Tuesday, June 29, 2010
We reached the guest house at around eight in the morning. It was an out of station official trip of my husband, on which I decided to accompany him as a short vacation. The guest house was located on the outskirts of Chandigarh
When we alighted from the auto rickshaw at the guesthouse, a piercing cold wind, laden with the fragrance of blossomed flowers crossed us. The fragrance turned my attention to its source. A sprawling lawn was bordered by the L-shaped double-storied bungalow. Around the corner of the lawn, a wooden armchair was kept. Tranquility reigned, except for the chirping of birds on the high branches. Even my walk through the lawn to take a short cut to our room created a rustle on the strewn leaves. My eyes were glued to the exquisite armchair as it was providing a perfect setting of the Victorian era in other wise Indian countryside.
Something undecipherable but surely mystifying was in the air. For a while it seemed we are being viewed by two inquisitive eyes behind our back. But I had no time to find that out as my daughter held in my arms was running a fever.
Tired, but out of urgency my husband had to leave for work. After putting the luggage in our room, he reluctantly left for his inspection work promising to return in shortest-possible time. The room décor was as classic as the exteriors outside, with a dash of dark shaded furniture and wood work all over. A wooden double bed in the center faced the windows opening to the lawn. Studying the interiors, I put the baby on the bed. Although the maintenance was good, architecturally, the bungalow seemed quite old. The spacious room and décor too seemed antique. I opened the window. Again, the same fragrance with tender sun rays crossed the room. For the moment I watched the rows of trees with their brown, heavy-girthed body. I glanced back at my sleeping child; she was murmuring something in her sleep, probably out of restlessness. When I touched her body, it felt warmer than before. My anxious mind turned tenser in the piercing solitude. Fatigued due to the overnight travel, I started feeling hopelessly alone. For that moment I regretted joining my husband on the tour. I desperately began wishing for my husband to arrive.
“Whom to call, how and where I should to go to find a doctor?” I became frenetically disturbed. I clasped my little one’s palm, unable to decide anything on my own. Lost in indecisiveness and out of fatigue, I too slipped into a slumber.
After a while, a soft tapping on the door broke my sleep. The room attendant stood there, with water and towels in his hand. I inquired about the doctor but the nearest clinic was 7 kms away from there.
Every passing moment made me tenser than before. As my baby’s fever got higher, her face grew pink." Better to see a doctor", I decided. I moved towards the door with her in my arms. That was when I saw her for the first time, Mrs. Sharma. She introduced herself to me. A middle aged woman with few silver linings on her head, she smiled gently when my eyes met hers. She was sitting on the armchair kept in the corridor gazing out at the garden. I walked to her. She got up and touched my child’s forehead. “Is she running a fever”? She inquired. Out of nervousness I poured out my heart to her. It seemed to be a god gifted relief to find someone so comforting in those taxing hours. “Wait for a moment” she said as she briskly walked back to her room. She returned with a few tablets in her hand. Her simplicity seemed genuine and her motherly touch instantly won my heart. “These tablets will certainly bring her fever down”, she said and handed me the tablets. “There is no clinic nearby; it will take more than an hour or so to reach the nearest one even by an auto”. I controlled myself somehow and took the tablets from her hands. Her hand was ice cold.
“The weather is too cold today” I remarked. A painful smile stirred on her face. She did not reply.
Accepting my invitation she followed us to our room. After crushing the tablets, I gave it to my daughter and her fever subsided in an hour or so. She stayed with me throughout those tense hours, chatting and soothing me. Her gentle smile, soft demeanor and soothing familiarity were hard to match in the busy world. Even the wrinkles on her face seemed protective, although mystifying.
