Everything is new and happening when we are young but as we age we not only gain maturity and experience but are also laden with apprehensions and the increasing ‘what- will-people-say’ syndrome. I still remember the craze we had for online chats and sify cafes when I had just stepped out of school. It was a mandatory requirement for every college going kid to have an account to chat. Oh the excitement of those Yahoo and Gmail chat rooms ! But as all things do, this passed too. Online accounts became a normal thing. A plethora of new websites cropped up while a few old ones met with their natural demise (R.I.P. Orkut).
The blogging sites too came and went, and I kept thinking of creating an account. But the thought of my own insufficiency as a writer always stopped me. Writing for me is an art that needs perseverance, proper time and dedication. I did not wish to create a blog just for the sake of it and then find myself incapable of doing justice to it. I kept on putting off this task under the garb of a busy schedule. But I guess this procrastination had more to do with my low self assessment of my own writings. But inspite of these misgivings, my wish to write stayed a constant. From my pen and paper, the pages of my notebooks, a diary to my laptop… all became witnesses to my humble thoughts. But after years of writing just for myself I feel the need to express myself in front of a larger audience. Self criticism, though best in form, can sometimes lack proper channel without any external feedback. Thus I decided that why not give blogging a try. Here my musings can float around, open to interpretation, criticism and constructive feedbacks.
My blog would give me a chance to reach out to my friends, family and the world at large…here’s to new starts again!
Saree draping has gathered an altogether new meaning for me since I started following the various saree influencers and saree groups on the social media platforms… a new kind of saree addiction happened to me…..of course I’ve always loved wearing the magical yards, six or nine…and I’ve always felt beautiful in it…but what’s new is this excitement to get clicked in every saree I drape in the best possible locations, from the most complimenting angles…The ideas that get inspired from the lovely ladies out here on this platform and not caring about the eyes that judge and criticize you for doing something that you love doing…this nonchalance, this liberty…this Joy!!! It’s all new and refreshing and I love it!!!
This week had been an exceptionally happy one… with the husband in town and lots of outings…long drives and picnics…all that was needed to give a sense of completion to this fun-filled week was a good saree picture…and courtesy my super awesome Mummy, I got it here! We went for picnics to some of the most beautiful places near the city and much inspired by the Saree Sakhis I carried along a saree to drape for a picture everywhere….These were the pictures taken at Panchghagh, a beautiful scenic locale near Ranchi, where the Banai river branches out into five streams ( thus the name, Panchghagh ) and the streams meet again to form a little fall…the day was quite clear and not cool enough for a picnic yet the fact that the Mister was in town was enough to make us overlook such small practicalities… Thus, set out we did…for a wonderful day in a wonderful company, determined to make the most of the time we had together.
There’s something so appealing about sarees paired with jhumkas…they give you a sudden makeover, an added charm, a strange appeal…I absolutely love wearing sarees as must be true for all of us on this group, but along with sarees, I have this added obsession with jhumkas and own about fifty pairs or even more, bought across the country, most kept in Pune, some at my in-laws’ in Bharuch, and about a score with me at all times to pair up with the different dresses I wear…. but I must admit in all honesty, that I actually wear just three or four of them…my favorites ones, as they seem to go best with whichever outfit I choose, while the others stay stored in the box, until ‘next time’.
Isn’t it so with most choices we make in life that are independent of any compulsion…don’t we all opt for what we love the most, no matter how many options we have before us…. clothes, accessories, people…I know it might sound really superficial to talk about people in the same line as wearables, but what I mean to say is as you grow older, you tend to get firmer in your choices, and strong enough to stand by it. The thirty-one year old me today can confidently look at the twenty-something me and tell her that — You no longer need to put on a show – a pretence to like something or someone just to be more likeable or to show off all that you have…naah… people who actually matter would like you the way you are with minimum effort ( of course not taking them for granted ).
There have been so many times in my younger days that I feigned interest in something just to ‘fit in’ and learnt that I really could never cuz that was just not me and the effort just made me lose myself a little everytime, taking away the very essence that had brought those people to me in the first place…but now no more. If I do not understand the lyrics of Metallica, I don’t… I’m definitely not letting the music (?) bang on my eardrums to fit in the hard metal lover group, which most of my friends from college still are. I can always catch up with them later for a quiet coffee or a lunch.
Took me a good few years to accept my short self too…had gotten used to wearing really high heels everyday and falling almost every other day…on the road, down the stairs, in the campus…cuz balance has always been an issue with me…but gradually I got over it too and now I wear heels but to look pretty…when I feel like it…when it actually suits a dress…not just to look different from what I am. And even in my shoes I’ve learnt to stay comfortable and happy rather than itchy and wobbly… thanks to this newfound love for myself. Can’t really deny the influence of body positivity forums on the social media.
