Posts Tagged ‘sadness’

The tatters of our culture of respect

January 30, 2020

तमीज़ के कमीज़ पहना करते थे हम,
बस अब फटे चिथड़े ही बाकी हैं उन तमीज़ के.
गया ज़माना सेहत और सहनशीलता का,
अब हम में हैं बस गुस्से मरीज़ के

We wore the garments of respect for others;
All that is now left are the tatters.
Gone are the days of healthy minds and tolerance:
We now have only the blind anger of sick men.

“Mami”…Mrs M V A Sastry, 031119

December 3, 2019

She passed away on 3rd Nov 2019.

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Photo from Prakash Sastry’s FB page

At first, when Usha called up to say that her mother was sinking, I felt very bad…I was leaving that evening for Madhya Pradesh, and was returning only after a week. Sure enough, when I returned from the forests, to a place where my mobile worked, I got the news that she had passed away.

I went down with viral fever, which recurred; this prevented me from attending the Vaikuntha Samaradhana, too. I felt really miserable. I wanted to hold my friends’ hands at this moment…to take comfort from them as much as to comfort them in their hour of loss.

But now…I feel better about it. I remember Mami, not in the sad state of her health…but as a very strong pillar of her family and circle of friends. Let me reminisce…

At the beginning, of course, Mami was, to me, only “Prakash’s mother” and “Usha’s mother”. It took me many years to realize what an excellent homemaker she was, and what a great “sahadharmini” for Mama. Their flat was always neat and spotless; there was always something that she would offer visitors She herself, was the same. A spick-and-span saree, hair tied neatly back in a plait, with perhaps a few flowers in her hair; face bright with sindhoor…and always, always, always, that welcoming smile on her face. Such unstinting affection. My heart overflows through my eyes, and I hear once again, her calm “Enna Deepa! Eppidi irukkai?”

What a great homemaker she was. She sent Usha for veena lessons, Prakash for violin; she watched with very quiet apride as they both became proficient. (In fact, I still feel that I rarely have heard the kind of “naadam” on the violin that I heard from Prakash.). She was patient and loving to Bhaskar, too, and his being “special”, though it must have been quite tough for her, never saw her complaining or wishing that things were otherwise.

She supported Mama through his career; they never changed their simple living and high thinking. At every gathering, you could see her, well-turned out….and that affectionate smile.

I never thought to ask her about her life before marriage, or how she managed, coming to a very strange city all those years ago. For me, she was like a mother or an aunt…a wise, mature person, who always managed.

When they moved to Bangalore, they had intense difficulty with the flat they had booked, and she silently supported Mama through the years of struggle before they could move into their own apartment. I have never heard her complain. “That’s the way it is!” would be her pragmatic comment.

She was an excellent cook. One of my great favourites was her “gasagasa” payasa…I used to joke about the ganja in it, and she would smile. She was never one to talk a lot, or laugh uproariously…but she always enjoyed the company of others. Did she sing herself? Did she learn any instrument in the time before she got married? Who were her parents? Oh…I never found out all this…I regret that now.

I got to know her more as a person (rather than “Usha-Prakash’s mother” after they moved to Malleswaram. Even then, when arthritis gave her a lot of knee/leg pain, she tried to bear it stoically. She took care of Prakash’s children while the parents went to work.

All through the time that Usha and Prasad went through severe health travails, she kept up her courage and hope. I remember telling Usha just before her major heart surgery at Vellore…”You will be out for the count, and fast asleep! I have come here more to be with your mother!” Which, of course, elicited another laugh from both of them. Usha’s daughters were a source of delight to her, too. She would smilingly share some small anecdote of their mischief.

Bhaskar’s passing away, and the manner of it, was the kind of tragedy that only she could have handled. What it must have cost her in terms of worry and emotional trauma..I can only guess. But she took that blow, too, that Fate dealt her. Dearest Mami, what a load you have carried in your heart…

When Mama died, something inside her seemed to crumble. That cheerful countenance was less so. But the affection never varied. I count myself so very lucky to have had that kind of unstinting affection and love, most of my life, from her.

Mami, I miss you more often than I would have thought possible. You taught me so many values in life, without a single sermon…you were the living example. Simplicity, competence, and wisdom…you were the epitome of these qualities.

So I am glad that I remember you as I last saw you…in full possession of your faculties, offering me some sweet which you had made.

I know that your suffering has ended, and that you are in a much better place now, looking down on us and blessing us. Why, then, are my eyes filling with tears?Why do I feel bereft?

Life has made me wary of rituals, so I am not unhappy that I could not attend the samaradhana or the homa that your children carried out in your memory. But your memory, and the memory of those happy, halcyon days in Calcutta…that is where you will live forever, smiling, your love reaching out to me, making me a carefree child once again.

On our own…

November 17, 2019

We are supported, buoyed up
By friends, family…
But for many, many things,
We are on our own,
Though we may not be alone.
No one can bear the pain of my body
Except me;
No one can help me walk, limping, once again,
Determined to get back my ability to walk everywhere.
No one can take away the sorrow in my heart
That the random events of life fill it with;
I can express some of it to others,
But in the dead of night,
In the small hours when the body and mind
Are at their lowest ebb,
It is I who must bear it.
My sorrow at an insult I have suffered;
My sadness at some hurt I have caused:
Recollections of things I could have done better:
Many are the burdens, often secret
That I must carry myself.
Learning to set them down,
And laugh in spite of them,
Is growing up as a human being:
This, too, I must do on my own.
You may hold my hand, you may even hold my heart..
.But in the secret, innermost chambers of my being,
I am in solitude, and on my own…
And this is true of everyone.

