Crazy stupid thing called love

To some the destination, 
To some the vehicle.
To some the reason to live,
To some the reason to quit.
To some an obsession,
To some absolution.

To some a blind religion,
To some a ponzi scheme.
Where some broken hearts get fixed,
While some good ones get broken.

To some an autumnal zephyr,
To some a ruthless storm.
To some, a blissful blindness,
To some, an impending eye opener.

The thing that renders tectonic plates maternal,
Making countries out of land masses,
Idols out of stones,
And memories out of wrappers.




Wonder Woman

I’m not sure, but I guess it was sometime in the fourth decade of the nineteenth century; feminism wasn’t a fad or even an afterthought for that matter. The country was preoccupied with a different ism.  It eventually went on to get its independence, but women like my grandmother didn’t get theirs from the excuse for farm animals that their husbands were. Irrespective of flags, their lives continued to be at half mast. Like a delicate doll dealt from one monkey to another, my grandma was short-sold in the marital market by her father(of sixteen children) to a man with an attention span of a three year old in a candy shop, who went on to give her four children. Those times, even if a marriage wasn’t made in the heaven exactly, it was meant to last for a lifetime. The painful idealization, vanilla mythology and the Chinese whispering septuagenarians, ensured that a woman endured,even if she didn’t enjoy. So even before my grandma could come to terms with her womanhood, motherhood had confronted her with a child per limb with a man who had abandoned boat.

Carrying way more than her shoulder could bear, with no real help in vicinity than concerned elders and ancient places of worship, anyone’s mind would’ve scurried to a drastic way out of the purgatory life had become. But not my grandma’s. Whatever doesn’t break one, makes them stronger. She became a stronger person who learnt to make lemonade out of the limes thrown at her. She singlehandedly went on to raise her boys into decent men, who would never be how her husband was to her and them, to their wives and children. Not a remarkable feat normally, but from where she got it done and how she did it, it’s an incredible journey of a single woman through an uphill path strewn with insult, taunt and chauvinism in every twist and turn. By the time my generation had begun, she had mentally turned into this zen like war veteran, wary of the crowd of ersatz relatives and acquaintances that had conspicuously bulged in size. Most of these anecdote sharing well wishers in attendance at the peak, were somehow coincidentally absent at the foothills. Her wounds had healed. But she had hardened from within. She could forgive, but never really get to forget.

Pride gushes through the nostalgic arteries every time I reminisce of my childhood that eventually became hers too- growing up to her gibberish, sleeping next to her, calling her fat, the jawarsi payasam, being fed while watching TV, those few fables that were on infinite loop, the solicitous commentary during movies, the hush hush manner in which she kept helping others. And almost forgot those clumsy diabetic break-ins to the kitchen in the middle of the night to eat sweets. My house might be under constant CCTV surveillance with a guard on the gate now, but somehow life felt the safest with a fat old woman overseeing it.

We see the sun rise from our sides of the sky, to kiss the morning sky saffron. Some of us from the sea, some from a sea of buildings and those with the jogging pants, through a bunch trees in a park. Although an epic event for a planet to find compassion in a distant star, the everydayness lets it remain slighted. All of us have such Suns in our lives, who shine on us while we continue to take them for granted, till an eclipse comes to wake us. My grandma was one such Sun from a early horizon. She will continue to be a part of my life as a deity. As a guardian angel. My family’s very own iron lady.

Bitching about erstwhile friends

“So he called you too I suppose.”, sipping on my coffee.
“No, he took the FB route with me.”, he chuckled with sarcasm.

5.01 pm

We both usually convene at this time of the day mostly to exchange what we’ve come to call as “scoops”, a hall-pass we had issued ourselves to rant and condescend about friends, family and acquaintances with lesser guilt and greater fun. So today’s top item on the agenda involved the frivolous attempts of a common friend…errr scratch that, acquaintance at mobilizing crowds to make his rather pointless wedding a crowded affair. Suffocate with quantity for a lack of quality seemed to be his maxim.

