Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On the highway

It's amazing how the sights and sounds
you attempted to capture in the day
change character when darkness descends

The trees, the ponds and wells
ancient temples and sprawling churches
paddy fields and pools of water
coconut trees and a cloud-laden sky
bananas, apples and oranges hanging from ramshackle roofs
newest cars parked inside sprawling bungalows
school children with neatly combed hair, backpacks and eyes that light up when they see the camera
tiny courtyards of little houses;
dark, mysterious interiors that hold secrets of lives like yours and mine
disappear into thin air,
replaced by rows after rows of houses and shops; indistinguishable, continuous,
lit so bright that you can see inside;
the man in a mundu, seated on the floor watching television, lights dancing on his hairy chest,
a boy kneeling in front of the altar, looking upwards, palms joined...
temples look like haunted houses, the sky dark and starless, 
bright red flags of the communists
triangles and rectangles, on strings and poles,
blend with the road 
appearing briefly when a speeding vehicle's light reflects on them -
less menacing, subdued and almost subservient...

It is true  
somethings die and somethings come to life
when darkness descends on the highway

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Blood Moon, Chizhik-Pyzhik and I

Diwali cleaning always manages to throw up some surprises. Every year while cleaning up I find remnants of the year gone by, a dress I bought which has now become loose, one part of a favourite earring, old clippings, older memories and some fresh perspectives.

It is when I sat down to clean up my silver jewellery case that I came across the Chizhik-Pyzhik. Locket on a black thread, it jumped up at me surreptitiously, the tiny little object, nudging me along a series of memories I had kept locked away.

That was three nights ago.

I lost fitful sleep that night. Couldn't rest. Tossed and turned. This way. That way. Sudden bouts of indigestion took over; it happens to me when I am anxious. Woke up feeling tired, unsure, a bit unhappy, a bit sad and very confused.

In the morning sometime I saw a notification from a friend on Facebook who'd written about her own restless night, as her thoughts filled her with anxiety, revelations and aspirations. This is what she wrote:

It's known as the Blood Moon....Chaotic endings and transformable beginnings? Total Lunar Eclipse on 8th Oct 2014. Times of change, often preceding natural or man-made cataclysms as predicted by astrologers, that major events will occur in the world and in our personal lives, revealing things unknown and bringing situations to a climax or critical point. So its time for radical shifts, changes, endings and new beginnings in our personal and collective lives. Intense and possibly highly emotions that will trigger and push everything to the edge and beyond. So I am trying to look at this positively..... god, please give me strength and patience during this time, to harness the tremendous energy available to us for transformation for the highest best for myself and my place in this Universe. This is a perfect time to become a witness and watch yourself and your emotions and an opportunity to change the way you react to the World and reinvent yourself.....

‘This full moon and eclipse triggers a two week time frame of revolutionary intensity that can either propel you into radical transformation or have you falling off the three-legged stool. Your ability to pay attention, and to stay focused and present while also allowing yourself to grab the power of the storm, will be key to staying firmly on the stool’.

I wrote to her about my experience to which she responded, "Sensitive people will feel it the most."

It is night number 3 today and somehow I feel like I am falling off the three-legged stool.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Backseat Conversations

A: "Mom I have a request for when I turn 18."

Me: "Yeah?"

A: "I want to sign a paper that will donate my organs to someone if I die in an accident or something."

Most times I don't know where these thoughts come from. But these are just a few of those moments when he leaves me stumped and speechless. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Silver Lining

Some days are like this.

Its a Sunday but you've been working since the moment you woke up. You don't feel bad about it because the children have also buried their noses in their books.

There's a fabulous gig in town and you've no one to go with. The good thing is that there is a superb wine chilling in your fridge that you've been meaning to drink for a long time.

The glass of wine you pour for yourself spills before you can take the first sip. Thankfully, it hasn't spilled on your laptop.

The entire room stinks of wine, you may have to crank the window open to let the smell out. Thankfully you don't do it and the smell of the wine ensures you a blissful sleep.

Why aren't more days like this?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Every time you go away


Jokes and laughter
Advises and instructions
Tight hugs
Wet kisses
A Goodbye


Huddled hugs
Profusion of tears
Momentary Peace

Every time you go away, you take pieces of us with you....

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Change Agent in my Family

"I know why people throw their girls on the streets."


