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Tag: Family

Randomness!

Scene # 1

“Onnume sonna purinjukka mattengaradi. Thookathila kanavu kandu bhayappedaralam. Thoongave mudiyarathillai. Enna seyyanam theriya maatengarathu.” She talked on and on. What is to be said now? I turned around to him. He is not smiling. Why isn’t he? He always used to. Didn’t he appear healthier in the hospital? He even cracked a joke or two. And we laughed all afternoon. Yeah, laughed. But now, he is not even smiling. Is this what’s like being unstable? Shuttling between extremes! I inched forward,and slid a finger into his palm. He held tight on to it for a second and then let it go. He wouldn’t hold it anymore, no matter how long I waited. Like a baby who plays with your finger, only till its fascination. “Antha hanumanoda manthram sollindu padutha porum. Appo pinne swapnam onnume varathu. Illatalum, enna swapnam kandu bhayappeda! Ellarum irukkomillaya inga.” Did he hear that? Yes, he did. He’s thinking now. Even trying to say something. He’s trying hard to recollect the stanzas, uttering the first line. Did he seek help? Perhaps not. He was trying to revive it back, and fill in the voids between the lines. And I was trying hard too. I couldn’t recollect it either! Was it a bad thing to remind him now, about the better times of life? He was visibly struggling to get words out of the brain, and sound out of the throat. One stopped cooperaying when the other gave in. It’s like, his thoughts and voice won’t ever give up for eachother. Could he ever say what he really meant, ever in life? I couldntjust stand there anymore. Others had left already. I told her and got up to leave, went upto him and held his hand for one brief moment and turned away to leave. And there he took it over from, “Budhir balam, yashodhairyam, nirbhayathvam arogatha. Ajadyam, vakpaduthvamcha, hanumath smaranath bhaveth!” Did he not smile now? I smiled.

Scene # 2

To be continued…

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Blog-o-phobia!

Nay, I am not afraid of blogs. But people at my home are. They are worried that I am spy to netizens, leaking news from their privacy. 😛 Lately, at the end of every conversation, my dad makes it a point to add, “Daivame! Sollandamayirinthuthu. Iniyippo ithum blog-la varume.” (God! Need not have said this now. This is also gonna come up in the blog!) While my dad remarks this jokingly, my mom’s is a serious concern. She’s worried I dont know to draw the lines of discretion. She’s of the assumption that I let out my ‘secrets’ out here in public and I am so exploited by my readers! What does she know! Essentially, I am proving their fears genuine, by posting this one too. Thank god my sister aint much bothered!

A part of me seems to be affected by the same fear as well. A hesitation to write, worrying if that one unnecessary line might slip off my mouth (fingers, for that matter!). The whole idea of staying wound up in the irrelevant concern is stupid and I obviously know it. Shedding the cloak off me, I am trying to pitch up. I’d rather ruin my blog with stained words, than spoil my life in strained silence. Back again, hoping to stay.

Time-worthy-time!

My dad is a typical average earning Indian. Not too much but just enough, is his shopping slogan! Of most things I am intrigued about him, his where-does-each-penny-go is the one that draws me more! Everytime I ask for something, he gets it for me, but only after his tiring set of tests. First question, “Unakkithu venama ippo?” (Do you actually want this now?). “Enna vilai? Ivvalavu aavuma? Innam rendu kadayila kettu pakkalaame!” (Does it really cost so much? Why don’t we just ask around a few more shops!) That’s pretty much all you need! The question keeps echoing, ‘Do I need this now?’. And if for the nth time, if the answer is still yes, yes, I am getting it from him! He never forgets to add, “Nyayamana karyam naan orikkalum venda chollamtten.” ( I never say no to your fair demands!) And that, to this day, he sticks to his word! The only thing he rejected outright was pizza, which, however, he accepted in a later period of time! The value for money, the need for self evaluation before throwing your wallet across the counter and the judgment of product utility – they are all things he taught me, without his own knowledge. Last week I go home to see this thing, hanging on the wall in our hall! The old rickety clock looked odd there, but I loved the tick-tick and the ding-dong! So I casually asked dad how much did it cost him. He said 1.5k. Silence. I didn’t ask anything more. The more I contemplated on it, the more interesting and funny it seemed! My count-every-penny dad bought this clock! I kept staring at it. Dad somehow felt the scope of an explanation, and he did. “I know its expensive.But it was just a craze to me, to own a mechanical clock”. He started explaining how it needs to be wound only once a week, and how the ding-dong startles him in the middle of the night and on and on. I though of mentioning the mechanical wrist watch we gifted him, but later thought otherwise. It was a man’s passion. To own a piece of elegant excellence, from his earlier life and past. I just had to smile! 🙂 Only to irritate him, I said how nice would it be for me to realise my passion too, by holding a 40k phone, despite the ‘expense’! And right came the response. A more advanced 45k thing would be out on the market, the moment I buy the 40k product. Things keep changing, improving upon their own predecessors. But nothing is ever gonna improve and replace the mechanical ding-dong wall clock. Somethings acquire worth, just be their being, from the past, thru the present, into the future. Beyond the transience of times, beyond the worth of time itself!

