Posted in My life, Painting

Good Teacher Bad Teacher

Knowledge is wasted without motivation.

-Me

I was 9 years old then. My brother who is a few years older than me was already pretty good at painting. So, my father arranged for a tutor for him during our two-month summer break. He was a good painter–somebody my father had employed to paint his own portrait at that time. I was so excited at the prospect that my father asked him to tutor me too. He was sure I’d quit within a few days as I did everything else. But he was fine to pay the fee, as long as I got a fair chance.

I was an average fourth-grader, but I was proud of my accomplishments. My ‘paintings’ would cover the house walls in all the prominent places–a family of bears (mom, dad, baby), a family of ducks (mom, dad, baby) and a rainy season scene (a building with flowers and raindrops) were my trophy pieces. My parents showed their unwavering ‘fanhood’ no matter what I created. They would applaud and suggest a good place on the wall to display the painting. I was sure I was destined for great things.

Our class had another couple of kids, and we differed in ages and sincerity level. When I joined the class, I had great enthusiasm. I expected myself to turn into a great painter by the end of the summer. That day, my teacher gave me an art book, which was far beyond my years, opened a page of animal pictures, and asked me to draw a Squirrel. No explanations, no tips.

I tried my best and achieved what a 9-year old could in 45 minutes. I was rather proud of myself when I presented my teacher with the best painting in the world.

He took a look and guffawed. Then he added springs to his feet, and told the class, it was a Kangaroo and it was about to jump. Everybody laughed.

That was the last day I went to his class. At least, mentally I was always absent. He reported to my father and he told him not to press me. I even stopped painting for a few months. I don’t remember talking about that incident but it was always there in the back of my mind.

A couple of years later, I was talking to my brother and I told him I longed to paint like him but didn’t know how. He told me, “Practice daily. You will get there, I’m sure.” Then, to motivate me, he gave me a tiny unruled notebook and told me to practice in it so that I do not lose my work and see my progress. The first thing I made in this diary was…any wild guess?

My brother told me that Chip and Dale looked great, and that I should practice daily. I’m sure I did not become a wonderful painter overnight–I hadn’t practiced in two years. But he saw I was putting in the effort, and he got me going. Within a couple of years, I was creating portrait sketches, and my work was far beyond my years.

David Dachovny (X-Files fame)–my first portrait sketch I made in eighth grade
Sachin Tendulkar (the Cricket legend)–a sketch I made in 10th grade

Thanks to my brother, I got my Bachelors in Painting–with Merit and second highest score in the Painting subject in the University. My practicals exams had 98% score–a rarity in Arts.

All this was thanks to the great teacher who told me to believe in myself. Both my brother and I are now in the business of adult education and I can vouch for his method.

A successful teacher does not teach great things. He motivates his students to forge their own path.

-Me again

Just for the sake of bragging, here are some paintings I made during Bachelors.

Hrithik Roshan in oil paint (My second love)…a story for another day
Gul Panag–former Miss India and actress
Mom and dad on swings–my own style–finger and nail painting.
Tiger in the river–Water colours
Posted in My life, Twisted Tales

The Hare, the Tortise, and the Storysmith’s Daughter

My three-year old daughter demands me stories nearly all day. I try to wave off the requests most of the times, since it means overusing my brain, which is already fried by listening and singing nursery rhymes, and dealing with petty quarrels regarding property rights over various animals, dolls, lego blocks and kitchen set, apart from building the training courses for clients.

My favourite way to wave off the request is to ask my daughter to tell me a story before I tell her one. Usually, she asks me to excuse her to deal with an ‘important matter’ and leaves the vicinity until I had forgotten the request (my daughter through and through). A few days back, though, after multiple requests, she acquised to tell me a story of the Hare and the Tortoise.

As most of you would know, the original story was about a race between a vain but fast Hare and a humble but slow Tortoise. The vain Hare underestimates his competitor and sleeps off half way through the race and wakes up to find that the Tortoise has reached the finish line. I was expecting a retelling of the same tale.

