A Practical Fool


By Nandita Gaur

How could she not recognize me? The question kept repeating itself; my head was churning. I had to put in a lot of effort to reach the venue of my own party. I was trying hard to focus but my brain had frozen.

Soon, I was standing in front of hundreds of people whose names I had single-handedly printed and pasted on invitation cards for my book launch party. Being a confident orator and an impressive presenter that I am, it would have been a matter of few minutes to win everybody’s heart. It was different today; my mouth was dry and I was sweating. I looked around to get a feel. Few people who knew me better than others understood that something unusual had happened.

I gave the best possible smile and held the microphone in my shaking hands, tapped on it to check if it was working. In a very monotonous tone I began.  “You must be thinking what kind of prudish male comes late for his own book launch? I am sorry friends, but Cee Jay the author of two best selling novels is not a snobbish male.” With a slight bow, I continued, “This man standing before you, considered an idol of composure by many, is a practical fool. I have to confess the biggest mistake that I made in my life.” For many months I have been waiting for this day. I had planned on telling you about my new book, its protagonist, some great things about it and the rave reviews that I got from my reviewers, instead of which, I am going to tell you how I made a fool of my myself?”

“On many occasions people have asked me about my relationships. They were curious and wanted to know- “why was I still single?” It was hard for them to digest that a man in his forties with seemingly good looks, a creative brain, and who writes about love doesn’t have a woman in his life. I never had an answer to this question. Each time I would make a joke about it and somehow get away without saying much.”

“It all started when I was in middle school. I was in sixth grade when my mom taught me about Scientific Method. She was preparing me for the upcoming Science Fair Project. What I did for the project is a different story altogether. One thing that I certainly understood was the practical way of approaching things. I mapped out that when you have a question– you make a hypothesis – you devise an experiment or steps to check your hypothesis- based on the experiment you collect data and then finally you have conclusions and results.” It was all set.

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I tested this logic on few things and it worked. One of my studies was – “Why do obnoxious little brothers cry so loudly even if they are not hurt as bad?” I studied my brother’s behavior and hypothesized that he wanted to get me in trouble. For the sake of the experiment, I deliberately did few things to make my younger brother cry and finally I concluded that my hypothesis was right. As soon as he cried, I used to hear my Mom’s voice inquiring, “Jay, what’s going on? Why are you hurting your bother?” Which followed spanking or a long lecture depending on how loud my brother could yell. Anyways, I became a big fan of Scientific Method, so much so that I even wanted to know all about the scientists who started it.

After experimenting few more things for couple of years I became a pro. I had a very good understanding of how scientific method works. I was in my freshman year in a co-ed school when I got a brilliant idea for my study. Girls.

Why do girls act weird at times?

This question changed my life forever. I started thinking of them as a subject of my study, I observed them and their behavior. For me their feelings, body language, actions and reactions were nothing more than a data. After studying them for sometime, I knew about all the girls in my class. Which girl liked which boy? How would the girl react if the boy she liked looked at her? How a girl’s mood would fluctuate when her prospective boyfriend talked to her friend? What does she like about that boy? I even knew about the girls who were kind of studious and kept their feelings well hidden. I knew it all. I passionately studied my subjects and the best part was that I was never wrong about them. I was able to predict some of the incidents or accidents even before they took place. My friends admired me for my ability. I was their hero. I was higher than everyone especially the girls- my subjects. I began to think of myself as God.  Everyone wanted to know the secret but I trusted none; not even my best buddies.

None but one; she knew about my research and my formula. She was a girl who lived next door. I never thought of her as a girl or boy. I don’t remember how tall she was or how she did her hairs or what was the color of her eyes or which color- pink or yellow looked best on her. We enjoyed our camaraderie; she was a special person whom I liked to talk to and share things with. She was always a good listener and probably that’s what worked between us. I used to talk and talk and she just listened. She was not in my school but she knew everyone in my class.

Whenever we went out to the promenade near our house and accidentally met some of my classmates, she would recognize them just by their body language. We had secret names for everyone. Later, when they left we used to make fun of them and laugh. It was a beautiful time. I still cherish the time we spent together.

Three years later, I started college. Her family was about to move to another city.  Nothing had changed for me; she was still a friend next door and all the other girls were my data. It didn’t change even when she was leaving. She came to say bye and I was still telling her about the girls I met in my college. Finally, I asked her if she has my dorm number and she said, “Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.” And then she left. I liked how the phrase sounded but didn’t make much sense to me. At that time, how would that make any sense? I didn’t know that it was going to be our last conversation in a long-long time.

She had left and I missed her. I wished I had someone to share my findings with. I knew what city she lived in but something stopped me from taking that extra step to find her. I don’t know what it was but I easily let her go off my life.  

Years passed, the space where she used to live remained vacant. I met many people, made many friends but instead of filling the gap, they kept widening it. Soon, the vacuum of her absence began to haunt me. To save myself from the depression, I started putting my feelings combined with my findings on paper. Dear friends, my books are the result of the pain I suffered because of my foolishness. My scientific approach towards life forced me to live the glorious years of my youth in solitude- sans my love, my first love.

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In spite of the fact that my books are listed in best selling books, I don’t like the depressing ends. If she had been with me I would have been able to give them a better climax. My writing, my life might have been livelier, more beautiful and more meaningful.

God is merciful. He grants us a second chance and today, after twenty-seven years I got one to undo my mistake. I saw her. I met her and not too far from here. She was browsing through my books at the bookshop right around the corner of Winchester and San Thomas. She was looking beautiful, elegant, youthful and poised. She still has the best quality in her; she was as peaceful as she was during our school years.

I approached her and talked to her. I introduced myself to her that I am the author of the books she was holding in her hands. She got excited. Then she said, “I have read both your books. I had a friend who used to think like you.”

I was shocked. How could she not recognize me?  It didn’t matter if I was writing under a penname. I was standing before her- in person she should have been able to recognize me.

Even before I could get grip on my thoughts, a little one came and started pulling her, “Mommy, let’s go.”

She slightly nodded, looked at me and smiled, “Do you have a pen? Please give me your autograph?”

Something stopped me from saying what she had said to me many years back, “Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.”

At that moment, I realized that it was my ego that allowed me to let her go the first time and once again it had stopped me from telling her that I loved her. She was the one for me and I am still waiting for her.

I stood still. She waited for my response for few seconds and then searched her bag for something. Not finding a pen, she took out a card and handed it to me.

“I am Liz, Elizabeth Gardener, a Marriage Counselor in San Francisco.” Smilingly she shook hands with me saying, “if in case you ever need me.”

“And once again, she left me and didn’t even care to turn back to check if someone was watching her go or not. “

I stopped and then continued to address the silent crowd before me.

“Folks, this revelation has helped me to pull myself out of my agony. Last time I let her go off my life easily but that wouldn’t be the case this time. Previously, she left me with some empty spaces but it’s different now, those spaces have seen some light.” I said waving the visiting card; she gave me, before my audience. “I am hopeful that I will see her again and then I will get all the answers. How could she possibly not recognize me?”

 “I have learned my lesson, my friends. Honestly, I thank you all for being patient with me and listening to what I had to tell you today.”

Lost And Found: The Crinkle Of Destiny


…Part 3

      The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one.”

      “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

      When Samir entered the room he only heard the last line that Somesh was reading to Priya from his iPhone.

      Samir repeated it, “All the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. It’s profound. Where is it from?”

      Somesh slowly took off his glasses, held the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger and pressed it down to release the pressure built. He looked at Samir and answered, “I was reading Priya her favorite book ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. This book is her ‘Geeta’ and her ‘Bible’. Therefore, I downloaded it on both of our iPhones.”

      “It seems that there is some truth in this phrase because Dr. Karni consulted the CT Scan results with a neurosurgeon and then told me that the clot is not that big thus they would first try Thrombolysis.” Samir told Somesh.

      Somesh couldn’t understand the medical term but he was comforted by Samir’s relaxed expressions. Samir further explained him that it is a process of breaking the clot with the help of medicines. If Priya positively responds to the medications she wouldn’t have to go through the brain surgery.

