We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves

~ Gautam Buddha

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bad fashion day.

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While watching a program 'Total Recall' on the telly, the evergreen love song Baharo Phool Barsao, by the legendary Md. Rafi, took me back to the bustling revelry of my wedding day.

The elaborate and exhausting rituals had already sapped the last ounces of energy out of me. I had previously spared no excuses in trying to convince my parents to postpone my marriage on the pretext of this and that. I was one unwilling bride, but soon I'd run out of ways to dupe my honest folks. As a result of my foolish strategies, I had to 'undertake' the ceremony a few months before my exams and I was left to pull my hair out in the horror of the upcoming exams.

Busy contemplating the would-be outcomes of exams just after the wedding and the proposed honeymoon, I was in a blank and shocked state of mind, on the D Day, merely watching my married sister and cousins work on their beauty and offering random tips. All of them were enthusiastically and happily working their way for the beauty pageant that evening. My sister, unlike me, hardly ever left an opportunity to dress up and try to look her best.
After every ritual, as I came into the room, she'd show me something new and ask for my suggestions which I'd duly offer. My exasperated brother-in-law failed miserably in his attempts to reason with her and make her understand the real importance of the day. I was too preoccupied with the various rituals to bother with looking beautiful, having anyway given up on the whole concept way back. But my sister wasn't in the mood to give up on me just yet.

Soon afterwards, the strains of Baharo Phool Barsao resonated through the air, acting as a signal that mysteriously put everyone, including my mother and sister, in an emergency mode. Both jumped onto their toes, very literally, throwing terrified glances in my direction. I returned them with placid, Buddha-like looks, from under the layers of turmeric paste and betel leaves. Suddenly, though, I was being subjected to action. I felt the pressure as someone tried to shove a bathing cap on my head, which was futile, owing to my knee-length tresses. Someone slid plastic gloves over my mehendi-stained hands as the shower came on, with numerous hands scrubbing me. God knows how many of them were with me, under that shower, drenching their finery.
Next, I was subjected to cosmetic weapons in the dressing room. After a few minutes and an uncountable number of hands later, I emerged, a few kilos heavier due to the make-up and in a heavy Jaipuri lehenga. I was then marched to the next scene of action, the stage, with an entire battalion of iconic beauties. At the stairs, however, I ran into Mr. Precise, my elder brother, who'd come forward to take stock of the situation. He suppressed a shriek after one look at me and did the only thing he could, at that point of time: put a rather heavy dupatta over my head.
I got onto the stage, supported by numerous hands, conscious of the loud revelry and the frenzied, palpating whoops.
"What a personality, what fair skin!"
My mind grasped the meaning of those words and figured I didn't fit into the description, at least not now. Frantic, but not yet losing my cool, I pulled my dupatta down and flung the garland around the neck of the tower in front of me who was trying desperately to steal a glance at me.

Now, with grown up children, I've still sworn off make-up and in my opinion, it best suits me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The best food

The peace and happiness are the ultimate aims of life. The Universe filled every heart with them still the created suffering rules the life. And like everything else the heaven too distributed it so unevenly in different lives. Therefore the vast magnitude sometimes becomes unbearable in someone life .
Even suffering around us too jolts and conscious fails to restore peace. Then to respite the self the words act as savior.

Often I wonder why does even the vast universe with its unlimited potential to support life fail to cease the grief? Why don’t we make a habit to create peace in ourselves and around us to make the world a little better?

After all in twenty four hours how much we eat, how many clothes we wear at a time- why then the meager needs of survival of individuals create misery and sufferings in the life of others.

Golu was lying on the ground beneath the huge Peepal tree. He was gazing the fluttering leaves up above in the air.

Through the foliages the streaks of sunrays were filtering brightly, to avoid them he slid his head to other side.

His heart was pulsating – the breath was flowing – the mind still conscious – it was thinking. He was thinking about the food- the best and the sumptuous one – the food cooked by the loving hands of granny- feeding the four year old Golu.