Nature Feature, July ’19: A doomed romance

July 16, 2019

This is butterfly season; you must have noticed these beautiful creatures fluttering past you, in the gardens and even on the roads, everywhere in the city. If you observe them carefully, you will find many moments of drama and tension!

One lesser-known fact about butterflies is that they hatch out of the pupa (it’s called eclosing) as fully mature adults; something I had to think about and accept, being only used to a progression of living beings from infanthood onwards to adulthood.

Because of this fact, sometimes, male butterflies try to mate with a female as soon as she’s emerged from her cocoon; but if the emergence is not complete, or faulty, the romance is doomed. I saw one instance of this at Hoskote Lake, recently.

Three-spot Grass Yellow : Feeding . . .

The butterfly I am featuring here is the Three-spot Grass Yellow, a very common butterfly in our gardens and fields. You can see a perfect speciman in the image above, nectaring on a common wildflower called the Devil’s Coach Whip (Stachytarpeta species)

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You can see the mating of the large butterfly with a much smaller one here. All butterflies need a period of rest after eclosing, to allow them to dry out their wings carefully, and then fly off to lead their lives.

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The female, to begin with, was rather small. The male did not, I think, allow her time to let her dry her wings; so they fluttered around, in obvious discomfort, for a bit. Then they separated, and the female, unable to fly with the wings that dried crookedly, fell to the ground.

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I carefully lifted her on to a leaf; I could not do any more, but had to leave her to her fate. I think her life in the wild would be very short without the ability to fly. This is the ruthless law of the survival of the fittest; if the butterfly is not healthy, it cannot survive and thus produce less than healthy offspring.

It reminded me, sadly, of the many young girls in our cruel world, who are attacked and abused; their wings, too, are broken, and they bear the scars of such incidents forever. Nature is not always kind or beautiful; it takes some effort to accept how relentless life, and death, can be.

The 64 squares of war

February 27, 2019

In every chess game, it is the pawns who get sacrificed first, and then, maybe, some of the others up the heirarchy.
The kings remain, stodgily moving, perhaps, a square or two…and the game ends before any king can be slain. We mourn our soldiers, and similarly, the other country will also mourn its brave soldiers.
As for the terrorist training camps…I weep for the poor youths who are brainwashed by evil ones. It is the evil that must be wiped out, and it is the youth that get wiped out instead….these are my thoughts on the 64 squares of war.

P N Akhila, 301054-231118

November 27, 2018

When I married and moved to R K Nagar (Rama Krishna Nagar), Chennai, I underwent a lot of difficulties…the usual ones with an arranged marriage. I made friends with Akhila, who lived opposite…and truly, her affection (and generally sweet nature) carried me through those difficult years. She was exactly 7 days younger than I am.

Later, she took up a job, married, moved to Hyderabad…our contact was more sporadic, but there was never any change in our love for each other. She managed her job and her home, brought up two very sweet daughters, and dealt with many blows with her usual gentle courage. I managed to visit her in Hyderabad, and we met when the family was in Bangalore, too.

On an impulse, I’d emailed her to “update” and just before her 64th birthday (30th Oct), she called, explained about a serious illness, and sounded as cheerful about that as she’s always done about everything else. I sent her birthday wishes as usual, and was totally shattered to get a reply a couple of days ago from her elder daughter, saying that she’d passed away on Nov.23.

I have always called her “doe-eyed”. We were two women in two different, busy worlds, and yet we found chances to meet and keep our loving friendship up…I wipe the tears that roll down my cheeks, and carry on with my daily chores. This is life…the mundane soothes, masks, and trumps over the emotions.

My dear, dear Maankannu…my life is much poorer without your sweetness. 64…no age to go…but we have to answer the call, when it comes. I will regain my smile in a while…but right now…I miss my friend, who was almost a sister.

On the passing of Mythri, 100118

January 10, 2018

Every moment that I live,breathe, look, sigh…
May be someone’s last moment on earth.
So tough to understand this, but it is true.
More and more often, when I hear of young people dying
I wonder why there is no logic in life or death.
Why should I, having lived a full life, and with no regrets,
Not be taken, and a young life,
Full of talent, hard work and promise,
Not be spared to the world?
Why should old sere trees, their uses long gone,
Creak on, moaning of the past to the world,
While young saplings,which we hope will grow
And mature into giants,
Be cut down in a lightning swathe of random fate?
I do not understand life…or death.

What should I do?

August 23, 2017

Should I feel happy for what I had?
Should I feel sad for what I’ve lost?
Should I take the value of what I still have?
Or should I count the loss and its cost?

Both my daughter and I are taking inventory and finding things missing around our homes…..Neither of us knows quite what to do about it.

But I think my words apply to both tangible and intangible things.

To live without love

February 9, 2017

Who will drop loving kisses
On the cheeks of motherless children?
Who will hug them, tease them, scold them,
Tickle them, cuddle them, laugh with them?
Children need food and sleep…
And so much more, to thrive.
I sing two little children to sleep.
Tears fall from my eyes as I think
Of every child without parents in this world.
The refugees, the orphans, the lost children….
Surely the greatest cruelty in our world
Is to let children live…. without love.

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Chennai, 041216

Minnal Shaffer, 190108

January 19, 2017

In front of the waving grasses in an urban park
Facing the calm waters
Lies a small brick, upon the ground,
That carries your name.
O dear one, my firstborn’s firstborn,
You went away before you even came into this world.
Souls of great ones, our scriptures say,
Do not have long to spend on this earth.
Coccooned within your mother,
You had very little time.
But you were here long enough
For us to love, remember, and cherish you.
You remind us how every live birth,
Every normal child,
Is nothing short of several miracles.
You were a lightning flash that touched our lives;
But,like lighnting, you had great power
To open our eyes to the fragility of life.
Your home in our hearts is eternal,
As is that of every being whose lifespan is small.