“Saw the girl? She looks like my clean shaven version from long hair days when I was malnourished”
“That’s shallow…” pauses for a brief moment, “Have you seen him?”
“Yeah. Yeah. He’s got a face his mother can only like and all, but he could’ve done better with due respect to the woman in question. More power to feminism.”
“I beg to differ. We’ve taken him with us several times to only look better, remember!”
“Fine, they’re made for each other. Don’t rub it in my face.”

“Anyways the repelling physical chemistry apart, wasn’t he coming out of another case of unrequited romance, how could he jump boats so soon?”

“When you’ve been doing nothing but mooning over a girl for over twenty months from the Teflon coated friend zone she’d put you in, from where the only action you got involved innocent finger touches while passing sugar at coffee shops, it’s relatively easy to move on.”
“Not to mention the several suggestive SMSes that were too riddled with typos and questionable grammar to make any sense of. God how many emojis does he use, like some school kid high on candy.”

“But I’m sure the girl knew at some point knew that he was trying to be more than just a friend.”
“Probably mixing bad English with worser metaphors was not such a good idea after all.”

“Yeah if those painfully lengthy abstract conversations didn’t give away, the dogged effort he put into buying those expensive run of the mills gifts sure should’ve, unless she was emotionally dyslexic.”

“Ya, who gets a stuffed teddy bear inches taller than you to only be your friend, Santa Fucking Claus?”

“I know. It’s almost rude to see a guy trip, fall and falter from one grand effort to another from your balcony, without throwing him the ropes or asking him to stop trying,”

“Some people probably enjoy watching others taking efforts for them, it validates them.”
“Or our friend was the clumsiest man at proposing to women..” gasping for breath “He could easily drive a forthcoming woman to trauma, arranged marriage or celibacy by just hitting on her.”

“That’s heavily judgmental dude.”
“Right. You’re the one to talk”

“Btw, Jessica Pearson is the most celestial looking person I’ve come across.”
“How about commas, full stops or fucking context while waltzing into random topics!”

“Fuck you.”

“Anyways, you’re going right?”
“120 dishes, 50 starters, several desserts, open bar and….”
“…And the chance of getting immortalized in a picture with the gaudily dressed couple.”
“No thanks.”

“We used to be like brothers once, sharing everything than our boxers. What happened?”
“Maturity happened. We grew up and he grew apart.”

“Agreed we’re not in the same city anymore. But couldn’t he at least invite you over phone. What happened to the good ‘old  pre-Zuckerbergian social relic called courtesy?”

“I suppose you stop expecting such niceties from a guy who majored in finance to only conduct a wedding, the price of a beach villa with a girl he knew for lesser time than the pimple on his forehead, while continuing to service the mortgage on his existing residential property.”


” You’re in talking terms with him?”
“No. But I wished him over phone.”
“Why? You could’ve sent an offline message.”
“Its okay. It’s not like am a bigger person and all, but he’s still a part of our lives.”
“If not as a friend, as a running joke during coffee breaks like now.”

“So are we getting front row seats to the shindig or do we wait for the highlights to come on FB to condescend further.”


“You’re Satan.”

“Don’t get patronizing. Later.”



Families that stay together

As a loner, I’ve always reveled in the tranquility between the four walls of my bedroom- the smell of the convertible on the right corner that has almost been spiritual, Simba(the stuffed tiger) that has come to sort of become a muse and the creaking door that has shielded me from world outside. These are the insignificant scaffolding that’ve held my world together, for no matter how a day panned out, they’ve often than not tuned me back to equilibrium. To me this room had more memories than bricks behind it and I was dog territorial about this space. For this was the same room I used to sleep during the last days of my grandma. This is where I made love the first time. This was where I always came looking for solace, introspection; every time I burnt a bridge, felt lost or just needed perspective. In short, this dark of the house was the mirror to my soul.

