Tag: Women

The Unwritten Reply

The Unwritten Reply

It was a beautiful spring morning. Aditi was determined to clear the clutter in her study, despite the temptations from her garden that was now in full bloom. Like most other women she knew, she had an urge to declutter every time she had to clear her mind off the needless muddle.

She was also tempted to tend to the shrubs in the garden. The place reserved in her garden for the Matura tea tree has never been blessed. The bush always took life and just when there was a promise of a bloom, something killed the plant. She forgot the number of times she had to uproot the shrub. It killed her every time she did it. The place was large and the conditions favorable, but the plant probably was long dead internally, like her.

This time she had planted it in a small patch of soil right outside of her bedroom. ‘The place is too small, and there is no hope for nutrition there. That patch is polluted with concrete dust’, her father had warned. Nevertheless, her precious Avarampoo shrub gave the promise of blossom, and she felt it had found its home.  However, she had not seen it in the last week that she was away. When she had enquired her mother about the plant during one of their phone conversations, all she received was a blatant reply.

She put the garden out of her mind and entered her study. She started with the first rack of her bookshelf. Behind the books on the top shelf lay a beige paper box decorated with shells. She knew what lay inside and was tempted to open it. ‘Later,’ she thought; but soon gave in. She took the box with her and settled on the floor cushion, careful not to disturb the Ikkat patterns on its cover.

She hurriedly let her hands search through the neat stack of letters inside the box. She found the one she was looking for. It was a simple light yellow envelope, now stained and battered from the decades of preservation. She opened it to read the letter for the umpteenth time.

The letter read:

Date: April 2003.

My most beloved Child,

    I hope this letter finds you in the best of health and good spirits. It is increasingly difficult to believe you will be graduating college next year. I do not know though if I would live to see that. My hand shivers constantly and I am writing this letter with the utmost difficulty.

  If there is no further correspondence from my end, know that Nana loves you with all his heart and soul. You gave me a reason to live when I was approaching my twilight years. Yes, there were other grand-children before you, but you were you. You were the only one who sat through when I opened to read a book to you all. You were the only one who was never bored of Mahabharata. You were constantly amazed by the tale.

 I do not know what life has in store for you. I see in you a luminous spark. I wish you find contentment in living, and strength and determination to cross the hurdles that obstruct your path. Always remember my child, no matter what comes in life hold on to your dignity and self-esteem. You have to know that conceit is not a harmful term.  If you face a situation when you have to put your self-respect above everything else, never have second thoughts.

May you find everything your heart wishes for, dear one. You are in my prayers today and forever.

                                                                                  Love and Prayers,                                                                                                                                                      Nanna.  

This was the only letter that Aditi had not replied to. But she read it every time she had to be sure of herself.  She pulled the letter pad from her desk and began to scribble the reply that was long due.

Dearmost Nanna,

   A decade and a half is a very long time to reply to a letter. I write because it is summer and I miss you the most this time of the year.  I miss balancing on your shoulder while trying to pick mangoes in our backyard. I miss falling asleep on your shoulders, and I miss our dinner table conversations.

 I also write because nobody is ready to listen. There is not a single human who is willing to see me as I am. They either sympathize or dismiss me as impulsive and bullheaded.

 All along, I knew marriage was not my cup of tea. I was a fiercely self-reliant soul, and I did not see myself living in harmony with a stranger that I had never met until a year before we were destined to live our lives together. Yet, I obliged.

 I thought I could sail through the storms that were aplenty. As I tackled one high-tide, the other one emerged, stronger and fiercer. Yet, I swam with the tide.

 It was idiotic of my family to believe that a lovebird could come out of a vulture’s stick nest or crevice. My life might have been destined with an Agapornis; nevertheless, the loving bird was groomed by a deadly vulture. How can a lovebird be any different when it is nursed by a vulture? I lived in a dark, unkempt cave of those birds that feasted on the living and sometimes took me for a prey. Yet I made room while offering myself.

The birth of the twins brought-in all the light I needed within the dark cave. Least did I know, my light would kindle the worst kinds of resent in the Dowager (A demon of a woman). Through most of my postpartum days, I went to bed while the acids in my stomach consumed me. Yet, I rolled with it.

I stood up to defend myself on several occasions, only to be accursed and tagged as hot-blooded and hasty. Yet, I put myself out.

True, my ex-spouse was not an alcoholic, nor a smoker. I was never assaulted physically, ever. But the wounds my mind endured are deep and intolerable. I am still healing, and I have a long way to go. Yet, I tolerated.

My palatial mansion was rather a den that longed for some light. My luxury car only wanted a companion and nothing else. My glittery jewellery longed for some honest smiles. The more I enthralled in opulence, the more lonesome I became. Yet, I fit-in.

As the girls grew, I knew I did not want them to become desolate beings. I wanted them to be the woman that Nanni was- confident, independent, strong-willed, resilient and joyful. I knew that a den is the last place to look for joy and optimism.

 Together we walked out, one beautiful morning tackling the attacks from the beast. Yes, we have scars for life. But, they are the lessons we will carry onto eternity.

  As you would say ‘Conceit is the quicksand of success.’ I do not know in the future, but it helped me overcome an enormous demon.                                                     

                                                                                   Yours (no more in distress),                                                                                                                                                     Aditi.

