March 08, IWD. I zoom my Google Earth to Memory Lane to see how many women had influenced me enough to leave their mark on my current way of life, and find that the number is shockingly few. Nevertheless, each of those factors packs so much power that they collectively outweigh all other external parameters that have shaped the content of your faithful blogger's character.

The parent.
Solely responsible for making conscience an axiom. Today I may know that stuff like morality and scruples are a bag of humbug, but by sheer force of habit I cannot help adhering to them, for my mother had programmed me in that manner. She also steals the credit for my repulsion to the cigarette and the "quarter"-bottle. 'Whatever happens,' she told me when I was still a wee little pre-teen, 'whatever happens, and wherever you go, never must you, my precious, touch alcohol. And never ever go in the direction of tobacco.' Even when I was vaguely nodding, she added: 'No girl will want to marry a fellow who drinks or smokes'.
That sealed it. On the other side of 13 I came in touch with girls who took a liking to certain lads for precisely those habits, but my mama's words got hardwired in me and hence my lungs have acquainted only oxygen and I remain a total tea-drinker -- a tea-totaller, if you please -- till date.

The pal.
Never have I had another friendship of a fierceness even close to the one I had with Nita, particularly during the last four months of Eighth Class. It had all the choicest elements -- high wit, letters, hours-long phone calls, common authorial ardency, mutual academic tutelage and competition, and copious amounts of unconcealed affection, replete with my breaking her nose and she explaining off the blood to her folks with a 'I ran into a door'. This phase overturned me in every way -- mainly, from an aimless lingerer to one who plotted his life story and from a city bumpkin to (somewhat of) a refined man and a reasonably intelligent thinker.

The infatuator.
Despite little sign of reciprocation, I maintained fidelity in my crush over Ms. Aruna and resisted falling in love with other girls, for seven years. In my Sixth Class I made a decision that pinned her memory to me for life: I adopted her handwriting. I dropped my non-cursive style and modelled every letter of the alphabet in my font on hers. So much that today our handwritings are indistinguishable. Her name, to me, is synonymous with zest for life and unconditional love -- she partly infected me with the former, but the latter is something I am yet to sit at the giving end of.

The axe-murderess.
Though I don't believe in birthdays, every year I buy myself a toffee on September 15, the date in which the stork dropped Dame Agatha Christie on earth. She was the first to inspire me to uncap a pen and scribble a word or two of my own. That is why I began by writing crime fiction, bundles of it, before gently steering off toward SF. Without her I would never have succumbed to the pleasure of dangling a translucent curtain between the reader and the author's mind, and removing it with a flourish at the final moment. She taught me the why of writing; the how came later, from a shy man named Plum.

The ex.
Breaking up did a larger world of good to me than I had imagined. For one thing, as a mechanism of self-defence in the wake of separation, my sense of humour skyrocketed. I went on to inaugurate the blog you are reading. More importantly -- and strangely -- I found myself absorbing her qualities: a certain apathy for the world, a new plane of rationality, objectivity. It lent me that eel that eludes most humans -- clarity of mind, and thus fewer worries and lesser distance from the goal in the pursuit of happiness.

Personally, I believe March 08 and November 19 are pure bunkum. One of my father's buzzlines is, 'Women are neither inferior to men nor superior to men. They are not equal to men either. They are... special.' I demand to differ. As I had asserted in the post about my dream girl, when summing up someone I find it a lot easier to cast aside gender. Save for sexual orientation, I put M on the same footing as F and vice-versa.

Except when it comes to cricket.

8 Obiter dicta:

Anonymous aruna.v.n couldn't resist being opinionated thus:

am surprised at not finding v.p in this list. and am really happy that you associate me with zest for life and unconditional love.

let me tell you now that you are also in my list of 'men who shaped my life'. its because of you that i started writing :)glad to have you in my life nirmal

3:10 PM  
Blogger Neha couldn't resist being opinionated thus:

Ah. This is the kind of women's day wish a woman would like to receive :). Nice post. Suppose it would have made the ones concerned emotional, but it made me laugh a lil and smile a lot. :)

8:48 PM  
Anonymous U.K. couldn't resist being opinionated thus:

"tea-totaller"....man, no wonder G's fall for you....you Man in Pj's.

11:48 AM  
Blogger unpretentious couldn't resist being opinionated thus:

:)was waiting for some ex to appear in the list...thought after 'the parent' you would come up with 'ex 1, ex 2' etc.:) not that i know u...was just looking forwards to something like that:).

nice post...different style of writing i see

2:15 PM  
Blogger pratyu couldn't resist being opinionated thus:

wow! I must say, I'll remember you father's buzzline for a long time! A very cute post. :)

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Garima couldn't resist being opinionated thus:

Very cute post...I agree to pratyu about your Father's buzzline...

2:12 PM  
Blogger Full Of Life couldn't resist being opinionated thus:

Naiice. Fierceness describes our friendship most aptly. Though I'm late in commenting, it was the best wish a woman could ask for. ( The fact that I dislike this tosh about women's day and father's day and valentine's day is another matter). You buy a toffee on September 15th, I re-read one of her books every September starting 15th and re-live those thrilling times! We can't get her out of our system can we?
Of course, I dont need to write again as to how important you are to me. All that goes unsaid.
(PS: Last year I re-read 'And Then there were None'. I plan re-visiting Mousetrap this year! :D)

10:52 PM  
Blogger kals couldn't resist being opinionated thus:

An interesting read, Nirmal. Guess an article on "Mannerism" would be too inconveniently long? Or is it the opposite - So small that it shrinks itself and sucks all the other articles along with it :-) ?

11:04 PM  

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