Sunday, July 24, 2016

I always wanted to....

In my humble opinion, the career garb that a person adorns for life is governed by three elements—the time or era one grows up in, the encompassing culture and personal strengths. I grew up in a time when science and math were the spotlight subjects on the stage—the heroes, while language and other arts languished in anonymity as supporting cast. A student who could not excel in math and science was regarded as a heinous derelict. An average student stood at tines of a fork, that lead to either Engineering or Medical Science and I was no exception to the rule. I knew I had to pick one though neither resonated in my heartbeat.

Next element that paints your destiny is the culture you inhale. I grew up in a small town, known for its renowned engineering college and little else. Private coaching centers for admission tests flocked the town like rain mushrooms, all promising to churn up engineers under their tutelage. Engineering was blended in the air like hydrogen in water, utterly inseparable. It entered our nostrils, lodged into our lungs and then pulsated through our veins. I succumbed to that ingredient of my breath and so did most of my friends.

It’s time to ponder about the third element-personal strength and choice.Being academically strong can never hurt anyone. Acing all subjects at school is an accolade, not an impediment by any imagination. Teachers are proud of versatile students and parents earn bragging rights for their lives. In my case, versatility and excelling in a multitude of areas actually muddled my path. I was the only student in my school that passed with distinction in all five subjects-English, Hindi, math, science and social studies. Too many spices brewing inside of me masked my true essence. I was a conundrum to myself, a rudderless ship that just drifted with the wind. In my heart of hearts, I was smitten by English language, enthralled by the rivulets of words, literature and poetry. I was drawn to the written word like a bee to nectar, a moth to light. My parents could not afford books outside of the curriculum, so I took little sips from the small pool of the school library to quench my thirst. I pored over newspapers and devoured every word, without choking or spitting. I read my elder sister’s English textbooks for stories—and sheer ecstasy that brought me. But my love was ambiguous and uncharted, with no lucid path or destination. My parents had humble means but an unwavering faith in education to challenge and mold life to betterment. I and my siblings did not have shiny new shoes every year but we always had the books/notebooks we needed. I knew I had to chart out a career, muster a job which compensated well—and literature, as enticing and soothing as it was, was not a step towards that goal. If I did not fare well in other subjects, I would have married literature,my only suitor,but I had other graces, so I never whispered my love to a soul and doused the flame myself.

An Electronics Engineer, I was destined to be. Years down, I am an IT professional with a respectable job that pays my bills and keeps me afloat. I am grateful to Almighty for the blessings I have and I cannot ask for more. I am still a voracious reader who can chew words in any shape or form—printed ads, descriptions of entrees in restaurant menus, ingredients of packaged foods, Tolstoy’s novels, Keats poetry and Dickinson's essays. But I confess,at times, even after multiple readings of some passages and poetry at controlled, variegated paces, I fail to grasp the finer meaning the author or poet is alluding to. I ache to understand the nuances of Frost’s, Keats’ and Eliot’s poetry. I want to imbibe the hidden meaning of Shakespeare’s lines.

I always wanted to study literature and poetry and I still do. Once the business of life ebbs a little and I have hours to fill, I wish I can take a degree/diploma course. Who knows, I might be grayest student in the class, maybe grayer than the teacher, but I have no inhibitions about that. At least,I have none today, as I bring my closeted ex to light.

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Wonder Woman

Hard work, year after year without any respite
Incessant demands of children and husband—
A woman like me might have taken a quick exit
Not her—simply because she isn’t human

Small and slight, stands just five feet tall
But the immense power and strength she packs inside
Could crumble an imposing mammoth wall
Or make an ancient baobab move

Fasting in Ramadan from sunrise to sundown
Rolled a mound of dough into chapattis for us
Helping us with homework without a frown
While fervently shelling peas and chopping onions

Sweaty and exhausted, she waited till all of us ate
Making sure everybody had a bellyful
Then watered down the curry while ladling her plate
Offering her share of mango to the youngest fave

Brimming with such talent, she had to be a conjuror
Wielded prettiest dresses from modest pieces of cloth
Saved her own occasional new clothes for use later
An iota of luxury for self was unacceptable to her

We knew and immediately reached for a thermometer
Her in bed, wasn’t a sight we saw everyday
Taking a nap or resting the back wasn’t her
“I’m fine” she would sweetly lie to convince us

Years down, now, dad lies sick and confined to bed
She is now his mother, wife, sister and lifeline
Tirelessly nursing him with faith and patience undeterred
“Its God’s will”, an aphorism, you can always hear her say

Wonder Woman, they ask? I know for sure, she is one
There might be others I don’t argue or dispute
 But such purity and selflessness is alien to human
God, please always be with the miracle you sent us

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

The dripping roof

My parched eyes watch torrents of rain lashing the glass windows
of my chic office on the seventeenth floor
can't hear the tinkling of drops or rumbling of clouds though....
the sound obscured adroitly by engineered acoustics
I shut my eyes and it comes singing to me-
 the sound of dripping roof of my childhood home
the resonant chorus insinuates the clamor inside.
How I want to run amok in the rain outside these walls!
How my expensive suit and svelte heels stifle my desire!
I ache and pine, a bird with clipped wings
captive in a golden cage.

