Thursday, May 28, 2015

कोई जिसको हरा ना पाये वह खुद अपने मन से हारा

Sometimes, there are stories that just stay with you forever. They create a magic that leaves you hypnotized. They touch you with a caress that lasts forever. Their imprint speaks in ways you cannot express or articulate. 

There is one such story I read a few days back from For His Shelf....An Expression of Turbulence Inside. It is just one of the many flawless, mesmerizing poems by the writer. 

The story she weaves here is one that grips you by the exceptional choice of words. There is a flow, a melody that sings to you when you read it. The conclusion is left for the reader to make. And that is what hooked me for days. I kept thinking of what would be the best way to end it. The protagonist 'rajkumari' had enchanted me by her charm and grace, her purity and guilelessness. 

I attempted the conclusion and I hope it does justice to the story as a whole. 

If you wish to read the poem I have written, you have to first read the three parts. I have included the links below. Read the whole three parts as they are the context in which I write. My poem is incomplete without these gems. 


I owe you this one. I dedicate this post to your beautiful story. It touched my heart in a way very few things do. I hope that just like me, those who read this will be smitten by your charm.  

A BIG THANKS to you!

To the readers

Please read these parts before you move on.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The conclusion I wrote - Do share your thoughts.

क्या गलत ना होता गर भोलापन नम आँखों में भीगा रहता 
और कपटी अपनी जीत पे हँसता और धोखे का बिगुल बजाता?
अम्मा मेरी कहती थीं की छल से कोई बड़ा न आगे 
कोई जिसको हरा ना पाये वह खुद अपने मन से हारा 
कुछ ऐसा ही हुआ वहां जब राक्षस अपने महल में लौटा 
मग्न हुआ मदमस्त नशे में खुद को खुदा समझ वो बैठा 
खरे ह्रदय का मोल न समझा और निरीह पर दुराचार कर 
उसने था कोमल फूल को मसला 
मूढ़ ना समझा फूल की खुशबू लिपट गयी थी उससे कुछ ऐसे 
लाख जतन कर लेता लेकिन जुदा ना खुशबू को कर पाया 
जो सबको महकाती थी उस सुगंध ने ऐसा जकड़ा उसको 
हर सांस से उसकी आह निकलती हर आह की सिसकी उसे जलाती
तप्ति अग्नि अंतर्मन की, विष से भी घहरा घाव थी देती 
बंद महल में तड़प रहा वो राक्षस कैसे किसी से कहता 
गूँज हंसी की चुभती कानों को, एक भोला चेहरा देिखता हर दम 
महकता हर एक कूचा कूचा, घोट रहा था उसका अब दम 
थक कर बलशाली टूट गया था, वापस चला वहीँ जहां से 
फूल को तोड़ा था निर्दय ने, और कुचला था निर्मल मन को 
राजकुमारी को देखा, वो आज भी खुशियां बाँट रही थी 
लेकिन कुछ खोया खोया सा उसका चंचल मन लगता था 
बिखर गया राक्षस बगिया में जैसे मोम पिघल जाती है 
दूषित मन को बिछा के नीचे कम्पित गुहार में यह कह पाया 
अहंकार में डूबा था मैं सबको मैंने हरा दिया था 
राजकुमारी तूने लेकिन मुझे आज यह सबक सिखाया 
सच्चे मन से नहीं बड़ा कुछ नहीं जीत मैं उसको सकता 
जो त्रुटिरहित है दोषरहित है कैसे मैं उसपे दाग लगाता 
तेरे उजले मन ने कुछ ऐसे इस खोटे मन पे छाप है छोड़ी 
क्षमा नहीं मिलती है मुझको नहीं चैन से मैं जी पाता 
कुछ जादू कर निर्मल मन से, मेरी कालिख अब मिट जाए 
फूल बनूँ मैं बिन काटों के तेरी बगिया को महकाऊँ 
राजकुमारी के हाथों में गुलबहार की  कुछ पंखुड़ियां थीं 
राक्षस की बातों को सुन वो पंखुड़ियां उसने वहां बिछा दीं 
अंतर्मन राक्षस का स्वच्छ हुआ एक नवजीवन अब उसने पाया 
गुलबहार बन बगिया को अब रंग और खुशबू से महकाया 
 खुश हो राजकुमारी भी अब चली बाँटने कुछ और हंसी 
बरसे बादल भी इन्द्रधनुष संग अब कुदरत भी नाच उठी 

