I have always disliked definitions. I understand the need for them and I have read enough theorists to be utterly convinced by now of its needs. But I've always thought of definitions as social constructs, defined only to be challenged and questioned. When I was younger, I would often stare out of the window and think of words and objects and why they mean what they mean. Growing up, I'd always imagined that I'd be a linguist of some sort. I also wanted to be someone who spent hours at the library, looking up archives and someone who spent months and months in a foreign land, discovering its intricacies. I once blithely told my mother that I wanted to be an artist, a singer and a writer. And a good person.
As I grew older, the categories felt trite and I was also gripped by the fear of not making it. It didn't help when I was asked questions like, That's all great, but what about a 'real' job? I stopped thinking about my dreams, and my ambitions and the fact that the point hadn't been to make it in the first place. I've always believed that any creative work should be given a chance and then, once it's out there in the universe, it's for people to accept or reject it. The piece could be self-gratifying,dreamlike- anything at all that a person wants to create, because I think as individuals and societies constantly in flux and interacting with one another, there is so much to learn, so much to share and so very much to create.
I began to try to focus on certain things and exclude others. The entire process somewhat got me the desired results, but made me question everything I was doing even more.
I will get a 'real' job, but I'm not giving up on my dreams. I have to decided to actively work towards them as well.
I don't see why I can't do everything that I want to do. At times it will be difficult and trying, but I'd rather live exactly the way I want to.
As a child, I was terrified at the thought of having to sleep alone.
My father, in his attempt to put us all to sleep by midnight, had created a rather horrific version of Wee Willie Winkie. Unlike the lovely, blonde-haired blue eyed Wee Willie Winkie in children's books, Baba had created this power-hungry manipulative monster, who would put little children in white sacks and then tie the mouth of the sack with rope.
That wouldn't be all. They would all be ducked in icy-cold water.
Right outside our house at the time was a mistir dokan* which sold, apart from the usual sandesh and Rosogolla, sorbhaja, cchanar jilipi and their own rather innovative sweetmeats. In restrospect, I think it was a father-son venture and since it was just the two of them workingly zealously to keep the shop alive, they would clean their utensils up until three in the morning and would fry things till midnight. Since the shops were within earshot, I would hear the unmistakeable sound of sizzling oil and ask my mother questions. Ma would be too tired to speak.
My father, undaunted by my barrage of questions, would answer instead of her, "Jomraj baje lokder koraye bhajje". The thought of the lord of the underworld ( I was too young to know about the financers of Bollywood films) actually frying bad people was also an extremely scary thought, but the combination of the two ensured that I could not sleep at night. My poor father thought that this was an effective strategy of putting his daughter to sleep. Little did he know that I was creating newer monsters in my head with each passing day, giving them colours, characteristics and telling myself that they were part of this large group that I might have to fight off, one day.
So, while everyone slept, I lay awake, sometimes listening to the frying sounds and at other times, looking at the large jamrul tree outside the window and noticing a frightened squirrel scarper past, hoping no one had noticed it.
I don't remember ever owning a barbie doll, and even if I did, I think my parents insisted on not getting me any when I was a little girl. Instead, my brother had a monkey and I had a tiger which I named B.B.D Bag, after the buses I saw on the roads everyday. B.B.D Bag is- I am happy to say- still alive, although he has been missing a ear for almost thirteen years now.
Coming back to the question of being mortified of sleeping in the first place, I woke up this morning to a blustering wind outside my windowpane. In my paranoia, I actually thought that someone was knocking on the window with alarming alacrity.
In my dream-induced state, I felt like there were bears and werewolves outside my window, and instead of a happy thought ( them doing a moonlit dance, them having a party), I dreamt that they wanted to eat me.
I awoke with a start, drank some water and listened to Owl City's Fireflies on loop. Then I went back to garner some undisturbed sleep .
Dissertation Topic Laundry Volunteer Training Human Rights Essay on Violence Against Women and Social Suffering Ishiguro, T.S Eliot and Paul Muldoon Literature Review Work on Asylum Seekers. I love Colin Firth so much. Great looking, likes Claude Levi-Strauss and stopped voting labour because of their immigration policies. BLOODY BUREAUCRACY
Need to fill in forms for accommodation. Dealing with children maps and journeys- pointing them out on maps. DON'T FORCE YOUR LEFT-HANDED KIDS TO WRITE WITH THEIR RIGHT HANDS. THEY MIGHT JUST STAMMER. WATCH KING'S SPEECH CAREFULLY. Really impressed with an artist who uses oil tanks to create art. Stress, nervousness, feelings of inadequacy Thai Curry? Jerk Chicken?
Well, what can I say? Egypt is free and there's certainly hope for all of us still, as individuals and as communities to make a difference.
When I spoke to both of you, the one thing that struck me was the disappointment in your voice and tone. There's hope still, and I know it is difficult to deal with living breathing relics of the past. People, places, associations, even non-associations dent the way we see and perceive the world. But it's all too easy to give it up, think that there is no more use and become cynical. You two are amongst the brightest, most beautiful and the kindest women that I know. Don't let these incidents change that. With your creativity, passion, ambition and zest for life, you can have anything...and I mean anything that you want.
I know that both these incidents have shaken you and crushed you, but I also believe in you and I know that you'll laugh this off one day and understand how this does not even fit into the larger picture. Being hurt is never pleasant, but most importantly, know that there are thousands of other people in the world, who love you, who respect you, and who would go to the ends of the earth for you.