Newborn found abandoned in a garbage bin…
Two well dressed baby boys, wrapped in blankets and placed in cardboard boxes, found at the building entrance….
Three month old baby girl found abandoned at the beach….
Two day old baby found crying and dehydrated on a hot summer day….
Are we so heartless? I asked myself when I looked at the babies. How can you abandon a child? Is it that you guilty conscience does not allow you respite when you see them? Or is it that the guilt associated with the illicit act makes them a liability? What can we do?
Over the year, the paper has reported a lot of abandoned children… I hate the paper. It reduces me to tears when I read of these children. I can’t fathom the life ahead for these precious ones. No one to love and no one to share or care for them. An old grand aunty of mine is childless. She had a miscarriage and was told at 24 that she would never be a mother again. Her life as a mother ended there.
I wondered for years how she felt. The taunts and berating she may have faced would be endless. There were countless relatives who were proud of their children and would have flaunted the fact of having them in front of her. Her arms may have ached to hold one of her own. Every child she took care of had a string attached. I once asked her why she had not adopted and the reply was,” What if they don’t love me as their own?”
The answer seemed so illogical to me. Why would they not love you? Was there any guarantee that your own flesh and blood would love and honour you all your life? Our society condemns an orphan. An unwed mother is ostracised for her decision to have a baby out of the wedlock. Does life have no value? A parent-less child is also the future of our nation. To adopt one is never a shame. A mother, who decided to bring her baby up despite the odds of not having a man attached, should be commended. The herculean task of caring, earning and bringing up a child – alone, is by every instance worth the Noble Prize. Why should an innocent child suffer? The abandoned babies are left at the mercy of a stranger or the street. They may be bullied, mistreated and abused by the same society that calls children the future of the nation. They are often not given proper education, food or even protection for the sole reason that they were unwanted or by some stroke of fate left without a guardian.
The people who want to adopt are berated and persuaded to rethink with the advise that this child who would love to have a parent is not worthy of love and cannot be trusted. Sometimes, I wonder, can a mother be so cruel or is it love that makes them abandon this child to a greater mercy? Is it better to abort or abandon? To have a child is a strong experience, to abandon one for a better future required courage in some form.
I wish that I had a chance to adopt. One may call it a romantic notion or a humane gesture. I want to adopt for the plain reason of having a heart that is capable of giving more. No strings attached. I have no guarantee that this child may love me all their life or simply hate me for choosing them. Not everyone may agree with me…but the future of the nation lies in our hands. We, the youth, must take a call in assisting and caring for these children who have no future to look to. I have begun my journey by sponsoring a child for education. My friends have sponsored food at various locales for the orphans. They have gone as volunteers to witness in first hand the use of the money they have spent. I have been telling my daughter of how an orphan prayed to Jesus for some lovely toys and clothes and of how Jesus asked her if she could spare some for this poor child. The answer would be a simple “yes” and an open hearted disposal of all her old but lovely things. There are exceptions…the lovely pink dress is for her sister and the big Pooh Bear is off limits – even for her sister!
I guess the point I am trying to make is that children in all forms are precious. We, as adults, must take a conscious approach in taking care of them. My grandmother used to tell us of our Grandpa’s generosity. If ever a child came begging for money to my Grandpa, he would bring them home, feed them and ask them to stay and do some chore if they wanted to stay for long. His heart was big enough to realise that the child was begging not only for themselves but also for someone they cared for. There was never a dearth of children at his place and no end to the tears that they shed when he died. He may have asked them to work for their food, but his intention was only to ensure that they understood that working would enhance their life and lift them out of poverty. He has not adopted anyone legally, but his heart and his attitude adopted all sorts of children. Children, who grew up to be hardworking, loyal and sincere.
Do you have the heart to do the same….to help an abandoned child? Food, shelter or just plain care is what these little seed need to flower. Don’t abandon them. Protect them. Give them a chance to grow and be the best. Can’t you be their cosy sunshine?
It was a hot summer morning and I had a day off; smack in the middle of the week…this meant just one thing – Girls day out. “Get ready to go wild!” I said as I scanned the paper for the weather report.
Anjali hopped up and down… “Are we going shopping? Can we go to Deira City Center? Can we go to the movies? Will we go in the metro today? Can you buy me bubble gum? Will we get to the bear store?” The questions were endless. I sighed.
The July and August were two of the hottest months in the year. The temperatures soared up to 48⁰C during the day and humidity of up to 70% in the night. A day out in Dubai meant packing light, drinking tons of water, dressing sensibly and lots of sun. Dubai has two sides; Bur Dubai and Deira. Both are well populated and known for different things. Both has Creek parks, Souqs (Markets), shopping malls and places to hang out. Since we had the whole day, I decided to explore both shores after all Dubai is SHOPPER’S PARADISE.
“The plan for today…Mall hopping, shopping and more shopping” I said as a loud “Yipeeeeeeee” broke my ear drums. I read out my checklist to Anjali.
Comfortable shoes … “CHECK” Anjali yelled in excitement.
Pants and t-shirt … “CHECK”
Water bottle for two … “CHECK”
“Ok…my list, mummy” Anjali said as she ran around me like a bee zoning it for a sting.
Apple for me to eat … “CHECK” I replied drily. It was bound to be a hot, hot day!
Stroller “NO CHECK”
Chips for me... “NO CHECK”
But I want chips!! Everyone eats chips when they go shopping! …. I shook my head. After a few minutes of arguing, she gave up. There was no use arguing with me. I was the Alpha and the Omega…. no one would win. She rolled her eyes and looked to the Heavens for patience while I smiled and pulled her along.
Deira City Center
We took a cab after an agonising 10 minute wait in the blistering sun. The cool interior of the cab was a relief. Located about 15 minutes away from Al Quasis, City Center (as it is popularly known), was one of the first and largest malls in existence in Dubai before the arrival of Mall of the Emirates and Ibn Battuta Mall. Housing more than 340 stores, you will be spoilt for choice.