My parents would occasionally ask to me sleep in their room along with them and like most grown men I would dole out these self righteous excuses involving “the want of privacy” or “I’m old to sleep with my parents” every time to just stay back at my room. It wasn’t just that I had outgrown the charm of snuggling in the mini-bed under my parent’s bed once in a while, with time I had somehow outgrown the experience of spending time with them.
I didn’t realize that every time I turned them down, I was taking their love for granted because it was available in such abundance at free of cost for me to overlook.

There was a time in my life, after a showdowns everytime,  dad would suggest that I got out of the house in a not so calm fashion. Truth be told, it took an asshole of my magnitude to bring that out of an otherwise peace loving man. I was never quite the model offspring and had dedicated a good amount of my post teen years to reminding my parents about the flip side to procreation. He obviously didn’t mean it— I hoped every time I was told to leave the house —for these were everyday occurrences under a roof housing an aging father, a son at the brink of his manhood and their combined egos, the size of a meteor. It’s not till when the frequency of these outbursts increased, that I began looking at these as more than just domestic outbursts. When the same words kept repeating, I could get a sense of where they were coming from. It was never a question of whether he loved me or not, he obviously did. But the fatigue of resigning to the fact that he couldn’t get me to do things differently was starting to show, along with his anxiety for my ability to take care of myself. The very everydayness that was supposed to cement most  families together, was forming fissures in between.

Our cat and mouse dynamic was fast turning into an uglier beast of indifference. We needed some sort of an intervention. Probably, separation. Some objective distance to stop taking each other for granted and cultivate some respect back. Obviously, the proximity wasn’t helping.

It was around this time that I was on my notice period and look out for my next job, when an exciting profile came my way from Bangalore. And it didn’t take me long to decide. And before my parents could come to terms, I had already relocated. And like that, I was in a new city for the first time away from home. And my parents were away from me for the first time . This was the reality check I needed. Privacy and “me time” were scattered at every step, every nook and every corner. It was like life decided to make a dear wish into a bad joke by giving it in abundance, till a point it almost became a curse. I learnt that charm of being alone was a thing of relative appeal. My “me time” worked only with togetherness, not in isolation. Without the togetherness, it just felt like a king in a marooned kingdom .

A few hours of shopping for home appliances did what a lifetime of delicious home made meals, ironed clothes, a comfortable home and selfless parenting couldn’t. It made me realize the value of my parents for the very first time in life. I knew what I had had. The cushions around me that had always protected me, were suddenly not there. There was no one to take for granted. Every phone call from home became important. Dad seemed to miss me and I could feel his respect. It was strange that my conversations with my mom over phone were longer now than the ones we had at home. My sister and I were the closest that we had been in a long time.

Maybe  every family is only a hiccup of a circumstance away from closeness.

This time when I was home, mom and dad’s faces lit up. It was late in the night when my bus had come. They were well past their bed time, but they were so overwhelmed.We spoke for a while before the two of them hit the bed. It’s not like I had energy to pull an all nighter either. I went to my room by instinct. I was in my sanctuary after a month. But it didn’t feel the same. On second thought, I went to my parent’s, pulled out the mini-bed from under theirs and assumed the “run over frog on a highway” pose to sleep. It felt peaceful. Being with them was positively better than “me time”.Those few minutes before sleep that day were among the most precious ones in my life. That moment life had come a full circle.I can’t make blanket statement on behalf of other families, but it looks like some some good old distance brought mine together, closer than before.

Men and their alcohol egos

He exactly wasn’t one of those “brother from another mother” kind of friends to begin with. What passage of time does to some friendships that go on to weather many a storms is, it lets two dissimilar individuals iron out their differences, understand them and eventually go on to embrace these very ticks as unique traits that come together strangely as yangs to their yins. As far as the average kind of friendship goes, time does what a bottle does to oil and water within, keeps two people together, apart. Anyways to cut to the chase, we were the oil and water kind of friends if you hadn’t already caught the drift, who’ve been together in the same circle of friends since our puberty due to a lack of brighter social choices.