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Superannuation!

“Dad, how do you spell rimpersement?” “Dear, I thought you knew. Make daddy proud about his little girl! Don’t be silly and stupid like this. Anyway, r-e-i-m-b-u-r-s-e-m-e-n-t.” “What’s VRS and CRS daddy?” “Where did you hear them now! Voluntary and compulsory retirement from service.” ” Why don’t you take them dad! That means you’ll no more have to work and can stay with me at home. You could drive me to school, we could come back in the evening and pick up mom. And you know the best part? I could skip the after-school nursery! That lady is so…” “Dear, that’s not gonna happen now. If I quit, who’s gonna get you all the stuff you want? How will we pay your school fees? The books..” “Oh daddy! I am so stupid. I’ll study and get a job, and then you take the VRS thing then?” “My sweet little thing! It’d be time for my superannuation then!” “er..your what?” “Honey, let’s keep that for a while later. Now walk fast, so that we don’t get caught in the rain.”

….

How much time passed by, after that one little conversation! Nobody ever knows. Nobody ever knew what happened to that sweet little girl and her daddy. Over the years, things changed. Drastic, dramatic, diplomatic. All kinda changes had come over people, places, things, but memories. Next to change, I think memories are the one other thing that doesn’t change. It either stays or doesn’t. So her memories, or his memories, were now lost in the deluge of the new striking events, that has brought their lives to this moment.

So now is when he retires. Filling out the PF forms, he had obvious difficulties. He didn’t care enough to ask for help, she didn’t bother to offer help either. As he was filling them out, the moment of silence loosely hung on a thread. And the thread was so broken, and words so came flowing in, when the mother and the rest of the family joined the father and the daughter. He was almost done with a nominee field left out. And he asked, “Sudha, what’s Bhavya’s DOB?”. Her world just crashed right in front of her. Why was he asking mom about her sister’s date of birth? Is she going to be the nominee? Why not me, she thought. It wasn’t about the money. Now that everybody earned shitloads of money, nobody cares. It wasn’t about the authority either. But didn’t she and he have a pact? A superannuation-slash-VRS pact? When he finally promised to be with her, spending more time with her. And when she could finally reach out for her dad, at all points enroute being daddy’s pride! And now, all of that’s gone? Misunderstanding? Miscommunication? Mis-what? She just missed that one pact she had hoped to exist. The one that she was sure would be kept. Why do people change like there was never a past? Like, there was no history that they shared with the others in their present! She died a little inside, but casually sat there, right opposite to him, with no emotions.

….

Could Sudha be right? Did I unnecessarily make a fuss about the whole retirement thing by calling the return-back party at home? She seems too burdened with the chores. But then, did I have a choice. I so wanted my little girl to be here with me, while I retire and step out of my office. I have finally made enough space and time for her in life. Perhaps, Sudha was right. I shouldn’t have wanted her to come. She seems so uninterested. She’s right about moving on, from daddy’s little one to the woman she has become now. You make me proud, dear. But I would have been a lot more happier, if only things were slightly different. And if we could still get back to our old VRS pact! Or did that already slip into our cold mask of oblivion!

Pulse!

When I say pulse, I am not sure about what exactly am I trying to say, even within myself. It could rather be interpreted as some ‘symptom’ of life!  Or, in more contemporary terms, the pulse of something is the essence of the thing itself. Essentially, breathing and the beating heart and the neural throbbing symbolises the pulse of life and staying alive. But, often, we come across mannerisms and habits (aka compulsive obsessions) that let you know they sure are alive nd kicking, beyond the inhale-exhale routine. And most of the time, its mockery upon people’s OCDs. But at once, I realised there’s some fact in this.

