Sundari and Sha

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Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 12.03.52 PMThis post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 

Naren was pacing up and down the maternity ward. After what seemed eons, the nurse walked out gingerly. “It is a girl.” She said softly. She must have been wondering whether she would get any Bakshish. To her utter surprise, Naren hugged her tight and beamed, “The goddess has come to our house in the navratras!”. He gave her some money and rushed in, to check on his newborn and his wife Suma. The nurse smiled. There were some men left in this world! She thought, as she walked back to check on other patients.

Naren called his precious, ‘Sundari’. Sundari was born in a family which wanted only male progeny. Naren had been different. Work had taken him all around the world and broadened his thinking. He stuck out like a sore thumb in his ultra traditional community, with his new fangled ideas. But he cared a damn. After a son, he longed for a daughter and his wife gave him just that.

Sundari was pampered like a princess by Naren, though the relatives often cautioned the doting parents, that she might grow up to be a difficult one. God knows about that. She definitely grew into a heavy one.

Initially, Naren and Suma, thought it was puppy fat which might get shed by teenage. As a teenager when Sundari became bulkier, they thought, by college time, she would become svelte by peer pressure. Nothing changed, only weight remained constant. Naren and Suma tried to enforce dieting, but Sundari’s pinched and hungry face would melt their hearts. Naren and Suma would put her in a gym or under a yoga instructor. Her aching body and her tired bleating, made them break into an unhappy sweat.

All the weight containing measures were given up halfway, because parental love became overloaded.

Luckily, Sundari was an exemplary student all through, winning accolades and trophies. She was the teacher’s pet and the confidant of girls and boys.  Life was just great.But in the first year, at college, Sundari, was no longer in the protected environs of home. She often became the butt of cruel jokes. She shed many a silent tears. As soon she resolved to stick to a weight loss regime, it was exam time. Over hot samosas and cream rolls, Sundari was often seen holding court, clearing doubts of all and sundry, as she effortlessly cleared her exams with top grades. And the cruel jokes stopped, as she became the Gyan-Guru for all matters.

Soon, it was time to leave college, as most found jobs and their soul-mates. Sundari was again left high and dry, with no love interest in sight.

Vexed with her alone situation, Sundari decided to check into a Spa, before she joined work. Naren and Suma agreed and prayed, that she would get whatever she wanted.

On the first day at the spa, all assembled in the main hall, to mingle and connect. In that ‘large’ crowd, Sundari spotted a frail man.

“Very incongruous” thought Sundari. After the perfunctory exchanges, lunch was declared. It was beyond frugal. As Sundari, sat staring at her lunch plate disbelievingly, she never noticed the frail man sitting next to her.

“Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry. You can share my lunch. I won’t be able to finish mine.” The frail man had a deep baritone.

“Don’t be presumptuous!” snapped Sundari.

“I’m not! I mean it. I’m Sha! Without the ‘H’ and so I’m not a Hulk”  Sha declared, flexing his non-existent muscles.

Sundari laughed at this sight, patted his flat arms and almost immediately, felt ashamed. She had been a victim of body shaming all through her life and here she was, doing the same.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude” Sundari pleaded.

“It’s Ok. I’m used to this. You are?”

“I’m Sundari. Not really aptly named am I? Why are you here? You are thin! You can have the world! You will make all of us feel ultra miserable!!”

“Really? How about you walk a mile in my shoes before you form an opinion? I have this grand name and this puny frame. So all I get, whenever I offer any serious opinion or even mundane help is, ‘be a man first’. ‘We don’t need children’! Not so funny, is it? I see my friends having wild parties, but my delicate system can’t take it. Often, I end up being alone. All the girls want puffed up men. They don’t want to be seen with a delicate darling. Enough of my story! What is your deal, Sundari? Also finish my lunch, before the staff notices!”

Sundari and Sha, then spent the entire afternoon, walking, chatting and sharing. It was a strange bond. Plus they had so many common interests.

A week zipped by in connecting, load shedding and bulking up. Soon it was time to leave. They promised to meet each other after a month, to see if this new relationship had any meat in it, or if they could still continue their health regime. They wouldn’t talk to each other in the interim period nor try the social media, to keep track.

**********************************************

It has been five years so far.

