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This too shall pass #writebravely

I sat looking at the calendar in my hands 52 days. Just 52 days, how am I supposed to live the remainder of my life without Rakesh?

Abruptly a hand came, snatched the calendar from my hand and threw it away. It was my mother.

‘Enough of your grief….how long do you want to continue in this state?’ she bellowed. I remained silent.

Whatever happens is for good only. Good that Rakesh understood that you were  not made for each other and broke the engagement. Do you understand if you had realized it after marriage, how much difficult it would have been? Meenakshi, answer me?’, she screamed shaking me up.

Rakesh and I had been childhood sweethearts. We had been together through thick and thin. Once we had settled into our jobs we had got engaged to be married within six months. But just two months after the engagement Rakesh had broken the engagement saying that we were ‘not made for each other’.

We knew our likes and dislikes, we understood each other perfectly, we looked perfect together what else did you need to be ‘made for each other’.

‘Meenu’, my mother said with tears in her eyes, ‘How long you will sit here staring at that calendar. How long you will sit at home. Rejoin your job before you lose it. Start afresh’.

I sat silent too numb to do anything.

At that moment my father came rushing in, ‘Parvati, did Champa come today?’. Champa is our maid.

‘No, she should come now, It’s about time’, ma replied.

‘I doubt so,’, my father replied, ‘Just now I got a message there is a fire breakout in her chawl.’

‘What’, my mother said.

‘We should go there Parvati, help Champa and others,’ father said

Mother nodded. As they prepared to leave, ma dragged me too with them saying, ‘we will need all the help’

The chawl was smoldering. Firefighters were at work. Luckily it was day time and many were away at work, children at school.

Women stood huddled, shaken up. Some wailing but we located Champa. My mother ran to her. ‘Champa are you all right’.

‘Arrey Bibiji, you here.’ she smiled, ‘ I was working at the nearby house when I saw the smoke and came running’, and then she noticed me, ‘Arrey madam also came here’.

I felt uncomfortable. Who would feel comfortable amongst people in their pajamas?

Champa always called me madam because according to her I had become a ‘big’ woman after studying so much

The fire was arrested soon but the top two floors were wrecked.

‘Which floor you live in’, I asked Champa

‘Fourth, she replied, that was the topmost floor

There was some discussion going on. My father came from that group. ‘There will be an investigation but the chawl owner is telling that he will make alternative arrangements soon. Meanwhile he is asking the residents to move in with friends or family’.

Champa frowned

‘What happened?’, my mother asked.

‘My relatives live far away, if we go there, it will be far from school for my son and what about my work’, she frowned.

Some other people had the same concern.

My father was thoughtful and then he said, ‘ We can accommodate 20 people in our home and garage Champa, you select whom to bring in’.

‘Babuji’, Champa said with tears in her eyes, ‘But what about your car’

‘Human lives are more important than cars Champa and don’t think I am magnanimous, who will do the housework if you move far away’, he chuckled.

And so we bought 20 people into our home and lives.

‘Our home is so lively now’, my mother said, ‘True it is congested but at least I don’t have to look at morose faces all day’.

I glared at her.

But what she said was true. Most of the people from the chawl worked in the mill nearby. They earned not much but they lived happily. hen When in our home, all of them cooked together and we ate together too. Simple food but so tasty. Children played in the out; sometimes they came and saw television along with us. All had got such a shock because of the fire but none grieved, In fact they were already planning on how to prevent such fires in the future.

And then I realized….everything in life will not go according to our plans, there will be some hiccups but the fun is how to overcome them.

As I felt the lines of grief erase away, I looked at ma in an animated discussion with the women.

Ma, what are you discussing?’, I asked

‘———–

Sometimes we are so overcome with our own problems that we fail to see the good around us.

Arjuna on the battlefield is so confused that he wants to run away from the battlefield and Krishna says,

sri-bhagavan uvaca
asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase
gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah

 

TRANSLATION

The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.

In our grief we often forget that our object of agony is just temporary and it too shall pass.

——-

I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019’

Today’s prompt ‘Grief’

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Just Trust #writebravely

My eyes were swollen. Swollen because I had been crying for the past 5 days continuously.

I had banished my friends and family from visiting me. I didn’t want anyone’s sympathy. Five days back I had been in an accident and my right leg had been crushed and had to be amputated.

The door opened and my husband came in. I looked the other way. He came near and turned my face towards him and said, ‘Do you trust me?’

I looked at his face and saw his unconditional love and faith and I nodded. He smiled and said, ‘Then everything will be just fine.’

And I smiled too.


