Life updates

1. We let Boo go on the 27th of June. He went as he lived — fussed over by his family, chewing greens, oblivious to needles.

2. I went to Singapore for work and trespassed for leisure.

3. I won the highest praise at work. It’s the first time I have won anything. When I was 14 and weighed 43 kilos at 5 feet 6 inches, I was pulled on stage during the Christmas ball for a competition on the narrowest waist. I didn’t even win that. So I want ‘Displays Excellence’ inscribed on a watch, but a typo so I stay humble.

4. For the first time in 19 years, I am devoid of animal companionship. It feels like living without electricity.

5. My hair is getting curlier.

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I wish a Boo on all of you

Once in few weeks, when Boo’s health takes a turn for the worse, I find myself distancing from him. It’s an inbuilt reaction to shelter myself from the inevitable pain. It’s easily justifiable — I have no household help for the summer, I work 12 hours six days a week, I go to work earlier than before. It’s much more efficient to tackle the laundry while TB takes him for a walk. Besides all the medical help we provide, what can make this better for Boo? Just three things:

1. Walks (or car rides). Long walks. Allow him to lead. Let him smell everything. Let’s sit on the grass and watch.

2. Cuddles (or just an elbow nook, a paunch, a thigh to nuzzle into. With half a face gone, he’s very vary of strangers and doesn’t allow anybody to pet him. But he still drills into my stomach, allows us to apply hot and cold compresses and pick his nose. Dogs maim you with trust)

3. Watermelons (or any crunchy fruit and peel)

Just three simple things. It’s not so hard.

Pillow talk

Shall we switch on the fan tonight?

No! You can put it on if you want my legs to cramp all through the night…

No, it’s okay. I will sacrifice for you.

…and then in the morning we will have to amputate both my legs. And then you will have to carry me piggy-back to beg at signals. And I am 67 kilos. Though I think I’ll lose at least 10 kilos if both my legs go. Hai na?

Easily. And then you’ll die of gangrene and I will pull a handcart for a living.

You won’t go back to being a technology journalist after I die?

No.

Heart, arrow

Our boy has been diagnosed with an aggressive tumour in an inoperable area. We’ll be doing rounds of chemo and radiation soon and my only worry is that I hope this doesn’t give Boo super powers. I could do without a 32 kg dog climbing walls. Which brings us to the T-shirt he should have:
I’d fight crime, but my mummy won’t let me.

Day One: A quick run-through

1. The garage sale went swimmingly well. So well that several establishments have offered to host it and want us to make it a monthly event.

2. I made a five-figure amount and still have two drums of stuff left, lending credence to the popular theory that I have too many things.

3. Over the Diwali weekend, my only two-day weekend this year, Tushar had to be admitted to the ICU. He suffered from complications caused by a gall bladder stone, nosocomephobia and Dr Google. Before you all go aww for him, let me remind you it was the only Two (one, two) Day (24 hours) Weekend (which is only one day for me, every week of the year) I had this year. Admittedly he may have been slightly more inconvinienced owing to an IV and the tube down his nose, but I had plans for the weekend. I suspect he has the power to time calamities to inconvinience and anger me.

4. While he was in the hospital he 1. Scared the other patients by sleeping with his face covered with a white sheet 2. Got to play with remote-controlled reclining bed 3. Was fitted with a wonderful personal ablutions apparatus.

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5. He goes into surgery on Thursday and since his doctor is so good looking, I’ve decided to be with the doctor every step of the way.

6. As he was wheeled out of the ICU, he asked me to capture the lachaar pose. I hope he attaches it to his CV. (If you or any of your family/friends are wheelchair bound, please don’t be offended. We’re juvenile. Also, it was his idea).

lachaar

7. Last Sunday, the day of the garage sale, Tushar’s grandmother had to be admitted to the hospital for complications from malaria. She is one of the only two direct grandparents we have left and the only one from her gender. She has been the object of my unwarranted attention after my own grandma moved into Swarglog Apts. At 88, and being partially deaf and immobile, she can’t fight off displays of affection from a Burmese Milatee.