When it first started in 1996, I remember the wonder and astonishment we felt when we stepped into the huge mall for the first time. They had a huge supermarket by the name of Carrefour in it. The store was so huge; it looked like hundreds of stores being packed together at one go. It was paradise to the children who entered the glass doors of City Center. On a hot day like this, the mall was a blessing. I ran in as soon as we got there. Being embraced by the cool and soft air inside the mall was heavenly.
Anjali was excited to just run from window to window, pasting her face as she peered into each store yelling “Can you buy me the Sketcher shoes? What about the golden hair pins in Damas? I want those dancing camels in the Greetings store…Wow… Cartoon CDS in Virgin Mega stores…Do they have Hannah Montana?” I guess the magic of the mall never wears off. We walked past the famous stores and shopped for a few clothes. As usual I kept shaking my Head for NO every 5 minutes. Anjali gave up asking and sat between a few bears to relax while I checked on a few birthday cards. She did the same thing a couple of years back (see pic).
A tip for newbie to Dubai, the malls here have brands from all over the world. If you have money to burn, the only question would be Gucci, Versace, Zara … well, that’s a whole lot of questions!! If you are looking for a more economic purchase, the Deira Gold souq is nearby for Gold or Jewellery and the Deira Clock Square is well known for bargains on furniture, carpets, rugs or Mobiles. However, if you are planning to visit these places with a car, God help you with the parking. A cab or bus is more practical. The cab meter starts from Dhs.10 and the bus charges vary like India.
After an hour of shopping, it was time to get to the next mall for Brunch. Water taxis or the ABRA was a well known form of transport from Deira to Bur Dubai. However, the thought of the sun quickly killed that idea of sightseeing while commuting. We followed the malls signs to the Metro which was connected to the mall. The Metro is almost one year old and one of the most convenient way to travel. I filled up my Nol card at the counter and we were ready to roll. Commuting was cheap if you caught the bus or Metro. A Nol card cost only Dhs. 20 per person and can be used for both the bus and Metro. For a Dhs.14 ticket, one could go all over Dubai on the Metro. The Metro provides an incredible view of the city at Day with the Burj Khalifa being visible from miles apart. At night, the view of lighted Dubai is like a fairytale. Anjali was excited to get on the Metro. Children under 5 yrs travel for free; hence I had to swipe in and pick her up to cross the gates to avoid any beeping alert. Our station was an underground one, we travelled from one stop to the other with just lights whizzing by. As we passed each station, the overhead announcement for each station was repeated in English and Arabic. We were off to the Khalid Bin Waleed Station, popularly known as the Bur Juman Station. Anjali kept cocking her head to listen and looked around at the travellers curiously while asking me all sorts of questions.
“Can we stop the train in between?”
I shook my head for a ‘No, only in emergency’.
“Can I have my chips and juice now?”
I shook my head “No. eating and Drinking on the train”
“What is that sign?” she pointed to a No Smoking sign. I explained.
“Which is our station?” I gave her the name. She kept chanting it until the announcement was heard in 5 minutes.
“Ok, next is our station! “ She yelled as she picked her bag. I had to smile.
Kids were so excited on an outing. It was hard to contain them. We had more of the blistering sun before we got to the cool of Bur Juman. One of the best things about this Mall was the interior. It has two parts. The Old one would have you come up through The Paris Gallery store which had perfumes and cosmetic brands from all over the world. One was always be tempted to just take a whiff of some perfume or cologne or just have a spray of some fragrance.
Tip: If you are sweating buckets, this is the best way to smell wonderful with no money involved.
The New one was all about ambience and lighting. The interior was done in stone, marble and granite and looked so lovely that one could just sit down and unwind, watching the people go by as the fountains gurgled nearby. It was the food court that caught Anjali’s attention. The Lebanese stall had a Lahem that she liked. Lahem is chappati like bread baked with fillings of cheese, zatter (seeds of a special kind), meat or chicken. Our favourite was one with cheese, parsley leaf and meat. Hot off the oven it tasted delicious and was filling. For people who like freshly baked stuff, the Lebanese eateries are always packed with Veg and Non-veg things. Falafil is another thing to try. A fritter made from Fava beans then ground together with various ingredients including onion, parsley, sesame seeds, and spices such as cumin and coriander ; is a tasty veg nibble to try any day. Shish Taouk( sizzlers platter) and Shawarma (Arabic sandwiches-veg and non –veg)are two other things to try out. It is guaranteed that your taste buds will ask for more.
The next thing on my list was a designer bag and classy shoes. Bur Juman had the brands but my poor wallet would not live up to the cash required for a purchase. The best place for knock offs on designer bags was the old Karama market aka The Souq . Anjali smiled the moment she spotted Karama souq from the bus. It was her favourite destination. It meant some toys and goodies for her. You can blame me for the indulgence. A girl has got to have some fun! We had fun walking into numerous shops and haggling. Anjali had a blast with picking out bags that she likes and I got down to shortlisting and bargaining. In the end, I settled for a Burberry bag with a small purse for Anjali. The shoe shops had lots to offer and it was one in the afternoon before we knew it. Anjali has me try on all the shoes that caught her fancy…the stilettos, the long heels, open toes , straps, flats, …well, you get the idea, don’t you! It was hot and we were tired. The water bottles were empty… time to replenish stock.
Karama is also well known for the eateries that are tasty and easy on the pocket. Choose any type of cuisine and Karama would show you selections. We were at a loss to decide where to go. Calicut Paragon- yummy Keralite food, Golden Fork- Japanese, Chinese and Pilipino food or Saravan Bhavan- Pure Vegetarian? Anjali wanted to play on the monkey in front of Appa Kadai , so there! We decided to go to Simran’s Appa Kadai which was famous for its Appum. Owned by Simran, the famous Tamil starlet, it was popular among Indians. After a scrumptious lunch and lemonade, the both of us felt tired.