"Its because when they have to get married, their parents have to spend a lot of money on them because the man or the groom asks them for very expensive gifts that the family cannot afford. That is why people throw their girls because they think that they will be useless and only money will be spent on their marriage."

"How can you change it?"

"By not asking for anything when I get married. Its good to buy things by yourselves when you're an adult because you feel more responsible that you can do things by yourself."

Last week we visited a NGO that supports underprivileged children and their mothers and A noticed that there were no boys, only girls there.

When I told him that it is because girls need more help, we had the conversation quoted verbatim above.

Proud mommy today!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Look

I ponder over the look
that didn't exist
Or did it...

The song he chose
was as harmless
as his accidental touch
Or was it...

The conversation ebbed
replaced by a comfortable silence
though our hearts were in a tizzy
Or were they...

His unabashed invitation
adulation, appreciation, adoration
were sincere and honest
Or were they..

I still ponder over the look
that didn't exist
Or did it...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Its Goodbye

And when it is the end of the road, the signs become all too clear...

You're removed from social media, and then from their phones, and then from their lives. Gone. In three easy steps.

But this time, I am prepared. I am not bitter or upset. Nor angry. I am pursuing my karma and in doing so if I have to let go, then so be it.

Its goodbye my dear cuz, until our paths cross again.. Godspeed!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Picture on the Wall

Its amazing how we can overlook something every day and one day, as we lie in bed, we 'see' it.

The picture on the wall....

A vacation we took when we were still very young
and very much in love,
when it meant so much to travel together
that we almost always shared a berth,
even on empty trains

We are sitting on a beach in your home town,
I'm smiling coyly as I lean towards you
You're looking straight at the camera,
your impish, bare-all-teeth smile that I first fell for,
apart of course from your deadly good bod :-)

A time when I was the young bride
eager to please
wearing an Indian outfit, a 'bottu' on my forehead,
though I drew the line at the flowers in my hair
and the rice on the plate, with curd and a banana

Our first years together, long rides in the rain
games of scrabble and a wok full of fettuccini
Or the poetry of John Donne
that I insisted on reading to you
stopping only to share a kiss

Im not a pleaser any more
and you're more mature and certain...
In 19 years, much has changed
Yet, much remains unchanged
like the picture on the wall

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Really Wrong Turn

A girl being grabbed by lascivious men on a bus — sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it? But this girl is not Nirbhaya (as she was christened by the Indian media), the 23-year-old student who was brutally gang-raped and murdered in Delhi in December 2012.

This particular girl is in a photoshoot called ‘The Wrong Turn’, and she’s wearing some high-fashion clothes and accessories, in a stylised setting (which happens to be a bus), while men with near-perfect bodies paw at her.

Even if you haven’t seen the photos from this fashion shoot by photographer Raj Shetye, the image that’s conjured up in your mind would undoubtedly sicken you as you invariably make the connection between the gang-rape incident and this depravity that’s being referred to as “art” by Shetye.

The photographer claims that he came up with the concept long before the Delhi incident, but happened to shoot it recently. Here is another man who refuses to consider the impropriety of his creative idea less than two years after the entire world woke up to the brutality that young woman had endured at the hands of her perpetrators, and takes refuge under “art” and “creativity”.

Much like those companies with deep pockets but clearly shallow souls who allow their marketing experts to use women to sell deos for men, underwear for men, motorbikes and such, Shetye probably just wanted publicity and found the perfect method to get it.

As women we are fed up of such ‘creative’ expressions and sick of men (or women) with such ‘artistic’ inclinations that endorse and perpetuate gender biases, that treat women as commodities and that glamorise acts of violence.

Shetye deserves all of our collective condemnation and a complete boycott of all his works, past, present and future. Let artists be aware of lines of propriety, decency and humanity before resorting to such expressions of creativity.

This post first appeared on www.e-she.in

Friday, August 1, 2014


the other side of the bed
felt empty

Your slanted body
arm tucked under your head
the quilt wrapped around your torso

When I opened my eyes
that was the sight
I'd expected to see

I reached out
but the sheet was cold
the pillows in place

Don't know yet
if it's you I miss
Or miss "us"
the way we used to be

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Spending time with our Parents

When my mother-in-law passed away a few years ago, the primary feeling, as we drove towards the town in Andhra where she'd lived the last few years of her life, was one of helplessness. My husband, not very communicative, has never expressed his true feelings upon the demise of amma but I do know, the feeling of not having spent enough time with her, of not having had the chance to say goodbye...these feelings were predominant in his mind.

