Friday, November 29, 2013

The Gift

                                     

            Adesh was sipping his third tea since the day started. He had found it difficult to sleep through the night and had headed to the study at the crack of dawn. Perhaps it had been a bad decision. He should have tried to catch more sleep before he headed to London. His flight was in a few hours and he did not want to land in a fatigued state. Thinking of London brought a smile on his face.

              He closed the door of the study and slid the drawer open. There it lay! The CD that he had picked up at the airport store in London. He opened his laptop. Inserting the CD, he rested his head back on the chair. He tapped his feet gently to the tune. Right, left and turn, he mentally pictured the dance. Pulling her a little closer, her swiftly moving out of his arm and his tugging at her and coiling back into him.They moved like two bodies fused into one. He couldn't wait to play the CD and dance with her. He had practiced it in his thoughts for months!

              He had met Lysa at the university. She was born and brought up in a British household and he was from a Gujarati merchant family. They were poles apart in temperament and yet he had instantly warmed up to her. She had been friendly to him, as she was to all. Adesh soon developed a soft spot for her and he couldn't believe his luck when she responded to him. He had asked to keep their affair a secret. Deep within, he knew she was far out of his league. The beautiful, graceful dancer that she was and clumsy, two left footed man he was! Her fair skin against his dark, her light eyes against his dark, her easy way and his uptight nature. He felt blessed each day that he was with her.
              Lysa had insisted he learn ball dance. She had taught him the basics and soon he felt confident to ask her for dance when they went out. It had become fun to dance with her and slowly Adesh developed interest in the form. This time he would gift her the CD and surprise her with the moves..
                                                 

             He was immersed in his thoughts when the commotion started. He shut his laptop close and looked down the balcony of the study.
            A skinny, four year old boy was arguing with two older boys.
           " I m not out!! He came in the way and I had to see that he doesn't get hurt." He shouted at the boys pointing at a man.
            They did not seem to agree with him.
            The young boy snatched the bat from the older and went back to bat.
          He has so much of me in him. Adesh smiled, adoring his four year old son.

           "Now don't come in between like an idiot. I don't want to get out." His 4 year old son, Viraj, told the man who was waiting by his side with a glass of milk. Gopi.
       
           Gopi had been in the house ever since Adesh could remember. He was their gardener's son. Gopi had been living in the house even after his father died. He did odd jobs. He was an idiot. Adesh had ridiculed him so much in his childhood! Gopi was too much of a simpleton. Anyone could fool him. Making a fool of him had been the favorite time pass of Adesh and his cousins. Adesh did not notice Gopi much during his growing up years. Gopi was always present to do the running around for every little thing that  no one noticed him actually. Somethings never change!
         
           " Is this the way to talk to elders?" Adesh's wife, Neelam, reprimanded Viraj.
           "Neelam, let him play. Come upstairs." Adesh shouted out to his wife.

           Neelam covered her head with her sari as she entered the left tower of the large house. Her husband's family owned the large palatial house. It was a joint family and they all worked together in the large business. The house was divided into three towers. Only the central and left tower were in use now. The right tower had been vacant for long and now was used for guests and also had a servant quarter. Neelam had been over whelmed when she had come to the house as a bride. She came from a family of lawyers but  she had just completed her graduation with difficulty. She wasn't very bright at studies and had been married off at 20 to Adesh. Adesh's family was rich but they were very old fashioned. They sent their sons to foreign universities but married them to simple and traditional girls. The women were expected to always cover their head and follow all customs. The men were always busy with trade.

       "Neelam, I m leaving for London in the evening." Adesh told without looking up from his papers.
       "Do you want me to pack anything?" She asked.
       "No. I have packed everything. I have kept some money in the locker for your use." He replied.

       Neelam saw the CD on his table and wondered what it was. She had never seen her husband listen to songs. He was always working. Neelam had learnt it the hard way to not ask him questions. It infuriated him if she invaded his privacy.
       She was full of dreams when she had married Adesh. He had been 21 and booming with enthusiasm. They would steal chances to meet each other in the house. They would spend time on the terrace, gazing at the stars and dreaming of the future. They would talk for hours and then resign to their rooms. Their customs prohibited consummation of the marriage till the 15th day. On the 7th day, Adesh's visa had arrived and on the 9th day he had packed his bag and she had bid him good bye with a heavy heart.

                         
          For some months the letters came regularly and then it started dropping. After a year, a letter was a rarity. 2 years after their marriage, Adesh came back from London a changed man. Gone was the carefree talks and the simple thoughts. He had been polished and civilised the London way. He kept quiet and pondered a lot.
          He was no longer the man she had waited for.  He smelt of expensive perfume even when he was home. He read books that she could not comprehend. He talked about things that made no sense to her.
        Their intimacies were forced. Clumsy and uncomfortable he would seem with her. He moved about knowingly, she a novice. He rolled off her when he was done, she lay thinking of what she did wrong. She was pushed further away from his life. Nothing made a difference to him.

        Gopi stood by the suitcase at the door. Adesh went to say good bye to his parents and hugged Viraj. Neelam came to the door and saw him getting into the car. Another month of business.

