Tuesday, June 24, 2008

World in my head,
I know you aren't real,
But you make me much happier
Than some real things do.
I don't take you to school
To show you to my favourite teacher.
I don't position you on my desk
Hoping visitors will see.
Sometimes my friends hear of you,
Mostly, they don't.
I didn't feel a rush of pride
When you were complete.
But I think you're perfect,
And perfect is a word I've never used
For anything else that I've made
And happen to be proud of.

You're my treasure trove, my fairyland,
My teenage romance;
You're the best part of my childhood
The future I hope for.
You're my favourite song
Playing to my favourite dream.
You're a drop of blood
From the reddest region of my heart.

I wish I could stay in you longer,
But there are voices calling me back.
Angry, feverish voices,
Growing steadily shriller
With each moment I linger.

They make me sick.
But I can't defy them...
Do you hate me for it?
Do you think I'm weak?

Don't hate me, my world,
That would shatter me.
You're the only one I can trust,
The one I can always turn to.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why don’t you listen to me darling?
You ARE aware that ‘mummy knows best?’
She’s the one who loves you best too,
Give your mummy’s mind a rest.

I hate to see you do what hurts you,
With the blind innocence
Of a mere girl.
I don’t expect you to know
Of all the troubles that may unfurl.
But I’ve been through it all,
Through it all,
And though it hurts me, I must say-
The world’s not a nice place my dear,
If you ignore me,
You’ll pay.

You know that I wanted to be a doctor?
But for it,
I would have to leave this city.
My father didn’t let me, he couldn’t.
I was his favourite, his “angel”, his “pretty.”
I reminded him of my mother,
I was 4 yrs old when she died,
He needed me to nurse him,
To make him smile,
To ease the hurt he had inside.
What did I do?
How can you ask me
Such a question?
It hurts my pride.

I gave up my dreams,
I stayed at home.
My silent screams
Never reached the ears
Of my daddy.
The thoughts of him finding out
How I bled inside
Were my greatest fears.
I am sure my heart
Grew quite brittle
With the salt of my unshed tears.

And now I see you toying about
With music, with drama,
When you should be
Giving your studies all you’ve got
To improve your scores in Biology.

You wouldn't ENJOY being a doctor?
I know you better
Than you know yourself.
This is merely a passing whim,
Befitting a capricious elf.
Not something a sensible girl
Like you should be indulging in.
Oh my sweet, wasting yourself
Is really the worst ever sin!

And what’s this crazed notion
You’ve got of late,
You don’t want to get married at all?
Well thankfully, as usual,
I can give you an example
Before you fall.
My own example.
What better proof
Can you ever expect to get?
You don’t know what I’m saving you,
You don’t know what it’s like to regret.

I didn’t want to get married either.
But my loving, unselfish daddy said-
‘If you remain a spinster for me
I’d sooner be decrepit or dead.’
So he found the perfect man for me.
Good heavens, why that cynical smile?
Have you…oh no that can’t be!
Haha, I was thinking for a while…
But maybe…umm…listen darling,
If you’ve heard any stories being told…
Stories of what?
Oh nothing. Nothing really.
Haha…I really am growing old!
These days the weirdest of thoughts
Keep flitting in and out of my head.
But whatever it is that kept me staring
At the ceiling for hours last night in bed,
Is nothing to do with fight I had
Yesterday morning with your dad.
That was nothing…nothing really.
Don’t let it make you feel bad.

But I want to protect you,
I don’t want my child
To even for once
Have to go through pain.
Say something sweetheart,
Don’t keep silent.
Have I said all these words in vain?
Say something, you MUST,
Oh can’t you see,
Just what it is
That your trust
Means to me?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Why I love Welham Girls' School

The first special thing about the 2008 trip was Simar Kaur Dhaliwal.

Yes, the bee-ootifully long, ludicrous and seemingly genderless name. Sahana was the first to notice it written on one the bedposts of our dorm. And of course, she didn't let anyone else get within a one-foot radius of it. I, lesser mortal tried for Kudrat Kaur's bed. She didn't have a middle name, but hey, her name was alliterative!

