Sunday, December 30, 2012

One last post-of 2012

Once a mentor, guide and philosopher friend said:' you don't always have to roll up sleeves, just do it with ease'. The other day a faqeer like sage said: let go, let loosen your fold give up all efforts  for when you are in deep waters your efforts matter not so just let go. In the former there was a worldly advice that it doesn't always call for being-ready-for-the-fight when it comes to making mind to take some decisions. The latter symbolized total surrender -sharnagati.

 A new year eve is perfect setting for such a state of mind and being.

My family  has  dubbed me an anti-social being for the reasons obvious that I show little inclination and hardly availability of any time when it comes to socialising in normal parlance though on occasions I feel my being somewhere can make a positive difference, I do not miss it either.

Social networking I started with an invite or out of curiosity but my infrequent visits, my inability to respond, my casual and not very zealous presence there and inability to share in spirit of simple sharing makes me a misfit there. I must confess they all are very generous, kind hearted, benevolent people there- the confimed friends but I find myself lacking in responding as graciously, actively, spiritedly so its better to be missed there than spoiling the broth or sprinkling negativity. My own cocoon makes me feel better than facebook which makes me face music I sometimes cannot handle nor appreciate.

What's 2013 portending? Hibernation? Turtle like getting into hiding? A quiet seclusion? An agyaatvaas?

Naaa. No rolling up of sleeves. All things are part of the game and till its on let's play let the music be on and lights too and why not !! Afterall I too may learn to sing  to the tune of my heartbeat and yesss ! may even dance to the music my Creator has bestowed upon me in abundance and while dancing I may write and create, scribble, pen, paint 'khushi' !!Eureka!!

 Happy New Year !!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The year ending and beginning

 Over the years that I have been associated with Gita Jayanti in Kurukshetra, the atmosphere around Brahmsarover during the celebration of Kurukshetra Utsav has  an electric current like force and there is no way one can help being affected by it- the cool, decorated, attractive  ambience , the noisy mela-dom, the hustle bustle, the number of cultural events taking place and varied sounds of katha on one end, Raas Leela on other, Sufi singing in late evenings-all this lends exquisite charm. It energizes, uplifts, boosts indeed.

In a way the  festivities starting from Gita jayanti through Christmas to New year put us in celebration mode, I feel albeit for some only the latter would suffice.

On the other hand,the end of the year invariably sets in motion the recollections of emotions in somewhat tranquility, the remembrances of the days and months gone by, the somewhat dis-comforting feel of yet-another-year-about-to-be-over, the feel of growing in years etc etc.

 It is almost natural to look back, go down the farthest end of memory lane and more often than not the hordes of impressions  stuck in the psyche like black and white visuals enliven  to make one sad sometimes and sometimes smile. In fact everything about the year ending seems to hasten towards the end, make us reach conclusions and  almost decisively we tend to be judgmental, make up our mind for fresh starts, new beginnings, get into mode of welcoming a much awaited dawn of new promises to keep(at least we feel we are for sure going to 'keep').

The foggy early mornings, the smog during the day and dusk, the chill caused by cold wave, the scarcity of sun shining bright add solemnity and seriousness to otherwise intensity and romance exuding environs -both inside and outside.

Thanks to the exposure facilitated by the ever increasing number of satellite channels, the spirit of celebration takes the better of drowsy numbness which the impending ending of the year seems all set to cause. We are swept off by the high tide of celebratory mode the world is in and the fears, anxieties, the self drawn conclusions on life and relationships take the back seat (- for the better, of course) and we tend to let go, sail and fly with the tide and the wind and the spirit to live life king size even the 'winter's furious rages' cannot dampen. Thank you, God , for connecting closely a fresh beginning with a fag end symbolising that this  earth is blessed,  today is beautiful and tomorrow will be better for sure.

Monday, December 10, 2012

For you it is, Munna

There are occasions when we look back and reminisce. Today (9th December) has been one such day-a very special day of the most loved, the youngest among us all – Rashmi- its her  birthday.

In age she has been three years younger to me but I have always looked up to her as my mentor, a guide, a guardian, a spiritually awakened one who has been endowed with exceptional intuitive powers and the most loving heart that has kept a 'you' on priority than 'me'.

Pitaji used to call her 'guruji' and would consider it a good omen to touch her feet before leaving for work. On a number of occasions she would bring a point home with such simplicity that would surprise and almost force all those older than her to ponder, take note of and accept per se.

Till date we can remember hordes of instances when the sense of humour that she has been gifted with made us guffaw or grin. She could ditto anyone's mannerism, style  of talking, anger or laughter with such an ease that would make us wonder at her talent. As a child she could imitate my father how he expressed anger or cleared all the clutter in his hyper mood and to our shock, Pitaji would insist on repeat of that imitation of his laughing whole heartedly!!

When she was in fourth standard, she delivered her maiden speech: bachchon ke pyare Chacha Nehru’ and won commendation at the state level. I still remember the grey pant and the white shirt she wore and how confidently she spoke and mesmerized the listeners!

There was something about her that always made me feel I lacked and felt inferior. As an infant she was sooooo beautiful-the fairest of all having inherited complexion of my mom. She was only in fifth class when she found me reading the best sellers and asked point blank: ' How would you feel if I read these novels?' Honestly, never after that I touched Gulshan Nanda's novels and other stuff like that.

Once I took a prized possession of hers-a silver ring that Pitaji's friend Robert C. Calmer had brought and thought she would never get to know. She never said anything to me but my mom told me how hurt she was. I don't think I can ever repay what I owe her.

