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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Point of View

First Person
I waited for my turn patiently as the dentist drilled holes in the teeth of his patients. I tried not to notice the squeals and the ouches but they got me. I have hated dental appointments all my life. I had one when I was a child and the memory is a faint one. I was pulled to the chair and the dentist, that bastard, distracted me with his questions and as I opened my mouth, he started his drill inside my mouth. I felt like the world was going to end. I now understand when the kid in the cabin squeals like a baby seal. I am pretty sure the dentist must not have told him anything about the surprise injections and drills and other forms of torture.

Now that I am an adult, I cannot shout for help. That would be childish and no one would come to my help. This toothache is killing me and so I am here.

"Excuse me, will you please stop tapping your foot like an idiot?" A woman sitting next to me said. I do not not know what to say. I do not understand how people can be mean to someone they hardly know. She does not know me. She does not know my foot tapping is the only thing that I can do to avoid a mental breakdown.

"Ok, sorry." I said to make her feel bad. Now she must feel like the mean bitch that she is. I did not retaliate. Long live Mahatma Gandhi.

"Idiot," I heard her mumble under her breath. Was my tone patronizing? I think I should apologize again.

"I said I am sorry," I said to her this time with feigned sincerity.

She looked the other way. I hope she goes for a root canal and the dentist murders her jaw with those sharp little pins. I wish the dentist injects gallons of anesthesia in her and then ties her to his torture chair and then pulls out all her teeth. I hope...

I suddenly halt my chain of thoughts when I see the receptionist looking at me all weirded out. I guess I must have had an evil smirk on my face during the thought process.

The dentist called the women sitting beside me next. Enemy's enemy is a friend. Suddenly the dentist is a friend and I want him to destroy this woman. She goes in and comes out after ten minutes with a whiter smile. She is a fair woman with a mean disposition. She struts along after paying the heavy fee at the counter. I wish she accidentally falls in a paint bucket and the yellow paint permanently covers her newly whitened teeth.

She smiles at me as she leaves. I am all confused now. The dentist has called me in next. I don't know what to think. The dental chamber looks like a friendly place. The tools are neat and shiny. I sit in the chair and it is very comfortable. The friendly dentist smiles at me and even shakes my hand. My world is upside down.

The dental clinic had posters on all its walls. The posters showed teeth in compromised situations. There was a poster about brushing. He sat there looking at all the posters but his mind was somewhere else. His face changed expressions as the receptionist noticed him fidget with the pamphlet and tap his feet. The receptionist made a face as the chair squeaked with his foot-tapping. The woman sitting next to him observed him calmly and smiled to herself. She knew how it felt to be nervous at a dentist's office too.

The woman saw everyone else stare at him as he made tapped his feet while looking at one of the posters with a smirk on his face. She felt oddly protective of him and decided to drag him out of the public attention.

"Stop tapping your foot, you idiot," she said playfully.

He became extremely uncomfortable as he heard her and mumbled apologies. She smiled and looked at his face but found him struggling to look as far away from her as possible.

"Idiot!" She said again to grab his attention.

He just buried his neck at the back of his chair and closed his eyes. He seemed to be one of those dreamy types.

The dentist called her in and she had to go. She wanted to talk to him and get to know him but there was no use. She wrote down her number on a slip of paper and kept it on the table. She knew he wouldn't look at it but it was worth a shot.

He sat there looking at the chamber and the bright lights coming from there. The receptionist looked at him and the other waiting patients with an annoyed expression. The expression seemed to be transfixed on her face.

She came out and saw the slip was not there on the table. Assuming he had finally picked it up, she smiled at him. He nervously looked at her. She thought he was cute.

He had thrown all the stray pieces of paper including the slip and another crumpled pamphlet in a dustbin nearby. His compulsive cleanliness had cost him his last relationship and this time the cleanliness drive had cost him a relationship that hadn't even started.

The receptionist called out his name and he made his way to the chamber.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A story yet unwritten- 'Before Death'

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

        One day when Anil returned from the shop, he found his father lying on the bed. He shook him, shouted expletives at him but to no avail. It was just him and his father at their house. His mother had died long ago of general neglect. Nobody really expected her to live. She was spiteful in her last years and died a bitter neglected death. All the relatives came running after hearing about the death. Death was important to them. Nothing else could pull them to the town but death. Funerals were a great time to show that one cared deeply and they lasted shorter too, unlike the long bedridden phase where the dying needed to be cared for.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Advice That Mattered

I am blogging about my dreams and the people who helped make them true for the #AdviceThatMattered activity at BlogAdda in association with Stoodnt.

I have had a steady career in the sense that I have followed the wise advice nuggets of my elders and have completed my graduation in a safe field ie dentistry. My dad's logic behind helping me take admission in one of the topmost dental colleges in India was that if I become a good dentist, at least I will never be jobless (Ironic because the job market for dentists in India is rapidly shrinking).

I came to Delhi and started my practice here but, there has always been this artist within me. Dentistry allows for some amount of artistic expression but, my canvas was bigger. I wanted to draw cartoons, write stories and be known for it all. Marx had imagined a society where someone can be a scientist by the day and fisherman in the evening. Well, I wanted to be in that society; not fishing, but writing.

I did have a blog (this blog) but then, I began dreaming about writing a book some day or having a career as a novelist. Now, it is common knowledge that one should follow their true calling and there is no harm in chasing dreams. I did want to do so but, there was a practical side to the whole thing. No one succeeds overnight and the prospect of giving writing or cartooning my everything would have left me no where. I am not sure if writers ever pay their bills. Dying under debt just didn't sound that smart.