        She tiptoed to the right tower, with a torch in her hand at night. She gently knocked the door. It was dark inside. She sat on the bedding rolled on the floor. He stared into her eyes.
        It was in his eyes. His bright, large luminous eyes. His child like eyes with large lashes. The unquestioning way in which he looked. The unassuming way in which he took in everything. His gentle smile that lit up in his eyes. His eyes that haunted her. His eyes that she felt on her. His eyes that she saw when she closed hers. Gopi talked to her with just his eyes, silently and lovingly..
        She hugged him close. He held her gently. He smelt of soil. He smelt of sweat. He smelt of innocence. She breathed easy in his embrace than in the suffocating smell of rich perfume. She did not have to think what CD he had, his life was an open book in front of her. She did not feel inferior with him. This idiot knew more of love than polished arrogance.
        Her eyes watered. He wiped it, knowingly.
        " I m so sorry. Viraj is just so rude." She told him.
        "He is just a child."
        "He should know to speak better to his father."

         He smiled. A smile that touched her heart. She knew she had made him unconditionally happy by speaking out what they always knew... He had given her  the gift that her husband was unable to..
                                   
                                       
     

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

           

This time your entry must contain the three words idiotperfume and CD.

         

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Raising the bar

             
                                                 


               Sumona barged into the hall with a reddened face. Her clothes stuck to her skin, giving out all the bulges of her overweight body.
             "Now don't dump yourself in front of the laptop. Get a shower and go to the supermarket. We need some grocery." Her mother shouted from the kitchen.
             "I just came back. Let me at least breath!" Sumona shouted at her mother.

            "Oh! How many days are you going to continue this morning walk?" Her younger brother pulled her leg.
           "Just shut up and go to school."
           "What is this Sumona? Why are you always snapping around?" Her father reprimanded her. She stomached the acid that was rising in her mouth. No matter what she wanted to shout, she was scared of raising her voice in front of  her father. She sulked in silence.

            "Here, take this wrist band. I bought for  you." Her brother told sheepishly.
            She loved her brother to bits and felt guilty of always taking out her frustration on him. She hated herself more.

             She stood under the shower and thought about her plan to get slim. She was fed up of all the fads that she had followed. She could never stick to anything. Her brother was right, she wouldn't continue anything for long. At the end of the day, she always weighed the same!
                               

             "Sumona, we have to go to a function today evening." Her mother told her when she stepped out of the bathroom.
             "Where?" She asked, as if it mattered.
             " My colleague's daughter is getting engaged. Wear that blue salwaar kameez."
             "No, I don't want to come. I have college work."

             This had become her standard excuse. She had stopped going to social functions. It always came to some random stranger giving her weight loss tips. She found it difficult to mix in the crowd. She eyed every girl in the function and mentally figured herself in the picture. One day, she wanted to be that size. She felt as if people would watch how much she ate and only picked at her food.

            Her mother did not argue with her. She left for work after reminding Sumona again to go to the supermarket.

            She went to the supermarket with the list that her mother had given her the previous day. She was standing in the queue at the counter when she saw him. He was shopping in the electronics section. She left the queue and approached him.

           "Nirav, I have been trying your number since morning. You didn't tell me you are at home today."
           He did not expect to see her there.
           " I was busy yesterday."
           "You switched off the phone yesterday."
           "Because you did not understand that I was busy. I can't talk to you as you wish!" He told her.
           "Nirav, I m your girlfriend. I deserve at least that much. Do I ask you for anything else? Can't you talk lovingly for a few minutes?"
           "Don't start this here. I have other things on my mind. I can't always whisper nothings to you!"
           "Always? When do you ever do that? Tell me do you even love me?"
           "Would you leave if I said no?" He asked her.
           She did not answer him.
           "Had I been thin, you would have loved me right?" She asked.
            He did not answer her and simply walked away.

           Back home, she dumped the bags on the kitchen counter and dashed to her bed. She sobbed her heart out.
           Deep inside, the hurt was spreading. Her chest was heavy with the overwhelming feeling that she felt. She called Nirav repeatedly, only to get "Switched off" message. She hit her hand against the wall several time, until it became swollen and red. The pain did little to subside the inner turmoil.

           She had done everything, only to fail miserably. She had even tried throwing up the food by thrusting her hand down her throat. The act was so disgusting to follow everyday that she had given up.

          She stopped posing in pictures with her friends. It terrified her that those pictures would get uploaded on social forums. She avoided meeting new people and always kept wondering what they thought of her. It was important for her to keep Nirav in her life. It was more for her own self importance than for love. She hated her relatives who taunted her for her weight and smiled sadly at the jokes of some of her classmates. She had to keep a straight face and not cry. Every day was a struggle that she fought without swords.
       
          Every morning she woke up feeling hopeless. Every time the mirror laughed at her. Every time she felt the attendants at malls giggle when she couldn't fit the size.

          Every taunt, every neglect, every ridicule was making deep holes in the thin layer of self confidence that she now had.
          She pulled her hair sometimes in anger. The swollen hand usually helped to lessen the pain that circulated in her heart. This time the pain was much deeper. Not only had Nirav ignored her but also shut her off from his life. How much longer could she keep him forcefully after all. He deserved a better girl. A girl less fat and miserable than her.

         This time the emotional hurt was too much to keep away by her swollen hand. This time she raised the bar. 
                                             

           Blood gushed from the cuts she made on her leg. The pulsating pain made her forget Nirav and her weight issues for a while. It numbed her brain and she surprisingly found relief in the red liquid that oozed from the cuts. 
          This time ,she raised the bar of pain. She raised the bar of self hatred... 

                                           If only she had been told once
                         


 P.S: 
Self harm is a way of coping with emotional pain for some people. It might provide a temporary release but the act in itself goes deeper than it seems. 
Signs of someone doing self harm can be:

  • Increased isolation
  • Increased anger
  • Unexplained wounds
Read more about SELF INJURY here.

