Things only a mother can teach

mother and daughter

Every morning I wake up to a sudden rush of consciousness and take a good amount of time to configure myself to reality. A reality that I am now married and do not have the privilege to be awakened lovingly by my mother. Or to be near her. “Wake up, kitty,” she would coo softly at first before picking me up in her arms till about I was nine years old. She also fed me with her hands till I was ten; I wouldn’t eat otherwise!

Today is Mother’s Day, a day when mothers over the world would be serenaded for their infinite love. I am taking the effort to remember everything she did for me as a daughter and which I took for granted. Perhaps, this is an escape route for my guilty conscience but strangely she has never expected me to be grateful. Today we will talk on the telephone as is usual on weekends and share about everyday woes regarding house chores. And we will argue again that I am not taking required care of my health along with work and family.

Anyway, let me share some incidents I remember. One day while we kids were playing in the society grounds, a brilliant idea struck us. We decided to climb a very gigantic and old tree and spend the day there. It was our summer holidays and adventure was all we had on our little minds. But, most mothers got a whiff of our plans and found it too risky for our inexperienced little limbs. Except for my mother –

Mum said it’s a genius idea, that we would always cherish its memories, only this tree is too big for us. We were all under three to four feet in height and the first branch of that tree was at least at three times our height. We searched for younger trees in the grounds but found nothing suitable for us. Finally, we climbed a water tank and stayed there with some tiffin boxes and water bottles with us. A little less adventurous than a day on a tree but fun nevertheless!

Many years later I realised the importance of what mum had taught me that day and indeed these are very practical words of advice to a growing up daughter!

Do not fear to take risks but also calculate before you do that, so that you know what is at stake.

Another memorable incident was when the first showers of rain had hit Mumbai bringing on the severe monsoons when I was in senior college. The day had just started with a pleasant cool weather that belied the hot summer just exiting around the corner. And then it began pouring large coin-sized drops of rain. Thick grey clouds formed a sheet around the sky hiding the sun behind them. There were intermittent bouts of lightning followed by thunder, with a heavy shower of rain just falling nonstop.

The academic year had not yet begun and I began to dread the thought of heavy rains, flooded roads, painfully slow traffic and all the muck through which I will have to wade through to college. In my mind I’ve always maintained Mumbai to be the worst city during monsoons and always wished to get out of there. Moreover, a patch of road between my home and college would get severely flooded even with half a day of nonstop rain. But, very soon all of that changed for me.

Mum said, “Let’s go to the terrace”. “What!” I exclaimed and she managed to drag me along up three floors to our building terrace. There she and I got wet in the rains, holding hands at first and then letting go to enjoy pure bliss on our one. I was reluctant at first and also began to shiver but then the magic of rain drops on my skin had worked. It was the most beautiful experience I had ever had.

Feeling drops of rain falling free from the sky right onto your skin is the most enriching shower one can get. It cleanses your soul most of all. Rain was fun and Mumbai became tolerable. This piece of learning has served me quite well over the years, where I look at Mumbai rains as a metaphor for life’s challenges.

No matter how many hurdles are there on your path, you need to accept them, enjoy them so that you can learn something from them.

There are many more stories that have spotted my entire life like pearls of wisdom. Yet mum never takes credit for all that. She believes it to be her duty to shape up her children’s character, make them strong from within, just like all mothers do. The next time I talk to her, I’ll not argue when she says I’m not taking care of myself. Instead, I’ll take care of myself, as that is the only gift I can give her.

Yes, God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers!

Image source: Carla’s Sculptures

Your choices are half chance!

Today as my Sunday coffee regime was happening on one side while I was mulling away on the other side, the words ‘Sunscreen’ lit up in my mind. Somehow I could recollect the title ‘Everybody needs sunscreen’ but Google corrected me out and also led me to the source of this song – ‘Everybody is free to wear sunscreen.It is actually an essay by Mary Schmich that was published as a column in the Chicago Tribune in 1997. Her essay was written as a commencement speech to graduating students, in case she ever got a chance to deliver one! Now this was news to me as I had connected with this particular song during my college days.

