Sunday, October 28, 2012


There was once a big guy with a lot of heads. On a particular day when the combined grey matter of all his heads were in resting stage, he unceremoniously kidnapped a married woman and whisked her off to his exotic land. He regretted his decision pretty soon. For he paid for it with all his heads rolled off his proud and arrogant neck.

The once mighty Raavana is paying for it every year since. As thousands of years later, people still find it entertaining to see his head blasted off with crackers. Amidst festivities and distribution of sweets.

In the very same place as the festivities, thousands of women are being whisked off unceremoniously every day. Putting even the mighty Raavava to shame! But the modern Raavana walks tall with his proud and arrogant head still intact on his head. The wails of the outraged women notwithstanding. 

Wonder when these Raavanas will pay for their sins? Wonder why this lopsided justice? Wonder…?

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Abhay pulled up his trousers for the umpteenth time like every day. He almost did it subconsciously like it was akin to breathing.  But he never wore a belt. Wearing a belt brought back painful memories.


Those of his father. Of the putrid smell of alcohol mixed with smoke. Of his towering, overpowering presence in their shanty. Of being thrashed mercilessly. Of the blue and red strips on his back and hands and legs and face. Across his ears. Yeah, that incident had left him partially deaf. And partially blind. He remembered withering away slowly. The years of wetting his bed after evenings of whippings.  The feeling of sleeping on a bed of thorns. The ache penetrating every nerve ending in his body.


Beads of perspiration began to form on his forehead as he thought about them. He felt a pool of water forming at his feet. His trouser soaking in the warm wetness. His slippers starting to smell.


The silver cold metal against his warm hands. Before he could realize, his fingers slid effortlessly into the groove underneath. They landed a string of six messengers of death into his father’s head. The smell of burnt flesh pervaded his senses as he bent down to feel his father’s pulse. There was no sign of life. He removed the ragged belt snaking around the rotund belly of his tormentor and fastened it around his neck like a noose. 

Just to be sure. 

Just symbolically.

He smiled. And pulled up the trouser weighed down by the wetness. The smell didn’t bother him any more.

The brown belt. It was no more.

They were now just memories.


 Tanya's word-o-logy is a fun idea to play along....This is a game to associate words with set themes... 

my ten:

1.Rain               : romance            : sleep
3.dreams          : ephermal
4.sunday          : lazy                : crazy
6.road trip        : leisure                         
7.blogging       : kit and kaboodle                  
8.wife                :reverse psychiatry
9.books            :epiphanous         :collywobbles                    

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The joy of giving.

(image courtesy: google)

On a hot April afternoon Mom and I had been traveling by the ubiquitous cycle rickshaw that you get to see famously on Nagpur roads. The heat was unbearable and she had asked him to stop at a fruit juice centre for a quick thirst quencher. I gave her a raised eyebrow when she ordered for 3 glasses of fresh cold juice.

“Mom, are you sure you can finish two glasses?” I asked looking at the rather tall and full glass of the cold syrupy liquid before me. “I want only one.”


She slapped my head with her purse and said, “Go, give this to the rickshaw puller”. 

How embarrassing,’ I thought, more than the thought of her downing two glasses at one go.

“What? To the rickshaw puller? Mom…seriously?”

“Arre, isn’t he human? He might also be thirsty.”

 I thought she was eccentric, but there was something warm about the wide pan stained smile of the rickshaw –wallah as he sipped the cold juice, holding the glass with both hands, as if it were something precious!

Over a period of time I was witness to more such eccentricities by mom and dad… They never thought twice before asking their car driver to have meals with them irrespective of whether they were dining at a modest hotel or a luxurious one, if they were hungry, so would he be, there were always strangers in the house, being fed, or helped with medical treatment, if they could help, why shouldn’t they, they were always first on the list of friends, or relatives in times of distress…if they trust and need us so much, shouldn’t we be there…..the list was endless.

It however didn’t go down well with me and my sister to see them going out of their way to do their bit. We were forever questioning…’what are you going to get in return?’ will these people be around when you need them?’ and the answer would always be the same- don’t  expect a return of favour. Just look at the smile and joy you bring to someone.

To us it sounded plain foolish.

We were unable to get to the railway station one day due to a bandh. The entire vacation had been planned and if we missed the train, all our plans would go kaput! Dad called up the driver to ask if any arrangement could be made. The driver arrived within no time in his owner’s personal car and dropped us to the railway station.

“Arre saab, anything for you and madam.”

There would always be someone who would miraculously help them in times of need, even though they never asked for help. Maybe what they did made sense after all. But I had no plans of being as eccentric. I would certainly help if I could, but definitely not out the way. 

Many years later, as I raised my own family, and made new friends, the lesson came back to me.

