Apple And Abigail: Books And Romantic Relationships

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Apple had very few relationships compared to Abigail. Most of the lessons she learned about relationship were from Abigail’s many failed ones. Since the day they met, Abigail has been claiming of finally finding the one”. Apple attributed this to Abigail fondness of reading romance novels during her teen age years, books she stumbled upon on her mother’s shelf. Those Mills and Booms and Harlequin Romances have filled Abigail’s head with skewed ideas about love. While she on the other hand had been fond of reading English classic novels and had grown a little bit cynical about love especially after reading Wuthering Heights where she decided Cathy, the heroine of the book was a little too neurotic for her liking. Abigail absolutely loved Cathy’s character when she told her about the book. After reading it she went on for days as if she was Cathy’s reincarnation.

“I am a Cathy. I am so her. Oh my God, Apple. Thanks for lending me this book.”

Apple had always preferred Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet among the heroines in classic English novels when it comes to love. Jane Eyre and Elizabeth were subdued and dignified unlike the overtly passionate Cathy, although she still slightly disapproved of their weakness for charming aristocrats.

Apple and Abigail were sitting in a cafe late that night. Apple was consoling her distraught friend who recently found out through Facebook that her boyfriend Oliver was cheating on her. She saw him kissing another woman in bar on one of her friend’s photo in Facebook. A snapshot caught the moment while a group of Abigail’s female friends were posing for the photo. Although his face was not recognizable, Abigail could tell it was him.

“Maybe he was just drunk.” Apple said earlier when Abigail lamented what happened.

“So what! That’s not an excuse besides I am sure he did plan on cheating on me. He lied to me where he was going that night. He said he’s having dinner with his dad. “

“Why did Anna post that photo before telling you Oliver was in it?” Apple asked, frowning.

“I guess Anna did not notice that it was him making out with someone or she wouldn’t have posted it. Anna did not remember seeing him that night. But I recognize the t-shirt he was wearing instantly. I gave it to him”. Abigail wailed.

“Did he admit it was him? “

“Yes! He said he wants to start seeing other women.” Abigail wiped her tears.

“You’ll get over him soon, I am sure.” Apple said, patting Abigail’s hand.

“I won’t! I really, really loved him. He is my soul mate. “

“You said the same thing about Bryan. Yet, you started going out with Oliver only after a few days of breaking up with him.” Bryan was Abigail’s last boyfriend before Oliver.

“ I know. But I totally misread Bryan. He keeps giving me mixed signals. I thought Oliver was not a player.”

“Of course everyone’s a player. Consciously or subconsciously. You know that.”

“ I know but sometimes, I still believe there is someone out there who just loves. Like Heatcliff . Someone who will love me absolutely, maddeningly.”

Apple rolled her eyes. “ Heathcliff is a fictional man. Written by a woman. A woman’s wishful thinking. I’ve always told you that men are more like Tomaz from that book Unbearable Lightness of being. In the novel, Tomaz made love to everyone women he met. ”

“Oh how dreadful. Why do you keep reading books like those.”

“Unlike you, I don’t look at the world in rose tinted glasses.” Apple retorted, losing patience with Abigail who seemed to have learned less from her own failed relationships.

“What’s wrong with rose tinted glasses? That makes the world bearable to look at. “

“Well don’t complain when you get disillusioned.”

Abigail sighed. Feeling defeated. “I suppose you are tired of hearing about my heartaches. “

Feeling guilty for being harsh, Apple took Abigail’s hand. “ Not at all. I am here aren’t I?”

“ Thank you for meeting me at such a short notice. I really appreciate it. You are the only one among my friends who have the patience to listen to me. Most of my other friends are so self obsessed. They have no time for listen to my problems. Their problems are always more important. Ugh.” Abigail paused.” I’m sorry I’m doing the same thing. Tell me what’s happening with you. What have you been up to? “

Apple blushed unexpectedly. “ Well, I met someone.”

