Scalloped Tongue

18.8.20, 23:20 

Prof. VN told me this is short story material, so there ya go.

It was sometime last year when the tongue decided to pull off a stunt impromptu. You might be wondering what stunt it was. Well, it came as a shock. Don’t recall which channel it was, but in one episode a person got their tongue split in two for cosmetic reason/s. Strange, but whatever makes them happy. 

However, what my tongue decided to do was extra strange. I have a history of having mouth ulcers/canker sores due to vitamin Bs deficiency. I had no reason to panic when one appeared as usual on the extreme right tip of the tongue. I waited for it to go away in a week. It did, but it ate away my tongue. I showed it to Amma and expressed my concern. She seemed slightly worried but she asked me to keep an eye. 

I did. Another ulcer popped up a few months later slightly behind the previous site. Monitored it closely, this one ate away my tongue too. A part of it. Even the gingelly oil couldn’t save it. At that point, if a person who sucks at math were to calculate the area of tongue lost, it was approximately a centimetre square.  I sighed and continued to monitor. 

(19.08.20, 15:53)

I was glad it did not recur for a long time. It did not, for half a year, until it decided to shock me like an artist. This time both the outer edges burned, nearly half of it. Sighed again, panicked for a while, took a photo and told Amma about it using my tongue like I had water in my mouth. She asked me to have a virtual consult with a doctor. My career plans could come to a standstill like some project that failed to gain a clearance. It was hard to control the tear glands, but succeeded because the headache post crying is annoying. The tongue now looked like a biscuit after being eaten by a baby whose teeth just started sprouting. It is shrinking, I did not know what to do about it. I installed the app and took a night to figure out which doctor to consult, which hospital, when, how many years of experience, which gender, what is the budget, etc. Since, the matter was about my tongue, Amma did not want to spare any expense. The fee was 1000, for 30 minutes or a little more than that. I wish that day was just a Monday blue. Sigh 

Next day, it got worse. It was hard to brush without enraging the reddened tongue edges. I had to use the chat to communicate in my Development Journalism class. My Professor felt weird to not hear my voice. She asked me why, I told her and everyone that I have a shrinking tongue problem; Everyone found it bizarre and distracting. We moved on to the class. It was good as usual, except for my text behaviour, which definitely was unusual. I used textmojis, it was impulsive and funny. Supriya and Saishyam were my voice boxes. Anyway, after this the Psychology presentations were on. I informed Supriya about the graveness of my tongue, we got pushed without even having to do anything, since some groups exceeded the time limit and a teammate was stuck in Kerala with unreliable power and water supply and network connectivity. I decided to take an over the counter painkiller and wait for it to help. 

It usually does not impact my sleep cycle, however it was a disaster in the making. I overslept. Isaac, Saishyam and I call each other if we do not say good morning before 9:10. They tried, Supriya did, frantically; All in vain, because I passed out while watching YouTube and the phone did not close it to save battery. This was the last nail in the coffin and boom. I missed all my classes that day, most importantly the presentation. Paavam Suppu, she freaked out and got mad, justifiably. I woke up around 11, “OH SHIT!” My phone was dead. I messed it up. We were so excited for it, we practiced twice to keep it under 15 minutes and we did. We wanted to feel smug about it in private. Oh well, disaster happened. My heart sank. My tongue problem disappeared for a while. I received messages from some concerned friends. One of the texts read, “Thought some $$$ person actually shot you”. That is one of the last things I want, so I am hiding that. Pranav capitalized on that moment to pull my leg, which helped with my anxiety and guilt. One good thing out of this was, the pain subsided. 

Anyway, I am glad it wasn’t necrotizing fasciitis (I even considered cancer). The doctor said it could be due to dehydration and vitamin deficiency, Bs to be specific. So, now I have four bottles lined up; 5ml each of an iron supplement, a D3, a multivitamin ,and B complex and C. My favourite is the last one, it’s strawberry flavoured. Oh I forgot to mention Bellina’s internet hunt for conditions. She came up with something called, Scalloped Tongue. It was that. 

The border between home and college has been blurred; It exists only virtually, digitally. I attend the classes in my bedroom, sometimes right after opening my eyes. It is hard to wake up and push myself. Initially I was restricting my time on social media, but now it has naturally come down to less than an hour from three hours during the early days of the pandemic. I failed to wake up again after snoozing my alarm around 8 because my sleep cycle is messed up yet again. 

I am fine now. Neither me nor the tongue are the same anymore.  Surreal times.

Thank you very much for reading. Feedback is welcome. 

The Beginning

Thank you! Today marks the first anniversary of this blog.  

I have to thank Mr. Mohammed Ghouse, my English teacher in 11th and 12th grades. He was the one who introduced me to the world of writing in English. I did not really take part in any form of contest after third standard with enthusiasm. In terms of extra curricular growth and achievements, it was like the Earth without life, but the foundations for being laid with the help of one of the most revolutionary inventions, the television. It plays a crucial role in my life. The knowledge I gained from it alone was enough to be brag worthy, even if I did not attempt to do so all the time. The writing projects of mine were copy paste information dense. We had to do a 10th grade project on tigers because of Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger as part of English syllabus. Rita ma’am walked into the class and her entire being radiated annoyance at one project which was filled with unnecessary content, like the different species, etc. I think she had only asked about Project Tiger. Fortunately, she did not remember the student’s name, I sighed. A friend sitting beside me, a sports guy, popular, handsome, the stud basically, thought out loud in a derisive way who would that be, I replied as calmly as possible, it was me. I do not remember what happened after that. But anyway, writing such things from fifth grade were often copy paste. 