As on most weekends, we set off to meet our grandparents (mom’s). But this time at my aunt’s place, as they had come over there. By the time we reached, grandpa was sick. Low sugar. He was exhausted and lying down. Everybody got worried, stuffing him with as much ‘sweet’ness as they could. Mom went uber crazy, under pressure, which used to be typical of aunt. Hustling around, I thought people were nnecessarily making a fuss there. After all, thatha (grandpa) is old and he’s used to be of a weaker health for the past decade. But he’s always strived and came out good. So I sat down on a chair, across the hall, facing him. Everybody was still standing, and I went WTF in my mind! It’s not like I loved him any less. Perhaps I’d say, I am the one who loves him the most, second only to ammammai (grandma). May be that’s not true from somebody else’s perspective, but definitely for me. So it was not like I wasn’t concerned. I was just sure its all gonna be fine. But then I notice something. I saw his hand, awkwardly clenched, like he has no more control over them. Could it be a stroke? Is his mouth slightly awkward too? Did he just get paralysed to his right? Infinite questions and my head would have just exploded. I got up (calmly or in a mad rush, I don’t remember) and went over to feel his right hand. The reflex he showed surprised me and soothed me all over. He held my hand, not too tight, not too gentle, as always when we depart, and we shook hands and he managed a slight laugh. I laughed too. Did I everyone else in the room too? I was too soothed to notice. I left him, with the still-concerned daughters and sons-in-law! I went over and continued the conversation with lechu (the cousin, as most of you know by now!). For now, we had made a pact over the handshake! And we’d made our peace to eachother.

And later on, as my uncle reached, thatha was still not stable. He was dizzy and disoriented. It was evident he hardly understands his environment. So then, mama (uncle) tries his usual prank on thatha. “Appa, ethra manikku serial thudangum? Rathri ennathu? Bhairavi thaane?” (Dad, when does the TV series begin? What’s it tonight? ‘Bhairavi’ is it?) And thatha prompty responds, ” Aamam, Bhairavi. Serial pathe kaalukku thaan” (Yeah, it is ‘Bhairavi’. The series begins at 10.15 only!). Mami interrupts, “Appakku ellam sheriyayachu ippo!” (Dad is all good now!). And now, the silence in the room breaks into laughter, as everyone’s sure thatha is fine, that he now grabs back on to his biggest OCD ever – Tamil TV series!

But to me, it was the unique handshake that told me he’s fine. It was never the usual handshake. Back then, he used to chide me and accuse me for trying to steal his ring, as we shook hands. Later at some point, he perhaps thought I am too grown up for that prank. But we still continued the handshake ceremony, even if we never talked the whole time. It grew into an OCD between us and I was immensely happy to see that he related ‘our’ thing to my casual touching of his hand. A while ago, mom had called to check on him. He’s fine expect that he has no memory of us coming to see him today. But I guess, the OCD would work anyway. That’s how it works!

Life is that. From interests, to cravings, to yearnings, to obsessions. Things that you wouldn’t let go until the last breath. Things that certify, that you’re more than a piece of breathing flesh. Things that define you and your existence. Things that you are hated for. Thing that you are loved for. Yet the same things that you are identied with. Things that make life, and help you live beyond inhalations and exhalations!

Happy birthday to me!

Nah, it’s nowhere close. My birthday is way over. But looking back from this precise moment, that was one of the only best thing that happened to me recently, making me want to find goodness in every other thing! It’s like this one good day, promising you to give more, making you want more. I had cake! Yay! (Doesn’t matter I shared it with the cousin, whose birthday falls the same day! That WAS the fun after all!) I had midnight birthday wishes! Again Yay! I had wake up calls. Again Yay! I even had a total surprise birthday ‘mug’ with my photo in it. Gifted my cousin-childhood_friend-buddy-my-lechu! And yay is just not enough there! And the surprise birthday card, which technically was the only one this year! And not to forget, I had two full big yummy ‘chocolat’y ‘silk’y heaven, all for myself! Besides all, I had a surprisingly relieving conversation with an old pal! She didn’t talk much. But whatever little we spoke, the spirit of it stays alive to the moment and gives me a all-new drive to life! And there I said ‘Same to you’ to devi akka when she wished me! We missed it all these years perhaps! As if it wasn’t enough, I have a niece now, born with me, 21 years delayed!

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Birthdays have been more good to me in the past. Much better than this years’, where I was away from family and loved ones. But this one seems more special. May be coz it’s the 21th! May be coz it’s the one surviving 2012! May be it could be so many other things. But most of all, I think it was special, coz it was the only good thing, in a long time now. The most beautiful flower is the one that blooms in the face of a catastrophe! Symbolising survival! I survived. Yay!

P. S. Oh wait a min! Did I forget to mention the new Olympus 620! All thanks Vidya! Amma and appa just flipped me out this time! 🙂

Daivamundu!

