I was 16, obsessed with ramp, literature and getting the hell of out of the small town, had a novice eating disorder, was fixated on boys, and still a kid in a small secret pocket compartment of my heart. I read Dostoyevsky and Dante along with Mills&Boons, for pleasure, climbed trees; fist fought my brother and was very concerned with the fate of the world and my future.
I listened to Nirvana, tried not to eat, wore baggy jeans and high ponytails, and I hated my mother because she deferred to my father on everything that ever had anything to do with me. I wanted secretly to be a runway model. I kept a daily diary. I thought the “Died in your arms tonight” was the epitome of romance.
My father was the smartest man I had ever known and I adored discussing philosophy and religion with him. I’d perch on the couch in a circle of yellow lamplight, and we’d talk, sometimes for hours, about reincarnation and karma and the fate of the gods. He was also one of the most socially clueless men I have ever known, and had no idea how to parent a teenage girl. Aside from the good conversations, he responded to almost every one of my requests to do normal social teenage things with a “no.” Zero social time!
I learned how to lie. And, I learned how to survive, the innumerable horrors, heartbreaks, domestic violence, ugly insinuations, low self esteem. I learned to live in spite of things. I learned to collect the good times, the sit-down family meals, the infatuations and the admirations.
My best friend and I spent a lot of time together and it is because of her, and because of my younger sis I survived my life then. We spoke for hours on phone. Plastered our walls with pictures from Vogue, listened to Stevie Wonder and George Michael and strangely Jagjit Singh.
I loved being the center of attention, but was too awkward and earnest to really pull it off. I was fascinated with the attention that I got from boys, but was thoroughly confused as to why. I liked boys who were dangerous or daring, or at the very least, looked interesting. But never got involved; never more than a couple of “hellos” ( a BIGG move at that point of time in history!) This was after all, a small Indian town where boys followed you either on their bicycles or motorbikes (the more happening ones) and you were supposed to be un-interested or you could quickly follow the (in)fame’s path and all hell would break loose, if your family came to even as much as believe that you even as much as looked in their direction.
I was a freelance feature writer for a local print of a national daily. Graduated from children’s page in high school to a regular feature contributor in college! And, believed myself to be more refined, erudite and literary then my contemporaries; hiding a huge anti-social misfit who did-try-hard-and-then-gave-up-fitting-in; beneath it all.
I imagined running away. I imagined being famous. I imagined I was important enough to change the world. I imagined growing up to be an astrophysicist cum writer. I loved to sketch and wrote reams of poetry. I went to all the book fairs and managed to get a membership for British Council Library, unheard of for undergrads then. I briefly flirted with Occult and moved into meditation techniques which I hardly understood, a flirtation that lasted until one day suddenly I found myself some place brown and orange with a splitting headache and absolutely terrified. I was as much a contradiction as possible. I was 16.