Meanwhile my little two-year old has also discovered a set of his own favorites…his shoes, his toys, his clothes… Insists on wearing the red checked shirt, his favourite shirt, everywhere…it was with much cajoling that he agreed to wear a new shirt even on his birthday. Hasn’t this stage come a little early for him? I wonder. But then I guess, the sooner the better, for all of us to accept what we are and how we are….after all self acceptance is the first step towards accepting others and the key to a happy life… isn’t it?
Durga Puja is special, has always been special for me and most of the people I know…a ten day long festivity that goes to a totally different level of frenzy by its sixth and seventh day and has never left without tears and regret when it all comes to a stop on the tenth…I still get teary-eyed on seeing the empty pandals after visarjan. The deserted scene of the just concluded visarjan…the deafening silence after the dhaks stop playing…the empty ground where the Devi mandap had risen just a while ago…where there was hardly room enough for us to stand for four days beginning with the pushpanjali on shashthi, people shoving each other to stand straight and get one look at the still-veiled Durga, chanting ‘रूपं देहि जयं देहि यशो देहि द्विषो जहि ॥’ with an enthusiasm that’d put even a cricket stadium to shame. The madness of Holi looks like a trailer in front of this festival, and so does the cracker bursting Diwali …after all, this one festival has everything in it…the pujas, hawans, high volume songs, bhog, sindoor-khela as well as firecrackers of a magnitude that’d make Diwali look pale….Ravan- dahan has the best of visual effects – lights, sounds, drama… everything in it. And yet, what makes this already special festival even more endearing to the mind of a shopaholic like me is the detailed shopping associated with it, to ensure we have some dignified sets of clothes ready to wear on all those days, something that’ll look special and yet not be too heavy on the pockets, cuz obviously we need to buy at least two – three for each one of us in the family, right?
I have really been at a loss as to what exactly to write and what to leave out when asked to pen down something about Durga Puja shopping. Durga Puja is not just another festival…it is a wide range of emotions in itself, like a journey full of memories made special in each moment of the day. Just like there are various tales associated with its origin, some talk of Mahishasura-Mardini, some of Uma visiting her parents, yet others believe in the worship of Ram, his invocation of Ma Durga before his final battle with Ravana, similarly, there isn’t one single thing that stands out about this Puja…every day is a celebration of the uniqueness of the ultimate Goddess. Shakti…an acknowledgement of her various forms…all being different kinds of powerful.
I remember Durga Puja as one of those occasions when budget would expand miraculously to accommodate our wishes…be it clothes, crackers or the delicious food items from the stalls stationed outside the Puja pandals…and of course, the mandatory balloons! When we were kids, we didn’t shop for every occasion or non-occasion like today. Those were the days when we had to keep our choices intact in our minds for the time when Mummy-Papa would take us shopping…that too was a norm just twice a year – birthday and Durga Puja. If we got something for Holi or Diwali, that was, well, bonus, not the norm, mind you. So yes… Durga Puja used to be a big deal, when we’d be allowed to splurge a little, maybe get three sets of clothes instead of two if we liked something really that much…with a promise to share between the two of us sisters, of course!
I still remember a few of my most favorite ones that we’d gotten from the old reputed shops in the city…like Rampuria, Firayalal or Kashmir Vastralaya. They used to be special…a pair of jeans might come along with a belt, or a dress might have a hat ( I actually had a dress in red and white checks , that had a skirt, blouse, waistcoat and a hat! ), or simply a pocket. But they used to be special. Always. Then we grew a little and began to raid our Mummy’s almirah for her sarees to add on to our number of dresses for the Puja…this way we got more variety, without having to spend extra money. And then came along the sudden spurt of malls across the city and with them the wide range of brands that found instant buyers in small-town fashion conscious (?) girls like us 😆🙈 I can never forget the worst buy of this fad that caught me in this new-age alien culture of mall-hopping. A pair of pink jeans! 🙄🙄🙄 Can’t roll my eyes enough even when I think of it now. Totally cringe-worthy. But at that time it was totally in fashion, I can say in my defence. There were coloured jeans all around, in every shade imaginable out there. And I, a small little girl caught fancy with pink.
Anyway, a couple of trips to the bigger cities, courtesy Papa’s LTC, and we knew soon enough that these malls weren’t bringing the best products of those brands to us, even though they weren’t shying away from pricing them at a much higher rate, without good discount in our small city. Imagine the distress and anger at not finding a good dress even though you know it’s available out there, just not in your reach. And then, suddenly on the scene came the online shopping portals… Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra…. totally changed the game. Now we could get the best of buys without going through the hassle of begging the salesman/girl in the mall to look if there was a piece available in our size. It’s not like we do not go to shop in person to the individual retail shops or malls anymore, of course we do, but at least we know that if we don’t find anything good here, there’s a plethora of options still waiting just a few taps away.
