I am a work-in-progress and a bundle of contradictions. By nature, my personality and genes sum up as a restless and super hyper person. There have been many days in life, spanning from the time I ushered into adulthood and turning into shambolic state often driving myself to the wall sinking deep into guilt feeling worn on the sleeve.
The ‘scarcity syndrome’ is something that I learned last week while reading a magazine article on how as humans we feel so incomplete by comparing ourselves to the world. Today, decided to have only four fags but couldn’t resist the temptation of burning an extra stick. Should I feel guilty? Does it make me weak as a person? Frankly, I don’t know and it’s pretty much like my sweet tooth. I am trying to make progress on this front too by cutting on sweet meat which is not necessarily good for health. We tread on shaky grounds where we become too dependent on things, be it food, people are places. The emotional wreck that defines me is an affliction and to weigh it in terms of good or bad would be such an unfair or odious comparison to make.
Ever heard about competing with the self to grow every single day! True. The stressful lives that we lead tends pushes us to the extremely unfair level while striving to be better than the world. It can only drive us into a depressive mode and to feel small of not being able to overcome the tide. We shall conquer the demons. The belief in the self, nurturing the art of taking things slowly and being one with nature or for that matter, enjoying the breath that we take are the things that help us to grow every single second rather than running against time.
The past months was harrowing where I’ve whined and compared my life to people minting money or enjoying the luxury presently lacking in my life. It shouldn’t be like that. I must learn the virtue of patience and that’s where I tripped. I have said it a zillion times, competition is not me.
Why this comparison, then? We can be fickle and it’s a natural reaction to things that ail us as human beings. It is okay to fail, fall down or for that matter sway to the devil’s call or negative energy. We are only humans and not super beings trudging walls or buildings to perform dare-devil acts. Time to slow down and take things one at a time, something which I plan to do this week, take slow breath, meditate, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, read good books or jot in the diary. Unfortunately, our brains are wired in such a fashion where we are unnecessarily provoked by people, goaded by things or this dreaded competitive world where we want to race against time. Everyone knows it’s impossible but still, we do it. The time is now to reach out for an invisible filter to tone things down or better delete them from our system. There is no point indulging in self-harm to the brain.
The word or the picture built inside the head of what constitutes a proper diet can be crazy and shit scary. Trust me on that! One shouldn’t sink in the euphoria of a battle half won for the world has its own way of catching with up us like fish caught in the net. At least, it holds true in my case right now.
Many of you may be aware that I was facing a cholesterol issue since last year where the test verged from hitting 6 and again 5, the borderline rate which greatly increases the risk of heart issues. A doctor friend prescribed statin drug that I took for one whole month and there was a drastic change in lifestyle, right from jogging regularly to flushing out red meat, butter, fritters and removing fat from the body. December end seemed to be a relief where I was successfully able to cut the bad cholesterol by half. It was a big achievement in itself that deserved a Facebook status and rightfully earned likes. I was on cloud 9. After all, the never-say-die attitude paid big time.
The medication was stopped for a long three and a half months but I never ceased doing the regular yoga practice or jogging at the park. But, there is one thing where I perhaps failed, the sweet and good food indulgence. Remember, I have a sweet tooth. Slowly, the butter and fried stuff like fish fingers made a rare appearance on the table. I again paid a heavy price. This week, the cholesterol test was taken again after fasting for 12 hours and the moment the needle pierced the thumb, I was silently pinning for a miracle to get away from the demon. Lady luck didn’t smile at me this time. The dreaded number six flashed right in front of my eyes. Another gentle reminder to pull the sock. Time to cut the flab.
Resisting to temptation is the biggest challenge for me. A change in lifestyle remains the biggest priority. I met someone in the morning while running errands and the wise uncle told me a true fact, remove the word diet from my mind since it is very intimidating. Better call it, a change in lifestyle. Yes! Lifestyle, I repeat. The right word to alter perception and of course, a close friend told me on WhatsApp how the mind is busy wrecking havoc in driving us to the wall. The physical and psychological are one but not two separate entities. You are the soul that has mind, body, and society, he tells. What a beautiful explanation!
Keep running and walking with focus on the NOW. Another friend tells me. I shall make the required changes in the lifestyle and items such as butter, fats or oily stuff shall be deleted from the food table. The weekly jogging trip will be increased from twice to thrice and sweetmeats will hit a pause from my life. It’s been a pretty hectic week. Often, we don’t think about health consequences and take life for granted. We have to make the necessary adjustment to benefit our well-being, something that we compromise too often. I wage the battle again for enough is never really enough. After a pause with reading, I am making time for it as well and just started reading, Shashi Kapoor, The Householder, the Star.
