Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Democracy Hijacked

By, of, for the people, they said
But the people's protest went unheard
They played the numbers game
And the calculations were not the same
Between devil and the deep sea
Sold easily, and that too cheap!

Betrayed, and not even by someone trusted
Held for ransom, the entire state protested
Rules and laws too turned traitors
Making the turncoats legislators
The hated gang seems to be smiling
Despite their well laid plans failing

Rival families must be celebrating
While pretenses they are good at keeping
What, oh, of the man on the street
Wailing today for his own misdeeds!
What you sow, you reap
Hope you see the lesson it has to teach.

Democracy hijacked by kings and princes
Even nephews and niece get to eat the pieces
What shape will this drama take?
How will this unravel, what is at stake?
From chaos emerges clarity, they say
Will the dark nights bring a brighter day?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


I sat in the veranda with my tea, watching the leaves falling from the trees. I sighed, feeling much like the loose, dry leaf. I felt one with the tree with the bare branches.

Sapped of youth, separated from my roots, I seemed to be waiting for time to destroy me, for earth to consume me, for fire to burn me, for winds to blow me away, for water to wash me...

"Naani," a tender voice called out to me.

I paused, wanting to indulge my thoughts, my melancholy. But the voice had already tugged at my heartstrings and melancholy was giving way to a sort of reluctant joy that only a grandchild could evoke.

"I am here, beta," I called Advit to me. I heard his feet pattering as he ran out and threw his arms around me. My four-year-old grandson fitted the description of a cherubic angel. The curly rings falling on his forehead, the rosy, chubby cheeks... I scooped him in my arms and kissed him. "Chalo, let's get ready for school," I said and got up with him in my arms. My body swayed and I panicked. I sat back; luckily, both of us were safe.

Advit laughed. "Again, naani," he said, thinking it was a game.

I put him down gently and said, "And miss school?"

I took him into the house. My son-in-law Brajesh was in the kitchen, making coffee while daughter Neetu rushed around, getting the day organised. Advit dutifully hugged them and then came back to me to get ready for school. The usual tantrums, the running around the house, the cajoling, the coaxing, the shouting...

When Brajesh went to drop Advit to school, it was like the calm before the next storm began in the afternoon.

I sat on the dining chair and Neetu served breakfast. "You indulge him too much," she complained as usual. "You were never this lenient when we were growing up!"

I chuckled. The best way to deal with this.

"You make it difficult for me to discipline him," she went on, with her mouth full.

"I didn't succeed in disciplining you either," I joked. "Speaking while eating," I said with mock distaste and shook my head.

Neetu grimaced and I felt sorry for her. Where was the light-hearted girl that used to laugh at even the slightest joke and make me laugh too?

She whipped her phone out. "Papa? Happy birthday, papa," she said enthusiastically. Oh, I had forgotten it was my husband's birthday! "How are you? What happened? Did you go to the doctor? Does Sanjay bhayya know? Let me speak to him!" she plied him with questions. "Ya, mama is here." She handed me the phone with a displeased look.

"What happened?" I asked with concern, forgetting yet again to wish him. Seeing my daughter gesture, I said, "Happy birthday... haan, haan... What happened?"

"Nothing, just some back trouble... Was finding it difficult to move..." he tried to dismiss it lightly. But the fact that he had mentioned it and that his voice sounded tired were enough proof that he was suffering.

"Shall I come?" I asked. My daughter, who was clearing the table, stopped and her eyes widened.

"No, no, it's okay Sharada... Nothing serious," he said softly. "Just some balm... Shail's hands have magic. When he applies the balm, all pain vanishes," he said with quiet pride. Shail was our son Sanjay's 12 year old son.

Neetu mouthed something. Since I didn't understand, she said, "Ask papa to come here."

I got up, unable to contain the bubbling hope her suggestion had sparked. I relayed the suggestion, "Why don't you come here? It's...been a year..." My voice sounded hoarse... I blinked back tears and rushed to the veranda.

He sighed, just a hint of it. "Shail's exams are on and Renu needs to be at work... Someone needs to help Shail... Can't you get away for some time?" he asked, the question coming out very hesitantly, with just a hint of expectation.

"Neetu and Brajesh are going to be on tour this month..."

"Shail needs me... Will talk to you later," he said and disconnected.

