When we held hands

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‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

This dates back to the time when I was young, footloose and fancy-free.  To the time when we both were in Mumbai, working together.

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Times were far simpler. Internet hadn’t shrunk the world yet into a web page. The cell phones hadn’t made their ubiquitous presence nor was there 24/7 breaking news. So romance moved at a far slower pace.

I knew, I held a special place in his heart, but he hadn’t opened out to his feelings yet.  I tried to play it cool while I drove myself crazy with worry.  Coffee break was just that – smelling coffee and having a reality check.

12 March 1993! On that terrible day, when simultaneous bombs went off at various places, we all left early for the safety our homes. Nothing and nowhere was deemed secure. It was an all around chaos. At the church gate station, I spotted him and we exchanged grim smiles.

One of local trains was about to pull out but I stood completely paralyzed, as I watched people scrambling in.

Suddenly one strong hand pulled me, held me and took me inside the train. It was He.

Gyan-gurus have often said that ‘The first time you held hands of someone you love’, it is magical and is etched in your mind forever. The earth shakes while the sky paints itself into a myriad of riotous colors with a full blown orchestra playing and of course the mandatory rose petal showers.

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Nothing of that sort happened to me. It was more like an assurance ,”I’m with you, the whole way. We are in it together. I will not let down, ever!”

But still my knees went weak. That sort of clinched the deal. I held on to his hands for dear life.

And today we celebrate our 25th anniversary.

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My Amma

love3I’m blogging about my #MagicOfWarmth moment at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed Hot Oil

My Amma, as is usual, got up at the crack of dawn.
No need for her to do so really, but old habits die hard. She then switched on Bhakti Ranjani. MSL’s sonorous Suprabhatam purified the morning air.
My father stirred in his bed sleepily. “Why don’t you sleep for a while Saraswati? You barely slept through the night.”
Even in his sleepy state, he remembered not to say “waiting for his call!”
Amma smiled and pottered around. She opened the doors, brought the paper in, brew fresh coffee and while the maid swept and cleaned, made a cup for her too.
Father couldn’t sleep a wink with so much of morning happening around him. As he settled with his copy of ‘The Hindu’, Amma brought him his cup of coffee.
Maid soon left saying she would be back next day.
That was it. All the morning visitors like the paperwallah, the florist, the milkwala, the vegetable vendor were done for the day.
My parents have had thriving careers and now were retired, with my only brother living the dollar dreams.
Simple life no doubt, where a regimented life sought to drown loneliness.
Sounds of silence fell all around as they read the papers back to back for the tenth time.
Puja and Breakfast done, Amma rested for a while. She then quickly rustled up a lunch, while the gnawing ache grew bigger by the minute. She chose not to tell father but she had a nagging suspicion that he knew what was troubling her.
Lunch done, Amma settled for another siesta, in front of the babbling TV but sleep was difficult to come by.
Amma spent her evenings teaching the neighborhood kids. Father would go for his walk then and meet his friends. They chit-chatted about the world in general with utmost robustness.
Once my father was back, all refreshed, Dinner was done listening to father’s lively rendition of the evening gone by.
For Amma, now the ache was impossible to control.
All the supplements in the paper had been screaming Mother’s Day and she had hoped against hope that my brother would find some time to call her.
Wish her.
Talk to her.
Miss her.
After all, he had to remember.
He too had a child and the daughter-in-law would have definitely celebrated Mother’s Day.
Day moved into night but the call didn’t come.
Wearily she slept intermittently with her moist eyes refusing to let the sleep seep in
At around one am, the phone rang and she picked it at the second ring.
“Amma?”
She knew it.
Her son would never let her down.
Father turned over and smirked.
In the morning, he would remember to delete the chat between him and my brother, telling him to call our mother. Under any cost..

As for me? I’m just a fly on the wall 😀

Love needs no special day. Mothers need love. Every day. Always

Count Your Blessings

On 24th of Jan, I was invited to be a part of a ladies’ meet, to share my journey so far.