But truth be told, I personally lost interest in online shopping for clothes way back. The ambiguous size charts and the too slim models to identify with happened to be a major turn off for me. The whole process of buying with too many options, spoilt for choice you’d say, but it still gives me a headache. I’d rather walk into a store. Pick a choice and be done with it after a quick trial. Billing done. Cab booked. Restaurant- bound. That’s me now. My mother never really picked up the trend. So most of the times when we shop together, we resort to the good old khandaani shops to conduct our shopping.
I think most of the people, just like me, believe in feeling the texture of the cloth and trying on a garment before buying it, and so, the crowded markets have never ceased to be so, especially during festivals. Just the other day we went saree-shopping and the streets were lined with Puja decors and clothes, and people seemed to be constantly bumping against each other due to the heavy crowd and constricted roads, the hawkers and vendors having taken up much of the space to walk. Somehow we made our way to Tantuja, the Bengal Handloom house that has been our favorite saree haunt for years and bought some beautiful sarees.
Puja shopping is something we can all connect with. Whatever strata of society may we be coming from, we can always feel the Puja vibes in the air in this time and I have never seen a soul untouched. Our Pujas are more about pandal-hopping than anything else. You got to see it to believe the insane amount of craziness that unfolds in this festival. From crazy shopping to binge eating, from trendy style statements to making a statement in traditional attire…and every person out there, swaying to the moves of the aarti, dhoop and dhak! Small children hoisted on the shoulders of father, uncle or grandfather so that they can also see the grand image of Ma Durga, otherwise they’d barely be able to see through the stifling melee. Everyone in a hurry to get nearest to Ma, and then trying to stop there as long as possible, entranced by her majestic appearance, until a rough jolt by the pandal volunteers pushes them to face the reality and move towards the exit.
Another major association that comes to my mind when I think of Durga Puja is the trend of jagrata and garba or dandiya that has expanded swiftly from the western states to whole of India, and now there’s not a single puja pandal in my knowledge that doesn’t host a night of song and dance during Navratri… In our colony we used to have various competitions organized on different days…like recital of shlokas and mantras, singing competition, shankh playing (in which my brother got a prize once😆), dancing, singing etcetera etcetera….and the night of ashtami was usually reserved for an orchestra…but with passing years, most of the organisers have moved out of the colony, just like us…and I wonder what would Durga Puja be like there this year…will go and see for myself perhaps… wearing the red soft cotton saree I got for this Puja…. just like almost every year, as far as I can remember, I got something in red for myself this time too. Apart from the fact that I’m crazy about red, it is also a fact that I think red is best associated with Shakti, my Durga.
I actually had no idea about Navratri colors till last year, which was my first Durga Puja in Pune and I got to know that everyday Ma Durga dons a new saree, in a color specific to the name of the day. Eg. Shailputri would wear an orange saree, Brahmacharini white, Chandraghanta red…so on and so forth… The place where I come from, I’d always seen kalashsthapana on the first day, with the veiled idol of Ma Durga gracing that mandap, and it continued to be so till the night of Shashthi, and on the Saptami we would all get to behold the supreme deity in all her grandeur, invariably in red and gold….decked up with every coloured gem imaginable, but the saree continued to be red…so for me, red had been the color of Durga, the color of Shakti…always.
Red is the color of passionate love, strength, seduction, violence, danger, anger and of course festivities and with Ma Durga, red gathers an altogether new meaning…it becomes the color of Shakti…of beauty, of faith, of worship. I remember seeing the Uncles and Aunties of our colony getting up early morning for a walk and more importantly to pluck flowers before someone else would take them… after all, these red hibiscus, abundant in this season are the primary flowers for pushpanjali to Durga…her red saree, palms and feet painted and with red alta, red lips, the bindi and of course the famous tradition of sindoor-khela to pay the highest tribute to the the goddess and her incarnate – all womenkind! …all of these exude a power which I doubt could have been possible by another color….for me, as I’m sure for many others, red is the color of auspiciousness.
So though I was very excited to see the new colors on Ma everyday during the last year Puja, truth be told, when I think of Durga, I see her only in red and gold…these are the two colors I’ve come to associate with her majestic appearance since childhood and it’s gonna take a lot of re-conditioning to remember the day-appropriate colors…still thanks to Facebook and Instagram, I don’t have to tax my teeny weeny brain for long, for the beautiful pictures of the pretty ladies, dressed in the colour of the day are abundant on my feed, reminding me every second of the specific color for the day. I’m sure that they have a lot more shopping to do and it must be fun…maybe I will try that someday too…but till then, I’m happy shopping my reds❤️❤️❤️.