All of a sudden, I say daivamundu. (God is there!) Not that I was an atheist. Not that I was disciple of any form of worship either. Was it like I was almost slipping down the cliff of agnostic thoughts? Well anyway, life has just taken me over and lifted me from the fall, with an amazing ease and splendor. Now, this moment, I am a believer. That someone is definitely watching over all the drama. I don’t pray yet. I don’t attend religious gatherings. I don’t make offerings. But I am a believer. I don’t believe in the give-and-take policy with God. God is supposed to be infinitely more supreme. When even I have the heart to help a total stranger held in trouble, wouldn’t God have the heart for it? When I don’t curse somebody for their ingratitude, why would God’s wrath may even be considered plausible? Nobody’s gonna make you ill if you forgot the 1008 thenga (coconuts) for Ganapathy! Come on, Ganapathy is not our villain. He’s the vignavinashaka (problem solver) of our lives! Why are Gods and Goddesses and all other form of deities picturised as scary, wrathful, scornful beings?

Faith is an over exploited commodity when it comes to religions and spiritual manifestations of it. You do the Navagrahahomam and the Ganapathihomam. If its breaking your financial stability, why do you still insist on the Bhagavathiseva too? Afraid that Devi would burn your life into ashes? What kinda faith is it, blindly performing the rituals, out of fear of condemn! I am not against religious rituals and activities. In fact, ever since childhood, that has always been the occasion of family gathering, lot of delicacies, lot of fun and frolic. Growing up, understanding the concept of the rituals, I am all the more approving of the nobility of the religious expressions. But things feel terribly awkward and ridiculous, when people tend to forget the fundamental idea that lead them to the initiation of such rituals.

Ah! All that seemed overboard for my scope of knowledge and experiences in such matters. Something triggered and I just couldn’t stop. Adding to the urge, the liberation of not having my parents around reading this, and prosecuting me for my spiritual ignorance, really boosted up the writing. Not to forget what I started off with, Daivamundu. But, Faith in fellow beings might speed up you revelation of it though! 🙂

Kalyanamelam!

So marriage season again in the family!!! In less than a year’s gap after the last marriage, the next kalyanamelam is up in the family! Oh my god!!! I am so excited about this next big thing in the family. But as much as it, I am tensed and worried. Who’s gonna be next in line? Nah, not immediately ME. I have still people to lead me in the line. From the infinite seeming line of cousins yet-to-be-hitched, we have now reduced to 3 or 4! And that’s scary coz everything seems so quick and out of anyone’s control. It’s not particularly about getting married or not getting married. Its about how life changes after every such twists in story. We were all cousins, friends who played along, confidants to eachother, casual and light headed. But as I have seen it always, and what marriage does to a person, it is like losing someone too close to someone else, who you hardly know! Shouldn’t it be rather like a new person is getting in the train with us and that we all might make the journey more wonderful? So it should be. Its not like marriage breaks a family. Its just that things never stay the same. At times, we improve with life and get better with relations. But at tmes, it’s not an improved life that we all seek. Or so with me, I often cherish life as it was, before we all grew up to ‘marry-able’ age, and when we were just there for eachother, by a sense of oneness that seeped in, in each of us, ever since birh, all into the childhood. And at the onset of adulthood, I wonder if ‘manni’ (sister in law) could be as loving as ‘akka’ (sister) or if ‘athimber’ (brother in law) could be as caring as ‘anna'(brother)!

This is not a post script. Just a note I add, to clarify my seemingly twisted writing. I have a manni who has been more loving than any akka. And an athimber whom I’d feel so safe with as my anna. I wasn’t comparing. Nor complaining. Just getting settled with the idea of one more marriage, and losing one more from the ‘children’ group of the family into the responsible and serious adult club!

Payanangal mudivathillai!

Every time, I go travelling with my parents, the one thing that stays is the decision that *that* would be the last trip. But every next time, I am still travelling with them, with the same thought over and over. Payanangal mudivathillai. The journey never ends. But somehow this time, I am looking forward to more of these trips. I almost realise that I have always loved them anyway. Or may be, over the years, they just got better and better.

The one reason I probably love it may be is that, we always travel to Tamil Nadu. North or south or central. It will always be some part of the state. And I so much love this land, the people, the culture, the language, the temples, the all-night awake streets. I so much love being here. And every trip gives me strange experiences. The old lady who invites me to the seat next to hers, worrying if I hadn’t notice the vacant seat. The intimate addressing from total strangers, building innocent associations, genuine despite their transience. The down to earth aura that comes so innate with locale. The senthamizh that flows so fluently. The mallikai vaasam, from the jasmine clad women. The busy street and the crowd like nomads, stranded and lost, or often mesmerised and stunned by the glow of consumerism. The shopkeepers call out, coaxing you into buying stuff and endorsing even undergarments! The street vendors yield to bargain to any unimaginable level, and offer ‘special’ interest and discount to ‘all’ their ‘special’ customers, if you care enough to talk and build a rapport, of some identifiable measure. Nobody keeps trade secrets here! I was surprised how that old man explained the exact mix of his beyond perfect filter coffee! Was he so sure I’d never replicate it or did he just not care! There’s more to a coffee than just buying and sipping thru. There’s relishing a coffee and personally appreciating the taste to the old man who made it for you. “Coffee pramadham!”.

