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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.

Right or not

‘Now sit here quietly, thinking of nothing, till you become normal’, said my mother, making me sit in a corner of the kitchen. The kitchen had a ‘courtyard’. It had a big guava tree. One which my brother and father climbed. Yes, we sisters never tried climbing it. Before you jump to conclusions about our patriarchal society and how girls are not on par with boys, let me inform you that no one stopped us from climbing that guava tree. We were just interested in the juicy fruits, the climbing part was left to the boys.

I sat in the corner fuming and fuming, till all the steam sizzled out. No one came to pacify me. No one bothered to ask anything. Like a pressure cooker automatically cools down, I did too.

‘I am hungry’, I said. ‘lunch is ready’, she said. And that was it. No mention of the incidence to anyone, no violence, no drama.

In case you wonder, what had happened……I had just learned about ‘rights’ the previous day at school. About how we all have rights, how to exercise them and how to demand your rights. My teacher Mrs. Choudary was a wonderful person. Each point she made would be etched on our minds. I still remember her teachings some 30  years later.

And so my experiments with ‘rights’ had started. I demanded that food was prepared according to my liking because having nutritious food was my right. I demanded that I get a good book to read because getting a good education was my right. And so on. All was fine until I demanded a hair cut. Mother said no. In her opinion it had to grow a little more so that it could be cut evenly. That was it, ‘ I started my monologue on how my hair was my property and it was my right to get it cut. My mother had had enough of the nonsense and thats when she dragged me to the corner of the kitchen and made me sit.

I tell you sitting alone without thinking or doing anything can be therapeutic. It calms you down and lets you think.

Moms know best they know how to handle their child. My mother knew how to take care of me. She had various ways to handle me. If I cried too much for petty things, she would wait till it was dusk and then lock me out in the courtyard. No shouting, no beating. 5 minutes and I would be normal. She stopped teaching me when I was in second standard. She just said, ‘It is your life. If you want you study or you can always become like me’. I looked at her routine. She got  up at 6 not sleeping till 11 in the night. She was our cook, washerwoman, data bank, cleaner everything and decided that studying and getting a job that paid was better. She sure knew how to deal with us.

So the rights issue was withdrawn. I had a good meal and a good nap and peace reigned.

Next day, Mrs. Choudhary began the class with a ‘so we learnt in the last class, what are rights, today we will learn about our duties. For there are no rights without any duties.’ And she again gave a wonderful class about duties, what are they, why we should do out duties and how without doing our duties, we cannot demand our rights. And I was filled with remorse.

Over the long weekend, I had demanded my rights but had I done my duties. Had I helped around the house? No, Had I studied? No. I asked many questions to myself and the answers were mostly No. Then did I have the right to demand my right?

 

Today when I see various people demanding their rights, I feel pity for them. for they don’t have a mother like mine or a teacher like Mrs. Choudhary. No demanding rights is alright but how many of us have done our duties?

We all demand but what do we give back. Apart from taxes that is. Do we throw that wrapper in the dustbin. Did we answer a question by our fellow traveller politely?  Did we say sorry with a smile when we occidentally stamped someone? Society is not just by others but we are also a part of it. Be the change to demand the change.

 

 

RD musings

Yesterday was a special day. For the first time, me and my son watched the Republic Day parade together.

All these years when I used to wake him up early, he would just roll off again to sleep. But this year he had asked me repeatedly to wake him early. Why? Because his school teacher had explained how good the parade is and asked all of them to watch it. So what I had been trying to do all these years was done by a single lecture by the teacher 😀 But then that is effective teaching.

I remember rushing home from school to watch the parade on TV. My father and me would sit side by side watching the tableau while he explained each one. Now and then he would tell some story of the freedom struggles. Oh, what joy….what pride.

In the intercepting years I have felt the pride of being an Indian dwindling not only in me but in youngsters nowadays. While I see the Bahrainis or British talk with so much pride for their motherland; the same pride I do not see in fellow countrymen.

And here I was watching the parade with my son. ‘Do we have so many states?’, he asked. I said ‘yes’ and then proceeded to explain a little about each state.

