Saturday, 21 June 2008

Tagged by the Mystic ...

Yes, I’ve been tagged by Mystic Margarita (aptly called Mystic since I read this one penned by her) to play the book game.

The rules of this game are as follows:

Pick up the nearest book.

Open to page 123.

Find the fifth sentence.

Post the next three sentences.

Tag five people, and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

Recently, I just finished re-reading R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days. The author of course needs no introduction & as many of us growing up in the 80s will remember, there was a very popular television series by the same name being aired at that time. S always tells me that the fictional place of Malgudi is actually loosely framed around a place called Malleswaram in Bangalore … a place where I spent the first few years of my marriage. Frankly, today there is no similarity between Narayan’s Malgudi & Malleswaram. To quote Narayan himself …

I am often asked “Where is Malgudi ?” All I can say is, it is imaginary & not to be found on any map. If I explain that Malgudi is a small town in South India, I shall only be expressing a half-truth, for the characteristics of Malgudi seem to me universal. I can detect Malgudi characters even in New York: for instance, West Twenty-third Street, … possess every element of Malgudi.

This novel that I just finished is a collection of short stories based in Malgudi. And by the rules of the game, page 123 contains the 2nd page of a short story titled A Shadow which is the story of a just-deceased actor’s son (Sambhu) who feels like he is interacting with his father every time he watches his father’s latest release in the theatre. Sambhu's mother, on the other hand, completely abhors watching the man, whom she knows is no more & will never come back, looking so alive on the screen. Just a short 4-page story, it pulls at the heart-strings and brings out the anguish of both mother & son.

So here goes lines 6, 7, & 8 from A Shadow

My father used to read the story to us every night. It’s a very interesting story. He wrote the whole story himself.

Three short lines that don’t tell much about the story but I guess I’ve given that to you.

So now it’s time for me to tag 5 bloggers & I tag Sucharita, Blogpourri, Sayani, Deep and returning the favor to Mystic. :-)

Monday, 16 June 2008

Happy Father’s Day, Dear Mom

Last Saturday, when kids were wishing their Dads a Happy Father’s Day, I wished the same to my Ma (Mom) and rightly so since she has been both a Mom & a Dad to me since Dad passed away when I was just 5. It must’ve been tough for her to play both parents to a son of 12+ & a daughter of 5 but she did it, all the while exhibiting tremendous strength of character, love and belief in her kids.

For me at least, Ma made up for the void that Baba (Dad) had left. Of course there were times when I missed Baba. I always felt a pang in my heart when I saw the special relationship that most of my friends shared with their Dads. I was fearful of people who asked me, “Do you remember your father?” because I never knew what the truthful answer was. “Duh, he was my Dad. Surely I remember him” or is it “I was only 5. How can I remember him?” ? The truth is I have snatches of memory from the past when I can clearly visualize Baba but I am not really sure whether those have been conjured up by my mind from hearing the countless stories about him or whether they are the real thing. Anyway, Baba has lived in my memory through the anecdotes told & re-told by Ma & Dada (elder brother) and countless others who knew, loved & respected him. Whereas, Ma has always been & still is beside me through the ups & downs of my life … sharing my joys & sorrows, bolstering my courage when I’m at a loss, correcting my mistakes when required and just being there whenever I need her.

Although Ma never had a career herself, she instilled in me the importance of being independent and did not harass me to get married till I was ready to, although at every family get-together that she went she was harassed about it … everyone asking her when her close-to-30 (read over-the-hill) daughter intended to get married !!! There was never a topic which was taboo for discussion at our home. Ma always encouraged us to speak our minds though there were plenty of times when we didn’t agree with each others’ view points. :-) Despite having had our share of misunderstandings, we have always been friends and today, I am her lifeline as she is mine.

A gutsy and very independent (edging on stubbornness, at times :-) )lady, she lives by herself in our old apartment in Calcutta where she stepped in the day she got married & enjoys life to the hilt ... socializing with friends and relatives. She is my idol ... the perfect Woman of Substance !!!