The contests that my school conducted to observe certain days like Hiroshima Day, World Environment Day, etc were announced much in advance so that we could prepare and write in the Title, Introduction, Body, Conclusion pattern. Had to follow this format in CBSE. As I said earlier, my projects and even essays for these symbolic contests were information rich which of course made for a boring read. And one moment hit me hard. It was 11th or 12th, my friend Anurag won the second spot in one of those contests and yeah, my arrogance was ripped apart. Oh I did not tell you how the arrogance came into being right? So, as I constantly binged on infotainment channels, often the social science teachers’ questions which left the classroom in a clueless silence that made them feel stupid, would be broken by the confident voice of mine which only left them feeling even more stupid. I could not find this confidence in any other subject classes except in Social Studies/Sciences, Science and English. I felt like them when they answered questions or made comments in regional language classes and Mathematics. I wonder if people felt contempt, jealous or envious for me, for being that person, because I certainly did towards those language experts and math geniuses. Watching a lot of infotainment also seemed to improve my vocabulary and grasp over the colonizer’s language, English. Three subjects lifted up my spirits, while the other three weakened it.

This balance was disrupted post 10th, there was no language other than the one I am quite comfortable with. This was also the time I managed to convince Appa to have a fast internet connection (until then it was expensive 2G or rarely 3G packs) and the expansion of my brains grew at a greater pace. I was obsessed with learning new words. I subscribed to Dictionary.com’s word of the day crap, wrote down words that fascinated me. Some of those words help me in classes even now. One such word was noblesse oblige; I came across this word in that word of the day letter. Prof. Arul Mani asked the meaning of this word during the semester where we were learning about the Victorian Era. I answered, it was not very accurate, but I felt nice. My ego was fed. Several such moments happened and could happen.

11th and 12th classes were in the old PUC block of the campus. Although we were under the school Principal, our de facto Principal was the one who managed the PUC. Extempore, debate and classrooom discussions which were dominated by few, primarily by Sukant and me gave a sense of superiority, because it was a classs of eleven people. Bishop Cotton Boys’ School in 2016 organized a fest as part of their collaboration with the UN’s He for She campaign. 12th grade, how can I focus on something other than studies and scoring as high as possible?! If my memory is right, I informed both the Principals about the event, they seemed to forget it in their regular affairs. The PUC Principal, granted me and two of my friends the permission to represent the school. Meanwhile, the three of us spearheaded by me did something normal, to motivate our juniors to take part as well. This happened during class hours, because when else would school students be in their classes? We obtained the permission of the school Principal and of the teacher’s whose class we had. However, this reached the ears of the PUC Principal, this set off a power crisis, of who had greater legitimate supervision over us. We apprised the school Principal of the development in detail, one to try our luck at gaining a “Get Out of Jail Free” card and to piss her off. He was on our side, a phone call was exchanged, we were summoned to her cabin. We were scared, she was passive aggressive as usual, with a couple of implicit warnings and good luck we escaped unscathed. Phew. The teachers and one of the two office staff were on our side, but it made me feel like what jingoists would make some people feel like, anti national, seditious, treasonary. It felt good in the end to no longer be completely submissive and purely syllabus oriented. 

Two juniors, two friends of mine and I took part. The writing event had around five topics to choose from, my overthinking mind kicked into action, I don’t know but I picked up Feminism and Women Leaders or something like that. Wrote some five crappy pages and submitted. The winners would be awarded the next day, but I did not want to piss her off again. To my surprise, I got a call and someone named Padmanabhan, the school captain, told me that I was the winner. I could not believe it. I thought okay maybe second spot. I met him, Paddy as he is called by his friends warmly, greeted me and took me to a room where he awarded me on the Principal’s behalf, a trophy; My very first, that I consider it to be the greatest. (Sure, if at all I win some other prize or award like the Red Ink or Pulitzer, it would cause some friction. But hey why can’t more than one greatnesss coexist with another?) It was a big deal for someone from a virtually unknown school in KR Puram, one corner of Bangalore to win a writing contest in a convent which had participants from the popular schools. 

During 12th and post that during the break year, I was a content writer for a largely student run website. The CBSE way of writing still had a strong influence, but it started weathering away; Not enough though. 

And then came another wave of transformation.

 EJP

Professor Vijeta Kumar entered the class like a breeze and sat. She boosted the process of unlearning in general and started the unlearning part of how to write. She differentiated what a topic is and what a prompt is; The former, you have to stick to it, little room for digression or shitting; the latter, you can just use that anywhere in the piece, even if that means that is the only place where it will achieve significance. GE professors also changed the way I think and write. “VJ” as she is fondly called, would pick a word running in her mind as she closes her eye lids enough to appear as if she is conspiring, once she picks the word and throws it at us with a content, seemingly sadistic smile, she would give a word limit; ranging from a few lines to 4000W(ords). I struggled initially but enjoyed it too. Never in my life had I written about something as ordinary as an umbrella. It was a moment of liberation from the chains of mundane mediocre essays school days. English, Journalism and Creative Writing classes and Prof. VJ’s tutorials helped me and are helping me when it comes to finding my voice and doing various things with it. 

My life began out of a crisis resolving event for my parents: their marriage;  it is not going to end for the four of us till we die. We were required to have a blog on WordPress and post at least one blogpost. Prof. VJ informed us. Few of them already had started one during their school years. One night, my existential dread became overwhelming, not like it had not before, this time I had a new way to engage with it: write and blog about it. 

I had asked for name suggestions, it was a flood. Supriya came up with some sanskritized name, it sounded fancy; I picked on that idea and came up with this. A name tangled up in  politics. I am still confused, should I change the name or retain it? Anyway, without much thinking, I just posted the first blogpost. Poor Supriya, she got triggered in a good way. I remember receiving some praises that night and the following day. Vikas’ praise stood out. He was telling other classmates about it delightfully and proudly too I felt. 

Some people who are good at writing, whom I am envious of, either keep their works private or do not post as often as I would like them to. Some who do, are one of my sources of inspiration. Most of my writing is crap in comparison to others’ works. 

