Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Vibrant glimpses of a fading year

Image courtesy: Google

2014 has almost faded into a bunch of memories with just a few hours left for the New Year to begin. The coming of 2015 rekindles hopes, desires and dreams in each and every one of us, but at this juncture my heart is full of gratitude for the year gone by. The year may have faded from present to past, but its glimpses remain vibrant, painted in beautiful hues by the various emotions I have experienced, people I have met and activities I have engaged in.

Being a high school science teacher, I was fortunate to be able to interact with an amazingly talented bunch of creative teenagers. Sometimes they did make me pull my hair wondering if teaching was my forte, but at other times they made me proud and taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget. By April 2014, a satisfying academic year drew to a close. I bade a final goodbye to all my colleagues during our trip to Nandi Hills.

One of the sweetest memories I have of 2014 is our first wedding anniversary. We felt it came too soon! It feels great to be married to the person who was first my colleague and then a great friend. It was a proud moment for all of us in the family, when he was awarded a doctorate. We celebrated by holidaying for 2 months! We spent a month in Doha with our brother and family. The summer heat didn't scorch our spirits at all as we had a fun time cooking, sightseeing, shopping and playing together. The icing on the cake was our nephew Manomay and his antics.

The second month of our holiday was spent in hot and sweaty Kolkata with my in-laws. Again, the heat and sweat were ignored while exploring the city’s museums and markets. We treated ourselves to the finger licking chaats, delicious mangoes, kulfies and many other delicacies. A trip to my home in Kochi proved relaxing and nostalgic. I devoured the simple meals prepared by Amma and spent time with my cousins and my darling nephew Aarav.

I revisited my long forgotten hobbies – gardening, reading, writing and painting. I started an organic terrace garden and though it is very small I’m quite proud of it. I got back to reading regularly and am stocking up some books in the hope of having a nice library one day. The itch to express my feelings and thoughts had me starting this blog with 30 plus posts in a span of four months. I am so glad I started writing as I now know how much I love it. Motivation came in the form of my article in Women’sWeb and another in The New Indian Express apart from the encouragement from well wishers and fellow bloggers.

End-of-the-year-family-time in Kolkata was fun, catching up with family and relatives and now it is New Year’s Eve being spent with my beloved husband in Bangalore. A quiet celebration so like us, away from the partying crowd. I am happy that I got to spend a lot of time this year with people who really matter to me. As a couple too, we went on short trips, picnics, cycling trips and nature walks. We did many things together with gardening, cooking and playing scrabble topping the list.

A memorable year indeed- loads of family time, discovery of hidden talents, plenty of time amidst nature and quite a bit of travelling.  Good bye 2014. This adieu is forever, but THANK YOU for all the evergreen memories.                 

Wish you all a very Happy New Year 2015!!

Monday, 29 December 2014

In the lap of nature

Taken on one of our trips
Being amidst nature in my opinion, is the most soothing, refreshing and energising experiences one can have, second only to the warmth of a mother’s lap. Born and brought up in a place where we were engulfed by swaying coconut palms, ponds studded with wild scented lilies in the purple-green background of  water hyacinths and vast open fields blanketed by wild grass and touch-me- not that would fill up during rains, creating a playground for frogs, crickets and snakes, this lap of nature rightfully belonged to me too. I would spend hours playing in the grass, feeding cows, petting them, collecting seeds, stones and just about anything that fancied me. It was the green patch in front of our house that I ran to when I did something mischievous and my irritated mother chased me.

Image courtesy:Google
Every inch of our modest garden nurtured something green- no, not manicured lawns and the yellow -green Duranta hedges (they are too business-like and formal), but wild flowers, climbers, hibiscus, jasmine a few vegetables and other plants that we mercilessly dismiss as “weeds”. My uncle and I would collect lotuses and lilies and arrange them in a jug of water to be able to adore their beauty even indoors, just as people would now click photographs and set it as their desktop backgrounds and screen savers. Study time always meant going to the balcony or terrace (unless it was too sunny or heavily pouring) with a steaming cup of tea and snacks and reading at leisure till twilight, when most of the light was gradually gobbled up by the approaching night.

