Monday, May 31, 2010


Some people have them some people don't. I am the former. Well, which is right? Now this is another of those questions that don't have an answer. There have been plenty of instances where I have been severely criticized for having one. I know of friends who are forbidden from having opinions let alone voicing them only because they are girl children while their male siblings have a say in matters.

There was a friendly neighbour back home in Kerala who came home on a Sunday morning and was talking to dad and me. As my dad was on the look out for a groom for my sister, he turned towards me and asked what kind of a guy we were looking out for. Since he had majorly aimed the question at me and my dad was waiting for my answer too; also for the fact that I was clear about it, I told him what I thought... not from dad's point of view but mine... that my sister had spent enough time outside India that she wouldn't want to find a guy who lives abroad especially in places like USA or Canada where her visits would get rather infrequent and her settling there would be almost certain. That she wants to stay closer home and spend time with all of us. Also, mom and dad could easily be with her whenever they pleased. Dad said the few things he was particular about too. In the evening my uncle came home and told me that the neighbour had gone to him after our conversation and told my uncle that I actually decided things being a girl of twenty. That he couldn't see why I should 'go around' talking to elders about 'such major decisions.' So my uncle told me that though we were all used to having an opinion and expressing it at home, it wasn't welcome amongst many people in the society and said it is better not to bother talking to them about anything serious.

I was shocked at such a reaction. I was always used to expressing my opinion when asked or when we had a discussion. This neighbour asked me what I thought about it. This was a very personal thing. I spoke my feelings as a sibling and exactly what my sister had in mind too. When I mentioned this episode to mom, she scoffed at the reaction and said. 'You very well have the right to say what you felt in this case and you were right.' But ever since that day I have been very careful while talking to people from my hometown. Not that I'm worried about what they think about me but that I needn't waste my energy talking to them about it.

Again yesterday I had a discussion with an aunt of mine. She and I differed in something quite a bit. I found her attitude hard to accept. When I spoke about it to a cousin the response I got was, 'Why do you always have an opinion? And why in the world do you have to go around telling it to people or trying to convince them?' Well, I don't if I feel they aren't worth it or wouldn't even give an ear to it. But yes, I agree. I do persist with my arguments. Do I believe I'm right? Yes ofcourse, why would I say it if I didn't think so. Do I feel they should agree with me? Well, much as I would like it so, I know for one that most of the times that wouldn't happen. I would be happy if they listened to what I said and would be overjoyed if they thought about it if only for once.

To be honest this is one of the things that freak me out when I think of marriage. I can't always say what I please. My opinions may not be welcome. What happens if I do say something that the others don't agree to? I need to learn to think and talk. At times I just need to shut up! But then that wouldn't be me.

But I have always pitied people who don't have opinions. 'Why don't they think, mom? It needn't be right but shouldn't they be able to think for themselves? One must always take advices from others but he should know to think independent of it too.' Maybe it is their circumstances. Maybe they have never been used to it. Maybe they weren't taken. Maybe it would only add to their problems. In any case, I'm being biased against them for thinking so.

I am envious of people who speak exactly what they are supposed to or express their views without getting excited. I raise my volume (as though the normal level isn't loud enough), speak slowly (DANGER), emphasize on some phrases and sound like I'm defending myself from a death sentence; I get deeply involved. I say its the conviction with which I talk. People would take it as arrogance. I love people who know when to have an opinion and know how and when to talk about it. Speaks volumes about their character.

Someday I say... Someday....

P.S.: I just noticed that I have an entire label called 'Opinions'
God help me! Or more importantly, God help those who disagree with me.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shruti's Vacation

Shruti woke up quite early that morning. She ran to the hall where her mother was sitting with her cup of coffee and the newspaper. Shruti hugged her mother and asked 'How many hours, mumma?'. Her mother smiled, '..another 11 more, baby'. Shruti was both happy and excited, yet very restless.

