@ndgurmeharwonttweet: trolled into silence

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Just a few months back, I accidentally clicked on a silent video. A young girl’s restrained silence seethed through the innards of my heart. Every placard she held up reflected some pain, some anguish. A daughter of a martyred father holding up a placard saying she had less, if any, memories of the father and more of how it is to grow up without one. As you are about to be engulfed by emotions of overwhelming sympathy and pity, she picks up a placard that says, ‘Pakistan did not kill my father; War did.’

I don’t question it at that time, neither does the nation then. In fact, I draw strength and swell with pride at the bigger message she was attempting to convey. I had felt like saluting the mother who raised her in a way that she is neither spewing venom nor nursing deep-rooted bitterness. In fact, she was trying to erase it!

Here, she is today. The same girl, taking a stand as a student. She is at the receiving end of a humongous magnitude of ridicule, threat, mockery and perhaps whatever it would take to silence her. Here they are, the wisest of the wise, the most celebrated and followed ones demeaning not just her present stand but linking it ruthlessly  to one placard she raised out of a series of those she held up months back.

The bigger shame is that many of us targeting her with acerbic vendetta are parents of young children. If not parents, we have certainly passed through this most vulnerable age. It is at this age that youngsters idolize, form perspectives and even question status quos. In doing that are being laid foundations of right, wrong and characters. In nipping and pinning them, are being laid foundations of them growing up as hollow, soulless characters.

My, barely 15 year-old has a volley of questions as he picks up the paper in the free mornings or watches us glued to some T.V. news. Going back in time, I remember growing up in a state undergoing a turmoil during such impressionable years as Gurmehar’s. I read books, made notes on editorials, scribbled vents, wrote poetry to give way to my perspectives. I clearly remember the urge to take stand or so to say, to figure out things. With age and developments, I might have amended my thoughts a dozen times. That’s the way you grow your mind and self. Perhaps, I was luckier that back then, social media wasn’t a free-for-all, trying to father/mother every youngster with a whip of trolls. It is heart-wrenching how social media is being used to lace things and rip a young girl in the most caustic tones, first accusing her of feeding of her father’s martyrdom, then begetting him shame and finally vilifying her for lacking courage and withdrawing from the campaign.

To those trolling Gurmehar, I wonder what course she should have followed that could have given them solace. That she could never rise above her personal tragedy to have an opinion ever? Why did the fact that she could have one and voice it too, rub the mockers at such wrong places that they her questioning her life choices, her upbringing and even coming down to rudimentary crassness of telling her that she owes her admission to country’s most prestigious college through a quota her father’s sacrifice made her eligible for.

Counter placard or tweets could be great ideas  to send across your message but to those with huge fan base (the cricketers and the celebrities), you have unleashed a fury by each one of your followers interpreting it in their own sweet way and getting so venomous. It is these interpretations that are doing all the damage. When she condemned ‘WAR’ she didn’t mean to invite us to dissect  that word and give it a 100 new meaning and contexts. She wasn’t even trying to deliver a discourse our inflated egos couldn’t take. She was perhaps trying to give a positive message rising above her personal loss midst the age-old bitterness between countries that changed the course of her life. Doesn’t a yearning for peace, a hate for campus vandalism come naturally to most of us?

Give the girl her due in not being cynical enough to conclude that she can only be a pawn and not have an opinion without a hidden agenda. In doing that, we are undermining the wisdom and sensibility of an entire generation that brings along some hope. A generation having a ‘least bothered’ approach to issues around them could also not be a good idea for a nation.

To Gurmehar, to Zaira Wasim and to others – Go dream and express! For in your expression is that flickering ray of light at the end of this dark tunnel of construed motives and interpretations.

For heaven’s sake, lets let a soldier rest in peace and derive some solace from his grave that the girl he left at two is a lady with a head at twenty and perhaps trying to uphold his legacy and make him proud- albeit in a different way!

For me Gurmehar, you are the girl I would want to be at 20 if I am ever again and perhaps a daughter I would have been proud to have!

May the force be with you and guide you in your future choices. ‘Caution but not cower’ could be a learning you could take from this hate trail. It certainly has come ‘too harsh’ a way…

#Gurmehar

Date thy soul…shun all guilt!