      Priya was still unconscious. She was connected to IV, which was supplying the necessary fluids and medicines to her body. There were few other cords and wires attached to her to monitor her vitals. When the nurse came into the room to administer some medicines into Priya’s IV, Somesh walked away from his wife’s side to the dark red sofa, by the window, meant for people attending the patient.

      “She should be conscious in half and hour or so. After that the doctor will come to examine her.” Then she stopped, looked at Somesh and said, “don’t worry, she would be fine. She is in good hands.” She smiled and continued, “can I bring something for you Soomeesh?”

      Somesh just nodded his head and said, “No, thanks Alice.” He read the nurse’s name from one of the many tags that she was wearing on a lanyard hanging around her neck.

      “Thank you so much Aly, don’t worry I’ll be here” said Samir to the nurse.

      She smiled again and left the room.

      Samir pulled a chair and sat next to Priya.

      Somesh removed his crocs from his feet, lifted his legs and stretched them in front. He was exhausted. “Samir, your mother was a good woman. She didn’t talk much but when she did, it had depth.” Somesh was talking again.

      Samir turned back and looked at Somesh. He slid his chair backwards and turned it slightly to the right so that he could face both Somesh and Priya.

      “When I came back home from Uday’s house that night, your mom was waiting for me. We didn’t know each other much. She was more of a stranger than a family member to me but I felt that she was the only one there who understood my anxiety during that crisis. While she served me food she spoke about a couplet by Rahim that stresses on the importance of being truthful in one’s relationship. I still remember that- ‘Rahiman dhaga prem ka mat todo chatkaay, tode se fir naa jude jude gaanth pad jaaye. (Never ever break the relationship of trust and love because if its break it will never be the same. Even if it joins, the knot will always be there. So, never hurt the feelings of the one you love.)I took it as a signal that my decision of talking and discussing the matter with Priya was right. Your mom had fueled in extra strength to the promise that I made to myself at Uday’s place.”

      “Samir, at that time I was mad at everyone, even at my father, who was neutral to everything. I gave your Mom the benefit of doubt and respected her because of her composure. From her expressions, I couldn’t figure out if she was forced into that vile plan or she herself was so desperate to be a mother that she didn’t care about the chosen path.” Somesh stopped and then continued, “but one thing that I was always sure of was that she would be a wonderful mother. She was so good with my boys that they didn’t miss their mom even once during our stay in Haldwani.”

      Samir got up and checked the IV bag. It was almost empty. He picked up the telephone and called the nurse station and asked her to come in. Alice brought a pitcher filled with water and some disposable glasses with it. She told Samir that lunch would be served in the cafeteria soon. He should go and get something for him and Soomeesh. He softly nodded and said, “sure… thanks, Aly.”

      Somesh told Samir that he didn’t feel like eating at that time but Samir could go and get something for self. Samir shook his head and said, “I am fine for now.” And came back and occupied the chair he was sitting on earlier. Samir asked, “How soon were you able to reach badi Maa? What did she say?”

      Somesh lounged back on his sofa. “Thirty years back it wasn’t as easy to connect with people. We didn’t have the mobile phones then. Having a simple phone was a luxury and not everybody could afford that. I booked a trunk call to talk to my wife but when the people from telephone department called me back my mother said that it must have been a mistake, we didn’t book a call and disconnected the line. My mother made sure that I was not able to talk to Priya. She went to the extent of cutting the telephone wires at our place. We didn’t have the Public telephone booths then. I was in a limbo. I sent Priya a telegram that she should come to Haldwani. All that meant more waiting but I was desperate to talk to her. So, I decided to go to Chennai and meet her.”

      Somesh’s friend Uday knew someone in Indian Airlines who promised him to get next days flight ticket from Delhi to Chennai. Somesh’s mother was furious when she found out that her son was flying to Chennai. She tried to stop Somesh from travelling. She repented why did she even break the telephone lines. She commented, “My stupid son is spending a fortune to go and meet that wicked witch of south. She has done some black magic on my innocent boy.”

      Somesh wanted to get rid of that drama so he quickly packed and left. Outside his house, he was waiting for Uday who was coming to give him a ride to the bus station. Just then he saw Priya stepping out of a taxi, on the other side of the road. He trembled; he felt the goose bumps and his hairs rising on his limbs. He had never been so excited to see her in his whole life. He dropped everything, rushed to his wife amidst the honks from motor-cars and scooters passing by. He stopped before her and just hugged her in silence.

      Last time when Priya heard from Somesh, he sounded different. And after that she didn’t hear from him for quite sometimes. She began to worry for her husband and her boys. Finally, she made up her mind and came to Haldwani with her Dad. Priya’s mom wanted to answer the trunk call that Somesh had booked and tell him that Priya was on her way to his place. But because of Somesh’s mom foul play they failed to connect.

      Soon Uday arrived. He saw Somesh hugging a woman; he figured that must be his wife. Somesh decided that they would go somewhere else rather than going inside the house. Uday dropped both Somesh and Priya to a nearby restaurant. Uday took Priya’s Dad with him to his house.

      Over the cup of coffee and some snacks, Somesh started telling Priya what had been bothering him for last couple of weeks and why he had been so anxious.

      Priya listened carefully to what her husband had to say to her. Her mouth didn’t utter a word but her eyes did the talking. Tears continuously flowed out of her eyes. She was going through mixed emotions; happy and relaxed to find that her husband and kids were fine; sickened by the evil mess that they have landed in; worried that her husband would get in bed with other woman; distressed that her plan to unite with her husband’s family failed; exhausted by hours of travelling to reach from one end of the country to other.

      She asked the waiter to get some water for her. She gulped the whole glass, wiped her eyes and asked Somesh to get up and leave that place forever. Somesh clutched her hand and stopped her. She was repulsed. “There is nothing to think about Somu, I hope your heart is not craving to get in bed with her!” Priya remarked sarcastically.

      “No… It’s not that and you also know that that’s not the case…so stop making situations harder than they already are.” Somesh said looking at her. Then he started fiddling with water that had spilled from the jug when waiter poured the water in Priya’s glass. “There is something else that I would like you to know.” Somesh said still moving his fingers restlessly in that little puddle of water.

      Priya calmed down to see his husband’s meek expression. She occupied her chair and settled down.

      “Piu, you are not my first love. There was someone else in my life before we met. But I don’t love her anymore. She was my past but you are my present and my future. Please trust me, I never regretted once after meeting you that I am not with her.” Somesh was filled with remorse and kept talking without even looking at his wife. “I met her while I was doing my engineering in Delhi. We steadily went along for three years but I couldn’t gather the strength to talk to my parents about her. She felt cheated and left me… her name was…”

      “Ranjana,” Priya had said.

      Somesh stopped doodling with water and looked up in disbelief. His eyes widened, his brows twitched and then he asked, “How did you know?”

      Priya smiled and said, “I have been waiting to hear this story from you for last eight years since we got married. But you never fully entrusted me with your feelings.”

      She stopped and interlaced her finger with Somesh’s index finger with which he was drawing figures in water a couple of minutes back. Somesh kept looking, waiting for her to continue her story.

      Priya spoke again, “Actually Ranjana and I were in same school for four years when my Dad was posted in Baroda. We were best friends and even after we parted we remained friends for many years through letters. She told me about you but I didn’t realize that you were the same Somesh until when I shared your picture with her, just before our marriage. I didn’t tell you about it because I wanted to hear from you … I asked you many times about your ex-girlfriends but you never told me. At first it was a silly prank but then after we had Sanjeev and Shobhit it became redundant so, I didn’t even care.”

      “Piu, I am sorry but I was scared that you wouldn’t understand and you would hate me for having an affair. I am sorry but this will never happen again … She please excuse me darling.”

      “humm… It will be my rain-check.” Priya said and laughed. “By the way, Ranjana is in Delhi these days… if you like we can see her before flying back to US…Then you would know that I am the bestest.” Priya said jovially.

      “I already know that sweetheart.” Somesh smiled back and softly pecked on her cheek.