Rain, rain-I pray, do me a favor today
wash away my sagacity and wise adulthood
reverse the metamorphosis I’ve been through
seep into my locked pores
free out the innocent child I was once
lick my tired hands
to once more transform scraps of paper into boats
cleanse my eyes of ambition
 effulge the effervescent joy and energy
dilute my blood now viscous
into frothy ebullience tingling my veins
tousle and crush my silk parasol
soak me head to toe in sky’s curative water instead
drain away the worldly perfumes and essence
and fill my nostrils with pure petrichor.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Titan tears

Eyes on the monumental event of our lives
we were bolstering ourselves for a year—
 my sister’s upcoming wedding in winter
hearts crumbling inside, beneath the cheerful veneer

Our sonorous humble abode will lose its chirp
mom and I talked often about sister's leaving
 in a timbre soaked with limpid pain 
with eyes dampening and chests heaving

Scurrying around to make impeccable arrangements
dad always stood still,unperturbed like Mount Everest
tireless sinister eye on every minuscule detail
nature and human, all joined hands at his behest

He once again asked all to bid farewell with smiles
when my bedecked sister hugged and said goodbye
chided us gently for creating a tearful scene
while still feigning a tiny little twinkle in his eye

Hollow and forlorn that night,I waited for the pink of dawn
stealthily peeped from my blanket as dad walked into our room
he tenderly placed sister's house slippers on the rack
and restored the cap on her bottle of perfume

Lightly traced her picture smiling on the dresser
lines on his forehead deepened as he sat on her bed
caressed her pillow, then quickly raised the back of his hand
to wipe the tear he had just shed.

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


The ABCs

My feeble father can no more walk the mile
His memory lurks behind his perpetual deceptive smile

He has hidden us in a chasm so deep
and cavernous, where no light ever does peep

A wise worldly man once, now is a hapless child
Easily pleased,angered,intimidated or beguiled

Gazes fleetingly at our old family albums like a kaleidoscope
Amused by colors, sans any warmth, cognizance or hope.

So excited and docile, when I sometimes go over ‘ABCs’
Oh! the accuracy and irony of his words savagely lacerates me.

"K is for knowledge", he stealthily whispers
"Never to amass, make sure always to disperse!"

"D is for daughter, but friend who are you?
Please stay for dinner, won’t you!”

Friday, June 10, 2016

Cafe Karma

Its a WOW post again!

The cafe Karma ceaselessly keeps on churning
custom Lattes uniquely designed for each one.
The ledgers of Karma are precisely accurate
accounting all—credit, debit, debt— one by one

Mother Nature has been speaking for eons
in a language at its comprehensible best
As you sow,so shall you reap, child!
Why surprised when it’s time to harvest?

A mango seed,watered with love and care—
into a tree yielding fruit and shade, it will grow
While a rock I throw at my neighbors house
might boomerang to shatter my own window.

Starving for a piece of stale bread and water
the hopes and faith of the honest seem to perish
as they see tables of those who cut throats
laden with cakes and plums they do not cherish.

Does not look like justice is delivered
promptly on a platter to those who deserve
But,rest easy, the time will undeniably come
when Karma’s fine balances,against evil do swerve.

Expending its light to show them the right path
the sorcerer pauses,but briefly,on the wicked and infamous
But, all souls, do remember, eventually
Sun shines on the righteous.

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

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Empty Seat

“You have to register for a donor kidney right away”,’Dr.Garg at Apollo Hospitals, Delhi had told Priti last month. He had been treating Ajay’s deteriorating kidney condition, which was on a steady decline, for the past one year. The only viable option to save Ajay’s life was a transplant surgery. Priti had immediately signed the necessary documents that put them on a waitlist for donor organs.

Luckily after 3 days of registration, Priti received a call from Apollo, Chennai about a healthy kidney of an accident victim being available. She had to make that journey with Ajay to Chennai right away amidst Rahul’s, their son’s, class XII board exams. A nebula of fear and uncertainty captured her mind but she did not demur at all. She was the rock of the family at this time of tribulation. She placidly announced to Rahul and her mother-in-law that kidney transplant was the most common and statistically the safest organ transplant. Then, she nonchalantly packed without wasting a minute, asked Rahul to study hard and listen to his grandmother in her absence, said a silent prayer in her heart and lead Ajay’s frail arm into the cab for the airport.

