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Monday, October 31, 2011

AUTUMN IS IN THE AIR


Though October has bidden us farewell, autumn is yet far away from its prime and is slowly opening its gate to allow us to step on its threshold to welcome its blazing beauty. It is a season which is sandwiched between two harsh entities, sapping summer and unyielding winter, and that is why it enjoys a special place because of its mellowness and its wholesome weather. Frustrated by the sweltering heat, sticky and stifling climate of the long summers, autumn mercifully brings a respite with its breezy coolness and restores the mental and physical balance. Albert Camus paying a tribute to the beauty of autumn quips, “Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.”

This is a season which is nature lovers’ delight. The riot of colour enshrined in various aspects of the deciduous trees, remind you of the images which you’ve formed of Garden of Eden inhabited by Adam and Eve before their banishment from the heavenly abode.

The shedding of leaves in their magnificent glory of red, orange, yellow and deep maroon all around us, provide not only a breathtaking delight but elevates as well as overawes in terms of discipline it follows and munificence it grants, us mortals, who have almost forgotten about the blessedness of nature because it comes to us gratuitously. In John Keats “Ode to Autumn” there is a windfall of autumnal imagery, painting its exceptional gifts in words.


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

I recall the exotic presentation of nature’s extravaganza on both sides of the high way, when autumn was in its youthful splendour and we were driving from Philadelphia to New York a few years back. The scene is permanently carved in my memory for its picture perfect kaleidoscope of fantastic hues to draw inspiration there from.
Autumn symbolizes the continuity of the flow of life in its many avatars. At the moment, leave shedding is sparse, even when it catches on, lots of green will stay put for some time allowing two faces of the natural phenomenon to co-exist. The parts which make the whole will keep on overlapping its boundaries, manifesting nature’s mysteries which of course we’d never comprehend. As with nature, so it is true of life itself, wherein past, present and future have never an absolute break.

I’ll end with a beautiful quote from George Eliot: Delicious autumn! My soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Almonds: A Reservoir of Nutrients


Dear friends, I find almonds  to be a reservoir of the best nutrients needed for the human body, therefore I'm sharing  a few accepted truths with you.
Almonds are wonder nuts, packed as they’re with all the essential vitamins and minerals, required for a healthy body. They’re loaded with energy and vitality boosting proteins, dietary fiber which helps to lower cholesterol and vitamin ‘E’ a powerful antioxidant, considered to help prevent the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, improves the skin tone and texture  and slows down the aging process.
Calcium in almonds strengthens and maintains bone health and is essential for growing children, pregnant, lactating and menopausal women.
Almonds are of two distinct varieties, sweet and bitter. Sweet are the edible ones that are eaten as nuts and are used in bakery products, to garnish puddings and desserts, in soups, in salads, in ice creams and are eaten as such as a wholesome fulfilling snack. The oil of bitter almonds is used in the manufacture of flavouring extracts and for therapeutic medicines.
In the present day hectic life style, one must devise ways and means to include them into daily food pyramid. Why not stash a handful (about 20) of them in a container in your car or in your purse and munch them on your way or keep them in a drawer in your work place and enjoy as a snack. While on a long walk, a handful of almonds will sustain you and keep you satiated.
The catch is: Chew, chew and chew, for proper absorption and to derive the maximum benefit.
At home sprinkle whole or sliced almonds on your oatmeal, wheat porridge, pan cake batter or mix powdered almonds in a glass of hot milk or make a cold beverage by blending it with milk and ice cubes. The older people with dental problems can refrigerate the powered almonds and use them in the above stated manner.
You can soak them in purified water overnight and consume them by removing the skin, together with raisins or sultanas (both store house of minerals). It’d take care of constipation and cleanse the system. Substitute almond butter for other spreads on toasts.
Almond oil is used for body massage to improve blood circulation, restore vitality and well being and ameliorate aches and pains. Hair massage before washing prevents dandruff and hair loss and gives hair a lustrous shine.
In India mothers after delivery are feted with a preparation made of roasted wheat flour, pure ghee(for lubricating the intestines) dry ginger powder, ground aniseed seeds, raisins, sugar and lots of almonds , whole or sliced, for at least forty days to replenish her body, to  enable her to take care of the baby and  household duties.
In summers, almonds should be stored in the refrigerator for preventing them from going rancid. Even otherwise they should be kept in air tight containers in a cool,dry place.
With such immense health benefits almonds should find a special place in our daily meal plans.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DIWALI GREETINGS

My dear blog friends,

I cherish your unseen presence and your visits to my blog. I wish you all a very happy Diwali!!! It is a gala day for all Indians here as well as for those living offshore. It is actually a festival of lights signifying a victory over evil and shadows of darkness. It ushers in a spirit of hope, prosperity and well being.


