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मददगार

May 23, 2020

किसी की बैसाखी बनते हुए हम क्यों भूल जाते हैं कि वो कभी चलता था।

Favorites again:)

June 18, 2019

How quickly we make a house a home.

It always astounds me even as I live it alongwith so many others.

Us.
Nomads of a certain kind. A certain tribe that plants its roots for however brief a time in places that seem barren.

Places belong to us as much as we belong to them.

It’s a realization the meaning of which has only now struck home.

Having grown up like this, this became a way of life.

It is only now that I realize why my mother always had a smile on her face.Still does:)
A familiar fragrance. A vignette. A certain word. The way someone calls my name…. In just a few seconds I am transported back . To relive it all over again. To smile. To
reminisce.
Each place will forever be frozen at a certain moment in time for me.

The first home we made.

Of mountains and snow. Of bactrian camels and fresh water springs and sand dunes. Gurgling streams and a mighty river.

And a trial by fire that tested us. Literally.

And we came out stronger. When you discovered what you and your soulmate were made of.

And it was a core of steel.

A place and a time when your innocent wide eyed look was indulged in and you were smothered in so much affection.

Baby steps in a big wide world with friends made for a lifetime.

How can this one not be a favorite?

It was our very own fairytale come alive.:)

And then the second one. Where you fell in love with nature all over again. Birds of all kinds and four legged creatures and mischievous squirrels made your home of two , the most beautiful one in the entire kingdom.

And wasn’t it just that? A kingdom of two?:)

So thought a young girl much in love and lugging a camera around to capture each and every moment.

Fearful of missing even a single one.

And the most beautiful of all.
It was here that they became parents. Just as they were bidding farewell to a place and the people.

They showed this kingdom to their little one too.

How can this not be my favorite?

It was my very own castle.:)

The third one.

Where he told me, “We are going home.”
And we did.
In more ways than one.
Where she found love and warmth.

Where the young girl became a mother. A hands-on one.
And her soulmate, a father.
Delighting in each gurgle. Each coo.
Each smile.
And the way he held out his tiny hands for a hug.

Toys and rattles and little cutesy quotes. Decorating a baby room with such anticipation.

When did we become parents?

Sometimes they pondered over that question and scratched their heads .

Silly, goofy grins.
A place where their little one was given so much love. So much.

So this is what it meant to be a family, she thought.

Oh!And did I tell you?
It was here that they were blessed again.
With a tiny , precious little one for the company of their first born.

How can this place not be my favorite?:)

The fourth one.
When the family moved bag and baggage to paradise.

They moved with the family too.
Soft sunshine, a slight chill in the air. And they lived in what sometimes looked like a cottage in her imagination.

Plants and flowers that bloomed.

Birds that visited and grew chubby:D

Neighbors and friends. And both rolled into one.

And playmates who gave company to her firstborn.

His first school and the memories he made.

Where she became someone who slogged and cooked. She!!
She of the ‘burnt rotis and let’s order in or eat out fame.’

All for her firstborn.

This being a mother thing.

Of not one but two precious beings.

She got the hang of it here.
In this slice of paradise.

How can this not be a favorite?:)

We are going to a new place.
Do you think it will become a favorite?:)

Firsts..

February 2, 2019

“Who is your most favourite ,mom?” It’s a question asked often.

 

And deflected expertly even more often.

 

 

And so never quite getting a clear answer, you grow up believing that parents and specially moms love all their kids in equal measure.

 

Or you grow up believing that your parents love you more than your siblings.

Convinced strongly that you definitely are their favourite. Or vice versa .

 

 

Well, I can tell you now that all of it was a lie.

 

That those deflections meant something else entirely.

That unless you were the firstborn, you were just a tad lower on the scale of parental love.

And even though my secondborn is just a lil baby of barely a month.

And even though I already love him to bits.

Even though he melts my heart with his gurgles and coos and his sudden smiles, it’s actually his elder brother who has all of my heart.

He is the one I ache to hold in my arms for a quiet one on one time.

He is the one I fear is growing apart from me even though my heart knows those fears are silly.

Each time he runs to me to hide in my arms he proves how unfounded my fears are. How silly the guilt of not being able to spend time with him. Just him and me.

 

Because you see, he is my first born.

He has the biggest piece of my heart.

And always will.

Because all of his firsts have been my firsts too.

His first smile.

His first glimpse.

The way he cried.