Ajay was operated the same evening by a team of the most competent surgeons at Apollo, Chennai. Priti had called her brother, Rohit, from Bangalore for moral support and sundry needs. She submitted her husband to the surgeons with a kiss on the forehead and after three protracted hours of prayer and hope, the doctors assured them that the surgery was successful and Ajay would be able to return to Delhi in two weeks. A week after the surgery, he would be discharged from the hospital, but they would need to stay in Chennai for another week to facilitate checkups.

Ajay was on the conspicuous path to recovery as Priti could notice the color returning to his pale face and light reclaiming his eyes. The doctors were satisfied with his recovery and jocularly assured Priti that her husband was “good as new”. She had rented a small one-bedroom apartment close to the hospital for Ajay to convalesce in for a week before heading back to Delhi. She thanked God every waking second for Ajay’s renewed life. At home front, Rahul reported he was acing his exams and waiting anxiously for them to return back.

Two weeks after surgery had flown by amidst cooking nutritious food for Ajay and taking him for hospital visits. Their tickets for Delhi were booked for the next day afternoon 3PM.Priti had the bags packed, all the medicine prescriptions, and discharge files methodically organized. That night, she had called Rahul to wish him luck for the Physics exam in the morning and then they slept dreaming of the next night in their sweet home.

Suddenly,at 4AM in the morning, she felt Ajay shaking her vigorously. Light sleeper that she was, Priti immediately flicked on the light which revealed Ajay convulsing uncontrollably and sweating profusely. She tried to stop his body’s involuntary movement but the tremors shook her hands off. She frantically called the hospital for an ambulance. Ajay’s convulsions had dwindled a little; Priti assured him that help was on the way. Ajay stared unblinkingly into her eyes and clasped her hand tightly, digging his nails into her skin. The next second, his hand went limp and his eyes turned vacuous. Priti could see life draining away her husband’s body but she could not speak or shriek or admonish it to stay. She desperately pressed and pushed at his heart for any little movement. The ambulance and paramedics arrived and tried restoring his heartbeat, but his soul was already sky bound. One of the young attendants shook his head and held her hand, without looking into her eyes. At that instant the rock in her melted like wax and she broke down into his arms.

Slowly dawn crept up and she could hear the birds chirping welcome. The paramedics had left with Ajay’s body. She cursed the sun for rising, the birds for chirping when her life was at a halt. How could universe be indifferent to her loss to still keep running the well-oiled machinery? She called her brother,Rohit, who hopped on the next flight to Chennai. She instructed him not to call Rahul yet. It was his Physics exam that day and she would not have a bee whisper the news to him that day.

Eventually, she signed the papers necessary for transporting Ajay to Delhi, surprised she could still sign! Rohit would take care of any other arrangements necessary, so she decided to head back to Delhi as planned. Weighed down by a thousand rocks in heart, she somehow made it to the airport and the airplane. The ride to the airport and the check-in happened in a trance of disbelief! The reality of Ajay’s death was fleeting on and off,just not sinking to her bone. Was she really leaving without Ajay? Soon as she took her seat, the emptiness of the seat next to her dug its fangs into her soul! Her eyelids started trickling at the sight of the unoccupied blue upholstery and she was amazed at the oceans she held inside her.

Her heart flew to Rahul;she looked at the seat and played in her mind the scene when she would reveal the news to Rahul. Should she hold him to her chest and start crying? Should she hold his hand tight and quickly say it? Should she first ask him about his exams and then tell some lie about Ajay’s return? Whatever and however she thought, nothing seemed right about the situation at all. She had lost her husband of 20 years and she could not protect her son from this avalanche of grief. As a mother she could be the mountain to shield Rahul from harsh winds, the tigress to attack a predator—but she was powerless against God’s plans. She felt helpless and alone.

As the flight attendant approached Priti with beverages, she requested the girl to sit in the seat next to her saying—“I hate sitting next to an empty seat. Please sit by me and hold me!” The young girl with coiffured hair was bewildered, but one look at the woman’s swollen eyes, she complied.

Looks like I'm going to write every weekend!

Friday, June 03, 2016

Share my burden,share my life

USA has never had a woman president. India has had a woman Prime Minister and President.
Why is it then that Indian women slave with the household chores while women in the USA share the burden with spouses? Why do equality and freedom which come easily to the upper strata of Indian society fail to percolate to the lives of every single Indian. Why does a man, who worships Goddesses Durga and Kaali, not hesitate to rebuke his wife if dinner is not ready on time? Why are we a nation of double standard bigots who fervently worship cow as mother, open doors for Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali and also nonchalantly abort human female fetuses?

We, as a society, blindly follow age old doctrines without questioning their relevance in modern times. The tethering of woman to home and hearth in archaic times was based on division of work. The man of the house worked outside to earn money for grain, which the woman transformed into edible bread. The woman took care of work inside the perimeter of the house, which included washing clothes, cooking, cleaning and raising children. It was a neat arrangement which worked efficiently for ages, but it also etched ‘DAILY CHORES’ in permanent ink on the foreheads of the species called ‘WOMEN’.