Silly Stillies

Kids on adults taking selfies

‘They are so selfish, these adults, don’t you think,' cribbed the tiny tomato.
‘You bet, said his friend’, another teeny-tiny tomato
‘All they care for is these silly selfies.’
‘I know. Silly stillies! Look how they fake that smile.’
‘They don’t know how to put on a nice and big smile like we do.’
‘I wonder what makes them so happy.’
‘I just overheard what they said about us.’
‘They think we are a nuisance in these selfies. Oh my goodness. Isn’t that a crime? We little ones bring so much peppiness in their dull drab dramatic world!!’
‘Let us ruin it. Tug along. They won’t buy us a toy anyways. Let us be the Selfie-Spoliers.’

Moms on kids spoiling selfies

‘Can you not just play with your friends? We arranged play-dates just for you,' says one mom.
‘Uff….They will never mend their ways. Look how they push and crib,' says another.
‘They won’t come in the pic anyway.’
‘Why are you peeping? Stand aside. We will take you pics later.’
‘No, they are not listening. Ahh….they came in the last click.’
‘Take one more.’
‘Ready. Don’t make a silly face kids. Put on a nice smile. Don’t you know how to pose for a picture properly?’
‘Stop playing. Stand. Rather sit. They will be in the corners.’
‘Look. We look great, don’t we?!’
‘Look at the kids. Wish they had posed nicely.’
‘We can edit it. Crop will do.’
‘Let’s take one more selfie. No kids this time.’

Kids are listening. They still tug along.


Wordy Wednesday Picture Prompt

Saturday, May 23, 2015

At First Sight....

At first sight - the words speak of love. They have been spoken of in the context of love so frequently that the first response they evoke from the reader is that of love. But I don't talk of love here. 

About three years back, I used to walk my son to his preschool. There was a very close friend of mine whose son also went to the same school. We all used to walk together, to drop our boys and to pick them back. Those walks were memorable and fun. We would talk and talk, not knowing when we reached the destination. We did not care if it was a harsh sunny day or if it rained. We did not care if it was frigid. 

It was on one such walk that we met her. At first sight, she seemed just like any other old lady. She wore sunglasses, probably to steer away the blazing sun rays. She held a walking stick to support her aging body. She stooped a little. And she was walking in the opposite direction to us. 

Now, to tell you the truth, whenever I see old people, I have a strange urge to talk to them. They remind me of my grandparents who are now no more. They awaken memories of a childhood now past. They speak of wisdom and of knowledge that might be snatched away from us because they stand are close to their final destination. 

So it was that that day too I wanted to stop and talk to the lady. But since the kids were running, me and my friend quickened our pace, my one eye being on the lady though. It was just a few steps ahead when she called. For help, from someone. I halted, so did my friend. We saw the lady standing there, and so we thought maybe we did not hear correctly if and what she said. Unsure of what to do, we stopped our kids from running around. The lady called again. Yes, she needed help. 

I ran towards her. My friend looked after the kids. I asked the lady what was wrong. "Is everything okay? Do you need some help?"

The lady was scared. I could see it in her eyes. But I could hear her voice tremble. "Who are you? Are you sure you are good? Do you promise nothing will happen to me?"

The words pierced me. Oh, the distrust, the phobia, the fear!

"You are just fine. Please don't worry. See, we are with our kids. Look, they are running around. We came to pick them from school. Look, that is there school building. What is wrong? Please tell me so that I can help you."

"I cannot see." 
The words hit me again.

"I am sorry. Tell me where are you going? What help can I be to you? And please don't worry. We are good", I reassured her.

"We lost our way........ Came to the doctor......... Are new here...........My husband asked me to wait while he looked around....But I don' know where he is.....Has something happened to him....?" She was about to cry.

"Do you have a phone?"

"", she was distrusting again. 

