Saturday, September 15, 2007

What do I do???

I teach the 7 yr old son of my maid as she cannot send him to school. The reason behind this is that her youngest son is too young to go to school and she cannot leave him alone when she comes out for work. So the eldest, the 7 year old son, has to stay home and take care of the youngest one. She cannot trust her kids with her husband as he is frequently inebriated.

Anyways, this son of my maid was coming with her every saturday to study. Today I was rejoicing that the boy had learnt to write 1, 2 and 3. But the joy was shortlived.

His mother was sitting with us while I was teaching him. I was asking him to randomly identify 1, 2 and 3 as he frequently mixes them up. He bent low to peer into the notebook and my mobile phone fell out of his pocket. His mother was shocked and asked him how he had got it. He stayed silent. I asked him how he had got it. He stayed shut. I asked him whether he has taken anything else. He said no. His mother started searching his pockets. I asked her not to do it and asked him to return anything that he may have picked up. The saddest part was when tears fell out of his mother's eyes as she said that "Bhabhi, you must have lost trust on me, na? You must be thinking that I had asked him to do this?" I chose not to reply and instead asked the boy whether he liked to see his mother cry. Then, his eyes also became wet and I forced him to face his mother and promise that he will not repeat this. I also warned him that if he does this again, I will stop teaching him.I don't know whether I should have given him another chance but it felt right at the time. Even though I don't want to admit it, I have started doubting his mother a bit too.

I don't know whether I was right in giving them a second chance....or whether I should have thrown both of them out right away.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Charity for a price?

This happened about 2 years back. I had noticed an animal ambulance running around the neighbourhood and had noted down the phone number. One day, unfortunately, I had to use it.

There was a stray dog in our locality with a badly hurt ear. Every night, it would howl and was in obvious pain. People, including my family, would curse it as a dog howling at night is thought to bring bad luck. I hated it. If anything, it was the dog who had a hard luck.

The poor dog would come as soon as someone got out of their homes. With his ear hurt, his head would be bent to one side and he looked menacing. But once I petted him, I realized that that was the only thing he wanted. When I could not bear it anymore, I called the number that I had seen on the ambulance.

The lady who answered noted down the address from where the ill dog needed to be picked up for treatment and then asked the magic question. "How much will you donate?"

I was taken aback. I asked her what she meant. She told me in no unclear terms that the charity does not run without money and they would come and pick the Dog but were expecting some donations. I told her that I will pay Rs. 250. She asked me whether I could make it a little higher. I said no. She told me that they would come and pick the dog the next day. And guess what? They never came.

A week later, a van from the Municipal Corporation arrived and took the dog away. He must have been put down soon afterwards.

I was shocked to know that Charity too comes at a high price. Why the hell do you call it a charity then?? Just be honest and declare that you run a paid service. It will be less disappointing that way.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Face-to-Face with human kindness

My Grandfather, Dr. Indramani Malhotra a.k.a. Indermani Shastri passed away at the very beginning of Uttarayana (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uttarayana), early morning of January 15th this year. So it was some days after Makar Sakranti when we went to Haridwar with almost the entire Malhotra clan. My father was offering the last prayers when we were strolling on the stairs on the banks of river Ganga and commenting upon the Hindu rites that cause a lot of non-biodegradable stuff being piously poured into the river Ganga.

A lot of kites were flying overhead, some just a few feets above the fast-flowing river. It was a beautiful sight, with the bright kites and their reflections in the clean water. It was very crowded with many people offering pooja's for the same purpose as us.

Apart from the pundits and the bereaved families, a few cows and a lot of monkeys were also lurking around. Monkeys were very aggressive and though they were afraid of coming down to the Pooja grounds, they were very noisy and grabbed any eatable that they could lay their hands upon.

We were enjoying this interesting chaos, when someone shouted aloud from the bridge a few meters away. It was a boy of 13 or 14 yrs who was shouting and pointing at something in the air. On following the direction where he was pointing, we noticed an eagle that was caught in a kite's twine and was being dragged towards the furious river. Struggling to break free, it touched the ice cold water and went in. A few seconds later, it bobbed up, still trying to get free. But soon it gave up the fight against the mighty river and flowed freely with the water.

We thought that it was gone when one man, about 25-30 yrs old, stripped down to his underwear and jumped inside the cold water. He swam with the flow and grabbed the unconscious eagle and brought him to the bank. He handed the eagle over to the main Pundit who disentangled the twine and wrapped the eagle in a dry towel.