Sundari often says dreamily, “You are the Sha of my dreams!”

And Sha lovingly replies, “You are the Sundari of my Sapnas!”

Sundari, having shed weight, after a herculean effort, continues to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sha is as bulky as he could be. He is now happy and contented with self.

Naren and Suma, run a fitness centre called ‘Weight and Watch’, cautioning the parents against overloaded love.

Bliss!

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Dear Beti

sampu n I

Dear Daughter,

My heart swells with pride, as I see you bloom every single day.

I then, want to open the very world to you, with it’s myriad opportunities. I hope that, you get to live out every single dream of yours, unfettered by the rigid parameters of this still regressive society.

I so want to set you free, but the breaking news about the brutes around, puts the brakes on my enthusiasm. So I enroll you, my delicate darling into self-protection classes, placating myself that I have somewhat prepared you, for the goons around. But have I really?

You prance around in shorts, often showing your legs off. I smile in indulgence and an inner voice begins to grow louder.

Let her not get used to this skin show! Cover her. Dress her in sedate salwar kameez. The earlier she starts, the better. She will be conditioned.”

I then smother that irritant and join you in the revelry. Honey, I send a silent prayer heavenward, asking for similar indulgence from the carping crowd of prehistoric times.

One day, you will finish college, find work and make a go at this, to be super successful. That will surely entail long hours and obviously, to recharge your batteries, some days you will let your hair down. Let us hope, by that time, the thinking all-around would have progressed, beyond the usual mundane and suffocating “Kids shouldn’t be alone outside, after dark! What terrible parenting!!”

Your brother says, “Make her strong enough to protect herself. She shouldn’t need anyone else.” How true really!

So, some of the sensible gifts, that we as parents, can give you are

  1. Letting you be yourself and not stifling you, according to others’ kosher parameters
  2. Making you self-sufficient and super strong
  3. Standing by you – Always! Non-Negotiable
  4. Respecting your choices
  5. Holding onto you, yet setting you free

So live your life, dear child, while we abide with you. Sky is the limit.

 

Last Day in the City

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It was my last day in the city of Ayodhya.

Husband had asked me to leave, knowing fully well that I was carrying his progeny.
How easily his manhood was threatened! By mere hearsay!!

As I sat watching the helpers pack, I couldn’t even cry. The hot scalding anger, refused to flow out as comforting tears. They could pack my clothes, my jewellery.

Could they pack in my reminiscences too? Or my youth spent in the shadow of the epitome of human virtues?

My eternal love, in spite of it all?  My unwavering belief in the man? My bravery, my vulnerability, my dreams or my hopes?

Why didn’t words of anger come out, questioning the skewed justice of it all? Why didn’t anyone feel that they owed me an answer? Why this abject all-around acceptance? 
Why couldn’t I say, when I was served my sentence and pronounced guilty, “Dearie, May I be allowed to feel the same about you? Can you promise me that, you didn’t even think about another paramour?
Those questions stayed put, deep inside and I was left with this gnawing ache.

Was that due to the conditioning of generations of us – ‘the so-called fairer sex’? To accept and to endure without any questions asked? Did I do myself any favor by staying silent?
I surveyed my palatial quarters, the gilded cage of righteousness!
I heard some of the staff wondering, if I could cope with the harsh jungles. Would those be more constricting than these opulent, uncaring walls?
Soon, it was time to go. I searched for the same affection that I carried in my heart, in His eyes. I barely found any.
I then surveyed around, took a deep breath in, filled in my senses with memories and walked out with my head held high, to embrace the unknown newness with open arms and dignity.
I lived again.

Author’s note : Narrative changes often due to changing social mores. Only when faced with adversity does one find strength to move on. If she had found the strength to question, the story would have been different across generations.

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

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I shall go on

#Blogathon #ALetterToHer,

#AFightAgainstDomesticViolence  

 

Khaab ZNMD

Dearest AJ,

It is me, your long forgotten self-confidence. It has been a while since we last met, isn’t it?

Firstly, isn’t it strange to pen a letter to self? Sometimes, when the outer world smothers you, emasculates you, you need your dormant, deep-hidden, inner-self to find voice and tell you  to hang on, to inhale and exhale. To live beyond the simple day-to-day surviving.

