The Tact Of Being Tactless


HONESTY 1

Does honesty make you vulnerable? This is the question that is pestering me day and night, of late. In a world of reigning hypocrisy, disguise, exploitation, dishonesty, back-stabbing, cut-throat rivalry and perversion in the name of everything that is human, where does an honest person stand?

It is utter stupidity to be scrupulously honest would say the skeptical. Most honest people are because they do not weigh the implications of their forthrightness. What impact it may or may not have on the other person. They are just happy that they have expressed their mind and kept their conscience clear. They go for the absolute not the surface value. But there is nothing absolute in this world. It’s a myth! Utopia!

Tactless? Yes, definitely so, to be honest. What is tact then? It’s the other name for diplomacy. When one minces words and tries to give a nice picture where there exists none. Or paints half-truths in overly convincing manner so as not to induce ripples on the surface of calm waters. Tact reinforces human faith in illusion and beguile, in misguided expedience and in deliberate pretense.

Honesty, like sincerity, does not always pay. Why? Because honesty is not in the larger interest of the society/civilization/creation et all. It is divinely engineered for the demon to reside with the angel in the name of ecological balance in this vast matrix of cosmic interplay. And honesty being an angelic quality has to make way for the satanic vices. Otherwise how would God make His presence felt?

Having said all that, one would take for granted that it is prudent to have a blanched variety of virtues in any equation be it personal relationship or any other arrangement of work convenience or social obligation. Remember what happened to Tess when she bared her heart to Angel Clare? She was condemned and left alone to fend for herself, definitely not forgiven. Or can you think of giving a no-holds-barred appraisal of what you think of your boss at work place? It will be blasphemous! Disastrous!

So, honesty runs the highest risk of being misunderstood, misconstrued and mangled. Like all other virtues, honesty too has an inbuilt quotient of defeat… of being compromised. So what is the option we are left with? The exact opposite one where you let situation decide how best your moves can be so as to have an upper hand over your opponent/partner/rival/negotiator/boss. And the smarter and cleverer your maneuvers are, successful and worldly wise you stand to be in people’s eyes.

Strange, that is, I always wonder why then the virtues have at all been conceived, classified and brandished as timeless? The only reason seems to be that eternally they exist to be shortchanged and increasingly devalued, invariably diffused with certain amount of opportunism and our damned sense of convenience.

I have tried to be honest in most situations. Again, I have tried and that is an honest statement, idiotically so. And always made myself prone to jeers, conjectures of the worst order and misrepresentations. Yet, unfailingly I have pursued the path which makes me feel good and unalloyed. So is there a feel good factor about honesty? Yes, to those who wish to have a stronger voice and a clearer conscience in life! Who feel they have never intentionally betrayed or made use of others or benefitted at the expense of the ones whom they can easily trample upon and emerge victorious. But then honesty is just a feeling…a feeling perhaps a little down market. A feeling which does put you on a pedestal. A feeling which does not lend you an enviable fan-following.

And is it easy to be honest? To those who are prone to this disease? No, it’s not. More so because honesty is basically of two types – (1) when you are honest about others or given situations and (2) when you are honest about your own self. And it is the second type that is the hardest because it is not just a tendency or a knack, it is a continuous yet disturbing process. A process of finding yourself out, a process to probe your fears, a process whereby you come face to face with your darkness of mind and soul, a process by which you realize that you still have so much to overcome – your inhibitions, your dreads, your failings, your follies. Harder it is to confess. You may be true to yourself but to be true to others? That is when you become victimized of other’s perceptions. Whether those perceptions are correct or incorrect is relative. But it is then that you are judged, evaluated and thrown aside as an ignominy and seldom extolled for your courage and commitment. A commitment for being true to your own self and others.

HONESTY AGAIN

So in the final analysis, the utility value of honesty is sub-zero. The risk hazards are aplenty. Then what does one gain out of honesty? For being foolishly open to criticism and falsehood? Mere soul satisfaction? Mere adherence to your self-inflicted principles? Ego fulfillment? Or is it something beyond these experiments with your own self?

I am still musing…trying to find an answer in the maze of unsolvable riddles. What lies beyond the choice of not taking the easy route and stumbling along the difficult path? It is the fire which is kindled to rise above the ashes of your own labyrinthine mind, your own camouflaging intellect, your own blinding truths, your own judgmental intelligence and your own spineless endeavours of evolving in spite of yourself into a better human being. And that itself is reason strong enough to be foolishly yourself in a world of astute go-getters.

It is that torch that lights your way to ultimate freedom of unshackled and unburdened existence. And it is to this light that I bow my head and pray that may I be provided the strength to be on this route forever at the cost of being a loser, of being isolated and left alone.

May I pursue undeterred that leads to YOU…………the divinity of my core!!! The Honest One…

HONESTY PLEASE

Ode To Odette


https://paenaecea.wordpress.com

Odette & Me

(I envy those who can solidify in ink what they are actually living through – pain, ecstasy, frolic or angst. I call it penning the moment. But am unadapt enough to let the sediments settle on the riverbed of life for me to gather them on the trough of my palm one after the other and shape them into a tale of pearl and oyster)

The train chugged in slowly but steadily…..it was six to seven hours late. The scheduled time was around tennish in the morning. But we were actually entering the station close to evening. The platform was well lit as the Railways would have it. Yet what rolled out was a dismal kaleidoscope of varied shades of grey. The only rush of colour was the bright red contrasted against the soiled white and the loosened grip of the brass badge desperately trying to stay still on the thin, sinewy arms. A yellow grin…a pair of greedy myopic eyes….”Didi, coolie?” A harmless enquiry which left me parched at the throat and sent a shiver down my spine. I shook my head vigorously. He shrugged and left in search of another prey.

If only I could go back………..that sudden thought volcanized despair which was dormant somewhere in the pit of my stomach. Fervently eyes sought for a known and empathetic face. But the deep frown that appeared to have marred the soft contours was unexpected. “So! At last! You made it. Why did you resist the invariable?” In response my garbled excuses could hardly find merit in his cynical sight. Soon I discarded all hopes of a winning rationale as the deluge of humanity engulfed me into their clammy vortex….

Oh! The cavernous hollows of the City of Joy….

***

I was not welcome. It was apparent in her forced gaiety and his guarded queries. Yet, I was supposed to make this my home for an indefinite forever. I tried to be of help. Thwarted I wormed into my cocoon – the only defense post of an armless soldier.

