The petrichor Chronicles

Abhinav Kukreja's Blog

Scraps 4.0

16. Dilemma

 Possessed, he never stopped writing. The girl from his book was his only true love. 

17. Meaning

They gave the extra burger to the poor kid outside. The smile on his face made them realize what a ‘happy meal’ is.

18. Thievery

His wallet just had a picture of his parents. A few days later, a thief threw an ‘empty’ wallet away. 

19. Commitment

She rejected Salim’s proposal saying that she wasn’t ready for such a big commitment. Her tattoo reading ‘Amir’ ascertained otherwise.

20. Multiple Personality Disorder

 ‘Are you married?’

‘Not anymore. I’m a single parent.’

‘Why are you in therapy?’

‘I’m too tired of playing both the mother and the father’

 

Scraps 3.0

Special thanks to Harnidh Kaur. Forever in debt to your advice. I’ll miss you.

On meaningful relationships. Thank you, Mahi Gulati.

 11. Benign

The last words I heard, came from my father.

‘A fatter book does not necessarily have a better story’ 

I died; no longer fearing my tumor.

 12.  Adultery

Who is it?’ Called her new husband from inside

‘No one.’

She couldn’t tell him her ‘dead’ husband had sent flowers again. 

 13. Choice

Juvenile; she was made to choose between the garland of jute and the garland of love.

No one talks about her anymore. 

 14.  Ink

She said he didn’t love her enough. In his defense, she only looked at his letters. She never read them.

 15. Anniversary.

‘I’m calling from JP Jewelers. Happy Anniversary, Sir. May I speak with your wife?’

‘My wife passed away a month ago’

*beep* *beep*

Scraps 2.0

6. Schizophrenia

His parents complained about never meeting his friends. They didn’t know he was skipping his medication again.

7. Feoticide

Sadly for him, abortion wasn’t an option. His worst nightmare shared his wife’s womb with his son.

 8. Masochism

‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’

She conceded when his love letters made her cry more than her slain wrists.

 9. Discovery

Different strangers posed the same question everyday – are you waiting for someone?

Yes. Myself.

 10. Alzheimers

My mother and I were strangers before she got sick.

Alzheimer’s changed nothing.

Scraps 1.0

The first five of a series of small stories I’m going to post.

1. The mother

‘When I was younger, my mother read out stories to me.’ 

‘So what? Every mother does that.’

‘Sir, my mother was illiterate.’

2. Hostility

His parents kicked him out of the house during the winter. He’d felt colder….inside.

 3. Love

‘Are you in pain?’

‘I’m in love.’ She told him.

The therapist scribbled a little ‘yes’ in his diary.

 4. Stigma

‘Our daughter was raped.’ they told the newspapers.

‘Her husband ran before the criminals did.’

5.  Music

They played the same song on their 25th anniversary as they did on their 1st.

They got older.

The Beatles didn’t.    

On dealing with death…

13 February 2014

01:14 PM

 

 

I was on the phone with a friend.

‘Hey listen. Mom’s calling me for lunch. I’ll call you in a bit. Don’t worry, she will be perfectly alright’

‘Thank you, Karishma’

I kept down the receiver.

Five minutes later, my phone rang again. Only this time, it wasn’t the friend. It was my mother.

‘Come back. She’s no more.’

I did not say anything. She had run out of words as well.

I could hear people crying behind her.

She hung up after a long pause.

I was expecting myself to burst into tears, but that did not happen.
Everything slackened. An indispensible part of my life had left, and nothing seemed the same.

It was like losing a tiny piece from a puzzle. The bigger picture still made sense, but it just wasn’t the same anymore. This time, the piece had been taken off right from the center.

 

I rushed down to alert my Nani, but her face told me that she already knew.

‘Pack your bags. We leave for Delhi in ten minutes’

My bags were already packed. I had been anticipating this.

I went back upstairs, and locked the door. I tried to weep again. I failed.  I looked for people in my contact list whom I could call. I couldn’t find anyone appropriate.

 

 

The ride back home took us three protracted hours.

I don’t remember much of the journey, to be honest. My head was out of the car window, and the vapid February wind shut my eyelids. I couldn’t see; I couldn’t feel.

