Amma o amma

Searching Self

Amma was fiddling with the pallu of her sari. Appa came in and asked,’What happened, no coffee, no breakfast and you are sitting here fiddling with your sari?’

‘Visakha has not called since so many days…’

‘Come on, she is a married woman now, she has responsibilities. She can’t keep calling you every now and then. Now go and make some coffee, you know I don’t function well without your coffee’

‘And what will you do if I die tomorrow,’ she said in anger but still got up and went into the kitchen.

‘Then I will search another like you and get married again,’ Appa said and guffawed.

Amma banged a steel tumbler on the kitchen counter.

Visakha had been born after a complicated pregnancy and an even more complicated delivery. The umbilical cord had been entangled around her neck and had the C-section not been in time, she would…

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A dream to remember

Is this your brother’s home’, Bappamma (Paternal grandmother) asked.

‘Yes Bappamma’, I said.

‘Take me around’, she said

My brother had recently shifted to his apartment given by the steel plant. The previous year he had got employed in Vizag steel plant. In some months my parents too had shifted along with him. But he had got his own apartment that year. I was studying in Mysore and was having my summer vacation. My sister too had come and we were having a nice reunion.

Mom with my sister and her son would sleep in one room. Another room was for my brother. Me and Papa would enjoy watching TV in the hall and would sleep there only.

‘So is this the hall’,Bappamma asked.

‘Yes’, I said and then showed her the rooms, kitchen and the balcony.’The balcony is quite big’, she said, ‘good for drying papads and pickles. Your amma must be happy’.

I nodded.

‘Okay time for me to go’, she said

‘No Bappamma, you can’t go. Stay with us’, I pleaded.

‘No, my dear I can’t stay. My home is elsewhere now’, she said

‘NO……….NO’, I screamed

‘Reema, Reema, get up’…..it was my sister.

‘What happened’. I asked.

‘I saw Bappamma in my dream, you were showing her around the home and then she left’, my sister said.

Saying that I was shocked is an understatement. At the same time both of us had seen the same dream. Was it a coincidence, some extra sensory perception I have never understood. Maybe she came to see if we were fine or maybe we needed a closure.

Over a period of years I have been visited by a number of people who have left the world. My aunt, uncle both have visited me and conveyed some message. But the visit by my Bappamma was the most bizarre one. And it was indeed a dream to remember.

But once I started my spiritual journey these visits gradually stopped. I read somewhere that some lucky people are indeed guided by the Lord in this way . So maybe I am the lucky one. Because these dreams gradually made me yearn to know about the soul and its position in this world.


 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Those small joys

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Ajji came in disturbed, mumbling to herself.

‘What happened Ajji, why are you so disturbed?, I asked my grandmother who had just returned home after dropping my younger brother Vinay to school.

‘Shailu, I had read in the newspaper that depression is on the rise. It is true’, said Ajji.

‘Why do you feel so Ajji’, I said.

‘I saw a man talking to himself. A young man, Shailu in his 20s. I got so upset. Chee chee, such a young life wasted. And then I saw another woman shouting at no one in particular that the report has to be submitted today….’

I started laughing

‘Why are you laughing. You should feel pity for these young lives wasted’, Ajji said.

‘Ajji they were talking on their mobiles’, I said

‘No, no, she said, ‘I didn’t see any mobiles….’, she said

‘They must be talking on their handsfree…’

‘What is that’, she asked

‘We cannot hold our mobiles in our hands while driving Ajji so we have our handsfree or bluetooth or earphones’, I replied showing my earphones to her.

‘Ohh, so they were talking on these’, she said

I laughed. Poor ajji,she was finding everything so new. Ajji never used to go out. happy at home and with her chores at home. The maximum that she went out was to meet relatives. But then recently we came to know that she was Vitamin D deficient and so the task of dropping and picking Vinny to school was assigned to her. So that in that way at least she would go out and soak in some sun.  But every day now she was seeing and learning something new and it was fun to be witnessing with her.


My friend Preeti came in one day and we were busy. No, not studies we were goofing around trying on new combination of clothes and clicking pictures when Ajji came in. ‘Huhh, Preeti, what happened to you….You fell down…your lips…why are they swollen’, she asked. We laughed till our stomach ached. ‘Why, why are you laughing like that’, she asked.

‘Ajji’, I said holding on to my aching tummy, ‘It is known as a pout, we are just posing for some pictures’.