I can remember being swayed by it’s distinct style of musical wisdom, even faintly recollect being inspired and awed by its depth. Adoloscence has its own charm of belief and uncertainty, so a naive me related to only some of the parts in it. Then years morphed into decades and once again I found myself at the alter of this timeless classic today. And I was swayed again…

This time some more lines hit me. But the one that had me shaken all over the most is this –
“What ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either, your choices are half chance, so are everybody elses.”

How true! This one came almost like a tight slap of loving advice. Since a month, I’ve been recuperating from a lower back sprain and this has opened up new opportunities to re-think my life. The stress I underwent in the past year either bawling away or jumping on cloud nine with every little step for the startup, had taken its toll.Had I been dispassionately passionate with everything, the  stress wouldn’t have built up. Had I enjoyed the journey without a care for the destination, even complex tasks would have been simplified. Had I believed that my choices are all half chances, I wouldn’t have worried about the money not flowing in. I would have given a damn to our performance dashboard, goals, content plans, and all that jazz.

Anyways, better late than never! This year I have embarked on a new path where I will strive to find a balance – To be anchored with my destination yet free to stand and stare. To believe in the divine plan and let go of all my worries. To surrender to the Infinite and find answers intuitively.

My chicken pox woes and related stories

Courtesy: kidzworld.com

It was an innocent looking Sunday. What started off as a little red bump on my forehead and glanced at me like a regular heat boil would, turned out to be much more surreptitious than that.  I actually saw it wink at me or maybe I was hallucinating with the fever. Yeah, I woke up with a slight fever and joint pain, both of whom are cousins who come visiting me together ever so often. I planned to have something to chill my system like maybe some coconut water or a glass of lassi and perhaps a paracetamol for the fever germs.  But the divine providence had a lot in store for me.

It must have been sevenish when I saw the clock and little did I know what the number signified then. Not talking about numerology here but just the magnitude of its impact to be seen later. My hunch was that something was devastatingly wrong with me but none of my eyes were twitching. You see my eyes are hard coded to twitch whenever something weird is in the cards. But this time they deceived me. A Hindu proverb translated as ‘In bad times, even the best of minds falter’ can be described for my eyes that kept mum that day.

I decided to skip my morning exercise or rather skip my daily excuse to avoid it – I was sick. Period.  After a little nap, I woke up to see if I had rejuvenated. But hell no! The bump winked back, now even bigger in size. Remember someone wise had said that ‘sleep is the best healer after laughter’ but that someone didn’t know that party poopers are stubborn little things. They are wired into your karma.

After a little while of time, I gave up trying to feel better and resigned much like Gulliver letting himself be tied up by the Lilliputians. Only my Lilliputians were teeny-weeny and invisible. The Mister promptly took me to the doctor, who with just a cursory glance announced the verdict ‘Its Chicken pox!’ I thought my days were numbered since I hadn’t heard about chicken pox for the longest time now. So I mistook it for H1N1 or maybe some strange rapidly growing contagious things implanted by aliens. Remember I was out the previous day and felt for certain that a UFO was trailing me.

But then I recollected – my mum used to always say that I am the only child who didn’t get chicken pox. Like that was a health introduction to the listener and in some ways a proud moment for my little mind. As I grew up, I had almost forgotten about it until this – the doctor inquired whether I had chicken pox as a kid. So I proudly said ‘NO!’ And he said ‘So, it’s confirmed!’ and happily prescribed medicines that would last a fortnight and upset my household budget. He said it will take seven days and I remembered my Chinese clock struck at seven. If this was not enough, he also said that the medicines will not heal the chicken pox; they were just meant to be taken to keep away other infections that the pox might cause!

We returned  in pin-drop silence. Then life took up a new routine – pill at 8 – breakfast – pill at 10 – sleep – lunch – pill at 2 – sleep – pill at 8 – dinner – pill at 10 – sleep…  The bumps grew right in front of my eyes; every time I saw the mirror I swear I could see them put on weight joyfully. The Mister obviously couldn’t see what I could so he locked me up in the bedroom with water and a warm cozy blanket, with no mirrors anywhere nearby.

