My Sunday song

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they’re better left unsung.
I don’t know, don’t really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone,
If you should stand then whos to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.

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Betiyaan- by Shailesh Lodha

क्या लिखों, की वो परियों का रूप होती है,
या कड़कती ठण्ड में सुहानी धूप होती है |
वो होती है उदासी में हर मर्ज़ की दावा की तरह,
या उमस में शीतल हवा की तरह |
वो चिड़ियों की चेह्चाहाट है,
या निश्छल खिल खिलाहट है |
वो आँगन में फैला उजाला है,
या मेरे गुस्से पर लगा ताला है |
वो पहाड़ की छोटी पर उजली किरण है,
वो जीने का सही आचरण है |
है वो ताकत जो छोटे से घर को महल कर दे,
वो काफिया जो किसी ग़ज़ल को मुक्कमल कर दे |
वो अक्षर जो न हो तो वर्णमाला अधूरी है,
वो जो सबसे ज्यादा ज़रूरी है |
ये नहीं कहूँगा की सांस सांस होती है,
क्योकि बेटियां तो बस एहसास होती है |

वो मुझसे ऑस्ट्रेलिया में छुट्टियाँ,
मर्सिडीस की ड्राईव, फाइव स्टार में खाने,
या नए नए आई पोड्स नहीं मांगती |
न ही वो बहुत सारे पैसे
अपने पिग्गी बैंक में उडेलना चाहती है,
वो बस कुछ देर मेरे साथ खेलना चाहती है |

में बस यही कहता रहता हूँ,
बेटा काम ज़रूरी है, नहीं करूंगा तो कैसे चलेगा
ये मजबूरी भरे दुनियादारी की जवाब देने लगता हूँ |
वो झूठा ही सही, पर मुझे एहसास कराती है
जैसे सब समझ गयी हो
लेकिन आँखें बंद करके रोती है,
सपने में खेलते हुए मेरे साथ सोती है |
ज़िन्दगी जाने क्यों इतनी उलझ जाती है,
और हम समझते हैं बेटियां सब समझ जाती हैं|

What a beautiful poem! Daughters truly are all this n more.

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Janmashtmi, for me

Today is Janmashtmi. Birthday of Lord Krishna. A significant day in Hindu mythology. My mother (Ma) called me up last evening to say that it would be nice if I could fast today. ‘For old times’s sake’- that’s what she said. I quite fell for the palpable emotion in her voice. She used the same pitch & intonation that always works on me like magic and it becomes very difficult to say no to her. So I said a reluctant ok and she quickly hung up without giving me a chance to change my mind.

At my end of the phone, I was left wondering if just the fasting bit would really justify the old times. Images- random, staccato, one after the other surfaced from different corners of my head. Our house in Gaya where I grew up, large balcony, huge terrace, hills at a distance, trees all around, smiling faces, loud voices, those musical noises from my grandmom’s (dadi) kitchen and that aroma from her festive concoctions…I was transported back in time within seconds.

A bit about my grandmother. She was a unique woman with a very strong personality given the era she lived in. She was extremely independent and full of life. Cooking, gardening and reading were her favourite passtimes. Thanks to her, we had an all year supply of garden fresh vegetables and fruits. Her clarity & determination about things was a virtue I secretly envied. I can not recollect a single instance where I have seen her conflicted. She made the most trickiest of decisions with elan. She was a little hard of hearing for a long time but never lamented about it. Not once. Infact, I feel that it somehow contributed a great deal in the calmness she exuded. We did get her a hearing aid at some point which she tried and rejected in a matter of days. Now in retrospect, I think that she was happier in that noiseless, clutter-free world of her’s where she could choose to listen rather than forced to hear. The most significant part of her personality was that she was a ‘God-loving’ person. I don’t want to call her ‘God- fearing’ because I can not associate fear with her persona. Fear in any form was not her. She was fearless of everything. Her belief in God’s existence and his ways was very deep-rooted. She was heavily into rituals and did not miss her morning prayers for a single day in her life. Even in her last days when she was bed-ridden, she chanted her prayers every morning. She was truly madly deeply in love with the creator of her world.