Tip: It is always best to take kids to a child friendly outlet in the afternoon. I personally recommend a mall. The heat is unbearable after 11 am and the best way to relax is to take a nap or siesta in the afternoon.
UAE has followed the practice of siesta time for ages. The time between 1- 4 pm is always a time to have lunch, nap or just rest. Owing to the heat, it was impossible to keep an open eye when the rest of the city slept. The day was young, Anjali refused to go home.
The next bus to Lamzy plaza stopped in front of the plaza theatre. Time to catch an afternoon movie. Anjali napped while I sat peacefully and watched a movie un-interrupted. She woke up when the credits rolled and it was time for another shopping spree. Lamzy plaza has a play zone for the children and it was loved by kids all over. While we were at the zone, the DSS (Dubai Summer Surprise) parade started. Anjali got hugged by Modesh, mascot of DSS. She was so delighted. The clowns and the men in long walking stiles waved. The jugglers and the acrobats danced around a few children. The music and drums were deafening but the kids loved it. A stage play of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs followed and what can I say, I love fairy tales!
Tip: The Dubai Shopping Festival processions are a treat to watch. It is easy to obtain visit visa to Dubai during this time. The bargains, discounts, outlets and variety of items available during this period are no match to anything received else where.
Lamzy, is also a place where you found shops of various ranges. There is a Japanese shop Daiso that has all sorts of items at a price range of Dhs.5-50. Branded stores like Bossini and Giordano are my favourite as the quality is always good and a sale around this time means cute stuff for Anjali to wear. The Food Court was busy by 5pm and Anjali and I settled for some Italian pasta customised to have meat sauce, veggies and tomatoes with Garlic bread on the side. Of course, the vegetarian pasta was ideal to have but the crowd and the heat made us hungry. Anjali stopped at a candy stall. This is a popular feature at every mall. There are at least 15 varieties of sugary candies to choose from. The yellow candy bear, chocolate football, the almond balls, coffee bars, jelly beans, jelly bears …oh! I could go on and on! Anjali filled a cover full of everything she could fit in while I wondered how much it would cost me. I asked her to watch out for the parading Modesh while I conveniently emptied ¾ of the sweets back and got it tagged. Sneaky me!
We shopped for some baby clothes for Keren. The sale on the cute overalls and baby rompers was irresistible! I spotted a toilette kit for the hubby and shopping was complete.
Home Sweet Home
Anjali was tired; it was time to head home. Juggling my shopping bags, her goodies bag and sleepy Anjali, I made the Herculean decision of boarding the first bus in sight and then heading over to the Bur Juman Metro station to save time reaching home. The cab and bus would meet traffic at 6 pm from the home returning public. It was a good decision. We reached home in 20 minutes. A quick bath and strong tea saw me sighing in content. A tall glass of milk saw Anjali nodding off. The delicious French croissants and sausage rolls we got from the bakery at one of the malls was quickly consumed and it was lights out for the both of us. Until the next weekday off, the delightful Ibn battuta and Mall of the Emirates can wait…YAWN! along with the lovely but old Meena Bazar and Heritage Village which has a history of its own at every corner…YAWN!…caio!
Eve’s Fruit of Love
When God punished Eve, he gave her pain beyond any imagination and then told her to love it.
I don’t quite know how to term it. Was I happy? Or Was I sad? The first time I saw her, she was just an unwanted responsibility. My freedom was going to be curtailed; I was not free to be me. I hated it. For a week, I pondered of how to cope up with this uninvited guest. I wanted to lose her, but my heart refused to take a stand. I had to know what it was like… I had seen the horror shows in every family…. the early wake up calls, the months of toil, the endless diaper trail… I was not ready for this rigorous routine.
And then, it happened, I fell in love. A site with the baby stories and the development schedule hit me with a fact I couldn’t deny…. the baby’s heartbeat…. I was floored. The heartbeat of a living baby…my baby. I could not say good bye when I didn’t even start with a hello! She deserved a chance to survive… didn’t we all? For months, I sat feeling sick and convincing myself, “Baby, you are my responsibility. I will be damned if anyone says otherwise!”
I was ridiculed for my stupidity. “You have no job! You are penniless! How will you survive?” the questions taunted me. I vowed to be indifferent. I whispered reassurance to my little one everyday, “You are lucky for me, my darling… children bring good luck. Don’t let anyone say that you will never have a chance…”
A pregnant woman was never considered for any vacancy. I worried about the money on the doctor’s visit and the medicines I would have to keep taking. I needed more. I would rather be bold than begging. I was capable. If my body could hold a baby secure, I could hold a job secure. My last interview was at a publishing house with a big wig who was unaware of my special status. After the final short listing, it was time to put my cards on the table. It was now or never. The baby needed care and I would fight for it. My baby deserved it.
“That is a lot of money. The salary for this post is not as much.” the gentleman replied as he smiled at me.
He looked amused, like he had seen a small puppy trying to drag a lion by its tail.
“Sir, let me be honest. I have the experience and skills. I didn’t reach the final interview without 6 other people seeing it. I am 5 months pregnant. Don’t waste my time bull shitting on how the salary demanded does not fit the post, coz we both know it does. I have nothing to lose but time and I rather you don’t waste my time; with this futile discussion. Do you want me to be here on Monday….if yes, then that’s the final offer, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT.”
I stood up to leave. The baby gave me her first kick. I stood still for a second and smiled. She responded to my frustration. How assuring.
“Miss … I needed a lady with spunk for the job. Your honesty is refreshing. You are hired.”
My happiness glowed on my face and my smile widened as I shook hands. My baby brought me luck. In a few months, the bills got paid and I enjoyed the care and success I got from my job. As the period of confinement grew closer, I worried. Was the pain unbearable, would I have to have a C-section, who would be with me…, am I fit to be a mother? The stories I heard of the pain and the videos I saw of the birth were bone chilling. I wondered why God punished Eve with such pain. On a cold winter morning, the pain was unbearable and it happened.
