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Pink and Blue

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Rohit sped fast on his bicycle. Esha beamed with pride. Yesterday only they had bought this cycle through OLX.com and today Rohit was speeding off on it. And she felt proud. But then, mothers do feel proud of whatever their kids do, don’t they?

‘He is so happy, he wanted just this kind of cycle’, she said to her friend Ayesha.

‘Huh, hoon’, said she

Esha continued,  ‘He wanted a Huffy bicycle with raised handlebars for so long. But you know it is expensive so when I saw the ad in OLX, I grabbed it’.

‘Err, don’t mind’, said Ayesha and stopped.

‘About what Ayesha’, said Esha.

‘Purple is a girly colour’, said she.

‘IS it’, said Esha.

‘Yes, don’t you know… Purple, pink are all girly colours’, said Ayesha.

‘Then what are boyly errr, which colours are meant for boys’, asked Esha.

‘Blue, don’t you know. Blue is the colour for men’, said Ayesha.

At that moment Ayesha’s two-year old daughter came crying, ‘Bhaiya is not giving me his ball’, she complained.

‘Don’t mind, Faizu, if Bhaiya doesn’t give you his blue ball….I will buy you a pink ball today’, she said and walked off.

Esha felt dizzy, so many thoughts went like a whirlwind in her brain that she gasped for breath.

Rohit had pink T-shirts and shorts, he had a pink ball, a pink book..did it mean that she was making him effeminate. Rohit cries a lot at the simplest of reasons. Many say that he cries like a girl.  Was it because he had so much pink in his life? She had visions of  a grown up Rohit walking in a ‘girly’way, wearing skirts and blushing. She held a pillar for support. But then her husband too had a pale pink shirt in his collection and he was in no way effeminate.

‘Ignorance indeed is bliss’, she thought to herself. She was so much better off not knowing that pink is for girls and blue is for boys.

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Written as a part of Write over the weekend an initiative for bloggers by Blogadda.

The theme this week

‘Ignorance indeed is bliss, he/she thought to himself/herself

For a cup of coffee

ccd cafe latteSandhya loves coffee. At home she drinks filter coffee. No she is not a south Indian but she likes filter coffee. Her ex- neighbor got her used to it and from then on she makes it at home. There is something mesmerizing about mornings with coffee in one hand and the newspaper on the other. It gives the energy for the day.

Sandhya is a single mother of two kids. She earns reasonably well at the place she works. And yet she yearns for the coffee at Cafe Coffee Day(CCD). You may ask why. Because every month after paying off the home loan, the school fees, the insurance premium, the RD which she has kept for her kids higher education, she doesn’t have much left. Now and then yes she has to buy clothes for her kids who outgrow theirs; oh, so soon and for herself ( have to keep up with appearances at work, isn’t it?). She feels guilty to spend whatever teeny bit is left on her coffee.

She looks at her kids and feels happy. Happy that they don’t bother that much about money. They ask what they need, if they don’t get it they see to it that they get. She never had that luxury. She never could ask her teacher father or her husband nor she could think of spending on herself now.

‘Maa life is not just about fulfilling your responsibilities, it’s about LIVING’, her teenage daughter says. It means that fulfill your desires don’t kill them. Sandhya likes that statement and starts saving. A rupee there a 5 rupee coin there. So at the end of the month she will go over to CCD, and drink a Latte or a Mocha or a Cappuccino or something like that. She has just had instant coffee or filter coffee or the expresso sold at the Railway stations. She has never had a ‘fancy’ coffee ever before and so she dreams of going over stylishly in a saree, sit by the large windows and have a coffee. Ahh such luxury.

And so Sandhya has accumulated almost Rs 150 which may be enough for a coffee and maybe some nibbles and she is mighty pleased. Today will be the day. Before leaving for the office she tells her children, she will be late.

At office Nirmala the cleaning lady is sullen. ‘What happened’, Sandhya asks. ‘He came yesterday’, she says and gets quiet. Sandhya knows, he means her husband, ‘So?’ she asks.