***

The job was an undisguised blessing. Countering ill-restrained skepticism I accepted it. God had always lent me support to put up a brave front when I was least up to it. The first day to work was as much as His test as was mine.

***

The brightly lit interiors belied the façade of ageless antiquity wrapped around the somber monoliths. An overcrowded fish market bustling with aimless activity – that was the first impression of the workplace where I was destined to spend the better part of my life. Soon I would learn to inhale the stench of what lay rotten underneath the haloed externals.

What I exhaled out was my initiation into unlearning…..

***

It was a slit of a room dominated by two ill-placed, over-sized telex machines. I would soon learn that it also doubled for a very interesting and cozy getaway, the Ladies Washroom being annexed to it.

If I were expecting a long waiting it wasn’t to be. The door to the cabin burst open and breezed in an imposing figure straight out of some glossy tabloid! From her    well set curls to shining nail paints to powdered feet – her perfumed persona in its entirety was a complete antithesis to the pale yellow plastered walls, the noisy pedestal fan sticking out stubbornly next to the wooden cabinets, the steel top table, the old fashioned, high backed wooden chair and the dwarf revolving stool – in short, it was as though a swirl of glittering colour had just spiraled its way onto a monochrome canvas rooting a flabbergasted painter in awe and inaction.

She sized me up with shrewd chink eyes. At the same time, her “Hullo dear!” was a full-throated address laced with gurgles of laughter, “You new here?” and to my affirmation she extended a plump well-manicured hand, “I am Oddie…” and my emaciated palm was grabbed into a warm clasp….

Which translated into an indescribably beautiful bond to outlast piddle grievances of mortal existence…

***

It was a difficult season – neither spring nor autumn – an edge-of-the-sword-survival which left both of us gasping for more. We picked up shards of laughter and morsels of gaiety sieving dunes of dust. Humour was a scarce commodity, steeply priced, yet we traded it for hard pressed sanity.

We had our hideouts of secret amusements and disastrous rebellions. The sleazy Limelight Hotel at Dalhousie Square where we gorged on new found delicacies and burped in delight. Nahoum’s rich Jewish patisserie at New Market where our frenzied overeating was levels beyond culinary ventures. Nitai Babu’s sleek shop on Bowbazaar Street wherein we were suavely persuaded to give in to thoughtless extravaganza. The laughter parades outside the immaculate sanctums of Meghalaya House. Exploring the infamous maze-like gullies of China Town where even Laal Bazaar would think twice to invade. The sudden expose to the impermissible world of Rai Chaand Boral Street in the half lights of dusk which culminated in sleepless nights. The invisible Carmelite nuns and their electrifying hymns which momentarily moulded our malleable souls to curve towards the inevitable surrender. The stolen matinee hours on Esplanade! The languorous tram journeys….the hilarious rickshaw rides….the adventurous street hunts….we did it all which sometimes bordered on the forbidden and dangerous fun.

Oddie knew Kolkata like the back of her palm and she made it a point that the city grew on me….

***

There were times when we just bitched and made fun of those who were unreachable. There were times when we peered into the deep recesses to find our own selves afresh. There were those very precious moments when we let our eyes cloud and tears well. And then there were times when we wished we would never have to say goodbye in this lifetime.

She was fond of life and I had just started learning my lessons. An odd combo of a snarling bear and a doting mother hen, the brood of greedy eyes and suggestive smiles, knew better not to rub her the wrong way. A safe anchor for a rocking boat. A stream of sunshine at the end of a pitch dark tunnel. She was an oddity in my life which was stranger than fiction. My mentor! My friend! My sister! My guide! She taught me to be meticulous in work, scrupulous in ethics and bold in stance. In short, she taught me the basic rudiments of conduct. She would call me the unconscious comedian. And I laughingly nicknamed her the Lady with an Oxford Bengali.

***

Life took its undulating course. Soon we swung back to reality. It was time to bid Au Revoire. She kissed me goodbye. I hastily suppressed my inner turbulence.

And then that long dreary stretch of isolation which I took in my stride. Sometimes, a lone telephone call, a chance missive, a casual reference would invoke nostalgia to be overtaken again by a dry spell of unmindfulness.

It took a little more than a decade for us to reunite but the joy of union proved to be short lived…

***

April 2014…

Kolkata after twelve long years – a distinctly modified vista! A pleasant surprise indeed! It was a hurricane trip. Familial duties….obligations….and a golden opportunity to reignite old flames….flames that were simmering under the ashen heap of time…

I had heard that she had not been keeping well. She looked pale and yes, the years of struggle she had to put in to survive in a mammoth organization showed in her exhausted bearing. We hugged and kissed and spoke of the days of sunshine and shadows, the days of togetherness and separation, the days of playfulness and forgiveness, we shared all that was pent up and sizzling within.

While taking each other’s leave, she embraced me once more and promised to keep in touch on the virtualscape – FB and WhatsApp, “I always knew I had a sister in Delhi who was ready to be with me whenever I would need her”. I smiled. “We’d now keep in touch..” and I nodded my head robustly in acquiescence. As I moved towards the door she called out,” Don’t mind Geetu, I wouldn’t be able to see you off. Doctor has told me not to stand for long on my feet.” I looked down at her feet encased in house slippers. Feets, as light as feather, which had traipsed the drawing hall of Hastings House in quite a number of merry jigs. I left in a hurry without looking back traversing the length of the corridor towards the lift…

***

Odette Rita Piperno died of multiple organ failure in October 2014 while I kept on wondering why I was not receiving her regular Good Morning Messages on WhatsApp of late…

It was a chance conversation with one of my senior colleagues that the heartbreaking news was offhandedly passed on. It took a few more days and a substantial ounce of mustered courage before I could dial her residential number. Dear Alby, whom we fondly called The Celebrity, a veritable package of energy and die-hard spirit strapped on to wheel chair since childhood! I wanted to reach out to him in his loss and mourning but he seemed to be worried about his days of severed companionship, “She was good to me. She provided me with the best of medical facility.” Did he speak of estranged love? I thought I had heard wrong. This was a man for whom Oddie had given up on everything that was good in life. Dear old Alby sounded like a man hounded by loneliness and an immediacy to jump into renewed relationship. The call ended in de-spirited silence. I failed to contemplate an apt epitaph which could justify such an abrupt end.

Looking up to the azure bedspread with sparkling white downy pillows of cloud, I thought God must be having a tough time biting a giggle here and a chuckle there with Oddie around – her infectious bonhomie and rib tickling humour gathering ripples on the tranquil premises of heavenly abode wherever located that must be. Wait on Oddie….When time comes for me to join in we’d throw open one another gala fest of afterlife…..up there!!