      Priya’s hand twitched slightly. She was waking up. She tried to turn her head towards the window from where the light was coming. As soon as Somesh saw the movement he jumped up the sofa and was right next to her. He held her hand with one of his hand and put the other palm on her forehead. She rolled her lips to say something but words didn’t come out of them. Few drops of tears rolled out of the corner of her eyes.

      “I wouldn’t let you go so easily … you lazy bum.” Somesh tried to make her laugh at their husband-wife joke, “come on get up …let’s go home.”

      Samir came into the room with Dr. Karni. He shook hands with Somesh and started examining Priya. He started asking her questions- “What is your name? What is today’s date?” Pointing towards Somesh he asked, “Who is that man?”

      Somesh eagerly waited to hear her voice. She slowly began to answer the questions, “Prrrriya Sharrrrmaaa, June 29, 2011.” She stopped and looked at Somesh and said, “Somu, my husband.”

      Somesh was relieved. Even through her voice was not clear, she slurred. The date wasn’t June 29th but 30th. At least she was comprehending and responding. And most of all she remembered her Somu.

      When Dr. Karni left, Somesh went closer and sat next to her. He took her hand and rested his forehead on it. “I was so scared Piu…so scared that I even told Samir his truth.”

      “You did???” Priya whispered. “We had to tell him sometime … you did the right thing. Is he okay?” She asked slowly.

      “He has been going through some ups and downs but he is willing to hear. He has been here since morning and taking care of…” Somesh stopped as he saw Samir coming in with their older son Sanjeev.

      Samir had updated Sanjeev about Priya’s condition. Sanjeev asked Somesh and Samir to go to the cafeteria and get something while he stayed back with his mom.

      Somesh followed the instruction and walked out with Samir.

      Samir broke the silence and told Somesh that Dr. Karni has suggested to call American Stroke Foundation who would help Badi Maa in her recovery. He said, “we are fortunate that it was not a major stroke and only a small part of the brain is impaired, which is also temporary. She will be all better soon.”

      Somesh patted Samir’s back twice and smiled, “You are a good son.”

      Bade Papa, when Badi Maa refused to even think about you being the surrogate father how did you manage?”

      “There was nothing left to manage. It was ‘The End’ of the story. I didn’t even think about it any further. We went back to the house to pack our stuff and pick our boys. Your grandmother was happy to see me back so soon. She thought that I had changed my mind and have come back to her but when she saw Priya behind me she was agitated. She started cussing her. She was hyperventilating; she was so angry with me that she started spilling out all my secrets to Priya. Everything that my wife already knew then but my mother didn’t know that she knew.” At last she said to Priya, “If he could not be loyal to his mother and to his pre-marital family where his roots are… do you think he would be loyal to you …Witch???

      Priya who was quiet till then faced my mother, looked into her eyes and said, “Yes, Mrs. Geeta Sharma, I have no reason to doubt him.” Then she walked away into the hallway that lead to my room where your mother was playing and taking care of my sons, Sanjeev and Shobhit.

      Shobhit jumped off Samir’s mom’s back when he saw his mother walk in. Sanjeev came and hugged her too. It was a happy reunion. Priya looked at Samir’s Mom carefully, “So she is the one,” Priya thought to herself. Samir’s mom sensed the tension in air, she left the room. Shobhit also followed her. Samir’s mom felt the little steps following her; she turned and picked him up, kissed him and took him with her upstairs to the terrace.

      Priya started picking up her kid’s and husband’s clothes and other stuff. Within a couple of hours they were packed and ready to leave. Before leaving Priya went back to Somesh’s Mom. His mother turned her face away from her daughter-in-law. Priya said, “I know your love for your family is devout and you can go to any extent to keep’em safe and happy but Maa …love is not about keeping your loved ones encaged in a golden cage but it’s about giving them wings and then waiting to see if they come back to you at the end of the day.” For the first time Somesh’s mom turned her head to look into this young woman’s modest, graceful, kind face. She didn’t say anything but her eyes were brimming with tears.

      Somesh mentioned that some of the clothes were drying on the clothesline upstairs. So, Priya got up and went to the terrace to get them.

      “ I didn’t see your Mom and Priya exchanging any words but something was going on. As I was carrying the luggage out of the door, Priya held me by my shoulder. She looked at me meaningfully and said, Somesh, we have one more week in India. Instead of touring we will spend it here with your family.”

      Samir gave Somesh a confused expression. They had picked up some bread and pasta and went to the cash counter. There Samir showed his card so they didn’t have to pay. They walked to the corner table and started eating.

      “Samir, it’s difficult to understand women. They are so unpredictable, especially Priya. I was also confused when she said that. I was surprised because it was her decision not to stay in Haldwani any more. Then all of a sudden why this change of heart?”

      “Priya signalled me to stay quiet while she pulled me to the terrace. She stopped at the door and pointed towards your mom. She had stuffed some clothes in Shobhit’s t-shirt and pretending as if that bundle was her baby. She was humming the tune of, ‘Yashomati maiya se bole nandlala radha kyon… and in between she kept cuddling, hugging, and kissing it. She seemed so happy and content. She didn’t even notice that we were there. I turned to look at Priya, she was crying.”

      Then when we came down to our room, Priya narrated what she had witnessed earlier, when she went upstairs to pick up the clothes. “Priya told that your mom was talking to that doll and saying, ‘Samir, your Chacha and Chachi are leaving and Shobhit is going with them. You know Shobhit made me realize that I am visible, people can see me and I am a living person.’ Then she hugged that bundle ‘of joy’ and started sobbing.”

      That was the turning point that made Priya decide that she had to give a life to Samir’s mom. Priya had said to Somesh, “I’d like to use the rain check that I gave you earlier today… please give this poor woman a life; a child whom she can call her own.”

      Somesh interrupted her, “It’s not right…Piu.”

      “Somu, right or wrong but we have to do this,” Priya said with a shrill in her voice.

      Somesh asked her back, “will that not effect our relationship?”

      To that she replied, “I trust you fully and you are just a donor. At times, there might be some repercussions but I promise it would be temporary.”

      Their discussion went on for sometime and finally Priya said,”I know it’s not easy for any of us but we will share our sins. I am ready to be your partner in Crime.” Priya stopped and wiped Somesh’s eyes with the a small towel lying there.

      “Yupp… mom had told me that she had named me Samir even before I was born.” Samir said excitedly. He took a sigh of relief as if he was travelling back in time and was present there with his bade papa, badi maa, parents, and grandparents when they told their decision to their family. He cheerfully added, “I am sure, Dadi must have hugged you both when she found out that you had made a decision in her favor. Now I know… Why Dadi and Mom made me call you Bade Papa and Badi Maa. It was out of their reverence and love for you guys, even though you were younger to Dad. I am sorry Papa, I misjudged you. Please excuse me.” This time there was no hesitation in Samir’s mind or his tone while calling Somesh ‘Papa’.

      Somesh smiled. He threw his dirty disposable dish and cutlery into the trash and went to the restroom.

      On the way back, Samir asked “Papa, what happened to your friend Uday?”

      “Oh! he is doing fine. He and his wife got together, two months after we met. They had four kids and they are also doing well. We try to meet them when we go to India.” Somesh chirped.

      As they walked into Priya’s room they saw Alice was measuring Priya’s temperature. Sanjeev was on the other side of the bed adjusting pillows by his mom.

      Alice saw Samir and asked, “How are you related to the patient?”

      Instantaneously Samir looked at Priya and said, “She is my Fairy Godmother and I am her youngest son.”

      Somesh and Priya looked at each other and smiled slightly. But this time it was Sanjeev’s turn to give those confused expressions.

Lost And Found: The Secret Revealed


    Part 1: The Secret Revealed

    “Is this it? Is this the time when I am going to loose her forever? But she is not even sixty? Is it because of me? I nurtured my fear of loosing her so much that I have attracted her demise even before it was destined? Isn’t that what the Law of Universal attraction states- Like Attracts Like” Somesh speculated. His nephew, Samir, a junior doctor and other staff of Stanford Medical Center, were moving Priya, Somesh’s wife into the Emergency wing from the back of the ambulance.