Just then, all monkeys gathered on the tree under which the pundit was sitting holding the eagle, who was slowly reviving. He carried the eagle inside one of the small rooms to protect it from the mischievous monkeys. This was the last that I saw of this eagle, but I am sure that it must still be alive flying above the Holy river Ganga, aware of the fact that the humans below are looking after it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Transformation

Yesterday, my nephew, Nishant, became 4 months old. Ever since he was born, I have seen my sister change.

As usual, there have been wakeful nights, tiresome days, and unending baby demands. When the baby was not dirtying his nappies, he was crying for feed. After having his fill, he was again dirtying his nappies. No doubt it was tiring.

His sleep cycle keeps changing. When his parents are up, he is asleep and when they want to sleep, he wakes up. On the whole, it is very interesting.

I visited them on the last weekend. A visit to their place cheers me up a lot. So whenever I feel I could use some rest emotionally, I end up at their place.

Anyway, this time I saw something so beautiful that I realized that my sister is a new person altogether.

It was a busy day at their place and by the time my sister got some free time to take a bath, it was almost noon. After bathing Nishu, she put him to sleep and went to take her bath. She had just entered the bathroom when Nishu woke up and started crying out loud.

Didi's mother-in-law mixed Lactogen for Nishu and started feeding him. He was busy feeding when my sister rushed out of the bathroom. Apparently she had hurriedly finished her bath and was already sweating again by the time she was out of the bathroom.

When she entered the room, Nishu looked up at her while still feeding. I expected her to be atleast a liitle irritated. Instead her face glowed in a way I do not remember it ever. And then those magical words came out.

"My baby felt hungry again? Good, this is the way you will grow big," she said in a baby voice.

I don't know what struck me about this but it did make me realize that motherhood does bring out the best in a woman.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Poor, poor people!

As usual, we were stuck in a mini-jam at the red light near my office today morning. Me and my husband were looking around and making intellectual observations about things around while our car crawled through the traffic.

Down the road, some meters ahead of us, we noticed laborers pushing a cement-mixing machine on the side-walk. Those of you who know what I mean by a cement-mixing machine will picture it as a circular container suspended on bars with huge wheels. Cement along with other material is put inside this circular container and the container is rotated to mix the cement properly. It is not a light contraption; on the contrary, it seems quite heavy.

These laborers were moving quite fast. They were actually running behind the machine while pushing it with their hands. One laborer was pulling it from the front.

"I wonder why they are moving so fast," My husband wondered.

"They must be in a hurry," I suggested.

"But this machine must be heavy and difficult to move," he said, concerned.

"These guys do lead a tough life. After all this, they only earn a couple of thousand bucks in a month," I said.

"Yes. Sad, isn't it?"

"They work so hard to be able to provide two meals a day to their families." I said with pity.

I had already started sweating. It was a hot day. Mid of April was now much hotter than it used to be five years earlier. And we were still crawling.

The laborers were a bit farther now. They were still running with their checked dhotis* moving in tune with their running movements.

"It is so hot. They must be miserable," my husband carried on.

"Yes, true. No one does anything to help them. Their contractor does not provide an automobile that they can drive instead of pushing such a machinery," I mused.

"I feel so guilty of sitting in the car while people have to live such a life," my husband said, wiping sweat off his forehead.

It was getting stuffier inside the car now. It was hot and humid and the car was barely moving.

Then, gradually, the traffic started moving and our car also gained some speed. After a couple of minutes, we crossed the laborers and were forced to stop again as the traffic light turned red.

We turned around to look at them to be able to dwell on their misery.


The laborer pulling the contraption from the front was laughing at some joke that one of the laborers pushing the machine had obviously cracked. As we looked closely, we could see that all of them were laughing while still running and pushing the machine. They were oblivious to the people looking at them from their cars in wonder.

We turned around and sank into our sweaty world.

"It is so hot. I am glad we have the car." I grumbled.

* A long wrap-around garment for the lower body

Monday, April 16, 2007

Me?

Am I the Candle Flame
flickering with the assault of wind?
Or Am I the gust of wind
that in its path teases the candle flame?


Can you see me in the steps
that lead up to the home of Lord?
Or do I exist in the feet,
that tread their way up to divinity?


Can I be felt in the song
that wanders around the tall trees?
Or Am I the lonely lass
who meanders singing songs of love?


Am I the abundant nectar,
that finds its way into a butterfly's mouth?
Or am I the pretty insect,
That sighs in ecstacy with the sweet sip?


Do I travel with the light,
from the lamp of the fast moving train?
Or am I the black darkness,
chased by the train on its nightly tour?


Who am I?
Am I the one whose pen,
has overflown with these words?
Or Am I the one whose eyes
devour each word as they move from top to bottom?

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