As times changed, girls started getting education and seeking jobs outside their homes. They walked shoulder to shoulder with men in the universal fight for earning money. They started becoming teachers, doctors, and lawyers and later ventured into brawnier jobs like police, pilots and firefighters. They soared higher in the sprawling firmament of unprecedented opportunities but could not fade the ink that wrote ‘DAILY CHORES’ on their souls. Eventually, they started wearing two heavy hats on their fragile heads-homemakers and breadwinners! The jobs outside home were bone-crushingly demanding and the responsibilities at home were perpetually polarized to always point towards them.

While the husband laid his feet up on the coffee table to watch TV in the evening, the wife hurriedly fetched a cup of tea for him after loading the washing machine with kids sports clothes, soiled after the game. As the machine works on the clothes, she kneads the dough and chops vegetable for curry. As she submits onions and tomatoes from blender to the pan, the washing machine beeps and beckons her. So, she simmers the stove and rushes to hang the clothes on the balcony to dry. Alas, to her consternation, the curry had started to smell burnt and she has to quickly think of an alternative daal, with sweat and exhaustion running down her hair and spine.

Was their justice in the world? Was there a God looking at His daughters being pulverized under the wheel of life while the sons just watched callously? The truth is that God in these criminal times is working overtime to uproot sin and Satan; so, the duty to eradicate gender oppression rests on each one of us. We cannot just keep on ingesting the futile traditions and passing the same fodder to our kids. We have to pluck out the rocks tied to the wings of our girls if we want them to fly free in the sky.

 Every woman and man has to participate in this revolution of sharing the load between genders. We have to struggle for freedom of our women if we want happiness in our families and prosperity in our country.

These are simple steps in our daily lives that can bring a sea change in society and inculcate the habit of sharing the load in the next generation:

-Stop the tradition of the girl-to-be-married bringing trays loaded with tea and snacks for the boy’s family when they come to meet the girl’s family .Let the girl’s father and brothers partake in this display of hospitality. This will send an immutable signal to the visiting family that women are not expected to be the tray-bearers in the family.

-Teach every child, boy or girl, to do their own laundry soon as they reach the reach the age of ten. Encourage them to leave dirty clothes in the laundry basket when they turn five. It’s a known fact that daughters of the US president do their own laundry albeit they have the White House full of attendants. Carrying their own weight and that of their clothes is a lesson to be taught to each child early on in life.

-Hang two cooking aprons ‘His’ and ‘Her’ in the kitchen always. The husband and wife should alternately slip on their aprons when cooking/serving dinner to the family. In this era of internet, all recipes are available on YouTube, so the excuse of not-knowing-how-to-cook is not valid anymore. The man should get up to fetch salt, pickle or anything else missing from the table. This simple routine is a life lesson which cannot be explained adequately in any book or journal.

-Hang a chart for the weekly chores in the kitchen dividing all the tasks equally between husband and wife. The tasks should rotate each week to break the monotony and boredom. If wife is cooking dinner, then husband must finish laundry that week.

-Ask every family member to make their bed before leaving for school/work. This habit formed in the childhood makes adults autonomous and confident in their lives. They will never wait for a wife or mother to smooth out their slept-in blankets and sheets. Also, a neatly made bed fills the house with a positive vibe.

-Do not discriminate between toys for girls and boys. Do not buy toys like ‘Kitchen sets’ and play ovens for daughters. This silently imprints on their nascent minds the duties they are supposed to fulfill in their lives and also prepares the boys of what to expect from sisters and wives.

-Prepare daughters for life, and not marriage. Encourage girls to dream big and facilitate their path towards realization of their dreams. Confront and avoid relatives who always pester your daughter to be domestic and docile to serve her husband’s family. A woman’s destiny is not marriage and bearing children.

-Watch news snippets and movies with the family where a woman plays a central role as a professional doctor, pilot, scientist or police officer. Interestingly, in an experiment conducted by a research group, some 6-8 year olds were asked to draw a pilot and a police officer and all of them drew a strong, muscular man in a uniform. We have to break that stereotype in our children’s minds—so our girls know that they can be anything and our boys expect them to.

-Treat every woman with respect and equality. Children of today see the world through the eyes of their parents. Their beliefs and convictions are undeniably molded by us. Let us live what we preach because example is any day stronger that precept. Actions speak louder than words and always will.

Let each one us of be the torch-bearer for the future generation, so that their lives glitter with luminescence that God designed for all of us .Let us partake in God’s plan of equality for men and women for our own benefit—to make our worship and reverence to Him meaningful and genuine.

I am taking part in the #ShareTheLoad Challenge with Ariel and Aksharaat BlogAdda.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Nasty Monday!