Preparations for Diwali celebrations begin well in advance in every household. There is a spree for sprucing up the house, garden and surroundings. People get their houses painted or white washed a fresh, every nook and corner is dusted clean, metal decoration pieces are polished and furniture items are wiped smooth with cotton rags, giving them a bright sheen and an inviting look. Besides, people spend time brightening up their houses with new vibrant upholstery for a festive makeover. Gifting clothes and other items to servants and the needy is also a part of the spirit of magnanimity associated with the festival. All this and much more is gone through to propitiate the goddess of wealth to visit and shower her benedictions.

People install electric string lights on the parapets of the roofs. (My husband and I did the job yesterday.) The sights of these multi-coloured twinkling lights transport you to a state of supreme joy and you feel like exclaiming, “Oh! To be alive and kicking at such a moment is, what life is all about !!!" : )

The festival season is auspicious for shopping, be it splurging on new clothes, buying pieces of jewellery or consumer goods and, it also allows you to indulge in pleasing your sweet tooth. I for one however, don’t opt for these luxuries any more, because wearing gold ornaments is not safe now and I’ve enough of dresses stuffed in the cupboards which cry for a body and plenty of sun and air. This is me stupid and needs ignoring.

In the evening after the sun sets, the traditional part of the festival starts. Candles and earthen oil lamps are lit and placed at vantage points i.e.on the boundary walls ,backyards and other forgotten parts of the house. Offerings of sweets and fruit are made at religious places of one’s faith and few candles are lit in the compound there. Back home to witness and hear all round firework displays, deafening noise of the bursting of crackers and blinding smoke which go on till late at night.

The upbeat mood lingers on refusing to fall back into the same old routine for some time more.

Fantasizing Is a Boon


Fantasizing takes us on a flight of fancy to a dream world of make believe and idealism. How wonderful that nature has bestowed on us the ability to make rosy pictures in the mind’s eye and the subsequent ecstasy, buoyancy and inspiration -the by products- can lead to wholesome brainstorming. Isn’t it magical that man’s grey cells can visualize beyond the substantiality of the present to another realm composed of pure thought? The ideas of all great inventions of the world germinated in the intellect of men with exceptional visionary abilities. Scientific discoveries are as much based on hypotheses as on observation and experiment, which ignite the thought process to action in the first place.

This capacity alone awards man the numero uno position amongst God’s creations.

Researchers maintain that even animals day dream in a limited way. Actually a healthy person’s mind is a reservoir of prolific original buds of conceptions, which if given an impetus can flower into something seminal. In everyday life situations, fantasizing about an important upcoming event, results in creative and better planning of it and things will fall in place saving time and energy.

Just think of the success of pure fantasy 'Star War Series' a couple of decades back which thrilled millions of viewers and fired the imagination of generation X while providing entertainment to the core. Very recently the Sci- fic 'Avatar' earned world wide acclaim for its highly innovative plot. If it is not a fantasy then what it is?!!!

During the darkest moments in the journey of life, a make believe dialogue session with an entity or image of your faith provides a lot of solace and peace of mind. I derive comfort by reliving the sweet memories of my mother. The experience grants me reassurance and restores my energy levels to take on the world afresh.

However there is also the dark side to it. Some people become so obsessed with day dreaming that they lose grip on reality and slide into a psychic abyss. Some indulge in sexual fantasies which ruin their family life and result in divorces

Some start fantasizing about unachievable goals and become passive, waiting for some miracle to happen to catapult them to that position and fall prey to depression and manifold psychological problems, when things do not happen according to their wishes.