So now you can begin to understand the magnitude of significance that all religious occasions held in her life. Especially birthdays! So Janmashtmi for her, was a lavish affair. I woke up to the noises from her kitchen and knew that I was fasting today!🙂 Well planned and organised- she would churn out delectable vegetarian (phalahar) dishes, one after the other for everyone who was fasting. Mostly it was mom and me along with her. Rest of the family members (read men) still managed to taste her cooking because of the puppy dog expressions that they had mastered over the years. Dadi could turn any regular dish into an exquisite delicacy with just the swoosh of a hand, literally! I often wonder if she had a magic wand for a spatula. Sabudana kheer, ararot puris, aaloo bhujiya, fried makhana and peanuts, banana shake (made with a wooden-churner) are some of her patent dishes that I have not yet managed to replicate in my kitchen. Then there was this special khichdi made with broken rice and lentils which we used to have at midnight after wishing Happy Birthday to lord Krishna and offering prayers. It was the tastiest khichdi that she made in the entire year. Even she could not replicate it for the next 364 days. Or maybe it was the setting that added to its unique flavour. Each year, we sat on the floor at midnight around the nicely lit diyas and ate with our fingers in silence. Then we headed for the most peaceful sleep after a feastful day of fasting.

After smiling to myself for a long while, I called up Ma and without giving her a chance to rustle up the same tone in her voice, I refused. I told her that it was difficult for me to fast all by myself and I had meetings to attend and other logistical rationale that daughters usually give to mothers. I know I’m not ready for this, probably I will be when my little daughter is a bit older and we can together try and recreate the setting that I carry in my mind and some magic in my kitchen. And that for me, truly would be for old time’s sake!

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Happy Birthday to US!

Apart from the countless other things, I feel there is something very special that Ma n I share. Our birth dates. I think each mom is blessed with two. A day when she is born as a baby and the other when her baby is born.

When I became a mother for the first time, my life changed. Forever. Today, as I enter the 32nd year of my existence, I feel this urge to know more about my own mother before I came into her life. So I guess there is one more addition to this years checklist. Amongst so many other facets that interest me one that stands out is her worrying nature. Mom’s a worrier..always worried about bro n I. Food…clothes…travel…work you name it and she would be ready with at least ten potent questions about things that possibly could go wrong and how we should always have a back up plan. I wonder if she was the same before becoming a mother. Did she worry? What did she worry about? Was she always good at finding things to worry about? I wonder.

Another birthday musing that I’m tempted to share today is the story of my birth. Ma says she overate while expecting me…she put on some obscene amount of weight and contrary to everyone’s expectation, I turned out to be this super tiny baby..probably tinier than the mothercare tiny baby range. Apparently unlike the quintessential loving mother, Ma cried as she held me in her arms for the first time. And mind you those were not ‘khushi ke aansoo‘. She was wondering where did the tons of ghee, badaam etc, that she religiously hogged on each day of those nine months, disappear?
It’s amazing how till today I listen to this same story year after year with the same enthusiasm and awe.

But I wonder how life would’ve changed for Ma ever since this day 32 years back or shall we say 32 years+9 months? I would’ve changed some basic definitions for her after my grand (read tiny) entry in her life. Things like ‘me – time’, ‘hot food’, ‘warm chai‘ would have been promptly replaced by ‘no- time, ‘cold lunch’ and ‘cold re-heated chai‘, I’m sure. The crisp cotton sarees that she loves so much must have gone on a sabbatical for good few years. How many more alterations did she make each day to make sure that I fit right in?

The inconveniences that we learn to overlook, the reservoirs of patience that we discover within ourselves, the true realization of our potential to love unconditionally. I think these are the first few traits that set us mothers apart from others…🙂 So here’s to ‘US’ Ma on our most special day!! Happy Birthday to US!

