The Chronicles of Miss Shola

The blog's epitaph: Miss Shola came and went as she pleased

Life should be a Sunday

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#1 Some days just turn around, look you straight in the eye, and with a dead pan expression say to you “who told you it’s going to be easy”. I met six such last week, and tried to run away from them as fast as I could. I didn’t get too far and can still hear the collective echoes of their wicked laughter.

And no, the poem below doesn’t offer hope. It doesn’t tell you that you will be able to escape from that laughter and that it’s all going to be fine just-watch. It tells you that this is how it is and will be, so be happy when that rare day comes along that smiles at you because her brothers and sisters may not be as well-mannered.

The poem also took me to Stephen Fry and I am looking forward to reading more of him, especially his collection of poems The Ode Less Travelled (such a cool title!) that this is a part of.

Kitchen Villanelle

How rare it is when things go right
When days go by without a slip
And don’t go wrong, as well they might

The smallest triumphs cause delight –
The kitchen’s clean, the taps don’t drip,
How rare it is when things go right.

Your ice cream freezes overnight,
Your jellies set, your pancakes flip
And don’t go wrong, as well they might

When life’s against you, and you fight
To keep a stiffer upper lip.
How rare it is when things go right,

The oven works, the gas rings light,
Gravies thicken, potatoes chip
And don’t go wrong, as well they might.

Such pleasures don’t endure, so bite
The grape of fortune to the pip.
How rare it is when things go right
And don’t go wrong, as well they might

*By the way, a villanelle is a lyrical poem of nineteen lines, with only two rhymes throughout, and some lines repeated. I don’t know if the poem preceded this definition or vice-versa verse.

# 2 Talking of getting to know people better, I am discovering so many acclaimed writers that I should have got my hands on so far but was too shy, through the fiction archives of The New Yorker. It’s such a pleasure to read short stories by the ilk of Paul Theroux and Nina Gardiner and see a flash of their brilliance. Best thing to happen after speed dating.

I just completed Apple Cake by Allegra Goodman (another celebrated American author I didn’t know about) who shows that dialogue can be the hero of the story. But the clincher of a line was: She died because she couldn’t breathe. Which seems silly when you read it just as is, but is characterisation at its briefest best.

# 3 The only good thing I have done while I was away from this page was to bring Sunday Loaves to life. I am admittedly not the best baker in town or even in the suburb I live in, or east of it, but it’s brought me the joy of creation. So here’s in celebration of those “smallest triumphs that cause delight”.

glass-empty

Written by Miss Shola

August 10, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Poetry, Ramblings, Shots

Dolce Vita

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In which I indulge in the littleness of life.

#1 Old music revives memories and new music makes memories. I made one with Raat Raazi. I’ve been tripping over it for a month now after I came across it quite accidentally. Which is not surprising for when I crossed over to the millennium I took my music with me, unsure of how things would sound on the other side. I have since remained a resolute ‘the best of the 90s’ girl and not bothered catching up (someone corrected me recently when I called EDM electronic data music). But when I heard this I realised I’ve been missing out on tagging a passed moment, a familiar feeling, a keepsake memory with a tune. A new tune that is nursed in the cradles of your head until it grows up, bows out and leaves behind footsteps.

So here is to a memory of a particularly difficult summer that heat-trapped my mind till it banged its doors but got no answers. It came back home everyday to the same soothing melody which silenced the noise inside until another day.

 

# 2 And then this from nowhere caught my attention and made me smile. My mother, a kitchen-window bird watcher, has a penchant for feeding crows. She often looks up from that simmering alu gobi (I’ve relished so often) or midway of rolling a chappati to say hello to those men in black and chat about the weather. She knows when they’re hungry and what they’re hungry for, and is just short of naming them after her children. The flavour of the season seems to be Parle-G, for that extra flapping energy, broken into three perfect beak-sized pieces.

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# 3 I came across this piece of dialogue in the movie Lost in Translation. It is simple and depthless but offered me a strange kind of solace.

Charlotte: I just don’t know what I am supposed to be. I thought maybe I wanted to be a writer…but I hate what I write. And I tried taking pictures, but John is so good at that, and mine are so mediocre…and every girl goes through this photography phase, like horses, you know dumb pictures of your feet…

Bob: You’ll figure it out. I’m not worried about you. Keep writing.

Written by Miss Shola

August 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Quotes, Ramblings, Shots

Look who’s come now

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Hello thirty-four, why do you stare at me so?
Do sit down and get to know me more.
We’re going to be friends for a year, if I’m lucky,
Stand by as we read another chapter in this story.

I have always been a feeler, but I hope to not overwhelm you.
I have always been a worrier, but I won’t make you one too.

I can be talkative and crack a joke and laugh hard, like me!
But like me even more when I slip into sorrow and just want to be.

I am impatient and judgemental, or so some people say
Don’t be so critical about me and wish my vices away.

I like to do things with my hands – make, mould or play
Hope you enjoy doing this, I usually like it my way.

Oh, I can get angry and cry out loud till my throat goes dry,
But see, inspite of it, thirty-three managed to get by.

As you grow old you will know about those who really matter,
They are wonderful people, and no matter what age will flatter.

Don’t worry thirty-four, be a sport and smile,
You’re special, and don’t come by every once in a while.

Written by Miss Shola

June 8, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Un-perfect

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Perfect, why do I like her so much?
She’s just a stubborn old girl, you know
Who can’t hear her rippled bed talking of love
Who fervishly wipes out a child’s imagination on the wall
Who seasons the salad without stumbling upon a flavour
Who frowns at the unique pattern of an unsolved crossword
Who doesn’t let the short and tall boys mingle in the bookshelf
Who decorates the Christmas tree that doesn’t get a second look
Who takes that path to the garden without the budding rose plant
Who will never let her cupboard do its own thing sometimes

Perfect, let me not give her attention anymore
She’s just a stubborn old girl, you know
Who can’t sit still and let life pass happily by.

