Work , war, Life

So, it’s all like hunger games, you see, said she.

‘I do not’, said I in reply.

‘It is always difficult to see what is happening to you when you are in the thick of things. It is almost impossible to be objective and pontificate while you are being tossed and thrashed against your will, feeling helpless and rather clueless.’

But there she was, the fountainhead of all wisdom!

‘ You know what your problem is’, she continued, ignoring my nonplussed countenance.

‘You immerse yourself in work so much so that you forget your surroundings. You ignore what is going around you. You refuse to pick up cues scattered in full sight and refuse to act on them.’

‘So, am I supposed to be working or being on some alert mode, like my cat, whose cat nap is proverbial?’

‘Both. Yes, don’t glare at me. Let me explain this to you’.

‘Have you ever known of an animal that has lost its sense of threat perception? Have you seen them put their defenses down altogether ever?

Do you see them going off their alert mode completely, perhaps not?’

‘Well, that is true I guess. They have be aware and alert all the time, they have too many threats to their life, don’t they?’

‘Now, tell me what makes you think that you are any different?

As in at your work place, at home, in different life situations, is it normal that there will threat to your current state of existence?’

‘Life threat, you mean?’

‘Nope, girl, threat to your position, to your chair, to your sense of comfort with your partner, maybe with yourself, to your state of mind, to what you hold close to you’ . Is it not natural for the other person to aspire for some part of that? Yes or no?’

‘Yeah, so?’

‘If so, would he or she want to claim it for self, what ever means?’

‘Possible, so you mean I was in some state of stupor?’

‘Yeah, unfortunately, that is the truth, you allowed this to happen by not taking control of the situation as it was playing out in front of you. You have done this earlier and have not learned the lesson.

The life situation, played it out again to you, and what do you do, like a dumb head you walk straight into the trap again!’

‘Seriously, if you are trying to coverup your incapability with virtues of noble intentions and sterling character, you may want to take a relook at what you stand for’.

‘Your primary job in life is to protect what you hold and grow it if it comes from truth.’

‘Defending your area, territory, position, your relation is your responsibility.’

Oh, my, you make it sound like a warzone!

“It sure is!!!!”

On a Detour

Wanna try?

Yes, said I jumping at the chance and joined a ride through the unknown.

The greenery unfolded as the solitary roads got us into landscape looking straight out of a picture book.

Fresh air, lush green on either side and water pools to boot, the ride was surreal to say the least!

I was stuck by the possibilities of a small detour and what it offered.

Wondering why we never take enough chances or effort to change, thus missing out on many opportunities for better life experiences, I thanked my friend for the ride to the unknown.

And discovered to my surprise places straight out of a verdant heaven so close to me, at an arm’s stretch.

What stops us from taking those ‘detours’?

Lethargy, fear or ignorance…..

What ever it be, it is time for the detour ,so I thought.

A detour sometimes, many times is a good thing.

Kanjiyyum puzzhukkum

Rice porridge with red rice, a nice coconut chammandi and some pulses cooked lightly with no masala, makes good food. So when you add some kondattam to it, well then it is a feast.

When advertorials present happy families crunching on packets of cereals, coated with sugar and chocolate and feeling so healthy and abundant, you are sometimes misled to believe that it is what is good food and good living is all about.

Packets of food lining up the kitchen cupboard, where all you need to do is to pour in to your bowl and consume it, children, adults and everybody else. And that is healthy living! Really!

What a cheat story that is?

My daughter asks me some times, ‘so all that bournvita that I drank, it was nothing but mere sugar, is it?’.

I don’t have an answer because as a young mom, ambitious for her kid, I had often coaxed her to have her bournvita, in the belief, then all will be well!

So I thought, or because every body seems to be doing the same, so I just followed it.

But readymade food has not found much space in my kitchen maybe because the weekly dosa batter, the alternate uppmas or the delicious piniyarams, or the many parathas, had still not given up their pride of the place on the breakfast table.

That helped hugely, I like to think.

Good food is simple, it is difficult to get that, like good life, which is better, the more simple it is….

Or maybe a good dress.

It is just that we get lost in labels and perceptions and appearances and find fun in sophistication or what is masqueraded as elite!

Strange that life principles are so fundamentally simple, yet we get lost in the maze of life, so many of us.. perhaps that is living.

Look at the skies

watch the butterflies

know the cries of the birds

the dance of the clouds

know mostly your body

and how it speaks to you

listen to your heart

her soft whisperings

her murmurs

and her many dreams

go walking by the long road

biking in the country side

sit down by the waters

listen to the ripples

the swish and swoosh

of the breeze

the trance of the trees

the search of the roots

light begins in your eyes.