Before leaving she told me her room number and invited me there. During the conversation it became known that her husband was off to Bangalore for two days. She reassured me, asking me not to worry further as she was alone and could come to me anytime. Her timely help and kindly gestures filled me with gratitude. Over whelmed by her compassion I tenderly touched her fist. They were still ice cold. I realized my touched made her somewhat uneasy. A silence fell between us. Her eyes seemed glued to my middle finger ring. Following her attention I asked her if there was anything wrong with wearing a horse-shoe iron ring. The painful smile re-appeared on her face. In a detached voice she answered, “No, it will keep ghosts away from you”.
When my husband returned from his work, I narrated the entire events of the day. The next few days passed simply in sightseeing and window shopping. Almost every day of my stay, I thought of her, but didn't see her. Whenever I went to her room, I found it closed. I guessed that her husband had probably returned from Bangalore and she was busy with her family.
Finally the day of our departure dawned. After depositing our room keys at the manager’s desk, my feet mechanically moved towards Mrs. Sharma’s room. I tapped the room’s door gently wanting to have a glimpse of that compassionate face once again. The door was slightly ajar; a little sparrow was chirping on the window sill. It flew out at the lawn. But there was no sign of Mrs. Sharma.
“Do you want anything Ma’am?” A voice came from behind me. It was the room-attendant.
My explanation left the boy in disbelief. He countered, “But Ma’am, this room has been vacant since last year. This room was allotted to our General Manager. After his wife’s death due to heart failure last December, no one has been allotted this room”.
Seeing me in total disbelief, he explained further, “She was a gentle lady with a good heart. She had been in bad health for sometime but Mr. Sharma never cared for her. Even during her death he was not with the poor lady”.
I was unable to react. The entire incident simply started reeling in my thoughts, I felt the perspiration on my forehead. I slipped my fingers into my hand bag to pull out a handkerchief. Something crisp and familiar touched my finger tips. I pulled it out. On my open palm were the left over tablets given by her. I saw my husband coming towards me, dragging the luggage. Still puzzled, I accompanied him towards the exit, clutching my little one closer to my heart. Now her withdrawn expression after my touch, the ice cold hands, her painfully deserted expression after glancing at my horse-shoe ring, all came flashing at me in one go.
Friday, June 25, 2010
The memories of the recent spate of honor killings in north India seems to die hard. The sequels of these incidents are showing themselves as an epidemic. For intellectuals, as well as reformers or the proprietors of Indian tradition, this macabre killing cannot be taken as an expression of respect to our five thousand year-old history and culture. In every civilization and religion, some beneficial rules are made for the masses that don’t have the time or expertise to seek the truth and reason behind every action taken. This wisdom is used collectively to benefit the community.
Let us have a sensible look behind this forbidden custom. Why does our society abhor such an alliance? People of the same gotra or sub-caste individuals are those who belong to same family tree. Sexual relationships between the same gotra are considered as incest by the society. The scientific reason behind forbidding this custom is that the offspring of genetically related parents have increased chances of being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to decreased fitness of the population.
On the second level, natural selection too does not support the survival of the offspring having alleles of same type, as a result of which, any natural environmental stresses like unfavorable climatic conditions or epidemics can wipe out the species. This was a sensible decision taken by our sages to protect and create a strong and adaptable community supported by nature.
Now the question is, can the taboo of incest be so harsh that it can be justified by killing? How can any decision which harms its own people be justified? On the other hand, whatever is happening is the outcome of the transformation of society. Urbanization, migrations for jobs, women emancipation are the fast growing transformations which are blurring the lines of caste and gotra.
So is it not the society which in real encouraged all these changes for the fulfillment of their needs, which resulted in same gotra marriage? Then why blame or punish the young generation, if while fulfilling their way of living, they have gone too far and defied old age beneficial norms? The society can show its disapproval in better ways. And to check it further, it can educate the populace about the deleterious effect of same-gotra marriage on its offspring. But the deplorable act of premeditated homicide must be checked instantly, for it is giving birth to a criminal, inhuman society. Should a diabetic be killed if he eats sugar that is harmful for him?
Therefore despite of the scientific relevance of the negative effects on offspring, some patience and reason should be shown to the couples who defy it. We can help them to rule out any possibility of harmful effect instead.
