The Revelation

As Ammamma came hobbling in, ‘What prasad today Ammamma?’,asked Ashish.

‘Today is ekadashi so only fruits’, she said.

‘Don’t tell me that we have to survive with fruits too’, said Amit.

‘No,no for you both I will prepare rice dal and some sabji,don’t worry’, she said.

‘Thank God’, both said out in unison.

‘Yes, you should thank Him’, said Ammamma.

‘What…what did you say?’, said Amit.

‘I said that yes,you should thank Him’, said Ammamma. Then changing the topic she said, ‘what is that?’

‘It is an advertisement for a cafe, ammamma which is open 24 hours’, said Aashish.

‘Really…there is another line which is open 24 hours’, said she

‘Which one?’, asked  Amit

‘Prayer’, she said,’there is no time restriction, you can always pray to Him’. She said it sarcastically. The boys rarely prayed or went to the temple

‘Ammamma aren’t you tired of singing glories of your Him’, said Amit. Aashish nudged him to lower his voice, ‘I mean either you are praying,or singing etc etc about him’, said Amit.

‘I haven’t troubled you, have I’, said she.

‘It is not about us Ammamma; it is about you. Don’t you need to take some rest’, said Aashish.

‘But what work do I do, just some simple cooking, that is all’, said Ammamma.

‘No Ammamma, I have never seen you sit and you say, what do I do’, said Amit.

Ammamma gave her toothless grin and sat down. Ammamma was not really the boys grandmother,she was their great grandmother. As was the custom those days, she had been married young and so was her daughter. And so at the age of  88 Ammamma had two teenagers as her great grandsons. Aashish and Amit wete twins of her grand daughter who had come to visit her during their summer holidays.

‘When I got married and came to this house at the age of 9. I used to sleep in this very room along with my mother in law. It was only much later that me and your Ajja got a room upstairs. My typical day used to start with milking the cows. After that I would sit for grinding. Those grinding stones over there’, she pointed to a corner. The boys nodded. She continued,’Those stones would always be busy, morning we would grind for some or the other chutney, then for some gravy for afternoon and so on. Look at my muscles, still strong, never went to a gym’.

‘Then what would you do Ammamma’, asked Aashish.

‘There was no end to work here. Draw water from the well and fill it in the big drums in the bathroom, make a fire to heat up water. Sweep, mop, cut vegetables, never ending work’.

‘You never used to go out’, asked Amit

‘We used to. Every Saturday to the Venkatraman Temple. Visit our relatives and occasionally there would be Yakshagana’, said she and then after some moments, ‘Everyone has gone away from our neighbourhood, it used to be so lively. Festivals, occasions we celebrated together, Pickles, papad we used to make together.Now everyone has shifted from here. No one has time now’.

‘Is that why you are busy with Him now’, asked Amit.

Ammamma gave her toothless grin again. ‘Unlike you we never had TV or mobiles. However busy we were we had to pluck flowers and make garlands for the deity. Every evening we used to sing bhajans while we lit diyas. Occasionally a sadhu would visit our village and we would assemble in the temple to listen to his discourse. So you see these practices were inculcated in us from a young age’. The boys listened attentively. Once a sadhu uttered this shloka; your Ajja and I liked it so much that we decided to follow it to the end of our life’.

Which shloka?’ asked Aashish.

She said,

‘man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi yuktvaivam atmanam mat-parayanah
Meaning-Engage your mind always in thinking of Me(Krishna), offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me

Your Ajja till his last moment attended mangal arati and would ring the bell, And on one ekadashi while ringing the bell, he fell down and that was it’, her voice choked,’ Such a glorious death, I only wish that I too meet such a fate’.

The boys had no words but they hugged her tight.


Today is Day 7 of Write Tribe Festival of Words

So today is the last day of the challenge. When I first thought of incorporating Bhagavad Gita shlokas into my posts, I was apprehensive. Firstly is it proper to use sacred text for fiction. Why not? Bhagavad Gita is a guideline as to how we should lead our lives. When I thought of stories on basis of the picture prompts, I found that I had a relevant shloka for each. My second apprehension was will I be able to do justice to the shloka. I thought I should try rather than speculate. Thirdly, I thought will the readers like it. Or rather will there be any readers at all for such a take. Again I wouldn’t know until I tried. There  were other obstacles too.I fell sick in the middle of the week but thankfully my posts were ready.

So thank you folks for being a part of this yatra.

 

 

 

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The curious case of the horse

As I rubbed my tired eyes, Dipika came near and asked, ‘Tired in cash; imagine me. The whole day I am assessing documents for loan approval’.

