On a Sunday, I Connect
A few days ago, I didn’t speak for a full twenty four hours. I communicated all day long, but there was really no occasion to speak to anyone. I sent out thirty three texts (I counted), and fourteen emails. But I didn’t speak to even one person. There was no need. Text has replaced speech in practically every interaction. We don’t need to speak to communicate, just as we don’t need to meet to be together. Our screens are now an extension of our mouths, our eyes, our speech, our cognition. Just as all these reside in us, they reside inside our screens, a medium for our interaction with the world.
Fortunately, my digital self isn’t entirely merged with my physical self. I place touch on an equal footing with the rest of my senses. It’s a different story that it’s becoming increasingly redundant, and in a futuristic scenario, I see our screens possessing the ability to transmit not just our thoughts and expressions, but our touch as well.
While I value the physical over the virtual, my parents know only the former. And thank god for that, thank god for the fact that my mother doesn’t know texting, that she has never used Facetime, that the idea of the smartphone is still alien to her. For while smartphones have made the world a smaller place, they’ve made human interaction almost redundant, laying to waste our desire to touch and feel one another, to hug, and slap, and cover the friend’s eye while saying ‘Guess who?’
Not for my mother, though. Come rain or shine, I have to present myself at her house for Sunday brunch, driving across the city in every kind of weather to do so. We speak on the phone every day, maintenance calls when I ask her about her health, and she returns the compliment, heedless of the irony, but on Sunday, we really connect. We hug each other, and then get on with the business of being mother and daughter, she reprimanding me for my dress sense, as she has done all my life, and I reassuring her that no, no she hasn’t gained weight since the last time I saw her a week ago. We sit together, or circle around each other, she watching me while I eat, making sure that I consume no less than at least a week’s quota of calories. And after brunch, we just lie in our individual beds and snooze away, bellies heaving with digestive trauma, all conversation momentarily halted. But even the silence is a form of touching, a benediction of proximity.
On a Sunday, I touch not just my mother, but a whole world that’s slowly getting left behind. Until next Sunday!
On a Sunday I..
Sleep like dog. Eat like a pig. Chill like a log. Speak like a kid.
I giggle and dance, and pull my sisters leg.
My mom looks at me and says, “Please go back to bed”.
She only sees me once, so I spend time with her.
But too much time is trouble.
She starts asking me all things weird.
“Look how old you are!”
“Why do you act like a child?”
“At your age I was married!”
“But you have nothing of that sort on your mind.”
Then comes my dad, to lighten up the mood.
He asks my mom “what’s cooking?”
All he wants is his food.
I get back to eating, and then my Sunday nap.
Just to hear my mom yelling, “Bathe that dog, she stinks like a rat!”
On a Sunday I …
On a Sunday, I die. I am not sure how many of you have had the experience, but sometimes one is better off as a corpse. A corpse enjoys certain privileges which are not available to a non-corpse. But more on this later. First I have to tell you about some incidents.
It was early morning on a Sunday in February, about a month or so after my wedding. The rising sun was still too weak to pose any significant challenge to the winter fog that hung outside my bedroom window. I had just started emerging from deep slumber, prompted by the gentle pressure building up in my bladder. A quick realization that it was Sunday pushed me immediately back towards sluggish dormancy.
My arm reached out under the quilt across the bed, looking for the extra-warmth whom I had newly-wedded. I thought a sleepy, spoon-cuddle should be able to fend off this minor attack against the bladder bulwark. But my outstretched hand could not make contact with the aforementioned e-w whom I had n-w. Further investigative taps at various locations on the bed yielded the same result. Classifying her as missing-in-action, my arm retreated from its failed mission and coiled up once again against my chest. But by now my bladder, sensing possible victory against my sleep, pushed harder. My sleep, however, wasn’t going to surrender so easily. It directed me to trundle out to the loo, with my eyes firmly shut, do my stuff and return without letting even a chink of light hit the retina. So off I went to do as instructed.
