Relentless erudition (and other pursuits)

Journalist, lover, coffee-drinker, passable photographer, design-freak, writer.

I love, love, LOVE my place and I do not want to move. 

Today will tell if I have to, though. Fingers crossed, prayers said, powers invoked.







Of little to no significance

One thing, I can deal with. Two, also doable. Three, and I’m at the verge of tears every minute of every day.

Let’s leave this here to document this day. Let’s find out how much worse things can get before they begin to get better.

Part II. Chrysalis

I write this as I’m a little saner. I write this a day later. I write this from my mother’s hospital room a little after midnight. An entire side of this room is mostly glass, looking out at the glittering, sleeping city outside. 
If Delhi is an old poet, Gurgaon is a teenager — petulant, fast and a little brash. It puts up a little show sometimes, has a little too much beer (literally, with all the breweries that it claims are the best in the country) and drives dangerously. And I look at this very city now, the buildings lit up, the high-rises that ring the horizon and I think, as I have thought many of these past nights, about how I should go on from here.

I’ve accepted most of what has happened. It still hurts, of course, it’s all only been happening for a week, but right now feels like stitches over a wound rather than the open gash that life had been up until last night.

These little metaphorical stitches of mine make breathing a little difficult, but as I look at the threads, I know someday, I will be whole again. This one night, two nights ago, M held me as I lay nearly catatonic after a particularly bad hour. Things lay on the floor around the bed and there were angry gashes on my arms. This was the first time he’d seen me hurt like this – and it couldn’t have been a pretty sight. For me, it was horrifying, letting him see what was happening, how I was unable to lift a hand or move or make much sense, and in that moment, I decided I had to agree to what he and my father have been saying for a long time now. I will probably do well with some help. 

This night, he held me till I fell asleep, ignoring all the hurt and spite I had in me, and the next morning, for the first time in my life, I agreed to see a therapist. A year ago, I would not have consented to this, but just maybe, begrudgingly, I’m growing up a little.

(I’ve always felt growing up was a task and I have dragged my feet around, checking milestones off that journey grumpily, doing only the barest minimum – sheltering myself from hurt, for example, and after bad episodes with my mother and a certain boy, making sure I never, ever handed the controls of my happiness to someone else. Now 23 and older every day, I realise I have more to do; I have to be accountable. Especially if I am to have the life I have wanted.)

Things have changed enormously since five years ago and VIT. Everything since has felt like an uphill climb that I had to work, sometimes inordinately hard, for. And it has still, still, still not been enough.

It’s been 4 months since I’ve been working for this newspaper. I estimate I’ve created 97 pages so far. HT claims to reach 3.7 million. Simple math tells me that anything I possibly do will never reach more people than I manage to right now, and yet, I’m not entirely content with my job.

It lets me do what I’m trained for, yes, and it pays. It will look good on a resume and some days, that is all I think about. This is not the news I want to do and this is not how I want to do it.

For years I’ve considered myself to be the only person that could make my life work. Anyone could have the job they wanted, the college they wanted, the internship or the life they wanted, I insisted to myself. And in the span of one week, I permitted this self to break and lie scattered, fucking up every single promise I’d ever made to myself. I’ve been beating myself up this whole time, giving myself headaches and being a difficult person to be around.

The only way to move ahead is to move. Even if I wander for a while, even if I stray – and perhaps, I’ll start with seeing a therapist. Because I do not, at all, AT ALL, like where I am, mentally, these days.

(“Finally, this is better, that one do 
His own task as he may, even though he fail,
Than take tasks not his own, though they seem good.
To die performing duty is no ill;
But who seeks other roads shall wander still.”

Reading this excerpt from the Gita in ‘My experiments with truth’ (I’ve been trying to finish it for the last ten months now) in the metro on the way here was a pleasant reinforcement.)

I decide this in the span of the hour that it has taken to write this. I will not stop moving. I will not be as hurt as I was, or as shaken. Things will take their time, yes. They always do. But eventually, hearts heal, dreams resume from where they had broken and bodies recover.

I’ve been hurting too much and for too long. No more.

Bigger things are coming.

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Part I. Obit

I’ve been attempting to write this for a while now. This is an obituary. That said, I think I waited too much because more hours have passed now than there should have between the grief and the healing. Life has whirred back into some form of its old rhythm in the two (now three) days that someone I loved dearly died – and I cannot get back the words I canvassed and discarded in half-sleep and tears and bleariness of the early stages of my mourning.

My mourning isn’t over though. I don’t know when it will be. But getting these words out of the way is step one in getting on to writing new ones.

I’ve had a regular person’s share of bad luck. A regular, present-day youngperson’s share. There have been instances of spectacular luck — mostly academic. And there has been some misfortune, including but not limited to my mother’s MPD, two failed suicide attempts and three tumours. Family issues and health problems, everyday things on this planet.