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A decade and a half back, I stepped into a new world nimble feet with beautiful dreams and was welcomed warmly by a gush of lovely people and wonderful relations. It was like a perfect treasure dished out for me. Some of it, from my world as a little girl and some from the new one that welcomed me as a woman.

Vivacious and as excited as an eager child wanting to top the class all the time, I embraced everything that was coming my way. At times head over heals in love with the new ones and at times savoring to the hilt, the ones I grew up with. Lapping it all up, I was loving the journey to the hilt.

Gradually, while experiencing the roller coaster phases, a little something started to gnaw on the insides of the heart. Ruthlessly ignored and shrugged off, it was. For, it was too tiny to be paid heed to, midst the colorful myriad of higher roles that blinded me all the time. Years kept rolling by and the little stranger inside kept knocking occasionally. Also nibbling away some more of me, till I could feel a mysterious lacuna and a strange restlessness reflecting in spurts of irritations. A strange confusion that everything was fine and still there was something eluding it all. To add to the confusion, a guilt as to why the hollowness when people and situations were more or less the same.

Midst delving in the highs and lows of this quagmire of sorts, one fine day, the woman inside sought a date with all the roles I was playing…mother, daughter, wife and on and on and on. The date that turned out to be much more exciting than any blind date I would have ever fantasized in my teenage. A date with all my different roles, along with making friends with the soul inside, to unravel and peel off some dusty layers. A heart to heart tet-e-tet, with the soul opening up and dropping some subtle hints at some self created paradigms that were encaging the self. In the process, moving it away from some of the getaways that had nurtured it so well.

Writing pieces of poetry, my musings, painting endlessly for hours and through nights, reading voraciously or working passionately on a job that enriched the self and fed my self esteem. When, where and why they were pushed aside one after the other to make way for other things? There weren’t any answers.

Reassured and heartened by bits of directions I got on my first date, I gathered courage and eventually got addicted to these lovely dates with that inner child. It wasn’t my soul but a newfound friend. A friend, holding my hand and walking me through a whole new world and eventually guiding me to tend to my own self with a little more love and care.

Higher roles and responsibilities at home and work brought along hoards of people and many expectations overtly or covertly. At times the excitement to fulfil each and every expectation is like that of a competitive child who wants to top the class all the time. Through it all, making us push our boundaries and limits and in the process exposing our self to the vagaries of relations and situations. Totally oblivious that the soul is reaching a breaking point where it declares it won’t take anymore and starts sending us signals in the form of irritabilities and rebellions, which further add to the chaos and a vicious circle starts. It is the same people you love, adore or idolize that become the trouble makers. There is no love lost, yet the frequencies go haywire, wavelengths loose track and crossfires take over.

It is here that the self needs a break to get healed and be on track again. It is impossible to adjust all relations at the top of your priority list all the time. If you try too much, you are likely to trip and fall. Life is all about juggling roles and relations like a trained jugular. Keep some at the top, some at the periphery, some to the bosom and savor them like sweet and tangy cocktails. You might even want to take break from some that cause bad hangovers. Dig into the wells of those relations that bring in immense fulfillment and keep drawing energy to be able to smile at those at the peripheries too. The bad hangover ones too might just be back.

We women, take our roles as anchors and soul mates too seriously without caring for our own threads. We love being agony aunts and refuse to hear out our own souls seeking answers. Love thyself as much as you love people around you. Nothing takes away our trophies more than our own benchmarks.

Care as much to pay heed to your own occasional restlessness as your child or hubby’s. The soul might be a neglected child seeking your attention by throwing a tantrum in the form of an outburst. Let no guilt ever take you away from any of your passions.

Its been some years now since the threads were gathered. The love affair with the soul continues and so does the dating. I have indulged and plunged into every hobby and work that aroused my interest and kept me sorted. Left some to try out new ones without an iota of guilt. Disengaged for intervals from those who expect too much or become hard to handle. In the whole process learning that situations and people come around ultimately but a scarred soul takes much longer a time.

The biggest learning in this ongoing odyssey being that we have one life to live and to give. Love yourself to be able to radiate an extra ounce of warmth and happiness. See it do wonders to yourself and those around you.

