After calculating the hours that would take me to reach Kochi from Goa, I realized I would not be able to take that big a chunk of time from my trip home. Sighing away, with my insides twisting with an unknown pain, I started sketching away, then turned to look at the pictures and videos of the one installation that I wanted to see, to experience and to sink in deep within me, in this year’s Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
I closed my eyes. I could see myself standing underneath one of the huge canvas boards on the wall. I could listen to the sound of water, of legs wading, of people whispering, of the conflicts within minds. I could see the crashing waves, washing in bodies, of Aylan, of Galip. I could see the sea swallowing many more unknown faces, unknown hearts that beat for a better future. I could feel the pain in the water that washed my legs. I could feel the sea.
“The sea of pain.
For Galip Kurdi
Alan Kurdi was three and his photograph circled the world.
He lay face down and the blue red of his clothes was striking
in its strange tidiness on the shore. Hours later the Turkish
coast guards recuperated the bodies of his mother and small
Five-year old brother, Galip, but of him there are no photographs.
… I wasn’t there,
I am not his father.
There are no photographs of Galip Kurdi, he can’t hear, he can’t see, he can’t feel, and the silence comes down like immense white cloths.
Below the silence you can make out a piece of sea, of the sea of pain.
I am not his father, but Galip Kurdi is my son. ”
The words of the poet.
The sea of pain.
Something startled me awake. And I watched the waves that kept on crashing in and out. The sun setting in the horizon. The stars starting to shine,and I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if the stars would have been the last thing they saw when they drowned. The stars and the sea. Depths of blue. Grasping for a hand to save. Shouting for help. The blue shutting it all out. The life ebbing away from their eyes, to the depths of the dark. Their bodies washing in, to a rising sun and a rising world.
Millions of hearts still cry for help.
And a few hearts still cry for them.
Please, hold on, at the end of the day, the dark clouds shall move away, and the stars will shine. The stars, will shine.
-This is for Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and many more across the world, who have lost and still lose their lives at the hands of politics, power and greed.
To the girl, who smiled through all the odds, who had my respect from day one, who had my love as I came to know her. This was the only thing I could consider giving her as a memoir, because I knew, Art, she would keep it close to her heart, it was like her breath. And I gave her something that she asked of me, something of mine, which I believed she needed more. I pray that it guides you and show you the light in the darkest of times.
Black. Blue. Green.
Black is you. Your underlying soul. Solid and strong. Not the usual vulnerable and depressive, solid and strong.
Blue is your love. The glittering waters and the crashing waves have your attention, every single time. They listened to you all the while. They hugged you when you seeked.
Green is your future. Peace and prosper. Nature and the wild. Just like your untamed heart, hair and height. May you scale more.
Believe girl, in you. Because you are the music that’s too good for some, but right in for you. Because you are the breath, who is free and strong enough to show the world, what you are made of. Because you are one, when set on, can conquer the world.
My body , my mind, my emotions are a mixture of my reactions to these realities, because of which at times, reaction for one reality comes to the forefront in another reality, messing up at times.
There is one, in which I live for the majority of my time. Where my body works, mind flits through different responsibilities, my heart beats, in a foreign city, among unknown faces, and new friends, where at the end of the day everything is fine yet foreign.
Then, there is one, in which your studies still awaits you, your old friends litter around, where your insecurities and worthlessness poke their heads in. Among familiar surroundings, people whom you call best friends, at the end of day, when you lay down to sleep, you still wonder why you feel so lone, so out of place.
Then, there is another one, which consumes your whole heart and soul, where you have your family to be comforted, you have to be the strong one, wipe away the tears of our loved ones, deal with your own pains in anonymity, put up a brave front in front of them and keep telling them, everything will be fine, when deep down even you are scared. Where you can’t even dream or plan because of the shadows of the evil which has made the future bleak.
We all have alternate realities which we fail to realize.
We all have different roles, different faces, different emotions in a single moment, only a shift of reality separating them.
We are not a single person, we are a culmination of different people living in different realities.
I was watching Dubai on TV today. Dubai, is a 2001 Malayalam movie, starring our very own Mammooty in its title role.
Well, that film was filmed in dubai for its three quarter portion, but the Dubai in the background is unrecognizable. Its surrounded by clear mountains, buildings not even a quarter of The Khalifa’s size, being given a prominence of picturing the ‘big city’. That Dubai, 15 years younger, was just emerging, with its purity still in place, just like any other Middle Eastern city. But then, the face of Dubai changed. Glittering skyscrapers, posh cars, glamorous lifestyle equals Dubai now. It had successfully taken its name on the list of the world cities, until it lost its lusture. There used to be a time, when I always bugged my father to take us to Dubai for a family vacation. I used to religiously follow the TV programmes featuring the Dubai Shopping Festival to take my share of the colourful cities. In those programs, I saw expat families like mine, enjoying their life in a colorful world, in contrast to my mundane restricted life in a country next to UAE. My innocent eyes saw the glitter in their eyes, the love in the togetherness, bits and pieces of the whole world in a small city. I remember I would tell myself, that some day, I would go for the festival and buy a little something from every country’s stall. Well, that dream is still unfulfilled. My eyes has never witnessed the wonders of Dubai from land. Witnessing it from the sky, everytime you fly in Emirates airlines, with a connection in the Dubai Intl Airport doesn’t count.