And therefore, I never had a ready description for the worst thing to have happened to me. And then in the space of a week, I suddenly had two. Exactly a week ago, I walked into the hospital my mother was admitted to for (what I thought was a routine) hysterectomy. My father told me then that she had cancer. Stage 2. And that they had decided not to tell me this before so my masters thesis (that I’d submitted a day before) wouldn’t be affected. Endometrial adenosarcoma, her reports said. Cancer of the endometrial wall of her uterus. And an uninvestigated tumour in her right kidney. To focus on how I felt just then was impossible, but I remember throwing up in a sterile, quiet, medicinal-smelling washroom a little while later.

She was in surgery then, something that stretched on beyond its designated six hours. The father and I sat in the waiting hall, me numb and him worried. A little over eight hours later, the operation was over and they got my mother’s uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and lymph nodes. She was to stay in the ICU for the next few days.

The next day, I found you, little squirrel. I found you, I fell in love and then you were gone. Too soon. I should’ve written about this in the first few hours of your death, when your story gushed out of me, eager as you always had been, yourself. But it hurt too much to talk about you. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell anyone about it. To friends who texted, asking about you, I had a standard reply. I “wasn’t ready to talk about it yet”, I said. I wasn’t.

I didn’t — couldn’t — describe how you stopped eating the morning of your last day, how you were slower than usual, sleepier than usual. There was no strength in me to relive the afternoon that I got back to my flat because I had to show it to a potential flatmate and how, on seeing how sluggish you were, I ran back out to look for a vet. You rolled feebly in my palm as I asked shopkeeper after shopkeeper for the location of the only doctor that could save you, in the area. And I could not, for the life of me, talk about what it did to you when the seizures began.

“We’re closed,” the man on the end of the line told me when I finally had a number for the animal clinic. “We’ll open at five.” He was obstinate. And they only worked for cats and dogs, he added. “I know nothing about squirrels,” he said repeatedly. When I begged, he suggested I go to ‘one of those places in south Delhi that were open 24x7. When I got over the call, you were gone. Stiff. Eyes shut like you were sleeping. Traffic blared around me – 2 pm on a weekday afternoon, sunlight blasting every surface, all the world a mean, noisy whir, as I leaned against a wall and cried.

No, I could not talk about how I failed you, the person you adopted as a surrogate mother, the person you – tiny, shy thing that you were – trusted enough to fall asleep on.


I had found you in a bucket in my washroom the day after I found out about my mother’s cancer. I came back to my flat that evening and saw you, dehydrated and slowly dying, cheeping feebly in protest when I picked you up and bathed you gently.

M got milk for you when he got back home that night, and we stayed up reading articles on the internet on how to care for abandoned squirrels. We tried feeding you and attempting to put you to sleep. And because the Steve Jobs book was lying on our bed, we named you Walter.

The next day, I took you back to Gurgaon because I needed to be there for my parents. We discovered each other further, as I found you favoured apples over everything else and you discovered that I had hands that you must absolutely sleep on, all the time.

I’d designated an old VIT t-shirt as your bed and you promptly sought out a sleeve to burrow in and snooze. That was your second favourite place. To the best of my knowledge, I loved you. And I thought you were doing well. 
I had plans to take you to the vet for a check-up soon, a day or two later perhaps. Once I wasn’t spending entire days in the hospital.

When I would come back after visiting my mother in the ICU, a little subdued every single time, you’d squeak and scramble all over my arms and shoulder, scratching me ever so gently, till I actually, literally grinned at your innocent enthusiasm. And as I’d hold you while you fell asleep in my hands, I would realise keenly, every time, that I needed you just as much as you needed me.

It was love. And you were just a baby, my little baby.


M stayed back that afternoon after I got back home with your lifeless, hunched body. He put you back in your box, held me as a part of me felt like it had died, held our worlds together somehow.

No amount or quality of words will ever record what that afternoon was like; we alternated between disbelief and denial, tears and mumbled words. It was inconceivable that you were gone. Wasn’t it just a few hours ago that you were shuffling in and out of your t-shirt sleeve home? Hadn’t you been reaching for my hand an hour ago? You were breathing and moving and with me, goddamnit, it was only an hour since, so how were you gone? And how was I supposed to go on?

It was a few hours before we could take you downstairs to the garden. You’d never been there, you’d never known what it was to be on a tree, to run across a grassy park, to chase after a nut, all the things I had dreamed you’d have once you could fend for yourself. 
But maybe here, we reasoned, you’d be closer to all those things and not too far from us too.

I chose the prettiest, most shaded spot in a corner of the garden, a place you would have liked. Flowers bloomed overhead and the ground was green with clover patches. We lowered you into the ground in your t-shirt, with you snugly fitted into your sleeve. I put the apple you were supposed to eat that day next to it. And then a little absurdly, on a whim, I planted one of the clover bunches that had a four-leaf branch, on top of your mound. For luck.

