Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The grace-all the way

Our moods swing like the Sensex points up surging or crashing. Elated, ecstatic, rapturous, overjoyed, almost euphoric moments are followed by low- downs when we squat, our energies edging on ground zero or further below. Mood on top slot sometimes turns to down-on-the-ground like a Humpty Dupmty having a great fall and we wait for the tides to turn, the hours to change from night to dawn, from darkness to sunshine. Its only sometimes we lack even the capacity to wait; we plunge, sink and watch all this as-if-happening to somebody else; refusr to accept things per se: No! How-can-I-be-thus? No way!

When Time is friendly, it beckons us to smile and in trivialities too we find contentment like Leo Tolstoy's peasant in penury with only a piece of bread he had. All small gestures of kindness and of joy, of love and relief seem to be reflection of the grace, kripa for which we express thankfulness -sometimes silently with eyes soaked or with a heave of relief with eyes closed or through chanting or dhyaan.
Time manifests its moods through the people who matter e.g. our own siblings, kin and their attitudes; our boss, colleagues or subordinates' demeanour towards us at place of work or through friends we turn to or really-do not-even-have- to and they are there to hold, listen, pat, bless and-the most important of all-accept. There are occasions when Time seems to sneer at us on one front and smiles on the other -again exuding the exquisite feel of the grace being showered upon us.

As we grow, we tend to see the grace reveal itself in comparisons- with people we come across, know or meet as public servants and how their painful, aching tales of poverty, homelessness or agonizing loneliness or disease make us sigh with relief and we find our hand involuntary reaching our heart to murmur silently : Oh! I am not least!
This piece is dedicated to all those who love me so generously, graciously, not for the asking but as a matter of course, so very unconditionally and in their love the expectations are conspicuously absent; their caring with concern is so selfless, pure and total -evident of the purest grace that has been bestowed upon me!

Thank you very much for being there as sisters, family, friends, guide and guardian of my heart: thank you so much.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Come September

Come September and there comes along feel of transition in weather, time of sunrise and sunset change and so do the size of night and day. The very aura of an early morning changes for good or better is hard to say. The sweaty, humid late August noiselessly paves way for exquisite fresh air fragrance. No hush hush but there is silence of stillness heightened by the Asvin Mas Krishan Paksha (Pitri paksh) -the days dedicated for paying obeisance to the ancestors-the dear departed.

There seems a definite connection between the seasons and the profiles we assume, wear, garb or adopt – not deliberately but naturally, as a matter of course. But at times, we become averse to sounds, noise of any kind, crowds and confront the situation to plunge into silences, yearn for a vipasana, which means to see things as they really are, in total silence without use of words written or spoken. We become prone to be quiet –devoid of feeling need for using words to bring a point home, justify, argue, counter or plain state things in conversation as we do in normal parlance. We change the profile- loud, normal, and silent on our mobile but it’s hard to change the profile we assume in transition.

The season of mists is yet to arrive but the cool days do not seem distant anymore. Perhaps it is the transitional part of September which affects environs, persons, minds causing apprehensions, uncertainties, doubts, fear, too in absence of desire for reaching after facts, reason, and rationale. The uncertainty in the air coupled with memories play their own role in making us what we become- vulnerable, intransigent and inflexible.

But even amidst distracting energies something there is that whispers inside: this, too, shall pass. There burns inside the intense desire to drink to the lees all that a sensitive mind is receptive for in relation to human beings or nature. Looking back to the seasons bygone does one no good but looking forward to the time to come is not always easy i.e. hopefulness and zest for a tomorrow is something to be carefully nurtured, treasured, saved, cherished and our desire to turn to the positive to be handled with great care and concern. After all, September is for sure followed by the festive season which means fun, frolic, shopping, dance and a lot of noise, too. The pattern of seasons has a definite purpose and meaning as all ‘seasons come and go and come to teach men gratitude.’

September is like no other
It's days change color and weather
No other month can say quite the same
For every day, I can feel the change. (Jessica Millsaps)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

hasta manana

Once upon a time writing to you would come natural, spontaneous, without having to think, a matter of course and unhesitating words would flow like monsoon rain and that was when this Chiquitita was always sure of herself. The meaning and purpose would all fall in place; the mind would not struggle much for choice of words as they were oh, so handy! Remember, the first sharing of the notes taking shape unto bigger notes and then at times nothing less than a few pages would be suffice to say to heart's content? And how an evening would wait for the night to come, be over with it and with hurried steps of morning my words would wait safe in your cupboard dropped from the letter -box-type-inlet and I would wait upon stairs for the very first fresh look of morning on your face, for the entrance slope beneath your steps would be my feast till another morn. The very feel of a Saturday was unwelcome as it would unavoidably be followed by a Sunday and sort of how-shall-I-sing-a- love- song on a holiday with that premises without your presence or an entry!