 Till then….

RIP

TULIPS

Pic from Google

OVER A VIRTUAL CUP OF COFFEE: WITH AMIT AGARWAL – PART II


BOOKS II

Pic From Google

 

(Those who have not read the first part can read it here)

There’s an odd kind of silence in the room.

Fury giving way to stillness.

It’s only the clock ticking on the mantle shelf and the strong aroma of filtered coffee that justified our presence in the room.

I cleared my throat to repeat the question

Me: How would you like to be known as ten years hence?

Amitji: I am not ambitious enough to wish how I would like to be known as! Life is a mystery…if my wish comes true I would rather be with an NGO working for an environment related cause, or in a sanyaas ashram tucked away in a small Himalayan village, meditating, studying Buddhism and Zen with the Masters.

Me: What about experimentation in writing?

Amitji: I am all for it! Writers, and especially poets, must not restrict or confine themselves…should give free wings to their flight, even at the cost of losing purity of language. Expression of feelings should be primary and unalloyed…the vehicle may be otherwise!

Me: And commercial success……………….?

Amitji: Lucky are those who enjoy it, but it must not deter those who don’t. It has its negative side as well…perhaps the pain of deprivation and want will vanish in a rich man’s poetry, or at least it will not be genuine.

Me: Pick any one of the quotes which is closest to your heart and why?

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words – Robert Frost

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not an expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But of course, it is only those, who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things – T. S Eliot

I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing the least what they mean – Socrates

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth – Jean Cocteau

Amitji: Only a fool would attempt to counter any of these geniuses. I dare not be judgmental about Mr. T.S. Eliot’s statement, one of the most learned poets ever, but will however submit that intellect in my opinion does not have an edge over emotion(in poetry). A combination of what Frost and Socrates have said, hence, comes closest to my heart. I am not being diplomatic. The ‘why’ part is left on you to assess and analyze.

Me: Do you really live in a glass house of your own making as in Chitakte Kaanchghar?

Amitji: Yes, I do! And it is very painful, suffocating in there!

Me: Poetry reveals as much as it distorts. Your comment in favour or in disfavor or both.

Amitji: Tough question indeed…leaves me without a reply. Kindly excuse.

Me: Your maiden anthology seems like a linear travel from real to surreal, from verbosity to silence, from material love to awakening. How would you define this journey – experiential or evolutionary?

Amitji: Both! Experience is useless without evolution, and evolution without experience will not be real!

Me: Everyone has his or her own favourite – call it influence or inspiration. Who is it for you?

Amitji: I have many favorites, but am afraid they don’t inspire me, some of them may have slight influence on my writings, subconsciously. I am saying ‘slight’ because I can’t write as impeccably as them. I feel flattered when my work happens to remind a reader of a great name.

Me: There is a kind of cynicism in many of your verses – Ishq, Libaas, and Haal to name a few. Does one have to lose faith to be an ace wordsmith?

Amitji: Ha ha ha! I did not, and do not aim to be a wordsmith at all. O.K. let’s put it like this: all three of these poems were a result of real life experiences, and not a trace of word play was intended when they ‘happened’. Never anticipated that ‘cynicism’ would be observed in my poems at a later date. An example of word play, however, can be seen in ‘Unki Adaa’

Me: You may not be tempted to answer this one: Poets have a very distinct persona. They are sensitive, reflective and rebellious. How would you describe yourself as a poet?

Amitji: I am very tempted to answer this being an easy one I am sensitive, reflective and rebellious! Disillusioned, pessimist and an introvert too. Hoping against hope that way a dreamy optimist as well!

Me: Do you think perspective is gender specific? Would a woman poet feel or express differently than a male poet?

Amitji: I don’t feel so. Why would perspective be gender based? Oh yes, women are more sensitive and refined so their points of view are bound to be deeper and more beautifully expressed. In my view women are superior to men in almost all respects, and their innate delicacy make them a divine being virtually.

Me: How is expressing in haikus different from expressing in lengthy verses?

Amitji: Haiku is an admirably amazing metre! I am currently writing haiku in Hindi. The limitation of seventeen syllables is very challenging sometimes and leaves you exasperated. It flows in smoothly and effortlessly at others. Creating a haiku is a pleasure indeed! It must not be a straight, prosaic statement within seventeen syllables. The element of awe and finesse of poetic rhythm are its fundamentals. It is a challenge for the reader too: the utter compression needs quite an alertness to be understood and appreciated. Its poles apart from writing in conventional lengthy verse.

Me: Publishers, world over, shy away from publishing poetry. Do you think poetry is getting increasingly marginalized by lack of hype or organized publicity?

Amitji: Yes, it is! But not a matter to worry about! Its time will come again…

Me: Your remarkable proficiency in Hindi and Urdu is manifest in your writings. However, I have also read your bilingual haikus in Hindi and English. Both are equally effective. How about then preferring English over your mother tongue?

Amitji: Thank you for your nice words. My ‘bilingual’ ones are only English translations coupled with Hindi originals, meant for non-Hindi speaking friends. The translations may look like haiku but are NOT haiku in a classical way. Nor were they intended to be. You are kind to say, and I am pleased to learn, that the translations were found equally effective which was a painstaking effort…preserving delicacy of thought and maintaining compression of verse simultaneously.

I have not yet written a classically true haiku in English. Will try my hand soon…thanks a whole lot for this great idea Wonder why it didn’t occur to me earlier.

Well! That gives us some more reason to look forward to – an anthology of haikus in English next!!!

But before we could close the interview I had to…had to…had to request him to recite at least one piece from his book and the thorough gentleman that he was, how could he refuse a lady….

So as his voice resonated time stood still and I was ecstatic to note that it was the one that was my favourite as well…..

मुस्कुराहट  से कहाँ  छुपती है  आँखों की उदासी

आँसुओं के समुन्दर आस्तीनों से नहीं पुंछा करते’

Oh yes! When pain is the soulmate, life can anything but be lachrymose.

But the stars gathered outside my window twinkled a different story.

And when Amitji left with a big smiling “cheerio”, I knew there was always a ray of hope, even if faint and fading, out there somewhere in the horizon for us to make way in the darkness!!!

STARS AT THE WINDOW

Pic From Pinterest

 

Over A Virtual Cup Of Coffee : With Amit Agarwal – Part I


CHITAKTE KAANCHGHARA drenched evening.