‘Huh’, was all that my innocent ajji could say.

‘Come, come Ajji, pout like me’, said Preeti and posed. Ajji imitated like her and it was fun.

Ajji was just like a kid soaking in everything new.

‘Is it fun to ride’, she asked me one day when I was parking my Activa.

‘Oh yes’, I said, ‘I love it when I feel the wind. It makes me feel so free’.

‘Hmm’, she said, ‘will you teach me how to ride’.

‘Ajji, no, I can’t do that… I mean at this age…..if you fall down….’, said I

‘See, Shailu when I was young I learnt to ride the bicycle without my father’s knowledge but then one day he came to know and he stopped me. Those days it was not acceptable you know. Today it is. Won’t you teach me Shailu. Before dying I want to feel the wind too’, She pleaded

I just couldn’t say no.

And from then on, Ajji would sit pillion and we would go to the nearby ground where she would learn to drive.

When the first time she had driven from our complex gate to our home my father was shocked.

Obviously at her age ( 71 to be precise), we could not allow her to drive on the road but yes now and then she would drive in our complex.

One day on my return from college I noticed a group of children huddled in a corner near the complex gate. I ignored them thinking that they must be planning some mischief..

At home my mother was grumbling to herself. ‘what happened amma’,I asked.

‘The maid didn’t come in today that too without notice’, she said as she threw the doormat in a corner and continued, ‘And your ajji….instead of helping me, she has gone off to be with the kids.’

‘Ohh, is it she with them’, I said.

‘Who else’, she said as she banged the broom down.

We both looked at the group. Someone had said some joke and all were laughing heartily.

‘Let it be amma. She cannot do all these work anymore, isn’t it. Let her do what she can’, I said.

‘Yes’, said amma softening a bit, ‘The next door neighbour is having a migraine and was complaining about the din the children were making. So she took them aside,’ amma said.

‘It is good that she is keeping herself active….let her do whatever gives her joy’, I said. Amma nodded.

‘And now’, I said, ‘let ME help you’. And I took the broom from amma’s hand.

Raise your ‘Hood’

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Once, during a rainy day, I was sitting on the window sill holding my coffee mug mulling over life in general.

Nothing was going right. Finances were down. I am an interior designer working with my husband. We have a small firm which does interiors, landscaping etc.Business was good. We got a lot of contracts, advances were paid upfront but though we finished work on time, the balance payments took months together. In some cases years.

My father in law needed regular dialysis. Son’s fees and other activities needed money. EMIs were due and I was depressed.

We are both straight forward people. We do not understand how shrewd people can be. Clients come and show as if they need their home/office interiors to be done. They show so much interest in our work, they pay advance so hurriedly but then once the job is done, they disappear. Don’t they understand that we have a home to run that we have families too. Our team too suffers because of delay in payments.

It’s at that moment that my mobile rings. It is Hitesh, my friend from college. We exchanged pleasantries….talked for some time and then..’Avanti, whats the matter? Why do you sound so low?’

Me in a choked voice,’Nothing.’

He; ‘Don’t lie, I can understand from your tone’

And then it all came out, the tension, the frustration, the pain

‘Hmmm’, Hitesh said, ‘I will tell you a story.’

I was astonished. Here I was on crossroads almost on the verge of bankruptcy and here was he telling me a story.

‘I will just tell the story. You draw conclusions and the inferences’, he said, ‘There was a cobra who lived in a pit. That pit was near a road. Whoever came near the pit, he bit them. Narad muni was once passing through the path. He saw the snake and felt sad. So he gave a sermon about karma and how each one has to pay back. He advised him not to bite people unnecessarily. So saying Narad muni left. The muni’s words affected the cobra a lot.

After some months Narad muni was going through the path again. So he stopped to meet the cobra. What he sees is a battered snake.What has happened is though the snake has become non violent, people do not know that. So when they see the cobra they beat him with sticks. Then Narad says “I asked you to be nonviolent but I didn’t ask you not to be defensive. When people come near you, you can raise your hood and scare them.”‘

That was the talk that I had with Hitesh two years back.

Today again its a rainy day. I sit with my mug of coffee but today I am happy. Our home is now our home. My father in law had a successful transplant. All is well at least financially.

How you wonder?

We just raised our hoods

We start work only when we receive an advance-substantial advance. Often we tell the client only to buy the ‘raw materials’. We don’t finish the work until the payment is paid even though the client is well-known, a relative or tells us sob stories. Some of the old balances are still pending but for now we are doing alright.

