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19 October, 2004

In Search of Jiya

How did this silly yellow notebook change the way I’d thought about her for 30 years? I touched the plastic cover. She wouldn’t have bought a notebook with a plastic cover to write her most private thoughts. This was a woman who loved natural fabrics, the beauty of texture and touch. I’ve seen her in bookshops, caressing books and folders and files. Sometimes if she didn’t like the cover, she wouldn’t read a book. How did she pour out her words into this ugly little ‘diary’?

Poo often asked me, “What is Jiya like?”

And my reply would be different each time. There were so many facets to Jiya. Usually I would end with “mature, warm, one of the few people I know who copes best with what life offers and turns it into joy”

Poo would say, “What does she look like?”
Why do people always want to know what other people look like?

And I would say , “ She has a smile and eyes that talk all the time”.

Poo said, “That’s not what I mean. You don’t even have a photograph. Is she tall and slim? What is her hair like? Is she fair? Compare her to someone we know.”

I can’t compare Jiya. I could never compare Jiya to anyone else. I turned to Jiya whenever I needed my life interpreted. I turned to Jiya to talk about the world, the human condition, God. She was quick, she knew what I was going to say almost before I said it. She became me while I said what I had to. We talked and it was like she moved my thoughts around, gently, playing with them, dropping some, adding a few, and by the time I said “OK, I have to run”, I was happier, lighter and the world made more sense.

I said to her once, “Jiya, you weave magic” and she laughed and said “no, I just live life… but you know how it is, life is magic.”

Many lives ago I realized that it wasn’t just me – Jiya wove the magic for many of us who were part of her life. No, I don’t think we were part of her life – she was a part of ours. Her life was her mind and heart, her husband, her family and the project of the moment!

“No, Poo, I don’t put her on a pedestal; no, she isn’t an exotic creature. She is ….” I shrug. Poo rolls her eyes but she is intrigued and will bide her time. She would wait to meet Jiya.

But whom was I going to introduce Poo to now? Who was this woman in the dirty ochre yellow book? This fickle creature whose thoughts swung first one way and then another like a pendulum trapped in an unceasing madness? This woman who loved and hated and despaired and struggled through the mundane irrelevance of life. This woman sounded like an ordinary mother, like a petty sister, like my neighbor’s raucous wife, like those women in inane television soaps. This woman lamented the very spirit Jiya had celebrated. Where was Jiya? My mind ran into empty rooms searching in panic for a life Jiya always said was never permanent.

I looked at my wife. Poo is a special woman. She recognizes signs. There were photographs of Jiya around us. Now finally Poo could see her, and now Poo didn’t know what she looked like at all. She could see the death of a Muse in my eyes.

When I am better, Poo and I will search for Jiya.

- Anita Vasudeva, 2002

2 Comments:

Blogger John said...

Brilliant! I liked your story! It has style and substance. You write well Anita!

So Jiya is the Muse who died? I had to read it once again to make that out. Anyway the story is understated, subtle and full of implied meanings! Great reading.

Keep writing!

20 October, 2004 15:04  
Blogger zigzackly said...

i like. Makes me want to know more. Is there? More, i mean.

23 October, 2004 20:19  

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