This and That

The site stats for my blog show me that “Monologues on Love” is the single largest search string used by people to locate ScarlettLand. Love should be all about dialogues – even silences are dialogues, did you know that? Why are people looking for monologues on something that grows in someone’s heart even as you claim it to be your own? Such quandries our souls are. Such milestones we seek, and half the times we do not even have a map.

On a side note, I have been on an extended break from work because Miss A is on her Easter break. The days are a blur of icecream, paintings (we have been buying canvasses and doing acrylics – the child has talent, I have ideas that I make her implement), walks around the hills and buying cutesy handmade jewellery. That last point there makes it almost certain that I have to go back to work (and writing) in the near future because expensive hobbies dictate that you keep your day job.

I am in the middle of two huge writing assignments and poor old Bloggy has been rather ignored. I plan to finish the “An Ode to Summer” series as soon as I wake up from the self induced sugar hit (read note about icecream above) and retail therapy. I plan on getting back to the blogathon sooner rather than later. Because I love you folks and all that.

Thank you for being patient and for commenting.  Makes my day, sincerely 🙂

Now excuse me while I eat some chips and watch daytime TV even as Miss A makes plans for a picnic in the garden.

Advertisements

Sigh…

So no one comes this way anymore other than 1 or 2 of my buddies (thanks Rajavel and Captain, you guys are awesome. And very kind to keep reading my ramblings)? Sigh.

And I thought we were friends too, all the rest of you :/

Random Observations On A Sunday Morning

Dear Lady In stilettos,

Why? 9:00 AM on a Sunday at the kiddy pool with a few dozen toddlers and kids running around barefoot in bathers. The floors are wet. The kids are either screaming their heads off or shrieking in delight. They do not see where they are going when they get out of the pool. So. PLEASE move away from them and wait outside in the coffee area. I am terrified that you are going to step on some chubby toes and unleash (more) mayhem. Also, if the owner of the said chubby toes pushes you into the pool after this incident, I will clap and cheer.  You have been warned.

PS: The stilettos are tacky. Metal buttons are passe. Just so that you know.

Regards,

The slightly paranoid woman sitting opposite you

Dear A’s Friend’s Mother,

No, my child is not a genius in the pool. She is good, but that is about it. Please, please do not keep telling me that she is doing superbly every time I look your way.  And, no, I am not going to return that compliment because your daughter looks miserable and you should probably wave to her instead of encouraging me. My child alternates between treating the swimming lessons as a torture test or a social outing depending on her mood. See how I didn’t use the word “Superb” or “So gifted” in that sentence?  Go on, try it now.

Regards,

The genius’s mother

Dear What-Were-You-Thinking,

I am an old fashioned sort of a person when it comes to kiddie fashions. I understand that swimsuit models look great in bikinis. Mostly though, they are grown-up women who get paid for sashaying and dancing around in skimpy clothes. Your daughter doesn’t look a day older than 7. WHY is she wearing a bikini? How about you say something about that garish nail-polish and lip-gloss? She is going to be a child for only so long, why would allow her to dress like an adult?. Childhood comes with a shelf date – did you know that? 

Sincerely,

Ms Very Concerned About You and Your Daughter

Dear Miss A,

Please swim. Listen to what your instructor is telling you. No, don’t wave to me and point out random people in the 4th lane on the right. Okay, you may wave but I really do not know why you are so excited about the swimmers in the far lane. Who is it? Is it a B grade celebrity from some TV ad – God knows you have great talent in spotting such folks.

Also, when did you learn to be so graceful? Perhaps, I should stop writing mental blog posts about the crowds and concentrate on you instead.

No, don’t wave again. Swim.

Love,

Mum

Peace

The “My best friend hurt my feelings” saga has (temporarily) ended in A world. The best friend wrote Miss A a letter that said this. I reproduce it here for you, word by word.

To A.