    While following the ambulance carrying Priya, Somesh had called up Samir. He informed him about his wife’s condition. Yesterday, she slipped in the bathroom and hit her head on the wall. She had a slight concussion but she came out of the bathroom herself. After laying down for sometime, she was fine. In the evening she complained of headache, so Somesh had given her some over the counter pain relievers and then she slept early.

    Somesh, giving a quick glance at the rolling stretcher, repeated what he had already told Samir, “This morning when I woke up she was lying still by my side. I tried to turn her but she didn’t move, her face was swollen and she didn’t move.”

    The nurse stopped Somesh from going in with Priya into the ward. He was left anxious in the waiting area. Samir had just been relieved from his night shift and stayed back with his Uncle. He made him sit on one of the chairs that lined the brown colored wall with a huge art-piece having lots of concentric circles in it. The wall ended in a big glass door with “EMERGENCY” written on it in big, red font.

    I took this picture from:http://www.ritaemiller.com/mixedmediashow.htm

    Samir brought Somesh a cold glass of water from the nurses’ station. Taking a sip of water he moaned, “Samir, save your Badi Maa. It’s because of her that you are here. Save her. Please save my Piu.” Somesh couldn’t control his grief and tears began to flow out of his eyes.

    Inquiringly Samir looked at Somesh. He failed to hide his curiosity about what his uncle had just said.

    Although Somesh felt tired he immediately realized that he had spoken too much. He wanted to say to Samir, “I am sorry son. I understand that you are confused; you are not that many years old. So, how can you be held responsible for something that happened prior to your birth?” But before he could gather the strength and courage to express himself a nurse came. She gave a clipboard to Somesh with few yellow, pink and green papers clipped on it. She asked him to fill out the hospital forms. He wiped his eyes and carefully started filling out “Patient’s Information.”

    Name: PRIYA SHARMA
    Date of Birth: 07/07/1951
    Medical Record Number: 0029518

    Somesh noticed Samir getting up slowly and going inside the glass door leading into the wide, spacious gallery.

    “What do I have to do with my Dad’s younger brother’s life?” Samir mumbled.

    Somesh and Priya had been in US for last 30 years. Whereas for Samir it had just been two years since he came here after his Mother’s death to fulfill her dying wish. She wanted him to be close proximity with his Uncle’s family. His dad had already passed away four years back.

    Samir failed to understand the mysterious pact going on between the families of these two brothers. He always remembered that his mom made sure that he always regarded his Somesh Chacha and Chachi and referred them as, bade Papa and badi Maa respectively. He had been curious since his childhood, why mom and dad revered them so much. They were no special than his friend’s uncle and aunty living abroad. He had not witnessed them doing anything special for Samir or his parents. They didn’t even get him the expensive video game that his friend Sanjay got from his aunt who lived in America.

    Whenever Samir raised his doubts to his mom, she said, “Because they are family.” He was never satisfied with their incomplete discussion but his Mom used to change the subject quite skillfully. He secretly started to despise the word “family.” He had never heard his mom or dad say any negative things about his younger brother or his kins. They had always agreed to what Somesh or Priya had to say to them. Even Samir’s career choice was not his own. It was his Uncle’s ‘wish’ that he become a doctor. So, that was it. Soon Samir was preparing for medical exams. He got way too busy in his own life that he hardly had the time to care about others’. He stopped thinking, “why some people become so important that their simple wish becomes a command for others?”

    While Samir was striding into the Emergency Wing, Somesh was treading back in time. He began his life with Priya thirty-five years against his family wishes. Priya and Somesh used to work in the same office. She was the most unpredictable person he had ever met. At times she would be younger than a five year old and at other times her advise and discretion would easily pull him out of the gravest problem. She was more sociable and likable than he was. Her amiability and popularity was a reason that made Somesh feel insecure. Although she never gave him a reason to distrust her but he always feared that she would leave him alone and be gone forever. He loved her so much that he couldn’t imagine his life without her, without- her free laughter, her poor jokes, her silly comments, her bad singing, and her loud sneezing. Even the thought of loosing her made him numb.

    Another ambulance siren was approaching the hospital. Somesh was pulled out of his past; the staff was running towards the main entrance. He turned his head and looked in other direction towards the emergency door. Samir was approaching to him. On reaching him, Samir took a deep breath and said, “Bade Papa, Badi Maa is not doing too well. After doing an ultrasound doctors have found out that there is a clot in her brain.”

    “Is she conscious? What’s going to happen?” Somesh asked him.

    “No Bade Papa she is still unconscious and we don’t know anything yet” He stopped and said, “Doctors’ are doing the tests and we have to wait to find out what they have to say. Worst case, she might have to go through a brain surgery.” Samir replied.

    “So, she would be fine after that?” Somesh enquired but Samir remained quiet.

    The nurse who gave Somesh the forms came back to check of its completion or if he needed some help. Somesh filled out his credit card information and handed back the forms. Samir looked at Somesh- he was staring at the emergency door. Samir couldn’t help thinking about what Somesh had said earlier. He wanted to ask him why but was not able to make up his mind if the time was right.

    “I am not your Uncle, Samir.” Somesh said with a straight face. “I am your father.” Samir fixed his gaze on Somesh in disbelief. The secret was revealed but the events leading to the grand finale yet remained to be disclosed.

    Bade papa but how and why?” asked Samir.

    Somesh looked back at him and began opening the pages of his past to his youngest son Samir.

    “Priya and I married against the wishes of my family. My mother wanted me to marry someone of her own caste but Priya was a South-Indian. It was something very unacceptable to fanatic north-Indian Brahmin she was. She didn’t even come to our wedding. We began our life without her blessings but I think we did fine because soon with the help of Priya’s brother, who was settled in US, we moved here. And after coming here, we began our family. As you know, Sanjeev and Shobhit both of them were born in America. Oh! Did you call them to inform about their mom’s condition?”

    “Yes, Bade Papa…” Samir hesitated, “Bade Papa or just Papa…” He thought. He skipped that part and informed Somesh that his sons are on their way and soon they would be there.

    Somesh was feeling lighter. The shackles that were holding him back from expressing his attachment and love for his son were now broken. He stood up and stepped towards Samir and hugged him.

    Papa…so, Badi Maa, is she my real mom? Did Mom and Dad adopt me?” Samir asked Somesh holding him tight.

    Beep…beep …beep…’ It was Samir’s pager. He looked at it.

    “I have to make a call. I would be back soon.” Samir left saying that.

    Somesh just gave him a frail smile in return.

    TO BE CONT…

“I’ll Be There For You”


    A Short Story

“No, no, no.” she said, “sixty rupees is too much. I am not traveling for the first time bhaiya. I know the rates.”

Countless human bodies were bustling all over the railway station. Some were trying to get into the train and others were trying to get out and still others were just loitering about the platform. It was a hot summer day. Like previous few years monsoons were late again. They had been working in accordance with the Indian Standard Time. The clouds would come and go without dropping a single drop of water. The air was humid, stale, filled with a peculiar smell.

Shikha had been arguing with the porter for last ten minutes. Finally, he agreed to carry her luggage for forty rupees She was proud of her accomplishment. She already knew that this saving would go towards her favorite Mc Donald’s aloo tikki burger that she had been missing for last three weeks of her stay in her hometown. As she stepped out of Shramjeevi Express she inhaled deeply. The smell of freedom and independence re-energized her. She happily meandered behind the agile porter.

Outside the railway station she hired a three-wheeler to take her to the Hostel. There again she tried to negotiate with the driver but this one didn’t budge. The three-wheeler started inching its way through other vehicles on the road. She opened her bag and took out her precious gift. The day before, on her twentieth birthday, her brother gifted her a new mobile phone. Shikha was the first female in her whole big joint family in Bareilly to get a new phone. Not only did she now own a mobile but also a smart phone. It was a prized possession for her. She was getting used to its working. She took some time before she could successfully connect and inform her father and her brother that she had reached Lucknow safely. She could not wait to show this gorgeous piece of equipment to her friends.