Now, something that I locked up and away after enrolling in EJP, is making a comeback: WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO AFTER THIS? I do not know. I wish I knew. I break my head over this nearly everyday since May. I am envious of my friends who confidently send in their works to be published and few do get published. And damn wish I had that intensity of confidence and write such gripping, wonderful works that make me feel worthless; And I am not good enough at any one thing at least to be a little happy about. I try. Joined the course because a therapist sounds like a well paying job after a few years, turns out I am not really that interested in dealing with other people’s crisis anymore. I may like being a journalist, but the environment is scary. As Nikhi put it one day, “Do you wanna be shot up your asshole?!” Prof. VN keeps saying there are ways to evade such problems and deal with them, but the number of pointless, baseless cases slapped at journalists and media houses is rising. Sometimes I think of becoming a teacher, professor, but of what? This pandemic has only aggravated this. I am constantly searching for hope, reassurances from family, friends, myself and interest areas along with possible career options. It is tiring. Would I choose death over making this decision? I don’t know. I just wish and hope that I pursue something/s that I won’t regret overall, be alive and not be on the streets (not that being on the streets is a shameful thing, I just won’t survive). 

GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF US! TRY TO KEEP THE HOPES ALIVE! AND JUST KEEP TRYING! As my friends advice me, ONE STEP AT A TIME!

Hospitals and Me 2

Second part of the series. Thanks Saishyam. 

Last time I ended it with balms, I was five or six. 

I had to do kakka, so I asked Appa to take me to the toilet in the last room of the home. He did, when we came back, I saw Amma on the dining table, groaning. She was taken in an auto to a green hospital, a few houses on the opposite of our home on the front. I remember one evening when we went for a routine check up for her. An ultrasound was taken and Dr. Suryakala asked me, “Thambi venuma, thangachi venuma?”(Brother or sister?). I just blithered, “Thambi.” Her due date was sometime in March, she was only 8 months when she started contractions. It was a normal delivery, there she was, small, bloody and baby fresh. AH! The aroma of fresh babies! Since she was a premature one, Seeniammal, a former nurse and my mother’s paternal aunt, according to Appa’s account told the doctor that she would not survive. When he asked the doctor about her condition, she quoted her aunt; Appa rushed to save her. Fed her cow milk, she gobbled up two small feeding bottles. Amma could not breastfeed much I guess. I think her tubes were tied as well. Amma ate pineapples, papayas and yel-urundai to abort owing to economic issues, but Latchumi atthai asked her to stop. And around five months her amniotic fluid leaked, there was a possibility that the fetus might die within 24 hours; On hearing this, Amma told me I cried, “Papa venum!”,I want the baby; Before this moment, I kicked her tummy and demanded that I should be the only one. Daya, my (cousin) sister was delivered in Dr. SK’s too.

It was another evening. Thaatha was talking to his visitors in the hall, Amma was in the kitchen, Appa was in the front I think, I was in the middle room. Pooja started crying out of hunger, I glided across the marble floors from that room to the kitchen, I did not slip that fifteen stretch until a few feet before entering the kitchen. The kitchen is at an elevation of at least. The entrance of it had a sharp marble edge floor. My toes went backward, my face forward, hit the marble edge, a hole was created. I cried, she now had two babies to take care of. I was given priority obviously. I sat down outside the shed in the backyard, under Thaatha’s shower, spitting blood in pain. Appa examined and took me to a clinic. He did not have anesthesia and some machine was not charged, I think it was the stapler. So, he sewed my mouth as Appa describes, koni-paiya thaikra-maari, like sewing a gunny bag close. I had to visit another clinic because it had become infected or something, they cleaned it up and asked us to visit a few more times for changing. Appa took me on the back of his Hero cycle. I blame her for it, but Amma teases me with me being a caring brother, paasam. Pooja was admitted in Dr.S’ hospital on the tenth month. I was eating my favourite porota from the Selvi hotel near the bus stand, she asked for some, she was given a small piece, but when Amma was away for a few minutes she devoured a long piece that she could not digest. She just had two yeli pal on the upper and lower jaws.  Appa took a photo of her lying on her lap with an expression that oozed pain. Some years later, Subbu atthai after reading our charts, told us that had it been a brother there would have been serious problems within the family.

We lived on rent in Subbu atthai’s ground floor part of her home in Thirunelveli, Appa’s elder sister. I saw her inserting something into her nostrils and inhaling it with her eyes closed, like one does some serious yoga breathing exercise; If I were aware of a dildo then, I would have called it as a mini dildo inhaler. It was a Vicks inhaler to alleviate minor breathing issues. We only bought it a few times, because it did not feel so hygienic. 

There lived a doctor Kailash in his sprawling home like those shown in films with a garden, white walls, sod, a happy family, blah blah. He was nice. His clinic was behind his residence, in a corner. There was a nurse as well. We could visit him in the evening before he went off to work at another clinic. Usually it was a fever or stomach issue (actual ones, not ones that are magically created to avoid a test, class or just to relax). He always wore a smile, pretty young, 30s maybe. Before he comes, the nurse would do a basic round of temperature check up. She would insert a white plastic instrument that resembled a hammer, after a few seconds it would beep and the readings would be told. Now I know it is an infrared thermometer, the ones in extensive use to screen people for COVID 19 symptoms (at least from the images I come across). Amma used to take me there because Appa got a job in HAL a year after we moved there and before that he worked as a HOD of the Mechanical Engineering department in a newly established college by a former minister’s father that was on the outskirts of the city, I will talk about that story later. 

I vaguely remember the evening Jeevan was born. It was dark and had the feeling it would rain. Unfortunately I do not remember much about Daya’s and Jeevan’s births. 

Anyway to be continued…

(I might make some controversial comments in this series soon.)

Thank you very much for reading. Feedback is welcome

Hospitals and Me

Wrote something after a while.  Thank you Vikas, Annie, Anirudh, Rohit and others for sharing your works recently. Thank you for reading, feedback is welcome. 

So, as I am munching into one of my favourite chocolates, Munch, because I like it and I need sugar in my system, I ask Amma why I was taken to a small house in the evening lit with incandescent bulbs in an agrahaaram near Aandaal Kovil. I remember it in flashes, we step into a house filled with queues of people and crying babies, she carries me to some room and the next thing that flashes is me being carried out crying. I was administered the BCG vaccine, colloquially known as thadupoosi in Tamil. Dr. Shankarnarayan, he was our family doctor. He took care of my maternal family and then me. He is still alive and treating people in his 70s or 80s. The BCG leaves a scar which according to my uncle, periappa Ganesan is a hallmark that you are an Indian. 

