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GREY

I opened the door and stepped out. It was a cold day and I wanted to have some sun. It feels good to have some sunrays on the shriveling winter skin.

But what do I see. The shoe rack is not as it was. It was at a haphazard angle. The shoes thrown here and there. When did that happen, I thought. Yes, a little while back, I had heard the Ethiopian girl playing in the corridor. And I had heard some noise too at that time. But had not bothered. Simply because that girl was always into some or the other mischief. Well can’t blame her actually.

She lives with her mother and some ‘aunts’.  And these ‘aunts’ keep changing. I have a suspicion that they are not legally staying in Bahrain. Maybe they don’t even own their passports anymore. Illegal immigrants keep on changing houses to escape any probe. I don’t even know what profession they are into. The doorbell ringing at odd hours give me some hints. The others staying in the building avoid them. And so do they. They mingle with their own. No doubt the girl does get bored all alone without any friends.

I look here and there to see if someone is present to sympathise with me. At that time the door opens and the mother steps out.

‘What is all this’, I ask her. There is silence in the whole building and my voice echoes.

‘What’, she asks in her unique accent.

‘Your daughter was playing here some time back, it must be her work. Couldn’t she keep everything back?’, I ask.

She mumbles something.

‘I didn’t understand’, I say.

‘You don’t know English or what’, she yells.

That irritates me. ‘ I know English very well, thank you but your accent I do not understand’, I say and not wishing to hear or say anything I just keep everything back in place and leave for my walk.

Later me and my friend have a talk on Ethiopians in general. ‘Why do you mess with them. Their occupations are not known, you know they have this animal  culture, just avoid them’, she advice.

I do follow her advice.

Some days later I am putting the clothes to dry in the terrace. Something happens and I faint.

Sometimes later I come to consciousness to find myself in the lap of one of the roommates of my neighbour. ‘Are you alright?’, she asks me.

I nod. She makes me sit in the shade while she puts my clothes to dry.

Then she helps me get up. Leads me to my flat. Makes me comfortable and asks if I need anything. I mumble a no. Then she leaves.

Later when she meets my husband, she narrates everything and asks him to take care.

So often we brand people according to their nationality or their work and so often we forget to see our own deficiencies.

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I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 8th – 14th December 2013. The prompt for today People

vecchio libro con stilografica

Disclaimer: this post is not intended to hurt any one by their nationality, profession, looks, creed etc. It is just meant to show my own shortcomings.

It just happened

We were taught to help around the house from a  young age. While my sister was amma’s second in command, my brother used to bring the milk from the dairy farm which was a bit far away.  He would take his cycle and pedal away. Sometimes he would even get vegetables. For this contribution of theirs they would get pocket-money, yes we had to work for our pocket-money.

But when they can earn, why not me, I asked. The age difference between them and me was quite a bit but I wanted my pocket money too. And for that the parents decided that my job was to prepare the dinner table, the only meal which we all had together except the days when Papa had second shift and would return home by 10.30p.m.

My mom was particular that the plates would be washed again and wiped before keeping them on the table. Owing allegiance to my butter fingers everyday one or the other plate would fall. Papa would call out, ‘What fell now?’. I would cry out, ‘The plate. But it is not my fault, it just happened‘. It was good that we ate on  stainless steel plates. If not the regular intervals at which i dropped plates would make us bankrupt. It happened with such regularity that everyone else would come and sit on the chairs knowing that dinner was ready. The aunty living next door would send around some special dish which she had prepared just on hearing the sound of the plate crashing.

My specialty did not remain with crashing plates. I destroyed whatever I touched. Like my brother had a collection of pens which he would keep in a safe place. Once I had severe viral fever and did not go to school for some days, none of the pens survived. When he came to know he advanced toward me with flaming eyes and flaring nostrils. My excuse, ‘But it is not my fault, it just happened‘.

My husband loves glassware. Before my arrival he had beautiful vases, fruit bowl etc. None of them survived. When his favorite vase broke, he asked me almost teary eyed, ‘How did you manage to break this’. My reply, ‘But it is not my fault, it just happened‘. He never bought anything brittle from then on.

My niece is almost my copy both in looks as well as habits. The only difference being she is an extrovert, I was not. Nothing escapes her hand. Whether it is a glass or a CD. Her excuse, ‘But it is not my fault, it just happened‘.

My son is no better. While his things survive, ours do not. Pens, CDs, mobiles every thing is at risk when he is around. You guessed it right, his excuse. ‘But it is not my fault, it just happened’.

