Category Archives: Daughters

Loss


DSCF1954The moments of solitude gather the very same thoughts I dread. Memories keep pecking and picking at me. They rub salt on the bruises over and over. The adamant wounds refuse to heal. It hurts.

I am not the first human to lose a parent. However for me the experience of losing someone I had known all my life was not like what I had expected it to be.

We were prepared – that’s what we all supposed. Prepared for what? To see him die? However, there was a lot more we were not prepared for. The void left behind by the departed one is unfathomable and alarming. I feel it now. Though trite, such statements about death seem to be gaining more depth at this point.

When I saw him on his last night (Oct. 10, the day I reached there), the glow in his eyes was on the wane. His eyes were open and gazing but I doubt whether they perceived anything. He was greedily devouring every bit of air. The laboured breath was not at all giving him any ‘satisfaction’, I could read his thoughts. Seeing his struggle I realized there is nothing more (mundanely) divine than to be able to breathe normally!

I could not believe I was looking at the same person I bid goodbye five weeks before.

What was in his mind? Did he have something to tell us?

While others tried to inform him about my arrival he kept on murmuring, “Aara? Aara?” (Who’s that?) Did he recognize me? No cue. He had no last words for me, not even my name. When I asked him if he needed something he clearly stated he did not. All communication was gradually coming to an end, so were his requirements. After all what was left to say and ask? Or, were all the untold words, the unexpressed feelings and fears choking him?

By the next morning it was as if his body had already given itself the pack up call. After two feeds we felt we were just filling in a body that was no more in need of such nourishment. The huge oxygen cylinder bubbled listlessly. He was perspiring with each variation in his body. We could read the changes even without the pulse/saturation meter (a device that is going to haunt me forever). And my sister asked me later, “What were we waiting for, monitoring the readings each minute?” Maybe there was nothing left to do other than just watch.

By noon the readings started hitting new lows.

Were we disturbing and distracting him with all our expressions of concern?

Around 5.30 in the evening I saw something gurgling in his mouth. He opened his eyes wide for the first time that day and stared up the ceiling one last time with tremendous effort. The numbers kept on descending. And then the next moment…    the meter had nothing to say except some meaningful/less dots… We knew it was all over.

The days and nights he spent in constant fear of the looming death came to an end. An entity that moved, thought, loved, hated, desired, planned, rejoiced, won, defeated, failed, created, ate, drank, fought for about eight decades finally gave up.

Did he have the courage to go alone?

The body was still warm and quivering with the last vestige of life left. And for the first time I saw an unusual serenity and stillness spread and then linger on his face. He was relieved of all strain and anxieties. Peace!

*   *  *

Even these thousands of miles in between me and his abode is not thick enough to prevent the agonizing memories from seeping in.

*   *   *

Life thrilled him as much as it failed and hurt him. The thrill came from his talents and the disappointment, from his expectations about life and people. He was never short of solutions, ideas, plans, preparations, stories. Nothing irritated him more than lack of punctuality and perfection. Was he punctual? Yes, to the core. Was he perfect? According to his unique parameters, yes.

I don’t intend to go for sentimental eulogies right now. I owe my life to my parents and I am grateful to my father for what I have inherited and learned from him. [Link]

He had been much more than an average human being and the impressions he left will pose real hard work for time to erase. I am not underestimating the powers of time. It’s just a month – obviously too early to forget a dear and near one.

[Link] And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

 

Happy Birthday, Papa!


“Bindu!!!!” Papa’s calling! What went wrong this time? I shuddered each time the furious call rang through the length of our house (such an elongate house indeed). I was not a very naughty child but still there would always be something to rile the precisionist. I had never had the nerve to face up his wrath. (I’ll meet the raging of the skies, But not an angry father.”—Lord Ullin’s Daughter)

That was long, long ago. ‘Time eases all things’. Now he is no longer the Papa I was used to.

Papa and me

Papa and me

Tomorrow he turns 78. Wasn’t it just yesterday that the whole family came together to celebrate his 50th birthday?

Apart from the scary image of an austere father, he possesses a lot of rare qualities I admire – systematic, organised, punctual, and perfect!

At the remotest corners of my memory are two scenes – the way he sharpened our pencils with his special little chisel and covered our books during our school days. It was such a pleasure to watch him meticulously perform those tasks. Now when I sit with the books of my kids or when I seek a knife to sharpen their pencils I find myself mimicking my father.

