Ripped into headlines………….

Sumi balanced herself on the footstool,her face hidden behind the curtains, lest she be visible to the girl gang outside.She sighed as she saw them displaying their flairy,flowing  outfits. It was five in the evening and the girls had gathered for a session of teen gossiping. Sadly, Sumi was not a part of them.

She did not fit into the “hep” terminology of teens-with her oily hair composed in plaits, her shoes showing no signs of elevation,her lips way away from being glossy,her skirt touching her ankles and then her undemanding and straighforward orientation-all these just diminished her chances of being a part of that group.When those teens swayed to the rhythm of Salsa,she learned the mudras of Bharatnatyam.When they huddled for burgers at Mc Donalds, Sumi’s only source of entertainment was the inevitable Doordarshan.

Monetary or for other reasons,she never catched up with her teenage community. The only days when she would be seen hand in hand with the members of the girl gang was when exams were creeping forward,sending chills down their spines to beg help from Sumi. On other days,they would not even acknowledge her customary call.

Sumi got down from the footstool. She was tired. The last two days of the week which were eagerly awaited were consumed by the labourers who came to fix the communication device. After all the cleaning and mopping,Sumi’s back refused to calm down-it pained badly.

Monday morning dawned to find Sumi down with fever.

However she bundled herself up to face the Unit test.It was seven in the morning when she stepped out and Chitra aunty called out to her.She felt she heard three other calls.

She looked up at Chitra aunty standing in the balcony.

“Congratulation!!!Sumi”said Chitra Aunty. “I saw the workers.”she said.

Mrs Khanna and Mrs Chaudhary from the other block wished her as well,though usually they address her as Madrasan in their whispering tones.

Sumi hurried towards the her bus stop,to find three members of the girl gang standing there and smiling at her.

“Oh!Sumi they said,so you have left us all behind.You are the heppest of our lot,ain’t you?” and they hugged her.We would love to be friends with you.

Sumi laughed.

At school,her class teacher congratulated her.

Sumi’s fever titptoed to a  corner,as the day passed.Wishes had arrived enmasse.

All this for the telephone installed Sumi thought?The telephone connection at our home is the breaking news today,she told mother when she got back home.The one good news is that I am in the girl gang now.

“Yes,my dear child,the neighbourhood is happy and proud  for the lone telephone connection it has.”Mother said.

The little red and white communicator had ripped into headlines.

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She hard her mother open the door to Mrs Chaudhary.She wanted to make a call to her distant relative.

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The normal…………….

Srini huddled to a corner,sobbing.

“I am not going to part with my share,” she thought. She knew that when Amma (mother) comes to know about their fight,she would pounce upon her,bestowing the lion’s  share of thrashing,reserved  as return gifts to their daily fights.

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Srini  though was fond of her little brother Sree but when it was the question of mangoes, her  yearning taste buds annulled her decency and entered into squabble with dearest brother. Amma came running to the wails of Sree. He yelled and shrieked for the small slice of Mango squashed in Srini’s palms. She  smiled at the triviality of their locking-horns and went about scheduling the events of  the upcoming wedding of her youngest brother-in-law. She did not  care to nullify the push and pulls of Srini and Sri.

Srinidhi (aka Srini) and Sreejit (aka Sree) where the youngest in a Hindu undivided family.Their father had three brothers ,two were elder to him and the house stood illuminated like a bride for celebrating the matrimony of the youngest.

Srini was scarcely eight and she had been a witness and spectator to the daily bickerings of the fifteen odd members of their family. The day started with the morning clamor of bed tea by the mail members of the family-the otherwise morning call of the rooster subdued and mellowed. She could hear her elder brothers and sisters howling at each other for the occupation of washrooms. She was the onlooker when conflicts erupted for hair bands, clips ,ribbons……………kohls  and endless beauty aids which could animate a female face. She spied the usual altercation in the kitchen –that “ I “  (whosoever it may be) was more burdened than “She” ……….the “I” and  “She” however played hopscotch and changed places every week.She delighted in the mayhem that was a usual feature at the breakfast table-where “My wife” was praised over “His wife” for culinary skills, while the kids thrilled at the fact that every week introduced them to new flavors. Srini felt ghastly when grandfather was served spicy food and he would roam around teary eyed throughout the day, for the fact that his daughter-in-law who took turn to cook for the week had a piquant taste.