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

This time your entry must contain, ‘This time, she raised the bar…’

           

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Let us get the basics right

            It is said that the value of anything is best realized by someone who doesn't have it. We take so many things in our life for granted that it would come as no surprise that most of us have never given importance to the constant battle our body fights. Yes, our immunity is the unsung hero.
           From a slight cold to the dreaded HIV ( Human Immunodeficiency Virus), it is our immunity that gives us a lease of life. Isn't it a wonder that, unknown to us, our body is immune to a plethora of noxious chemicals and millions of micro-organisms?
                                                 
                                                   The bubble is our immunity

         Imagine a life where your immune system isn't functioning well.

         Imagine having psoriasis that makes the first defence, your skin, so fragile that even detergents can cause you irritation.
         Imagine having allergy that makes you sneeze in reaction to dust, volatile oils, perfumes.
         Imagine having sinusitis with every little change in temperature.
         Imagine having studied everything but feeling weak to give the exam.
         Imagine dreading to get drenched in the rains while rest of your friends are enjoying the first rain.
       
         Difficult imagination right?
         Would anything in our life go well without a proper immune system?

         Now imagine someone who has lived it for 21 years. It is no serious illness and yet the discomfort is no less annoying. Yes, I have had immune issues since birth.
         It is in built defect of my system. Having known what it is like to not have natural protection, I do value the importance of immunity not just for children but also for grown ups.
                                 
                    which one would you want your child to be? I would want mine to enjoy the rain! 

         The true foundations of one's health lies in the childhood. It is that age which will make the body more resistant and capable of handling the onslaught of coming years, not just diseases but emotional and physical stress as well. In my case, I had all the care and wisdom of tradition but my own body failed me. When I see others taking their systems and their kids for granted I just wish they could see it from my side. Why would anyone want their child to suffer like I do?

        What would I do in their place? What would I do to make sure that the kid become resistant and strong?

       Food

     Dump that cereal box right now. You don't have time to cook a proper breakfast and the advertisements say that the cereal box serves the purpose. Real the label. You would not allow your child to consume chocolate and yet you would allow chocolate flavored cereals and drinks and what not? Hot chocolate is supposed to be a luxury and not a bribe to force down milk down their throats. Going by the food being made child friendly, I think the kids today consume more chocolate than food!  Stick to the traditional breakfast. Idlis and chapatis are the kind of nutrition your child needs.
    Do not go over the diet fads and serve the same to the child. It is an age that requires more nutrients. Give them oil, give them proteins, give them carbohydrates and vitamins. The genetic buildup demands rice for the South Indian then let him have it. Let the Punjabi have his paratha doled in ghee. Kids have need of these!
    Balanced diet is the first step to immunity. Most of the food that we consume contain immunostimulants.

                                   


Play
"He goes to school at 11. He gets home at 6 and completes his homework. He then watches TV, eats and sleeps" My cousin tells me about her 5 year old kid.
"When does he play?" I ask.
"He gets no time. He plays on the phone when he gets time." She tells me. 
"But he needs physical activity!" I reason.
"His friends have different tuition timings." 

We are talking here of a 5 year old. Let him be a 5 year old ! Let the child play outside. Let him get a taste of mud, let him slip and hurt a bit, let him feel the blood rushing through his veins and the heart thumping with excitement, let him feel the wind in his hair as he runs, let him feel the thrill of sliding down, let him sweat the exhaustion. 
Did you know that an average Indian is immune to about 50,000 chemicals that enter his system daily? Surely, he didn't get that resistance by staying at home! 

Enroll the child in some activity that makes him feel euphoric. Let him flex his/her  muscles in the karate class or let her/him dance to the tunes of freedom. Note: Do not press the need to win anything while they are at it.

Proper blood circulation ensure better health. 

                                               

Sleep

My mother says that most of the illnesses are cured by sleeping well. Whenever I run a temperature due to cold, she sets the water boiling and adds garlic, ginger, jaggery, tulsi leaves and black pepper to it and makes me drink that and tells me to sleep. Most of the time I sleep straight 10 hours and wake up all renewed. 

Our body repairs itself when we are asleep. We need atleast 6 hours of sound sleep and the children need a good 8 hours sleep. Do not wake them up to study for some stupid test or make them burn the night lamp. 8 hours it is! 

No stress

I still don't understand the deal of putting kids into tuition class for kindergarten section. Or any standard before boards for that matter! Helping out a child in some poor subject is one thing but putting him/her for every subject is putting undue stress. 

When we were kids, the only thing that our kindergarten section concentrated on was to make us tell stories and poetry, make us write A to Z on the board and count a few numbers. The rest of the time was spent in playing and talking which made sure we were good at interacting with our age group. Most of the class didn't know to make words till the first grade!  The competition never came into picture as fiercely as it is now. I wonder what we have in store for kids who already fight for their ranks in nursery! 

Make the child participate in activities and do not attach importance to winning. Stress invites diseases and makes the body incapable of fighting the attack! 

                                       

Supplement

I was taken aback when someone told me that she took sleeping pills to get a sound sleep at the age of 15. She had no illness and yet she resorted to these pills. 
A classmate had confided in me that she was taking "memory improving" pills that someone had recommended. 
Do we really need these pills and tablets?

I can tell you better options.
1. Oil your hair before you go to bed. Sleep assured.
2. Eat soaked almonds every morning. Memory sharpening. 
3. Eat a clove of garlic every day. More memory. 
4. Eat tulsi leaf before going to exam. Blood pressure regulated. 
5. Eat amla. Skin and hair maintained or improved. 

