Thursday, November 10, 2016

Raagi seeds from the loft

“Where are all the Golu Park dolls?”, I asked my mom over the quiet lunch.  “enda kanna. It 
must be on the loft”she looked at me curiously. Without waiting for my reply she continued “Do you want me to pack that so you can take it Singapore? “. That was a lovely gesture I thought.  She understood that I missed Golu and I might be interested to have them. Only she could understand me without much words. “Nothing ma, just wanted to see them” 

( pic courtesy : Google )

After lunch I managed to get on the big stool made specially to access loft, and like a director of a movie, she guided me to the location among boxes of stuff.  Golu is a 9-day festival where we adorn the home with beautiful mud idols of god. Park is basically a miniature village usually set up around Golu on sand. Its decorated with plastic houses, trees, villages, trains etc. “ Paathu kanna there is so much dust, why don’t you wear a kerchief mask, you are allergic to dust “ she raised her usual concern. 

There it was, my beautiful memories in a dusty little carton box. I dusted it off and opened it right there sitting on top of the stool. “Kizhey ukandhu paaka kudaadha, why don’t you come down kanna, you are sweating so much, fan podatuma?” I replied “hmm” as I opened the box.  Like the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the nostalgia hit me. I saw all sorts of toys I loved and adored in my Golu Park. The houses, the vegetable selling lady, the sour grape fox, Palm trees, small temple which I usually put on a makeshift mount, the trucks, the train, cars and other toys that are too damaged to make sense of. 

When I was a child, Golu was my favorite festival, I loved it better than Deepavali. I usually make a zoo, and a village around a train track, one small mount with temple and stairs for village people to climb, a pond with ducks and fishes and loads of sprouts from raagi seeds. Raagi plants looks like tender Korean grass, with tinge of yellow on bottom. I would set up the miniature village nicely, plant seeds and water it overnight. Every morning when I wake up, I walk right to the Golu park to see how much the seeds have grown. “You got to wait a day or two for it sprout kanna” my mom would say. I would pout with pretentious sad face and look at her as if she has to do something to make them grow immediately. She would smile and say “see you have to water it regularly kanna, now you go to school and by the evening we would see, but ne samatha erundha dhaa valarum (be a good boy and it shall grow)”.  And when they grew the village would come alive beautifully.  I would literally jump up in joy, as if my mom and I created a village of our own. 

I sat there for good 10 minutes. In the corner of my eye, I could see my mom, with both hands on the hip with her protective pose. I put back things carefully as they were and came down. Then we went on to do packing things as that was my last day of the deepavali trip.  “Why don’t you rest for a while, can I cook your favorite tomato curry and chapathi? You can have it on your way back or tomorrow for breakfast? “She went on to do the cooking.

“Do you like to have some water? “the flight attended shook me back to reality “ errr… sorry? “She repeated her question and I managed to nod. I looked around and saw most passengers dozed off, and except for the lights from some of the monitors the aircraft was dark.  There I was flying thousand miles away from home to my second home.  Far from faded dolls and my aged mom, both still looked beautiful and deserved more care than they have now.  Perhaps my raagi seeds would sprout tomorrow and perhaps my mom and I would create a village of our own. 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Toilet door, 5$ Race & Uber Smiles

You know the embarrassing feeling when you open the door to the toilet at the same time as another person. Don’t swear on me yet, I guess the next worse thing is Looking directly into the eyes of stranger for more than 2 second. I say up to 1 second is still acceptable for Singapore. 

So this happened to me, when I pooled in an Uber cab (BTW its just 5$) on my way to work. I was upset about a problem with my living situation and was banking loads of anger, ready to snap anytime. Which is why I avoided conversation with fellow passengers. We stopped at the traffic light and my gaze fell on the construction truck next to us.  Behind the truck was array of workers presumably on their way to work. If you have lived in Singapore, for longer than expiry date of bananas, you have witnessed this for sure.

From the crowd who were catching up on their sleep, he looked right back at me. To my shame it lasted longer than 2 seconds. He had a dark serious face with thick beard and mustache with thin scar running right above his left eyebrow. Must be a very arrogant person, I thought to myself. His tired red eyes glimmered in the morning light. He squinted to get a better view of me. I turned and looked at my watch, as if to pretend I am busy or waiting for the cab to move.  And thank god it did.
Then came the next traffic light, and both vehicles again stopped next to each other. Driven by curiosity aka my shameless behavior, I looked again. He was staring into nothingness, perhaps thinking. I studied his clothing, his torn jeans, stains of white paint on it and a shirt that had lost its original colors to several layers of dirt. 

