Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Bubble-Maker's Son

Bubbles.....those fragile, transient balls of joys. Slowly they rise, slowly they float, and suddenly they pop, causing a sudden burst of laughter among the onlookers. Children yell and scream, many stretch to catch them, to touch them and crack them. Bubbles don't cost much either. Because of so many reasons, and perhaps many more which we do not know, the Bubble-Maker and his son would frequent the park every weekend. Nobody knew their real name. They were called just that- the Bubble-Maker and his son. Children would squeal the moment they saw them and the place would become crowded pretty fast. The bubble-maker would start his magic while his son after first few minutes would go and sit down in a corner and draw something. Often the son would play music on his wooden flute. The ritual would go on for a long time. People would come and enjoy the spectacle of gigantic bubbles the bubble-maker made. They would ask their children to drop in a few coins in the box the bubble-maker kept next to him. Some would be generous to put in a dollar and some would be content by dropping a penny. And the bubble-maker went on with his business. With the money collected, he would buy trinkets for his son - small things like crayons, colors, paint brushes, whistles, balloons - small things that no child could resist. 

There was one more thing he wanted to buy for his son - something his son loved but never asked for - a real flute, for the flute he had did not play so well. The bubble-maker knew his son had talent. Without any training, his son could play tunes he heard once. If only he had a good flute, and a good teacher. 

One Sunday, a well-dressed man in his forties came to the park. Fidgety, and frowning, the man sat near the bench where the bubble-maker and his son would usually sit. He was lost in his own thoughts, rumbling and mumbling to himself. After a while, when the bubbles floated in the air, the loud laughter of kids brought him back to his senses. He looked around. Just then a bubble, a tiny bubble touched his nose and popped. The man wiped his nose quickly. But the bubble had tickled him already. He saw another bubble rise...this one was a giant.....it floated....and floated.....and floated.....and......popped. The kids screamed. The man's ruffled brows flattened. Another bubble.....floating......floating.......floating..but before it popped......flute.....Where?.....Where did the music come from? The man sprang up from the bench and turned around. He saw the little boy playing the flute. Did the music sound like 'Flight of the Bumble bee'? Yes, it did. How could this little boy play it so well. There were discordant notes in between. But they were perhaps due to the broken flute. The man rushed towards him. 
"Who taught this to you son?", the man asked the little boy.
"I heard it and I liked it. So I keep playing it. It is so frisky and lively. Do you like it sir?"
The man did not reply. He opened a case he was carrying. It had a beautiful flute in it. The man took it out. 
"Keep playing. Do not stop, my boy."
The bubble-maker's son was delighted. The twosome started playing the tune together. Music and bubbles created such harmony that it was a feast for the soul. The world became enchanted. When the music stopped and all the bubbles had popped, the man grasped the little boy's hands and shook him with joy.
"I was agitated as I could not find someone who loved the flute the way I did. I was angry that I could not find someone who worshiped music like I did. I wanted someone who played the flute from his heart. You.....you are that someone.....Come with me....let us make music together.....let us create joy!"

The bubble-maker's heart fluttered. His heart swelled with pride for his son. He took out his dowels and made one last big bubble for the day......a might big, beamy brilliant bubble.....just like his son. 

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Friday, October 24, 2014


             Mac was prancing with joy. It was that time of the year again. Time when bells jingled and Santa came! Time when he left his favorite cookies for Santa by his little Christmas tree! Time when mommy would buy Mac presents. Mommy always said that Christmas is for giving and Mac thought that this meant Mommy would give him his present. He got ready and shouted, “Mommy, let’s go!”