Image courtesy: Google
The gentle breeze laden with freshness, the endlessly falling dry leaves, the whispering leaves, the bright green blades of grass studded with dew drops that shone with a brilliance comparable to diamonds, the golden sunshine illuminating all the minuscule particles in its path into a glittering dance, the humming bees, the flapping birds calling out to one another, the butterflies and dragonflies in their graceful dance; they all seemed to be claiming their share of nature, their mother’s lap to be a part of her. There is no end to these memories just like the infinite horizon.

Image courtesy: Google

Things are a lot different now with apartments, homes and building complexes dotting the view from my terrace and balcony. Fewer trees and gardens, courtyards sealed with concrete, rarity of birds and bees have become so common that we are all easily getting used to it. This makes a park or a small green patch all the more precious. During free time, I just rush to the nearby park, sit on one of the benches and absorb all the beauty I see around hoping to fully charge my batteries. I read books, dream and even write some of my blog posts sitting there. I am determined to spend a lot of time in the diminishing pieces of nature’s lap before it is too late. So dear whoever you are, grab every chance to sleep and play on her lap and even better, make one for yourself.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Red Apples

Image courtesy: Google

"Apples are red" the teacher said.
Green, yellow too said my head.
"Green apples, tangy and sweet,
bright red ones just like meat,
white inside that time turned brown."
I was wrong said the teacher's frown.

Then she drew an apple with a leaf
And I painted it red with some grief.
"Very good, so bright and neat"
she smiled as she came near my seat.
My friends too did the same
to escape her frown and blame.

Soon I was lost in the red tide around
with just dreams of a place where colours abound.

Image courtesy: Google

Friday, 19 December 2014


Image courtesy: Google

The echoing silence told me
that I was now alone,
his empty chair offered me
its lap where I could moan.
Friends wept, family too,
before they parted.
And without much ado,
I waved and nodded.

But his face lingered,
framed, on the wall,
his voice I heard
as I waited for his call.
His scent so familiar
still hung in the air,
making me shed a tear
at our incomplete pair.

Love birds and butterflies
resumed their part;
mesmerising with their lies
many a young heart.
The aftertaste of lost love
they kept a dark secret,
so surely tomorrow
love, all will tread.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The witch in white

Image courtesy: Google

I am the witch in white
considered an inauspicious sight,
my vibrant being bleached till light,
my hopes and desires knotted tight.

I am the witch in white
widowed by a feudal fight,
spending a day so bright
like it were a moonless night.

I am the witch in white;
to freedom I have no right,
but I dream of a charming knight,
much to my heart’s delight.

I am the one you call the witch in white,
determined to use her might
to break free from this plight
and to soar the sky like a kite.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Share a Tiffin

Image courtesy: Google

With just a day left for the Blog to Feed a Child campaign to end, I thought of writing one more post to do my tiny bit in eliminating classroom hunger. The number of young stomachs that go hungry in India is huge and classroom hunger is one of the reasons behind students dropping out of schools. Want of money for meals drives children away from school, to work as labourers, mechanics, cleaners and cooks.

If the RTE and all other campaigns towards ensuring better and equal opportunities in education for all children of India are to bear fruit, elimination of classroom hunger is a must. The government already has a mid-day meal programme running and several NGOs notably the Akshaya Patra foundation are doing a great job in this regard. But the number of mouths to be fed far exceeds the output of these community kitchens and there have been serious flaws in the execution of the mid-day meal programme of the government.

So it is time to share responsibility with the government and do our bit as voluntary groups, corporates, NGOs social workers or just as a citizen who cares. Here is a suggestion for what we can do as individuals at a more personal level than donating for the cause.