Alpu, Roli and Tanvi were her best buddies. All three of them lived in the city with their families. Recently, Roli got into Roorkee University’s Masters Program and was leaving that night for her orientation week. Tanvi and Alpu had decided to take Roli out for a surprise farewell party and celebrate Shikha’s birthday as well. She wanted to call them to announce her arrival and schedule the time of their reunion at Roli’s residence. But before she could take out the number and dial, the three-wheeler stopped at the College gate.

In her room she connected with Tanvi who was at Alpu’s place. They informed her that they were getting ready to go to Roli’s place. They agreed that they would meet at around three that afternoon and then they would go to Sahara mall. It had been recently inaugurated and it was supposed to be the hippest place in the whole city. Shikha had ninety minutes to get ready and reach the destination.

While freshening, she thought about her commute. It was bus vs. rickshaw; one hour fifteen minutes vs. forty minutes, five vs. twenty-five rupees; money vs. friends. She made her decision in favor of the company of her friends. The extra money spent was well worth the time she would be able to spend with her friends.

She was excited about her new red and black suit. It was a combination of black fashionable sleeve-less top with square laced neck and a black trouser with embroidery on the periphery. It was her birthday gift to self. She couldn’t wear it in her home-town as it was without sleeves. Nobody would have allowed her to wear it outside the house. She had been looking forward to the time when she would be in the hostel and have the freedom to do things and dress up according to her own liking.

Before exiting the room she quickly checked herself in the mirror and she realized something was missing. She forgot to put on the necklace that she bought to go with this outfit. She again looked in the mirror and felt a tickle in stomach. She looked beautiful in her new suit, jewelry, slight make-up and high heels. She could forget her accessories but she didn’t forget to pick her little wallet and her cell phone. She couldn’t forget her most cherished gift.

It was a big old two storied white-colored house with the big yard. The two metal gates at either end of the boundary wall were massive. The boundary wall was lined with palm trees, which made the house look like a hacienda. Three generations lived together in the same house. When Shikha reached Roli’s place, Alpu and Tanvi were already there. Four of them screeched in excitement. They hugged each other. Roli’s family members accepted their thrill and exhilaration with smiles. They were a joint family but not a conservative one. There was no one in the house that would comment, “look at these unruly, misbehaving girls, who is going to marry them?”

Roli’s mom was sweet as sugar. She had special affection for Shikha because of the fact that this young girl had lost her mom when she was just a kid. Shikha went and hugged her. Aunty immediately complimented her, “you look beautiful, sweetheart.” Shikha gloated and told her that she had designed it herself. Aunty appreciated it and showed interest in her talent. Shikha enjoyed her attention and her sweet gesture. She hugged her again and then moved back to her friends.

After a cup of tea and some light snacks they headed towards the mall. One of Roli’s older cousins was asked to drop the girls to the Sahara Gunj Mall. The girls were strictly instructed to come back in about two hours. Roli’s train was at 8:15 that evening. And they all nodded; laughed and rushed towards the white Maruti Esteem parked on the driveway. They couldn’t control their excitement of being together after a long time.

Roli sat in front with her brother Sheersh while other three girls sat at the back. Shikha was sitting by the window behind the driver’s seat. Alpu was between Shikha and Tanvi. As the car started, Shikha showed her new phone to her friends. They crazily welcomed the smart phone with lot of wows and ooooohs. Taking the phone in her hands Roli said, “It’s the same phone as Sheersh has.” Shikha told them about some amazing features the phone had that her brother told her about. They also clicked each others’ pictures to check its quality. In between the entire hullabaloo Shikha suddenly noticed the two pairs of eyes that were admiring her in the rear-view mirror. She could feel the tenderness and fondness in those look. She settled down on her place. The rest of the group continued checking the phone.

No one in the group noticed the color change on Shikha’s face. She felt her temperature rising. She wanted to hide somewhere and get away from those captivating looks. Sheersh understood her uneasiness and tried to look away. It was hard for him to resist the emotions he was feeling for the girl sitting behind him. He couldn’t concentrate on his driving. He almost missed the red traffic light and suddenly pressed the brakes at the last minute. The car stopped with the jerk. Girls propelled forward. Shikha’s hand involuntarily touched his shoulders to get some support. The two looked at each other and smiled. Roli complained, “What’s up dude? Where are you looking?” Sheersh just couldn’t say anything. For few seconds he fumbled and the only words that came out of his mouth were, “I love you.”

Roli gave him a curious look, shrugged her shoulders and said, “What’s wrong? Are you alright?” He heard the girls giggling at the back. He was embarrassed. He checked his mirror, Shikha was quiet. She was looking outside the window. He wanted to get off this situation quickly. To his rescue, the Mall was close by. He took a right and there they were at the gate. Before his sister could ask anything else he stopped the car and got out and opened the rear door where Shikha was sitting. All the girls got down and Roli turned back and gave her brother a confused look. He waved in return and yelled, “I am sorry.”

Four of them went inside the mall. Mesmerized by the size and the lights and the shops they looked all around. Shikha looked around as well but she was looking for something else. She couldn’t help thinking about Sheersh. At times she felt that he was somewhere there and was looking at her with same love and affection. The girls went into the Bowling Alley to try their hand at the new exciting game. Even before they could learn to target the pins, one hour was gone. It was time to eat and then head back home. They ambled towards their favorite joint; Mc Donald.

As somebody had said, “Ice cream is happiness condensed.” The girls finished their meal and headed to ice cream parlor. With ice cream cones in their hands they jumped to the topic of going back home. Tanvi and Alpu knew that they would head home together as they lived close by. While Shikha was weighing her options when Roli asked her, “Hey why don’t you come along and spend rest of the time with me?” Then she quickly added, “and we can ask Sheersh to drop you to College later.” She rolled up her lips to hide her smile on listening his name again. She succeeded in hiding the joy from her friends. She calmly nodded her head and murmured “okay.”

Sheersh was playing ball with his younger cousins when Roli and Shikha entered the gate. Roli just hurried to her room to complete her last minute packing and Shikha followed her footsteps. Before stepping into the house, she turned back to check Sheersh’s expression. And she was right; he was looking in her direction. He quickly turned her head towards the kids to avoid being caught. Mechanically she climbed the stairs. She was not in her present; she was caught in the dumbfounded expression he gave her a minute before. She chuckled. She didn’t realize when her smile changed into a laugh.

Roli stopped and looked back at her friend. She asked, “What’s so funny? Is there anything that I should be knowing about?” Shikha returned to her senses, she tried to change the topic, “Oh! nothing, I was thinking about the cake that you baked for the competition last month. It was yummylicious!!! Please teach me how to do it once you are back from Roorkee?” Roli graciously accepted the compliment and added, “I just baked but it was Sheersh’s recipe. He guided me through the whole thing.”

“Knock, Knock.”

That was Sheersh. He looked at Shikha first and then at his sister, “How much time, before we can leave for the station?”

“I will be ready in no time,” Roli answered. Then she looked at Shikha and asked “Hey Bro! Can you please give her the recipe for the cake that we baked last month?” She left the room and without looking back she continued, “I will be back in a few.”

Sheersh was in high spirits. He couldn’t ask for more. His wish was granted. The two of them were alone in the room. They looked at each other and he started talking about the recipe. While he talked about the cream, sugar and flour, Shikha tried to calm down her nerves. And within few minutes she felt comfortable; she was the same, talkative, outgoing girl that everybody knew of.

After about ten minutes, when Roli entered her room, she found her friend and cousin engrossed in a serious discussion. They were arguing about the option of using Mascarpone cheese versus cream cheese for the cake’s icing. Roli was surprised to see Sheersh talk so much. He was generally quiet and shy type of a person. She had never seen him being so communicative and open with anyone. She coughed and cooed to get their attention.

Roli raised her eyebrows and gave them an inquisitive look. Both of them just kept quiet. Sheersh pulled out his phone from his back pocket and showed it to Shikha. Roli was right, it was the same phone that she had. Same color, same make and incidentally they had the same screen saver too. All the while, Roli attended to her last minute packing, two of them were busy discussing the phone. No body came forward to help her. She tried to get their attention but to no avail.

Finally, Roli locked her suitcase and yelled, “Sheersh, can we go now, please?” She looked at Shikha and said, “You came to spend time with me, haaaan???” The couple was pulled out of their ‘la-la-land’. Sheersh lifted the suitcase and went downstairs. Roli and shikha followed him.