In totality, this is an invaluable gift of God to mankind. It sharpens human intellect and feeds thinking prowess which can devise ways and means for the betterment of humanity. It, indeed, is a remarkable boon!!!



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mother: My Soul Curry


Mother played a seminal role in shaping my character by inspiring me to imbibe values, which worked hugely well for me in the face of life’s challenges.

Early days of her married life were tough, being a part of the joint family. Most of the time my grandparents did not allow my father- who was in the army- to take her along with him. Because of her tender age and naivety she did not react initially and suffered stoically. Soon she had to assert herself strongly and a small house was constructed in a short time by my father. Living separately gave her confidence and resurrected her dormant qualities. She became a sort of an activist, instructing village women in making pickles, sweets, and taught sewing, crocheting and other household skills.

Later when I grew up she would bare her heart out, narrating the traumatic experiences of her early married life, which would get triggered off and on. Tears would roll down my eyes and hers and we would cry together for hours-cementing a mother daughter bond. Even after my marriage, on short visits to her, the scene was repeated many times leading to a type of Cathartic effect on both of us.

Strangely enough after each visit, a ripple of deep tenderness and gratefulness for her would start flowing in my being, thinking of her sacred and unconditional love for me and my family. Now whenever I look at her photograph (my parents’ pictures adorn my bedroom) I experience a profound emotional connect as well as a blessed feeling of her protective presence.

Mother remained my confidante, counsellor, well wisher and above all my soul curry, throughout her life. There was an intense and steely bonding and an unstated understanding between the two of us. Her face would light up to see me whenever we visited her and I would feel totally relaxed and heavenly.

I always marvelled at her courage, honesty and fearlessness in everyday life situations. She was religious and traditional too and would prepare halwa ( parsad) on birth anniversaries of our Gurus and special dishes on festivals. She was God fearing and stuck to a fixed schedule for morning and evening prayers all her life. As a young girl I imbibed it all, including her exceptional culinary skills.

I recall an incident, which for ever impacted my perspective towards life. I had been married for many years when a trying situation made me very vulnerable and depressed. I could not help shooting a letter to her about my predicament. When I met her she said somewhat reproachfully, “Nothing stays for ever, good or bad and one must always adapt oneself to the changing circumstances”. This statement I knew was the distillation of her vast experiences, which held a mirror to life. Whenever I was facing a difficult situation, the memory of that incident steered me in the right direction.

Mother was inimical to vanity and hypocrisy and would not stand people who blew their own trumpet. Such people respected her and were a little in awe of her, no nonsense nature.

Another incident which taught me to be humble and grounded always is the one when we shifted to our newly built house and she visited us bringing sweets and gifts. We were showing her around and I playfully uttered “Do you like our house Ma?” She lovingly put her hand on my shoulder and softly whispered so that no one else may hear it, “Yes it is beautiful, but it is a gift of the Almighty to you all, so be grateful for His blessings.”

She remained my anchor and my pole star throughout. Her sweet memories and her simple lessons will forever stay fresh in my mind. ‘Ma I salute you and thank you a million times wherever you are!’







Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Of Poets and Poetry

Poets are exquisitely gifted individuals. They are endowed with sharp sensitivities and sensibilities. None can match their keen observation, their depth of feelings, their intensity of responses to the world around, and their power to evoke images through “vividness of narrative and minuteness of detail” which mesmerize the readers. Aristotle in his Poetics asserts ‘the poet disengages himself from the material needs’ and “expresses the universal – the permanent possibilities of human nature.”

A poet is a magician with words. He connotes the meaning of words by conceptulising them. He threads words into pearls of muse and fashions a pleasurable experience with the power of heightened imagination. The poet surpasses reality by presenting it as a coherent and reasonable portrayal of life’s higher goals. He purifies it “from the dross which always mingles with empirical reality.” and elevates it to a high pedestal taking us along with him like a magnet. The paradigm of human emotions of love, tenderness, beauty, separation and betrayal are a part of a poet’s primary assumptions. He builds his own environment where he recreates them, so subtly and skillfully as to leave us spellbound.