A friend of mine knew that I could write. I used to hang out with her and discuss career. She was one of the most reasonable and sorted people I had known. Safe choices like engineering and MBA were her cup of tea. I floated the idea of writing a book to her and she pushed me toward writing saying, "I am taking safe steps and planning ahead because I do not have what you have. Very few have what you have and it is the art of telling a story. You know your way with words and it is the reason you should, you must write a book."

With her push, I decided to balance time between writing and dentistry and the result is my first manuscript which is the semi-autobiographical account of a dentist's love life. Although it is yet to be published, just the joy of finishing a manuscript has been tremendous. I am so grateful for the push that made it happen. 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Moral Science Conspiracy- A Cartoon

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Book Review- A Book Of Light- Jerry Pinto

ISBN- 978-93-86050-17-5
Title- A Book of Light - When a Loved One Has a Different Mind
Edited by- Jerry Pinto
Contributors- Shashi Baliga, Leela Chakravorty, Sukant Deepak, Nirupama Dutt, Anabelle Furtado, Lalita Iyer, Sharmila Joshi, Manoj Menon, Patricia Mukhim, Parvana Boga Noorani, Ina Puri, Amandeep Sandhu, Madhusudan Srinivas
Genre- Nonfiction
Publisher- Speaking Tiger www.speakingtigerbooks.com
Pages- 175
Price- Rs 399

The dude in the picture below is Jerry Pinto. The writer who wrote Em and the Big Hoom- a book that immediately made me his fan. He spoke in the book of his mother's condition. She was a bipolar patient with schizophrenia. The odd taboo associated with psychiatric illnesses in India can only be removed if we are willing to talk about it. 

This guy is talented too. He has done the cover illustration for the book in question- A Book of Light. This one is a compilation of personal accounts of people from mostly the journalist or writer fraternity who have suffered at the hands of fate. Fate that has taken away the minds of their loved ones and wrapped those minds with barbed wire.

The stories in this book are heart breaking and the accounts are real as it gets. The editing is nice and except a punctuation error (apostrophe related) in Anabelle's story, I could not spot any errors.

The publishers have done a great job with the presentation and the hardbound book demands to be treasured in your bookshelf. The pages are crisp and off white and have a very international feel to them. Although relatively young, Speaking Tiger is going to make a name for itself.

Coming to the content, the book has beautiful stories which are personal accounts of the writers. Sukant Deepak's story about his bipolar dad shakes you from within. It is written with such intimacy yet, such distancing that it allows for the reader to assimilate the helplessness the patient's family feels.

Leela Chakravorty's angst against his schizophrenic mother is again a very personal account. It shows how it is not always as easy as it seems to love your family.

Amandeep Sandhu's story made me cry. It was the sheer burden of his mother's psychiatric illness and adding to that, her breast cancer, that made me realize how difficult it is to understand someone's pain.

Nirupama Dutt's story read like a story. It was a story of adoption and inner turmoils more than anything else. It had more sunshine moments than other stories in the book.

Patricia Mukhim writes about a Khasi mother's account of her daughter's illness. This one is again a story with positives and strength but, the fight against fate is difficult to win.

Sharmila Joshi writes about her neighbour who fought his demons. It was again a sensitively written story. Alcohol, depression and other demons are strong in this one too.

Madhusudan Srinivas's is a very small story of acceptance and sharing. Positive message awaits at the end.

Lalita Ayer's story is her love story with a schizophrenic Swedish guy. The sad part lasts for little less duration of time in the story and it is majorly a love story but the end has a thick blanket of guilt over it.

Anabelle Furtado fights her own demons in the story and it is a very brave thing to do.

Manoj Menon's story has some dark humour which ends up warming up your heart and makes one think about how different can mental illnesses be.

Shashi Baliga talks about his father but, the illness seems to be absorbed and assimilated in the family so much so that we are not really sure if it meant something more than 'mood swings'.

Parvana Boga Noorani talks about a mother and the unexplainable things that happened with her. It is written with poise and sensitivity.

Ina Puri's story raises some pertinent questions about depression.

All in all, the book contains heartfelt emotions and true to life feelings. It does have the light as promised on the cover and is an inspiring book for all those suffering.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Half Baked Story

As she trots with glee on the wall, I see her. She is carefree and smiling. She is smiling without a camera panning across the garden. There is no one looking and she still puts up a show. I am here, minding my own business, in my own garden. Well, not really because where's the fun in that? I am minding everyone else's business and adding it all to my recipe. I am brewing something and it is not a broth. I have this large pan and this large ladle. I lift up the liquid and pour it back down as it bubbles up and boils to perfection.

It isn't perfect though, it is more or less crude. I watch it sometimes, and sometimes I just let it simmer. I watch her as she tiptoes around my cooking. She is carefree and a little careless too. I am concocting stories and I need some spices. The catch (not the brand of masala) is that I have no spices and must get them myself. Well, she is around me and her heels are on my fence. I am not annoyed, I really like guests. She slips from the walls and falls in my garden. She dusts off herself and now the dust is a part of the recipe. I call it fairy dust because it is extremely rare. I do not know why but this garden is usually empty and so are my hands when I go out to get spices. I had knocked on every door and asked every neighbour, some called me a friend and some closed the door on my nose.

This girl though, she stayed and dusted her hands in my cooking. The story got spicier and she leaned in to smell.

"Careful, you will end up in my stories," I warned her with a smile.

She took my advice and that's why this story is half-cooked.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Book review- The Story of A Suicide - By Sriram Ayer