#WomanInMe feels no guilt anymore 🙂

What a Devil of a mom you were…Mama!

imageYour odyssey as a mother could get a real wacky start, if you are a girl who has grown up on set stereotypes. Stereotypes that are so theatrically heralded by our Hindi movies and daily soaps.

From the day we decided we were ready for a baby, I started fantasizing myself ‘passing out’ dramatically in the middle of something. Wishing earnestly, that the ‘whose who’ would be around to summon the doctor. In a very filmy way, the doctor would then announce the good news to my ‘not so shy’ hubby. How I would go red, blushing and choking with emotions and have the remainder audience ‘ooh aah-ing’ at the breaking news.

Alas, when it actually happened, there wasn’t an iota of the drama I was dying for. What changed colors was just a damn strip and a very ‘matter-of-fact’ doctor. Much to my displeasure, she made it sound like the most routine thing while listing out all the do’s and don’ts.

The morning after and all the mornings in the rest of the 9 months were anything but ‘sick’. Every night, I would sleep imagining that the next morning I would wake up to a whole lot of melodrama. Me, running to the loo, throwing up and a hassled hubby and family running around and me lapping up all the attention. Months passed and much to my disbelief, not a single day when I woke up to the ‘morning sickness’ that was meant to be the major sign that authenticated a pregnancy as per the Hindi movies and soaps. So much so, that despite the pot of a belly that I was carrying ahead of me at 5 months, I always had doubts whether I was actually ‘carrying’.

To top it, my doctor never ever found anything alarming and would always laugh away my concern about the baby being normal.

Contrary to any sickness, every night I would stealthily head towards the fridge and gobble down liters of milk. So much were the hunger pangs and milk cravings. No wonder, by the end of those nine months, I almost resembled a dinosaur. From a delicate 40 plus, I was hovering around 80. And there wasn’t anything utterly feminine or angelic about this mother-to-be’s frame. Nothing came even close to the aura around a pregnant woman that was so repeatedly mentioned in the plethora of books on pregnancy and motherhood that I had licked up in the preceding months.

As if the nine months weren’t enough, the finale was a grand twister. It had nothing of the quintessential theatrical stuff I was so longing for. Yes, it had everything that laid to rest my cravings for drama forever. There wasn’t any ‘baby almost about to be dropped’ like situation. I wasn’t being wheeled just well within ‘cut-off-time’ into the hospital. Neither were my always prim-and-proper hubby and mother-in-law running around in their most disheveled state. That was so wicked of me but I had thought that at least on that D day, the world would see their unkempt look and I would be mighty amused. But, that was seemingly too far-fetched a fantasy, perhaps.

In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up my hubby with as much panic as I could at the mild hints of recurring pains. The cool and by now ‘even more well-read than the doctor’ hubby heard out a few symptoms and declared them as a false alarm. Thankfully, he sounded my mother-in-law before getting ready for office in the crispest of his white shirts and neckties. My dear mother-in-law too touched-up each of her streaks and of course the house and my bags too. They realized soon that the alarms weren’t false. My grand-mother-in-law did live up to some of my expectations by sending me off with a ritual of kisses and blessings, much to my relief.

Once I reached the nursing home, housed in one of the bungalows, they ejected out a lot of my emotions too along with the rest of the stuff via that enema and put me on a drip. It was here that the drama unveiled. And I certainly wasn’t craving for this drama all this while.

I was strapped to a device showing the pattern of my pains and contractions, as if I won’t be knowing otherwise. But then, it was actually for the doctors and the audience around. My hubby, in his crisp shirt and the necktie he forgot to remove, would hold my hand tightly at every reading showing the pain shooting up. My mother-in-law took turns too. The pains followed a peak valley syndrome.

The first few hours were fairly decent but after 4 hours, my shrieks and sighs went beyond decent decibel levels. So much so that my brother and brother-in-law who cared to drop by were embarrassed to death at the very gates of the nursing home. After 5 hours, though the baby was still far away, they shifted me to the insides of the labor room. More than any other reason, perhaps because it was sound proof. By that time my nurses and the doctor were almost shouting back at me. For, I was threatening them to wheel me into the OT for a caesarean or else I would die. Hats off to my sincere and strong willed doctor who decided not to budge even a bit despite my giving her every reason to almost strangulate me.