"If you have his number, I can give him a call." She hesitated. She had the number in her bag. She was thinking if she should open her bag in front of me. She still doubted if I was good.

Her perplexity and panic was making me sad. But I had to help her. I don't know how many times I told her that she need not worry since we were good. I never felt such pain in my heart. 

My friend in the meantime, having heard what she was saying looked around. She ran in the vicinity to see if she could spot someone. 

I made the lady sit on a bench. And although it might have frightened her, I held her hand and kept repeating my comforting words. I kept convincing her that she was in safe hands.

Luckily my friend saw an old man coming. She hastened towards him and asked him if he had come here with someone. Yes, he said. 

He came hurriedly to his wife. And thanked us. Never had I felt so relieved in my life. I could see the same repose on my friend's face. The old man shook hands with our kids. Then he told us they had lot of children, but unfortunate as it was, they lost most of them before they were born. They had one daughter who survived and they cherished her. 

I cannot forget the parting words the old man gave to us.

"Give your kids all the love you can now. For they grow up very fast."

To our kids, he said, "Never stop loving your moms, young men!"

And then we all went our way. My mind was riveted on just one thought that day, and for many days to come. Was I good? For her....

Image Source here

Image Source here

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

You might also like this poem I wrote when I saw an old couple in Walmart. Read Silver Love.

Do Share you thoughts. Thanks

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Words that Inspire, Writings that Stimulate.....

With due respect to all bloggers out there, I write this post to nominate two who really shine out. Writing happened to me after years of procrastination. But as they say, better late than never. And while penning down my thoughts, I came across many who left an indelible mark on my heart. I have picked two who remain closest to my heart in their consistent approach to engage the reader. These two people inspire, enlighten, and make us interrogate. Their writings unsettle you sometimes taking you out of your comfort zones. Their poems soothe you with a warmth that diffuses through their words. Every time I read them, I say to myself, 'Wow....I could never have written it so well'. To these two wonderful people and to their inspiring words, I dedicate my post. 

I do not wish to be nominated myself. I do this because I see this as an opportunity to express my regard for two fellow bloggers whose words and writings mean a lot to me.

Drishti : The Gaze

When I first discovered Archana's blog, it was not just the article but the name of her blog that attracted me. While the post had been on her grandpa, the blog's name evoked a response of subjective approach, of curiosity, of inquiry. I debated whether the name meant a looking into something or a perspective. And in my own mind I concluded that when you look/observe something closely, you develop an opinion, or reshape previously held notions which then give a new dimension to the perspectives you have.

Drishti does that. The writings in the blog entertain you and make you think at the same time. Be it the adeptly penned Haiku series and the pictures that complete them or be it the heart-felt articles on life that we live each day, they always leave an imprint on the reader's mind. Since this post is about nominations, I want to justify the names I pick by the writings on their blogs. After all, it is through the words of a blogger that we get a chance to understand his/her personality.

Take for example, Archana's take on Water. The subject is something one can write an essay on. Majority of people would define water as the source of life. One could go on and on or just stop there. Archana pens beautifully what it means to her. She talks about life, joy, anger and death in just a three-line poem. And the reader is mesmerized. Do I say anything more?

What does a broken heart mean to you? How would you describe the pain and anguish of someone in a failed relationship, failed because of betrayal? Read Broken Trust. Feel the agony of a crumbling relationship. Experience the pain that is 'worse than death'. And thank your stars if you are lucky in love!

If you are of a philosophical mind, go read Yin and Yang: The Role of H2O on Earth. A prompt sets the creativity flowing and what you have is some serious food for thought. Archana spins up a post that deals with issues of much relevance today. She connects water with the emotions we feel and calls it 'the stage manager of life'. The 'restlessness of water stimulates' and makes life exciting. I can go on writing about this post but I urge you to read it on your own since I cannot paraphrase the writer with full justice to her.

I asked Archana what writing means to her. She replied that it is something that keeps her 'intellectually alive'. It helps her connect with herself. And she rightly points out that all this reflects in whatever she writes.

I appreciate you with full sincerity Archana. I hope you will keep giving us such wonderful writings that will sometimes heal, sometimes unsettle us. I wish you and your blog, inspiration and success.