Of course, work deserves our topmost priority and this week is critical between meeting deadlines and medicines fiddling with the body. I take the challenge again to cut fat forming through the blood and fighter keeps it going. I shall achieve the target. Tomorrow, there is going to be a bacha party where our young friend in the neighborhood turns two. I shall keep it neat and watch folks munch happily, except a rare taste of pastry,
There are elements of uncertainty and unpredictability surrounding human existence. Death or illness shouldn’t serve as an excuse for us to shower undiluted love to our closed ones when things cease to matter or exist. A time will come when we will realize that it is perhaps too late to reclaim the moments that we have lost. Everyone has a story to tell, of love, taking relationships for granted or regret.
In the humdrum of routine life, we tend to forget about the basic tenet of relationships in valuing each other in this world. Everything comes with an expiry date and there shall come a moment where the dock of existence will suddenly halt. The tragedy is that we are often caught off guard at the end and tend to whine on the questionable value given to our relationships. Do we value our loved ones? The saddest part is that most of the time we don’t. Right from parents to children and family, we tend to be casual and fail to make the most of our interactions. Let practice what we preach. Rather than taking our dinner in the room, sit with the family members and have a quality chat, sharing a good laugh or meaningful conversation. Who says only work should be productive? Relationships are therapy for the mind and soul. Make the most of every second.
Someone wrote something on Facebook how we spend our energy expressing love for the dead when we could spend half of the time on the living. How true! Technology has robbed us of the moment when once lost could never be given back no matter how much effort we could pour or tears shed. We often write on social media how we are missing our friends as if tagging or like is the real relationship. But, how many times have we picked up the phone to call our closed friends? Guilty as charged. This mechanical living is stripping us of the rare qualities that make us human and dancing to a bizarre tune. Pull the chain and stop the train. Do it NOW.
Shed this entire ego and false pride that is holding us back. Don’t wait for the people with whom we once spent the best moments to make the first step in reconnecting. It’s not about why should I make the move! Just do it and listen to the bell ringing in the heart. Reach out to the ones that matter and channelize this energy that empowers the soul. I was watching Superstars ki Paathshala today where the judge Mahesh Bhatt gave a prompt to aspiring actors and there is an instance where he told a duo that their acting showcases a beautiful dependence that they have on each other to better their act. How true! Relationships are like that only. Undiluted hearts coalesce to become one whole and there is no power on earth that can beat this cosmic energy in human form.
Learn to value our loved ones and bury neglect for it’s the recipe to destruction. Why we let ourselves suffer by not showering affection or happiness in our relationships? Be each other’s force and laugh, cry and dance together for reveling in regret is no way to explore each other.
Tikuli Dogra is no stranger to words and poetry which she spurns to perfection on her blog. She doesn’t need an introduction for her poetry work and short stories have been published in various media outlets and and literary magazine in India and across the globe such as The Smoking Book, The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology and the much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul, Silence Is White, Melange, and kaafiyana. The author whose first book was ‘Collection of Chaos’ way back in 2014 speaks about her latest poetry book, ‘Wayfaring’ where she bears her heart open in a heart-warming chat about how she channels pain and angst into poetry.
Your poetry book, ‘Wayfaring’ brings to form various layers of emotions right from pain to relationships, travel and the angst of exile. Can you share the journey behind the making of the book?
Most of the poems in this book were written over a period of time and not specifically with a book in mind. Some were published in various Indian and international journals over a period of few years. When it was time for another book of my poems my idea was to try to be forward-looking. My first book ‘Collection of Chaos’ was cathartic in many ways and for this new book I wanted to experiment with forms and explore other areas of my life that had brought calm and positivity to that chaos. I began to write poems that were more than just elegiac. There is a good measure of anger in Wayfaring’, a form of protest. There is a constant intermingling of past and present in this collection, a sense of a renewed nostalgia for things that are lost and the excitement for the new beginnings. So, ‘Wayfaring’ is essentially about movement. It is about journeys, both physical and metaphysical. The poems have both history and landscape running through them. Most of the poems are reflections of my own journey as a woman, lover, dreamer, wanderer and storyteller.
The human soul is lonely even when surrounded by a gamut of feelings and emotions inhabited by ordinary mortals. As a poet, what part loneliness played in your life that found expression and the right tune in your writing?