Inside the labor room, as the sight became too much for my cute hubby to handle, my mother-in-law came to his rescue. She tried to comfort me with the news that my mother too would be reaching anytime. Yes, my mom! She had lots to answer too. I had to ask her why she didn’t ever prepare me for any of this war-like-situation and talked only about the frills. She too managed to make it well in time, in a neatly tucked saree all set to impress her first grandchild.

My mother-in-law suggested my ‘hungry since morning’ hubby to grab a quick bite from ‘Hot Breads’ outlet nearby while she would be around me. For some seconds, how much I hated her and my hubby. Here I was, in the middle of a war since morning on an empty stomach and how could she even think of her son having a quick bite from my ‘most favorite’ eating spot? (How much I understand it now being a mother myself).

In the last two hours, of the gross ten hours before the baby decided that the mother had had enough, it was like the ‘workout’ of my life. At the end of which arrived a maroon colored, all swollen baby, not resembling any of the Johnson baby pictures that hung around the whole house for 9 months. Honestly, I felt he resembled the cute friendly neighborhood pug! (My son would kill me for this).

As I looked sideways at him being cleaned and being put on the weighing basket, while I was being stitched, I experienced a moment of that ultimate bliss which was no match to any of the scenes in Hindi movies or soaps. As the nurse brought him to me, I was numb and my emotions completely froze for moments. It was as if whatever was left inside my belly churned for those few seconds that I held him. I told the nurse to take him out to both sets of grandparents waiting to welcome their first grandchild. It was like having the world see my trophy.

With closed eyes and tears sliding down from the corners, as I savored every laughter and joyous shriek reaching my ears, I suddenly felt a warm familiar hand stroking my forehead. Standing there was the ‘newborn’ Papa all exhausted but so relieved. As I smiled and held his hand, I saw the button less sleeves of his ‘not anymore crisp’ shirt and a few red marks. An aftermath of holding his hand badly every time the pain shot up. Both of us laughed, eyes brimming but words completely failing. Few precious moments, that perhaps made up for all the day’s pain and also for any drama that was lacking in the preceding 9 months.

Looking back, I have inside felt so blessed at the smooth nine months and the smoother finale. But, we have laughed our lungs out umpteen times at my version and naive expectations of those nine months with family, friends and now with our son. He is a witty teenager now and keeps us in splits with his one-liners.

All he has to say to this is…

‘What a devil of a mom you were Mama!’ And I say ‘I still am one Sonny!’

‘Faith’ful Miles!

An aged grandmother sitting in the courtyard glowing in the grandeur of her white clothes, milky hair, a loving gaze holding a Gutka(religious book having banis and verses)and reciting verses from the Banis (compiled verses) the whole day…

A father who appeared to be an atheist but would never miss chanting the mool mantra and a ‘Thir ghar baiso harjan pyarey’ while going through his morning chores in his high pitched voice.

A mother  who never stuck to any daily rituals but ensured an Ardaas and Karah Parshad on Gurupurabs, our birthdays, and other special days.
These were some early introductions to the religion I was born into. Nothing was overtly taught, told or hammered. It was a way of life followed in the most casual manner. For a naïve little child, occasional visits to Gurudwaras meant tugging on to the mother or ‘choti bhua’s’ chunni or dupatta and pretending to be knowing and humming along the Anand Sahib and Chaupai Sahib. The primary motive as fathomed was to thank that Supreme lord ‘Waheguru’ for all the blessings and perhaps secretly ask for more too.

Teenage and beyond, as I dug deep into the Sakhis and Sikh history, some out of curiosity and some as part of a curriculum, it was like waking up amazed at the wonders of the religion I was born into. The heart would gush with pride at the thought that the torchbearers of my religion were so forward looking centuries back that they incorporated Banis of 15 Bhagats (Muslims and Hindus), 17 ordinary Bhatts (Chamars and Marasees, those belonging to lower castes) and of ordinary Sikhs. In doing so, an example was set that anything that’s meaningful and can inspire mankind should be imbibed without putting it through the religious and social fire of caste, creed or profession!

