Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Paradigm shift.

Shasha…Shasha…where are you, how dare you soil my car with your muddy shoes. Come here this minute” Shekhar was screaming his lungs out.

“What’s the matter dear, why are you so upset?” Anamika came running out of the kitchen, hearing her husband scream.

“Your son has no sense of discipline, Anu. I have spent a fortune getting the new upholstery for my car and he has soiled it all with his muddy shoes.” he was still fuming.

“He had a football match yesterday..”

Shasha came out hearing his dad’s voice, “Dad…”


Shekhar slapped his son straight across his cheeks. Shasha stood there tears streaming down his face, his cheeks beginning to redden and swell.

“You dirty my car once again and I’ll break your leg, got it?”

“Sorry dad..”

Then he picked up his bag and rushed out of the house.

Ma. I am getting late for school. Bye.”

“Beta have breakfast…”

But he was gone before she could finish her sentence.

What is with men and their love for their cars?’ she wondered.

Shekhar looked at the ground where he had just slapped Shasha. There was a shining silver cup and a certificate. He picked it up to see what it was.

“Shasha`s team won the football match yesterday. He was adjudged the best player with maximum goals. His teammates had soaked him in water before I went to pick him up. That’s why there’s mud in the car. I was meaning to wash and clean it off before you saw it.” Anamika explained.

Shekhar was ashamed of his behavior and made a mental note to take Shasha out for dinner that night, to celebrate his achievement and also to apologise for his sudden outburst.

He had an important client meet in a couple of hours time and didn’t want to be late. He called up his secretary, Poornima,
“ Poornima, have you reached office? I told you to report by this time.”

“Sir, I am on my way.”

“What?” he screamed, “on your way? Can you never be on time? Don’t forget appraisal time is just round the corner. You don’t want to forgo your raise this time too, do you? There’s so much to do before we meet Mr. Mehta. Mail me the soft copy of the project immediately. I will work on it till you reach office.”

Poornima stopped her car and used her laptop to mail the project to her boss. Life was never easy for her, as she painstakingly balanced her home and work. Her rebellious teenaged son and ever-demanding teenaged daughter on one side and her arrogant boss on the other had made her life miserable. Her husband had left her for another woman and she had been shattered ever since. She started her car, her mind abuzz with thoughts of her fight with her son in the morning and the threatening words of her boss. She was driving fast enough to reach before her boss did, when she spotted a little girl running across the road. She tried to apply the brakes, but stepped on the accelerator instead, swerving just in time to avoid hitting the child. But in the process, she rammed her car into a motorbike injuring a couple and setting off a chain of accidents.

“Saab stop the car, stop the car..”

Shekhar could see a few people hailing down his car. He stopped to inquire and saw a large crowd gathered around what appeared to be an accident.

“Saab, there’s been an accident, three people have to be taken to the hospital, they are bleeding profusely. Can you please help?”

‘Oh no, not now,’ he thought, ‘my new car upholstery, I don’t want blood in my car. Anyway I have my client meet; I cannot afford to be late. Who knows, may be even the police will make me run around for my statement. I am better off without these headaches.’

“ Not now, I am in a hurry, why don’t you call an ambulance” he nodded his head and drove away.

He reached office and was seething in anger when he learnt Poornima had still not reached. He tried calling her, but she was not answering his call.

‘Look at the nerve of that woman, she has the audacity to ignore my threats, I must teach her a lesson.’

After waiting for almost an hour, he hurriedly made a project report from the soft copy Poornima had sent. His anger knew no bounds when his secretary did not report to work at all, the entire day. He had just finished his meeting and come to the office when his office boy told him his wife had left a message asking him to call back.. He switched on his mobile and called his wife. Amid sobs, his wife asked him to come to Sanjeevani hospital immediately. He reached the hospital and was shocked to see his wife crying incessantly. His heart now beating faster, he went near her and saw a deathly look on his wife’s face.

Shasha…my baby…he’s lost his leg… he was in a bad accident today morning. Some woman lost control of her car while trying to avoid a little girl on the road, and hit a couple on the motorbike, they in turn hit Shasha’s bicycle. He was lying bleeding on the road for almost an hour. Some heartless man refused to ferry them to the hospital. That woman sitting there is the one who caused the accident. Though she was hysterical  after the accident, she was the one who brought the three of them to the hospital but by that time, Shasha had lost a lot of blood and doctors said we could have saved his leg if he was brought here a little earlier…my poor baby, he will never be able to play football again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Parijata and the Rose.