Shaken to the bone by phone alarm’s raucous call
I pull out my hand languidly from the soft blanket
Meaning to throw the demon fatally against the wall
My brain promptly wakes up-“Don’t do it, you’ll regret”

Sleepily pour paste on my husband’s toothbrush
Drag my reluctant somnolent bones to the shower
Why does breezy weekend always pass me in a rush?
And leave me servile to the mighty Monday’s power?

Grab my coffee and my seemingly rock-filled purse
Shoot out the door straight like a hustled bumblebee
Lest I yield and kneel down to the rapidly growing urge
of curling up in the warm bed and sleeping till three!

As I amble up the millions of steps to my floor at work
An uneasy feeling fills me, a dull ache starting in my head
My right shoulder feels unusually light and berserk
No! I had left my darned laptop plugged in by my bed!

Head hung low; I enter my boss’s office to confess
“Ah! A laptop is like an appendage”, he says no more
Evil Monday continues to dig and feed on my mess
And with stinging indignation, I start the drive home.

I find the lazy laptop dozing serenely by my bed
“Meeting moved to eleven”, beeps my boss’s text
I look with lust at the pillow sunken to fit my head
And head back to work, the very moment next!!

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

First place this time!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The touch of transformation

Scribbled hurriedly and got selected! 

Prerna is the iconic businesswoman of today. Having graduated five years ago from IIM Ahmedabad, she is the Head Marketing –Asia Pacific for a monumental multinational company, which has tens of prestigious brands under its umbrella. She is a young achiever and a role model for young ambitious girls in the country. She is also interviewed and quoted in leading magazines and journals.

Prerna is a feminist and a staunch protagonist of women rights and gender equality. In many interviews, she urged girls to never give up education and to never compromise between career and marriage. Three years ago she had married Rohan, a handsome, ambitious Marketing Director she met at a conference in London.She had just fallen for Rohan, who had virtually swept her off her feet by his intellect and charm. The prudent and pragmatic Prerna was head over heels in love and agreed to marry Rohan soon as he proposed. But they had not thought about having children and raising a family together yet. They were both immensely busy in their highflying meetings and business commitments.

She did not pay attention for a month when she missed her period and the month after, jaws of fear gripped her tight. This could not be happening to her! Rohan was out travelling so she went and saw the doctor and to her dismay, her worst dreams took the shape of reality and stood in front of her like an invincible demon. Yes, she was pregnant! Someone just pulled the ground from under her feet and she frantically called Rohan and started blaming him for the predicament she was in. Rohan tried to console her that together they could work a way out.

Both of them discussed when Rohan was back and agreed to get the fetus aborted before it was too late. There was absolutely no place and time for a baby in their bustled lives. Then they sought opinions from their parents and both their parents were overjoyed at the news of a grandchild. They offered to take care of the baby while Rohan and Prerna could tend to their careers. After much contemplation, Prerna decided to carry forward her pregnancy.

Everybody said she would feel maternal once the baby started kicking, but she never did. She was annoyed and embarrassed that her peers in meetings would see the kicks. She blamed Rohan when bouts of nausea hit her. She canceled international travel towards the last trimester and worried about what repercussions that would have on her career. She could not wait for the baby to emerge and hand it over to her mother, so she could head back to work.

Eventually, nine months passed and one morning, Prerna went into labor. Each contraction lacerated and stabbed her and she admonished herself aloud for letting herself in this pathetic condition and not opting to terminate the pregnancy. After eight long hours of excruciating pain and exhaustion, she heard the baby cry and heard someone say, “It’s a girl”. She saw the baby’s bloodied face, puckered and distorted with crying as the nurse took her out. She was too exhausted to think and just shut her eyes in relief that the ordeal had passed.

When she woke up, the nurse handed Prerna her daughter—a bundle of pink in a matching soft blanket. Prerna lifted the tiny face to her face and the baby took out her tongue to touch Prerna’ s cheek. That wet touch of the tiny feather-like tongue sent electricity down Prerna’s spine and she shook as if touched by a naked high voltage wire. Before she knew, unbridled tears started rolling down her cheeks as if a dam was let open. A whirlpool of conferences, foreign delegates and brochures swam before her eyes as unfamiliar entities .All her life’s achievements floated in front of her in a surreal blur as she held her daughter in front of her eyes. That moment she felt that her unmoored boat had found its anchor and it lay in the innocent black eyes of this little angel—her daughter.

That first touch of her daughter transformed the relentless and competitive businesswoman to a mother, as gentle as spring wind and as fierce as a lioness. She was ready to give up the world and herself for this little being. She was ready to cross fires, traverse deserts and climb mountains to nurture and raise her child. All her bitterness, regret and exhaustion of nine months melted away and left the space for love to fill—the love which started with the touch, reached each nerve and cell of her body and which she felt engulfing her. She was lost in the ocean of her own love as she pressed the bundle to her chest.

She was changed forever. And she thanked the Almighty profusely for this unique gift of love.   