Well don’t close this page yet. When you come across this sight what would you do? Well this is what I thought. I sympathized with him for his poor life and compared it to mine. I mean, God knows how long has it been since he had a decent meal and slept well, no wonder he looks grumpy.
Now I realized he is looking right back at me with the same curiosity. I turned again cursing myself and watched the traffic light turn green. Like a poorly directed movie, the same situation repeated and we faced each other again. Only this time, he smiled and involuntarily I smiled too. The smile changed everything I thought about him. He looked like a friendly and decent person. 

Now the vehicles started moving and we catch glimpse of each other in the freeway.  Sometimes the vehicle over took each other like we were on a race. It lasted for some time until my cab took a different exit from the freeway. He smiled and waved at me one last time and I waved back. When I alighted, I was entirely in a different mood. I thought with a formal clothing and a bit of haircut, he could very well pass for a white collar worker. 

I guess that’s what happens when we see someone based on our current state of mind.  And that’s why we need to drop the shame and connect to each other beyond all differences. Really look into each others eyes and feel that deep human emotion.  For everyone’s journey is different and hard, but as long as we are riding next to each other, remember to smile and wave. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Note to Thyself : Carry an Umbrella

They say when you pray for rain, have enough faith to carry an umbrella... but what if your faith is wavering? Perhaps your umbrella may be broken or you are so tired to even carry yourself out yet alone an umbrella. Perhaps you are scared to show your umbrella to people who might ridicule your faith. All said and done you knew in your heart that if you could make yourself carry that umbrella with unwavering faith, it would rain. I am here right now at the path way to my future and all that follows this statement is conversation to thyself.

When it’s not my time  

I remember the trip I always wanted to take. Money, was always the main concern. However when I stumbled on that advertisement from the travel company offering a package tour at 50% slash rate, I found a different excuse. I convinced myself that I don’t have enough holidays left. God listen to my prayers and she bought that advertisement to me. The time was right, perhaps I wasn't ready.

When I have given up trying.

I heard the story about a guy digging for diamonds and gave up at the last minute. Perhaps I couldn't carry on with hope, knowing that I may be disappointed with the outcome. Perhaps it's easier to resign instead of handling the pain of disappointment. Perhaps it's easier to blame it on 100 things than admitting to myself and others that I have failed not by trying enough.

When I don't have the conviction I deserve it.

Of course I say I want it with all my heart. But I am not sure I deserve it. I know the feeling of deserving something comes from rooted love for thyself. When I don't have enough love to give myself, I seek validation from outside world to see if things turn out to be the way I want them to. Then it would mean others, society or God loves me enough to bring that to me. Then I wonder , How would I convince the God to love me , if I can’t love me in the first place. God always loves me. I just need to be more open, trusting and allow myself to feel thy love, and through that I would feel God’s love.

When it's not gods will.

It would be so much easier if we just ask happiness instead of things that could make us happy. Sometimes when I don’t get what I want, I think perhaps God has planned something greater than this. Perhaps No is God’s answer for my own divine good. I know God always plans better for me than what I do. But God loves me enough to assume my will as her will. Ask and shall be given. Call out and the door shall be open. If I had asked with a conviction of having that which I asked for, without a hint of doubt it might have come to me already. I take a good look at my actions and my thoughts after my prayers. I don’t think they align and in sync with what I asked for. Perhaps it’s me who is having the dilemma, perhaps it’s me who have said No to thyself.

When it takes longer.

It always takes sometime from prayer to receiving it what I asked for. I now understand that this time is needed for me to really assess what I wanted and perhaps see if it really defines me as a person. Or vibes with my most sincere expression of who I am or how it would make me happy. Isn’t that an irony that everyone wants to have six abs or perfect figure but not many of us are willing to get up at 5 am and put on jogging shoes?

When I choose God’s will.

So if my will becomes the gods will, then how God is taking care of me? Does this means God shall put me to trouble since because I asked for it? Perhaps God will take me nearer to what I asked for and would wait patiently for me to choose.

Then it dawned on me, I am no good when it comes to choosing what’s good for me. Because what’s good for me in my eyes has too much logic, reservations and never ending criteria. And So I choose God’s will. I am in distress and I choose God’s will. Let her take over.

When I surrender God does what’s beyond logic and things seems to happen out of magic. I know this is entirely different from giving up or feeling time isn't right or blaming someone else or assuming god said no. This means I am ready to pick up the umbrella and walk out whether it’s going to rain or shine. For I have given the consequences of my actions to that of gods.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Calliographic Ode to a Kanakambaram Flower

“Vatsa stop watering rose pot. Too much water would drain the nutrients, water these tomatoes instead” shouted Sarala Paati (my grandma). I was playing with garden hose, experimenting different water fountain patterns with thumb. I must be 7 or 8 years old then. “Bring me that chisel and dig right here” she ordered. I was always the chosen minion amongst the bunch of cousins spending summer at Sarala Paati’s home. I would dig until my hands pained and dirt crept up under my finger nails.  I longed to go back to playing and asked “Is this ok? “, every few seconds. Invariably, without lifting her eye from pruning the plants, she would reply “dig a little deeper”. She must be awfully bored to do this, I thought.