‘I did not allow him inside but he barged in, beat me and took all the money around the house. Now my Nimmo will not be able to give her exams, the wretched took her exam fees too’, she cries.

 

 

Sandhya has returned home in her usual time. No her CCD date has not  arrived yet. The 150 Rs she had saved for it has all been given off for Nimmo’s fees.

 

Image courtesy: Cafe Coffee Day

 

 

Notions

Amita Nair, an ever smiling, bubbly person would always be surrounded with people. She was a natural HR person. A fact that Hridesh Joshi did not like. Hridesh is a silent guy in the finance department.

‘Why do you have to listen to everyone?’, he would say.

‘Because that is my job’, she would say.

Nisha a new entrant at the office found Hridesh’s attitude unbearable. And to add to the fury, the accounts department cut half a day’s salary because she came late to the office three times in a row. She protested but Hridesh said rules were rules and the accounts department looks at the logging in time before taking any decisions.

From that day whatever Hridesh said or did was wrong …in Nisha’s opinion.

And so the routine continues, Amita would pout and smile through the day, Hridesh would sulk and Nisha would fume.

All three left together from office one day. Hridesh asked Amita, ‘Madam shall I escort you to your home today’, with a dimple and a smile.

Amita grinned mischievously and said, ‘Sure, Sir’ and Hridesh left to get the car.

Nisha could not control herself and said, ‘How can you tolerate such a pompous buffoon.’

Amita laughed out loud and said, ‘Because that pompous buffoon has been my husband for the past 15 happy years.

Chimera

Amu and Sakhi were tidying up the house and having a nice time too. Sakhi is Amu’s sister in law; that is her brother’s wife. But an outsider will probable take them to be sisters. So nice is their camaraderie. Ever since Amu lost her family in a road accident she has lived with her brother and his family. Her  mother too stays with them. It is Amu who notices her mother nodding her hand and waving her finger, and she says, ‘Bhabhi, ask Maa to do some work?’ Sakhi understandingly calls our,’Ammaji, can you cut some palak for me’

‘No, I won’t, why should I? It is your home, you do it”

In a far of land Nimmi and Vimmo are having a nice time. Nimmi sings a song accompanied with the harmonium; Vimmi dances. The song ends, the dance ends and both of them start giggling.

‘Maa, why can’t you help us a little, there is so much to do’, it is Sakhi who tries to convince her mother.

‘Nah’, the old woman says

Nimmi is apprehensive. Her father is searching for alliances for her. Educated, settled but he is not able to. He has so many criteria which his son-in- law should comply to but he does not seem to meet such a guy.

‘Ammaji, see Saru is crying, see what happened?’, says Sakhi.  Saru is their neighbors 15 month old daughter. Ammaji loves to play with her. And so she gets up, opens the door and goes out.

Finally Nimmi is getting married. The boy though educated looks after their ancestral farms. Nimmi might not have the comforts of a city but then she is the eldest daughter in law. She, her father hopes will have some command over the others.

Ammaji returns in a good mood and then even helps around the house. After a nice leisurely bath, she sits to have her food. ‘Why have you made such bland food today?

‘Sakhi replies,’Ammaji, all are getting old now, no one is able to digest spicy food’.

‘I know you are getting old, look at your wrinkles and lackluster looks. But I can tolerate spicy foods, at least give me some pickle’

Nimmi is indeed the ‘Boss’ of the house. But work she has lots. The entire household is bursting with people. And she has to look at the kitchen with its daily cooking, the pickle making, the pappad making, the snacks everything she has to overlook. Apart from that she also have to look at the welfare of the people who work in the fields. It is indeed a busy,busy,  day every day. And in midst of all that she keeps on getting pregnant .

Sakhi and Amu exchange glances. Then Amu gives her mother a little pickle. Better to heed a little than topple the peace of the house.