Traditions you see, in our family, are carried on. 😀

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This post is part of Write over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian bloggers by Blogadda. The theme this week being fun with repetition, My sentence, ‘But it is not my fault, it just happened‘.

The missing 7

The parents were very happy today. The son was joining school. The daughter was already in Grade 4. As they watched the daughter holding the son’s had and taking him inside the school campus, their heart swelled in pride. And though there was a tinge of sadness too that the son had become big enough to go to school, the mother was a bit relieved too for the boy was a handful. Always busy, you never knew what he was up to. She was looking for some hours of peace and some time to finish the housework quickly. Now she could pursue her other interests too.

The days flew now. The children had to leave home by 6.45 am. Getting them ready was a herculean task but then it had to be done, isn’t it?

But more tough was the teaching part. Yes, they learned their major lessons in the school but the homework, that had to be done. It was alright with the daughter she just needed some guidance the son needed much more. First of all he would not sit, if he sat he would not listen, if he listened, he would not concentrate. Oh, such a bother. And while the mother struggled, the father bit all his fingernails and the neighbors lost their tranquility.

‘Come on, boy’, the mother would say ‘one two three..’

The boy would play on with his truck and say, ‘One two three four five six eight, nine ten’

‘No, not again’, the mother would say, ‘you have missed seven once more….Say seven’

The boy running the truck over the sofa would dutifully say, ‘seven’

‘Repeat’, she would say.

‘Uhh, huha’, he would say

Exasperated she would throw the truck away and scream, ‘Pay attention’.

This went on for some 10 days. The boy could now count till 20 and yet miss 7.

Father had a brilliant idea. ‘Let us teach him counting in Konkani and then maybe he will learn to say seven’, he said.

So then they started, ‘Ek, doni, teeni, chaari….’

The boy learned that too fast as he was anyways hearing it at home everyday.

The parents beamed, it looked like the end of their worries. ‘Come on count in our language’, they said.

He started, ‘Ek, doni, teen, chari, paanch, sah, aath, nau, dha’.

Again he had missed seven. Exasperated they sat. All their vision of making their son successful in life melted away. Forget about anyone being a doctor or an engineer, how would he pass Grade 1 if he did not count right.

Some sleepless nights later, mother said, ‘Let us go and meet the class teacher, maybe she will have a solution’.

‘Will, she help’, was fathers doubt.

‘What is the harm in trying?’, mother asked.

And so one day dressed in their best, they went to meet the teacher. It was break time and the teacher was surprised to see them.

‘Any problem’, she asked.

They nodded.

‘What?’, she asked.

After some moments of hesitation mother told.

Teacher saw the anguish and hid a smile. The tensions parents took….

‘Well, from today make him count only till seven and no more. Once he starts saying seven, you can proceed further’, she said

‘Will it work’, asked father.

‘Try’, said the teacher.

They went back home. They were so happy, they felt so light.

And so that day, mother asked,’ count from one to seven’

He started, ‘One two, three, four five, six, eight…..’

‘No, no, count from one to seven, here I will help you’, she said and she counted with him from one to seven

This followed for a week till one fine day the boy started saying, ‘one, two, three four, five, six, seven’.

Ah, the joy of hearing the word seven, the girl clapped, the parents danced. The boy looked on in amazement.

And so that is how the young boy learned to say seven.

That young boy is now an engineer working in a good position in a Steel Plant and also happens to be my brother. 🙂

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Yesterday we saw how a grandmother gives some wisdom to her grandchildren and today we saw how a teacher helps parents with some basic teaching. So these were my two tributes to teachers.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe festival of Words 1st to 7th September 2013

WTFestivalofWords

P.S. Sorry folks, running a tight schedule today, will not be able to visit your posts and comment on them. Please forgive

7 moments of bliss

Statutory warning: Brag post ahead 🙂

My parents especially my father belong to that school which thinks that praise may make their child proud. My mom was more eloquent but it is Papa who is learning to be so. And so during the growing up years we would scan his face to catch that blink of appreciation on his face. I suppose that is how I have learned to study faces.

Result days were always tense days for me. Surprisingly I have never been afraid of exams. And unlike others who could tell exactly how much they would score, I could never do so. Yes I was confused then too. So it is understandable how tense I must have been on result days. And on annual exam results, sometimes Papa would come to school and usually when he came I would be among the top three. (call him my lucky charm :P). Standing up onstage, seeing the smile on his face amongst the crowd, later on going to the mithai shop and buy chocolate barfis….ah such bliss.