To Be A Woman Independent And Single

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What is terrible is that after every one of the phases of my life is finished, I am left with no more than some banal commonplace that everyone knows; in this case , that women’s emotions are still fitted for a kind of society that no longer exists. My deep emotions, my real ones, are to do with my relationship with a man. One man. But I don’t live that kind of life and I know few woman who do. So what I feel is irrelevant and silly…I am always coming to a conclusion that my real emotions are foolish, I am always having, as it were, to cancel myself out. I ought to be like a man, caring more for my work than for people; I ought to put my work first, and take men as they come, or find an ordinary comfortable man for bread and butter reasons– but I won’t do it, I can’t be like that…

Ella from The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

This novel have me in a tight grip. As I turned the pages I get sucked more and more into it. I can feel my mood changing, my being, my thoughts, influenced. My dreams becoming vivid intermingling with the characters in the book as if I am living their lives.

The Author a woman. The protagonist a woman who is writing about the life of a woman in the 1950s. About a period of time when the roles of women were set for change. Feminism was rising in a crescendo and women were breaking free from stereotypes but still galled at the fact that they still need the love of a man to make them happy. Her honesty stings. And still so relevant even today. The truth in her words scalds. It forces you to look at what you refuse to acknowledge.I am like a moth drawn to a fire. I cannot stop reading even if it burns me.

©JMKhapra

Illustration by Jofelyn M. Khapra

Nani

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She was there when I was born more excited than anyone. As I was growing up she’s my number one fan and my most trusted confidant.

First time I broke my heart over a boy, she did not laugh at me. She hugged me and whispered , ” I know it hurts now but I am very sure you are going to get over him sooner than you think. You will even find all this funny someday.” Drying my tears, she handed me a glass of warm milk and tucked me in bed like a little girl.

Most of the useful things I know I learned from her. She taught me how to bake. She taught me how to dance. She taught me how to care for my potted plants.

I sneaked out of the house once before high school graduation, caught by my father as I was returning home, she saved my hide from my father’s wrath saying, ” The girl is young only once let her have some harmless fun.”

Smiling as I reminisce, my grandmother’s unconditional love, I miss most of all now that I have a family of my own.

©JMKhapra

Rants of A Sleep Deprived Video Editor

I was sitting at the editor’s lounge sipping a cup coffee trying to keep myself awake after enduring a not-a wink-of sleep one week editing marathon when one of the editors I worked with sat beside me. Mr. Editor has been friendly with me since I started working for this company, if not over friendly. But hey, I tend to like everybody I meet until they piss me off.

” Editor A won’t work with me. I think he is jealous of me.” he declared looking forlorn. ” He asked Mrs. Supervisor to remove me from the project.”

Now us editors get paid by the number of hours we edit a tv show, music videos, documentaries or video presentations. If you are really good at your job and don’t think sleep is important then you’ll earn a lot of money in a short time. If a producer offers you to edit a daily or weekly program as the master editor then you hit the jackpot. No need to worry when the next project is coming along. Plus you get to choose who you work with. Most of us relied either on our skill or charm to get signed up for a job. Some producers feel better working with one editor over another. Efficiency regardless.

So back to Mr. Editor. I knew what he was getting at. I was sleep deprived for one week because I was working on a new tv show launching in two days. It was a daily show. And I was the master editor. I already selected the editors I would be working with and discussed their corresponding editing schedules with Mrs. Supervisor. I knew Mr. Editor wanted me to include him. I also noticed that yes Editor A have some kind of an attitude problem. So I felt sorry for Mr. Editor and I also thought his editing skill was up to par. He might be of help to me. How wrong was I.

The pilot episode of my new daily show was a success when we first aired it on tv. We got the highest tv rating for that day compared to the other tv programs in the same network. The editing was flawless, remarked the Master of Master editors. The producers and the CEOs were ecstatic. But the pressure was escalating for me and my team. We needed to whip up the same amount of effort with less amount of time everyday.

Being an OCD editor (obsessive compulsive disorder) is not a disadvantage but a must. One typo can get you fired. How often did I cringe when I watched my work finally showing on television. My heart palpitated every time. Watching out for a jump cut ( when you don’t cut the video properly and one frame gets in between frames), a bad dissolve or a spelling typo. These kind of errors that I might have neglected to check give me nightmares when finally I am able to sleep. To avoid those I went over each videos as much as I can or as much time allowed me to. For this particular program I designed a uniformed look through out the one hour show. Subtlety and neatness added an elegant touch to this otherwise tacky tv series. I could not emphasize these enough to my co-editors who were working on each fifteen minutes content of the program. The four of them would edit one video each and I would then whisk the whole thing together for the perfect finish. Sounds easy? Most of the time I ended up re-editing all of the videos, embed graphics and if I was really unlucky lay in the musical scoring as well . I would be working until only a minute is left before the show needed to air on tv. I could not even excuse myself to pee. Waiting outside were producers who were ready to be wheeled to a hospital suffering from a heart attack. One almost did. I am talking millions of money flushing down the drain if we don’t get the show on tv on time. The show’s sponsor spots were filled. It takes very little to alienate the advertisers.

