Friday, 29 August 2014

The Curious Case of 'CAN DO BETTER'.....

I have always been a ‘Can do better’ person. It is a person who innocently and implicitly makes fruitful promises but delivers only 80% or severely less. Right from my inception, I was looked upon as a promising entity that would grow up only to bring laurels to the family and possibly find the cure for cancer.  I was the answer or so they thought. But as is universally applicable to all expectations, this too was only a premeditated resentment and I proved it so by scoring an 88.71% in my kindergarten. The reward was a report card that screamed ‘Very Good.Can do better.’ and that marked my tryst with this mighty phrase.

It is funny how parents vouch on the genius of the fruits of their loins. The belief that their child contains this distinct quality, this miraculous caliber that can surpass every hint of brilliance available till date. Maybe it is just infinite affection but the fact is, it irritates the hell out of me.

I was always an average student. More outside than inside the classroom, I never posed a threat to the crème de la crème of my class. I was the student who forged her father’s signature on her chemistry term paper because she scored a 9/20 and I was the one who faked a blackout because the maths pre-board exam was a little too out of syllabus for my interest. Basically, I was the kid who spent a night with Onions stuck under her armpits because some enlightened idiot told her that doing so would bring up a fever which would be the perfect escape from the physics viva scheduled to be held the next day. The fever never happened. The viva voce did.  But through all my misdemeanors, I was always believed in, both by my family and my teachers. They would shake their heads in disappointment, look straight into my eyes and say ‘You can do better’. Their comical beliefs amused me but all I did was nod in affirmation.

Then I cleared an all India exam and entered one of the National Law Schools. To be frank, I was shocked and I still believe that the electronic device that checked the OMR sheet was infected by a bug. May be I was just plain lucky. Either way, it gave a positive reaffirmation to my family. It made them believe that I actually could do better. I continued my stint as an average student, was the opposite of Gandhi while writing papers but still the professors persistently told me how I could do better. It got so bad that I once just asked my dad as to why he believed so much in me. His answer was ‘Lord Hanuman forgot about his divine abilities because of a curse and had to be reminded of it. Once he realised his true potential, there was no looking back.’ My dad has a terrible sense of humour. 

So I decided to actually do better. I joined a law firm and attempted to genuinely do the best I could. I tried hitting deadlines, drafted the sexiest writ petitions in the history of High Courts and researched on the most mundane subjects entrusted upon me. The highlight is the fact that I did do better. For the past one week I was neck deep in this case of a thermal power plant giant and drafted the finest petition that my dying grey cells could come up with and I was sure that there was no room for improvement. I was at my very best and this is exactly why I was confident that my boss would love my work. So as I sat before him carrying around myself an aura of expectation, he said “This is good. Very good. But, you can do better.” I felt like a punctured puffer fish.

It is then that I realized that ‘CAN DO BETTER’ is a phrase that is one step ahead of me. Pleasing someone with my infinite potential should never be my forte. I should be pleased with myself and right now, I am.

I wonder how Hanuman would have felt if after realizing his true potential, he went to Lanka, allowed the Asuras to light his tail and then burnt the entire empire with the fire on his back, only to come back to a Sri Ram who would mouth out the words ‘CAN DO BETTER’.

May be I should ask my dad. 

P.S- September is my birthday month. Just saying. :D

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


The western lifestyle is a bad influence on our Indian civilization which is a beautiful rose. A beautiful rose which is a combination of many petals, where each petal is designed to stand for our supreme Indian culture, unique belief, traditional values, societal norms and declared taboos. Our lifestyle deserves to be called sacrosanct and anyone who transgresses our settled path is an evil black cat. We have an invisible wall around our nation, higher than the Great Wall of China that expels every western influence that attempts to trespass our moral lines. In case they succeed in entering our domain and affect our children, we continue to hold our guards up and declare our children as unworthy of our love. We are the greatest society in the world.