His hospital or clinic was shifted to the opposite side of the street, which had a pond in the middle. The queue grew along with his new place. This place was unlike the other, it felt more like a hospital, dettol, tiled walls, not just oil painted, more seats, beds, nurses, more people to run it. There was also a mini pharmacy. One has to walk up the narrow ramped floor to reach a bigger, well lit room where people waited in a long queue with a token number, made of small pieces of roughly square shaped cardboard; it was like getting an uncut, raw diamond. We moved slowly closer to his small room. The closer we got, lesser the anxiety and the leg pain. He sat on a rotating wheel chair with his coat on, speaking in his baritone, asking the parents, “Yenna aachu?” He’ll place the cold metal part of the steth on the chest, ask me to breathe in and out, and then turn me around slightly and repeat the same on my back. Oh I sit on a stool. As I grow older it feels like my memories are in a queue, flashing every now and then. I think both of my parents used to take me to the hospital, sometimes it’ll be only one of them. 

I was born in a private hospital in Madurai. My aunt, Amma’s aunt’s daughter was the one who first held me. She’s a government doctor. Amma also had to get a surgery to remove some tumour or abnormal growth in her uterus or somewhere around there before I was born or immediately after that. I should ask her again. She told me it was pretty big. I remember my Oral Polio Vaccine rounds vaguely. The taste definitely wasn’t pleasant. So, we visited a place that offered it early in the morning to avoid the rush. Nurses would be ready with their boxes filled with tiny bottles like eye drop ones to be opened with a little squeeze twist like a baby and child’s mouth and two or three drops would fall into the mouth. The taste was strange and unique but it faded away in an hour or so. My veins in the right leg are troubling me again, for the third time in a month. Thank goodness for the cloth kinda elastic band aid that alleviates. Amma told me disposable syringes were used only around the time Pooja got vaccinated, she was born in 2005. She got vaccinated in Dr. Mohandas’ hospital on the same side of the street as Thaatha’s home. He gave me a disposable injection after sterilizing minus the syringe every time she had a vaccine. At one point, I exchanged a huge round magnet that Amma took out from the circular thing encircling the gas tube with a friend for a big ass syringe. She was mad because I exchanged it for a syringe and that it could be unhygienic, so it went to trash. Dr. S used to tell the parents with some evident annoyance in his voice, “You get your vaccinations there, but come here for treatments.” According to her, he was referring to Dr. M. Appa used to ask the nurses to give me a dosage of OPV although I was done with it. I remember reading about eradication of Polio, Smallpox, invention of Penicillin, etc throughout my school life in science.  When Pooja got her last dose in ITI Hospital, he asked them to administer it to me as well but they refused. After that, it was only when I got admitted for the circumcision procedure last April, I was given a shot of TD, tetanus in my left upper arm. It swelled up and a pounding pain lasted for a few days. 

S prescribed one of my favourite syrups of all time, something named Tonoferon. It was an iron syrup. Tasted pretty nice. Once he prescribed an orange flavoured syrup. Oh how lovely it was! It was orange in colour, tasted so yummy. I asked for it even after the prescribed amount was done. I hated IbuProfen junior or something. It tasted like raw rice. I love Cetirizine syrup,especially the blue one. The pink one after that. The Vicks ad in so many versions of an ideal wife and mother rubbing it on the son’s and husband’s nostrils, chest and back. This treatment went on as well, can’t remember when I stopped. And then there was Tiger Balm from family and friends who lived in Muscat in orange and white that seemed to work better than Vicks  or Zandu Balm, not sure if it actually works or placebo because it is from Muscat. 

Maybe this is too long for one post, I will do it in parts. 

My Colour

Good morning, master!

O thou Lord! 

You are the most pure and intelligent!

Are you surprised that I speak in your tongue?
Ah, I am grateful to you for teaching me your ways. 

You do teach your ways, master, 

But, but, sometimes I feel weak in my mind,

Although I could possibly be an equal to your kind physically, 

Aren’t you the most blessed with knowledge?
So, I come to you, seeking answers to my question. 

It is an earnest request. 

My kind has been forced to accept the rule of the Aryan,

Although I may be the native of this land, 

Even if I am not, am I not an individual like them and you? 

Why am I not able to afford and be allowed to dress and eat like you two?

Why am I not allowed to speak as loudly as you two do? 

Why am I not allowed to speak at all sometimes?

If I do, I am shot down,

Sometimes, using a gun, 

Sometimes, using merit, 

Sometimes, using purity, 

Sometimes, using gender,

Sometimes, using sexual orientation, 

Sometimes, using skin,

Sometimes, using faith,

Sometimes, using ideologies, 

Sometimes, using haves and have nots, 

Sometimes, I wonder aren’t we all different? 

Sometimes, I wonder aren’t we all Africans? 

And doesn’t that make us all one huge family? 

But, why are some members of the family wealthier and healthier? 

Some members of that family call themselves liberals, but their actions prove otherwise.

Some members of that family enjoy having us as serfs. 

Some members of that family, are kind to us, treat us like their own.

However, you do not, master. Why is that so? 

Please tell me why is our family like this;

Same origins but treated so differently! 

Sometimes, I feel like the angry sibling who is not treated like the other one, 

It crushes my spirit. 

Some people claim that free will exists, people just make bad choices,

But did I ever have the choice? Will I ever have a choice? 

Wait! If we, you and I belong to one branch, why do I have to address you as master?

Shouldn’t it be uncle? Or maybe even by your name?

 If that attacks your ego, mister could be added. 

So tell me, Mr. White, 

Why is the world the way it is? 

Why should my kind, live like this? 

Some make a distinction between merely existing and living, 

I see no difference between the two in my kind, 

But, I see it when we compare our lives;

You live a near utopia, a heaven, hedonic,

For me, us, it is quite the contrary. 