We are still friends. I am sorry. I guess I was very sad and hurt when you said I am mean. I am the type of person who needs time to get over things. Lets think positive then we will always be happy. Our friendship can never break. I truly didn’t step on your toe if I really Accidently did step on your toe I will apologise.  If you don’t want to play that’s ok. On E’s party we should Give her a surprise somehow. I hope we become Friends Again.

Happy Easter.

Love from your friend C.

The letter also had a picture of three puffles (you know what puffles are, I know you do) saying “We are proud for a reason”. Who are we to question such staunch declarations of pride!

Needless to say,  Miss A and Miss C hugged and made up.  When I picked Miss A up from school yesterday, she ignored me and walked past holding C’s hand.

“See that?”, the teacher said to me. “Things seem to be alright again, thank goodness”.

“It is all good now”, Miss A said to me. “Little girls have fights. Then they forget them.”

“Ahaa” I said. Mostly because I wasnt capable of a saner response.

“That is why we are proud for a reason”, Miss A added.

“How?” I asked. Again, see above note about not being capable of a saner response.

“Because, we are”, she said.

I am proud for a reason too. Words like forgivness, friendship, effort and reaching out come to mind. But I am not a green puffle (there are those that would say otherwise, of course) and hence I only smile instead of making such a declaration.

And my heart sings a little when I see two little girls who sit next to each other, in a corner at a birthday party, and giggle over their easter egg hunt.

The formula for peace follows us around.  All you need to do is walk slower and allow it to catch up with you.

So Pretty

We are back. Well I am, and you should be too. After mild flu, head-colds and an inability to string sentences together, self will now attempt to write again.

So, as it were, last evening found Miss A and I at the Mall with a rather particular shopping list. We needed to buy dangly earrings as a gift for friend Z, a going away present for friend D, and a puffle for friend E. The puffle needed to be an Aunt Arctic puffle (do not ask, really). The earrings needed to be pink. The going away present needed to be something that would make D think of her every single day.

We found D a travel diary. Two felt pens. Miss A fell in love with a magenta coloured sheep eraser (named Woolly – we name things around here) and Woolly was duly purchased.  The small incident of opening the diary to see what “every page” looked like also happened while I was paying for the things. A little talk on not opening people’s birthday gifts, no matter how strong the urge, was delivered.

The original idea of earrings was ditched in lieu of a hideous fluorescent metal butterfly. Z likes butterflies, Z likes fluorescent. Sometimes life’s jigsaw pieces do not fit better than this. Kind offers to play with the butterfly were turned down and the butterfly joined the now open diary.

The Aunt Arctic Puffle was found amidst much squealing. The Puffle was hugged (how else would you know if it was good enough!). More gifts for the Puffle (not Friend E) were bought. Apparently, there is a rule that you can never gift a friend just a puffle. Against the decorum of friendships, such things are. So more bright green stuff was chucked into the shopping trolley.

“I am hungry”, she announced after this expedition. So off we went in search of a cafe.

Along the way, we pretended that the cafe would have walked away leaving a giant hole in the Mall. The cafe, however, had not. Walked away that is.

“This is such a successful way to start dinner”, said Miss A. I agreed. Something to be said for things that stay. When they could, mind you, wander off.

Miss A stared at the waitress till I nudged her under the table. No, I didn’t nudge the waitress under the table. Thanks for thinking that.

As soon as she had left, I turned to Miss A.

“What was that about?”

“The waitress was so pretty. I am going to tell her that.”

“Aww, that is so sweet. You should.”

“I will”

“What are you going to say?” Questions are important. Read on.

“That waitress would look so pretty if she didn’t wear those glasses.”

“Umm, A…”

“And if she grew her hair. No wait, if she combed it nicely”

“Now, A…”

“And if she smiled a bit more…”

“Well, we cannot really say all those things, A.”

“In other words, Mum, if she had a different face and was more cheerful, she would be so pretty.”

Like I said, questions are important. We managed to side-step the urge to give the waitress this advice about a potential makeover, when she came back with our meals.

And just as I decided to breathe again, a little voice piped up. “You are so pretty.”

The waitress blushed. “Really?”, she asked Miss A.

Miss A nodded back solemnly. I stirred my coffee.