Lata Wonders

Just as I finished reading her latest post on 'Words', I started writing on her. I discovered Lata through a post she wrote on her Amma. It is so hard to imagine life without parents. The way Lata wrote to her late mother brought tears to my eyes. She spoke with a warmth that revealed a loving heart. As a reader, I wanted to go back to her blog again and again. And believe me, she never failed my expectations. She gives me something new each time she writes, be it on the question of God, or her ruminations on Success.

One post that I read over and over again is A Measure of Success called Joy. Lata talks of joy, of success, of creativity and cosmos in a way I have not read before. But I totally agree with her views on the topic. What is the measure of an artist's success? Her inquiry leads us to the notion of 'joy'. It is the transmission of this 'joy' from the artist to his devotee/audience that marks the former's success. A very valid point. And something one needs to take into account. It is not fame, not money, not fan-following, but a true appreciation of your worth that makes you really successful.

Earl's Secret was another post I enjoyed reading. Is it a post about Ooty, or the Eral who loved but never confessed? It is a post that hooks you right to the end, with a wit and humor that keeps you smiling. I actually felt I could picture the 'gentleman' Earl and his secret.

A Temple of Reflection was another post that left a mark on my mind. The write-up on the White Temple in Thailand leaves you thinking. It makes you ponder on the questions of life and death. That one click which Lata shares with her readers set my mind rolling too. What is life? Why do we visit temples? Where does one find solace? What is the purpose of art? These are the things that we ask when we read the post. It is aptly titled too. And one of the best by the author.

I asked Lata the same question I had asked Archana. What does writing means to you? She said that it meant a 'release', a 'catharsis'. She told me that a well-crafted sentence pleases her and gives her a 'thrill'. She also told me that she felt a little disheartened by the mutual back-scratching that is rampant in the world of blogging and told me that writing needs to retain an integrity it is lacking these days. This made me respect her even more. She is not just any blogger out there screaming for attention. She writes because it means the world to her. And because she puts her heart into writing, she reaches the reader's heart too. And just as she mentioned in her post on joy, that is the true measure of her success as a blogger.

I earnestly extend my thanks to you Lata for what you are doing. My nominating you is far from the 'back-scratching' intentions. It is because I love to read what you write that I nominate you. I wish you success, or rather 'joy', the essence of a life lived well.

Image Source here

I’m blogging for #YouMakeMeWIN to honour Archana and Lata who have influenced me and deserve to be nominated at WIN15

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Songs Mom Sang....

Many many years ago, a girl in her teens mesmerized an audience who were travelling to India by sea. She sang 'Mann Dole Mera Tan Dole' and left everyone spellbound. She had no formal training in music. She sang because she loved music. She sang because it made her happy.

Years later, she took a degree in vocal music. She was in the prime of her heydays. And she was asked to perform at the college Youth Festival. The stage was set. And the captivated audience swayed to the mellifluous symphony of a French song that was originally sung by Claude Francois. The song was Donna Donna Donna. Listen to the original song here. I do not have the record of the song this girl sang that day. But she left a magic behind. It was not important to know the meaning of the song. For music has its own language and it communicates in its own mysterious way. The magic was done that day on that stage in that Youth Festival. And in case you are wondering who that girl was, well she was my mother. Yes, she was no prodigy, no superstar, no singing sensation of yester years. But where ever she went, where she sang, she left her magic behind.

I remember growing up in a house that resonated with songs and music. It would sometimes be the strings of the tanpura or the deep tones of the harmonium which accompanied my mom's voice. She would practice before going to perform at the radio station and then we would hear her songs on radio. To me who was just a child, it all seemed to have a charm of its own. I would try to join her in the sargam she made me and my brother sing, in my own 'besuri' awaaz. Mon would always encourage me saying, you can sing while my brother teased me, he being a good 'singer' himself. The love for music was deeply inculcated at that stage. Some people say that music can measure a person's character. The choice of music they like can well be a window to their heart. I too feel that music can define a person. It can tell you how sensitive and loving s/he is. A person who doesn't like music is a person with not much of a kind heart. The songs mom sang made sure that we were going to have a life-long relationship with them. Even today, oldies from Bollywood echo in my mind in the voice of mom. I tell my kids the songs she sang and sometimes try to play them on their Casio. This is my way of continuing the legacy she has given me. And I always tell them 'Nani yeh gana gatin thin....(Granny used to sing this song...)