The list can go on because I have just given my Pharmacognosy exam and I remember all the uses well right now :D 

One of the major hurdles in the way of right nutrition and immunity is the extremely choosy child. Children do not easily eat amla or any other herb for that matter. The solution is to give them a spoonful that contains a mix of a handful of good herbs. I will call them good herbs because not only do they increase resistance but also impart their natural goodness.  
                                           

One name that has been a must and  the only supplement that was available in our childhood is Chyawanprash. If the child has an over active reflux mechanism then chances are that he/she will throw up the whole spoonful. Yes, experience! 
              

Dabur Chyawanprash has a whole new range that contains flavors that the child will like and yes a spoonful of flavor is acceptable right? Dabur also has sugarfree variety for those who are worried about the sugar intake. 
                                      
             A great future depends on the safe and immune childhood. What goes into the system at a young age is what comes out at a later age. They call it GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out. So what do you think we must do with all that junk food? Let us get the basics right to build a stronger, healthier and more immune india! 

                This post is written as a contest entry for Immune India contest  in association with Dabur


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Stranger

                                                    image


               It was still dark outside when he creaked the door open. Quickly slipping out of the front gate, he slid into the driver's seat of his jeep. The jeep roared to a start which made Mahesh curse and hope that no one noticed his departure. His joints ached in the chill of the early hours and the wool that he wore gave him little comfort. Inconvenient as it was, he was determined to rest his curiosity before the day ended.

   ********************************************************************************************************************************************
               Retired cop Mahesh Acharya, was used to the disciplined life that he had lived while in active service and went about his retired days the same way, sticking to a schedule. He did not like the interruption that the untimely rain had brought into his morning jogging. Reclined on the sofa of their large living room, he was sipping his morning black tea. His wife followed only one ritual that even the rains could not hamper. She was ready to leave for the temple to offer her prayers to Lord Shiva, when the stranger had come. Gentle and superstitious by nature, she took it as some divine signal. The stranger was a young girl, no more than 10. Drenched to the core and shivering, she had begged for some food. Mahesh did not pay any attention to the girl. It was common for beggars to ask for help and the temple being a stone's throw from their house, beggars were there in plenty. The regular ones knew his temper and stayed away while the naive ones dared and got a taste of his fury.

              Nandini was unreasonably adamant to keep the girl with them. She had argued that the girl was well behaved and willing to odd jobs at their home. Mahesh saw no reason to take the girl in when they already had Rukmabai as a maid but Nandini seldom insisted on anything and when she did, it was only fair that Mahesh obliged. Grudgingly, Mahesh had agreed to see the girl and interrogate her. Nandini had stayed by her side and answered for her. It was a second nature to Mahesh, doubting and cross questioning people was what he had done for 40 years. The girl knew nothing of her background except for her name. Pratiksha. After the death of her mother, her maternal uncle had brought her to the city and left her alone at the railway station. She did not know even the name of her village. Mahesh had asked Nandini to keep an eye on the girl and not trust her blindly even though he had nothing to doubt her.

           Within days, Pratiksha had grown close to Nandini. Mahesh had to agree, the girl was indeed well behaved and did her job to the T. She never gave any reason to complain. Nandini took her more as a daughter than a maid. With arrival of Pratiksha, a void had filled in Nandini's life. She found an outlet to talk to. Mahesh loved his wife but he was not a man to make small talks or chatter without need. Their only son, Pruthvi, had stayed in hostel to not get affected by Mahesh's transfer and later gone abroad. Nandini had to fill her days with just the TV and her daily chores. Pratiksha listened to Nandini's talks and accompanied her to the markets and temple. She was like a daughter that Nandini never had.

         Pruthvi had announced that he would spend his summer vacations with them and Nandini was overjoyed. She set about making preparations to welcome him. Just two days before Pruthvi was to land, Rukmabai fell off the stairs and had to go on a holiday. Pratiksha took up her share of the work. Mahesh had to admit that it had indeed been wise to let her stay.

        She had been scrubbing the floor. Mahesh was engrossed in the newspaper. She was bent over the side table, setting the magazines in order. Mahesh had looked up from his paper and saw the tattoo to the left of her chest. He had seen that tattoo before! If only he could remember where. He had stared a bit too long. Pratiksha saw him and rushed out of the room. He went back to his paper, embarrassed.

       He did not sleep easy that night. The tattoo haunted him. The crescent moon and strange script on her chest did have some significance. He racked his brains too hard. He turned and twisted in bed. Finally when sleep came over him, a disturbing image jolted him out of it.

       How could he forget that tattoo!

        30 years ago, he had been deployed in a small village of West Bengal. The transfer was courtesy the foolish bravery of his senior which had invited a politician's wrath and the entire team was transferred to places that were never heard of. The village was predominantly a population of poor farmers and a few rich, forgotten landlords. The landlords continued to live in a sphere of illusion and the farmers were too ignorant to know that landlords had no control over them now. Broken into sects not only by caste but also by class, the village painted a sad picture of inequality. 

        Most of the time, Mahesh never went to duty. He would be busy stringing any contact that could get him out of the god-forgotten place. One afternoon, as he was solving the crossword puzzle after lunch, a man named Gyanlal came to the police station. 
    "Saheb, the son of Thakur has hurt Munni." 
    "Hurt? What happened?" He had asked. 
    "Saheb, I was tending to my field when I heard her muffled crying. When I went, Thakur's son Vijay was making his way and Munni was lying in blood." 
    "Where is she?" Mahesh was alarmed. 
    " I called the villagers and they all took her to hospital." 

