Sunday, September 18, 2011

Share! Respect! c'mon can that be in PTM?

It was 10th of September and I jotted down things I had to ask the class teacher. After all Parents Teachers Meeting now hailed as most important stuff in the parents' and child's life. When I reached the school the surrounding could be mistaken for a Jam session. Parents and children turned out in their best outfit. I was no different either!
When I reached my daughters classroom I could see the anxious faces of the guardians. Some unhappy with their wards' first term marks, a few calculating the numbers from answer sheets again and others reprimanding their children for low scores. There was another category too. Vainglorious parents bragging about their precious wards to others. A lady showed off her Louis Vuitton handbag at almost every instant and the reason for her outlandish behaviour majorly was because her son scored the second highest in the Class 2 A First Term. I made my way through this myriad crowd.

When I reached the table of the Class teacher she quietly asked me to take a seat and placed my daughters answer sheets in front of me. I grabbed them and like other parents scanned through the sheets with enthusiasm. The adrenalin rush was like last ball decider of an Indo-Pak cricket match. I could sense a parent craning her neck just to look at the papers in my hand. And by the look on her face I would know if her child was better or mediocre than mine. Comparisons and Competition right from budding!

'Can I ask you  few questions please?' A Sixty something lady 's voice made me look up. She was suave and composed. Her smile was infectious as I too responded with her gesture though her target was the class teacher, not me. Yet she acknowledged it. The teacher reluctantly got ready for barrage of questions as it came already from parents demanding reasons for their child's marks which did not satisfy their expectations. 'I am Anand's grandma. His mother is bedridden for past six months and father is out of station, so..,' the lady couldn't complete her sentence as another parent asked the teacher why her daughter's pencil box got missing two days ago. Well the teacher tried to maintain her sanity and focused on the aged lady. 'Yes', please continue Mrs...? 'I am Mrs. Jairam,' came the reply.

Anand stood shyly but always smiling.
' I am not concerned about his marks but tell me is he well behaved in class? Does he share his things? Is he friendly? Does he respect the teachers?  Is he polite?  Does he accept his mistakes calmly? Is he willing to learn? I could see a few like me were stunned. Her questions were enough to draw attention. The teacher looked at others and finally her eyes rested on the lady. 'Thank you Mrs Jairam for asking me these questions. Anand is the  most well behaved, gentle and best mannered child. And now I know why!'  The old lady was beaming with glory. 'This comforts me a lot. I just wanted to ensure that my grandchild has imbibed all moral values. A good human being is rare and I want him to be that.' She thanked the teacher and left with Anand. I glanced at the table where Anand's answer sheets and report card neatly placed. He topped the exam.

Others in the hall appeared so trivial to me.All of us looked such an incongruous contrast to Anand's grandma. I had many questions for the teacher. But left without asking any. I had enough questions intriguing me on my way back.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It was kind of weird!