Let me share with you briefly my impressions and appreciation of a few wonderful poems by English Romantic Poets which I enjoyed as a student and later as a teacher.

The foremost among them is William Wordsworth. Whosoever is an aficionado of poetry is drawn irresistibly to the naturalness and earthiness of his poetry as he picks themes from real life and invests them with grandeur and poetic wonder which moves you to a state of exaltation and pure joy. For Wordsworth “poetry is emotions recollected in tranquility.” His poems “The Daffodils” and ‘The Solitary Reaper’ exemplify his assertion beautifully. While on a walk he is so enthralled by the beauty of the daffodils growing on the bank of a river and the scene gets etched in his mind’s eye and he pours it out so lyrically and rhythmically when alone in his room. The first stanza says a lot about the wonderment of natural beauty:
I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
The Solitary Reaper’s singing influences him deeply and gives wings to his imagination. He makes ample use of imagery to lend a philosophic and mystic touch to the poem and takes the reader along while conjecturing about the theme of the song.
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself,
Stop here or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and bind the grain.
O listen! For the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
By the use of metaphor and similes he elevates a concrete reality into an artistic creation of unparalleled beauty.

Shelley in 'Ode to West Wind’ addresses the west wind which is associated with autumn. He goes imaginatively lyrical as the poem progresses, personifying it in so many ways and pouring his heart out to it. He implores it to help him overcome his inertia and bless him with courage and freedom to express his deepest longings. The poem ends on a note of optimism though, with the proverbial line: ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’
O Wild West Wind,
Thou breath of autumn’s being...

Oh lift me as a wave, a leaf a cloud,
I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed.
John Keats the last of the romantics was a self-taught genius. His poem ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever’ is an expression of his love for beauty, the power of the word and has eye for colour and detail. He feels overwhelmed with the assuaging capacity of nature’s blessings and maintains that in spite of despondence, sorrows and melancholy associated with life, nature shelters us with its abundant benedictions. The poem embodies the universal truth of nature’s balancing effect on our lives. Keats' thought process goes much beyond the ordinariness of existence to reach the zenith of aesthetic pleasure.
'A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.'

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recounting a Childhood Memory

There are some childhood memories which leave an indelible imprint on your psyche. These remain ensconced in the subconscious and resurface whenever triggered. One such memory which is still fresh in my mind happened a long, long time back and it tells a lot about me as a child.

When I was a toddler I was only interested in playing, playing and more playing. First four years of my life were spent in my father’s village. He was in the army and most of the time away from home. Mother had to stay near the extended family. Mother used to tell me, “You were so active that by ten months you had already started walking and while in the crawling stage you would even cross street drains to reach at your aunt’s courtyard where all the children would assemble to play. You would sit in the middle of the circle of children and would keep clapping, amusing one and all.”

As I grew a bit more, my penchant for playing intensified. There was an incident peculiar to me and worth penning down for its quirky aspect and incidentally was the outcome of my obsession for playing.

I was about five and by this time we had shifted to the city. Much against my opposition and in spite of my howling and tantrums, I was admitted to a school. I cried every morning because I was afraid of the maid (she was coal dark and one eyed) who chaperoned me for a few days. However after the initial hiccups I made many friends and was very happy.

One day it so happened, that instead of going straight home after school hours, I was tempted to accompany my friend to her house for more playing. We busied ourselves with one thing or the other. Her mother surprisingly did not object at all. On the other side hell broke loose in my house. (I could fathom the gravity when I grew up.) My parents had searched everywhere, the school its vicinity and made all enquiries. They were imagining the worst. As a last resort they hired a drummer who went from street to street announcing the lost child’s description, asking people if they had seen her somewhere.