So one fine day this guy decides to hand his peanut sized testicles over in a ceremony in order to settle down (euphemism for a regular sex life). Another cheap wicket to matrimony. All the society has to do is, marinate a South Indian man just long enough in peer pressure sauce, for him to go grazing for his soulmate from the greener side of a sketchy matrimonial website. Category filters and algorithms later, voila, another match made in heaven!
Like with all unisons in god’s scheme of things that go on to distill into a higher cause some day, however insignificant, it was the turn of my charmless friendship to become something other than man hours and collective yawns let out. Finally I had a legitimate excuse to wear my well tailored suit that hadn’t seen the outside of my shelf in ages. And two, I get to kick-start the new year with a bachelor’s party. Small dividends from an otherwise defunct company!

There was just one minor glitch. Did I mention that I had to throw the said party? Well, not only did I have to, I also had to assimilate his friends in order to make the event a tad bit to his liking. So I got in touch with his Malayalam speaking friends who were so lame, that they made him seem like Ayn Rand. But it wasn’t much of a task to get them on board, for most of them took to the prospects of a social occasion where their presence wasn’t frowned upon, like drowning men to a floating plank. Just that all of them were Mallus and single malts weren’t cheap. So I made it a BYOD(Bring Your Own Drink) occasion, without the slightest inkling of what I was getting into.

The D-Day

We had convened at one of his mallu friend’s house. I was carrying a cheap blended whisky, cheaper than the Uber fare from my place. No way was I parting with my Macallan 18 or Laphroaig for that matter, with a bunch of random strangers from the back waters. An hour into the evening, turns out that I was the one with the most expensive liquor in the room. One guy had turned up with a tacky gin, named after a race horse. Another with a bottle of vodka that was shaped like a kinky device. And another with a dozen beers, that positively smelt like soiled diapers. An uninitiated passerby with unblocked nostrils would’ve pretty much pegged this shindig to be a red flag before a small scale bio war.I had front row seats to witness the “Mallu Alcohol Holding Ability” that had till now been a thing of urban legend to me.

Like a greenhorn lookng to flaunt before veterans, I was dealing my whisky in smalls, neat with a side of ice, in a tastefully crafted glass. The mallus sniffed my whisky and in an instance anointed it “too soft”. I condescended the barbarians under my breath, only to realize what wasn’t “soft”, a few moments later. The lids of their bottles opened and I instantly knew what apocalypse smelt like. Pungent fragrance filled the room that led to leaves withering from nearby plantation.  Too bad, the patients needed to only be made unconscious, not dead. Else these fluids would have made for one helluva anesthesia.

In high spirits, 1.00 AM

It was seven hours from when we started, my limbs had turned numb with alcohol hopping down my veins. Life around had turned blithe, with the rest room across the hall taking forever to reach. I was in what I call “the state of Moon’s gravity”. Masculine pride of holding fort for seven whole alcohol soaked hours was plastered across my sweaty face. The three empty pints and a bottom shy whisky bottle, were testimony to my valor.

However my pride lasted only till my glance fell on the debauchery occupying the other end of the hall. Crisp and unscathed, the mallu gang looked like freshly minted notes. No bear sweats, no alcohol fatigue; infact to rub insult to disbelief one of the guys was performing push ups. What the fuck! Probably they’ve been preoccupied with the pubgrubs, I hopefully thought. I couldn’t sit there curious, I stumbled my way in a clumsy tangent to their end to reaffirm.
What I saw there, made me question everything I thought I had known about alcohol and its aftermath. Three mid sized men with receding hairline and a cherubic build had laid barren five whole bottles  of vodka, gin, rum, brandy, petrol, phenol and what not. Not to mention the dozen pints of beer that had been collected aside with absolute disdain like matchless second fiddle. And the fact that they had the glow of a Pasteur post a successful exorcism, lighting up their faces minnowed me from a seasoned connoisseur to feel like a alcohol smitten post pubescent. I know, I know drinking is not about bouts, but the appreciation. Quality over quantity blah blah…but the fact that my hubris was reduced to peppermint size and handed over to me in a wrapper was as undeniable fact.

