THE ‘CHICKENS’ COME HOME TO ROOST….

Pushpadevi  woke up with a start. It was a silent night and the only sounds that reverberated through the room were the loud snores of her husband Kashinath. Relieved ,that what she saw was only a nightmare,she sat up,wiping  the beads of perspiration,from her forehead and upperlip. She then started walking towards the earthenpot ,resting on a rickety old stool,in one corner of the room.Her hands groped in the darkness ,for the ‘lota‘(a copper vessel ). Having found it,she dipped it into the pot and started drinking ,till her throat no longer felt parched.. Keeping the ‘lota’ back in its place,she turned to walk back. Her husband,completely oblivious of his wife’s predicament ,was snoring even more loudly now,as if mocking at her . Pushpa let out a sigh and walked back to her charpai (a bedstead used in India) and lied down. But sleep eluded her. She kept staring at the blank ceiling of the house,as if expecting it to come alive and remove  all her apprehensions.

The next day ,early morning ,she quietly opened the main door of the house ,and hurried down to Banwarilal’s grocery shop. His shop was the closest, she could get to a telephone,from her house. Once there,she exchanged a few words with Banwarilal ,after which she started talking to someone on  his phone. As the conversation progressed,her face grew from sad to morose , and her eyes ,that were now moist with tears,showed signs of some hidden grief .Though Banwari quizzed her about it ,she refrained from answering. Then paying him the money for the call she had made,and holding her pallu (the loose end of the saree ) over her head,with great cautiousness,Pushpadevi  scuttled back ,in the direction of her home.

By the time she reached home,Kashinath was ready to leave for the fields . Pushpadevi  quickly made him two rotis (indian bread ) which he greedily devoured ,along with a green chilly and half a piece of onion.After this  ,he left . Pushpa ,standing at the door,opened her mouth,  as if to say something . Then,as an afterthought ,muttered something under her breath and let him walk away. Her eyes ,welled with tears, stood gazing at him ,till he became a speck in the distance ,and she  felt choked. She knew ,she needed to speak with someone about her fears,but with whom….?

Pushpa then thought of Suman, her daughter-in-law . But then ,she no longer stayed with them….With these thoughts, her mind wandered back in time. ” She still remembered the day Suman came to their house,dressed in a simple red saree and minimal jewellery… Pushpadevi had a lot of plans for her son’s marriage and ‘dowry‘ was the’ highlight ‘ of  the plans. She had always dreamt of a wealthy daughter-in-law, a daughter of a zamindar (land owner) perhaps,who would come into their house laden with a lot of jewellery and cash ; thus proving herself to be Goddess Lakshmi ,(the Hindu goddess of wealth ), in the real sense.”

”But here she was, Suman, the girl her son had fallen for and married against her consent – a comlpete contrast to the ‘bride‘of her dreams. A frail looking girl,the daughter of a landless labourer,who struggled to make both ends meet,let alone provide them with any financial benefits !!!. Pushpa remembered Suman’s calm ,innocent eyes plead with her for forgiveness. But they failed to break Pushpa’s  resolve ,to never completely accept her as her daughter-in-law.”

Today,as Pushpadevi,stared blankly ,at the empty cradle lying next to her charpai , her thoughts re – winded to that fateful day…..”Her daughter-in-law ,Suman,was pregnant .Pushpa was elated to hear the news.She now looked forward to  a grandson ,who would bring some joy into her otherwise mundane and hopeless existence. Days turned into months and soon the D-day had arrived .”

”Pushpa, waited patiently ,outside the ward of the village hospital . Her lips were muttering a prayer and her fingers were counting the beads of her rosary. Then, suddenly,she heard the cry and the doctor came out and announced to her..” congratulations !!! It is a beautiful girl...” Pushpadevi felt the earth shift from beneath her feet.All her hopes and aspirations were nipped in the bud.As  the tears flowed down from her eyes , Pushpa had made yet another resolve.”

”The following morning,as Suman,lying on her bed,attempted to pick up her newborn ,from the cradle,to feed her milk , she froze. Her baby was as still as a stone.”

