Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Board

"How many times have I told you to be careful with knives! Why were you cutting the vegetables? Where is Khala?," an angry Faiz was complaining to his sister Gul. 

"Khala went to market to sell the baskets. She told me to cut the vegetables," Gul said.

"I wish I could take you to school with me. I want to you learn like I am learning at school," Faiz said as he bandaged Gul's finger. He loved his sister a lot. She was his world.

"Khala says I should learn house work because that is what I am supposed to do when I grow up", replied Gul.

"That's rubbish. My teacher is a Miss. I want you to be like her. Did you practice what I taught you last night?" asked Faiz.

"I did not have your pencil Faiz." Faiz was about to start but Gul added, " I wrote on sand. See", he took Faiz's hand and rushed behind the kitchen. Faiz saw how beautifully and correctly Gul had written everything. 

"How was school today Faiz?"
"Good. My teacher said that the fair is coming to our village next week. We have to go there Gul. Remember how much fun it was last year", Faiz said delightfully.

"Oh yes. We bought balloons and rode on the ferris wheel and played with those big bubbles. And you had loved the baklava they were selling in the fair. This time you get lot of them. That way you can eat them for so many days Faiz." Gul reminded her brother.

"Mmmmmm.......the sweet it just melted in the mouth....," Faiz absent-mindedly licked his lips. "But no Gul. We will not waste our money this time Gul. Miss was showing a nice board on which we can write. It does not need any chalk also Gul. It has a pen attached to it and we can write on it and then we can erase it and write on it again. It was so wonderful Gul. Miss said we can get it in the fair. There was that beautiful book stall at the fair remember. It will be selling that board Gul. If we buy it, you can write on it as many times as you want to and we don't need to worry about buying chalks and pencils. Khala will be happy too because she will not have to give us money again and again."

"But do we have money for that board Faiz?"

"We can help Khala and make more baskets. The more baskets she sells, the more money we will get. Come, let us weave some baskets and surprise Khala."

Faiz rushed to the corner where Khala kept all her stuff and started weaving. Gul sat down to help her brother. The two were so lost in the work they did not see Khala coming. She looked surprised but didn't say anything. Faiz got up and gave water to Khala.

"What is it this time Faiz? I cannot buy you anything right now", Khala said. 

Faiz told Khala about the board. She was pleased to hear about it and a little curious too. But with an empty pocket, she could offer no words of encouragement. She asked the two kids to say their prayers and go to bed. Faiz and Gul sadly lay down and went to sleep. 

The next seven days one could see Gul and Faiz busy weaving the baskets. Their little fingers did much work and they ached but their desire for that little treasure made them forget everything. Khala wanted to stop them but she did not want to rob them of their happiness. So she kept quiet and did her work with an even greater spirit.

Hard work does wonders. So does a passionate heart. And here there were two little hearts full of zeal, full of innocence, full of love. Many baskets were weaved, and sent straight to the market. Khala brought in money every night and tucked them under her pillow.

The day of the fair arrived. Faiz was very excited.

"Will Khala give us the money Gul?" he asked.

"You go and ask...."

"Faiz, come here," Khala was calling.

Faiz went to Khala. Gul peeped from behind the kitchen door.

"Take it. Go and get that board. And better hurry up before it's all gone."

Faiz hugged Khala but couldn't utter a word. His happiness knew no bounds. Taking the money, he went out and ran. He ran and ran and stopped to catch his breath only when he had reached the fair. He did not see the big balloons and the bigger bubbles. He did not see the rides. He did not even see the food stall selling his favorite baklavas. He just saw the book stall and that board his Miss had shown at school. After paying for it, he held it in his hand for the first time. He felt its smooth edges. He took the pen and wrote his name. The pen moved like butter melting on a hot pan.....smooth, easy, flowing. It was beautiful. Was that a rain drop that fell on the board or was it a tear from Faiz's eyes. It is difficult to say because the weather was cloudy and Faiz had quickly wiped his face as he ran back home. 

He reached his house and shouted, " Khala, Gul.....look..", and he sat down catching his breath. Khala and Gul surrounded him and asked him to write on the board. Faiz wrote Gul's name. Then Khala asked Faiz to draw something. As Faiz sat there drawing, Gul went inside and brought something from the kitchen. Faiz's eyes gleamed and opened wide in surprise. They were his favorite baklavas. Khala had kept some spare money and got some baklavas from the fair.

"Gul told me how much you loved these baklavas. Did you want to wait for another year to eat them?", Khala said laughing.

Faiz drew a picture on the board - Khala, he and Gul with a plate full of baklavas. And no one erased it for a long time. 

 (Like my posts. I feel good. Leave me a comment. I feel great!)