She has been such a fine writer, orator, teacher, friend, daughter and sister. Its not known since when and why she took on herself to take care of everybody to the extent of giving a complex to others. As it does happen to most of good people most of the time, they don't get in return what they give, shower, spread as a matter of habit-nor really for the asking but as a matter of course. This alone could make anyone bitter, negative, unforgiving but I have been witness to still the better of her manifesting itself in her ever generous and always-happy-to-help attitude.

She knows when she smiles, shines we do and opposite of it, too is as true. This our un expressed, silent, involuntary dependence of ours puts a lot of onus on her but at least I have not been able to help this.

We have seen her calm and in command amidst the most devastating circumstances; we have witnessed the best of her coming out naturally, effortlessly when going has been the toughest personally. emotionally; we have seen her resilience, courage, forgiving-and-forgetting-and-going-on-giving and giving on and on. This has been especially true in case of the differently abled children that she has dedicated her life for.

We all love her and this comes only to tell her on this her special day.

Happy birthday, Munna.

Friday, December 7, 2012

It happens once in a while

Scene 1

A heated argument is taking place between friends or members of a family and someone makes a strong remark symbolic of anger, bitterness or pure assertion one is afraid of making in normal parlance  and leaves the scene in a huff banging the door behind.

Scene 2:

An exchange of messaging is taking place and one makes a point to ponder and leaves for -say a bath;

Scene 3-strictly official

The boss who is always right makes a point in the meeting and says: .....that's it.. and only 'the subordinate' knows where it pinches

Scene 4

A telephonic conversation is on and suddenly the phone is banged on one's ear (or head?) Leaving the other one speechless. Feeling foolish and hurt,  one looks at the phone, checks for network with disbelief or inability to realize this  too could happen afterall(why not?).

With half a century plus  two years (my god!!) at the back,  many  situations as such have been witnessed, lived,seen, experienced. Am amused right now but it didn't feel as pleasant, acceptable per se, gulpable and to say the least, digestible when of course, I was at the receiving end literally and symbolically.

It does denote (strictly in my opinion) that somewhere the sender, speaker, the boss, a hurt friend or kin is also aware of the impact (the hit) the remark is going to make, the discomfiture  its going to cause to the listener witness et al. On the other hand it also symbolises the taken-for-grantedness of receiver' s perception.

Its not always in case of negative remark or negativity exuding 'action' immediately thereafter -which concerns me, I feel this is also the case with a positive assertions we feel to have the similar imprint. In fact leaving the scene, closing the conversation chapter with forceful, positive assertion (the content I would leave  to your iagination) has immense potential to make one ponder, ruminate, inhale the impact (with deep breath!) and the purest of the smiles follow spontaneously.

Does it not happen or it does-with you too?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

This for you, Mridu di

She is the eldest in the family now, Mridu di. Since childhood she has been such an influence not only on me but on all the members of the family. A doting daughter, a born leader, a strict disciplinarian, a tough task mistress, a no-nonsense- approach-person, a popular teacher, a get-goer against all odds and challenges and above all a very pleasant, amiable, loving human being-in fact simplicity personified. She is one of  the best I have ever known.

As kids we were her UTs (under trainees) with motivation of being elevated to POs (probationary officers). She would teach us basic manners like giving a seat to elders, greeting, how to eat and how not to behave and behave in company, when to get up, the schedule to follow which would include rigorous physical work like wash clean the brick paved house early in the morning, physical exercise, pursuing a game, cycling, re-doing almirahs at regular intervals and above all studying hard-this being a no-compromise-element come-what-may.

We used to secretly refer to  her as 'Hitler' (not Hitler didi as that would simply dilute the impact of Hitlery regime!). When she was married to Akshay who is serving as doctor in Germany, we smiled that Hitler is going to the native roots. If any one landmark that one is to underline which brought about metamorphical change in her was this-her going to Germany. She struggled with language and environs initially but there, too she is a popular and sought after company amongst spiritually inclined friends and persons full of human kindness and rich sensitivity.

Not a single day I can recall since 1990-the year she got married when we have missed a call from her. Her time sense and intuitive power is so perfect despite her being in different time zone that we feel always surprised when its her call from Germany enquiring our safe arrival. Many a news of friends and relatives we get via Germany. Hats off to her diligent caring and personal touch she gives to everything.

She has kept alive the family tradition of writing letters inspite of the phone calls on daily basis and she writes beautiful epistles. Her daughters Mira and Shivani, too have inherited this art. Bless them. We feel small for not replying on one pretext or the other but her generosity continues to shower ignoring our shortcomings.

She was the first to get a proper washroom and regular kitchen constructed in our old house at Abohar. The family circumstances didn't allow her to pursue career in medicine which I feel, still continues to be a passion for her. I feel bad that I refused to take Science stream when she insisted but hope she would have understood and forgiven me for this disobedience as studying Chemistry, Physics  was really not my cup of tea. We notice such shine of pride in her eyes when she tells us how well Mira and Shivani are doing in their studies though she has shown absolutely no intention of forcing anything on them and that they must study whatever they choose to do.

In those days of penury I once took out a 25np coin from her purse and she could know as the money in the purse was counted. I really regretted and apologized too. Today I  owe all that I have and all that I could do academically to her because notwithstanding the monetary constraints she sent me to Panjab University to pusue MA in English with an eye on my future. Thank you, didi. But for your generous support I would not have been what I am-self reliant, independent, confident in career.