8. It’s November and I’m tempted to post every day.

Not yet at terms

I’m expecting two friends over today… well two of Tushar’s friends really. Our lives have merged together so much over the past seven years that they’re all Tushar’s friends now and all I have is a merlin.
As I was saying… we’re having two friends over today and I hope to spend the weekend mimicking my earlier life, which was avoiding reality using mild intoxication.
Which is hard now. I went to a friend’s house yesterday, for work. And after I was done, he urged me to hang about. This was the hardest hanging about I’ve done in a while.
I kept thinking: For what? What do we do now? Do you have an itinerary? HOW ARE WE GOING TO HANG AROUND DOING NOTHING? WE HAVE TO HAVE A LIST OF THINGS TO DO WHILE HANGING ABOUT.
The tension rose with every minute and he finally had to order his big dog to sit on me stop the struggling as he forced a nervine tonic down my throat and then we were all right.
Except that the dog started talking to me. Which is not the problem because I’m good with languages. He started speaking in konkani, which reminded me of my dead grandmother, and all the wonderfully violent things she would say. E.g. Say you’re ill. Really ill. And insist on going to work/school/college. To that my grandma would say: Baghte kashe zaate. Tangdach todun thevin. (We’ll see how you go. I’ll just break your legs so you can’t move).
Or if you misbehaved, she’d threaten to hang you upside down from the fan and smoke red chillies under you.
My favourite was when you’d get hurt, she’s light a ghee lamp, singe a cotton ball and press it to the wound.
I think the problem is this: I don’t have a plan for the afterlife.
We didn’t have a very religious upbringing and just made stuff along as we went. The broad concept was that when you died, you went to God. I don’t know what you did with God and how you’d even talk to a guy you’d spent a lifetime worrying about looking over your shoulder. It wasn’t unlike being called to the principal’s office. You’d sit there, across a large desk on chair from where your feet couldn’t reach the ground, while he went around his business of seeing what everyone was up to.
Maybe he’d look up and ask me the tables beyond 5 and then in my afterlife, I would actually have to learn all of them instead of just adding together like I did in exams.
At some point they told me about going through the entire cycle of births for even the slightest fuck up and I realised I could not win. If I’m going to have to go through the entire evolutionary cycle (from single cell organism to the wonder that is man) for blaming the mess on my brother, nirvana was a long long long time ahead.
I spent the last two years of school in a convent and got interested in Christianity, mainly because they had more fun. They had society sanctioned ball which allowed close interaction with boys, *hip names like Rita and Rosie, did the jive and wore frocks all the time. I started going to church and talking to the priest, who gave me a copy of the Bible. I skipped past all the confusing chapters to the Revelations, because everyone knows the Revelations are the important bit? That’s what the movies say.
So the sinners go to hell and the god fearing go to heaven, which are clearly different in landscaping and entertainment.
But they specified parameters for sinners and I was in the clear, except that they didn’t mention anything about non-paos. I asked my friend, who pointed downwards and waved bye-bye. There was not much choice there. Even though the Revelations freaked the hell out of me to the point that I started praying fervently to Mary mid-reading, there was no way my parents were going to allow me to convert. I was 14 and parental approval was crucial seeing how they could just change my school and freedom of reading.
Then there were some inputs from Theosophists and Buddhists about the different planes and how the soul advances through these levels by shedding negative baggage.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven says each of us creates a heaven for ourselves to wait out eternity or the time till the next shuffle. That is probably the least convincing version of the afterlife
In adulthood, I settled for generic cynicism. You die, don’t pass Go, head for the white light and if you have strong feelings about afterlife, you’ll see St Peter, or a few virgins (or at least technically virgins), or the bare desert you have to cross with only your own faith. If you are low on belief, you’ll see painted backdrops, pulleys and ropes and some giggly girls in long dresses that must be a bitch to keep clean.
You may not meet your friends, your dogs, your relatives.
My grandmother was a Tuesdays-Thursdays-Shravan vegetarian, fasting-on-the-right-days kind of Hindu. According to a more graphic description, she’s hanging-upside down over a canyon, waiting for her descendants to hurry up and bear children so that she can be reborn.
So in my case, she’s upside-down, ranting and threatening to break my legs if I don’t get knocked up. Not very different from what she did here. At least the view is different.

*To be honest, the attraction to those names was more a part of my pre-10 years.

Or I’ll cut my hair

Does this happen to you? You want to write, but there’s nothing to write about. I have about five “topics” in mind and if you were my editor, I would earnestly spin them into stories, ask a shrink for an opinion and tie it all up with a sweet pirated semi-nude picture.
You know what the problem is? Wait, I know what the problem is.
I am stuck. I’m stuck in life and terribly horribly bored. I’ve been in the same job for the past three years and living in the same suburb for nearly 16.
Please don’t say heartless things like at least you have a job and your health. There is a name for a situation like this — our classical friend calls it the Limbo. The last exciting thing to happen to me was in 2007.
I could really use a change. A change in work, a change in home, a change in city. I’ll even settle for a change in floors.
So this is my ultimatum, universe. I have it on good authority that you spend a lot of time on the internet and take advice from bloggers on how to avoid inter-stellar catastrophes.
I want to move out of this city. I want to move to another country. I’d like a fun-er job. Please.
I want out. I have done my time.