However, this is the tale she told me (in Hindi).

There was a Hare 🐰 who was going to market to buy some carrots πŸ₯•(?), because all Hare love carrots πŸ°πŸ’•πŸ₯•.

He met a Tortoise 🐒 on the way who asked him nicely if he could join him–he needed to buy some carrots too πŸ₯• (??), because all Tortoise love carrots too πŸ’πŸ’•πŸ₯•.

So, off they went merrily πŸ‡πŸ’. (Not sure when the race will begin!)

On the way, they met an Elephant 🐘 (???) who asked them not so nicely to carry him to the market because he wanted to buy some carrots too (because, obviously, all elephants love carrots too, 🐘 πŸ’•πŸ₯•). Or else he will step on them 😑.

So the Hare punched him πŸ‘Š (That was one strong Hare!), and then, he pulled the Tortoise on his back and ran to the market. πŸ‡πŸ’πŸ’¨ (AHA!!!)

Then, they, bought carrotsπŸ₯•, and happily ate them.

Author’s mother’s note: Well, what can I say,Β  I love carrots too…🀣🀣🀣

Posted in My life, Random Thoughts

A Personal Grudge

For many months, COVID 19 had been a faraway nightmare, stalking closer everyday but never really touching.

A week back, I got news that a family that is very dear to me was suffering from COVID 19. One of my father’s oldest friends and his wife were hospitalised and their health was deteriorating. His elder son, daughter-in-law and grandson had symptoms too with constant fever, hence they were quarantined at their house and not able to meet him. His younger son was halfway across the country.

He died a couple of days back in ICU without meeting his children–people he had loved and raised with care. His wife was in another ward, and didn’t see him in his last minutes of struggle. I, whom he had accepted and loved with all my eccentricities, wasn’t able to see him, because he was quarantined. He made his last journey to electric Crematorium without any rites. He did not deserve this.

Before you assume that he had risked it and taken a long vacation in Goa or went clubbing… No, he did not venture out of his house, nor did his wife, daughter-in-law or grandson. The disease came to him from his son’s office where he had to go because he had to keep his job–the office where two other colleagues were found COVID positive.

COVID 19 is officially a personal enemy now. It has taken away a part of my childhood. I am usually not the one to cry, but tears keep falling as I can’t stop thinking of the time I had spent in his house sitting, cracking jokes and watching Tennis matches. He was a sweet person who cared for those around him; one person I could trust completely. He certainly did not deserve this. His family did not deserve this.

So, any of us who think that COVID 19 happens only to others and that we can run around being wild while other people are stuck at home–this is a wake-up call. It is your family you are risking, or your neighbours, or your best friend’s family…

So, please, follow the rules:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Wash the stuff from outside with soap and water, including green grocery.
  • Use electronic payments wherever you can, so you don’t have to touch money, which is one of the biggest contributor in the disease.
  • Most importantly, if your business can be run from home, please don’t make employees come to office. They too have elderly parents and children at home.

Stay safe. Help keep others safe.

Posted in My life

The Curious Case of M&S

We were born to different mothers 22 days apart in different cities, so we can’t be twins. M is Snow White, I am Pocahontas–both in looks and in attitude. Still, it feels like we share the same soul…not in a romantic way, but the way twins do–we feel each other’s pain and happiness miles apart.

Twenty years back, I met this pretty girl outside our Bachelor’s Painting class. She was a girly-girl who managed household responsibilities and fed the four dwarfs. I was a tom-boyish adventurer who would rather run around than cook. Roughly, you can call it love at first sight. I say ‘roughly’ because our relationship didn’t have a romantic angle. It is the comradery; friendship that belied all logic; the deep need to stick together without reason; and the empathy that crosses the border of sanity.

I remember instances like the sudden pain in my toe while sleeping and limping to college next day, only to meet her limping outside college having stubbed the same toe at the same moment at her home.

It became a habit. Some days, I would feel a sudden urge to laugh. Then, I’d call her to ask what’s the joke. Or I’d be feeling down over some matter and get a call from her to ask why I was sad.