[Visit for interesting articles.]  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Mummy

"Nanhi Pari, sone chali, ghata dheere aana"....this was the song my mama sang for my newly-born daughter. Her melodious voice has not altered although years and sorrows have worn her down. I still remember my mom singing songs of Lata and Asha while me and my brother sat there listening to her. It all seems as if it was yesterday. The mesmerizing 'thandi hawaein, lahra ke aayein', the haunting 'aaega aane wala', the soothing and sad 'tum itna jo muskura rahe ho', and hundreds of other songs and ghazals were beautiful and melodious to me because my mom used to sing them. Even now I can hear her singing. Maybe it is true that sound never dies. It is her birthday today and after much thinking and searching, I finally gave up the idea of sending any gift. I cannot find anything special for her. I used to send flowers but she says that flowers look good in the garden. Why pluck them? True. What she wants is me and since I cannot go to her, my words can reach her. I can tell her how much she means to me by writing what I feel for her. 

What does mom mean to me? The first thing that comes to my mind is care. When I am sick, I dread calling her because the moment I say 'Hello', she will make out that I have cold or cough. And before I can say anything else, she will say, 'dawai khai kya, halwa bana le apne liye, door baithi hai, yahan hoti to tere liye kuch bana deti.....bachche bhi akele sambhaalti hai......' and so on. I keep smiling while she is saying this and then the question ' pata nahi kab wapas aaegi'. And I think, how I wish that moment was here now - that moment when I could hug mama and sit next to her. The moment when she would tell me endless stories about her past, about the present, and advises for my future.

Mom is love, mom is care, mom is fear too....fear that nothing bad should happen to her children. Mom is wait.....wait for her children who have flown away from her nest, leaving it empty and who she hopes will come back to her. Mom is faith.....she always tries to persuade me that I should say my prayers,that I should believe in God. She knows that after the loss of my father and my brother, my relationship with God has been hostile. But what to I tell her. How do I pray to God. She is my God. She is my strength. If God made her suffer so much, how can I pray to Him. What do I ask from Him? If He is there somewhere and if He can listen, then I will ask for a smile on her face, and music on her lips. I will ask for a basket full of love and happiness for her. 

Mom is good guidance. She is like a lighthouse that will not let you go astray in the dark. She shines from far beckoning you, helping you find your way out of the dark and stormy seas. 

Mom is good food, although my mom has never been a foodie herself, nor is she fond of spending time in the kitchen. She would rather sit and read a good book or watch a good show. Still there are things that only she can make....foods of my childhood , the tastes of which still linger in my mouth and in my memory. Her sweet dalia (mama is going to frown when she reads this....and i am smiling....), her aloo-puri (my staple food I used to take to friends would always guess it.....tu to aloo-puri lai hogi lunch main, they would often say...), her tamatar ki chutney topped on the wonderful namkeen mathis she used to make, her kheer, her matar ke mouth is watering matter how well I try, I cannot make them the way mama does. I am a decent cook myself but their are things that only mama knows. I wonder what her secret is. But mummy ke haath ka khana is ....well....only mummy ke haath ka khana
Mom is wisdom - wisdom that comes from life as it is lived. I remember mama sharing her stories with me and with my friends, telling us what mistakes she did and how we can learn from them. She has so many stories to tell. Stories about her and stories not about her....but stories which tell us that life needs to be lived to its fullest, that one should be prepared for the rainy days and that one should smile whenever he can. She tells me about a life we might have had earlier and a life we may have after this life. I do not know what to say to her about that but all I know is that this is the life we have and in this life she is my mom, my eternal sunshine. My days start when I hear her voice. My days end thinking about her. With pride I show my friends pictures of her childhood and college days. I admire the strong little woman she is and my heart flutters with joy when she laughs. My papa and mama studied in the same college and although they didn't know each other, I like to think that my papa must have had a crush on mama when he heard her sing in the youth festivals. Mama always says no but I like to think it that way. My mama with then famous sadhna-cut hair-style must have won papa's heart. 

Finally, what I am today I owe to her. The way I write, I owe to her because she is my first teacher, my first reader, my first critic. And it need not be said but I still say it that I love you mama. Wish you a very happy birthday and I hope and pray that we are together soon so that we can celebrate our birthdays together. 

(Like my posts. I feel good. Leave me a comment. I feel great!)
[Visit for interesting articles.]

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dima and Dasha

In some remote village in Russia lived two children, Dima and Dasha. Both were very lively and sprightly as most little children are. Their mother and father worked hard to make life easy for their two children. Every morning mama would make soft pancakes for Dima and gingerbread for Dasha. In the night, their daddy read them ancient tales and tucked them in their cozy beds. Dima and Dasha knew they were poor but they felt so loved  that they were always happy and never demanded anything from mama and papa.The village they lived in was a small village where most of the people knew each other. Everybody loved and cared for everybody else in the village. 

