Sunday, September 28, 2014

a woman's sphere

spheres in the setting sun

There was a time when my main job was to oppose vehemently the strict, confining definitions of a woman's sphere. "Marginalization", "life on the periphery",  "legitimization of femininity", "debunking of the feminine mystique" -- all these were the usual concepts that were bandied about by me. Little did I know that there would come a time when I made spheres.

This summer I was engrossed in a project that made me work on my patience and fortitude( yes, I exaggerate ). Inspired by the myriad diy sites on the web, where they give detailed instructions on how to make concrete spheres, I ventured into it. It was a  totally satisfying, tactile, energizing and therapeutic process.  The one part that tried my patience was the making of the molds. On the net, everyone seemed to be using discarded dome light shades, which many got from thrift shops. I went to one thrift store near where I live and there was nothing like that available. So I got some kids' rubber balls, which I  reinforced with several layers of  papermache( which took me weeks, kind of tedious - some vouch for using the balls as they are, but placing them in wet sand so that they retain their shapes - but I did not feel I had the patience to deal with deflated rubber ball and wet concrete)  and then used a waterproofing spray. The concrete was mixed, poured into prepared molds. That part is easy - like mixing cookie dough. I waited from a week to two weeks before un-molding. Then I soaked them in tubs of water for another week. Curing, they call it. At last they were ready to be finished. Another step where I used resealing cement to smooth the imperfections, and kind of re-shaped the spheres to my liking. Again, drying time. Finally, I could paint them. At first I had thought to leave it unpainted. But I changed my mind. Of course I had to make a couple of stepping stones too. That was like making mud pies - fun and fast.

My front yard has a lot of flowers. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and finches have a party in those beds. After the riotous living there, I wanted a place of peace and quiet. One for meditation, kind of. And so this one flowerbed at the back came in handy. Once all the overgrown plants and weeds were cleared off, I planted a Japanese maple . And then placed my spheres. My eyes are drawn to them whenever the sunlight hits them from different angles, at different times of the day. They catch my attention  even when they lie there just like the inanimate lumps of concrete that they are. :) Something grounding, calm, and clean about them, don't you think? But then the play of light and shadow begins and they assume altogether different personalities. Endless variety! fascinating!

rising sun on my little earth!

I got a little universe in my backyard.
or a half-moon

PS: I guess the easier way to make the spheres would be to make 2 hemispheres and then seal them together. But somehow I rejected that idea. This unveiling of a whole sphere seemed to be stuck in my head. But for my next set, I might do the 2 halves thing.

on a rainy evening

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

whatever happened to Asha Joseph. M?

Asha Joseph M circa 1991

Have you seen her? Missing for about 20 years. This is to those who knew her a long time ago. Some were at that time, thought to be very close friends. Never to be parted from completely. What do we know when we are at that age! For that matter, at any age! The only difference between now and then would be  that back then we thought we knew everything, as we all know. Coming back to the old friends and acquaintances,  they themselves are probably busy looking for their old selves now. And that leaves no one else -- since Asha was never famous. Still, admit it. some of us did fear, albeit slightly, that Asha Joseph M may get famous some day!

So let this Asha speculate. And wonder. May be Asha Joseph. M died. Or she lives on in some faraway land, an island perhaps. Perhaps, mishaps. Or, she may be living in a convent! Or better, walking on the moors with the Bronte sisters on cold winter days, and later huddling close to the fire, busy pretending to write the next novel about doomed lovers. 

By all this I hope she doesn't think I am making fun of her. I just write this in fun. Her sense of self-importance may take it as a blow to her great dignity and noble pride!Please do not take umbrage, Asha! Your oversensitivity is notorious! After all, Asha may very well be leading a happy, contented life somewhere. If so, that is if she is completely content, then that either makes her a simple saint or a fool. To quote Edison, ( I am afraid, like those annoying quote posts on social media), "Restlessness is discontent — and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man — and I will show you a failure.”  Well, that is neither here nor there. Quoting some famous person   is not that different from a hypocritical overzealous sanctimonious bible-thumper quoting the scriptures. Still doesn't tell me where the heck Asha Joseph. M has got to!

 This came to me suddenly - could she be languishing in some prison cell of a dictator? No, Asha's activism was never of the suffering kind. Her ideas never left her armchair set in that rarefied atmosphere of like-minded revolutionaries. Quite safe. But then she could be in that little cottage at the edge of the woods, near a stream, with a vegetable patch in the back yard,  and with a few hens, and a dog, for company. While we are at it - she could very well be in a big city in a little room overlooking a busy street, where after work, she writes stuff that no one wants to read. Why do I always picture her alone? For all I know she could be surrounded by a half a dozen children or even grandchildren! Wherever she is living, she will go on living, and then she will have to die one day.

Let's retrace her steps from the last I had seen of her. That is how a detective usually starts, I have heard.. Where did I see her last? At her wedding? Or before that in that magazine office? What did we talk about then? Did she seem like she had any solid plans as to her future? Not really, I should say. Mind you, she looked like she knew what she wanted. Not at all the clueless person that I now know her  to be . She was a dreamer all right. Lived in the world of dreams. Some vague idea about the immediate future, probably. Ah! I know! She must have got lost in her own thoughts! And is still wandering in those lanes, alternately elated and despondent, relieved and frustrated, all the while growing older and weaker. Soon she may lose her memory, thus all her thoughts, her consciousness, and fall down, never to wake up. Natural selection at work.

Another set of questions arise now. We all know Asha Joseph. M. has disappeared. Now is there foul play here? After all, I knew that she had secret plans for world domination, no one else knew, by the way. Yep, that disinterestedness, that air of nonchalance, that was all a facade. Inside she was a scheming Dr No. Total fraud (fraaad) case. as our Jagathy would say. (If there is foul play, there is every chance that she did it. no, the B did it!) Why? How? Who? Well, the good old motive and opportunity. Who stands to gain from her disappearance? Who couldn't stand her so much that they had to delete her (so to speak)? We have to be honest here - she really was the limit, sometimes. Someone had to try to stop her. Or was it a crime of passion? Jealousy? Love? Lust? Or sheer pigheadedness? Someone just did not like the way she looked? Or was she the woman who knew too much about someone or something, and had to be silenced? For instance she may have seen some crime being committed. Or, was she a victim of diabolic revenge ? For some imagined or real slight that someone endured from her? Will we ever find out?. (Did I cover all points? Now that's me being her - with her irritating habit of , that compelling need to cover all points, every eventuality.)

Anyway what do I care where Asha is! For that matter, where I am! There is no point in knowing either, seriously. Her own child would not recognize that Asha from the past. Even her mother wouldn't be able to recall that Asha. As far as I am concerned, Asha Joseph.M could live or die or vanish into thin air. Or take a running jump at herself or off a cliff, off even one of Brontes' cliffs. She is history. Or, herstory. Just covering all points again. :)

one of her permed hair phases
asha's "twin" 
asha in the "dog days"

PS: Do let me know if you happen to find her!