I was always right to feel you wrote so much better than I ever could-crisp, to the point, intense, utterly meaningful, saying -exactly- what -you- meant, flawless, proficient use of English language you have always reveled to write in. On the other hand my missives would be almost always fumbling with-what-exactly-I-mean, words broken, phrases and profuse use of vernacular in an endeavor to tell almost breathlessly what -I-meant-in fact!!

That time, for sure, is past and all its 'aching joys are no more/and all its dizzy raptures'. But do we always grow in years only? Don't we sometimes overstay in point of time despite space having been lost with passage of time almost like a Sarkari Babu refusing to vacate the quarter long after the transfer?

It’s not possible that you would not have known how every word, gesture, tone, look had power and muscle both to provide me comfort, inspiration or contrary to it-unsure, unsteady boat to sail in the high seas of the popularly known 'system'.After my father it was either my eldest sister or you who helped me understand meaning of a 'vision', an independent thinking, decision making and with sense of commitment for the country. I still am struggling to do -to be a good human being what I told you when you asked me point blank during your first visit to my room : what do you want to be?

I still would whenever I could -have biscuit soaked in glass full of tea: paint an almirah of hostel room myself; heat kadhi pouring in water to increase the quantum; would readily be Miss Paneerwala.

We might now too listen to Hussain Brothers' 'main hawa hoon' and 'chal mere saath hi chal' with equal fervor, go on a vespa scooter ride to university-me sitting on the back; would sit together saying nothing with numerous newspapers sprawled between us; might still on some pretext of urgency beckon you leave your work to clarify a point or sort out what -it -really meant when you uttered something beautiful but not easily comprehensible to me.

I do not see having changed much from so called good and not-good, nor -acceptable truths about me. And for years -though with lesser frequency and only to give vent when the reminiscences pushed me to the wall, I would write to you epistles big and small and never read them again nor those scribbles ever saw them be read by you.

True, we have come a long way –after all a span of twenty seven years is a long time! But all the beauteous things lived, felt together still hold as much of joy as could make all of us dance to the tune of : gallan goriyan de wich toye, aseen marge nee oye hoye..' Time stays not but who says life doesn't stop -it does- on moments of joy, elation, togetherness, love.

Writing to you is not difficult today either as I have overcome quite a bit of self consciousness that would make me struggle so much with words and expressions.

Your 'write something to me...' has put me on trail of lands I have travelled by, city that I had belonged to once-upon-a -time but I am not sad, rather happy to find myself in-command wherever I am, whatever as only that has happened which had to happen starting from a 'que sera sera..' There may not be a 'ring ring' which would cause 'ding dong ding dong', or an SOS but there sure are umpteen times a 'mama mia', 'country roads' and oh! the sweetest of all: Chiquitita!

But somewhere I must stop so let me with 'hasta manana'-till we meet again.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tomorrow will be better...

Human feelings, emotions, attitudes can assume different shapes, size, and quantum, dimension- in accordance with mood, timing, context, and situation. The feelings when positive have the capacity like tides leading to fortune, upwards, skywards-on seventh heaven and when negative to low, fathomless ,abysmal low, well of gloom, the withdrawal unto innermost, silent most recesses of mind. All in the tiny little thing called mind and mind you, how vividly we remember each and every count of who did us wrong, when, without knowing why, how dare –and all these we never forget. All dates, time of the day, year are duly involuntarily saved in our memory. Sometimes it leads to perdition - punishment that lasts forever after death as per theory of karma; sometimes it leads to self infliction of pain, punishment- all negative things so why harp on these!

On the other hand the positive is capable of doing all fine things to us which are not easily palatable to us, do-not-know-why unacceptable most of the time? It feels good to be happy, chirpy, bubbly, enthusiastic, and full of life, laughter, smiles and all the allied things which have ample power to chasten and make life look so beautiful!

