on this taboo topic from which we all could benefit. So since menstrual blood, sex and all the connected things are so frowned upon, but its something that society is obsessed with to the point of sickness. Sex is such an important part of our lives yet it is so suppressed. But I knew that this pain had to do with an unhealthy relationship to the vagina and the uterus. So what does that mean?

I had an unhealthy relationship to my being female. Years and years of social conditioning and being with people who enable patriarchy, knowingly or unknowingly, I have begun to feel shame and pain because I am a woman. And that has translated to this intense pain and suffering.

I know how many of you are suffering. This is a mental exercise you can do. Try it. Before you start menstruating, write a welcome note to it. Invite the periods to flow. Preparation.

When you get it, touch your vagina softly, knead it and then take some blood in your hands and say I love you and thank you…you are the very life blood of society. You are sacred. You are life itself. I invite the cosmic creative spirit to endow me with fertility and creativity. Be open to receive psychic messages. Your yoni will be energised.

Basically make up something that works for you. Send love vibes to your uterus. It works. There are numbers that I also worked with and switchwords. I also use energy circles. But the maximum healing took place when I embraced my pain. I know that sounds crazy. I embrace the pain every time and let it teach me what I need to learn. I do not take any meds. Use aromatherapy too. Keep a lapis lazuli near you or wear a pendant as you start menstruating. Essential oils also work wonders. Get your partner to give you a full body massage with a carrier oil mixed with some lavender. This could be amazing and what follows could open you up to so much…surreal shit! 

In fact the root cause of not being able to have a baby is spiritual and can be healed by creating an authentic relationship with your vagina. The menstrual blood is used in many tantric practises as a symbol of creation. If everything is energy, then your intent to befriend your vagina will create ripples in the hologram. THE PAIN IS A GHOST OF OUR HATES AND ISSUES. You can repeatedly touch your vagina and express thanks. Just watch where you are at…lol!

 This will give you the power and determination and cosmic shove to become a better version of yourself. This reconnect with the vag is tremendously healing to the psyche.

 Men too can connect to their phallus. We are all humans and we work on the same principle. Both the vagina and the penis have been vilified. They represent abusive words. That’s where our sacred sexuality has been degraded to. Cunt is not an abuse. Dick is not an abuse. Let’s shift anger and loathing away from our body parts. They are parts of us, sacred and divine.

 

I began to feel this way. I began to truly imbibe these ideas in my real life. Not think of my vagina as something repulsive, but as a powerhouse of creativity. AND MY PAIN WENT AWAY…I mean I still feel slightly sick and if I’m out and working, I feel very drained. It takes me a few hours to recover. I do feel sleepy. But I keep on the work through yogasanas, essays, a little self acceptance ritual I do. I also use a no shame dance…that helps me shed all my inhibitions and truly connect to the divine feminine within. That is how I channel her.

 My libido was scarily absent after I gave birth and had a no show going for two years. My child is breastfed and I had no periods for twenty seven months. Yes the dance of horniness was erased from my memory. It took self love, self pleasure, meditation and a whole lot of chilling the fuck out and I began to feel the flow. I know how hard it is for some mothers to get back a hundred percent in the sack, so I suggest you try some of the methods I mentioned. Always feel free to contact me as your life coach if you feel the need.

 This ritual in its totality is ever evolving, so I can show you the basics only. You will have to use your creativity and intuition to keep adapting it to suit your needs. You can use journaling, flashcards, write poetry or essays, meditate, use crystals, in fact use multiple tools and modalities available to do this.

 Use Jade and Moonstone to clear problems associated with it. For example if you have some other issue and menstruation is only a part of it. Use Lapis Lazuli for pain relief. Rose quartz also works. But I use Lapis Lazuli as I channel and meditate on MEDICINE BUDDHA, SANGYE MENLA. WORKS WONDERS!!! Oh, oh of course watch your diet. I am unable to do this sometimes. The craving gets too intense due to hormonal fluctuations…

Of course you can work with herbs. They are magical I tell you. Medical Marijuana is the miracle cure for cramps. Yay to that. Whoopee Goldberg has made tampons with cannabis. I have never used them, but they must be amazing. They deal with the pain without any offensive side effects. Of course Ginger caked in some Himalayan pink salt is very effective. Raspberry and chamomile tea always work for me. And then of course the fennel water. Cinnamon always works for me with everything, so….

The way I have managed to RELEASE so much pain is through more self awareness of myself as a sexual being who is feminine. I am a woman. I have a uterus. So I will bleed. Why should I hate it? I know its messy, but its a part of ME.

 It’s your creative force building and then purging…so sublime!!! Humanity and its systems are seriously mysterious and mesmerising. Periods are a biological process, but why are we humans if we reduce it to just that. It is our job to make connections, to see patterns, to cut and mould and we keep at it.

yoni-relationshipSo do you agree that we need to embrace sacred sexuality and develop a healthy relation to our menstrual cycle?