I tried blending in to salvage some pride, but I’m not sure if it’s the gin that smelt like thinner or the brandy that smelt like it was derived out of rusted battery, but my esophagus was giving out belches of denial. And I was sniffs away from making abstract art of vomit on the floor. So I had to pass. Pass out I did on something that resembled a sofa.

They were marathon runners, 6.00 AM

I woke up with my temple pounding with hangover pangs like it rightfully should. And guess what, my first sight wasn’t much different from my last. That of three mallu guys and my friend drinking in an unhurried fashion, like they had just begun. As I was slowly beginning to feel my pulse in strange places in my body, I promptly booked a cab as a raise of white flag, as I waved to them and their glasses scurrying out from there. As I stared at the sun on my way out, it dawned upon me that they were celestial beings with unimaginable prowess that were not to be messed with. This little nugget of emasculation would remain put in the deepest attics of my memory along with a few other humbling anecdotes that remain there in order for me to upkeep some ego in the outer world. In hindsight I would always know that It was a bad idea to drink with the dinosaurs.


Visiting the tomb of erstwhile love

It was a damp night, mind you damp and not wet. Chennai’s weather of late has been blowing hot and cold; with almost hot afternoons packed in humid sweat and reluctant drizzles well shy of being holistic downpours in the nights. So it was one of those nights and I was coming from a night show, to find my bike seat gently kissed by several raindrops, that had deceived the sky’s vigil. One of the primary cons of riding a bike during such times is, you can’t wear your lighter trousers. One, the raindrops leave an impression, not a good one- a wet smudge on the sitting area. And two, even if you vigilantly wipe your way off the previous possibility to preserve tushy dignity, there’s no way you can go unscathed, as the several puddles and inconsiderate vehicles on the way would somehow come together to leave a graffiti on the trousers.
Anyways I was wearing a pair of black trousers that night and it held very little consequence to the other happening of the night, primarily about which this piece is .This one’s about the route I took on my way back and the the trip it took me down the memory lane.

While coming back from the theatre, there are two routes to my place. One that goes through a residential  area and the other one that comes a little ahead, connecting me to the main road.  Over the last few years I’ve consciously and later subconsciously been ignoring the former stretch to take the latter. Initially, it felt like a can filled with worms, waiting to be opened up. Worms waiting to feed on my peace of mind. Then with efflux of time, I had grown oblivious and numb to this stretch’s magnetic negativity. It had come to only be a detour and the route that led to the main road had become an obvious choice.
But today was different, I was itching to take the former route. Not to confront the can of worms, but to take stock of my quality of peace. Curiosity had the better of me and there I was in the stretch I had forbidden as a sort of reality check. This trip was straddling between literal and figurative, for so much in my life had transpired in this L shaped stretch, the gravitas of which was getting to me as I was rumbling through it, metre by metre.

A few hundred metres into this road- painted in shadows of the trees behind -came this compound wall on the left. There was nothing fancy about it, just another neglected-marshy structure raised to mark the periphery of the house. But to me, it marked a new beginning. Back then it was always enveloped from the road by a fleet of school vans parked in front of it. It was our second date, I had just kissed her for the first time inside a deserted Mcrennett a little ahead on the corner of the road. She was pink with amusement and I was a cat, who had had his first taste of meat. We soon left hand-in-hand to take a stroll, incidentally my first walk with someone from the fairer sex. She was a bundle of nerves, obviously given that her folks stayed not far away from there and she was walking with a person who had just earmarked her left cheek with his saliva. Fairly educated on each other’s favourites, we had run out of topics and were in a mood for something non-verbal. The secluded compound wall on the right, stood there with anticipation and we got the cue. I lifted and perched her on it facing me, as I placed my hands on either side of her on the wall. Before we realised, I was kissing all over her face like a caveman, rocking back and forth like doing push-ups in a near state of trance. Together we had debased base one here.

