I bought myself a mug for work.
Ceramic. I don't know what kind of mud/clay has been used.
It is the colour of faded mud with faint, pretty flowers on it.
The rim is smaller than the one I like to drink tea from at another house.
This mug that I shall keep in the office doesn't hold much black tea.
It suits the rest of the arrangement on the table.
It will look good in the balcony, I should think.
With select conversations.
Like how I imagine I would like/
When we're speaking/
the light of a bottle/ of intelligent wine.
That time was like never, and like always. So we go there, where nothing is waiting; we find everything waiting there. Mornings with crisp air like a silver coin are gorgeous, even if they arrive too early. Then there are some episodes that conduct the dawn hours and leave you with a souvenir of a smile for the day. Today was such a day.
This time, nearly two years ago, I was in another state, in a place worlds apart from where I sit and type this now. I found these pictures today and was reminded of spending Pongal, the harvest festival, with some fantastic people in the hills of Tamil Nadu. Here is the story:
The gods for that day's prayers are fashioned out of fresh cow dung and decorated with some of the prettiest wild flowers. The brass lamp may be a more modern, Brahminical addition, but everything else is picked up from the land and left back there, from mud to mud.
Reading one hundred sonnets. Stopping to sigh at the 17th. Catching a butterfly. Cooking, having a meal. Sharing animal stories. And other stories. Laughing. Being. There are many ways to ensure the scent of an evening stays on your skin like the smell of crushed jasmine petals in summer.
The cab driver Raghavendrachary knew my name because the taxi service
has this thing of sending the driver and me, for booking a cab, each other’s
names and numbers. He asked if everyone who was named Deepa was short tempered.
I laughed and told him a name had nothing to do with anger. Unless the name
reminded you of pasts and of someone who inspired you to be angry with, I told
I told him I had to get to my destination as fast as possible. In
typical cab driver in a city fashion, he veered inch close to bikes, cursed and
kept up his story. He was under tremendous stress he said, the moment I settled
down at the back of his taxi. I had to ask why. I did. He said an acquaintance
had asked him to loan Rs 50,000, money that he had saved for his wedding. He
had given his word, he said. But wasn’t sure if the other person was
trustworthy. He asked me what he should do.
I have worked long hours, night shifts and done overtime to save up some
money. I want to marry my girlfriend Deepa. She is a nurse in a city hospital.
Our families aren’t too happy. My family is coming around, but they refuse to
help us in any way. They tell me I have to find my way, rent myself a house and
manage my household if I marry this girl. You need money for all that madam.
That is why I have some money saved. But this person learnt that I had the
money and wants it to buy a car to drive as a taxi. He says he will register
the taxi in my name or return the money when I get married. Can I trust him
madam? I know where his brother lives.
I ask him what Deepa’s advice is. He says she has left the decision to
him; that she will not understand these things. She is a very good girl madam,
very understanding and she loves me, Raghavendra tells me. But we fight every
day. If I don’t fight with her, I cannot eat or sleep. Why do we fight all the
time madam? I beat her a few times when I got very angry, she cried. Later I
felt bad and said sorry.
I get angry. Abuse in love doesn’t make it love. I tell him so, saying
if he loved her he wouldn’t think of beating her. He nods, not quite
understanding why it is wrong. He is a man.
He likes talking about Deepa. He tells me how they met. I am reminded of
a cute village story the sorts they like to show in the movies. He worked as a
driver at a nursing school where she was studying. All the girls called him anna,
but not her. One day just before walking past a corner, she stopped and looked
back at him. He liked her then. And asked her if she would love him. She got
scared and said she wanted to finish studying first and wanted to work. When he
said he was fine with that, she said all right. They have been together eight
years now. Once they marry, he wants to rent a house in a Brahmin
neighbourhood, he tells me, because unlike in slums, Deepa will be safe there.
He would worry for her when work would keep him away at all odd hours.
Raghavendra is from Chikkaballapur and was raised by his maternal
grandfather and some uncles. He did tell me how that came to be, I forget now though.
He herded sheep and grew up the village boy that movies so romantically
portray. In college his pocket money was Rs 10 every day with which he tells me
he ate 20 idlis and then went about his chores. The lights of the city called
and he came to get some job, any job. Like many before him, many jobs later, he
is now a cab driver. He gets a uniform and a salary.
I wait for more, ever the voyeur for stories and incidents that I
hungrily will store away to use somehow, somewhere when I write. But we have
nearly arrived and I have to point out to him which gate to go through. While
waiting for a lady to move her car, he tells me that love is not for people
like him. I ask him what he means. He says poor people like him cannot afford
to be in love, that’s a luxury for people like you.
I tell him not to give his acquaintance the fifty thousand rupees and to
use it instead to get married to his sweetheart.