I was in seventh I had participated in an essay competition. It was a National level essay competition. I won a prize. I was scared to announce it at home. Things were not good financially then and the idiot me thought that we could not afford to go to New Delhi for the award Ceremony. The Prime Minister was supposed to hand over the prize. I broke the news late in the evening. My father asked me why I had not told earlier. I told the reason. He just said, ‘No problem is big enough for us to go for such an award’. Needless to say I stood with my mouth open.

I was working in Mumbai. On a weekend I decided to go to Mangalore as my parents too had come there for some function. I reached by bus early in the morning. The bus had arrived quite early and there was no one to receive me. So I took an auto and reached home. My cousins were shocked. ‘Why?’, my father asked, ‘She is an independent lady now, she can defend herself’. Now that statement trebled my self-confidence.

During that time itself I was going through a very lean phase, careerwise. He wrote me a long letter. You have your grandmother’s genes. If she a semi literate person could raise six children amidst all odds during those times, you an educated lady who is level-headed, practical and equipped can do much better‘, he said. From that moment on I have never said quits.

After I was operated for pituitary adenoma in Hyderabad and returned to Vizag. lots of friends would drop home to ‘see’ me. One acquaintance, a doctor, told ‘I feel happy that even though you were being operated for tumor you were so calm’. My father just said, ‘that is my girl, brave and strong‘. 🙂

I conceived after lot of complications. When I was wheeled out of the Operation theatre, I had tears in my eyes. Tears of joy, of course. And while all were oohing and aahing over the baby, my father screamed, ‘Why what happened, why are you crying?’ My mother had a tough time getting him back to normal. Needless to say I will always be a baby in his eyes.

And recently when I took a class for children on the 12th chapter of the Bhagvad Gita at Vizag during the vacation. Papa came for the first class and sat for the entire length. At the end, he took me aside and said, ‘the class was excellent, May God bless you.’ It was my floating in air moment

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Written as a part of Write tribe Seven day Festival of words 1st to 7th September.

WTFestivalofWords

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Chronicles III

Life takes us on myriad paths and when we come to the original path taken, we seem to be lost.

Same happens when you meet someone after a long time and you are shocked to see how life has treated them.

But then life is like that.

We were in Mysore for a day. Hubby had some work and we tagged along. Morning was spent at the zoo. The kid enjoyed even though he had to walk about 3 km, And we had a nice time with him, explaining everything and answering billions of questions.

But it was evening that I was waiting for. I had done my B.Com in Mysore. We were to meet my Uncle and Aunty. Uncle had been my father’s colleague in Bhilai. A relationship which began there had matured to them being my Local Guardian.

Those three years will always be cherished. It was that time when I finally started understanding life. Aunty who helped me transform. Uncle who guided me and in true sense they two are the ones who laid the foundation of my spiritual growth.

Even today I can smell the badam milk which she used to give me early in the morning while MS’s Suprabhatam played in the background.

Sickness, moroseness, celebrations all had one destination-VINUTHA. (the name of their house)

Sonny wanted to see the ‘bus’ of Mysore and so we boarded a bus to their place. Got down at the supposed stop. Only to realise that the whole area had completely changed in the past 17 years.

And they too are living in a different house now as their house is being renovated.

What followed for the next half an hour was chaos. The better half being the better one geographically got angry that I could not locate a place which I had frequented so much. The anger was more because the son had had to walk some more.

He wanted to return to the hotel room. I refused to comply. Nowhere was I going without meeting my mentors.

Then finally Aunty asked us to wait where we were. She came in an auto. I got in and she hugged me then and there. The wise one’s anger melted away. The younger one was shocked to see someone other showing so much love to his mother.

We went home. It smelled the same of badam milk and agarbathi, of love and familiarity.

But what I was not prepared to was the vagaries of age.

In our databases we nourish the same old image of years gone by without realizing that age might have caught on.

We caught up on memories, The other two ‘s eyes bulged out more and more. They had not prepared themselves for the love and memories that we exchanged.

And all the while I burnt inside

How could time tarnish my happy memories. Why aunty had to shuffle, why Uncle had to tremble?

But still there was a feast to gorge upon. We were touched. In spite of physical limitations Aunty had taken so much care to see that we were fell fed. And everything prepared by herself. In an age where we pick up our mobiles to order food for self or guests. Here was a woman in her late 60s who made everything herself for a friend’s daughter.

We got up to leave she hugged me again. I choked up. Will I be able to meet them again? How much more would Time have hurt them?

We came away wiser. Their love flowing through us which in turn strengthened our bond.