The baby, she came out crying loudly into the world after 12 hours of labour.
‘Small and ugly’… I was not sure if I could love her. She was just a feeling until the first time I physically saw her. Weren’t babies supposed to be cute and cuddly? I shuddered. The first few nights were horrible. The exhaustion, the lack of sleep and the depression made me wild. ‘I am unfit to be a mother. I have too much pride to give her away…I had called her my lucky charm and I hated seeing her cry. I can’t love her.’ Thoughts swirled in my mind. I had made a mistake. I cried when she slept, asking God to give me patience. ‘What mother could not love her child?’ I asked God as I demanded an explanation. Did Eve love her child after the pain? A week into the endless routine, she stopped crying when I picked her up. I was surprised. Did she realize my fear? I trembled at the serene sleeping face. I was a horrible woman. Why did she sleep like she was safe in my hands? I knew nothing of how it was to be a mother. I looked at her in horror.
She smiled in her sleep and pressed her little fingers close to my heart.
‘She can see the angel visiting her…’ the nurse said as she put a shawl on my shoulder and left. It was just me and the baby. I was alone. But that smile and that smell of her baby powder made me look at her once again. She was so tiny. Her little eyes opened for a few seconds as she gave me a toothless grin. I knew at that instant, that I would fight with all of eternity to keep her safe. She was so beautiful. In my arms, she gave me the strength to fight the cruel world. I understood how Eve could love her pain.
As I returned to work two months later, I learned another fact; a mother’s love is vulnerable as it is strong. I never realized that I could love someone so blindly and so strongly that the very thought of a smile could send me flying back home for one more hug. In her little achievements, I saw my life’s successes. The first smile, that first tooth and that drooling smile with the drippy toys were eye openers to her world of discovery. Those speedy four legged crawls could shame the fittest of soldiers and the first steps and flying toys were regular activities to record for memories. The noisy mealtimes, flying food, grubby face and loud laughs of delight; they were my inspiration to overcome the rainy days.
She grew, while I watched with pride. My baby had a story for me everyday. Then one day, it was time to set her out into the world…the first day at school. I stood at the gate with my heart in my mouth. Would she cry… will she miss me; was I a bad mother if she missed me?
What if someone tried to hurt her? I would pulverize anyone who would as much as look at her in the wrong way.
What if she wanted to use the loo? Would the nanny know that she liked to use the liquid sanitizer like I taught her? Rub-Rub –left- right-over-under-inside- outside…
What if the other children bullied my baby? Or stole her breakfast? … I should get the list of classmates with photo ids and parent contacts. The villain would suffer if my baby cried.
My thoughts were endless and then, it happened….she smiled. I smiled back bravely. With a wave, she whispered, “Go mummy. I promise to have fun. I am not afraid.”
I didn’t quite know how to term it. Was I happy? Or Was I sad? I guess I was relieved to know that being a mother was never easy. I saw a mother nearby trying to put her screaming and terrified son past the school gate. I realised that my baby grew bold with me.
At least now, I understand God. He made the woman feel the pain because he knew that only she had the capacity to bear pain and love in the same measure without any grudge. Despite her weakness, he found her to be strong in bearing sorrows.
Perhaps, that is why, she was a fitting companion to man. It was either that or quote- unquote “He has a warped sense of humour in torturing man for his stupidity” (as said by a WISE man!)
“Who won?’ they asked.
“I came, I saw, I conquered” He roared.
“He came, he saw, he conquered” She smiled.
“He came, he saw, She conquered!” they proclaimed.
“Says who?” he asked irritated.
“The phrase” they replied…
“Behind every successful man, there is an intelligent woman”
For more about 55 fiction click here
Just an observation
So there I was, a mother of two; who could not remember the last time she had a quiet house and sitting beside me were a group of four young adults (they insist on being called that at 19!) complaining of the boring days they had, during their two month vacation. The bus stop is always a great place to meet people and I strongly believe that conversation helps to build perceptions. Their outlook on the ordinary things in life looked so interesting that I couldn’t help the comparison that sprung to my mind. After half an hour of chatting, here are my observations.
[table id=1 /]
Am sure the readers have observations that are more quirky than the ones I have not penned down. Do share them with me… I got a bus to catch!
(Yes, you read right!)
One of my all time favourite movies will be Three idiots, reason: the adventures of college life that Raju Hirani portrayed bring back a lot of college memories. I have been blessed with friends of all kinds. Friends who warmed those ass shaped seats in my mind, on many occasions in life, especially in the college days.
College… I can never remember college without the memory of our notorious warden, Ms Mary (the Dragon). It was believed that she breathed fire due to an alleged love failure. The fire in her burned the hostellers for years, before and after my stint with the college hostel. She had a nasty temper and was the terror of the college. The college principal trembled when he saw her at a distance.
Among the inmates of our hostel was Manju a lovable chatter bug. She would bring me gossips from all over college. I remember one evening, the eve of one of my second year exam; we spent the whole evening imagining our visit to Switzerland with the most gorgeous boys from college. We went skiing, snow fighting, visited the lovely churches to enjoy the Christmas carols, had a handsome guide to flirt with….all of it was fun in our minds, until I slipped from the metal chair I was balancing and woke up the Dragon. It was midnight and not a soul in sight. Our rooms were in two different directions. It was really hard to hide when the Dragon had a faithful sidekick- a black Dachshund called Blackie (how typical!) searching with her. The dog was known for being ferocious. If we tried to run for our rooms, one of us would get caught. Not a lovely prospect. If we ran to the same room, she was sure to find one room unbolted…we were screwed! Never the less, I dived into Manju’s bed and covered myself from head to toe while she crawled under the bed and held her breath. We would take our chances. Surely enough, the Dragon switched on the lights and Lo! Behold! Everyone was asleep. Blackie tried to crawl under the bed. He pulled at her shirt sleeve to attract attention. Manju resisted by giving the dog a punch on the nose and a good shove. Off went Blackie, whimpering, as the lights went off. “Shh!! Blackie” The Dragon barked at she dragged the dog out. No further searches were conducted. Our necks were safe for the night. It was a close call. We specialised in close calls for three years successfully. Blackie religiously avoided running close to Manju and barked whenever his mistress was near. So much for being ferocious!
