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Posts Tagged ‘Groundnut memories’

A friend was going through a very tough time recently. She put on a brave front and tried to keep it all inside until one day she could take it no more and burst  out with it to me. Clutching the phone so close to the ear that it hurt, I listened going increasingly numb with each passing second. She went on for what seemed like an eternity. I hadn’t uttered a single word through the entire conversation. Well, not really a conversation, more of a monologue. After unloading all that had been clogging her mind and eating into her life for so long, she hung up and I was left still clutching the phone tight to the ear, helplessly wondering if there was something I should have said to make her feel better. Something wise or witty. But well, as it was, I had not known what to say and she had hung up already. I felt stupid, lousy and totally not fit to be an agony aunt. A couple of days later she called back again.

“Hey…” she started, “I just hung up the other day. Didn’t even say bye…”

“Well, I didn’t even talk, for starters, so don’t you worry”

“Yeah, that’s what I called about. Thanks for listening Mi. Honestly. I’m so glad I spoke to you. I’m so glad ‘I’ spoke. For once I wasn’t listening to advice or being judged or getting scolded. I spoke. God knows after how long. Thanks for that. Really.”

I opened my mouth to say something, stopped, opened and closed the mouth two more times like a fish, and closed it shut again. Now was NOT the best time to tell her that I had actually been quiet and listened so much not because I was patient, understanding or sensitive but actually because I didn’t know what to say, how to console or what advice to give. Looks like my ignorance actually paid off and she felt much better after that monologue. Later rewinding that conversation, I understood that whatever she had said was absolutely true. Sometimes all you want is for people to listen to you. Just listen and not judge the situation, judge you, judge everybody around. I’ve felt the most relieved after long monologues with friends, after swearing, bitching and endlessly cribbing about how unfair things were, after dumping out all my angst in all possible ways, but mostly I’ve felt the best when they’ve just Listened. Listened and probably squeezed a hand or given a big hug or whispered a ‘it’s ok, this will pass’ over the phone. But what matters above everything else is that they listened. So maybe the next time someone comes to me with a problem, I’ll not be constructing soothing replies and tactical agony-aunt advice in my mind while pretending to listen to what they’re saying on the outside. Maybe I’ll just shut everything out and simply lend a ear. Because some things are best said when they’re left unsaid.

On a totally unrelated note, I realised that I’m so sentimentally attached to a lot of things in life that I’ve been using some stuff for years and years. Like, while combing today, I just realised that I’ve been using the same wide toothed pink comb for the *gasp* past eight years. I am not kidding. I’ve misplaced that comb many times, felt miserable thinking its lost but have always found it under the bed or below the medicine cabinet. It always comes back to me. And I don’t even feel like I’ve combed my hair if I don’t use THAT particular comb. How weird is that!  Ditto with Jemi, the stuffed pillow JP gifted me on a birthday couple of years ago.  I don’t sleep hugging stuffed toys or pillows (eeks!!), but if I don’t see Jemi propped majestically on the study table as soon as I wake up, as soon as I enter the room and as the last thing before I leave home in the morning, I end up feeling queasy all through the day, until I’ve seen Jemi in her usual place again. I get completely psyched out of I don’t find the particular pair of earphones I’ve been using for the past five years or if  that tattered bag I bought when I started college can’t be found when I look for it. It freaks me out that I’m so attached to these ‘things’. They’re not expensive, they’re not the best but somehow the memories attached to such stuff makes them all the more precious. I guess everybody has some stuff which brings back memories of fun times, of laughter and happiness, of friends and family, whenever they look at it. Maybe an old comb, a favorite dress, an autographed book or an old birthday card. And such things are treasured not for what they are but for what remind you of. Oh, and what do I say,talking and thinking up stuff like this, I freak myself out most of the time!! 😀

*Dedication Update*

This post is dedicated to Kavitha who I think is the only soul in the world who wants to read me and bugs me to death to write. Even if its nonsense. Thanks Kavi 🙂