Nothing brings you closer to the tenets of your faith than visiting the historical Gurudwaras and trying to relate to the Sakhis and importance around each one of them. Each time that I’ve visited the Golden Temple, it has been nothing short of a divine experience. I have bowed out of reverence at the magnificent gates of Darshani Deori and my eyes have welled up remembering the Sakhis of faith and gratitude around the Dukhbhanjani Beri. The head holds itself high thinking of the fact that Guru Arjan Dev Ji got the foundation stone of the Golden Temple laid by Mian-Mir- a muslim Sufi saint.

As I experienced the most beautiful Aartis of my life at Hazoor Sahib midst the display of Shashtra (Gurus’ weapons), the heart and soul gushed with immense pride. Words fail when you see with your eyes what belonged to the Guru who wrote

Chun kar az hameh heelate dar guzasht halal ast burdan bi – shamsher dast’

meaning when all has been tried, yet justice is not in sight; It is then right to pick up the sword. It is then right to fight. (quote from Zafarnama)

When I count my blessings, one that comes on the top is having started my married life in the city that was the birthplace of the founder of Khalsa Panth, our Dasvi Patshai (tenth Guru), Shri. Guru Gobind Singh ji. The Guru, whose life and teachings have had a lasting impression on the Sikh ideology. A leader, warrior, poet, philosopher and one of the finest and generous human beings that history witnessed.

As you pass by the byelanes of the Old Patna city to reach the sanctum Sanctorum, almost on the banks of Ganga, what stays with you for life as an enriching experience is the darshan of the Gurus’ sandals and many other relics. Midst this divinity, the soulful rendition of;

‘Tahi Parkash Hamara Bhayo,
Patna Shehar Bikhey Bhav Layo.’

These chants donot just fill up the nooks and corners of Sri Harmandar Sahib but your soul as well.

Every visit to Keshgarh Sahib leaves you with goose bumps and no Sikh can escape getting transformed back in history and relive for sometime the magic moments when Guru Gobind Singh ji addressed a huge congregation which saw Five men from humble backgrounds volunteer themselves for that supreme sacrifice and were later baptized and christened as ‘Panj Pyaaras’(Five beloveds).

The ceremony did not just signify the birth of Khalsa Panth (1699 AD) but heralded the equality of all before the Supreme Lord. A Khatri (shopkeeper), Jat (farmer), Chhimba (calico printer), Ghumar (water carrier) and a Nai (barber) became the first Singhs of the Khalsa Panth! Hereon the Sikhs were bestowed with the unique identity and directed to sport the 5 Ks as part of their attire.

No wonder why, one of the most enriching journeys of my life has been the one I travelled with my faith. Also the one, that I love to look back upon as it brings along warm emotions that are as beautiful as the journey of seeing ones’ child grow out of your arms, to become a pillar one could lean on, and a well from which one could keep drawing strength from.

Whilst braving the roughest of storms or riding high on the wave of blessings or even while going through the mundane routines, when verses from the ‘Banis’ keep visiting you or your feet nudge you to walk towards a Gurudwara, at times you wonder what surreal energy eggs you and binds you to that Lord. The answer comes in one humble word and that is ‘Faith.’

Faith that follows no rulebooks but begets you the strength and courage, helping you to go beyond your mindset while keeping you grounded by not forgetting to be thankful. It also transcends borders, barriers and any bindings.

The heart is humbled in parts and brims with pride in others at having got the privilege of putting in a few strokes from my modest odyssey as an ode to the religion I would want to be part of in each life!

Keep Calm Maa… I’ve just turned 13!

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Every year just before your birthday, I compulsively go through a plethora of emotions. Year after year, reliving the moments when you arrived, rolling your eyes, looking dazed and amazed, while being bounced around by paternal and maternal elders.

My emotions have always been quite quirky; either too early or too late. Late they were, 13 years back too. They sneaked in hours after you arrived, perhaps when I had you, all to myself giving me a questioning look as if asking, ‘Lady – are you supposed to be my Mom?’ And then they unplugged and have been pouring out non stop till date. In these 13 years of being a mother, every year I’ve fondly written about your big and small milestones and how much I’ve myself grown with each of yours. This year as I pick up the pen, it refuses to pen about the little boy tugging on to me and urges me to be fairly honest.