We work in a bank, while I am presently a cashier, Dipika is in Loan Section. ‘No Dipu, I am not able to sleep properly so…’.

‘Why very busy at nights, haan??’, she smiled mischievously.

I frowned at her.

‘Then?’ she asked.

‘You don’t have any pending approvals?’, I asked.

‘I have but I am curious now, tell me I will not be able to concentrate on work otherwise, tell na’, she pestered.

I sighed. It was raining heavily and there wasn’t much crowd. So I got up  from my cube and took her near the water cooler. ‘I am getting a weird dream every night because of which I wake up in the middle of the night and then I wake up and cannot sleep again’, I said.

‘What dream, tell me fast’, she asked.

‘I dream of a horse’, I said.

‘Just a horse’, she crinkled her nose.

‘And a rider too’, I said.

‘ ‘Male or female?’, she asked

‘Can’t make out. But the horse gallops fast and makes me get up’, I sighed.

‘Ahaa’, she said. ‘Maybe a knight…..Experts say that your unfulfilled desires manifest in your dream. Do you have any unfulfilled desires’.

‘I have many…… I wanted to do Phd. But couldn’t, I wanted to go to Europe, haven’t been yet…..’, I said.

‘Not those types silly, romantic ones’,she was again grinning.

I thought hard but then a customer came and I rushed.

But Dipika’s words stayed with me. We haven’t been a very romantic couple but then when did we ever have time for romance. We have so many responsibilities. But is it true that unfulfilled desires manifest in our dreams?

Late night I was sitting in the balcony still thinking when Aju (my husband) came and asked, ‘What happened,why are you not sleeping?’

‘I will in a short while’, I said and then asked, ‘Is it true that unfulfilled desires manifest in our dreams?’

‘Who said so?’, he asked.

‘I am asking generally’.

‘WHO SAID SO?’, he asked.

‘Dipika’. I mumbled.

‘And why did she say so’, he asked. It was of no use. I told him everything.He was thoughtful for some time.

‘Hah. About a month back you were watching some movie with Kartik remember. It was a movie about horses and fights etc. Remember?’

I nodded in assertive.

‘You must be having your dream from then on. Romance…hah. ‘, he said and started to go away and then said, ‘ I always say have nice thoughts before you sleep, say your prayers,  chant a little and definitely you will have a nice sleep. If you watch nonsense movies, this is what will happen’, he said and went away and then added as an after thought, ‘ Keep  your mind calm and then you will see that it is your best friend, if not it is your worst enemy.

bandhur atmatmanas tasya yenatmaivatmana jitah
anatmanas tu satrutve vartetatmaiva satru-vat
For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy.’ (BG 6.6)

 

I scratched my head.

But then it was true from then on I never had any dream disturbing my sleep. Of course I have stopped watching silly programs and movies…well almost.

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Today is Day 6 of Write Tribe Festival of Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Destinations

I hummed a tune as I got ready. No I did not need any starched sarees today. I could be casual.So I wore a churidar and long kameez. Tied my hair in a pony and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked young not the upcoming politician with the starched saree and the tight bun. I smiled.

As I sat down to have breakfast. Anju looked at me from top to bottom and said, ‘how come the woman who is supposed to rock the political scene is suddenly demure’. I couldn’t overlook the sarcasm in her voice but Shishir, my husband held my hand and stopped me from retorting. ‘Ma, is meeting her childhood friend after  20 years’, he said. ‘Oh… that is why the starch went away’, said my other daughter Sayee. And then both giggled. Shishir held my hand even more tightly. And then both got up and left for college.

I felt tears pricking my eyes. ‘Sonali, ignore them, they are immature’, said Shishir.

‘They are young adults now, Shishir not toddlers. Why are they so harsh to me. They have whatever they need for a good life, then why this sarcasm? Can’t I have dreams or ambitions’, I asked.

‘Don’t spoil your mood, you are meeting Preeti after so long, go now or you will be late’, he said.

It was a long drive and while the driver battled with the traffic, I leaned back and reminisced.

Preeti and me had studied together since our first standard but had never been close.Until we both took the same subjects in our 11th. We knew no one else in the class and so grouped together. While I was the underdog, she was the topper. I gave the wild streak in her life while she grounded me. She would teach me, groom me in all the subjects and if I got good marks, she would get jealous. Yet,next exams she would train me again. Yes, she was a bundle of contradictions.

Though I was excited to meet her but I was a bit apprehensive too. While I was relatively well off owing to the  fact that Shishir was a rich businessman. We had a couple of factories. While I had heard that Preeti was not that well off. Also at a young age had to have a hysterectomy and she had some other medical complications. Will she be jealous, will she be angry with my success’, I thought.