There was a beautiful garden near the ashram of a noble saint. The entire expanse of the garden was filled with roses in multicolored hues.  A lone Parijata tree stood in full bloom at the very end of the beautiful garden. The flowers smelled so divine, that people came from afar so that they could just take a stroll amid the blossoms.

On one such walk, a little girl enchanted by the beauty of a red rose tried to pluck it off. But not only was the stem difficult to break off, she also punctured her finger with the thorn that surrounded it. Blood oozed out and she cried out in pain. Just then a breeze blew and the flowers on the Parijata tree fell at her feet. She happily picked them up and went home.

The Rose laughed at the Parijata,

“Hold on tight to your blooms my friend. Can you not withstand one gentle breeze?”

“But I brought a smile to the little girl, didn’t I?

“Who cares about the smiles? These blooms are precious, they belong to me, and I hate to let them go.”

What happens when the gardener comes along with his cutter tomorrow and takes away your blooms?”

“Ah! I hate him too. You have no inkling how much pain I withstand. I dare him to try plucking my blooms with his bare hands. I could teach him a lesson then.”

“Let them go, my friend, attachment is the cause of all misery.”

“How can I not be attached? I have seen it bud and bloom, it is not possible to be devoid of attachment.”

“Then try to be attached with a sense of detachment. Know that it will one day leave you, maybe to adorn the lord’s feet, maybe to bring a smile to someone sick, maybe to warm a loved ones heart.. Love it till you have it, and then set it free to go.”

How true’, thought the saint who was listening to their conversation, ‘Attachment with detachment! What a divine mantra!
All relationships could benefit if they practiced this mantra. When a daughter is born into the family, this mantra is what the parents practice unknowingly, isn’t it? They know she will grow up and get married, and go away with her husband. So though they love her and are attached to her, they do so with a sense of sub-conscious detachment. They are prepared for her going away.
 A teacher is attached to her class of 40 students but does so with a sense of detachment because she knows that they will be gone after the year is over and a new batch of students will replace them.
An employee shares a similar feeling with the organization he works with. If he gets gainful employment elsewhere, he is ready to shift.
  Thus, though there is a momentary sadness it is easier to overcome it without hurting us emotionally.

 But look at the scenario where a son decides to move away from his parents. The parents have not prepared themselves for this detachment. Hell breaks loose and they find it difficult to let him go.

 It is true of any relationship, where there is only attachment, be it between friends, between husband and wife, between parents and children, between people and their pets, between siblings, between the departed and his loved ones..the list could go on.. The Parijata is right, ‘ love it till you have it and then set it free to go! ’

(Pic courtesy: Google images)

Friday, January 20, 2012

The beginning or the end?

They were on a trip to Srinagar. It was their final year in college. The excited group of sixty students were determined to make these the most memorable moments of their life. They had been enchanted by the beauty of the mountain resort, Gulmarg. The sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers and fir covered hillsides had taken their breath away. They stayed for a day in the famous houseboats on the Dal lake. The experience was a unique one and had them asking for more. That is where Anirudh had ‘discovered’ Preeti, his classmate he had never spoken to before, in the four years of college. They shared an excellent camaraderie during their entire trip, finding each other quite witty and fun to be with and wondered how they had missed being friends with each other before.

It was the last day of the trip, their baggage’s were packed and loaded in the buses. They had stopped at the famous Maulana Azad road. It was usually the last stop on the tour guides list, where tourists could shop for souvenirs to take back home to their loved ones. Row upon row of shops filled with handicrafts lined the streets. There were so many things to buy in the Srinagar market.

"Kashmiri handicrafts are prized everywhere for their exquisite craftsmanship. Kashmir carpets, in both wool and silk with their Persian design, are a lifetime investment and the shoppers' selection range from the simple to the most extraordinarily intricate patterns handed down the generations.  You can shop for the woolen garments like pullovers and stoles. These apparels also have the embroidery of the silken threads.

 There are papier-mâché items ranging from jewellery boxes to mirror frames, a range of intricately carved walnut wood furniture and accessories, stone jewellery boxes, beautiful woolen shawls, and more. 

Finish your shopping and assemble near your bus by 4pm sharp. The bus will not wait for anyone because your flight back home is at 7pm. We will take you straight to the airport from here. Happy shopping" announced the tour guide in his towering voice.

The group of excited girls and boys scurried to shop as if their professor had handed them their question paper for the exams and said 'your time starts now'. They shopped in groups but soon realized that it would be better to shop individually as each was looking at different things.