Now, walk to the nearest mirror and take a long look at self. Do you recognize this tired, listless, lifeless reflection? Well I don’t!

Was this the same wondrous visage that went about chasing rainbows, spread life, laughter wherever she went? How many tears have those sunken eyes shed, to lose all their luster? Why are those dry, cracked lips curved down? Where has that sunshine smile disappeared?

Dig deep into your soul and pull out that lost ‘You’. You were the one who was going make the impossible, possible. Find the strength honey, to believe, to breathe, to move on and to march ahead.

You have to remember the promises you made to yourself. Now make them a reality. You owe that much to yourself.

Rise up like the Phoenix from the very ashes of your present, to soar high and paint a much brighter tomorrow.

The pain is searing I agree! The humiliation is beyond endurance and you blame yourself for all that has gone wrong in this relationship!

What will others say?

No dear, no one gets to have an opinion on your life, unless they are paying the bills. On hindsight, not even after that! 

So walk out before even you forget that you exist. No doubt, it is going to be a Herculean task to rebuild but we both are going to do so, brick by brick.

Do read Meena Kandasamy’s latest novel, When I Hit You  http://bit.ly/Meenabk2.  It is an account of an abusive marriage and it forces one to examine the notions of domestic abuse.

I will be waiting for your resurgence.

Till then,

Yours truly

AJ

 

A Dog’s life

screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-12-26-08-amThis post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda’.

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It is almost midmorning. I haven’t seen Momma yet.

Daddy had left for office, at his usual time, giving me a mighty kick, on his way out.

Momma’s bedroom door is still tightly shut. Seasoned as I am, I don’t disturb her. But my sixth sense says, she is Ok, just hurting. A lot! But that is nothing out of the ordinary.

Suddenly the door opens, Momma comes out, scoops me up and mutters incoherently.

“Come on Sheru, let us go and indulge ourselves in a much needed mani-pedi session.” She then bundles me up and starts the car.

I look at her. Behind those gigantic glares, I know that her eyes would be puffed up, carefully camouflaged with eyeliner and mascara. Her quivering lips sporting a blood red, start muttering again.

“You know Sheru, he isn’t a bad guy. He provides for me.  He never hits me. He just loses his temper and says vile things. But that is stress you know, all his work makes him volatile!”

I say nothing. The incongruity of calling a pint sized me, a Sheru, hasn’t hit her so far. When will she see the truth that stares at her, right in the face?

My mother, Moti, Momma’s earlier pet, used to tell me that Momma was the life of her family, raised as a princess. Momma’s father and Daddy’s father were business acquaintances who wanted to take their friendship to the next level. They solemnized  their children’s marriage, in a grand ceremony, which became the talk of the town. Daddy wanted to marry someone else but when his father threatened disinheritance, quietly married Momma. He now takes his anger out on Momma.

But what I fail to understand is why does she take it? What terrible fate is she afraid of? Does the fear of unknown make one settle for known misery? Why does she not leave him and go back to her parents’ place? I remember, Momma talking to her parents, who suggested to her to work on her marriage, use her charms, win Daddy over. He was a catch you see. Daddy lost his cool at times, that’s it. No big deal! Daddy was to be Momma’s only goal.

After this sermon, vivacious Momma had become very quiet.

Her parents would often send costly gifts to fill up her home.

Instead, they could given her the needed courage to walk out and rebuild her life.

I am an animal, I can understand this much. Why don’t humans then?

And they call mine, a Dog’s life!

I am loyal. So, I go silently with Momma to all her mani-pedi sessions, hoping one day, she will wake up and walk away from this mess and find her destiny.

Till then Wuff Wuff!

A drop in the ocean

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

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She had become this human machine, working nonstop, round the clock, 24/7!

Her entire day was divided into slots of home upkeep, office work, monitoring of children and few minuscule hours of much needed sleep.

Often tired and irritable, she let go at the family, who sometimes bore it silently and sometimes gave it back. Unhappiness all around

She had helpers and her mother who stayed with them to help out with the children. Yet..

On a Sunday, the wife and husband had a war of words with many unnecessary harsh truths about each other used as weapons. The husband then stormed out the house. The children slipped out to the playground.