When we lost our father in 1981 she shouldered all his responsibilities with Neelam didi. After loss of our Mom last year, she seems to have taken on the task of mothering us. We can never really be alone, uncared for, bereft with her around and her presence and affectionate  touch transcends all physical distances.

Thanks Mridu di for coming all the way to attend the book release function and making me feel so special. I am grateful, indeed and I love you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Words and Silence

Words!! How much we need them!! How dear they are, how very helpful, supportive, facilitator-in fact the best communicator!

Words I love is speech and in writing, listening, talking, messaging, scribbling especially when they flow flawlessly). They weave music and cast a spell when a loved one uses them in expression of love, they mesmerize; they embalm when supportingly and lovingly an elder one uses them, they heal and rejuvenate, energize.

True, its only words and words are all we have to say, convey, share, express affection or flair, anger or disappointment, hurt or pain, grief or sorrow, relief or rage.

Its not that we need words only to say or express, we also so often need them to listen, touch, beckon, call, reach us and the absence of words offers a dicey situation when we are face to face with silence that we are forced to listen, get meaning out of, draw inference from, conclude, judge !! When silence reins, it tends to intimidate, threaten, make us edgy and restless and how we miss the words then-only the receiver knows where it pinches, pricks, makes one squirm with discomfiture-the incomprehensible, the un-expressed words speak louder at times !

Silence, they say, is golden (ek chup sou sukh!) And the deliberate use of this effective tool is expressive of so much of violence that I can bet no words ever had so much capacity to unnerve than the deliberate silence.

Silence when communicative of the calm of mind or environs as after a spell of meditation is so very soothing, needs no words at all to convey the peace that it exudes so involuntarily, spontaneously; silence amidst vast expanse of any of the natural elements can be divine, blissful, pure beauty, bringer of inexpressible and unfathomable joy in pervasive peace.

Be it 'words' or 'silence' when natural has positive impact and when deliberate, pointed, aimed has negative connotations. When -the words or silence -emanate(s) from the heart reach(es) the heart, it can touch protect or guard , make it feel special, valued, respected. Words or silence when made to appear with intention of making its impact felt, has immense potential to create, cause, spread and drown one in negativity.

Let's talk of love in words or silence for life is too short to be wasted. And as WB Yeats says: ‘we are blest by everything/ and everything we look upon is blest’, aren't we?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This for you, my daughter

Its a child who lets a mother be born and its in motherhood that a woman finds totality . And   I feel (regardless of son-fixation-syndrome so vociferously prevalent) it's a daughter that completes the portrait of a mother.

Daughter !! What a beautiful feel to be having a daughter. Bearing, giving birth to, nurturing, seeing a daughter grow, walk, run,  learn her first alphabets, her first game, washing and combing her hair, helping in her home work and making her sleep at night, watching her asleep with silent prayers for  her sound sleep so that she wakes up fresh, smiling, chirpy -all this come so natural to a mom. I salute all the moms  whose chief joy lies in finding their daughters safe, feeling secure, zealouly learning, reading, studying or taking part in activities.

I have closely seen how moms want their daughters to do and be and enjoy all that what somehow they themselves as daughters might have not; how they want to especially cook for them the varieties to enable them choose from despite little time at hands after energy sapping jobs ; how they hope for  all their dreams to come true through their daughters' grooming and growth; how with their fingers crossed they are almost always silently praying  for the well being and joy of their daughters.

And all this and all that daughters know too well, observe their moms minutely and say they may or may not but they do acknowledge sometimes with a vocal hug or tear soaked eyes or just-the-perfect-to-occasion smile. Daughters are always sensitive to what their moms do and they also feel they may never be able to do as much when they become moms but the sweet circle goes on generation after generation with little variance of love, care, affection in kind nor in degrees.

Every daughter misses her mom (and vice versa) notwithstanding the gap in communication with passage of time. There always exists a mute, uncomplaining, unconditional,unparalleled bond that neither the chinks of an era nor the worldliness of distances can ever impair.And the daughter and mom duo knows and can appreciate this because living without each other's love is not just possible .
Love you, my daughter, thanks for being there. Happy Daughters' Day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

अपना बचपन बहुत याद आया

मुश्किल सी घडी में

वक़्त की पड़ी छड़ी में

यादों की बेतार जुडती कड़ी में

नन्ही , बड़ी चोटों की झड़ी में

अक्सर मन है रुन्धाया

अपना बचपन बहुत याद आया ...

बड़े होने की यात्रा में

सुख , दुःख की घटती बढती मात्रा में

अँधेरे और रोशनी की कशमकश में

सच और झूठ की पेशोपेश में

अपनों ने यूँ है संभाला बचाया

कि अपना बचपन बहुत याद आया

इम्तहानो के दौर में

झुर्राते डराते शोर में

चुप्पी से ग्रसित भोर में

नियति पर ना चलते ज़ोर में

जब लगता है सब तानाबाना माया

ऐसे में अपना बचपन बहुत याद आया

हर शब् के बाद है सुबह , तम के बाद सहर

यही सच दुःख में भी नहीं बरपाता कहर

अज़ल की त्रास है समझे जाने की तलब

भर जातें हैं घाव अक्सर यूँ ही बेसबब

माँ की पुचकार ने जब जब सहलाया

सच ,अपना बचपन बहुत याद आया ..

रुका नहीं वक़्त अच्छा तो बुरा भी रुकेगा कैसे

तारी ही तो है दामन, सिलेगा नहीं भला कैसे

नज़र सीधी रहे उसकी तो कट ही जाता है वक़्त जैसे तैसे

बड़ों की सीख ने ऐसे जब जब समझाया

सच ,अपना बचपन बहुत याद आया ..