I was trying to rush through the Kolkata traffic only to find one red light after another angrily staring at me. It was the Alipore crossing and I got caught into traffic snarl. Tensed..I glanced at the watch which showed 5:15 pm. Only 45 mins left to reach the hospital. Where my mother would be waiting for me. She was admitted due to high fever and severe stomach ache which was a fallout of her disease, cancer the emperor of all maladies coupled with equally harsh treatment Chemotherapy. She was in and out of the hospital. Her days were numbered.
I was getting late as I would also have to buy medicines, provide necessary things as well as meet the doctor. Its difficult to fight a losing battle. But letting go is even more difficult. I left my  4 year old daughter Juhi with the neighbour and for a couple of days, received no message from my husband who was posted in the borders. I was anxious, tensed dejected but ironically just had myself to pat and say...YOU HAVE TO GO ON. 
I wanted a miracle to happen that could iron out all creases.
A typical Sadhubabaa
Just then a middle aged man in orange outfit stood beside the window. He resembled a “ Sadhu babaa” with the trademark dhoti and a bowl which had a Trishul and photos of couple of Gods. And he started moving the Rudraksh garland before my eyes and chanted some mantras. I generally ignore these characters as they seem to be feigning. But that day I couldn’t.  
He assured me a miracle. As if he could read my mind. Then he asked me to give him the biggest number of note in my purse and promised to return it when the traffic signal turned green. Sceptically but with an underlined hope I gave him rupees 500. He rattled out something. Unintelligible of course to my ears. Honking of the horns prompted me to start my car. The man was strangely staring at me and finally I threatened him to call the police if he dared not to give back the money. I knew that would be difficult as he had the chances to disappear in the crowd. I glared at him and acted to get out of the car. Few watched the tamasha. Suddenly he threw the money to me. As I pressed the accelerator I found the 500 rupee crumpled but intact. I placed it in my purse roughly as I was driving amidst heavy traffic. From the rear view mirror I found the man standing though now appeared miniscule gradually turned to a spot and then disappeared.
Why I gave the money I couldn’t figure out as I never trusted such street Sadhubabaas. Had he been a cheater he would have never given me back the money. And why did he keep on standing? I wasn’t hypnotised because the moment I gave the money I realised to have been a emotional fool.
So was it a miracle then? Somehow I was elated for the moment. That day nothing exceptional happen. Maa was in pain, doctors prescription became even more lengthy and maa’s life short, I got late after the doctors visit and found my daughter asleep in my neighbours house. This scenario was almost regular.
But somehow I kept that 500 rupee note intact. From its crumpled state it was easily distinguishable from others.  I still have it. Certain things in life are devoid of reasoning. Do I still hope a miracle? Yes, why not?

Whats in a name?

Though one might think like Shakespeare , "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet," 
I beg to differ. Bongs are very particular about names, pronunciation and their meaning, though when we traverse outside Bengal border it gets distorted. For obvious reasons. Like my name Palashpriya became Pluspriya, Poolshpiya, Plaaseypiya, and some were loyal even to excuse from such tongue twister of a name (they thought) to “Can I call you just Plus..please?”..My hubby initially started with Priya...obviously during courtship PRIYA to PRIYEE becomes easy, Agree? Then when some asked me about the meaning of my name I courteously take the pain to explain...its called so because Saraswati Goddess loved Palash or Polash flowers and her worship is incomplete without the same. So Saraswati Devi’s another name is Palashpriya. And then someone would definitely be intelligent enough to say, “To ji aap ki maa appka naam Saraswati kyun nehi rakkhi?’’...I felt like banging my head.

Then when I chose my children’s’ names it was also the same herculean task. Names had to start with A because my hubby’s name starts with the same alphabet ( My husband felt better too) and then Priya was must to rhyme with my name (booster to a mothers ego). So AALIYAHPRIYA  sounded perfect and unique for my daughter!

With my son the same problem arose but it was little easy because in no way any name could rhyme ‘Priya’..We chose the name ARIHANT. Sad for me that he didn’t have any part of my name, but I felt better when people claimed , “ oh your boy resembles you so much” if they discovered a hidden treasure! Thank you anyways. I was sure to have found the most unique and uncommon name unless one day......

 I saw an Advertisement in the news paper on  ARIHANT Cement company. I was shattered only prayed  that my friends would not be able to trace it. Until then came a call from my best friend, “Hi Palash saw the news paper..ARIHANT..bla bla cement yaar..bla bla”...I barely spoke and couldn’t take the joke and my dear friend Moushumi  knew it. She thoroughly enjoyed the moment. Crestfallen I was!