The ladies had met, to discuss the challenges that women face, once they hit 40. Whether it is coping with the emotional stress, bodily changes or the pitfalls of a career change.

It was a very invigorating session.

As I came back, I realized how fortunate I had been, to get the chances I got. How things fell in place, when the time was right, or was it the other way round?

The switch from an ill, overweight, meandering through life, lost planet to a content but still searching sistah, had been comparatively smooth.

But it wasn’t as if the life was never shitty. Who manages to escape the heft of destiny?

When we lost someone very dear to us, it was as if that departed soul became our guardian angel from the worlds above. Due the attendant monetary vulgarities, as we stared at the brink, my parents became pillars of rock, standing right by our side, guiding and chiding us. In the process, our tiny family became closer and battle hardened.

We quickly learnt to look at the glass, half full.

As I came out of the above mentioned session feeling blessed, I refreshed mentally, a few mantras, which have helped me so far to stay afloat.

  1. Good always begets good. Do good and watch your good karma grow and wipe out the bad karma.
  2. Love yourself the most yet be your harshest critic. Be aware of your plusses and minuses.
  3. Invest in your health. Top priority!
  4. Shop guilt free.
  5. Don’t worry about others’ opinions. So long as they don’t pay your bills, they don’t have a say.
  6. Draw up a balance sheet. Take stock. Your blessings will always outweigh your curses.
  7. Chart your future goals. Paint a mental picture. Be realistic about it.
  8. Plan the path ahead. Acquire the necessary skillsets. Be the eternal learner!
  9. Chase those dreams steadfastly. Be very disciplined. Don’t be scared to ask for advice.

Chase Excellence and success will follow!  Oh yeah, Money too!

Girl – Shackled!!!

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I’m the admin and founding member of an academic forum called SeniorSchoolMoMs. Today  I share with you a discussion we have had earlier, in the wake of recent events.

One of the members, Shilpi Goyal, had posted this question on the forum.

Maybe this is a wrong time to raise the issue as most of the moms and children are busy preparing for exams. But as the children prepare to move to colleges in a few months what choices should we allow them regarding their outfits, timings, socializing. Particularly after the horrific incidents in last few days, most of us have started getting very worried. Should they be allowed to pursue normal teenage aspirations or do we need to curb them because we cannot change the perverted mindset of our society. Their security is the biggest worry.

An active member on the forum Dee Ksha had this to say in response.

It is very subjective. It all depends on the city and institute. Broad guidelines remain. Be acutely aware of your surroundings. Observe and learn for first few weeks. Have local help numbers on speed dial. Don’t leave without your phone and keep it fully charged. There is safety in numbers so of it is late or you are in a deserted area, take a couple of friends along. Text if moving out alone e.g. stepping out to get milk from the market; then text upon return. Discuss or mention anything which is out of place or routine. Carry a whistle and pepper spray. As for attire, wear what you feel comfortable and confident in. Body confidence sends out a strong message. Also dress according to the environment, as there is no point drawing unnecessary attention to yourself especially if you are in a new city alone. Once you have found your feet and a sense of familiarity, you’ll know instinctively what works and what does not.  I have always suggested, regardless of that situation, do not let out too much information about yourself. Not until you’ve figured out the people around you. ‘Wait and watch’ always works!

Another member, Dr-Harmeen Homoeopathy had this to add

As a parent we are worried about scores and admissions. I feel, one has to train our children in self-defense, for it is equally important. Not only does it develop confidence, but also prepares the teen for the world.

Aditi Bhatia, another member added,

I have already agreed with my daughter that the time she gets after exams and before admissions start, she will learn basic techniques of self defense…after all it is important to be pro-active and we cant be with them all the time. Prevention is best.”

My two bits.

I answer this as a mother of a teenager. The hemlines or necklines are dependent on Your’s and daughter’s comfort level. Also explain to her all about peer pressure. Enrol the child in self defense classes. If she travels alone often, then pepper spray, one touch Helplines on mobile are a must. Curfew timings and socializing are up to you and her.