Sharing Your Tiffin
The basic idea is to encourage children to volunteer to carry extra tiffin box to share with a needy class/school mate. Share a tiffin programme can be of use especially in private schools which enrol students from underprivileged backgrounds through the RTE act. Very often being a minority in private schools, these children face ridicule and isolation by teachers and students that makes them drop out. Added to this the problems of poverty and hunger makes them flee from the intellectual demands of academics. Due to the small number of such children in these schools, there is hardly any NGO that supplies them food.

Nutritional and social inclusion of children can be made possible if sharing a tiffin box is encouraged. It involves other children of the school (along with their parents) volunteering to take up responsibility of sharing a meal (nutritional food) with one class mate from a less privileged background for a certain period of time. Given the diversity of eating habits, number of kids admitted through RTE and their needs, the programme can be implemented differently in different contexts. The whole idea is to bring together kids, socially and emotionally over a tiffin box.

    I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Bin It

Image courtesy: Google
2014 is slowly fading into the past as a collage of memories and we eagerly await a new beginning, a new journey through 2015. The twilight between the years is a good time to reflect about the past experiences that have shaped us into what we are at this moment, and to weave dreams of a bright future. So here is a list of 10 things I wish to dump and start afresh the next year. I don’t want to call them resolutions and make too many guilt trips in 2015; let’s say these are some things I want to stop doing and I’ll try hard not to do them, to the best of my ability.

1. Worrying unnecessarily (to be thrown out of the window)
We often forget that the past has slipped away, the future is yet to come and that the present is all that we have in our hands. Living in the present and not worrying over things that happened in the past and not mulling over an uncertain future is something I want to try and practice faithfully. I have the habit of worrying unnecessarily sometimes, even about things that are beyond my control. So next time I am faced with a distressing situation or thought, I hope to find my way through it in a calm manner. And worrying about what others will think, that’s another story in itself. I don’t want to care about it.

2. (Locking the doors to) excessive gadget and social media usage
Though I am not one of those gadget freaks, I still feel I need to keep a watch over the time I spend with my phone. I hope to reduce logging into social media sites to just once a day and not use my phone unless I have a pressing reason to do so. I wish to remind myself that my really smart phone has the potential to make me stupid and that I have a life outside the sphere of “likes” and “comments”. I don’t need to advertise whatever I think and feel (meh, happy, blessed, irritated and a million more), all the restaurants I dine at, the gifts that my husband gives me and other things that very few people actually care about. I hope to refrain from posting status updates unless I have something strong and meaningful to say.  Number of photos that I send floating into cyberspace to go down but not to zero. 

3. Compromises on health and well being (to be swatted away)
In the beginning of 2014 my husband and I had resolved to make better lifestyle choices for better health. I feel I have done justice to it by cutting down greatly on junk food. Of course, I’m human (a foodie too) and have made compromises and treated myself to pizzas and pastries. The coming year I hope to continue the efforts and take it a little further by consuming fresh wholesome meals, exercising and meditating on a daily basis. I should also make my lifestyle more eco-friendly for the benefit of my family and others inhabiting this planet.

4. Being judgmental (to be flushed out of my system)
We are all different- we differ in appearances, feelings, values, thoughts, desires and many other things. I hope to be more inclusive of the variety around me and not judge other people based on the clothes they wear or choices they make based on skewed perceptions and the limited view from the window of my mind. I want to be able to put myself in others’ shoes, at least give it a shot before taking the easier route of judging the other person.

5. Lack of confidence in my writing (to be trampled under my feet)
I love writing and that alone is a strong enough reason for me to write. I should stop inhibiting myself by needless comparisons and fear of criticism. I need to work hard in improving my writing and keep blogging regularly whether people are reading me or not. My blog is a part of my creative space and I intend to make the best of it.

6. Impulsive buying and accumulation of things (to be swept under the carpet)
Though I am not a shopaholic and am a “limited needs”  person, I still realize that there is room for improvement when I see unused stuff  occupying space in the kitchen, wardrobe etc. I am going to ask myself if I really need something before fishing out my wallet. I wish to use my creativity to the fullest and try to come up with new uses for old stuff. If unsuccessful, I will give them to someone who really needs them. An exception however is in the case of books. That’s just not possible!

