Monday, April 24, 2017

A Bed Is Not Just a Bed, Its Much More

No One Knows Us Better Than Our Bed
Image courtesy - Google Images

When I was growing up, the bed in our house was not just a place where we retired to at the end of a long day. It was something that became what you wanted it to be – an easy chair, a couch, a coffee table, a study table or an oasis you needed to revive your soul. It hosts all the stages of the theatre of your life – as a baby in your mother’s lap, as a child seeking refuge from reality, as a lover discovering intimacy, as a couple going through the highs and lows together, as a person well-lived on his last journey.

During my growing up years, it would turn into a bat cave on hot summery afternoons. All I had to do was crawl under it and into my world of make-believe. Behind the spider-web curtain was my kingdom that no one could invade. When I would get bored of conjuring up my own fantasies, I would turn into a dead log on the bed. The book in my hand would transport me to a world where a kind old man helped kids in trouble, but not before he served them lemonade and cakes.

When my cousins would visit us during the summer break, it would turn into our adda corner. All of us stuck to each other like glue, talking about god-knows-what till our Moms’ voices calling out for us would break our non-stop chatter. It was where I spent hours coochie-cooing to my crush as he gazed at me dumb-struck by my beauty ; the tall dark handsome hero who smiled once every fortnight gave me asthmatic attacks as he swooped me into his arms. Sadly I’d have to shoo him away when my Mom caught my glazed eyes and silly grin look.

Clutching my cramped with anxiety stomach just the day before the exam, the heart sinking deeper because my syllabus was far from finished. Hugging the pillow as I listened to numbers requested by lovelorn boys for their crush on the radio and hoping someday someone would also dedicate a song to me. Sleepless nights, silent cries, dreamy sighs – my bed had seen it all. For me it was a place where I found and lost myself again and again.

I found out much later in life that it was not just me with an umbilical connection to my bed. Rather, laying on bed at awkward angles with legs propped up on the wall while philosophising about the purpose of your life is a national passion. RayMan’s favourite anecdote from his hostel days is when one of the parents came looking for their son and found instead a heap of skinny boys in their bare necessities (or not) stacked on each other.

When I visit my parents and my Maa suggests we have tea on the dining table, we all let out a horrified gasp. Why sit ramrod straight on a boring chair when you can stretch your legs and touch your toes to get second helping of the salted cashews. This is the same bed where my Mashi and I would slide our feet under as we sat on the floor listening to older aunts gossip, in rapt attention. Occasionally we’d pinch the annoying baby cousin, make him bawl and break into silent giggles. Of course our startled bodo Mashi (his Mom) had no idea it was us.

That baby cousin is now a well-regarded financial analyst and a Dad to a pretty little girl. Thankfully she’s not half as annoying as him.

So what is it about this ubiquitous piece of furniture that makes us helpless to its cosy charms and draws us to it like a magnet?

I think it has a lot to do with our propensity to keep our living rooms well-preserved like museums for the occasional guests. So lolling all day on the couch, cushions thrown around in disarray invites stern looks, and sometimes a firm kick on the posterior from the lady of the house. Also, unlike a sofa, the bed, like a doting partner gives you space to stretch yourself beyond your limits. When you get tired of laying on your back, you can always roll over on your stomach and perch your chin in your hands and stare dolefully at nothing in particular. If you are the adventurous type, you can tuck in one leg under the pillow and raise the other towards the ceiling, while uploading pics on Instagram, claim you invented a new asana and congratulate yourself. If like me, you prefer having your many snacks on the bed itself, you’ll often find bits and pieces of nuts, peels, a stray puffed rice colliding with your mouth and other parts of your body. For a midnight snack, all you’ll have to do is crawl on the bed with a torch in hand.

So, it’s like your home within home, where you can be yourself – the one you’re reluctant to show the world. You can sport the homeless look with élan, disappear behind piles of books, have long conversations on the phone propped up on the pillow – all this without even moving your ass. Little wonder after a long gruelling day, we rush to it like an eager child into her mothers’ waiting arms.

Maybe, knowing that the bed will keep you away from your long-list of must-do’s, make you conjure up excuses to spend a little more time on it that makes it so irresistible to us. Later as you fret how you spent the entire Sunday doing absolutely nothing, you also let out a satisfied sigh.

For most, the bedstead is like that complete relationship that has eluded you all your life. On a boring day at office, you invariably end up fantasising about it. It comforts you, soothes your tired bones, embraces you with its softness and makes you want to spend a little more time with it.

And sometimes it makes me wish RayMan would look at me as longingly as he looks at the bed after an exhausting day at office.

Too bad I am but a two legged creature made of flesh and blood.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Finding Me in Us

We have both found the ‘I’ in us and are not letting go of it. 

Every couple has their favourite chapter of their life they love regaling their friends with. Over the years their story-telling skills reach legendary proportions. They constantly scold each other for having missed the punchlines, laugh the loudest at their own jokes and pat themselves on their backs for having mesmerised their guests with their scintillating stories unmindful of their glazed eyes and loud yawns.

When they run out of friends, they wait for their kids to get married. Ask any daughter-in-law and she’ll agree, when-we-were-young-and-fabulous stories repeat themselves more often than history.

We have ours too and our favourite one goes back to our just married days. At that time we were two individuals with likes and dislikes as mismatched as Pahlaj Nihlani and rest of India’s views on censorship. The tea fanatic in him was appalled that his brand new mate for life couldn’t stand the sight of tea and preferred a glass of milk instead. The poor guy had envisioned both of us sipping tea and exchanging life’s philosophies with the setting sun. I was the Rajmah, bharta girl and he was the potoler-dalna, machher jhol guy.

Since we were in no mood to push our tastebuds out of their comfort zones, we’d cook our own meals. It didn’t help that we fell in love with each at different points of time. I mean when you are in love, don’t you partly surrender your ego and partly embrace his while he tch thchs at your temper tantrums?

He the rice eater would fix a 3 course meal in our dingy kitchen of our barsati half-submerged in his sweat-pool. Me, the roti girl would wonder if married life was about rolling amoeba shaped chappatis after a long day at work.

I think it was me who caved in first because I still remember how long and loud my Maa laughed when I told her I’d just had roti with aloo-posto. [To the uninformed, this is close to sacrilege]

As time progressed, our love matured from the tumultuous river gushing down the hills to its serene and deep version meandering through the plains. We embraced each other’s passions and peeves (most of them) while discovering new ones together. While we still stuck to our rice and roti ways, he learnt to appreciate chanaa masala with a hint of tanginess and I started cooking machh, chochoris and sukto during the weekend that we both ate with relish.

We’d cherish our us-time even if it meant watching a Hindi movie with me he didn’t quite fancy.

Not anymore.

For someone whose life revolved around her family and work suddenly decided she was missing the woman shorn of the roles of a mother, wife, daughter and sister. So I started thinking of things that made just me happy. It helped that I had just left my job with a fair bit of coercion from RayMan. With leisure time on hand I was now actively pursuing interests that I never had the time for.


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