Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Light inside the tunnel

Part II on my series about people who have touched my life irreversibly

Everyone has someone in their life who they listen to and follow blindly.Patther ki Lakeer. More often its your spouse, boyfriend, girl friend, love interest, true love, mother or father. Surprisingly, for me, its my brother.

Now those who know me, would agree that I am a really stubborn person. If I don’t want to listen to anyone I wont, no way will I. But the one person who can change this at that time is my brother.

Chintan Bhai. All his friends tease him about me calling him Bhai. When I was a kid I called him only by his name. I cant even imagine that now.
One day some religious guru told him and me that we should always respect our parents and call them aap. She said, "parents are your elders, they are those who you follow blindly, hence you should give them utmost respect and not use 'tu' for them"
Being what he is, he immediately agreed. I was going to rebel or question the guru, but seeing my brother accept it, I did too. The guru then asked me what I called my brother. I replied that I called him by his name. And she asked, "dont you think he deserves more respect than that??"

Ofcourse he did. He was my brother. I dint need to be asked twice. I was 10 years old. From that day on I started calling him Chintan Bhai, till this day and forever. This must come as another surprise for all who know me, coz I am staunchly an atheist.

He's four year older than me. Believe it or not, he controls the emotional strings of my house. Yes, there have been times I have been insanely jealous of him. But the best part is, he has always known it.

Yes. I still believe that he's the apple of my mother's eye. But now I understand why. This is the person, who sitting more than 3000 miles away in USA, can handle any problem which crops up in my home. Oh my parents are very independent, its not like they lean on him. But yes, he is that person who can tackle those situations which no one can.

Everytime something occurs, the first thing my mom tells me is, " Call Chintan right now"
or my dad will silently go and pick up the phone and dial his number.
Else I will do the same.

Coz we all know that he is the judge in the courtroom of our home.

And we all know, that the way he can handle each and every person, no one can. He can logically explain the right perspective to us, fighting here. Even when we wake him up at 2 in the night(his time) which is just 1 in the afternoon for us.

Till my brother was in India, he was my mom's pet and I was my dad's pet. Typical.
But since he has left. Both mom and dad adore him even more (if its possible) He's become the cynosure for both their eyes.

Everytime he deals with a problem, argument or situation, I have only one thought in my mind. This man, sitting so far away can handle things here, that I cant handle sitting in front of the happenings. And everytime I bow down to his judgment.

He is like that light inside the tunnel that shows you the way to the light outside. This coz he will never claim to be the answer to all your problems, but he will just gently lead you to find the answer yourself. He will lead you there, and he wont even acknowledge how big a hand he has in your discovery.

You know those times, when some incident happens in the family, wherein every decides to not tell the person who is farthest away in distance. When that happened in my family, I very clearly put my foot down and said that if anyone deserved to know and should know about the situation then it was my brother. And the way he would handle it.. no one can.

When he left for USA, I had started my first year in senior college. I think he very well knows that at that point of time, I was going through a horrible phase. He left and in near succession Ritu left, even Jatin was too busy with his work, Divya was in Singapore and Anu was in Pune. Plus I had been a fool and was still continuing being one.

I used to stay away from everyone in college, and not express myself. That time, in a creative writing class, my professor gave us all one day to prepare 1000 words about any topic at all. We were supposed to speak about it in class, in front of everyone. I tried my hand at everything I loved, dreams, magic, dance. Nothing somehow seemed good enough.

I attended the lecture with nothing in my hands. We had a ten minute break after the first half of the students had completed their monologues. I entered the library, a place I had never been in till the first 3 months of my college life. I sat there on the linoleum chair and chrome table with a page of double sheets, toying with a pen. All of a sudden the flood gates opened and I put the pen to paper. All of a sudden I had 2 full pages in front of me. Two full pages about my brother. About what he meant to me, and how after he had left I realized how important he was to me. About how I was realizing while I was writing about it, that I had hurt him immensely by being the fool that I had been, and that I was being. And since I dint have the guts to ask forgiveness directly, that was my plea for forgiveness from him. Coz he is one person who I cant hurt and live with.