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My wild child

You’re a replica of your dad
Most people say so
But I see a lot of me in you
As you come & go
You prance around the whole household
With the cutest impish smile
Watch out for the fan-following
As you grow up my wild child

There are times I just don’t get your unpredictable ways
But with most men in my life, that has always been the case
When I think you want a snack, u zoom out for a run
You think it’s a cool thing to do but for me it ain’t no fun

You’re obsessive about a few things and don’t care about most others
A real frightful situation for your poor mother
Day in and day out you want to wear the same jacket
If refused in any way, you create a big racket
Cars and Mickey Mouse are the current love of your life
If this is going to be the degree of your obsession, then god save your future wife

Your lisp is cute for most people around
But I could really do with some clarity of sound
Let me tell you something as you turn three today
From the time I conceived you in early 2007 May

You’ve been hard work my sweetheart
Most patient persons’ nightmare come true
But I just can’t help it baby
I still crazily love you

Happy Birthday Anshie!!!

love
Mama

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In search of company

I really wish I had something more exciting to tell my husband when he asked me with a twisted eyebrow after getting back home from work last evening- ‘ where did u go with that interesting eye makeup?’
(interesting eye make up= silver grey kohl that I picked up over the weekend)

I tried making up a story, which he lost interest in even before I started.

So, I was left wondering about these two things- ‘why did I spend about a grand on an eye pencil?’
‘why did I use such an exclusive color to go to a supermarket for my routine fruits n veg pick up?’
I’ll skip the slew of other existential questions that these two potentially non threatening ones managed to generate.

But then why be on this quest of looking for logic in almost everything possible..why not just accept and gladly so, that some things are done spontaneously just for the thrill of doing them…if its largely harmless and manages to put a smile on your lips and that twinkle in your kohl-lined eyes..then isn’t it totally worth it? (Conditions apply.)

And may be I’m not only woman/mom who does things like these? Tell me that I have company!

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On a spiritual note

It is beautiful weather…finally in this banjar land called Gurgaon that I’ve inhabited couple of months back. It had been overcast for more than 36 hours but the overcast sky of Gurgaon looks very different from the images that most sane minds would conjure up. The insanely crazy amount of dust in this region contributes significantly in tarnishing the romantic beauty associated with it. So to be more precise, an overcast sky of Gurgaon looks more like a big ball of dust hanging above our heads ready to burst and less like the quintessential white fluffy cloud filled sky that makes you search for patterns in them. The difference is so stark that you consider the possibility of ‘it raining dust’ instead of water. Add to this a visibility of not more than 500 mts and you are all set to welcome the monsoons.

So, I had been ready to welcome the monsoons for more than 36 hours.  It was like a long pregnant pause before the clouds decided to let go and set free those life saving tiny droplets that probably were themselves suffocated in those heavily dust-laden clouds that they were trapped in and the result was – the intoxicated ‘saundhi-saundhi’ aroma of the freshly-wet, long-parched earth followed by miraculously plummeting effect on the dust levels and not to mention the humanly bearable weather at the end of it all.

First time in the last two months, I stepped out in the balcony at 6’o clock in the evening and instead of quickly rushing back in (which I was prepared to do holding the door with one hand), I let go of the door, dared to touch the not so dusty railing of the balcony, leaned over and took a deep breath. If I could run some tests right then, I’m convinced that I could prove how seriously ‘fresh-air’ deprived I was. I had almost forgotten what ‘wind in you hair’ phrase means any more so it was a nearly divine experience to feel that cool breeze in my face,hair and lungs. I was overwhelmed and enormosly thankful to God  for making me experience the weather that I used to take for granted just about 3 months back in the tropical landscapes of Panama.

‘India makes you spiritual’, said a friend some time back. I didn’t quite get it at that time but today, as I was thanking the almighty profusely for the lovely rains and the cool breeze, I realised what that phrase had actually meant. The thanking process, the gratefulness quotient for the most basic of things achieves an all time high in India taking you to new spiritual altitudes. We are thankful for each day of survival. For not getting oggled at, mugged, catching a deadly virus, choking with the pollution and dust or simply for not passing out in this insanely roaring heat. They say discomfort is the first step towards the attainment of the divine. I’ve taken the first step. The divine intervention is eagerly awaited.

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