Patience and peace inhabited a faraway land and wisdom drowned in the nearby pond.

Srini gobbled the mango slice and slipped into deep slumber.

Today she woke up to the recital of “Suprabhatam” . “Oh! today is the wedding day.” A voice echoed in her heart. She climbed down the stairs to find everyone decked up.

An hour later, dressed up in Pattu pavada(read silk skirt and top) Srini saw the bride and the groom, hand in hand  circulating around the sacred fire. An array of rituals followed before Srini grabbed a moment to chat with the new bride.

“Why did you marry Uncle? He is always fighting” said Srini. Her aunt looked up amazed and asked “What on earth does he fight for?”

He fights for the toothpaste in the morning,for towels after his bath,for rice and pudding during lunch,for an extra share of mangoes,for ev…vvveeerryy thing,emphasized Srini and her aunt burst into peals of laughter.

“Srini” whispered her new aunt-Chitra aunty,  “I am a magician,I will spell magic on him and he will never fight.”

Srini laughed heartily.

Days and months saw Chitra Aunty as an impeccable manager lending an ear ,an  advise and a sympathetic nod to every confrontation.

She was allocated the last week of every month to display her culinary skills. However she managed to sneak inside the kitchen for helpful tips to her elder sisters-in-law and was graceful enough to let them enjoy the appreciations awarded for delicacies articulated by her. She convinced the ladies of the house to cater to the taste buds of their old and ill father-in-law .She reminded them as to what would they have done if it was their own father.She moulded the children of the house to inculcate the sense of kinship and sharing among themselves.She nudged them at right places and coaxed them to be branches of one tree rather than scattered weeds.She gave “herself” to them ,rather than being a coy new bride,she held the bridle to redirect ways and to churn out positivity and peace.

Srini now heard the morning call of the rooster.The brickbats which displayed ‘normalcy’ to her had gave way to ‘peace’.The morning tea was not preceded by yells,neither the morning abolutions and the mayhem at the breakfast table gave way to consideration and adoration to serving hands.

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She wondered how being normal differed from place to place and individual to individual.Even her normal self had changed-from craving for an extra mango slice to feeding that extra slice to Sreejit.

What is being normal Srini thought?

Every man to assess for themselves,she concluded.

Or is there anything by the name of “normal”

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The soul pill

Food for soul,food for thought…………..so many terms whirlpooled, as I read in between the prompt .“The red pill,blue pill” and I recollected the definition,revised for hours and hours together.

 

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Nutrition-The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health.

A s a little girl, I remember sweating in the weekly markets to buy vegetables with Amma(read mother),filtering mangoes,apples,bananas and numerous other fruits-the good from the rotten segregating the veggies which looked solemn after a hard day in the scorching sun and the ones which serenaded  the veggie market after a winning battle with the burning inferno,turning away the ones which were breathing their last and the ones with their striking looks eager to lend flavor…………..

I loved the rugged texture of bitter gourd,the slide like shape of bottle gourd,thethin and long -lady’s finger and its deceptive cousin –the green chillies which played proxy for each other,the white florets of cauliflower,the layered cabbage,the sea green cute roundels of tinda,the indispensable potato,the garnishing effect of mint and coriander…………the intense incense of greens ingrained………..

I marveled at their colourful hue,I would stand in awe at their peculiar shapes,the sweet,sour,tangy…….taste they infused into any veggie combination.

Growing up was easy- it involved reading which was indispensable-whether English,Hindi or Malayalam,playing hopscotch and hide a seek was a necessity,and visiting the temple satiated me………….

But as I grew up-I gathered the indisputable difference between the food that saturated physical hunger and the food that gratified the soul.

There were countless days……when the veggies were mute spectators to the wound inflicted on the soul,they would remain served in  ornamented porringers waiting to represent themselves,but they were tongue tied before the aggrieved soul……….the distressed soul at the last day of school,at the last day of college,the day I left my family in accordance with the rules of society,the day I left my first job,the day I left my child to be cared by someone else…………days filled with despair………when the soul was hurt,the physical being subdued and the hunger never elevated itself to the state of being contented with delicacies.The lamenting soul prioritized over the starving body.