It must have been seven days or so, I can’t really say – the itching and the burning was all I felt. The Mister’s neem sponge bath was a real saviour and I would definitely recommend it to anybody even without the pox. In fact, you should drink a glass of neem juice every time you go for that convenient coconut water or lassi.

Another seven days later, the bumps were off leaving their dirty footprints all over me. And my mum can proudly say that I’m not the odd one out. Chicken pox has been kind enough to visit me too!

Of Coffee Connoisseurs and Chai Shaukeens…

I still remember the day vividly. That was the day I had told my mother that I have found my Mr. Right at last. In my heart, I always believed that there is light at the end of the tunnel. But she confirmed it nearly thrice a la Big B style and eventually locked it after a few days of resigned contemplation. The question mark on her face was too evident so neither did she smile nor heave a sigh of relief for her ignorant daughter.

For those who are unaccustomed to my very basic wishes in Mr. Right, please read an earlier post written with all the mighty stupidity I’ve been bestowed with. I’ll unravel them layer by layer as I have nothing better to do now.

A few glimpses of Mr. Right begin to show from the honeymoon onwards. Although the risk of sounding like a nagger looms large over my head, I promise to put down only pure facts and nothing more here.

The coffee is breathtaking at Coorg. Mind you I said Breathtaking alone which means it takes my breath away when its brewing. Where on Earth or the other planets have I claimed to love coffee or even know how to brew a decent one?

I was a  ‘Complan Girl’ right from my kindergarten who retaliated in her adolosence to become a diehard ‘chai-shaukeen’, especially with an essence of ginger – a most exotic and cute sounding spice. But who is to explain this to the Mister. Yeah, my Mr. Right is the Mister now and I know now that the light at the end of the tunnel was just another lost soul with a torch in his hand.

The Mister sipped loads of black coffee in an aura of divinity while I watched in daze. I was after all a cutting-chai types. Cut to present when we are as good as an old couple with all ‘Niceties’ of speech and manner nearly vanished, we have become what we were to begin with.

The Mister will not shut the toilet seat; I can see my mum smiling now. She was smiling when I had told her how he cleans and scrubs every inch of the bathroom and the toilet bowl, every time i came visiting. Little did I know that it was just a quick fix before the arrival of the school inspector. It so happened that yesterday he came in early and asked for coffee which is very rare. I was delighted and nearly jumped up in glee, that a lowly ‘chai-shaukeen’ was offered the task of preparing the royal beverage – coffee!

In my divine glee, I not only boiled the filtered coffee powder but also watched in horror as it spilt out in all its Vesuvius fury. Before I could wipe out all evidence, I realised the Mister had witnessed the entire ‘open-and-shut’ case with a rather wide open mouth. He couldn’t bring himself to speak for a few seconds.

After some life-changing moments had passed by, he started blabbering something what now seems to be just my mum smiling away in all her glory. Your Mr. Right, huh?

What can a ginger-tea lover possibly know about brewing exotic roasted and powdered and refined coffee beans? Well, nothing really. The Mister has realised that and now handles all the delicate coffee management devices in our kitchen. It is not so often that ‘realisation’ hits so hard. For someone who promised to try the lowly ‘adrak-chai’ in the name of love, now protects his royal coffee from chai pollution.

I can see my mum’s smirky smile, flash back to that mushy day and cut back to this dreadful day and my mum smiles all the way.

फिर कर शुरुवात …

नन्हे क़दमों से शुरू किये
जो सफ़र कोमल हाथों के सहारे
लो आज मांगे साथ दुबारा
तुम नहीं तो जग बेगाना

फिर आ कड़ी हूँ मैं चौराहे पर
किस राह पर मंजिल लिखी हैं ?
काले बादलो से लगता हैं दर
तुम्हारे आँचल में समेट, होना हैं बेफिकर

याद हैं मुझे वो एक रूपये का सिक्का
रोज जमा कर मुझे अमीर बना देना
कब बन गयी तीन रूपये का जुगाड़
कर दिया हर नसीयत तेरी बिगाड़

लो कहो ‘ फिर कर शुरुवात…’
ख्वाब शीशों का नहीं, यकीन दिला दो
तुम्हारी छोटी छोटी बातों में छिपा हैं खज़ाना

लो आज मांगे साथ दुबारा
तुम नहीं  तो जग बेगाना …

Pic courtesy : http://tweetymom.files.wordpress.com

A factual fiction!