“Grab a snack young man and then off we go”, Mommy answered from the kitchen. Mac hurried to her and picked up his peanut butter and jelly toast.
“Hurry up. We will be late Mommy”, Mac squealed.
Off they went, holding hand in hand. As the mall neared, Mac could see the spirit of holiday everywhere. Shops were decorated with Christmas lights. Balloons were everywhere. Happy kids with hands full of presents made Mac even happier. As they came near the toy shop, Mac saw someone sitting outside with a big poster that said ‘TOY DRIVE.
“What’s that, Mommy?”
“They are collecting toys for kids.”
“May be those kids do not have anyone to buy them presents, honey. May be they don’t have money.”
Mac read what was written on the poster as he walked past it. It had names of some kids and their wish-list. One name caught Mac’s attention -‘Sammy wants a red car’.
After a few seconds, he asked, “How many toys can we buy, Mommy?” “You know it Mac. We always buy one toy that you pick.”
They entered the toy shop. Mac saw the building blocks he wanted to purchase. Next to them was a collection of cars. There was a shiny red one there too. Mac remembered Sammy. Just then Mommy picked up the box of blocks. Mac stopped her.
“I want the car, please.”
“Are you sure Mac? You said you wanted the blocks”, Mommy asked.
“Please Mommy! Can I have this car?”
“Okay Mac”, Mommy put the box back and took the car.
As they headed out of the store, Mac pulled Mommy towards the ‘TOY DRIVE’.
“I want to give this to Sammy.”
“Who’s Sammy?” Mommy asked.
“I don’t know. I read it here.” Mac pointed on the list.
“But what about your Christmas present Mac?”
“You always tell me that Christmas is for giving. I think I want to give a present this time Mommy”
“You are such a gem Mac!” Mommy hugged Mac. She took the box and gave it to man collecting the toys.
“Do you want to write a note to Sammy?”, asked the man.
Mac wrote ‘Merry Christmas, Sammy’ and drew a smiley. He wrote his name and gave it to the man. The man asked Mac’s mommy to fill in a little form. After that Mac went home.
A day before Christmas, Mommy asked Mac to come to her room.
“You have a mail, Mac.”
“Who is it from?
It sure was a mail from Sammy - a ‘Thank You’ card that said that Mac had made the Christmas so very special for Sammy this year. The card read ‘Christmas is for giving. You gave me joy by fulfilling my wish. I wish upon the star that your wishes come true too. I send you joy. I send you my love. I send you my heartfelt thank you my dear friend.’
Mac felt very happy. He felt content. He hugged Mommy and said, “Merry Christmas Mommy”.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Its Halloween folks. My son was asked to bring in some Boo messages for his friends and family, so I wrote a few. Feel free to share them with your friends and family. A BIG BOO to YOU!!!

Spooky Spider on the wall
Boos us all, Boos us all !!!

Ghostly Goblin in the Night
Boo him....boo him at first sight!!!

Pumpkin Light
Burning bright
Boos my friend
At 12 in the night!!!

Whining Witch is on her broom
Will boo you when she comes to your room!!!

Frightful Bat is Flying here
to boo you while you sleep in your chair!!!

Boo him, boo her
Boo them all
Monster hiding
In the Hall!!!

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Untanned Feet

It was a reasonably hot August day as I walked towards the park with my two kids. I was looking all around as it was very quiet and despite being summer vacation, no kids were out. My gaze fell on my feet as I bent down to pick something from the ground. And I was struck....it was as if something hit me hard. Was something wrong with my feet ? Well, nothing except that they were untanned.....they bore no mark of the sun's heat. It suddenly reminded me of the time gone by......time that was spent walking ....on sunny days, on rainy days......walking with my precious friends....walking our kids to school, and then walking them back home, spending hours in the park, chatting, laughing, playing dumb charades, going bananas over unintended jokes and puns, resolving our kids' fights , discussing who was going to make what in the next potluck, and somehow always getting stuck over starters.....(shweta....you always got to make some....:)..).....echoes of our laughter still reverberated in my ears......we were best friends and those were the best times.....it was okay to get tanned in the sun, it was fun to bear the brunt of that heat.....and the warmth of friendship kept us cozy as winters came and temperatures dropped.....It seemed to be happening yesterday.......and then, my son called me....and I was brought back in the here and now......in the desolate park......where are the friends gone...........I am sure the sun too misses our sunny chats.......and my untanned feet wait to bathe in the heat again.......