I looked out the veranda. The ground looked deceptively rich with the fallen leaves, but the tree itself stood alone.

"Ma..." my daughter called out to me on her way out to work. "I will be late tonight. Brajesh has a dinner meeting... Don't let Advit wait up for us..."

I nodded and watched her go. I longed to be with my husband. But our children needed us.

The silence pressed against me. I wiped the tear that rolled down my cheek and busied myself to keep thoughts at bay.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Winning Without Running

"Today my friend became emotional when I tried to motivate her," my older one told me, eager to share the details.

"What happened?" I asked.

The school is gearing up for sports day this Saturday. "We had hurdles practice today and twice she toppled the hurdle. She felt bad that she was not contributing to her house's success... But she had crossed it the third time! I told her to focus on that."

"That's nice," I said encouragingly.

The PT sir does not take the girls seriously - this has been my sports-loving daughter's complaint for long. But she used that to her advantage. "I told her that PT sir has no expectations of her. So when she toppled it, it didn't bother him. But when she crossed it, he was so pleased! That made her think!"

I smiled, happy about her insight.

"I remembered what you told me when I was upset two years ago with my previous PT sir, and I told her the same things."

"Oh really?" I was piqued.

"In football, he used to keep the girls in the background and I would get frustrated. But you told me that I must be alert and take every chance to prove myself even there... I told my friend not to worry about what the PT sir or anyone thought. I gave her tips on how to improve her running and how to compete only with herself, bettering her performance every time."

She elaborated this some more. "I told her to remember how she was when she was younger. She has come second in running and hurdles! I gave her tips on how to improve her performance by setting targets for herself."

That night, my daughter dug out old sports day photos where she stood first and her friend second and sent it by whatsapp to her friend to encourage her further. Her friend posted her own progress that evening in the team sports coaching she goes for.

Meanwhile, my son, not to be outdone, told me, "My friend also used to be slow and asked me for tips. I made four of them improve their speeds by setting time for them and giving them tips."

The two started sharing details of the tips - some of which they have learnt in Karate and have practiced at home, motivating each other to improve their timing.

I was dazed as I sank into a self-congratulatory mode. But their conversation brought me back to reality. I sat up alert. "Hey, if you share all the tips with your friends, they are going to defeat you in the races!"

"That's okay, ma," they replied in unison. "They are our friends. We don't mind their winning."

I felt they had won even without running... 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Point of Intersection

Seven steps together. Then 70. Moving up to 700... And the count keeps increasing.

How many together? How many in different directions?

Different interests. Different goals. Different approaches. Sometimes, even different languages...

What is the meaning of this relationship that came half way into our lives?. If the paths differ, why force two people to walk together? How do you keep it together?

Should one abandon one's own path to walk down another's? Can one force the other to enjoy the same sights and journey as ourselves?

Can even love make two hearts beat as one at every turning?

Will the paths tear them asunder, or will the heart give way?

These thoughts cloud the mind, and seem to plunge it in darkness. You cry out for light and lo! The mist clears. Why! Though the paths differ, the pace differs, the destination is the same! Even when you let go of the hands, the gaze turns to the same point. Though the hearts sing to a different beat, the tune is the same. When the eyes meet, the same thoughts connect them.

And you smile in understanding. At each other. At yourself. For it is at these points of intersection that you  find the true meaning of this relationship. It is then that you understand what the other means to you. It is then that you feel grateful.

You continue walking, taking 70000 more steps, 700,000... 700,000,000.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Loyal Friend

I peeped out of the window, hoping to see the usual cars passing by. A figure entered the picture unexpectedly and attracted my attention. I grimaced at his very scrawny look. He looked here and there, and then, called out to his friends. He was suddenly surrounded by five or six, all looking like stragglers - unkempt and rustic. I dismissed them and loitered around the house, ready for my mid-morning nap.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Breaking Moulds, Aspiring for More

I recently received this forward:
In 'Three Idiots', Aamir Khan said we must allow children to pursue their dreams.
In 'Taare Zameen Par', he said children need not pursue any dreams.
In 'Dangal' he says, make your children fulfill your dreams.
How confusing.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


The horrible videos of the suffering of children in Aleppo makes one wonder about the perpetrators of such crimes. Whatever be the cause of the fight, is it so much more important than lives? Is it just the piece of land, or the politics or the fragile ego that is more important?

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