I was in the car with three other people, but I felt alone.

I yearned for the traffic lights to turn red, so that I could delay the whole experience.

Every once in a while, when the car stopped, I could hear the faint sound of Damien Rice’s voice through my headphones, which somehow seemed like a crass cacophony.

In my defense, I was a young boy of seventeen.  I was learning new emotions.

 

We went straight to the cremation house. That’s where I saw my father. He was my pillar of support, my stalwart of strength. Before my eyes, two strange men took my grandmother’s cadaver out of the ambulance. Before my eyes, I saw my father’s eyes turn red, and face turn pale. I wanted to go and hug him, but my feet were resilient, and my heart was beating faster than it ever had before. All around me, I saw people grieving. The feeling was eerie, because I had never seen these people cry before; I had never known they cared.

And then, while the vapid winds became unnerving, I felt powerful. I felt powerful, because I knew it couldn’t get worse than this. I knew this was the end of all my apprehensions, and that even if things had taken a toll for the worst, the veracity had to be embraced.

 

My eyes met my father’s a few minutes later. He nodded me to come forward and stand next to the body. I left comatose again. More lifeless than the body I was being asked to stand next to. My emotions were too real to be described.

My grandmother was covered in layers of white sheets – her pyre cascading drops of sorrow. This was the end of a life. I still couldn’t picture her under those layers. To me, she always remained on her bed, pretending to watch the news channel.

 

This is when regret started to fill me up. I hadn’t visited my grandmother when she was in the hospital. I was too timid. I was too petrified.

 

Her death had changed the life of many, but when I looked around, I could see that nothing had changed at all. This was an everyday affair at the cremation ground. It made me ponder about the significance of human life. It made fear oblivion.

But this wasn’t about me. This was about a woman who had spent a large part of her later years teaching me the alphabet and putting up with my nonsense. This was about the woman who had made me bellow and lark.

Sadly, I just understood my grandmother on the bases of how I felt about her. I was with her for eighteen years, and I saw just one side of her. Maybe I wasn’t sad because she was no more. Maybe I was sad because the feelings and emotions I had ascribed to her were no more. Maybe I wasn’t grieving the loss of a body. Maybe I was grieving the loss of something much greater- the embodiment of her soul in mine.

During the several rituals we performed, I didn’t see my father cry once. I have to say, my respect for the man increased.

But then, when he gave fire to her body, I finally saw him shed a tear. His eyes turned to the color of the late autumn evenings all of us cherish- the color of the blood which was no longer flowing in my grandmother’s body.

We left for home after all the rituals were done with. Some relatives came with us, while some went back to their own lives.

Sadly, home didn’t feel like home. My grandmother rarely left her bed, but she was always visible through that tiny crevice between the wall and her door. Her bed was neatly made up, like always. However, today, there was no one to occupy it.

I wanted to weep, but tears failed me. It was miserable to not be in control of my own body.

Occasionally, when my father was looking, I swept my hand over my face so as to wipe away the tears, which weren’t there.

I don’t know why I did that. I wanted to be there for him. This seemed to be the only way.

Over the next few days, I took my final exams, and helped my mother serve the guests who came in every now and then to show their support, most of which felt fabricated.

Here I am now, three months later. But this time, when I swipe my hands over my face, my tears are real.

This time, when I think of her, it renders me catatonic.

This time, I cry to grieve, not to pretend.

 

 

 

My Grandmother Had Parkinson’s…

 

You couldn’t spot her if you looked carefully. Middle Aged, grey hair, a red bindi bisecting her forehead and a stout figure. She hid in plain sight. There was nothing special about her. She wasn’t the kind of people who build a legacy and are remembered by the ages to come. She was the kind who slip into the vortex of oblivion as soon they pass away.

 

You don’t write about people like her. You cross them in the market, and you forget about them as you pass them by. They are the insignificant details that you brain flushes down the memory drain. No harm done.

But then, she was different than most. She wasn’t a hurricane or a tornado, but she was that warm sunset that you need to see every once in a while.

 

Truth be told, she was a nomad. She served from one house to another, caring for the chronically sick. This is how she earned a living. I know her because she took care of my grandmother during her last days.