‘Reached madam’, the driver said.

We had reached a modest building. Preeti lived in the first floor.

I rang the bell. The door opened immediately. I saw a radiant Preeti, she smiled and I could feel my anxieties melting away.

As I hugged her I could smell coconut oil and the jasmine.

‘Come, she held my hand and dragged me to the sofa. Made me sit. And over tea and snacks we chatted. Of the past and the present. Two hours passed by talking of our friends, our families. ‘Let us go out for lunch Preeti, I said. ‘No, I have prepared lunch, your favourite bisi bele bhaath is one of the items’, she said,’Also my younger one Tanmay will be back from school any moment’, she said.

As we sat eating,  I said, ‘Preeti, this is all so tasty’.

”That is because this is Prasadam’, said Tanmay.

‘Huh’, I said.

‘We offer everything to the Lordships before we ate anything. So this becomes prasadam because it is blessed by the Lord’, Tanmay said pointing to the altar.

It was then that I noticed the altar. The deities of Radha Krishna stood there. Their smiles were enchanting. Were they the reason of this positivity in the room?

While I was introspecting, Preeti cleared the table. Tanmay helped her. I could hear mother and son chatting away pleasantly,while they did the dishes. When was the last time me and my daughters had a talk.

The bell rang, ‘I will see ‘, I said.

A young lady stood there. ‘You must be Sonali aunty. I am Tanu’. She came in and talked so sweetly. When Preeti came out both the kids excused and went inside. I looked at them thoughtfully.

‘What happened Sona,’ Preeti asked.

‘Your kids are so nice Preeti, so obedient and so very caring’, I said.

Preeti didn’t say anything.

‘And you too look so peaceful, what is the secret’, I asked.

She sat smiling. Then  she said slowly, ‘I understood the futility of this life long back Sona. We struggle like a fish out of water but the fact is that everything is predetermined. Once you accept that nothing is in your control everything falls in place.

I was more confused.

I have been in and out of hospitals Sona. A time came when I stopped asking-why me and accepted that this is life. Like it or not. That lead me to a search of my identity about who am I and then everything fell in place’, she smiled again

I was mesmerised by her voice, her talk, her vision, she was so peaceful.

She continued, ‘Krishna said to Arjuna,

‘ hato va prapsyasi svargam jitva va bhoksyase mahim
tasmad uttistha kaunteya yuddhaya krta-niscayah

 Meaning-O son of Kunti, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore get up and fight with determination.’
So there is nothing much I can do except carry on with my duties. I work part time. Give my children as much time as they need and always look after the welfare of my husband. I do my karma and leave the rest to Him’,  she said looking at the altar.
As the car took me back home,I introspected on our lives. I scaled the steps financially and professionally. People were speculating that I could be the next CM of the state while Preeti too had escalated. But her growth was within. While I was a leader, she was a leader too. I lead a group of people for the betterment of society, she lead others for a higher purpose. We had started the journey together but our destinations were different.
To each his own. I would always be there for her and whenever I needed inner peace, I knew I could knock at her door.
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Today is Day 5 of Write Tribe Festival of Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The vagaries of life

As I dropped off Jiya to the bus stop. I felt heavy. Not physically but ….It was as if something bad was going to happen.

I moved about the home tidying this and that but the feeling would not go away.  I could not have my breakfast too.  When the phone beeped, my breath stopped for a second.

It was a video call from the Care Home. I was shaking but then I had to pick the call up.

‘Madam, Sir is refusing to cooperate. It is his physiotherapy time but he is refusing.’

I gathered all my wits.This was going to be tough. The very fact that the Care Home had called me meant that they were not able to convince Avneesh.

Yes, Avneesh. My better half.After living together for 40 years we had to live separately. Not because we divorced but because he needed 24 hours help and none of us could support him.

‘Madam, madam……please talk to him’, said the nurse.

‘Yes, yes’, I said to her coming out of my thoughts.

‘ Avneesh ….listen’,, I began.

‘Who is Avneesh’, he said.

‘You’.

‘I am not Avneesh, …..am I?’, he asked the nurse, she nodded.

A tear escaped my eyes.

‘Avneesh do as the nurse says, it is for your betterment’, I said

‘Why should I listen to you? Who are you?’, he asked.

‘ Your wife, Avanti’.

‘Says who? I don’t think I am married’, said he

You are married Sir and she is your wife’, affirmed the nurse.

