To the memory land

The day was September 9,1989.I held my breath as the box sneaked in with six brawny hands holding it from the four sides.I could see Sona peeping out of her window with glint in her eyes.

A sudden surge of excitement drowned me.I felt like a fairy who had the magic wand to grant wishes.

My Science text book stared at me and urged me to nibble at the words huddled together to explain the law of gravity.The law of gravity however manifested itself in the auburn skinned box.I inched towards it.A celebrity in its own right,the auburn box stood upright swarming with admirers.The month of September which was usually bereft of  family sojourns  due to the term exams every  year was today showered with squeals and giggles.

The auburn package rested itself on a side table waiting to be opened and “oohed ” and  “aahed” upon,waiting for the innumerable appreciative gazes that it would gather,waiting for the  soothing bliss that it could shower on the mortals,sighing for those effervescent smiles garnered on its performance as the ultimate entertainer.

Day after day it gathered dust. Glum and clumsy it must be feeling I observed.Imagine the plight  of a bird with wings tied……..?This was what I felt for my auburn treasure.It could take me to unknown lands,give my eyes the ultimate pleasure I wished for,my ears the rhythmic  bliss I longed for and the ownership of the that one auburn box…………..

I laughed and dreamt about  the  images that could manifest from my auburn treasure, how I would feel when words would stumble out of that to land in my ears,when colour would entice me and the rippling  shades would paint a archipalego,when fancy fantasies would become substantial substances,when the ethereal stars of the day would elevate my spirits in elegant ensembles,when sizzling numbers would satiate the simmering spirits of adolescence and  the bubbly child in me booms an beams, brimming  the bastions.

These were the feelings about the  box which opened on the last day of the term-end exams.The first colour television of the family had arrived.As it was switched on,I could see Hema Malini singing “Mile sur mea tumhara”.It has since etched in memory.The feeling of oneness that the song brought was immense.To this day I watch it-the only source being you tube.

I wonder,whether my children could ever share the excitement,which I had when  the first colour television was installed in our house or the patience with which that box was kept for about fifteen days.Today, children are born techies.They are smart kids who swipe smart phones and google for smart answers.I wish I could take my children 25 years back and make them realize how life was then.They would value their software enabled lives more.

How excited were children then to see coloured moving pictures and how having a television at home was like wearing the crown of “ being the privileged one.”

I wish they  could see vast playgrounds,market places devoid of vehicles,summers without airconditioners,winters without blowers,communication without mobile phones,travel in transport buses,walk down with me to buy groceries,light candles and lamps during load shedding and read under them,have pen friends,send postcards,receive new year greeting cards from relatives…………….

The list is endless…….But the one single thing that I would like for them……is to value every leisure that they have.

This post is being written for the #BachpanWithFlinto blogger contest. 

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It does feel like home,doesn’ t it?

It does feel like home  ,doesn’t it?

Mom is not there…….

gone are the days….

of her intensive care……..

those sweet calls….

melodious in my ears…..

the glaring silence….

echoing the fears…

None to fight………..

a blank enterprise……..

walls boomerang….

the puzzled lows and highs……

it feels like home, doesn’t it?

dad is away……

I have work……

I can seldom stay

as he would say……

it feels like home, doesn’t it?

I would repeat and replay….

yearning for the cosiness…….

that was plenty before…..

as I dived into siestas….

dipped in folklore…..

the morning spend………

leisurely in pleasure

today this empty house……..

squeezes me in seizure……..

it feel like home, doesn’t  it?

I repeat and remind……

you are at home,isn’t it?

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The pictures that speak my heart…….

Those days have dusked….

when intitmacy was the one discussed……

our cotorie ….

with happiness it buzzed…..

to you three ……

I owe a bunch of pleasantries….

You embraced my minuses…..

my grievances hushed…..

you celebrated my victories……

my lose aside……afar pushed…..

bright and crystalline ……

as the Jasmine flower…..

the twinkled persona of yours……

had possessive powers…..

days tumbled to months……

years have somersaulted with stunts..

your transient presence in my life…..

left traces cherished…………

when memories stepped in as sovenirs…..

wind blew infused and debonair…..

you came as premiums in life……

life scuttled…….

and hid……

without you as it survived…..

when eyes linger along…….

dreams in the slumber…….

I stretch my hands…..

to your love I have my heart encumbered……

Thousand hands have held mine….

since departed…….

nothing appeased me….

the moments with you….

in my heart charted….

rememebring you……

my heart gleamed……

My eyes…….glittered…..

tears streamed…..

You shine in my heart

as droplets of dew…..

as crystal reflects….

and diamonds few….

as the melody of the…..

ebullient nightingale…..

I relish….

our squeaky regale………………

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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 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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She wished she knew then what she knew now……………….

Padma  clasped the flower……………

The pasque flower she plucked…..

Hesitatingly from the garden around the tower……..

The gardener who tended to…….

Reprimands, he did shower………

Padma,filled with guilt

Ran to her mother……….

sobbing she handed out…..the crumpled flower

“Happy Birthday” said the cute lips….

My dear mother……

Mother……….hugged her………..

Dear,why did you steal the pasque  flower….?

Your hug is the treasure……….

On my day your love shower……

Padma sighed……

Her inside crushed with shame and tremor…

my HUG was more dear to mother….

Goodness why did I steal the pasque flower…..?

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