Wednesday, July 27, 2011

They are gone ...

I wake up with a start.

How could I sleep so sound?  I am supposed to be a light sleeper these days.

I wait a little to adjust my eyes to the dark in the room. But it should not be pitch dark in my room. It scares him.

Might be there is no power. In that case, the UPS should have started buzzing. But I can’t hear that menacing sound either.

Did I switch off the computer? I don’t seem to remember.

Automatically, I stretch out my arms to feel if he is still asleep by my side. But the empty rustle of the sheets tell me that he is not there.

I begin to panic.

I feel over his side of the bed again but no, he is not there; he has not curled up either.

What if he rolled over? He might get hurt in that case. Why is he not crying out then?  Why did he not wake me up tonight?

Why is everything so calm?

I call out to my sister finally. But I do not get any response. That’s ok. She sleeps soundly. So, I call out a little louder this time. But nothing stirs, no sound … stillnesss .. silence.

I am sweating now.

Focus, I repeat to myself.

“You are sleeping in the guest room. Remember, JaiAditya was crying loudly and it was well past midnight. You were dead tired and everybody suggested that you shift to the guest room”, reasoned my sleepy self.

“No, that happened three days ago”, a loud, defiant and chastising echo went through my being.

I am wide awake now.

I have switched on the lights. I am in my own room. And I am staring at the unslept side of the bed.

Di left for her home. After a week’s stay with all of us. That explains why JaiAditya did not wake me up. Why the lights of the room were switched off. And that also explains the incoherence. I had cried myself to sleep.

I do this everytime they all go away.

It does not matter that I will see both Harjas and Jaiaditya tomorrow again. It does not matter that I can run out and meet my sister before I can finish typing this sentence and post it. It does not matter that my sister has been married for a good six years now. And it does not matter that she lives at a distance of three houses from ours.

Everytime she goes, it is like the first time. It is like her wedding farewell being re-enacted. It still hits me as hard as it did that day. Everytime she goes away, everything seems empty, lifeless. As if a mist shrouds it all.

A mist that lifts when she enters the room and smiles. When my nephews play and clamour around.

And just thinking of their angelic smiles calms me. I will better sleep again.

And tomorrow, when the sun will be shining bright, I will run out to embrace my sister and my nephews.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Long Live the Queen ...

While searching for some stuff, I and my 5 year old nephew, Harjas came across dad’s chess game. The one liner description of the game was to keep one’s king safe. And this was quite a happening idea for someone growing up with stories of “Chotta Bheem”. So this “new game” holds all his interest these days. And being the only idler around, I have to play with or rather teach him this brain game. No other game has been able to divert his attention since he has discovered the precious treasure of kings, queens, pawns, rooks, bishops and knights.

We decided to begin step by step and therefore after the introductions with the pieces, the first lesson was how to deal with pawns. How to march them ahead and how to strike blows to the opponent? And we have not been able to make much progress beyond this lesson.

Now every day, the chess board is duly set up and all we do is move the pawns and strike them dead. No other piece on the board can participate till I have a single pawn left. No, I cannot attack his pawns. And no, I cannot defend my pawns. I have to deliberately put them in his path.

Sometimes, I really want to make a move … play the game … but the thought of keeping dad’s beloved chess board safe stops me.

Today we decided to progress beyond this routine. So, my mother decided to partner with Harjas. The result was quite a tolerable progress in the game. He happily sacrificed his rook and bishop and even succeeded in removing my knight from the board, though pawns were still his favourite both for moving forward and for letting go.

I asked him, “If you keep on sacrificing all your pawns, how are you going to save your king. They are the protection walls; they are the ones that keep your king safe.”

He nonchalantly replied, “Oh, I am not worried about my king being safe at all.”

I curiously enquired again, “Why is that so?”

I was stunned by his response. Innocently and candidly, I was told, “What harm can come to my king, as long as his queen lives.”

A look at the life through the eyes of the baby …

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Walking with birds ...