Our receivers are generally more attuned to negative transmissions and we eagerly receive them, store them, horde them; we possess little inclination to forget them; our hyper susceptibility to painful impressions is inimitable-perhaps no other species has such demeanor, capacity to swallow, imbibe and absorb negativity.

And how edgy, devoid of confidence, hopeless it becomes with all fervor to be and do at stake, haplessly we see ourselves simmer, seethe, shake inside outside, speechless but temples burning with plethora of emotions seeking a desperate outlet if only to hurt and feel more hurt having said. We suffer and let others too and we honestly do not seem to mind it at all at least at that moment.

We know and do not know that when we are angry, hurt, serious, sad or solemn it’s so very lonesome and we revel in the thought: we- are- all –basically- loners. It’s a hard fact that the world shuns a long face, a morbid, serious-looking individual and welcomes when one is all smiles, exuding positivity, and zeal, seeming happy-go-lucky and full of grins or guffaws at the slightest pretexts.

They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going-very true. In the darkest of the moments there something always is to make the show go on, some hope, some flame, some signal which beckons and convinces in heart of hearts: its-going-to-be-alright; some spark would shed the engulfing dark, some music to whisper in the ears that tomorrow will be better-and this something is very valuable, precious like sunshine and smile, love and togetherness and the spirit to go on and on….

Friday, September 16, 2011

An epistle

It has been so long since I wrote to you. Hordes of things have been hovering over my mind so it has become imperative to address you.

You have always been an epitome of my life and work-your perspective as I had understood or known my touchstone to gauge the rightness or otherwise. Your commitment to the country was absolute, unquestionable, uncompromising, and thorough. Your relentless struggle for survival is engraved on my mind and how even a bit of money in pocket would lure you to buy Amul butter and fruits for your kids. Your being so rooted in idealism made you so often oblivious of hard mundane realities and needs of day to day life.

Your love for literature and English language was inimitable and I can recall how you would climb a score stairs to let your children know the meaning of a particular word from the stock of Dictionaries you had got imported in your hay days. The way you would read out articles or narrate from Great Speeches of the World is still fresh on the mind. Imperishable are the memories of how you would make us rehearse to deliver a speech in declamation or debate a topic, how very particular about tone, accent, intonation, pronunciation! And over cups of tea how you would think aloud and make us prepare a speech. We are amongst those chosen blessed children whose doting father would make it to all venues where such competitions were held and your presence was so motivating!

I wonder how many of parents are really like you unmindful of the fruit of the action-the reward or a prize- but most particular about the performance, the action. Remember when I won the city TT championship you weren’t happy because you found that my competitor played better though I had won and I could only agree with you. It was amazing to see you play Lawn Tennis in Abohar Club. I was frail little child then and you taught me how to play Table Tennis- the game I have kept my interest alive in though the degree has lessened proportionate to the degree I have gained weight-something I feel quite uncomfortable about.

Your hospitality was unmatched. Serving a sweet to all guests was bare essential-a mandatory-whether or not there were two square meals!

The thought and feel of your sensitivity still touches the heart. Small gestures of support would always be cherished by you. How you appreciated the doctor’s statement: ‘about payment neither I am in a hurry nor have any worry’-and you would proudly acknowledge this with gratitude. Never in your life you could accept any insensitive remark or observation and retaliated with anger or when you could not, you seemed to take it to heart.

We could assess your mood the moment you entered the house after visit to 'the fort'- if good then you would be telling how the little sparrows had asked as to when Bagloo Gugloo would come to meet them; if it was bad it would embark upon intensive clear the-the -clutter campaign. One thing was remarkable-the total transparency -in doing, thinking, being-no variance ever visible!

I can never forget when I saw you cry asking for forgiveness from your pride-the eldest of your seven daughters-Neelam di after a day long silence mode of both father and daughter following a skirmish during a discussion; and I can never forget how you had jumped with joy on my having got (just! even though only!) 201/400 marks in MA I and you gave me equal amount of money as shabaash from you; and how I was in delirium due to high fever/typhoid and every time I opened my eyes during that night, it was to find your hand on my forehead.

You had not been blessed with much of material wealth and comfort of life but never did we see you in spirits low-always with your Bholenath in your pocket, you always seemed to be living on a higher plain. You were not a believer but the way you recited 'jeev em sharda shatam..' we can still hear the resonance of the same while performing Havan; and how you would believe in 'Shraadh'-perhaps having lost both mother and father at an early age made you do the ritual religiously.