After she had put down the receiver…

‘Now who was that?’

‘P… who else!’

She gets ready in 5 minutes flat and rushes to the door.

‘Will be back by elevenish…don’t keep dinner for me’.

‘The same old jeans…don’t you have something that flows?’

‘O Maa, I don’t have the time to wear all that….besides he is out at the gate’.

‘Your ears look bare’.

‘Maa…I can’t choose…besides what’s the need? I could do without something dazzling or dangling for now.’

‘Instead of arguing with me, go and wear something that doesn’t dazzle or dangle’.

She rushes in…

‘And while you are at it, wear a bracelet or something…’

She shouts back, ‘but I’m wearing my watch!’

‘But you have two hands, no?’

‘I give up Maa…what’s the point?’

‘What point? I like P besides who else can tolerate you?’

‘Huh! S is waiting along with P and I can hear them honking….BYE’.

Point taken!

The two of them were returning from the meeting point. The ‘interested party’ and the relatives who had arranged the meet were also on their way home. Now, that was three disjoint search parties in search of three absolutely different things in life.

The two of them were silent till they reached home. They had loads of talking going on in their respective heads.

The evening back at home was rather uneventful except for the occasional ‘He was well dressed’ and ‘His mom looks kind’ to ‘looks like a happy family’

The next day in the morning

‘Your cousin may call up anytime. We need to be prepared with our reply’

She was tensed to the core and not a nerve had any flow. How could she reject somebody whom her cousin had hunted down with so much love…besides, her mom will start breathing only after her wedding

‘Maa..he was well dressed and my would be maa-in-law looked so kind’.

‘What? You are saying yes to that jerk. I absolutely see no match here. What’s going on in your head?’

‘Maa..you are the one fretting over my marriage always…besides, how can we say a ‘no’ to them!’

‘Huh! Forget your cousin, forget my fretting…you think I’ll marry you off to some jerk? For God’s sake…I am your mother!’

Food for thought

After she had put down the receiver

‘That was P, right?’

‘Yes’

‘Why don’t you let him speak? You were doing all the talking’.

‘That’s how P is!’

‘Oh yeah! So many years and you tell me he prefers to listen and that too to you.’

‘Maa, he had a few questions’.

‘Huh! And you were giving answers to all the questions in this world?’

‘Hehe..he did speak a bit but how could you hear him…next time I’ll on the speaker’.

‘What do you guys keep chatting all the time?’

‘Life, politics, business ideas….gossip, philosophy and yes, mothers too’.

‘Ah that! …and what about marriage?’

‘Yeah, we talk that too. He tells me about his follies and I tell him mine. We sort of console each other. Hehe’.

‘Look girl, intellectualizing and philosophizing is good but you need to be practical too’.

‘But dad had so many sessions devoted to all this at home. And don’t forget, you made loads of chicken for all his friends.’

‘Yeah…leave all that to the men; they have the license to waste time…….besides how long do you think the philosophizing would continue on an empty stomach?

Mum !!!

‘And where exactly do you think you are going?’

‘My evening walk?’

‘But, where are you heading? How long will you keep drifting? I’m getting older by the second’.

‘O maa! Not now…I don’t know whats written, do I?…. I’ll be back in an hour’.

‘Huh! But you chose to drift, didn’t you? You quit to find new paths!…..You knew what was written then? You just knew you were in a stalemate, didn’t you?’

‘NO, I didn’t know!…nor did I have any illusions…I just followed my heart’.

‘Huh! You don’t have the luxury, girl…Dreams are better at bedtime. Don’t chase an illusion. You will only fall flat with a void too tough to handle alone’.

‘Maa, I don’t know about my dreams or what I am in for. And the recession isn’t helping either! The thing I’m sure about is, that, I came back for you….Bye..will be back in an hour…keep the dough ready’.