And while I say a prayer for them everyday, I say a request too now, please keep them in your loving embrace always.

Holiday Chronicles-II

It was the beginning of August. I was in Vizag but for the last one month I had not done any swadhyay*. And then I had a brain wave.

I told my SIL that I would teach the 12th Chapter of the Bhagvad Gita for her daughter R and her friends. She went a step further and spoke to the Building Secretary and voila from the next Monday I was scheduled to teach the children of the apartment complex.

The next two weeks were spent in fun, reciting and playing. Yes, those days were food for soul…………… for all of us.

BG 035

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Lonking this to Writetribe’s 100 words on Saturday

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

The prompt being ‘food for the soul’

*Swadyay-self study

Holiday Chronicles-I

Pappa and me started from home by walk. Andhra was sizzling. The cry of Samaiyaka Andhra (United Andhra) could be heard everywhere. Shops were closed. But we had important stuff to do. Pappa had to go to bank. I had to go to the post office to get some postal covers to send choodi. ( for details on choodi click here).

It was a pleasant day. The sun had decided to be merciful. And so we walked. The bank was open, he submitted his cheque and we waited. The staff gave a cheerful smile which was totally against the mood outside. And whats more the cheque was encashed and the passbook updated in a jiffy.

And we proceeded to the post office. Walking slowly reminiscing about past times, about the present and planning for the coming days, We walked and I had a suspicion that we had had missed the way. I saw three boys cycling on the other side and so I crossed over and asked them the way. ‘Straight akka, it is still further’, one said. I crossed again to be with pappa.

We resumed our walk when we saw the boys cross to our side. One of them said, ‘Do you see the coconut tree?’

I said yes.

‘Well, the post office is there’.

I gave a thank you smile.

We walked further to see the three gentlemen waiting for us near the post office.

My heart swelled with pride at the three boys. Rest of Andhra might be burning but these three were determined to show the way to an old man and his daughter.

On our return we walked lost in our own conversation and evidently lost our way. A  biker on our inquiry told us that we had come quite far. And so we took a shared auto as to walk some more was difficult. As soon as we sat inside the auto, it started raining…. heavily.

The auto driver took us further from our stop to a place where we could get some shelter.

We paid him and ran towards a shop.

One look at my father and the shopkeeper gave him a chair to sit. My father would not sit without his daughter getting a chair too. And out came another chair. And so we sat till the rain stopped.

I had been upset about this division of state, the power politics. But people that day reiterated my faith in humanity. Thank you Vizagites, more so to the people of Kurmanapalem.

The little things that count

‘Eat it, I said.

He didn’t. He just looked at me in earnest. I looked away, today I won’t melt, today I had to be firm. Oh how I longed to see him with chubby cheeks. But no, not for me that happiness. I had to be content with his lean, trim form. I made my eyes as big as I could and stared. He averted his gaze and before I could blink, ran away.

I sighed.  It was much easier when they are small. You make them sit on their chair or on your lap, tell stories and feed. But no, not anymore.

‘Why don’t you do some maths’, I ask seeing him busy playing on the tablet. ‘Hmm, five minutes’, he says. I am amazed. Amazed at how he is developing into a person. How he has his own likes, dislikes, opinions. Some people don’t leave their mother’s pallu even if they themselves are middle-aged. Mine never held it. Our roles have always been reverse. ‘Amma can’t you be careful when you walk’, when I bang on something. ‘Amma see here it is a bit down’, when we got out and there is a step. Or, ‘Don’t worry I will manage’, I mean who is the mother here?

My thoughts return, ‘You have an exam, won’t you study?’. He looks at me and says, ‘Don’t worry’. Temper flares, ‘And mind you if your marks are low, see what I am going to do’

He gets up grudgingly; mumbling, ‘Always bossing over me, I don’t have a say at all.’

When the father returns from work both of us are ready with our list of complaints. He nods at each of us and proceeds to watch the News.

It has been a bad day. I have a bad headache so  much that opening the eyes is a punishment but when the doorbell rings I squint and drag myself to open the door, Both the father and the son have arrived. I move to set the table. That done I go and lie down again.

‘What happened?’, the man asks.

‘Can’t you see she has a headache’, the son says and starts massaging the forehead.

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. He may be stubborn, he may be lazy, he may not yet know his interests but at least he knows to care.

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Written as a part of

Write Tribe Prompt

A cut, a nip and a tuck

It is the 1980s, J has not conceived even after repeated tests she does not know the reason why. Morose she leads her life.