Here I am, not writing about the baby in my lap , anymore. It is about my husband’s new buddy. Not sure when, but somewhere in this year you’ve taken a flight out of my lap flanking your father as you reach his shoulders. Arms in arms, I see both of you walking new paths, following new found passions and indulging in fearless adventures that I’m trying hard getting used to. Lest I forget, how you both gang up when I am at my nagging best. The rolling of those eyes and the exchange of some amused glances, that I so often pretend to have missed. When you mimic your father and urge me to chill in his tone, I cannot miss the father beaming sheepishly. No wonder, he has a new buddy and this mother has two brats to handle.

From the Papa who was not to be told a lot of secrets that Mama and baby shared, I can see two partners in crime making plans in hush-hush tones and holding on to announce them strategically when mommy’s mood is at her brightest. I hear conversations become whispers as I enter the room unannounced and can sense some mutual plotting that is underway.

From a hands-on and a hands-full mom, I am suddenly finding myself with some free space and time. Nevertheless, confused at times whether I should be enjoying this newfound space, sit back and smile at the baton being passed or sulk a little and throw some weight around. From tending to a child and a hubby, I am suddenly midst two young men in my life. One, a teenager and the other who has just got back to his teens again with his son. A big corner of my heart is relishing this new bonding to the hilt, while the other handles the little vacuum that raises its head once in a while.

From a timid child, who would sob in my lap at the slightest scratch for days and seek attention, to setting up challenges and enduring to overcome them, I know what exactly, walking out of my lap has done to this touchy and delicate baby of mine.This emotional mother, on numerous occasions struggles not to let flow what wells up proudly in the corners of her eyes. When I lose out on the logic you embed in your arguments and fumble for words, I see images of my self in you. Midst looking for images of my own self and your father in you, I have started feeling the lovely presence of a fine young man who has a mind, identity and choices of his own. Moments, when I know its time to let go bit by bit.

At the end of each day, as you insist that I tuck you in your bed with a nice peck, I suddenly realise that the baby is still around. He is just shooting up and lapping up the wonderful new experiences and emotions that teenage is dishing out. It’s too tempting to hover over but I got to sit back and enjoy watching him explore his beautiful new space.
On the flight through your teens. Seat belts fastened and seats upright!.
Happy 13 th!
From Ma

P.S. From my diary, on my son’s 13 th birthday. In case you found a connect, your comment shall warm my heart!

The frills that tug on my Heartstrings…

Just a step out of my den and I would switch off my mains, be tempted to break into a jig, raise my arms and soar up an up like a bird who attains bliss beyond a height. And then that trance that took me through catching up with friends, gossiping with cousins and giving mom those pitch dark circles under the eyes by coaxing her to sit with me and faff and babble endlessly about every damn thing and person. Getting up only when the sun would put me to shame and feign on hubby’s call ‘Oh I was missing you so much!!!’ and giggle like a school girl on hanging up.

Was it all from some other lifetime?? For the excitement still remains, but as I step out of my den, there is lots nibbling me inside and lots more nudging me as if pulling me back into the house. The calls to cousins and pals make way for calls to milkman and handing over rituals to the maids. The urge to call up and ask the maid whether the plants are watered well and curtains drawn nicely is just too hard to resist.

I carry a lump as I step out every six months. I glance longingly and quite so foolishly at the walls. The house might not be perfectly done up as on other days but the last day I am doing it up as if trying to bond with the baby more out of sheer guilt for leaving it back for some time. In the last minute handing over, I often miss that questioning look on my, otherwise quite matter of fact hubby’s face as if saying ‘Am I somewhere in the queue??’ As soon as I’m done with the journey I do make a call to make up and say ‘I’m already missing you’ but fall prey to ending it with hope you switched off the geyser!’

As much as you want to run away as much as you love to hate them, you eventually fall head over heels in love with those very strings. They tug me on, they nudge me. At times they might even smother me but the fact is that I’ve somewhere got addicted to their embrace. I might say at times that I want to break free but inside I know I yearn for them to snuggle me. Such are these frills !

 

MEMORIES……KEEP VISITING

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Three months have gone by. It is as if I have lived three decades looking at lovely images of a tall and handsome man smiling at me from nooks and corners…..the man who was around me for a good 40 years as my father.

Life moves on. There are moments when whilst laughing my lungs out with friends, I slow down. Getting over the gulp in my throat I try to feel and focus on an image that teasingly crosses my eyes. That image is of YOU – your once radiant and bemused face, your eyes that used to brim over with laughs and your hands that used to break into a clap.. once upon a time. When you were a free bird ,the emperor of your dreams, and followed every passion and obsession with heart and soul- to live life king size.