About two years ago, a very dear friend lost his father to cancer.... He was due to visit his father just the day before the demise and suddenly, it was too late. He felt a deep sense of regret and remorse, for not "being" there...

For those of us, who live away from our parents and loved ones, in other cities, or other parts of the world, the 'fear' of losing a parent, of not being able to say goodbye, is a real one. It multiplies over time, as we watch our once formidable parents, age little by little...losing the "My Daddy/Mommy Strongest" title, and turning into frail beings. 

Calling them "elderly" was the first step I took towards the recognition that my parents were ageing.

And so we do what little we can, in their twilight years - not just for them, but more I feel, for ourselves.

We spend more time flying home to them to tend to them when they fall ill. There was a time when we HAD to move - to another town, another city, another country, as our dreams awaited us. They were young and capable of looking after themselves, and it was they, after all, who taught us to chase our goals!

We spend more time talking to them over the phone; some calls are just periods of silence, yet we don't hang up. There was a time when we would not even call once a week - "Too busy, too much work, too tied up, too bored (what will we talk about?/we talk the same stuff every time!)"

We now spend more time discussing their health, trips to the doctor, medication advices etc. There was a time when their concern for our health would irritate us; "Yes maa I will eat on time...don't worry.... You don't know HOW much I have to study!"

We never miss a festival; we fly home and make sure the whole "family" (our siblings and their spouses and children) gets together. There was a time when making a trip 'home' for a festival meant taking leave from work, and having to compromise on a holiday with the spouse and kids; then, the choice had been easy.

It isn't so today.

Some days when I hear my mother's exhausted voice on the other end of the line, I know its not enough. It breaks my heart, because my choices in life and many other circumstances took me away from 'home' since I turned 16. 

But I also know that we can never make up for lost time. We can only reach out and do as much as we can today. 

And hope as hell that we can live with that knowledge long after they're gone.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Azra Tabassum

"Kiss her. Slowly, take your time, there’s no place you’d rather be. Kiss her but not like you’re waiting for something else, like your hands beneath her shirt or her skirt or tangled up in her bra straps. Nothing like that. Kiss her like you’ve forgotten any other mouth that your mouth has ever touched. Kiss her with a curious childish delight. Laugh into her mouth, inhale her sighs. Kiss her until she moans. Kiss her with her face in your hands. Or your hands in her hair. Or pulling her closer at the waist. Kiss her like you want to take her dancing. Like you want to spin her into an open arena and watch her look at you like you’re the brightest thing she’s ever seen. Kiss her like she’s the brightest thing you’ve ever seen. Take your time. Kiss her like the first and only piece of chocolate you’re ever going to taste. Kiss her until she forgets how to count. Kiss her stupid. Kiss her silent. Come away, ask her what 2+2 is and listen to her say your name in answer."

- Azra Tabassum, 20 year old "hopeless romantic", author of "Shaking The Trees"...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

a different me

"Shit him out" said she
knowing how to anxiety I react
rumbles in my innards
escalated heartbeat
in and out, in and out
of the "ladies room"...

this is a different me


this is a different me


this is a different me

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lucky man Hugh Jackman!

I wasn't very keen on watching the X-Men movie that was released a few months ago, I recall. I had asked the children to go with their friends and save me the bother of sitting through a couple of hours of watching a movie full of blood and gore (or so I thought).

The children, insistent on showing me the 'glory' of the X-Men, begged and eventually I relented.

As I type this I am so glad that I did.

And not just because I enjoyed the movie. 

It was during the scene where Magneto drives metal rods into Wolverine that the son and I heard sobbing sounds emanating from our left. Through the darkness of the cinema and the rather cumbersome 3D glasses, we saw that it was my daughter, his older sister who was crying as she watched Hugh Jackman cringe in pain and die (of course, not for ever, but for the moment.)

As we stepped out of the cinema, son discussed the movie excitedly (as is the norm - we just HAVE to discuss the details of the films we watch), she started tearing up again. 

I looked at her and said, "C'mon, its just a movie, baby!"

She nodded and wiped her tears, hiding her face away from other passers by.