Her vision gets faulty suddenly and she goes to the Ophthalmologist, he suspects something awry and sends her for a brain X-Ray. His suspicions come true. She has pituitary adenoma. A malignant tumor on the pituitary gland. She goes to Calcutta where a neurosurgeon cuts open her skull, the brain is lifted up and the tumor is removed.

The trauma is huge, the moment J comes out of the ‘why me’ stage, she is assaulted by her shaved head, the incision marks and the other effects.  Recovery is slow. It takes long to heal.

Though her eyesight becomes almost normal, she is never able to conceive. She discovers that she has trouble in remembering some things, sometimes she has difficulty to focus and her right hand is a bit… different than before. She has difficulty now to hold things with that hand.

Eventually she adopts a girl. Thankfully there is no recurrence of the tumor and she lives a satisfactory life with her daughter and husband.

 

 

Its 2004. R has not conceived and is undergoing some treatment to conceive when suddenly she has loss in vision in one eye. She is sent for an eye check up where in the Ophthalmologist suspects some thing and sends her for an MRI. The MRI reveals clearly that it is pituitary adenoma. She is advised to go to a neurosurgeon who specializes in endoscopic endonasal surgery. The traumas of opening up the skull and locating the tumor can be done with, with a small surgery even though the tumor is big.

 

And so she opts for it. She is admitted into the hospital the previous day for the pre-op check ups. The day of the operation she walks into the Operation Theater. She is given anesthesia. But as soon as the camera is inserted inside the surgeon discovers that there is a hemorrhage and there is heavy bleeding. He tries to arrest the bleeding and the operation is abandoned for that day. A CT scan is done which reveals that the tumor has grown further (from the day of the last scan) and has gone to another direction but the bleeding has stopped. And so the next day R is operated again and the tumor is removed bit by bit until there is not a trace left of the tumor.

R walks out of the hospital the third day.

She conceives later.

There is a recurrence five years on but because of repeated check ups the tumor is detected much earlier and it is thought better to opt for a surgery than radiation. This time the operation takes just 10 minutes-yes just a cut, a nip and  a tuck.

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As most of you must have guessed R is me and J was a neighbor in Bhilai I fail to even think of what would have happened if there were no MRI /CT scans and I shudder to think what if there were no endonasal surgeries. Thanks to modern science  what could have been a catastrophe was averted by breakthrough technology.

Written as a part of Indiblogger and Apollo Hospitals How does Modern Healthcare touch lives

Apollo Hospitals

 

Happiness at a rupee

Way back in the nineties, telephone was still a novelty and obviously mobile phones were unheard of.

Call charges were high in the morning and there were reduced rates for the evenings and late nights. Which meant that we girls in the hostel of Maharani’s College Mysore rarely spoke to our family. The office was open in the mornings when we had college and even if someone was in her room, who could call her with the exorbitant morning rates. So we were practically dependent on the IPS, no not the police but the Indian Postal System. And without fail most of us would be writing a letter to our family each week and then waiting for a reply.

But then who does not like to speak to family/friends. There was a telephone booth just across the road but it was always crowded with the office-goers or ……boys. Then our warden had the genius idea of fixing a ‘coin wala dabba’ where in we could call our Local Guardians or our family could call us if we passed on the phone number of the dabba.

The day the phone was fixed was a day of festivity. The guy from the telecom department took a lot of time to fix it  obviously he loved the attention and the company.

 

The common area was always crowded henceforth. And there was never a moment of peace. Be it early morning or late night, someone was always at the phone.

But yours truly had another idea.

Late into the night when everyone was busy preparing for the next day, I crept down along with a roommate dialed my sister’s number in Mumbai. You may say what is strange about that there are public booth systems where in you can make STD/ISD calls BUT this was fixed for only local calls. ‘Is it Bombay?’, I asked.  ‘Illa amma, idu Mysuru’, a man boomed. ( No amma it is Mysore) Dejected I kept the phone down. But did I stop a t that. No, not at all. I kept on trying. Until one fine day I spoke to my sis. 🙂 Yes, I did. What followed was pandemonium. I called my sis every other day. My parents at that time  did not have a phone connection, so-called them at a friend’s place who had a phone, spoke to them too. Slowly the other girls too came to know of our jackpot and we all had a merry time all at the cost of one rupee.

But do good times last, no, they don’t. The telecom department got a hint and they came to remove the faulty unit. there was an inquiry. All kept mum. For once, there was unity. Our brief period of bliss ended too soon.

But memories of that time, still bring on a smile.