आओ बुन लें ख्वाब छोड़ दें ग़म को

गा लें, रक्स करें झंझोड़ दें तम को

रुक रही हो राह ए ज़िन्दगी तो चला लें मन को

तलाश लें जज़ीरे अपने, ,तराश लें फन को

जब जब उम्मीद का परचम है फहराया ..

सच , अपना बचपन बहुत याद आया

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I salute you, my teachers

Let me bow before you and touch your feet and pay my obeisance to you. Were it not for you I fail to imagine what I would have been !

Lajwanti Behanji, my first teacher in Arya Putri Pathshala, Abohar (PB)-always so humble but commanded so much of reverence. Jamuna Behanji, who taught me for four years till fifth class-so very strict, hard working, tough task mistress. I still remember the flawless flow of running hand scribbling with such speed that we had to keep our gaze fixed to read and note the lessons which we were supposed to do only on rough note books then and later to learn and write them neatly with questions in red and answers in blue pen. No ball pens were allowed and how strictly the Takhti which all the pupils had to wash and apply 'gaachni' afresh daily and write there on with 'kalam' and black ink! A mistake in writing would mean a stick hit on hand and thank God, I never was rewarded thus. Only once in fourth standard when I scored six and half marks out of twenty in science, I won the hard stick on my back with a reprimand: your sister Archana scored twenty out of twenty and you !!! It still aches there, Behanji.

I salute you, Jamuna Behanji. Remember, how I would not stop playing with boys in the day of announcement of result for fourth class you deducted half a mark from my score and though I was bracketed first, was placed on second pedestal with a harsh message: This is punishment to Sumedha for playing 'kanchas' with boys. I still remember the tearful, head bowed Sumedha who vowed never to play 'kanchas' ever again. True, I learnt the hard way my lessons of life and I still continue to do so.

But I really remember the ambience of my first pathshala where we were taught daily 'Sandhya' and weekly 'Havan Yagna'.
I salute you Shastriji, my Sanskrit teacher in Govt High School, Abohar . I still can feel reverberation of Lata, late,latah/ latam late latah. I am thinking with reverence of you Prem Madam who tuaght me my first English alphabets and patted me when I got 96 out of 100 in sixth class. The memories of big 'Tallie da ped' under which we studied for three years are still fresh in my mind.
Savitri Madam and Rajinder Madam, I bow before you. When I was late one day and was made to stand in queue where you questioned each of us the reason for being late and how you had said on seeing me cry with humiliation for being late: ‘Oh, Sumedha is very sensitive’ and I didn't even know what this word meant. Later in the evening Neelam didi told me its meaning for the first time. I salute you, Tejinder madam and remember how passionately you taught us Bulle Shah and Sheikh Farid and Amrita Pritam. My PTI madam who taught me how to play Badminton and Table Tennis in class 7th as also to play side drum and flute for the Independence day and Republic Day celebrations, the memories I carry with me till date and how often when I am part of these celebrations, the recollections of good old days when we used to wear check shirts and white salwars make my eyes moist.
Gopichand Arya Mahila College, Abohar was my world in adolescence. I am indebted to you Madam Satish Jasuja for all my love for the Romantics I inculcated when you taught us Keats and Wordsworth. Meenakshi didi, you were my Economics teacher and when you gave examples of gulab jamun for teaching us Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility that exclusive smile writ large during serious teaching is something I would always cherish. And madam Pushplata, my English teacher for one year, I owe you a sorry as I showed the audacity to correct you on: 'et tu Brute,then fall Ceasar.' Howsoever favourite this line was to me, I shouldn't have done that in class, please forgive me. And Madam Usha Kiran, you tuaght us the Constitution of India and the Political Theories, thanks.
Yes, Madhurima Madam, I can hardly ever forget the way you directed 'Samajhdar Log' and led us to trek to Pindari Glacier. I was singled out once and dissuaded from becoming the Class Representative lest someone calls it partiality. I could half understand what you meant but the hurt got me a beautiful letter from Neelam didi: 'one has to be good and great not to nurse any bitterness.' And it assuaged my pain. And remember once you snatched my autograph book to scribble: 'You are the Sun who only gives..Can givers ever be beggars?' Thanks Madam, for teaching me many a lessons I still remember.

I shall ever remain grateful to Dr. DD Jyoti who taught us Linguistics. He was embodiment of sensitivity, empathy, delicacy of handling the matter and manner in teaching. Years after leaving the Panjab University, I cherished the expressions he used to teach intonation, accent and semantics. My mentor Pushpinder Syal madam, I shall ever remain grateful to you for not only un-knotting the complexities of history of English literature but also for teaching me Reiki and meditations. Thanks, ma'am.
I salute you Pitaji and Mammi for being the best teachers I could ever have right since the day I learnt to baby babble, play, read and write.
Ah! How can I leave you, dear dear Time, you have taught me the soft way, the hard way, the tough way and the easy way the things that have made me become whatever I am-good or bad and nasty, humble or egoist and self obsessed, loving or opportunist and practical-- Time Sir alone will judge !
Wish you all Happy Teachers' Day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