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

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Love you,ma

I just know my cords will quiver
Eyes flood with gratitude
Voice swell heavy with tears
Simply futile to say ‘I love you’

You would smell the speck
Hear the slightest waver
Feel the pulse in my neck
The twinge in my demeanor

And you would start the crusade
Negotiate, barter with the creator
Praying and fasting long, I’m afraid
to bring back the smile of your daughter.

So, write her a sonnet, my heart whispers

And meekly comply my servile fingers.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Sun shines on the righteous

Sun shines on the righteous,
after taking a long pause,
having spent its warmth,
on the wicked and the infamous.

The wind wiped away their dwelling
as they prayed at the church.
And abodes of those didn’t flutter,
who spent the night gambling.

The children of the honest do perish,
starving for stale bread and water.
The tables of those who cut throats are laden
with cakes and plums they do not cherish.

Bent by the pain, the pure one often ponders
Should I detour my path some?
But the righteous soul once again kneels down in prayer-
Waiting for the sun to do its wonders.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Under the golden arches

“Mom, can we do a drive thru at MacDonald’s? I am super hungry!”, urged Ishaan when I was driving him for his Taekwondo class Thursday evening.

Panic invaded me,my fingers froze on the steering for a fraction of a second, I took a deep breath and replied-“But I have never done that, not sure I can do it!”

“What’s the big deal mom, just drive up the microphone and I will place the order”, he said in the final tone of someone having resolved a conflict.

“What do you mean? I can talk, it’s not about speaking”, I retorted with a hint of the budding indignation inside me.

So, Ishaan thinks I have trouble communicating in English? Maybe, somewhere in his mind is etched the image of the hapless immigrant mom from India (in the movie “English Vinglish’) who struggles to order a coffee at Starbucks and ends up being scorned at and insulted by the Starbucks staff. He corrects my pronunciations at times and I seek his help comprehending some slangs that I have never been exposed to but that does that justify his finding congruence between the English-Vinglish mom and me.

Anyways, my hesitation did not stem for my language deficiency but from my diminutive physical dimensions. When you are the size of a hobbit living in a land of regulars, you have to think about a lot of things! I have a sprawling heart but my arms fail to measure up to it. What if my arms don’t meet the hands of the generous person doling out the lucrative food packages and sugar-high drinks? What if I drive into the wondrous wall with windows that quickly quell hunger while trying to extend my arms? Then I would have to fish out my insurance card from the bundle of ancient, redundant ones and report the damage and have to get the car fixed after swallowing the magnanimous lecture by the husband.

Startlingly awakened from the bitter ordeal, I took the path of sermon-sulk, which we practice adeptly many times a day. I sermonize about healthy habits and healthy eating. He sulks.Eventually after a few curve balls from my pubescent son, I conceded to his right to be spoiled as a single child. Somewhere in an obscure alley in my brain, I have this thought that I have deprived him of a sibling, so I need to make up for that!

With all my courage, I decided to take on the formidable golden arches that cave for none. I approached the microphone and rattled off the order of Filet Fish burger and fries with surety and aplomb. Ishaan’s awestruck eyes met this first little success. Then I slowly drove to the payment window; MacD’s hands met mine and I presented my credit card without having to lift my bottom from my seat! Then I floated into the next window under a the spell of exhilaration,where my oblivious partner handed me the steaming package; again his arm and mine traversed the distance like they were made for this moment in life. And it was done!!The mind battle was conquered.

That day, I had successfully checked off one item from the litany of “Things everyone else can do”. Probably, now I am eligible for citizenship?

And I was handed one fry as a reward by my new admirer and I can say that the fried tuber of my labor was crispier than ever!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Starting over

Why don't you write anymore? A question by my dear family and friends, which I evade all the time because that leads me to ask a question to myself-"Why don't I write anymore? "I have no plausible explanation, no deep-rooted reason, just a tall shrug that reaches my earlobes- and that just isn't enough. I have abandoned my blog like a child gone incorrigibly astray and its certainly unfair to treat a loved one like that.

Beginning of this year I thought (don't read RESOLUTION) of forcing my fingers to think again. But I could not start in January because it was so cold! How can someone write with cold, frigid hands? Come spring, I will thaw down and pick up the pen.And this year spring is surprisingly so early-I'm seeing plants blossoming pink and vernal leaves sprouting in Mid-March. Even the hibernating amphibians in the marsh outside my home have started croaking with life and vigor. Now its time for my lazy fingers to move-I have slathered them with moisturizing creams every night, all winter, so they don't start creaking and whining at the first sentence.

Work? Don't I deserve time to unwind and relax and sit in front of the TV, maybe follow the elections, after work?.But a wise voice, that belongs to me, says no matter how much I watch the coverage, Trump will not mend his ways and Bernie is almost gone anyways.The quest for seeking wisdom in current affairs is an inane excuse for not blogging and I should drop the fa├žade.