7. Wastage of food, water (to be condemned)
Need of the hour, this one can’t be put off till Jan 1 2015. It’s a basic necessity that sustains life, and unfortunately millions out there still struggle for a glass of clean water to drink and a plate of nutritious food to eat. And apart from food and water, there are many other things we mindlessly throw as waste. I need to raid the dustbin to see what I can reuse and recycle. It is time to lock away the tragic memories of my unsuccessful wet waste composting attempts and start with renewed hope and wisdom from mistakes of the past.

8. Shouting in anger (to be silenced)
I’m sure there are peaceful ways of expressing displeasure and anger than shouting till the other person becomes deaf to your calls. Sometimes I immediately regret the things I mouth in fury as I don’t think I ever mean them. I should learn better ways of letting others know of my disapproval. I’m considering a crash course in anger management where I am the teacher and student. Leaving the place and talking about it later is something I wish to try the next time I sense my nostrils flaring and fuming.

9. Taking people, relations and things for granted (to be given a cold shoulder)
I can’t let excuses like “being busy” sever my relations with favourite people. I hope to overcome the inertia to make that call to a loved one to show that I really care. The clock is ticking; we are not yet capable of stopping death. I realize relationships need constant nurturing with love, care and understanding and that a little weeding of misunderstandings and ill feelings that may have sprouted will be great. Apart from people I often tend to take all the things I have, freedom and safety that I enjoy for granted. I want to dump that.

10. Procrastination (to go down the drain)
Though I enthusiastically do all the stuff I am very interested in, I tend to become lazy when it comes to stuff that doesn't interest me, but which have to be done. These include simple things like going to the bank and closing a sleepy account, cleaning up after a frenzy of cooking, cleaning my cupboard and similar stuff that I feel are “too clerical” and “boring” at times. I hope I do these things without my husband and parents having to play the role of an alarm clock (repeated alarms make it all the more boring). I should update my CV after I write this post. Boring as hell but my career is at stake!

The next time you catch me doing something I promised to dump, you can sure question me. But please try not to be the alarm!

This post was written for IndiSpire for the topic:

Friday, 5 December 2014

Real love

Image courtesy: Google

The soft click of the door was music to my ears. Music that liberated, music that ignited hopes and desires, music that prophesied the much awaited shuffle of feet along the cobbled garden path. It was such a great relief to have him by my side every day, soon after my husband left for work juggling his bag, a huge file that was too big for his bag, his coat, spare house keys, mobile phone, and a sandwich half wrapped with foil that he ate in the car. His presence was infinitely comforting like the warm sun rays that caressed me in the cold December mornings, the warmth having survived the double barriers of the painted glass window and silky soft curtains.

He came every day without fail. No cards, bunches of roses, perfumes, jewellery or tickets to a surprise luxurious holiday in one of those boringly similar resorts that my husband treated me to. No formal dinners or romantic dates or packed movie halls with buckets of popcorn. No passionate nights that people thought to be the cherry on top of the cupcake of love. No elaborate words of love to impress me. Just his loving presence when I needed him, plain love without the fake frills. I am glad it is this way with us because sometimes these frills are so breathtakingly beautiful and intoxicating that even a fleeting moment of deprivation throws us into a loveless, lonely abyss powerful enough to shield out even the brightest rays of hope.

He had no business empire to keep him busy, nor did he have a passionate inclination towards the share market. He would rather preoccupy himself with my emotional ups and downs than the rise and fall of share values. No mobile phone to distract him during awkward moments or when he was bored. He enjoyed my company and whatever it gave him- interesting conversations, talks about mundane stuff, my lack lustre marital life, problems to ponder upon, promises to be given and kept and many other things. With him I could be my very own self, the naked truth in stark contrast to the mirage I was to my husband.

This was my deep dark secret, a strange love that I sought outside wedlock. My husband would never forgive me if he knew. He could never be expected to fathom my need for such a grave infringement of forbidden territories. To him I was a mere responsibility, a wife who had to be sheltered, clothed, fed and infused with his overflowing passion that trickled through his bursting seams. In his view, he was doing a great job keeping me happy and content within the cruelly confining walls of a massive bungalow only that accentuated its emptiness.