The shapshots that captured you as a toddler,as a child,as a teenager………………where do they stand before the mouth-watering cuisines of the world or before the rainbow pills that tame the foreign bodies …who assemble to overthrow our spirits….

It’s our heart which rules and directs most of the acts done and words spoken.Cuisines are inventions of hale and hearty people,who rejoice making combinations of flavours,its an art and it requires an artist to fabricate masterpieces.

Pills-multitudes of them can never endow someone with happiness.Its your heart which holds the key.When it is sad you sulk,wandering aimlessly, and when it is thrilled,the world  is animated ,exhilarated in varied colors of happiness………………..

 

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Red pill or blue pill……………….. for me its the Soul pill that rules.

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The girl of old Philadelphia………………..

Srini stood still, hankering to escape, she wished she could just melt away into air. She did not like visitors at home and the laborious task of being presentable before the guests for the two-three odd hours when they would occupy her living room ,having umpteen sumptuous delicacies served by her mother was a bit too much to ask for thought Srini. She had to fit into the behavioral caricature designed by her mother. Guests from her mother’s home town called for an appearance in typical South Indian sytle, which though she liked, but despised when asked to. Srini was supposed to behave well and not pounce upon her mother’s home made delicacies. So she had to influence her craving to evoke the willingness to abstain from  gluttony . Nevertheless  the old man who sat there irked her. He came once every two months and was mother’s distant relative. He worked in American Embassy and boasted of about the history of the great nation he served. Americans and their history were of little interest to Srini. That day he had brought 5-6 books with red paperbacks. Srini’s eyes explored them stealthily from behind the door. Books had always thrilled her, she loved the odour emanating from new books, the crispiness of newly printed pages, and the words looked  like a flock of bird nestled together, ready to take a flight to perch themselves on the tender branches of her heart. Image As the gentleman left, Srini swooped down on the books. The bundle fell from her hands. She picked up the first book which read,  “Betsy Ross-The girl of Old Philadelphia.” Srini was instantly drawn towards the book. Page after page talked about the Quaker girl of Philadelphia born into a mediocre family, who grew up to be the one who made the first American flag. “Elizabeth Griscom…………Betsy Ross” Srini murmured to herself. There was something so familiar about that name. She felt a rare and strange affinity towards that name, as if it was her own. As she read past Betsy’s childhood she could visualize her walking down the Quaker street, mumbling ……words tumbling from her own thoughts, stumbling as she ran errands for her mother, rambling along the countryside, gambling while playing games of chance. She envisioned Betsy sewing for her sisters, brewing coffee for her parents,  mending clothes in the neighbourhood, lending the artiste in her to every possible applause. Srini felt herself in Betsy’s shoes. Betsy and her book became her soulmates. The book would go with her wherever she went.The five hundred odd pages were read and re-read to satiate upon the kinship that she nurtured for the girl. Her eyes slipped into  slumber to dawn upon the streets of Philadelphia,she felt herself walking down the street to the church,she could feel the thimble that Betsy wore while sewing,her friends seemed like her own,she shared her feeling of rejection and appreciation. Years together she has tended to her dreams of visiting Philadelphia and the Betsy Ross house,to understand and comprehend the strange camaraderie she had towards the place………….

(Betsy Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836), born Elizabeth Griscom and also known by her second and third married names Elizabeth Ashburn and Elizabeth Claypoole,[1] is widely credited with making the first American flagand changing the stars on the flag from six-pointed to easier-to-produce five-pointed stars.[2][3][4] However, there is no archival evidence that this story is true.[5]) Courtesy:-Wikipedia

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The festival of lights……………………………….

Indu sat grim faced……

“I am so careless …………..I am not fit to be designated as the  Accounts Manager.”she  thought..

The maddening rush since the last three days had left her sick and feeble.

People thronged the Greater Kailash Branch of one of the prominent private sector banks…………..for discounted “Goddess Laksmi”embedded 24carat gold coins issued by the bank on the occasion of Diwali.

The branch was crowded……….the pleasentness of November soaked in the perfumated sweat of the diversity that got together to celebrate the festival of lights.