So I was just wondering, how much that little city called Dubai transformed within a span of a few years. At times I wonder, if my little city, which I so dearly call home, would transform one day, to one that I would never be able to recognize someday. The thought scares me. The congestion in Batha and Hara, with its buzzing streets full of expats, small residential buildings and shopping complexes that are food to many. The roads that sell various things and sellers who run at the very sound of the Baladiya. The yellow trucks with yellow uniformed men, who clean the city when its residents are still waking up from their slumbers and going back home to rest after another day. Olaya, our developed part, which houses our dearest 2 towers – The Faisaliyyah (The Needle Tower) and Kingdom Tower (The Necklace Tower), the posh hotels and restaurants, that seemed to exist in another world, so different from mine. Malaz, another semi developed area. Deerah, with its traditional markets and mud structures and the court, majestically standing amidst the mud structures. Naseem, with our schools and quite residential villas and vehicle showrooms. And many other smaller parts unique in their own way. The malls, with its splendid infrastructure, bringing the world to us. The masjids, around every corner offering moments of peace. The main cross bridge in the Road, its been a part of my life since the day I started understanding things. We crossed it, daily twice, during our commute to and fro the school. That croos bridge with its swirling road, used to take my little mind wo the world beyond the worls infront of me.The parks with its date palms, lining the lanes, kids fearless, the bullies in the slides and swings waiting to push us around or scare us away. The 20 riyal pizzas, Qubs, Shawarmas, Broasteds, Kabsas and Mandi, that became the taste of our tongues, warming our plates, filling our stomachs. Everywhere you look, you can see people who has embraced the land odf deserts, put their faith into the blessed land of the two Great Mosques, to fill their stomachs and save their families back in their homeland.
The Riyadh that I knew and lived in was never the glamorous one filled with malls and brands and posh lifestyles. It was the Riyadh of the parched hearts, struggling to stand on their two feet to support their families, home for kids like us, whose parents hated the dryness and lack of the greenness, that they so closely held dear. For them, this was a place of livelihood because of no other choice, and for us, home. That shaped us to what we are, that consists of little bits and pieces of our being and memories.
That was the Riyadh, where the yellow uniformed street cleaners were underpaid, the cleaners of the two Great Mosques considered blessed, where you see expats, working their life away.
That was the Riyadh, which was hell, for the thieves who were punished severely, people beheaded publicly due to which crimes were less, for people who were wrongly jailed and punished with no money to pay the government to free them, no people to fend for in a foreign country, no love to be showered, treated like dirt by some Saudi, years and youth wasted away, bearing the harshness of the sun, toiling.
Like any other city, it is filled with secrets and pretenses. Secrets, of expats, royals and the common men. So deeply concealed.
It’s a land of tears, of lives lost in the face of fate, souls shattered in the name of livelihood.
That’s the purity of it, this multi-facetedness, this mix of people, culture withing the strong realm of the traditional culture and I am sure, you will see this in every major cities in the Middle East. Even beyond the glittering city of Dubai. This might have been the face and soul of Dubai once, before another face of glamour came into the forefront as its tag. And I wonder , 10 years down the lane, if Riyadh would be the same place that I lived in. That I grew up in. Will it lose its purity, its real face?
In a distant memory, like the vagueness of a dream, I see my mother in the kitchen, making dinner since my dad never preferred rice at night. I see her rolling out the chapattis, perfectly, asking me to cook them. I see her lightly admonishing me, while I burnt some of her prefect chapattis. I see her ladling the batter on the large tawa, dripping in drops of ghee, to make the most delicious dosa which she gently served hot into our plates with the potato masala that I was so fond of. I see her, content, battling her fights, yet with a smile. I see my father cribbing about how our clothes are never in the shelves and how we would never put them away even if we had enough storage. I see him controlling his laughter when we crack a joke and he tries to be all serious. I see his tears, hear his wavering broken voice, while he narrated his childhood to us. I see the wistfulness in his eyes, the little boy, who was recounting the last memory of his father. I see the pride in his eyes, after he came to know that I topped in 10th. I see the disappointment in his eyes, in my decision to opt for architecture. I see the subtle happiness and acceptance in his eyes, after three years, when he sees how well I am doing my course. I see him, a reserved soul, battling the world, providing for us all the comforts, yet with a determination.