Death due to asphyxiation” , declared the doctor”.But, how  a pillow lying on Suman’s bed  , ended up suffocating and killing the infant lying inside the cradle, nobody was to ever discover !!! ,except perhaps Suman herself, because the very next day she packed her bags and left, never to return again. Pushpa’s son soon followed suit. ”

The loud knocks on the door,snapped Pushpa out of her reverie. She stood up and walked towards the door.The knocks were growing louder by every pasing second. A knowing fear ,gripped her heart. As she opened the door,she closed her eyes for a second (as if asking for forgiveness ) …When she opened them,she saw, lying on the ground,just  opposite the door , a body. Pushpa looked closely  at the body, lest she was mistaken… the body of her beloved daughter Kusum . It was only a few hours back ,that she has heard her voice on the phone. Kusum was pleading with her to take her back home or send more ‘dowry’ to her in-laws. Pushpadevi was helpless,she couldn’t do either. Now, remorseful,she kneeled down in front of the body of her dear daughter and wailed…like a mad woman.

Pushpadevi knew…this was her nemesis . The chickens,always come home to roost…..

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THE SUMMERS OF CHILDHOOD…..

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My childhood was spent in Delhi – the Indian capital. Having been brought up there, I have a special place for it in my heart,like any other Delhite..But, the concrete jungle that it was,as a school going kid,I looked forward to my summer vacations ,when we would go down south, to my native state –”GOD’S OWN COUNTRY”, Kerala…There were many reasons for our excitement ;firstly, that was the time we got our ”annual stock” of new clothes and other paraphernalia   ; secondly,we got to buy bangles and bindis (the colorful stickers  used to decorate foreheads  of women and young  girls in india),because in Kerala it was common custom for young girls to decorate themselves so ; thirdly,the eagerness to meet our grandparents and a housefull of cousins ,to play and chat around with ;and last but not the least,the gorgeous landscape of the region,the green fields and wildlife (esp. snakes…lots of them !!!…CREEPY ISN’T IT..?? 😉 )..So you see, these were the reasons ,that more than justified, our elated state during the trip…and yes..i forgot the train journey !!! that was very much a part of the tour package ,and all the screaming we did ,whenever the train passed over a bridge, overlooking some river ……. Once in Kerala,time flew…There was so much to do and so many places to go to…My maternal grandmother’s house was a traditional ” naalu kettu”.- the literal meaning of which is,a construction comprising of four blocks,built around a ”nadu muttam” or a central courtyard…. .557563_10150649803905812_1464284938_n IMG_0424 After having stayed in flats back in Delhi, such space to move and play around ,only added to our exteme jubiliation.But, we were not allowed to step out of the house,till we finished a certain section of our ‘‘holiday homework” , one that we considered to be our worst enemy those days..Personally for me,solving the equations in the ”mental maths” book ,actually ended up driving me nuts (or mental !!!  ;no offence meant to the maths lovers !!!) but  mathematics was a nightmare for me ,and I did get rid of it years later when I opted for ”ARTS”  as my subject in the 11th and 12th…good riddance, I say !!! ;171298_1875784454799_4366508_o Kerala, looks its best when it rains..the beauty is breathtaking. Though monsoons ,especially the torrential downpour, are considered a curse by the adults;as children ,me and my sister enjoyed it,thoroughly.  I still remember watching ,the raindrops hit the rooftops and then land  with a splash into the ”nadu muttam” from all the four corners…It was a sight to watch…But monsoons also introduced us to the creepy crawlies of all sorts…earthworms,centipedes,and a zillion other creatures of the land…eeewwww….!!! What we also enjoyed were our trips to the the ‘pond’ behind the house along with our cousins..Though we couldn’t swim (our parents tried their best,tying dry coconuts around our waist) and haven’t managed to learn till now !!;we loved getting into the cold water and splashing on it hard…Once,my sister while doing so,came face to face with a grass snake or a water snake ( ‘neerkoli’ in malayalam) but all except her saw it swim upto her…As soon as we all spotted it,we ran for our lives by climbing up the nearest rock and my poor little sister,whom everyone (including my cousins ) forgot to warn and was still oblivious of the danger lurking nearby, stood quivering like a leaf,when good sense finally prevailed and we all let out a shriek !!! But,when we got home that day, all of us laughed our lungs out ,recalling the incident and the way we abandoned our younger sister …. ‘IMG_457919401402438 ‘ Theyyam”,is also something that attracted me to Kerala ,ever since my childhood. IMG_490494146987923 A ” THEYYAM” IS A TRADITIONAL,RITUALISTIC FORM OF WORSHIP,FOUND MOSTLY IN THE NORTH MALABAR REGION OF KERALA…. IMG_120042257808501IMG_1902492563247 It is representation of god and is hence worshipped ,like one would worship  a god..People seek blessings from ‘this human representation of god”.As a child I was always a little unnerved by the bright red colour and those glaring eyes…but as I grew up, I began to enjoy watching this ritual performance that required a lot of energy and strength to perform…Hence,when I think of Kerala,theyyam,is an integral part of it…and the two for me, cannot be seperated….. So our trip to kerala was filled with some of the best memories of my life…The getting together of all cousins,and all the dance,music and goodtimes, are which I will for ever cherish.But,the saddest part of our trip to Kerala was when we were to bid farewell to our native land and its people and get back to our routine monotonous life,back in Delhi…The first day in school,after the vacation was always so depressing …though soon we got over it and started to enjoy school life…(well,thats another story !! will write about it some other time ..:) ) Today this Kerala,isn’t the same to me….things have changed.There are no more ponds to go swimming in,or green paddy fields to walk through….My grandmother stays alone, in that ancestral house. ..and we cousins don’t meet that often. Life today has changed for everyone…it is not the slow life people led ,a long time back.Today everyone is busy with their personal and professional commitments and  even neighbours don’t like interferance… As for me, I know my childhood days and those summer trips will never come back…but their memories will remain etched in my mind forever and ever…… ”SUMMER WILL END SOON ENOUGH AND CHILDHOOD AS WELL...’‘ – George R.R.Martin