When there are ugly animals roaming around, we send our daughters into this world to become champions, with prayers on our lips and sprays in their purses.

What else?

Rupa and demonetisation

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Rupa hummed the latest chart buster as she stir-fried the bhendi, with one hand, while she rolled out the thin crispy parathas. Beer Singh, her husband, busy on the phone, came into the kitchen, tapped angrily at his watch. Rupa smiled apologetically and handed him his plate of food. She could hear her mother-in-law, invoking all the gods while she screamed at Rupa for her tardiness and her father-in-law demanded another cup of chai.

Nothing could faze Rupa. Not today. When long awaited happiness was in sight.

Tomorrow, her in-laws would leave home to visit her sister-in-law and her husband had appointments all through the day. So she would…

In a flash, she was back to that point where it had all started.

Rupa, true to name, was beauty born between many sisters, into a wealthy family steeped in conservatism. She was also bright with stars in her eyes and big dreams to chase. Her family let her study provided, she learnt all the ‘girlie’ talents. One by one, as her sisters were married off, much against their wishes, Rupa knew what fate awaited her but she hoped against hope. And sure enough, one fine day, as she came back from college, the elders gave her the news of her engagement with Beer Singh. Since the wedding was only a week away, her education was stopped. Wearily, Rupa got busy with the festivities.

On her wedding night, Rupa discovered what a monster her husband was…which continued. She tried complaining around. Her family said, their responsibility was over the moment she got married. It was up to her, to set her marriage straight. Her in-laws fumed, how dare she find fault with their precious son?

Enough ways were found to bring her into submission, to break her spirit. Weary Rupa, trudged along with life. Luckily there were no children and in-laws began hinting at another wedding. Totally broken, TV would be her entertainment, once she was done with her daily chores and the Mother-in-law retired for her siesta.

One fine day, Rupa happened to see, ‘Sleeping with the Enemy.’

A plan began to formulate in her head.

Beer Singh was a property dealer. There was always cash around. Rupa began to whittle away tiny amounts of cash from the sum she received to run the household, hid it in pantyhose, tucked it away under mattress, stashed away in the dark corners of closets. Mooched some cash away from the money given for safe keeping. Did whatever she could. Slowly this money grew into a significant reserve over time. It was her treasure, to be used as and when she decided to bolt, to set up life new in the remote south, where nobody knew her. She had it all planned.

And the D-Day was near. She was about to fly the coop the next day when all were busy.

Rupa finished the rest of the day very cheerfully. She cooked Beer Singh’s favorite food. The wretched bloke deserved one final kind gesture.

Beer Singh came back as usual, sozzled to the gills, demanded the TV be switched on while he ate his dinner. Suddenly, all the news channels started airing the PM’s address to the nation.

As of midnight, tonight, all 500 and 1000 notes will be demonetized. And…

Two people fell down simultaneously to the ground, though for different reasons.

Would Rupa get a chance to fly away? Tomorrow surely knows!

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Suddenly all her life was sucked out of her and Rupa became a mere shadow of her former self. She was trapped, forever! 

As is usual, no one in the family had noticed or cared really, busy as they were, with their own share of life altering and shattering cash problems. Beer Singh, her husband and her father-in-law were shocked beyond their wits, while the mother-in-law wailed round the clock. Bundles of notes everywhere but of no apparent value, as most of it was unaccounted for. All sorts of nefarious schemes were being considered and many fixers dropped in all the time, serving up, tens of under-handed dealings, to save the day.

Rupa, after the initial moping period, recovered soon enough. You cannot put a beautiful soul down, for long! She began to absorb and assimilate the information floating around her, sorting and discarding trash. She began to scout around amongst her friends for the most trustworthy, someone whom she could depend with her stashed but now worthless moolah. She obviously couldn’t share everything -(about her plans of flying off from her torture chamber) – with anyone!