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I sat crouching on the bed in Shruthi’s room. I watched the blood supply being cut off and the pale whiteness spread onto the tightly clenched knuckles and fists. I could hear excited screams and hushed whispers outside. I closed my eyes shut as if it would block out the noise. My mind went too numb to even pray. What would I tell amma appa? Serves them right. Didn’t I plead and beg that I didn’t want to study this stupid course? Serves them right for being so adamant with my life, I thought bitterly again. Serves me right too. All those bunked sessions, marathon sleeping, unit test cutting, phew. It made me tired to even think of it. Even if it was some interesting paper, I wouldn’t mind doing it all over again. But Artificial Intelligence with all those mind numbing algorithms? Yuck! And if I failed Probability and Statistical Analysis too, that would be THE END. The probability of me clearing it ever in my life was a huge fat zero. I’ll have to flunk all other subjects next semester to clear these two alone. Shut up, I told myself. You don’t have to do badly to fail these University exams. In 2nd semester, I’d read so well for that Semiconductor Physics paper, taught the entire hostel till 3 in the morning and still ended up flunking the exams. So what if by some macabre twist of fate, I manage to clear these papers now? Shut up again. Very unlikely. I heard footsteps rushing towards me and stop uncertainly near the door. There was some whispering and a few shhhhh’s I could hear. I knew at that very instant that I had definitely flunked something. I felt like throwing up. The girls came in one by one sans the usual screaming and shouting. Moti hugged me and sat next to me. Aki stood at a safe distance ready to run away if I cried. Shruthi held my hand with one hand and kept pulling out strands of hair from her head with the other. Something she always does when she’s tensed. JP looked on wide eyed, ready to cry along if I did. I kept my eyes on the opposite wall.

“Guys I know I flunked. Just tell me, ok?”

Moti said in a small voice. “It’s only PST, Mi. We’ll apply for reval. I’m sure you’ll clear it. It was…”

Shit! I CANNOT WRITE THAT PAPER AGAIN!! My mind screamed but I put on a show of calmness and nonchalance outside. “ Oh, only one? I thought Artificial Intelligence would be a goner too. Free. I expected it. Though I was more hopeful about clearing this than AI”.

I looked up to see five anxious faces peering at me, waiting for me to burst into tears and run out of the room any moment. The nautanki I made when I failed for the first time in second semester must be haunting them even now, poor things. They tried comforting words and cracked mokka jokes taking turns looking at my face to see if I was really cheering up or just faking normalcy for their sake.

“I’m ok guys. Seriously. It’s not like I did well and ended up failing. I did badly. I deserve it”

I got up and walked out. The night was cool and dark outside the hostel doors. Inside it had been stuffy and hot. I could hear excited chatter and calculators being passed around for GPA calculations. I could see silent sobs and long faces as well. Ashwini was hysterically screaming into the phone that there was no way she could fail DSP. Degree Stopping Paper. Otherwise known as Digital Signal Processing. I sat on the entrance steps facing the gate. I could see the classroom buildings at a distance. They seemed too distant now. Slowly it all sank in. I was a failure. Yet again. Once could have been chance. Could have been luck. But again? I knew my failure had nothing to do with luck or chance. It had everything to do with laziness and lack of interest. All those algorithms about searching length first and breadth first in stacks and heaps interested me as much as religious sermons on television did. What was the point? What was I going to learn all that and end up as? Frankly, I was scared to think if ever I was going to end up as somebody in life. I hated the education I was getting, was trapped in it, was a failure at it but expected a future with it. Placements would come up in another year or so. All the corporate would arrive with their larger than life presentations and mechanical smiles. I hated the very idea of a corporate job. Hated computers. But I still wanted a corporate job that paid well. After all that is the only reason I was forced to take up this course right? A well paid IT job. Now even that seemed to be in jeopardy. The tears which had stubbornly refused to come out till now gathered on the brink of the eyes ready to spill out any minute. I looked up quickly and blinked. No, I was not going to cry. I walked out through the hostel gate towards the small lawn we fondly called ‘the Triangle’. Even watchman thaatha who hits the roof if we step out of the gate after 8 didn’t say a word after he took one long look at my face. Probably he didn’t want to be blamed if I started wailing. I sat on it staring at the starless sky. Suddenly Moti materialised out of nowhere and stood next to me with her hands on her hips.

“Mi, Come let’s go for a walk…”

“Hmmm.. Now?”

“But I haven’t even got slippers on. And am in these torn pajamas…”

“So?”