In the name of saving customs, traditions and some possible genetic aberrations, we simply cannot afford to create a society of threatening criminals. We have taken pride in several acts of the vibrant youth; their rising intellect graph, their marks on several fronts of science and technology. If this intelligent generation can make their life and career, violence and harm to them in any way is one of the most barbaric, macabre and inexcusably inhuman acts.
The blunder of the act does not lie in those who go ahead with the decision to marry within the same gotra, which possibly could produce some less fit offspring. It lies instead, in the creation of criminal or self-patrolling custodians without the spirit of humanity.
It’s time to contemplate and decide which is more threatening to our society and which one should be eradicated first.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
It amazes me, the enigma associated with every encounter which I experience. What magic does it hold? From where does it accumulate such a magnitude of unfailing appeal? Yes, I am talking about that walking and talking tribe that is present everywhere among us. Their presence often goes unnoticed, not due to the lack of love, but usually she is taken by most of us for granted.
Walking on the crossroads, whenever her shadow comes, I hungrily try to get my fill. Her demeanor charms me as real magical stuff. That slow pace of walking filled with a tinge of fatigue feels so soothing and revitalizing. Why does that ordinariness seem so extraordinary?
That incessant supply of nourishment which was granted by her would always boost and enhance my ego. In her soothing presence, I never hesitated in about boasting my presence in her life. As a finance adviser and self-commissioned commander of hers, it was an unwritten memorandum between us which I would often flash to her. “You cannot do without me” and “it is I who keeps vigil on your transactions and saves you”, as it was my nodding which would confirm the completion of any transaction done by the otherwise multi-tasking mastermind of her own saga. Oblivious of the strength of the aura with which she would command and hold her position, I never failed to comment, “It was I who safely brought all your shopping home”.
The advancing grey of her locks and the fine crinkles of her face still hold a special appeal to me. They were the parallel companions to my childhood and adolescence. My presence had witnessed all those changes of her face.
Why do the familiar rustling crispness of cotton saris and the fragrance of jasmine alert all my senses to feel her? Her perennial confusion while choosing the mundane, what quantity of spices should be put in pickles, which sari would be best suited for a particular occasion. Never mentioning the right shade of color as she was always absorbed in self selective color blindness, still appeals best.
Her wrongly framed-up queries and absent-mindedness had encouraged my confidence to cross and correct her, which sometimes touched the wall of rudeness. From where do long-left habits or the same longings come through?
Remembering all those proud moments of your proximity- now at your side of the table, I have started receiving your feel, whenever I come in proximity of your tribe. The moment I get it from any quarter, I seize it immediately before its evaporation and experience the same jubilation. These encounters help me to fill the void created by your absence. Might be, like the other decisions you have taken for me, this time too you chose your time of departure when I was old enough to be a mother myself.
But still the child within me craves for you, as though I feel you in chunks and pieces, and it overwhelms me. Most often, any semblance to you in any such encounters assures me of your presence and the liveliness of the pristine emotion that is called mother’s love.
Friday, June 18, 2010
News that is the outcome of rage flashes in the national dailies with intermittent frequency. The intensity of gruesome acts that describe the incidents stirs the souls of many. The news haunts for days, seeking its remedy. Contemplation by experts and common people unanimously suggests a better, careful insight to handle the crisis. All these could have been evaded with a little aptly shown care while going through it. Timely concern and wise energy investment could have transformed the horrid and inhumane acts into something sensible and humane.
A young girl with her paramour, a karate teacher strangulated her aunt, as the latter objected to her intimacy with her karate teacher after sighting them in a compromising position. Little did the poor aunt know about the consequence.
The mess of suicidal acts by students or denizens stirs the conscious so often. Honor killing, another menace of rage is in addition of the list. Don’t these revolting news screams for remedy? Isn’t it sheer ignorance of the inner state?