Ishaan?How can I neglect his studies-his homework, projects and assignments. That story seems dubious and questionable too because his studies are now at an echelon above my meager knowledge. I have to google a majority of topics he seeks help on. Sometimes I google in front of him and sometimes clandestinely just to flaunt my pseudo intellect.

Food? I have to cook dinner to prevent starvation in this house. Again, I have a husband who has a natural flair for cooking! If both of us were to follow the same recipe verbatim, he would not only follow it but serve it with his distinct cherry-on-top and my replica would sadly beg for a semblance to the original. A task should always be assigned to one who's does it best.Talk sweet. Delegate.

Husband?Thrives on food and Netflix.I already have designed an autotrophic plan for the food part. And I pay the Netflix monthly fee to myself out of his radar.That is my petty fee for happiness!

Sisters?Don't I have to be connected with them on WhatsApp?No-they say,just write something.They don't need me to disturb their slumber, so I can write when its night back home.I just now realized that the cause for dormancy was just Mr Newton's first law and my sisters are the relentless force that have jerked the strings of this marionette into action.

The gossamer mask of excuses has blown away; all the curtains I could hide behind are lying ripped. Hence, I will make a full-hearted effort to resuscitate this baby of mine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A slice of heaven

For my littlest niece,Eva:

Sweet little baby,
You smell of something alien-
Transparency, purity, innocence.
A fragment of the soul of the maker
I can breathe in forever,your essence.

Sweet little baby,
Made of fresh peaches and cream
Wonder what’s in your mind
And what is the sight
That makes you smile in your dream

Sweet little baby,
Your arrival makes me, a pauper
Suddenly full and sate-
Like a slice of heaven pie
Served warm on my plate!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sun is a messenger

Every morning I look out the window to see if there is a hint of pink/red in the sky; if the sun is coming out bright or is it being obscured by the winter grey. Given the low temperatures, the winter day would still be cold for me but the presence of sunlight holds a special significance to me- it’s a consolation, a sign from the universe that conveys the wellbeing of my family, thousand of miles away from me.

My retired parents live in a small town in the northern part of India where the months of December, January, and February are extremely cold, and their house, like most of the Indian houses, does not have central convection heating in all rooms. They do have a electric portable heater to provide warmth in the bedroom, but since the demand for electricity is more than the supply in winter, there are frequent power cuts and they just have to hide under blankets to keep warm.

The only source of light and heat my parents and others can rely on is the Godsend sun. Every night as fog starts to descend to the roof of their house, my mother has just one earnest prayer-God, please let there be sun tomorrow. Sun is the center around which their day revolves. It is the fuel feeding the engine of their daily routine.

Soon as the sun is out, their life gets a kick start- my mother would pull out chairs for herself and my father and visiting neighbors to sit in the porch. My parents would enjoy a hot cup of tea together, their hearts filled with joy and gratitude. Slowly, as the warmth sets in, my father would take off his woolen hat and thick sweater and socks and stretch his limbs out in the sun, letting them breathe and soak the sun.

The neighborhood instantly comes alive with first rays of the sun and people start getting out of their abodes and walking on the street, meeting and greeting each other. One elderly gentleman would come and sit with my father and they would talk for hours about how many days till they visit the bank for their monthly pension or about politics and places- the same topics being discussed endless times. This social connection, this small talk, for the retired men is possible only if the sun is out.

My mother would arrange her chores, sequencing and multitasking multiple things around the hours of sunlight. First of all she would keep her jars of vegetable pickles that she is preparing out in the sun, otherwise they grow fungus and get spoiled. She would the pull out her sewing machine and start repairing clothes/pillow covers or she would lovingly start sewing an outfit for one of her grandkids.

After sometime, she would start lunch preparations- shelling the green peas or chopping the spinach on her small table, out in the sun. And she would soak the legumes in water and keep it in the sunlight so that they can be cooked in half the time. She would then run the laundry enthusiastically because the clothes would dry the same day by sunset, unlike days without sun when it takes 2-3 days for clothes to dry.

Soon enough, street vendors start flocking the street, one by one, shouting out loud to sell their goods, which could range from onions/potatoes to baked goods and from dishtowels to blankets .My mother and another neighbor would stop a vendor and examine the merchandise critically and bargain vigorously until the man gives up and leaves without agreement, only to return back to sell at the ladies’ price.

These humdrum activities and hustle bustle continues in their lives until late afternoon when the sunrays begin to recede and everyone seeks recluse inside their homes.

Although with the oceans and deserts and mountains and time zones stretching between my parents, and me, still when I see the sun, this visual of their daily life under the sun comes crystal clear to me and I am content and thankful that they are safe and happy.

Days that I don’t see the sun, it casts a pall of gloom -my day goes on but this distant worry gnaws my insides that my parents’ life is at a hard stop that day and they are sitting huddled close to the heater, silently praying for the appearance of the golden sunlight the next day.