Only three kids of hers have survived. Times are changing. There is a new law now. those who tend the fields will own it now. the fields are all going now. The farmhands whose welfare she had so lovingly looked after are now all owners and they turn their faces when she comes across them.

After a nice lunch Ammaji takes a nap. But Amu wakes her up after some time,’ Maa don’t sleep much now otherwise you will not be able to sleep at night’. ‘Who are you tou to tell me what I should do?’ retorts Ammaji

Amu mischievously says, ‘Your daughter’.  But ammaji is not in a mood to tolerate it and they have an argument.

Nimmi has lost her husband and then she migrates with her son to the city. Used to a rural life adjustment is tough. She does not know how to work the mixer or to light the gas stove with a lighter. She learns but it is not the same. Then they hear that her grandchildren and son in law have died in an accident.

‘Stop it you two. Your voices can be heard from two streets away’, says Sakhi. She had been to buy some groceries.

Her younger daughter she hears is being harassed by her husband. The pent up emotions all come out and she picks her stick to hit him.

‘Who are you to hit my daughter?’

‘But.. Maaji, when did I ever hit her?’, screams Sakhi

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Our mind sometimes plays cruel jokes with us. Unfulfilled desires, pent up emotions often play havoc in the idle mind and often tricks it to doing what one should not do.

A bud blossoms

I was late and hurried home. My husband was out-of-town and I wanted to  be with my daughter. She can take care of herself but its exam time and I want to be there for her just in case she needs any thing.

“Good evening Doctor’, a voice called out. I looked up.

‘Hi Teacher, will catch you later, want to be with Sneha’, I said and rushed.

Ajit, an English teacher at Sneha’s school, who lived in our colony had become a very close friend of ours. A teacher who loved to teach innovatively, who was able to inspire students, who made them curious and taught them to inquire. He often asked me advice on some students who needs some psychological help. A help which I was glad about.

I feel as a generation we cater to all the whims and fancies of our kids but so very over ambitious we are, of them that we do not allow them to spread their wings.

But now was not the time to have these thoughts. I had to see if Sneha needed me.

A week late Ajit called me, ‘Doctor, can we meet this evening’.

It meant he had to discuss something,’Why not, come over this evening. the better half will be there too.’ And he agreed. The better half is quite insightful with matters concerning kids and that’s why I like him around if Ajit has a problem.

So in the evening after some juice, Ajit began, ‘I have a new student in fact in Sneha’s section only, resident of this colony. Do you know the people who have come in, in Building A4, Flat 45?’

I nodded in negative.

‘ The girl I feel is bright but is very shy. Hesitates to participate in class and gets very tense about any test’

I really did not understand what help Ajit wanted from me.

‘Doctor, I need some support from all of you’, he said.

‘What?’ we cried out in unison.

‘Can Sneha have some combined study with her and see if it makes a difference?’

‘Sure’, I said

‘We will have to ask Sneha, first’, added my ever wise husband.

‘Sure’, Ajit smiled understandingly.

Sneha said an emphatic “NO”. The reason; the girl Medha was of the silent types, did not mingle, was always hyper and the most important reaso was what the others would think of her. They might call her a baby sitter or a nanny.

‘Its alright. But Ajit thought she needs company and he thought you are the right person who could help her bloom’, said her father.

‘He thinks so’, said the kid with star struck eyes.

Our daughter has a crush on her English teacher. We know that and do not encourage her generally but today was an exception.

And she agreed.

So Medha came everyday. And she did start interacting with Sneha but if we adults  were around, she got anxious.

And then one day Sneha was invited to her house and she returned in a rage.

‘What happened?’, I asked.

‘That aunty, Medha’s mother is a b****’, she said.

‘Mind your language’, I yelled, ‘What happened’.

‘She interferes in everything. Including what we should read and how. She checks on how we write our answers etc. Can’t she mind her own business?’

So that was the problem. New age parents I tell you, can be a real pain.

