Thursday 18 May 2017

Coming home

It has been a year since I last visited Chennai. You know how it is! When one is away from one's home (now, which one is this? I have three - the home where my mom is, my husband's home and my home in Goa) - I would call it the Chennai home, the place where I grew up, studied, loved, lost and finally left after getting married. Well, staying away from Chennai makes me yearn for it - pining would be a strong word, perhaps longing would fit - Chennai in my imagination is all mellow and soft with edges burnt with the flame of nostalgia and preserved smells like a template. I go ooh and aah and let out sighs and sounds of emotional outbursts to the great amusement and anger of my sibling who finds my gushing a bit above the prescribed limits. I don't mind those admonitions feeling only happiness and loaded sentiments.

Then the heat gets on to you - First it touches you, you brush it off; Then it spreads across, smothering you, you try to ignore it; It coerces you to say it, I suppress the words;

Finally, I spit it out - "It is so hot! Goa is not so hot!"

The entire bubble of emotions and nostalgia goes away, Woosh! Then another wave of nostalgia fills the gaping hole of the previous one - Well, this wave is the grand narrative of heat nostalgia - Of how it used to be hot those days and we did not bother but now the heat is unbearable and that we have become creatures of comfort and that we were better off without internet, blah blah and that we read and played and ate chilly-*^%$ing-mangoes! Ah! Have you experienced nostalgia fatigue - where one nostalgia replaces another and finally you wonder whether the reality that you are living is much better.

Coming home is always lovely - until your imagination wears off and you itch to get back to your regime and routine.

Assessing my states of mind sometimes I wonder what is the home that I am longing for - this is a perennially running question in my mind - whether home is a place, person, emotion or imagination and I wonder whether I will ever get an answer.

I wish it was as simple as clicking 'Home' on Facebook and watching the people on your list ranting, raving, expressing and lying.

Monday 1 May 2017

The taxi ride

It was balmy and mellow January evening. If you had grown up hearing, "Chennai has only three seasons - hot, hotter and hottest," then this evening would have put that statement to rest. There was a nip in the air with the hangover of Christmas and the dawn of a brand new year. The year was . . . never mind! Sita was looking out of the taxi's window and thinking of a time when she wore pinafores and sported a pixie. She remembered the name, 'Vinit' distinctly. How could she forget that name which was always hounding her during her classes, in her History books and by her friends and his who were constantly hooting his name when she passed by. The taxi-driver honked and Sita not the one to let go without a conversation, started talking to the driver.

"Where are you from?"


"How long have you been driving the taxi?"

"Five years."


"One boy. He is quite smart. he wants to become a Collector when he grows up."

"That's wonderful."

The conversation stopped mid-way when the taxi reached his house. He was waiting. Sita was seeing Vinit after twenty years! A grand rush of a giant wave of nostalgia hit her. She did not know whether it was the same for him. He greeted her and seated himself in the front, next to the driver.

"For *&^%'s sake, we are meeting after so long and you occupy the front seat and not to the place next to me," Sita fumed but smiled when he politely asked her how she was. "I am fine. It has been a long time, no?" "Yes, almost twenty years," Vinit mused. It was quite evident that the same rush of nostalgia was hitting him as well but he effectively controlled himself while directing the driver to the restaurant which was in a beautiful location.

The restaurant situated next to a water body was a lovely place especially when one was washed in a wave of colliding pasts and presents. The seating formalities done, the pace was awkward. Sometimes when one has been out of contact for long, starting and continuing a conversation becomes uneasy and stressful.

"What would you like to order?"

"Some starters and a cocktail perhaps."


"So, how are you? Tell me everything since the time you left school," started Sita.

"Where do I start?" answered a smiling Vinit.

While the details of the bygone was shared and the concoctions were being downed, it became apparent to Sita that Vinit had not changed much since the time she knew him. It was surprising to her that this evening was the first time they had spoken comfortably and long. In school, it was a brief exchange in corridors save the one time when Vinit directly approached Sita just as she was preparing for an exam and trembling asked her, "What did you ask my friend?" Sita finding herself in a quandary quickly hushed Vinit away mumbling something about the exam in a few minutes.

"So, do you like the food?"

"Yes. Not bad."

It was time to leave and the same taxi was waiting for Sita and Vinit, who insisted that he will see Sita home and return in the same taxi.

This time Vinit sat next to Sita. The evening with its coolness and the sugary drinks stirred Sita's insides that the moment Vinit's body slightly brushed her's, she felt strange sensations that started from the pit of her stomach. She was dizzy with pleasure for a man who was by and large a stranger during her school days and with whom she just had the first 'real' conversation. Perhaps January's balmy evening was the mischief, she bemused.

Without thinking, in a husky voice, she whispered, "Vinit, I feel like holding your hands."

"Hold it then."

Carefully and gently, Sita interlocked her fingers with his. Silence. Sita first gently began to knead Vinit's fingers, building the pressure gradually. Vinit was squirming and pressed his body next to Sita's. With the pressure of Sita's fingers on his, Vinit, kissed Sita on her neck gently. The bodies speak a different language under the thrill of building pleasure. Vinit had started to breathe heavily whispering, "I still love you, Sita. I wish you were mine." Sita silent yet speaking through her fingers.

The taxi-driver could not fathom that the girl who had been talking so earnestly with him a couple of hours ago, was a different woman now - those types which indulge in heavy petting in the taxi's back seat.

The taxi had reached the bend of Sita's home. It was time to say goodbye. Both Vinit and Sita knew that they might not meet again.

Some taxi rides are a concoction of past memories and present desires, bemused Sita as she stood waving to Vinit as the taxi whirred to life after dropping her.


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