In God’s Own Land

“I stood for as long as I could to numb the searing pain … was it pain or was it half death that I was still chewing there inside the water ! Baby … hush , it’s not getting to you as long as Mama is there… don’t panic, I am there for you . I am so sorry I ever went there , I am sorry I ever ate that ‘death fruit’, I am sorry I didn’t see the danger lurking there. Baby, are you listening … why am I not able to hear you as well now … is it you who is giving up or is it me who is feeling so feeble ? Baby , just hold on… it’s just that my mouth is feeling like a spitting volcano and just refuses to cool down and where has my trunk gone… I can’t seem to feel it ! If only I could have stayed off … and I can’t even curse them for that would make me worse than them, isn’t it ! Baby … baby… hold on to me as tight as you can. For if Mama goes, she doesn’t want to leave you alone amongst them ever… hold on Baby, don’t let go. Ahh… good Baby … I knew we would make it together … yes we have arrived . Here we have fields lush with peace and tranquil, where I don’t feel the pain any more. Ah… this must be heaven , where we get to meet the creator… for didn’t we come from God’s Own Land ? Finally I will get to meet HIM , and ask to make me whole again, make me able to feel you again, make me incapable of feeling hunger ever again. And yes, will ask HIM if HE is ever thinking of making more of them again … the ones who could not feel my pain, the ones who couldn’t hear my cries, the ones who never thought twice . Baby, yes… your Mama has arrived.”

No… I am not angry.

My country has been in lockdown as it readies to battle Corona.

As we go into battle, I realise few of our inadequacies. A huge and varied population, ignorance of the poor, idiocy of the pompous rich , and acute shortage of health care professionals and proper protection even for those in the frontline .

Even then I am filled with optimism because we were sort of forewarned. We went into lockdown much earlier compared to so many others. Probably the knowledge that we can’t treat all ,if it breaks barriers drove us to do so. Being part of the medical fraternity, I have immense faith in our resilience and ‘jugaad capability’. And there is just this intangible thing about the virus behaviour as of now in our country ( do a comparative analysis of positives and deaths as we enter the 4th week and yes, other countries too don’t test all or catch them all!).

But what I saw on the news roundup last night … lakhs of migrant workers at bus stops, roads everywhere… flocking to go home, for them hunger is a major reality, Corona is a mere possibility. No food, no shelter,no work … welcome to reality.

A father willing to walk home 900kms away with his 12 year old in tow just stuck to me, as did so many others. They were willing to face the blows and the lathis … and strangely as if in agreement, the lathis also fell silent.

Shouldn’t we be worried about our own safety as a nation ? Shouldn’t we be telling them to stay put wherever they are till food and relief reaches them ? For once, rationality doesn’t seem rational any more.As a middle class, I am as helpless about the opulent rich who didn’t mind spreading the virus throwing all rules to the wind, as I am about the millions of hungry poor.

And no, I am not angry anymore. As a nation , just as we were happy with the evacuation of the ones outside our borders , we have to compassionately see these people home.

Our fight against Corona can wait .

Being The Mahatma

Perhaps this day, most of us , specially in India are a wee bit sceptical about the ‘Mahatma-hood’ of the father of our nation.(A lilliput of a man who could hold The Empire at standstill and the world in awe notwithstanding).

Gandhi as we have read and heard was a man self pledged to honesty, upliftment of the downtrodden, non violence and peace.

Honesty as far as it goes, what was practised perhaps is more like ‘not lying’ and ‘gulping whole truths and baking half truths. Any kind of tempering or flavouring the truth is tantamount to tampering with it…being human , perfectly understandable.

Upliftment of the downtrodden , many would argue was the need of the day then. But calling someone downtrodden itself was ‘sympathy not empathy’. We as a nation till date haven’t gone and raised ‘their’ level but have persevered fruitlessly to ‘lift them up’.