Moist wind caressing the trees bringing in the fragrance of rain-soaked earth…

Somewhere in the distance an old Hindi film song playing…..”Yeh sham kii tanhaiyaan aise mein tera gham”

 I squat next to my big window with a book of poems upturned on my lap.

The clouds almost touch the parapets…

“Hullo?”

A soft knock on the glass pane.

Am I dreaming?

I pinch myself hard and then realize shamefacedly that this was preplanned.

I had desired the interview with ‘great expectations’ and the interviewee had agreed a little hesitantly perhaps…

I switch on the coffee maker and request him to be comfortable…

A few impatient moments later, with two steaming cups of coffee adding that scintillating aroma to a cozy conversation….

COFFEE

Pic from Pinterest

I begin without much ado…….excited? You bet!!

(Those who are still fumbling in the dark……………..this time it is Amit Agarwal on my Virtual Coffee series. Who else could it be after “Chitakte Kaanchghar”? His debut collection of verses which has the strength of touching the deepest chord within. Those who have still not read him, my implore would be that they do so without further delay.)

Me: A photographer, a painter and a poet. The three Ps. What is the common thread needling through these three profiles?

Amitji: The answer is yet another ‘P: Passion! I am passionate about art, all forms of art!

The commonality is my love for art, and the fact that I can try my hand at these :-)

I admire music, dance and sculpture too but am not good at them.

Me: It’s the most painful ordeal to explain poetry to a non-lover of poems. How would you feel if you had to define your poems?

Amitji: I would rather surrender! I can ‘explain’ some points sometimes to a person I know is interested, but I humbly resign if I were to ‘define’.

Me: How do you rate yourself as a poet?

Amitji: A learner in process! Though I don’t want to write ‘like’ great, celebrated poets, I definitely wish to be able to write better as me, myself.

Me: Do you really believe that poetry can play a game changing role in contemporary times?

Amitji: Ah! ‘Contemporary times’ is the real catch in your wonderful question…I am taking the liberty of restricting it to Indian background. I don’t want to sound disheartened or dejected, but the fact is that poetry has been thrown into the backseat today. People are generally more interested in other forms of expression. Nothing really bad about it as people’s tastes keep changing…it may come to the forefront again sometime when we’re tired of the present situation. That the Westerners appreciate poetry better is a proof of my notion. Under these circumstances I feel poetry may not be an effective instrument or tool currently..!

Me: Where does literature stand in a society driven by unpredictable market forces, growing consumerism, cut-throat competition and all pervasive cacophony?

Amitji: Literature as a whole is very much in sync.  English Fiction for example does fight through all these factors, and writers emerge as ‘winners’ like in a commercial field!

Me: Free flowing verse versus rhyming verse. Your preference?

Amitji: Blank verse anytime! The fact may amuse you but I have never written a rhyme, barring those at the age of seven! This preference does not apply to my reading though. I like rhyming ones too.

Me: Poetry is a derivative of pathos and deprivation. Do you agree?

Amitji: I think I agree. “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”…No? :-)

Me: Of all literary forms, poetry is the most personalized statement of catharsis. Do you really feel you give yourself away in poems? In a way, is there an element of vulnerability attached with poetry?

Amitji: I am not an authority on the subject, but I feel, yes, poetry is the mirror image of the poet. And it does have a cathartic effect too: on the poet essentially, and on the reader, depending on one.

A poet is a highly vulnerable being…you read half a dozen of one’s ‘typical’ poems and it’s like they have been seen undressed! The reader’s sensitivity will obviously matter.

Me: There are many facets to a creative artist. Which of these would you like to showcase most and which one would you like to keep as very private?

Amitji: I generally give away all I feel, save matters pertaining to physical aspect of man-woman love. Not that I have not written on it, it’s just that I am too shy to make it public. I am also conscious of a large number of my female readership and I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable in any way! It may not be out of place to add here that they will like this segment too, but I might not receive a feedback, which is quite important. I respect and value my women readers more than my possible popularity in this particular segment.

Me: How would you describe the journey called “Chitakte Kaanchghar”?

Amitji: ‘Chitakte Kaanchghar’ has been a wonderful journey indeed. The credit goes to all my loving reader friends, without whose support I wouldn’t have even dreamt of it :-)

Me: In many of your poems, there is a subtle undercurrent of critical self-evaluation? Is it deliberate?

Amitji: I write on an impulse, and simply can’t write on a prompt within a timeframe  The undercurrent of ‘critical self evaluation’ is not deliberate at all…it’s just that I am candid when penning my emotions. Most of my verses have ‘occurred’ in a state of trance…as if I were possessed. That is why editing at a later stage is minimal.

Me: How does a negative critique influence your outlook towards your own work?

Amitji: Please don’t take it as arrogance but I don’t care… nor do I make amendments in contents or medium. My reason is that it is an honest insight, hence must be kept simple and ordinary even if there are some errors; I am not perfect how can my writing be?

Me: How would you like to be known as ten years hence?

He was about to answer when the sky broke loose…..a streak of fire came crashing down just outside the window to be sucked into Mother Earth’s heaving bosom like a shaft of pain. The clapping of thunder came a few seconds later deafening and leaving us stunned for a while.

Howling rain and roaring thunder! Nothing new yet Nature has its own renewed ways of dumbfounding us….

“We need a second cup of coffee”, I said and got up to switch on the machine…

The conversation was not yet over….but like every worded thought we needed a little space in between for contemplation….

RAINY EVENING

Pic from Pinterest

To be Continued…/-

Beauty In Anonimity


This is the handiwork of my maali who is, at present, playing truant. And I am no phenomenal photographer. All my pics are just impulsive clicks on my mobile, sometimes my canon! And I know they are flawful and not always very pleasing. That apart…. Flowers are joyous blooms in any garden. Though I do […]

The Clone


I once wrote about how I wished to sketch, draw, paint but my hands were too shaky with the pencil and every line, stroke and shade that I intended to bring out on paper came to naught. However, recently I have had this great urge to be creative and decided not to let my handicaps and shortcomings come my way. So, what I did was to surf the net (Pinterest mostly), select sketches, copy them , take print and carbon them out in my sketch book and colour them to my heart’s content. Result is something like this:

THE GIRL

The interesting thing is that I tried to colour the copied sketch in my PC with the paint brush and it came out like this:

THE GIRL 2

A word of caution. One has to have very steady fingers in order to paint on-screen. Control over the mouse is most important otherwise the colours may run out of boundaries. It is also difficult to maintain the fine edges with this one. Chances of spill over are most. Perfect fingers, right amount of pressure, accurate sense of direction of maneuvering are required to make/paint an error free picture on the computer. But for a first timer, with all its flaws and failures, I think the try was not so bad.