Life isn’t easy for anybody. Period. Everyone has their own share of ups and downs. Accepted. Still not many would deny that they’re more troubled than their neighbors or siblings… I mean don’t we all see our own problems as bigger and graver than the other person’s ? Of course we’d acknowledge the difficulties faced by another and sympathize and offer solutions maybe, but when it comes to us…well our situation looks just worse, where easy solutions would not work. Not talking about being insensitive to abject poverty, starvation and death…just talking in general about people like us, people who seem to have it all yet are unhappy and in this unhappiness continues a constant race of who’s got it worse. And in this race, going neck to neck are working mothers and the stay-at-home mothers. I’ve heard the working mothers ridden with guilt for the time they are unable to give to their children, also, more tired from going out each day, they seldom get the rest their status as a career woman and a mother demands. Then of course they have the satisfaction of continuing with the job they love, the work that gives them identity as well as financial security, not only for themselves but also for their children. On the other hand are the stay-at-home-mothers who spend all day with their children, with them each moment, watching and helping them grow and develop, knowing that even if they do not have a paid job, the work they are doing is no less important. I, fortunately or unfortunately, belong to the second category. This ambiguity in fortune because I’m still to understand my situation… happy with my choice one moment and regretting the loss of financial independence the next. More so because I feel I didn’t really get to make the choice. The people and situation around me worked in a way that I ended up at home, looking after my little one, with and without help, as per the place and people around me…
Much before Shaurya was born I had given up my job as a PGT English…I was teaching in Ramjas School, Delhi at the time and we (my husband, I and a couple of his friends) were planning to go on a bike trip to the Spiti Valley of Himachal. Also, we were keen on leaving Delhi for good…( its pollution wasn’t helping in my adjustment there post-marriage…used to be often under the weather). So one fine day, I handed in my resignation letter, much to the surprise of my colleagues there and after serving the mandatory notice period I was free! We traveled a lot in the ensuing months… Himachal then Rishikesh then Mathura and Bharuch and Ahmedabad and Ranchi then Anand ( where my husband got his new job). And soon Shaurya was to come into our lives!!! It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, perhaps not being mentally prepared for what was to come and a complete upheaval of my life scared me more… anyway, the first three months I stayed with my in-laws and constant nausea, puking and sleeping is most of what I remember of the time. In the fourth month I went to Anand, mainly to pack my things for I was soon to travel to Ranchi. Obviously no one can look out for a child better than a mother. I was ato come over to my Mummy’s place for the delivery. So…after the ‘god-bharayi’ ceremony soon after the fifth month kicked in, I came to Ranchi.
Life here was mostly working on my thesis, waiting for my Di to come over from America, and then lots of visits to the doctors and lots of shopping. We went crazy with expectation of the joy that was to abound us. Shopped left, right and centre almost everyday… something essential for my hospital bag (which was also bought at the time btw), sarees for everyone…I mean the relatives, to give away on the occasion of first nati’s birth in our house, cheating my way through meals as I was still not allowed any spicy food (had a rare liver problem during pregnancy called the cholestasis of liver in pregnancy), trying to walk and meditate and listen to Gita and of course catching on that ever-pressing sleep. And then in the last month of my pregnancy, in what was supposed to be the last ultrasound before delivery, we came to know that there was an alarming decrease in water levels in one of the amniotic fluid sacs. Had to undergo another test the same day and the next day we were prepared for a surgery. I was not prepared to risk it after nine months of waiting. So early next morning, we entered the hospital and sometime around 10 a.m. I heard the most beautiful sound of my life. He was wailing so loudly that the gyno was quick to point out how he had taken after me and had raised the whole building up!!! LOLOL…of course she knew me well enough. And then, that feeling…when the nurse brought him close to my face so that I could kiss him…his warm cheeks and lips, his small eyes looking at me, did he know I was his mother then? The next thing I remember is waking up in the room or should I say ward?? My husband and my mother-in-law were yet to come. They had missed their morning flight and had rescheduled a roundabout route through Kolkata. I saw my little one lying in the bassinet and everyone else… Mummy, Papa, Didi, Ma(Nani), Mausis and Mami hovering around, concern and happiness written all over their face, in almost an equal amount.