Judging by my expression and seeing my plight my hubby came to my rescue. You got to be proud, our boy will be rock solid as cement! Okay I take it!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blink of innocence

How many times can you look at the same stuff? But seeing the unrelenting enthusiam of your better half attimes reluctantly you have to comply. Specially I have to compel myself when my husband, Ashish wants me to watch his favourite program with him on TV or downloaded in computer, repeatedly. Sometimes, he excitedly called me “Ooh its the Superstructures,” or ‘you can’t miss the Wings,’ or “Yeeeessss its Future Weapons On , come over darling,’ the euphoria in his voice would soon recede if I refused to be the spectator. Poor me. I had to bear it as I couldn’t hurt his emotions. Apart from this, he watched the video of Lorito many a times where in a Parrot mimics sound of other animals.  Every time he saw it, he would roll in laughter. How come everytime it evoked the same emotion in a person? I failed to understand.
Yesterday when I was occupied with daily work again he called me to watch Lorito. “Spare me this time, I am busy,’ was my desperate reply. ‘Come on, or you will miss it,” there was an urgency in his voice. What would I miss? I thought. Unwillingly I moved towards the drawing room where I knew Ashish was glued to the computer. Sensing me behind, he almost whispered...”Can you see?”
See The world As I see, will you?

I saw my one and half year old boy watching Lorito. He was awestruck.   His expression is inexplicable in words. The voyage from curiosity to discovery was discernible.There was something blissful about his wonder. His lips showed signs of slight curve and amazement written all over his face. His eyes spoke a thousand words.
My husband was correct. Had I not seen this I would have missed it. I saw Lorito as I have never seen before. All through my son’s eyes.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Packed the moments in the trunk, too

Mountains kissing the sky 
 Day started as usual and my approach was even more casual. All changed with a phone call.
‘Hi pack up Darling’, my husband sounded excited on the other side of the call. I gasped to listen to the place of our new posting as it was due. He played with word before uttering the most coveted word and destination for next two years. My mind rehearsed all the names to my knowledge which only attimes I find Army wives know of. The finally he said, ‘Arre stop thinking about Timbaktoo, we are going to DELHI’...I could only reply with ‘ come, serious?’ He assured me that he was.
My mind raced through many things. We were expected to move as my husband’s ‘unit ki naukri’ as they term it, was over. But Delhi! Too much to digest. Huge trunks are a threat as again its time to reopen them and pack according the numbering and list. Though every station I vow not to increase my items and to husband’s horror, it does. Well I am still thinking of items I missed out which marks “as exclusive Pathankot stuff” and only bad news it’s just the middle of the month!! Afterall these days I visit the market and try to sound like a localite though the shopkeepers could point out but I discovered or rediscovered shops which gave better discounts and I take pride in that. All army wives do.

Family outing
     Well, after the initial excitement ebbed away, I somehow felt a bit dejected. Now this is also too hard to handle. As an infantry officer’s wife half the house always remains in the trunks, we move with our husbands wherever possible and surprisingly leave the heart there.
Juhi and Jai at their favorite spot 
Even in the remotest places where initially nothing else but serious cribbing takes all time, the day we hear about the posting we suddenly discover the hidden love for the place. When I came to Pathankot, last year in July, though with others I appreciated the scenic beauty of the place yet I actually compared it with Kolkata all the time and spared no aspect to prove it insignificant and uninteresting. I complained about the weather (though Kolkata was sultry and humid), the condition of the house I found pathetic (though I got one of the best houses in the station) the people ( here people do care) at times limited variety of fresh vegetables, (vegetables in Kolkata are more rotten) market ( distance and cost are  more in Kolkata) -well every thing seems to be exorbitant, the schools appear to fall below expectation ( class I studies are manageable anywhere) and above all the working class seemed to be incorrigible as well as irregular ( this story is same everywhere). The heap of utensils and husbands office hours seems to rise every day. Juggling the needs of a 6 yr old and an infant every thing seemed to  be appalling.
When did I fall in love with the place? I have grown fond of my Mamun Cantt address. I got so attached to the house that if  MES ( Military Engineering Services) dosen’t turn up even after repeated complain I laugh it off and resolve the trouble with some other alternative. (This was unthinkable at the beginning as MES was at the receiving end).
Juhi and Jai at Go-Carting
I roamed around the house recollecting wonderful moments. I touched the wall which supported my son for his first step. I found the green paint splashed on the cream coloured wall of my daughter’s room and the corner where she once stood for hours since I berated her for some mischief, all these are part of their growing up. The small balcony presented the scenic view of the mountains afar and at times we raced who would be the first to see the mountains today! The terrace is where we spend hours sitting together or even secretly dance in the rain.
Its a huge Military Station and love hate likes and dislikes amongst ladies continues, but where it dosen’t? And I am just carrying the goodness of everybody in my heart. The place, the people all seems to be a part of me. The Mess Functions, Officer’s dining in or dining out, Dinner Nights, Raising day, Social gathering, Ladies Club , Family Welfares, picnics, movie outings, small gestures, funny discussions, altercations and mild misunderstandings all seemed to instantly flash and melt in a bigger smile. As an army wife I learned to love the place where I live. Like the trunks, I open a small closet in my heart and keep all in here, to relish and cherish them forever. Pack up and move to a new station for more fond memories.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Every day wonder