Just on an impulse I went out of my way to help a friend. I thought it was an inconsequential favour . But she happened to win a contest because of it and she was very excited. She called me and kept thanking me profusely, all the while sounding like she could burst with excitement. I could sense the happiness in her voice, she sounded over the moon!  ‘just because of you….you are an angel..’ the words kept echoing in my mind, long after they had been spoken.  

The happiness in her voice brought me a greater indescribable joy. It made me incredibly happy too. I didn’t know giving could be so joyous!

It also won me a selfless friend for life. One, whom I could depend on for anything.

Now I know why mom and dad are so hooked to it!  

As mom and I cleaned the cupboards before Navratri, a big neatly tied bundle fell at my feet. Sifting through them, I found numerous cards and letters.

 ‘Thank you for sitting by me during my angioplasty and talking positive to me. It gave me a lot of courage. God bless you.’ From an old family friend whose children lived abroad.
Mom and dad had sat with her at the hospital as she underwent her procedure and had calmed her nerves before she was wheeled in.

‘Thank you for the meals that you gave me and my family, or else we would have had to go hungry that day. God bless you.’ From a couple who had gone on a pilgrimage and had to stop at Nagpur for a switch of trains.
 They had arrived after lunch hours at our temple and could not eat the onion- garlic food at hotels. Dad had brought them home, mom had fed them and even packed food for their journey !

There were lots more like these. A heartwarming story behind each one of them, an equal measure of joy and gratitude in every one of them. Mom smiled and put it all away in safekeeping. 
“That is why they call it the joy of giving.”

Hundreds of thank you cards and letters, and hundreds of smiles.
Hundreds of grateful hearts, who had received love.
Hundreds of friends for life.
And hundreds of blessings.

That is legacy that I will inherit from mom and dad.

 I wonder if I will ably pass on that legacy to my children. I wonder if they will be equally proud of me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Durga- The supreme mother

A manifestation of the Supreme Power Adishakti herself, Devi Durga is the embodiment of the three flowing channels of primordial energy (and the subsequent kundalini powers) – 

Maha Lakshmi (Central Energy Channel), 
Maha Saraswati (Right Energy Channel) and 
Maha Kali (Left Energy Channel). 

These energies mold together to generate the ultimate source of energy as Ma Durga.The Supreme power and the mother of all Gods and Goddesses, Maa Durga is the ultimate primordial being and  establishes the supremacy of goodness over evil. The Durga stuti evokes the divine mother in all the forms in which she is manifested in all existence.

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Maatru rupena samsthita I  
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of universal mother

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Shakti rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of energy

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Buddhi rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of intellegence

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Laxmi rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of true wealth

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Trishna rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of desire

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Chaya rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of comfort

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Vishnu mayeti  samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of vishnu maya

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Nidra rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of sleep

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Shraddha rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of faith

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Shanti rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of peace

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Tushti rupena samsthita I 
To the Divine Goddess who resides in all existence in the form of contentment

Namestasyai II Namestasyai II Namestasyai II
                                                                     Namo Namah II 
                               We bow to her, we bow to her, continually we bow to her.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

When life must go on.....


“Sarika, it’s me, Deepa.” It was her neighbor and best friend from 312.

“Hey, how are you?”

“Good,  I just called to invite your daughter to Ananya’s birthday party today at 6 in the evening.”

“Sure , I’ll send her. If you need any help with the decorations or cooking, just let me know, ok?”, she offered.

“Thanks, but I plan to keep it low key this year. Celebrating, just so that I keep my daughter happy and at the same time, don’t let the tongues wag. I took her to the temple before dropping her off to school, just like her dad always did on her birthday.”

“I understand.”

Sarika was amazed at this woman’s courage and perseverance to go on in the face of her tragedy. She remembered the day, about a couple of months back, when she had just woken up and had been jolted from her sleep. She had unlocked her door to get the milk and newspaper when she heard loud wailings and a lot of hustle in the corridor. She saw her neighbor next door look grim.

“Deepa’s husband passed away after a massive stroke today morning” she had said.

As Sarika went to pay her respects, she saw Deepa sitting stone faced, not a tear in her eye, not a trace of emotion on her face. And as she held Deepa’s hand in hers thinking of what she should say, tears welled up in her own eyes. Deepa’s body shuddered uncontrollably as she tried to hide the volcano erupting inside her. Yet, no emotion.

“It’s ok to cry, love. There’s no need to hold yourself back.”

Deepa had looked blankly at her 10 yr old son and 5 year old daughter who sat nearby, oblivious to the happenings around. She shook her head and bit her lips hard, trying to suppress her emotions.

Within earshot, Meghana Kumar, from 110, was speaking to Rashmi Kulkarni from 107. “Isn’t she aggrieved by the loss of her husband? See how she sits stone faced!”

 “Kaliyug, Meghana, Kaliyug” Rashmi had retorted and both woman had animated looks on their faces.