I have often wondered how you could after all afford to remain so positive in thinking and doing despite all the testing times and allied tribulations. Your favourite lines and how joyously you used to sing still reverberate: 'kookaburra sits in the old gum tree/ merry merry king of the bush is he/ laugh, kookaburra, laugh...making us all imagine ourselves as kookaburras !

After almost two decades since we lost you, we realized why you had to go so early-perhaps you would not have been able to bear the loss of your daughters!

Your open mindedness while interacting with us was so precious, it put such confidence in us to be responsible in equal measure. I do not remember if I could ever tell you that I loved you but I just hope you knew it and still do. Life never could be the same again after you left but we had Mom who kept our morale high, enthused us with her never-say-die spirit and never let us grieve!

Blessed are we to have had you as our father and Mom as our Mom.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Rain, when it does, brings along all the things-drizzles, pitter patter, thunder, storm sometimes, memories, nostalgia, flurry of emotions!

I can vividly recall how during monsoon the streets of our town Abohar would get flooded making true my father's asking: jal thal hoga ki nahi?

The fun with chhapak chhapak in flooded streets had such a beauty and I wonder if one ever does a repeat on becoming what the world deems 'grown up'! We certainly miss out a few things as such though there is ‘abundant recompense'. But life was simple, na├»ve like children playing in rain with paper boats reaching out to friends in other part of the street and nothing ever the growing years can get-the joy in simplicity, that dreaminess and romance, that race to be the first, that child like pain in the paper boat's drowning mid-way, that hilarity in togetherness or contemplative elation I a child’s aloofness.

And how we wait for the rain -not just the rainy season because rain can be willful, mischievous, moody often falsifying predictions. In many parts of the world they find a rainy day ‘silly’. They are also particular about carrying umbrellas in preparedness to cover them from rain. But we love to soak, bathe, feel drenched and involuntarily pay obeisance to goddess rain.

Rain sweetens mangoes and the tantalizing fragrance of 'mellow fruitfulness' of langda, dashari, desi can make one’s mouth water-its another matter that the baggage of weight we carry tends to give such a nasty, forbidding look when we haplessly are face to face with the sight of tempting mangoes !

Invariably relief has been attached with rain-be it from the sky to bring cheery smiles to anxious tillers of the land or from eyes to the pent up emotions providing opening of floodgates.

It’s only sometimes that rain cast a gloom when it showers its magnanimity untimely letting those down who toil hard and hope to reap a rich harvest and rain plays a damper. It does have the power to dampen the spirit too of a romantic heart that it takes to the nostalgic walk down a memory lane or for a ride-neither perhaps welcome nor avoidable!

But rain always fascinates. How very mesmerizing to see the droplets falling from the sky following its overcast look; how very divine the feel of rain drops falling on the eyes of a heart hungrily awaiting rain like a chatak and when it falls, the hot tears may merge with the cool feel of rain and both rains soothe a tumultuous mind with calm –for sure they do.

If rain is God’s bounty and benevolence, love is human beings’-both fill when showered and both blissful. Indeed ‘we are blest by everything /and everything we look upon is blest’(WB Yeats).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Play on...

Playing comes naturally to us not just when we are only learning as babies to babble. Constantly we are at play and all others including the master puppeteer watch while we play on.

Literally 'play' means to do things for pleasure to enjoy rather than work. Playfulness connotes zeal and zest-pre requisites to living life king size. The world we live in is often all- too- ready to connect playing with games. Even that's natural, we all do, and quite innocently, not deliberately to maximize what we deem to be achievable joy for the wholesome thing we call life. Its fascinating to watch and read and hear aficionados playing with words and the magic spell they cast! When I see young students playing games on cell phones and computers I wonder if they also realize and have tasted the joy of playing a game of TT or badminton or even a musical instrument. No gainsay the fact that the gadgets have provided exquisite means of playing plethora of games which we as kids and adolescents could not even dream of.

Play we all do. Sometimes we find ourselves playing involuntarily to the tune of Destiny; sometimes we play only to gain but our playfulness is put to the test when the running goes rough and the earth beneath our feet starts giving way, when the deluge takes over, when the heat of inferno threatens to burn us-its then that the music must go on.

Resilience is no child's play, fine but it only needs to have a child-like obstinacy to have his way. At the end of the day when sun does smile-it has to- after all how can it hide itself and for how long-the music flows and the world stands to listen, for its the finest of the notes which await each one of us who only cares to play on and on and on...