As she opened the window of the study, the bright, glowing buds of the Matura tea tree spread their radiance as the grey clouds converged.

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If I were a Pious Hindu

If I were a Pious Hindu

                              If I were a Pious and a Passionate Hindu….

   Devotion is an often misconceived notion. This misinterpretation is more complex when one is religiously passionate. If I were one of those extremely zealous Hindus, this is what I would identify with.

If I were a devout Hindu:

  • I would exhibit tolerance, for that is the very essence of my religion.

Hinduism is an age old religion that has survived the destruction of the ages and the ravages of the centuries. Like every other ancient religion, it inculcates truth as the ultimate goal of this journey on earth. How does one share this journey with numerous other living souls? It is through the practice of tolerance/ resilience.

It means that as a constantly evolving species, humans have the willingness to accept the meaningful existence of other religions, opinions, disagreements, and behavior-which also includes food choices.

  • I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me and none more dear.

                                                                                             Bhagavad Gita 9.29

If I were a zealot flaunting my religion with utmost pride, I would remember the above words from the holy text and understand that in the presence of the Supreme light, every living organism is one. I would bear in mind that as per the teachings, the soul travels from one living form to another and my time in this physical form is but limited.

I would also remember that among my fellow humans there is none superior and there is no person who is of less importance whatever caste, creed or race he may be.

  • I would believe in the Freedom of Expression

I would comprehend the two forms of expression namely: Swatantrata (freedom of expression) and Swachandata (the freedom of unruly expression) and embrace the former. I would believe that every individual has the rights to express- through music, dance and through the various forms of art. I will not let my ego get offended when my thoughts are not in unison with the views and opinions of others (artists).

  • Yatra naaryasto poojyantay, ramantay tatra devata

(Where women are honored, there the Gods are pleased)

Manusmriti 3/56

If I had the ardent love for my religion, I would summon into my mind, time and again; that women are the opposite sex and in no way inferior. I would also bear in mind that a collective vibration of disdain can devastate a thousand low vibrations and I would refrain from adding to the contributing force to bring about that disdain.

 

In conclusion, one of my favorite Vachanaas ( a form of poetry) by Basavanna, a poet, a sincere reformer and an honorable statesman:

“What is the use of your learning and erudition?

Where is the proof of your claim to be high born?

You are a blacksmith if you heat,

You are a washerman if you beat,

A weaver if you lay the warp,

A brahmin if you read the scriptures.

Is anyone in this world born through the ear?

Therefore, whoever realizes the divine nature is high born.”

-Basavanna, Vacana 589

 

The Feminine Gender- An Anecdote

The Feminine Gender- An Anecdote

‘Mamma, please open up,’ she cried. She stood right outside the nest that was once hers. ‘What is the matter, dear?’ comes the reply. ‘I am exhausted, mamma. I feel my wings are beginning to weaken. I doubt my capabilities. I want to return here, to feel safe and joyful all over again. I would never have flown if I knew I was to live by myself’. A long silence follows. She knows she has to leave.

‘Mamma, oh mamma’ she sounds baffled. ‘How do I choose the right mate? They all do their best to impress. How do I find the right him to raise my kids? I need some time to think. Please let me in, for a night mother, please’, she pleads. The noise of the strong winds is all she hears, and into the dark, she flies.

‘Mother dear, I brave the heat and winds, rain and fog from dawn to dusk to build a home. It has been several days now. There seems to be no end. Will I ever get to finish in time? Please open up, just for today’. She knows what is to follow. She flies back to the place she will soon call her home.

‘Mamma dearest; with open eyelids I stand guard, protecting the yellow eye, through darkness and light. It has been days since I left home. My anxiety escalates every passing day, what if I fail? What if a predator nears? Please come with me just until dawn’. Solicitude hits the mind, and she takes flight.

‘Mamma most beloved, over the hills and far beyond I fly for a few morsels to feed the tiny mouths. In peace, they lie, but I have forgotten to feed myself. Can you feed me just for today?’ She intended to solicit sympathy, but her attempts go in vain. She realizes she is now a protector herself.

‘Sweet mother, they fear; they fall; they are anxious. I tend to their wounds all night.  It pains to see the scars on the tiny bodies. The heart never wants them to learn flying. The spirits are high and the heart bursts with pride, but melancholy hits at the thought of an empty nest. Can I hold onto you just for tonight?’ All she hears is the sound of a distant cry. She returns to her soon-to-be empty abode.

“My precious mother, how do I control my emotions?” she sobs. ‘I was tired of teaching and tending. Now that they have gone, I feel lost. The home is empty, and so is the heart. There is no love around. Relief, I thought I would have, but what a paradox. The dawn seems to have no purpose. Will I ever survive mamma?’ She knew what is to follow, but her heart longed for some consolation.

She is about to take flight when the overly familiar loving voice interrupts “Darling baby, when you play the role of a nurturer and protector, doubts frequently appear. But these apprehensions should seldom break you. Remember, you are beyond fear, and the only hindrance on your path is the lack of confidence. Hold onto the strength you had, when you first flew from here. As long as we breathe, we all need mothers, but when you play that role yourself, you have to put up a courageous face. You are anything but ordinary, baby.  Go now, it is your turn to face anxious questions.”

‘But mother dear, can you pamper me just for tonight? Who else can I ask for?’ The sound of the dark is all she hears.