We descended the three flights of stairs and got into the car and the son I realised by now, had understood that his sister was getting emotional at the mention of the particular scene began thus, "Mom, the scene where Magneto tries to kill Wolverine..."

Before he could complete, she was crying again.

I saw her from the rear view (I was driving and the children were seated behind), I shushed her and almost chided her. "Its just a movie!"

"But I love him!" she said, exasperated, while her rather emboldened brother laughed and started again... "Mom, that scene..."

Sighing I started the car as one continued to sob and the other, giggle.

We were headed to a restaurant for dinner and hours later, we thought the "pain" of watching her idol die (but not really die) would have abated. We were clearly mistaken when we saw tears rolling down her face as son excitedly explained the plot to someone who had joined us for the meal.

Oh Hugh Jackman, dear man... Do you have any clue that there's a fan here in faraway India who can't even bear to see you die even though you emerge alive three scenes later? 

You're one lucky man if my daughter's shedding her precious tears on you! One lucky man!!!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A lost Bf and a friendship

A message that brought back a flood of memories; of shared passion for music and books, of innocent teenage years, of gifts galore, of long chats on the phone, of stolen kisses...

When I wrote back to him, I knew that we would meet - after all that we'd shared when I was 16 and he 21 - a lunch date to catch up on the lost years of conversation and happenings in our lives was a given.

Today, we met.

Like long lost friends.

There was no discomfort.

My anxiety vanished the minute I saw him and we started talking.

We spoke about our lives. And when the conversation veered to books, and music, we were 16 and 21 again.

Thats the magic of friendship!

As we departed, he turned to me and said, "I often wondered what happened to you... Now I know.."

So here's to celebrating the return of a boyfriend from yore!

Friday, July 18, 2014

What do YOU mean when you say "I owe you"?

An innocuous word, "Owe" means different things to different people.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Owe as - "Have an obligation to pay or repay (something, especially money) in return for something received"

I have a problem with the way this word is used and abused, especially amongst friends.

When you do something for a friend, are you seeking a return favour? An owing? Like a debt that may be needed to be repaid?

When did friendships become a transaction?

I did something for you my friend because because I wanted to do it. Because we are friends. We have a relationship based on mutual respect and admiration. I did it because you're a fellow human, and because it was within my capacity to do it.

I didn't do it because I expected something in return, least of all a gushing "I owe you".

Often when I have done something, the 'better' people have responded with a genuine Thank You.

Often these are the people who understand me more as a person who does things because she can. Its just as simple as that.

I have a problem with this word, because over the years, my friends who say an "I owe you" when in the throes of excitement, forget it sooner than the turn of the tide.

I have a problem with people who resort to fanciful recompenses that they will neither remember nor have the capability to fulfil.

I have a problem with such people who cannot understand or appreciate my inner being and choose to use my random act to turn it into some sort of a "favour".

I have a problem with such untruths.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Backseat Conversation July 2014

Sometimes I think that the son is quick witted. At other times, well, he's just honest.

Daughter: "Mama, you know our neighbour is pregnant and A thought that she's become fat."

A: "Of course mama! You don't know but she eats a lot."

O H K A Y!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Who knows you best? Your child, of course!

Son's new friend comes home for the first time and is surprised that our pet Beagle is quite docile.

"Your dog doesn't bark?" he asks.

"Not really," comes the prompt reply.

"I have a ferocious dog at home," reveals the friend.

"Wow, really? What breed is it?"

"Its called a German Shepherd."

"Oh okay... Any way, he can't come to my home, or else he will have to deal with my mother."

Both nod in agreement.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Where do I go?

Where do I go?

I have a daughter to raise
A life to live
Dreams to be fulfilled

I want to soar
to party till late, and travel the world
and go for a run at 11 pm when I want to just..run...
I want her to wear what she wants
want her to fly
and feel like a 'person' not a 'girl'
everywhere she goes..

I want freedom
For her and for me

Where do I go?

The streets are not safe
Women, girls and even little babies
Are being raped
night and day

Will she be safe even with a male friend?
Will she be able to fight the lascivious species that pose as men?
Will she, the sweet mannered child that she is,
comprehend the sickness of the mind
whose hand's groping her bum
or squeezing a boob
on public transportation
or inside that sanctum where we went to find God?

Where do I go
to find us a safe haven
far away from this deranged,
uncivilised world?

Where do I go
To raise a happy girl
who blossoms into a happy woman
And learns to trust and love

Where in this whole goddamned world do I go?