We liked the same things. Her friends were forced to accept me as an unavoidable menace.

We had both behaved like grown ups during childhood. Together, at 18, we found our childhood. Our opinion was always different. But we agreed to fist fight over it and then laugh it off. No hard feelings ever. Our classmates often asked us if we had come from the same school. Some even suspected us to be sisters.

We fit beautifully together like pieces of jigsaw puzzle. We didn’t know what we were missing until we found each other. Life has pulled us apart for a long time, but every time I feel an emotion that didn’t fit the context, I think of her. Every laughter, every pain, every itch, every mood that isn’t really mine, reminds me of the other part of my soul–the one that will return to me once our bodies are gone.

Heathcliff waits for Katherine. Wuthering Heights gives me hope and solace.


Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash

Posted in My life

Three Humans and Two-legged Crocodile

I’m sure a lot of you wonder how I look after growing up, since my current profile picture indicates my mental age, around three years. Well, I’ve decided to share a family portrait, curtsey my daughter, aged three and half…

I am the one on the right.

Please note the striking resemblance. It has a head of hair, two eyes, a nose and a smile, two legs and a hand with fingers. Not sure where the other hand is…probably busy typing this post…

The guy on the left is my husband. Again, please note the striking resemblance: a head with hair (though they look a bit short-circuited and slightly longer than usual but I guess, everyone has weird long hair during COVID-19 year), two eyes, a nose and a mouth, two hands and two legs. Not sure why he is wearing a skirt. He is definitely not a bagpiper…but then, she hasn’t learnt how to draw pants.

The one in the middle is my daughter. Again, note how she is being naughty on one side (probably plucking the feather from the pillows), while keeping an eye on her mum, ensuring she doesn’t get caught!

If you are wondering where the two-legged Crocodile is, he is the faint shadow on the top right trying to hobble into black water on its two legs on one side. As to why it has only two legs, my daughter declined to explain. But she told me that two were more than enough.

I do not question her judgement–she’s a pro. I remember the day I reminded her that her monkey doesn’t have a tail. After a quick thought, she told me its a Chimpanzee. Well, as long as she can defend her point…

Posted in My life

Sailor, Ahoy!

I’ve never set foot on a ship, but I know how it feels for a sailor to wipe floorboards after a storm.

-Me

My house has a special feature–water harvesting. When it rains and the wind is in the right direction, which is at least once a year, (this year has been rather generous in this regard) the unique technique used in the windows allows maximum possible amount of water inside.

Since my room is the highest room of the tallest tower in the area, the amount of water it can intake can put a Civil engineer to shame (“Why didn’t I think of this? I could have saved riven Yamuna. I should drown myself in this pool.”) I think the architect who designed the house worked with King Akbar in Agra, since a similar water harvesting technique has been used throughout the Agra fort and Fatehpur Sikari fort. The only mistake he made was to forget creating a tank at the bottom to contain the water it collected–such a waste!

So, whenever it rains and the wind is in the ‘right’ direction, the I play the sailor, while my daughter sitting on the bed squeals with excitement and works as the lookout–“Look Maa! Water from that window too!”

I specially remember this night when my daughter was one and there was a storm. Lights went out, the inverter didn’t work, and we lighted a candle. Then the wind moved in the ‘right’ direction and water came in from all of the five huge windows covering two walls.

Suddenly we were sailors of the old times on His Majesty’s Ship in storm. One of my family members had run upstairs to help and together we bailed (wiped) water out of the room, while the Princess was sound asleep in the King’s arms. After five minutes, when it was clear that no amount of bailing/wiping could help, the King ordered us to abandon ship and we took the nearest escape route to the floor below.

Water came to us from all directions, raining down the stairs that led to the roof. It followed us down the stairs in torrents, trying to drown anyone en route. Wet from the water falling from the stairs above, we made it, somehow, to dry lands of the lower floor, leaving all our belongings to fate.