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I like windows......windows that are open....that let the bright beams of sunlight light up my room.....i like windows that let me see the beautiful landscape outside.....green pastures, rainy fields, moving clouds, falling leaves, snowflakes,.......i like windows through which I peep outside and see kids playing, moms chatting, birds flying.....i like open windows from where I am able to hear laughter and happy screams of children.......i like windows that reflect the beautiful insides of houses I pass by on the road......windows that tell me what kind of people live there.....windows adorned with stickers telling me that there are kids inside....playful, lively, energetic...kids whose moms are not fastidious  and enjoy a mess here and a mess there.....windows displaying showpieces brought as souvenirs of the memorable vacations planned with much gusto..windows from which i can see the well-lit chandeliers that remind me of my own home and those chandeliers my dad had bought.....those chandeliers that once illuminated our living room...i like doors too....doors decked with welcome tags, with festoons, with motifs of God....reflecting the beliefs and tastes of the people who dwell inside.....i like doors that open into the ornate interiors of its residents.....interiors demonstrating whether the tastes of the inmates are simple or chich......doors that open into the cozy comforts of rooms that are home to its inhabitants.....i like open doors that emit delectable smells of food cooked with love and care.....i like open doors that diffuse the sweet smelling whiffs of scented candles and pious incenses.......i like open doors and windows.....they tell me stories......i sometimes wish for some secret door or window too.....a hidden passage that would transport me to another magical place......a place where battered souls could heal themselves.....where balmy voices would cleanse angry and jealous hearts......a place which would be like a time capsule taking me back to my mom's songs, my dad's hearty laughter, my brother's vivacious eyes......oh I hear those voices already.....its just that those are not palpable......its just that that door is not real and such window does not exist......but my mind can always create a passage like that one......where i can connect.....a window in my heart that lets me see them all....a door in my heart that will always be open to their memories......

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The Broken Umbrella

Umbrellas are a great invention. They protect us from heat and shade us from wet weather. They bring us closer together. They make bonds.

Some days it was sunny, baking hot, blazing. The other days it would rain. Drizzle would turn into a real drencher. Everyday two kids boarded the school bus from the same spot. These two kids were opposites in many ways. One was quiet, the other one loud. One was extravagant, the other just ordinary. They say that opposites attract. But here one could see no bond. There was an unease in the air. John had everything one could wish for.....in fact anything one wanted to indulge in. A passer-by would often hear him as always complaining......sometimes groaning over a broken toy, sometimes grudging over the fact that his friend had something he did not have. Kyla on the other hand was serene. Clad in simple outfit, she would look around herself. She would sometimes observe the sky and sometimes admire the rain drops that fell on her through her broken umbrella. She had no complaints to offer. John would often ask his mom why she brought a broken umbrella. He had two umbrellas and could not in the whole world imagine why anyone would use something that was broken and meant to be discarded. He would never ever do that. What would his friends say, he thought. He also wondered why she carried the umbrella with her everyday....even when it was not raining.

Sometimes he wanted to ask her about the broken umbrella. But they had never talked and Kyla seemed so reserved. He did not know how to approach her. 

One day as usual, the two kids were standing at the bus stop. Their bus was late today. Kyla was late too. It had not occurred to John that it might rain so he did not carry his umbrella with him that day. But it started pouring. At first it was just a sprinkle here and a sprinkle there. It was manageable, John thought. Then, it started pouring a bit more, and bit more than that. John's first thought was to run back home before he was soaked completely. But just as he turned, he saw Kyla approaching. She had her broken umbrella over her. It was broken but could still protect her from rain. She came towards John and asked her to come under the shade. John had heard her voice for the first time. It was sweet, it was calm. John did what he was told. Except for the sputtering of rain drops on the umbrella, there was complete silence in the air. As there was a hole in the umbrella, they got drenched a little bit but Kyla didnt seem to mind at all. 