Roli poked Shikha with her elbow and asked “What??? What is with you guys?”

With a grin Shikha answered, “He is smart and he was just telling me about the phone. By the way he likes cooking too.”

“So, what? I know that.” Roli said.

Shikha looked at her helplessly and didn’t know what to tell her. She thought to her, “How can I tell you that I am falling for your brother.”

Roli broke the silence and told her “Okay, I want to hear everything, soon.”

She stepped out and patted on Sheersh back “On our way, let’s drop Shikha at the hostel.” Shikha interrupted, “No, no, I will go by myself, please don’t bother. Hostel is out of the way and you have a train to catch.” Roli’s mom insisted, “it’s getting dark and you should not be going alone.” Sheersh wanted to spend some more time with her, he suggested, “we can drop her on our way back.” Roli quickly added, “No, no, it would be too late by then. Hostel gates close at 8:30.” Shikha said, “okay, just drop me at the Aliganj round about and from there I will take a rickshaw.” Everybody concurred to this plan.

Everybody came out to say bye to Roli and her dad, who was traveling with her. Shikha went to Roli’s mom and promised that she would come back, as soon as Roli is back from her orientation. Sheersh and his brother Sunny loaded the luggage in the car. Roli’s dad sat in front. Sunny took the driving seat. Sheersh quickly jumped in and sat beside Shikha. Roli touched her mom’s and her grand mother’s feet and then came and sat in the car. Nobody notice, but Sunny felt strange when he saw his brother sitting between the two girls. Sheersh had never liked it and they have had many arguments about it. He looked at his brother through the rear view mirror and was about to offer him his seat. Sheersh moved forward and signaled him to be quiet. Sunny did as he was asked. He knew something is going on. He knew Sheersh more than anyone else in the family did.

Distance between the station and the house was about forty minutes but because it was office time, the roads were crowded and car was not moving too fast. Sunny tried to twist and turn to get through. Most of the time the passengers in the car were quiet. Roli’s dad asked her about the documents and the tickets that she was supposed to carry. Sunny tried to pick up the speed whenever possible. Because of car’s abrupt motions Sheersh and Shikha’s hands touched each other often. They smiled. Sheersh took her fingers and interlaced it with his. She didn’t move her hands away. She enjoyed his touch. Sunny kept an eye on his brother and soon he was able to figure out that his brother has fallen for his sister’s friend; the girl sitting right next to him. “Not a bad choice! Bro,” Sunny thought to himself.

After about twenty minutes, they reached the round about. It was the time to say goodbye. Shikha picked up her little wallet and phone and walked out to the other side of the car. She hugged her friend and said, “all the best.” Roli asked Shikha to be careful and informed that she would call her as soon as she is on the train. Shikha waved. Car passed by but she stood there for few minutes waving. Sheersh glanced back from the rear window and saw her smiling. He swung out of the window and waved back at her passionately. He surely loved the last glimpse of his new friend. Roli’s dad was oblivious of his surroundings; he was busy with his files but the three siblings just looked at each other and smiled.

Shikha stood at the corner of the road until she couldn’t see the car anymore. It was hard for her to let Sheersh go away. She was already missing him. She decided to walk instead of taking a rickshaw. The money that she had spent that day was enough for one day. There was no point in going to the hostel before the lockout time. She remembered the shorter route that one of her hostel mate once mentioned. If she took this alternative route it would take about twenty minutes to reach the college back door. She checked the time. It was about ten minutes to eight and she had enough time to be there. She started walking towards the lane.

It was an isolated narrow alley. It had lofty walls on the two sides of the road looked like the boundary of some palatial manor. The streetlights were lighted now. Very few people passed by. The few that passed her looked at her questionably. She was beginning to get nervous but she reminded herself that there is nothing to worry about soon she will be in her college compound. She kept walking steadily. On the right side of the intersection she noticed few young men smoking outside a small convenient store. It was hot but mindlessly, she wrapped her stole around herself and covered her slender, bare arms. As she walked by the shop she heard a voice, “Hello, madam do you need help?”

She cussed them under her breath and turned left. She was walking as fast as she could. After going few yards into this alley she realized that this might not be the road that her friend told her. It was taking her away from the college. Soon her fear came true the alley was closed and she could not go any further. She checked the watch it was ten past eight. In twenty minutes the gates would close. It was then that she began to panic. She didn’t know where to go? Which alleyway would take her to the college? Whom to call?

She was reminded about her phone. She took a deep breath and tried to remember few people whom she could call and ask for help. She wanted to call Sheersh, she felt being close to him. She dearly remembered him. In spite of her longing for him, She couldn’t call him. She felt stupid because they didn’t exchange numbers. The only option was to call her college friend who suggested the alternate route. Holding the phone in her hands she tried to unlock the phone. “What the heck???” she murmured.

It was not her phone. It was Sheersh’s. “When did that happen?” That was not important. She felt like crying. Retracing her journey backwards means that she had to cross those bunch of goons again. She was scared. She didn’t have the time. And even if she gathered the courage of doing that she would be late to reach the college. She couldn’t think of anything. She didn’t have much of a choice. She started her backward journey.

She knew she was in a big mess. How is she going to get her phone back? Will the gatekeeper open the door? Will he call the warden? The warden would probably kill her. She didn’t look forward to any of that. Only thing she wanted was to see Sheersh. She was missing him badly. She wished to be with him at that time. Nothing would make her happier than his company. She was engrossed in her thoughts when she approached the convenient store cross-section. Those guys were still there. Sweat trickled down her forehead. Hiding her fear she crossed them with a straight face.

They recognized her, somebody said, “Madam, is in trouble. Let’s help her out.”

Shikha felt that somebody was following her. She didn’t dare to look back but increased her pace and tried hard to get of that secluded alley. She heard some footsteps behind her. They had increased their pace as well. Her legs were hurting. It was hard for her to run in high heels.

“I will drop you madam.” She heard the same voice that she heard fifteen minutes back at that corner. “Where do you want to go?” he continued. She was now running like she had never done in her whole life. She didn’t care about his dress, or her shoes, or her feet; she just ran. Soon, she was able to see the end of the alley. Some rickshaw-pullers were still standing there.

By the time she reached the main road, she was breathing hard. She leaned forward. Her stomach was hurting. She had twisted her ankle. She scrutinized her surroundings. Few people were walking by. There were some fruit sellers on the sidewalk. The two guys were standing in the dark corner of the alley.

She hopped towards the round about.

“I’ll be there for you.” She heard the Friends title track. It was coming from the phone. She looked at it; it was showing her number.

She quickly picked up the phone. Sheersh was on the other side of the line, “where are you? Why are you huffing and puffing? Is everything alright?” He asked all the questions in just one breath. “Say something,” Sheersh said.

“I am alright, my phone is with you.” Shikha said slowly.

“I know that. Roli just hung up, she was trying to call you and then I realized that our phones have exchanged. Where are you?”

“Same place where you dropped me,” She said

“We are close. Stay there and hold tight.” Sheersh answered anxiously.

“Please be with me,” she whispered.

The phone disconnected but she felt safe. Soon she would have the most cherished gift of her life.

Finding My Perfect Teacher


During one of our numerous conversation, my aunt casually mentioned the importance of being a life long learner. She stressed that learning is the essence of life and it should continue and grow with age. And then very smoothly she seeded quiet a novel idea in my brain, she said, “Who could be a better teacher than our own kids?” Although it sounded profound, I didn’t quite agree with her. I kept wondering  “What can a kid teach me?” Later on, after a closer review and some minute observations the truth revealed. I have to confess that kids do model some practical wisdom that are broadly described in our scriptures. Most of the times we tend to overlook them because our ‘ego’ stops us from accepting our kids as our perfect teacher; and that we can learn a lot from them even if they are just two years old.

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what is life all about.”