Being an only child, coming to India for her vacation was always something she had waited for. Her grandparents, her uncles, aunts and most importantly her cousins. While having breakfast she imagined herself playing in the garden with her cousins at this very time the next day. She couldn't wait to get there.... She saw herself sitting at the window sill watching the rain. Her grandmother would've saved some of her favourite mangoes for her. Her granddad would take her around the village. She wouldn't be asked to come back in and study for now she was going to enjoy her long vacation.

By lunchtime Shruti was losing the little patience that she had. She phoned her father, 'Pappa, come soon. We need to leave early. Shruti is counting hours now. Only 6 more. Mumma took leave today. Why didn't you?' Her dad replied, 'Pappa's chootie baby go help mumma pack. Pappa will be home soon. Why doesn't pappa's chootie pie make sure she's carrying all the gifts she's brought for her sisters and brothers?'. Shruti told her dad that she'd already checked all of it twice since morning. She decided to cut some comic strips from the newspapers, compile them and carry them to read in the flight.

After a long long wait and pestering her mother, it was time for dad to come home. Shruti went to mother and said, 'Pappa will be here now. Give me food. Shruti shall have dinner now and then get dressed.' Mother complied. By the time Shruti got dressed dad was home. When she went to the hall, pappa called her to him and said, 'Chootie pie... Pappa has some more work at the office. So chootie and mumma can go today and pappa will join you in a few days.' Shruti got angry but it was better than all of them delaying the trip.

She bade goodbye to dad and asked him to come soon. She could feel her heart beat faster as she moved towards the emigration. When the lady at the security check pulled her cheeks and said 'Have a nice vacation dear..', she was reminded of her neighbour in India. This aunt would keep pulling her cheeks so badly, it would actually hurt.

She was so much closer to home now. She had only the sweet; she was too excited to have anything else. She watched Harry Potter for a while and then slept. When she awoke it was almost time to land. Her uncle, Pranav and Aditi would be waiting outside to receive her.

Anand was at home finishing up some work and waiting to talk to Priya and Shruti as soon as they landed before going off to sleep. He closed his laptop and switched on the television. David's call woke him up. David had wanted to know which flight they were on. Anand sensed that something was wrong. David said that he was at the door and asked Anand to let him in. David held him and said that the flight had crashed near the airport just before arrival and that rescue operations had begun. Anand's brother had informed David. Anand frantically dialled Siddharth's number, 'Siddarth.. where are they?'. Siddharth said, 'They say that there are survivors. Don't go by the news. Not as many are actually feared dead.' We are all here trying to find out. Don't worry. Priya and Shruti will be fine. Just keep faith.'

Anand switched on the television. He called a friend who was working with the airlines and told him what happened and that he wanted to know how they were right away. David tried calming him down but Anand yelled, 'Leave me.. Its my life we are talking about here.'

It was impossible for Anand to reach there soon as the airport had shut down. It was now only the waiting game. He couldn't remember the last time he'd prayed. A couple of friends came home too, each making calls and trying to figure something out. After waiting for almost one killing hour and making a million phone calls and denying everything that came on television, Siddharth called to inform Anand that Shruti was safe. That he was in the ambulance with her and that she was shocked but otherwise okay. Anand spoke to his child and told her that everything would be fine and that he would be with her in a little while. Thats when Shruti asked, 'Pappa where's mumma? Shruti doesn't know what happened.'

Anand collapsed. He cried. He felt helpless. He felt frustrated and angry. If only he had been with them. He was to have been with Priya through thick and thin. Priya... the love of his life. Where was she? His friends consoled him that if Shruti was alright, Priya should be okay too. Then why didn't they find her. God, please.. please don't take her away from me. I cannot live without her. She is my driving force, she is my strength. Please Lord, she doesn't deserve to die. She is the purest person that I have ever known. I will do anything. Just give her back to me. I will quit smoking. I will spend more time with her. ANYTHING. Just give her back to me.

David let out a loud cry in the middle of a phone call. He rushed towards Anand and hugged him.


The next day.

Anand reached the hospital and was with Shruti in the room. He watched her sleep. Tears kept flowing from his eyes. He hoped it wouldn't wake her up.

The attendant asked him to accompany him.