आज़ादी का दिन मुबारक, माँ

तुमने तो जन्मा था मुझे
तरोताज़ा, तंदरुस्त
अपना बनने की सलाहियत से भरपूर
और पंख दिए उड़ने को आज़ाद
कि मैं करूं
मैं करूं तो सही ज़रूर 
अपने लिए
सुंदर,सलोने मुस्तकबिल का आगाज़;
पैर दिए नन्हे नन्हे पर मज़बूत
और थाम भी लिया
मेरी छोटी छोटी अँगुलियों को
कि  मैं तो बस चलूँ,
रचूं नया इतिहास;
दिया धमनियों में बहता
स्वस्थ लहू  कि लिखूं मैं
एक नया वर्क , बस करूं इक  नया वर्क शुरू;
तुमने तो दे डाले स्वप्न भी सुनहले
  कि मैं
स्वप्निल रंगों से 
अपना आज बुनूं;
तुमने तो जन्मा था मुझे-आज ही के दिन
झेल कर ओह कितनी भयंकर प्रसव पीड़ा
कि   मैं बस जन्मूं, हर हाल में जन्मूं, ज़रूर जन्मूं;
तुमने दी मुझे आँखें
देखने को चार सू
और दी ज़हानत मुझको
कि मैं आसमान का सितारा बन चमकूं, खिलूँ;
तुमने दिए मुझे हाथ सबल
कि मेहनतकश सी हो पहचान मेरी
और मैं तराशूं जीवन अपना
अपनी ही पहचान बनूँ;
तुमने दिया सर मुझको
कि  मैं इसे उठा के जीयूं;
हाँ दिया तुमने दिल मुझको..अपना ही निकाल के
कि  चाहे तम आये या ग़म आये
या हो रात अँधेरी
मैं तो बस अखंड जोत सी जलूं;
और दे दी पञ्च तत्वों से बनी
पूरी पूरी रूह मुझको
कि मैं अधर्म , बुराई और अनैतिकता की दीखती,
प्रतीत होती  जीत से न डरूं;
दिया तुमने मुझे जिगर वज्र सा 
 कि  आँधियों, तूफानों, ज़लज़लों को
तुम्हारी  ही तरह कुछ भी न समझूं
और शुभ कर्मों से  कबहूँ न टरूं ;
मेरे जन्म से ही तो हुआ जन्म तुम्हारा भी तो !!
बरस हुए जन्मे चाहे मुझे कितने ही
पर सच है कि  सोच के आज भी तुम्हे
मैं अश्कों से भरूँ;
आशीष  दे माँ, फिर से दे दे बोसा मुझको
न झुकूं, न डरूं, न रुकूं, 
मैं तो बस्स चलूँ, चलूँ..
चलती रहूँ ...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

5th July

Almost three decades have lapsed since I met him when he was four years old (perhaps) and how he preferred to have a bath and not just change dress to welcome his mamma's friend. Yes, I was impressed to see the little handsome in spotless white kurta payjama. There was something about him that made me hesitant to ask him: how old are you? In which class you study? Which school? There was something in him that also made me shy to hug him as if he wouldn't welcome this.

And then started a sharing of different kind between two persons with age gap of over two decades- his mom dearest was my friend dearest; he loved to listen to stories and I loved that doing so with him; he wouldn't talk much and nor did I but playing with Bonzo didn't need use of very many words and it was such pure fun! I vividly remember how he giggled on seeing the 'muskaan' on donkey's face in Tinkle (he still treasures) and how  'The Lost Smile' story has been a sort of bond between us. How I would tell him that he was LDS (looking damn smart)-a compliment he didn't forget to remind me of when he was standing as a newly wed groom with his mate welcoming the guests on entrance of Mid Town (aunty, tusin mainoo ajj LDS nahi kahya!). My heart went out to him and I hugged him with my eyes moist.
Just didn't really realise when he grew up. He cared to come to meet me once and in exclusive chilling moments, he became emotional and said: 'aunty,bas tusin udas na hoya karo..m always there.' And I vividly recall how he cared to gift me a suit from his first salary as a commissioned officer in Army.

I am yet to see a boy more meticulous and fastidious. Not a speck of dust in his apartment on any of the aesthetically beautiful furniture, not a thing lying disorganized in kitchen, fridge or a cupboard. How he manages with his workaholism , I wonder.

We share a few words only on mine or his birthday and we meet lesser often but he is a precious and lovely child and my prayers go for him especially today being his special day. Happy birthday, Gugu.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Sufi Music

I was seventeen when a black and white tv was added to our home in Abohar. Those were the days of Wimbeldon  watching with our revered father who himself was a great Tennis player. But Doordarshan would hardly oblige despite shaking of 20ft high antenna to varied directions.

It was Lahore TV which we were generally glued to watching Tariq Aziz anchored Neelam Ghar in which for the first time I chanced to listen to Ibne Insha's 'inshaaji utho, ab  kooch karo/is shahar  mein jee  ko lagana  kya' and it was heart rending to see one of the participant bursting out crying loudly!  Sometime later in the night I would watch Abida Parveen and though what she sang made little sense to me but I fondly recall her singing: 'ik Allah kolon main dardi/ik moula kolon main dardi..aha aha.'.or when she sang Amir Khusrou's : 'Khusrou's nizam ke bal bal bal bal jaeeye...and there was something about it which mesmerised me. Abida's body language made me shiver to feel as to how could one sing so passionately!  I didn't know the term sufi music then nor understood what it meant but with repeated Allah Allah I could make out it was addressed to God. And it sounded quite interesting to feel the singer addressing Allah as a friend, complaining to Him, confessing intense feelings for Him!