“Very pretty”, Miss A said.

“Thanks”, the waitress said, beaming.  A few moments of awkward joy ensued.

Then the waitress left. And Miss leaned back into her chair and said “I decided not to tell her everything. Just the pretty bit”.

Just the pretty bit. Everything else can wait. On a Thursday evening when you are having coffee with someone who offers to play with metal butterflies and hugs green puffles. Just the pretty bit.

Sick

Self is crook with a sore throat and mild flu. Blogathon will resume once I am better, I promised 30 posts – and 30 posts there will be 🙂

The 100th post…

Yesterday was when I posted my 100th post, would you believe it? So, I know I am slow (with blogging I mean, sheesh!) and I took my own sweet time to reach the century mark but tis a milestone anyway.

When I reach milestones, I think (I am aware that for most folks, it is the other way around, the thinking happens first). Why do I blog, I asked myself? This could also have something to do with the fact that no one else has ever asked me this question.  Now, now, it is okay, come back, all is forgiven.

I blog because a lot of my other writing is fiction. Which means, I have to take great care to follow the science behind the art. No endless meandering. No random musings. No writing paragraphs and paragraphs about the bends in the road. In other words, I need strict discpline and I have my work cut out for me. Bloggy, on the other hand, is my space to write about the paint drying, should I wish to do so. A delicious little luxury, an exercise in self gratification, a canvas for thoughts that can be as raw as they like because we are amongst friends here.

I blog because I like writing about Miss A. Simple as that.  Unlike people who take naturally to parenting and always end up  knowing what to do, I am still finding my way around this gig. And it feels better to put my apprehensions out there and have someone comment on their take of the situation. Advice – be it a pat on the back or a gentle email from a kindred soul helps me feel better about my parenting. It does take a village to raise a child. Let no one tell you otherwise.

I blog because I love writing. I am not good at a lot of things. You couldn’t get me on the sports field if you tried. I cannot run marathons, I cannot paint, I cannot sew, I cannot sing, I cannot play any musical instrument.  But I would like to believe (possible self delusion alert) that I write well. Yes, sometimes I do read the stuff I wrote a while ago and cringe. That however doesnt stop me from writing – and that to me, is a sign of passion for this fine art. I am happiest when cooking or writing or reading – and I cannot imagine my life without these things.  But writing gives me a high like no other and therefore it is my lifeline to sanity. Bloggy is my window to that lifeline. My laptop has a Window to that window. So and so forth. Such puns, one makes, when one doesn’t even try.

I blog because blogging gives me the courage to be honest about my thoughts. My feelings. My shortcomings. The things I like. The opinions I have. It is like sitting down with a group of friends over a cup of tea and talking about things that matter. We are never too old for that kind of comfort. Unfortunately, you do not realise that till you are old enough to see what you left behind.

I blog because blogging has introduced me to some of the awesomest friends ever. People that are kind, funny, smart, good writers and amazing listeners, people that share my blog links and praise my words, even though they are such good wordsmiths themselves. People that remember my birthdays and send me lovely emails and encourage my work. People that kindly read my drafts and offer advice with such startling genorosity. People that are now more than just DSS/SL/Facebook identities. They are real friends in a flimsy world.  A priceless gift for having a blog.

To give up blogging would be to cancel my membership to such an enriching experience. So, self shall blog. And to every one of you that stops by and comments and sends such love and friendship my way – thank you. Sincerely. From the bottom of my heart.

A 100. Who would have thunk it? Have a drink on me. And pass me some tissues, please.

Scarlett

Landmines..

There are landmines in your heart, you sidestep them all the time. You just do not know this.

Her face is crumpled, her hair is a mess.  There are tell-tale signs of sticky tears on her cheeks. Her lunch is uneaten and she doesn’t remember where she put her Maths books.

She doesn’t say much when you pick her up.  No sparkle in her eyes, no hug when you ruffle her hair. No excited chatter about school happenings, no giggles of lunch time memories. Just a sad silence. A little-girl-sad silence. The kind of silence that leaves icy fingerstains on your heart.