I used to boast to my friends about my father’s artistic skills. Carpentry being his hobby much of the furniture in the house was his creation. The duties of an accountant never prevented him from pursuing his passion. His workshop housed a perfect collection of tools, machinery and knickknacks, enough to make any professional carpenter green with envy.

The workshop was (it is still there intact) such an amusing place walled with shelves of compact racks. The place contained a world. You name it, you find it. The restricted place which suggested TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED held enough magic for the curiosity cat in me. The minute the ‘Giant’ stepped out of the house the workshop would be all mine, to explore. In spite of the intricacy of the place it was never difficult to locate an item because they were all neatly labelled and arranged. I was pretty well acquainted with the place. But he was shrewd enough to smell the intrusion had a single item been misplaced. Needless to say I was very cautious and mindful whenever I encroached.

He has been a hoarder too. Coming from a house without a sq. cm. of free space I have made up my mind not to be a pack rat. I do collect, but I can get enough nerve up to throw them out too (instead of letting them gather dust), when they start cramming my tiny home. Space is freedom, comfort, relief – I now realize.

He taught himself a lot of skills. That inspired me to pick up a few skills myself. I always tried to learn something he was not so good at – say, drawing, stitching, versification etc. leaving no scope for the critic in him. Rarely did he commend our skills. That’s why when he chose me to press his clothes (after he stopped giving them at the dry cleaner’s) I considered it a token of appreciation from him. Each time it was a test and the smile on his face was my trophy. (On a lighter note: After I left for my higher studies I once asked him who did the job for him. He retorted, ‘As the pennu (maid) who used to do it has left, I have to do it myself these days.’)

Above all he is a wonderful narrator. Even a trivial incident would be woven into a fabulous story with a dramatic introduction, suspense and climax. He knows how to hold his listeners with the spell of story-telling.

Thank you Papa, for what you have taught me to be and not to be.I feel proud when Mummy says ‘she takes after Papa’. I am imperfect in my own ways. And as I grow older I realize we are more or less the replicas of our parents. Let it be so. It’s all in our genes.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Wish you peace, health and strength!

Beware of this charlatan!


CAUTION

Joining hands with Arya in her protest against the chauvinistic charlatan(s)!

Rapist Manifesto


The prescriptions by various political, religious and social leaders in the wake of the Delhi incident have enlightened us, unveiling the mindset of the rapists. And this is how one rapist may speak to you.

Dear sisters and virtuous women,

We are writing this for the sake of all women who wish to safeguard their honour, virginity and life.

You know we don’t rape every woman out there.

  • We are very selective.
  • We are not barbarians or beasts who pounce upon every woman we come across.
  • We have our own criteria, rules, and even scruples.

But before we explain that, you should acquire some insight into the stuff we are made of.

We have strong bodies but our minds are weak and uncontrollable, at times. Of course we are made of sterner stuff. Unfortunately, we lack control over our emotions especially sexual. The moment we set our eyes on the beauty or the contour of a woman we are turned on. So you may be wondering all the women who have been raped were not noted for their beauty. Yes, but we have the power to imagine the beauty even in an ugly one (just like we morph certain pics). Above all, there is no distinction between the pleasures the bodies of the beautiful and ugly ones could offer. So we compromise on external beauty, looks, size, age.

There are a few kinds of women we prefer/choose/must have to rape. It will be beneficial to you so that you can wipe out such traits (1 to 5) from you if you wish to go unharmed and live a  peaceful life.

  1. The bold: There are certain women who never hesitate to blurt out their opinions, claiming that they know a lot, trying to outsmart men. Blame the modern media and the undue amount of education women are receiving these days. Such women can be tamed down only through rape. After that they will realize how fragile and worthless they are. Keep in mind that we have nothing to lose.
  2. The fearless: These days many women dare to step out of their houses even after nightfall. Isn’t that obviously a challenge to the men folk who monopolize the world at that time? Women are supposed to be afraid of darkness. What business do they have on the streets at night? We know what they expect and we are too happy to administer them what they are asking for.
  3. The independent: They believe they can survive without the support of men. We just want to prove them wrong. If they start defying men and writing them off as unnecessary, what will be the future of our society? Hope you get our good intentions.
  4. The lonely: This is a variation of the third group. They don’t mind travelling around alone. What are they trying to convey? “We are not afraid of men”? They definitely need an experience to correct their misconceptions.
  5. The immoral: (We are not talking about the prostitutes.) Some try to blindly imitate the western culture by using makeup and wearing revealing clothes. We enjoy watching our favourite sexy actresses in such accessories, but what will an ordinary woman have to do with that sort of things? Some move around with their boyfriends at odd hours. Even many of you are against such immoral girls and will be only too happy if we teach them a lesson. And no decent woman would roam about in the street after 6.00 pm. Those who are there don’t mind us using them for our entertainment because that is what they come prepared for.
  6. The retarded: They are damaged goods, who are not in demand in the marriage market. So what is wrong in using them for our pleasure? They rarely complain. If they have no complaints why should others bother?
  7. The kids: The kids are pure. They will keep quiet. So if we are not lucky enough to get grown ups sometimes we will have to adjust with the tender ones. (6 and 7 are used usually when we are bereft of chances to satisfy our needs or when they are easily available.)