Cash withdrawal was the one of the major players which kept the branch staff glued to their screens.

Indu sat at her desk,she was the salary manager who looked after the salary disbursement of  multitudes of multinational companies which had their salary accounts there.And for the past one week her table was piled up with bonus cheques or the fringe benefits…………….waited for, impatiently by thousands of employees across India.

She was on the edge of breaking down,when the intercom buzzed.

She whimpered into the receiver.It was her branch manager………..

“Indu,come to my cabin.”he said

As she climbed up,she juggled to string together words to give a possible explanation……

“Come In Indu.”said Mr Murthy her maanger.

“Sir,”.As she started off as Mr Murthy intervened.

“See we need a possible solution,your anguish,regret or repentance cannot buy the festival fervor for 3000 employees.”Mr Murthy said sternly.

“But where on earth did you loose that five crore cheque.”Mr Murthy said in an incriminating tone….

‘Sir,can you give me the permission to talk to the Regional Manager of the company.”Indu said stoically.

“Daughter,”Mr Murthy said. “You can try.But I see no solutions.I shall not keep you in dark,But both you and me have to accept our negligence”

Indu stood up,she felt exhausted.She struggled to go down to her desk.

“This  festival of joy……has brought the inevitable cimmerian shade to my life..”Indu thought.

“Madam,your phone was continuously resonating…….Hum Tum,”the office boy said

“Sampat, I feel ill.I am not interested in any calls.”

The phone buzzed again.Angrily she just switched it off.Embroiled in thoughts,Indu sat at her desk,thinking of the uncountable families that were robbed of the joy of festivity because of her…..

She decided to call up the regional office of the company.Three attempts waddled her to the voice mail,no success.

She sat crouched.There was a tap on her desk.Indu looked up.

“Mr Mehra stood there,He took out a bunch of roses,.Happy choti deepawali ,he said.”

“happy deepawali”Indu said.

Mr Mehra was one of the oldest customers of her branch.

‘He handed out an envelope.What is it Indu asked……….Your blunder ,he said…….

“Sir,Please I might have… I have been disorganized since morning.I am sorry.”

“Open it,he said……………It is an aeroplane made by my grandson,when I came today morning”Mr Mehra said.

“Sir,I will……later……I have so much work accumulated.”

“Yes …you will have dear,you may have to sit through the night……..Open it….

Indu opened……………….and shrieked with joy as she saw that crumpled piece of rectangular paper which said “towards the midterm bonus of ……………………………………………………”

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Indu sobbed incessantly.

Child……….Mr Mehra said

The five crore cheque formed an aeroplane at the hands of a five year old and found joy…………spread happiness….

It will now segment itself to spread happiness to thousands of people……………………..the segments will segregate themselves to give solitary happiness to another thousands…………..those thousands would illuminate numerous homes on the joyous occasion,those illuminants would then fill millions of moments with euphoria………….those million moments would then huddle for many years for people to reminisce……………..those memory lanes would again gather infinite moments whenever these euphoric moments revive in memory,……………so with this cheque……you are going to spread………zillions of happy moments forever……………….

Cheer up,darling………..Its Diwali….the festival of light………

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A Leaf from my life……………….