“Ok. Let’s go”

Once Moti decides on something, it was IMPOSSIBLE to stop her from doing it. She would bulldoze her way into anything and everything. And I was too weak to be bulldozed now. I could smell a lecture cum pep talk on how this wasn’t the end of everything, how I’ve been plain unlucky, how the University correction sucks, how unfair this was to me, etc and I wasn’t ready for it. Cuz all of it would be outright lies. I deserved all of this and much more. But poor Moti was doing all this to only cheer me up, I knew. I braced myself for the long walk and accompanying pep talk. The long walk happened. We walked and we talked. About food, movies, music. About who was seeing who and about how the same who was seen with a different who two weeks back. About dance practise for culturals. About how many days OD we can milk out of the management in the next few months. About what movie to see that weekend and where to eat to escape mess food. About how to rag those dumb juniors without it technically being called ‘ragging’. The one thing that never came into conversation was the pep talk I expected. I could hear the crunch-crunch of soft gravel beneath my bare feet. We had reached the Stores building, our official provisions place for food, stationary and mobile recharge cards.

Moti stopped suddenly. “Let’s go in for some cup noodles. I’m hungry”

“Mad moti? We don’t have money remember?”

“Juniors irpaanga stores la” She said with her heavily hindi accented tamil. The kind of Sowcarpet tamil that Mumbai import heroines speak in tamil movies. A wicked snort escaped her lips.

I laughed and we both walked in.

“Moti look who’s here. A better option than the poor juniors. Namma Songi” I couldn’t hide my glee as I saw the tall, lanky, gawky Songi buying chips and soft drinks inside the crowded shop. “Let’s wait till he finishes buying all the stuff and then pounce on it once he comes out”

Moti approved my shameless plan with a grin and a “Done”.

Songi’s real name wasn’t Songi but we called him that for as long as we could remember because, well.. because he was a songi. His perpetually slouching shoulders, stupid smile and clumsy Suppaandi-like nature made Songi the perfect nickname for him. He didn’t mind us calling him that way initially cuz we were only two, and we were his best friends right from first sem. But slowly the name spread and now almost everyone who knew him called him Songi. It infuriated him and delighted us, egging us on to taunt him more with the name.

We waited in strategic position and plucked the chips packets out of his hands once he came out of the Stores.

Moti began in the usual bullying tone she reserves especially for him. “Songi! Yenna? All clear ah?”

His wide smile on seeing us dimmed as if someone had just switched off the bulb. “Illa Moti. 4 gone ” He said with a sad face as if he remembered that he failed just 5 seconds ago.

Moti continued in her galeej Tamil. “Ariv illa onku? Fail ayitu jolly ya chips eat pannitu irka? Shameless. Vetti. “ She popped the spicy tapioca chips into her mouth, chewed well and spat out massacred tamil.

“Chi Pah.” Songi gave her his staple wisest reply and turned to me.

“Ni all clear ah loosu?” For some unknown reason, he chose to call me loosu from the second he knew me. It however, has no correlation to my mental capabilities or IQ, I swear.

“One gone” I became self conscious again and the chips I was going to put into my mouth stopped half way through.

“Cha, onnu dhaana?? Me only maximum this time too? Po loosu. Ni yaavadhu company kudupa nu nenachen” He kept his face like his biggest issue was not that he failed four papers but the fact that I failed only one. I burst out laughing.

“Ni thirundhave maata.”

We walked to the huge lawn behind stores. Couples sat at every dark corner and whispered sweet nothings. We sat on the lawn and passed the chips and drinks, cracking PJ’s and taunting each other. Songi polambified about how the system was totally messed up, how it should be made illegal to fail someone in a subject for more than 3 times, how all his profs gave him such measly internal marks and so on. He said he was going to apply for reval and clear all the bloody papers this time. We laughed as usual. He was sure he would. We were sure he wouldn’t. Stars popped up from behind the dark clouds and glittered in the night sky.

As we finished and got up to walk back to the hostel, Moti whispered in my ear, “Mi, reval apply pannu. Tomorrow”.

I smiled and nodded. All was well with the world again.

P.S: I did clear that PST paper on re-evaluation. Deep down I know I shouldn’t have cleared it though.

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