The irony of ironies is that the drummer also came to the street where I was playing with my friend. She called me saying, “Look who is there.” We curiously peeked out of the window and that was all. So engrossed were we in our games. Her mother did not pay any attention either. At last it was quite late in the evening; hungry and tired I was homeward bound. As soon as I stepped into the yard of my house, I saw through the open door so many ladies surrounding my mother who was in tears. (This scene I still recall very vividly). I don’t know how at that tender age things became crystal clear to me in a second. I ran to my mother and holding her tightly started howling at the top of my voice. Ladies dispersed immediately. Nobody said a word. I was too young to be reprimanded and what I could gather was an immense sense of relief on my parents' faces.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Socialization Modern Style

 The dictionary meaning of socialization seems to have undergone a sea change. It is no longer sitting together to have a healthy exchange of views amongst members of a community, but mindless babble deafening the ears, or a race for one-upmanship. The other day while ruminating over a few existential matters, sitting in the lawn, I was joined by two ladies. Needless to say they belonged to the neighborhood of my second ‘home’. One of them complimented me on my dress, but the other completely ignored it, so much so that a sullen expression momentarily crossed her visage. The problem is that she has an inflated opinion about herself in everything and keeps on flaunting it all the time, to the muted chagrin of almost all her listeners except of course the other lady who outwits her in garrulity .Though I had experienced their chattiness before but that day it was a different ball game altogether and I was not prepared for a double assault. Trepidation broke loose in my being at the prospect of facing their verbal attack all alone.

Luck was not favoring me that day. After seating themselves comfortably in their chairs, they started articulating their stream of consciousness at break neck speed. The customary necessity of even a smile or a nod from the listener was not considered by them. Blow after blow of cacophonic hammering on my temples from either side left me literally gasping for breath. For them I was not even a mere presence but a thing to be trampled on with their verbosity. My nerves were on edge as they continued their harangue ad nauseam. The blah blah ranged from the likes and dislikes of their husbands and their grandchildren, to pet dogs and their fussy eating habits, to pet bunnies with their ubiquitous burrows and unending litters, to pet parrots and other canary birds. The talk also covered kitchen gardens and the upkeep of their sprawling lawns in their first homes, birth and wedding anniversaries of their kith and kin and a lot more. Why did they go on and on- though linguists rue the inadequacy of language-(pun intended) unveiling their private lives and the inanities of their existence was inexplicable? They were vying with each other to speak and tried all the time to drown each other’s voice by raising voice decibel.

I do have encountered such annoyances previously in my community but what perplexes me is the dumbness of those who continue to exploit your good manners without realizing, what a pain they are with their unceasing chatter!

Apparently such people naively think they impress their listeners but are oblivious of the fact that their listeners get too tired even to make an effort to say a word edge ways. Thus instead of a meaningful dialogue there is a frustrating monologue and none is any wiser for that. The above appraisal may be a little harsh but nonetheless it is true.

There is another type of extreme narrative in Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Brave New World’ (a negative utopia) peopled with totally predictable gammas, betas and epsilons. Where emotions are a taboo, thinking is a disease, private life is extinct, and promiscuity is a norm. No conversations take place.Vocabulary is reduced to a few hundred words and nuances of meaning have been abolished e.g. opposite of good is ungood. The life of these emotionless people is governed by a few slogans which are ingrained into their systems from birth itself. A sample: ‘Ending is better than mending’ meant to promote consumerism.

Can’t we as thinking beings envisage a world and also make it happen, which follows a middle path between these two extremes? Only then, our disenchantment and cynicism will give place to  productive inter- relatedness, which will elevate the participants and restore their dignity.

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Dear friends: Your comments are solicited.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wrapping Up September



Hello friends, I’ve tried to weave the month of September in the tapestry of words based on my observations of life and landscape around me.

September ushered itself on a very dismal note. Today is 1st and weather wise terribly hot, humid and suffocating. While supervising the maid my body got bathed in buckets of sweat which poured out of the skin in a continuous flow. Later a soaking bath in cold water and OMG! what a relief it was. I hope after a fortnight into September, we’ll have a semblance of normalcy in our lives. The searing heat and stifling humidity of the last two months have depleted our energies leaving us limp and listless. The AC helps to bear it but the onslaught of the cold wind directly, leaves our joints and limbs stiff and painful.

On the political front disturbing trends are looming large. The three assassins of Rajiv Gandhi(our former P.M) who were sentenced to death by the Apex court and whose mercy petition is rejected by the president were scheduled to be executed shortly but the Tamil Nadu Assembly through a resolution passed unanimously requested the Supreme Court to commute their death sentence into life sentence. It may set a wrong precedent as the sanctity of the judicial process may be undermined.