You leave her to change into her pyjamas and step out to get something from the car. When you come back, she has put the pyjamas on but she hasn’t changed out of her school uniform.  She cuts a forlorn picture in her mismatched attire, she is neither here nor there. Half dressed, half ready. Half girl, half child. Half sad, all lost.

Between giant sobs, the story comes out. Of fights with the best friends. Of things said that she didn’t mean. Of learning that when you allow someone in your world, they have every chance of hurting you.  And yet, the only sane option is to open the doors and throw out the keys and welcome a parade of love and friendship and hurt and trust into the streets of our heart. Because that is how we grow. And live. And find our way around.

She climbs on your lap and cries, all the while telling you how sad she is. And then something inside you churns and crushes and whooshes. A primal wave of love, a raw force so fierce that you are momentarily astounded at this depth of feeling.  You try to heal her aching hurt but she is still crying over the best friend who said she was best friends no more. In another time and another place, you have been there. With scraped knees, muddied school uniform, pig-tails askew. With hot burning tears hidden around the corner of your eyes. And so you know how much it hurts. And that primal wave drenches you again.

So you hold her tight and  you almost tell her she doesn’t need friends who dare hurt her. But instead you end of talking of how friends share secrets and make you laugh and hold your hand on the way to school library.  How friends are someone who will wait for you when you have not finished packing up and go with you when you need to go to big locker room. Someone who writes “hAppY birthyDAY” with sincere flourish on your  birthday cards and remember that you like pink diaries the best. Someone who will save you a place next to them at the concert and offer you a half eaten lolly. That is kind of the deal with this gig.

“Friends sometimes hurt each other”, you say. She sniffles.

“Friends don’t always do everything you like. That is kind of the deal too”, you say.  She says nothing.

And then you talk of the things that _really_ matter. Like hugs and secret giggles and the friends that save you seats and ask to share your sandwich and offer you a candy in return. 

“It is like a package deal”, you say. She looks at you.

“Sometimes you just got to forgive them”, you say. And in your mind you are saying “I am not forgiving anyone that dare makes my child cry. Ever.”

“Sometimes you just have to think of the nice things your friends did for you. It helps you forgive them the bad.” And in your mind you are repeating this mostly for yourself, because you need to remember that the best friend is a child too. And you do not feel like being an adult at the moment.

She smiles a little. One ray of sunshine on a frosty window-sill. So you call the best friend and let her talk. They talk for an hour. And then they hang up a bit happier. The next day at school, you notice that the best friend is still not “as best as before”. And those landmines in your heart pulsate with life and ask to be noticed.

You bend down and kiss her goodbye. And tell her to have a fabulous day. You watch while she runs to catch up with the best friend, who has forgotten to wait for her again. You tell yourself that life, at its best, is fair or unfair on a whim.  That she will be fine because you are going to see her through this. That friendships flourish and the heart will know and the heart will heal.

You drive off feeling like the child you once were. Your knees hurt, your shoes have dirt on them and you have burning tears behind your eyes. But when you catch her looking at you, you wave and smile.

So you walk off, one step at a time, looking upwards and then in that one moment, you realise that those landmines won’t hurt you if you refuse to acknowledge them.  Perhaps the only way ahead is by not looking down….

Mango Summer

Let us keep going with the flash fiction for a bit, shall we? Another story in 600 words.

Sharada Kaku, as she is known in the neighbourhood, lives next door to us in one of those old whitewashed bungalows that always seem to have a veranda, a swing and a perfunctory mango tree. The mango tree has blossomed abundantly this year and the branches are bent with the tart bounty of green mangoes. We eye them greedily as we cycle past but as always, Kaku’s errand boy Ratan stands as a sentinel underneath the tree and glowers at us if we dare pick up even the orphaned and slightly bruised fruit on the ground nearby.

 Ratan takes his job very seriously – last week there was one of those sudden summer thunderstorms that brings the washing lines down and scatters dust, young boughs and loose tiles all over the place in a mighty fury. We huddled indoors waiting for the storm to pass but Ratan stayed by the tree on his rickety stool guarding the mangoes.