Non-violence, arguably was the single most powerful thought he inculcated and propagated. No resorting to a lathi or a gun or a bomb . Alright ! Had he shown some tolerance to the ones who believed the other way, like Bhagat Singh or Subas Bose, history would have told a different story !

Peace… yes, the single most important measure of his ‘net effect’ was priceless. Peace in the world and fire in the house… many a Mahatma and Buddha have attained it time and again.

In the days of ‘no social media’, it would have been difficult to bring all in line . Or was it easier perhaps because one didn’t think or dissect or discuss… one either followed or didn’t.

The very fact that he dared to take on The Empire and carry it till the end, albeit at the cost of a limb and a limb (read Pakistan and part of J&K) speaks volumes about his sheer persistence and tenacity. Only God and the creators of independent India know what happened behind the closed corridors of power then.

And we cannot ‘ignore’ his ‘gift’ to the nation in the form of Nehru as its first prime minister.

All said and done, my salutations to this man. He led from the front always, by example.He went hungry, he stayed silently angry.He asked none to follow in his footsteps . And he didn’t waste a day in protesting when one didn’t stick to the letter to the ‘T’.

We can go on dissecting and discussing all the ifs and buts. But in a world, where it is at times difficult for our own brain to listen to our heart, the sheer ability of this persona to be able to lead an entire nation is unrepeatable.

Rest in peace Mr Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi… you did your best, to the best of your ability, when you could have chosen to look the other way.

Rain on my face

Splashhh… went me with my cycle through the puddles on the road !! Aah… loving it, the feel of water everywhere with not a care in the world. And none of my friends on their cycles beside, seemed to mind as we happily glided along, yes that’s what we did- glide down the roads. And whoever came our way making us have to pedal once more, the Gods couldn’t have given a sterner stare !!😂😂

The pinch of the first large drops having given way to the caress of the pouring stream on my face, I laughed my heart out all the way … the paper boats we had left behind in the small puddles , witness to our glee.

Everything looked so fresh as renewed with energy ! The trees looked greener, the birds looked like they didn’t mind the wash either. The cows huddled under the trees also seemed to welcome the rain gods.

Even the school building that we just left behind looked its brighter shade of refreshing green.It still stands green to this day, as if blessed by nature. Aa what a blessing of an edifice it is. I still remember it’s huge playfield, where we could actually see the rain approaching and then running with the rain behind us. This bettered any 800 metre dash the Olympics can boast of !😀.

A roar of thunder and a streak of lightning, I am back in the present , watching out of my window . I feel a wetness on my face … tears ? Nah… it’s only the rain on my face .😊

Celebrating Teachers’ Day

Teaching is perhaps the noblest profession on Earth… one of the least recognised yet one of the most realised . Who is a teacher ? Simple… anyone who teaches. Be it a teacher by profession, an elder, a friend, an acquaintance, a neighbour, a preacher…

There is a potential teacher in each one of us.Teaching could be a profession for some or a passion for many. One does not necessarily have to ‘be’ a teacher to teach. We could teach by volition or intent. But more than anything, we teach by example… day in and day out. Then there is subconscious imbibition of valuable lessons learnt in life.These have a far reaching impact into the future.

Similarly, each one of us is in a continuous process of learning. An ever absorptive student ! One can learn from anything… and I am sure we learn more from our failures than we ever can from our successes. From failures , we must value the lessons right… in doing so, we can only get wiser. Afterall, the only mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. From our successes, we must become more humble … in doing so we stay grounded and become deserving of more. A failure or a success is only temporary… the lessons learnt, far reaching into infinity.

The teachers’ list wouldn’t be complete without the mention of the two greatest… time and life. Nothing and no one could teach us more… we only have to be willing to learn and value their lessons right.

A good teacher makes for a good student but a good student makes a teacher great. All education would end up in a black emptiness if no value was attached to it. So, here’s saluting the teacher and the student in each one of us… may there be no end to ‘learning’ and no end to ‘growing’.

The final goodbye

We make so many plans when we meet people we love… a hug always welcome, a happy tear at times, a nicely wrapped gift, a box of chocolates, flowers… so many options that we are at times spoilt for choice.

