Friday, November 30, 2007

the baby at play

Kids love me and I love them. Specially the really small ones, who just learn to walk and say a few cute words. They take to me easily and I am often playing around with them or checking out their toys with them and giving them superman rides (where I lift them horizontally and run about). After some time, they love me with their heart and follow me around.

My niece clings to me, rather she thinks my whole purpose in life is to carry her around. She sees me and walks towards me with arms raised, sometimes smiling till her eyes disappear. I heave her up and perch her on my hip and after a minute place her down in a different spot. She loves being carried and holds out her arms to anyone who even looks at her. Adults, the suckers that they are, get carried away with a chubby toddler walking towards them, imploring to be carried. She’s kind of heavy, unlike my friend N's kid.

This 2 year old little girl now is like a fairy princess. Tiny, dainty and fragile looking, she is a light weight pretty baby with the most beautiful eyes. Again this baby too comes to me like a magnet. While all other babies are busy dancing and pulling off things, this one insists on being in my arms and playing with my hair. Except for the time when we were all sitting very formally in N's mother's very formal drawing room solemnly discussing about N's husband's accident with his male colleagues.

The little one tiptoed to me and climbed on my lap. I held her making her comfortable. She turned around to play with my hair. Then something else caught her attention. My chest. She looked, then placed a hand on my breast and squeezed. I moved her hand away and tried to distract her, noticing the men trying not to notice. She gave me a hurt look and placed her hand firmly again. I gestured to her mother, N giggled happily and ignored my murderous glances. The baby went on with her exploration. Then N's mother, bless her, noticed the struggle, and tried to take the baby away. The baby cried holding on firmly now. Everybody turned openly to watch the circus. I was mortified. Not knowing if I should let her be with me playing happily with my breast or let her be snatched away kicking and screaming.

Finally the child was carried away and I tried to regain my dignity. All was not lost but still… what a child can reduce you to is not funny!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

the tag

I am amazed at the confidence people have in me. With such a bad record of doing tags, I still have them coming in once in a while. Thanks guys. Two people tagged me lately. Asuph and Neville. I think it's the same tag. If I am not mistaken, it's about defining what I think constitutes a good writer.

I think I will go a little off track from the tag and write the way I see it. Firstly, my taste changes time and again. At different times, I like to read different authors, different kinds of books. Of late I am trying to get back to a lost habit of reading.

As kids, we read a lot. The best luxury or relaxation indoors was reading. Of course, we read outdoors too. Till my teenage years, I hardly read any Indian writers. From Russian to Japanese to English writers, from the classics to the modern, I read them all. What probably fascinated me most were the stories, the settings, the emotions and then the way the English language was used. Every writer set his story in a world much apart from my own. I perched myself in the midst of the different cultures, the times, the situations and the places. They were all alien and I was hooked.

At home, dad subscribed to Illustrated Weekly which I have no memories of except it was a large spread, then there was Sunday, and Reader's Digest which though still in circulation today has changed greatly in quality and quantity. As a kid too, I loved any kind of gossip and junk reading but there was a conscious effort to never spend money buying them. While travelling when others picked up a Stardust or a Femina, I would pick up a Reader's Digest or a India Today. I wonder why...

Slowly I discovered Indian writers writing in English. Writers setting their story in their regions which were familiar yet surprising me with local flavours. There was so much romance and mystery, sometimes the simplicity would move me to tears, sometimes the complexity and profoundness would leave me perplexed. For years I explored the Indian writers genre... writing from all parts of the world, and all corners of the country. Writers ranging from BC to the current times.

The wave of feminist writing was blowing subtly and I went on to read Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and the likes, spellbound. The strength, the conviction, the power, the beauty of their writings, were making me a new person. While the volumes of 'women writing in India', most of them translated into English, opened doors to the unending marvel of discovering the minds of women with a feminist bent of mind. Not in the bra burning attention grabbing way, but these were women who realised what it meant to be a woman, how different, difficult or easy it was living in a world with men alongside. Women who were conscious of what they wanted and how to get it.

Also native American literature with its rich culture fascinated me. Their larger than life beliefs, their names, the origin of their names, it was all fiction meshed with real life, history kneading into the present day.

Today I don't read as much as I would like to. The same books that raptly held my attention earlier no longer interest me. I have lost count of the number of books I have started and not finished in the last two years. Just a miserable few have made it till their last page in my hands. And then, the more I read, the more I realise how less I have read. Sometimes it scares me that I may just die without having finished all the unread books on my shelf. What an incomplete life it would be...

I don't know if this was how the tag was supposed to go, but having written this in two installments, I have gotten time to think and wonder why I have let a day pass without reading. Thanks guys, though I have rambled on, I really enjoyed this piece.