Rage is an act of scared soul who lacks enough strength and a vision to deal with crises. Doesn’t the upsurge of rage-driven ghastly incidents in the society, call for immediate action on our side before being too late?
The act of improving is the norms of society which we all need at every stage of our lives. It helps us to grow and mend our ways for the better. But whenever the involved parties, either at the giver’s or receiver’s end do not perform it aptly, the system goes haywire. The strength here is the willingness on a mental level to acknowledge the mistakes, to work upon it and correct it.
What is rage?
“Rage is a mental state of extreme anger where one chose consciously to take action to immediately stop, the threatening behavior of another outside force”.
Simply an action taken in devilish urgency without afterthought of consequence, rage is always a complete recipe of disaster.
Rage is an accumulated emotion, which make its way in a weak mental and physical frame. To deal with any crisis, desired physical as well as at mental strength is always needed.
In our daily lives we do myriad things to promote our live styles. We do take enough care in enhancing our skills and our personalities for better earning and career, we do take care of our food and hygiene for health. We don’t mind investing a little extra on the stuff which guaranty us more security. Everything which exists outside, we are aware of and enough care is taken.
In the name of entertainment we exhaust our selves more than before. Youngsters in the name of entertainment, use ear-phones for threateningly long hours and risking their hearing abilities. Adults on the tag of partying, simply float in booze, putting extra pressure on their systems.
But the most powerful creator of action, the brain is left untamed and mismanaged customarily. As it is not prevalent in society no one has believe in managing it nor has fancy for it. Thus, horrid rage-driven acts so often raise their ugly heads in the society.
“Yet don’t we need a routine to strengthen the mind?” we must ask this pertinent question of ourselves.
Rage is an outcome of a fatigued self. The overwhelming fatigue of the mental state actually screams for help. Annoyance, irritation, anger, loss of temper on slightest provocations are the different faces of suppressed rage that are usually left untended by people.
Therefore the epicenter of every action, the brain, must be provided with its basic need of revitalization. The method and techniques are varied in our diverse country, only a little will is needed to put it in action.
Find your rage buster gadget with care; otherwise it could deplete you further.
Monday, June 14, 2010
A long distance journey often entails a lot of acceptance with the unfamiliarity. The list of acceptance with the unfamiliarity lasts till the destination.
Encountering the long wait and initial melee at the platform, we finally boarded the train. The next inevitable was to check the luggage and the berth number. Finding everything at the place, we let ourselves stretch at our allotted space. Still in an emergency mode after battling the platform crowds, the bewildered conscious churned the next question- who were our co passengers? And my mind with aeronautical speed, started sorting out agreeable looking co-passengers amidst the chaotic crowd.
Then a queue of red shirted accomplished weight lifters of the Indian railway made their way through the crowd. They were stooping here and there to stuff heavy luggage beneath the berths. A big family, I speculated. I had least expected a group of slant eyed neighbors. The compartment then resounded with loud, oriental cacophony. My god, I thought, entire tangra (china town) in the compartment.
That initial hustle-bustle lasted for some time and then a few of them moved ahead to the next bogey. When the train jolted and slithered out of the platform, I found myself sharing the unclaimed lower side berth with two slant-eyed girls in their twenties. Hand bags, fat books, polythene bags stuffed with usables were all piled up on the seat behind their backs. A slant-eyed couple in their thirties was sharing the lower berth with my husband. We had confirmed tickets of a lower berth and an upper side berth in the bogey. Viewing the length of the journey, I contemplated an exchange of the berths to enjoy more flexibility in the allotted space. But that too seemed far from reality as conversation seemed to be a futile attempt over there. Only gestures had been ruling the place as viable options. To respite my fatigued self after a while, I decided to take the matter straight to the lady. To explain the option for berth exchange I pointed to the lower berth to her-“this berth is ours, which ones were you allotted?”