In a distant memory, like the vagueness of a dream, I see us all sitting in together with a plate of food in our hands, watching TV and commenting on various things. I see us all, travelling together, in our car for grocery shopping. I see us waiting for my dad in his office, for him to be free, so we could go out somewhere. I see him paying the money for a new dress that I bought. I see us all eating a packet of qubbus and yogurt for dinner, together.
And now when I pay my bills, I miss his presence. When I travel alone, I miss the time when I had to bug my father to take me out. When I drive a car, I miss the rash driving of my father. When I eat my food, I miss the taste of my mother’s cooking. When I see my siblings, I miss the time when we were pulling each other’s hairs for the most silliest of reasons. When I see a loving home, I miss the togetherness of a family.
Family is a different feeling. Each moment, each fight, each tear and each smile that we share as a family can never value up to anything. Savor it all. Be it your mom’s cooking, a dress washed by your mom, ironed by your dad. Anything and everything that they do. Because when each day ends, you grow a little bigger, a little more responsible.
It is only when you go away from the cocoon, will you realize that these mundane little things were some of the greatest things that you could be blessed with.
And these days I live in my thoughts. Everything that’s happening around me is peripheral. They just register in my subconscious mind, never reaching in. But the things in my head, deep down, is what I wander through. It’s a journey in there, you know. And quite a strainous one I tell you.
The hurdles are much more harder to cross, because each time I defeat it, it’s me myself who loses. Each time I rejoice being victorious, it’s my own eyes that cry. Each time I succeed in finding a new path, it’s me, myself who loses the one that I have been travelling. It’s the life of a vagabond in there. Just travelling, with no care for anything or anybody else. As peaceful & cheery as it sound to be, there are still little pockets of darkness that you have to tread – cold, bleak and dreary.
It’s all in all a reflection of what I see, what I hear and what I touch. It’s a world within the world, with it’s own summer and winter. A world that’s much more harder to tread, much more darker.
A world which sucks you in deeper and deeper when you try harder and harder to escape.
It’s your own mind.
It’s your own thoughts.
The enemy is you.
A young angel. A princess. Allah’s Gift. A Baby Girl.
A vacation in India teaches you a lot of things. Makes you realise that the world is not you think it is. Makes you see things which you never wanna see.
This vacation made me write about a thing that was suppressed in my heart for a long time.
There was a death. A death of a baby boy of around two years old. The baby died of fits (febrile convulsions). The baby was sleeping with the parents when his mom felt he had turned all cold. And he was declared dead soon.
Inna lillahi wa Inna illahi raaji’un .
The dead of the baby was sudden and it shook all the people living nearby. But the most heart-wrenching sight was his mother. A young girl of age 18 loses her first child. One cant actually do anything to console her. Its a totally different pain. For a mother, her baby is the most precious thing that she possess. Not her life. Not any materials. Its her baby.
But what made me to write this?
I am 17. She is 18. Our worlds are poles apart. And the thoughts on that point is what made me write what I had always wanted to voice out.
Here I am chilling my life out, studying and doing what I wanna do. I have freedom, no real big responsibilities. I am a student. A daughter.
There she is, a year elder, with a family. With all the responsibilities. She is a daughter. She is a wife. A daughter in law. And was a Mom!
One of the weirdest reason I have ever heard for a man’s second marriage is that he has only daughters from his first wife. Duh! Like Seriously? This is a reason?
What is the problem with having daughters?
Oh yeah. She is a burden. You have to marry her off. And marriage means dowry issues. She will not be able to look after you financially because she will be having her own family. And why teach her? Education is a total no-no for a girl. Anyway she eventually has to marry and settle down. Why waste money? And why should she earn money? She would always have her husband to support her!
Isnt that the answer?
What would I call such people? – Narrow-minded.
Amniocentesis (a test for detecting genetic disorders in the embryonic or foetal stage) is banned in India. Why?
Because of the increased no. of female foeticide. With the results of this test, we also get to know if the child is a girl or a boy.
How low can people stoop? They kill their own child just because it is a girl, an unwanted gender?! How can people be so cruel? And brutal?
When a girl child is born, the mother is blamed. Why? – Hell! Its a girl child!
Well, that girl child was better dead than born to parents who didnt want her in the first place. Why live when you are an unwanted?
And to those parents : You are the losers! The fools who let go of such a treasure!
In my place, marriages are the most funniest thing to me. Gosh! I laugh like hell when people tell me about the different marriages that are about to take place, is taking place or has already taken place!
One fine day, a relative of my mom’s pops up at her home to invite us for his daughter’s marriage. And since I dunno this person(for that case I dunno anyone in India except my real close relatives!) and was not talked to, I sat with a smile plastered on and listened to them speak. Just a casual invite and some catching up. Over in a split of a second.