That monologue had me surprisingly in tears at the end of it, and it left my entire class speechless. I remember that moment after I finished talking.. I has surprisingly choked up.. and was blindly hoping to be asked to sit, but my ma'am dint ask me to sit. no one said anything.. everyone was quiet for those 10 seconds. THEN someone started clapping, and the entire class applauded. That kind of applause had been given to just 2 other people in the class (toppers, who has done a great job). And then my ma'am asked me if it was just a fictional piece or did I mean it. I just nodded. I dint have the guts to say too much that time. And she understood, she asked me sit and catch my breath back.

That’s how much he means to me. Till date what Chintan Bhai says Patther Ki Lakeer. And the way his words, wisdom and strength has matured me, nothing can beat it. I have wished, so many times, that I would just be able to tackle things the way he can, be calm and sort things out with that extreme wisdom of his. His words and his gentle nudging has always shown me where I can go in my life. His intellect has left me spell-bound and aspiring for knowledge like his and his bad habits like messing the room and not cleaning it when i repeatedly ask him to has made me a cleanliness freak.

He just has to tell me to think twice about what I am about to do, and then do it. He never forces his wish upon me. I love that about him. He;s not your typical filmy brother, avenging his sister's insult. Once when I was insulted by a couple of guys in school and I went up to him, he firmly told me to retaliate back myself, and he would watch from a distance. I was shocked, but I would do wht he asked me to. I did, and the guys backed off. After a couple of years, I understood his strategy, he wanted the guys to think that I wasn't a typical girlish ninny, and he wanted me to show it to them in my way. While he watched over me.

When I was in Junior Kindergarden, I went to sleep in class. I happily put my head on the desk and dozed off. Enraged my teacher asked me to get out of the class as a punishment and stand outside for the entire period. I went out. At the end of the period when she came to call me back in, she found me asleep again. Lying down on the floor, stretched out totally, like it was my bed.
She lost it, called the prinicipal, made hugee noises about my behaviour and demanded to meet my elder brother (We were in the same school). Poor Chintan Bhai was ruthlessly reprimanded for having a sister like me. Through out school life, my teachers and principal always expressed astonishment on how a quiet, decent, sweet little angelic boy like Chintan Sanghvi could have the mischievious, devellish, chaotic sister like me. So much so, that in my tenth, a teacher made the mitake of saying that I was not worth being Chintan's sister since I could not marks as good as his in Science ( He was always a science freak, while I was a language geek). When my results came out, I went up to the teacher and threw my 87 in science on her face and proved it that whether I was worth being his sister or not, I, for sure, WAS his sister.

All our photo albums from childhood till now, have him looking over me protectively, while I was unabashedly smiling for the camera. He is my brother, friend, guide, philosopher, teacher, teaser, protector, and everything. Really.

He left India after I finished my Junior College. Talks were on that time for me to do my under-graduate from USA too. My dad wanted to ship me off with him, but he firmly refused. He said, that I needed to live in India more. I needed the three years my bachelors would give me to understand myself and root myself to this place. At that time, I thought he was talking rubbish. He just did not want me to go, because he thought I was not responsible enough. But again he was right. My three years here, have matured me immensely, rooted me to India. Made me realize what I thought i already knew but did not really. And he does even say, "I told you so".

And these three years, he has been my anchor. Chintan Bhai is that one person who I never want to let go of. All my friends have told me at one time or the other, how lucky I am to have a brother like him and how they wish they had a brother like him.

He isn't stuck up. I can discuss bad words with him and I discuss religion with him. I discuss premarital sex with him and I discuss his impending marriage too. And most of the times, we end up being on the same side of the argument. Most not all.

He is the person who teaches me about soccer rules when he realizes that I am interested in it. It was because of him that I started to play Tennis, cricket and do Judo.
And he is the guy who I went to when I slept apart from my mom for the first time and had a dream about a lion with pen-nibs for claws. I woke him up between the night and cried in his arms. He is the person who I went to when i wet my bed and did not wnt to be yelled upon by my mom. I was 5 or less and he was barely 9 and he would wake up, soak the sheet in water, iron the bed dry, make me change my clothes and put me back to sleep.