My proposal was reciprocated by her with an alarmed disposition. Her crimson cheeky face first fell a bit, then turned pale, probably being on an alien land. In anxious tones, she started explaining something undecipherable. My blank look first made her serious, then tense. Her growing anxiety was the only thing I was able to comprehend out of her soft, musical, oriental tone. We were timely rescued by her husband who came out of next bogey. It saved me too from the surging guilt I was accumulating by initiating something unsavory with someone. Her husband, a replica of equanimity, in his broken English smilingly explained that they had two confirmed tickets of the upper and lower berth. But the accompanying girls had unconfirmed tickets. With apprehensive foreigners I decided to drop the idea of berth exchange and be content with whatever we were allotted.
Their two unconfirmed tickets got assurance of confirmation by the T.T.E after a little past twelve. When I woke up in the morning, the two girls were sleeping peacefully on the lower and middle berth opposite to my husband’s berth.
During the journey, the gentle man would often shot a Buddha-sort of a smile to the co passengers, while the lady preferred to sleep almost the entire time. The bubbly girls either conversed euphorically or read English-learning books. Soon their peaceful auras were reigning the place. Everyone was reciprocating to their peaceful presence congenially. During the interaction, it transpired that the gentleman with his wife was an IT professional, and the two girls were university students. To break the monotony of the journey, several futile attempts at conversation had been undertaken. But the gasping constraints of language limited it all the while. Baffled with their limitations on the Queen’s language during the conversations, he found my English impressive. Chuckling with a monk-like innocence, he complimented me that with such a grasp on the language, I could teach even my husband. I nodded mischievously, glancing at my better accomplished hubby.
Their crimson, cheeks, puffy faces with narrow eyes, their unique way of eating food, even rice with chop sticks, amused us all the while. To carry on the conversation, I mentioned to them about my husband’s recent tour to China. I wanted to mention Shanghai, and about how he had been fascinated by the place. To this, he promptly mentioned that they were from South Korea. Their broken English and gentle demeanor won the heart of co passengers. It seemed hard, the way they were coping in India and that too in the South with just that scrap of English. But I felt that the most prominent and accepted global language is that of humility, in which they were masters. Even the constraints of language and the hindrance of expressions had been so obscured as peace and harmony made their way. They had no qualms in stacking or lifting the eaten trays of people sitting beside them. To create space, they put the shoes of their neighbors by their hands in a safe corner . Everything seemed united in that positive air. Most of the time during the conversation, the gestures and the aura of humility ruled the place. When we alighted at our respective destinations, our heart were filled with the full meaning of all those unexpressed words.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
The softness of the child is the softest of all. Even their inability to express themselves sometime acts as a poignant language.
My doting daughter- a healthy child with glowing skin was about an year old at that time. On one occasion at my parents’ place, all of us were getting ready for a family outing. After getting ready my mother came to pick up something from the room. The moment she entered in the room, the dearest of her soul instantaneously opened her tiny arms with a divinely glow on her face. My mother got warmed up with the showered admiration and with pride, she clasped her lovingly close to her heart.
Being busy with the essentialities of her needs during the commute, I too chose to ignore the two loving souls together.
As the commute began, my velvety tiny tot was contently sitting in my mother’s lap beside me in our Fiat. I glanced at her with the familiar motherly instinct and she chuckled back at me. I moved my attention to my siblings and soon my attention got occupied with my siblings as we were busily discussing one thing after another. After a while my mother seemed a bit baffled, she was composing the child, altering her position on her lap. Then she interrupted our conversations and said, see, how every now and then, the starched border of my sari had been pinching my doll, she explained sadly.
As I drew my attention closer to watch the effect, I saw her tear filled eyes. But the moment she would catch the glances of mine, the evergreen bliss would bounce back on her face with the same charm.
Now she is an adult I still find her touch same. That instantaneous glow and velvety touch still exist with her but that poignant silence given way to dignified politeness of reason and logic.
On a sultry afternoon, my nap got disrupted by the cracking sound of wood. It did not take me long to chalk out the exact location of the mischief. The source of the noise was at the fence of our yard. Irritated with the disruption in my sleep, I got up and opened the door.