Loneliness has played a major role in most of my writing, especially for my two books of poetry. Acceptance of who we are and where we are makes it easy to see what’s beyond grief and sadness. There is so much we miss out on when we are constantly mulling over the past. I have experienced what it is from both sides and Wayfaring is the result of a much more positive attitude towards myself and to life in general. One must never lose the sense of possibilities. That’s the healing that comes from within. I have tried to work that around in the poems in ‘Wayfaring’. Most of the poems in the book are intensely personal and at times I have used nature or another element as a mask to enable me to write about private feelings but mostly the poems are all about ‘laying bare’, befriending oneself and realizing that this difficult phase in life is intrinsic to being alive. This shift in thinking changed my perspective completely and when you read the poems you will see what I mean.
You have published a host of poems in several publications and penned several articles on sensitive issues such as child abuse and gender. How much of the pain incurred by victims has influenced your work of poetry?
It is difficult to feel the trauma and pain of someone who has gone through abuse of any kind. The impact of any sort of violation can be considerable and each survivor has his/her own theory of pain which is tough to express to others and yet their stories need to be told, they need to be passed on to the next generation and to everyone who will read them, through poetry and prose. The pain, the longing, the suffering, everything must be taken forward and never forgotten. I have had my share of violations and maybe that connected me more closely to others who had suffered. Poetry is also a form of protest and as poets it is our responsibility to keep writing about all the social issues that matter and voice our anger where and when required.
Your first book, a collection of poems, ‘Collection of Chaos’ first hit the stands in 2014. Would you say that Wayfaring is a sequel to the first book and what defines this unique collection of poetry?
I won’t say it is a sequel to ‘Collection of Chaos’ but yes, it takes up from where the pain ends. Over the years my urge to pour out angst has receded and I began to explore the beauty of life through words even when those words touch on past events. I wrote these poems to break through the barriers that fill us and surround us, to harness the pain and use it to create something beauteous. It was a challenge I was keen to take up and it is what makes the book unique.
For many poets, there is something deep and soulful or scars which marks a turning a point to channelize energies into words. What was it in your case?
A lot of losses at personal level especially the loss of my first love and then my unsatisfactory and troubled marriage, the daily search for myself, a woman lost under the layers of responsibilities, made me channel my energies into words. I had to fight for my freedom and dignity at many levels and needed to be heard and understood. Blogging helped me do that a great deal, long before I became a published author. Turning life experiences into verses and speaking about one’s open wounds is always difficult and yet therapeutic at the same time. There were times I left the poems unfinished to collect myself and come back to them with a calm and focused approach. I have learned to make vulnerability my strength. In the last ten years I have slowly released the past hurts, angst, anger and sorrow so that I can give way to something more positive and essential to the art of living and learning.
PS: The interview was done via email with Tikuli Dogra.
Ushering in March feels like the speck of dust and the grain of sand saddling inside the toes, admiring the waves crashing inside the seawater flowing gently at times and the next caught in a sandstorm. Yet, the sea is not complaining. Umpteen number of times, I feel like going with the flow but the human emotions can be tricky, showing various emotions, laughs, sadness, goodness and whining incessantly.
This week, precisely on Monday, I choose to end my almost seven-year-itch with an international bank that I’ve been banking with since 2011. The hitch is that I was increasingly dissatisfied with the services, first, they closed the branch in the residential vicinity in December end that led me to ponder on their retail intention. I hang on with them for quite some time since wasn’t very sure about my banking options. As it is, I already hold an account with SBI International to save money. But, the week before was the last straw in my cup since the ATM was working on odd days. I cannot risk paying bank charges in various ATM outlets for every single withdrawal made.
Finally, it was done after minor hiccups and the entire process initially set to take 15 minutes took another 2 hours. My deposit was sealed due to an impending loan or credit card that was settled more than a year back but, apparently, the bank forgot to release the money. I was told that the managers were in a meeting and busy having lunch which means that I have to wait for their signature or trundle my way somewhere else to kill mosquitoes.
Another day in my life. Friday was another interesting day to create a new bank account and running minor errands, in-between running a tight deadline for our client’s corporate magazine, busy sourcing interviews via e-mail and hounding people. Thankfully, my boss gave me an easy day. I visited one specific bank and was quite interested to be their client since an Indian group is in the process of taking over. Bad signal! Apparently, it seems the bank is not the least interested to bank with me despite having all documents such as utility bill and birth certificate. The fuck up is always one dumb person who saw a wrong typing done by the utility walon that didn’t match Dad’s birth certificate that has has been going on for years. No! They wouldn’t accept it. She even offered me another option of getting my bank statement which I could get from SBI but with a whimsically amusing comment that she hopes it’s not an Indian address.
