Thursday, August 16, 2007

The cry of our hearts...

O! Dispenser of India's destiny,

Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people;

Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha,

Dravida, Utkala (Orissa) and Bengal;

It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,

It mingles in the rhapsodies of the pure waters of Yamuna and the Ganga,

They chant only Thy name,

They sing only the glory of Thy victory,

They seek only Thy auspicious blessings;

The salvation of all people waits in Thy hands,

O dispenser of India's destiny,

Victory, Victory, Victory, Victory to Thee!


Thursday, August 9, 2007

For a legendary woman...!

Today’s Amma’s birthday!

She stepped into her mid forties…boy! she looks just as pretty as she was on her wedding day!

I’ve been thinking of writing on her for some time now. Every time, the thought crossed my mind, I’d wonder where to start from and end at…in the process, I’d almost unconsciously graze over the pastures of good old memories and get lost…this time, I thought I’d translate some of it into words, before I’m lost completely, one more time.

“You were like my handbag…I took you everywhere I went” she chuckled. “I spoke to you about almost everything and everyone…you were my best friend…my li’l doll!” the smile wouldn’t fade from her face, as she went on and on about how we did life together. I’m her first born. She had me when she was twenty two. And, at one, I became her best friend! Somehow, I like the ‘handbag’ metaphor better!

She always wanted her first child to be a girl. For the second and the third, she was neutral, she said. She was granted the desire of her heart- “You were dark and tiny, when you were born…I was told that it’s a girl and I wasn’t surprised…I always knew it…It was love at first sight…my vision was blurred…and I overheard someone say that u r unusually bluish dark…but, I loved my bundle of joy, blue or black!” (My body was back to normal fair complexion two hours later, except for my left elbow which, till date, remains dark!)

It is so true that when we reach a certain age, wisdom condescends to dawn on you, and you understand things a lot better. In my case, however, the time I took to see my mother’s heart was rather illegitimate!

Sometimes, Freudian theories seem to make sense to me. I wasn’t very fond of my mother when I was young…she was always in the background- the constant help in times of trouble, an active listener to my adventures at school (as I embarked on my non stop yapping, on coming home), a connoisseur of my non sense jokes- but, always taken for granted! My father was my hero. I loved him more than anyone else, looked up to him, and admired everything about him…I was proud to be Acha’s girl! I even took after him. "One look at you, and anyone would know this is Sunny’s daughter", people used to say.

As I entered my teens, Amma became close to a nuissance- to my mind, she was unreasonable and absolutely not understanding. When I seemed to lose my focus on studies and my mind started to wander (blame my age!!), she would sense it with unbelievable precision and would do the needful- that might be in the form of a gentle warning, a violent chiding, or a nasty look- she conveyed the message, nevertheless! Acha was understanding, I thought. He didn’t interfere much in my life. Later I realized, that was because he never ‘sensed’ me slip…it wasn’t the trust that he had in me, but the ignorance that made him seem more understanding than Amma!

“How much did Tom, Dick and Harry score?” would be Amma’s first question, when I came home with my marks for the unit test. She wasn’t interested in how well I fared. On a relative scale, if I did well, she was happy and nothing else could make her happy.

She was good at Math and I hated it (was terrible at it too!). When she taught me the subject, I’d end up fightin’ with her till she gave up on it!

I had to participate in every competition in town! I was good at singing, dancing, public speaking and writing…I used to do painting as well…and yes, I brought home many trophies and she still treasures all the certificates I piled up…

My mother was living her dreams through me…and it broke her heart if I were anything but the best. All that I considered small joys were big for her…I’m not justifying her. But with time, I matured and I knew why she was doing what she was doing…and I saw her heart!

A ‘certified’ brilliant student in school, all- rounder, ambitious enough to dream as big as becoming an I.A.S officer, graduated in Physics (and NOT in Botany/Zoology which are supposed to be ultra easy subjects, according to her!), got married at 20 before she left college, (the concept of marriage was sold to her on ‘solid’ grounds of her father being a heart patient, and her having a younger sister, the foolishness in letting go of the ‘good’ alliance that came her way, etc, etc), gave up the alternate dream of teaching as her husband thought it wasn’t good enough a career option, didn't pursue post graduation 'cos of unfavourable circumstances, had the first child at 22…had the next, while cherishing her first- hand motherhood…had the final one, two years later…by then, she had become a full-time regular labourer at home- Baby Sitter cum Tutor cum Chief Chef cum Private Secretary (to my father) cum HR Manager of the household- she owned a versatile career! She didn’t realize that she had made herself irreplaceable and hence, she hasn’t gotten promoted till now! – that’s Amma’s story!

As years passed by, I saw my mother grow. When she fell, she got up, dusted the dirt off her and continued to run! She forgot not to grab the scrolls of lesson every time she picked herself up! She doesn’t go hysteric when my brother comes home with an average score on his report card…she doesn’t have sleepless nights, when my sister does not come first in that solo singing competition…she doesn’t go beserk when I tell her I’m in love...she doesn’t question God’s love, when things don’t go the way they should...

When I look at Amma, I see my inspiration, my role model- the complete woman! She did revel in self pity and cried over spilt milk for some years…but, she grew past it, soon after. She is no super woman with accolades to her credit. But she brought up confident children who know that their self sufficiency comes from knowing God…she held her family close to her bosom and kept it warm when everything around it fell apart…she proved to the world that it is possible to defeat male chauvinism with sheer grace…she lived the vows of marriage by sticking to her husband in richness and poverty, in health and sickness…I can’t begin to list it all…she’s beginning to look more than a super woman to me!

“Amma, I haven’t told you as often as I should, that I love you…never have I told you that I’m proud of being your daughter, and I would strive to make you proud…For some strange reason, I’ve sincerely hoped that you wouldn’t find out that I have an irresistible instinct to jump with joy when someone says “U look exactly like Reji, especially that smile of yours!” I wonder how and when Acha’s replica began to look like you! I’ll never forget how you watched me from a distance as I scaled heights and came running to my rescue, when I tumbled down…I didn’t realize for a long long time, why it hurt you when I did…however fervently you’d like to dispute it, I know that I’m special to you…the first medal, the first salary, the first love- if things of this genre are special, the first baby ought to be special! After all, I’m your li’l handbag! God bless you, Amma! Happy Birthday!!”