 In 1990s I listened and listened so much of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Warsi Brothers, Abida Parveen's penchant for the Sufi that the ghazals I had always loved so much took the back seat. Nusrat's 'Allah hoo Allah hoo Allah hoo' and 'Saanson  ki  mala mein Simroon main unka naam'  I could listen to umpteen times! 

But the real power of Sufi music was revealed to me when I was seas away from the homeland to the distant UK. Just before leaving I had had an opportunity of listening to Abida Live in Humayun's tomb ate time of release of Muzzaffar Ali composed Raqs -e -Bismil. And another compilation was gifted to me by my younger sister Rashmi Hussain's Abida just before I was to leave . Both the CDs I don't remember ever having to rewind or forward. 

I realised how cathartic listening to music could be, how intensely moving, how elating, how very profoundly relaxing! From 'ishq mein tere koh-e-gham/sar pe liya jo ho so ho/ jaam-e-fana-e bekhudi, ab to peeya jo ho so ho' to 'Zahid ne mera haasil-e-iman nahi dekh a /rukh par teri zulfon ko pareeshan nahi dekha' and the ultimate of Shah Hussain's :'mera sohna sajan ghar aaya ee/tuseen ral mil deyo mubarkan'. I have never danced nor ever learned to do so but I do feel the Sufi music has the power to make you sing, cry and dance-all in one go!

 Blessed are those who have the power, the talent to sing soulfully; blessed geniuses are the composers of music who lend rhythm to the sounds of the soul of the Sufis like Bulle Shah, Farid, Shah Husaain, Ibne Insha, Amir Khusrou. My knowledge is limited nor I have read much except what was taught when we were in school by our Panjabi teacher Ms Tejinder Kaur when she would get lost reciting Bulle Shah or Amrita's sequel to Heer Waris Shah 'ajj aakhan Waris Shah noo....'

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This for you - David and Jag, my teachers

It was hot and sultry day when I visited Geeta in Panipat covering distance of over fifty miles as she had something important to tell me. She was on a short trip to India from the UK where she was pursuing MA in Community Education and she suggested I too do the same. Had never even dreamt of going abroad for studies but to be honest, I was seized of the idea. 

A brochure followed, an email to David Batchelor fetched quick response , a telephonic  interview was scheduled soon thereafter. It was such a comprehensive interview cum interaction on various subjects, my job here in India, my interests and initially I was so conscious whether or not I would be able to understand and respond to an English accent but I was made to feel so valued and respected and at home. I was asked what single limitation I saw in coming to the UK for studies, I mumbled : my mom's permission. My admission tutor felt touched and he asked me to pay his regards to her and tell her the admission had been granted.

To my surprise, my mom never objected though she did mention her concerns relating to my health and how I should not be careless about it and keep them anxious. All said and done, it was the hardest moment when I touched her feet on airport at almost midnight and with lump in throat I went inside for getting the boarding pass. It was my maiden visit to the IGI Airport ! It was horrifying to realise how I had stuffed my bags which couldn't even be opened incase I had to send some redundant things back to save extra baggage costs!

The very first day I met David in a meeting arranged by the University for  all the international students at Scraptoft Campus. I mentally touched his feet, really shook hands and it was clarified that I was supposed to address even teachers by their first name and not by the epithet 'Sir' !  I was addressed as sumeeda by David and Jag and it sounded quite nice. It felt a bit odd to be seeing David bring a tray containing cups of tea for all the international students-something my 'bhartiyta' to accept but everyone around was perfectly in sync with this . The same day a visit to Shakespeare's birthplace Stratford -Upon -Avon was planned for us by David and I felt wow! it was a dream going to be true!

David would always look straight in your eyes and listen so intently that one could only be honest. It was his initiative to admit international students to this course and he seemed to understand all the personal, social, emotional issues related to their adaptability to the environs of the UK. I learnt from him how even lending a patient ear can heal though the real issues of day to day life might remain unresolved. 

David had an uncanny sense of making you feel respected and valued and specially cared for and I wonder how many of us can make the other person feel thus ! On Christmas he invited all the international students. First, we sang carols in the church in his village and after that it was treat to see him warming the wine himself to serve personally ! At the end of the course too, he invited four of us at his place and we enjoyed his and Caroline, his wife's hospitality. 

All the memories of my stay in the UK have got refreshed with Jag's recent visit to this part of the country. Talking of David,who has since retired from DeMontfort University,Jag said David is larger than life and I could only endorse to his opinion.A  teacher like David Batchelor is an institution in himself.

Some special gestures-the unexpected ones touch us so deeply ! During Jag's recent visit, he connected me to David and it was such a pleasant surprise, my God ! I was shaking with joy and talking to him almost choked me but he was as usual his spirited, caring self  asking about everyone in family and that he was happy to know how I was doing in place of work and that he was proud of me! Thanks Jag, for this special unexpected gesture.

Jag also came to see me in my office before leaving and he sounded so solemn and deeply touched having been to the Saarthak school for the disabled. He said he felt humbled and grateful. He also said that the pain of loss of mom reflected on my face and that I must look within and would get the strength there. And that he was so happy to see my work and suggested I must document it. He asked me a pertinent question as to how I saw myself in five years from hence and how I fumbled with words to explain what I really meant. Am sure he gathered I had no clear reply but he gave me a point to pause and ponder.

During the interaction Jag asked me whether I would like to visit the UK again to work, I instantly replied in the negative and soon became conscious too that I might have sounded rude! He became quiet for a moment and suggested that I must try to look beyond the previous span and all the allied travails or traumas and it made real good sense to me.