 Sarika rose determined to give them an earful but she felt Deepa’s hand on hers and sat down.

“It would have been our 13 anniversary next week”, Deepa said, still no visible emotion on her face.

A couple of weeks later, Sarika visited her friend. She saw Deepa’s swollen red eyes as she opened the door.

” The kids are in school”, she said.” I have the luxury of crying for some time.”

It sounded more like a paradox of emotions to her. She held Deepa tenderly till she was drained. Deepa recounted her happier days with her husband and the sudden attack in the morning and her children looking upto her for support. She explained why she had held back her tears.

“Just for the children, Sarika, had I broken down, the kids would have no one to turn to for support. It was very essential that I look calm to them. I make sure they never see me crying.”

Sarika had kept Deepa company, after that, lending her a shoulder to cry on whenever she wanted to unburden her grief.

Later that week, Deepa knocked at her door.

“I have an appointment with the psychiatrist; will you look after Anu for an hour?”

“Sure, is everything ok?”

“No, Amol has turned very violent, anyone mentions his father and he flies into a rage. He needs to be counseled. Do you know the first thing that he asked me after we had bid goodbye to his father? He asked, mom, will I still be able to go to school? Who will pay my school fees?”

“He is just 10 and he is already plagued by this fear” said Sarika empathetically.

“It took me a while to convince him that we are ok for the moment. I had to show him his dad’s bank account statement to make him believe that his dad had provided for us sufficiently.”

Sarika marveled at this young girl, widowed at 34, with two little children to provide for. She had the reasoning to take her son for counseling rather than ignoring his fears.

A few sessions later Amol looked fine and had learnt to cope with the loss of his father.


Sarika met Deepa in the parking one morning. Deepa was readying to go somewhere.

“Hi, how are you?”

“Good. Saru, wish me luck. I am going to meet a client. I have a degree and a short job experience in dress designing. I worked for some time before I got married. I never imagined myself working after marriage! I have prepared my presentation and I hope I get the offer.”

“Good luck my dear. Don’t worry about the children, I’ll be there.”

“You are an angel, Saru. Thanks.”

As Sarika walked to the lift, her heart full of respect for this woman who kept fighting inspite of the odds, she heard Manjula from 302 talking to her relative in a not-so-hushed tone.

“She is the one”, she said pointing to Deepa as she rode away on her scooty. “See she still has the bindi on her forehead. Wonder where she’s off to wearing a nice saree and bangles.”

“Oh, this new generation has no values, I tell you”, the other woman remarked nodding her head as if in disgust. “In our village, a widow would have to shave her head and wear white. Wearing a bindi or bangles would be unthinkable!”

And live her life in utter misery at the hands of her disgusting relatives. With no future for her children or herself!’ thought Sarika boiling inside at the apathy of these so called moral crusaders of the world.


As Sarika readied her daughter for the party, the intercom rang. “Mrs. Malhotra, its me, Devaki.”

“Yes Devaki..”

“Has Deepa lost it? It is not even two months since she lost her husband, why is she celebrating? She seems to have no regard for her husband whatsoever.”

Sarika thought she had had enough. She sent her daughter off to the party and called up all the ladies in her apartment to the office room for an urgent meeting. Everyone was surprised at being called urgently, but all turned up nevertheless.

“Ladies”, she addressed the crowd,” let me come straight to the point. There is a lot of talk about our friend Deepa and the way she is carrying on with her life. Why the stone face, why no display of emotion, why the bindi, why the celebrations….there are a lot of questions being asked.

But you must understand one basic thing. Grief is as individual as you are. Some will heal fast , some will be stuck for some time. But you must respect the person who is undergoing this difficult phase in life. There is a time when she needs to cry and there will be a time when she is compelled to have a new life.

Should we make life difficult for her by our mindless taunts and comments? Does she have to wear a mask of widowhood on her face to show she is grieving? Trust me, she is in much more grief than you could possibly imagine, but she has the guts to carry on in spite of the odds. She wants to give her children a normal childhood and do everything her husband would have done to ensure her kids are growing up fine.

Being alone in an empty house is not easy. There is no one to greet you, and the chair opposite yours at the dinner table is empty. The house seems to echo from the silence and you shed a tear as you remember that you are now alone. So many years together, so many memories you two created together are all you have left.

Losing a loved one changes your entire life, especially when the loved one was also your husband and best friend. You feel completely lost and totally uncomfortable making even minor decisions. The bed feels big and you hug the pillows for comfort.

But something inside you tells you that you can survive!

Let her survive.“ Sarika finished her speech and sat down looking at the crowd in disgust. She waited for questions to be raised and the moral crusaders to go up in arms against her.

To her surprise she could see most eyes filled with tears. Almost all of them left without saying a word. She knew from the look in their eyes that tomorrow morning would be different…..and her friend would finally be allowed to live in peace.

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