Another of my precious friends from the same hostel was Siny was known for her explosive laugh. It was potent enough to blast anyone in her close proximity (approx 200 m radiuses) to deafness.
I remember once, in the middle of the night someone came to my window sill and knocked. My room mate and I were busy exchanging ghost tales that night and as soon as she mentioned of a certain house being haunted with faces by the window, we heard the knock. We sat shocked for a split second and decided to open the window together. A grotesque face glared at us over a torch light.We stepped back with a start. Seeing our shock, it then erupted to laughter. It was loud and eerie.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh” we screamed in fright before a hand caught my mouth and hissed “Shhhhhhhh…. It’s me, Siny, you dope….open up!”
I must warn you a midnight visit like that is hazardous to one’s health. I had bear with a few of those from Siny before I was eternally cured of opening knocking windows.
“Let’s go down and knock off some mangoes!” She said as she pulled me out of bed.
Manju was standing in the courtyard with a few of my batch mates aiming at the mangroves that the Dragon had lovingly planted. We were not allowed to take the mangoes unless they had fallen to the ground.
“No way! Dragon is going to have me as a snack if she sees it.” I whispered as I walked out to see Siny joining a band of mango thieves.
“Don’t be a chicken! Come onnnn” she said as she pulled.
Apparently, we were not the only bright ones. The junior batches on the first floor next to me were aiming from the balcony like snipers. There were runners from each batch waiting patiently to catch a fallen mango. This was much more serious than I thought of. Manju took a few aims and down came two mangoes. Siny and I rushed to fetch it. The juicy mangoes were quickly consumed before the balcony snipers hit gold. In came the runners, as quick as mice, to fetch the bunch of fallen mangoes. Manju ran with Siny and nabbed four before another crack was heard. A few minutes later, everyone had eaten a couple of mangoes and looked full. I ventured to get the last mango only to slip on a wet step and go skidding into a hedge in front on the mango tree. A huge pot at the side of the hedge fell on impact, covering Blackie’s leash. The scared dog ran to the nearest corner for cover. The whole thing looked so funny that Siny let out one of her explosive laughs. It was too late to stop. The Dragon’s door burst open. Everyone ran for cover. Not a soul in sight when she flashed her torch. All she saw was a broken pot, scared Blackie and mango skins. There was hell to pay the next day. The whole hostel had an hour of the Dragon lecturing on the sins of stealing. Manju, Siny and I along with the rest of the mango thieves pretended to be innocent all through. That’s what friends are for….stealing mangoes, getting into trouble and scaring the daylights out of one another!
Come PG. I met Bindhu when I enrolled for Masters. She was a dependable person who loved her friends wholeheartedly. I remember an incident where her good heart saved a friend from himself and left the both of us cracking to peals of laughter, even today. An instant dance contest was being conducted and our good friend X put down his name for it.
The music began to play the first tract and he began dancing. He was a well know western dancer and we were eager to see him in action. The moment he began, we looked at each other in surprise. What we witness was one of the finest of his moves and a style with no equal. His hip began to rotate and so did the rest of him. We were not sure if we were watching the salsa that he often described, an A rated movie or a washing machine. We looked around trying to control our mirth and saw the juniors who were watching open mouthed. A wolf whistle was heard from the audience.
As soon as X saw us in front, the track changed and his style of dancing became the classical bharatanatyam. Bindhu looked at me with a question on her face. I chuckled. My cheeks hurt from trying to keep a straight face. She mouthed a question” WHAT IS HE DOING?”…it was lost in the din. We looked at him like he had lost his mind. The steps were great but imagine a 100 kg guy wearing cargos, dance like a girl in the dance get up!!! Yikes!
Instead of being deterred, he then went on to ballroom dancing or was it Mexican style dancing with the feet tapping and swirls for the third track. “Oh boy” I thought as Bindhu tried not to look flabbergasted. He covered the stage with the invisible partner and winked at me. I was biting my cheeks inside my mouth. The audience erupted with claps!!! It was embarrassing and funny at the same time. He looked like he has lost a couple of screws.
The music changed once again and he began the snake dance. Bindhu and I looked around for the chap who helps with the time. We were laughing and looking worried at the same time. As soon as she located him, she hissed “Press the buzzer…now!!…I don’t care… next contestant!”
Alas! The final track was a salsa and X was gyrating his hips repeatedly when the poor chap who was intimidated by Bindhu pressed the buzzer. We laughed until our face was blue and then some more. Only she could have stopped a friend who needed saving from themselves. She was someone who would come in on the rainiest of days to sit with me without a word.
There are many more in the list of my unique friends (Jubi the joker, Mary my little lamb, Shailesh the listener, etc) but this space is not enough to thank them.
So as I said, even though I don’t have three ass shaped seats to take pictures on… My unique friends still brighten up my day…Enough for me to scream All izz welll !!!!
Golden Rules of Marriage
Everyone must know certain rules to keep one’s sanity from running away. Here are a few rules I learned along with my husband.
Rule 1: Avoid getting married in the first place. Divorce is an expensive affair. There are other ways to test endurance! Try Survivor!!!
Rule 2: Accept it….you are in for good! (You broke rule #1 didn’t you. Well these are just for people like you.)
Rule 3: Men- Don’t ask your wife to cut down her weight and volunteer to get her into a weight loss programme. Those who broke this rule are still paying for the gems, the gym, the dieting programs and workout outfits that will never be used in this lifetime.
Rule 4: Women – Unless you want your husband to get you the lawn mower for your birthday, please specify the gift that you will accept and the price tag that is approved by you.