Written by Miss Shola

May 13, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Anticlimax

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The poster bed trembled as he got on his fours. It was older than his dead grandfather, and had been a silent witness to deeds that no living eyes had seen. It let out a sigh that could be heard only by her, the one who lay beneath; waiting in solitude. His wobbly knees dug into the old coir mattress and his hands expertly positioned itself near her head catching unaware those few strands of grey. With trepidation he lowered himself and let the ever curious member make way to a dark yet so-familiar place. She was conditioned to open up the door when she felt the knock, just one at first and then almost a vandalised pushing as if it were resident to the secret place. She didn’t resist the stranger, never had, not once in forty years. She let him in most graciously and let him stay as long as he wanted. When the guest had retreated, she clamped the door shut until another social visit.

He was still a-visiting as the poster bed sighed again. She closed her eyes and let a forced calmness envelope her. Before she could distract her mind from its current state of ennui,  something escaped from inside her, so quietly yet so fastidiously. It ran out of the open door before she could hold it by its wrinkled neck and coax it back to its position of guard. Her body was in its practised rhythm but her eyes rolled up and down frantically in search of the guilty prisoner of longing. And then she saw.

After four decades of the missionary, the dormant woman woke up and stood aside holding one arm of the poster bed as if in comradeship. Her frayed white panties with little red flowers were pulled up high, and she smiled as she saw the woman lying on the bed look back at her in relief.

Written by Miss Shola

August 17, 2012 at 11:16 am

Posted in Shorts

Fifth Sense

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The other day I encountered the digital fare meter of the rickshaw for the first time. My usual question of “kitna hua bhaiya?” was answered by the unusual “aap dekh lo” followed by a stifled sigh. There it was bigger, shinier with many digits blinking on it in crimson zealousness. I missed the old warm and almost shy-to-show-the-reading meter instantly. It must have been this expression that prompted the rickshaw-wallah to pour out his woes. He started off with a dramatic “ab toh marne ke din aa gaye hain…” that obligated me to pause a few minutes longer. He continued to explain how the now-mandatory digital meter shows a reduced (and incorrect) fare and thereby impacts the daily income of his ilk. Most of them don’t own the vehicles themselves and make their wage from the fare they collect through the day minus the rickshaw rental. All Mumbai-ites whether they use public transport or not, are aware of the unending battle of the meter between the rickshaw unions and the state authorities. These black and yellow odd-shaped creatures that zip through thick and thin carrying all shapes and sizes, spell the road traffic dynamics of the nether part of the city. It is difficult not to know and not to take sides. I have my views on it too, but this is not about that.

In an unrelated episode that occurred soon after, a colleague came up to my desk during the slower half of the day to narrate her predicament. Her old spinster aunt had been suffering from jaundice and she, the only able and available person in a large family far flung across the world, had taken on the responsibility to get her hospitalized. One diagnosis led to another and after many tests whose acronyms she knew at the back of her hand, there was suspected malignancy in the liver and gall bladder. The hospital she was admitted in advised her to be moved to a larger one with more amenities. From a modest background with only energy in her arms and commitment on her shoulders she soldiered on as most relatives backed out one after another. Many more tests were conducted including the much required biopsy, and much money was spent. In hindsight, my colleague felt, the doctors at the first hospital fleeced them on unnecessary procedures that didn’t contribute to the diagnosis. The aunt is still in the hospital awaiting results and the colleague is hoping they are nearing the end of the ordeal and not the beginning of another. First-hand experiences or not, we all have our opinions on and ways of dealing with the supposedly flawed healthcare system. Some have been able to get around it, some have been swallowed by it like quicksand, and the few that remain are awaiting their turn on the fence. It affects most when the means are limited, options are few and consequences are best left unsaid.

Which brings me to Ramesh. Young, sprightly, multifaceted, he’s officially the driver of the family but can morph into a mean plumber, a sharp electrician, a fine pest controller when the opportunity arises. He makes good money for being the driver cum man Friday of a busy household, but just can’t seem to save enough. Of course he has a house rent to pay, family of a wife and child to feed, school education to plan for, but then there are vices that take no time in digging a hole in the pocket. Ramesh can’t handle the extra money, the one that goes a rupee over monthly survival expenses, and spends it all at the local country liquor bar. His wife curses him, his neighbours beat him, his employers mock him but he just can’t seem to give up. When he is back to his efficient sound self the next morning he is repentant but the deed has been done. To rid himself of the habit, he has even made a journey to that revered stone deity in his village, but the gods don’t seem to listen. In an emotionally charged moment, he confessed that he understood the implications of his indulgence well but needed to vent his frustration, this of the daily struggle of life, and found no better way.

These are just three instances of the tribulations of today that people are in the face of, or see through another’s eyes as I have. So much has been said about cases like these, and there is still some more to be said. So much has been done but there is scope to do a lot more. There are adjectives to express emotions and there are verbs to elicit help. It is an everlasting strife and the torchbearers that change lives for the better are few. So what do people like me do in the meanwhile? Those who lack a larger mission, who are non-contributors in the state of society, who have the empathy but not the courage?

Maybe it’s the power of listening that can rescue us from our inaction. Maybe all it takes to feel the pain, show solidarity and extend help is nothing more than a patient ear.

Written by Miss Shola

June 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Ramblings

32 today

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It’s time I get that portrait done before youth, that childhood friend, does its curtsy and leaves the stage forever.

Image

~ An original Anthony van Dyck from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Written by Miss Shola

June 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Art, Ramblings