We are sure you would agree that rape is the best solution to tame down women 1 to 5. Acid attack is effective too, but not as ‘good’ as rape. Our goal is to conserve the family and the patriarchal system in our society. If women start raising their voice the society will soon be headed for its extinction. So sisters, understand this and do follow the given instructions:

Remember, you are too weak to save yourself (from us). You are supposed to be under the protection and at the beck and call of your husband, father, brother or son. We will take good care of you if you are willing to limit yourselves within the constraints of your house. Your desires (food, sex, kids, clothes and ornaments) will all be meted out. Never interfere in our affairs or question our deeds. Never ever demand a trip to the dirty world outside where we will be busy teaching those immoral ones some valuable lessons.

 Note: In spite of all these precautions if someone assaults you, chant this mantra: Brother, please let me go. He will immediately melt (thinking of his sister) and comply with your request.

 

 

To all perverts


Dear Indian pervert,

A few years ago I bore you.
Soon you severed all ties with me
and joined the other half.
Though we all belong to the same race
And together play the game of life,
Rules are entirely different
For each side.

Your clairvoyance tells you
what we are ‘asking for’
when we do those things
you are normally entitled to.

Freedom is your birthright,
And if we seek the same
Oh yes, you have interesting ways
to prevent/tame/correct us.

What better method is there
other than showing off your brawn?

(Aside) Ah, God! It’s already too late,
Still please don’t hesitate
to admit and correct your mistake.

Indian woman.

Do read this:

http://manikandanjn.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/the-wrong-side-of-mans-psychology/

First-borns – Guinea Pigs?


Yesterday my first-born turned ten. And we (claim to have) successfully completed ten years of parenthood.

Has she been lucky or unlucky? In my opinion, for her it has been a combination of both.

How is she lucky? Usually the elder ones are the centres of attraction; they get all (or too much?) the attention from the parents and from the relatives too, if they are the first ones in a generation. They enjoy a lot of privileges – too many toys, dresses and other accessories. In fact it was we who were celebrating our new designations as papa and mama! Every achievement or turning point in the eldest ones’ lives is exaggerated and celebrated with all the pomp and vigour.

When it comes to the second one, the excitement would be slightly less. The parents have already been there and for them it is merely a repetition of the first episode. But sadly they are too busy to remember it’s the very first time for each of the younger ones. Being the second-born I have been through it all. (Eldest ones out there, I can read your thoughts.)

And there are a lot of health benefits too. They will be made of healthier and better components of life. The later ones are born to older and more tired parents.

[The given link will enlighten you more on the topic of birth order.]

But here I am more bothered about the seamy side of the first-borns’ lives. For the naive parents it is a time to experiment upon a hundred new things, certainly out of their love and eagerness. I must admit that bringing up my big girl I have committed a lot of parenting errors, mainly in the two crucial areas – health and education.

As tyros in that new phase of life we were naturally over-concerned about each and every aspect, especially her health. We surmised that every sneeze, cough or runny nose would end up in pneumonia, and rushed to the doctor who was only too eager to administer heavy doses of antibiotics. The recurrence of the ailments taught us some valuable lessons equipping us better for the second one. It made me bold and taught me how to resist temptation to grab the medicines each time.

And the second most fatal mistake I committed was the over-enthusiasm about her studies. When she got confused with P, b, d and 9, or when she flipped over certain letters, (at the age of three!) we often freaked out as if she was going to be doomed. When she could not discern the basic differences between numbers and letters, faltering at the questions like “Which is bigger – 2 or 7?” we seemed to be anxious about the Board after ‘12’ years!!  While we were passionately carrying out our duties, for her it must have been hell!

After her last PT meet (grade 5) as I was proudly looking at the 100% score in her Maths paper, I once again realized the benefits of intruding less and leaving everything to her. It was the fruit of her own hard work.