The feeling of holding a little baby in my arms.

His first gurgle.

His first walk.

His first everything.

They lied.

Firstborns are your whole world and then some.

And always will be.

Don’t grow up

January 27, 2019

He looks up at the sky, his eyes searching for the origin of the sound his ears can hear. Having spotted the giant mechanical beast overhead, his mouth is open in wonder.

 

 

That little mouth forming the cutest O. His eyes grow huge. This is different from a bird. Mom told him about ‘chidiya’. He has seen it in his books too. But this doesn’t look like one. And is noisy.

 
He shakes his head talking to himself. All baby speak. Trying to make sense of it.

 

Little does he know that his dad is flying one of those big birds too.:)

As he munches on his biscuit, he spies a little thing moving on the ground.

An ant. But he doesn’t know the word yet. All he sees is something moving. A tiny, tiny thing. He scurries after the ant as the ant too scurries away home. Away from this ‘giant’ and laden with food in its mouth. A tiny grain of sugar:)

Today he is trying to make sense of balloons. Of what the adults are doing. Puffing their cheeks and making these magical, floating balls of wonder. So he tries to whoosh his breath out too. And falls over giggling.

Don’t grow up baby.

 

 

PS:- Written for my firstborn, two years back.

And now he has a younger playmate who is  the same age as the firstborn was when I wrote this.:)

 

 

For the love of reading

April 26, 2016

To be able to give your children the gift of language is something indescribable. To be able to read, write and understand.
Understand all the hidden meanings that those tiny little letters contain is a wonder in itself.

The guttural sounds, the words that roll off the tongue so effortlessly, words which you can still taste on your tongue.

To be able to make them understand that language if used properly  in just the right amount and manner is magic in itself.

That words can heal.

And wound.

That too.

That language can build esteem and confidence and make you conquer a world. Or many worlds.
And that, that very same language can undermine. And how.

Language if used right, can deliver you from your fears.
That is, if you have had language magicians guiding you every step of the way on your first journey.

The very same language will make you a jumbled mass of emotions that crash into each other like waves.

It will give you solace when all else seems bleak.

And hunt you down just when you think you have found a quiet corner in the house all to yourself.

 

Language will not leave your conscience alone.  Remember that.  And tread carefully.
It will be your most amazing gift to your child. Precious beyond measure. Passed down from one generation to the next.

 

For, in one masterstroke you have just insured your child against a world that will knock him down. And knock him down hard.
For me, those magicians have been my grandparents and my parents.
The language teachers and the librarians whose names I can still remember.

I didn’t know it then but I was entering a sacred world. One where to pretend to know everything was sacrilege because everyone was on a journey.
And the journey did not have a destination.
To want to know the hows and whys was to feel deeply. And to feel deeply was to be open to heartache and sadness.

But always, there was a hand that reached out. To offer solace.
A book read under a quilt with a flashlight. Noone else seemed to exist in the world right there in that moment.
Do you remember that moment? Hidden away in the recesses of your mind? A childhood moment stolen from time?
The one that still makes you smile when you think of how desperately you wanted to read that book. That very book. That very night. Way past your bedtime ?:)

That exact moment you see, is what I want to gift a soon- to- be – 1year old little boy.

He already loves his books. The birdies and the animals. All the duckies in a row and the jungle animals and what not. He turns each page slowly, looking up in anticipation. That I will say something . That I will make a silly sound or give a name to that picture he is looking at.

He has so many expectations from me. So many hopes in those young eyes.

I am sitting in mom and dad’s home. My first home. And my forever one. As I sit here late at night surrounded by hundreds of books. Books I have collected all these years. From book fairs,  flea markets,  hole in the wall bookshops.

 

And the most revered ones of all.

The ones passed down like holy grail.  They belonged to my grandparents and parents .

Books whose names I know by heart . Their pages read and read again till I know them like my own reflection. These books painstakingly taken care of by maa and dad.
They are fiercely protective of these books. For, they know that their daughter’s heart resides in them.

As I look at the books and think of the amazing  gift my parents and grandparents have given me,  I cannot help but make a desperate wish. A wish that I will do the  same for my son.
I look at his sleeping face
Such innocence. He sleeps oblivious to the world outside and the dangers that lurk.
And terrified suddenly by my own fears, I want to give him a magic potion.

One that will make him strong. Strong enough to be able to withstand the storms that will come. And come they surely will.
For what else is it to be a human being?