And here is the original sketch from Pinterest:

THE CUTE GIRL

In writing when one copies it is known as plagiarism. I do not quite remember the exact word for copying an art work. It is not a done thing, of course not! And I am guilty of the crime. But all said and done, the fact that stares at me right through all these trials of the art type, failed or otherwise,  is that a copied/plagiarized product cannot compete or match with the original. There always remains a dissimilarity, an inconsonance, a difference, minor or glaring, between the two. And the original will always be the original with all its beauty, subtlety and fragrance and a copy ( a carbon one at that) will always remain dissatisfactory and quite not up to the mark.

Then, will I not commit the crime again ?

You bet! I will, a hundred times and more……………with due respect to the original creator!!!

MY “TWILIGHT” FRIEND


(This Short Story was first published in CLRI October 2013 issue. However, the link is now not operative. That is why thought of reposting it in my blog for interested readers)

VAMPIRE

Google Pic

“How on earth can anyone fall in love with a vampire?” Disgust was well writ in my tone.

“Well! Love is blind”, was Mann’s usual sardonic reply.

“Writers!” Sanjeev shook his head in amazement,” Their imagination knows no bound. Thank God it’s a vampire and not a Rakshasa.”

“What difference would that have made?” I snorted.

“Guys! Don’t criticise without reading.” Ritu was offended. She had read the book and was heading for the sequel.

We were gathered in the Club after a hectic game of badminton. It was mid- December. The thermometer had touched an all-time low of the season – four degrees. It was a kind of crippling cold this year. But that wouldn’t prevent us from ganging up in the Club every evening for a game or two of shuttle and an after-the-match follow-up on the latest happenings in our lives and around. However, all our discussions had this disturbing quality of degenerating into vociferous arguments. This evening the apple of discord was Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novel “Twilight”.

Ritu had ventured to give us the outline of the story that had started off the debate. The heroine, a ‘normal’ specimen of the human species chooses to fall for a guy of the vampire clan. There was much brouhaha when the novel and its sequels hit the bestseller’s list and were later made into successful movies. Neither had I read the novel nor seen the movie as the theme itself repulsed me.

Sanjeev, with his much flaunted fetish for Management Theories, hardly had any interest for fiction.

“Vampires!  Those nocturnal creatures surviving on human blood!!!”  Mann scoffed at the very idea of their existence which Ritu was inclined to lay a wager on. She even supplied some dubious historical data in support of her claim.

“How can you even think of believing such things?” I was incredulous.   Ritu insisted that we lacked imagination and an innate sense of drama.  We agreed that it wasn’t in us to let our imagination run riot and that even the most ridiculous should have some remote resemblance to realism.

On this agreeable note of disagreement we parted for the day.

____

Google Pic

Google Pic

In the middle of that night…

An odd dream startled me up.  

Strangely, I remembered it later only in parts.

A dark, dilapidated castle…its turrets almost tearing through the sky…cold floors and corridors leading nowhere…and then this squalid room full of gigantic cobwebs and a window with a broken pane drawing in the chill from outside…faded moonlight streaking in through cracked glasses…and this odd feeling that I had been there before…a long, long time back.

 After that blank…

But the feeling stayed on even after I was wide awake.

A hard-to-describe-uneasiness, something I had witnessed in that room but couldn’t recollect now…Deja vu?

Next morning I was late for my tutorials.

____

I pulled the strings of my hood in a tighter knot around my neck. Our maid, Malathi, had smugly predicted a snowfall in the Capital this winter. We had had a good laugh over it during dinner. However, the day next it rained preceded by a hailstorm. The temperature dipped to a degree less. Malathi had this grim satisfaction that her prediction was at last coming to pass. The days were somehow tolerable but the chill grew as the evenings deepened. A boisterous wind made things worse. I found the interiors of the over-crowded Metro cosier during these times.

But with a shoulder bag straining with the weight of thick volumes and fat registers and two tomes precariously positioned on my arms, it was extremely difficult to maintain balance inside the coach. It was the peak rush hour. A tap on my back made me turn around. A dour, pale, almost anaemic face of indeterminate age with a pair of bulging eyes peering through thick lensed glasses, signalled me to the seat next to her. It was not vacant but she motioned the other occupants to shift and make space on the elongated berth so that I could squeeze in. I thanked her. She nodded in acknowledgement.

The next station was a junction where the crowd thinned considerably. A station later, my considerate co-commuter got up to de-board. I noticed an emaciated frame which even layers of woollens and warmers could not disguise. The dark, old fangled cloak draped on her protruding shoulder blades looked positively outlandish.  But in a city obsessed with individualized style statements I attributed her sense of dressing to her personal idiosyncrasy.

She suddenly looked back sensing my eyes on her. Yuck! That crimson shade on her lips! It heightened her pallor – a ‘dripping’ red as though her mouth had just found way out of a bowl of sticky tomato ketchup. How could she even think of applying that regressive colour? Her choice of make-up seemed a little outmoded, summing her up, I instantly felt guilty. Here was I silently picking on her attire and looks while she had so kindly accommodated me next to her. Ungrateful! I castigated myself. With a shake of my head, to shoo away those wicked thoughts, I bent low to concentrate on the latest amendments to Company Law. In doing so, I missed her piercing gaze on me and the slow tantalizing way her tongue licked her lips in a lazy, circular motion.

The train came to a halt at the next station. The door slid open, to admit out a swirl of black, and then closed with a soft thud. As the train moved on I looked up through the huge glass windows lining the compartments. Amidst the crowded platform the quaint figure had managed to vanish like a whiff of smoke.

___

The Club was empty. Sanjeev and Mann had left early. Ritu was the only one available. But she was too engrossed in her book. Taking a chair beside her, I exclaimed. “Why, you haven’t finished reading that trash yet?”

“Exams!” was the succinct reply. If she was angry at my retort she did not show it.

I wanted to ask her what she was doing in the Club then. But she was too pre-occupied. I shivered involuntarily. The room felt a little cold. Perhaps one of the windows was not shut tight enough or one of the several doors left slightly ajar – a draught sneaked in through a truant slit. But Ritu seemed impervious to the environ around. So deep was her concentration that not once did her muscles twitched, limbs moved or gaze veered from the book. It was only the intermittent rustle of pages that warranted movement breaking the silence of the room. I decided not to disturb her any further.