One night a wicked magician came to the village. He was so evil that he did not like happy children at all! So when he saw that everyone in the village was so chirpy and peppy, he became furious. He came up with an ugly plan. He thought that if all the elders in the village vanished, the children will be lost and lonely. Then they would become very unhappy. With a mean smile on his face, he swung his wand and said

 By the magic of my wand
All elders of the village be gone
Only he can break the spell
Who is brave enough to reach the well
In which hides a lotus white
Its light will set all wrong things right

He brandished his wand three times in the air.The winds howled and there was a loud thunder. The incantation worked and the village was cursed. The magician went away grinning wickedly. 

Morning came. Dima and Dasha got up. They were surprised that mama had not come to wake them up. Then they thought that maybe mama and papa had some work so they had gone. They came to their kitchen as they were both very hungry. There was some left-overs from the last night but no fresh pancake for Dima or gingerbread for Dasha. 
" It is so strange. Mama always makes fresh food for our breakfast. I wonder where she is, Dima", said Dasha.

"Do not worry sister", said Dima. " They will be back in the evening. Let us go out and play." 

Out the happy kids went to play with their friends. At first, everyone talked about missing  mommies and daddies. But soon the talk turned to play and the play turned muddier and funnier. There was no one to stop them. So they jumped in muddy puddles and ate as many candies as they could find. Then the day waned and the little bodies were tired. They all wanted to go home to mommy and daddy. But where were they? Why had they not returned? They got worried now. Some were scared too as the village was very close to the woods. They huddled together and sat down in one place, waiting, waiting, and waiting. 

Dima and Dasha were there too. They were sad too. What could have happened? Nobody knew. At first they also sat down with the other children and waited. But the wait seemed endless. Their tummies rumbled. Other kids' tummies were grumbling too. So Dima and Dasha got up and said," Let us all go to our home and eat what is there." So off all went to the two kids' house. There was not much to eat but the kids managed to share everything and then sat down sadly. Any sound from outside would startle them as the night was dark, the woods were deep. A mere meowing of the cat or the rustling of the leaves would send shivers down the spine. But what could they do? They were all so little. So they waited and they waited.
Now it so happened that that very night, Baba Yaga Boney Legs, the witch of the forest was passing by that village. She knew the village to be a place of merriment. Being lonely herself, she would often stop there and longingly look at children playing, and moms cuddling their little ones. But today it was so quiet. Why, Baba Yaga wondered! As it was night, her black horse was with her. So she asked,

Black horse rider, what is wrong
Where is the cheer and laughter gone?

The rider replied,

A mean magician has come here
with spell has made the elders disappear
Kids are scared and hungry and sad
All they want is their mom and dad.

Baba Yaga was furious. She at once looked around to see if the magician was there. But he was gone. So Baba Yaga decided to help the children. She took out her mirror, and asked

Wise mirror, wise mirror, look and tell
How do I break this wicked spell?

Light flashed in the mirror and it replied,

Only he who is very small
A little less than four feet tall
Can reach the well 
and break this spell.

The witch at once surveyed the village. Her gaze fell on Dima. He was small and he was sad. Would he be able to achieve the task? Was he brave enough? She had to find out. Just then Dima headed to the kitchen. He was all alone. Baba Yaga descended and whoosh! She fell right in front of him. Dima was startled and he stepped back. Then he looked down. The witch was known to be so ugly that anyone would be scared. But Dima looked curiously and said," That is a funny costume you are wearing. Have you seen Mama and Papa anywhere, by any chance?"

Baba Yaga was surprised. But she tested Dima one more time by making a hideous face.

"Look, I am too worried to be scared right now so quit the Boo game and tell me what do you want?", Dima said at once.
Baba Yaga was amused. She at once told Dima what had happened. 
"Can Dasha, my sister come with me too?", Dima questioned.
"She cannot come with you little boy", Baba Yaga answered.
Dima took Baba Yaga outside to all the children. Some of them screamed and some started crying. Dima shushed them and told them the whole story. He would be going to get the flower from the forest.

Dasha was worried. She at once rushed to her bed and hugged her doll, her companion in distress. The doll had soaked many a tears that had fallen from Dasha's eyes. Dasha took her doll to Dima and gave it to him. "I cannot come but she will be with you. Hug her when you are scared, Dima and come back soon", saying this the loving sister hugged her brother and started crying.
The witch did not like tears falling from little eyes. She took out her cloak and a mirror and said to Dima,

Take my cloak for cold nights
Take this mirror to fight all frights
Take this doll to cheer you on
Hurry to the forest , it will soon be dawn
Come back you should before its night again
To set everyone free from this hateful bane!