~Angela Schwindt

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”
~Chinese Proverb

We wake up with Saavi asking his favorite question, “What is it??? And we sleep hearing the same voice asking What is it???” It doesn’t matter if the question is for a person or a thing; the question remains the same. Quiet frequently, our friends have been welcomed into our home by Saavi, pointing a finger at them and inquiring in his sweet voice “Yeh Kya hai?” [What is it?] Usually, we oblige him with a right answer patiently accompanied by a smile but at times situations are embarrassing and therefore it is mixed with a hint of frustration. Our rudeness doesn’t hurt him and it does not stop him from asking. He diligently continues doing it. He doesn’t care what others’ think about him or about his parents. He just keeps moving towards learning a few new things daily.

“The height of cleverness is being able to conceal it.”
~François de La Rochefoucauld

What was the result of those never-ending “What is its’?” The other day, I found out that it was not mindless questioning. He was actually learning by asking. I wanted to break the monotony of perpetual answering, so I decided to do a role reversal. This time I asked him his favorite question.

I pointed  towards the Pressure cooker and  asked, “What is it?” What happened next came as a surprise to me. He made some faces and then answered,  “Presssssse Cuckcoo.” That was amazing, I was not able to control my laughter to see the way he contorted his lips to pronounce the word pressure cooker. It was hard for him but he was able to give me an appropriate answer and it was surely commendable.

Then I realized that if I hadn’t asked him the question, he would not have come to me and told me, “the stuff you use on the stove to cook lentils is called a Pressure Cooker.”  He would have kept his knowledge to himself and wouldn’t have used it to impress others. Since then, I have been discovering that he knows a lot of things but he doesn’t tell me until asked.

“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

~Elbert Hubbard

Saavi loves to drink milk. He keeps asking for it all the time, “Duuduuuuuuuu, duuduuuuuuu, duuduuuuuuuuuuuu ….” and he tries harder and harder until he has his bottle in his hands. At times his repetition becomes difficult for the adult in-charge. He is so persistent about having his bottle of milk with him all the time that his Spanish-speaking teacher also knows what “Duuduu” stands for. He would convey his desires so many times that one succumbs to it. The good thing is that he happily keeps trying, without getting frustrated or cranky, till the point he is successful in achieving his goal. His tenacity  and determination showed me way to handle my life well. He has also taught me to be consistent in my own efforts.

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”

~ Bryant H. McGill

Last weekend, I was enjoying fish and wine with my husband when Sid, Saavi’s elder brother came and asked if he can watch another movie. Two movies at a stretch was not acceptable to me. My sudden reaction was to yell a “NOOOO” at Sid. It was a loud outburst that scared everyone, even I was shocked by the pitch of my voice. I glared at Sid and tears flowed out of his wet eyes. He left the room, I got sad. I got sadder when I turned and looked at Saavi. This two-year old, who loves me so much was appalled by my actions. He stopped eating his snack and turned his head in the other direction and looked away from me. I tried to hug him to bring him back to normal, but he just hushed me away. Without even saying a word he expressed his annoyance, “Mom, that was not fair.”

I realized my mistake and was ashamed of myself.

Instantaneously, I went to Sid’s room to talk to him, explain him and to ask him to pardon his mother. He hugged me tightly and sobbed in my arms. I quietly lay down beside him. After about two minutes, Saavi came to us and he was smiling. He happily climbed on us and once again we all were in a playful mood. At that moment, I understood the real meaning of the famous quote by Gandhiji; “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

“The love we give away is the only love we keep.”

~ Elbert Hubbard

Our kids can teach us many thing but best of them all is that they teach us to LOVE without boundaries.

It was turning dark, Saavi heard the garage door open. He knew that his Dad is home. He happily runs to him shouting, “Papaaaaaaaaaaaa …” He welcomes him with smiles and hugs to his trousers or jeans, or whatever he is wearing at that time. For him, it doesn’t matter how long he had been waiting for him or how late his Dad had been today; it’s more important that his Dad is with him now. He doesn’t complain about what had already happened. He lives in the present and is just happy to see him and have him by his side. Although, he doesn’t utter a word, he takes all the measures to make sure that his Dad knows that Saavi loves him; he stands by him, climbs on him, holds his hand, help him change and then shares his snack with him. When they look in each others eyes and smile then Saavi knows that his Dad is also happy to be with him.

Little probing will show us the things that we can learn from our own kids.

LOOK INTO THEIR EYES.”

It is the tool that will help us in our deep search.

I Love You Bro!


It was you, who threw only ten balls and counted twelve when we played twelve ball cricket game.
But the “Not Out” sign that allowed me to play all ten was shown by you.

It was you, who didn’t let me climb the trees when we wandered around our neighborhood.
But the sweetest fruits that I ate were tossed to me by you.

It was you, who fought with me over little things when we lived in that little house.
But the kind words that saved me from rebuke were spoken by you.

It was you, who laughed and made fun of me when I ate hot chili-peppers by mistake.
But the cold glass of water that killed the heat was offered to me by you.

It was you, who never let me go out anywhere even when we were in college.
But the memorable scooter ride that night was sponsored by you.

It was you, who yelled at me when we had arguments.
But the hug that strengthens me through life was a gift to me by you.

It is you, who doesn’t say much even when we are thousands of miles apart.
But the blessing-“Always be happy” that was showered on me was by you.

Never have I said this; may be to others’ but never to you. I Love You Bro!


🙂 May God Bless all brothers with happiness and smiles 🙂

My Camping Trip


I love travelling. The thought of going to some place uplifts my spirits. The destination or the mode of transportation doesn’t make a difference. Every time I come back from a trip, I start looking forward to my next. The newer the place greater is the excitement. Today it was not the same; it was unusual; my emotions were contradicting my normal behavior. I never imagined a trip like this; I was not ready. I was restless, anxious and scared. My “Yes” and “No” were having an argument. I took my time before I could make any decision about this camping trip.

I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of camping in my seven years old son’s brain. All kinds of questions came to my mind.

Does that even make sense? “NO”
Do I wish to see myself judged every minute of the day; especially by someone who is a part of me? “NO”
Do I really want to do it? “NO”
Does it even sound practical? “NO”
Do you know anyone who has done such a thing before? “NO”
What kind of an experience will it be? “I DON’T KNOW.”
What would be the result of this trip? “I DON’T KNOW.”
How will you prepare for this trip? “I DON’T KNOW.”

For all the questions the answers ended with a sound of “No” but my “Yes” won. I still agreed to go on the trip. A part of me wanted to experiment it. What preparations do I need to make? Do I tell my son about this little trip of mine or go with the flow? Instantly I got an answer, “Sleep over it.”

Next morning, when I woke up, I decided to keep a close watch on my son. I observed him to the point that he was uncomfortable and felt I am staring at him. Even before he could say, “What??? Momm…” I was at the site. It was the shortest journey of my life; few seconds and I was at the destination.

I find myself standing on a hilltop, by the banks of something that looked like a river. The river was not very wide, it ran laterally through this place. From where I was standing, my eyes could not see the end. I could see an arched bridge, which connected the right and left sides. I was on the right side and the bridge that led to the other side. I looked for someone who could help me to guide me through this place but I could see no one. A short walk by the ‘river’ to the bridge revealed the name of the river and the Bridge as well. The river is usually referred as   “Longitudinal Fissure” and there was another small board that said “Corpus Callosum.” By the side of the board there was a brochure box. I picked up one of the brochures and said to myself  “Attraversiamo” (Italian for “Let’s cross over.”) [It was the effect of the last book I read- Eat, Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.]

Source: UCMAS Malaysia Web site

I was amazed to witness the beauty of this whole place from the top of the bridge. Lots of small creeks ran throughout the place on both sides. The two sides of the river appeared to be identical on a cursory view. A thorough examination brought out the difference. Left side was more practical and analytical where as the Right side was imaginative and artistic. The left and right side differed on their working philosophy. The left side was dependent on instructions based on earlier data. It was the talkative part, which dealt with flow charts and numbers. The right side of the brain was based on pictures and intuition. Although the two are different but they coordinated well. The existing beauty will cease to exist if any side stops functioning.