TO MY SOLDIER……

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Oh my soldier I know….;

before I married you…

never did you stoop so low;

as to keep me in the dark…

about the nature of the trade ;

you had chosen to embark…

And oh my soldier i know…

you let me know you desired;

not an ornamental wife…

but one who wouldn’t get tired;

of your life of struggle and strife ….

You assured me ,

you weren’t looking for;

a vermilion smeared head …

or hands that served tea ;

early morning in your bed…..

But you did,for sure,inform me,

whom you were looking for…

a brave yet simple lady ;

who could ‘weather any storm’ ….

Oh..my soldier I know ;

you said ,life isn’t going to be a soft bed of roses…

on which to lie and doze;

it will have its share of hardships…

separation from spouse or long distant trips !!!

 Now that I am wedded to you ,my soldier;

and have entered this life…

I shall try even harder ;

and prove to be a good wife…

But my soldier, I wonder why ;

you hid from me ,the perks, of being a soldiers wife….

oh my soldier,I wonder why…

you didn’t tell me about the exciting social life..?? 

Perhaps you wanted me to ..

on my own discover;

the warm and tender evenings…

that we would spend together.

Though you warned me about the ‘separation’…

you forgot  to tell me I think ;

of the excitement and jubilation…

at every new meeting…

You forgot I think to mention ;

all the fun things we would do….

of the places we would travel ;

and the friends we would make too….

You also neglected to tell me;

the things i would learn….

about fashion and housekeeping ;

and the opportunities i will earn….

So,my soldier you know…

it is not a bad bargain,after all ;

While i get ,so much more to learn…

and give so little in return.

THE “TRAVEL BUG”…

‘The world is a book and those who do not travel,read only one page.’ – ST.AUGUSTINE .

There is nothing more rejuvenating and relaxing , than  absorbing the scents and smells of a strange land, observing the local people and their traditions ,  and soaking in the beautiful nature , undisturbed by any technology….