After he left I asked my mom about the marriage. My main interest was to know the girl’s age. And it didnt surprise me when my mom told she is in 12th or just passed out. What surprised me was the reason behind the early marriage. Anybody wants to guess? Hah. You would all fail miserably! Trust me!
-The girl has a younger sister who is much more taller and healthier than her. So she has to be married off!
You expect me to not laugh at that?
I had enough brains to not laugh in front of my mom. But the laugh did not come even when I was alone pondering over this. My heart was with that girl. What would she be feeling? Married off because she is shorter than her sister!
I felt more like crying because of her situation.
She is pushed to get married and take up all the responsibilities at such a young age when she is supposed to be free, study, curse teachers, have fun with friends and not give a damn about such marital responsibilities! She is deprived of an opportunity to study and become independent!
What do the parents really think when they marry off their daughter at such an early age? (What I mean by early age here is 16-18, I just cant even think about being married off at 13 and 14 though it happens even now. So for now I will just forget it and assume that never happens!)
* For God’s Sake she is a KID! She doesnt know about the world. About life. About anything.
* No further education. Educating her till 12th and waiting for her to finish 12th for the sake of being ‘educated’ is not what I mean by education.
My mom and me always have these arguments over getting married at an early age!
She for one wants me to get married early (Hah! Me?) like say maximum 20. And I insist on finishing my course before I get married like say 22 or 23.
Mom: :O :O 22? 23?
See. Whats with this people and marriage? I cant blame my mom. Its the problem in the whole society. I loathe going to relatives’ houses because there will be grandmas who seriously want to know when they are getting me married! And I go all red with anger. Its tough to control your angry in such situations and smile at them!
They give me an option though.
Mom : You can always continue studying after your marriage, you know.
Me: What if the family that I get married to is against the idea?
Mom : Well, we wont just marry you off. We check and make sure of everything. Only then will the proposal be considered.
Me: What if they change their mind after the marriage?
Mom : -_-
Another Instance (old one , she has changed her stand now. And am happy she has) 🙂 :
Mom: Why do you people actually wanna complete your course before your marriage?
Me : So that we can be financially independent.
Mom : Well, life is not all about a job for a girl. The most important thing in her life is family.
Me : Thats true. Even I agree. And who said I WANT to work without fail? I would work only if I felt so. I dont study because I wanna work. I study because I wanna gain knowledge.
Mom : You would have your husband to support you. I actually see no point.
Me (all geared up) : God forbide, What if at some point of life there is no one to support me?
That was it. My mom went all angry, scolded me for saying something this bad and gave me a lecture about how am not supposed to think of such stuff and all!
Me (ofcourse in my head) : WTH? Talking about it doesnt mean its gonna happen. And we have to think about all these situations. Its not like once you are married everything is fine.
So see the point here? Since my mom is not here I can talk. Lol!
Life is not going to be smooth. At some point of time when you dont have any support from any people, what are you going to do? You cant just quit because you havent got people to help you out. You have to stand up and face the world. And that is where your education comes into play. You have a degree you are on the safer side. Prevention is better than cure!
An ideal Marriage. Her own Family.
This is what all girls would dream of. Those are her biggest dreams.
Marriage is a new phase of life. Its a the bestest of a girl’s life.
Girls dream about their marriage. Thats just how they are and how important it is for them.
But when I look around me and try to understand what a to-be bride’s feelings might be, the perfect happiness is not what I see. There is no glow on her face. Its forced upon her. Why? Because if its late she is not going to get good proposals how much ever educated she is!
That is what I hate about South India. North Indians generally consider a girl’s education as a plus point in her. The more educated , the better! Whereas in South India its more of an AGE-BUSINESS! The more older you get , less is your chance for proposals!
Another aspect for considering a girl as a good bride is her family. If they are rich or not?
Is money all that matter?
And another point, Is she beautiful? – No? Not interested!
The girl cant choose. She cant voice out her opinions. But the boy can measure her beauty, money and character. What is she? A material to be brought?
The boy wants the girl to be beautiful. Even if the boy is not handsome, he wants the girl to be the most prettiest of all!
The girl cant decide against anything because she is got a lot to lose!
Its always the girl who is judged here!
How is that even fair?
Only if I ever had something to wash their heads off all this stupid beliefs and put some sense into their heads! Huh!
I am helpless! And that irritates me the most.
Lets all make dua to Allah, to give us all the best of men as our husbands who will love us for what we are than what we have. Who will lead us to Jannah! and make our everafter and hereafter beautiful! Aameen! 🙂
Let us all be good mothers and have a wonderful family with children who are best in their characters and iman! Aameen! :’)
P.S. I love you Mom though we are poles apart on our thoughts. I never talk to my Dad about these thoughts though! Hehe! I dunno why! 😀
P.P.S : My Bio teacher would be proud of me for applying Amniocentesis here ! 😀 😀