"Vidya, Renu, Divya and Kavya, lets finish our shopping individually, this way we will finish quicker. Let`s meet near the bus at 3.45pm sharp" said Preeti.

"Ok lets" chorused the others.

 Anirudh and his gang had also decided likewise. Preethi and Anirudh were both looking at a shop full of Attar- oil perfumes, when they bumped into each other.

"Hey Ani, found anything interesting?"

 "I am a little confused Preeti, I don’t know what to buy"

The shopkeeper handed them a tray with a large collection of perfumed oils in tiny bottles with a tinier dipper in each.

Saab try it before you buy. Rub a little drop of the attar on your wrist and smell it.” suggested the shopkeeper helpfully.

 “Whom are you buying for Preeti?" he asked as an after thought.

"My parents, sister, about you?"

"The same, except make it girlfriend and sisters. I didn’t know you had a boyfriend. You seem too quite and withdrawn in college. In fact I did not even know you properly till we came to Srinagar."

“You know Rahul from our previous batch? He proposed to me last valentine`s and I accepted.”

“Lucky Rahul ! I proposed to Shweta from 2nd year on valentine`s too. We have been seeing each other since then”.

“By the way I expected you`d say girlfriends, she laughed, “You have quite the reputation of being the charmer in college. Every girl in college is crazy about you.”

“That`s a lie madam. If it was true, how come my charm did not work on you?”he chuckled.

They continued rubbing various oils on their hand and Anirudh was elbow deep in perfumes when Preeti chided him,

Ani, people will think we are crazy, smelling each other`s hand like this. And don’t go up any further, it starting to get a little…hmmm…weird.”

Holding her hand and smelling the attar on it had been quite a heady experience and Anirudh had begun to feel a little amorous too. He wondered if she had been feeling the same, but dared not say or do anything lest he offend her. She was quite pretty and fun to be with. How had he not noticed her before? ‘Lucky Rahul’ he thought again.

They brought a whole lot of other goods including woolen shawls, embroidered salwar kameez and trinkets.

"Ani, lets buy some home made chocolates , my sister will kill me if I go back without it"

 The chocolate area was vast and smelt divine. To their surprise and liking, they were allowed to taste tiny bits of various varieties before they bought it. Preeti had a small piece of rich cocoa butter chocolate that was melting in her palm. Without warning, Ani grabbed Preeti’s hand and licked the chocolate off it . Taken aback at this impromptu act, Preeti was quite embarrassed. But she hated to admit to herself, that she had actually quite like the warmth of Ani's mouth on her hand, just like she had enjoyed the warmth of his breath as he had sniffed the perfume off her hand. It was difficult not be charmed him and his flirting. But that was exactly why she had stayed away from him. She never thought he was capable of taking a relationship seriously.

“It’s 3.45 already Preeti, lets hurry up.”

"I hope the bus doesn’t leave without us.” cried Preeti.

But the bus did leave without them, and the pleadings from both of their friends had gone unheeded. The tour operator felt it would be easier that 2 people missed the flight than the entire group missing it. Both of them were horrified to find the bus gone and Preeti could not stop crying.

What are we going to do now, how will we get back

Calm down Preeti, we are not on another planet, lets take a cab to the airport" said Ani holding her reassuringly.

They hailed a cab and all through the way, a tensed Preeti held his hand tightly, her nails biting through the flesh of his palm.

 "Don’t worry my dear, we'll make it on time"

They were relieved when they finally reached the airport an hour later and checked in their baggage which the tour operator had kept in his custody in case they missed the flight. Since they were the last to check in, their seats were together but quite away from the rest of the group. The flight take-off and landing had a disturbing effect on Preeti and she was more than happy to let Ani hold her comfortingly across her shoulder. 

There was a palpable tension between them, an undeniable attraction, a futile self-denial, and an insurmountable feeling of enticement. The magic of Srinagar had woven an indescribable bond between them. Oh! how she wanted this time to never end! And how he wished he could hold her like this forever!

But as they say, all good things eventually came to an end. After the flight landed, they were immediately surrounded by their respective friends and a host of questions. "Hey, where did you two disappear?", "How did you manage to reach the airport?" As they chatted animatedly, he felt his heart beat faster every time she looked at him, a mischievous glint in her eyes.  As they walked towards the exit, she caught him stealing glances at her and blushed.

Surprise!!! I missed you so much, my love!