*Total disgust and disillusionment with the way the female kind is treated across the world made me ramble so...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Since Gopinath Munde's death has brought Road Accidents into focus

Yesterday a Union Minister and a stalwart in Indian politics, Gopinath Munde lost his life in a road accident. He was seated behind in his car, but wasn't wearing a seat belt. The impact of the crash caused massive internal injuries to which he succumbed within hours of the accident.

His untimely and sad demise has brought the fatalities of India's roads and the lack of respect by the common Indian for road rules and the law into sharp focus. Twitter was abuzz as Indians lamented the lack of safety on our roads and the losses of lives every single day. 

In terms of numbers, more people die in India in road accidents than anywhere else in the world!

"National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in the year 2011 there were 440,123 road accidents resulting in the death of 136,834 people. The incidence of accidental deaths increased by 44.2% in 2011 from 2001. This figure translates into one death every five minutes on Indian roads and is expected to escalate to one death every three minutes by 2020."
Source: www.livemint.com

Those statistics are horrifying considering that we spend a substantial part of our day commuting to and from work, battling the vagaries of weather and nightmarish traffic.

The problem of increasing road accidents and resulting deaths in India is not just due to the quality of roads. If the number of deaths occurring in accidents on highways and large cities is anything to go by, poor roads are a tiny cause of the deaths

Whether you're a two wheel rider or behind the wheels of a four wheeler, if you're the kind who follows traffic rules (doesn't overtake from the left, gives those going straight the right of way etc.) you will understand that the intrinsic problem with the traffic situation in India, and those directly or indirectly responsible for the huge numbers of deaths on our roads are INDIANS. 


It is us.

Those Indians who don't follow road rules or traffic laws and those who standby and watch (or worse still, drive away) when an accident occurs. 

The other morning, as is customary on my return from the gym at about 730am, I stopped at a traffic signal because it was Red. I was showing utter disregard to fellow commuters, quite obviously, for a few cars stopped behind me, honked a few times to let their disdain be known (Why is this driver WAITING? There is no traffic at this hour!) or those that zipped off from the left of my lane, the drivers actually turned back to "look" at this really "stupid driver"!

While I sat there singing aloud to the music playing in my car, I saw a motorbike in my side view hesitate for a nano second before its rider chose to cross the junction, while the signal was still red. I didn't think much of it, for when you're riding a Bullet you do tend to be a bit of a risk taker, (even if you're wearing a helmet like this rider was) and if you live in a city like Pune, you've pretty much accepted that road rules are NOT for us Puneris...

To my horror, however, as he crossed my car, I saw that there was a little boy, all of 8 or 9 riding pillion, clinging on to the shirt of the rider, his legs barely reaching the foot stand on either side. This child, clearly out on a joy ride with daddy or uncle it being summer holidays and all, was in grave danger, and the adult responsible for his safety (who I might repeat was wearing a helmet to save his own head incase of an accident) was recklessly endangering him!

If they were to get into an accident (with a vehicle coming from the road where the signal was 'green') who would be blamed? The roads? The traffic? Or the PERSON behind the Wheel???

This is not an isolated episode and neither is such carelessness restricted to two wheel riders. Cars break rules with as much impunity as trucks and buses. Heck, cop cars also break rules often!

Look around you when you're driving (and not breaking a rule yourself) you will find that traffic offences - reckless overtaking, jumping traffic signals, not giving way, not understanding "right of way", overcrowding (on scooters and in auto rickshaws), speeding, zig zag driving, talking on your mobile phone, not wearing the seat belt, standing on the zebra crossing, instead of behind it or allowing underage children to drive - are endemic to us and I daresay, our "Indianness".

For we would not DARE break the laws of another country with such carelessness. 

It has something to do with the lack of implementation of laws (which includes exacting penalties from errant drivers), which to me, is a stupid reason to be irresponsible on the road because eventually the very people who break the laws are also the ones who have to bear the brunt of it... 

It also has something to do with our "Bhagwan/Ram bharose" attitude that coupled with the belief in destiny and karma make us feel invincible ("Its not my time yet").... 

But most of all, it has to do with our lack of respect for another human being, who may end up bearing the brunt of our recklessness.

Like Shri Gopinath Munde.