It was raining and I was driving in moderate speed. My mind was preoccupied with the thoughts of new posting and subsequent concerns. The lane was narrow with variety of greenaries bordering it. From a distance I spotted something similar to black balls moving. The movement was not much. I somehow concluded those to be some unknown birds which will swiftly fly this time I was very close to them and to my utter horror they hardly moved . I screeched to a halt but it was too late. I closed my eyes and the enormity of the crime engulfed me. I was still thinking what kind of a bird those might be who will never be able to see the sky anymore. I will never be punished but the guilt tore me apart. I should have been more careful in the rains and  focused on road than to my material thoughts.

I didn't have the strength to look back.  True that nobody saw me committing the heinous crime , how important are those little ones to the world? I never be punished for that but why is my conscience not complying to that. I felt immense pain and with a heavy heart  I summoned some courage and peeped through my rear view mirror.
 What did I see? I saw all of them, must be around four with their own pace moving towards the bushes. Am I  dreaming? Must be, otherwise how come all of them be alive! ALIVE!... Tears welled up my eyes. I ran back. Rain didn't matter to me as I was too happy. Oh they were little chicks! And merrily making their way to the bushes.  A tiny one was lagging behind. I picked it up placed it inside the bush. I heard a lot of chirping and I am sure the my invasion into their territory was not welcome. But I was too thrilled and wanted to live the moment. I watched them slowing vanished into dense bushes.

My tears merged in the rain. The little chicks taught me firstly that, you should not rush things or be oblivious to surroundings that you forget to appreciate small wonders.Secondly, nothing  in the world must bother you so much that you lose your focus and forget your priority. Thirdly, life matters no matter how small it is.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Second Devil is a better bargain!

Is it can’t be..might be..NO NO..I am yet to identify myself as Mrs Jaiswal..Palash sounds cool to me and I am not prepared for the “motherhood” was my reaction when I conceived my elder one. I felt I was the only one cornered by God! demanding moods coupled with equally demanding job as a subeditor in Evening Shift squeezed me out. I wanted to eat n hated it too...wanted everything yet hated everything..such a paradox..(I look back and think..God grant every Husband Himalayan Patience as He did to mine)....well I had counseling sessions by friends and words of sympathy from young lovers and advice galore from all “mothers”... scenario was even bad after my daughter was born as I tried to take up every advice and not listen to my heart and reason out everything!
Paranoid I was when Juhi refused to eat even for one time or if she defied the routine sleeping programme set by me. A child must have vegetables, vitamins..etc etc....the race for the best mother and healthy baby continued. At times you forget that a child has her own wish and taste. Mashed food and juices are not THE THING...and timings can be varied....if a child refuses to have a certain thing she might be feeling bored or uncomfortable and that is not the end of the world..I use to go crazy if she missed her fruit one day! Why didn’t it struck me to grant the little angel her wish..or I was scared to be tagged as ‘indisciplined indulging Mumma’ as a first timer I wanted to be the best pressured from all corners and expectations not realising I was at my wits’ end...
but things changed drastically after the second one.
The other one! 
When I conceived I thought it was “cool”...when people came in for advices I gave the look , “I Know it all man” ..when some alerted me about sibling jealousy and rivalry and termed it as healthy and constructive. When my son was born , changing nappies all night yet getting up early for my daughters school and tutoring her all continued with equal √©lan.
If my son refuses to eat or sleep on time I take it as a gesture of growing up...I stress myself less and the pressure of becoming the perfect Mom is vanished. When he refuses some stereo type food I take it as a mark of change for better!...I give due regard to his mood, appetite or expression and I guess my daughter benefits from the same...I have learnt not to overstep the boundary and nurture natures gift without imprisoning the same. Every child, every mother is different..and human nature is expressed right from the start. When a child is born mother is born too...mistakes are granted but be open, change..and constantly review yourself - are you hanging your child by the clock?...Tick Tick..Its time for Mashed Potatoes....Tick Tock...3 hrs sleep .’What will Mrs Sen tell me if she gets your noise in the afternoon? Afterall her son sleeps for 4 hrs.Tick Tock....Hey..Stop the clock...
Sorting each other out
Happy in each others company

