Which fig was mine?


We have been indoors for the past three days with food and film our only source of entertainment.It’s been declared the coldest time in decades. -45 degree celsius, with wind chills and frost bites that can attack and maim you in less than five minutes. We didn’t take chances and opted to stay indoors. I think most of the city did that.

It feels weird, the city from the window pane. There are dollops of ice and snow and white, wherever you can see.

When I came back from the washroom, I saw him washing the dishes with the room-mate, lost in geeky conversation. I sat on the blue butterfly chair – not in the least comfortable, but pretty of course. I sat there for a while listening to some research that he was involved with. I followed the words -those numbered, heavy, ionized words that meant something and would add up to some kick ass research work some day. Years ago, this same voice had spoken to me in the a deliberated  and involved tone, trying to explain to me some physics theory on capacitors and resistance. I had not understood a word he had said and I had detested the subject more. I didn’t have the aptitude for it, I didn’t have the skill. But he knew. He knew what he wanted to do and he had planned his path accordingly.

I, meanwhile, still search. Like how Sylvia Plath enumerates in ‘The Fig Tree’, may be I will die too, unsatisfied with what I want to do, or die little by little, as things and opportunities will slip by me. Then I remember the piece of literature by Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper, and wonder if time and opportunity will really matter.. Or sometimes I watch a movie, something as pop as Karan Johar’s ‘ Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’ and remember wise words – ‘you are always going to miss out on something, what’s the point of running after things?’ I think of more such influential art work that govern the entropy in my head. Those written words and life stories that swing me from here to there – sometimes pulling me to become a writer, sometimes a healer, a photographer, a gardener, a mother, a minister?

When he is done with the dishes he asks me if I am okay. Obviously, he hasn’t heard me utter a word in the last 20 minutes. And that is too much of silence from my end. So I just grunt a ‘Hmmm’ and get back to writing. He watches me type and moves back, crawls into his room and begins to do something. Sometimes I wonder what he really feels about what I write – these unattached, random pieces that  just demonstrate the flippancy of my thoughts.

So this is why I have begun some introspection. You know its like a cycle – when you are confined to an indoor spot, in this case, a one bedroom apartment and you have done everything to be involved – read a book, watch movies, sleep, watch Sherlock Holmes, sleep, eat, cook, clean and all that mundane work that has to be done. Once all that is over, what remains? – Introspection.

All that introspection unsettles me. I can’t answer that basic question – who am I? Or what would I like to become? Plath scares me. More so, the fig tree looms over my head, and I wish I could run out, but the frost bites are equally scary.  There are choices I have made, and there are choices that still remain to be made. Where will life take me? Why is it important? I write my heart out, seeking clarity but when I re-read what I produced on paper, I can only scowl. There is no clarity in my thoughts, just a morbid wooziness. A puffiness, cloudy, phlegmatic and heavy cream around it – no sharp smell of the coffee beans. Just a cold cup of hot coffee.

I look up the Weather Channel and check the forecast for tomorrow. After 12 o clock, the temperature will rise, as a snow fall is predicted. I sigh. I will step out, and find a better tree. Till then, I am ready to volunteer for the dishes.




The Fig Tree

– Sylvia Plath


I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.

One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor,

and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America,

and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions,

and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.

I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.  ~The Bell Jar, Chapter 7



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