With our fast paced digitalized life today we are forgetting basic emotions like trust, faith and belief. Life is much easier when we have a heart that trusts easily. Remember when we were young, we had immense trust in our parents and life was full of sunshine. That same sunshine can prevail in our adult lives too if only, we are ready to trust.

Arjuna too standing in the middle of the battlefield was confused. On one side of the field were his brothers and the other side his cousins. Both were his own. In his confusion, the only person he can trust is the Lord and he says

karpanya-dosopahata-svabhavah
prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
sisyas te ‘ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam
 
TRANSLATION
Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
 
And that trust and surrender changes Arjuna’s vision.
 
So be selective on whom to trust but trust you must.

I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019’

Today’s prompt ‘trust’

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Influenced!! #writebravely

 Alka opened the door with difficulty balancing the bags in her hand and jumped a little on seeing her husband in front of her.

‘See, what all I got for us, look at this ‘, she said taking out a vegetable chopper.

‘Alka, we already have a food processor…’, started Manoj, her husband.

‘I know but it works on electricity, this….this works on muscle power’, she said flexing her arms and smiling sweetly.

Manoj sighed.

‘And what is there in the other bags?’, he asked

‘Oh that…some clothes for all of us’, said Alka

‘Alka our wardrobes are full of clothes actually bursting with clothes’, he said.

Alka frowned but then added, ‘Shirley said this is a good bargain and I  may not get such offers again’.

‘Maybe you won’t get such offers again but the question is do we need it?, said Manoj, ‘Maybe Shirley needs as she is the wife of a hotelier and socialises a lot but what about us? Our kitchen is full of gadgets bought in the last six months, that is since you met your childhood friend again and so are our wardrobes’.

‘By the way, you came early from office today?’, Alka asked trying to change the topic.

‘Yes, because your credit card statement arrived today. This month credit card payment will not only wipe out my this month’s earnings but also make a hole in our savings. Alka we have two kids, what about their education? You are always being influenced by Shirley but the point is can we afford such over indulgence?’

Alka stood there deep in thought, whether she will change or not, time would only tell.

——————————

It is an age if over indulgences. We buy online and we shop at malls and sometimes we just shop because we are influenced by our friends. There are so many attractions out there in the world that it is difficult to control self. The Bhagavad Gita Second chapter, 62nd shloka says:

dhyayato visayan pumsah sangas tesupajayate
sangat sanjayate kamah kamat krodho ‘bhijayate

TRANSLATION

While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

It is always better to know what one wants and not get carried away with offers and get unwanted things.



I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019

Today’s prompt ‘Influence’




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Nurturing minds #writebravely

Mr. Awasthi looked at the items on the table and let out a sigh. Two adult  magazines and a packet of cigarettes in the bag of a resident student. That too, a student of 11th Standard. Teen problems, yes! But how to deal with a student whose father had been a star student and a favourite of his?

 ‘Sahib, the electricity bill’, it was the peon.

Mr. Awasthi took the bill. On seeing the amount, he sat down on his chair heavily.

It had been only 20 days since he had joined this post and already he seemed to  be submerging in the flood of problems.

A school with such a rich history was now losing its shine. Why? What was wrong?

He didn’t know when it was already six in the evening when he heard a knock, ‘Yes, come in’.

A tall boy with unruly hair and familiar features stepped in.

‘Yes?’ asked Mr. Awasthi.

‘I thought you would want to meet me’, said the young man.

‘Me? Why should I want to meet you?’, asked the Principal

‘Because……I am Suraj and my things are lying there’, said he.

‘Ohh, is it? No…. I didn’t want to meet you’. Said Awasthi observing the look of surprise in the boy’s face, ‘I have more important things to do than worrying about spoilt rich boys.’

A look of defiance ran across Suraj’s face.

‘After all’, Mr. Awasthi continued, ‘why should I worry about you when I know that your father has enough money to throw upon you. If you don’t get seat in any college, your father will buy you one’.

Suraj had the look of irritation on his face. But he kept mum, just turned about and started to leave.

‘Just a minute’, called out Mr. Awasthi.

Suraj turned.

‘You like these things?’

Suraj shrugged and then said, ‘Timepass’

‘You mean to say you have lot of time in your hands?’, asked Mr. Awasthi.

‘We are not allowed Mobile phones, The television has only Nat Geo and Discovery…what is a person to do over here?’, said Suraj.

‘You have nothing to do sports, preparing for University entrance?’, asked Mr. Awasthi.

Suraj shrugged again and said, ‘Entrance exams are not so tough. 80% of the guys are busy in preparations and there is nobody capable to play with. And for the other….’, he stopped.

