October 12, 2011: 19, White Wood, Regency Park
The wind has flagged tired and changed to quiet rain. Apart from the low dripping of leaves and the occasional hooting of owls and the warbling of the nightingale, the woodlands have hushed and the day is done. The petals of the drooping lotus at dusk tenderly closed. Darkness has wrapped the earth with the coverlet of sleep. Doors are all shut, the veil of a weary night dropped upon the tired eyes of the day.
By the side of the solitary hearth, Aditi is sitting in simple, secluded silence, all alone. The remnant drops of the rain drizzle rest on the window pane, she fiddles with the droplets, seeping in the residual tears after heaven has hailed, sobbed and squalled. Amidst this absolute silence, there is a sudden howl of the wind. The leaves rustle and windows rattle. She is startled. She grabs hold of the off-white woolen sweater of her Grandma, or Kolaveri Amma as she liked to call her, and puts it close to her breast. An overwhelming grief knots her stomach. She bursts into tears and clutches the soft old piece of cloth. It won’t die. It won’t leave her the way she did. Her Amma.
The sweet aroma of incense from the brown earthen jar blends with the pleasantness of the deeply soaked sludge, the pendulum ticks. It is 6 o’clock.
Aditi. She is still there. Sprawled uncomfortably against the couch, she lies lifeless.
Aditi rises. She dries her tears and tries to shake some sense into herself. ‘Hello’ she answered, trying hard to be her equanimous self, unsuccessfully so. ‘Oh, sorry love did I wake you?’ said the caller. ‘Oh, no sir! It’s OK. Tell me, how did you call this early?”
‘It is 11:30 AM, honey’
‘Oh’, Aditi turns to glance at the clock. ‘Yes, you are right’
‘Aditi, I know you are going through a tough time. I think we need to postpone the release of your book. You…’
‘NO’ …’Bharat, Ma always said it is he who puts a brave front in the face of hardships, it is he who wins. The Book, the very first, the memoirs of my Ma ‘will’ be released on the coming Monday.’
‘RESPECT’ says the publisher with true admiration ‘So Ma’am, Monday 2:00 PM it is?’
‘Most definitely’, says Aditi in a firm voice.
‘Right then… take care, love!’
Aditi slowly cradles the phone and, suddenly collapses in a crumbled heap on the floor with a deep shrill cry. She feels as if the once soft ceramic floor has been replaced with sharp stones that cut and scrape her feet. After a deep scream, she searches out for some strength. She spanks her pale cheeks, takes deep breaths, swabs her tears dry and stands up.
October 17, 2011, Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi: The Launch of “C’est La Vie” by Aditi D’Souza
Celeste satin polyester dress with elegant hand-beaded floral lace details along the breakfront skirt and bodice, she looks no less than perfect… With mascara elongating her curled eye lashes, kohl hiding the puffiness, and the liner shaping the eyes perfectly, she is looking the way she had always wanted to. This is her day. And this is her kind of personal paradise. There are heaps of books, people of substance and glasses of wine!
As she takes the book out of the green and purple, Japanese Maple leaves print cover, a loud applause of elated approbation follows.
Aditi comes up to the pedestal, adjusts the audio-technica dynamic mic to her height, smiles to the audience, and speaks, “Ladies and Gentlemen allow me to introduce you to my new book, “C’est la Vie”’
“C’est La Vie” is a French phrase for “Such is life”. Yes, indeed such is life. See the irony here! Its not even been a week since Ma died, and the book releases today. Such is life. C’est La Vie!”
A tear trickles down her cheeks, touches her lips and gifts her a smile.
“The book is about the Memoirs of Ma, her way of life, way with life. Just the words are mine. Just those.” “Interspersed with the wisdom and experience that comes only with age, the memoirs are a living expression. Ma always asked to question the quest for happiness in the pursuit of happiness. She always said that we can cultivate happiness, find our inner self by befriending oneself, go beyond the five sheaths of Manas, Buddhi, Ahamkara, Upadhi and Ahamkara, to attain Atman. As abstract as this sounded to me in the very start, it might to you too. But I assure you once you read the book, you will be more open, accepting and love this life. ”
“There isn’t just this, so to say, theoretical intellectual perspective towards life. There is a light, practical, happy side of beauty too. The best solution to a break up is a hair spa. The end to an argument is ‘love you too’. The alternate to a guy is another guy. No, wait! More guys”
Anyway, I think, in fact I know, these are the kind of stories that will appeal to every generation. I will end my musings by reading to you the last few paragraphs from my book:
“Kyuntu ban raha, jotunahi?
Ye Naavbhiteri, Dhaarbhi Teri
Kashti Teri Kaaahebalkhaaye?
Ye dhartibhiteri, yehkashtibhiteri.
Tufaan se kaaheghabraaye
Jab ye maukahaitera,
Jab ye laanekohainayasawera.”
Thank you very much. May Amma’s Soul rest in peace”
(A huge round of applause)
(After 2 weeks… November 2, 2011; Celebrations at 19, White Wood, Regency Park)
The Newspaper, Dilli Times, Page 4, “C’est la Vive: A wonderfully life-affirming debut!”
The debut novel proves to be a sensation. An amalgamation of factual narrative and a fairytale, it becomes a great success. The nation falls in love with Kolaveri Amma. They wish to have met her. They wish to have known her. But more than that, what they have is, admiration for Aditi, admiration for a woman and her strength to overcome a profound personal loss and do the right thing, for fulfilling a long awaited dream and putting to practice something she talks about in the book, herself. A nation, looking for inspiration, stories of hope and strength finds a new torchbearer for all that it wishes itself to be. Aditi’s own story has mass appeal, it engages everyone’s emotions and is gobbled up by the critics, journalists and the masses alike and it propels the sales of the book to dizzying heights.
A lavish party is thrown to celebrate the success. There are happy faces, Clicks and Poses, Cocktails and outside, smoke diffusing in the air. Aditi, wears a red lucy satin dress, and smiles a fake smile to her guests, her insides still in a turmoil.
‘Tu-kyun-ban-raha-jo-tu-nahi, Tu-kyun.’ These words echo, as she lights another cigarette. Conglomerated with warped thoughts, she goes inside her room, breaks down in front of Ma’s photo, which is garlanded with yellowish-orange flowers, and says, “Amma, This glittering success. What I had always dreamt of, desired for and aspired for, is all because of you. I just wanted to thank you and tell you how much I love you. And more so, miss you. Thank you for being by my side, for sharing moments that are our best. Thank you for bearing me at my worst. Thank you. And I am sorry, Sorry for all the times I asked too much of you, I irritated you, and out of frustration shouted at you. I am sorry Amma. I am sorry for killing you. I am so-rr-rr-yy. I am soh-rr-rrr-y”