Some days later the girls were very animated. I was happy Medha had opened up very nicely and now had a ‘mind of her own’ which I was sure must be giving her mother sleepless nights.

‘Maaa’, Sneha called. I went.

‘Ma, Ajit SIr has divided us into groups of 4 and asked us to prepare a skit on deforestation. We 2, Adesh and Surekha are on the same group as we belong to the same colony and practise would be easy.’

‘Only Ajit could think of all this. Shuttling kids for their practise is quite troublesome.

But then my mind went on an overdrive.  ‘Alright you four can practise e here but …. Medha have you told your mother?’

‘No  my aunt is unwell so she went to meet her. She will be coming late tonight’.

‘Alright then, do not tell her. Prepare your skit and present it’.

‘You will not help us?’, was Medha’s doubt. “no”, I said. ‘Yipee’, Sneha said.

My daughter likes it when I am away from her life. Sigh.

And so when we were at home we put ear plugs. 4 teenagers in the same house meant that our ears suffered a lot.

The skit happened, and our colony group lost. But it had helped their confidence. One was dreaming of becoming a playwright. Other an actress. But more importantly there was a glow on Medha’s face which had never existed before. And it was while the group was rejoicing their loss, Medha’s mother made an entry.

‘Medha lost her glow and she bent her head in shame.

‘Why did you forbid Medha from telling me?’, she screamed.

‘I looked towards Sneha and said,’ Can you please take your friends to your room’. They were more than happy to leave the scene.

‘So that you may not interfere’, I replied to Medha’s mother.

‘Interfere? I would have aided them to make a better skit’, she screamed.

‘Speak softly’, I said in my most professional voice, ‘It was better this way. They developed confidence, they know what went wrong and they will do better next time. ‘

‘They have lost, they will get less in their internal assessment….’

‘So what. They have gained confidence’.

‘I will not allow Medha to come here any more’, she said.

‘That is you wish. But have you seen the look of contentment in Medha’s face. why do you try to run her life, she is an individual too. Let her learn, experiment. Let her grow’.

She stamped her feet and went away and for 2 weeks Medha did not come to our place.

On the 15th day she came accompanied by her father.

‘Thank you, he said

‘For what’, I said.

He said, ‘ For letting my girl blossom into a person. She told her mom very gently and very firmly that she wants to be with Sneha . Her mother could not argue, and…. her standing out  gave me confidence too’, he said with tears in his eyes.

A single gesture, a little support could make such a big difference. I was happy. Happy that Medha would be fine from now on.

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As parents we often try to run our children’s life forgetting that they have a life of their own.

A story partly inspired by Rachna’s post at the cybernag

For more stories of  Sukriti, the counsellor:

Occupational Hazards

Communicate

To accept

The cycle of life

Years back:

It was a typical Sunday. The daughter silently edged towards the refrigerator. she knew there was a 5 star tucked in the side box of the freezer. She opened the box to see a chit; ‘I hope you remember that the Doctor has advised you not to eat chocolates-Dad’. She pouted, stamped her feet and left to her room.

 

The present:

It was a typical Sunday noon scene. The house was quiet. Everyone was either taking a nap or busy. He moved stealthily. His footsteps hardly making any sound. he opened the door of the cabinet too quietly. He was sure that the box in the right held the ladoos. He opened it quietly. There was a  note inside it; ‘Knew that you will be searching for the ladoos, moved it elsewhere’.

He threw away the chit, banged the cabinet door, stamped outside the kitchen. The wife sighed but what else could she do to control a diabetic husband.

 

The daughter. the silent witness chuckled and yet was sad.

 

*Fictitious  

 

Support

I had planted a new Tulsi Plant in the pot. It was growing well but the plant was still weak and I gave a support of a stick and told my daughter to take  good care.

‘I will, ma’, she said, ‘ You just go for your conference and …meet your childhood friend and do not worry about your plants’

I smiled at her and left for the railway station. It being the monsoons I had preferred to go by train. I had time at my disposal and so had opted for going by train rather than taking a flight and bothering whether the flight will take off or not.