       Mahesh had taken immediate action and arrested Vijay. He was about to file an FIR when the landline which had gathered dust, began to ring. It was the local leader first and then the higher ups. The pressure to set Vijay free was mounting. Mahesh knew it was a serious offence. Munni was just 6 years old and on the verge of death due to the blow on her head. He gave in to the demands in return for his transfer to a more civilized place. 
      What he didn't see coming was the ire of villagers. They were out to set the police station on fire. His immediate senior was in another district. He suggested Mahesh to arrest Gyanlal. That was the only logical option. Only Gyanlal had seen Vijay after all! 

      In the middle of the night, he had gone with a small team to arrest Gyanlal. His wife and his daughter had fallen on his feet and pleaded him to let go of Gyanlal. His wife was frail and fainted. His daughter had tugged at his pants and cried,
     "Leave my baba" she said in local dialect. A girl of only 5 she had been, wearing only a thread bare frock that hung over her thin, malnourished frame baring the green ink on her chest. The crescent moon with the script..

      He had not stayed long enough after that night. He had been transferred to Pune. He had only heard that Gyanlal's wife was called a witch in the village and Gyanlal was framed for killing Munni for a child sacrifice. 
They didn't know that Munni was raped. The medical reports were tampered as well. The guilt had been huge but Mahesh could do nothing about it. He was too selfish to let go of his comfort. 

    It puzzled Mahesh. How could Pratiksha have the same tattoo? Was it possible that Pratiksha was an offspring of Gyanlal's daughter? Did she know about it or was it pure coincidence?

     *******************************************************************************************************************************************
          He caught the morning flight to reach there. The village had changed over the years and boasted of a mall in the present day. Mahesh could not remember the lanes or the place. By the time he made to the police station, it was almost noon. The police station was well populated, a far cry from their handful numbers the last time he had been there.
          He met the current officer there and sought the information. The officer was confused but did not question why such a senior retired cop would want such details. He fetched the file. It was in a bad condition. The papers were brown and thin and bitten on ends by rodents. Mahesh read the file. Gyanlal had been shot while escaping. Probably an old style encounter.

         Mahesh asked in the old settlements about Gyanlal but no one knew. From an old woman, Mahesh came to know that Gyanlal's wife was ousted from the village along with her daughter. They probably went to live in the neighboring village where Gyanlal's brother-in-law lived.

        It was evening when Mahesh reached the dusty village of Midpur. He did not know why he bothered so much but he wanted to get to the depth of the situation. Somewhere deep, the guilt was making him do it. The brother-in-law was long dead and those who remained in the area were scared to talk to a stranger. After much efforts, Mahesh came to know that Gyanlal's wife had died a few months after him. His daughter had been a witch. This shocked Mahesh. It was his wife they had called a witch and then his daughter!
       "She had potions. She never grew old" an old man confided, his eyes wide with the secret.
       "Never grew old?" Mahesh raised a brow.
       "She was ten and then she never grew.. She never flowered. She never developed. She remained ten.."


       Mahesh kept running. He was panting by the time he reached the nearest police station. His mobile gave no signal since he reached Midpur. It was ten in the night. He asked to use the landline. The landline was dead. Damn! He asked for a vehicle to leave him to the airport. The officers exchanged looks and informed him that a landslide had blocked the road out of the village and would take minimum 2 days to open. Mahesh was petrified. Why did he walk to this dead end? Leaving Nandini alone with a witch!

        He reasoned that Pratiksha couldn't be a witch. She had done no harm in the eight months she had been with them. The thought that she was 35 and not 10 made Mahesh weak with fear. All these months he had seen nothing!! He kept thinking about ways to go  out of this village but nothing worked without crossing the road that was blocked. Did witches have such power?

       At the break of daylight, Mahesh was on the road with a hired car and a driver. The landslide wasn't much. Maybe 20 people could work for 3-4 hours to clear it but those 20 people were elusive. It was too lazy a village to find people to do that job. It wasn't before 10 am that he could gather 5 people with a bribe to get started.

      It was late evening by the time Mahesh could get past the road. The signal was still too low and the village had no electricity the whole day, added with the dead telephone lines! What a wretched place!!

     It dawned on him that Pruthvi was to come home. For a moment he relaxed. Nandini wasn't alone after all! He cursed his stupidity for not informing them that he was going out. They would be worried to bits. He wished he could tell them how much they meant to him. The thought of losing Nandini was too wounding. He longed to see Pruthvi. How much he wanted to be with them!

       They were a few hours away from the airport when the mobile caught signal and began buzzing. Mahesh held the phone to his ears, hoping to hear Nandini. The voice on the other end sent fresh waves of fear in his spine.

      "Saheb, the son of Thakur had hurt Munni." The child like voice said.
      Mahesh trembled.
      "Pratiksha.. I.. Let us talk when I come okay. I can explain." He fumbled for words.
      "I have waited enough. Now you will know the pain of losing a family. For no fault of theirs!"
      "Pratiksha.. No.. don't harm them.. I m telling you I can explain."
      "Sorry Saheb. They are dead. They struggled pitifully. Poor souls. Died the death of rats."
      "What? Oh God !! No.. No.. You are lying!" He cried out.
      "It is your habit to lie and make people suffer for it. You killed my baba. You killed my Ma. You made me a witch."
      "I did not do it! You witch!!! You killed my family." The driver was distracted and crashed into a tree, dying on the spot.
      Mahesh was numb and didn't feel the blood gushing out of his body.