Then came the BSF jawans on the bike and he watched with his mouth agape. And I felt waves of happiness as I saw the same pride and incredibility on his face which I always have while watching the parade.

And then it was all over and the National Anthem began to play and yes I still get goosebumps when I hear the music.

He was silent. I asked why. It was AWESOME, he said.

But then India is AWESOME, isn’t it.

Big and small

Enough of TV go and play
then come back and study, I say.

Enough of your orders
I’m a big boy, don’t you dictate, he says.

In that case can you wipe the dishes
and while you are at it; just clear the table.

and after that, the husband chips in
maybe you can help in cleaning the car.

the boy begins in joy, then slowly gets morbid
as the ‘jobs’ increase

can you please clear the table

it’s dinner time lay the plates

‘Enough’ he screams, I am still small
‘Or else I will scream child labour, he says
The husband and me hide our smiles
the big boy bug has been wiped out
till another time

and another ‘exercise’.

Random Ramblings

The past few days have been busy but then festive seasons are like that. It has been a time when personal pursuits have been pushed aside.  But this year has been unique in many ways. First of all I didn’t worry myself on cleaning the home for Diwali. My modus operandi being to clean the house every now and then and decluttering before it clutters up.

Secondly I didn’t cook up a storm. The other two lose interest in whatever snacks have been made by the end of two days. Which meant inches being added to my already overburdened waistline. So this time the bhog offered to the Lord was minimum. Also Damodar  month being on, we visit so many houses and sample so many sweets that for the next two months at least I am sure I have an aversion for anything with sugar or jaggery in it.

We had Damodar at our place too. Around 20 people were invited. Now cooking for Damodar is something which I enjoy a lot. Though I still get tense that maybe the food will not be enough or maybe the salt will be more but I feel such fulfillment cooking for the Lord that I cannot describe. Already two days are over but the euphoria continues.

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An old friend who had left the island returned some months back, I was so excited to be with her once again. We met, we spoke and then I realized that we have changed. The old connect was no longer felt. I was sad and I mourned over it for days and then when we met on the day we had Damodar at our place I realized it was not her but me who has changed.  Shallow talks, moving aimlessly do not interest me anymore. Was I hurt? Was I upset? No, I was not. I was happy that I have finally grown up and it is the right time to put another giant step ahead.  Now what is that giant step….Keep guessing. 🙂

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.

Spreading wings

He calls me and says,  ‘Amma, I need a sharpener.’ Yes, it’s vacation time but I have asked him to do some coloring. I look at the mess around me. It is evident I cannot go to the cold store, so I ask him to go instead.

Fils in hand he marches.  A few paces away and he stops, looks back and says, you need not come behind me. He has his reason. Till date I have not allowed him to go alone. I go with him or behind him just to make sure that he crosses the road safely and does not come in the range of some car driver with his foot on the accelerator.

I nod and watch him go.

Memories of a tiny infant flash by. Has he grown so much that now he goes out alone to shop.

And I wonder how my parents had felt when I had left their nest for studies. My mom was devastated, father was speechless and I had been very happy. (it is a different issue that I had cried bucketfuls by the second week of being alone).

Every year, come June end my mom makes her customary call, have you started packing, have you kept this, this, this (rattling names of things which i should carry). I keep on saying my ayes and nays until in exasperation I cry out, ‘Amma it is almost 20 years since I do everything alone.’

‘I know’, she says, ‘ But you are still my daughter.’

I await now for my brother’s call on the day before the travel. ‘Have you kept your passport, your ticket, your medical records, your medicines…’ I say yes and keep the phone down and then both of us begin the countdown to the meeting. For my siblings I will always be their younger sister.

And though I sometimes resent the instructions but I get a lot of security. The feeling that there is someone who looks after you is great.

He returns from the cold store a blue sharpener in hand very proud of his excursion. For days to come we will hear about how he went, what all cars came on the way, how he had to tell four times what he wanted before the shop wala uncle heard him etc.

I know I will never be able to go with him again to the shop, to show him what is kept where or to hold his hand and say watch right, left, right and cross the street. But I watch him confident and happy and hope that I have taught him right. It is time for him to spread his wings and fly….alone.