 

Honestly speaking, I didn’t know the nurse’s name. I never bothered asking.

The doctors had given up hope on my grandmother, and asked as to care of her in the best way we could. So, we had hired a nurse, in an attempt to do the best we could to increase our time left with her. All of us knew that she was in critical condition, and all of us knew that the nurse could not help in any way. But, humans like to live in a make-believe world, which is more comforting. Anything is more comforting than reality.

My grandmother had Parkinson’s. I doubt she remembers the last one-year of her life.

 

The nurse came in at eight in the morning, and left at eight in the night. She came by bus, and left the same way. When she was done bathing my grandmother, she used to help prepare the meals, and with the other maintenance of the house. Slowly, she fit into the family, and became an indispensible part of our lives.

 

She told me how she’d been in several houses before, and all of her patients had passed away.

It’s funny. We use that euphemism regardless of our age. Humans don’t know how to deal with death. We’re hardwired that way.

But, she was different. Or at least, we thought she was.

 

She told me she didn’t form affectionate bonds with her patients. I believed her when I realized that she never looked into grandmother’s eyes, while she was feeding her, or giving her her medicines.

‘She has been a nurse since many a years. She must be used to taking care of the sick. She might get reckless. Always keep a close eye on her. She doesn’t love your grandmother.’ My father used to say.

 

She served my grandmother for a little longer than three months, after which, my grandmother decided to stop facing the pain, and gave in at a private hospital a few minutes from our house. We were sad because we were facing death for the first time. The nurse, however, didn’t seem to mind. For all she cared, this concluded another meaningless episode in her life.

 

She served for a few more days, until all the post-death customs were over. My mother decided to let her go, and frankly, none of us thought otherwise.

And so she left.

 

However, I remember how she came into my room the last day, and stood near the door. Her arm was resting on the wall, and she was smiling, oh so sympathetically.

‘Are you leaving?’ I asked.

‘Yes’

‘Okay, thank you for all your help’

‘It’s my job. I’m sorry I couldn’t save your grandmother’

‘It’s not your fault’ I said.

Satisfied with my response, she turned back.

But as she closed the door, I swear I saw her shed a tear.

Life wasn’t one meaningful encounter after the other, after all.

She was humane, after all.

 

 

 

An ode to a selfless woman.

Mother,
I remember being young.
I remember you teaching me how to walk.
I remember you giggling every time I fell down and peed on myself.
I remember giving you constant nights of nappy changing, and pointless crying, and you cuddling me even though I literally reeked of poop.
I remember staring at my reflection in your brown eyes. I remember smiling.
I remember you nursing my wounds when I fell off the bicycle and making sounds of pain, even though it was me who was hurting.
I remember you buying me that extra packet of chips, every time the other kids decided to stop playing with me.
I remember you staying up till four in the night, to make my school projects.
What I don’t remember is you taking credit for any of this.
 
I don’t understand why you do any of this for me, because truth be told, I don’t think I can do all of this for you.
I try to understand the depth of our bond, but it’s beyond me.
Sometimes, I just want to be away from you, even though I know how much you love me.
Sometimes I think you smother me, mother.
I don’t know what its like playing host to a brat. I wouldn’t bear all that pain for you. Why do you?
Why do you put up with my nonsense, and still be there for me when I think the world is about to collapse?
Why do you match me tear to tear, one bad night to another, when you know I can’t do the same for you?
Why do you pray for me, even though I constantly ask you not to?
Why do you fight with the man you’ve been married to, just so I get another juvenile reason to smile?
Are you even humane, mother?
 
I don’t like it when I can’t comfort you when you’re crying. I try to, I really do.
I don’t like it when you cry because of me, but I don’t like my hormones either, maa.
I don’t like how you let me choose the restaurant, every time we decide to dine out.
I don’t like how you let me have breakfast in bed, day in and day out.
I don’t like how all your big dreams start and end at my bliss.
You need to be a little less selfless, mother.
 
I don’t think how one little anecdote on one day can make up for everything you do for me, even though I forgot to wish you.
I don’t know how I can thank you enough because had it not been for you, there wouldn’t have been eighteen candles on my birthday cake.
I don’t know how you manage to put up in a house that would collapse without your presence, now that dadi is no more.
 
