Wuff Wuff All Night

The universe is conspiring to give me chronic insomnia. Sleep is toxic; it wastes precious, productive hours that people can spend engaged otherwise. For much of this year, my baby boy decided it would be fun to party at 3 a.m. Now, after he has moved his partying to more respectable hours, someone else decided it would be incredibly fun to keep me up. The hyperactive stray dogs in my locality.

Stray dogs in Pune

Now, before doggie lovers pounce at me in protest, let me make this clear: I love dogs. I have always wanted to keep one at home but have been obstructed by various reasons. When I meet a happy, eager-to-please stray, I offer biscuits and pats, sometimes to R’s disapproval. Never have I been cruel to one of these canines.

Why then are they so cruel to me?

Every night at 3 a.m., after I have put the baby back to sleep, their canine orchestra begins. One of the dogs starts it off; I presume he fancies himself musical. In a matter of seconds, he is joined by his friends, rivals and foes. They howl, pretending to be werewolves and creatures of greater importance. They sing and dance and make merry, oblivious to how nights were designed for rest and sleep. Between my baby’s sleepy noises (who was the idiot who coined the phrase ‘sleep like a baby’?) and the singing/wailing dogs, I CANNOT get back to sleep.

‘How do these strays get inside the society gate? Are they your pets?’ I asked one of the security guys.

‘No madam, but we are not allowed to drive them out.’

‘They are homeless, after all,’ added a neighbor who had been listening to the conversation. ‘We should show some solidarity.’

Last I checked, the neighbor had shifted to an apartment several blocks away, reserving this one for “investment purposes”. I glared at her meaningfully. ‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ she enquired.

The security guard of the adjacent wing tapped me on the shoulder. ‘Madam, I know the source of the problem. It happens in the dark of the night.’

Why, the mystery was deepening! Did the doggies assume particularly musical tendencies in the dark of the night? Were they researching this at the science institutes?

‘What is the source of the problem?’ I enunciated.

‘There is this madam who comes down every morning at 3 a.m. She offers food to the dogs. They get excited and start shouting.’

‘3 a.m. is not morning!’ I exclaimed in disbelief. Who was this kind soul who believed it was wise to feed dogs at that unearthly hour? Whatever happened to the civic sense you were supposed to possess when living in a residential society? Could she not adjust her feeding time or entrust someone else with the noble deed?

‘What a kind lady!’ declared the overbearing neighbor, once again listening to my hush-hush conversation. I grasped my wallet tighter, afraid that my right hand might involuntarily thrash her.

I live in too-kind a place, where generosity toward stray animals is admired, but no one thinks twice about listening to loud music at midnight, letting their pets poop near parked vehicles, and allowing kids to scream until their voices go hoarse. I am sure that part of the wuffing my doggie friends treat me to is mere frustration at this irony. They are letting off steam. Perhaps, the next night, I will join them. I will be the kind lady who boosts the morale of the horribly off-key dogs.

Picture: https://www.dogexpress.in/

If Mom Had Been Here Today

If Mom had been with me today, she would have made me a hot cup of coffee in the morning. She would then have forced me to go and sit in the sunshine and listen to the birds as she soothed my baby into his nap. I would have felt the sun warm my skin and my soul. I would have stretched my arms, sore from rocking and holding the baby for hours on end, and smiled up at the blue sky. Continue reading

I Believe We Once Had a Sun

Well, I cannot be sure anymore. It has been over a month since I last saw it. This morning, I stood in the balcony with a cup of coffee and tried hard to ferret it out. I looked at this corner of the sky and that, squinted, even burnt one finger, but nope, no sun. The sky was lined with bad-weather clouds; thunder growled ominously in the distance. It is official: the golden glob over our heads is a thing of the past.

In this sun-less world, I barely get by. The laundry needs to be artificially dried, which means our dryer is perpetually on. Just one of the many perks of having a newborn in the house who looks his most content when he is pooping. After a long night of glorious sleep—give me a moment to do a deep-belly laugh here please—all I want to do is feel the sun on my skin. But all I get are raindrops. And dampness. And mosquitoes. And a general brooding sense of malaise. Continue reading

The Incredible Reason I’ve Been MIA

Ironically, the last post on this blog was about reaching a personal zenith (completing the April Blogging Challenge) and veering dangerously toward zero immediately after. Today, more than 2.5 months since that post, I am here, accepting that life indeed throws zeniths and zeroes in quick succession (even simultaneously?). But behind this absence lies a reason that I am still struggling to fathom. To comprehend. To believe. Continue reading

Zenith, Zero

Switzerland peaks

When I was in Class V, a little boy my age taught me a life lesson. The results for the term exams had just been announced, and I had come first. I was proud and happy, excited about the gifts my family members would get for me. The latest Malory Towers book was certain to be on the list. One of my classmates appeared almost as excited, jumping about, digging into his tiffin box between classes.