I am totally smitten by the idea of going for walks ... be it morning or evening.  And whenever I can fit one in my schedule, I do so with great pleasure. And though evening walks are enjoyable, I really look forward to morning ones. I believe it rejuvenates both the body and soul.  It is like embracing the Mother Nature at its best.

The rooftop of my house provides quite a sufficient walking area, so I set my pace to the tune of a prayer and enjoy my mornings J

This morning my reveries were cut short by constant chirping of a sparrow.

Now, sparrows of late have become a rare sight and with the monkey menace on rise, sparrows rarely come to the terrace. So this was a pleasant surprise.

So, I marvelled at the way it happily “breakfasted” on the bread crumbs and sweet vermicelli. I marvelled at the way its feathers shown in the early sun. Sparkling, gorgeous dark brown skin and streaks of white feathers in between. I just kept marvelling. The rhythm of prayer broke as I kept admiring the bird, its chirping and eating.

I decided not to disturb it and in trying to be courteous I shortened my walking route. The circle was immediately confined to half of the terrace.

As I kept on making my rounds, I could hear the chirping and I sneaked every now and then to find it eating to satisfaction. This gave me an immense pleasure.

After a few rounds, I observed that there were two sparrows now instead of one. My happiness knew no bounds and believe me or not one of these ( I am not sure if it was the former or latter) was even hopping across the terrace.

The route was shortened further and I was actually walking along a straight line.

Then one of the birds flew away. Number of thoughts crossed my mind. May be it sensed my presence and was scared. May be it had eaten sufficiently. I even prayed for it to come back. And said n number of “sorry”s in my heart.

But I did not return to the half circle. I kept on walking along same straight line.

And in answer to my prayers … the bird came back … and accompanied by another one. And a small host flew overhead.

I have no words to explain the delight I felt at that moment. I vowed not to disturb them anymore … mumbled a quick thank you and immediately hurried downstairs.

In the evening, I went upstairs with my nephew and the bread crumbs were all gone and only some of the vermicelli left behind. I am not sure if everything was eaten by that host or if others joined them. It could have been monkeys also.

But when I look back at the morning today … I feel a strange contentment … an inexplicable happiness and above all hope.

And I wonder if tomorrow I will be "walking with birds" again?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Clean this up. Now!

8 out of 10 times it so happens that something that I need urgently goes missing. And each time this happens, I resolve to clear up the clutter. In the hope that next time, I will not be wasting my time and effort. A resolution which is forgotten as soon as it is made. And the history keeps on repeating itself.

But when I could not locate the driver CD for my laptop, I finally decided that enough was enough. And I started off with the project “Cleaning the clutter”.

So far it has been going good. And it feels good to.

But believe me; it is not as easy as it sounds.

For one, we just do not hoard up things and stuff. We hoard up smiles and tears that brought it to our drawer in the first place. Every paper that you will pick up will bring back bitter sweet memories. May be that is one reason why I kept postponing the activity. The fear of facing and then loosing those memories forever. But having faced them today … I realized ... I can always hold on to the memories and let the stuff go.

The emotional reasons aside, it is really tough to decide if the life of a given article, clothing or piece of paper is really over. But this is an exercise that sharpens the objective outlook of mind.

Starting with the articles of clothing … does it fit, do I actually wear it, is it useful, out of date, can be used as hand me down … similarly for papers … do I need the receipts, can it be replaced, have I ever used it … general rule says if you have not used a paper in last 2.5 years, you are probably never going to look at it ever. And the list is endless.

Exhausting … but worth the effort.

And one thing that always stands in this exercise is “mental clutter”. Fretting, worrying, multi-tasking – all take their toll on our lives and environment. And getting round this is the real challenge. Only your will power guarantees results.

So, as I am learning to say no to cluttering and hoarding … I pray for de-clutter in your lives too … So that  we can all enjoy the early sunrise and the late sunset, feel the spring air and hear the birds chirping … joyous and peaceful. J J