The next time I opened my eyes, I saw Shaurya’s father and grandmother beside him. They’d arrived by the afternoon. Happiness. And then came the most difficult part. The head nurse came to see if the baby was latching and of course if I was lactating, and being reassured on both accounts she left. That moment onwards, I kept trying every hour or so, like a maniac, to feed the baby. This went on till the next day. Nobody could spot anything amiss. But by next evening the baby began to cry and his temperature increased. Everytime he cried, I pulled him to me and tried to feed him, we could see the drops of milk and he latched well too so we had no idea that there was something amiss. Still we called the doctor on duty. She came and said it was all fine. Just that the temperature would not go down and Shaurya continued to cry. I was getting paranoid I remember. Everytime he stopped crying I feared. Constantly pleaded them to call the paedeatrician. And finally he did come next morning along with the head nurse. One look at the child and they said that the kid is hungry! I couldn’t believe my ears. How could it be possible? I had constantly been feeding him…but obviously, I was not lactating enough. They referred him to a child speciality hospital as jaundice was suspected. That day, till the evening, I can never forget the pain, fear and the guilt that galled me. I felt insufficient and incompetent as a mother. I did not even know that my child was not feeding adequately. I cried and cried while the people around me tried to calm me down… anyway…it was not that bad. The doctor prescribed a formula for milk supplement and lots of vitamin D and two days later, I was home with my little boy.
The joy…the pain… sleepless nights… weariness…smiles…laughter…cries…all passed in a whirlwind…and today I am still home with my little baby, not that little now yet just two years old and my constant in life. In these two years I underwent another surgery for gall bladder extraction, completed writing my thesis and the submission process is still on…hail bureaucracy! In this time also travelled a lot with Shaurya…to Pune, Bharuch and back to Ranchi many times….Kolkata, Baroda, Ahmedabad, Anand, Daman etc etc…. And going back to the note that I began upon ….I am a stay-at-home mom… mostly happy and content with my life… except of course when I want to travel extensively or when I miss shopping without caring for tomorrow because now everytime I start browsing through the shades of kajal and lipstick, there are pop-ups reminding me of the diapers and wipes I need to add to cart first…and a mom gotta prioritize… especially if she’s not financially independent. And there, I said it. This is the only thing I miss about my job. The money. Apart from that, my days are so busily well-spent that I rarely miss going out to work. Teaching and playing, singing and dancing, feeling extremely happy with every milestone that my little one achieves, my heart swelling with pride at every new thing, big or small that he tries and succeeds in…the smallest of words, or a string of them, almost forming a sentence, copying the steps of dance, singing along with me, climbing the ladders and the stairs, jumping and hopping, clapping and laughing… I’ve seen it all, I have seen it first. And I couldn’t be more grateful for it. So, while I’ve been asked many a time as to why I chose to stay at home rather than go out to work, I have the same answer. I didn’t choose this. This life chose me…and I’m too happy in it to try and change it till at least Shaurya begins his school.
Then of course being a working mother must have its own perks…the confidence that comes with the financial independence is undisputed. Having seen my own mother working since I can remember, I know first hand that the children of working mothers get a little more independent sooner than their counterparts. Whatever time the working mums get with their children is quality time and I’ve seen most of them trying to make up for the time lost by putting in some more than actually required… though on second thoughts I’d say, no time invested in one’s child is too much…And I see other children around me, of Shaurya’s age who’ve started eating on their own, while he still doesn’t eat anything apart from finger foods on his own. Maybe because I’m not yet ready to let him start on his own. His time will come…but just not yet. I love feeding him. That is strictly our time. Also… children of his age and even younger are going to daycare or playschool and he hasn’t begun yet. I really don’t know if this is the right decision for him…and we (his father and I) had actually gone to a few schools to enquire but Shaurya had cried that day. Said ‘Baua school nahin…baua ghar…’ …so we decided to wait a little more… maybe when he’s two and a half …or three… just not yet.
And so…here I am… writing away…posts after posts… blogging and microblogging… clicking almost a fifty pictures on an average since the day he was born… uploading some, saving the rest…to look back on those days of extreme weariness and extreme leisure…when I have everything and yet I have nothing as whatever I have belongs to him….my eyes, my time, my love, my efforts all for him…mostly happy, sometimes grey… revelling in the status of a stay-at-home-mom and enjoying every minute of it. And then, just for a tiny puny moment, missing going to work, facing the class, delivering lectures, drawing paychecks…and then again, I write a little, look at my bank statement, feel happy that my husband’s so thoughtful, and then again I get back to enjoying my life as it is.
