Nani ki Kahani for my dear Aarush…..!

Dear Aarush,

Today when you start your school, today when you, for the first time in your life, go to school, your Nani sitting thousands of miles away from you, prays to Maa Saraswati to bestow her blessings to you. Today when in school your teacher would talk to you, or ask you to do certain acts, I am afraid how you would react. I am a little worried. And rightly so as I am told that the school you would be going to has French as the only language of instruction. Had it been English, I would have been less worried but French! I don’t know how would you react or worse you may keep quiet and look around bewildered with your black button like eyes. Your mind would have a lots to say but your tongue would not be able to put all your thought to words. One reason, I am told, is that you still don’t speak very clearly and the second and the most obvious is that how would be communicate in French? Your mind would be at its best tomorrow at your school whereas your speech would be withheld as you would not be able to communicate, at least in French! J

Had I been there with you, I would have caught hold of you and lovingly hold you closer in my arms, make you sit in my lap and shared a story with you. I am not near you but would still love to share with you from Hindu mythology. I am writing this story for you with a hope in heart that your Maa would read it to you.

The story is the tussle between who is stronger of the two—speech or mind? Speech that we call Vac felt proud of the fact that she is all powerful as it is she who can communicate thoughts to anyone. On the other hand Mind said that unless it thought and had ideas what the tongue would have to communicate. Both of them had lots of arguments but could not come to any conclusion. At last both of them decided to go to Prajapat that is Brahma. After listening to both of them Brahma decided that Mind was much superior to speech and said to speech, ”Mind is no doubt superior to you as you are merely an imitator and a follower of the deeds of Mind.” Speech was so dismayed at Brahma that she decided that never would she be felicitator when oblations to God Brahma would be uttered. And this is the reason that while offerings are made to Brahma, they are never voiced aloud!

So my dear Aarush, you have to strike a balance between Mind and speech. And I am sure that after some time when you learn to use French language, your thoughts ideas would be communicated through speech. But by that time, I am very sure, you would learn to watch critically the body language and the facial expressions of the people around you and this will teach you lot more that speech! You would learn to peep inside the mind of people around you which they cannot hide, even if they want to, as their body and face give all out. You would learn a great lesson of life my dear!

May goddess Saraswati be merciful to you and may my child your mind learns to think positively for the good of everyone around. May you, like the first ray of Sun that your name is, be Aarush in the real sense.

May you enlighten our lives and that of the people around you with your Mind and speech!

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Ides of March

Thursday, 15  March, 2012

The soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caesar , “Beware the Ides of March,” has forever imbued that date with a sense of foreboding, even though I  heard “ides of March”only  when I was studying for my Masters in English Literature. But since then it had always been a day to be wary of! Such is the power of superstition that we start believing in all superstitious stuff whatever country and time it may belong to!

So it was a bit of dilemma for me to enter the room in my office which I had to leave some three years ago. I entered the room with a twitter in my heart but as soon I was inside it, I felt as if the room, its bare walls, the bricks, the window  panes , in short everything was saying, Welcome back! I could feel that “the room” had missed me and all that clutter that made this room my own! The feeling of  home-coming read “room coming” swept me off my feet and I forgot about the Ides of March and the soothsayer’s warning to Caesar. Once I had made myself a little comfortable, I once again started thinking about the ides of March and the negative connotation that once-upon-a-time innocent word has come to allude to!  My emotional self would take me to the dark abyss of negativity but my rational self would get hold of me with the logic that the word “ides of March” held no significance for me till I read the play Julius Caesar and nothing had ever happened to me on Ides of March. Another part of my thought process came up with another logic to support my wavering mind. The logic, as per the new thought process,  was that had Ides of March been a formidable day then why would Akhilesh Yadav decide to take oath as Chief Minister of U.P on this very day. Since Akhilesh Yadav was beginning his long journey in Indian political scene, the Party must have taken care of selecting the most auspicious day to herald his journey in the field of politics, hence the day, ides of March, has to be a very auspicious day!