Mr. Editor started working with us and decided that he was better than all of us and that his fifteen minute video should stand out. So he peppered the frames with flashy wipes and mtv-ish transitions. Transitions are graphic designs we used to change from one scene to another. Sometimes if he was in a generous mood he’ll put color tints on scenes regardless if it was appropriate but just because, hey man, it’s cool. Rad. High five.

Needless to say my blood pressure skyrocketed every time I would receive his videos. Yes, more coffee please but instead of sugar mixed it with Redbull.

When a batch of interns descended upon us, I hit the roof. One night on his shift I saw him curled in a sleeping bag with an intern doing his job. He got a sound lashing from my coffee/ Redbull laced tongue. Next morning he ran crying to Mrs. Supervisor and told her I am meany and I was bullying him. The nerve! Like me once upon a time, Mrs. Supervisor felt sorry for him. She asked me to meet her for coffee (more coffee was just what I needed before I turned into a lunatic) and related to me what all Mr. Editor lamented to her. I sounded like an Editor-zilla from his account of what had happened. Wearily, I tried to explain my side but I don’t think I changed Mrs. Supervisor’s perception of me as a fire spitting dragon.

Of course I stopped talking to Mr. Editor after that and I realized nobody wanted to work with him because it was impossible to work with him but somehow he always ended up being the victim. We did manage to acknowledge each other with a slight nod of the head when we happen to pass by each other on the hallway of the new editing suite but that’s after a couple years when I have sort of forgotten what he did. But as you can see not really.

A Patch of Paradise in The Himalayas

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painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra

 

Twin engines roared mightily into the desert and echoed all around disturbing the silence of no man’s land. Infinite sandy hills rolling in the distance. Cadmium yellow landscape contrasted by cobalt blue sky breaking the monotony. The wind hissed as it passed by me. I clung tightly on my husband’s waist. The vastness of the arid place threatened to engulf me. We rode on destination unknown. The desert whistled a lonely tune.Then all of a sudden it sprung into view. An oasis carved down below. My companions parked their muscular bikes. Standing by the cliff we wondered how can this fecundity thrives on this sterile land. Our eyes followed the water’s origin. An eternal flow of snow melting from the peaks of the Himalayan mountain breast feeding this garden of Eden.

 

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

© JMKhapra

* I painted this landscape when we went on a bike trip to Ladakh in the Himalayas.

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A Queen Without A Castle

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Illustration by Harry Clarke

The old do envy the young indeed! These budding blossoms primed for the adventures of life. Their first kisses, first heartbreak and first love thrills. Awakening to truth and clarity is not far behind. Some will embark on a futile search for the meaning of life. Then in frustrations will hurl infinite questions that have no answers. Oh the passions and the disillusionments that will oscillate their body and souls. Those were my thoughts as I gazed upon an elderly lady from across the flat who was watching wistfully the young girls playing in the park. Three generations of women, the past, present and future, we were like the circle of life representations.

Quite frequently in the afternoons I see her sitting elegantly in her balcony. Her dignified head titled slightly. I could see she must have been very beautiful once. Her features are regal. An arrogant nose softened by doe like eyes.

I often made up stories in my head about her past. Of how this aristocratic personage had fallen in deep destitution. Their flat was the shabbiest among the colony. Paint chipping off the wall. Undusted windows and lopsided walls.The abode is decorated with lonely ornaments of neglect. A stark contrast to her constant well heeled appearance. My imagination led me to a possibility that she maybe born into nobility. A princess who was dethroned in a bitter twist of fate. She eloped with a poor man, perhaps? I am always amused seeing her with royal bearing alighting from her beat up Maruti Suzuki as if she’s stepping out from a golden carriage. Lifting her shimmering floor length Shalwar Kameez gracefully, she would ascend the stairs as if on the top a throne was waiting for her.

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