Category Archives: Worries

Waiting: Story 1


“Good! Next, you there, read out your answer, please.” F stood up and started preparing to read. Everything looked just fine, so far, but nobody knew those were the initial peaceful minutes of a slight thriller. Seconds passed by, and she was still preparing to read. A chuckle started to spread all over the class. The busy teacher became curious, and before losing herself to anger, confirmed F had been (physically and emotionally) all right. The friends had no evidence to prove it otherwise. F grew more pathetic and looked at her neighbour helplessly. The teacher, holding on to her last vestige of self-control, tried to encourage her to read. But alas, nothing happened! F was alarmingly quiet as if someone had accidentally pressed her mute button. She miserably gestured something to her friend who failed to decipher it. Already about five precious minutes from those final periods of the Term had been spent in anticipation of an answer that seemed infinitely remote. The  chuckling had by now given way to a perplexed, uneasy silence. Ms. J. , unable to take it any more, stormed out of the class passing this verdict – “Call me when you are ready!” The confused class almost let out a cry, shocked by the disconcerting turn of events.

***

Ms.  J. was at sea. Unlike many previous occasions, that day there was no homework defaulter, leaving no reason for the girls to worry about, or the teacher to take out her vehement sermon the nth time in two months. What must have gone wrong?

As Ms. J. sat there in her room, they arrived - F escorted by the beneficent school leader who of late had been sincerely carrying out her role as the helping angel for the ill-fated ones. “Teacher, she will read it.” Ms. J. readily agreed to the compromise. The angel was asked to leave. F looked desperate to let go the only shield against the  likely onslaught of the annoyed teacher. Having no time to risk that favourable twist, F was released too.

***

No other story might have had a smoother ending. The teacher got back to the class, F read out her answers and the teacher continued from where she had stopped as if nothing had gone wrong.

But Ms. J is still waiting – for F to explain it all to her, someday.

Not my bed


The weather was cool (or, for me, cold)
The room was comfortable, neat, homely,
The bed was cozy; yet I couldn’t sleep.
Because it was not my bed.

The bedspreads were clean,
The blanket warm, the pillows snugly
Still I couldn’t sleep.

I peevishly felt for the pea.
The bed didn’t fit me!
Or was it vice versa?
I did not belong.
Some force was trying to expel me.

I missed my dent on my dear bed
That knew me and my curves well,
And held me soothingly like a cradle.
This bed didn’t smell familiar,
Someone had been there before me,
I sniffed for a stranger,
It was a disgusting thought.

And oh, I couldn’t sleep!
Like a fish I lay there tossing,
Yearning for my own bed.

What a night! What a nightmare!

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.

 

Hope


“She wondered that hope was so much harder then despair.”
― Patricia BriggsCry Wolf

P1210003 - Copy

“When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on”
Theodore Roosevelt

The Silent Bell


“The bell is not ringing!” This was a frequent complaint during the last two days from the annoyed teachers.

To understand the extent of the problem you need to be a teacher. In a school the absence of bell means a standstill. This is how one teacher reported, “I came prepared for the 40 min class, but even after completing it, together with some activities I concocted just now, it’s not getting over. 40 minutes,  this long? What’s going on?” I looked at the clock and sensed trouble. The bell!

The fed up teachers longed to flee the thoroughly enlightened class; the bored students awaited the next teacher for a different kind of replenishment.

Who was responsible? Who had been ringing the bell all these days? Kaka, a hapless victim of the new laws, used to do it. The bell had been punctual all these years and we never noticed the presence, the effort of a human being behind it. We took his service for granted. Now the person has left, leaving the bell dumb and the whole schedule upset.

*       *      *

The attendant is reminded once again, the bell goes and the each one heaves a sigh of relief.

The situation rings a bell and I recall O. Henry’s The Pendulum:

 Nobody heard the click and rattle of the cog-wheels as the third-floor front of the Frogmore flats buzzed its machinery back into the Order of Things. A band slipped, a spring was touched, the gear was adjusted and the wheels revolve in their old orbit.

I reflect: We miss you Kaka. Grateful to you. May God keep you safe, wherever you are!

[Thank you, Julia, for the inspiration!]

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/

Actions and Intentions


“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” -Ian Percy

Sorry for that space pollution. Actually I am yelling it out to myself. Did you hear that too? Then join me for the ‘aftershocks’.

How we wish others tried to understand our intentions before they judged our actions! However, being an imperfect human, I am not always able fathom the intentions of those whose actions offend me. Selfishness? Or is it impracticality? I don’t know.

My actions have often been misinterpreted because of my nature. Things were straightened out whenever I got the chance to explain them, but life is not always that fair and straightforward. So, I now and then I enter the foe-list of other people, the latest entry being made last week.

No grudges. It’s nobody fault. As part of my Mission Positive Thinking I am trying to analyze the problem.

Introverts are cursed with misunderstandings. I, being one, am no exemption. One fine morning it is impossible to undergo some metamorphosis and move around sporting the new label of an extrovert. After all I have always been rather comfortable with my existing tag. Still I am greedy for a bit more comfort. But how? Hmmm….

Given below are a few Utopian suggestions:

  • Announce my intentions to the world before doing or saying something.
  • Include a comment box for my words and deeds so that I will be alarmed whenever someone gets me wrong.

Rubbish! (Ooops! I let it slip. Let it be. Once in a while everything is okay.)  :)

Well, what can I do?

Stop judging, because…

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

This will be of some extra help: Before acting I must remember that…

“You are (I am) responsible for your (my) actions, not for your (my) intentions.” –  Paulo Coelho

Will it really help? Let me try, and then wait and see.

Eureka!


Finally it struck me. Of late I have been looking frequently into my inner self trying to recognize the real me. And the glad news is that I am gradually coming to  terms with myself.

So what had been happening all these years? I hear people  say childhood was amazing. Really? Superficially there were a lot of interesting episodes during my childhood too, but within, I was perplexed. A lost soul.

My worries almost pricked me to death. I mercilessly tortured myself. The words of advice had no effect because all along I successfully pretended to believe them.

And what  is the latest development? I really understand them. My mind has learnt its lessons and is docile. My alarms go off when my thoughts go astray. I am the master of my feelings and I know how to tame them. Isn’t that the real inner peace?

It’s good to be a grown up. While young I had the feeling that I would be dead and gone before I hit 30. I know why He waited. Now I am ready – do You hear me?

Ah, now when I look out at the world outside all I see is tranquility. My inner embers have started glowing and they act as my beacon in this turbulent sea of life. I am happy and peaceful at this moment. Even if you throw out that dish in the kitchen which took me an hour to prepare, I will not be provoked (but merely kill you with my smile). ;)

Isn’t that real peace? It’s great to be alive!

Peace be with you and me!

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…