Or the scores of others who have lost their lives because one driver thought "Hey, its 6 am... Who's going to cross this junction at this hour!!! Screw the light... Im in a rush" and kaboom!

We blame the roads, (too wide, too easy to speed on, no speed breakers), and instead of looking inwards where the problem really lies, we look to blame something and make even more terrible rules... So we reduce driving speeds on highways and expressways, little realising that the people who 'speed' are responsible for their actions and no amount of government regulation or law is going to make them stop speeding, or in turn stop accidents. 

Worse still we fail to implement existing laws (such as helmets in Pune) and look the other way terming it the 'choice' of the commuter sending wrong signals to an adrenalin driven generation thats driving faster and fancier vehicles on our roads. We don't monitor the process of issuing driver's licenses and on the other hand, as applicants think nothing of bribing someone to get what we want, whether we are good drivers or not.  

Its time to accept that its not our roads that are completely unsafe. The problem lies with us. We are not safe for others on our roads.

Postscript: Last night a friend and I stopped to help an accident victim (biker) in Pune. A few good samaritans had stopped before we'd reached the spot, looked through his mobile phone and placed a call to his family after they'd called the cops and asked for an ambulance. As he lay there bleeding from his head, the delay in the arrival of the ambulance and cops' apathy was shocking, making my friend exclaim, "God forbid you're in a road accident in India..." 

We don't know if he was a hit and run or what happened to him after hospitalisation, but I can't shed the feeling that it must have been "someone like us; an irresponsible driver like us..."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The H word beats the C word hands down!

Suddenly Cancer is everywhere. The disease, not the Sun sign. Please forgive this hopeless attempt at humour in a post that I wish could camouflage what I want to say. But it can't because its very second word is the dreaded C word - the disease that brings images of gaunt, sickly bodies and hairless heads to our minds.

So, yes, suddenly Cancer is everywhere. I've met more people who have been impacted either directly or indirectly by the C word in the past few months than I had ever before.

Today Pune Mirror carried a story that said Bollywood actor Emran Hashmi's 4 year old has a malignant tumour in his kidney that is being treated in Canada. Four years old!

The other day I was at an event organised by a cancer centre and at the dessert counter I bumped into a lady whose son is best buddies with mine. We would often meet each other when our boys were younger, and when we lived in the same housing complex. Two years earlier we'd moved and then I meet her, out of the blue, in the most unexpected of places. After exchanging pleasantries I asked her what she was doing at the event. She smiled and replied, "I am Dr K's patient." Dr K runs the centre and is a renowned Onco-surgeon from Pune.

I was shocked, still am. All I could tell her was "I never knew!" She went on to tell me that she is fine now, had had 8 chemo sessions before she'd beaten the dreaded C, and was at the event to express solidarity with other 'survivors.'

Then she asked me, "What are you doing here?"

I said, "I am here to express solidarity too. My daughter's classmate, 14 years old had a tumour in her abdomen which was recently removed. I am here with her parents."

And that really is the story of my post on this day - 4th February - which I later got to know is World Cancer Day. 

My daughter's classmate and bestie D, a perfectly healthy, happy and regular teen suddenly developed a fever on New Year's eve. Two weeks later she had a horrible stomach ache which turned out to be a malignant tumour that weighed 4.8 kilos. 

From May last year when she had taken a scan of her abdomen for a menstruation issue to January this year, this tumour had appeared and grown faster and bigger than a baby grows in the womb in nine months. 

After I visited her at the hospital when she was first admitted and discovered the gravity of the 'growth' in her tummy, I came home shell-shocked. Couldn't sleep the night knowing that this little girl, this child, was to be operated upon to remove the cancerous tumour and that the dreaded chemo would follow.

My faith in God was shaken. 

There was no reason, not one single reason that could convince me why a happy, normal girl, who had a normal and happy childhood had to be put through such trauma. 

I questioned His sense of right and wrong... His lack of conscience... Justice... Humanity... Lamented the loss of Innocence... The utterly unnecessary baggage of the C word... The trauma... 

Today I visited her at the hospital where she is back for the chemotherapy. Watching her brave the pain of the continuous drips was heart rendering. Worse still was knowing that this is the beginning of  the inevitable loss of hair, that to a teen means much more than it does to us.

But today I saw it. More clearly than I have for the past three weeks as I have interacted closely with her parents; giving support, logistical help in whatever tiny way I can and more than all else, trying to understand how a dad and mom keep themselves sane in the face of such catastrophe.