She would beckon Golu with food bowls in hand. While feeding him the adoring smile would play on her face. Her silver locks of soft wrinkled face were the tenderest feel of his heart.Sitting in the gentle aura of granny the morsel would taste best to him.

The meal time story used to go on- of king, queen and small princes-“ the princess, whom he will bring as his bride when he will grow up.”

Golu eyes would sparkle with flow of story, not for princes as his bride, but floating in the pleasure of granny’s smile. He would chuckle in his delight not for princes but for granny's presence.

Golu didn’t chortle at the arrival of king and queen chariot because they were full of riches. His eyes had never witnessed the support of grand rich father and mother as he was only accustomed of granny’s lap. Even in his dream he hadn’t seen any motherly and fatherly king and queen.

He had opened eyes in the loving presence of granny. Her touch, her feel and her nearness were his world. The vast world beyond her was unknown and harsh to him.

That day was the tenth day since he had not taken any food. Now the cramping in belly too had subsided or perhaps he was unable to feel it.

There was a giddiness in the head with feeble pain. Day before today he had entered in the park and safely chosen that isolated place at the far corner of uneven earth. The mother earth had given her the comforting lap.

He had never seen his mother and the father never bothered to look after him. Dumping him in frail old granny’s arm was his biggest relief.

Four years back he lost her too. Granny’s death gave him a new name - a burden- a good for nothing fellow -an empty stomach with unfailing hunger.

Subsequently the smirk became unavoidable addition of his food and grief inducing contempt a ritual affair of his meal time. He would get a lump in throat while swallowing the morsel.

His sliding rank in the studies tagged him - a useless fellow in all respect. At sixteen he was not earning. How he supposed to do so?,but he had been eating and was spending on school fee, clothes and food.

He started to detest the food as the contempt would haunt him perennially. He did not know how to deal with hunger? He could stay in old clothes, without school but how to stay without the food? He desperately wanted to expertise the way to beat the hunger.

The smirk on the face and haunting sharp tone during the meal time would numb his brain.

Like Buddha he too wanted to learn the way to mitigate the suffering - how to stay without food became his biggest concern.
Again and again the sneer on the face while receiving the meal had been turned unbearable to him.

Listening everything calmly that day he stared at her blankly . He had sat there quietly for long holding the plate. He was listening the growling around and after a point the added snarls were not making any difference to him.

As he was ready to start his journey he had made up his mind.

He put the plate down – cleaned the dishes, made the beds in different rooms and went to his own at last.

Next day he did all the chores without any food- the dizziness accompanied him at a time then next after that it followed him with intermittent frequencies--.

The howling around him rose the clanking of plates he heard near him several times. But he was peaceful he had now enlightened not to have it any more – the root cause of his misery.

Exhausted till then the eyes were unable to see with clarity but brain grasp the meaning. Now there was no place for him in the house. At last he felt the grip on his wrist someone pushed him outside the door.

To regain clarity of the signal standing at the door for the while he stopped to gasp.

It was fine to get the lap of mother earth under the sky as she never refused any one. Through the foliages in his dimming vision he glanced the soft crinkled face of granny .

His eyes embraced the gaze. She smiled again – behind her there was another face- the beautiful queen of the story. He had seen her in framed photograph at granny’s room-the beautiful mom.

Then she came forth and smiled on him. He was staring at her and after a while he was only staring everything else had stopped.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Saloni's story

To support the cause of Akshaya Patra- “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.”
The story of Saloni
The long hours on the study table besieged Shreya and her attention wavered around. She glanced outside the window and followed the streaks of winter rays passing through the foliages in the garden.

But the sight of incomplete topics forced her to come back to studies as it was eight of o’clock already and her friends could drop any time after ten for lawn picnic. Mamma would cook something sumptuous today, she thought retreating to her diagram.

A packet of pop corn she had bought yesterday was kept on the study table to cheer start. She sniffed the packet of popcorn and put it back looking for the work in hand to complete.

