Author Archives: jyoti

About jyoti

with her trailing gaze the shy maverick clings on and through the supple foreplay of her aesthetic sense and a beatific smile insatiates the mellifluous melange!!

Do not Disturb


 

wowbadge

When I saw her for the first time she was sitting in the women’s compartment of a running metro on a winter morning in Delhi. I don’t know if she saw me. I mean I can’t be sure, but when I think of it I like to believe that she did. My favorite sequence is imagining her lifting her eyes and taking a note of me for a couple of seconds before getting back to her own business. I saw her and just kept looking at her face until I realized that I might be doing so at the risk of appearing like a dumbstruck fool.
It was already seven forty five when the lady constable was running her detecting machine across my body. She pressed my pockets twice, took a close look at me and then let me go. I have gotten used to that kind of look now. Have you ever seen the sign on the door of public washrooms meant to denote gender. The woman is always wearing a frock sort of a thing and has got long hair. I understand it’s for convenience sake, but then tell me honestly, how many women do you actually meet in India wearing frocks on a normal casual day? It’s rare sight, isn’t it? So you agree that it’s just a foolish way to signify gender? Women wearing jeans or say, sari are equally women, no? If that’s so, so is the woman with short hair. There is nothing wrong with her. She does not have to be mad or radical to do that. She changed her hairstyle without putting much thought to it and may be with the same amount of ease with which you change your dress. Yes, may be she isn’t your idea of a feminine woman, but that is a problem of lack of imagination on your part not hers.
Anyway, I am here to tell you the story about that woman whom I saw in the women’s compartment of a running metro on a winter morning in Delhi and not about me and my problems with the world. So, without digressing again let’s concentrate on the story.
I punched my smart card on the slot and rushed to the platform skipping every alternate step of the stairs. I entered into the metro seconds before the door closes. I bent a little by my waist panting, desperately trying to catch my breath. I coughed a little and tried to concentrate on something else other than my coughing and rushed breath. The way I was bent I could only see varieties of footwears, mostly shoes because winters in Delhi are ruthless. Midst all those shoes was a pair of boots being tapped on the floor with a certain urgency. They were the most exquisite dark brown boots I had ever cast my eyes upon. For a moment I forget all about my panting and was lost in its design, its beauty and richness of colour. I had probably figured out the image of its wearer in my mind by then. It had to be a beautiful rich woman with flawless skin, perfect dressing style, known among her friends and colleagues for her supreme taste and style. May be even now she must be busy dealing with her numerous admirers on whatsapp or smiling on the number of likes on her latest photo on Facebook, I thought.
But why that urgency in the tapping of her boots?
A paper fell beside her boots. I saw her hand when she picked it up. And the first thing that I noticed was the flawless sparkling even coat of black film on her nails. She had beautiful, shapely fingers.
I noticed that my panting had stopped and so I got ready to face that face which is still fresh in my memory. She was everything that I had imagined her to be with a couple of minor changes here and there. So, she wasn’t busy checking her status on phone, rather she was busy with a couple of notebooks and papers spread across her lap. At first, I couldn’t see anything but the white beanie berret cap that she was wearing. Will you believe if I tell you that her hair was also cut short? Little strands of red mahogany coloured hair hung loose all around the cap but her face was bent over her books in such a way that only the red rim of her glasses could be seen. May be she had an exam to write but I am not sure.
She raised her head a little to read a page kept at a distance and that is how I saw her face for the first time and froze right there. I had never seen something so appealing all my life. It just pulled me inside. I forgot myself. Forgot where I was standing. Forgot about the world around us.
I saw her shoving all the paper inside her bag and pulling out a thick book this time.
After a second she raised her face and looked in both the direction, may be randomly or to guess which station it was. She looked at me with questioning eyes but mumbling something all the time. She kept looking at me, stopped mumbling, looked more closely and then dipped her nose in the book. After a minute or so, she fished a small paper from her bag, scribbled something on it and made a hole on its edge. She tied it to the book’s marker in such a way that the paper hung from it. She looked at me once more and looked at the hanging paper.
The paper read: You’re distracting me. Please don’t disturb now. Call me instead after eight-thirty tonight. Her number was written below it.
I smiled.
It’s eight forty-five now. Should I call her? Will she remember that I am the woman from the morning metro?