And today’s pivotal joint in our itinerary was Nellaiyappar Temple, Tirunelveli. The temple, in one word, is a maze. I am so surprised by the sheer awesomeness in the architecture. Not just for the sculptures, or the Saptaswara pillars,(where you here the seven swaras of Carnatic music, by the clang of each stone pillar, that vibrates like they were strings of a veena). Its a maze that they have built up there. The numerous doors at every passage, that leads to another set of numerous doors to numerous deities and sculptures. You don’t get lost there coz the most inviting paths are the most trodden direct paths, circling the temple in the shortest route. But if you choose to enter every next door you see, you’re probably to end up in some dark enclosed space with vermillion spread forms of Gods, with unknown names. I should probably upload a pic or two of the temple, to elaborate the greatness of the expanse. Looking forward to a similar mind blowing episode tomorrow, at Tiruchendur Murugan sannidhi!

Shopping spree!

And finally, I too was set for it. With my kaalan kuda (I really dont know what that’s called in English. Help welcome!), walking ahead like the head of the family, that was my n-th trip for buying a bag for my impending looong journey. Walked all around tvm for a petty bag and still couldn’t make it upto buying one! It was a pleasure everytime. To go wander, on and on, with no particular goal in my mind. I was just walking and seeing new things, meeting new people. It was all good and comfy. I never minded not ‘buying’, though that’s what I primarily went around for. Today, however, ended up different.

So I was walking as the head of the family, leading my mom and sister. Of course with my kaalan kuda. (That’s the part I loved the most!) We walked in and out of shops. A bag. That’s all what we wanted. Obviously though, we had an eye on all the textiles on display too. The first shop we got into was a textile shop. Thought we could make a quick peep on the displays and walk out soon. But so much for my annoyance, there was nothing on display. A lady was all set to take out the ‘exact’ kinda dress we wanted, with colour and pattern specifications, out of the shelves and put them on display for us. I had an instant attitude problem with that lady. So much so that I flipped the plate and told my mom how I never wanted dress. I just wanted to get out of the place and get away from that lady before our eyes meet again. And we walked out. We, rather I, dropped the idea of textiles. Another couple of metres, and we reached where it seemed like we could dive in for what we needed (a bag!) in any direction and still resurface with it! First in row, we saw nothing like what ‘I’ wanted. But it was still difficult to get my family out of the place. I dragged them into the immediate next door and still found nothing. But I saw my mom bidding the fellow at the shop, with enquiries about if sundays would be working for them. And that she would like to come with her husband (my dad, yeah.) and confirm on what to choose. I liked his attitude when he said how wonderful it’d be that we better check out the bags on sundays then rather than waste theirs and our time! That was so direct that…! 😀 And the next shop was the best! Oh my god! I’d really recommend that guy for some marketing ‘awesomeness’ award. He was so flawless. But his bags weren’t. I’d have surely bought from him otherwise. He gave me a five min lecture on how trolley wheels are bad for air bags and how the inclination and the ease for pulling it around would never sync. I almost thought I was in my most dreaded Physics class learning the ‘FLE’ again. I patted him on his shoulder (in my mind) and congratulated him on his performance, if he could really see the grin that I hid in my occasional smiles. We walked out very politely, thanking him and letting him know that I STILL wanted a trolley coz I didn’t understand his Physics anyway! For the final lap, we decided on textiles coz we (read I) dropped plans about the bag. Giving it a start, I walked into the next immediate shop and got out in a jiffy. I ushered my mom to walk along and advocated her on financial management and value for money! And then she said it! ‘Unnoda appavoda kooda kadakku poka ivvalavu paadillai. Onnum vangavum cheyyama ippadi lo lo ennu alayalam.’ (Its not this difficult to shop with your dad. Dont buy a thing and walk around like a maniac.)

I beamed. Instantly. And my face glowed. With a misplaced yet unmatched pride.

P.S. I consciously left a lot of my sister’s comments. That’d sound more like boasting beyond anybody’s threshold. 😛 But one thing for sure is that, I’d not have been this happy had I got the thing I went shopping for. I’d have never beamed, with a bag in hand. Shopping is not all about buying.