I grinned and was like, Are you serious! You must be kidding me. Certainly, that’s not how banking is done. Luckily, I walked a few steps and entered a locally leading Government bank out of curiosity. Man! I was impressed taking into account that I am not very enthusiastic about public services cutting across countries. The ATM card was done in less than 20 minutes with pin code in my hand and no fuss over names matching. Good and quality customer-centric services are what drives patrons. It’s a golden rule that many of us forget. I am a sucker for high-end services or I may just walk away, be it coffee or banking.
As mentioned on top, the month disappeared like the moonlight melting into the white cloud and didn’t realize that the end February quickly flitted into March. It was quite unsettling and came as a rude shock since everything seemed to be smooth sailing but an upset Sunday came to disrupt everything. Reading took a backseat, work was postponed forever and blogging halted abruptly. I don’t know what fell on my head. I was sleeping when Mom knocked on the door to announce that someone has suddenly passed away. She has a peculiar way of telling something in the exact terms, ‘You know who died.’ It sends me into an anxiety tizzy mode with this whole surprise which I really hate. “Sridevi!” It jolted me off the bed with, ‘Are you sure?” I was convinced that it must be a hoax and went straight on Twitter but unfortunately turned out to be true. The Sunday was spoilt and went into tatters. I ended up not doing anything. The loss felt so personal.
On the day, Srideviji was cremated, tinge of anxiety and pulsating heartbeat was felt. I don’t remember when was the last time that I cried so much and languished at the childhood memory that was suddenly snatched away. Growing up on her films was sheer bliss and falling in love with her on screen. As a child, I always wanted to marry her. Shocked and dismayed beyond words to see her go. I watched four of her movies, Lamhe, Chandni, Sadma and Nagina last week. Last Saturday, I came home and the moment she appeared on screen in Lamhe made me broke down. The end of a dream. The day I lost my Goddess whom I literally worshipped ushering into adulthood. But, then, our angels have to go back to their home.
Sridevi is not and should not be restricted solely to Hindi cinema. Much before, she forayed into the then Bombay’s filmdom, she has already carved a name for herself as a superstar in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films. We know very less about her work as an actor and even lesser about her personal life despite ordinary mortals pretend to be connoisseurs in everything, be it films or morality. Yet, humans claim to be flawless, perfect and an authoritative voice who can stake a claim in making the moral judgment on other people’s lives. Sridevi has contributed immensely to Indian cinema and particularly carving a name for herself in a male bastion and triumphing in a patriarchal world as showcased by the indelible mark she has left in the hearts of her fans and millions of admirers. Yet, we have failed her.
Terming it as appalling, sick, sad and disgusting the venom sprouted on someone who is no longer around to refute the vile criticisms would be an understatement. It was shameful and reflects our upbringing and characters to see the slander immediately after she passed away in Dubai. Whether it’s the WhatsApp messages on the so-called ‘ketosis diet or hydroxyl drugs’ which circulated but fizzled, media reports and blog posts, it just shows the new lows we sunk into by showing a lack of respect and sensitivity to someone who just lost her life. Not once, we spared a thought about her husband and innocent children having a harrowing time. Yes! People who forwarded those WhatsApp messages should hang their heads in shame for they are as guilty as those wicked people with hidden agenda.
The so-called TV anchors didn’t stop at anything right from Times Now to Republic TV, Aaj Tak and ABP News, barring the exception of NDTV and Mirror Now, who became wine and vodka experts, lying in a bathtub or showing the same by putting the superstar’s poster sprawling in tubs. We were promised that the mystery would be decoded in 15 minutes. No time was lost in showing how misogynistic and sexist we are, as a society. Feeble attempts were made and most blatant lies in casting aspersion on the lady’s character in alluding to the so-called salacious lifestyle. The death of news or #NewsKiMaut rightly trended on social media. Her death hogged national headlines which is understandable owing to Sridevi’s iconic status as an artist but we have defied the gravity’s law of shame.
The faces of conspiracy theorists were mucked with dirt when the doctors attributed the death to accidental drowning. The theories about steroids, plastic surgeries, taking antidepressants, murder, sharab ke nasha mein, Sridevi ka Aakhri dance was simply apalling. A line was crossed. Death was exploited for TRP. It is not journalism when we see an Arnab Goswami sinking lower in comparing her death to that of Sunanda Pushkar. It was ugly and uncouth.