Rule 5: Men – Always jot down her birthday, your wedding day, your first kiss and the fateful day that you met your “Other Half”. These will be useful to pass the pop quiz that you will have to take on any given day. Pass mark-’Aww so sweet!’ Fail –‘You don’t love me anymore…. (Accompanied by tears and more expensive jewelry)’
Rule 6: Women – Always jot down the numbers to the takeaways within two kilometer radius along with your mother-in-laws recipes. They will be handy when you want to hear “Just like Mummy’s cooking!” “Tastes like home!”
Rule 7: Men – when the wife says shopping, she does mean minimum two hours! It isn’t an easy affair either on your wallet or on your simple mind. Disappear if you don’t want to wait on her hand and foot, with statements like’ Call me when you are done/ Got some work to do/ Car needs servicing’
Rule 8: Women – Time and money are never calculated on the same terms. Time is minutes for men and hours for women; Money is less when they spend it and more when you do.
Rule 9: There is no such thing as a joint decision. One argues and the other dictates.
Rule 10: Messy days are over, get a maid if you want your sanity to be maintained.
Rule 11: Men – Do not criticize your wife on the household chore left undone. It is best to keep that opinion to yourself. Those who have violated this rule have found themselves stuck for life without parole, with all types of chores!
Rule 12: Women – Never ask a man to save you when the house is on fire and sports / global news repeat is on TV. The chances are you will burn to steak and he will come around ad time to see if the popcorn is done. It’s every woman to her-self. Violation of this rule has known to cause baldness in women. Most women were found pulling their hair out.
Rule 13: Children are for people who can take care of pets and don’t mind 4 am feeding time. For others, there are easy activities – bonsai, Farmville and Twitter. Caution: People who ignored the warning in this rule are often seen at a playground with defeated expressions on their faces and patiently watching the little tyke go through Jungle Bungle for the umpteenth time saying ’ Mommy, Mommy, Look at me, ….See me climb, Daddy’.
Rule 14: Men – Children, freedom and order don’t go together. Period.
Rule 15: The next door neighbour has everything that is perfect, no matter which corner of the earth you live in. Deal with it!
Rule 16: All arguments must be settled by Dawn next day. Men – Admit it, you can’t take care of the kids single handed while cooking, cleaning and working. Women – Enjoy the chaos with a cup of tea. Do the disappearing act if the apology is not in on time. Deadline is important.
Rule 17: Men – Nothing gets you more work than looking comfortable on a couch.
Rule 18: Women- It’s true; the way to a Man’s heart is through his stomach. It is a well kept public secret. There is no point fighting it. Check Rule #6 for more tips.
Rule 19: If you can’t convince them on the goodness of your diabolical plan….confuse them and then scare them. For best results, try this rule on the kids. It works wonders on confusing the Know-It-All and scaring the Dare Devil. There is nothing like a little confusion and fear to lick them to shape.
Rule 20: Do sit down for a cup of coffee everyday and say I love you to each other. It is a must since you broke Rule
# 1. Just kidding! It is a must since love really does make life worth living.
Marriages are Made in Heaven – Part 2
In case you missed reading the first part ? Read here
Marriages… Are they made in heaven?
So, there I was waiting to be auctioned off. I was ‘the price commodity on the display shelf’, ‘the gem that every house was looking for’ and the ‘worry of every parent with a daughter’. There was an excitement in the air whenever a new proposal came home.
Dad had ventured to casually inform me of a family that he met. He was impressed by them and wanted me to meet them. I was in a rebellion mode. This was the last guy I was meeting before I took off for UAE, for some blissful time with a cup of tea, sunset and a lovely book. It was useless to talk me out of it. My folks gave up. When I mentioned that my dream Guy must be mature, sensible and well educated, in came Shaktiman (engineer interested in animation), Doctor ABCD (credentials were nice but the guy was a total loony!), Gold medalist (I don’t even want to go there…), Cute Doctor (witch of a mother), Handsome architect ( huge ego, zero maturity)…and the list goes on. It was hopeless, so I cleaned the house everyday to keep my frustration at bay.
We heard a car outside. Everyone was busy. I ran to the window and tweaked the curtain. My cousin’s brand new silver Santro was parked at the driveway. Cool car, I though as I smiled through the window and opened the door. The first thing I noticed was the wine red shirt and golden belt buckle before I got pulled in. “It’s the boy!” my aunt hissed, as she tried to control her panic.
Darn! Now, the boy’s side was going to think my house consisted of a bunch of ill mannered folks who had no regard for culture, tradition and propriety. I ran to my room all hot and dusty while my grandmother began to scold me for stepping out to meet them. I was close to tears and cross. Here I was, trying to be accommodating; cleaning the house, setting the dishes and checking the kitchen while ensuring that the guests has a good view of everything being in place and how do I get thanked… a good dressing down. I had worked two hours straight to ensure that the floor smelt of pine and the house of lavender.
A hot tear rolled off my cheeks. I hated it. I wanted to leave. I was kept under house arrest and could not visit any of my friends because of this shindig. I had been coerced into coming home after two long years to take part in a ceremony that I had no faith in. I wanted a love marriage and this was no where close. Grandma hugged me. “Sorry, darling. Go freshen up. We don’t want anyone to think less of you. You are special and we want everyone to see how much.” I nodded and decided to be nice to the folks who came to see me. It was not their fault that I was not interested. I owed them dignity.
Delicious smells wafted from the kitchen as my aunts set the table for the guests. Changing into my favourite red churidar, after freshening up, brightened my mood. Smooth conversation and laughter flowed outside and I was pleasantly surprised to meet a bunch of young people. The Suitor had come in with his sister and family and they were lovely people. Since, I was least interested in getting married; I barely glanced at the boy. I did notice that he looked sharp and had a smooth dressing sense. I had a great time talking to his folks. They enjoyed the homely atmosphere.
It was then time for us to talk. I asked him the trick question in the first go. They would always trip on this one. He would be out through the door in 15 seconds flat.