I was surprised to find how human mind works to prepare any human being with a logic to make him feel that whatever step he has taken are the best according to some logic! When I felt low, I had the negativity of Ides of March further supplement my negative thoughts but when I felt a bit positive then another logic raised its head to fill me with positivism!

But as it was still difficult to shed free of the initial burden about ides of March, my rational mind devised another logic and finally this was the one I believed in! If Ides of March was an inauspicious  day when Caesar was killed, it must have been an auspicious day for  his friends and protégé, among them Cimber, Casca, Cassius, and Marcus Junius Brutus as they were successful in stabbing Caesar to death in the Senate house on  March 15 (the Ides of March), 44 B.C..

As this was a day when a dictator was brought to justice albeit in a tragic manner and as it were his friends who played a role in bringing down the dictatorship of the man, I could feel a sign from my guarding angels about the things to come! 🙂

And I was a much relieved person after all this thought provoking contemplation!

One for sorrow two for Joy…

Old habits die hard and the habits formed during your childhood never die at all! This great truth has dawned upon me when I saw a single black bird. Instinctively I started searching for a black dog as a remedy to forestall the tiding of a bad news as sighting a single black bird always foretold bad luck. We chanted religiously the rhyme during our childhood and believed in it from the core of our heart:

Image

One for sorrow Two for joy. Three for letter, Four for boy. Five for money, Six for wealth….. I hope someone would complete the poem for me or correct it if it is wrong. Even today when my glance falls on a single, seemingly harmless, black bird my fingers automatically cross over one another and my eyes start searching either for a Red Cross sign or a black dog! 🙂 Interesting isn’t it? During our school days if and when we would sight a single black bird( in facts the birds were brown with a sprinkling of black at some parts) it would be plane disastrous for our little hearts! And the antidote was to cross your finger and wait for some good sign so that you could uncross your fingers. I would search for sign of Red Cross and would wait for ambulance vehicle to ply on the Mall road so that I could uncross my tiny fingers which would become numb of the awkward position they were in!

It would be funny to watch many of our class fellows with crossed fingers waiting for the right antidote. Another antidote to fix the problem was to see a black dog. And if by chance anyone would sight a black dog the girl would shout at the top of her voice and all of us would rush to have a sight of the much awaited relief. Oh my God what a relief it would be to my tiny thin fingers. Even now I can feel and enjoy the sense of relief that I would feel!

And when one would sight a pair of black-brown birds, it would portend joys and happiness! How we would shout with happiness when we sighted “Two for Joy” and would seek some wish fulfillment and believed sincerely that the wish would be fulfilled. How small were our wishes at that time. “I may get good marks” or “Amma may allow me to play for more time” or “the teacher may not punish me as I had not put blue ribbon in my hair”! The list was simple but long and “Two for Joy” was a panacea for all the ills!

“Three for letter” would make me wait for the postman to bring a letter, any letter for that matter. And I would look expectantly at his Khaki bag to bring out a letter for me. What kind of letters would I wait for? We had simple life and simpler demands. The chewing gum that we enjoyed would have some stickers inside it and we would go on collecting them till we would come across the lucky mast which when posted to the address of Chewing Gum supplier would get an album through post where we would stick all those stickers thus collected. Such albums would be a craze and a precious treasure along with giving us edge over others in General Knowledge! 🙂 I would wait for the lucky mast to unfold in my chewing gum so that I could get the promised album through post! Such was my small simple world and its demands and desires!

But when it came to “Four for boy”, all the girls would open their mouth with a longish howwwwwwwwwwww and put their hand on the mouth in a shyful manner though with a twinkle in eyes! “Four for boys” would be a special prerogative for the pretty girls of the  class who would get an admiring look  from some boys of the local schools! And I, the ugly and the reed thin girl, would observe all such developments very keenly! We would discuss which boy has interest in which girl and who is always nearby at the time of school closing. Which group of boys would follow, keeping a safe distance, which group of girls! It would be talk of  the class during the free periods! The black birds “Four for boy” would again get credit for this development! How I would wait to sight four black birds together but it seemed as if two or three of them would fly off whenever I would put my eyes toward them. It seemed such a loss at that point in time and today I can laugh about it heartily.