I want to gift him that courage of conviction that will make  him hold on and stay true to his beliefs in a world that will falsely make him believe otherwise.

 

 

 I want to gift him that moment under the quilt. 

A book in those tiny hands, a flashlight and magic.

 

 

For you…

June 18, 2015

Written about 4 years back.:D

Hello little one.
This is supposed to be my letter to you.
Your mom is in love with words and shares them with all her loved ones. (24×7 as your dad will tell you with a fake sigh 😀 )

I am writing this letter on a day when I have had a fight with your dad. A tiff really. An argument. Okay a small difference of opinion. (call it what you will , he says …you are still acting like a kid )

hmmphh!

I am missing him. He is probably lost under tons of office work or doing what he does best. Flying.
Anyway….

So to take off my mind from how densely obtuse your dad and the love of my life can be, I thought I will write this letter to you.
Well..its a pretty early letter and all (won’t tell you the date or you will die laughing at your silly mom’s eagerness)

A baby. What a huge gift and a huge responsibility. Your dad and I still act like immature adults. Like kids really.

We fight for chocolate (the man doesn’t put on any weight I tell you! ) and about who should get up and get that ringing cell from the farthest corner of the room.
Many other things too…you will know for yourself. You have no idea whats in store for you. Its a madhouse. Your dad is a kid at heart. And I love him for it.

Anyway…so I and your dad are hoping for a daughter. Well.. we are hoping for a healthy baby. But I am kinda leaning towards a daughter you know.

Teeny weeny leaning really. Your dad would be happy with any gender. But he gives the cutest smile when I talk to him about a daughter. He knows me inside out.

Your naanu will probably pamper you silly. He is the most gruff man you will ever meet .He looks tough but has the softest heart of anyone you will ever meet in your life.

He rarely says much. Except to mom who knows him like no other and even with her he is not that vocal.
You get the picture.

Naanu will give you treats and gifts and share secrets with you. He is going to tell you not to share the secret with anyone coz you two are best friends.

I know. He used to do the same with us. 🙂

Naanu will trick you into eating more by getting into an eating competition with you. Before you know it, you will be stuffed.

I know again. He would do that with us too.:)

Actually come to think of it you will be spoiled silly by everyone won’t you? *sigh*

I already have a picture in my head.

Bratty, spoilt kid. Grandparents who pamper not to mention uncles, aunts, cousins… Oh! They will pamper you some more.
*sigh*

I hope and pray you meet each member of your family and grow up to remember each one’s uniqueness.

I pray that you make amazing memories with them.

I also want you to grow up surrounded by animals. Of any kind. But that we will have pets is a guarantee.
It is a firm belief of mine that children who grow up surrounded by little furry beings, winged, four legged or otherwise are much more patient and more sensitive and better human beings. Atleast that’s what I hope and pray you will be.

Your dad suffered a heartbreak when his little fourlegged friend died while he was still in school. He promised himself that he would never go through that heartache again.

I lost my little companion when she was 11. I still miss her. That picture in the living room? Thats her. She was a mad one. A delight . She would make us laugh with her antics. She was the wisest little being I have ever come across.

Your naanu, naani and both your maamajis suffered that heartache too. They still talk about her you know. Specially your naani. Ask her about her nanhi someday. She will smile and get lost in her memories. We were blessed to have her.

There is an ache. I too like your dad cannot bear going through the heartache again.

But I hope your dad and I can pick the courage to get a new member in the family. They make our lives richer you know. These little beings. I want you to know what its like to have a little nose nuzzling you or a tongue licking you in delight. These pleasures are priceless.

May you be blessed always.:)

Edited to add(4 years later) 🙂 :-You are finally here little one and you are definitely not a girl.:D You are a darling lil boy. Your mom and dad love you! our pink prince. 🙂 Maybe all the girly shopping can come in use some other time 😉

Read more…

love

January 28, 2015

She was in a hurry today. A little distracted and fidgeting with the saree folds again and again. The pleats were not coming out right.

Just what was it with the saree today? Today of all days!

Just when she needed to look her best. For him.

The vehicle was supposed to be here in an hour. She would meet him at the parade ground itself.

She looked at her watch and then looked in the mirror again. He loved that burnt shade of orange on her. As she looked at herself in the mirror and smiled….she remembered…. he loved all colours on her.

But this one was his favourite.

They had a fight the day before he left. Because he had to cut short his leave and report early. Granted that he couldn’t help it. She had married a man in uniform and his duty always came first.