“O – Santy is she your daughter? Mamma asked to bai aunty. "What is your name?," “Saloni”,in chuckle a voice answered.

Soon after the noise of shuffling feet heard inside the room and presence of two curious eyes I felt on my back. Saloni who was about my age was standing in the room. I tried to concentrate on my studies but her curious staring had been disturbing me. “what?” I looked her questioningly. She smiled and kept looking at me. “ oh , why are you staring at me?” I asked irritated.

My question made her bolder; she came nearer with smile on her face and picked up my crayons without bothering to answer. “Are these yours? What are you sketching? She glanced at my biology diagram of human brain but turned her attention as she disliked the trouble of its comprehension.

“Why don’t you draw and color birds? You don’t like birds? I would draw one for you.” She stepped ahead boldly that irritated me further.

To put her away I answered, “I don’t like birds looking at my crayons and silently appealing her to place it back.

Her face fell a bit, but again she shot her next question , this time with mom, she had been entering in the room. “Really didi don’t like birds.” Mamma replied laughingly “at this time she can’t afford to like birds” reading my impatience to complete work in time.”

My exams were nearing so my burden of studies.Saloni was accompanying her mother those days regularly. Little did I had idea that the internship of her hard life had already been started.

In leisures she would hover most of the time around Mamma watching and talking with her. “Saloni, aren’t you missing school on regular basis? Will you make up after wards ? Mamma asked.

“Once Ma will regain her health I will join it again,” she replied, helping her in cooking. “Do you help your mother in cooking?”, Mamma asked. Flattered with loving gesture she answered – “aunty I cook alone at home when mother goes for work.”

Their loving conversation irritated me, Mamma had no time to caress me but enough to talk with her, who cares I took out my bycles to cycle outdoor.

After the school for my afternoon rest I decided to open the window to ease the setting mustiness. I found Saloni admiringly looking at my birthday frock left on the chair. A passionate longing had been playing on her dark complexioned face. When her eyes met mine she flung a question with shining eyes. “ Is this the same frock which you had worn on your birthday?”

Her intrusive inquisitiveness appeared friendly to me. I answered “did you like the frock; my grandfather is brought it for me.” “Are your grandfather a rich man?” she popped next question. “That I don’t know but he loves me too much.”

Unconsciously I too started liking her like mom. “When will you wear it next?” she asked. I answered playfully-“ I will gift you this one on your birthday.” Her face beamed with joy and contently she withdrew herself as if she was dreaming.

After few days my exams were over, then I remembered Saloni’s birthday but those days she as well as her mother was not coming at our place.

I put my crayons and frock in a packet to present Saloni as a surprise gift. I rode my bicycle towards her house. In front of asbestos roofed house a drunken man was sitting. Seeing a packet in my hand in inebriated condition he walked towards me. He informed me about the Saloni’s mother sudden demise last week due to pneumonia.

I asked about Saloni as I wanted to leave the stuff over there. I saw the skinny creature was moving out of the house. But that day she seemed someone else, a lifeless, solemnly Saloni with blank eyes. A tired and weak look was reigning on her face.

I took out the frock and crayons from the packet –hoping the same gleam on her face again but I heard an unfamiliar voice of Saloni. Didi will you lend me rupees twenty?, Chottu hadn’t eaten anything since morning. “Can I come at your place to work from tomorrow?

I put the things at the wooden charpoy, feeling so heavy.I was analyzing on the points of my essay on child labor which I had written in the recent exam. And now I was seeking ways to save a life and to stop child labor for a twelve year old with a small brother and ruthless drunken father.

My eyes met her, “no you won’t, I replied to shocked Saloni,BUT I WAS RESOLVED TO DO MY BIT TO SAVE SALONI THROUGH THE AKASYA PATRA.

I the protagonist of this story appeal all of you to make a difference in lives of several Salonies-there are many in India.
Donate to http/www.akshayapatra.org/online.donation

Monday, December 13, 2010

The indecisive ride

The heritage carriage moved whiffing the steam. The battling mind of Rhia had chosen immunity to abound splendor of nature as she had been wishing to set her trouble right.