But what does one choose when you are bidding goodbye for the final time to one you love ! And even more , when both know it will be for the final time ? Tough choice… even more tough to express.

There she lay knowing her breaths were counted, yet saving one breath for me. When every second of ones life is already on the count, she saved one moment of eternity for me. When wearing even a grimace was difficult, she still had a smile for me.

The final moment had come… the one both never wanted, but strangely we were both prepared. A single backward glance,one last touch of our hands, a gentle kiss on her forehead and a knowing nod of her head. Yes, that was how easy it became. Strangely the teardrop never came, the final hug never happened, words didn’t come… none were needed, nothing had been left unspoken or not understood.

Even to this day, I wonder why the goodbye wasn’t as goodbyes are made out to be ?And she answers ‘goodbyes are for those who leave, not ones who are an inseparable part of us’.

Whilst making a cuppa

Not being a very devout tea / coffee fan, I often wonder what one gets out of a cup of that concoction ( I know I may be hanged for this 😂) !! And it is specially whilst making the first cuppa that all such wondrous thoughts come in. And of all such wondrous wondering, one fine day, I struck upon a brilliant idea… to delve into the thoughts that go through people’s mind whilst they make theirs.After all, even Newton was struck with brilliance while doing something as innocuous as sitting beneath an apple tree 😃.

A friend said she literally sleepwalks through the first cup, finding ingredients by instinct, the only thought of how to hit the bed once tea is done for the rest of the household. Another dear friend wanted all her focus on the colour, flavour and consistency of the ‘most wanted cup’ that would carry her through the rest of the day… so no wandering and wondering there. And there was this special case of thinking about and missing her husband (posted out of town) while brewing the first cup because he is what occupies her first thoughts, and often makes the first cup when present.One more , like many mothers, had her brain whizzing through the tiffin for her kid, list of ‘to dos’ for the day and reminding herself of ‘the left to be done’ from yesterday’s. Another said she was so busy multitasking that she hardly had time to ponder … well isn’t that the case with all… even thinking classifies as multitasking 😃…!!

Surprisingly,it wasn’t too different with the male counterparts. Most of the day’s planning got done while the tea boiled. A particularly close one made tea with all his love… just so that his wife would feel pampered enough to do the rest of the household chores ( and this understanding was arrived at in a not so silent manner 😂). Even the most brilliant one by habit  did a mental check through the day’s works…. all thoughts organised, over a boiling pan of water.

Now coming to good old me… what do I do in addition to pondering over ‘why people take tea/coffee’ !!  By old habit, I have always planned my today’s work before I slept yesterday night… so a sort of ‘to do’list already exists… no point rechecking on that. And sagis have their fair share of surprises and accidents no matter how much they have planned… they often surprise themselves there!!

So, this is the first time that I get to catch a glimpse of the morning sun, the birds on the tree outside my kitchen window, the electric wires that crisscross my view of the outside world… well everything . This is the only time perhaps that my hands work by habit, multitasking with the tea, my son’s cup of bourvita and his tiffin… surprisingly my mind does its own separate mindings 😊. This is the way my day begins… as if I am two women in one body… one a regular wife/ mother/ professional and the other a mad thinker… my mind spinning incessantly. And then as if by remote control, once the tea is done and poured into the cups, I come down to earth and my earthly chores. The dreamer becomes the doer. The mad passion of a hobby gives way to the silent wisdom of a profession. All my thinking of everything other than that day is done whilst I make the first cup of tea…

Now is that something really surprising ? Or is it that I have actually delved into my heart and voiced its calling ? Don’t know if it would be any different even if I tried. So like the tea or not, I sure love the ‘me time’ then… I brew my thoughts whilst I make that first cuppa tea .😊

Honesty the greatest virtue 

Freedom is perhaps the greatest unacknowledged gift a man can have and honesty one of the priciest virtues one can hold on to. Why do I say hold on to is because honesty cuts both ways… at times, we may have to make difficult choices.