“You look happy. How did you do on the exams?” I couldn’t stop myself from asking.

“I came first.”

What a liar! “That can’t be. I came first!”

“Maybe you did, from the top,” he responded nonchalantly. “I am first from the bottom.” Continue reading

You So Happy

Happiness Soap Bubbles

You giggle like a merry child when soap bubbles brush against your cheeks. You look up at the sky—so grey and ominous—and smile as if it were the most awe-inspiring sight you’d ever seen. Your conversations are full of rapture, your eyes full of dreams.

It isn’t that you are particularly young—at least not the young and oblivious they talk about in classic books. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say you were old enough to have experienced loss—of friends and friendship, ambitions, perhaps a parent. Your fluffy yellow sweater with the polar bear imprint doesn’t fit you anymore. I can’t believe that you escape ubiquitous villains in daily life—a tyrant boss, an obsessive ex-lover, or at least a street that gets jam-packed with traffic exactly when you’re in a rush. Continue reading

Xerox Copies

They had already drunk two cups of tea each and finished a trayful of snacks. The conversation had thinned, and there were several silences punctuated by comments on “how polluted Delhi was getting”. But no one made an attempt to get up, grab their bags, and leave. It was 8.30 p.m., and since that was past both my dinner time and reading time, I was getting more fidgety by the minute.

Someone else in the living room fidgeted almost as much as I did. But the limitations of adulthood stopped him from doing anything about it. It was my Dad. Continue reading

Why Working From Home Is NOT a Holiday

Working from home

“So, how is your holiday going? Must be lovely to chill at home.”

“Actually, I am working from home.”

“Yeah, same thing, no?” Titter, titter, chuckle, chuckle.

Amidst large sections of the society lingers the belief that working from home is basically a fancy term for holidaying. You stay in your pyajamas all day, binge-watch your favourite TV shows, eat crisps and wafers and instant noodles, and, when tired of relaxing, turn on your laptop and send a few random e-mails. Working from home isn’t serious work, after all. You don’t have a boss to grill you; you don’t need to commute to the office; you are spared all the grime that comes with being a “working professional”.

Except: Most of that is UNTRUE. Continue reading

Hot Vampires

“He is really hot. Hot enough to get me fantasising about, you know,” a distant cousin winked at me meaningfully. We were at a coffee shop, sipping cappuccinos and nibbling at a cake. The cousin had refused to order a slice of cake for herself because she didn’t want to “get balloon-y”. But that didn’t stop her from taking generous bites of the treat we were supposed to share between us.

“Really? That hot?” I enquired. “But isn’t he kind of creepy? I mean, he is a vampire who goes about slashing throats and sucking blood.”

“I wish he would suck mine.”

Her level of dedication amazed me. She was willing to donate her blood to satiate a random bloodsucker’s hunger only because he was, apparently, hot. This man appeared in a TV series about vampires—a “million times better than that crappy Twilight”—and was the latest obsession in the young girl’s life. Previously, she had fallen for werewolves, zombies, and tomb raiders. These mythical creatures were responsible for most of her sexual awakening.

Vampire

When I was a child, vampires appeared in spooky Dracula films and classic novels. They kept me from going to the bathroom alone at night. I am pretty sure I had crushes on actors from televisions soaps, but they were usually people I could imagine running into in marketplaces, libraries or restaurants. They didn’t slink up on me from dark corners, pretending to like me only because they were thirsty for an iron-rich liquid. Continue reading

Unsettled

I woke up early this morning and sat upright in bed. I had woken with a start and felt extremely tired. Surely, it couldn’t be morning already! No light crept in from my ajar bedroom window; my phone lay silent. But it had to be morning for outside, about a dozen birdies chirped for all they were worth. In fact, they presented quite a rousing orchestra, punctuated by some shrill screeches and a few out-of-tune notes. I love birdsong, but just then, I wanted them to shut up and let me catch a few more minutes of sleep.

I inspected the alarm clock on my bedside table. Continue reading