“What do you think of life?”
He was sure to go on about nothing and I could say ‘Oh, he is so boring! No way!’ and get away with it. It was a fool proof plan until he surprised me with his answer.
“Life is a book full of chapters. I think we should make each chapter memorable than the last one. One must enjoy life in its practicality. Don’t you think so?”
Wow! Curve ball headed my way….gulp, what do I say? I wasn’t expecting him to give me a sensible answer. Ok, two can play this game. “True, but I enjoy life in being free to decide and not being pressurized to make my choices” Let’s see how he responds to that.
“I agree, we make our choices and as a family share our decision. It is really silly to have people dictate. Freedom is a matter of choice. Don’t you agree? …. Do you work?”
Whoa! A guy with an attitude! He was so unlike the boring chaps I met before. I liked the smile that played on his face. So sincere. He seemed so sure of himself and didn’t have the typical Mallu guy attitude. Most Keralite guys enjoyed having their wives cater to their every whim. Cooking, cleaning, kids – your cup of tea. Eating, night out with friends and being called the bread earned – theirs. They preferred their wives to neither socialize nor be a decision maker.
“Yes, I enjoy having a career. I love to be successful at what I do.”
I was sure he would run for Mummy by now. I was interested in figuring him out by the end of our conversation. The career attitude meant stubborn person in town! Run! Run!
“Ah! A girl with a mind of her own” He smiled.
“One must be involved whether they are at home or at work. Balance is the name of the game. I personally like a girl with an ambition for her career. Attitude is good. ” He was not running?!
“You will live to regret those words if you stick by me. I know of a Dragon at CMS who did.” I smirked.
Dragon was the notorious Matron who evoked nightmares in the inmate of the college hostel, where I served as a head girl for 3 long years. I had a strong repute for not backing off.
He laughed. His voice rang out in my room.
“Please tell me you didn’t study at the CMS College by staying at their hostel!”
I nodded to his amusement.
“How did you survive?”
“Thick skin and lots of patience. I must warn you, I can go deaf at times too!” I smiled.
Another roar of laughter followed. He was not intimidated! Strange! The others ran.
“Do you know me by any chance?” he asked with twinkling eyes.
I shook my head.
“Then, I am safe. My reputation has not reached here.”
In a minute the both of us were laughing, it was so absurd. We shared war stories from college. It was ironical that both of us had studied in the same college, roamed with the same circle of friends and not met even once during this time. He was the outgoing senior who knew all my friends and I was the quite prefect who survived the Dragon in one piece.
The supposed disaster turned out to be a comedy.
“I like your sense of humour; I have always wanted a life partner who saw life with fun and practicality. Do you think we would match?”
There was only one way to solve this. I prayed, ‘Give me a sign that marriages can be made in Heaven or that my cup of tea is within my reach’
‘Ringggggggggggggg’ our mobiles rang loudly at the same instant. We jumped to switch it off immediately and apologized at forgetting to turn the darn thing off. Both of us held an identical set of Samsung with the same colour and model. Oh, Lord…there was no way out! Goodbye, my sweet cup of tea and good bye sunset.
Everyone loved him and his family. There was no chance of me saying “No” …they heard us laugh for almost an hour! No excuse would hold weight after that! The funny moment came after he left. All I could remember of him was the red shirt and the tasteful golden buckle. I sat up all night wondering why I could not remember his face. It was so silly. As my memory was so legendary, I got teased mercilessly. ‘Where were you looking?’ they asked as everyone laughed. All I had in memory was great time. As our wedding approached, everyone was talking about him. “He is a good looking boy”, “Where did you hear of this proposal?”, “How did you get her to agree?”, “Oh, so sad that none of us have a picture of him”, “Well he has a brother of his age”, “No, you can see the boy at the engagement”…and so on.
On the day on my engagement, I was in total panic. I couldn’t remember my to-be-fiancé or his face. What if I stood next to the wrong guy? The golden buckle was not going to be of any help! Did he look ordinary? Everyone said he was good looking and no one could explain. I was so pissed with myself. I was now agreeing to marry some good looking guy who was notorious at our college and had a great sense of humour. I had no clue as to what I was going into. I blamed God and the buckle for this lapse in memory.
“Mummy,” I hissed, looking for help.
“Please show me the guy with whom I am supposed to exchange rings with or else I may end up being engaged to the stage boy!!!”
I had clearly lost my marbles. My cousins rallied around me to look out for the boy. “There he is! “They whispered within a few minutes. I stuck my head out in trepidation. I was not going to change my mind. I just wanted to take stock of what I was getting myself into.
In that priceless moment, I was truly awed. Standing by the entrance, was a handsome stranger with a great smile (Can’t imagine how I missed that?). Marriage was everything I did and didn’t dream of. The chores, the burnt food, the laughter, the squabbles, the quiet cup of coffee and a great friend. If it hadn’t been for the sign of matching Samsungs, I would have missed out on having a husband who understood my insane humour, romantic notions and need for being an individual while being a part of a unit called family …
its true, Marriages are made in Heaven! **Conditions apply.
Marriages are Made in Heaven?!
The person who said “Marriages are made in Heaven” must be shot dead…and with immediate effect. I am not the only female who holds that opinion. My notion of a marriage was a romantic affair. I believed that we know the ONE the instant we set eyes on them. After a decade of being under that romance spell, all I can say is “Balooney!”
Age 21: Oh, this is a wonderful age. You start with the feeling of being one with the universe. The world is under your feet and the hassle of studying just eased up. You are left free to make some choices and enjoy solitude with an ice cream Sundae or a good movie. Yes, that was Heaven for me. And suddenly, it began disappear. Aunties of all ages and sizes began to feel concern (jealous of that carefree status).
“What about getting her married?” they asked…to my mother, brother, father, uncle, aunty, grandma, servant, dhoodwala, and God alone knows who else. And there ended the Heaven I experienced after years of toiling on book after book. Before I knew it, the parade was on.
