On the 28th March I tried doing 40 pushups. On the 29th my left shoulder blade was jammed. I went to the physiotherapist at 5am. Took Hifenac during the day. By the 30th I was fit. However, tired.
After office I watched Polansky's THE PIANIST with Baba. Made and savoured some yummy Chirey-Koraishuti with Chai. This was Baba and daughter time. We both loved it.
But then I was supposed to do something new. At 9pm I packed my swim suit and went to the pool. The water was alive and calling. There was no one around. A big pool to myself. I slipped into the shallow waters thinking its been a year. Actually ts been only three months. This was my first time after Naveen Shireen left for Chennai. I thought of the love letter I need to write to someone.
Shireen it must be. Naveen ofcourse but Shireen was such an unexpected beauty in my life for six months. When I had met Naveen in 2002 he was to us a boy:). A kind, gentle, feminist boy. Then gradually he became our friend. Mammu and Mine ie. We realised we were not far away by age and fun quotient. Then it was in 2011 when I shifted to Mumbai one day I recieved this call from Naveen. Our man had shifted with his partner Shireen to Mumbai. Shireen was doing something with TISS and Naveen was winding up his PHd. They said they'll come. I was sure they wouldn't make it. But they did come.It was like I knew Shireen from years and no time had passed between Naveen and me.
Soon every weekend Shireen, Naveen and I would catch up in my house. Shireen is a healer friend. She would oil our hair, give us a massage and then we would happily return the favour. She taught me to swim. She brought back a lot of play in my life. So come saturday it was time for oil in the hair, a nice massage and a long swimming session. After that it would be mughlai from Dbas or malwani food from Malawani Kalwan. We also cooked a lot. Naveen's Mallu Beef Curry was to die for. Spats and Naveen tried making Dosa. They were a treat. Golden and masala laden. I cooked Ilish and Rui Maach. Suvo,Spatica, Suhel, Chetna, Tipu, Siddharth, Lada would be around sometime or the other. Those six months were sunny, watery and delicious.
And yesterday as I swam from shallow to deep waters I thought of our great times together. The political debates. The shouts. Our long flowery Deewali party. Shireen kept telling me for several weeks after Diwali how the food was so much lesser than required. Naveen and I kept telling her everyone had fun. Some people over ate:).
Then there was Goa. Long Feni and Pineapple drinks. All foodies in one place. Long Water basket ball games in the pool. I was the slowest but the cutest. Oh don't ask how that feels??!!:)My niece Tia and nephew Tan are good swimmers. Their friend Kirtana was very good too. Naveen and Shireen got along well with the kids. Naveen was left with multiple thoughts about teenagers. Three of us talked a lot about babies. Shireen and I mostly:)
I also understood the dynamics of a conventional learned muslim family. Shireen's father is a man of tradition. Unlike mass media propoganda of the Muslim man he didn't take away education from Shireen and her sister. He reads his Namaaz five times a day. He wanted his daughters to lead the women of the community. He also wanted Shireen to wear the hijab. None of that happened. Like many Hindu, christian, sikh,jain etc etc parents he adapted to the ways of his children. Eventually he accepted a son-in-law with dubious community credentials (No one knows whats Naveen's religious/spiritual beliefs are). Having grown up in a largely agnostic set up I have my prejudices. Shireen knowingly and unknowingly engaged with them. I saw similarities between Parvez's Mamu Sahab- Mumanijaan and Shireen's father. They were also people of tradition. Unlike Mamu Sahib Shireen's father is not Gandhian. He has stories to tell about Iran's great revolution.
My living those weekends with Shireen also opened my eyes to the word Tradition at large. In fact recently when a friend mentioned me being traditional I didn't take the usual offence. I didn't conclude that he meant I was conservative. I could see myself in the midst of many traditional practices. And as my young friend Lada tells me 'You are a liberal in relationships. Your expectations are liberal. From love you have traditional expectations'. Its not as simple as it sounds. Its hundred years of music, food and waiting.
So in the thirty things that I will do I just realised I must meet Shireen's father. In his house and in his city. I will continue with my love letter to Shireen. And I will continue to swim.
The first thing done was by the way SWIMMING ALONE in a big pool. Looking up at the tall coconut trees from the blue shimmery watersss. Our flats looked like small story books from the pool. Some flats had yellow and some had white lights. The window right in front of me had small pink stringy festive lights. A young family was celebrating.
Swimming in the deep...I almost had it all...:)..