“Carry on girl,” my voice echoed in the emptiness.

Ritu was reading at the table where usually the carom board would be placed. The overhead lamp hanging low from the ceiling was the only light that glowed in the room. It was a big room, nay, hall which on other evenings would be flooded with light and buzzing with cheers and chatters of the players and onlookers.

Tonight shadows hugged the walls and an uncharacteristic, stifling calm prevailed. I looked over my shoulder. Ritu sat still, covered in a woollen shawl, head bowed and eyes glued to the book.

A ghost under the spot-light!!!!!

No, a phantom with a fancy for vampires!  I grinned to myself and left.

____

A blind alley flanked by tall white pillars….No, it was the winding corridors of the castle again. At the far end a light blinked. I moved towards it.  There, I knew, would be all the answers to my query. Though I gathered speed the distance never seemed to lessen. “Run along! Speed along! It’s just a few paces away! Oh, yes I am almost there,” said a voice within.   But just then, flapped in, out of the blue, a black drape of immense weight and settled on my face. I clawed at it ferociously but could not wrench it off me. I wanted to call out to my mother but was gagged out of breath. With flailing arms I tried to grab a support. There was none around. Blindfolded I fought with an invisible enemy. Somewhere, a train whizzed past. If only I could catch it. But my feet felt leaden. I had lost my way and was about to fall when a pair of clammy hands gathered me up. I wanted to thank my friend. At that moment the veil slipped off. And ten long, gnarled fingers closed in on my neck choking my breath out.

I woke up to find that I had broken into a cold sweat.

____

 “Are you studying too late into the night?” My mother looked concerned, “ You have dark circles around your eyes.”

“No! Just bad dreams and fitful sleep!!!”

 “You need a stress buster” said my father looking up from his Daily.

“Yes, me think so too!” I agreed.

I left the breakfast table with a hasty bye.

I was late for the 7.30 train.

***

Google Pic

Google Pic

Metro is the microcosm of urban-scape! The thought always struck me whenever I entered the building. The concourse and the platform pulsated with life. Crowds milling around with purposeful strides, minds focused on their respective destinations.

It would predominantly be an animated throng of students like me this early morning. There would be others too, nameless strangers. Not exactly, I corrected myself. As we travelled together for an hour and a half, each day, these anonymous men and women, boys and girls, children and aged became very much an integral part of our lives. Just like the ‘woman in black’, yes, that was what I had secretly nicknamed her. I often wondered whether it was by coincidence, accident or a pre-ordained plan, that we bumped into a person, more than once, if not regularly, in the course of our life’s journey.

It wasn’t always that we sat together. Our proximity depended upon how crowded the Metro was or which coach we were fortunate enough to jostle in. But mostly it was the Lady’s Coach where we spotted each other occasionally, no, I think almost daily, waved, said a casual ‘hi’, smiled or just briefly nodded at each other. Coming to think of it, it was I who smiled and mouthed a ‘hi’ more often. She preferred to nod. But her eyes always shone in recognition.

She had once told me her name, a strange one, which I didn’t quite get at first and chose to forget as easily. She had explained to me the meaning too. Something like the Night Farer?

I presumed she worked for an MNC. “Mostly night shifts” she had said. I had to stoop close to listen. An odd way of talking, she had, through pursed lips, and a hiss of a voice. She smelled a little musty.

But I was quite surprised when she said that she didn’t mind burning the midnight oil as her energy level was quite high after night fall. “Feel top in form as the moon settles down”, were her exact words. Day schedule did not suit her temperament. Usually, my friends in BPOs cribbed the night long working regimen. She was an exception!

So, it was generally in the evenings, while returning home from the University, that I saw her in the Metro all perked up for work. Sometimes she brought her six year old daughter along – a miniature of the mother – right down to the scrawny built, high powered glasses, drooling eyes, unsmiling, colourless countenance and the signature black cloak (I often wondered what their summer uniform would be).  Those were the days when her husband would be gone on prolonged official tours. His business made him tread on far flung soil. Moldavia she had mentioned once, I remember.

A typical urban, nuclear set up with all its travails and triumphs, a little strange perhaps, but kind, friendly people was my personal conclusion.

After a series of these meetings, I decided to include her in my list of regular acquaintances.

____

It was a bad, bad day. I had had a disturbing dream again the previous night which still rankled.

This time it was me and my acquaintance from the Metro at Coffee Café Day for a cup of piping hot coffee. But when the beverage was served there seemed to be a horrible mistake. The liquid, a blood red in colour, stank. When I complained, the counter boy said that it was red wine, a special order by my companion.

I almost puked on the bed.

Google Pic

Google Pic

***

I was late for my classes, had a splitting head ache and could not concentrate one bit on the intricacies of Forex Management. Later, helping Mrs. Bose, my lecturer, in the Library, I absentmindedly slashed my little finger with a paper knife. A small cut but the gush of blood would just not stop. As a result, I had to be rushed to the Medical Room, where having administered First Aid, our Medical In Charge, Doctor Rane, insisted that I left for home early for a good rest.

Dr. Rane at times overdid her part but today…

I gave in.

***

Finding a seat in the 4.30 Metro I closed my eyes in sheer exhaustion.

“I say hullo”, a cold touch on my arm made me jump.

“Oh! Sorry to have woken you up.” My nose creased at the dank smell of her cloak.

It was not her travel time. A ‘slight change of schedule’ she informed.

“I too have called it a day.” I showed her my bandaged finger.

She visibly cringed and then went deathly pale.

“H…how?” She pointed a shaking finger, long and bony, with sharp well-filed nails. (The fresh quote of scarlet nail paint was quite expected)

There was a tinge of blood on the bandage which felt wet to touch. It was bleeding again.

I made a mental note to visit Doctor Uncle as soon as I reached home.

My friend however seemed extremely distraught by the sight. The beads of perspiration on her forehead and upper lip and the way she kept on inhaling long and hard at the same time wetting her parched lips with her tongue worried me.

“Are you okay?” I asked with concern.

Without answering she got up, neared the door and turned sideways to stare at me intently through the glass partition bordering the seat – an ashen face but her eyes had an odd spark to them.

She de-boarded abruptly at the next station which was not her usual stop.

I found that decidedly funny.

***

Thereafter, I saw very little of her.

And wondered…

___

  “Ritu’s getting married,” announced Sanjeev.

 “Check the antecedents of the boy first,” said Mann.

“Why?” I asked innocently

“Could be a distant relation of Count Dracula” answered Sanjeev

We broke into peals of laughter.

