Is talking about one’s maid too démodé? But, Goddess help me, I must.
L___ amma has a rather loose idea of her employment with us, and tends to take off rather frequently. Her reasons are varied – some warranted, some extremely frivolous. She has a difficult life, and I never know how serious a matter it might have been that kept her from turning up the previous day. Once it was a violent husband, once a sick grandchild, once a bereavement in the family. But also, she considers her frequent poojas and family gatherings sufficient reason, and enjoys a startling assortment of ‘noppis’... pains and aches in the head, back, legs, feet... all of which add up to several casual leaves. She lays the ground the previous day and I am required to pick up on her complaints of an oncoming fever or somesuch and anticipate a dumma the next. Once I demanded the reason for her absence and she said – most disarmingly – that she had overslept.
I like to be harmonious, and have a preference for subtle messaging while L___amma banks on her considerable charm and cajoling to keep me sweet. Her voluble chatter about the minutiae of her life holds me captive for some length of time daily, and her favoured weapon is an extra chirpy ‘Good Morning, Madam’ which she has picked up from one of the offices she works at.
Our arrangement as she understood it did not work quite as well for me – and it wasn’t getting across. Plus, I particularly abhor being let down during the Navratri festival. So I worked myself up into a froth and yelled at her this morning. Sadly, method acting has its downside, and I am still attempting to bring my breath back into its normal easy cadence. In the throes of manufactured emotion, I oversalted the bhaath.
I know my anger was feigned, but my body doesn’t. How right is my Guru when he says, “Resentment, anger, hatred are poisons that you drink and you expect somebody else to die. Life does not work like that.”
I was a bit unhappy that my father brought home bananas this morning but no mangoes! A week or two is all we have before the bounty retreats from our markets. A gorge of two, maybe three a day should keep us till next summer.
What we get plenty of in Hyderabad is the luscious Banganpalle aka Benishan. A golden fruit, creamy pulp, almost without fibre and generous with size and flavour. S___, my neighbour and childhood friend is something of a mango connoisseur and has an arrangement with Ali, the fruitseller. Ali knows where to lay his hands on some of the rarer varieties, and when he gets a crate, he comes by. Does he holler his wares on the street, urging the populace to sample these exotic types? No sir, he does not. But discreetly he rings S__’s bell to sell him the story, and a few kilos. And I benefit. When I see Ali’s skull-cap lurking in the garden next door, I make haste and pick up some too. Once it was the elegant, subtle Himayat and this time, it was Langra. A lime-green to leaf-green mango. It turns a reluctant shade of yellow when it ripens but that’s all. But the ripe flesh is a gorgeous orange and the pulp a touch astringent near the skin. It’s wonderful! I have a tub of those in various states of development but I still want a few Banganpalles while I can get them.
I learnt later that the Langra comes from regions around my beloved Banaras. As if I needed more incentive to love it. But isn’t it strange that I should have loved Varanasi so? I have been there only once, and that was last year. Some old karmic connection, do you think? Have I lived in those gallis, bathed in the river, sat by the ghats as the sun went down? Or maybe the being is so mature, it could see at once (what I cannot see)... that it could perceive the magic of Kashi, the fount of spiritual input and infrastructure there? Or perhaps just a travel writer, whose imagination was caught by the spirit of an ancient, ancient city?
The Langra has inspired a colouring theme for my book. The page I’ve chosen is full of swirling leaves and fronds and I’ve decided to do the whole thing in greens and yellows. I have two sets of pencils to work with and one of them is a set of 48 water colour pencils. Mostly, I use them like colour pencils, but I’m going to use them here as water colours. Smudge the edges and corners darkly and brush the pigment inwards into paleness. My other set is a fantastic array of straight colour pencils with beautiful names for each shade. Amethyst, Jade, Periwinkle, Plum, Pumpkin, Honey... how would it be if we had Kesar, Totapuri, Langra?
This evening, as I undertook the somewhat womanly chore of fumigating the house,
I moved from room to room
with an outstretched cup of lit incense,
smoking out the demons from the corners where they are wont to sit when no one is looking
I caught myself in the slanting golden light from another room:
The shadow on the wall stood out starkly.
Hair framed around my face,
my silhouette both particular and generic
But the intention conveyed itself.
Tendrils of dark smoke rose steadily from the shadowy hand
I looked at this woman.
Encapsulated in a slice of cinema. A sharp moment of awareness.
A moment infused by the now.
Tutored by my influences to find that romantic, I did.
But every moment, they say, is that way.
Every moment, if you can look at her.
From a little distance away.
You tried to prop me up Run on my own steam, you said. Devised a propeller for my use, a conduit to rarefied fuel
and it does well for the most part
I thought we were okay Why then, did it feel like I was living on the breath you had given me last we met That I was running out subsisting on the last few painful drags
You came yesterday, I looked upon you, and you looked (sidelong, fleetingly) at me and you did that thing the being inflates with the pleasure of fresh life like parched earth squirming to life at first rain like leaves nodding in the south-western breeze
Trickling away a grain at a time, the sands of life. An unconscious moment here, a compulsive thought there Too much attention to the incessant circuits of the mind Too much staying with the mundane, the cyclical with the body's pains, its myriad niggles with the same thought that has come around again because I ogled at it when it went by last
Cusp of a fresh new season and it is time for that almost obligatory change-of-season post.
So we take down this reference to vague, internal worries and wonder all over again at the clouds of life that drift, drift, drift as we stay constant.
The new haiku on the header goes: cloud animals— the summer slowly drifts away
How the Oregon-based poet Clayton Beach knows the ways of our Indian monsoons, I don't know. But he does seem to sense the mood of the monsoon's approach this year. Not thunderous, not dramatic but gentle, almost. Already, the advance guard of clouds is nudging the summer away.
You don’t have to put any kind of strenuous practices
upon yourself in order to realise the Self.
The Self is the most natural.
It is the mind itself that is both entertained by
and entangled in so-called spiritual practices for self-realisation.
Though some practices are good and necessary,
many are aimed only at the ego.
Left unnoticed, they will keep you in a limited state of mind,
perhaps a spiritual mind even,
whereby you believe you are merely a 'person'
on the road to becoming the Self.
Your true Self however, does not need to practice anything,
for it is unchangingly perfect and timelessly present.
Because I downloaded the blogger app that lets me blog on the go.
Of course, the instinct has tapered off these days... I remember a time when I reached for the laptop almost every day.
Now, there is much to say, some things too important, the rest not at all. So what to say, then?
Irritation, anger, hate, and rage are just progressions. If you feel the
mildest sense of irritation, that’s what you need to work on.
thin tendrils of smoke
give away the raging fire
small, almost-invisible wisps rising
from a morass of deadwood, dead leaves, dead moments
like a forest-man I must be
not looking for anything
not hunting necessarily
not even hyper alert (in which is folded some fear, some panic)
scanning against a background of nothing
the taint of something
because that's the thing to do