Happy Father’s Day, Dear Ma.

P.S.: Not only Ma but Dada too, took the rough-edges out of life for me after Baba passed away. I know that he knows, but I wish that there was a special day to tell him too how much I love him & how much he means to me.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

I feel old when…

… on seeing the rainy / cloudy skies from my office window, instead of feeling mushy & romantic inside, I catch myself worrying about the clothes hanging out to dry at home getting wet. :-)

… on coming out of the office, I spend a few seconds wondering where I parked my car in the morning.

… I watch the ever-increasing strands of grey in my hair (altho’ I pacify myself by remembering a friend who used to have a head full of grey hairs in college itself).

… I see the grown-up kids of some of my friends.

… when all & sundry, even the 1 foot taller college-going guy/gal in the building, calls me aunty.

… when I wake up some mornings with aches & pains in different parts of the body.

Addendum 1: A friend of mine who read this post & the next one told me that I should also feel old when my maid calls me "Amma". But staying in Bangalore for almost 5 years has made me realize that to the Kannadigas calling a lady Amma (mother) is the same as calling a lady Didi (older sister) is for a Bengali ... it is merely a show of respect. So that's granted. :-) However, be warned: when in Bengal, you should absolutely object to being called Boudi (bhabhi, sister-in-law) or Mashima (aunty). :-)

Addendum 2 (6th Jan, 2015): I know I am old when after returning from a trip, no matter how exotic the location or if it was my childhood home, I feel glad to be on my own turf. Home sweet home , indeed !!! Wish I could have it on wheels ...SIGH ... :-)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Our personal aviary

Reading about Sucharita’s window zoo reminded me of the aviary that I seem to have started in my balcony … much to my dismay, I might add. So, instead of hogging her comments space, I decided to devote a blog on it.

Since March, 2007, the ever-fertile pigeons seem to have adopted our balconies as their foster home. Yes, it’s balconies in the plural because every time we shoo them away from one, they make themselves comfortable in another. Going so far as to try & build a nest on the top of the book-shelf in the balcony attached to our bedroom which S uses as a study corner.

Last March when one pigeon couple decided to settle on an unused flower pot kept in one corner of the balcony attached to our drawing room as their home, I finally gave in & decided that they could stay. Within days, the lady had laid not one but two eggs !!! I was a little worried that they might get over-protective & try to claw our eyes out if we approached their nest, like crows usually do. However, my maid (Amma, as we mutually call each other) reassured me that pigeons being much gentler creatures than crows will not prove very troublesome … and yes, she was right. As the eggs hatched & the scrawny babies came out, this small aviary turned out to be a major tourist attraction. All guests to our home, especially kids, were fascinated by the pigeon family. We too went so far as to shoot their activities on our handycam. :-) S and I also fed the parents with grains & pulses which they happily devoured after the first few days of wariness. However, the travails of that family ended rather abruptly & sadly when a ruffian crow, who had been flying around since the day before & had been shoo-ed away by me a couple of times, killed the babies early one morning. By the time we woke up, the ruffian’s deed was already done & there was blood & gore (feathers, actually)all over the balcony. Not only were the parents, who kept cooing all day & a few days afterwards on our balcony, heartbroken but so were S and I & we promised ourselves not to attach ourselves to anymore pigeon families.

Only a few days later, another (or perhaps the same) pigeon couple tried occupying some space in the balcony to build their home. I tried to make a small shelter for them by using old sari boxes but they seemed to be threatened by it. Since then our balconies have been the favorite mating-grounds of the pigeons though most of the time we shoo-ed them away.

Then again in March, 2008 Amma discovered a happy pigeon mother with two eggs tucked beneath her sitting behind the washing machine in our kitchen balcony !!! After some discussion about how their home would affect the operation of our washing machine, we decided to let them stay there. This time, since they were away from the prying eyes of other creatures, the babies survived & as I write this, they have flown their nest & are flying all around. So far, we have been able to keep away other amorous pigeon couples off our balconies but for how long … I don’t know. SIGH !!! :-)