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.


While reading The Metamorphosis


A huge spider crawled beside him. He kept looking at it as it moved. It began to ascend the pile of books resting beside one corner of the room. The tube-light hardly illuminated that corner of the room. It occurred to him that the movement of the spider was so much like those people who he saw bustling around here and there in his office- swift and purposeful- as he watched them from his cubicle in the corner. Adwait was only mildly stoned that night as compared to other nights. His friends had left and he was lying alone on his mattress watching the spider.
The spider intrigued him more that night because he had been reading a story about a commercial traveler who wakes up one day and finds that he has metamorphosed into a giant insect. He could not finish that story but it had stuck somewhere, claiming a part of his brain.
The pile of books lying in the corner were mostly books bought from the pavement of one of the old book markets of the city. He could afford brand new, original and latest editions of these books, but he chose not to. There was something about the grimy, dusty, torn pale pages of the books sold on the pavements which drew him. He did not understand very clearly, however, why he read these books. He knew very well that once he had finished reading them he would never go back to them. May be this was also the reason why he didn’t spend on first hand books. But, he always lined them in a way so that their names could be seen from a distance. He did so for the visitors, especially the women who visited his room and could not help being impressed. These women always thought that he had possessed these books for a long time and that is why they looked so old now.
After sometime he got bored of watching that spider’s movement. In any case, it wasn’t moving any more. He could not understand what was so great about a man being metamorphosed into a giant insect. If at all he was given a choice, he would like to be transformed into something more significant, pleasing and lovely. He did not mind being a dog, for instance. Women loved dogs, isn’t it? How much he would have enjoyed it when a woman would stop and tickle his neck lovingly. As a child, he used to do the same to his pets. But suddenly he felt stupid. How irritating it would be, after all, to be touched by anyone and everyone and not having a say, a choice, an agency to decide. It was then better to be an insect and to be left alone, to be away from everyone’s gaze. But then he dropped the idea again unable to find anything good in such an insignificant, powerless life. He wanted to finish the story he had started may be only out of curiosity but could not gather enough will to do so.
He lay there staring at the light from his bed-light falling on the wall beside his bed. Immediately he felt a strong need to nestle his face under someone’s warm body and escape away from the light. He began to think about his past, trying to gain some warmth from there. But the image that he had of his past seemed like numerous spider-webs tangled with one another.
His phone beeped. There was a text message.
Sender: I couldn’t help drooling over you all day in the office today. I had thought if you didn’t ask me out, I would invite you. All day I kept rehearsing how will I do that. There I understood, how difficult it would have been for you to ask me out. But fortunately for you, I never declined your offer like you did today. So may be next time I hope you won’t be so ruthless and consider the way I accepted all your offers of taking me out.
He considered replying to offer an explanation and apologize for his behavior. But he didn’t. He felt too lazy to do so. Initially he had pursued this woman rather diligently, but he had never planned to be serious. He was just enjoying his time and had no further plans. It was more or less for fun and he had made sure that the point was clear between them.
Was it really his fault that this woman was threateningly becoming serious about him? How does one delegate responsibility of choice and intention? It felt like too much mess and Adwait didn’t like it when things spilled over on their own beyond his power to control.
He thought it would have been better to be a giant insect like the one in that story. Imagine the ability to scare people merely out of one’s appearance. People around you live in the constant fear that you could hurt them any moment. Imagine living without the burden of being expected to be good. What freedom!
This feeling made him go back to the story and begin reading again. Though he felt the story was depressing, it had the potential of appearing grotesquely realistic atleast for some of its readers, he thought. By the time he kept the book, he didn’t feel quite alright. He was disgusted by the family of Gregor Samsa for treating his so badly just because he had turned into an insect. He shut the book and cursed the author and then stopped abruptly and got preoccupied by another train of thoughts.
His phone beeped again. It was a message from the same woman.
Woman: Hey, slept already?
Adwait: No, was reading.
Woman: This part of you impresses me the most, you know. I have always wanted a guy who reads a lot.
Adwait: Yeah, but then I wasn’t reading to impress you, miss.
Woman: And next is this arrogance of yours 😉
He had read somewhere that misplaced sentimentality was almost like our birth-right. The whole thing began to disgust him.
Adwait: Yeah, but I was trying to make the details factually correct.
Woman: Let’s meet sometime.
Adwait didn’t want to reply after this. Once again, he could see, things spilling out of his control. He didn’t mind meeting her but did not want to harbor any hopes. He thought if it would be good if really was an insect, a giant one preferably.
Adwait: Let’s not make our meeting a routine.
Woman: I want to meet you everyday. Be with you every moment. I really have started liking you.
Adwait: You’re freaking me out now, lady. Stop it please.
Woman: Alright. Take your time. You’ll understand how I feel sooner or later.

