Blessing come for free from a mother….

A complete year! A full one year. The last post I wrote was on 20 October, 2012 and today is 20 October, 2013! A year passed by when not much was written or say posted publically. But today is not just another day, it is a special day–special for many reasons and the topmost being the day when my second daughter was born! 

Dear Little one, the year had been significant when we spoke very little to one another. Perhaps it was because of preoccupied minds where so many things cluttered our minds that we missed the small marvels of togetherness. When I say togetherness, it is not physical proximity but mental closeness, We were thousands of miles away.I had no or little access to internet and calls were costly affairs for me but we sensed each others’ inner feelings even when they remained unspoken! Your “hmmm” would say so much to me and similarly my “achha” and “theek” would communicate so much to you. I could read and listen the unwritten and unspoken text as well as you could. This is what binds us together in a special bond.
A bond that only a mother and a daughter can understand and appreciate. I know that had I not posted this small customary note to you on your Birthday, you still would have felt the unconditional love and blessings that overflow through every pore of my being for you my child!
May God be as merciful to you as He has been to me!
Happy Birthday my Little one!

My little one is a big one now…

Happy Birthday my child!

When I look at this picture, I find that you are a big girl now but whenever I think of you, I think of you as a small girl, still vulnerable and  needing my protective hug. It is my emotional side that wants to see you as a small girl who would come to me for small favours and I would be happy playing a mother who was capable of providing you all that support. Remember the Big Banyan episode when you were angry for I being overprotective for you and thus hampering your growth? I could not understand even at that time that your wings were strong and you were capable of flying up in the sky, only the horizon was your limit. But does horizon has any limit?

I look around at the scattered papers and from somewhere I find your name written in bold prominent letters and BTW written underneath, everywhere you wrote your name. I could never understand your ardent wish to fly and spread your wings to their fullest. I was afraid, afraid that you may not get yourself hurt in the process, you may not know of the hurdles in the dark waiting to stop you.

I look at all those pictures that you display on FB, perhaps when you need to say something to me, but you want me to decipher the meaning through pictures. The same old way when you would hide little notes in your small hand in different places and you would watch when would I find them. Old habits die hard, now you do the same with the pictures, bring them out from some forgotten folder of your computer and display on FB tagging me to them!

I watch them and a surge of emotions overwhelms my entire being, how I wish to hold you close to my bosom at that time. But harsh reality strikes me when I realize that you are miles away and are a big girl now. Perhaps you may feel awkward if I hug you so close to my bosom now!

Watching this picture that you put on FB, I thought of the Diwali day when you made me prepare this saree. I remember how excited I was when both of us prepared these sarees and in the evening put these on. You made me feel like a small girl! But the picture shows you as a big girl that you are. I can see in the picture that you are so sure of yourself, your wings are strong, your eyes have dreams of soaring in the sky!

I am happy watching you soar the sky as I know, have always known, but never confessed it to myself that you are, surely, born to win! BTW, the signature line of your name which became as prominent as you are!

Love you little one and wish you a very happy Birthday!

Amen

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!

Shrikhand Mahadev Kailash Yatra

From Phanchkanda to Sapava

7: 35 a.m.——-11:45 a.m.          18 July, 2012

The tea at Phanchkanda had further energized us, And the best was that Shaunka Ram and Ram Rattan, the two godsend friends had assured us to walk along us till the place of night halt. So we had nothing to worry about. Although honestly speaking at that point we never could imagine how could the journey be possible had these two persons not been with us. We welcomes company as we three were feeling quite lonely after Phanchkanda when there was no human habitation in sight. We came across a woman who was taking her sheep for grazing and wondered at her stamina to take sheep everyday to places where we would not dare to put our foot on!

Shaunka Ram was more talkative of the duo and all that I learnt about the Yatra is from him as both of us had become best of the friends by the time we parted company. There was steep forest path sometimes going us and sometimes going down. We wanted to fill our bottles with  water but Shaunka Ram advised us to wait till Gaishav Nallah that would be the last water source till Sapava. “The water of this nallah is very good” Shaunka Ram informed us, “even scientists from Italy had checked it!” he added proudly. We drank water to our fill and filled our bottles as well and geared up for the upward ascent.

“Now there is straight ascent till Sapava” he forewarned us. “How long would it take for us to reach Sapava?” I asked him. By this time I had underestimated the distance and the ascent. “Four hours!” said he. Period.  We walked on and on. The forest was deep and thick.

The path was narrow, very narrow. If you look down, you would feel as if your head was spinning, such was the deep gorges down, full of forest growths. The trees seemed to be thousands of years old. They were thick and large. Sometimes it would be difficult to look towards their top. It seemed like a virgin forest where no one had ever come. There was silence all around, the only sound would be of five pair of feet walking upwards. The dry leaves under our feet would make a strange sound as they, too, were not accustomed of letting anyone pound them under their shoes!