Simplicity in attire: set mundu from Kerala, in pic, amma and valliamma Pic courtesy: achan

Coffee Sittings

If you could just sit

yes, just sit down

for a cup of coffee

here with the

dazzling blue skies

now turning orange

and then a fiery red

to the music of

Farukh Balsara

singing Love of my life

in the background

a few fire flies floating

a few crickets chattering

far away dogs exchanging

messages most pertinent

I would know

that this is true

that this will stay

like the lingering

fragrance

after mom puts that

sandalwood mark on the forehead

when the day looks bright somehow

though unsure of what lies ahead

or the thick smoke lines that form

against a North Bengaluru sky

when machine birds

go seeking new destinations

or when she smiles

stepping in to the sweetness

of cookies cooking and growing rounder

crispier and the air weighs down

the nostrils and seeps into the senses

then I will know

this is true

till then

it’s a mirage, just that.

If only you heard me once

You would hear me everytime

really

she smiled confidently

her bushy brows

arching in excitement

if only you heard me out once

just once

coz I am super addictive

even to myself

(so I see!

he wrinkled his brows

pulling at a beard strand )

well, it has been so always

you know what

she thumped her feet

stood up to face the window

(he looked at her silhouette

he sighed)

if you only you had the patience

the nerve

the compassion

the wisdom

(so, now it is on me

it always is!

he thought)

to look beneath the moods

read between my grunts and disgrunts -whatever

(what is she, Monica Seles!

crazy woman

so consumed of self)

to ponder over the depth in my eyes

my sights and my sighs

if you only took the trouble

to get up from that chair of yours

where you are glued

morning to night

to follow me to the kitchen

to the garden

to the cycling trips

where handsome men

stop and stare

at the pretty sight

me, of course!

you would have known better

perhaps you could have learnt

enough to hold a woman of mettle

in your hands, keep close to your heart

(I just came stopped by

and here she goes off on a tangent

best known to herself

my girlfriend should be anxious now)

but you, miserable poor heart

of little sense and zero sentiments

what would you know

how would you fare

any better with such laggardness

so go now, Sir

your girlfriend must be anxious

rush to her please!!!

hold on to what you have at least.

(footsteps receding)

The conflict between tradition and modernity in the female characters of Anita Nair- Sreelekha

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Nair

https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/entertainment/lounge/chinwag-with-anita-nair/articleshow/21383533.cms

https://fridaymagazine.ae/life-culture/people-profiles/anita-nair-writing-gives-me-a-sense-of-my-identit-1.2304864

Anita Nair is one of the most successful contemporary writers in Indian Writing in English. Her works present the reader a female perspective of events and incidents that unfold in human lives. The novels are also a reflection of mindsets of the Indian woman and show the various socio-cultural conflicts which significantly affect their course of action as they chart out their lives. It is interesting that the novelist is a product of her time and that she mirrors through her characters the angst and agony of the new age women, her struggle to balance tradition and modernity.

The new age Indian Woman’s devotion to family and her aspirations for self – dependence, her desire to uphold morality yet explore her sexuality, her timid approaches to self – exploration to growth and authoritarianism are reflected truly and authentically in Anita Nair’s Characters. 

 Nair’s characters whether it be Meera ,Kala Chithi or Shruthi ofThe Lessons in Forgetting , Akhila and her companions in the LadiesCoupe’ , Anjana in the The Better Man or the delicate Radha in Mistress, stand apart in her own space , facing the music of her life , carving her own niche’ , defiant, experimental and sometimes even temperamental.

Indian writing in English has never been so enriched with female characters so sensual yet so bold, so rooted in tradition yet so rebellious. Nair’s ability to stay rooted in the country which has its own cultural and social idiosyncrasies lends credibility to her characters.

The paper is an exploration of the variety of female characters so cleverly and so truly portrayed by Mrs. Nair that one just needs to look around to see one of them among us. 

In her second novel titled ,Ladies Coupe, ’Anita Nair depicts her female characters with an unmatched understanding of the inherent complicities in their daily lives 

Margaret is a house wife who devises devious means to rein in her arrogant husband. Akhila is a spinster whom one would dismiss as uninteresting but Anita Nair shows us the struggle that she is into to shed that abusive title of a lonely middle aged woman. Marikolunthu is symbolic of the maid who visits your home every day , of whose life you may have no interest , nor inclination to know about , in the novel she reclaims her small island of happiness when she overcomes the pain and stigma of rape and accepts Muthu as her own.

Janaki is the cosseted, cared for woman whom her son accuses of being spoilt . She discovers her love for her husband and joy in his companionship in her old age while facing the brutal verbal assault of her only son.