If you can smell this, you’re too close

I lost another dog on 29th of November, taking my family death count to three this year. I waited so long to post about it because I was looking for his picture.
I wanted to show you the red fur that gave him his name, Rusty. I would point out the pieces of his ear that he lost in various fights; the scar at the joint of the ear that shows where his ear came apart at the seam one Diwali. We thought we would lose him that year, as he jaunted up to the house, his ear hanging loose. The recurring mange on his back that he cultivated with care after every medicated bath.
What you wouldn’t be able to see is the biggest heart to beat inside the most noble dog and the smallest brain.
Rusty was undoubtedly my dog, as Cassie was my mother’s. He was my constant companion in the lonely, frustrating years at Panvel. We’d walk everywhere, to the market, to my grandmother’s home in the next sector. He was the kind of dog everyone was happy to see. He never begged for food, poked around the house or dirtied the place. He’d just hang around, politely refusing food until I was ready to leave. And, I’ve never seen him poop; he was equally discrete and deadly with bodily functions.
Rusty crossed territories without fear, walking to my grandmother’s house at will; sometimes after dinner, for a second serving of leftovers if he felt like it. Sometimes in the afternoon or evening, to meet Cookie, my sister’s dog.
He’d go and wait for my mama to return from his restaurant, hang around for a quick cuddle and head back home. During this routine, he impregnated every bitch that crossed his way and thus giving me my most embarrassing memory:

I alighted from the rickshaw outside my home one afternoon. Rusty was at the gate, in coitus with one of his innumerable groupies. Upon seeing me, his face broke into a grin and he trotted happily towards me, the bitch still attached to his rump. She yelped as she was dragged in reverse gear, Rusty eager to perform his routine greeting — rubbing his head against my thigh.

He was the first of my dogs to be fixed, but he didn’t seem to notice.

Every dog is unusual, but Rusty was odd. An ugly, scrawny, sickly pup — his head bigger than his body. He trotted like a bear and seldom licked us. He would just block my path and lean his entire body on me and grunt.
Whenever a bitch littered, Rusty would regurgitate food for the puppies, a trait found in wolves. He would let them clamber all over him, steal his food and only when the biting got incessant, would he come to me and groan and whine his complaint.
Another thing a photograph wouldn’t capture is his flatulence. Or perhaps it would. It was a thick cloud of noxious gas that probably looked a sickly green. It would slowly move from one end of the room to another. And then you’d have to flee.
He would have turned 14 in January, had he not crawled into the terrace to die outside my brother’s room. By morning, his tongue was blue, his stomach bloated. We buried him near the Pune Expressway where he can let out his one last fart on unsuspecting motorists.

Digging up a dead dog and grandma. Hi Ho.

One of the outcomes of tragedy is insight into what kind of a griever you are. I had hoped to be the dignified kind, parting respectful crowds in the wake of my graphite cloud
Never the howling, red-eyed chest-beater that makes them run and catching the slowest one by the collar and sitting him/her down to repeat the tale of woe.
Or even the romanticising one, air-brushing ordinary memories into idle summer days when crops gently waved in the field and buffaloes came home to roost.
Turns out, I’m a lazy griever.
No howling and getting it off the chest for me. My grief runs deeps, like a sewer. Even I don’t know I’m grieving until it manifests itself in small signs of disinterest.
Like over-grown eye-brows and moustache. It’s not vanity that shocks me, but the mild lull of not caring. And not in couldn’t-care-less way of strong women unfettered by their looks.
In a cock of the head to see if the hair catches the light, shrug, sigh kind of way.
In not finding anything to write about. In reaching out to wear dark, old clothes every day without realising.
In the mild malice that sneaks into every relationship. A curiosity to discover how ugly every human being is.
In the difficulty I have sleeping, resorting to a peg at night for discipline.
In the inappropriate, uncomfortable jokes I like to make, reminding myself of those I’ve lost and not grieved (Why don’t you bunk work? Say your grandmother died. You can borrow mine. She’s already dead. Ha Ha. No?)
It’s not as demonstrative as to make me miss them. An image pops up while crossing the street or getting out of a building. The sudden sensation of soft skin and cheek. Then melancholy. I stop, shrug and walk. Disoriented for a while.
A bearded lady in black, plonking her bright shoes a little too loud, suffering from mild fever for months.