Three hours later, when the rain stopped for a while and the wind took a break, I returned to our room to find it water-logged. It took me three more hours to put out the beds on the roof to dry, and to clean and dry-up the room and the carpet…and get ready for work. No sleep for me that night!

For many years, we have looked for ways to make our room waterproof without sealing the windows (since sealing them will turn the room into an oven) but to no avail. It doesn’t stop me from loving it though.

I fell in love with those huge fancy castle-like windows the day I entered this home for the first time. They gave me the sense of living in a hotel with a spectacular view…mine is that of trees and a field across the road. Well, beyond that there is a water tank and houses, but it is as good as it can get while still living in a city. And then there are birds that knock on my windows so often…

Some inconveniences are worth it…

Posted in My life

Missed opportunity of being a sloth

An excerpt from Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome (1889):

…I had the symptoms, beyond all mistake, the chief among them being a general disinclination to work of any kind.
What I suffer in that way no tongue can tell. From my earliest infancy I have been a martyr to it. As a boy, the disease hardly ever left me for a day. They did not know, then, that it was my liver. Medical science was in a far less advanced state than now, and they used to put it down to laziness.
Why, you skulking little devil, you, they would say, get up and do something for your living, cant you? not knowing, of course, that I was ill.
And they didn’t give me pills; they gave me clumps on the side of the head. And, strange as
it may appear, those clumps on the head often cured me for the time being. I have known one clump on the head have more effect upon my liver, and make me feel more anxious to go straight away then and there, and do what was wanted to be done, without further loss of time, than a whole box of pills does now.”

A friend had gifted me this book 10 years back. I’ve read it end number of times and often go back to it to ponder over the things in life that remain unchanged even after 130 years. This excerpt from the book clearly calls out my present state of mind.

I’ve been a sloth for most of my life. For those of you who are unaware who a sloth is, it is the slowest mammal ever. It spends its life hanging on the tree and eating leaves from the same branch forever, digesting one leaf in 30 days. It’s life is so slow that it grows algae on its coat.

I sometimes feel, while being programmed, my chip got swapped with that of a sloth, the same as Jerome. I could stay in the same spot undetected for hours, reading or painting quietly. I read around 50-100 storybooks/novels in an year, depending on the thickness of the book. Often, my parents didn’t know I was home. Unlike my brother, I wasn’t into sports, didn’t party, didn’t have a social life outside school, and moved my ass only when absolutely required, like when it came to clumps on the head. I didn’t grow algae, but only because my mother forced me into the bath once a day.

Now as a mother, I always have the company of my child who hasn’t started school, and the duties of a mother and homemaker. I enjoy her company, but often miss the opportunity of being a sloth.

Posted in My life

Claws: Update

Lately, I wrote about the stringent diet I began last week: Claws.

Just wanted to let you know that I have managed to tame the lions now.

The entire Pride has shrunk to the size of mice thanks to week-long starvation. They still frequently scratch my stomach but I drown them in water and milk and protein shake to tell them who’s the boss.

Though, I still don’t see any weight loss…Fingers crossed!

Posted in My life

Claws

Lions are clawing me inside out!

Okay, I am on a diet–a high protein, low carb, no fat diet–a healthy diet that involves loads of milk, protein shake, fruits and nuts. What it lacks is everything I love–Breads of all kinds, rice, pasta, noodles, patties, pastries, even porridge! Chapattis (Indian bread) with veggies and pulses once a day are its saving grace. You see, I am a foody with a very low hunger threshold. I eat every three hours and I love variety in food. Hence most of my day is spent creating or planning that variety. So, dieting is beyond me.

But my husband could see my love for food was creating tires around my waist, and now these car tires were aspiring to become truck tires soon. Worse part, I was unwell with joint pain and body ache, thanks to the fast reduction and, then, adoption of weight in the past one year, thanks to Hypo-Thyroid and it’s medication’s side-effect. So my husband finally put his foot down.

