January 19, 2010

Love Stories

Images fly by on bikes. Trees and dogs, cows in alleyways, people. They catch glimpses of their faces, the way they smile. They know those familiar expressions...disgust at highly priced onions on one, the sly smile of a pickpocket, the anger in a girl's eyes at the man who just leered at her, anxiety in the man's as he waits for the daughter to cross the road and reach him.

They catch sight of a young face at the the traffic signal. The bike halts and they see.

The girl of the dark complexion, pouted lips. Soft brown eyes that are shadowed by heavy lashes. The girl's smile is fervent and her pupils dart. Looking for familiar faces. Faces with mouths that would go to her parents and tell them that they saw their daughter on the road. Mouths that the girl hopes would remain closed, minds that should forget the sights they see.

The girl is meeting a boy. Her fingers are entwined into his. He plays with the rings on her fingers as he helps her climb onto a divider. She follows, in his shadows, content in its shade, protected from the sunlight and stares that follow. He turns to look at her, his eyes meet hers, they smile. She blushes and he looks away, still smiling.

The girl and the boy enter a shop. The girl is buying something she needs from the store. The boy stealthily hops into the nearby flower shop and gets her a rose. She is thrilled to have it. She smiles, says thanks, and while nobody notices, gives his hand a squeeze.

The signal turns green and they zoom away on the bike. Nostalgic. They remember the days things were similar for them. The uncertainty, the stealth, the hours compressing themselves into mere minutes. They remember the days they fought to be able to be together with the sanction of their families and society. They remember the ecstasy of their approval. They remember the day they married.

They hope it works out well for the boy and the girl. They hope that they, too, grow, and remember, what it took to turn that love into accepted reality. And even if accepted reality seems less adventurous than love, they hope that the boy and the girl remember that they would, one day, trade their life, for a minute of that same accepted reality.

Sometimes, realities are stranger than dreams. And more valuable too.

January 08, 2010

Great Expectations

It is frail. It falters and stumbles and we still spend our lives chasing it and feeling the compulsive need to acquire it. To have it in our lives. To want it, to live it. Many crimes are committed in its name, many lives lost, many sacrifices made, many sorrows lived.

And yet, when we have it, it isn't what we envisioned. It isn't always the joy-imparting goodness that we thought it would be. It fails us and we fail it. We look for new-ness in our lives so we do not have the time to look at the cracks that have appeared in it while the sands of time slipped between our fingers.

We travel, we have hobbies, we invest, we save, we spend, we have children, we work long hours, we write, we read, we socialise, we eat more than we should, we drink, we make love, we talk more than we need to, just so we can avoid looking at what we have in our hands, just so time passes quickly and we can say, in one great rush, that life was beautiful.

But time and again, it surfaces and resurfaces, and we realise in our hearts that the perfection we seek eludes us, the imperfect ones, in our need to understand the unknown, in our need to acquire that which cannot be possessed. Time and again, in our heart of hearts, we know we will never have it for it will not come from the sources we are looking at. Like expecting nectar from the serpent't mouth that can only spew venom, like expecting honey from the ocean, like expecting immortality from the human body.

The illusion shatters, every instance, for neither can we live up to it, nor can it live up to us. And so we go on, century after century, looking for unconditional love from humans. For we know this chase will never cease, the end will never come.

In that unceasing search, we find our immortality. In that immortality, we find the un-end we are looking for, every minute of the day. For unconditional love is an ideal. Not the reality we truly desire.

January 03, 2010


She hated the girl. And she did not want to spend a single minute with her in the same room. Roomie for a year??! Unthinkable! But the girl came and settled down on the top bunk.

She kept finding a million reasons to dislike her...the girl was messy, disorganized, had a set of ideals that she defended with her life. But most importantly, she found it irritating that all her attempts to isolate the girl did not work. The girl had her own set of friends outside of the course they studied in. And the girl got along fine for the few hours she spent in the same hostel room with her.

Until one day, they announced groups for a project. Everybody was grouping up with people they liked. Friends and peers. She did not. She hung around, waiting for all her friends to get taken. She did not want to work with friends. She decided to work with people she didn't know, people she would not choose...for the real world would offer her just that - people she didn't know, choose, or like.

She found out she had been put in the same group with the girl. No! This was not what she had wanted! But she decided she would do it still. The girl was, after all, somebody she did NOT like.

They set out working on the project. It took a month to finish. They worked together, travelled together, planned together. They ate together, fell asleep on the same bed discussing ideas, they would come back late from work to find all the hostel food was over...so they cooked for each other and they dreamt together, about a project they both were proud of.

Along the way, she found out they worked with the same ideals. They had similar beliefs. They both had similar ideas of having fun. They were both stubborn. And they both found that they were perfect together. Like best friends. No, wait. Like sisters.

They grew together, they grew apart and they still stayed together. They married, they travelled, the worked, they gathered experiences. Sisters that led parallel lives. Sisters that learnt the same lessons. Sisters that grew differently but grew into similar things.

Long ago, she remembered, they had had 'the talk' about how the girl should stay in the room if there was to be peace. Cleanliness, organisation, timeliness. The girl agreed. With hurt. Hurt that she lived with people who did not know her and perhaps, did not want to know her.

Three years later, as she took her marital vows, they both knew how important they were to each other. To know, cherish and value. Like best friends. No wait...like sisters.