And she had always shown so much patience hadn’t she? But just how much patience was she supposed to have? Uff! How they always fought like kids! He always tousled her hair which would make her mad.As if she was a little kid.

He always told her to grow up too. But that was just a pretence, she knew. He didn’t want her any other way. Her childlike exuberance was what he had fallen in love with.

She stuck out her tongue at the mirror and couldn’t suppress a giggle as she recalled his exasperated expression. The one that said,” I love you , you mad woman, even if you are a little crazy.”

But he loved her for precisely this..she knew. Just as she was head over heels in love with who he was. In love with all his moods, the gruffness and the guarded way in which he would express himself.

Army guys are not supposed to show emotions. That is what he believed. But she had learnt to recognize all his moods. Even when he didn’t say a word. He was his most vulnerable self with her. He would clown around and make those funny faces till she collapsed giggling on the bed.

That vulnerability he showed only with her..she knew that was his most precious gift to her.

He would be so proud of her today. She intended to make him proud.

To see that look in his eyes. He would take one look at her and say, ”looking good baby”, in that deep, drawling voice she loved.

She had made his favourite dish today. Aloo paranthas. Well, not his favourite but just about the only thing she could make decently well. The way he liked it. He still loved whatever she cooked. She sighed. She would try to learn more of his favourite dishes.

He always came back home having lost many kilos. Nothing was quite the same as home cooked food. ”I am a forever young sort of guy you know. You should be glad”, he would say with a wink and a grin whenever she fretted about his health. Worried at how thin he sometimes was when he came home on leave.
She hoped he would like the aloo paranthas .

He always made fun of her cooking. But then, his cooking skills were really good. During their time together, he would always cook for her. ”Let me cook jaan. You just sit back and relax. After dodging all those bullets at the loc, you wouldn’t want me to die of food poisoning would you?”he would say with that wicked twinkle in his eyes.

God! That man certainly knew how to rile her! Hmpph! If she could never get time to learn how to cook, was that her fault?

Today they would make up for the earlier fight. Today she would show him how proud she was of him. She hoped she could make him proud of her too.

Today she had a surprise for him too. A beautiful one. The biggest one of their lives. She was waiting impatiently to tell him.

She had been trying to imagine what his face would look like when she told him the news. She had been so tempted to tell him on the phone but then had stopped herself.

He was coming home on leave in a few days, he had told her a few days back and she wanted to see each change of expression,the initial bafflement, the dawning realization, the mad grin she knew would cover his face.

And he would catch her by the waist and dance all around the room.
And she would giggle and both of them would collapse laughing on the floor.

A little life inside her.

She looked down at herself in wonder.

A honk outside.

The vehicle was here.

She almost ran out till she remembered she was an army wife.

What would the driver think of her? She sighed and tried to walk at a more sedate pace.

Smiling inside at how he would have laughed his head off if he had seen her just now.

The army driver gave a crisp salute and opened the door for her.

The young lieutenant standing next to him gave a crisp salute as well. She nodded and smiled at both of them. ”Kaise hain Anil Bhaiyya? Ghar pe sab theek thaak hai?’

The driver looked discomfited and mumbled something, so she just smiled at him again. Anil bhaiyya had always been shy but he had been with them on two previous postings so he was almost like a family member now. She knew better than to make him feel more awkward.

The young lieutenant looked distinctly uncomfortable. Even more than Anil bhaiyya if that was possible. These young officers always felt out of place with ladies.

Fresh out of the academy, they would get tongue tied in the presence of ladies.
So she didn’t press on for a conversation.

She looked out of the window. The weather was slightly gray today.

She hoped it wouldn’t rain.

They reached the parade ground in about half an hour. She was shown to her seat.

So much of chatter all around her.

Once or twice she looked up and saw the lady next to her and smiled. The lady gave a hesitant smile back. As if she was unsure. Did she know the lady from somewhere?

She thought about it and then let go of the thought.

Her entire attention was now focused on the stage.

Just a few minutes more. Then it would be just the two of them. They announced something over the mike. It was time.

She stood up and drew herself a little taller.

Squared her shoulders, tilted up her chin and moved up the steps.

A small , muffled sob escaped the lady who had been sitting next to her.

” Maj Unnikrishnan gave his life in the service of the country in the highest tradition of the Indian army. Maj Unnikrishnan was an officer of ……………

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