Friday, October 17, 2008

Bombay Diaries – 2: The secret diary of Cynic in Wonderland Aged 13 1/4th

I think I am a bit like a bear. A couple of times in a year, after an protracted time of activity I get this strong urge to go into hibernation – viz. just take off and do some R&R and space out and be incommunicado to everyone except those whom I HAVE to talk to - office folks, my mother (if anyone has managed to successfully go on, and more importantly maintain a maun-vrat with their mother, please give me tips), and sometimes the out-laws. The last one leaves me feeling more than slightly aggrieved. That is the reason when I feel the need to hibernate; I usually skulk off to Bombay where I can go peacefully into my asocial-surly-moody-space cadet mode without being disturbed or suffering annoying guilt pangs.

So anyways, I went last week but this time I wasn’t allowed to pursue my usual policy of going into a state of suspended animation – where I sleep, eat, read, ignore everyone, watch bad movies and occasionally do guilt-propelled exercise (and do NO work).

This time, the mother had an agenda for me – viz. clear out my bookcase. She for some reason has always found my tendency to buy and hoard books a nuisance, nothing moves her to fluent oratory as much as finding some book under the bed or on top of the washing machine. Sigh.

So she put an ultimatum. Either clear out the cupboard or she would clear it out (which basically meant that she would have just called the raddi-wala and told him to take away everything in sight.)

So, very reluctantly I set out to do so.

And I found a whole lot of half-remembered things from bygone eras. Letters from my friends carefully stored away inside books, letters written to my friends which I never got around to mailing, poems (aged 14 -18: serious and deadly earnest philosophies for life and living (ahem)), my friend Goonda’s poems (which I had copied meticulously for some reason. I promptly called her to recite them on phone and she had to bribe me with a gift to shut up) and Goonda + Mine ambitious literally opus – titled the GOLD (er...Gems of Literature and Dramatics. I know. I know. I was fourteen. God help me).

And I found my diaries. Slightly squashed, slightly musty, slightly dog-eared but all there for posterity.

I started writing these diaries – well when I was seven or eight at the behest of my father. I would religiously show it to him, making sure that my mother didn’t see them (I did say I was a Daddy’s girl didn’t I? Although I stopped sharing it from age ten). He would assure me (completely mendaciously) they were particularly well written and that would ensure that I continue this diary for at least three months of the year – even if it was a bland and factual “I didn’t do anything today so nothing to write”.

The early editions of this unfortunately, must have got lost when we shifted countries when I was 11. But I have the diaries from ages 13 to age of 22(which seems to be the last time I attempted it.)

So I have brought along my diary aged 13 1/4th to Pune and have been wading through it, these days. It is written in a scrawl (whatever else might have changed, my handwriting remains as bad as ever) and the text is usually accompanied by illustrations interspersed with dire threats/pathetic pleas to people to refrain from reading. Mostly addressed to my mother . She used to insist on reading the diaries when I hid and locked them. After a point I started leaving them around and she promptly lost interest. I wonder whether this mother-daughter privacy thing always happens in the early teens.

Anyways the entries are full of anecdotes from school and my opinions on class fellows and the process of discovering the world through books such as Anne Frank’s diary through the eyes of a dreamer-introvert that I was.

It’s well, for lack of a better description– quaintly grown up in some cases (“I had to stifle a laugh”. “I went to a temple which had three Goddesses, and I absolutely stuck to Saraswati because exam results are due any day”/”So and so talked for exactly 23 minutes without stopping and 15 minutes after taking a pause. I timed him”) and brutally childish (“XYZ aunty I hate her and her lunch was awful”).

I do remember some of the more memorable incidents such as the time I locked myself in the bathroom (which had two doors, one leading to the bedroom and the other to terrace.) way past the time I was allowed to read books, with “Anne of Green Gables”. I got so engrossed in the story that I completely forgot about getting out until “rudely awakened from my reverie” by my father knocking on the door and asking me whether I was reading a book. Guiltily aware that I would be in quite deep trouble if caught with a book (I was not allowed to read in the bathrooms) I quietly opened the terrace door and left the book outside hoping to retrieve it later – innocently oblivious to the fact that my parents could see the bathroom light and my shadow as I furtively left the book there. I opened the main door and went swaggering out only to be hauled by the coals by my dad and I drily end the entry with “Ma couldn’t scold me, she was laughing so hard at the irony of the situation”

There are some entries which in hindsight are beautifully insightful.