I found my speculations correct. A few children of the near-by basti were busily taking out the erected wooden poles out of the shrubby boundary of the yard, creating gaps to let in grazing animals inside the campus. The sight as well as the looming problems on my plantations filled me with instant rage. Furiously I shouted at them from the veranda. In seconds they vanished in air after sighting my frame.
Hearing the commotion, my daughter who was reclining with a book in next room, came out with an exasperated expression. Her expression mellowed me a bit. Composing myself further, I tried to reason with her- see, that day you had allowed them to pick up wood. Today they are daring to destroy the fence. Look at what they did to the fence. They are simply wild, I murmured.
The trouble involved in mending the fence and the sight of destroyed plantation irritated me further. With a painful look in her eyes, she told me, Mom, even they do not know the basics of good or bad and that is why they are wild. That is why they need our patient behavior and love. They need it most as there is no one to guide them. In that case they need a more sympathetic way to explain things in the right perspective.
Her peaceful and relaxed attitude did something to me. Something really sank inside my heart, paving the way to restructure my response while dealing with unsavory situations. There are always better ways to deal with life. And it always better to do it with a calm attitude. I decided to mend my ways to grow; after all learning comes from every side of life. Sometimes through the unexpected innocent velvety face who’s crowing I had once enjoyed and with time it had grasped the rules of good and bad with a strong platform of reasoning. So, I affirmed in agreement with my facilitator.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The screeching halt of our vehicle on the road to the dam caught the attention of a ice-cream vendor standing over the embankment. As we stepped out with our teenager, the vendor, without failing to grab the prospective business moment, came forward to register his presence. A sweet sheepish smile broadened my girl’s lips. She walked past him with her dad ignoring the silent plea of ice-cream wala.
The times of yore flashed in front of me, when in her ritualistic annual affair of her report card collection day, she would accompany her dad. A natural champ of her age, she would hardly bother about the outcome of her academic commitments. But the day would always mean a great deal to her. Receiving the report card by the Principal’s hands with a few words of appreciation in front of school assembly were the most valued and cherished moments for her. It always acted as a catalyst to boost her self confidence for whole academic year. Sparkling pride of her eyes, I was able to catch as a mother even being at home.
But like most things life too tests us. One year, due to a health problem in the family, she was forced to skip an entire unit test leaving decimal scope of her ranking in the annual report card. She complied bravely to the necessaries and partook some added responsibility at home front. My little doll didn’t fail to oblige us.
On the D-day first time she did not seem to be her usual confident self. Though the crisis was receding steadily, the effect was yet to go. Starting the vehicle, her father signaled at her to come. With a bit of uncertainty she staggered towards me throwing a glance; I questioned her- what?
She hesitated for a moment and then with wide opened eyes she innocently asked- mama, if I won’t get the first rank in the class, will I not get an ice-cream today. Something inside me shook to the core. At any other time, I could have a good laugh on her silly question but now I felt responsible for her present plight. That moment I felt probably she was asked too much, much beyond her capacity, where she found herself unable to cope up with two things at a time: Her studies as well as providing a helping hand to parents’ problems. That time I was too not keeping in good health. Somehow I composed myself and in shaken voice, I mumbled- today also you will get your ice-cream.
My words worked as blessing for her that day, she alighted out of the vehicle with same spirit and sparkle in her eyes, flagging the report card in one hand and an ice-cream cup in the other.
With God’s grace, she completed her school days proudly walking out as a school topper. Still she has to plan, manage, and work on her hectic study schedule. Probably the hardship of achieving goals and a little mature outlook towards life has somewhere lightened her craving and temptation for her childhood favorite ice-cream or whether she really has grown out this silly temptation, I still have to find out.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
It is usually referred to by people as the empty nest syndrome when a child leaves home for higher education at a much happening place. And then the parents are viewed with sympathetic glances, deserving to be labeled as forlorn souls and with nothing to do at all. On the contrary when I entered into that phase of life, I found the entire scenario very challenging as it entailed a mature as well as precise participation of mine in my child’s life, really a calculated effort by which I had to guide as well monitor my child’s actions through motivation. For the first time in my life I realized that the presence of those values which I had imparted to her years ago were showing their results. It filled me with mixed reactions of awe and sometimes with indecisiveness. Though through the distance I monitored her sailing through the insecurities of daily affairs, taking care of her health, scheduling time for studies and committing to it, prioritizing the things and necessities of life.