Adwait wanted to slam that spider hard enough to murder it. But then he stopped short and placed his phone away from himself. This was all going wrong. He wanted to get back to the books and feel safe there. It was better, he always thought, to keep oneself away from complications and enjoy it from a distance. That is why he liked the world of fiction. There was no pressure and no liability.
He kept staring at the wall trying to think of a way to dissuade this woman. For once, he tried to make himself believe that he was too stoned to think clearly. But, it didn’t help. He was too self-conscious to dress up badly and not look good. For once, it seemed to him that he was to be partly blamed. The feeling of guilt began to rise within him and he started feeling repelled by himself. Once again, he thought if it would be better if he woke up as an insect. But what he did not like in the story and would therefore not like if he was to be metamorphosed into a giant insect tomorrow morning would be that stupid human brain, that faculty to think analyse and reflect. Otherwise, life as an insect was such a tempting escape.
He tried to sleep feeling hopeful, almost sure that he will wake up as a giant insect. But, then soon enough he did not like the fact that he will have to live the life of an invalid, not being attended and loved by anyone.
His phone beeped again.
Woman: Did you think about it?
This time he didn’t care to reply and actually didn’t reply. He was bored by so much thinking that he had been doing till now. He switched off his light and went to sleep. Before he slept for the last time he wished to be a spider and have an Adwait to stare at him and also a writer to write a story about it.


The tattoo on the wrist and not on the back


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.
This week’s prompt:  ‘He/She had seen that tattoo before! If only he/she could remember where.’

I was sitting by my desk listening to the chit-chat of my colleagues. I had been newly recruited and was trying to fit in with them. I was listening to this particular colleague of mine, Priya, who was parodying the mannerism of our creative head. I was bored. So I began toying with the mouse of my system when I saw that a mail from our creative head had just arrived. The mail read:

All the three subordinates are expected to report in the conference room to brainstorm on the ways in which we would go about making the two leads in the serial meet. We will discuss the possible options and ways in which we can align it with the main story.
Jayati Bhattacharya
Creative Head
Lalaji Telefilms

I immediately reached the conference room, excited about my first proper meeting. The other two subordinates- Priya and Rashmi-decided to visit the rest room first.

Actually one of our many serials had recently gone on air. Within the larger plot there was this small subplot showing the romantic chemistry between the two leads. The problem was that since there were so many of our serials on air we had to come up with ready-made quick situations to make it look convincing and real between the two without making too many efforts. Here in India, because it really doesn’t matter how many episodes it takes, so that wasn’t our concern at all. Some serials, as you know, manage to run even after completing few thousand episodes. We had all the luxury to work with the idea ad improvise on it.