11th July was the first day of the torture. My diet has been split in 3-hour schedule with smaller portions that provide me with only what I need, which means no fat, low carbs. I could feel lions clawing me inside out–I guess, they had always lived there, eating my food. Now with the famine, they are reminding me of their existence. I was techy, angry and on the verge of crying all day. But nothing would move my stone-hearted husband to give a hungry wife a few morsels of bread (with butter and jam).

Next day, the clawing had mellowed down slightly, at least I wasn’t crying. Or may be, I was too busy with laundry and other household duties to notice them too closely. I survived.

Today has dawned with the old clawing back. While I work on my computer, I can feel the desperation in this clawing. I think they know they are going to die of starvation soon. I hope this entire pride dies soon, for this diet is here to stay for a while.

Please pray for my safe return…

Colin McQueen, earlier you had talked about the hazards of running. I will take that any day as compared to this.


Free photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Posted in My life

Wearing Jerome’s Shoes

Here is an excerpt from Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. While this book is always on my mind, it came to me today because of the happenings in the past three weekends, and in fact, the past five years of my life.

“And we other boys, who would have sacrificed ten terms of our school-life for the sake of being ill for a day, and had no desire whatever to give our
parents any excuse for being stuck-up about us, couldn’t catch so much as a stiff neck. We fooled about in draughts, and it did us good, and freshened us up ; and we took things to make us sick, and they made us fat, and gave us an appetite. Nothing we
could think of seemed to make us ill until the holidays began. Then, on the breaking-up day, we caught colds, and whooping cough, and all kinds of
disorders, which lasted till the term recommenced ; when, in spite of everything we could manoeuvre to
the contrary, we would get suddenly well again, and be better than ever.”

I have low immunity and get viral fever whenever season changes, but only on weekends and, then, become completely well on Mondays and ready to work. Nearly 80 percent of my sick leave lapse unused every year while so many weekends are killed. My super manager had once joked that our team has a habit of falling ill only when there is no work. It comes back to me ever so often.

For the first time in past five years, I am out of office for illness for more than a couple of hours (five days already and would need another tomorrow). It feels weird in extreme to not open my laptop for five days in a row, as if I’ve lost a limb.

Thank goodness for the WordPress app on my phone to keep me engaged. Else, I would have gone crazy with boredom.

Posted in Blogging, Life and After, Love, My life, Nature, Twisted Tales

1st Re-birthday Celebration

Stats: 1 year, 300+ Posts, 5600+ Views, 186 Followers

WOOHOOOOOO!!!

Fish in the Trees is my alter ego. It stands for my unique position as a true Gemini. (Ever saw that horoscope picture with two people looking in different directions? That’s me.) I have always been looking in two directions or more–trying to see both sides of the coin, skewing my perspective like a fish-eye lens. I have a traditional small-town upbringing, but am plagued with question-itis (the habit of asking pain-in-the-ass questions) and conform-o-phobia (the fear of conforming with status quo). My blog follows suit.

It makes both of us forever misfits, like a shellfish in the trees.

Fish in the trees only had five posts till mid-last year, all of which I deleted. On the night of 15th June last year, I decided to rebirth this site and moved in stuff from my earlier site Fly on the Wall (that no one read). Since then, I have written every week, twice a week, daily… Yup! I’m that crazy!

Now after one year, here are 10 posts that I am proud of…okay 18…It is rather difficult to pick your favourite child, and I have over 300.

Enjoy!

Posted in My life

Too Pink

Awoke in a world too Pink–

an Alice in Wonderland

kind-of dream…

a world I’d never fit in,

that doesn’t let me grow,

or have a voice,

forced on me

by the virtue of my gender–

the one I had no choice in.

Scared in extreme, I wake up,

still trapped

in a world too Pink…


Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Posted in My life

My Personal Black Day

I am rather ashamed of myself for this incident because, all my life, I had believed I wasn’t a racist. It shows me the mirror.

Bangalore, nearly evening…

I and my roommate had been shopping for several hours and I was fretting to return home. I was new to Bangalore, didn’t remember the roads, didn’t know the language, and had already lost my way once at night. My roommate knew the way, but we hadn’t been friends long, so I had a difficulty trusting her night-navigation skills.