A multitude of tropical plants had their own world under these trees. It was as if the big trees had sheltered small plants under them and the small plants, in turn, had sheltered still smaller shrubs, ferns and mosses under them. I was wonder-struck at the plant kingdom and the way it helped each other to grow and survive. Each plant exhibited a unique form. The plants of one type grouped together in the form of a colony. The big deodar trees were host to a number of small plants that encircled them or grew upon them and down at their feet were many small fern-like plants in their colonies, not to forget the moss beneathe them! Peaceful coexistence at its best!

I thought of the animal life where the bigger one would try to annihilate the smaller one or the worst was the human life where bigger a person was more would be his destructive power! This jungle had so many lessons to learn from but all these thoughts would be interrupted by the more important thought, “how far is Sapava?”

We were tired. Really tired. The backpack seemed to weigh a ton to me. I would sip in some drops of water and would sit at any place which was wide enough to accommodate me. I was not even afraid of tumbling down the mountainous forest. We had been walking for some two hours and still there was no sight of any place that could be called a plain land. It was the forest path–narrow, dark and steep!

Sometimes we would come across wild rose bushes with pink roses on them. These were just five petaled roses. I would put these petals in my mouth and chew them. I wanted to take a lot may pictures of this jungle but didn’t want to spend the memory card and the battery till the return journey.

We went up and up. It was an ascent at the angle of 85 degree angle. Whole of our body would slump down to balance itself on the steep chase to Spava. After about four hours we reached a place where was a leveled path. It was as level as you can call in those circumstances. There was a board mentioning the right side to be the path towards Shrikhand! I was walking ahead of the group. I was astonished to see a big black snake gliding towards Shrikhand path. Though I was not afraid of the snake but I called loudly, “snake!” Shaunka Ram came running and said to the snake, “go away!” but as the snake kept on moving ahead of us, he shooed the snake away with his stick towards the jungle. And said,”I would have killed the snake had he crossed our path!” We took it as a good omen to be guided by a snake on way to Shrikhand and moved further.

Heaving a sigh of relief at some solace we walked further as we were assured that Spava was very near. And imagine how happy we were when Shaunks Ram pointed towards a tent in the open saying, “here is Spava the Parbati Baag where we will get food!”

Suddenly we started walking fast and reached the tent. There was a wooden bench and we sat on that putting all our bags on the ground. We had seen some more human faces after more than four hours. There were some young boys waiting for the food and we were glad to learn that they, too, were going to Shrikhand. The two small boys were busy preparing rice on one stove and daal on another chullah! The aroma of daal filled our nostrils with desire for food, We started feeling very hungry.

I looked at the boy who was cooking rice. He was wearing only a shirt as his upper garment. The shirt was old and torn. I felt ashamed of taking so much care for covering myself in woolens to save myself from cold droughts at this height when this young boy, in a torn shirt, was preparing food for us, the so called pilgrims!

They don;t charge anythig for the food but there is a box wherein you may put some amount if you want to. Looking at the pressure cooker full of rice I wondered would they be able to finish it as I was not sure of anyone else coming from this route that day!

We had a full meal which was rice and daal. It was so good, felt good at that point of time and place. I thanked the people who organize such service for the pilgrims otherwise there was no way to find anything to eat on this route.

Shaunka Ram and Ram Rattan were languishingly relaxing with  beeri in their hands. We had relaxed and now were ready for further journey. They motioned us to restart our trek. We got up from the wooden bench that had given some relief to our bodies and moved up.

The scene had changed absolutely. There was no tree in sight. it seemed as if the whole picture of the jungle was erased by some invisible hand. In a sudden change, The boulders and rocks had taken place of trees and plants but there was some greenery on both the sides of big boulders!

The scene was amazingly out of the world, the world that I was familiar with!

Shrikhand Mahadev Kailash Yatra: Phancha to Phanchakanda…

Wednesday, 18 July, 2012                      6:20 a.m.

From Phancha to Phanchkanda

It was 6:20 a.m. in the morning when we reached Phancha. The road from Ganvi to Phancha was kutchha and muddy, narrow and ascending, beautiful as well as horrifying! So when we got down at Phancha we were happy that now on it would be our legs alone that would support us for rest of the journey.

I looked around and was surprised to find an English style bunglow by the roadside. I had walked past it.  But the presence of a colonial style bunglow in such a remote place had made me inquisitive. I asked  someone nearby about it and was surprised to learn that it was Forest rest house built during the Raj period. !914 was the year attributed to its construction by the person proudly informing me about it.

I wanted to capture a picture of this beautiful Rest-house but walking back seemed too much of an effort to me. I thought of taking the picture during my return journey but then decided to go back a few steps and take the picture. I am glad that I did so as we didn’t return to Phancha during our return journey.

