The sound of human voices never seemed so harsh as it did yesterday when a meeting of people I know escalated into a dinner party and I was caught helplessly in middle of the whip, crack, burst, and rumble of voices in various pitches and accents.  I was rendered mute, beaten back by the crossfire of words and the snaps of laughter. At times the talking was so ferocious that it seemed as if I would come out of that room bleeding or purple with bruises, and I wondered why no one has ever reported this fact before: that the human voice is singularly unmusical and unsuitable for public airing except as a vehicle for song. Continue reading

Last night I lay awake thinking

That feeling sad isn’t so bad. For one thing you don’t have to ever feel scared that something will happen to take away your happiness. You can live without that fear and you can go ahead and imagine the worst because, according to you, you’re probably not that far from the worst anyway. Happiness is fragile – this has to be something everyone knows. It takes far more work to keep, and as you get older it takes even more work to keep you at the same level of happy. Continue reading

A House for Mr. Biswas

Reading Naipaul’s House for Mr. Biswas for the third time and loving it.  Such great comedy, such sadness.  See this line about Mr. Biswas being born:  “Some time later they were awakened by the screams of Mr. Biswas and the shrieks of the midwife.”  Funny, lovable.   Some books you read, something turns inside you and you don’t know why.  They call to you.  You feel you know the author.   This book is making me feel like reading again.  I had become a little jaded with words and had been reading only bits of books lately.  Too many books lying around the house that I’ve started or almost finished.  I will have to admit that books which have settings familiar to me as an Indian are appealing more to me now that I’m done with my MFA and my reading is mostly for fun.  But wait, I loved Bernhard’s Woodcutters too, and Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K.  Even in choosing what to read, you are always looking for something that resonates with you.

Little wee thing

Dogs and ticks
Mango trees

Enid Blyton
Days at the beach

A cow and a calf
Scraped knees

Playing with girls in
Sand heaps

Kicking a stone
Alone on streets

School fair
No money for treats

Skinny thing
So small and meek

Gone black with sun
Thin and weak

So scared, so sad
So naïve, so sweet

So desperate
To please and please

You’re dim and dark
In my memory

You creep by the wall
In a freeze

You never smile
You never speak

You never ask
For what you need

You’re loved to death
By me at least

Your mountains
My small-as-peas

I scaled your peaks
I made you me

We’d some good times
All too brief

But she’s getting closer
Don’t you see?

That Oldie there
Who looks like we

Limbs all slack
Heels like emery

How did she get
The way she is?

Grimace on face
Joy free


Can’t fob her off
Can’t shake her free

Can’t blast her out
To Mercury

Can’t run away
Can’t up and leave

Can’t loose her grip
On sanity

I just read

Somini Sengupta’s book The End of Karma.  Chilling stories of youth in India and the degradation that women still suffer.  It’s more than twenty years since I left India and some things have not changed.  How lucky I am to belong to that tiny slice of Indian female Indian population that got away relatively unscathed.  I roamed everywhere in India alone with what felt like little trouble though this was partly because I was so used to the trouble I just brushed it off.


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