Part 4 – Breswana

I would have to write about my adventures with class 7 (now 8) separately. But in today’s edition of nostalgia is the strength of my days in Breswana. Muneeza Banoo Khandi and Humeera Banoo Batt: these two gorgeous, intelligent and funny children were my daily light.

Muneeza, the earnest and hard working student. Her papers were marvel to read. She wrote with clarity beyond her 13 years. Her beautiful handwriting was an additional plus. Though superbly introverted, Muneeza, when used to you, would crack jokes. Her Mehfooz smacks are priceless moments in the day. Munee was every teachers charmed child. Her diligence and sincerity apart, there was a curiosity to her studying. She wanted more and more information. All the information her little head could hold and more. Her aspirations were to learn. She would be the most upset when I scolded class 7 (which was a lot, despite the biggest soft corner for them). For me Muneeza is a star not because of her academic achievements, which were many, but for her simple, kind nature. She took to reading so easily. She also took to sports. Her excelling in everything makes you want to hold her tight. To be honest, her sparkling eyes full of yearning to learn is what I remember about her. Muneeza Banoo Khandi would have read so voraciously at the age of 20 that I hope it opens many many doors for her.

Funny, smart and dancer Humeera. I’ll tell you a secret, her reciting Invictus at my farewell remains my go-to video on bad days. I still remember this confident girl step up and recite this poem infront of everyone. Giving us all goosebumps. The passion, the feeling in the words came through in her voice. She got away with a lot with me. She could lure me back to class and ask, “Why angry?” in the softest voice. She was a hardworking kid that could dance so beautifully. I fondly remember how she would turn up outside the volunteer house in case she wanted more attention after classes. She tells me that thanks to me she lost little bit of her fear for dogs. This is amazing for me. When I think of Humeera, I remember the smiling girl asking me how I am; I remember her nose buried in a book; I remember her leading my hand to dance with her. I hope this girl continues down the path of reciting fabulous poetry and owning the stage or whatever her kind heart wishes for.
Learning and acing multiple talents is a Haji Public School trait that most students owned. The teachers were mere vessels to direct them to their study books occasionally. And it was a pleasure on most days. Okay. I said most?

2015.

(Disclaimer: Excruciatingly long)

Well, 2015 is coming to a close. On most counts, I am glad this year is done. Putting aside a brief two-week vacation to Nepal, to my enthusiasm, 2015 has been overwhelming on the low front. I had a couple of surprising heartbreaks, professional and personal, that shook my earthing. A few diagnoses were the additional bonuses on the health front! Woot.

When I used to write on Blogspot (before I wanted a clean start and began this blog), I did a year-end review. I thought it was a silly practise till my conversation with A from last evening made me realise how smart I used to be.

I get bogged down by the low a lot. Perhaps a little bit of this is in my nature. End-of-the-year existential crisis is common and tempting to wallow in. I have honestly done a lot of it. BUT, I learnt a lot this year.

Embracing my personality with all its quirks has been rewarding and relevant. I stopped making excuses when I didn’t feel up to being around people. Especially those I had drifted away from. I learnt to enjoy my company and do what is good for me which resulted in lots of art and getting my hands messy. I began to look after myself more. My health taught me that my mind and body are not separate. The pressures on my mind will be felt by my body. So care is not optional. It needs to be integrated into daily living. Smell a few more flowers, perhaps. Unfortunately, these health crises have forced me to give up sweets and coffee. Something till 2015 I thought was not possible. But I am finding new patterns and routines. Healthier ones. All while remembering that I am really tiny in the grand scheme of things. People tell me this insignificance scares them. But it has been one of the most reassuring and calming truths.

“When I go for a drive I like to pull off to the side
Of the road and run and jump into the ocean in my clothes
And I’m smaller than a poppyseed inside a great big bowl
And the ocean is a giant that can swallow me whole
So I swim for all salvation and I swim to save my soul
But my soul is just a whisper trapped inside a tornado
So I flip to my back and I float and I sing
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything”
– I like giants: Kimya Dawson

As a surprise to myself, I fell in love. Accidentally. Madly. To an unsuspecting bystander. Though it has left me recovering from a broken heart, it reminded me that I am intense and love is overwhelming. It was nice to sit drenched in the emotion and learn to just breathe. Let the pieces fall as they will. I am still learning to live with my intensity and even enjoy the depth of character that I seek. 🙂 Love dragged me along a long path of self-discovery which has been difficult, painful, stirring, and intimate in discoveries about myself.