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

God, he won the battle already..what else can you take away?

It was 24 December’08. Maa completed the six chemotherapy cycles and with renewed hope we landed at Tata Memorial Hospital for another check up. It is a huge place filled with hope and despair. Patients, attendants, doctors and other staffs all fighting Cancer- the disease of the century.

Due to enormous rush we had to wait hours before seeing the doctor. Luckily I saw a chair vacant at the corner and grabbed it immediately for Maa. Cancer seems to create a bond. Even unknown faces flashed sympathy or at times encouragement. As there were more heads than the sitting arrangements most of us stood by and after the introductionary note conversation took off. Discussion revolved around “the disease” and I realised that Cancer is spreading like an epidemic. For a moment I looked at Maa. She smiled. It meant ‘my child don’t worry.’

In the crowd there was a man who was entertaining all with humorous and interesting anecdotes. Everyone seemed to enjoy this brief relief. He spoke to a person next to him frequently and therefore I concluded that he was the attendant with the patient. ‘Hello’,’ suddenly he turned towards me, ‘I am Normon Tshring, coming from east to west, and yes” candidly he continued, “ you got to wait long so get some coffee.” “Sure”, I said, and introduced myself. As we sipped the coffee Normon started describing the Christmas celebration at his place Haflong in Assam. There was some charisma in him and we all got engrossed in his words until suddenly with a jolt I heard the staff almost yelling out ...”Mr. Normon...This is the second call.”

As he hurriedly walked inside the doctor’s chamber I routed out the possibility he being a patient . “He must be there for some other reason,” I assured myself. Otherwise how could he stand for hours and chat so spiritedly? I reasoned with myself. I glanced at Maa. Again she smiled. It meant, “I’m fine.’ For the past two years since Maa was detected with cervical cancer and with innumerable hospital visits, doctors advises, medications and increasing pain there was a constant vacillation between optimism and sheer despondency we also developed some nonverbal communications which we both understood.

Normon stepped out of the chamber. A quick look around could tell you that a few more people have a question mark hung in their face. For him nothing changed. With same exuberance matched with a big smile, he came up right in front of me and said, ‘I was describing the Christmas celebration at my place, remember?’ I gaped at him as he gushed out, ‘I will fly back to day and celebrate this Christmas with much vigour. I donot have to stay back for more check ups.”

‘Oh that’s good!,’ all I could manage to utter.

‘Yes it is good,’ he reiterated, ‘I am lucky you know, because atleast I know that I have this Christmas with me, unlike many. The tumours in my bone have refused to bog down, just like me!” He looked around with a bigger smile wished aloud everyone, “ Merry Christmas,” and walked away without looking back.

What do you call that? Positive approach or sheer acceptance?

And I just learnt to celebrate life.