I love to dance. I cannot dance. However paradoxical these two sentences might sound, they are the TRUTH of my life. I’ve always loved to dance, taking part in cultural activities in school, dance performances included, and thank God for our education system that focuses on encouragement of the child in whichever field or form of art interests it, I always found myself a part of the performing troupe. As I grew, I realized that I couldn’t sway in rhythm, could barely match the beats with my awkward and unbending hands, legs and stiff waist and for the life of me I could not remember choreographed steps! So a complete non-dancer, I started getting self-conscious and unwilling to participate in dance performances in college and even family functions for a while. Yet somehow the beats got me moving everytime and as I grew older and surer of myself I realized that you don’t have to be very good at something to love doing it. Now play the music and risk it in my presence, for ‘aaye ya na aaye, naachna chahiye’ is my mantra in life…and so, I dance…and dance with abandon! Be it my own wedding functions or the Garbas organized at my in-laws’ place (Bharuch, Gujarat… Garba. Get the connection?) I dance whenever I get a chance.My brother’s wedding recently gave me multiple opportunities to showcase my talent! No more shy of what the world would think, no concern for judgmental glances and winks, I had a blast! And then of course my daily practice with Shaurya… sometimes when I’m not up and about on my own, he’s quick to say ‘ Mummy…TV….oooooo…dance!’ And off we go, dancing along the beats, sometimes with them and mostly offbeat but dance doesn’t stop! It’s become not just a way to bond with Shaurya but also to get in sync with myself…and of course the thought of losing a few calories always plays at the back of mind. And so we end up doing the aerobics steps that I still remember from my time in the gym. Not sure I get the postures right, what with carrying Shaurya half the time in my arms, but the intent to have fun and lose all negativity is perfectly achieved in every session. Dance can be quite cathartic that way. It is draining, tiring and still exhilarating. And so yes, to answer the question, that do we have to be good at the things we love to do, well, I’d say no! Not an essential at all as long as you actually love it. But yes, the day you feel you need to improve upon it, get into a class maybe, or enter a competition, I say, give it all. Practice. Learn. Evolve. For no one can match the deadly combination of genius, learning and passion…but do take care to not leave your love behind in the race. Keep loving. Keep enjoying. Keep dancing!!!
It rained much today again… notice the pearls hanging in a row from the railing? Beautiful drops of rain! Bright lights that will shine like small cuts of diamonds, giving out the colors of rainbow now that the sun has once again made its appearance in full force, pushing the dark clouds behind, shattering the gray haze to cover the sky in yellow again…and I love this sight soooo much! It fills me with an intoxicating sense of positivity, I feel drunk on life, raring to go, believing nothing too much or beyond my reach. If those dark clouds could be dispelled in a fraction of seconds once the sun put its mind to it, what’s there that I desire that I can’t achieve if I set my mind to it? Nothing! That’s the kind of optimism this part of the day fills in me. No, not going into the ‘Main Bhagwaan hai’ mode 😂…just happy to see the bright and light side of things.
Weather is the most immediate representation of our state of mind. If we are happy, even the darkest of clouds look glorious and the rains seem to be singing and dancing in our happiness while the harshest of suns seems to be radiating our own bright hearts….and of course if we’re feeling low, the same clouds seems to be singing of gloom and sorrow, the nature crying for our loss…such is human mind… interprets the same set of circumstances to suit our mood and signify what we think at the moment. Two pairs of eyes can see the same thing at the same time, yet the way they see will vary everytime, just like two people cannot feel the same, they cannot see the same… something or the other will have to differ…either the point of view or the intensity of feelings, whatever it be…
So yes…. coming back to my own elation at the sun shining brightly after an equally beautiful rainfall…I am happy, undoubtedly because I’ve chosen to be. Things are much the same as they were when I was cribbing and crying two days ago, and still I’m no longer as worked up or dabbling in self pity or frustrated anger alternatively. Nothing works like talking your heart out in front of your dearests and then being given a piece of their mind too, without any sugar coating. The mind rushes quickly back to its right senses. Enough with the family lectures! And of course my little boy has also been patient, finding new games to keep himself engaged with his toys and activities ..and somehow arranging them all in a perfect straight line is his favorite hobby. Taking inspiration, I’ve decided to sort my own life and emotions and straighten my mind and heart too. So much for self help… saying again… nothing works like family!
It was the occasion of Chaurchan yesterday, a festival quite integral to the Maithil culture, a culture with so rich a legacy that even today the world bows down to its greatness — be it art and culture, education or philosophy…yet there is an undeniable truth that underlies the reality of Mithila, which is the large exodus of the natives of the region to distant parts of the country and the world. This emigration has resulted in the Maithils reaching great heights in whichever field they entered all around the world and there are various Maithil associations too that keep acknowledging and propogating this fact, but then, in all the efforts to establish themselves in foreign lands, the traditional customs have taken a toll. There is no lack of will I’m sure. Looking and talking to people around me, I know the constant longing for the past ways is not just my thing. Don’t we have the famous chhatth videos doing the rounds every year? But apart from chhatth puja and madhubani paintings how much of Mithila have we been able to retain?