The tall guy with the geeky parents, the stout guy with the heavy qualifications, the doctor with the ABCD behind his name, etc were all among the long line that stood banging on our door in hopes of being my better half. I stood rooted to my room wondering where and when the Made in Heaven part would click. After long consideration, one lucky guy qualified for an interview with me (the traditional Pennu Kannal-seeing the Girl). There I was, looking and feeling hot in my sari (pun intended) ready to meet my other half.
Tall Guy: So, you speak English well, kya?
Me: I hope so, since that is the language I am speaking now…. (Moron)
Tall Guy: What is your future plan?
Me: Well… I…
Tall Guy: I want to have a wife who looks lovely, cooks well, loves to have children and takes care of me and my family. She must be a career woman….I won’t stop her from going to work….I think women must work or they will be bored.
Me: (Translation in mind) Wife must be beautiful, a chef, have reproduction capacity of a rabbit and be an efficient home nurse. No servant provided for the above duties and must earn a living.
Tall Guy: Did anyone ever tell you that you look beautiful? I love women who wear saris.
Me: Dozens, join the club. (I answered dryly)
Tall Guy: Truly, you are a Black Beauty.
Tall guy: My mom says I am too simple. I am a gold medalist and earn Rs.XXXXXXXXXX. My car is an Audi imported from….blah, blah, blah…..guess am too simple, na?
Me: (Nod Nod sleepily)
Tall guy: So do you like me?
Me: (Smile) Oh, I think Mum is calling. Cominggggggggg maaa.
Verdict: If that was my better half, please hand me a double barrel gun….no, I am not committing suicide. I am just searching for the idiot that said” Marriages……..”@#!?
Age 24: Independent, working woman, stubborn and not ready for any Marriages that are made in heaven (for me), but willing to attend those made for others. Now, the whole neighborhood is talking. Everyone has a brother, nephew, cousin, son, friend or relative who would be perfect for me. Bowing down to the pressure from my grandparents, my father permits a couple of suitors to come by. As luck would have it, two of them were scheduled to meet me on the same day and due to the monsoon season, one of them decided to come in early. This meant seeing the both of them at the same time! The result was well known in all circles of my family. My father took a quick decision and split the family into two. He, my brothers and I along with my uncle and his family would be stationed at our grandparent’s house to meet Suitor #1. Mum, my sister, my uncles from my mum’s side and their families would be at their house which was close by; to meet Suitor #2.
Suitor # 1 came in with his parents and the first thing everyone notices is that the boy’s mum has the biggest mole ever seen, on her nose. More like a grape on a muffin. To top it, she gave me the once over like I had algae sticking to my face. I had an irresistible urge to rub my face but held my hands to my side after the warning stare my father gave asking me to behave. So, the coffee gets served and the boy meets girl.
Boy: Did any one mention that you look beautiful?
Me: O…thanks (I might as well bat my eyelids while I am at it!)
Boy: Such pretty eyes!!
Me: What is your ambition? What do you see for our future?
Boy: Am an engineer. I am into animation….you know like Shaktiman…the action and all. I just love it. After marriage….well, I have to ask Mummy. She can cook well. Those cutlets, are they home made?
Me: Eh… (My brothers are sneering in the background and I can hear my aunt gasp and mutter a prayer …)
Boy: I love food, don’t you?
Me: You appreciation shows. (He was built healthy and his mother was stout)
Boy: What about you? What is your ambition?
Boy: You must give my mum the recipe to the cutlet. Do you cooks? You are a good listener.
Can we chat by email?
At this point, a thud was heard. I learnt that it was my aunt who fell over a stool in surprise.
Verdict: Neither the stool nor the suitor stood chance is surviving the interview.
In the meantime, Suitor # 2 arrived and the parents were inquiring on me. This is where Mission Impossible happened. The parents of Suitor #1 must not miss me while I see the next suitor. And the parents of Suitor #2 must not know of the other suitor.
Picture this: I smiled my way into the kitchen, while my mother was outside waiting with my sandals. I ducked for cover under the heavy foliage in front of the house, sneaked though the garden which was slippery like a thief, prayed that I would not land on my backside and ran bare headed into the rain. A van stood discreetly behind the stone gates with a door half open waiting to whisk me off to another prince charming while the queen with a mole and Mr. Shaktiman chewed away on the tasty cutlets. On reaching house #2, I sneak through the back gate, wash my feet, straighten my hair and walk in to serve coffee only to have…..Suitor #2 tell me, “Did any one mention that you look beautiful?”
Half an hour later, a repeat of the same process, except this time I am back to wish Suitor #1 good bye! So, if you are wondering how I got married….that is a whole new story.
Verdict: I am sure that the disclaimed for the saying read:
* Conditions apply.
**Subjected to parading, blah-blah, tasty treats, Mission Impossible skills and HOT saris**
I Miss You
I missed your smile and loving touch. I missed your enthusiasm on seeing me everyday. Whether at work or outside, you made me feel like I was the only one. Yours smiles were so contagious.
I loved to cook your favourite dish and smiled quite often, at the appreciation that lit up on your face when you saw it on the table. I loved the silly chatter you had when I felt tired after a long day. It kept me from feeling tired. I miss you everyday.
I miss you when I wake up in the morning… our time together was so precious to me. That special talk we would have before the hustle bustle took over the day. I never thought I could love anyone, the way I loved you.
A trip to the market reminded me of our outings together. You loved the fruits that were sweet and I loved the vegetables that were healthy. True, our twines may never meet… never the less I tried to convert you into a vegetarian and you tried to covert me into a fruitarian…yes, the struggles were endless.
You hated my working hours and I hated your protests. You wanted my attention 24/7; I was exhausted by your constant demand. You could not understand my passion for my career and I could not do enough to show you my love.
My passion, my love, my desire….died the day I saw your tiny coffin.
I missed your smile and loving touch….