      "I m no witch. An educated man like you should know better. The trauma and malnutrition did that to my body. It was divine blessing. I know you saw the tattoo. The tattoo of our divine goddess. The ancient spirit of my ancestors. Today they gave me justice. I hunted you for so many years. You shall not die. You shall repent each day for rest of your life and grieve for your family."

      The line was cut and Mahesh lay limp on the dashboard.

      ****************************************************************************************************************************************

     They put him in the special ward. He stared into space. Not responding to words or stimuli even though everything in his body functioned perfectly normal. He had become a case study. Only word he responded to was

        Tattoo
                       
                           

This time your entry must contain, ‘He/She had seen that tattoo before! If only he/she could remember where.’


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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Just Missed?

                                               

               "Can't you  stay at home today? It is so hot outside" Her mother said, fanning herself with her dupatta.
               "Mom, Mumbai is always hot!"
               "I feel so weak with all this heat that I wouldn't venture out if I could help."

               Keya paid little attention to what her mother was cribbing about. She was busy getting dressed up. She put on her pink top. He had told her that she looked cute in pink.
               Her cellphone beeped. She quickly grabbed it.
              "Hey, did you ask?" The message read.
              "Wait, I will ask." She typed away

              Her mother was still hovering over her. She eyed Keya suspiciously. Keya pulled her mom beside her.
             " Mom, everyone is going for a night out today."
             "Night out! No, no"
             "Please ma, I never go out. All my friends would be there." She cut in.
             "Keya, you know your papa doesn't like all this." She reasoned.
             " But papa is out of town. How will he know if you don't tell?"

             After much persuasion, Keya's mother finally gave in but not before she made her promise to call often. Keya was overjoyed. She conveyed the news.
            "That's great.I will pick you up at 4."
            " Don't come near my house"
            "Then?"

            "Whole day your phone beeps. Who do you message so much?" Her mother came to her room again.
            Keya put her phone on vibration as soon as her mother went into the kitchen and continued the conversation.

            She was ready before it was even 3 pm and fiddled with her phone. She would be seeing him after almost a week. He had proposed her a day before their college holidays. He had wooed her away long before that and she didn't wait before accepting his proposal. Her friends had been very cross with her following this decision. Arjun was known as the play boy. They don't know him as she did. 

           She had the same impression about Arjun when she first saw him. He was so strikingly handsome and had an airy attitude that made people feel that he was a playboy. He had just been unlucky in love. His previous affairs had gone kaput for other reasons but he was named a playboy. She stayed away from him but always noticed him.
           She had started talking to him after she joined the college cultural committee. Contrary to her ideas, Arjun had been polite and a sweet talker. Within days, she began dreaming about him. College had just become an excuse to catch a glimpse of him. He began to take notice of her a few weeks after that. He had asked for her contact number and she had been on cloud nine. They started chatting more on phone and she had become sure that he had fallen for her too. It was like a dream to have a guy like Arjun. So handsome and so madly in love with an ordinary girl like her.  If only her friends had been accepting of them!

          She stood at their decided bus stop sharp at 4 pm. She saw him riding on his bike and her heart skipped a beat. How could he look so perfect all the time. He was dressed in a black T-shirt and a blue jeans, the colours making him look all the more fair. He told her she looked beautiful and she blushed. She slid behind him and put a hand on his shoulder.
         "You would fall off" He said.
          She giggled and held him by the waist. She felt his toned abdomen tighten at her touch. His body was like a model! She wondered if he ever thought of acting or modelling ! 
            
        After  ten minutes of ride they had reached outside his house. She fished out her mobile phone to call her mother and let her know that she had reached safely.
                                             
         She unlocked the screen and saw the missed call icon.
         38 missed calls in 10 minutes! She wondered what was going on. 

         It was her Mom. She called back but her mom did not pick up the phone. Keya panicked. Her mother was an asthma patient. What had she told about feeling faint? Damn, was she really not well?
        She called up her neighbor but their landline was busy. Keya stamped her foot in desperation.

        "Keya, come inside." Arjun said

        It all felt wrong. She had lied to her mother. It was going to be only Arjun and Keya. They had planned to watch a movie and have fun. She had hesitated and he had told her that he had no other intentions. He told her not to come if she didn't trust him.She didn't want to lose him. Did she trust him so much that she had lied to her mother? She was enjoying the ride with Arjun and not felt the vibrations of her phone deep in her handbag. Her mother had been calling her so desperately!  She would never forgive herself if something happened to her mother. Why had she been so careless?

        "Keya!" Arjun shouted.
        She kept trying her mother and the neighbor.
        Can't he see I m worried. The fool! 

        "Arjun, drop me home. Now!" She shouted.
        "Are you crazy? You can't just cancel everything." He said in a irritated tone.
        "Everyone was right. You are just a prick."
        "Look at yourself. You think you are some princess? You came after me. I m just trying to have fun."
        "I don't have time for this nonsense. Enjoy yourself!"
         She walked away from him and hailed an auto.

         She tried her neighbor again. This time the call was answered.
        "Madhu aunty!!" she almost cried.
        "Keya?"
        "Aunty, please check on mom." She requested.
        "Why? She is at my house. I will give her the phone, wait."
        "Mom! Are you ok?" She was hysterical.
        "Yes beta. Did you reach?"
        "Why did you call me 38 times?" She asked in disbelief.
        " Where did you keep the remote Keya? I wanted to watch my serial. Anyway I m watching it at Madhu's house. Ok, the ad is over. Call you later."
        "Mom, you are unbelievable! I m coming home." She smiled.