The fortune teller,sat brooding over the placement of Rahu and ketu,I could see the spiral scribblings in Malayalam on a paper,but decided to let them be illegible……my eyes galloped over them as in a sprint race,the fear had invaded unfathomable proportions of my life……… This fear started the day…..when my fingers were forced to form words that expressed my inability to continue my services with the largest private sector bank.
I still remember the eighth day of the fifth month of the year,grasped in the tweezer grip of summer,burning like hearth…when I stealthily walked towards my branch to handover the ten lines that dictated the life of a recluse for me….……..
The answer to my innumerable questions lay in the escapades of these planets?Have they reigned in my life? I thought? They must have that is why I was here to learn from a stranger,the reason behind leaving my job…..
Two years had passed since I opened any account ,made drafts, cancelled payorders, played with tufts of currency.I loved my job,I l loved to slog it out there.I loved the FDRs, I loved the smell of new currency.the clatter of the money counting machines,the jingle of coins, I loved depreciation accounts, balance sheets,the opening of lockers ,the feel of cheques ……………loved everything about the job I was in .My work was my identity, the realization that I was recognized,…………………it was my most favourable companion…..
The two years I spent tending to household and to my children….. I lost myself somewhere,I became subdued,the voice inside went into hibernation,an extrovert and vibrant girl was quashed…..instead a new woman whose routine ventures grilled her in the four walls of the house,whose whimper died down in the bubbling rice…….came into life…..
I used to have that disheveled look every day,my conscience crouched,disoriented I went on from one chore to another,unable to comprehend where my life was heading towards,when the incoherency faded sometimes…..tears would trickle down drenching my clothes……the little solace came by way of the movement of those little hands and legs…….those angelic eyes and the honey coated call that rang in my ears “mamma……..”
The sole reason that made me feel that all that conspired was worthwhile…………………….
So there was I sitting expectingly before a fortuneteller……….questioning myself.Does he have the answers to my queries or I am the one who has masqueraded herself to be a perfect puppet,capable of
any acrobatics to be performed as commanded.

I investigated and concluded…….the conviction was done…..it was me……
He raised his eyes and asked,do you write?Oh!!! I was caught unawares.I said “I do.”
Stop that he said,”Otherwise bury your dreams of being a working woman.”Your scribblings turn away the job that come your way.”
My conscience was the interrogator….Life became a jigsaw puzzle…
Words had a way with me……they played hopscotch in my mind even while I picked up tossed clothes or dusted the window sill….They were a part of me,to separate them with me were to take the soul out of the body.
Further I sank………………….
I dread that phase of my life………….when I almost lost myself……and then it took 365 more days to convince myself and immense courage and the affection of the angel in my life……..the woman whom I call “amma” to drag me back to life….
I owe two lives to her……..

Those lingering thoughts
In they tiptoed and I fought
Messing up this sparing lane of mine
Groping with enlightened thoughts divine
Far in the dead night
In to the hollows of the creeping fright
They stalked……….
And I fled…………….,
Crippled and squeezed……..
I twisted and crawled………
Pushed and gathered………….
A handful of me…………
And then I grew……
Sprouting in sunlight milieu……
Folding in out…………
Crumpled and erect………
From docile to deft
Its me as I shouted aloud…………….
To enliven my life bereft…….
Spring did set in……….
As it flew and came……..
Another monster……..it said
You have tamed………..
Those lingering thoughts…….
Zigzaged their way
…..with my bliss
An irrefutable play
Drenched as I sighed………
Life must have giggled at my plight……….
But the spring never gave in
It cuddled me in its
Effervescent grin
Borrowed wings……
To fly and win
Craddled and rocked…..
with her tender strings
those lingering thoughts……
still tiptoe and throng
a brute from a minion……
still……..a tussle…..
to assign it to oblivion…….

Written for Project 365 at We Post Daily.Today’s prompt was
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A tribute………

When I saw this prompt, a blurred assemblage of pictures tiptoed and resulted in a adrenalin rush.
The prompt egged me on to write about the pros and cons of medical facilities……………mind wavered
and everytime the words wriggled in my fingers……….my fingers quivered….to write

May 2005
The recurring headaches were a cause of concern,though he had the inkling of the reasons behind it,his blood pressure was always on the higher side……However recently his continuously pounding head had left him senseless……………….
Frequent visits to the in house pathologiccal labs yielded no result.An assosrtment of blood and urine tests ensured that he was out of his wits.The panel of doctors of one of leading companies which made fibre glass grappled with many a tests to barge in on a diagnosis.Further the C T scans ,ultrasounds and MRI ensued……………
Days stumbled into months,until they arrived at a diagnosis of polycystic kidney syndrome……a disease characterized by the presence of multiple waterfilled cysts on kidneys,which results in the enlargement of kidneys and ultimately renal failure.A genetic disease, polycystic kidney disease is life threatening and can affect the functioning of liver and pancreas as well.
This genetic disease has no medical cure.Life style changes were advised,as well as a diet congenial for kidney to be preserved at the present state as well as to nab aggravations was prescribed by the doctors.As per the medical advise of the panel of doctors,a fluctuating blood pressure may result in the rupture of the cysts which was life threatening.
A enthusiastic and lively fellow,was caricatured in a series of medical advises.He seemed to loose patience.Tall and handsome,his protruding belly was the only oddity which meagerly lessened his otherwise statesteque image…….
He learned to live with it……………………