That's my mom singing 'Donna Donna' at the college fest....

Had it not been for her, I might not have opted for instrumental music later in school. It was then that I learnt Sitar and tried my hand at practicing tunes of songs I loved to hear. And although I no longer play sitar, I do encourage my kids to play the Casio. My son, who is just six, managed to learn a few tunes from me and played them well and surprised everyone. My daughter, who is two, takes the Casio, (actually snatches away is the right word...!) and imitates her brother pretending to play her rhymes. She is a loud singer for her age, filling the whole house with her melodies, especially, when she is very happy.

I like to think that these kids have got the streak of music from her grandma. And I tell them stories and show them pictures of when mom was young. Does it not tickle you to think of the time when your parents were young and had a life different from what you have seen?

Whenever I hear songs, it seems that they are coming from my mom. That strange feeling of familiarity with those songs is coupled with my childhood. I become a little girl again listening to her as she practices with her music teacher (Mom's teacher was a great singer himself. He used to sing and play almost every musical instrument with such skill that it could never fail to amaze you, add to it the fact that he could not see!). I am back to the house I grew up in, with its walls filled with music. It was a different time.

I recently googled the French song that mom sang and sent her the link. She heard it and was so happy. She must have made a trip down the memory lane, reliving her golden days. It makes me happy to see her smiling. Being away from her, this is the least I can do.

On this mother's day, I wish her good health. I wish her happiness. I wish her a life full of music. I wish that her grandchildren (my kids and my brother's kids) carry forward her love of music in their lives.

What is the one most special thing your mom gave you? I know it is so difficult to think of just one thing, but still, think about it and share your thoughts below.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Footprints that changed my life.....

Footprints - the physical manifestations of our presence in a place. Footprints - the lifelong impressions we leave behind........these ones being abstract, they have no palpable existence. Yet they exist, in the form of the change we bring about, in the form of dreams we materialize or help someone achieve.

Today, as I sit and ponder over this word, I think about the footprints the nurses took of my children the day they were born. Those were timeless gifts given to a mother. Those little treasures marked the entry of my little ones in this world. They were more than just physical prints. They signaled a change that was about to come. A change in my life as my roles shifted from being just a woman, a wife, a daughter, or a sister. I was a mother now. It seemed like my whole being was undergoing a sea-change. A tear-drop from those little eyes would flood my heart. A cry from those little mouths would pierce me through and through. What had those little footprints done to me?

They had transformed me into a care-giver. They made me realize the immensity of the task that lay ahead. The task of bringing up another life, a life I had sustained in my womb for the past nine months. But that life was in my hands, playing, crying, playing, crying. It was on me to guide them to a path of peace and happiness, contentment and bliss. It was on me to lay before them the foundation of a life full of virtue. Yes, those footprints changed it all.

They told me they were here for a purpose. They told me we all are here for a purpose. We need to find that purpose, and hold on to it. That will help us define who we are. That will help us bring meaning to our life as humans.

It is said that mother is the first teacher of a child. She gives him/her valuable life-lessons. And I totally agree with this. Being a mother, I have felt that whatever I do has a huge impact on what my children do or think. My life is like a yardstick by which they measure or define their actions. For this reason, it is important for me to commit myself to actions and emotions thoughtfully. I can teach them to be calm or be angry. I can teach them to be helpful or selfish. I can teach them to be friendly or alienated. The steps I take in my life are footprints I leave behind in their memory. Footprints I can't see, footprints I can't erase.

So when I take that step forward in haste and without reflection, I teach my kids to be rash.
So when I take that step forward blinded by grudge, I tell my kids to hold on to negativity.

But when I relax and weigh on the situation, when I take time to think, I leave behind footprints of love and balance. I leave behind footprints of composure and stability that will teach my kids to be sound in their judgments.

What impressions those footprints on the page have made for me!
Will I be able to do justice to those little feet entering this new world? I will try. That is the best I can do for them. I will try to leave behind footprints of love, of togetherness, of warmth.......