‘Avneesh, do as the nurse says. It is for your good. Don’t you want to go out in the garden and catch butterflies’, I said.

‘ Butterflies. Yes I like to run after butterflies.’

‘Ashok and Ananya used to run with you, remember?’, said I

‘Ashokkkk….’ there was a flicker of remembrance but then he said ‘I won’t exercise. It is painful and if I fall from the bed,who will look after me’, he said.

‘ You will not fall, I guarantee’, said the sister

‘If you behave I will bring gajar ka halwa over the weekend’, I said.

‘Halwa/’

‘Yes, now will you do as the sister says?’ I asked.

He was lost in his thoughts but he mumbled a yes.

Soon after we disconnected and I sat down and as usual cried myself hoarse.And I thought of all the times we had spent together.

I was his friend’s sister. No it was not a love marriage.  My brother suggested that he marry me. Our parents agreed and that is it.

Forty years we had spent together. He was not an easy person to live with. Well neither was I. But we were together for good or worse. He had a bad temper. I had a fiery tongue and we both had two beautiful children. He battled outside. I battled in the home but we were a team. With the little money we saved, we would go for movies, picnic at the beach. I remember the first time he gifted me something substantial… it was a ring. And he got an identical one for himself.Yes times were tough and we barely had any assets. But we had a lot of understanding.

By the time he was about to retire we were happy, it was time to relax now. Son was employed and about to get married.Daughter was married already and had blessed us with a grandson. Now it was our time to do as we wished.

It started suddenly the shaking and the tempers. We ignored, he always had the temper, didn’t he. But then he started getting a bit violent. One day he fell. He got up but after that his mobility was reduced gradually to the point he could not get up from the bed. He was losing his memory too. A form of Parkinson’s the doctor said. The brain sends commands, the nerves don’t agree.

We couldn’t handle him, so we kept a nurse but then it went on escalating till we couldn’t do anything except keep him in a care.

The second line of the 9th shloka of chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita says ‘janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi duhkha-dosanudarsanam’. Meaning the four problems of life are birth death, old age and sickness. And when two of these problems; old age and sickness combine, life is unbearable not only to the person but to everyone connected with the person.

Many people talk behind our backs that we could  not take care of Avneesh and threw him in an old age home. I don’t argue with anyone. This pain can only be understood by someone who goes through it. I know Avneesh is dying but me…. I die a thousand deaths in a day.


Today is Day 4 of Write Tribe Festival of Words

 

 

 

 

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A day of learning

I love being with children. I forget my physical pain and worries when I am with them. So I find out ways to be with children. I baby sit, take tuition’s etc.

My own son complains that I am too strict with him and lenient with others, which is true. Being a single mother is not easy. I have to be strict and yet loving. All my living moments are spent worrying. Whether he will catch a cold, malaria, dengue or will he fall in bad company. But when I am with other kids, I enjoy. Enjoy their banter, their inquisitiveness and their innocence.

Presently my son who is about to be a teenager is in one of his bouts of silence. And all because I refused to take him to a restaurant on a weekday. But then rules are rules. In our home we go out to eat on Saturdays, that’s it. Buttt….I have a plan.

‘Nishant’,I called out.

‘Hmmm’, he mumbled.

‘The weather is good, you have a holiday; let us go out….have lunch outside,maybe beach’, I said raising my eyebrow.

‘Beach is good’, he said excitedly, ‘But just you and me, that would be boring’.

‘Call your gang; Harish, Shaila,…..’, said Me.

‘Nah, all have plans’, said he.

‘Then? ‘

He shrugged

‘How about calling our building kids’, asked Me.

He smiled, ‘But you will have to arrange transport’.

I looked out. Mr. Sodhi was home, his van was parked outside. ‘ let me ask Mr.Sodhi’, I said.

Nishant grinned.

 

I smelled the salty air. I love being at the beach, it rejuvenates me. Some kids are building sand castles, some are running about. I looked here and there, a little distance away is a lady trying to open her flask and failing to do so.I got up and moved towards her. Nishant was immediately beside me. ‘Where are you going?’, he asked.

‘She needs help’, I said.

But ma, you only say not to talk to strangers’, he said.

‘Yes, but we are in a group, we are there to help and protect each other’, I smiled and moved.

beach-blue-colors-1150618In no time we were chatting and enjoying each others company. Mr. Sodhi was standing far away tinkering with his van. I took out my sneakers and sat.I love it when the waves touch my feet.

I noticed a boy cycling away. ‘My son’, said my companion.

He was speeding away and then he fell. The cycle fell far off. The boy on the waves. I saw Nishant and three other kids rushing towards him. Two helped him get up. Nishant used his own towel to dry him up. Other two kids looked after the bicycle.