However, the groom turned out to be more than human, an IITian, who smiled a lot and jelled with us well. He was highly amused when we filled him in about Ritu’s ‘Twilight’ addiction. In short, we had a rollicking time and wished the newly wed our very best.

***

The ruins beckoned me once more. This time I stood right in front of the broken window staring at an ancient peepul tree. A thin human form in a dark cloak hung upside down from one of its branches. A shaft of moonlight illumined a pale face with red lips. I asked her what she was up to. She said she was in a yogic stance. I wanted to know the name of the posture. “Jatukasana” was the prompt reply…

___

Au revoire to Winter…

I got busy.

Campus recruitment followed by exams.

Erratic hours…

Sporadic visits to the University…

Spring, a hurrying guest, left no address behind…

Time flew by…

***

Having bagged my first job, a lucrative one at that, a new chapter of my life was just about to begin.

Maa was a bit reluctant since the posting was outside Delhi but Dad ultimately got her around to give her consent.

I mailed my acceptance to join the next month.

I was super excited and had almost forgotten her till we ran into each other once again in the Metro.

A shroud of black…

***

She apologized for her last behaviour. The site of blood always made her sick. I told her not to worry as I had quite forgotten that episode. Her daughter was also with her. She was finding it difficult to take care of the household all by herself during her spouse’s long absences and had, therefore, made up her mind to shift base to Jaipur, her ancestral home.

“We are a joint family and my daughter will be well looked after there” she said. Moreover, Delhi was too hectic and rowdy. They wanted some place quiet.

It was a transfer in her present job. So the night shifts would continue. When I told her that even I had got a job in Jaipur, she suddenly became quiet, and then “Oh Good. If you need help contact me any time after ten.” Night, of course!

“And don’t worry about accommodation. We have a sprawling haveli a few kilometres from the city.” I wanted to ask whether it had a dusty room with a broken window and a peepul tree brushing its dangling panes but changed my mind at the nick of time – it would require a whole lot of explaining – an unnecessary exercise, wastage of time, she might find me queer in the upper storey…

She gave me her mobile number and got up to go.

“Oh yes!” She stopped suddenly to add, “I am often bugged by network problem. But do try on. You might get connected, if you’re that much lucky.” An optimistic afterthought!!!

The train took a curve. Mid-summer evenings were generally long in the Northern part of the country. The sun was still strong and at this point hit the snaking tube like a dart of fire. The blinding rays streaming in through the side windows refracted against the glass panes dazzling my sight. As she moved towards the door, drenched in that vast pool of light, her contours appeared almost ethereal, like a nebulous mass, which might evaporate into a curl of smoke any moment. I squinted hard to have a last look at her receding figure.

At the exit, she turned around, one last time. Here the train took another turn just before entering the station. The sun was left behind. I could see her clearly now. Hardly any distance from this corner where I stood and the compartment wasn’t that crowded either. She raised her hand and slowly her lips parted in a “sayonara” kind of  smile, yes, smile, baring a row of slender yellow teeth with sharp, jagged ends, the canines unusually slenderer, sharper and longer than the rest, grazed the corners of her mouth. The cheap, hideous, liquid-red of the lipstick, that she preferred so much, had smudged on these giving them bloody edges. I was sure her child would be having similar set of dentures. It probably ran in the family.

She waved at me.

But I forgot to wave back.

I was too busy watching her toothy smile.

___

A week later, I visited old Mr. Khatri’s second hand book shop and bought the entire “Twilight” series.

Last night I Googled the word ‘Jatuka’ – it was the Sanskrit for Chiroptera – bat in simple English.

And last but not the least, to the utter disgust and astonishment of my friends and family, I declined the job offer in Jaipur.

Google Pic

Google Pic

The End

Of Leaf


“Let’s talk of leaves,” She said.

God's Own Creation

God’s Own Creation

“An unusual request!” I said a little surprised.

“Why ?” She asked innocently

I averted her query and replied, “Leaf as in the cluster of greens swaying in soft breeze on the scaly branches of those tall, ageless trees?”

“No!” Her tone was soft yet firm.

“Leaf as in the yellowed pages of those torn tomes lying askew on the shelves of that forsaken library across the street?” I queried once more hopeful that this time I will get a perfect answer. An unequivocal “yes” or “no”.

But I was wrong. She baffled me with her next retort.

“Leaf as of life!!!!”

“Life?”

“Yes! As you turn the leaf to start afresh….a new beginning! A new lease of deep breath!”

“And the warmth of the sky mingles with the smile in your eyes. With stretched arms one wishes to hug the space in a warm embrace…Yes I get you…Leaf is just not leaf…It is something more… a hint of a venture unintended … a pause unpremeditated…perhaps a serendipitous awakening … a gleam of sunshine peeking through thick canopy of foliage….” I said

“Right! Now you know?” Her cheeks dimples in unexpected delight.

I wanted more but she was abrupt in her parting ways.

“I leave you behind with a novel thought, a revelation of sort….a realization priceless”

“Leaf is just not leaf….it is that plucked pearly moment that bejewels memory and embellishes your garden of now with the flavour of the unforgettable yesterday…a thread between what is and what will be….on the dusty pathway like a forgiven dream… a cadence that could have been a melodious ditty but ditched midway …lost….stolen by time”

Envious of her quick wit and effervescent presence I try stall her passage yet she leaves in a hurry but her words chime in the wind and blush amidst the velvety petals ….. chords and colours infinite!

I am rooted still and around me is spread a thick carpet of leaves …. red, brown, yellow, green and even blue! Rich, redolent, ruins of a bygone spring… the echo is still crooning in my ears lullaby of soporific remembrances!

And in the midst of those misty lilts, flows a frothy wave of mellifluous strains…”Leaf is just not leaf….just not leaf….just not leaf….it is something more…of life’s nascent theme….. ”

 

Leaf

My Interpretation

 

Amorphous………….My Maiden Attempt At Prose Poetry


Soaring High

Pic from Google

Sometimes I walk past the moon. And check on the stars. Write  nonsensical gibberish on a piece of soiled paper , tear it off to bits and pieces and throw the morsels to the vagabond wind. Let it fly………………………!!!!

See the dancing sunshine on the Neem leaves! The stark branches gatecrash into my attic window. I ask why and spend endless hours in unseen gazing. Suddenly I wish to climb up the ageless tree and pinch the clouds. Can I spread wings and explore the limits of the sky? Aaaah!…………The ultimate taste of freedom. Of leaving the Earth way behind till it is just a speck in the horizon.