Monday, May 4, 2015

Love your Parents, says the First Filial Piety Museum in China

Recently there was news that China has opened the world's first 'filial piety' museum. I was surprised and wondered why there was a need for a museum to tell people about 'filial piety'. For those who might not know, 'filial' means that which befits a son or a daughter. It is used to describe behavior that is expected from a child for his/her parent. In Chinese culture, the concept of filial piety dates back to Confucius who in his treatise Xiao Jing wrote that filial piety "commences with the service of parents; it proceeds to the service of the ruler; it is completed by the establishment of character." The virtue of respect for the parents incorporates a respect for the state at large and makes a person good in his conduct. The closest example of filial piety from Indian culture would be that of Shravan Kumar who carries his blind parents on his shoulders. He epitomizes complete devotion to parents. In China, there is an abundance of stories like these which are recorded in The Twenty Four Filial Exemplars. The collective consciousness of China is rooted in this concept which encourages respect and care of the elderly.

If this virtue is an inherent part of Chinese culture, then why all of a sudden do we need a 'museum' for displaying it. Museums are primarily institutions that play the role of introspection and critical inquiry on the part of the subject. By showcasing certain aspects of a socio-cultural nature, they inculcate a sense of curiosity as well as satiety. When a cardinal virtue of a culture is put on display, does it reflect its waning and a need to preserve it? In this case, maybe yes.

Economic pressures and migration in search of jobs has resulted in the youngsters moving away from their parental home. Add to it the one-child policy. The elderly parents are left on their own. There are cases when parents pass away without their kids being close to them. All this made the Chinese government enact a ruling that 'filial piety' is the 'law'. Kids are expected to visit their parents regularly in order to ensure their well-being and also to show their respect and love for those who brought them in the world. 

The museum that has opened in China cost more than a million dollars. It uses traditional Chinese architecture as a backdrop and showcases stories of filial piety by detailing narrative where children sacrificed their every thing to honor and respect their parents. An artifact at display is a cart wherein two sons carried their dying mother to more than 600 cities. The shoes that they wore on this journey are also put on display. There is another story of an eight year old girl who took constant care of her paralyzed mother. Examples like these are meant to give room to a self-questioning. This interrogation with one's own self will bring feeling of 'guilt' and will prompt the subject to take steps to assure the well-being of their parents.

Some people have criticized the Chinese government of shirking its responsibility for the elderly and rather putting the entire burden on the shoulders of the children. In a society that is fiercely competitive, it has been extremely difficult to see the enforcement of the 'law' of filial piety. Hence, the government has found a unique way to disseminate the ancient values of Confucianism. It hopes to elevate the levels of sensitivity and also strengthen the bond between the parent and the child.

Visitors file past exhibits at the Modern Filial Piety Culture Museum in Guyi, Sichuan province. Photo: AFP
The teachings of Confucius are important to assert filial piety in all subjects. Image Source here

Different cultures from around the world have shown in their own way how they treat the elderly. While China made it mandatory to visit parents, a similar law was passed in France as well in 2004 in the wake of increasing suicide rates among the elderly. Koreans celebrate their elderly by marking the 60th and 70th birthdays with celebrations. Age is often associated with wisdom in Roman culture. It is a sad reality in US that age brings with it loneliness. India, our country, has observed strong family ties since ages but the trend of shifting in search of better jobs has led to an increase in the population of elderly living alone. This in turn has led to an increase in the cases of depression as well.

We can never repay what our parents have given us. We owe our very existence to them. They in turn need our love and attention. It does not suffice that we celebrate their birthdays or shower them with gifts on mothers'/fathers'/grandparents' days. They need us. They need our love and attention. We ought to find out a way in which our dreams are fulfilled with the blessings of our parents. When we were little, they were their for all our needs. When we cried, they wiped our tears. When we stumbled, they lent their hands and egged us on. Today, they need us. Let us not make the world so heartless that museums are required to remind us of our duties towards them. Let us give them the love they deserve. Often parents are given advise to spend 'time' and not money on their children. The same applies to children as when the parents have aged and all they want is your time.

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Image Source here

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