“Five for money” would not result in much return as money was not something which we would get easily during our childhood. I would wait for some guest to drop in at our home fro staying for the night and would be so happy as the guest would surely put some money, may be a rupee, in the hands of the kids as a good will gesture. I would roam and skirt around such a guest and would be within his/her reach especially when it would be time for the person to leave. I didn’t want to miss the momentous occasion for any matter.And if I was lucky to have some money the three  black birds that I must have seen sometime would get all the credit for it!

Whatever may have been the belief system that we catered to but it was much relief to sight “Two for joy” and when I saw a pair of black birds in my neighbouthood I could not stop myself from crying in relief “Two for Joy”!

Peeping at the world of my father through his words…

When I put my hands on the Agni purana, I held it with love, delicacy and affection as it was a relic of my childhood days. its paper had yellowed, the cover had given way but the inside paper was intact. i was lovingly going through its leaves when suddenly I came across some papers inside it. as I have always believed that you can come across treasure kept secretly in big old books, with abated breath, I unfolded the papers and looked at them.

I was dumbfounded when I looked at the paper as it was in my father’s handwriting. How could I ever forget long and drawling hand that he wrote in.  The paper was sanctimonious. My father has been dead for more than twenty-one years now and holding in my hands a paper in his handwriting moved me a lot. More surprise was in store for at the revelation that this paper held. It was my father’s official communication after he had joined at Head Post office Simla in March, 1947, some five months before India became free! The fact that the paper was more than 61 years old and the ink he had used to write in was equally old, the letters on the paper were bright and illuminated the way my father always had been!

I went through the paper and two things struck me at the very start–one was the impeccable style of writing that he had and the handwriting. As a teacher of English, I always look for mistakes in any write-up so unconsciously I was searching for one in my father’s official communication  as well but amazingly found none! There were no cutting, no overwriting and no mistake–grammatical or otherwise. it becomes more important when I think that his only grouse with life had been that he was not able to continue his studies. He wanted so much to complete B.A. but had the satisfaction of having completed only F.A.! But he always wanted us, his kids, to do our best in studies and did everything possible within his means to see to it.

Holding the letter in my hands I was able to peep at the world of my father through his words! The old world charm, held in Agni Purana, opened up a barrage of emotions in my heart which I promise to write shortly!

Life time of Applique Work: Needle, thread and colourful pieces of cloth

As I do all the stitching at home, I have colourful pieces of leftover cloths–small pieces that, perhaps, have no other purpose to fulfill!  I never could even dream of throwing them away as who knows when would I need one of them! So I literally stuff those pieces in bags and put in some corner of my already overstuffed cupboards. And whenever I  need a small piece of a desired colour all that I have to do is to open bags full of small pieces and search for the required piece! I just love it. The small pieces bring back memories of so many different cloths that I had stitched, the exact time and the mood that had prevailed at that time and I literally immerse myself in a world of colour and dreams! I use these small pieces to embellish plain surfaces of, otherwise, dull looking cloths!

When my Little one had come visiting us recently, we both decided to design an applique work. The bags were opened and colourful small pieces were brought out, the designs were neatly cut and the applique was put on a light coloured base material. And Lo and behold–pretty soon a very beautiful design surfaced brightening up the plain surface. The result was electrifying! The joy of watching the pretty design emerge and adding some more of small pieces to the applique was mesmerizing experience! My Littlle one with her deft fingers hemmed the applique while I was giving my expert opinion about “hows”!

I thought, while looking at the end product, how colourful life can be if we have the art of bringing back the small pieces of remnants of love back to it. The dull and drab life would become rocking only if one could learn to applique it with colourful leftovers memories that we might have put in some, difficult to find, mental block!

Couldn’t I do to my life what I was doing to a colouless plain surface? I could only if I tried! So I am on a lookout for the remnants of pleasing memories of my past that could add to my present and lend colour to it!

Amen!

 

Reality Bites: A Harsh and Plain reality Show

30 January, 2011

Sunday

Both my kids got up very late the next morning. The surprise that my son had given us was still too heavy for us to take in and  both of us would peep at his face to make sure that it was not a dream. His face was covered in the quilt but his soft and long locks of hair made his presence felt. Our home was a different place today as if its soul and heart had visited.