With changing rhythm the whistling carriage had left the settlement far behind and now it was snaking through the foggy woods of pine and deodars. Tranquilized under the spell of verdant hill and misty chill everyone of the team was in meditative silence.

The twenty plus team for the research of temperate climate and vegetation was en route to Himachal. For many this excursion was serving the dual purpose -a research work of temperate zone and a pleasure trip.

Rhia glanced upon them, the guide and rest of the members after breakfast were either too engrossed in nature’s beauty or yielded to nip infused drowsiness.

She steered back her attention to the nature outside. Flanked by the hills on the both sides the train was puffing ahead in fog.

The indecisiveness had fogged her and created a stillness inside, she kept staring outside .The picturesque frame seemed to her like a dexterous work of an artist the details all alive- invigorating and breathing. She hoped her life like the oaks woods. Like their sturdy girth she too wanted to kiss the sky.

Trailing on the curvy track the head and tail of the snaking coaches were visible to her like the life. The visual retreat didn’t appeal her. “What will she choose and how?” she looked at her finger, and rotated the ring. It seemed heavy on her heart. She slided down the ring and clenched it into the palm. She did not want this. Certainly not at this juncture of her life. But she couldn't throw it either.

She remembered the sparkles on dad’s face that day, those were his proud moments. How contented dad was, even grey fringe of his face was complimenting the contentment of the job done well.

“How meticulously he does his work keeping details on everything? That vacation he had promised her a surprise gift. A meticulous search of his- keeping every like and dislike of hers in mind- a handsome profiled guy like her dad- with bright future ahead- he had chosen for her.

The decision seemed to her like the extreme of the coaches moving behind someone aimlessly. How she would drag herself in this kind of arrangement, a life without her choice, a decision complete strange to her.

A piercing chill of temperate climate shivered her as the carriage was now crossing the stone masonery arched bridge with deep ravine on one side. Next moment through the sweeping wind the carriage entered in tunnel setting everything in complete darkness. The parallel of her thoughts with engulfed darkness startled her and wild musing at the outcome perplexed her more. She pondered whether she is going to lose her identity in the darkness of life.

She hoped her life like the puffing locomotive ahead, with no one ahead,dictating terms on her- a life of her own choice where the breathe would be of her choice. She would be able to move ahead in the beautiful landscape of her life enjoying throughout.

At this juncture in both fields- study and art she was in complete harmony."How will she handle all these changes? And what is the need of all this? " The thought disturbed her more.

At that point matrimony was the remotest idea. She had kept her promise of higher studies to dad pursuing her breath of life- the art.

“No dad I won’t go ahead with this? Not now, let me live my own life?” She rehearsed the dialogue several times. Still indecisive and sure to falter in front of him, shaken she felt the mist of eyes were trickling down the cheek. To shelter them she took off her scarf liberating the curls. “O man I love you most but don’t impose---.” She again remembered dad’s face, “it is difficult to break his dream, but don’t crush mine”-she begged silently recalling dad.

“Let me walk in the open sky. Let me fly for few more hours. You are my world I will back to you. Let me live my own life.”

A sudden cheer and stir floated inside the coach as the teammates were out of their drowsy monotony and were discussing about the tea and snacks. The high nosed Asmit had been sharing the snack packet, uninterested Rhia passed it to next fellow.

At the platform the chilly gush quivered her, next she glanced upon smiling dad waiting for her. Attending a conference over there he had taken drive of three hours to see her there. Forgetting chaos of whirling mental debate she ran towards the magnetic warmth of dad. His rough hand supported her shoulder.

At the windy platform there was something more with dad- an air of strange feel. The presence of a captivating aura she sensed but she wanted to show her disapproval. She felt two intense longing eyes of long frame standing over there. She ignored them completely flashing the silence of “not interested” but I love my dad.