We made some inquiries about the path to Shrikhand and a local woman  told us to walk some distance and then start upward journey. I asked her, “Have you gone to Shrikhand?” Her answer was, “Yes.” But after that she put her finger on the badge that she carried on her chest and said, “We go to Mount Abu every year as we have faith in “Om Shant”!” I was bewildered and thought strange are the ways of the world. We were traversing such travails to reach Shrikhand and these people go in search of the same peace to Mount Abu! I learnt at the start of my pilgrimage that peace is ever elusive and we have to run here and there searching for the same!

We had thought of finding some more pilgrims to meet us at Phancha but found none. There were just three of us and we didn’t know anything about the way to Shrikhand!

We started ascending upwards. The path was beautiful. It was a village path where small terraced fields and grasslands surrounded us. The Sun had cast its golden rays on the grass and the scene around us looked heavenly. I clicked some pictures and we moved on. Wherever we would come across two paths facing us, we would look around for some one to guide us but would find none! Looking downwards, I could see the village Phancha and it looked beautiful. We had come quite up as Phancha looked small from here!

We moved on and came to a small muddy house where some human life was visible. It was so relieving to find some people around. We asked for water and talked to them. It was at this point that we found two shepherds, who were to be our guarding angles later on,  sitting and enjoying a smoke-pipe. I was smitten with the charm of a mother-daughter duo who watched us curiously. Both were graceful and innocence personified! We chatted a little with them and moved on towards Phanchakanda.

Phanchkanda is barely an hours walk from Phancha but we had taken more than an hour to reach this place. By this time we had been walking quite leisurely enjoying every little thing around us. At Phanchakanda we found a small kuchha house with a tin shed attached to it. The tin shed served the purpose of a makeshift kitchen. An elderly man was in-charge of the kitchen and he offered us to have tea. It was an offer not to be declined and we sat around waiting for the tea. The tea was sugary, syrupy and very refreshing. The room in that house had rubber sheets and blankets lying in a heap and was a welcome resting place for pilgrims who reach Phanchakanda in the evening and take rest there. The house and its structure spoke of the easy access to big logs of wood as the house was made of very huge logs kept to support the walls and as flooring material as well. The forest that we had to ascend had been the source of such plentiful wood in construction work.

While we were waiting for tea, the two local men we had met earlier reached there and they, too, were offered tea. When we came to know that both of them were going to the place where we had planned to stay during the night, it was such a relief to us. Bhagat Ram Ji told us that a group of boys had also gone ahead on their way to Shrikhand. We were so happy that we were not alone on this track but there were a few others.

After taking tea we moved further and now we had local friends with us to lead us towards Shrikhand!

Shrikhand Mahadev: The Uncertainty Preceding the Yatra

Monday, 16 July, 2012                                                           Ganvi (Jeori)

From Ganvi to Phancha

The two days that I spent at Ganvi were full of hope and despair. One moment I would be full of hope that my dream to visit Shrikhand would be realized but the other moment I would be full of despair as uncertainty loomed large over my plans!

The more number of people we would talk to, the more confused we would be! When I had started, I had one thing clear in my mind that I would have to trek 37 Kms. and that the terrain would be difficult. I was prepared for the same. I had come to Ganvi as my brother-in-law was serving there and I had hoped to fit myself in any local group starting from Ganvi! Inquiries on Monday produced no results as no one from Ganvi was going. The land lady had a word of advice for me, “you should have come in a group!” And further explained, “the snow is deep and heavy this year and it might be difficult for you to walk!” She had put in very politely her disapproval for my plan to travel alone. Another point may be would have been her plain under-appreciation in the capabilities of  someone from lower region  to trek in such a rough terrain. Looking back I find that she was so right!

I was uncertain of myself by now! All my self-confidence and months of training on the ground was shattered! KS was more concerned about me when another person had a tale to share. According to him last year some three four boys decided to trek to Shrikhand from Ganvi. The group included his own son and also a friend of his son who had come from Chandigarh! On way back, the Chandigarh boy lost in the trails because of heavy fog that surrounds the mountains bring down the visibility to almost zero level. The poor Chandigarh boy could not be found by the friends though they tried as hard as they could, and they returned without him. The matter was reported to the police and the administration but even police could not locate him. Later on the boy returned on his own after 4-6 days. The local people owe it to the benevolence and  protection  of the local deity who guarded the boy throughout the ordeal! The boy was found by some local villager in the trails. “The boy walked following the Nanti rivulet as he knew that this flows by Ganvi and was able to reach some habitable place!

