Oct 17, 2016

Out of synch

One misaligned spine in a tidy row of 'books' drew me.
To a cliched metaphor about Conformity. 

Then the host of the yard sale ambled over.

He spoke of his father:
of neatly bound 'books' of 45 rpm records.
of a love of music.
of the promise of promotional singles.

$300 for the lot.

Priceless treasures likely lurked in this carefully curated collection.
If the close of day didn't bring a sale, they'd catalogue. And Research.

I looked down at the mug of cooling coffee in his hand.
Up, at the faraway eyes beneath graying hair.

He didn't want a sale.
He wanted his father.

Jun 2, 2016

Odometer Clicks

This piece will be performed as a piece of oral story telling at a public production called 'Voices' on June 4th and 5th (2016) at Somerville's Davis Theater (near Boston). Loosely modeled on the Moth Radio hour, this is the debut story telling event of the Bengali Theater group 'Off Kendrik'. It is themed 'Immigrant experiences' and will hopefully be repeated to capture more 'Voices' from the diaspora. 
Event details and theater company info here.

Odometer clicks by Chandreyee Lahiri

Did you ever watch your car odometer for a milestone?

100,00 miles?
200,00 miles?

If you did, chances are, you were young.
In that excitable phase where Life is charted with symbolic milestone.

Let me take you back to one of mine.

Apr 22, 2016

"The Cleaner": birth of an idea

We were spending a lazy summer weekend at our neighbors 'camp' on the shores of a New Hampshire lake when my friend Anu's FB tag showed up. It was the ALS Ice-bucket challenge that was swamping everyone's news-feed, inciting equal parts amusement and annoyance. I've done my share of ranting over armchair activism that breeds complacence and indifference but jumped happily at this one.

That afternoon on the O'Connors' dock by the glassy, peaceful lake our friend Michele filmed as my 7 year old son Oyon dumped a bowl of ice water on my head and we made our appeal for research funding to cure this awful disease. 

Apr 20, 2016

Other mothers, 2015

(Written May 2015 but published April 2016) 
We had just finished up at Oyons doctor yesterday afternoon. On his way out, Dr. Biller paused in the doorway, twinkled briefly and said "Happy Mothers Day!". As we drove home, the car radio burbled its support too for this sentimental occasion: WBUR's alliance with Winston flowers, please your mom and support public radio.

Like last year, my thoughts wandered from the fanfare around this holiday to those who are deprived of it:
- Mother's who have lost their children
- Mothers whose children cannot (or will not) come celebrate like in years past
- Single mothers whose kids may not have father figures to orchestrate the celebrations that young kids cannot wing on their own 
- People who are struggling to care for and celebrate their mothers
- Women who wanted to, be could not become mothers 

Jan 22, 2016

Empty threats

As I collected my 9 year old from school, he excitedly whispered in my ear...."The dog ate my biscuit!"

The bright little face turned up towards me was expectant. The problem was, as with most of Oyons non-sequiturs, I had no idea what he was talking about! 

Dec 17, 2015

Santa: out of the Chimney, into the fire

"M told me the truth about Santa, you know." he mumbled from atop his bunk bed. I only caught the glint of wet eyes because he was above my eye level.

"What Truth about Santa?" I asked, nimbly skirting accidental disclosure.

"His mom said she bought the Santa gifts. And Baba said yes too in the car when I told him…I knew it!!!" he said in a voice wobbling with indignation and grief.

My little human's despair has never before taken my breath away like this. I should have expected it though. In the two years since his suspicions about the Tooth Fairy were confirmed (at age 7), he's been stewing over the Santa Question. 

Oct 7, 2015

Tom, who feels fortunate

Last night a friend was bemoaning the poor state of her focus that prevented her reading "100 years of solitude". It just took too much thought for her current mood for amusement and escape.

Books that require the exercise of emotion in addition to thought, can take more than they give sometimes. They are eventually the books most worth reading, though what they bring to the reader is less easily identified than the sobs triggered by a tragedy or the sighs from a steamy romance.

Oct 5, 2015

Tooth Fairy in a tutu

Just before Christmas, the Gingerbread man shaped box had called out "Stocking stuffer!" from the grocery store end-cap and slipped into my grocery cart. It then proceeded to lounge idly at the bottom of the kitchen drawer and mock me for months after. It had after all, only space to hold about 3 Jelly Beans. Find me a kid who'll settle for that few and I'll give you mine in exchange. The kid, not the box.

Sep 24, 2015

Of demons & monst-ahs

Early this morning, a horrible nightmare that had wound itself around my sleep receded quickly as consciousness dawned. Something about a baby, I think, though it's too dim now to know for sure. I've been on pretty strong drugs for a while (for a terrible cough) and am convinced they are taking a toll.

Headed towards oblivion, but in clearer focus was another bad dream from a separate portion of the night.

Sep 11, 2015

Not remembering

On this anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack on NYC, I am able to neither respond nor subscribe to the requests to 'Never forget'.  Like every year, I wonder 'why?'

Sep 3, 2015

"...ageing pages, a slower time"

Pia of http://peppercornsinmypocket.blogspot.com/ recently wrote of an area of Calcutta from her past where "secondhand bookshops created a strip that smelled of ageing pages, a slower time". Her piece was luminous, as usual and ended with a prod to the readers to share their memories.

I'm certain that every Calcuttan can name their own personal favorite from the time before cable TV and internet broke-up the long and innately Bengali marriage of reading and 'adda'. The picture that flashed before MY eyes was of the boulevard between Gol Park and Gariahat in South Calcutta. The once grassy median trapped between bi-directional traffic on arterial Gariahat road, used to be crowded with rickety stores selling everything from second hand books to clothes.

Aug 9, 2015

Smart can be dumb but dumb can't ever be smart.

Oyon's imagination recently got ignited by internet previews of Jurassic World. We allow him those in lieu of the real (PG) movie currently in theaters. Some of this fascination, I imagine, is displaced passion for Harry Potter - since I won't allow him to read book 4 until he's older. The rest of it is undoubtedly an 8 year old's wonder at genetically engineered super-dinosaurs terrorizing and outwitting smug humans, not to mention the explosions and cool chases.

Jul 24, 2015

"Oh the times, they are a-changing"

My 8 year old was ensconced in my lap (I was trying to help him with 'bar models') when I caught a faint but unmistakable whiff from the region of his shoulder.

Jul 2, 2015

Silver and black

I walked to the waters edge when the moon was full.
It seemed like the thing to do.

The surf was loud and the breeze, sharp.
A silver swathe cut the water in two.

There was no Peace there.
Just pieces.

If asked, I shall probably say it was 'lovely'.
No one will believe the cold.