Priya and Rashmi were talking about their respective boyfriends when Jayati entered the room. We immediately sat to discuss.

Priya: My idea is doing it through a tattoo.

Jayati: (mockingly as she kept looking at her mobile screen) Tattoo? ( After a few seconds of silence)Hmm. Go on.

I liked Jayati’s expression because it echoed mine. The idea wasn’t even worth listening to, I thought.

Priya looked at Rashmi as she began elaborating.

Joy Kapoor (our male lead in the serial) will spot a tattoo drawn on the back of Riya (our female lead) and be intrigued by it.

Jayati: What for?

Exactly! What for? Tattoos are so clichéd, I thought.

I had this shocked expression of disbelief on my face.

Priya: There’s the catch ma’am. When he sees the tattoo for the first time he will feel some sort of familiarity with it?

Jayati lowered her glasses and looked at Priya intently as if trying to read her expression or her next thought, but she didnot interrupt this time. She had an approving smile on her face which was so unlike the expression on my face. But, Priya was facing Jayati, so she continued after a number of seconds she thought would be enough to let the idea sink in among her audience. She continued:

“He will wonder, ‘he had seen that tattoo before! If only he/she could remember where.’ And after a couple of episodes it will come up that it is the same tattoo which he had always seen in his dreams, say, since his childhood. We can invest good number of episodes in showing this process of realization.”

Jayati had this “wow” expression on her face now which probably encouraged Rashmi to chip in. She started, “And later, we can develop the plot in such a way that it would seem that they are connected by their past lives giving a supernatural dimension. Later we will decide if we want to extend this supernatural element. As if their love is greater than time, life and death. A connecting thread as if nothing can separate them. Eternal love.” The conviction in her voice kept soaring with each word. Clearly the two had discussed the idea beforehand.

She would have gone on describing the magnificence of the idea when Jayati interrupted with a hint of triumph in her tone:”Quite convincing that is.”

I was sure that this was Priya’s idea. Only the other day, as I passed her desk I heard her telling her boyfriend in a very authentic dramatic tone, “Baby, I love you very very much. You make me fall in love with you again and again. I want to stay with you forever and after. You know what, I was thinking that we get a permanent tattoo on ourselves so that in our next birth we can spot each other, recognise and fall in love immediately without wasting even a second.”

I am not sure how the boyfriend must have reacted. But, I had this pukish expression on my face. What a fool, man! I don’t know if this was meant to be fugurative or literal but it was such an outrageous idea. May be she was just too love -stricken, I consoled myself. As if the tattoo was going to survive even after their death when their bodies are buried or burnt!

I sensed that our discussion was nearing an end. Jayati seemed to have found the idea favourable. But Rashmi ignoring all that continued with pride: “You know, this will show that we are a part of the tradition. Trying to pay our little tribute to Bollywood. The audience will immediately connect to it.”

“But, isn’t it that it is always the mother and the lost son or lost brothers who meet this way?” I raised my problem. I just couldn’t swallow any more.

“Yes,” Jayati ventured this time in defence ” but, this is the twist we are offering. Of course we can’t blindly copy the trope. There is somethig called innovation if they ever taught you that in your media school, Surbhi.”

As soon as I was snubbed this way Priya started off ignoring my discomfort, “In fact I just realized what a brilliant idea this is! Imagine, if later we have to show that this is not the right woman for Joy, we just need to show that the tattoo was temporary by showing that it gets washed away one fine morning.”

“Excellent! Start working on it Priya and Rashmi. What would have we done without the two of you.” Jayati lauded them as she rose from her chair to leave.

Before leaving the room she turned and looked at me with mild disgust and said,” I hope you will catch up soon with them in terms of creativity. And yes, Priya, place the tattoo on wrist or hand or somewhere. Back is too sensuous a place for our audience, you see. An ideal woman in Indian society is not supposed to expose her back.”

 

No I didn’t faint. I just resigned. Not from life of course!