So when does one lie ? What makes someone lie ? Why does one lie ?

We lie at times to protect the opposite person from the hurt that the truth we feel may carry. We lie at times when we are convinced the truth doesn’t protect someone’s privacy or welfare. We lie when we believe the lie is for the greater good and overall betterment. Most often we lie to protect or save ourselves from what we believe is rejection or derision or punishment. At times, we do not tell the truth, atleast wholeheartedly… we teach ourselves to believe that we are in the right. It is all in the phrase ‘we believe’. 

A very young child is known never to lie, infact they can come up with the most uncomfortable truths at the most awkward times ! But as we grow, rarely does a lie come out of innocence. And the truth is straight and simple, rarely not so simple… it breaks down all facades. Yet there is a sense of peace and power of righteousness backing it. For so many reasons that we may find to lie, look a little further… there will always be a better reason not to lie. One might falter in the path of honesty…again debatable, but one does not fall.
Truth perse has no versions, no sides… it is as it is… straight and unadorned. It is we who choose our side and then again,we find there is always a little truth on either side. There are two ways of handling it. One is to use the strength of truth to face the truth… tough but wise. The other is to bury the truth, sometimes with a lie …painful yet there is some sense here too. 

Life is queer… strange that for us who are born out of the black cosmos should seek our own colours in this journey called life… seeing no absolute black, no fair white… acknowledging, accepting and rejoicing in all it’s different shades.

Does a plateau exist ?

As an avid reader and fan of the English language and a not so ardent fan of Geography, my interest was unusually piqued by certain terminologies of the latter… ‘plateau’ for instance. As a child I used to wonder whether plateau was  a mountain peak that got truncated or a mountain that stopped growing or one that was actually sitting flat and square and waiting to grow further !(Geography RIP😂)

In life too I have pondered many a times whether one actually reaches a plateau at any time ! We all have upheavals and pitfalls, these are the obvious. What is perhaps more important here are phases of  what one commonly says plateau . Do we really stand still or is that a decline that we fail to recognise ? For every moment of growth lost, is there something better that could have come up ? Is there some growth that we fail to be a part of ? Graphs may romanticise the concept of plateau as phases of steadyness, yet is there just a hint of decline lurking !!

Much as we like to celebrate consistency, let’s not equate that with plateaus. Every moment that we don’t grow, be it in our profession or be it as an individual, we are actually on a decline. What doesn’t lift us up will pull us down eventually, I have realised, be it physically, spiritually, professionally, wherever.

I have come across this term so often as also other terms, yet don’t know what’s about this that piques my interest and sort of irks me!! Guess, just have to go back to Geography and let all the resting plateaus rest .😊

The ‘Ifs and Buts’

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life were one straight road, no blind ends, no rumblers ahead, no sloppy patches !! But it really isn’t so… is it ?!The  maze filled, spinning spiral that gives us a big topsy turvy joy of a ride is what we call ‘life’. Got lost…take the next U-turn. Walking alone…find someone. Scared of shadows….move on,don’t look back. Things look bleak… smile, they will brighten up.

What if life were a straight line ? When things went wrong, would we be able to take an U and set them right ? If in the path of the self, a few own were left behind, would we be able to offer a hand and pull them alongside ? What if our emotions were straight and not on a merry-go round of their own ,would life be still as wonderous ? Wouldn’t we be all the same black and all the same white and our life the same dull grey ?

But, life as amazing as it ever was, is one hell of a merry go round… tossing us up at one time and sending us plummeting down at another. Yes , ‘curiosity did kill many a cat’ but a ‘cat again has nine lives’… doesn’t it ?!

So, if you find yourself flat down on your back someday, smile right up. Say ‘Hey, but I can see the skies from here’ ! Say ‘hello run on but you just wait, for sure I will catch up’ ! Spike up those greys with pinks and yellows and oranges and greens and watch grey laugh along with you.😊