He was in a trance. He walked through many corridors then took the lift to the next floor. The attendant led him into a dimly lit zone; asked him to remove his shoes and wear a mask; he held the door open.

Anand entered the ICCU and saw priya's face. He silently thanked everything and everyone. He couldn't hold her yet. She was being treated for burns. He was told that she would be alright in a month. ANYTHING for giving her back to me. He went near her bed and she whispered, 'I bet you've quit smoking.


With prayers for all those who lost their lives in the AI flight at Mangalore and commiseration to those who lost a loved one....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


And now the summer is here;
slowly yes but its getting severe....

Sweating panting and bathing all day
wish for a while the sun would fade away...

Come the night and there's still no respite
Can't bear the heat try as I might...

Sunscreen, umbrellas, glares are out
but do they help, I truly doubt....

Drink water, have fruits says mom
I've done it all and yet no calm...

Crying about it is of no use
so no more of these woeful rues..

Look around and watch a while
so many things worth a smile....

Light cottons and wearing colors bright
not only nature, people are too a delight..

So from now come summertime
I will throw a smile and write a rhyme...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ruskin Bond - His world.... and mine....

Its a warm summer morning.. and I'm spending it lazily reading Ruskin Bond. His stories and true life accounts have always been close to heart. It has the innocence of childhood, the inquisitiveness of an adolescent and the simplicity of a young man as he writes during the various stages of his life.

His writing always evokes a feeling of nostalgia and romanticism in me. I imagine myself walking in the orchards at Dehradun enjoying life's simplest pleasures. It is like a dream-sequence. Warm outings, walks and bicycle rides in the garden, reading a book under a neem tree, watching the colourful butterflies fluttering over the pretty flowers going back to the bunglow to have lemonade and snacks in the evening. Where people have not a worry in the world.. people who live in tune with nature. It feels as though I've spent my vacations there. 

I just love reading Ruskin Bond. I become a dreamer. I reach another world. An unpretentious, pure, austere world.

P.S: I guess the photo (taken 2 months back on a similar day) is just perfect for Ruskin as he (and well... yours truly too) believes that no day is complete without Indian sweets and snacks.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

When I feel proud of myself - Part II

As an afterword to my previous post, I would like to tell you that this was only my part of the story. From being a very bright smart happy child I turned into a poor kid who would yell at people around me and throw a fit time and again. My family was forewarned of such actions which was a result of the heavy medication that I was taking. Some instance are not forgivable. I fail to remember even one of these instances and till date cannot believe them. But I must say my family had to have mustered some courage to accept these temper tantrums without breaking down. I could not have asked for a better family. It is by way of such instances that I learnt what true attitude is.

My family could easily have given up and quietly accepted what came our way. But the way they kept building my confidence is just amazing.

A few months before this incident while watching Sudha Chandran's ( performance on t.v. my sister told me that she is dancing so well despite her one leg not being real. I immediately remarked, 'My goodness, how can anyone even live without one leg.' Funny to think of it now. I have realized one can do so.... and very well too.

After my accident, as part of trying to get my spirits high, mom arranged a meeting with Sudha Chandran. It did help a lot, though I probably didn't understand it then. I was slowly beginning to come to terms with it.

I was one of the most physically active children of my class. Sports was my first priority. Now, having missed an entire term of class at school and yet managing to give my exams and doing fairly well, I had to finally go back to school. I can't tell you amused my friends were for I would come on crutches and wear a full-length uniform skirt. Though initially I felt it very odd as I was never used to such girlie stuff, I did enjoy the attention I was getting.

One of my friend's came up to me and asked, 'Why did you run on the road alone? This is why you have to use these sticks now.' I explained to her what really happened and that the 'sticks' were called crutches.
Another friend asked me how long it would take for my leg to grow back. I felt very profound in declaring that such a thing was only a misconception and took pride in knowing and explaining how actually the human body functions.
During recess my friends would run around the class as usual but I was no more their leader. Before anyone feels sorry for me, let me tell you that I don't remember feeling bad about it. But I did feel awful once. My best friend Ramya, my sister and I would go to the car park and play every evening. After my accident we would go down, sit and talk, watch other kids play, take in the fresh air and return. Once when I saw Ramya standing along with the other kids, I started crying and accused her of leaving my side only because I couldn't run or play anymore. Yes, I said it. I know it wasn't fair but I did. Then aunty (her mom) spoke to me about it and only then it dawned on me that she had never hurt me so. She would stop herself from playing with them each day only to be with me. So that I didn't feel bad. She was mature beyond her age. She was indeed a pillar of my strength.