My professional heartbreak is far more difficult to write about. Since most of the year and waking hours were spent at the office, learnings are integral to my growth. I had to quit a job that I was fond of because of grave internal turmoil, certain strife and need for more challenges. It became essential for me to embrace that I am young, emotional and vulnerable which people in workplaces often use against me as a weakness. I didn’t realise how much I had pushed these away. Over the years of hearing it being pitched as a negative, I had happily accepted this to be true. Not anymore. 🙂

One of the most unsettling truths of the year was revealed while stranded at the bottom of the Himalayas because of unseasonal rain and snow. Rainer Maria Rilke was the bearer of the news – ‘Life is right in all cases’. Rilke has rescued me on several occasions. His words were a float when I felt I would drown in the ocean of anxiety and self doubt. They were a balm to my soul that felt out of place, making me more home in my skin and less cuckoo. (Or is it be more cuckoo? :))

“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a young poet

I also turned around my writing this year. It was a much needed change from the self-deprecating stuff I tell myself about lack of any talent. Though I write here, I had not written about the many learnings from my work and the world around me. Starting to write for Women’s Web and Girls Globe is an attempt to fix this. I am happy to add my two-cents to the progress to women’s rights and equality around the world. It is a small drop in the ocean, yet a satisfying drop.

I think writing these words was an important part of taking stock of the changes, both good and bad, the year brought my way. In the darkness of doubt, pain and unanswered questions, I have found it is comfortable to believe I had an unproductive year. One where I have been stagnant and done little to further my beliefs. But I have made a lot of personal growth and some professional strides. This forms part of a learning process to understand myself better and walk closer to the person I want to be.

Hope 2016 is less harsh but as rewarding.

313 of 365

The sun got ready to call it a day.

The colours of the sky changed, slowly.

Simultaneously, I witnessed the mode, tone and pace of my life morph.

I watched intently; I didn’t stop the transformation.

For once a truth is accepted or made visible ,

I couldn’t refute its reality.

I couldn’t return to blissful oblivion.

That clearly wasn’t me.

The sun gone. Darkness had set in; the stars came out.

I was left to deal with my truths.

I can’t live in denial,

Or pretend I’m not made of imperfections.

But perfection is a myth. I wont endorse.

Options lie in front of me. My instincts I trust.

It isn’t the problem or even a problem.

This learn I must.

It is being comfortable with my being;

The motions, the sounds, the sights it needs.

For I didn’t see till then,

I was questioning to problematise me.

But that wouldn’t do.

I needed to accept, embrace and be.

I see, now.

The process is slow and difficult.

I need to retreat to the depths of me to simply listen and heed.

274 of 365

‘I don’t know much about you. Do you like snow or do you prefer the rain? I’ve always preferred the rain. Though the gutter water mixing with the rain water was always a tad gross.

I don’t know if you like it when your eyes meet a stranger’s across the room and you smile fleetingly? There is magic in that moment for the world dissolves enough for you to focus all the positivity from within to share a smile at a stranger.

I don’t know if you like coffee or tea? Do you smoke or drink scotch? I don’t know if you prefer books or movies based on books? If it is one way, it could be blasphemy and I am not sure that I would handle that well.

You don’t know much about me, either. Were you wondering all this too?’ I asked.

‘You said more about yourself in the questions you asked than you realise,’ he replied.

He listened closely and read enough between the lines.

I just smiled.

‘So tell me more about yourself,’ he said with a laugh.

226 of 365

The problem of language

We speak Tamil at home. My mom, dad, sisters can read Tamil; they are all fluent. My mom still prefers writing in Tamil. Mom prefers reading in Tamil as well. I can manage without major mistakes on most days. I repeat, most days.

We speak Telugu at office. We have trainings in Telugu. We translate extensively into Telugu. All our meetings and discussions are in Telugu. I can speak in Telugu. Though my accent and dialect is mocked mercilessly by my colleagues, I still manage to speak. I can read a line in ten minutes. Yes, I am very slow.

With friends, auto men, bus drivers and shop keepers, Hindu suffices. The Hindi I know is mostly Hyderabadi. As much as I argue with others, my Hindi is just above average. I can read and write, thanks to the Hindi I learnt in school.

I think in English. I read in English. I write in English. I dream in English. Yet English is not my mother tongue. I converse fluently in English and switch to it when any other language gives me trouble. But I wouldn’t claim to have a superb grasp over it.

Despite knowing four languages, I struggle to call any one of these languages my own. But the struggle also lies in an aspiration for some form of perfection in one of these languages. Which is probably a long road, scattered with learning.