…I wish it were easier to practice those customs that defined us as Maithils..but such is modern life… nuclear families, distant lands, distanced family, forgotten rituals and meaning behind them…I wish we had more to give to the next generation…I miss those times of childhood when we could see the cultural practices without Bollywood tadka added to them. I still wince every time I see the different cultures overshadowing our own original Maithil ways just because we’ve been too all-encomapassing, somewhere forgetting what actually was our way, forgetting what was originally ours…too eager to merge with the much-glamorised dahi-handi, we’ve given telling the tale of Krishna-janm a miss …what are our children going to remember of Janmashtami then..? Who will be responsible for their lack of knowledge and resultant disinterest in their own native customs? As it is, we, who had a chance to watch our Nanis and Dadis practice these customs in all glory, are not totally in the know…I miss knowing more about the customs and rituals that are indigenous to mithila a lot more than my words can express…the way Chhatth was done by my Nani, the way Chaurchan was done by my Dadi…the traditional ‘aipan’ (alpana) without the infusion of rangoli designs, mehndi only on the hands (Maithils consider mehndi sacred, worship it during Madhushravani, another ritual of the Maithils, and thus, traditionally, not applied on the feet). Call me old-fashioned or a hypocrite, but I can’t help wincing every time I see a Maithil flaunting the mehndi designs on feet…if we won’t respect our inheritance why would someone else?
I have felt a strange frustrating anger when I have been praised for my saree-draping in seedha-palla, calling it Gujarati saree style, and that by Maithils too! Imagine my consternation every time I have to remind them that this style belongs to Mithilanchal too…and cannot be simply proclaimed as Gujarati! I know I should be gracious and thank them for the compliment and move on but somewhere deep down I feel the need to assert my claim to this drape rather than be called a borrower…serious identity issues…maybe??? But the fact remains that as a Maithil I need to point out my claim on history and culture before they are totally washed out by the generalised idea of Bihar…and then the generalised idea of eastern states and the next thing we know, people will have forgotten Mithila altogether.
It was Rakshabandhan yesterday…the day celebrating the sacred bond between a brother and sister…actually it has come to be more of a celebration of all relationships that have that sibling-like feeling, that strong sense of duty and responsibility to protect, that unshakeable love to stand by your side no matter what…no more is it restricted to just bhai-behen, so to say. Though I saw this trend touted as a recent development in one of the recent editions of a leading daily, it is actually a practice that goes way back. Earliest records of history have stated the court priest tying rakhi on the king’s wrist on the behalf of the kingdom.
Then of course the trend of tying rakhi between friends in school. My husband often makes fun of this when I talk about my school saying such things were never encouraged in his school by the students themselves…don’t know how many future love stories would have been killed if such a practice were in vogue. Lol….but on a more serious note, I really missed my brother and my sister too…
When we were kids, we seldom used to get a holiday on Rakshabandhan. I remember on most occasions we had some test or the other scheduled on this day so that the students would not bunk. Early in the morning Di and I used to tie rakhi…first on our brother’s wrist and then on each other’s… always. I miss those days.
Now Rishu, our brother,used to be super itchy with all those rakhis round his wrist and more often than not, he used to untie them and put them aside within an hour or so while Piki Di and I used to cherish the beautiful threads, worked with a patch of flowers or peacock or sun or sandal and made it a point to wear them as long as they’d last… constantly reminding Rishu how he should be the one donning them…oww ..how much I miss those pointless banters…Now Rakhi is mostly limited to posting the rakhis to all the brothers (including the cousins of course) at least ten to fifteen days ahead of the festival, keeping in mind the awful state of postal services as well as the online shopping portals’ dismal performance and then constantly enquiring if they’ve reached. And then waiting for video calls or photos of the brothers, as proof that they did tie the rakhis. This is the sad reality of living far off from each other in the hunt of better bread and butter…and at times it tastes bitter…but anyway… going back to where I started, I had just one cousin in town to celebrate rakhi with and met him in the evening to complete the ritual. In the meanwhile, my sister and I, in absence of each other, have now found the maddening sibling-like qualities in our sons, so it was but natural that we tied a rakhi to our little men’s tiny wrists. And even this didn’t go as smooth as I had expected… Shaurya was super cranky and I had to wait till he slept in the afternoon to tie the rakhis…but I did…no scruples there!