Have you seen your child cry, protest against you?

When you deny it of something? 

Sometimes, I want to do that;

I do it, but at my parents;

Maybe, they are just gullible enough to fall into a trap,

You view us as exotic, special, rare,

If that is the case, shouldn’t we be in your place?
Why are you not worshipping us? 

Oh Mister! Don’t be mad at me. 

I did nothing, I am still where I was,

But not really, you think so, right?

How dare this uncivilized question my authority? 

I am just a curious person!

However, I can’t and won’t promise you that my curiosity will not threaten the hegemony. 

Oh! Your black coffee is cold, I hope you know how to warm it up;  I’m tired. 

Thank you very much for reading. Feedback is most welcome. 

Awoken

Hello. Thanks for reading. Feel free to talk to me about what you think. 

Strange dreams as usual. I messed up my sleep cycle again; sleeping sometime around 4 and 6 am, waking up around 12 and 2. 

I woke up from my dream, REM phase, only to get back to a state some like me at times consider a death, only to be born, awaken again with the breath of fresh life to continue the random life I have nowl; The gap between that and the thunder felt so small that I woke up few minutes later, having returned to a state of consciousness. Is it raining? Is it evening already? Shit it must be three or four! But then the sun rays lit up my room on the east as usual, I checked the time on my phone, it was close to 2 pm. I wondered what it could have been, I was left with two options, either a thunder or a sonic boom. But both seemed implausible to me, as the sky was devoid of dark grayish, (appears to be black at times) clouds, and from my knowledge of airspace, a supersonic flight within city limits to be a strange occurrence. And then I saw my class WhatsApp group where Vikas shared news reports of the “Boom” incident in Bengaluru. In twelve years of stay in the city and observing fighter aircrafts in Aero India, I had never experienced a sonic boom, until today. Saishyam shared the tweet of Shiv Aroor, founder of Live Fist who confirmed the speculation of the sonic boom a while ago. I do not know why I did not think of a tremor (maybe my coping mechanism prevented it). However, by then the internet was going crazy with memes, witty tweets, comedian Danish Sait being at his best as usual, apart from panic. I had a good laugh. 

If it were a tremor, sigh, I would have lost my shit. There are already enough power structures fucking a lot of us over, add to it a virus, a cyclone that is going to torment several lives and the ecosystem, an earthquake would have managed to crack my sanity that I have been building over the past few weeks. *farts* 

Fun fact: Did you know that a Pistol Shrimp with a snap of its clamp can create a shockwave louder than the boom of a Concorde’s and hit the temperature of the Sun momentarily? 

Anyway, it is a coincidence that I am reading Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh, climate change, displacement and migration being some of the major themes. It saddens me to just read this fictional work that foretells the dangers of climate change if we do not try our best to reduce our impact on the ecosystem that we share with trillions of other beings. 

Excerpts from the book to the extent I have read. 

The Sundarbans are the frontier where commerce and the wilderness look each other directly in the eye; that’s exactly where the war between profit and Nature is fought.

Yet Aila’s long-term consequences were even more devastating than those of earlier cyclones.

Hundreds of miles of embankment had been swept away and the sea had invaded places where it had never entered before; vast tracts of once fertile land had been swamped by salt water, rendering them uncultivable for a generation, if not forever. The evacuations too had produced effects that no one could have foretold. Having once been uprooted from their villages many evacuees had decided not to return, knowing that their lives, always hard, would be even more precarious now. Communities had been destroyed and families dispersed; the young had drifted to cities, swelling already-swollen slums; among the elderly many had given up trying to eke out a living and had taken to begging on the streets.

Rani must have felt that everything she knew, everything she was familiar with – the water, the currents, the earth itself – was rising up against her.’ The words had an oddly familiar ring. ‘It’s funny you should say that. Moyna said something similar when she was talking about the people who’re leaving the Sundarbans.’ Piya nodded. ‘You’ll hear those words often here. We’re in a new world now. No one knows where they belong any more, neither humans nor animals.’

Climate/Environmental migrants are the terms given to people moving due to climate change. I think this is nothing new, but the impact of climate change in this century can be more devastating than the previous ones. And then there are talks of the fifth major extinction. We have exploited the world for a long time, but in the last two centuries the Octopus has exploited people and nature without any concern for either of them and the future. MNCs acquire vast swathes of land in poorer countries to fill the tummies of others, this is dangerous. And now I start to sound pretentious. Fine, you can look up all the crap that climate change is causing and can in the near future, within our lifetimes if we live up to our 50s and 60s. What is more dangerous than climate change is the one who refuses to believe in it. I remember some PM replied to a student that our tolerance to cold is reducing, when asked about climate change. I cannot even imagine what it is like to be displaced from home, I only know how it feels to leave home happily for a better home that is ready, not one that is not. I wonder what it will take for someone to step out of their bubble to believe in such things that have a global impact. I am reading on things like GM crops, hegemony, blah. I go crazy sometimes, wondering who is saying the truth; I won’t be surprised if I have to believe something to be true, I have to weigh something based on the extent of disinformation. Knowledge production is an important tool of power, I find it a challenge to trust a source of information. Earlier I had placed my trust on some media organizations, but now I am skeptical of all media houses, yet what choice do I have other than to believe in something if not everything? Would I go insane if I did not trust any news? Someone from a dating app invited me over to their place a few weeks ago, I declined stating my not so strong immune system and lockdown; Their response was something on the lines of asking me not to fall for propaganda, intelligence and bravery is welcome. It pissed me off, I did not talk to the person again. It also got me thinking, did some digging on conspiracy theories surrounding COVID 19. Some put up statistics of the rates of recovery, which seemed dubious but carried with some valid questions like, “How many already suffered from serious illness/es?” We know that it affects people with weakened immunity systems, the elderly the most, but we do not really have a breakdown of the data in detail, but again there is not much time for that either or to conduct detailed autopsies. This is not what I intended to write, at least not completely, but here I am triggered and writing it out. This is one of the reasons why I have been off Twitter and Instagram. All I know is one thing, ones at the bottom are the ones who sustain the structure like a foundation and the middle ones negotiate and survive between them and the ones above them. Why the fuck do we fuck ourselves so much?! If it is survival of the fittest, stop saying we humans are different from animals because of our superior brains and tech. 