Our daughters are our own and their virginity belongs to us. It is her body, but it should be touched under our approval. She does not have the right to violate her body and violation it is because we as a society forbid sexual liberty. We have our moral codes, that may be archaic with no strong basis, but they are still our rules. Rigid and dominant rules. 

So, she broke the rules by letting a man touch her and liking the fact that he did. Love which as hard it is to believe happens without giving any value to society, religion, status, money or such important factors. We abhor such depravity, such lewdness. Sex is sacrosanct, subject to a condition precedent known as the holy matrimony and any violation of this supreme law is blasphemy. Love is unnecessary. Marriage comes above sexual liberty and we do not believe in the freedom of a human body.

We do love our daughter’s, we really do.  But it all comes with an added responsibility of letting them know that they are not anything like the boys. That their actions can bring shame, condemnation and disgrace. That they are like a piece of paper while the boys are needles. The paper will be the one to be torn, forever. But what if she wanted the man to touch her, well, that is just unacceptable. Her body belongs to her family, the society, the religion she blindly follows because we say so and God who is omnipresent only so that he can judge her for her sexual activities.

It is funny how much guilt a woman feels when she thinks dirty. Forget thinking dirty, it is funnier when you realize that you feel guilty even when you hold hands with someone you like. Holding his hand while walking on an empty road and suddenly letting go on seeing as much as a random tea stall. That is how it is and that is what we are shaped into.

All I am saying is raise your daughters in a way that makes them love their own body. Teach them that they hold the leash of their own destiny and that their decisions should always be there own. Let them know that their virginity belongs to them and if they want to save it till after marriage, it should be their own little divine choice. Tell her that her sexuality doesn’t belong to the society and that her body is her own.

But do ask her to make sure that her choices never make her regret. Now that you have done so, leave her alone.

P.S- Judge yourself not me for the thoughts you had about me after reading this little piece. J

Monday, 11 August 2014


It is scientifically proven that you can physically live only in the present. You can chip your nails all you want trying to dig out the past or fry some serious grey cells stressing about the future, but your body shall continue playing hockey with the present. No other choice man.

So now that we have established that we are residents of the present, I find it bizarre when someone asks me “Where do you see yourself in the next five years?”. It is the most baseless, mundane and garbage of a question in the history of questions. You are supposed to have a six by six vision into the future and know exactly where your life is headed to. Anything less and you are a disgrace. I have battled this demonic question through school, college, job interviews and conversations with the enlightened gentry, being the friends of my father. My every answer rebutted the previous one and my conscious hid her face inside a used paper bag. This question truly needs to be eliminated.

I really don’t know where my life is headed to. I don’t know where I will be in the next five years. Maybe I would be soaring in this lawyer profession of mine, or maybe I would be married with a kid on its way, or maybe, I would be in a hospital undergoing a colonoscopy. I could be anywhere, doing anything and living anyway. My present is all I have to fret about right now. Yes, right now.

Now I have reasons to substantiate my aversion to that question. The validation is that not once have I lived the vision I saw of myself five years back. In school, when Shiny Miss asked me where I see myself in the next five years, I told her that I see myself studying to be a neurosurgeon. Of course I said that only to make an impact, because 11th grade came and I opted for commerce. Then came law school where the same question was repeated and the answer this time was “I won’t be a litigation lawyer. I see myself working in a top tier corporate law firm”. Of course, I became a litigation lawyer. I can hear the universe trying to stifle a giggle. 

There is nothing wrong in not knowing where your life is headed to. It is OK not to have a plan. You are allowed to let life take its own course. You are fine! I try treating my present well and I prepare for the immediate future which my myopic vision can see, i. e ‘What clothes should I wear for the upcoming wedding of the senior I hate.’ or ‘May be I should start a recurring deposit to save some money because I need to buy an iPhone next summer’. Sometimes, just sometimes I try to go a little further by exercising 4 times a week because I know that this body of mine needs to be healthy to pole vault over the insane hurdles that the future has charted out for me.