By afternoon most of the adult napped providing us enough time to do unsupervised activities. We did everything from shooting vegetables to setting fire to the trash pit with powder from old fireworks. I made a bow and arrow for shooting vegetables. The string was made from rubber band and arrows were sticks from broom stick. My favorite targets were the hanging bottle guards, tomatoes and plantain trees. This is how I took revenge for gardening chores.  She would shout “How can you be so cruel to my plants, my eyes bleed looking at the torture you have done to my babies”. I even remember getting lashes from my uncle for this act.

There was another side to Sarala paati that I really admired. Everyone in the street she lived, knew her by name. Anyone who passed by admired her garden which was full of flowers and vegetables. I have witnessed her giving out saplings, seeds and flowers freely, to anyone who asked. From milkman to our grocery shop owner everyone spoke good things about her. She baked cookies and cakes in makeshift sand filled vessels and hand fed us at night. And When it’s time to leave home, she would meet me in garden or in front yard, to pass me some money secretly. She did this with grace. She would pass the bundled up notes hidden in her palm to mine as if she were shaking hands with me. “Don’t give it to anyone”, Get something for yourself “she would wink.

Last time I went home, I had the chance to walk by the street where Sarala paati lived. It looked nothing like what it was before.  No garden, no known neighbors and no Sarala Paati.  Sarala paati passed away one silent afternoon without any trouble to anyone when I was in college. After she was long gone, the home was sold to a builder. Now standing there is an eye soring apartment, named “Sarala Home”. It felt like I walked through her cemetery and forgot to pay my respects.

I look back at Sarala paati : dark skinned, uneducated, poor and unexposed to the worlds of great ideas. She wore kanakambaram (firecracker) flowers in her oiled up hair and carried her curves with elegance and swift.  She taught me to garden, to work hard for something, to weed out the bad and nourish the best. She taught me to save up, to socialize, to provide without expectation and to keep secrets. She taught me to live like I am the lover of life.  She taught me, 'that which lives after us' is what we should be living for.

God must have chosen to write in calligraphy when he wrote my fate, or head-lines as Sarala Paati would call it. I feel so blessed to have had the childhood which many of the kids these days cannot even imagine. If I picture her in heaven standing on clouds with her favorite purple pattu saree and kanakambaram flowers in her head, I know what she would say to me. She would come close, hug me tight and pass on all the love rolled up in her palms secretly. And then she would whisper, “Vatsa dig a little deeper and get something for yourself”.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Auto-correcting sanity of little black bird

His voice pierced through the humming of the bus and snatum kaur singing from my earphone.  Few heads looked up with mine, to see who is making the noise. We were sitting on the top of double-decker bus, which was making a steady pace on the highway to work.  Sitting in the front seat was the loud toddler in uniform, who clearly seemed different and special. He was repeating some gibberish in a familiar nursery rhyme tune. Sitting next to him was his father, who neither responded to his loud singing, or to the murmurs of fellow passengers.

He caught me looking at him and smiled at me and I responded with smile. He turned around kneeling in his seat to face me. He stretched his hands to reach and I extended mine. He got excited now, and started singing louder, holding my hand in swaying movement.  His hands and eyes did not coordinate, and he kept looking at the passing trees. Listening closely I realized he isn't singing gibberish but the actual rhyme in his own way. He smiled for every word as if he meant what he sang.

Shame ridden, I looked around to see if anyone noticed our interaction. There were only bowed head zombies with their earphones now delivering louder music. Unmoved by lack of audience he kept singing throughout the journey. He sang for everything, when the bus stopped he sang, when the sunlight and tree’s shadow danced on the floor he sang, when someone got up or sat down, guess what he went “lahaalaaaaa” in loud piercing pitch.

As if this wasn't enough happening, a little black bird hit the window of our bus with loud bang and slowly slid down. I am no special child expert, but I bet he sang louder and in disapproving tone. No one else noticed the demise of the black bird and no one mourned louder than him. Uncared, his father scooped him up in one hand and his worn out bag on another and got down the stairs of the bus to get off. I bet you can cut through the tense stares and signing relief as his voice went down.

It was complete pin drop silence, when bus started again.  Sunlight kept dancing with tree shadows, black birds kept flying high and people went back to auto-correcting their sanity.