‘TRAVEL’  , according to me is an all encompassing term. One that is used to refer to any kind of journey, that takes you away from your home and hearth; and your familiar surroundings, to a place that is hitherto unknown to you , in  terms of its sights and smells….Thus travel , could be from one’s own city to another or from one’s own state to another ,within the same country or from one country to another,even across continents.

But, I consider the ‘travel bug’ to be something ‘innate’…something you are born with , rather than something you acquire over time. A person may keep travelling from one place to another,for business or pleasure,and still not be described as a ‘wise traveler’  !  I don’t think you can really ‘experience’ a place if :

  • you are the kind of person , who despite being in a place , far from home , expects things and situations there , to be exactly the way  they are back home….

  • you are busy sending whatsapp messages  on your phone or tele-conferencing on your laptop, while you are on a beach vacation or are holidaying in some other place of natural beauty …,..

For the above mentioned people , I have only one thing to say…travelling isn’t your thing and you would enjoy holidays better , relaxing in the comforts of your home rather than travel. So stop splurging that valuable currency !

My travel experiences have taught me a few lessons .The following are a few tips to enjoy your vacations better and make them a memorable one for yourself and your family too :

  1.  Please switch of all your electronic gadgets and use your phones ”for emergency” only !

  2. Try out the local cuisine , and develop your palate for new and unknown flavors and food. This helps you get an insight into the food culture of the area 🙂

  3. Learn to accept the local culture , you will enjoy more. ‘When in Rome,do as the Romans do.’  This saying makes perfect sense while traveling. Every society is different , so don’t get scandalized , just  because it is different from yours…’Morality’ is a relative term , what is moral in one culture , may be a taboo in another. So abstain from criticizing any new culture or making judgements .

  4. Try not to follow any fixed tour plans. Let your tour be flexible .There are enough books in the market to guide you in a new country, so instead of expensive packages, experiment by going to unexplored and lesser known places rather than the common tourist attractions. Perhaps,a walk through the bylanes of some countryside , will be more refreshing and easy on the pockets, than a hectic  tour itinerary, that ends up burning a hole through your pockets !

  5. ‘If you reject the food , ignore the customs , fear the religion and avoid people , you might better stay at home’ – JAMES MICHENER

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So, the next time you plan to visit a place, far from home , don’t forget to be a travel ‘smart’ !

Twenty years from now,you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.So throw off the bowliness,sail away from the safe harbour,catch the trade winds in your sails.EXPLORE- DREAM -DISCOVER’  – MARK TWAIN

HAPPY TRAVELLING 🙂 

”The word and the world -unfurled ”

Life has amazing ways of guiding us to do things…A few days back, i wouldn’t have imagined myself having my own blog or even thinking of starting one.But it all started a few days back,when i posted a poem of mine on facebook and a cousin of mine appreciating my work ,asked me if i blogged..’.BLOGGING’ !!! I have heard of it but never really given a serious thought about beginning one of my own.I am a travel person,and am married to a man who shares my passion for travelling,reading and writing too.In fact ,it  was my love to communicate,that got me into the teaching profession,where the more you express,verbally and through gestures,the closer you get to your students .But right now, acting the part of a fulltime mommy to my 3 and a half year old daughter,has made me take a break from teaching,atleast temporarily !!! I love being a mother and am thoroughly enjoying this period,watching the antics of my little one but now that she has begun school,i see this as a perfect time to give vent to my passion for writing and sharing my views on other things in life – travel and places,mommyhood experiences,movies,books and a lot more !!! ”Penlightenment” i felt ,would describe my blog,perfectly….the pen ,becoming the source of change – a change of perception,attitudes and mindset, wisening us and revolutionising our lives….

. ”As i sit on my chair,my thoughts wandering…;

The mind- a kaleidoscope of ideas and musings… ‘Penlightenment’ of the mind,heart and soul;

The ink flows on paper,into writings bold..

Then suddenly,the images ,whirled ;

oh …there it is!! the WORD and the WORLD,unfurled….

. ”   HAPPY READING ALL :)))