I feel that the sun is the universal messenger from God, communicating the wellbeing of my loved ones to me; uniting me with them, and making me believe that life is good.

I believe in the warmth and light of the sun and how it holds life together for all of us.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The sweater

Soothing like the sun's first rays
Smelling of the land beyond the bays

Enveloping within it your sure touch
It keeps me warm till the next ferry
Even if the winds decide to tarry

Pink and genuine like a rosy finch's feather
An armor against the gloom and weather
Woven with the yarn of love and prayer
is the sweater knit by my mother

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Be gone 2014!

It’s December and I am extremely thankful that this year is about to be over. People around me are rattling how fast the year flew by, but I believe that this year, unlike all others, has made the presence and weight of each day imposed on me in a very unacceptable way.

The year has made sure that the worst of my imaginations came true; it snatched away smiles from those I love; it left ravines of unfathomed depth; it etched permanent grief on faces; it made sure that we are not able to say-Everything’s going to be alright because it will not be. Yes, we will still wake up and get up because the sun comes up- we will eat because our stomachs growl, we will breathe as long as we get oxygen, but the shadow of grief will never fade from our souls and will accompany us wherever we go.

The only thing that hurts more than getting hurt is seeing our loved ones hurt and knowing that we cannot alleviate their pain, by any word or action of ours. Yes, we have read that pain makes you stronger but who needs to be strong? We are and we want to be vulnerable humans and not be transformed into rocks.

I don’t strongly believe in superstition but this year has brought death and illness and doom to my family and I want to believe that the damage is done. Please let there be nothing more in store for us. Let the New Year kick start the restart and recovery process for all of us and 2014-don’t you dare extend your ugly tentacles into 2015.

Just be gone already!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Some things never lose their charm

A spontaneous hug from your child without having to ask for one.

Getting calls from your family and friends when its not your birthday.

Finding a long lost thing unexpectedly.

Knowing that you are in someone’s prayers.

Waking up on a weekend and realizing you can sleep in.

Eating Pakore with chaai on a rainy day.

Watching the bright sun high above the clouds in a flight when its grey and overcast on the ground.

Seeing an old friend pop up on facebook.

The crawling of sand from under your feet at the beach.

Watching the yellow and orange hues of sunset.

 A baby’s hand clutching your finger tight.

 Your plants growing a fresh light green leaf.

Leaning on a welcoming shoulder when watching a movie.

The house smelling of food someone else cooked when you return home from work.

Listening to Jagjit Singh's ghazals without interruption.

Having a good book waiting for you at your bedside at night.

Getting hits and comments on your blog.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tech handicap

My mom could not switch on her own TV till the time she was an empty nester- everytime she asked one of her resident birds to do it for her until they flew away. Then finally, I don’t know she mastered the process of switching the TV on, using the remote and flipping the channels. The same applied to using the new mixer/grinder. She would be so scared of pressing the buttons to grind/puree her masalas and tomatoes as if the jar would somehow explode on her.She would wait for somebody to come and do it for her, no matter how long her meals are delayed for that.I taught her a thousand times but she would still not do it.

When she got her cellphone, it was as if that small device dictated all her attention. If that commander rings, she would drop anything she was doing to attend to it.It was more like a wailing baby to her who would pass out if left crying for a second. Mom, you don’t have to do that you know, you can check who called you and call them right back. Eventually she mastered the cellphone and I suggested buying a newer model  for her and she put her foot down, referring to all the time she had invested in learning to use this one.

And today I shamefully admit of not being able to switch my TV on. It is just so complicated- cable ON,TV ON, change SOURCE etc etc that I lose my  salt-grain sized patience and yell for Ishaan to come and switch it ON.What mom, you cant even do that?But then he looks at my flaming eyes and demonstrates for the zillionth time the whole process.That  moment makes him feel so intelligent and tech-savvy and indispensable.

 As if the TV wasn’t a load of woe enough for burying me, P shows all of his little pea-sized care for me by buying smart things for me – smart car loaded with GPS,parking assistant, auto wipers  that freak me out by ghost-starting themselves at a single raindrop and everything  else I don’t use and operate; the smart phone whose intelligence bugs me so much that I might break it someday. And then Ishaan tells me every day –mom here’s a cool phone app you’ll love and I give him a stare that reaches his bone marrow and he shuts up mid-sentence. And on top of it-the ignorant me demands from P why he did not buy a car charger for my phone and he says – “Madam, your car has a plug-in for that.” 
That made me feel like an old day looking for her glasses when they are still perched up on her head.

And how can I forget the macbook he gifted to me on my birthday!!It makes me feel like going to a computer basics class where they teach copy-paste because ctrl-C, ctrl-V don’t work on it. There’s no left-click,right-click and there’s no scroll bar!!

There’s only so much I can learn and this gadget requires unlearning which is not my forte.

Also I believe that every woman does become her mother and I am in an advanced stage of metamorphosis.