The story was a real incident and not a mere hearsay! It was not to scare away the pilgrims but to forewarn them of the dangers that lurked in the forests and mountains.  I was uncertain of the trails and was afraid of getting lost but was unable to find any local group going to Shrikhand. I decided to go back to Rampur and from there to Bagipul and join the pilgrims from there as I knew that Bagipul route was a busy route where one cannot be alone at any point of time! I discussed it with KS and after some ifs and buts decided for the Bagipul route.

But Shiva had different plans. My brother called me up in the evening as a routine matter. As by now I was fully prepared to go to Shrikhand and had reached the foothills of the trek, so I lent out my little secret and said to him, “Do you know where I am right now?” When he failed to guess, I blurted out my secret, “I am on my way to Shrikhand and plan to go tomorrow to Bagipul.”  When he came out of the initial shock, my brother asked me, “who else is going with you?” “I am going alone” I said, “but I would get many people on way to Shrikhand.”  I added. It was Monday evening. My brother must have felt concern for me. He said, “Wait for me. I would reach Ganvi tomorrow evening and both of us will go together!”

Honestly, I got so much of relief. I was happy that now nothing can change my plan to visit Shrikhand as I would have my brother with me. I told KS about this development and he, too, was much relieved. With Monday over, Tuesday was a day of wait for my brother but the plan to take up Bagipul route was still intact, But Shiva had another plan for me!

Tuesday, 17 July, 2012

The day was, as usual, not very happening. We planned to make the best use of the day in exploring places nearby. We went to Jeori and from there to Sarahan to pay obeisance at Bhimakali temple. While coming back from Sarahan, I could see Ganvi in the distance and felt like walking to Ganvi, it seemed so near though it was some 30 kms away. It was later that I learnt how distant goals appear so near in the mountains!

In the evening Tarun Goel called me up. He had read a post on my blog about my Shrikhand Yatra and he put me to Arun who had gone to Shrikhand both from the Jeori side and from Bagipul side. Arun’s call was the message that perhaps I needed at that time. “Ma’am let people say what they want to, but you can go!” He said to me. He wanted me to have faith in myself and not to be swayed by what others say about the trek. And after this call, I decided that now we would take the Jeori route as this was what we had decided in the beginning. I shook my head of all discouraging inputs that my little brain had been fed upon during the last two days. I let my mind ravel in the pleasant trek from the Phancha side.

But the final decision was to be taken when my brother would reach Ganvi. I had prepared rice. daal and a vegetable for the dinner. My brother, accompanied by one his friends, reached Ganvi at 11 p.m. It was quite late. We hurriedly had our dinner. Decided the Phancha route and packed our bags. It was decided that early in the morning we would start at 3 a.m. to Phancha by my my brother-in-law’s car and from there would start the journey!

With packed bags lying nearby, I went to sleep. I could not sleep despite my best efforts as all those negative thoughts came back to me and I was once again filled with doubt over my decision to trek to Shrikhand.

I was unable to decide. There was no point in debating over the pros and cons before the advent of the journey but I thought about KS and my three kids staying abroad. The thought of “what if …” would erupt its head and drive away all efforts to have a wink of sleep.

I tossed in the bed making as little noise as I could though the beds creeked every time I would as much as try to breathe heavily! I don’t know when, at last, I fell asleep. I had barely closed my eyes when there was sound of heavy rain thrashing the tin roof.  I thought of my childhood days when Amma would make us sit with book in hand when all that we wanted was to go to bed. And if perchance there would be power breakdown we would be so happy that now we can go to sleep! 🙂 I had a similar kind of euphoria when the heavy rain lashed the region!

I was relieved. The relief was such that I cuddled myself in the blanket, tightly holding it close to me and thought of not coming out of this comfort zone. A part of my mind and heart was happy that it was raining as my brother-in-law would not be able to take his car to Phancha as the kuchha road would be full of mud! And we would not go to Shrikhand tomorrow!

Surprisingly I didn’t feel regret at our plans coming tumbling sown but I was feeling relieved! I could sleep now. Sleep peacefully. But suddenly there was a knock at the door and I found my brother and his friend ready to take on the journey! I, too, had to get up, though not very willingly and I straight way went to the kitchen to prepare tea. We all waited for the rain to stop and start the journey. By this time I made some chapattis and we had one chapatti each with the leftover vegetable of the previous night, Though none of us was interested in gulping chapatti at that deadly hour but the feeling that where and when the next meal would come from, made us gulp it down.

The rain stopped. It was 5 a.m. by now and we all were ready to go. I looked at KS. I held him close to myself and could feel energy from  his body transferring to me. All the feeling of uncertainly, doubt and fear vanished from my mind. I knew that I was given an opportunity of once-in-lifetime by Shiva and I had to come true on His test!

We walked by the bank of Nanti rivulet to the car which took us to Phancha! The drive from Gabvi to Phancha took almost an hour for a distance of barely 10 Kms.

And by 6-20 a.m. we were at Phancha!

…………..to be continued.

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