It's funny that I've started with the dorm. But the dorm actually played quite a significant role throughout our Welham experience. Last year, Sahana happened to have misplaced a slipper in the dorm. A perfectly normal incident. What wasn't so normal?
Sahana singing- "Sanath Sanath Sanath, sa na na na sanaaath..." in a popular marching tune.
Sahana dragging herself across the floor like a wounded soldier and crawling under beds while singing the aforementioned original composition.
Of course, it was quite normal for Sahana.
This year, she suspended herself between two beds and shouted out- "I am a Bascule Bridge" while the rest of wondered whether or not it would be a good idea to let her go up on stage that evening.

Speaking of going up on stage... we didn't get through the first round. I was quite sure we would. When by a scandalously unfair freak, my expectations and the results just narrowly miss out on coinciding, I do one thing. I cry. Unsettled by the sudden outpour, our group (including the accompanying teacher Mrs. Roy) thought of leading me away to the dorm, but we were told that we must assemble for dinner. Suddenly Sreeja muttered something, broke away from the group and rushed into the restroom. While Mrs. Roy looked bemused, our head girl explained calmly- "Actually miss, Sreeja is rather emotional." I felt flattered that my tears could actually spur on someone else's. We discovered later, that in the restroom, Sreeja was occupied in the intensely emotional task of washing her hands.
Anyway, our head girl is an extremely sensible girl who made a slight error of judgement. The only other blemish on her reputation is that in the past 4 months, she has been poo-d upon by a crow 8 times. The monstrous, pitch-black, bad-ass jungle crows of Dehra Doon left her in mortal fear throughout the trip.
But with Sahana, it's a completely different story. Sahana is a good soul, has a very sharp brain, is on the whole a WONDERFUL human being, but sensible isn't the word one uses in connection with her. Sahana took it upon herself to comfort me. In the middle of a comforting enough dinner, Sahana exclaims- "Nobody puts baby in the corner I tell you, NOBODY puts baby in the corner." There isn't any subtly hidden witticism in this. It's exactly what it appears to be- bizarre.

You know, you're probably thinking...this Sahana female, she's not exactly run-of-the-mill. You wouldn't think that you'd find another person exactly like her while away for a formal debate. Well, it's just our luck that we did. Nikita Gandhi from LMG.
Let me give you an example.
Sahana: "Have you ever noticed, that shoes which aren't being worn resemble open mouths?"
Nikita: "YEAHHHH...and the tongues are like, well.. tongues."
Both of them let their lower jaw unhinge till it gets to the point where their facial expression is too grotesque for public viewing.

But then, we discovered something that occupied all our jaws throughout the next few days. HUBBA HUBBA chewing gum!! We have a Welham tradition of discovering funny-named Chewing gum. Last year, it was Batook. We even invented a commercial for it. But Hubba Bubba beat Batook hollow. It's obnoxiously fat and noxiously purple. Besides, it was bought from a shop next to the gutter where I'd fallen in last year. If you insert a Hubba Hubba into your mouth, you will be swept over by a wave of sugar and chemical flavours. And in 10 minutes, you will be left with a very chewy piece of juice-less gum that doesn't seem to shrink in mass at all. Sreeja developed an instant love-hate relationship with Hubba Bubba. When the packet was brought out from our bags, she'd say- "AAHHHH...the smell is choking me!!" The next second she'd be grappling for a Hubba Bubba.

Sightseeing, which formed a sizeable chunk of the trip, also proved to be quite memorable. The year ’07, Tapkeshwar Temple was on our sightseeing list. Its main point of attraction is water dripping from stalactites. And you know, it needn’t have been as bad as it sounds. Our imaginations were fired, and we conjured visions of dim, shadowy grottos, the feel of cold stone beneath bare feet, silence broken by an eerily musical ‘drip drip.’ However, even a practical, unromantic soul wouldn’t have expected water everywhere- in shallow, murky pools- expect for from cement-coated stalactites that were positively crackling with aridity! Funnily enough, though the shrine's walls and idol appeared to be equally dry, its carpeted floor was wetter than the ocean floor. Add to it the fact that the shrine is blocked off from visitors by a glass door, and you perceive just how fraudulent Indian tourism can get.
The highlight of Tapkeshwar was definitely not the temple, no. It was an inebriated, pot-bellied Sadhu, who seemed to materliase out of nowhere and shouted out “Bum BUM Bole!”
Then there was the monastery, outside which was a lawn with a signboard saying- “Do not run and play on the grass.” I was laughing at way the message was framed when I suddenly noticed two 17 yr old boys from a school I will not mention, frolicking like merry little lambs across the lush green. I offered a silent apology to the person who framed the admonition- even if he didn’t have graceful grammar, he possessed foresight.
This year we got luckier. We discovered the quaint Meeting Point Café in Mussorie.