“What more could a wife possibly wish for?” his friends would exclaim whenever they came over for dinner. And to this my husband would reply with an unnatural laughter, feigning humility. All the things he showered me with were the very same things I just did not want.

What I wanted was a companion as real as my heart full of love, as real as my hatred towards my conjugal life, as real as the fear of my bold venture out of marriage being exposed by the person fate had forcefully bound me with. But I prided myself in having made a perfect plan to keep both of them from meeting. We met only when my husband had sped away to sit at a desk in a faraway office, flirting with computers as much as he did with his secretary.

On my birthday, we lovers decided to hold hands and talk a little more than our daily quota. As we laughed till our stomachs hurt, threw pillows like lunatics and teased each other, I was oblivious to the click on the front door. Soon he was there, my husband, looming in front of us with a baffled expression that I thought was smeared with jealousy. Too horrified at being caught red handed, I now could only think of our safety, how to escape from the beast.

“Run my love; go away before he hurts you!” I screamed. I kept screaming, howling and crying out of fear of the unfamiliar events to unfold and the nagging possibility that I may never again hear the much awaited shuffling of legs at the doorway.

“I hate you! We are in love, leave us alone you bastard! “I spat at my husband who suddenly looked so concerned. To insult him further, we hugged each other for the first time, determined not to let go.  I was drained by the end of it and swayed unsteadily. I must have fainted because when I opened my eyes, I was in a hospital room. What had happened? Had he tried to kill us? Or just him? What story had he cooked up and served to all the relatives who had gathered? Did he want a divorce? My head was throbbing. Was it my cruel fate to weep all my life over lost love?

 My husband came in with a doctor. I listened to their conversation while pretending to sleep.

“She has deluded herself into thinking that she has a lover. When I went home today, earlier than usual to give her a birthday surprise, she was talking to the walls, laughing insanely. I am really worried about her. There was no one else in the room!” said my husband. Liar. He had caught us both having a nice time and now he was trying to make others believe I had a problem. I couldn't believe this was happening. Had he gone blind? Or was he losing his mind? I had to tell the truth to someone. But who would listen to me? Who would believe me? I cried at my fate, for my lost love and the desert of a life I would be forced to lead with a person who I never loved.

When the doctor left with my husband, I opened the flask to pour myself some milk. As I unscrewed the lid, a tiny face bobbing up and down peered back at me. My happiness knew no bounds. I hadn't lost my love after all. He had been hiding in the bottle, waiting for the chaos to die away.

“Come out, I've been waiting for you!” I whispered. As he came out from the flask and sat beside me, everything felt normal again. He held my hand and we talked. My love was real indeed. It was ridiculous of anyone to think that I had delusions. They would never see or acknowledge the real love of my life. 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Rightfully yours

Image courtesy: Google

Dear children of my cursed womb
I beg of you from my newly dug tomb,
to see how senseless was this fight
among tender hands that once held tight.

Those endless days of joy and laughter
veiled so well what was to come after,
that I prided in the perfectness
of the happy family I would witness.

 But age and ailment suddenly pranced
and wore me out as they advanced,
snapping the threads of brotherhood
I’d woven you with since childhood.

When you sought a fancied treasure
my grief and rue knew no measure.
This life of numbers that you lead
can never count the tear drops I still bleed.

When you surrounded me on my bed
I saw hungry vultures wanting me dead.
To the pain and grief I was ready to succumb
when I saw no love in your eyes so numb.

You abruptly had ample time at hand
to sever a precious piece of land.
With great passion you contemplated,
discussed, debated till you felt elated.

“The house for me, the shop and jewels for her.
The other one deserves not a single acre.”
The echoes of your heartless words
will haunt me even in other worlds.

I have only one thing to say
To the bits of my womb gone astray,
By claiming what you thought was rightfully yours
You have lost pure love that was truly yours.