Sep 2012
Seven years had galloped and he learned to live with those cysts.Though everybody was unaware of the fact that he had made paper planes out of those prescriptions which dictated him to live life on the terms of the vernacular medical language.
Symptoms persisted,blood pressure fluctuated amidst the effervescent personality that cradled such a rare and genetic disease.
In the middle of September,he started getting a tingling sensation in his feet.He could not raise his legs to climb stairs.Again a array of dismal looking tests,formed shapes in the indecipherable prescriptions.Tests after tests unveiled the somber state of his kidneys,which were now entirely covered with watery cysts.His kidneys did not stand a chance to survive and he was on the verge of renal failure……………
Day after day added,weird looking,muticoloured multifunctional little rascals to his kitty.Little rascals as he called them,his capsules,which he envisaged as convicts thrown into dungeons,who penalized themselves to create few breaths for us.
The little rascals however did not have the potential to curb his tingling sensation,or arrest the pain in his legs.Gradually he was dragged to the point of being immobile.The natural proficiency,bestowed upon every humanbeing became a herculean task.

Along with it he developed breathing problems.His ailments increased,much to the astonishment of his doctors,who were an elite conglomerate of certified specialists,who like statistics students were finding all possible values for a random variable.
Data collection and analysis continued,while the little rascals went futile,and he was bedridden.Then came the final blow,an xray of his lungs to diagnose the rationale behind its malfunctioning.
The X ray was done,but was never revealed to the family.Again a trail of consecutive tests and then a biopsy.It was now more than a month,since he had been admitted to one of the elite hospitals in the heart of Ahmedabad.One month of a plethora of tests could not decipher the script that his body was writing.The doctors then advised for a biopsy.
In between all this commotion,the family stood as silent spectators,rendered incapable and unlettered in the world of medicines.The sample for biopsy were sent to Mumbai for examination and it took another fifteen days before he was finally diagnosed with last stages of lung cancer.
What started as a tingling sensation in his feet,was a monster who had half gobbled his life.Hastily he was airlifted to one of the most sought after hospitals in the national capital.
I remember him in December 2012,looking feeble.A 48year old tall handsome man transformed to a emaciated bunch of bones.The last I saw him,he cried and said,I want to live.He breathed his last on February 11 2012.

I personally subscribe the reason for his death,to the laxity of doctors,who delayed diagnosis and consequently the treatment.I know he would not have survived,but probably they would have added a few more breaths to his life,a few more smiles,celebrations,occasions to remember,a few more cricket matches which he loved to watch, a few more instances when I could call out to him and his voice ringing in my ears………………….
That little more life was denied to him…………..courtesy I do not know….

I ponder over this question,to understand that if He had gone to a government medical institution,where treatment comes free of cost,albeit uncountable rounds of dimly lit rooms,and endless queues,stamps demarcating treatments categorized free……………………………..and in which half of the staff,become doctors on the basis of the quota system followed in recruitments………..would he have survived?
Rest apart don’t you think this profession should be out of this reservation gamut?
A student who scores 40% is more eligible to become a doctor than a student who gets 95%?The former being a doctor would exihibit the upliftment of his backward community and the latter being shown the exit door would migrate to a foreign country in search of greener pastures
The brain drain.
And supposedly if it is left to private institutions…..then?
Incomprehensible it is……..It took a renowned medical institution three months to arrive at a conclusion that “He” was in the last stages of cancer……………….
Private hospitals squeeze your pockets,taking advantage of the hapless vulnerability of,a patient’s family.Every single breath,in a sanitized elite hospital elicits tufts of crispy notes.

Medical facilities provided by government agencies or private should demonstrate transparency in its functioning.And any private establishment providing health care facilities should abide by and operate under the rules and regulations prescribed by government agencies.The government should inturn keep a check on the compliance.All said and done……………..
The one who left me………whom I fondly called Sasi mama……………..would never be back……
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