‘Continue, what are you afraid of’, pressed Mr. Awasthi

Again Suraj had the look of defiance, ‘Our basketball and badminton courts are not well maintained. And our coaches have their own agenda’

‘What is their agenda?’, asked Mr. Awasthi

‘Why should I tell you? You find out’, answered Suraj

Mr. Awasthi chuckled silently. By now he had understood Suraj’s problem.

‘Okay’, he said, ‘I need some help, can you help me?’,

‘Me? What can I do’, it was obvious that he was interested.

‘look at this electricity bill, it is enormous. I give you one week; tell me some ways to reduce our electricity consumption. I also want you to tell me how to reduce our food costs’, said Mr. Awasthi.

‘But why should I do so?’. Said Suraj mockingly.

‘Afraid of not able to find anything, is it?’, mocked Mr. Awasthi in return.

Suraj got up suddenly, ‘I will get back to you in a week’, he said and left

Mr. Awasthi smiled

21 months later

It was April and the campus was being vacated. The 12th standard boys were bidding each other goodbye. Each one of them would be going in different ways from now on when suddenly Mr. Awasthi felt someone come and stand behind him. He turned to see Suraj, ‘Suraj my boy, adieu it is then huh?’.

‘More like Au Revoir sir’, he said. Mr. Awasthi raised an eyebrow, ‘I will be back one day….maybe I will take your post out of your hands.’

Mr. Awasthi roared in laughter.

‘That boy was always cheeky Sir but then you really turned him around’, said the peon

‘All the children cannot be nurtured in the same way Sakharam. For a sharp boy like Suraj we had to engage his mind. Didn’t he find out different easy to generate our own electricity and wasn’t he responsible to reduce our food costs. And then so many students he has coached this year even though he himself was in 12th. A common size of jeans doesn’t fit all, some need designer fits’, said Mr. Awasthi with twinkling eyes.

‘Common size jeans…’, said Sakharam scratching his head, the last part of what Mr. Awasthi had said had gone over his head.

‘Never mind Sakharam, switch off the lights’, said Mr. Awasthi as he walked away.

———————–

Just like two different flower bushes in a garden need different care similarly different children need different nurturing. And the difference is because of the mind. Some minds move faster, some are slow. The mind is just a monkey which keeps on hopping from one branch to another. Especially in the growing up years it is necessary to keep it engaged. The Bhagavad Gita says

sri-bhagavan uvaca
asamsayam maha-baho  mano durnigraham calam
abhyasena tu kaunteya vairagyena ca grhyate

TRANSLATION

The Blessed Lord said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment. (BG 6.35)

Some minds need some extracurricular activities and some just some challenges.

I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019

The prompt for today ‘Nurture”.

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On being serene #writebravely

Ahalya sat on the edge of the bed. She had been suspecting it but after getting the results she was clear. The big C, the dreaded disease had stuck. Third stage breast cancer.

‘Amma, did you get the result’, it was her daughter Shreya who lived close by.

‘Yes, breast cancer, third stage’, answered Ahalya

‘What?’, shrieked Shreya and pulled the report from her hands.

After some moments Shreya asked, ‘Now what Amma’.

‘More test, chemo, some more tests I guess’, smiled Ahalya and then after seeing Shreya crying silently she added, ‘this too shall pass, dear, don’t worry.’

‘But why you have to suffer amma, always, why?, screamed Shreya

‘Karma’, answered Ahalya.

‘Crap. I haven’t seen you do bad or wish bad for others, then why’, Said Shreya

‘Must have done something bad in my previous lives….

‘Or the Lord must like you very much, say, go ahead, say’, said Shreya.

Ahalya just smiled and patted her head. Once upon a time she had been just like Shreya; impulsive, hot headed, outspoken. Thankfully she had changed.

She had been married young. She had Shreya within a year of marriage. But within a few months of Shreya’s birth her husband died in a road accident. It had been a battle since then. On one hand people claimed that Shreya was unlucky, on the other hand, family had created problems. Her husband was a government servant and legally she should have got a job after him but her brother in law applied but she fought with him and got the job. Her brother stopped talking to her fearing that she would land up in his house and forbade her to visit their parents. She  never stepped inside his house again but never stopped talking to her parents and always invited them home. Shreya was being cut off from her father’s inheritance, she fought for that too. On the work front too, so many challenges she had to face as a single woman.

Everything she managed alone.

She smiled and picked up the copy of the Bhagavad Gita and held it close to her heart.

‘Amma, amma,…..what are you thinking? How can you be serene at such a moment too…’.

tam eva saranam gaccha sarva-bhavena bharata
tat-prasadat param santim sthanam prapsyasi sasvatam

‘Explain  Amma’, asked Shreya

O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode’, said Ahalya, ‘You and me have faced so many troubles Shreya but We were never really alone. Strangers came forward, difficult situations eased themselves and unknown strength blossomed in our hearts. Without our knowing someone always helped us and each moment made us stronger’

‘Amma, how can you be so strong and serene in this difficult moment too  ‘ Shreya asked.