After two years-
She made the tea and put in front of empty recliner opposite of hers. Where is he? Waiting Rhia got impatient her eyes glued to the entrance. Ed made through the entrance smiling, “you know in next coupe two more honeymooners are there. One is from my institution I invited them over here,” he took the cup.”

Without adhering to his words Rhia mumbled-“you don’t go anywhere without telling me.” He took a sip smiling on her.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Out of mundane

Few icons stay in the memory due to their undeniable mark so even the mentioning of their names bring enthusiasm in the tone. Still there are some ordinary that knock the hankering consciousness when the slightest semblance floats in air, smell and sight.

The wet humid air is the trademark of our place, we the favorites of the rain god most of the months bask or rather bath in rain. Reasons are myriad left on reader discretion- when there is coastal storm in Bay of Bengal, or monsoon or just to be with us or surprise us , annoy us or amuse us whatever be the reason rain is here for longest.

Life is a window of experience, when we open it for some fresh air it amazes us with its ever changing frame of memories long happened, long buried. It refuses to go seeking its outlet like a wayward child always loves to have its own way that comes, knocks and gushes out unchecked. Last week the uncalled drizzling again opened the ---.

The day was usual sunny. In the second half the gale started its tantrums trumpeting its might with thunder and lightning and soon the scudding black clouds followed them.

In normal days as a young mother the dramatic exaggeration of weather would impress me with its artistic appeal .I would get instantly in love with everything- the black clouds,the peculiar intense light at the back drop giving impressive hues to vegetations. But that day the tempestuous air fanned my anxiety with a feverish child as her lips were turned pink and swollen due to fever. There was precautionary power cut in the colony and lone land line phone was dead.

A bit tired with long howler of tempestuous weather I had been anticipating a quick relief. Holding my little one to my heart the lashing and wiping of rain seemed hard to me. The surging fever was defying to yield even in that created nip of coastal depression. Her orange lips turned puffy and parched. She mumbled something in half slept state. Standing near the window with racking nerve I had been waiting for my husband's return seeking an instant remedy for the crisis.

A homeopath doctor,famed for the best cure of children at the place was available, we decided to visit him.

The long spells of coastal depression had bathed the plateau region and now in setting dusk the flora was donning the lustrous green hues. My racking nerve had been spent entire evening watching anxiously for some respite for my little one. Soon the hues outside got darkened that matched the gloominess of my inner self.

On that bathed outdoor the rolling wheels stopped infront of the thatched roof clinic. At that time the clinic appeared depressingly dull to my anxiety ridden mind.
In long waiting verandah many people were sitting on the benches kept over there and more were standing for their turns. Waiting for my turn with feverish child in my lap mentally I was discarding everything ordinary over there. A gloom casted out of my ego on the mediocrity of the place but the selfish human instinct forced me to appreciate the therapeutic benefit that was being offered there.

The musty evening was rather cold that day after the long spell of lashing rain. Waiting endlessly with a feverish child in the are made me impatient.I saw out of turn few people were entering the doctor's cabin pretending to check the list of waiting patients. In the queue in front of me an old lady had been waiting with her sick grand child.The boy was squirming in fever and was crying feebly. Her soiled disposition was narrating the worn out hardship of her life.

After viewing the disruption in queue and long wait tempted me I got up from my place with my uneased baby. I was aware it was the turn of that old lady’s grandson. But my motherly instinct went unruly, unable to bear child's suffering for long I decided to enter in the cabin overlooking the frail lady with her ailing grandchild.

Both of us were at the door step of the cabin the old lady and I with our purposes but a strange sight awaited me over there. The doctor in his early thirties was as simple as his clinic, he gestured to me politely but in authoritative tone to sit and wait for my turn. He ushered the old lady to bring the child for checkup.He checked the child earnestly and patiently listened the symptoms then he signaled me to avail my turn.

That day this encounter of me with humanely faces touched my heart. Suddenly the ordinary place seemed unique as a uniqueness of humility was flowing in the air. It was the place where dedication was working ignoring all the trivialities of the material world where most of the time money, status and disposition rule.