The bus came. The two kids boarded the bus and for the first time sat together. John thanked her. Kyla nodded and said it was okay. John now mustered all the courage and popped up the question, " Why do you carry a broken umbrella everyday? Why don't you get a new one?" At first Kyla was silent. Then she said, " It is a gift from my dad. He gave it to me on my fifth birthday." " Well, can he not buy you another one?", asked John. "If I ask him, he sure will. He works hard all day just to keep me and mommy happy. But", and Kyla was quiet again. John waited. Kyla said, " but I still remember how he did not have enough money that day but just because he overheard me praying, wishing for a beautiful umbrella, he went out and bought one for me. He was supposed to buy a raincoat for himself as his old one was torn. But he wanted to make me happy. And he wanted to make my day special because he loves me so much. When he came back home that day, he was completely drenched. Wet and dripping, he came to me and asked me to close my eyes. Then he took my hand and put in it my beautifully wrapped surprise. I was overjoyed. I will always cherish this gift of his. He is the best dad in the whole world." " We are not like you John. We buy things because we need them, not because we want them. There is a difference you know.And besides, gifts are special. Because feelings are special." John's heart was pounding. He thought of the many times that he had thrown away gifts because he did not like them. He remembered the times he had misbehaved with his parents for not letting him have his way. He had been so wrong, he felt.

The bus stopped. As the kids got off the bus, John called Kyla. " Can we share your umbrella everyday, Kyla? There seems to be some magic in it. The magic of love maybe?.....Your dad's love for you.....and your love for him.....I don't like my umbrella. It always keeps me cold and aloof."  Kyla smiled a big smile this time. And the two moved on.

Nanna's Corner

That shop had been empty for a long time. But somebody was coming in it now. Emma saw an old lady trying to fit the signboard which said " Nanna's Corner". Emma was curious but too shy to ask. She quietly went inside the music studio adjacent to the old lady's shop. Emma came here everyday to get piano lessons. There were two things Emma just loved more than anything else - music and chocolates.

Two days later, Emma saw the shop open. The lady stood outside with a tray in her hand inviting everyone to taste her chocolates. Children were rushing towards her, picking their chocolates and running away. Emma slowly walked toward the lady and picked up a heart-shaped chocolate.

"That one's my favorite too, honey", the lady said.

Emma looked into her eyes as she put the chocolate in her mouth.  One could immediately discern the sparkle in her eye as the sweet delight melted in her mouth. 

" Do you like it?", the lady asked.

  Emma nodded. 

" Call me Nanna. All little children call me Nanna. I hope to see you soon dearie." 

Nanna went inside and Emma walked back home. The sweetness of the chocolate was still lingering in her mouth and oh! how much she had loved it. She wanted to have some more but she just couldn't say it.

The piano lessons continued and Emma went with her usual routine everyday except for the few moments when she would gaze at 'Nanna's Corner' longingly. She just couldn't muster the courage to go inside and buy few of those divine delights. Nanna would notice it all, every single day from her shop and hoped that the little girl would come in. She did not want to  scare her away. She wanted her to come on her own and Nanna knew that she would come in one day.

A month passed by. As Emma approached her music studio, she saw that 'Nanna's Corner' was decorated with balloons. Nanna stood outside with a tray full of treats and with children full of smiles. Nanna saw Emma and called her. She told her that it was her granddaughter's birthday today and this was her way of celebrating it. Emma picked up the same heart-shaped chocolate she had picked last time and thanked Nanna. 

"How are the music lessons going?" asked Nanna. " Oh, just lovely. I am learning Beethoven. It is just great!" Emma could have gone on and on but just then some more children came and asked Nanna for chocolates. Emma then went to her class.

Next day, the door to Nanna's shop was open wide and one could hear the music that was playing inside. Emma was surprised because the piece that was being played was the one she was learning in her class. It was Beethoven's Ode to Joy. She knew at once that Nanna had put on the music for her. She felt happy, well, more than happy. She felt special. Without much ado, she entered the shop. Nanna was attending to one of her customers but the moment she saw Emma, she came and hugged her.