I had thought of hearing some audio lectures to prepare for my paper at the conference but I could not. My mind kept on thinking of those childhood days. Sakhi and me had been friends from the time I could remember. Career and marriage had taken us to different cities and though we had managed to keep in touch, we had met only once in the last 20 years.

This conference of mine was in her city and I had jumped when the Divisional manager had suggested my name and had done a happy dance. My colleagues must have thought that I had gone crazy.

Sakhi came to receive me at the station. She looked frail, wrinkles on the face, grey hair. But that was expected. We were not growing younger, were we? But it was her stoop and her dull eyes that concerned me. I knew Sakhi she always had a sparkle in her eyes. Why then was she so dull?

‘Amu’, she said to me, ‘let me tell you very frankly, my house is very small’.

So that was her worry.

‘But Sakhi, I came to meet you, so it does not matter. If I wanted comforts, I would have stayed in some hotel’.

Her husband was at home. We had breakfast and I was hoping that he would go to work and we could have a nice chat. My meetings were to commence from the next day.

‘You did not get the milk and vegetables that I asked you to bring?’, it was Sakhi

‘Our vegetable vendor comes only after 10 am, so I thought…’, it was Shyam her husband.

‘Yes, and by that time the mild vendor will have increased the rate by 50 paise per packet’, she said.

‘Its ok,’ he said.

‘What ok’, she said. He then looked at me, kept mum picked up a shopping bag and left.

‘Useless fellow just idling away his time’, she muttered after he left.

I was shocked. I remembered those times when they were courting each other. They looked so ‘made for each other’. So what had happened now?

I came to know that Shyam’s business had closed down. He had some differences with his brother who was his partner and they had parted ways. The business closed down but the rift came in the family too. They were all living together and then they had split after the partnership had been dissolved.

Shyam had enough savings to buy a small flat and to fund their children’s education. But he had not been able to start a new business. And he was not willing to get into a job. Being his own boss for so long, he was not willing to work under anyone. And it was then that Sakhi and he started having difference of opinion.

Sakhi had always lived in big houses, could not adjust to the small house, she was angry that he did not go in for a job. But I said, even thought he was not going for a job, did he not help her around the house. Sakhi had always been a teacher at a school and did he not take up all the responsibility of the house. Did he not supervise the kids homework. Helped in cooking et all. But isn’t it his duty to earn too, she said.  He had savings but at the rising cost of living. in no time it would be over and then what? Her earnings as a teacher were not enough.

Shyam when Sakhi was not around shared his share of woes. Sakhi had become impatient, she did not care for him, she cared only for money. I agreed and disagreed with him. Money then is such a thing which is needed for sustenance.  And yet spoils many a relationship.

I had deliberately not advised both of them. It was such a situation that advise would be futile. And the fact was they were not at fault; the circumstances were forcing them to be irritable and impatient.

It was on my last evening with Sakhi and Shyam that I began a nostalgia trip. Of how the dashing Shyam had wooed Sakhi. How impressive he was in his talk and how he had won so many contracts for his company. How Sakhi used to ensure that however late he came, the meal was hot  and she always was eager to know about his work and also she saw to it that the kids did not bother him much. How Shyam had once travelled in a crowded ST bus and had reached late in the night just so that he could be with her on her birthday, how he always treated everyone with respect etc.

They had listened to in silence obviously remembering all those happy times.

It has been almost three months to that day and Sakhi had called me. She told me that how after my talk they had decided to start afresh. She told me that Shyam had set up a photocopy shop. It was a small beginning but still a beginning. ANd she thanked me for my support. ‘Support’ I had asked. Yes, support she said, you had just supported us. You had not been judgmental but had just given us a hand. That was what we had needed.

My Tulsi plant is doing well too. My Tulsi too had needed just that- a support to grow strong!!

**fictitious