As she sat crying, her mother came down and sat next to her.

Dear girl, wipe your tears. Let me tell you a story.

Ram was watching the bridge being built across the water, to reach Lanka, by the army of monkeys, bears etc. His eyes then fell on a squirrel, valiantly carrying pebbles to plug in the holes between the boulders making the bridge. The squirrel, exhausted with it’s effort, sat panting. Ram reached out and caressed it by running his fingers across the length of it’s body. Ever since the squirrels have had those three lines.

How is this relevant? You forget that, when you are tired and yet working, your husband rustles up something to drink for you. Without your asking. His act could be a tiny drop in the ocean of daily drivel, thoughtful nonetheless. You have servants, yet you insist on supervising, redoing and adding to your burden.

Learn to let go. Get freer. Supernovas delegate and oversee. Don’t fret unnecessarily.

Make someone else responsible and let them learn to do it to your liking. Let your children grow into independent beings. You are an omnipresent mother. You even carry this trait to work, often saddling yourself with more burden than necessary. What is the team for?

I know dear, you are one in a million but you must also remember that you are also a drop in the ocean. Sometimes we feel we have a lot like a great career, house, money but it is very little compared to what is needed. A great home, good friends and a happy life. Please appreciate every small effort, every small contribution, made in the right direction. It makes a significant difference to your life.

Dear girl, even a drop in the ocean counts.

Now get up, call him, go out and enjoy. I will look after the kids. Don’t worry, they are in safe hands. After all, I raised you dear, to be this spectacular person.

She got up, hugging her mother tightly and reached for her phone.

It was going to be great week.

Oh Blimey

sochAnd the ping came as innocuously as ever – “The article is due on..”. The red heart at the end, did not make it any less ominous though. Phew!

With the deadline hanging on her head like a Damocles sword, a worried AJ then sat with her new valentine gift – (A blue pen! First it was a laptop, then a phone and now it was back to demonetized basics)- hoping that enthralling words would find their way across to the paper in front. Was she gonna present a ‘white paper’? What would she write about?

Darling-Dotty, who was on her 15th short break from studies, walked in with her ukulele, promising to belt out a mind churner. AJ was now stricken. Darling-Dotty took pity on her mater and suggested kindly, “Why don’t you write about tests, Mom? A very in topic these days. You see, everything is a test for someone, somewhere!” Oh! deeper words never mouthed!

Can you elaborate more honey?” AJ half-interestedly answered, lest the dotty wandered off into a “You never pay any attention to what I say, You neither hear nor listen” diatribe

Dotty went full throttle. “Well mom, you see, like the valentine’s day was an acid test for the brave-hearted lovers. Those who got the answer in affirmative, are now wondering if they have been hasty.  Did they make the right choice at all?

Or take the case of Small_Aunty! She thought she could by-pass the long hand of the law and was in a tearing hurry to be the reigning queen. How the tables have turned! By a twist of Karmic  justice, she finds herself Bangaloored.

In a few days, many children, will find themselves getting tested to check if they have mastered the rote art. Their moms are going ballistic with an ‘Atlas Shrugged’ visage and demeanor. All social agenda is on a pause mode because Pappu has to pass. Hopefully the almonds consumed by the kilos, would fetch some grades!

Mom, are you with me? I caught you dozing. Don’t say you were paying attention!

AJ wearily countered “Honey, stay on track!

Darling_dotty ploughed on, “ Yeah, what was I saying? The populous state of our our holy land is now privy to a budding bromance, between two good sons. Will this new Jai-Veeru bond will last the test of time and power? Destiny will answer. Will the Alpha-Male find the going tough, now that trash cash was just a poll scheme rehash? What fate awaits the Muffler-Man’s Broom? As I ..

Dear Dotty, you have an exam tomorrow and you are really testing my patience. Have you finished your course? Are you even aware of your syllabus? ” AJ was worked up with so many details thrown at her.

Mom, you worry about my passing mere tests while you fail to see that I can study life and give an adept and cogent analysis. BTW, What’s for dinner?

And Dotty leaving behind her worldview perspective, scooted to safety, to get back to her rote learning while AJ wondered whether her write-up would find any takers, if she would pass the test.

Hope floats…