Prabha Devi redeems herself when she discovers and later masters her love affair with the swimming pool and its expanse of serene blue waters.

Sheela is the little rebel, who places her own identity at risk ,when she sets about to fulfil what she thinks is her grandmother’s death wish.

 Each of these characters wrestle with their destinies, their families , the society to achieve their share of self respect . The demands of tradition and society tie them down to lead vegetable lives until they are awakened by the need for self-assertion and independence which will make their lives wholesome and joyful.

Though Anita Nair refuses to be clamped down by the label of a feminist and though she espouses no desire to bring about a change in the society , her characters in Ladies Coupe’ do inspire an urge to explore ways for wish fulfilment, content and a general self – worth in the readers.

The protagonist of Anita Nair’s Lessons in Forgetting published in the year , 2010 , is a suave , corporate wife who builds her life brick by brick after her husband walks away . Suddenly, Meera overcame her niggling doubts as to whether Giri was in love with her or what she represented as she dutifully donned the cap of a devoted doting wife , an impeccable corporate wife. When Giri, wanders into the hands of a PYT leaving behind their two children, Nayantara and Nikhil , Meera takes up on herself the role of the‘ protectress’ of the family which included her own mother and grandmother. Meera learns to stand on her feet having taken up work as JAK’s research assisstant .She tries to move on but she is haunted by guilt when she finds herself enjoying the attention of men like Rishi Soman and JAK.

JAK and Meera are two consenting adults who discover that they could give each other company and a shoulder to lean on .JAK’s mother , Sharadammal is heartbroken when her husband chooses to lead an austere life as a sannyasi. Later she fights the feeling of defeat by joining for B.Ed and then chooses to marry a quiet Physics teacher and move abroad setting up a new life for herself. 

Kala Chithi ,JAK’s aunt is a woman of  courage who cuts off her long burdensome plait and gifts it to her husband while walking away from his life. She could not stand the shame of having to share her husband with another woman. Smrithi is JAK’s daughter who in her youthful rebellion reduced herself to a tattooed apparition. In an attempt to do something meaningful , the young Shruti seeks to end to sex determination in a remote village in Tamil Nadu, Minjikappuram . However the brutality of the village thugs reduce her to a vegetable state.

The women in the Lessons in Forgetting are driven by a need to be assertive and be counted. They do not let the practices or beliefs in tradition and rituals tie them down. Instead they fight to retain their self- respect under the most demanding circumstances. Anjana in The Better Man is a long sufferer of an unhappy marriage . She had given up all her hope of marital bliss until she met Mukundan , whose gentle , sophisticated ways first intrigued and then enchanted her. Anjana is the one expresses her desire to Mukundan though he is reluctant to take such a step .Radha in the novel, Mistress is a sensual woman bonded in marriage to Shyam who is an uncouth boor to her . It is with Christopher that Radha realises love that is intensely passionate. Radha’s revulsion to Shyam and later her decision to learn to love him following her break – up with Chris adds a new dimension to her character .

India as a country exists in different time zones and the women in the country have the onus of upholding tradition and marching in tune with modernity. It is challenging and difficult .The female characters of Anita Nair balance the values of tradition and modernity in an effort to strike a fine balance between the two. The women seem to draw strength from the tradition and society they belong to even as they try to find self- expression and their individuality. Anita Nair’s characters seem to forever struggle for reinstating their self-esteem against all odds and it is this journey to self-realisation that makes them memorable.

References :

V.Chandra: Journey of Self –discovery in Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe’ Dr(Ms)Rathore,

Manjeet: Images of women in media and literature : Journey from DifficultDaughters to Desirable Daughters

Ms. Barnes Anjali : A Comparative Study of Shashi Deshpande’s and Anita Nair’s Feminism Blog : PeporoniInterview published in The Hindu Literary Review , 2004

Issac, Sithara: Ladies Coupe’ : A Voyage of Rediscovery for AkhilaSarna, Navtej: A Sisterhood of SpaceS.

Suganya: Rupturing the Wedding BondMathiaparanam

Poornavally, R. Saraswathy: Towards Self – Discovery: A Comparative Study of the Lead Characters of Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe’ and The Better Man

Ps: published on www.academia.edu.com

Skywards

I love you, she told the sky

and he blushed deep red

his cheeks now crimson almost

he looked down and a tear dropped

falling on her crystal clear cheeks

it spoke stories of yonder

the teardrop on the cheek

shining pure diamond like.

Upward faced she threw her hands

the sky bent in

for one graceful embrace

it’s a beautiful world, she said

what you are seeking is seeking you,he said.

in silence they stood

a few birds flew

the green grass grew

life is what you make of it

they held hands and looked at each other.

PS: Let there be love

Living to learn

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