Monday, October 14, 2013

A View From Five Ft No Inches

A humble exaggeration, a harmless lie, a saving grace- call it as you please. For a little 'truth-less-ness' at the beginning of this scribble should not annoy you. Yes, I'm not five feet tall-that is if five feet is at all tall!

I was born with genes hard to pull and a lineage not very proud of having 'scaled heights.' Yet I had a determined mother who had decided to battle the the wrath of God and 'pull' me out of the injustice hurled by Him on our entire clan. And thus grew my story 'inch by inch.'

Just days after I set foot into this world, began elaborate sessions of oil massages- sesame and apricot, the right proportions of castor and almond; not to forget granny's practice of using 'ghee' from a lone cow's milk. It was all done, coupled with the right movements of fingers and hands for not less than three long years. But it was too early to predict and efforts could not stop at this. From bournvita to horlicks, skipping ropes to high jumps- nothing was spared, neither was I! The most tedious task was the tip-toed morning walk from one end of the room to the other with my hands out-stretched to the sky almost in pleading. Lengths of iron rods across the doors of the house, basket ball sessions and homeopathy wonder pills- you name it and I did it. But I grew faster in years than in inches. With her efforts seeming all in vain, what added to my mother's woes were the constantly rocketing heights of cousins and friends. She was never spared without a tip or two-"Try giving her bananas on an empty stomach" or "Why don't you help her with works wonders!" To top it all was the perpetual concern of a maternal aunt who thought I would never find a all this the only person I pitied was my mother, for reasons so obvious.

Between all this my certain short stature never bothered me except on a few hilarious occasions. While in school I was once enthusiastically preparing to audition for the beautiful "Snowhite and the Seven Dwarfs." Needless to say I dreamt of being Snowhite, only to be dismayed by my selection as the seventh dwarf!

By the time I was out of my teens, my mother had invested too much in me and probably accepted her defeat at the hands of my genes. However, one can never underestimate the will power of a woman. She went on to try the very same formulas( along with a few others she had garnered with experience and time) on my younger sibling. And this time she did succeed. My sister happens to be an inch taller than me.

With time I had multiple experiences with my height- being pulled out of dance performances, being adjusted and re-adjusted in choirs to being given a children's ticket at a fun fact, there were many an imbroglio that made my life a fabulous roller coaster.Of course my due apologies to those who really  fretted over my height but believe me all their concerns were well taken and God did listen to some of them. My aunt for one could heave a sigh of relief for I eventually did find a groom.

As for me, this matter bothered me only as much as it could have bothered both Napoleon and Tendulkar. If I ever stood troubled, it was only in the kitchen trying to get a pan from the top shelf. My mother does keep calling with tips to pull up my tiny tots....she has ample examples of genes gone wrong.

And at last for all those who stand as tall as me, a gentleman once asked me, "How does the world look from five ft no inches?"

I simply replied, "As beautiful as ever!"

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Every Woman in Me


I had a fun day today.
A movie, some shopping and all you please,
yet my mind is just not at peace.

My heart is heavy
trepidations many.
I was shot down today
for speaking my mind.
Threatened by me
some men failed to see
my love for humanity.

Some others tore me apart
for wine or lust
(hard to say in order what)
weighed heavy.
And I paid the price
for boarding a bus
late in the night.

Humiliated in death and life
I wonder
how to survive.
For my prowess on the tennis ground
wasn't enough
to make some proud.
They mocked at my physicality
huge and loud,
I pity him
who drops a jaw
at mortal beauty!

I'm not a Sushmita, a Nirbhaya or a Bartoli
and yet they are me
and I am thee.

A chapati maker(sigh)
trying to rise above shopping sprees,
there's ire and fire within me.
I am every woman
and every woman is me.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The First Goodbye

It was not the only time and certainly not the first one. Yet,as I bid goodbye to my younger one on her first day to kindergarten, my heart skipped many a beat. My son, now seven, raised quite an objection as he recalled how apathetically he had been pushed into formal schooling at a much tender age. Sibling jealousy is not new to me. I myself have witnessed, or so I feel, unfair treatment, being the elder one in the family. The perks, privileges and pampering are not for us. But here I was,with all my personal experiences way behind me, helpless yet determined to send a two and a half year old to school.

Infact it was quite a battle-deciding the grade of my little one. Playgroup or nursery-while the school recommended nursery for her age,the mother in me could only agree to playgroup. It would be unfair to burden those tiny shoulders with the insipid sleeping and standing lines. I'll not indulge into comparisons with my "genius" son (reason cited by me) who had finished nursery before he was three!

So, the unavoidable journey began. The little girl did all that was needed-she howled and screamed, clung on to me and refused to let me go until I firmly pushed back her hands and rushed out of the gate leaving her to the care of the school staff. But not to tread back home. I spend the next two hours on the road right outside, so that I could be available at the shortest notice, if need be. This became a routine of sorts putting all my other chores to hold until the principal finally told me to send her off in the school van and wait at home for her to be dropped back. It was a difficult decision, finally taken.

However, this did not reduce the complexity of the situation back home. When all the pleading and cajoling with me failed, my daughter turned to her father, who assured her that she wouldn't be sent to school. only to her dismay he was already off to work before she woke up the next morning. and her mother was relentless. While she failed to settle down with the idea, there was another heart rending experience added to my kitty. My cuckoo bird suddenly became "papa's doll"-from now on only her father could feed her,play with her and put her to sleep. Mommy was the quintessential enemy who sent her to school. Those few days that she chose to be thus, I felt a queer vacuum, a loneliness I don't remember having experienced ever before. I would fiddle with her little fingers after she slept wanting to pull her close to me but didn't do so from fear of disturbing her sleep. And so passed a few more days and I continued to send her to school.

Now its been a month since we started this journey called kindergarten. Yes, my daughter continues to go to school.She jumps around the house waiting eagerly for her van, joyfully recalls the events at school, sings rhymes for all of us and once again she tells me to feed her, to play with her and to put her to sleep! I still say 'goodbye' to her each morning, but it certainly does not have the pangs of the 'first goodbye'.