When it was time for our school picnic, as everytime, I took the initiative and started making plans on who would do what in my biiiiiiiiig gang. Later a friend called me aside and said that the rest of the girls didn't want me to go in their gang. I didn't get the point. She told me that if she wanted to come with me they'd said that she could leave the group and do so too. And obviously there was no use of that as I wouldn't play with her. I don't know what I felt. Hatred, anger, sadness, disgust? 
Then a classmate of mine, who had joined during the term that I had missed, came up to me and asked if she could come with me. I couldn't understand why. She said she'd heard so much about me from all my classmates before I came and when she saw me she wanted to be friends with me. 'A true friend is one who stands by you during your bad times.' I learnt this the hard way. This one action shows so much character for she very well knew that the 'gang' wouldn't take her in anymore. But thats her. Sheeba. My dearest pal.

Though I was managing with my prosthesis by now at times I'd find it difficult to accept that I wouldn't dance anymore, wouldn't run anymore. For a long time I used to get this dream that I'm running and when I'd wake up I'd want to feel the same way but the only way that would happen is when I dreamt of it again. May be that is what I had wanted the most then.

I wanted to learn roller skating as by then it was a fad amongst friends. But physically it was rather impossible. Yet, my dad got me the most amazing roller skates. He, mom and michech would take me around in the park. I would literally be hanging on them but as a kid it felt as though I was skating. We would go out every weekend. For picnics, long drives, movies and wherever possible. My dad. Boy, he would never take no for an answer. He's the most amazing dad. He would make me walk all the way to Meena Bazaar (one and a half kilometres from home.) every weekend and would buy me ice cream from a shop there. I would bear the heat and drag myself in the hope of having ice cream. But little did I realize that usually people using my kind of prosthesis rarely walk so much; today when I have to walk two kilometres and do it with ease, I can only thank dad for his persistence.

My mom used to clean the would on my hand by herself. It was so loatheful to look at I couldn't bear the sight myself. And at night I would get false pain (that is when some part of your body has been cut off and the nerve ending still gives an itching feeling in the part of the body that isn't there and yet you feel its presence.) and mom and I would sit in the hall and talk or watch television together until I fell asleep. She was working full time too which she says is thanks to me. I kept insisting that she should get back to working and that I would be fine. My granny came to Dubai and it was like the best time when she was around. She made life so much more wonderful and was a total morale booster.

Michechi. Well, she had to tag me along to any friends' birthday parties that she went for. As a teenager I can imagine how she would've felt. Till date I find it weird. But my folks had a different funda. I shouldn't feel bad 'cause I don't get invited to too many parties myself. I still don't agree though. Other than this too. I was always getting attention. She was to feel responsible for me. Yet I have NEVER heard her complain about it. Not once.

My Chech and amma and pappa and all my cousins and friends who have never treated me any different. They would only help in whatever way they could. Even today, they understand and do everything in their might to make life comfortable for me but never once felt sorry for me or sympathized with my situation. THAT is exactly what one would want.

Friday, May 7, 2010

When I feel proud of myself... Part I

There are times when something triggers off a flurry of thoughts; it brings back memories of some life altering incidents in life. Such a thing happened to me yesterday.

I had to visit a hospital to meet a friend's mom who had had her leg amputated. People who know me know exactly what would've gone through my mind.

It was a month after my 8th birthday. It was on Onam day. We were to go to Pappa's place. While walking on the side of the road with pappa, a truck driver rammed into me and crushed my left leg. Its funny that no one has ever told me what really happened. I can only remember it as a film reel... with small portions cut off. I guess it is what I saw between losing consciousness. But for all I know I might've even dreamt these things instead!