At times my younger one has to be satisfied with the used toys and dresses. However she enjoys a happier and more carefree childhood – only because her parents’ attention is divided and she has an elder sister who was already ‘guinea pig’ged!

Happy birthday dear! Thank you for all the great lessons you taught me in a decade’s time…

They don’t love me…


The misery of a century reflected
On her pale, scared face
When she said, “They don’t love me.”

And thus goes her story:
“I wash my clothes,
I make my food,
I help my mother
I am big enough
And know my duties.
I try to study well,
I am not naughty,
I never tell lies,
I obey my parents,
But they don’t love me,
I don’t know why!”

No dear, they love you.
(She had no evidence to believe so.)

I am not their child
Even yesterday my mother told me
“You were bought from the market
For five bucks.”
She repeatedly tells me,
“Go get yourself run over by some vehicle
You bitch, you wretched creature.
You were not born to me!”

She used to fry fish for me
Nowadays she does that only for my brother.
She flogs me with a hanger,
Burns my skin,
Curses me daylong,
Sometimes makes me sleep in the kitchen.”

But why? WHY?

I sometimes get poor marks.

So study well.

But last day I got 10 on 10
Then she said, ‘You cheated.’

What about your father, dear?

When he returns from work
Mother reports my performance
And he ‘whips’ his share
Using his belt!

I don’t want the school to be over
I can’t think of going home
I prefer week days to weekends!

She was just nine.
She was the only daughter.
They were her biological parents.

Then why……?
I have no answer,
Neither did they.

Interventions helped.
Realizations,
Remorse,
Penance,
Reconciliation.

Happy ending.
Hope it lasts.

Dear teachers,

If any one of your students is often found unusually gloomy or naughty, take him/her aside for a little heart-to-heart talk. She may be a victim of child abuse. And you can be of some help.

(100% true story from the city where I live. She is just as old as my girl, whom you see in the picture.)

I am not going to school.


(Adapted from a kid’s thought-diary, after her first day at school)

My sister is responsible. She, who lured me into the idea of going to school, seemed to enjoy a lot of privileges: a special dress called uniform, a large bag full of books, pencils and even coloured pencils, the freedom to use them anywhere according to her whims… School must be a wonderful place – that was the impression I was drawn into seeing her deeds and expressions. Oh, my God what a trap it was!

I had been eagerly waiting for the day on which I too would go to the magical place called school, like my sister.

The initial stages went on well. A new bag, a few colourful books and other stationery, lunch box – the day papa bought them just for me, I strutted around for my sister to see. (Pride goes before a fall!)

I had made two conditions to my parents about going to school. 1) I wanted to go to school in a bus. 2) My sister should be teaching me. In reality: I was made to walk to the school in the neighbourhood. And my sister was nowhere around!

Rest of my dreams got shattered, one after the other, the minute I stepped into the premises of the dull building. It didn’t take me much time to surmise that ‘school is an eccentric place not at all suitable for people like me!’ You too would agree if you consider the following facts about the place:

  • There are so many rooms but I am always asked to go to the same room. Wonder why I am denied the freedom to explore the other spaces! The rooms are all arranged in rows – looks really childish.
  • Throughout the day I have to be glued on to the same chair. You might know, at home I have never remained in the same spot continuously for more than two minutes.
  • The most awful part is the character called ‘teacher’. Her words are all Greek to me. Surely she can speak like my mother, but for  reasons unknown she abstains from that. If I stare into her eyes bewildered, she will repeat the same sounds, more loudly the second time. Stupid lady. Does she think I am deaf? The whole day she indulges in similar meaningless deeds.
  • I should write on the pages, and on the lines, and the way she prefers! At home I could even write on the walls (though my mother makes faces about it).
  • A lot of other children in the class scream their head off in the midst of their struggle to escape from that dreadful place. I don’t understand why they need to make so much fuss about it. Silly people! I have better plans. ;)
  • We usually eat when we feel hungry, right? However school has indigestible rules about that too. I should eat when I am not hungry, and when I really yearn for some food I have to remain hungry.
  • To ‘shooshoo’ I should make some funny signal to the teacher. (Don’t know why at school I felt the urge often. Yeah, honestly.) The teacher would then send me to a horrible aunty who does not seem happy to take the children to the toilet.

More such oddities are there.

Anyway, I have had enough. After a day at school I have picked up my first lessons in life:

  • Life, Reality - both are bitter!
  • There is no place like home!

So, I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL, come what may!