As I drove ahead, came the Mcrennett I had mentioned a little earlier on the corner of the road. Apart from being the unwilling witness and stage to our first sacrilege, it had seen a lot of us. It used to be a favourite hangout, for it didn’t pinch on my wallet hard and it served the best cheese puff known to humanity. We’ve spoken about movies, debated about choice of careers, stolen kisses when no one’s around and have even gone for each other’s necks when arguments turned futile.

We were sparrows constructing nests on unnoticed loft corners of houses with little information to its owners, raising our own little monuments in common places of others surreptitiously.

As I turned right came this place, preceded by a newly fitted majestic metal gate. Back then, there used to be no gate. It was just a long winding driveway that led to a nursery school. We fondly called it “nursery”. Only both of us knew what nursery meant, when among a group of friends. So why were two grown-ups frequenting a nursery? This under lit place became uninhabited in the evening and the unregulated driveway that preceded the nursery, with tall trees on either side, became a tantalising prospect for long walks and the accoutrements that ensued.

Here, we became night creatures that made merry after sunset. Unlike the owls, we couldn’t see too well, but we didn’t complain. We could feel and listen to each other like  in no other place with heightened awareness- finding rhythm in our heartbeats, warmth in our touches, wetness in our lips and dexterity in the fingers to render clothes vestigial. This is where we caught up every time before being away for a while and this is where we came together after being away for a while. This was our ersatz room, before we got a real one.

A few second later came this stretch inundated by tall walls that belonged in fortresses, baring faces of the neighbourhood politician and not so subtle slogans in fluorescent font. I could see a younger me going for the wall, as I discharged my bladder’s content in a blissful fountain. She used to be seated on the bike behind, embarrassed about my uncouth way of answering the nature’s call. As I got on the bike, proud and relieved, my comeuppance would come as she twisted my ear till I twirled along with it in tandem.

I pulled over my bike to take a leak. I was all alone by myself, with no one waiting behind to play mother as I sat to ride.

The L of the stretch was coming to an end as the subway in the end was becoming visible. She used to come out of this from the other side of the road, as I restlessly waited near it. I would check myself on the bike’s mirror a hundred times and would strike the best pose on , as she would pop out of the subway onto my bike in a hurry, to employ the harness on me. After dropping her back late in the evening, I would wait by it till she surfaced from the other side of the subway in one piece.In short, our days were bookbounded by this subway.

Over a decision, things that were very life itself had turned into distant memories I could only live vicariously. I  could revisit them, without craving to recreate. This stretch was like a black box that survived a crash. The drive was like going back to the place of accident after recovering- as a healed person – grateful about the second chance, stronger and peaceful. If I’ve learnt one thing over the years, it’s that there’s no such thing as good or bad in life as every experience culminates systematically in a memory. Good and bad are transitory, a mere reflection of the state of the mind from the time of impact.

The L had come to an end. And it felt like a place I was leaving place from, not one I was coming into.As I turned left to climb the flyover, I felt like Superman  emerging out of Krypton stronger than before. Life was one fear short.

Price of privacy in an average Indian household

It’s pretty much like the conundrum of whether the chicken came first or the egg; the influence of movies on the society and the society’s influence on movies.It was in the mid nineties when, Sooraj Barjatya in the north and Vikraman in the south, spearheaded the renaissance of placing family before individual, making a virtue out of it. In the process killing privacy as a collateral necessity, making a vice out of it.You’ll see families in these movie walk in horizontal human chains- members on left and right extremes spilling out of every frame -even to modest places like blood donation camps, invading each other’s bed rooms spreading cutesy and going on picnics together. In this ecosystem, family was no mere crowd, but therapeutic. These movies talked about the trauma of being alone, establishing solitude as a comeuppance should someone dare stray to the other side, in the name of self discovery or love.