She turned around and saw Rahul waiting for her at the exit and a familiar smile crowning his face. She walked into his embrace, looking around for Ani one last time. He was walking towards the exit waving his hands in air and Shweta waving excitedly at him with a huge smile on her face...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Trouble in paradise- part 2

“Dad…wake up Dad…Dad..”

Anuj opened his eyes to find his boys standing next to him.

Hey Champs, Good  morning ! Up early....huh?”

“Dad, it’s 8 O’clock. The school bus has left without us. We will never be able to reach school on time!

  And anyway, there’s no fresh set of uniforms for us. Remember, you forgot to send us change over clothes to Mrs. D`Souza`s yesterday? So it’s all muddy. There’s a heap of unwashed uniforms in the laundry bag.”

(‘What? The alarm didn`t ring at 6am or did I sleep it over? Whatever!  Now what do I do? No uniforms,so school is ruled out. Shall I send them to the crèche in the morning? No, Mrs. D`Souza has strictly said not before 12 noon.What a way to start the day! Stinking morning, stinking clothes, stinking kitchen , stinking life!  I think I have an idea. I think I’ll spend some time with the kids today. Let me call up boss first.’)

He asked his boss for leave and then announced to his boys,

“Champs, dad is on leave today as well...what do you want to do?”

“Hurray, Dad !! Lets go to ‘Chinese Checkers’ for lunch.

“Lets watch ‘Alvin and the chipmunks’ and then lets play cricket.”

Amid all the excitement, Anuj realized how little time he had spent with his little ones and how much the boys had missed his involvement in their daily lives. He hardly knew what they ate, what they liked to do, what their routine was like. Anjali had taken care of everything perfectly.

The kitchen was a mess and he didn’t have the heart to cook anything, not that he could. Heading out was a better option, he thought. They watched the morning show of ‘Alvin and the chipmunks’ at PVR cinemas. After a fun filled morning at the movies and a hearty Chinese lunch, he put the boys to bed for a small afternoon nap while reading out stories from the ‘Arabian Nights’. Just then Shashi called and invited him and the boys over to dinner at his house. After the boys woke up, he played cricket with them for an hour and then the three of them drove to Shashi`s house for dinner.He was happy to have the boys off his hands for sometime and watched as they played with Shashi`s children after dinner.

Bhaisaab, Its high time now, why don`t you ask Anjali to come back home. The boys must be missing her for sure. You must be missing her too.”

Shashi`s wife Avantika was Anjali`s closest friend.

Bhabhi, I didn`t ask her to leave home, she will come back when she wants to. I don`t think she`s bothered about the kids or me. She knows very well I cannot cook. Is she even worried what the kids might be eating? I have been having a hellish time since she left. I have to wake up early, get the boys ready for school, pack four lunch boxes...yes , you heard it right...two each for the boys...I didn’t even know there were two lunch breaks! And you know what, the kids have their own choices, but poor boys, all I could pack for them were a couple of slices of bread and jam! You have to remember to get the kids homework done, remember to pack clothes and food for the crèche, remember to pick them up at the right time, remember to do the laundry and  ironing, cooking, cleaning...the kitchen’s a mess, I don’t know who is supposed to wash all the vessels! I am fed up bhabhi !  I can either work or manage home, and there’s no guarantee that I can do the latter ever. How in the world does Anj....”

“Well Mr. Newton, now that the apple has finally landed on your head and you have discovered your own law of gravity, what`s the plan?” Shashi and Avantika were smiling.

 “Anuj, how do you think Anjali manages all this? She leaves for office at the same time as you, doesn’t she? She does every bit of work that you have been complaining of and she does it with élan and without fretting about it. Just because work goes on, it doesn’t mean she isn’t stressed out? And you expect her to...”

“Don’t embarrass me further guys, I just realized what a fool I have been. I`ll call up Anjali right now, but before that let me call up boss…”

“…Sir, I need to take tomorrow off too…yes sir, there`s an emergency…well, its called family crisis…thank you, sir…yes, I`ll see you on Monday.”

“Thank you Shashi and thank you too Bhabhi, I think I`ll take the kids and Anjali to Ooty for the weekend, and tell her how sorry I am for driving her nuts when she was already doing her best for us. I think I`ll drive down and pick her up from her Mom`s house right now.”

“There`s no need to do that...”

He turned around and saw Anjali with tears in her eyes.

“I am sorry, Anuj….”

“Shhh…don’t say anything…”  

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