As we boarded the autorickshaw, she asked me if it was okay if we visited a friend close by for a couple of minutes. She had something she wanted to handover. I said it was fine.

So we went to his rented flat in a posh locality. I was fine until he opened the door. Black.

I was suddenly on guard. I wasn’t able to place the sharp smell that came from the flat (a bachelors’ pad), I wondered if it was drugs. I can’t even give an excuse of huge built or towering personality. He was merely 5’8″, welcoming and cordial. My fear was only based on the colour and smell, which I later found out was the smell of sweat (bachelors’ pad, after all).

Even though I knew he was a highly qualified software engineer and a close friend of my roomy, I was scared. I held my breath until we were out. Those two minutes were the longest in my life. I knew that all those present there realised my discomfort since he didn’t stop us for chit-chat. I didn’t do anything, but still made him feel unwelcome.

I later tried to rationalise my reaction by saying it was being in a new place among strangers…but I had been in a similar situation before, but the guys were all Indians and we had a lot of laughs that day.

There are no two ways about it. I was prejudiced against a Black man even before he looked at me.

I met him later again in a GoCarting area. This time, I was genuinely happy to have received a second chance. Surprising my family, I went ahead and talked to him about everything under the sun. I still wish I had done it the first day, which still remains the black day of my life.

Posted in My life

Your Art Inspires Mine: Making Software Training Bearable

As Instructional Designers, we create online courses for adult learners. Recently, I and another colleague were training around 12 colleagues on an authoring software that we use create these products. We were worried about the mental barriers of virtual training, the monotony of software training and the difficulty our colleagues would face in remembering the huge number of functionalities.

So, we decided to go crazy. To show them the various capabilities of the software, we used a dragon activity that Ellen Forkin had shared for free on her blog Ellen’s Wonderfuss Fairies for kids to doodle on.

We showed them how to insert icons and images of food in it’s stomach and then add labels and various functionalities to the page. It earned quite a few giggles from our ‘class’. Since, we are all 30-50 years old, I would call that quite a feat. More importantly, it helped them remember.

Next day, as a refresher of the functionalities taught the previous day, I quickly built a story using a troll hair activity, again by Ellen Forkin. It had the same functionalities and some new ones to get my ‘students’ excited and ready to learn. Some may think it unprofessional to use cartoons for adult learners but it worked for us.

Here is the story and a couple of screenshots. Together with the animation, narration and various functionalities, it came out as entertaining, if nothing more.

Now, a farmhouse, complete with animals and a farmhand, sat atop his bald head.

The old couple was horrified–it’s not everyday that you see the earth move beneath your feet. The young farmhand was rather amused–it’s not everyday that you see the earth move beneath your feet. The cow and sheep were wide-eyed and stopped mooing and baaing for an entire minute. The rooster, however, loved the higher perch and began cock-a-doodle-doo-ing right away.

But the gentle troll that he was, Munchkins put them down, smiled and walked away.

Thank you, Ellen, for waking my student’s inner child, which made the training a resounding success. Your art inspired mine.

For the love of cartooning and Norse mythology, and a good laugh, visit Ellen’s site: https://ellenswonderfussfaeries.wordpress.com/

Posted in My life

Fasting: A Fish-eye Perspective

Disclaimer: As a converted Muslim, my experiences with Islam are rather new. My newly found love, faith and peace of heart, I cherish. Still, my perspective is a bit out of place, like a shellfish in the trees.

Ramadan is the month of praying and fasting for Muslims. We observe fasts for a lunar month where we abstain from food and water starting an hour before sunrise till after sunset (12-17 hours). It is meant to help us connect with the Almighty, and also, to heal our body from the damage done by the daily assault of cooked food.

Ideally: After a day of fasting:

  1. When I’d break my fast with dates and 2 glasses of water, it’d cleanse my system and heal it.
  2. After I had offered prayers, I’d eat very light food, and my body would concentrate its efforts at healing me, rather than digesting fried chicken.
  3. Healing would continue all night, so that by the end of the month, the vehicle of my soul is a newly-polished limousine rather than the cluttered, rusty truck I had made it through the year.

