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Hello there,

I hope you've been keeping yourself busy and happy. 

Kanchan Aunty! She truly was the colour of gold, and gorgeous. She had a vibrant laugh and a loud voice, and she treated me like her own child. I must have been seven or eight and adored her poha and her chai. Aunty had two daughters – Manju and Mamta. Mamta was the leader of our two girl gang; sorry, she was master, I was slave.

Mamta’s constant complaint was that her mother only loved Manjudidi because she was brilliant and did well in school. Mamta managed to scrape through, by mugging up a whole lot of things for the yearend exams. I promised Mamta I’d find out by asking her mother for the truth if I got a chance. I did, one day.  

Kanchan Aunty had plotted with me to have my hair cut. I was fed up of my bum length tresses which when plaited hung like two ropes from above my ear and got in the way all the time. Mother wouldn’t allow me to cut my hair.

Kanchan Aunty took me to a regular parlour complete with dazzling mirrors, swivel chairs and beautiful women with scale straight hair, high cheekbones and eyes tucked in at the corners. I still remember the sense of freedom when my hair was shampooed, cut to chin length, and blow dried. In the ice cream shop later, though I felt like a traitor, I put the question.

“Why do you love Manjudidi more?”

The honey brown eyes across the table locked into mine. She was not angry, just a little sad.
“Beta,” she said “Pyar to ho jata hai. Jabardasti se pyar nahi karwa sakte kisi se.” Love happens; it can’t be forced. And she proceeded to explain. 

That conversation has remained with me. She wasn’t annoyed. Perhaps she realised that I’d asked the question out of great affection for Mamta. I remember she treated me as a person in my own right. And as she explained I understood she didn’t feel any guilt or shame. The point she made was that she may love one of them more but she treated them both the same. That, she said was more important.  

Such are the complexities of motherhood. And yet, as a people, in popular narratives or otherwise, we choose to limit the mother to two dimensions. We choose to paint her in a single colour – pristine white.    
From My Blog
This fortnight I posted two more folk tales. Click on the titles to read. 
The Good Doctor
The Good Doctor and the Labourer Who Made Him Cry
Book Talk

A few months ago I read a book called 'The Liberation of Sita' by Telugu writer Volga. This book tells the tale of Sita in several short stories. They are based on Sita's interaction with several minor women characters from the Ramayana - Surpanakha, Ahalya, Urmila, Renuka. These interactions change the way Sita thinks about herself and about the way she has been treated. The very last story is about Rama and his ruminations and thoughts about his dearly loved wife. The translation feels a bit clunky in places, but Volga's brilliance comes through. If you would like to buy it, here is the link to the Amazon page. 
Just So You Know ...
I'm currently working on the sixth draft of my novel Bharati Central. When I started out two years ago I had no idea about the complexity of the project I had undertaken. I didn't imagine it would take so long or require so much of effort. Experience is the best teacher, as they say. If something interesting happens regarding Bharati Central I'll definitely keep you updated. 
Until next time, then. Stay close to anything that makes you glad. 

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