Dima took what the witch gave him. As he was about to leave, Dasha brought him few carrots and a packet of chamomile flowers and said," My dear brother, when you are tired, soak a few flowers in water and sip them. Mama says they are very soothing. But do not take a lot or you will fall asleep. And when you are hungry, eat these carrots."

Dima put everything in his pocket and then wrapped himself in the witch's cloak. And off he went deep inside the forest. It was very dark, it was very eerie. Night animals were on the prowl. But Dima cautiously kept going, looking around for the well. Just then, Dasha's doll started speaking,

Look for the fox
Behind two mighty rocks
He can tell
The way to the well!

Dima at once started searching for the rocks and soon he spotted them. He approached the rocks gently. Suddenly, the fox jumped out.

"What is it, boy?"
"Where is the well?"
"Eat my juicy grapes and then I will tell."

The fox put forth a bunch of black grapes before Dima. They were the juiciest and most luscious grapes Dima had ever seen. He was about to take a grape but suddenly Dasha's doll spoke

Eat one grape
You will get late
Eat grapes two
You lose your shoe
Eat grapes three
And the fox will flee!

The fox tempted Dima again by putting a grape in his mouth. The juice dripped from his mouth and he slurped it and said, " heavenly!"

Dima was a little boy. How could he resist something so delightful. He put one grape , then another one, and then another one in his mouth. Just then, one of his shoe was flung open from his feet and disappeared into thin air. The fox smiled slyly and vanished too. Dima realized what he had done. He cried,

Oh no Oh no
What did i do!
My dear Dasha
I failed you!!

He hugged the doll and started crying bitterly. The doll spoke again,

Egg on, Egg on
Tears be gone!

Dima wiped his face, and got up. He began his search again. As he was going, a rabbit hopped around him. Dima threw a carrot to him. The rabbit was pleased. He asked Dima what he was doiong in the dense jungle. Dima told him he was looking for a well. 

"It lies under the bark of the tallest birch tree here. But to reach there, you have to cross a hungry angry lion and a fire-spitting dragon. So beware and go over there! " The rabbit pointed to the left and ran into the bushes. 

The thought of the lion and the dragon scared Dima but he had to go. So he walked on. He had lost a shoe so one of his feet felt the twigs and thorns and bled. But he could not stop now. 

He soon reached the lion's den. He decided to move past it as quietly as possible. But the smell of blood from his feet and the rustling of the bushes alerted the lion and out he came roaring. Dima slipped down and the witch's mirror fell from the cloak and broke. Dima quickly picked up the pieces and sadly put them back in his pocket. 

The lion came closer to Dima and opened his jaws. Dima thought he was gone now for sure, but instead, the lion yawned and closed his mouth. " Nobody lets me rest. I have not slept in two months and now you come here to bother me. Let me eat you up and then I will try to sleep." 

He opened his mouth again, but Dima shouted, " Stop, smell this." He quickly put the whole packet of chamomiles in water and put them in front of the lion. The lion smelled them, and yawned. " Oh, that is so nice. So nice, indeed." And he dozed off.

Dima rushed from there. He had to fight the dragon. But how? He had broken the mirror too. He took out the pieces and tried to put them back together. Just then, there was a rustle behind him. The dragon was here. He snarled and came towards Dima. Dima was terrified. He could not think of anything. Unwittingly he flashed the broken pieces in the dragon's face. The dragon saw his own ugly face in the mirror. Alarmed and stunned, he withdrew and ran away. 

Dima knew not what had happened. But he thanked the mirror and the witch and heaved a big sigh of relief. Just then he saw a birch tree that looked mightier and taller than all the other trees. It was the one! Dima jumped up with joy and ran towards the tree. He saw an opening in the tree. He descended straight in the hole and slipped though it. As he reached the bottom, he saw the well and in between the well was the brightest and most luminous lotus he had ever seen. He took the flower at once and hid it inside the witch's cloak. Then he climbed up the hole and ran. He ran with all the strength he could muster. The cloak was floating behind him. The cloak turned into a carpet, and suddenly Dima saw himself flying in the clouds. He flew like a little bird on her first flight, beaming with joy and the pride that comes from winning. He soon reached the familiar village. The carpet floated down slowly and Dima stepped down in front of anxious little children. He took out the lotus and at once, a bright light shone. The sun's first ray fell on it and as it sparkled, all mommies and daddies came rushing towards their kids and wrapped them up in their big, cozy arms.
 Baba Yaga's eyes accidentally dropped a tear and she quickly wiped it away. And off she went leaving to Dima her cloak and her mirror as a gift for the daunting task he had finished. For Dasha, she left a tiny bed for her favorite doll, a gift for the little girl who let go of her prized possession for her brother's well-being.

(Like my posts. I feel good. Leave me a comment. I feel great!)
[Visit for interesting articles.]