He is the person I call when I dont know the area of a right-angle triangle when studying for my GRE. He is the person who keeps asking me to iron his clothes when he is in Philadelphia and I am in Mumbai. Every time, in every phone conversation, almost every day.
And he is the person I kicked out of bed everynight, because as a child I could never sleep in one place. I would keep rotating as a clock and still he would put up with me each night. He is the person who I hated sharing my bedroom with, but I would not have been me today, If we had not had a room together. But I thankfully and resolutely refused to share my bathroom with him and got my way in that. He had his own while I had my own. And he is the person who painted my toenails coz my finger nails were still dry and I wanted to have polished nails when I went to college. (Sorry for letting the secret out, bro)

He is the person I wil always fiercely love. No matter what. And he is the person who I miss achingly too much today. I wish I had a better way of celebrating your birthday Chintan Bhai, but all I can do for you today, is tell you in this way how much you mean to me, how you have changed me and my life. I love you.

And NO this does not mean that I will iron your clothes when I come there.


Monday, July 17, 2006

thnks everyone

for some weird reason i cant connect to any blogspot address. I'm posting thru e-mail, just to let those ppl worrying abt me know that i am safe and unharmed in the mumbai blasts. its nice to see virtual friends care so much abt real life events. Thanks ani, thanks evenstar and thank you to everyone else who bothered to worry abt me. hope everyone who u guys know are fine.

i will keep trying to blog here as soon as i get thru the server. have a lot of drafts lined up!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006


There was this sudden blackout in entire Juhu area last night. Now, most people will say that in India, this is not quite a novelty, but this powercut was so sudden and at 11 in the night, that it kind of scared the wits out of me.

The blackout was all over Juhu, coz from my window I could see the inky black surrounding all around my building. I could see lights on a hoarding far away on the D.N.Road junction. Even Ram Jharokha, which normally always has a generator which works effectively the minute there's a powercut was pitch black. S.V.Road too looked like it was immersed in darkness. The surprising thing was that the sky was a dark, angry orange while below the skyline it was coaly black. I couldn't capture these colours from my camera phone though :(

I dont know why I got scared for those 25 to 30 minutes. All of a sudden the manhole, the thief and other horrifying things crossed the clean slate of my mind.

Since I obviously could not read myself to sleep, nor do anything productive, I went hunting in the apartment for a matchbox. I had stocked my room with candles but like a fool I had forgotten that I'd need a matchbox to light it up!!
I just lit a candle and prepared to talk myself into sleeping (as in I called a friend up and asked him to talk to me till I went to sleep) and the lights came on.

Jubilantly I blew out the candle and stocked up on matchbox too. No fumbling alone in the house for matchboxes from next time!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

To snap the thread...

I m holding on to things which most people are asking me to forget. Everyone i have consulted about this has told me its a bad idea, i need to let go n move on. But i dont know how to explain to thm.. what this means to me.

Its just a few questions to most of you guys, but to me, its the thread which refuses to snap. refuses to snap till the questions are answered.

My life is going great, I am glad that things are shaping up. I am glad that i have all you guys, and more. But i cant snap out of that phase in my life, when my mind was so warped it refused to see beyond a few things. I feel incomplete. Like I have left an integral part of me behind, left it purposely coz I m just so disgusted with it. Disgusted with the way it became so vulnerable, so quick. So susceptible to charm and lure, so fast.

I dont understand how i can get it across, that even if i dont get the answers to my questions i need the satisfaction of knowing tht i have asked thm. That might just finish the chapter and shut the book for me. Might, I dont know. And I'm not sure.

I understand that being scared about how things might become worse is but natural. But I also understand that, this, I have to do. I know that mom-dad will have more sleepless nights once they know of this, if they ever know, butI know that they wont understand this. They cant.

I am not going to turn the pages back and go blind again. I have my eyes wide open this time. I m aware that I must have said similar things 3 years ago, but I was living an illusion then. An illusion, which i admit, I created, and I am ready to take the full blame of it.

I am ready to shoulder the guilt all my life, live my mistakes, and repent all my life. But to do this with a calm mind, I need to ask those questions. I dont seek revenge anymore, Id ont seek penance, or I dont want someone to share the blame and the guilt with me. I can do that on my own.

All I need, is one chance, to see how i got duped so easily. How did I not see what was happening around me. And why was it all orchestrated. To what effect?? And who gained what out of the entire Charade.

Please let me do it. Please dont stop me this last time. Please trust me enough to let me do it.