Good news on the stock market. It has gone up after Anna’s anti-corruption movement’s Jan Lokpal bill got tabled in parliament after colossal flip flops by the ruling party and indecisiveness of the opposition parties. Anna’s fast, generated a popular upsurge that has shaken the country out of a self imposed deep slumber and kindled a light of hope for India’s teeming millions.

2nd September: God’s mercy came through a substantial downpour in the afternoon bringing down levels of humidity. I saw half a dozen larks and a crested sparrow pecking for insects and worms in my back lawn.

The Delhi blast outside the High court has shaken our faith in the ability of the Govt. to ensure safety of its citizens. The repeated terrorists’ attacks have demoralized the people..

The world remembered the holocaust of nine eleven on its 10th anniversary and realized once again how the world has changed during the intervening period. All of us have become slightly paranoid. A memorial in the memory of those who lost their lives was unveiled at ground zero in New York

Today 14th September, There is no respite from the clammy and sticky heat .Evenings are the worst as the temperature rises. Hoping and praying for some benedictions from the weather Gods above.

During the past week there was substantial rainfall and we’re feeling relieved and trying to make up for the lost hours due to heat.

An earthquake in and around Sikkim caused immense death, destruction and misery.

The morning walk is on but shopping is still kept in abeyance.

22nd September: The 2G spectrum scam is back in the limelight. The stock market crashed here and all over the world .It does not portent well for the world economy. The weather is changing at a snail’s pace, however mornings and evenings are turning pleasant. All over the world, politically, socially and economically things are not looking up. There is widespread unrest. What we need is a clean and just political class. Buddha said:


‘Be ye lamps unto yourselves.
Be your own reliance.
Hold to the truth within yourselves
as to the only lamp.’

Pl. post a comment.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Magical Morning Juxtaposed with Worldliness



  It has been raining for forty eight hours now with sporadic stops. It is 7.30 A.M and I’m sitting in the back verandah of my house trying to soak in the aftermath of incessant rain. The sky is still covered with white clouds. My eyes survey the scene around. In front of me on the clothes line, water droplets are seen suspended totally intact. I squint my eyes and look at them with a new perception. Lo, they look like pearl drops embellishing a lassie’s tender earlobes. On my left is the Neem, absolutely saturated and exhibiting its majestic stature while its twigs are swinging mildly in the gentle morning breeze. During monsoon its leaves put on a dark green healthy elegance soothing the onlookers’ nerves and its torso becomes filled up with the sheen of green.

  Slowly the velocity of the wind is rising, cooling the environment further. The vigour of the swinging movement of the Neem branches is steadily growing. A pair of parrots came in the range of my vision flying in Milkha Singh’s sprint speed. I can see a crow wet to the bones and its neck lazily resting on its limp body perched on the parapet of the house in front. On the ground my mint bed gives a fresh appearance though it got a belated pruning. Tulsi plants look a bit unruly and are crying for some attention from their host i.e. poor me. Actually these are smarting under the weight of unregulated growth and lack of proper shearing on time. (My gardener neglected his duties in our absence.)

  In the background I can hear the TV commentary on the events taking place in historic Red Fort grounds in Delhi; the unfurling of the flag and various other ceremonies in connection with our 65th Independence Day on 15th August. On the road across vehicular traffic is gaining momentum. A neighbour’s dog has started its demanding bark. May be it is asking to be taken for its morning stroll which is delayed by its master. The vegetable vendor is already hawking his wares. These worldly noises ended abruptly my magic moments of serene interaction with nature.

  I’m not going inside to watch the predictable stuff on the TV. I’ve seen it year after year….I feel like ruminating on the loves of my life on this Independence Day. I’m proud of my country. I love every blade of its grass, every petal of its flowers, every leaf of its trees, every rock on its hills, every drop of the water in its ponds, lakes, rivulets, canals, streams, rivers and its vast seas; its rich culture, its numerous languages, its Vedas, Scriptures and all other religious books, its philosophers and great men and its smiling citizenry in spite of being crushed under elephantine problems.