(Bob Marley WIHOUT dreadlocks :o)

A few of the personal, handwritten messages put up on the walls of the cafe.

It was while returning from Mussorie that we bought Hubba Bubba, on which we survived throughout half of the train journey. But considering the fact that the Doon Express was TEN HOURS late, we had to rely on other sources of entertainment. Cockroach killing took up a lot of our time. Yes, our compartment was infested with this small, pesky species of cockroach. I realised why they're the species that has lasted the longest so far. We could practically hear malicious little peals of cockroach laughter come floating to us from somewhere nearby but unidentifiable. Anyway, the Japanese fan Sahana bought from Mussoorie came to good use. We killed the buggers with it!
In fact, The Japanese fan was 'simply ripping', be cause it also gave birth to our Victorian tea-party. I was Lady Eunice Wollstonecraft-Weimaraner-Ghose-Bonnerjea (the last two due to trysts with Indian colonial subjects.) Sahana was my daughter, Constance (Connie) Wollstonecraft-Weimaraner. Sreeja was Lord Bolton Whatworthy, Connie's prospective husband. Our head-girl was Sreeja's retarded brother Eustace 'Billo' Whatworthy. Shikha refused to play, so in a flash of brilliance, we decided that she'd be the silent Masai boy that Billo picked up on a trip to Africa where he was bitten by a tsetse fly, thus rendered retarded. Mrs. Roy woke up to find us talking in this ridiculous clipped British accent (it was jolly good fun, old top!) and eating grapes with our pinkies raised.

Another source of entertainment was our 'Physical Graffiti' Wall. Sahana's skin. Yep, you saw right. If you scratch on Sahana's skin (and it doesn't need to be too hard), her skin swells up in very well-defined lines. and turns a furious shade of scarlet. A temporary tattoo, but indelible while it lasts. The first word we wrote on her was 'pickle.' And no, that is nowhere near as evil as we eventually got.

So yes, there are numerous reasons why we love Welham Girls' School. But it wasn't just one big charade as the aforementioned incidents might suggest.
When a bunch of girls have to see each other in their night-clothes for 5 days in a row, there's this bond that develops between them which isn't quite like any other. And if they were good friends from beforehand anyway, there's nothing better.
On the evening we had to leave, we sat at our favourite place- under the litchi tree,

to write out a 'thank you' card for Mrs. Roy, whose presence we really enjoyed. And there were a lot of other cards left, as we had got the whole stack along. So we decided to write thank you cards to each other!!! We actually made chits with our names on it, picked one up and a wrote a card for whoever's name we got.
And when we were leaving, we visited the Principal Mrs. Brar- one of the most likeable and dignified personalities I've ever seen. There was a moment when she told us she was looking forward to having us again next year, and all of us cried out in unison, with the same heartbroken tone- "We're in class 12!" I nearly cried again.
I hadn't realised just how attached I'd grown to the whole Welham experience. It was just 14 days that did it, 14 days with a whole one year gap in the middle. But 14 days of secret punning; of united appreciation of the unbelievable school food that prompted even calorie-conscious me to take dessert; of each person wringing her brains out over both the debate AND the quiz ; of discovering that small-talk with your History teacher is a far far more enjoyable thing than you could ever imagine it could be; of managing Sahana's antics and tantrums, and my emotional outbursts.....

Welhamz-We luv u yaaa....rok on..keep smilin...neva change..MUAZZZZZ

P.S- a)The word 'head-girl' hasn't been used for any purpose other than preserving her anonymity, something she values highly.

b)If you think I've censored some details of the trip, you're right.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Most people recall a moment,
Or an incident.
Like the time she first looked into his eyes
And lost herself;
Or when he, with a trembling hand
Wiped a speck of coffee off her chin;
Or together,
They bent over a sum in concentration,
Jerking up with a start and a flush
On feeling the soft brush
Of skin against skin.

But with me, it’s different,
With me memory plays no role,
For how can memory hold something
That has no form?
Yes, when I’m around you,
Colour, shape, texture, all disappear.
There is no motion, no time, or even space.
It's not as though the world is drained
Of it’s warmth
And reduced to a bleak nothingness;
It's as though all these things never existed.
But that does not bother me.
The only thing that matters
Is that you are here,
And luckily,
Right now,
‘Here’ is where I happen to be.