Beyblade

Hello.Thank you very much for reading. Feedback is always welcome.

I am writing this, thanks to Phugazi. He is filled with nostalgia of his childhood, toys: cars, trucks and Beyblade. He had a Beyblade phase. The original ones were expensive, just like our shared desire for Hot Wheels. By the time he got one,finally, “the fad had gone out by then, and my interest in the object too. T’was sad.” 

He had a Shadow Driger or something, cost him 500 and he describes, “Plastic body with that one piece of metal in the middle”. It was an original. He might still have it at his home in a box filled with spideys, which is why he hasn’t opened it. 

I do not have any memories of watching an entire episode of Beyblade, at least not any that survive. It is based on Beigoma, a traditional spinning top of Japan, which I just got to know. The Indian version of it is the pambaram in Thamizh. I remember my craving to learn the art of spinning one, not on the tummies of women like in films of the 70s and 80s. A bunch of kids from the neighbourhood in Aamathur were playing with their tops, I wanted to try as well, so I asked Appa or Amma to ask them to let me try it once, they let me, I tried, I failed. And then one day, I saw some fellow school boys playing with their beyblades. The teachers in Vidya Mandir took us to the Milk Society building when the power was out like right now; a ten minute walk. When I saw them playing, I wanted it too. My parents got me the tiny, cheap, plastic ones. I remember one of them being green and white. I had to slide in the plastic wire thingy around it, hold it on or a little above the ground and pull it out as fast as I could. It was fun, until it broke a couple of weeks later. 

And then do you remember the advertisement of Funskool Playdoh?

I wanted it so bad, it just looked so magical. All the colorful things, animals, clowns and happy faces. Oh do you remember the ads of Game of Life and Scotland Yard?

I wanted those too! Finally, as our pocket got deep enough, we could afford two Monopoly and a Game of Life, apart from other board games like checkers,chess, carrom, snakes and ladders, thaayam, some more. I remember playing chess with someone when the power was out in Srivilliputhoor with the help of a candle in the hall. Ah, I used to pBeybladelay chess with Subbu atthai when she was here to help us out when Amma was being treated and carrom with Alagu chitthappa whenever he visited us once in a blue moon. I played carrom often in school, because it wasn’t as strenuous as basketball or football, games which I was not interested in and was just too much of dick energy, especially when a PE sir was also playing. 

Anyway, I want to do other things, so more on this later, maybe. Buhbye. 

Cars

Been a while. I am frustrated about the state of affairs, I hope to express it one day soon. Thank you for reading, feedback is welcome. Thanks to Pranav, Kevin and Alice for serving as a stimulus to write. 

“It is fascinating to see Vijay talk about cars.”, said an amused Nikhi when we were checking out books arranged neatly on the shelves as one entered Bookworm on Church Street. 

She said the same when I asked Pranav about a poster beside the cable suspended bridge of KR Puram that appeared similar to a British MG. (We were heading to Therpup Cafe, a story for another time) 

I was two and three years old. A baby who enjoyed riding the plastic, violet scooter styled tricycle on the terrace. We used to visit Appa’s teachers’ home in Virudhunagar often those days, since my parents just moved out of my maternal grandpa’s home, perhaps after some conflicts and/or want for freedom and privacy. I loved my days there, in a town called Aamathur. More on that later. Anyway, on one of our visits in the evening, the light bouncing off a pinkish or maroon car hit my eyes. My baby eyes were glistening with desire, my hands reflexively touching the glass of the cabinet. I asked Amma for it, they heard me asking for it and Valentine, their son opened it and gave it to me. It fit into my small palm, felt like it was at home. And that was the start. 

One evening, I wanted to do kakka, to shit; that is how I called it for a long time, until recently it was replaced with the decent toilet poren, going to/using the toilet. I was warned that the cars could fall into the Indian toilet. I played with two cars, their words came true, one slid down to its slimy death. I whined and felt sad for a while. But more cars entered and exited my life. A noon in Srivilliputhoor’s Andal Kovil kadai zone, outside the sanctums of Garuda and the chappal stand; Those were the stores I paid least attention to, they were always crowded and did not have what I liked, however to my surprise one of them had featured a box of toy cars. I asked Appa with my baby face and perseverance, he let me pick. I think I asked for the entire box, he said pick one or two, had he had more money back then, I am sure he’d have granted my wish. Even tiny, toy cars were a luxury, but I remember having at least two sacks of toys by the time I was 5. I wonder how much stress I put them through. At times, Appa used to take us on his brother in law’s bike to the Kovil. Those were also the years I would refuse to leave home without finishing the episode of Transformers cartoon in the morning. Fortunately the school was somewhere in the middle of Vaazhaikulam street, a Vidya Mandir; Some days I would step in only after the prayer ended or was happening. Our neighbour, whom everyone generally addresses as the Meen kadakaarar, the fish shop owner, I was one of his favourite customers, I would like to believe so. I bought quite a lot of toys from his store as well, mostly cars and fishes (another story). All I had to do was, open the back door that led to another street, walk a few steps to the left and I’ll be in his store. 

When Chitthi visited us in Srivilliputhoor from Erode with her husband, she gifted me a car and a plastic, fluorescent bowling set. But I did not collect it that evening, so in the morning I went up to her ask about it, she was in her husband’s arms inside a mosquito net, she woke up and told me; By then Amma noticed me and called me towards her. I chuckle at it now. I got it finally. It was a Mercedes Benz SLR Roadster, grayish blue; I could open the doors and the bonnet. It felt real, it was beautiful, heavy and big, the size of two palms. I continued to screech, “Car! Amma, Car! Appa, Car!” whenever we visited a store or if I spotted one. At the peak, I would have had a fleet of twenty of various colours; most of them were not even based on the bigger functional cars to transport. I happened to have ones modelled on the Jeep that was used in WWII and later by the Indian Police, the blue ones in films; And then few Tata Sumo and Maruti Suzuki Esteem. The story of Maruti and Maruti Suzuki is an interesting one that involves Sanjay Gandhi. Read on it if you want to. 