One reads “One of my friends at school is a great artist. Today in free period she started drawing on the board and she drew a man (Mr. Weepy Sing)”. Given what I recall of the aforementioned gentleman, that is not a bad description at all.

And finally my favourite entry...
“I just hope I don’t have to sit with any ninth standard boys they are so STUPID”.
More than a decade and a half later, with many experiences dealing with boys in various shapes and sizes, I still can’t quibble too much with THAT particular sentiment.

Ah. Growing DOES pain.


Rada said...

Nice nostalgic post. Hugely enjoyed reading it! :-)

Parul said...

Lovely post, Cynic. I quite wish I had retained some of those childhood diaries.

Anonymous said...

"..And the thing is, after all these years I still look back in wonder..." The Wonder Years
and maybe, after a looong time, you'll look back at this post in wonder :)

scribbleamus said...

you write very well. Love your post. :)

AmitL said...

Hi,Cyn..imagine a big smile on my face,reading this post.Why?Coz of the similarities with my childhood stuff!:)But,first things first:
* I sleep, eat, read, ignore everyone, watch bad movies and occasionally do guilt-propelled exercise (and do NO work).*
Wow-sheer bliss,albeit,I'm curious-what are 'bad movies'? Tearjerkers/comedies/A movies?
Similarities:Well,books for one-I even have the Noddy books I used to treasure,back then-imagine!(And,don't mind reading them occasionally,when in Baroda,LOL)..then,Hardy Boys,other Enid Blyton's,et al.
Diaries-wow-those are some memories..specially'ninth standard boys being 'so stupid'..a big LOL at that one!
Looking forward to more memories!:)

Nandini Vishwanath said...

I loved this post, Cyn :)


And books, I cleaned mine before I got married. For my mom, it was like, my chapter is over, you know?

Mother-daughter privacy issues? My mom'd come and stand near the computer and act like she is dusting the CPU and the printer while I chatted and casually ask whether the name Avi was short for Avinash or for Avni :P

B said...

WOW what an awesome post. I;ve written such nostalgic posts when I've had my booksheleves to clean, or my old clothes to take care of, or throw out, with memories attached to each one of them. Like, a tee shirt my frd had given me for my birthday, with her pocket money... :)

daddy's girl is always awesome :D

i love ur blog :D

shub said...

hahahaha. Brilliant stuff. Thanks for sharing. [Which is just a bribe so we can get to see some more from the diaries]

Sud said...

Ah the free periods, I remember eagerly waiting for them. Good ol days

Cynic in Wonderland said...

thank you rada.

parul you should have. its hugely entertaining reading em.

manu - yes i guess so.i look at old blog entries even now and wonder. you know once i was wondering whether i pop off in my old age, and i have grandkids, would they be seeing the blog and all that.

scribbleamus - thank you so much.

amit that is the intent. not that im successful doing it all the times. bad movies is any film starring that rishi kapoor son feller types or srk. something one can take potshots at.

nandini hehehe. so who was it? avinash or avni? you know these days i have named the mother mrs doubtfire. every time any of these kind of questions happen i go all annoying and start chanting mrs doubtfire at her.

resoul - yes its incredibly painful throwing away such stuff no? these days i ask the mother to do it when i m anot in town. as if that helps.

shub - i shall probabaly start an alterego blog and post it there.

sud - i get that free period happiness from very few things these days.

Iya said...

hey.. lovely and very nostalgic...

I too used to write dairies when I was young.. started every year only to stop In a week or so...and then I wrote when I was hurt, and as a child and In my early teens that was a very frequent happening...

I so remember how I burnt my dairies as I found It too silly... I wish I could have kept them...

shilpa said...

Wonderful post....very reminiscent of my early diary scribbling days!You are in Pune? That's where I'm from..grew up there!

Epiphany said...

:D...Have to tell you on behalf of 9th std boys.. WOMEN! ;)

Australopithecus said...

what do i do..not so deep down.. im still a ninth std boy.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

iya - you burnt them? i never would have the guts to do that somehow.

shilpa - haanji in pune. shifted here a year and a half ago. still getting used to the culture tremors though.

epiphany - bah.

ausstro - yus i know what you mean. i was telling someone the other day that if i was beaned on the head and asked my age, i would probabaly say seventeen or something.

Pinku said...

Books....old memories...letters....secret diaries...ohhhhhhh

such fun!!!

must go and rummage in my shelves soon.