(Hope school won’t blow out the enthusiasm of our little ones.)

Their Grandparents’ House


My parents’ house is just an ordinary place as far as we
grown-ups are concerned. But for the kids who grew up in the artificial set ups
of the desert, even a blade of grass is a matter of wonder. Every nook and
corner offered them feast for their eyes. Let me take you along to some of
those scenes.

Giants in the neighbourhood:

For our neighbour, partitioning his property might have been
a big deal as he had many ‘giants’ to divide among his two sons. Now the sons
who live uphill and downhill have chained two of their elephants on to the
rubber trees in their plots. While the Trivandrum Zoo (at the State capital)
houses just one elephant often there were many around our house!

My kids were filled with awe to see them feed on the palm
leaves, the way they curled their trunks, the prize tusks, the fanning ears,
the heaps of elephant droppings, etc. The elephants were in an angry mood and
we could hear them trumpet unceasingly. I did feel sorry for them, though they
were taken good care of by their owners.

On our way back we spotted this millipede heading along. I
had a kind of aversion for such creatures, but don’t know why, recently I have
started admiring them. They are not jumpy like the crickets or the frogs, not
fluttering like the butterflies or the dragonflies – just cool and composed. Don’t
you think it is beautiful?

The nest:

The little humming birds (or better you name it) have been
the inhabitants of our place since my student days. Earlier they used to
construct their nest under the net above the well. When the drenching rains made the nest-making a risky affair, (once the nest almost fell) my father decided to guide them to a safer place under the eaves. He made all the necessary arrangements for the shifting and luckily the birds did not ignore the good intentions.

The windows of the drawing-room open to the live show of
their life and it was so peaceful watching it. The kids learned a few
practical lessons, more than what their EVS books offer.

Attending a wedding:

The last wedding I attended was eleven years ago where I acted
bride. Since then so many of my dear and near ones (including my sister) got
married but I missed every single one of them. This time I was in the thrill of
attending a cousin’s wedding.

The wedding ceremonies in the villages have not completely
lost their charm and above all their innocence. Everyone in the family will
have some role to play, making them feel an integral part of the ceremony, and
that is the beauty of the traditions.

On the eve of the wedding the brothers-in-law
(one being my husband) twisted the threads for the wedding knot. (For the first
time I got to know the concept behind pulling out exactly seven threads from
the wedding saree for this purpose.)

Another memorable event of the eve was a traditional
Christian dance performance, which reminded me of Kalarippayattu, the martial
art form of Kerala. The powerful Kerala culture permeates all our religious
functions – slight alterations are made just for the sake of giving them a
different identity.

(Idea stolen from my daughter’s holiday homework.) Moral of the blog: Now and then go through the assignments of your kids – you will get ideas to (blog)bore your readers.

Onam


(Yesterday, 9 September, Keralites celebrated Onam, the national festival of Kerala.)

It’s all about happiness. While many of the festivals segregate people on the basis of religion, Onam has no such bars, I believe. Onam was once celebrated in a
humble but jovial way by every Malayalee family. It used to be a perfect combination of the ingredients required to make an average human (of those days) happy – perfect weather, food (the extravaganza of vegetarian food), games, and other activities like singing and dancing…!

Times have changed. We prefer staying indoors hesitating to make Onam a reality.  Nowadays the ingredients mentioned above (except the first one) are accessible to us any time of the year. Onam has nothing special to offer; we find nothing thrilling in it. We are content with the virtual Onam, listening to what the celebrities say about Onam.

Thousands of miles away from the homeland we (affected by spells of nostalgia) managed to prepare a few Onam special dishes at home. Paradoxically, our relatives back there in the land of King Mahabali purchased the readymade Ona-sadhyas (meals). May be the captivating TV programmes do not let them waste their precious holiday in the kitchen. Times have changed (repeated, with a sigh)!

This Onam has touched me deeply. Early morning I got a call from my Uncle greeting us. It truly imbued me with bliss. I decided to pass on the surprise and bliss to some others other than my close relatives. The same pulses of joy were felt when I spoke to my old friend and my cousin (who I met recently after more than twenty years). They too might have spread this spirit of Onam to somebody unknown to me, I wish.

Simple gestures of affection are enough to brighten up and enliven even an ordinary day. Life is all about these little surprises and smiles – only that we store them for special occasions. Today somebody cared and bothered to express it. The latter deed made the difference. I feel buoyant and satisfied today. Let the feeling last forever – for me, for you and for them. Happy Onam – translated as pinnacle of happiness!