 On a rainy day, as I picked up an old soggy book – memories dragged me 25 years back into your library. At a tender 15 or perhaps 16 years ,I stealthily used to pick up some from your priced collection. Vaguely remember some –TRAIN TO PAKISTAN , RAPE OF THE LOCK and a few others. As I struggled through them trying to make out what they were about , I tried to understand you through some lovely sayings and poetry scribbled by you on the margins of their pages in a handwriting that was so typical of you.

It has been a hide and seek game with memories these three months…..at times choking me and at times bringing along a broad smile .One of the most hilarious ones for you then and for me now is our being hijacked for a yearly preventive vaccine to your favorite doctor . Every year with a straight face you would smartly lay the trap with  an ice-cream treat which used to come but only after that painful prick . I would howl and over-react and vow not to get trapped the next time. And you would just flash your winning and naughty smiles. Ironically , those smiles so typical of you became long distant dreams for some years to come.

These three months, images of you have whizzed past my eyes….at times sitting on a regal couch dressed immaculately in white with a black coat by your side, as if ready for work ,sifting last minute through the pages of one of your law books.

The sheepish smiles, the roaring laughs that we so longed for – have all been visiting in hoards over and over again. You accompany them like a guest. Each time you get up smiling to leave with them ,I feel like reaching out and urging you to stay back. But then somewhere inside I know, you are in a happy space for you have always come and left smiling.

Memories do keep visiting, Papa do keep visiting along .

 

Vaccinating years…gone bys

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Yesterday’s happened to be the last one! Looking back every shot had its own share of drama -some low pitched and while others over-the-top. With the exception of the first one, on all others my boy ensured that he remained the protagonist and none of us hogged the limelight.

Clearly remember the first one. With the new mommy still confined, it was papa and grandma who took him. Whilst the two day old baby just gave out a timid squeak, the new papa’s pulse rate showed quite a few fluctuations as that prick happened.

The next few were while he was still in the lap. This time it was always Mommy not wanting to look at the needle going in. For the baby, of course, the aftermath was bad. A swollen bum, waves of pain and a forced smile. Luckily till that time, he was quite a patient baby.

Then came an era when those chubby legs got wings and vaccination time meant that the doc and we had to endure a couple of solid kicks and that high pitch wailing for a good time after that prick too. Probably the funda was ‘Let me not make it too simple for them!’

Then came the 4-6 years phase. By now the legs had enough strength and the vocal cards raring to explode. From a naive and innocent baby, he was learning the ways of the world and had mastered a few tricks of the ‘bargaining trade’ by now. For us it was- anything for that seamless shot. With some fancy toy in hand and promises to behave and not shout beyond permissible limits, we would together land at the clinic. But alas -promises are meant to be broken! Along with the toy all promises would be flung in the air as soon as we moved towards that blessed bed. And there we had-enough drama to entertain for the patients waiting outside. Out emerged mama avoiding eye contact with people smiling, carrying a sobbing baby who did not forget to pick the toy notwithstanding the pain and peripheral drama.

The 10th one was certainly different as it came after a very long gap. This time instead of bargaining it was ‘I’ll get it done when it suits my schedule?’ For a good two and a half months the schedule remained jam-packed with- exams, feeling sick, cricket match and on and on and on! Finally yesterday, He had no choice. I picked him up straight from the ground to take him to the friendly neighborhood doc, just a walk away. Here he was proudly telling his friends ‘Oh! I’ll just be back after the injection’ like a macho man. The fear factor was there but I know how to hide it now. Luckily for me, one of his good friends tagged along. On the way, he kept asking me in whispers what to do if it hurts. I told him just to close his eyes and say Ek Omkar (means God is one, as in Gurbaani,). At the clinic, as the assistant got the bum ready, mama forgot that she had brought along a baby who appeared all grown up but still needed that hold. All busy chatting with my doctor friend, I heard him just before that prick ‘mama, you need to hold my hand’. It was a matter of a second after that. And there he ran off with his friend leaving me chatting with the doc.

From zero to ten years, seems we both have grown together on this odyssey !