Chitthi and her husband owned an Alto with an AC, owning an AC car was a big deal a decade ago. I enjoyed travelling in it. When Thaatha and we were to travel together, he hired Ambies, Hindustan Motors’ Ambassador (which was based on another car),by another adorable thaatha. He had a few Ambies I think. They all had mini fans. 

I had this fluorescent green bus that just played some music, moved around in preprogrammed paths and there were two TVs inside that had moving images, I was so fascinated by them. I had it till I was in Tirunelveli, thanks to Appa’s skills in electrical works, he made sure it ran on an adapter, because dry cell batteries drain quickly. And then outside the Nellaiappar Kovil there, I bought a toy steam train that let out some kind of white smoke for a while, till it ran out of that material. I bragged about it to my relatives. Oh just recalled, I also had a Maruti Suzuki Swift. In a Vijaykanth’s film where he was the collector, Vadivelu, a peon I think told Vijaykanth’s father that he sits in the front, even the collector sits in the rear ignorantly. Sitting in the front seat was and is a big deal I think. Wonder why, more visibility? 

I remember buying a remote controlled car before leaving for Bangalore; Again a Mercedes benz SLR Roadster. And then a pick up truck RC, one for me and sister. I ended up dismantling both of them like any other electronic beyond repair that I owned. I wanted to own Hot Wheels. It was a dream, a dream that only came true partially in a Made in China rip off of it. And then when Amma was being treated for her cancer when I was in ninth grade, I asked for a RC car again, he got me one but it stopped working the same evening or the next day; He got into an argument with the owner because he refused to take it back and refund, somehow the verbal spat ended up with a victory to my father; but at home things got salty again, he was quiet till he dropped me off home, the anger came out after that; the usual scoldings about my health, eating, all that shit came up and ended with him asking me to leave home if I can’t eat properly. Yes, I know he said it in anger, but it hurt. sigh  

So I think that marked the end of my toy cars era. I remember seizing some Cars film series plastic car gift from my sister, later she got another one, I ended up having two sets to play with. I used to have something similar to Lego that I used to build some houses, using ice cream sticks, some towers or cranes, I used whatever I could to create a tiny world to play with my cars. I wonder if there are any survivors now. I used to paint some cars in colours I like, or just for the fun of it. 

Oh I wanted to buy a Rolls Royce Ghost, the Bond Cars, Pullman, Jags, Beetle, Ambie, a classic English racing green Bentley, Quattro, SUVs, Range Rover, gas guzzling Hummer, RVs, so many more, have a fleet like the Sultan of Brunei. I bought auto magazines whenever I could, binge watched anything automobile related on TV. I remember being excited for the launch of Discovery Turbo; FIfth Gear, Top Gear, Super Cars, World’s Most Expensive Rides, blah blah. AH! One day I saw a bright blue Alto outside the house that was allotted to us in ITI by HAL. It was April 5th I think, the wedding day of my parents. I came back from cycling with two other guys. My mouth opened, eyes glowed. Amma always wanted a bigger car, because others in the family had bigger ones. The problem with buying one is not just a monetary issue, but also one that of parking space in a city. I remember having some notebooks that featured a Bentley Continental GT Coupe, I loved that notebook cover. 

Appa always assured me that I will buy my desired car, but as reality hit me harder each time, the desire to own a car vanished. I hope to buy one so that I can commute and go on some filmy long rides (yes I said rides, buzz off). 

Independent

Wrote something after a long time. Feedback is welcome. Thank you very much. 

First of all, stop thinking as yours and mine- Professor Arul Mani

I saw this word in someone’s Bumble profile. It prompted a thought. It reminded me of my desire to be independent and my perception that I am in the process of becoming independent. Nobody and nothing are ever independent. Be it a sovereign nation state, or an individual. Maybe in terms of making choices, I can be considered exercising my independence, but were those choices not dependent on other things? What is independence afterall, if it isn’t an illusion? On a fundamental, charge level, are we not dependent on each other, be it things or people? As a specie our purposes were to survive, procreate and evolve. We did all those and more than that. We evolved, we created, the first sparks of fire ignited using rubbing against two stones harshly, we still do the same, with our minds and bodies to ignite fires that consume not resources alone, but ourselves. We are destroying ourselves, although we are one, the survival of the fittest is so morbid. Or am I saying it is morbid and unfair because I can construct thoughts at a level greater than most other species? What if I couldn’t do that? I may have accepted that this is how a ecosystem functions, the fittest ones get to dominate, the fittest ones do not always remain the fittest. We all have a day, hopefully, when the strength will crumble. But if I were to it accept it like this, what makes us human then? What sets us apart from others? What do we brag about if we do not practice it? Humanism is fine, may be what we all need is universalism; We coexist, but do we exist for the benefit of ourselves, everyone, for someone, some group/s or none? If population is a problem for some, why do they not raise problems of inequality and inequity? An acquaintance said we should just exist. Is there a difference between existing and living? Maybe existing is just a state in which you merely are alive, living maybe is a state in which you do whatever makes sense to you, beyond the basics of survival of the specie. I don’t know if I am making sense even a bit. Professor Jerome, Political Science at SJCL told me that in Manusmriti if an untouchable, Dalit were to listen to the teachings of the Brahmins, the punishment was to pour hot oil into the ear/s. If someone is to be human, and as they say the ‘men’ of ancient times were superior in terms of thought, where were the other genders? And I think they would not have come up with knowledge systems that created structures of oppression and inequality. I could also say thought evolves. So it took thousands of years to be here, only to maintain status quo, to maintain and perhaps even increase the gaps. If existence on this planet is an illusion, why are you so hell bent on maintaining status quo? Murdering the bodies and minds, maybe the spirit too? Why can’t you just share and coexist? I am not asking you to love everyone? Maybe not hate based on some identities we cook up using our superior brains? We are dependent, we will continue to be. I believe everything is interconnected. This is just me thinking out loud. Also I am no longer sure if I should hold a strong opinion. Does my opinion and I matter at all in a system that is designed to give an illusion that we are free?

