Monday, January 30, 2012


The walk to my aunt's house is short, yet it feels like the most interesting route one can take. I cross sweet shops, roadside barbers, a mosque, homes, rickshaws, dispensaries and a tube well crowded with young men lathering themselves with soap so hard that all you can see is the white foam and not an inch of the dark skin under.  As soon as I come to what seems like a clearing, I hear the bells ringing at the Kaali temple and cross the pond covered so densely with foliage that there is no way of telling if there is any water under, I know I'm almost there. It is no doubt easy to spot my aunt's house in that colony - it's the only house that shows signs of wealth denoted by fresh paint, and a car parked in the garage. It is also the only house where the man of the house sits by the window overlooking the street drinking his tea or not. It seems like he is always looking out of that window. Till date, I wonder why.

I love going to my aunt's place and will come up with any excuse to leave my grandparent's house and walk over there. It is also where I want to be when there is no power. Theirs is the only house I know with a generator where we can sit under the fan and watch TV while all the neighboring homes have people sitting by kerosene lamps fanning themselves desperately with hand fans and cursing that the power has to always go off right at the time of their favorite show of which there aren't too many to begin with. I also love going there because unlike my grandparents who won't feed me any junk food, there is an abundance of that at my aunt's place. She will also make those deep fried bread pakoras with a meat filling I love to eat so much with dollops of ketchup. It feels like heaven in my mouth and I savor it till all I can taste is my own saliva.

I love spending time with my sister. We sit on top of the winding stairs that lead down to an overgrown garden and talk for hours. She is much older to me but somehow we find common ground. I am jealous she has her own room in a home I would die to have. I can sense she will make strides in her life like no other women in our family.

In a house so full of fun, laughter and love, lurks shadows dark and ugly. They spring out of nowhere and grab me by surprise. They thrust their long ugly tongues inside my small mouth and I can taste bile rising up my throat. I'm afraid to venture near that window where I know he will cuddle me and shower me with his love in a way that makes me want to run far far away and never come back. The night I sleep over and yet am unable to sleep because my hand is in places that is beyond the wildest and darkest imagination of a little girl - I just shut my eyes tight and try my best to not throw up and wish and pray my aunt doesn't wake up.

My uncle dies a few days after my wedding. I hope his soul has not rested in peace.

Dedicated to all those little girls who are molested by family members and are unable to speak up in fear of...well, FEAR.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Growing Up in a Boarding School - The Journey Continues…

Having the house to myself, access to unlimited wine and streaming old Bollywood hits definitely requires a blog post. Especially since I've been on a hiatus. While the whole world (yes, US of A definitely considers themselves to encompass the whole world with their world series on everything) watches football ( I don't even know why they call it that...sigh!), I can actually hear myself think after what seems like a trillion years.

The songs currently playing are from my school days and recent Facebook pictures of some of my hostel friends have stirred in such nostalgia that I need to go back to the day when I heard I would be moving to another boarding school - a school that had swings, slides and a jungle gym. A place where I couldn’t speak my language freely or have to pray to Jesus every night was not my cup of tea. But most importantly, the fact that Pratt's playground was barren of any play structure, did not sit well with me. So, I was excited to leave Pratt memorial and head for Gokhale Memorial Girls School

It didn’t take long for me to make friends at GMGS. In fact, I found one while taking the entrance exam for that school – a fair and pretty girl from Guwahati who sucked at written Bengali as much as I did – Moumita Saha. Our journey at Gokhale began together – and what a journey that was.

I will always remember this school with fondness as most of who I am today was due to my time spent in those dormitories, corridors, dining hall and playground. Not to mention the ‘ghupchi’ and ‘gauri kund’ where some of us went to escape and share a few laughs. But I will remember this place mostly due to the “Guru Chela” fan system we had going. My first day at GMGS hostel, I was indoctrinated into this age-old custom of becoming a “fan” of a senior by Maitreyee. Too bad we didn’t end up inventing Facebook with its fan pages. Whichever senior I picked would become my “Guru” and I would be her “Chela” (disciple). My first "Guru" I remember was Tora Sinha who was sadly subjugated to my horribly ugly handmade cards and letters expressing my love for her.

Talking about letters - for some reason we wrote a lot of those in Gokhale amongst friends whom we'd meet on a daily basis. We'd exchange letters secretly, hide them in the folds of our socks (folding of the socks was considered fashionable) and hand them over while passing each other in assembly lines. I really don't remember what we could have possibly written and even though it seems extremely silly right now - it is something we devoted a lot of time to. It was probably the only way I knew to express myself. Till date I feel the same way. I am able to express myself better in writing than have a conversation about things that make me uncomfortable.

My love for the arts developed in class VB when our art teacher “Practish” gave me an 8 out of 100 and mocked my “view of a room” in front of the entire class. Apparently I had made no distinction between the walls and the floor and they were all painted in one solid color. My love for Hindi movies – specifically “Aamir Khan” developed right at the same time. It was the year of “Qyamat se Qyamat Tak” and a first in the history of our hostel when the girls united and forced our Matrons to take us to the movie theater to watch the movie. What followed were two dorms full of love-struck girls, listening to QSQT songs, hugging the little black radio on occasions and collecting Aamir Khan postcards. Yes, he was my first love who got me into trouble and I somehow found myself facing severe punishment in class for “dealing” with these postcards of images on Aamir hugging Juhi. I am still convinced though that our teachers wanted those postcards for themselves and Aamir’s cuteness was much discussed in the Staff Rooms.

I most certainly cannot complete my GMGS experience in this one post and I have this feeling creeping up on me that my "alone time" is about to end. So I do need to go back to drinking my wine, closing my eyes and remembering the good old days. More to come soon with pictures...I promise!