On looking back I realise if I weigh the struggle part of those two years and the achievement in terms of meeting outstanding teachers like David, the  latter would definitely weigh heavier. This realisation has spontaneously healed me. Thanks, Jag.

This is what nice people like the teachers I have had do. They enrich the lives, touch them somewhere deep down inside, cause ripples and give us sense of their being there symbolically with us even if literally thousand miles away and they heal and give us the reason to go on, fly, sail and follow the direction of our dreams unabated, untiringly, relentlessly and to say the least with positivity and enthusiasm and the spirit of never -say -die.

 Thanks David and Jag, I am blessed to have been your student.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The two years in the UK

A decade has lapsed ! The other day when my teacher Jag Chouhan, Sr Professor, Youth and Community Studies, DeMontfort University, Leicester visited Kurukshetra did I realise that it has been ten years since I had left for the postgrad course in UK.  

The two years that I remained away from the din and humdrum of my job here were significant in so many ways: it was my maiden visit abroad; an effort to study again after exactly two decades of MA in English at Panjab University; for the first time I was going to be away from home, my mom and family; it was going to be a self sponsored study; I didn't really know much about the friends I was going to stay with; had no idea how the course was going to help me further my commitment for the work I was doing as a civil servant.

I vividly remember when I came out of the British Embassy with a two year visa in my hand, it was only then it registered on my mind that I was really leaving! With only a fortnight left, so many things had to be managed-permission to leave and study leave, shifting of house, packing, shopping etc. etc.

And there I was ! Landed at Birmingham airport and lo! on maiden ascend on the elevator I slipped from the top stair and fell down, the elevator stopped and the staff rushed to see if I was hurt. I escaped unhurt but the trauma of the fall kept me shivering for quite some time. And how awkward I felt to tell My friend's husband Ajay who had come to pick me and take me to Leicester !

Two years is a long time ! It was the time of learning -academically brilliantly, emotionally the hard way, financially the toughest way. I had gone there with an earnest desire to study their systems, their way of doing things and how common man was affected by their laws, bureaucracy, institutions. And I also wanted to see the world, visit places in the UK and other European countries.

Suddenly I had the whole lot of time at my disposal-time to address the issues I had carried along, time to pause and ponder and sort things out, time that had always eluded me with my own spirit of workaholism, time to brood, time to write that I had always yearned for, time in short for everything. But suddenly the question which had never hitherto bothered me ever since I had finished my studies, erupted-the question of survival in this whoopingly expensive country with fees to pay and livelihood to manage.

I needed work and to my utter shock all the degrees and certificates that I was proudly carrying carried no meaning there but I needed to work for sure and so I did- in sandwich factory, care homes for the aged and the vulnerable lung people, in Refuge for the women victims of domestic violence or Homes for the disabled through agencies.

 For the first time I realised how brute and biting the winter wind could be-chiding and ruthless and piercing;how stressful it could be waiting for public transport or walking miles only to save a pound  here or there; how racism was deep rooted in the land of the British and in not just subtle but very clear ways would hit you like a slap on the face from the young and the old alike; how the colour of the skin mattered instantaneously and the content of character much later in normal parlance.

The Sufi music that I was carrying would come so oft to my rescue, to heal me, make me dance and make me cry with pain and elation and I realised the communication with the Almighty became easier, His access more frequent to answer all hordes of questions I was always carrying on the back of my mind. 'Sharnagati' emanated from there-the distant lands proverbially seven seas away.

I realised there in UK how much I loved my family and how much their love mattered for me. I missed them, missed them, missed them but would always wear a bold face while talking to them which I daily did on phone albeit after the call was over, I so often found it hard to stop the tears' deluge; I realised how the work I was doing in India even if it meant sitting under the tree in scorching heat of June to disburse the pensions or a flood relief was much dearer than a few thousand pound job in the alien land; how an almost stranger's care and concern for the well being could touch and heal the bruised heart and soul by the undeserved indifference of so called 'friends'.

I came back after two years with special distinction and recognition of my assignments and appreciation of my dissertation -richer in experience though poorer in coffers. And I do feel I came back a different Sumedha from what then I was when I left for the alien land. The footprints inscribed on the sands of span of two precious years of my life would always bear an indelible mark and after a decade having lapsed I look back upon the memories of those days with empathy and generosity, with fondness and concern-after all it was my major maiden decision in life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Dear Mira

My  Meela

It was almost midnight and we had received you and your Mamma dearie and Shanu on airport. You had in your little hands the milk bottle and suddenly you took it out and raised your tiny finger skywards and shouted: Moon! The very moment made you so very special and I can vividly recall the shine in your oh!  so beautiful, wide open eyes!
I do not know how but you looked every bit my daughter and thus you became Meri Meela because you had exquisite way of pronouncing your name with sound 'r' as 'l'. 
Somewhere we gelled well and so very often our eyes would meet with smiles spontaneously on finding some oddity somewhere and I tell you you have always seemed to me as perfect friend to confide in even about the 'experiences' and Shanu made me narrate almost daily before sleep when I happened to stay with you in your German home.
And I have always been awed by your tastes, aesthetics, choice of clothes, jewellery and above all the quickness with which you decide as if you always well nigh know what's needed by you!
You were too small but I remember once your repeated asking as to where I was going (aap kanha ja lane ho?) and I wrote a poem on it later which was included in Amaltas-my first collection of poems with a sketch of your inquisitive eyes and how special you felt-I haven't forgotten that smile,dear,till date.
Your sense of independence, responsibility and discipline towards your studies,your zealousness for reading, your clarity of thought asto what you would like to be and do in life, your choice of quotes appropriately suited to the occasion and thought, your management of things and your fastidiousness, your choice of music-my God! How I appreciate you!
Shall I tell you that we all know if Meela is angry,it can never be unjustified anger. 
We all love you so much and appreciate your prudence, maturity and sense of equanimity. How my heart went out to you when you came to India last year and the first thing you did was giving part of your pocket money for the disabled children!
We have seen you grow and can hardly believe that oh! It's your eighteenth birthday! Our Meela is a young woman today!
I still feel you tell yourself often:how dare you look so beautiful and smart !
Bless you, beta, we are proud of you and quite confident we are that some day we would be known as Mira Upneja's masies and we are quite sure you would continue to be as beautiful rather more beautiful  and mature as ever keeping intact the exquisite simplicity and spontaneity, your humane ness and of course, your love for us who all join to wish you very happy birthday.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