I am lying on the road with a wheel over my leg. People all around are yelling at the driver. He raised the accelerator. Amma is...looking.. ( I don't know what I took the expression as... I didn't even understand what anguish meant.) I wanted to call out to her. I was numb.

I am in a car. An Ambassador. My head on Pappa's lap. A man who ( at that point I assumed) is a good samaritan is giving the driver directions. I can see the entire leg. It looks like a wound from old hindi movies where despite efforts it still looked fake.

We are at a hospital. I'm lying on a bed (that I later learnt was called a stretcher). There were some people putting cotton on my leg. I saw mom and dad.

I'm in an ambulance now and I can hear its loud noisy music. Amma and mom are with me. I tell amma not to look at any truck outside. I don't know why I said that. (I still don't.). I'm thirsty... very thirsty. But no one's giving me water.

I awake in a hospital. Amma or mom is with me. I ask for water again. I want to get up. I can't feel pain. I want to know why I'm here. I guess I can see one of my legs but not the other. I want to ask a lot of questions. I want water.

By now I know what has been happening.. I seem to have understood some parts of it atleast. I'm being taken for another operation. I don't want to go alone. I get scared. Doctor tells me that amma has to change her clothes before she can come inside. She leaves my hand.

I know I'm hallucinating. I know it for sure. I can feel the huge light that we usually watch in movies when some person is performing an operation. I'm imagining blood stained hands exchanging scissors. There has to be more so I'm definitely hallucinating. I can see above the 'floodlight' there is a top floor that has a hole in the middle and my family is standing above. Savi and michechi standing there holding the railing. Chechi and Jithu and standing next to dad and pappa. But mom and amma are standing over my head. I can't see them properly. I want them to come nearer. But I'm hallucinating so they won't. 

I'm getting better now. Everyone tells me. I have my own room. Once the doctor asked me who my cheriachan was and I answered 'He is my small father.' I play cards with ammaama and I win. I must be getting good at this because he is the best. 

The nurses like me a lot. They tell me a lot of jokes. Today the doctors asked me to eat chocolates. Dad got me a BIG bar but I couldn't eat more than a small piece. Why? I love chocolates.

They take me for dressing every two days. I just woke up now. I hate today. I have dressing today.

I go on the wheelchair for rounds everyday (I feel like a doctor checking on my favourite patients). Just as I go out of the room, a nurse places a folded bedsheet where my left leg was supposed to be. She probably didn't want anyone to feel bad for me.

I had been told that I can have bath in the bathroom today. But I was scared. I was so scared that I screamed and screamed. I don't think it hurt me much. I felt very good after it.

I'm leaving today. I took autographs from my favourite doctors and nurses. They have all wished me the very best. One doctor who always spells my name incorrectly wants me to become the Prime Minister. I will have to get very old for that first. I might look like Indira Gandhi by then.

Today I can type these things with a very light heart. But if it were my parents or my siblings who were much older than me and actually understood the seriousness of the incident, they would probably never see the humour of it.

Now I ride a bike. Last month when mom was here I'd take her around the campus everyday on it. She loved it. Once while getting on it, she full of emotions said, 'My child has reached so far in life.' I really didn't think much of it then.

But when I did meet my friend's mom in the hospital. Just too many things banged my mind at the same time. I felt too many emotions. I couldn't hold it any longer. I quickly asked their leave and walked back. I was fighting my tears but in vain. They started flowing without my consent. I sobbed. I came out of the room. I wanted to cry a little bit more but there were people around me. For the first time in a long long while, I cried in public.

It was my mom's comment that first hit me. I imagined myself years back and in her situation. I thought of how helpless and angered my family would have felt not knowing what exactly the future held for me. I thought of the first time I walked using the crutches. How they would've felt when they saw my first baby steps with my prosthesis. How they feel proud of me for the bright, smart colorful successful girl they have made me today.

I am awed at how time heals; and how all of us come to terms with whatever situation we've had to face.
How we accept and yet not just quietly accept what has happened to us. How some incidents make us stronger than we ever imagined we could be.