After a certain stage exposure to real world and company to peers is most desirable thing in every child’s life. That makes our role as parents more crucial than ever, where we had to guide our child with few spoken words which we conveyed to her in a day. Therefore the conveyed words must match with actions of our life and worthy enough to be cherished. Instantaneously it shifts our position as a parent to a counsellor in the child’s life. Fortunately in this highly networked era of telecommunication, I often felt the heat of proving myself to be the best of the counsellor who aptly tele- counseled and unburden her off to accumulated strains of the day. It does really take great deal of mental strength to show your virtual presence in child’s life through your teaching, a real litmus test of parenting skills, is not it?
Now I feel that my task became more daunting with constant shift in my portfolios, from a mother to counsellor and then to best friend. Of course in today’s hi-tech world to handle a vibrant friend, that too of less than half of my age requires enough energy to carry on. Honestly I won’t hesitate to admit that this prettiest, bubbly thing occupies a large chunk of memory space in hard disk leaving no time to sulk and fret.
What does it mean to be beautiful? Women usually answer this question with an instantaneous demure gleam in their eyes. But in this bipolar world, polarity does exist. I am one of the rare tribe of woman who has never bothered to look beautiful. The made up look, for inexplicable reasons failed to appeal me. I believe that most of the things in life arise out of a necessity, but I never in my life felt the necessity to look beautiful. Maybe it was because I was too busy playing a dutiful daughter to my parents, and then being an indispensable part of my conjugal life.
But it is rightly said that life is unpredictable. The opportunity of being crowned the most beautiful woman in the world fell so unexpectedly in my lap that I didn’t even react, rather preferred to enjoy it. After all, what is the point in counting mangoes on the tree, when a bucket-full was lying in front of me? This highest order of award was conferred upon me by the prettiest doll, i.e. my daughter. Since her birth, she would stare at me with the most charming and appealing of smiles, as if nothing in the world mattered, except her and me. She would prove it further by chuckling and throwing about her little, glowing hands and legs, as if she didn’t bother about anything around us.
Then she learned to speak, and one day described me to a visitor- “my mama is very beautiful and dark”. (My husband and in-laws are a marble-skinned lot, till then she had only learned to see things as black and white; if anything was not completely white, then she would figure out that it was black.) To reconcile with it, I too put my condition before her: if she described me as beautiful and dark, from then on she would have to add the adjective ‘tall’ to the description. She easily accepted the deal, placing her little palms on my lap (it’s an altogether different story that I’m only 5’2”, but it is always wise to take advantage of the circumstances).
But this glory of mine existed only for a few years. As a teenager, 5’5” tall herself, adoringly putting her arm around me, one day she said, “oh mama, you’re really beautiful…”(I can’t really say when she dropped the adjective ‘dark’ from my description after encountering different shades and hues of life), “…but how can you be…” and the rest of her words vanished in a good belly chuckle.
With time, the horizon of her learning increased, and with this came the delimiting of my glory. Now she watches Hollywood movies and to compound my woes, has silently included two more women in her list of the most beautiful : Angelina Jolie and Aishwarya Rai. Now I sensed mortal fear looming large over my position, but I was in no mood to budge from my place. After all, in all these years I too had got used to being beautiful, and now I couldn’t do without it. So I decided to take action before it was too late. No way, I told her, I don’t care about these two, but tell them to choose any position after me. After all, in India, will our politicians leave their chairs so easily? If not they, then why should I?