         If it weren't for her Mom, she would have made a terrible mistake of trusting Arjun. Her friends were right afterall. If everything looks so perfect, it is fake. The 38 missed calls had just made her miss her biggest mistake.

        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          He watched her auto disappearing. He banged his fist on the bike. Damn the girl! Wasted all efforts!
He would have to change his plan.

                              

This time your entry must contain, ’38 missed calls in 10 mins! He/She wondered what was going on.’


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

Friday, November 8, 2013

The lost wisdom

                Ayurveda, for many of us, still means "jadibooti" and we picture a snowy, long bearded baba rubbing his fingers in the air to magically produce a powder that would cure the illness. So much for our understanding of Ayurveda, thanks to the idiot box!
                                     

               Ayurveda is the science of life. It is the oldest form of medicine known to us. For the uninitiated ones, it is the knowledge of health care which is added as an annexure to our four vedas. Sage Charaka,  who is known as the first physician is said to have compiled the "Charaka samhita" which details prevention and treatment of disease. Sage Sushruta, the Vedic surgeon, has written treaties on surgical procedures in "Sushruta Samhita". The two scriptures contain extensive knowledge of traditional medicine and are compiled in Ayurveda.
                                             

             Traditionally, the knowledge of herbs was passed on through the Brahmins who were not only required to perform rites and rituals but also served as physicians. They would roam all over to handpick the choicest of the herbs and were well versed with the techniques of purifying and using them. In those times, they lived a more peaceful and healthy life. Unfortunately, a lot of our extensive knowledge was passed by the word of mouth and was constrained to the class of Brahmins. What remained with the general public was half baked knowledge of the most common herbs. 

                                       
              
                  Nature knows best. It provides us the right kind of nutrition for every season. Even the animals know what herbs to consume as emetics. The birds know what twigs to collect for their nests to make it safe and healthy. Would this knowledge elude us for long? We learnt to live close to nature, grow in the womb of mother earth and become strong. The knowledge that our forefathers gained through experience has been handed down to us as our tradition. It is this way of living with traditions that has made my 86 year old grandfather still walk erect and read effortlessly while the younger ones complain of back ache and even 5 yr old kid needs spectacles. Our ancestors had a more fulfilling life because of living in harmony with nature.

                 Growing up in the care of my grandmother, I received a generous dose of these traditional remedies. 
                 The oil that she used was home made coconut oil to which she added a lot of herbs. She may  not be knowing the use of each ingredient but she followed it the way her elders did. 
                 She would extract ginger juice and force it down my throat and then quickly give a spoonful of honey. She would say it would protect me from cough and cold. 
                 She would give curd with banana to anyone suffering from diarrhea. She never know that curd contains lactobacilli which is a good bacteria in the gut and stops diarrhea. She simply knew the cure for diarrhea. 
                 She had no idea that she was triturating herbs in her mortar pestle and acting as the Vedic pharmacist. 
                                             
                Not just our traditional medicines but also our local cuisine is intricately designed to look after our health. 
               Ayurveda praises the virtues of turmeric. Turmeric has been widely used in our Indian food not just for flavor and color but also for its medicinal value. Turmeric is applied on wounds as an antiseptic. We consume haldi wala dudh ( milk laced with turmeric) in fever. It's value in skin treatment is ingrained as a ceremony before marriage! 
                                           
             
                With the growing success of chemically synthesized drugs, Ayurveda had taken a back seat. It is a holistic therapy. It demands lifestyle changes and takes a longer time for onset of action. The fast pacing Indian population shifted to Allopathy for quicker healing. We forgot that synthetic drugs were life saving and faster action was required in such cases. We have started depending on synthetic drugs for everything. 
                
               The traditional ladoos made for pregnant and lactating women was done away with and we all went gaga over the vitamin tablets.
               We forgot the wisdom of proper eating and depended on health drinks and energy boosters.
               We stopped having balanced nutrition and looked for syrups that raise haemoglobin. 

                       
               Then came a new era. The west was suddenly bonkers over the exotic herbal medicines of the east. They went on to even claim a patent on turmeric (which was challenged and now belongs to India). Like everything else, we followed suit. Herbal medicines were back in fashion. Quacks began operating from every dingy office and claimed to be Vedic gurus. The companies manufacturing herbals came under scanner. A lot of confusion followed! 

             Herbs are not without fault. Remember that herbs can be poison. Herbs can be allergens. Times are changing and the handpicked herbs that once our elders used for their oils can now be a dangerous allergen. The pollution and quality of the soil are largely to be blamed. Perhaps that is the reason that we all trust synthetic medicines so easily.
            In the face of such situation, a company having facilities to conduct the required trials and has done extensive research on Ayurveda is a safe choice. Your child needs the best of both worlds. The traditional knowledge and the modern techniques to evaluate it's safety. 
            
            Bringing up a child in a holistic manner is the essence of Ayurveda. If this approach is followed in early years of growth, it would benefit the overall development of the child. Dabur Lal Tail is a baby oil that incorporates the traditional herbs and makes sure that nothing harmful reaches your child's delicate skin. Not only the baby oil, Dabur also has a range of products which would help the child grow the natural way.
                                       

            This is one brand that we have used over the years without any doubt. I grew up in the tender care and wisdom of my grandmother. My kid brother and younger kids in the extended family received the same from Dabur Lal Tail. We have been cajoled into eating Dabur Chyawanprash and used Dabur honey.We prefer to take pudin hara for stomach problems. We have used Vatika Shampoo for years for care that it gives.
 Having studied the herbs as a part of my syllabus ( Pharmacognosy) and going over the labels of Dabur, I made an informed choice to prefer Dabur products in the future as well.
         