You changed us, Walter. You, little skitterer, you, the eater of shredded fruit, you the climber of arms, you, the sleepiest, furriest, softest thing I will ever know. My heart stings a little as I write this.

M is brave enough to visit you in your new, green home before he leaves for college sometimes. “I’m leaving,” he’ll call out from the door, “I’ll say hi to Walter!”

And he breezes out.

He has accepted, even embraced the goodness you brought into our lives and I envy him so much. All I have is this dark lump in my chest, this hardened, sad lump that refuses to move along anywhere from the guilt of having failed you. My phone is full of photographs of you and yet, the only image I remember is you convulsing in my hands, on my palm, in your favourite place to be, dying, dying, dead.

That image comes to me at the most unexpected of places. On the metro ride on the way to work, right after I wake up in the morning, at my mother’s bedside in the hospital. On her third day in the ICU, I looked at her and held her hand as she drifted in and out of consciousness, my brave, brave mother, and I thought of the times she played with me as a child. I thought of her walking, I thought of her driving to work, I thought of her coming back home to me in those faraway years when I lived at home. And dragged back to the present, I thought of how long it would be before she could walk again. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t fair. None of this is.

The best of mothers fail us sometimes, Walter. 
I hope your brief but wondrous life was worth the pain on your last moments. I hope some last vestige of your consciousness was glad that you were where you probably liked to be the best. I hope, still hope, for the best for you. I have and I will love you, every single day. You were only a baby. And you were my first.

And now you’ve been gone exactly as long as I knew you. Two days, that’s all it took, that’s all we had. It’s been a week since I found out about my own mother. And everything hurts, most of the time.

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Life in pictures: this past week. Rains, tumor checkups, staying over in Gurgaon, mom’s surgery coming up, lots of family time and walks with dad and tea and lovely days.



Type.Stuff on Instagram
Reading, reading, more reading- and very little writing these days.
I’m at that point in my life where I relish days away from work more than I ever thought I would. There’s so much to do, again. I can’t just wait for the newsroom to take over my life. A girl’s gotta go out and do her own thing. And this one will.
Also, instagram.

Reading, reading, more reading- and very little writing these days.

I’m at that point in my life where I relish days away from work more than I ever thought I would. There’s so much to do, again. I can’t just wait for the newsroom to take over my life. A girl’s gotta go out and do her own thing. And this one will.

Also, instagram.

This is for those times, those in-between days when you’re a little settled in your new house but not quite. You have the bed, the room, you’ve hung your fairy lights, you’ve looped your jewellery across all the right places so the house feels like a little more like home. But it’s like you still need a fridge, you know what I mean? There’s still the washing machine left to be hauled in; you’re still eating out of plates with Spongebob’s face on them and using plastic spoons. It’s not quite home. It’s not, no.

This is for those times, when going to work is still alien to you. When the concept of making your own money and not going to classes anymore hasn’t very much sunk in yet. When your desk isn’t still yours because you’re a trainee and you cannot put up your posters like everyone else because who knows which desk you’ll be shunted to after six months?

This is for those days, all of them, where you come back home (home?) at 2 in the morning and go to sleep at 5 and wake up in the disorientingly bright light of the afternoon and before you know, you’ve fallen out of touch with everyone, friends, family, all calling you when you sleep and soon, no longer calling you at all. You miss birthdays, you miss call-back promises, you forget to email your boyfriend back, you don’t even write anymore because as soon as you wake up, it’s time to go to work again.


This is for those times when not much makes sense. The news is all I know now during my days; wire copies, derailments, rapes and deaths and people saying things I don’t know what to think about anymore. I come to bed and this is what I inevitably end up dreaming about; my nightmares involve misspelt headlines and badly-fitted copy.

Everything is in-between and surreal. Settling down will be a while, before this place becomes home, before I get my bearings, before this city begins to feel like my city. I’m only a very dazed tourist right now, zipping past Metro stations and monuments and reality.  



Imagine waking up to this everyday, getting up at 4am, waiting for the sun to rise with a cup of tea or coffee…and than watching the sun come down


Imagine waking up to this everyday, getting up at 4am, waiting for the sun to rise with a cup of tea or coffee…and than watching the sun come down

(Source: birdasaurus)


This place was a haven, a diary but I’ve been away from it for too long. So much has happened and changed in all this time. I’ll take my time documenting everything, but it will happen.

My dissertation is done. And what a week it’s been. 
I’ve been away from everything that’s been happening anywhere beyond my college walls for so long; the only place I’ve seen a lot of, in this time, has been instagram.

Having time on my hands again is going to be so good.

My dissertation is done. And what a week it’s been. 

I’ve been away from everything that’s been happening anywhere beyond my college walls for so long; the only place I’ve seen a lot of, in this time, has been instagram.

Having time on my hands again is going to be so good.