I wonder if I will be able to practice this completely, but I will try. 

Shock

It was around 12:30 pm today that I went downstairs. Amma was in the kitchen cooking as usual, Appa was in the living room watching the news and Pooja was on her bed using her phone. I stood there for a while facing in the direction my parents were in, I do not sit in the living room unless I want to eat or watch a show on big screen; So, they perhaps would have thought I just came down for food and/or to catch up for a bit.

Before this, I was binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, it has a decent representation of queer characters. It has involved coming out, love, romance, relationships, etc. And recently I was shook by the fact that a friend of mine was thrown out of his home by his parents when they found that he was gay; They read his diary. And people usually ask me if I am out, I say yes to everybody except my family excluding my sister and ­non-blood­ ­related people. Coming out has been a matter of great thought consumer. I am not sure, if sexuality is and can be a private thing as long as it does not harm someone and themselves, however from what I have heard and seen it does end up hurting people. I remember talking to a transperson a few years ago, who was/is married, has a child or two and feels not so comfortable in their body. The personal reflection poem that I attempted, Identitea, will provide you some insight in brief. I remember finding a cousin’s friend attractive. I was somewhere around five and seven. I remember finding certain guys attractive as well, this continued. I did crush on girls at the same time. In fact, my sister’s name, the unofficial one and her first one is Pooja, who I named her after a crush of mine in first grade. Denial, shaming, homophobic environment, ignorance, suppression, repression, sexism, racism, body shaming, etc, all of this happened concomitantly. It was hard, it still is. I, sometimes, wish that I were normal, but I am just too full of myself like any other straight cis hetero person in this society; I do not want to fit in, at the same time I want to. Incongruence, it causes conflict with the internal and the external world as Carl Jung, the humanist theorized. People ask me if I will ever come out to my family or not, some say they do not want to, because one does not want to suffer abuse, get kicked out, worst case end up in a asylum, some shady person who claims it can be cured or whatever.

It was only during 12th grade or during that vacation and the break year that followed it, I started confronting myself with respect to sexuality. I used shady chat forums, sexted with guys, enjoyed it, got on Kik through one such chat, continued till I found Kik boring. And then I had an asexual phase,  by the way for some it may not be a phase afterall, just let them be. Just let people be themselves, please. I started using dating apps, went on a few dates with men and a woman. Only in January 2019 is when I realized I may not be asexual afterall, I had been taming myself so much that it felt like the libido, vanished. I still found people attractive. I remember being really attracted to transperson during my Kik days, she told me about her struggle, she wanted the surgery, but the queues were/are long, it is expensive, stigma, what not. When a friend asked if I will ever come out, I replied I do not really know if one should or shouldn’t, I do not know if sexuality is-can be a private thing, heteros do not have to come out. They do not have to live a life of dread, in world that is unsafe for non heteros and non cises. I apologize if my terms are inappropriate. I sometimes think that I want to escape labels as much as possible, gender, caste, sexual orientation, etc. However this society is too reliant on those to introduce and sustain hierarchies. She replied saying that maybe you should because change, inspiration, normalizing it, blah. Do not remember exactly. I have come to terms with terms/labels, I will continue to use them for the sole purpose of a struggle against these hierarchies, to shatter them as much as possible. Apart from that I am not letting these ideas confine me, although for some it is important, it gives them a sense of identity and comfort.

I checked horoscopes on several websites today, something I only do when I feel anxious, desperate for some hope, confidence and courage and in a crisis. I asked the both of them to be present, they stood with faces smiling in anticipation of something good. Well, to their disappointment and shock, I started with my friend’s story. They were shook and confused. Amma said they could have taken him to a psychiatrist it could be cured, my firm response was no, it cannot be. And then I told them, I do not only like women but also people regardless of gender. It does not matter to me. Awkward silences took over the conversation. My heart was pounding, I wish it had popped out. They were confused as to why am I telling them about this now. I told them all this happened, that I did not want to tell them about it till I had died and even after that, but I placed pressure on the word, nambikkai¸ trust in Tamizh; I confided to them because of that sole factor. I sat there for another five and ten minutes, asking them what they think. Amma again suggested visiting a psychiatrist, I said not. It can’t be cured, it is natural like how you two are attracted to each other, I mostly do not have a control over it. Appa said it is a phase. It’ll be alright when you are around 25. I asked them to not swallow what they want to say, they can pour it all out. But nah, it did not happen much, I could not bear to see this, be there anymore. I said I do not care whatever you think, I cannot help it either, your feelings, I cannot do anything, I climbed upstairs to my room, locked it as usual, leave them befuddled, I just could not be there a moment longer. As much as I did not want to walk out. And here I am, tears filling up my eyes, controlling my emotions as much as possible whilst I am writing this down. I asked my sister if she could eavesdrop for me the next few days. She said, this is nothing you shouldn’t even be thanking me for. I admire her maturity for her age of fourteen. Oh wait, nose leak. Crushed the tissue like my fears of them finding it out through someone else like some people speculate and tell me. I have some hope still left in the world I think, looking at people like Pooja, my friends, acquaintances, professors, counsellors, and blah. I have no clue what my life will be like hereon, she says they will pretend like it never happened and stick to their theories. Thank you for reading this, I hope it goes well for you. I hope you do not have to go through this. You can do it. EmBrace yourself and others. Good luck.

Live and let live.

PS: I am having bowel movements now, I have not slept the last night primarily because my sleep cycle if fucked up, as Nikhi says, taking a shit/dump after a long day is therapeutic. Stay safe from COVID 19 as much, good luck.