Or is there a horizon anymore?

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em


Remember that BBC Television sitcom of the 70’s “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” , the accident prone Frank Spencer besotted with his mother who is no more yet very much there in his life! Maa ka Beta may have a ladle of contemptuous derogation thrown into the catchphrase, yet, I’d ask one and sundry, who isn’t his/her mother’s child?

We all are. Maa is such an all-encompassing persona – a swathe of love, care, affection, compassion and above all that aura of supreme protection which is the quintessence of that indescribable phenomenon called motherhood.

Whether you suffer from an Oedipus or an Electra complex. Mothers shall always play a dominating, if not, overbearing, role in your life. And be thankful to God that she does because there are so many of them in this world who do not enjoy the leafy shade of that ancient tree and keep craving for it throughout life. You are lucky that you have one to fall back upon when you are actually felled by life, to stretch your tired limbs leaning against her iron body, to cry over her, no matter how frail or strong, shoulder till her pallu is drenched with your saline tears and to share the deepest of the deep secrets with her confident that you will never be snubbed or scoffed at, but rather stand rebuked with that ever-indulgent, “Why didn’t you tell this to me before?”

“Mothers are moulded in the same factory, mind it” would state Jethu (my father’s childhood friend……………..do we have such lifetime friendships nowadays?) dramatically.  Yes, mothers speak the same language, feel for their offspring with the same intensity and devote all their lives the same way for the betterment of their children and family……..they are the direct descendants of the Mother Divine, all forgiving all enduring and all absorbing!!!

I do not remember going up to my mother ever for a heart to heart chat. In those days, parenting had a totally different connotation. It meant showing utmost respect to the point of being scared, maintaining distance to the point of being estranged and never, never letting your parents treat you as their equals……………they were not. The bye word was putting them up on a pedestal and worshipping them!!! Did I have that kind of a subliminal relationship with my mother?  You bet, I never did. For one, my father was too liberal for such distant and dignified address. For the other, I and my mother were too strong a characters battling with each other constantly to earn our independent little space first within the extended realm of a joint family and later within the constricted premise of a nuclear collage.

Yet, there was no dearth of compatibility. Mother-daughter relationship does not always follow the bookish conundrum of ideality. It can always have different strokes and variegated shades breezing still with the symphony and synchronization of a well-conducted orchestration of thousand instruments in perfect cadence and enchanting melody.

This was evident in the fact that I never had to tell her anything. She always knew……………when I stole the butter off the larder, when I secretly mooned over Di’s love letters, when I spent too long daydreaming obviously neglecting my studies, when I was afraid of the next turn in life and when I was ready for the next leap into the Unknown!!! She was bestowed with that Third Eye, invisible yet uncannily aware and penetrating.

Did she ever mentor me through cross roads? In those days familial piety was not marked by verbosity or overt demonstrations. Words were irrelevant and sometimes absolutely unnecessary. Aahs and Oohs were considered signs of weakness best discarded as spoilers. Children were not to be pampered. Spare the rod spoil the brat was my mother’s dictum. The thrashings post a super successful act of mischief resound more in my memory than phrases of placation. Yet, there are those moments which have later got immortalized, especially in times of acute adversity, from which I have drawn strength and forbearance and thanked God fervently for having been brought up the way I have been which has given me the resilience to fight back and sponge in the finer nuances of life.

She was not well educated. In those days they were just Mothers and not Home-Makers as they are now called. But she was definitely well-read. Books were the next great pieces of furniture that we had in our sparsely furnished home. Hiding anything from her was the most difficult accomplishment of childhood.  And I almost did that when I was straddling through that tumultuous phase of growing up called adolescence.

We had a sheltered existence, a battered radio and a horde of unfulfilled wishes. One of them being acquiring a black and white television, that enviable possession of the neighbour, which we got glimpses of by peeking into other’s darkened living rooms through open windows during summertime when Chitrahaar would be aired, perhaps tuned up a decibel higher, just to let the residents know that the owners had what the rest did not. In short, we lacked what today the children enjoy in plentiful – exposure. So, the only sources of information were newspapers, books (if your family had the taste for it) and friends who always knew more than you did!!

For me newspapers were just lead scribbles on yellowed paper lacking charisma, friends would often be uppity when it came to divulging precious knowledge but books were there forever. And who could resist laying hands on the most lucrative of these – the adult stuff, especially, when the line of demarcation between what you could read and could not was stiffer than the rod that would be played on your back once you got caught? I recall reading Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s ‘Charitraheen‘ (which was akin to reading Salman Rushdie in a guarded Mosque) lighting a torch under the rajai lying next to Maa. Quite a feat! Knowing very well that getting nabbed would mean losing an ear or some other essential body part. I am still unsure that I actually succeeded in befooling her. Sometimes, I feel she deliberately let me trespass on forbidden territory because that was her way of preparing me for the facts of life which in those days were not conveyed directly by mothers to their daughters.

Transmitting values were more by deeds than by sermons. I saw my mother shuttling to and fro managing one household and the other when my Maashi took to bed after a cerebral attack. And I understood how important it was to stand by family in times of need. Playing the conch, lighting the dhunuchi and singing “Jaya Jagadish Hare…” meant prayer time – a must every day. She was a martinet (still is) and I learnt the value of time and a disciplined routine, though frankly speaking, I still get astray at times.

My engineer friend says “All said and done, mothers are machinations of God. They are designed distinctly for some specific purpose. They have their own censors, antennae and transmitters.” And I can vouchsafe that.

He would often pick me up in his lap. Stroke me. Play with me. But I always squirmed in his arms. Repulsed by his touch. Afraid to confide as we were closely related. Visits were unplanned and frequent. And dreaded…..My excuses of not accompanying her to their place would be turned down as lame. Yet one day she eyed him sternly when he cuddled me. I wriggled out of his embrace and ran to her hiding my face in her sari pleats. She did not say much. But she never took me there again. And then the goings stopped altogether.

In later years, I have emulated her often in applying management techniques – be it relationships, professional rapports or plain business dealings. Her expertise is rooted in experience. Her mentoring is a strange mixture of admonishment and lenience. She has taught me to love unconditionally and perform duties uncomplainingly. I have learnt from her how to put people in their places by making them aware of the lakshmanrekha which they dare not cross. Above all, she has inspired me to live life on my own terms. She is my mother –  my homegrown expert and all-time mentor.

Written for My First Expert Contest on indibloggers.in:  http://godrejexpert.com/single_used_pack.php