Some advises are just brilliant.


This post is a part of Write over the weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

This weekend the prompt was, Once during a rainy day.

#fiction

 

 

 

Causatum of a lost key

‘Ding, Dong’……….’Ding, dong’…’knock, knock…..’thud’ thud’……………….I ran towards the main door; who was in such a hurry to ring the bell and knock simultaneously.

‘Aunty’, a woman in her 30s looked at me. She was obviously in distress.

Her distress didn’t stress me. The word ‘aunty’ did. I mean I am not that old that people in their 30s could call me ‘aunty’.

‘What happened?’, I asked

‘I am locked out’. She said. ‘I came to leave my son and got myself locked out’

‘You can use my mobile to call your husband’, I suggested, ‘He may be having a spare key, right’.

‘No, he doesn’t. We have only one key.’ she said. ‘Give me your key, maybe it fits’.

‘How can it fit’, I said

‘Pleaseeeee’, she pleaded. I gave. Obviously the key didn’t fit.

‘Give me a hairpin’, she said. Obviously she had seen too many movies. I gave. No luck

‘Come and sit inside’, I said.

‘Aunty what will I do now’, she said. I flinched at the Aunty

‘I will call the landlord maybe he has a spare’, I said.

15 minutes later we were all set. The landlord had a key which he was sending with someone. He had also advised me to keep a spare with one of the neighbours in case of emergency..

We sat talking. She spoke about her son and husband. I spoke about mine. Now she was calling me ‘akka’ . i often use the trump card of telling people that I have a ten-year old son. People on knowing that I have a ten year old assume that I am not that old.

Some time later the neighbour was back at her home maybe telling tales of her key adventure while I was lost in my thoughts.

How easily we assume someone fat as one who overeats. Or someone who has less hair as old. We may say that looks don’t matter but looks do matter especially when you meet someone for the first time.

Don’t we deck ourselves on special occasions or smartly dress for interviews.

But it is not looks that bother me. It’s the assumptions we make or rather the judgement we pass in a second. Our conditioning is such that we don’t take time to think, analyse or process. That is one ability which we all should try to cultivate.

Think, analyse, process and then jump to conclusions.

 

Broken dreams

Ginny hops and skips across the street. My eyes follow her, wherever she goes. Presently she holds some flowers in her hand and hops towards me. ‘For you’, she says and skips away.

I am a young lad of some twenty and five years, waiting by the medical college holding a bunch of red roses, Aashus favourite. She comes out and sees me and then she sees the flowers and her eyes light up. 

‘Ajja, ajja.’, Ginny says, do you want to go on that side, lot of kids playing over there’, she says. I nod. She takes me near the ground where some children are playing football whr=ereas some younger kids are just running around.

Aashu holds my hand and we go to the nearby cafeteria. It is our habit to go to the cafe, the day I get my pay package. Other days of course we cannot afford to eat out.

The ball hits me I shrug, a boy comes running up and says, ‘Sorry ajja’. I smile and wave him off.

Aashu jokingly pats my back, I feel her slender fingers, the warmth of hers touches my heart.

The children play, I enjoy looking at them, their energy fills me up, my only joy of the day when suddenly a boy cycling loses his balance and falls….

 We are crossing the road, the road was empty but suddenly there is a roar of a bike. Aaashu is hit, she is falling, I try to save her…….

Appa, appa’, cries Chetan my son, be careful……take care of yourself first Appa, children fall and get up but if you fall…..’ says he as he holds me and makes me sit on the wheelchair again. I look at him with glazed eyes….how do I tell him I was trying to save my broken dreams.

 

 

Finding roots

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The flowers beckon me. It’s a new place….everything is new but the tree makes me feel at home. Growing up in a small town with lots of greenery all around, my mind had always yearned for a place where I could stretch out of  my balcony or window and touch a leaf.

past month has been hectic. I have left the place I called home for the past 15 years and moved back to  my motherland. A land which has transformed drastically and now has little resemblance to my memories. But still is a place which is my own.

As I take my son along familiar routes and explain to him. He looks at me and says, ‘You love India a lot don’t you’. And though I pride on that; I know how he feels. He has left the only place which he called his home and is struggling now to find his roots. My heart aches for him but i know that one day he too will feel the same love that I feel for this country which is ours.