We were waiting for him to get up so that we could have talked to our hearts’ content but on the other hand I was really finding it difficult to answer his very genuine queries, queries about all that had happened during his absence from home. He had asked various questions during our chatting online and I had tactfully steered him away from uncomfortable questions, questions that pained us all. But now when he was home, I would have to answer all those questions.

“Do you go to the college?” he asked me when he got up.

“No, and why should I when I am no longer on the rolls of the college!” I commented in as dispassionately as I could so that he may not feel the hurt and humiliation that I was made to undergo.

“And who were the persons who played a major role in fabricating a case against you?” He insisted to know.

“leave it”, I said and immersed myself in my kitchen chores. he followed me to the kitchen and asked, “please tell me, I understand how painful it must have been for you to go through all this.” KS joined him at this point of time and said, “Show him the paper signed by those nineteen persons who your mother loved so much!” I could sense the feeling of hurt in his voice but shrugged off the suggestion of showing the paper. It was not the proper time for this.

“But why do you want to know?” I asked, exasperated of his entreaties.

“How can I still smile and greet the ones who treated you this way?” he said painfully. “Those uncles and aunties, I grew up respecting.”

“Oh! My God!” I thought. I was so much immersed in my own pain that I never thought for a second what a painful experience it must have been for my son to come after three years and to have found the changed equation among all those who used to be our loving friends and neighbours! He needed to know it all, to experience it for himself a part of the humiliation that false accusation puts one in!

The harsh and plain reality show at work at NIT and the aftereffects of the shock were there for so many persons to bear and for whole of their life! Once again I wanted to shout at the top of my voice, “Et tu, Brute?

And not only I but my son also would have joined me in saying in utter despair the reality bites if I unfolded the names of his “uncles” and “aunties” –“Et tu, Brute?

Clutters charm me and Aarush…

Aarush, my grandson is at his happiest self when he opens and explores a purse, a bag or wide range of clutter around him. He busies himself so seriously in all that interests him. He extracts things from the bags  and watches them. His little mind explores things that we find “useless’ in a very critical manner. Perhaps in his little mind, imaginative use of all that material might be taking shape the way it does in my mind.Watching his random pictures I find this as a constant factor.

I wonder where has he got this habit from! Thinking honestly, I can announce and acknowledge publically that he acquired this habit from me. In fact we have a tradition of touching the tongue of the newly born child with gold immersed in honey and write Om with that. And it is believed that the child takes after the characterstics of that person. As I did this fro Aarush so there is no surprise that he has taken after me!

I wonder what he be doing today when Packers and movers would be packing all there belongings for a journey abroad. He must be the one most excited about the trip not because he knows where he is moving to but because he would be excited by all the paraphernalia spread around him! Watching this picture when he had become a part of all that lay spread in my room, I can imagine his happiness. I can even imagine my daughter shouting hard at him for being a nuisance when she has so much to do.  The mere imagination about him makes me smile though I am sitting miles away from him and the thought that he would be still thousands of miles away from me by midnight breaks my heart!

Ever since I posted the picture of the beautiful wall painting, I have been thinking hard of the cluttered closet nearby where from all sorts of paraphernalia would fall down if one is not familiar with the over flowing nature of the closet. I have been thinking hard that why do I keep on collecting all the clutter and keep myself busy in finding things in that clutter. i have in that closet clothes of all colours and fabrics-clothes that I hardly ever put on but never would ever think of discarding even! I tried many a times to get rid of the clutter but found to my dismay that whatever I would discard, I would need the same thing a day or two after. But can the done be undone? No, it cannot be and I would be feeling sorry for getting rid of some of the so-called useless things. So everyone can well imagine that my life revolves around these things which luckily for the visitors to my home keep away from public gaze!

Perhaps it would be similar life journey for Aarush, my grandson, who would be ushering in a new life, at a new place among new people, away from us who adore him the most–his grandparents! He surely had taken after me, and this thought gives me such happiness!