Reality: After a day of fasting:

  1. When I break my fast with processed dates and lemon sherbet, both of which contain refined sugar (that in turn contains fluoride), my system absorbs the chemicals at lightening speed. My rusty old truck is now purring with excitement.
  2. Then I eat fruit salad, that also contains refined sugar, refined sea-salt (sodium), and fruits (grown using chemicals to ripen them overnight to cover the demand during Ramadan). The rust now turns a darker shade of red.
  3. Then I continue eating fried potatoes and onion pakodas, fried chickpea… Combined with digestive sauce containing refined sea-salt, the food spikes the purring of my (heart) engine to a racing-car level.
  4. I have to pray, so I try to stop, but hey, who will eat the lamb chops?
  5. And wasting biryani is a sacrilege I shall never be blamed of…and the vehicle of my soul, already cluttered, has no space for my soul to sit in.
  6. I’m thirsty after the day-long fast but I can’t make the space for two glasses of water. So, I settle for a cup of brown tea with refined sugar and a spot of milk–acidic but heavenly.
  7. Now, my engine has collapsed. Acceleration of any kind leaves me dizzy. Like a zombie, the vehicle of my soul drags along during the prayers, whirring complains of how the ‘lack of food’ has left me weak at knees.
  8. By the end of the month, I am a bigger, rustier truck with a failing engine and full to brim with the clutter I have collected during the food orgy I lovingly call ‘fasting’. My soul opens the door to fit itself in, and hangs in there with the help of more medicines than usual, throwing up every now and then because of the stuffiness, and reminds itself to go slow next year.

If only, I’d remember.

Posted in Love, My life

Echo

Love was when I dragged you

to the college library

to finish your assignments;

when I forced you

to sit with me in the front

rather than with backbenchers

so you would study;

when I forced you

to attend college

on mass-bunk days;

when I gave you

quick lessons before exams

and kept raising the bar

until you could do no more.

What we have

in marriage today

is an echo of that love,

where you take

my place,

and I take yours.

Posted in My life

The Why of the Angel

I was eight then. My mother had the dinner ready but, at around seven PM, my father suggested to eat at our favorite restaurant. I and my brother weren’t the kind to let the opportunity slide. So, we jumped around drowning away our mother’s protests about wasting home-cooked food.

Soon, we got ready and jumped on the scooter. (Yup! Two adults and two semi-grown non-adults on a scooter–that’s how the India traveled then and still does.) A few kilometres away, on a lonely dark road, we saw a car approaching. My father moved the scooter to the side of the road to give it path.

And the world went black.

I began crying with pain and fear. I could hear the voices of my family but we weren’t able to see anything. In a world devoid of mobile phones, we had no source of light. So, we had no idea of what was happening. The road was deserted at night, so no one could have heard or helped us.

But someone did. All of a sudden, we could see faint light above us. Everything after that is blurred in my memory. I remember that someone pulled us all out of the deep hole in the road and drove us all to the hospital in his car. If he hadn’t helped us in that moment, we, blinded by the darkness, could have fallen inside the sewage opening directly beneath us, and drowned.

We never heard from him again.

I don’t remember his face, but I have always remembered him as a hero. I had often thought of him as an angel helping us–only I never knew what we had done to deserve that help.

Many years later, my father, now retired from service, met someone at the railway station. The deep respect in this stranger’s voice belied the fact that he was a high-rankingΒ officer talking to a retired person. While he chatted with my father, I asked mom who he was. She told me a story I had never heard before.

When I was five, my father had found this man on a lonely road. He was gravely wounded and bloodied from a road accident. Other vehicles had driven on, afraid of robbers or the possible blame of causing the said accident. But my father had driven him to the hospital before it was too late for him.

It was three years before our own accident.

Then, I knew why the angel chose to help us. Little acts of kindness go a long way…both ways.