It’s been more than a month since I wrote something here…not that I haven’t been writing. I mean if I consider my daily uploads on Instagram and the captions with them, well I feel quite prolific as a writer. Yet, a story eludes me. Have tried many a time to sit down and spin a tale, yet the yarns seem to have rolled away. I just cannot think of a story and hence have relied on the things and incidents of my daily life to provide some food for thought (read words).I can write on my dress, my lipstick, the furniture in the house or the weather outside, yet somehow I cannot find words to express myself when I want to pen down a story. It’s not like I do not have a plot. The problem is that I have too many, and am unable to decide on one to tell. A typical writer’s block they’d say. Maybe. In my own mind I am a writer even if it’s just a couple of journals that have published my articles, that too strictly academic. But one who writes is a writer. That is what I believe. And so I am a writer. Great. Having established this premise, let’s move on to the other problem at hand. And that is the fact that I’m yet to write something print-worthy.
A long long distance to walk before I live my dream…
Printing requires a solid back up of material, which my capricious mind has still not generated. The heart does the talking, the mind does the thinking, but the hands find a million other things to do and somewhere in all this running to and fro, for Shaurya and myself, my PhD and my family, writing gets ignored. Never been a pro at prioritising. Or maybe these things rank a little higher than my ambition of becoming a writer. I wonder what is it? I am just a small speck in the world of literature but I also believe that one is never too small to dream big. So I dream of becoming a full-fledged writer; an author, a best-selling one at that…let’s see if I live this dream… and when? Meanwhile, I’ll happily write away at every opportunity I can find, even if it’s just a caption to a pic, or a comment on some event. But write I will!!!
Mumma would come any moment now, Shaurya thought as he ran to bring his shoes from the verandah. He had seen her going out of the kitchen and into her room. Mumma took him daily to the park after preparing their dinner for the night. Shaurya loved his time in the park. He got to run around the lush green grass, and the loose gravel along the boundary leading up to the pool where he loved to take a splash on Sundays… and he could get on the various rides out there – the swings, the merry-go-rounds, the slides, ladders etc and most importantly, he got to play with his little friends. He was just two years old, but knew the importance of friends quite well. He loved sharing his toys with them, and could get into long conversations with them in their own baby language of coos and hmmms…
Mumma loved these outings too. She got this time to meet other mummies of the society and and watching the children laugh and play all around in the park was the best sight ever! Mumma would be ready soon, Shaurya knew and thus he hurried towards the verandah to get his shoes.
But as he neared the shoe rack, he was disturbed to see a vacant place instead of his blue shoes on the right corner. He sprinted to the rack and began to look frantically for his shoes. Left, right, centre…he looked twice, thrice, but could not find them.
Maybe Mumma had taken them for cleaning… thought Shaurya and began to move towards Mumma’s room.But before he could reach his mother’s room, she herself came out and asked him how come he wasn’t ready for the park today? Where were his shoes? Shaurya took her hand, saying “shoov, shoov…”, and pulled her towards the verandah and pointed to the empty space. His mother looked just as surprised as him on seeing the shoes missing from the rack and began to look up and down for them but could see them nowhere.
They hunted through the house with no result…and sat down tired on the sofa, wondering where could the shoes have walked off on their own!Just as they were giving up all hopes of finding the shoes and Mumma was getting up to bring him his slippers so that they could at least go to the shop on the road behind their society, to buy new shoes, they heard a loud honk just outside their door.
Shaurya knew this was his Papa! He must have brought the toy truck he had promised in the morning!Shaurya dashed to the door and tried to open the latch, which of course, he could not. He’d have to grow a little more to be able to..he sighed and looked expectantly towards his mother. She came smiling and picked him up and opened the door.
Yes…Papa was home early today…and not only was he holding the bright yellow toy truck in his right hand, but there was also another parcel in his left hand that strangely looked like a shoe box!Shaurya tried to jump on his father while the three of them entered into the house and settled on the sofa in the hall.
Shaurya jumped around like a monkey opening one parcel, then another. He played with his old car and the new truck and at the same time brought the balloons from the corner where they’d been kept yesterday and enjoyed to the fullest!
His joy knew no bounds holding his long awaited truck. Mumma could not decide which was brighter — her Shaurya’s face or the balloons or the colorful truck!
And when Shaurya asked his Papa to open the other parcel, his father happily obliged and out came a brand new pair of shoes! Red!!! Shaurya sat down to wear his shoes while his father explained, ” When I was taking out my shoes for office in the morning, I somehow closed the door of the shoe rack in such a manner that his shoe got torn. I didn’t want him to skip going to the park, also, I knew you would not notice till it was time to take him there, so I took the pair out and got new shoes of the same size for him and hurried home to ensure that Shaurya would not miss his park time.”
Shaurya was extremely happy, and so were his parents, looking at him playing in the park in his new shoes. He ran around with his ball and also kept showing to everyone out there his new “shoov”!