It couldn’t have been more than a couple of minutes later that I returned, eyes still shut as per plan, and lay down. Just as my butt hit the bed, I realized that it didn’t feel the same. Like a sleeping dog, who is off guard duty but still wants to check out an unusual sound, I opened one eye. The landscape around me had completely changed. The bed was neatly made up, the quilt folded under the pillow and the bedcover had been spread. The very same n-w, instead of providing e-w, was sitting cross-legged sipping her coffee, looking out of the window, taking in the sight of the languid, dull-orange sun. At that moment, I woke up fully to the realities of my newly married life.
Fast forward nearly three decades to Bombay. Life has changed. Working against my sleep is now an institutionalized, outsourced process. My duties include answering the door when the bai rings the bell at 6:30 in the morning and picking up the newspaper which could lie anywhere within two metres of the entrance. Very often, to avoid the risk of the door accidentally shutting behind me, I have to keep one foot firmly planted while doing a forward lunge with the other leg and reach down to pick it up – an activity, you would agree, not designed to bring cheer on any face at that time of the day.
Over time, I started holding this against the bai and I think she too sensed a pattern in my daily scowl. We, therefore, have developed a mutual animus. This hostility manifests in her stalking me from room to room. Within minutes of my vacating my station in the bedroom and plonking myself on the living room cushion she appears there with her broom, like a witch looking for a prey. She then stares down at me without speaking, till I get the message and move myself to another part of the house. But there is no escaping her. Many times, I am reasonably sure that she has already cleaned the room where I happen to be, but reappears there just to spite me. Unfortunately, she has got total support of my wife in treating me as a marble on a Bagatelle board in my own house.
Things came to a head one Sunday when I was lying on the bed, eyes closed, hoping to extend the night by an hour or so. Sensing her presence, I opened my eyes. “Bhaiyya uthiye, bistar bichhaana hai”, she said. And before I could say anything, she unashamedly caught hold of the corner of my comforter and started pulling it away to fold it. I jumped up and stormed out of the room, appealing to my wife to arbitrate on this act of deliberate harassment. I decided that this was the last straw.
Since that day, I have developed a deterrence against her aggression, which I use every Sunday. While she is attending to whatever it is that she does in the kitchen, I lie on my back on the bed and cover my torso completely with a white sheet from head to toe to disguise myself as a corpse. I lie still, hoping that when she enters the room she will think that I am dead and leave me alone. No one, not even an evil witch like her, will think of disturbing a corpse or pulling away its shroud. But just to be sure, I am trying to persuade my wife to sit beside me and wail.
On a Sunday Morning… I groan
I am a converted early bird post raising a family – as kids went to school, I got into the habit of sacrificing my morning sleep and getting up fairly early.
Now over the years my weekday mornings start buzzing between 7 and 7.30 am. The doorbells chime, help flits in and out, the narial-pani man blesses us with his daily gifts, building cleaners pipe in with all kinds of queries, and to sum it up, the possibility of any snooze becomes a complete impossibility.
So I dream of Sunday mornings, when I have instructed all these entities to come post 9 am. I imagine the uninterrupted hours of blissful sleep, even beg the spouse to not wake me up, come what may. I hum to myself as I get ready to sleep on Saturday night, thinking of the lazing around in store. I am all smiles.
I wake up at 6 or 6.15 am. Inevitably. On a Sunday morning! It’s like a vindictive self-propelled alarm within my body. Some weird Karma in action. I dig my face deep into my pillow, trying to psyche myself to sleep more. I try counting sheep and lambs and all kinds of 4-legged creatures. I breathe in and breathe out and curse violently. I almost wake up the spouse sleeping like a baby with my tossing and turning. I contort my body in a fetal position. Nothing works.
Then I groan. A deep heartfelt groan. And I wake up.
On Sunday I make a list of things I need to get around to next week.
Here is this week’s list:
- Look into VISA.
- Write to C.
- Manage expectations.
- Call Dvij.
- Call Ma.
- Find prescription and get new glasses.
- Read a chap. of T.F.A.S. (falling behind)
- Exercise (T,Th,Sun)
- Articulate how I feel.
- Practice Piano. (Solace, Bethena, Prelude I, start Prelude II)
- Figure out when to take a week off. (and what to do)
- Buy beer.
- Find out when Arjun can get dinner. Get Abhay to pester him too.
- Message Merch.
- Wash sheets & pants.
- Buy an external drive, backup all files.
- Find out when dad gets back.
- Find/Buy a pen
- Complete last weeks list…