Finally, she zeroed in on Sakhi, one of her closest acquaintances after her marriage with Beer Singh. Sakhi was shrewd and smart. Rupa would call Sakhi everyday, making deep inroads into Sakhi’s heart, exchanging daily domestic drivel, asking for advice. Once Rupa was sure that, Sakhi was now much closer to her, she told her mother-in-law, her intentions of visiting the nearby temple daily, to pray for the well being of the family. Mother-in-law waved her away, saying that it was ok, so long as all the jobs were done and she came back in time to attend to the rest. One less bother, to tackle!

Rupa would beg Sakhi to accompany her and Sakhi often indulged. Rupa amused her. Slowly, little by little, Rupa began to divulge her secrets to Sakhi. Sakhi was soon taken up by this adventure and she readily agreed to deposit the whittled cash in her account on the sly and take out the new denominations, over time, given the monetary withdrawal restrictions. Sakhi was amazed that, given the circumstances of Rupa, Rupa had managed to stash away so much. Of course, Rupa never revealed the entire truth though Rupa had no go except to trust Sakhi.

Over days, all the cash was deposited and it was time to rebuild the chest with new denominations.

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Why is Sakhi avoiding my calls? These days, she always meets me with someone in the room, so that I cannot speak about the money at all. What do I do now? What will she do with that cash? Above 2.5 lac, she needs to show the source! She knows that. Money makes morals fly’ thought Rupa, as she chopped onions. Her eyes were full of tears,- due to onions? or due to her anguish? she couldn’t comprehend.

I’m going to confront Sakhi today, no matter what! I will land up at her house, without any prior intimation and catch her off-guard!’. Rupa rushed through her chores, gave the excuse of a visit to the temple and marched towards Sakhi’s house.

Sakhi, luckily for Rupa, was all alone in her house. And a no-holds barred fight ensued. Sakhi point blank refused to part with the cash, even asking where the proof of deposit was. Rupa slumped into her chair. Sakhi pinned Rupa down, roughly shaking her by the shoulders and screamed, “ Get out of my house! Forget that we were friends ever! What money do you talk of? I dare you to prove it. If you keep coming here and harassing me, I will come over and complain to Bhaiyya. Now, get up and move.”

Softly sobbing Rupa, quietly stepped out, started her Scooty and moved towards home.

One of the narrower lanes, near her home was jam packed with people. Rupa tried to move around the crowd and then she spotted the boy, the reason for the milling crowd. A six year old boy was writhing in pain, foaming at the mouth, while the crowd watched. He had ingested something from the nearby food stalls. Someone had called the ambulance, but these are narrow roads. So…

Rupa called Sakhi, repeatedly but Sakhi didn’t pick up. Rupa quietly picked up the boy. She had to!

It was Sakhi’s son. She tied him to her back with her chunni, while he was throwing up on her, made another neighborhood lad sit behind, holding Sakhi’s son. She sped towards the hospital,  in the next lane, ran with the boy in her arms, created enough ruckus and got him admitted.

As the doctors attended to him, she made the call again to the mother. Sakhi didn’t pick up. She then messaged Sakhi.

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The doctors told Sakhi, that the timely medical attention had saved the boy. Else he had no chance. Sakhi, held Rupa and cried bitterly. Somehow the stench of vomit emanating from Rupa didn’t bother, either.

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Rupa, your friend Sakhi has come!” screamed Rupa’s mother-in-law. Rupa came out of the kitchen, smiled at Sakhi and took her to her room. Sakhi was carrying a big bag under her chunni. She simply put it in Rupa’s hands and bowed with her hands folded.

Rupa opened the zip, looked at the contents  and stuttered, “ This is much more than what I had given you!

Nothing I do, will ever repay your debt!” was all tearful Sakhi had to say.

Rupa smiled broadly and hugged Sakhi tightly

Now Rupa was ready to fly! It was all just a matter of time!