just like that

In good old days when I was teaching English language and literature to undergraduate students of FC College for Women, Hisar, I came across a piece of prose by Rabindra Nath Tagore: A Wrong Man in Workers' Paradise. It was an enjoyable write up and a senior colleague Mrs UK infact taught me how to teach prose when I approached her as an amateur, fledgling teacher.

It was about workers' paradise wherein no one would do a thing aiwen ee, just-like-that. Everybody was always busy doing things that had a purpose and a meaning. Literally no one had time to hark Robert Herrick's lament to 'stand and stare'. Nor the workers of that unique paradise had any concern for anything other than Wordsorthian 'getting and spending' without an inkling of laying waste their powers as they had no idea of things without purpose or meaning such as bounties of nature.

Ever since, I have wondered about this- the purpose and meaning-of all that happens, transpires, goes on in our lives affecting us sometimes to the extent of making us feel devastated, zero energy, minus positivity. So much so that the good angel in us alone keeps our head above water with :this too will pass, my child, this too will pass.

To be honest, nothing that happened in my little over half a century has ever been without a meaning nor without purpose. I recall how I used to stand near the window of my house facing the sky with my hands clasped together urging Him to let me understand, be able to draw the meaning of all that was happening when the running was rough, weather unfriendly, friends seemed distant and with my eyes closed prayed Him to give me strength to go on come-what-may.

True, the thuds of hard times have hit harder blurring the vision and wisdom incapacitating to take the pains that befell on board, in a stride.

But something there is that paves way for resilience to cope, bear, wipe the tears and stand up and march on. Its hard every time to see something good in everything and the loss has its own ability to overwhelm, weaken, diminish but then nothing happens just-like-that. It happens because it has to happen. The will part is okay to certain degree till certain age when making things happen seems simple. The indomitable urge to make the difference remains alive and kicking; the feel of purpose and meaning lures us to put our ideas into action. But this too is truism that Time mellows us and the grand design, the natural flow of things and happenings unfold their own purpose and meaning.

Eternal vigilance alone enables us strike the balance between the choice of when to act and when its just best to sit back and accept.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to you

I do not know which birthday of yours it is that we all are celebrating but I have only known that you would always be six years older than me and me always six years less mature and this feel I have been carrying for almost three decades when we met for the first time in FC College for Women, Hisar.

You have never appreciated the idea of flowers nor gifts on your birthday so I have been wondering how to wish happy birthday to you.

Countless fans you have always had from amongst colleagues, students, friends' friends. There has been something very beautiful about you which attracts, commands respect and love and admiration. I wonder what all would share when all of them get together. I really wish we all would some day.

Your essential deep rooted sense of humanity and patriotism is what drew me, has kept me with you ever since the first missing of the beat: your warning of avoiding to 'go beyond the hedge', your epithets like 'super-hyper-sensitive', your 'gucharmuchar'(which later became your yahoo ID, right?) to explain what irritated you; your spontaneous laughter on my warming the 'kadhi' by pouring additional water, your exquisite smile on seeing all of us dancing at 'gallan goriyan de wich toye'-all these and hundreds of such impressions I cherish so fondly.

All that you have ever said, felt, expressed in joy or anger has remained imprinted on the mind available at the slightest click of memory. I am not sure whether I have ever done you any proud or have hurt and let you down more-am not sure but I confess all that you have ever said to boost me, inspire me has always been with me. And for years I have turned to you with my little joys, on receipt of appreciation or accolades as with your endorsement of the same alone could sort of make them complete -and not without.

You are very precious, K. And your cheery, spirited self can keep so many things for so many of us, your admirers in place, in equilibrium to say the least.

Thank you ,God for enabling so many of us celebrate this day being your birthday and thank you K.- for being.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Year

Almost a year it has been
of tryst with destiny

A year that completed
Decades five of my being
Have I been a doer
Or led like a puppet in the ring?

The year snatched
God's gift most precious, my Mom
And in its hard way taught
There is a life beyond..
Beyond relations distant and near
Beyond inevitable grief
And joys we-may-lose, we fear.

The year has taught me how to sing
Sing I must even when its the hardest to sing
I have seen my grey hair grow greyer
But I have learnt to sleep with grateful prayer.

Suddenly God took away all my fears
The worst came true, the rest lay there;
The year has brought me closer to me
And I feel.who else is important if not me?

The year has redeemed me, purged me of many a doubt
Blessed me all anew with faith stout..
The year has shown nothing can my trust rout
I have right on joy and my 'khushi' is inside not out...