I was so busy going through the brochure and knowing this place that I didn’t notice that I could see some big figures outside the campground. It was the outside world and then I panicked. I saw my  ‘Outside Me’ coming closer and closer to me. I shouted, “Are you out of your mind? What are you doing? Why are you coming so close? You are going to hurt me.” And then as my ‘outside me’ hugged and kissed my little Sid on forehead- Flowers of all colors bloomed in here where my ‘little me’ was. I could see the whole area was happy. The right side was smiling, adding colors to the picture and left side was cheering because they had a new data on happiness.

Looking around and going through the brochure (that I picked a little while ago) I admired the plan and the layout.  The designer of this whole thing must have some divine power. He did a good job with the design and took care of even the minor details. The whole area is organized into three interconnected layers. Central core, Limbic system and Cerebral cortex; these parts contain the departments that control the daily business of the city they are responsible of.  The Central core and the Limbic system cover only 10% of the whole thing. It was not accessible to me at this point of time due to some growth and developmental issues. 90% of the area is occupied by Cerebral Cortex and that’s where I was during my visit.

Cerebral cortex is divided into four different regions. Each section in here had a small board on it indicating its name and a brief description of its responsibility. The whole place was based on the fundamentals of division of labor and therefore wherever my eyes went there was calmness and serenity in the environment. I enjoyed that stillness in air. At times a flash of lightening passed through the little creeks many times followed by outside sound, “Mom, mom, I have an idea.” Those flashes were the thoughts that Sid was having from time to time.

As I was trying to cross a creek on the left side, lightening passed and it struck me. Sid was analyzing. It was about 9:25 in the morning. Zula Patrol on PBS was about to start at 9:30 and it’s the time to ask mom, if he can watch TV. Therefore, now is the time that he should go and seek his Mom’s permission. “Mom, can I watch TV in 3mins. My favorite Zula Patrol will be on there. Please, Please, pleassssssse.” When my  ‘Outside me’ said “Yes” the flowers bloomed again for few seconds and then again it was calm although there was lot of outside noise as Zula’s cast was trying to explain the structure of water.

Zula Patrol: Kid's Program that teaches science

Then, I noticed some fireworks on the left side of the brain. “Oh!” I was surprised, it was not the firework. They were the words and numbers that were flying in from the program that Sid was watching. The analytical side got busy absorbing and processing the information it was getting. Right side remained quiet and enjoyed the music and colors of the whole show.

As I continued my journey, I observed how efficiently everything was working. The four parts of the cerebral cortex- the Frontal lobe, Parietal lobe, Occipital lobe and Temporal lobe regulate mostly the conscious experiences and some cognitive and emotional processes too. Here, in Sid’s brain- the frontal lobe was not as lush and green as other three parts. Frontal lobe is responsible for cognitive activities like planning, making decisions and setting goals. It is in its developmental stages. Here seeds have begin to sprout but there is still time before it is fully functional. The temporal and parietal lobes are in their adolescence. They are growing and developing normally like in any six or seven years old boy.

Of all the four parts Sid’s occipital lobe is most developed. This is the hind side of the brain- it processes visual information and passes its conclusion to parietal and temporal lobe. My ‘Outside me’ and my husband have had come across some instances when we noticed the overactivity of this part of Sid’s brain. One of our experience was last year, when he was five and we went to Las Vegas ‘The Sin City’.

As we were driving through the city, he was keenly looking around. Being a newbie reader he was trying to read everything he could. We were happy and didn’t see what was coming. After a day or two in Vegas, he asked, “What are HOT BABES?” Oh my god, what was that? It seemed as if we were hit by a speeding truck. Both of us had no answer. We looked at each other and tried to find some clue to answer our dear son’s question. But before we could say anything he himself gave us the answer. “When slim girls wear less clothes and dance, before they go for a swim, they are called Hot Babes.”

My thoughts were disrupted by the unusual shriek. Somebody was yelling. Sorry, that was my ‘Outside me’. I didn’t look pretty shouting like that. The temporal and parietal lobe of Sid’s brain were trying to find words and construct some arguments in his defense. It began to get dark in here. Sid was being scolded for not switching off the TV after his half hour of TV time was over. He was saying that it his summer vacation and he should get more allowance. His words got lost in the noise that my ‘Outside me’ made. He was sad. My ‘Outside me’ glared in my direction and then busied herself with cooking.

The view was no more picturesque. Every thing seemed to be getting even darker in here. I was depressed to see Sid so defeated and helpless. I felt like coming out and talking some sense into my ‘Outside me’. I understand that it is important to lay down some rules and be consistent with them, but it can be conveyed in a better way. After witnessing the way Sid’s brain functions, I realize how important it is to be polite to him. I always have to remind myself that although, he is intelligent and smart with above average comprehension abilities, he is sentimental too. It’s against my nature to abandon my vacation but I didn’t want to stay there any longer. I could not bear that sadness.

As I was getting ready to leave, things lit up again. Once again it was beautiful, my “Outside me” was asking Sid to get ready and then they were going for a swim; his favorite activity. I had seen a lot for one day and I decided to return to come back again another time. Yes, I surely want to comeback again to learn more about my son and see how he feels and thinks. I was not scared anymore. I was pleased to acquire this new perspective. With a happy heart, I blinked back.

***

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.

~Diane Loomans, from “If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again”

To Dad, With Love


Happy Father’s Day, Dad

All of us recently celebrated Father’s Day on June 20th. I celebrated it for my husband as he is a cool dad but my dad is thousands of miles away from me. I was dearly missing him and my family back in India, when I got this assignment in my Creative Writing class. I had to describe a personality and I was required to include some idiosyncratic details in my description. This assignment served a great purpose. Now, I had an outlet to vent my emotions. It helped me to feel closer to my family in general and my dad in particular.

It is not very difficult to describe my father. On the whole he is a simple, straightforward person with a refined sense of dressing. Like Napoleon said, “Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools.” The word ‘complex’ is not to be found in my Dad’s dictionary. He is too simple and goes by the face value of everything. He lives by the thought that he is the center and the world revolves around him. Like a small child he wants that his needs be given priority. For example, if he is hungry, everybody is hungry and if he is full; nobody else should feel like eating. It might appear selfish or egocentric to some but people who really know him well understand how uncomplicated he is.

When things fall out of line, he gets upset but not for too long. He is forgiving and within a span of ten minutes he will forget that he was mad or aggrieved.  He doesn’t think badly of anyone, not even of the people who have hurt him or committed some wrongdoing against him. He is a God-loving man, sensitive towards the needs of less gifted people. In a given situation, he will attempt to feed a poor hungry mouth before he himself grabs a bite.

An agricultural scientist by profession and, unlike his most colleagues, he has an aristocratic sense of dressing. He is not the person whom you can witness wearing a wrinkled, creased trouser anywhere. (I applaud my mom, who has been on her toes for years now and has maintained his clothes.) My dad will prefer to wear a formal jacket and a pair of trousers to his friends BBQ party. Wearing shorts to somebody’s house is not acceptable. He is not the person who can appreciate American idea of “comfortable dressing.” He feels, “People in America wear too few clothes.”

My dad,  “didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” These lines by Clarence Budington Kelland hold true for me. I love him not only because he is my dad, but also I love him for what he has taught me. Lessons like honesty, truthfulness, humility, trust, love and family values are shaping my current life. My mom and my dad are the fertile soil on, which the tree of my life has been blossoming.

As The Clock Turns

As The Clock Turns

At 1 o’ clock, he himself was a child with a special gift of a ‘little child’ deep within.

At 2 o’ clock, he grew up a little and he still had that child in him who dearly loved his mom.

At 3, 4 and 5, he did what was right, cruised through hardship but managed to keep that child alive.

At 6, 7 and 8 he harbored smoothly then discovered the child that he always had in him.

At 9 and 10, he is rearing and nourishing the newly found child within, with the fresh and innocent love of his little grand kids.

At 11 o’ clock he will enjoy his latest role as granddad, hand in hand with the unusual gift of God: the purity of the soul of that child in him.

At 12 o’ clock that little child in him will induce new energy and verve to the old grown body of my father to enlighten and enrich more grand-daughters and sons; to enliven next generations’ life.

To Dad, With Love

From Your,

“My Dear”