Today I saw what keeps them going. 

Its H O P E. 

In these three weeks I have learned more lessons in courage and faith than I have in my entire life. 

The laughter that resonates through the room as someone invariably cracks a joke, is real, not contrived. 

The happiness on the face of D as another bottle of the ghastly medicine reaches its last drop, is the happiness of success. And of victory. 

The smiles we share as we watch D imitate her classmates and the doctor are straight from the heart, knowing that she has the fortitude to see this through; because she can smile despite the pain.

The ease with which they discuss the entire medical process, in plainspeak, without resorting to hyperbole, is indicative of the strength they've gained from acceptance and reconciliation.

Her hands are bruised, but her spirit isn't. Her hair may go, but I know her confidence won't. Her fight will end, and she will go back to being the regular teen, but somewhere, something would have changed forever, and something tells me that it will have been for the best.

Maybe that's why I am not so angry with Him today.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why infidelity is a double-edged sword

Sunanda Tharoor died. While the actual cause of death is still unknown, what is known is that she was distraught at her husband’s seeming indiscretion. She was heartbroken at his infidelity; he was paying attention to another woman, and in a way that she assumed was detrimental to her marriage.

So she did what many women in her situation would do – confront the perpetrators (her husband and the lady in question); only in this case she did it on social media. The world got to know that something was amiss and although the diplomatic husband later issued a statement that everything was fine with their marriage, the seeds of suspicion had been planted.

Ask any marriage counsellor or psychologist and you will know that when confronted with the shock of a cheating spouse human beings react in similar ways. First there is anger, then there are emotional outbursts, followed by grief, sadness and lastly, action – either the partner chooses to reconcile or seek separation/divorce.

Sunanda Tharoor seemed to have gone through every stage, and almost just as systematically during a very short span of time. At the end of it, she died.

Her husband Shashi Tharoor is distraught and rightfully so. He has lost his wife, friend, companion and lover. While the world can speculate about his alleged affair, the fact of the matter is that Tharoor is as much a loser in this situation as Sunanda was.

Infidelity is a double-edged sword and neither party can get out of it unscathed.

The partner whose spouse cheats on them feels an immense sense of loss – of trust and of the partner ‘you loved and married’. The fear of financial crisis, the complication of children (and the effect this has on them, their future), the shock, the hurt, the anger and the obsession “is he/she with her right now?” can be all consuming. Overcoming infidelity is not impossible but it is a slow and intense process that requires both partners to show commitment to their relationship.

The partner who cheated, on the other hand, does not get away scot-free. A one night stand, a fling, or even a long standing affair becomes a bitter pill to swallow, especially if they never ‘intended’ to hurt their spouse by their actions.

In many cases of infidelity, the cheating partner is unable to let go of their life ‘as they know it’, the children and their home; the comfort of their surroundings and even the spouse they cheated on. Whether they cheat out of disinterest in their marriage, or merely for fun, their carelessness causes their lives to get disrupted as well. When children are involved, there is a huge price to pay.

We may never know the reality of the Tharoor saga. Did he actually have the affair? Did he intend leaving his wife? Was he in love? 

The bottom line remains, that something happened and it has resulted in the death of a fine woman.

May God grant Shashi Tharoor the courage to live with that!

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Is it important that the people you meet, the people you have brief encounters with must mean something to you? 

Like an important element in your quest for truth, like the interactions that answer all your questions about living, life, happiness and peace, like finding that one person who sets the example of what you might want to become ?????? 

Or can all your travels, your journeys be just about the joy of doing it - without an inner or a hidden meaning, without becoming the answer to your quest - either for truth or happiness? 

Why is it that I need a "reason" to do what I am doing? 

Can I not travel without thinking that I may gain something at the end of it? 

Can my travel not be for a purpose other than the purpose of the sheer joy I could get being happy - without a rhyme or a reason, without a purpose, without thinking that I HAVE to be happy because of where I am, without even hoping that the journey I am making brings me anything more than a good night's sleep, not happiness or peace or even satisfaction.  Maybe the journey brought me more turmoil, more sadness or more craziness. Does it mean that it served its purpose? Or am I too conditioned - to strain myself to look for a meaning, a direction or an indication for every single thing I do? 

Can not the joy of doing nothing also be a joy?