"So glad to see you, sweetheart. How are you doing?", greeted Nanna.
"Did you play the music for me?" Emma asked.
"Yes. Are you happy?"
"Very much, Nanna. Thank you."
She then looked around and saw a picture of Nanna hugging a girl who was Emma' age.
"That's my granddaughter Jude. She is just as lovely as you."
"My name is Emma," Emma said.
"Are we friends now Emma?" asked Nanna.
"Yes", said Emma.

Shyness is like a sunflower. It will open its petals only when the warmth of sunny smiles and kind hearts touch it. Emma's heart was touched by Nanna's gesture.That day was the beginning of a special friendship between Emma and Nanna. Not a single day would go by when the two did not meet. Nanna would tell stories about her own childhood and then she would often talk about her granddaughter whom she missed a lot. Emma would often think of Nanna as someone who always gave her so much love and so many chocolates. She wanted to do something special for her too. But she did not know what.

One day Emma came to the shop and saw a birthday card on Nanna's counter. It was from Nanna's granddaughter Jude. It was Nanna's birthday! Emma picked up the card and read it. She knew she should not do that but all she was thinking about was how to make it memorable for Nanna. The note on the card said that Jude missed Nanna terribly on her birthday and she remembered the times Nanna and she would sit together and listen to one of their favorite songs ' What a wonderful world'.  Emma saw Nanna coming and quickly put the card back on the table and ran outside. Nanna called out to her but she just disappeared. 

After her class, Emma asked Nanna to come in her music studio. As Nanna entered the studio, music started playing. It was the song Jude had mentioned in the card. Emma did not know how to render it on the piano so she had requested her teacher to play it for her. The teacher had agreed and the music went on much to Nanna's joy.

"Happy Birthday Nanna!" everyone in the music studio shouted. All the children came and hugged Nanna. There was such rapture in the air. 

" Oh Emma! How did you know?", Nanna could barely ask as her heart was so full of happiness. 

" I....I saw your card from Jude....and .....I am sorry....but I read it. I wanted to make you happy, Nanna. It is your day today", Emma confessed to Nanna.

Nanna took Emma in her arms and the two danced with joy. All the children joined in the rhapsody. It sure was a wonderful world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For You My Dear Friend

I wanted to touch the mighty sky
I stretched and stretched but hardly reached the roof
I thought I should fly like the sparrow on the tree
But I had no wings to fly me high
I thought I should float like that solitary cloud above me
But my ties held me back and my feet could not move
I gazed at the stars and asked them
Tell me what is in store tomorrow
Are there smiles, are there tears
Is there joy or is there sorrow
The stars did not answer me
I wanted to stop the time right there
But the seconds, the minutes were too slippery to catch
I thought of going back in time
To my mom, to my dad, to my brothers and my sisters
Back to my days of childhood but I could not
There was no door to take me there
I thought I will try to find God so I looked
I looked in many meccas of worship
I found idols, I found rituals
I found priests, I found traditions
But I did not find God
I walked on and came to a bush of flowers
I stopped and smelled a rose
It touched me, I gasped
I felt I was breathing, I felt I was alive
That was all that was there to life
The moment I was in
There was no tomorrow
I thought of you and in my mind
I held your hand
I brought you there
I gave you a rose and asked you to smell it
You smiled and you felt alive too
I wanted to tell you when you feel low
Go out there and bathe yourself in those scented flowers
Go sit by a lake and bend forward
And see yourself
That pretty beaming face
Those lovely lively eyes
Your name means worship
So worship you must
Worship yourself and your goodness within
When you want love
Go lie in the fields
Let the breeze kiss you and the grass caress you
They are so giving they want nothing back
Live the moment cherish the moment
Care not what will be
When you want to talk
Come to me
On a cup of tea we will laugh away the worries
and wash away the blues
Together we will walk on the paths ahead
But will always stop to smell the roses.