‘Faith and Surrender give you strength and serenity my dear’, Ahalya smiled and hugged her daughter.

I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019’

Today’s prompt ‘Serenity’

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The miracle called life #writebravely

Sujata pulled the shutter down. It was 7.30 p.m. ‘Charan, come quickly, ammaji will be waiting for us’, she said to her son.

Sujata was a tailor. In fact she was the only (woman) tailor in the village. As such she was quite in demand. With her 12 years of experience she had become adept in stitching blouses, long skirts and even shirts for school going boys. She hurried home Ammaji would be waiting for her at home. She needed her dinner by 8 p.m. Though she herself would cook but it was her rule that dinner should be eaten together.

But today Sujata was a little morose. No it was not because of business. Her business was going good. It was just that her sixth sense was predicting something. As she stepped inside the house she could feel that something was not right. ‘Ammaji’, she called out, ‘why is the home so silent tonight’. Ammaji was sitting quietly. ‘Is dinner ready’, Sujata added. In normal circumstances Ammaji would have screamed back that ‘Am I your servant that you are asking me such questions’ but today she sat silent.

‘She won’t talk’, said Chetan her elder son. Sujata always felt proud when she looked at him. He was about to give his tenth Board exam. Already very tall she had to really strain her neck to look at his face as she herself was quite short. And he was quite responsible too. She had never had to worry about him.

‘Your husband had come’, Chetan said. Sujata shuddered at that. He always addressed his father as her husband or Ammaji’s son. Never Babuji or papa. He couldn’t be blamed for that. Because her husband was indeed a worthless person. After Chetan was conceived she had rarely seen him. He used to work for the railways but had been thrown out because of his debauch ways. A drunkard who used to steal for his needs, a frequent ‘guest’ at the police station, he would come home whenever he needed money. Sujata could have put a restraining order against him but had not for Ammaji’s sake.

Ammaji had been a pillar for her. She had cared for her like a daughter, protecting her against her own son. She had hopes that one day he would return a sane man for his mother’s sake.

‘Ammaji, it is nothing new, he comes, takes money and goes away, why are you worried?’, asked Sujata.

‘I didn’t allow him to take money today’, interrupted Chetan

‘Yes, this fellow pushed him out, gave him two solid slaps and forbid him to enter this house again’, Ammaji yelled.

Sujata hid a smile. Chetan was slowly taking on the responsibilities on his shoulders.

‘ammaji….’, she started to speak but Ammaji interrupted her, ‘This fellow doesn’t understand Sujata that his father is a vicious man. What will happen if tomorrow he brings a knife and slashes his throat.’

What Ammaji said was right. Sujata sighed but then said, ‘Ammaji I will find a way out, first let us eat dinner’

Just as Sujata was about to put a morsel in her mouth her mobile rang, it was Nurse Sharda, ‘ Sujata, the constable’s wife is about to deliver. My scooty is not starting, so I will be a little late, can you please take charge’, she said.

As Sujata hurriedly finished her meal, Ammaji kept ranting, ‘why do you have to be midwife too. You don’t earn much in that…it is dark’ and so on.

‘ma, I will come with you ‘, Chetan said, ‘I will bring my books and study there only’. He added.

Sujata nodded.

Their village just had a small clinic and most of the childbirth took place at home. When the nurse had asked for some volunteer to be trained in midwifery, no one ventured. So Sujata had volunteered. As the Nurse lived 10 km away Sujata would be the one to attend to any childbirth in their village. Of course she had been trained for that.

 As she began preparations for the delivery her mind was trying to find a solution to her problem. True that ammaji felt a need to see her son but at present Chetan’s safety was more important. If Chetan in his rage attacked his father then….

‘I hope everything is alright with my wife’, it was the constable.

‘Yes everything is fine, nothing to worry’, she smiled. And then she thought of asking him for a solution, experienced as he was, he would definitely suggest some solution. But that would have to wait. Now the child had to be delivered.

In half an hour, the nurse too had arrived and together they helped the mother.

As Sujata held the new born in her arms, she smiled. Ammaji always asked her why she did this work but who could explain the joy of seeing the new born. The miracle called life, can there be a greater mystery or joy than it.

——————————-

na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato ‘yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire

TRANSLATION

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain. (BG 2.20)

Though the soul keeps on changing bodies, it is not necessary that one gets the human form, So when a child takes birth, it is indeed a miracle that out of 84 lakh forms the soul got a human form


I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019’

Today’s prompt ‘miracle’

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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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