The shaming of someone passing away and implying that a woman has no right to enjoy a glass of liquor not only makes us misogynistic but shows our lack of sensitivity. What are we inferring to and who gave us the right to label a woman who drinks? The first rule of journalism is fact-checking but those TV journos broke the boundary when they were not even present to see things with their own eyes. It hurts me not just as a Sridevi fan to see such names calling but as a human being. How can we dare to rip someone’s dignity in the most vulgar and crass fashion? I am not showing a lack of respect towards iconic male actors and legends who passed away in the past but nobody ever pointed at philandering men who were having extramarital relationships. Just because she is a woman who has achieved so much solely on her capability as an artist makes her vulnerable even in death. It a real shame where many women themselves sunk into the bathtub of shame and that’s the saddest part.
News just died. No! You cannot throw this voyeurism on a grieving family and show disrespect to her children who just lost their mother, albeit violating the right to privacy. It is heartwarming that many journalists like Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Faye de Souza and Nidhi Razdan have come in the open to call off this media circus and yellow journalism that shamed the profession. Such journalists and TV channels who indulged in mudslinging have lost their credibility. I mean, how dare you spout venom and lies in the grossest and indecent fashion.
People on social media turned into ghouls and spineless beings who spread those malicious lies and overnight turning into wine, beauty, and medical experts. We witnessed the vile and devilish side of people. The vituperated lies and name calling spearheaded by trolls hiding behind a computer or phone screen in stripping someone’s dignity apart showcased the gutter world we are into. The same people who never let her breath free when she was alive didn’t stop at anything to rip her apart in death.
There is a lady who goes by the name Piyali Ganguly on social media pretending to be a beauty expert and claimed to have met Sridevi in real life shamelessly doled lessons on how the actress never trusted her own beauty and one is intrigued to see the suggestion of a metoo in fashion. Just do a google search on Piyali Ganguly and you will realize that she uses a fake profile. Yet, the person pretends to be a fashion or beauty expert who not only has disdain for someone and she doesn’t stop here but making malicious allegations against Boney Kapoor and his ‘arm candy wife’. I feel like puking. What proof does she holds and the right to throw mud on someone she never met? Has Sridevi ever told Ms. Ganguly anything? Lies. Just the figment of imagination and such people need electric shock treatment in their head and be cured for spreading venom and negativity. It shows how frustrated with their own lives for having failed to achieve anything concrete in their lives. They will not stop at anything to hit at someone who achieved so much in a lifetime. Let’s not forget about Vinita Nagia’s ToI disgusting column on coincidence that cause Sridevi’s death or for that matter taking her away. Yes! Since when Sridevi has suddenly turned into a ‘body’ which showcases insensitivity at its heightened peak.
The blogging world was no less with some drenching knee-deep into the wall of shame to garner hits to their online space. Shameful would be an understatement. One specific blogger and so-called book writer has rediscovered her innate talent as a Karma expert in a badly written article which was done in poor taste, mostly copy and paste rewritten post with the sole aim of garnering hits. It was downright cheap to see this post, right from cosmetic surgery, clandestine relationship and karma pulling all stops. That specific person doesn’t stop here and suddenly becomes a moral authority on the law of fucked up Karma. Well, she must get an award for her Karma crap. How low can people fall!
Who gave her the right to comment on Srideviji’s marriage or relationships? How does she know what happened between Boney Kapoor and his former wife! I have interacted with such vile folks in the past and to be honest, I don’t have any intention to keep in touch with cheap mentalities. The mask has fallen. Yes! I am taking it personally. I have grown up in awe of Srideviji and literally worshipped her right from childhood to stepping into adulthood. I measure my words. How would they feel and the sky forbids if ever a calamity is wrecked on them or their loved ones being snatched away and let them come with a headline about kicking the bucket and Karma playing its role!
Karma has its own way of hitting back on us and certainly, we wouldn’t like to be treated in the same fashion that we have in running down someone, not sparing her even in death. Those bloggers who poured their venom on Srideviji has shocked me and honestly, I feel nauseatic in stumbling on such online space. Today, Srideviji’s innocent children are suffering. There is no doubt that such machievellic allegations linking a death to Karma can badly hurt our loved ones owing to the perverted publicity mongering cowards. I say, have patience and the time when your self-defined Karma will hit you in the same fashion, don’t complain.
Even in death, Srideviji name was shamelessly cashed on and used to garner TRP and blog hits which shows the power that she wielded. Yet! It’s a big slap on the face of haters 2 minutes fame when we saw the outpouring of love on her cremation day. You know why? Because she stays forever and your blog stats or TRP is a blink-and-eye appearance. As a Sridevi fan, I shall never forget this slander and character assassination! Perhaps, people will be deleted from my FB list and blocked on Twitter. It’s not the way we honor a lady who has always led her life with dignity, charm, self-respect and contributed so much to Indian cinema. We don’t deserve Srideviji perhaps.