I smiled. True we are living in troubled times. We ask our own not to speak to strangers but when we are in a group we can always look out for each other, can’t we?

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yad yad acarati sresthas tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute lokas tad anuvartate (Bhagavad Gita 3.21)
TRANSLATION
Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
A leader whether he/she be of a community or a country has the responsibility of setting up examples. A mother or a teacher more so. Because whatever she does is emulated by her kids.
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Today is Day 3 of Write Tribe Festival of Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Old clothes/new clothes

Appa looked out from the window. It was a sunny day. Everyone had put their clothes out to dry. Suddenly he became thoughtful and sat down.

Susheela came and asked,’ Appa I made some bondas, shall I bring them here or will you come to the dining table?’

‘No, Susheela, I am not hungry, maybe later’, said Appa.

‘What has happened to you Appa, you used to enjoy eating….you hardly eat now’, complained Susheela

‘What do you see outside, Susheela?’, asked Appa.

‘Clothes put for drying’, said Susheela.

‘You wash clothes when it is dirty and then when it cannot be used any further; what do you do with it Susheela?’, asked Appa

‘Throw it away’, she replied.

‘I too need a new body Susheela, this one has become useless’, said Appa

Susheela stood there transfixed not knowing what to say.

‘Free me from all this entanglements Susheela, let me go, I cannot carry on any further’, he added

Tears welled up in Susheela’s eyes and she rushed out.

She rushed to the other room where Arjun, her husband was working on his laptop she  leaned on his shoulder and started weeping.

‘What happened Sush’, a concerned Arjun asked.

Susheela repeated what Appa had said. Arjun was thoughtful. It was true that from some days his father was tired. His wife was too attached to her father in law. She was an orphan and had been raised in an orphanage. his father had met her on a routine visit to the orphanage, liked her and got her married to his son.  Like a mother he had trained her to be a good companion.Their camaraderie was so good that sometimes he felt jealous.

‘Maybe it is time for him to be free Sush, don’t hold him back. His body is battered, let him go’, said Arjun

‘ I will be an orphan again’, said she.

Arjun sighed. ‘For your selfish interests,how long will he carry his worn out body Sush’, he asked.

Susheela looked at him with her swollen eyes.

Some days later Appa left his body.

Susheela sat near his body reminiscing the old days mumbling under her breathe, ‘may you get a better body appa and better companions too’.


Bhagavad Gita chapter 2 Shloka 22 says:

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naro ‘parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany anyani samyati navani dehi
TRANSLATION
As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.
A time will come when each one of us will have to leave this body and take on a new one. Our effort should be to get a better body and a better life.
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Today is Day 2 of Write Tribe Festival of words

 

 

 

 

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Waiting…..

adorable-baby-born-2133He stood at the door waiting. But then it was not new….waiting that is. For a long time He had been waiting. Waiting that His child would come back.

He remembered all those happy times when He and His child had had fun. Those times when they had gone to pluck some fruits or the time when they had gone to play….happy memories. The happiest moments were when the child had slept on His lap or at the crook of His arm. The child had slept so peacefully without a care knowing that the Father would take care.What had happened then why had the child turned his back to Him, why had he gone away. Tired standing so long, he rubbed His feet and sighed.Today too His child would not come back. He sighed and went inside. Another day gone. When will the child come to her senses.


pitaham asya jagato mata dhata pitamahah
vedyam pavitram omkara rk sama yajur eva ca
Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita  (Chapter 9, shlokan17) I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support, and the grand sire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om. I am also the Rk, the Sama, and the Yajur [Vedas].
Again in the fourteen chapter shloka 4 he declares
sarva-yonisu kaunteya murtayah sambhavanti yah
tasam brahma mahad yonir aham bija-pradah pita
TRANSLATION
It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.
Such a magnanimous father He is that when we want to enjoy alone without Him, he creates material worlds and sends us across. He adorns this new world with whatever we could need but He himself stays back waiting for us at the doorsteps of His abode waiting. We seemingly enjoy in the travails and angst of this world and births later understand that the joy with the eternal father was much more than what we are enjoying here and then begin the quest back.
Meanwhile He has been waiting, waiting for ages for his child to return home. And when the child does return, oh what joy, what fun.
I often wonder how will itbe when I return? Will I cry out in joy, will I hug Him tight but then I worry When will the time come when I do return home?
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Linking it to the Write Tribe Festival of words #writebravely
This time have decided to use the picture prompt as well as at least one shloka per day. Join me people in this yatra.

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