The past five years have changed me as a person. I do not hold the same interests, I do not carry with me the same mentality and I have very less in common with the person I was five years back. I have evolved and I have learnt. I have become an upgraded version of me, with many bugs removed. I did not foresee any of this. I did not plan. I am comfortable with myself.

I am not the Planning Commission of India to come out with a five year plan. Come to think of it, even their plans rarely work out.

Why kill a beautiful present?

Friday, 1 August 2014


The church bell tolled thrice on a lazy afternoon at Sarzora, surprising the lone crow perched upon the ornate Iron Gate. Ambrose sat outside the cemetery, leaning against the moss covered compound wall unaffected by the crowd in black pouring out of the entrance. He freed the cloth tied around his balding head and wiped off the sweat trickling down his neck, now staring at the woman wearing a large black veiled hat. He was amused by her act of lifting the veil to dab away the tears escaping her droopy eyes, making sure that her fake eyelashes do not come off in the process. Must be the wife of the man whose grave I dug, he thought.

“Have you no shame, staring at women like that? Ambrose, are you deaf?”

Startled by this unexpected interruption, Ambrose looked up at the man wearing a white clergy robe bending down upon him. Why, of course, it was the fat priest of the Church. “A man like me can only afford such entertainments. Why father? You don’t like looking at women? Oh I forgot, you are a proud celibate.” Ambrose replied, squinting to escape the violent sun rays toying with his eyes. The priest wasn’t new to his verbal diarrhea. Calming his rising anger by squeezing the rosary in his palm, he replied “Here is your two hundred rupees. Even a baboon has more decency than you. Now leave!”. Ambrose stood up, intimidated by the composed stance of the priest but hid it soon with a sneer. “I heard that Mr. Dias from the house near the village hospital is on ventilator. He will die, no father? I will be right here waiting.” Ambrose said pointing at the ground “Call no one else but me to dig his hole. Two hundred rupees yeah? ”. The priest could do nothing but shake his head as Ambrose snatched the money from between his fingers and walked away humming an old Goan tune.

Daisy Villa was a hut. A dwarf of a house with just one room and a veranda, the right side of which was transformed into a makeshift kitchen. But for Ambrose, this small dwelling was a villa and he made sure everyone called it so by hanging an old Aluminium plate reading ‘DAISY VILLA’ on the barbed fence. Daisy, his mother, sat near the kerosene stove and was clearly agitated by its uselessness. She jolted as Ambrose dropped a black smelly plastic bag beside her.

“Old woman, I bought some fine prawns. There is a coconut left, yeah? Make my favourite prawns cooked in coconut milk tonight, yeah?”.

Daisy cocked her head as she said “Prawns? You wasted all that money on prawns? What about some kerosene to light this bloody stove! Ambrose, you need a woman to set you straight. You are 41 without a wife.”

Oh, how Ambrose loved to see her eyes blazing. She was all he had and all he would ever need. He cupped her pale face between his palms and blew her a kiss.

“Mr.Dias is dying tonight. I will visit the village hospital tonight to know for sure. This means I will be digging his grave tomorrow. The priest would give me two hundred rupees and I will get your bloody kerosene, yeah? And no! I don’t want a wife. I like this life of you and me.” Ambrose smiles on seeing Daisy soften. “Now I will go and chop some wood so that you can cook these prawns for me. Ok, old woman?”.

Daisy let out a sigh and lowered her head as she said “Ambrose, only you can be so happy on hearing another man’s death. Tomorrow when I die, I want to see this very excitement while you dig up my grave.”

“God doesn’t love you mother. You are here to stay forever” screamed Ambrose as he struck the log with an axe, splitting it into two.

That night after finishing a portion of the coconut prawn curry, Ambrose locked up his old Daisy within the safe confines of his Daisy Villa and made his way towards the Village hospital. The hospital was never a first choice of the rich landlords of Sarzora, who always went to town for treating as much as a common cold. It was either imminent death or an emergency that brought the affluent to the village hospital. Mr.Dias was one such case.  At 85 years of age, with 3 wives and 8 children, Mr.Dias was a piping hot subject among the villagers. For a twig of a man that he was, Ambrose wondered as to how he survived so long. Tonight, the hospital gallery was bustling with people wearing rich clothes and leather shoes. Ambrose caught hold of a yawning security guard and enquired “Is he dead yet?”