Posted in My life

The 3 Dollar Playschool

My daughter turned three this month. Amidst the Corona Virus scare, we were not able to celebrate. We also had to postpone her admission to playschool. Still, I wanted to make the day special for her.

Then my mind drifted to the Playhouse I build last year for 1.5 USD. The flowers were now peeling off and the color yellow had become mellow. My family was planning to discard it. I thought better and gave my child a Playschool and something to occupy her time.

It cost three dollars (around 200 Rs). I pasted 16 pieces of card sheets, glue, and cello tape. Then, wrote English-Hindi alphabets and numbers on the inner sides. Tadaaaaaaaaa! The school was ready.

For decoration, I hired professional help–my daughter. I gave her colors and a free reign. She is still having a gala time ‘decorating’ it!

Here is the result.

I drew the animals, she coloured.

.

She drew the animals, we coloured.

The best part is that within a month, my daughter learnt how to write English alphabets just because of the excitement and the sense of importance. The ‘play-school’ walls are full of animal names my daughter has written and we are progressing to numbers next.

And I have a wonderful artifact that will be auctioned for 1000 dollars someday! (Well, a mother can hope!)

Posted in My life, Random Thoughts

A Tough Assignment

Lately, my nearly-3-year daughter has taken to creating ‘bouquet’ of animals.

Ever so often, she asks me what animals I want. I give her a random list. Then she asks me which color I want them in. After half an hour of hard labor, the bouquet is ready and it looks something like this.

Or this.

Now the daunting task is to label each animal accurately without hurting her feelings. But by now, I have already forgotten the list and color code, not that she follows it anyway.

Since I am a small-town woman and her paintings are on more of the experimental side, I am at a loss most of the time. So, I try to get the information from my only source without showing my confusion. I admit, I rely heavily on flattery and treats.

“Oh! What a pretty animal! Such pretty wings!”

(Flattered and pleased) “Not wings, they are feet.”

This is my first clue that it is not a bird.

“Oh yes, it has a nice long tail. Very beautiful.”

(Even more flattered and pleased) “That’s the trunk.”

Mystery solved. “Such a cute elephant!”

I write its name next to it.

But being a small-town woman, I am bound by the old-fashioned thoughts and, at times, make monumental mistakes. “Let’s add his ears.”

(A little annoyed now) “But it already has ears.”

“Of course! How silly of me! Here, take a Chocolate chip.”

Placated, we begin with the next animal. After a week of labeling these mysterious animals, you would think I’d get the hang of it. But I’m a simple woman from a small town. Modern art eludes me.

Posted in My life

Being ‘Fair’

brian-asare-DuhTQP7Gwg0-unsplash

Of all the pressure I bore being a woman born in India, the pressure of being ‘fair’ has been the weirdest.

In India, fair skin means white skin. I was born a Marwadi Hindu, that translates into skin the color of soil…

The soil used to grow cotton…

Black soil…

My mother, who is not Marwadi, is far ‘fairer’ and spent several years scrubbing me up but I was my father’s daughter through and through.

As a child, I never cared about it. My cousins dabbling with ‘fairness’ creams were always mystery to me. These people were less admired, less loved and least preferred in marriage–second-class citizens. I wondered why? Is it our slave mentality? After 200 years of slavery under white-skinned people, have we started believing that white skin is superior? (No disrespect intended to white-skinned readers)

As a way to show my anger, I shunned all fairness creams and lived on just soap and water…that is, until I was bitten by the love bug.

I married a guy whose family was far ‘fairer’. They were a loving family so they took it upon themselves to make me look ‘beautiful’. Their sincere attempts to hide my color under the layers of make up made me sad. I went along with it though, applying fairness creams and bleaches with no results, using a lot of make up to hide my-‘self’, until one day my husband had had enough. He told me the make-up makes me look dead and I am beautiful without it all.

Now the make up and fairness creams are lying in some landfill while I walk around in my ‘beautiful’ skin inside my happy bubble.


Photo byΒ Brian AsareΒ onΒ Unsplash