I don’t know if I can take care of you the way you take care of me.
I don’t know how you do any of this.
I don’t like taking you for granted, but you make that task so easy.
I try being a better man, I try making things right.
I can’t. 
Forgive me.
I know how the human cycle works, and that one-day, one of us will not have the other, but I don’t see how I can survive without you.

I don’t like how you promise to be there for me at all times, even though I never promise to do the same.
I don’t like how you’re so supportive of my dreams and promise to pay for every country I want to visit, even though you want me to stay in close proximity at all times. I don’t like how you crush your dreams for mine, Maa.
 
I haven’t seen you laugh in a long time. All I see is a woman burdened with responsibilities, but not making a fuss out of it.
I don’t like the dark circles around your eyes, mother. They make you look old. You’re not old.
I don’t like how I’ve made you sick, just by being a brat. 
I don’t like how I am a bane to your existence, even though you’d never accept the fact.

I don’t like how you make your life banal, just to add a little more color to mine.

If I could take away every single moment when I made you cry, I would.
 
It’s sad how you refuse to believe that I’ve grown up. Maybe I like that.
Maybe all I want to be is a child sometimes.
I know I’ll be gone in another year, mother, to fulfill my dreams, when I unconsciously trample yours over.
But that’s what people do, mother. People are selfish, and people want to live.
But you don’t understand that, do you? 
Because you don’t know how to be selfish, and that’s naïve to me.
 
I know you can’t talk about issues like politics and religion and capitalism and patriarchy with me, but you are much more wise than I ever would be.
I know you can’t lift that twenty kilogram flour bag like I can, but you are twice as strong as I would ever be.
I know I tell my friends that you irritate me and I despise your presence, but part of me knows that that’s not true.
I’m sorry for not loving you as much as you love me, mother.
 
So today,
I want to thank you.
Even though I don’t believe in this day. I don’t think a concept as auspicious as motherhood can be celebrated on one day. 
I want to thank you for putting up with me, even though I’m not half the son I want to be.
I want to thank you for being so altruistic even though I’m a pain most of the times.
I want to thank you for not blaming me for crushing your dreams, even though I know I did.
I want to thank you for giving me birth, and making me, who I am, because that’s all you, mother.
Every award I win is yours, and everything I ever achieve will be because of you.
Thank you for being there, my mother aka my beating heart aka my support system aka gallant soul, aka portly belly aka cause of my existence aka definition of compassion.
Thank you for this lovely gift of existence.
Thank you for being who you are.
 
Love,
Abhinav
 

Explore.

Wake up with the sun.

Go out with the night.

This is time meant to explore.

The chemistry between who you are, and who you want to be.

Watch yourself tango with the possibilities.

Leave the banal, and become scholars of the great night.
Pick up maps that change your life.
Learn to say YES, and learn to say No.

Let the unscheduled determine the plan, and the plan be undetermined.

It’s okay to not know what you want, every now and then.

Take risks that you can laugh at later, or enjoy for the rest of your life.

Make last moment decisions, and friends who are crazier than you.

Fall in love with whom you are, and with where you are going.

Life is not a profit or loss statement.

Put your life in a backpack, and make that backpack your life.

Be the perfect tourist. Never settle down.

A year in the Himalayas, six months in the Amazon

Who cares?

Write a book that changes someone’s life.

Invest in people. Invest in experiences.

Read your favorite book thirty seven times?

What’s stopping you?
Kiss.

Learn the art of non-conformity.

We are storytellers. That’s all there is to us.

Be a good one, while you’re at it.

Climb the highest mountain, trench the unchartered waters.

Build a fancy palate.

Jump out of an airplane, if that is your thing.

Attend a concert.

Get high.

Experience snow, warmth and rain.

Make the whole world your home.

Keep moving, keep evolving.

Don’t merely survive. Live!

A hundred thousand frequent flyer miles.

A hundred thousand new experiences.

The world has more to offer than you think it does.

You have less time than you think you do.

Breathe.

Explore.

 Because this is your life, and the road to your grave is not a straight path.