“Ambrose will you ever show some compassion?” the young guard replied.

“Oh please Louis. You and I know how this works. I come here and you tell me if someone will die or not. I go home and sleep, only to wake up for digging up another grave. These deaths are important to me.” Ambrose wasn’t new to such a reception from Louis.

Louis looked around and whispered “ Ok. I heard that they will remove him from the machine in half an hour. I think the man will die before midnight.”

“Thank God for another grave!” Ambrose exclaimed, “That daft bugger was anyway past his expiry date.” Poor Louis was left gaping at the retreating silhouette of his grave digger friend.

Morning came and Ambrose slept outside the cemetery compound while Mr Dias was being lowered into a freshly dug hole. The bell tolled thrice, yet again surprising the crow perched on the iron gate. “Hey Ambru! Here, take your two hundred rupees.” Ambrose grinned and raised his right arm, his eyes remaining shut. He opened his eyes on feeling the notes being pressed onto his palm and saw the priest walking away.

 “Any more deaths that need my digging, eh father?”.

The priest stopped, looked up for a few seconds as if waiting for some divine intervention and continued walking.

‘I must buy some kerosene for the stove. No, I will get a shawl for my old Daisy. That would finish off my money. I wonder if anyone would die today. Matilda’s husband had pneumonia, no?’ with a mind chock-full of thoughts, Ambrose made his way towards the nearest cloth shop. It was only by late evening that Ambrose entered his villa, with a cream shawl hidden under his dirty shirt. The lamp wasn’t burning this evening, leaving Ambrose annoyed because this only meant that Daisy had gone to their neighbour Xavier’s house, to watch Television. Ambrose took a deep breath and decided to lie on the veranda waiting for his old woman to come back. God! He was hungry.

Ambrose woke up on hearing Louis call his name. How long did he sleep? “I searched for you everywhere! I came home by 5, but you weren’t here. Daisy is in the village hospital. Xavier found her unconscious near the stove and rushed her to the hospital. Come now!”

The hospital wasn’t packed tonight and there were no rich clothes or leather shoes filling up the gallery. “Is my Daisy ok, Louis?” Ambrose asked, scared to look him in the eye. Silence was his only reply. Louis signalled the village doctor who walked up to them and asked, “Is he the son?”. On receiving a nod, the doctor looked at Ambrose and without a tinge of sentiment declared “Your mother Daisy? Yeah so she died. Heart attack. Sorry for your loss”. He tapped his shoulders gently and walked away.

Everyone watched as Ambrose dug out a hole. The grave digger, digging his mother’s grave. It was a vision, of course. Sure to be a sensational topic for discussion. But Ambrose was oblivious to it all. He kept digging, unaware of the sweat mixing with his tears. “Ambrose, only you can be so happy on hearing another man’s death. Tomorrow when I die, I want to see this very excitement while you dig up my grave.” Her words kept ringing in his ears. He tried to mute down the voices in his head by digging faster. Frustrated, Ambrose wailed as he fell on his knees and lay curled up inside the newly dug grave.

The bell tolled thrice and Daisy slept peacefully. No one stopped Ambrose as he walked out of the cemetery. “Want Two hundred rupees?” the village lunatic mocked, holding out two dried Eucalyptus leafs as Ambrose walked past him. Louis never saw Ambrose again and neither did anyone else. The village wondered till his story decayed. The church found a new grave digger.

Like the wax left behind on the desk, reminding us of a candle that once burnt, all that was left behind was a hut. The dirty aluminium plate hanging on the fence screaming ‘DAISY VILLA’.

P.S- Some stories are simple. Yet you write them because they are stories nonetheless. 
P.P.S- That beautiful house I saw in Varkala, was the inspiration. Also, for those who don't know, Sarzora is a village in South Goa. :)