I am pregnant.
With an idea for a novel.
So, after much arguing and shooting down of parental objections-
“How can you go alone?”
“You will be bored in two days!”
“Wait till you fall sick…”
“Is this how you waste your hard earned money?”
“What are your plans for the future? When do you plan to get married?”
and so on it went- I bought a ticket to the city of my birth for a four month stint.
With Calcutta, there is no method to its madness. There is no modus operandi waiting to be cracked.
Winter is not cold. The streets are choked with dust, screaming in silence for the monsoons due to arrive six months later. Cars honk without stopping. People stare and spit, obnoxious and devoid of shame. Mosquitoes serenade you after dark (right before they deliver their love bites). And, the volley of questions… oh the questions.
My mejo jethu asked on our first meeting, “I just don’t get it. How did your father allow you to come alone?”
“I was planning to run away, in case he didn’t,” was my pensive answer with a polite smirk. I am becoming quite adept at these polite smirks.
My maid asked, “What time did you go to bed last night?”
“Late,” I answer again, my polite smirk popping up undeterred. Who the eff cares? You are being paid to clean the house and cook occasionally.
My friend from my nursery days, “You guys are so forward. Your parents are really liberal, aren’t they?”
Just the smirk this time. Oh, if only she knew.
And after being hit by a bout of fever, vomiting, cough and cold, and delhi belly (which should be rightfully renamed to India belly)- all in the span of two weeks after my arrival- I rolled up my sleeves and got down to work.
Work meant research. Work meant reading. Work meant revisiting my thesis ordeal last summer.
Flashback to last summer:
I am trudging through a hundred page Master’s thesis on religious identities of Indian women through fictional representations. In other words, I am screwing myself royally, while the saner of the grad students are taking the easy way out through summer courses. There are nights when I cry myself to sleep, reminding myself constantly of my trip to India that lies beyond those hundred pages.
In the present time, I stare at the books I have ordered. They are filled with academic essays on the time period I want to research.
Smile, dear child, my muse mocks. This is what you wanted, remember?
*I am currently in Calcutta, India, until the month of April, researching and working on my first novel tentatively titled, Blood Red Sky.*