  But there are things which gnaw my conscience. My helplessness alarms me. Where are we heading for, with the creeping cynicism, disillusionment and frustration of our times? Yes! I’m not going inside to listen to the blah, blah, blah!!! Rather I'll sit out and contemplate.

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I wrote it on 15th August but'm posting it today.



The Golden Memories of My Dear Father



  About half a century back I was half way into my teens when one Sunday morning my mother asked me to tidy up an almirah. I began the project little knowing that a wonderful surprise was there, waiting for me! Buried under the tightly folded bed sheets, ‘What did I come upon?’ a framed group photograph of my dear father. It was that of the hockey team of his regiment. He had served in the Indian Army- Ex4/12 Frontier Force&5/14 Punjab Regiment which fought the Japanese in the jungles of Burma during Second World War. Here was a strapping young man in his twenties, with deep set sharp eyes, and confidence exuding from every limb of his body. The erect posture, smart bearing with a hockey stick poised under the palms of his hands, he stood tall on the left side corner of the photograph. The picture mesmerized me and my heart swelled with pride. I saw my father in an entirely new avatar of a strikingly handsome young man.

  Even before this discovery a special bonding existed between the two of us. From that day onwards my attraction for him acquired a new intensity. He became my hero and I his darling fan. I started observing him keenly. His meticulous habits and loving disposition drew me towards him, in turn shaping my character over the years. The rules which he set for himself and others in the family became milestones in the development of my personality and indelible part of my super ego. I constantly endeavoured to do something good to please him and he reciprocated very warmly. In the backdrop of it all, there was always the secret charm of the photograph to uplift me, to goad me, to do better always.

  True to his army background he was a disciplinarian but underneath that exterior breathed the kindest man I have ever met. There was some magnetic sweetness about him which commanded instant respect. He desired from the core of his heart that I develop good habits and be successful in life. To that end he also encouraged me to learn household tasks and would praise every little bit I achieved in that sphere. Some times when I balked he would lovingly remark, “You should learn all the skills which are required to run a household well.” “Yes dad you could not have been more right. Your insistence proved to be a great blessing in my life later on.”

  He imbibed in me the spirit of pride in learning to do things with one’s hands. As a young girl though too busy in my own world, I still recall fleeting glimpses of him helping and instructing the gardener in hoeing and sowing in our kitchen garden. I can still relive the taste of juicy radishes, sweet and fresh carrots and mustard greens, for preparing sag in winters, the handiwork of my father’s efforts. That scene continually flits before my mind’s eye whenever I supervise my gardener and I silently thank dad for passing his love of nature and gardening on to me.

  He was generous and truthful to a fault. In times of natural calamities he would set aside a sum of money to be sent for the relief fund. His life personified simple living; sans pretensions of any kind. Being inimical to inane talk he disliked arguing for the sake of one-upmanship. In such situations he would prefer to leave rather than express displeasure. I learnt the great lessons of life by observing him practice the things he valued.

  My dad loved seasonal delicacies and good food enormously. Preparing Alsi (flaxseed) pinnies in winter was a regular feature in our house. He would gladly procure the provisions and help mother whole heartedly in all the steps of the process of making. A tin full of the delicious stuff was always reserved for me.

  Being the son of the soil ,he collaborated with a friend and tried his hand at mechanized farming in U.P. in the early sixties, winning many prizes for the quality of the wheat grain produced in the farm.

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   I was plunged into deep sorrow when he passed away suddenly after a brief illness. A few days before he embarked on his final journey; he fell sick and was hospitalized. Some tests were done and he looked very fatigued. I was alone with him. I tried to comfort him and all of a sudden he looked at me, there were tears in his eyes. My father, who could move mountains and had enjoyed perfect health all along, was feeling helpless like a child. I felt choked with a lump in my throat. I wanted to hug him tightly and tell him how much I loved him and that he would be well again. But the flood of emotions incapacitated me and I stood their rooted to the ground like a statue. The moment passed!

  So many times my father has figured in my dreams standing there watching over me, exhorting me to take heart and pursue my goals. The image is a precious souvenir, a reminder of the unique relationship which a father and a daughter shared with each other.

Dear friends, please post your special memories in the comments section below.