Sharada Kaku doesn’t like us children – she makes sure she tells us this whenever she spots us; this is funny because she lives alone in that huge house and has no one to talk to other than Ratan. She doesn’t go anywhere and she doesn’t invite people over. She has all the time in the world, if you ask me. She isn’t nice to Ratan either but he doesn’t mind. Ratan has taken to eating his lunch under the tree because the birds attack the fruit when he is away. Kaku and Ratan count the fruit every evening with much argument. Ratan’s indignant voice and Kaku’s annoyed tones waft over the humid evening breeze because they can never agree on a total.

Kaku has planned on harvesting every single mango from her tree this year. She is going to sell them to this person in Goa who will then export this fruit to far-off countries. Kaku is going to make so much money from this that next year she will have not one but two guards for her fruit trees. She will go on a vacation too – and Ratan will be in charge of the house when she goes away.

There is another storm predicted for today, a big one too. The winds are bringing down the power lines and leaving trails of dust along the windowsills. The raindrops are coming in plump and thick and the sky is sooty black. Kaku watch the storm from her window and Ratan from the garden – but they don’t budge. A bolt of lightning makes me jump and I run to the window to latch it shut when I notice Ratan dashing around their yard, picking up the mangoes that are falling to the ground even as a giant clap of thunder rolls nearby. Kaku is admonishing him that he is never vigilant enough.

 As I watch with mounting horror, a massive branch creaks and snaps and lands to the ground with an ominous thud, engulfing Ratan and his bounty. A muffled scream fills the air and Kaku opens the door and races to the spot even as Ratan’s shrieks from underneath the branches get more painful.

 The rain is now coming down in giant sheets and the neighbours are gathered around as someone calls for an ambulance. Kaku stands drenched to the bone, calling out for Ratan with a shrill urgency to her voice.  “He is going to be fine, the ambulance is on its way”, someone tells her.

“The mangoes”, Kaku screams, “Let me save them before the ambulance people try to steal them off me”.

Sweet Nothings

Here is another writing exercise. A complete story – and it is not even 400 words long 🙂

“Your tests say you have diabetes”, Dr Mason starts off gently. Greta sits plump, stoic and unmoving even as he hands her pamphlets and starts telling her about the importance of regular blood-tests.

“There is no cure, Ms Fringers, do you understand?” he asks, this time with more emphasis. “This disease can be managed and you can have a very normal lifestyle if you follow a few simple rules”.

 Greta says nothing in response. Instead she stares wistfully at her watch. Then she nods in the direction of the doctor and walks back to work through what she assumes are teeming crowds of people who don’t have diabetes and therefore already have normal lifestyles.

Back at her little bakery, Greta gets to work. She creams eggs and butter, measures out the flour and sugar, whisks cream and melted chocolate and bakes the daily order of cakes with precision and with the same trademark stoicism that she demonstrated before the doctor a while ago. As she waits for the cakes to bake, she stares idly at the generous testimonial she has given herself.  “Greta Fringers Bakes The Best Cakes Ever Tasted”, the carefully arranged wooden lettering in the side window proclaims.

The dark chocolate torte comes out of the oven first. This is when she would have normally cut herself a generous slice and done a taste test. The best cakes in town need verification from a master baker like herself.

“Insulin dependency is to be avoided at all costs; you do not want those complications at your age. No more sugar, you understand?” the rambling doctor had said.

Greta plonks the obscenely decadent cake in the display window without cutting herself a slice – the cake looks alluring whereas the wooden letters next to it suddenly look aged and weather beaten, much like her. She leans over to clean them when a sudden gust of wind knocks the wooden letters over in a jumbled heap. She hurriedly rearranges the letters and goes back to making more cakes whose taste henceforth will be part memory and part prediction.

 It is much later as she is leaving for the day that she notices the sign that she had hastily resurrected earlier in the day – “The Best Cakes Never Tasted – Bakers Great Grief”

Previous Older Entries