If you’re someone who had been raised on a firm diet of Tamil movies in the nineties, chances of having missed this spectacle called Suryavamsam are bleak. For the uninitiated it is one of the several evolutionary-anomaly Sarathkumar movies in which grandfather,father and son all look the same and get played by him. In a pivotal scene in the movie, the son’s kicked out of his house with his share of wealth for daring to get married to the love of his life. Notwithstanding the condescending nature of his overbearing dad, he somehow doesn’t part with the wealth to a farther haven.Because, it is hard after all, for an illiterate man pushing forty to choose between his hateful dad who acknowledges his existence while buying anti-fit khadicraft shirts on birthdays alone on one side and a prosperous life with a loved one on the other. His rather prosperous stay apart from his colony sized family is made to look like a stint at Shawshank prison  throughout the movie’s running time.

The thing about these movies is that the individual always put himself, his love, aspirations behind his family’s and dissolved in its well being.

The resounding success of these kind of conservative- and regressive -family films reiterated the moral code of most families across the board. The elders identified with what was sold off as non negotiable virtues and the youngsters were naive to believe idiosyncrasies to be traditions. These were strictly above-the-belt movies that would sermonize on vanilla values that were digestible, inoffensive and non-debatable. Even when it came to couples, they never went beyond the tropes of innocent stalking, crass duets, wedding ceremony and the coy first night sequence when the shy camera would pan up at the prospect of below the belt activity about to ensue, once the couple were done establishing chemistry over cold milk and ghee sweets. This systematic attitude to over preach sentiments as values and push icky topics below the carpet has systematically percolated from one generation to another to create elders who didn’t respect the post puberty phase of a grown up. For instance If a teenager’s found whispering on landline, the immediate parental instinct would be to launch into stealth mode. Pick the extension from another room and eavesdrop; for it might be a member from the opposite sex. Obviously the nefarious act has to be stopped. For you can’t afford to be friends with him and joke about his flirting skills, right. It doesn’t fall under the Suryavamsam family code.

Another dreaded recurring occurrence in most Indian households must be the Sunday morning special visits. That’s when an out of town relative would pop unannounced into our life like a pimple. But that or their amusingly large breakfast appetite wouldn’t even form the primary concern. Like a frog run over by a lorry, we would peacefully be sleeping in the safe confines of our bedroom in an awkward position when mom would come to wake us up to say, “hello”. Even before your brain can begin to process, a lecture about how showing courtesy to a guest is more important than precious life would begin. This would go on for several minutes. And it would only be a matter of time before her persistence would take the form of a loud scream, promise of a bad lunch or the most dangerous face expression before emotional blackmail. That’s the time when you would know that you’ve got no way out. Your eyes would detest. Your entire body would resent. But you’ll somehow drag yourself to only say that dreadful, “hello” and go back to bed in the hope of better karma.And just when you thought that the misery would be over with the thirty painful seconds, the relative incapable of understanding body language or silent “fuck offs”, would endeavor to stretch your tenure with one sensitive question after another. By the time he/ she gets done with you, you would start hearing the liver churning bile from within.

The sudden invasion of a dad or uncle into bedroom while generating handmade pleasure is one of the most disturbing things to happen to an average Indian teenager. What’s more disturbing than the ocular exchange between the two, would be the awkward silence that follows, as he contemplates euthanizing and the elder behaves like having walked into a satanic mating ritual. The sexual curiosity of the youth, his coming to terms with his own body that’s looking different with each passing day and his sudden mooning over girls his age is something the average Indian  elder diligently pushes under the carpet, courtesy the  Suryavamsam family code.

We in this part of the world never really acknowledge the importance of an individual’s identity. His coming of age, his love, lust, failures, successes and how they shape him as a person. His dreams, aspiration, yearning to create a legacy of his own. His alone time. His spiritual growth. Notwithstanding all this, all that matters is that he has to be married at a certain age. And she has to be married as well by a certain age that often comes a few years before. The dreams can wait, goals can and aspirations…stop joking..are certainly not as important as creating a family at the right time.

Most elders operate with the sole purpose of getting an individual deeper and deeper into the institution of family, drifting him further and further away from himself. Not every flower needs to get into a bouquet, some can look beautiful by themselves. An individual’s privacy has to be respected. His personal space has to be acknowledged after a certain age. And more importantly his values have to be let the place to fashion themselves into something independent, not necessarily agreeable.