                                                   


    It is good to grow in nature's care and good to know that someone out there cares that you get the best product.  Thanks to companies like Dabur, the lost wisdom is making its way to the general public. 
                            
   This post in written for Indiblogger contest Traditional Knowledge, Natural Growth in association with Dabur Lal Tail

Thursday, November 7, 2013

If its not forever, its not love

             "Are you freaking kidding me?" 
           
            This is one question that people have asked us ever since we got together. Why wouldn't they? It is not everyday that they come across a story like ours. Unconventional in every sense and illogical to anyone who sets about thinking how it worked. After overcoming the first shock, some dare to ask, "Where did you meet?"

            But this story isn't about how we met or how we got into a relation. To cut it short, we met at a relative's place and became friends and like a million love stories, our friendship bloomed into love.
                                                

            The reason why our story perplexed people has always been the same. There has never been a more unlikely match that they have seen.
            For starters, the age difference between us isn't very common. I could say that I have always been a good five years advanced emotionally and he has always been a little too young for his age. Mentally we had bridged the difference and it never felt like too much of a gap. We lived in different cities when we confessed our love and it has been that way for years now. We have been in a long distance relation from the start. If these two things weren't enough, we are as different as chalk and cheese.
           He is always on the move while I can sit and dream for hours. I am a voracious reader while he never makes it past the last page of the paper ( in reverse order that is). He eats to live and I live to eat, get the difference? He has always been practical and I have been an emotional fool. I have a nibbling desire to talk out all that I feel and he likes to conserve it like petrol. These are just the most starkly visible difference, don't even get me started on the  million others!

         Back to the question, "Are you freaking kidding me?"
        No one gets why we stuck to each other for so many years. Once we had not met each other for two and a half years. Even now our meetings have been around his official visits and some special days. I have always shrugged and smiled and told them that we have no choice. Inwardly, I cringed.
                                         
     
         
          We were that perfect couple. For those who know us. We have never been with anyone else, we have never taken a break from each other. It seemed like we were made in heaven. That was far from reality. We weren't great. We were just struggling. The lovey-dovey chatting and long night calls had stopped long back.
          We were getting frustrated with each other. Opposites attract but did they ever tell that opposites can annoy the hell out of you? We went around taking all that came our way, but even a slight change in the tone of one's voice would sometimes lead to fights. He was always tired after work and it would annoy me if he refused to talk to me. Fights had become the order of the day.

After a point, Skype and calls aren't enough.        
 I longed for the romantic dates.
 He longed for company.
Being apart was only adding to the misery of our differences.
 It was becoming a travesty of a relation.

     
  I was bored. I did not know if I was falling out of love. It was that  numbness. He did not show any response to my altered emotions. He would sometimes just ignore me and that made me doubt him. No matter what had passed in the day, I got a "good night" message at night. It would irritate me that he did not take notice of my mood. Why couldn't he say something to placate me? Why did he behave like everything was normal?

        Our careers were also taking a toll on the relation. It seemed like there was no way this would work any more.
                                                 
        I was shopping at a store when he called me. He was getting married. 
        I should have been crying, but I heard him in a composed mannered. 
        He told me he was out shopping for a gift for his to-be-wife. I tittered. 
        He also mentioned he would gift it on their honeymoon. It stabbed me but I didn't say a word. 

        I resumed my shopping. The  saleswoman had picked up so many clothes of my size and all of them fit me well. Then it struck me. I cannot ask him for an opinion. I cannot watsapp the photos and ask him which one to buy when I was confused.

       Have you felt a pain so intense that you cried? Cried in real even if the pain was a dream? Have you ever woken up and still felt that ache in your heart and that lump in your throat? Have you remembered each moment of that torment and had tears which refused to stop?
   
       "Good morning baby" he messaged me as usual.
       In that very moment, nothing felt more special than that regular message. 

        I sent him.
       "What happened?" came the quick reply.
      "I saw a dream that you are getting married. I want you. Don't ever leave me"
      " I won't. Now go back to sleep"
   
       That was our platinum day of love. The day we rediscovered our love. The day I discovered how much he had become a part of my life without actually being with me.The day he realized how much I was scared to lose him. We depended on each other. We shared the most mundane details of our lives. We knew each other like the back of our hand. We completed each other's sentences. It was ok to be truly ourselves with each other. We did not have to impress each other. Somewhere down the line, we became a part of each other. So much that we treated the other the way we treated ourselves. Everything just rubbed on both of us. There was never anything that had happened to me and did not have a consequence on him and vice versa. Only, we did not notice how far we  had come from a single meeting!

Love has always been there. Strong and resistant like platinum. Rare and precious. Unconventional and beautiful and beyond the means of regular stories. It is our platinum love story. A love story that has no golden glitters or silvery nights. Our love is Simple and long lasting. It had seen us through good and bad and been hit by our negativity and yet it stood strong. What could be a better metal than platinum to celebrate our love?
 Falling in love is golden, keeping it forever is platinum. 
What do they say about forever? If it is not forever, it is not love.

                                     

We now meet people who ask , "Are you freaking kidding me? You two are still together!!!" 

This story is part of the Indiblogger contest celebrating our Platinum Day of Lov

Image credit- Google