It’s almost twenty one years since Appa left us. He left home never to return back when a tragic accident snatched him away from us .When a hale and hearty , lovable , one’s hero , a very active person suddenly leaves us it’s very very difficult to digest and come to terms with the sudden loss .
Two decades ago I was not even aware that something called ” father’s day” is celebrated world wide.
There are so many things I fondly remember about my first hero in life. He was a self made man. Coming from a very humble family background he worked very hard to rise to a very high position in the corporate world. There was a fire in his belly to excel in whatever he chose to do. He was very meticulous , dynamic and a very honest man.
My parents have given me a wonderful childhood and I have umpteen number of beautiful memories of my growing up years. Although he was strict and a disciplinarian, he was also very friendly , loving and caring. He wanted his daughters to shine in academics and be an all rounder in other activities too. He introduced us to badminton, carrom board, tamil film songs, devotional light music, good movies, books, gardening, table tennis, access to library, photography, chanting shlokas, travel, comfortable journeys by road, rail and air. He taught us to ride a bicycle and the two wheeler. Whenever we took part in extra curricular activities he helped us in drafting with the poem recitations, speeches and debates.
There was never a dull moment with Appa around.He was a good singer, was good in drawing, appreciated good prose, poetry, music and dance. He would also enact some bharatnatyam songs with his hand gestures and facial expressions and would try to explain the meaning behind the beautiful lyrics. I still remember his all time favourite bharatnatyam dance song ” madhavi pon mayilal” sung by T.M. Soundararajan. He introduced us to the world of tamil music through T.M. Soundararajan and poet Kannadasan’ s songs which were rich in meaning.
He was an all rounder for us who guided us at every step in life.
He had travelled around the globe and believed in ” be like a Roman in Rome”. Coming from an orthodox south Indian family his views changed because of being posted to different places within the country
Whenever we visited a new city he would take interest in showing us around the city. The two things he was particular about were rising up early in the morning and scoring good marks. We as kids would often grumble about it . He believed in the power of education and wanted his girls to scale heights. I could see the pride in his eyes for his daughters whenever we won a competition, secured admission in a good college, came out with flying colours in exams.
We had lots of Jasmine flowers in our garden. He would personally pluck the flowers with so much care for us. Amma would string it for us to be pinned on the hair.He always helped my Amma in kitchen and in few household chores. Once in a while he would cook and let Amma relax. We are a family of three daughters and since we always saw our Appa lending a helping hand to Amma, the very concept of boys or males not helping in household activities was alien to me and my sisters. We have been fortunate enough to have a beautiful upbringing and we were always given the freedom to express our views.
Appa was religious and had immense faith in the Almighty. After he met with the tragic accident we were very very angry with God. Circumstances they say change a person. Me and my two sisters started questioning so many things. After facing the turmoil and tough times along with Amma, we in a way have become less emotional when we see people cribbing for trivial issues. We started questioning some of the superstitious rituals that are followed. Yes, maybe people think that we are outspoken and not as submissive as girls are expected to be.
Appa passed away within six months of my marriage. It was a big blow. Newly wed girls normally celebrate all the festivals with so much enthusiasm within the first year of marriage . Somewhere the looking forward to celebrate festivals lost charm within me. He could never play with his grandkids too.
It took time to come out of it. I still have a letter that I wrote to him in heaven , a year or two after he left us informing him about how we are dealing with life without him. I realized that at least I could enjoy and experience the relation of a father till my early twenties. There are so many in this world who might not be as fortunate as I was . I reconciled myself taking it as God’s plan.
Memories are finally what is left behind . Thankyou God for blessing me with such lovely parents. I firmly believe that my Appa is blessing and guiding me in each and every step in life. I hold him close within my heart and he will remain there to walk with me throughout my life until we meet again.
Amma, with Mother’s day approaching I am remembering you all the more . This year will be my first Mother’s day after you have reached your final resting place to join Appa in your heavenly abode . Thankyou Amma for giving us a wonderful childhood, memories, moments to cherish, education, teaching Sanskrit shlokas , introducing us to the world of stories and storybooks and values. Children learn watching their parents and we surely as kids absorbed many things like a sponge during the growing up years.
You gave us the freedom to express our thoughts even if we differed in our thoughts on some issues and had diametrically opposite views at times . This opportunity to air our views and to agree to disagree philosophy is something I simply love and respect about you.
I say this specially because I have seen some people of my generation not being given this opportunity when it comes to talking to their parents . They call this respect and love . I call this respect and love accompanied by fear ( my personal opinion).
For every child their mother is the best cook in the world. You always made sure that you prepared dishes that your children relish even if it meant making an extra effort since with age/ health issues your likes/dislikes/ preferences for something could have changed.
You were so fond of cooking and knitting sweaters for your children and grandchildren. I never managed to learn these two forms of art with the same passion as yours ( and I don’t regret it too ). You agreed that nature and degree of interests could vary from person to person and also from one generation to another.
Cooking is something which I learnt after marriage and since you were always a phone call away I could always trouble you anytime and ask for recipes and tips before the “you tube “and “google maharaj” made their entry. The practical tips always have been so handy which the books /videos / google maharaj would seldom specify.
You would pack my things for me every time when it was time to leave for hostel before the college reopened. You had the ability to make friends easily across all age groups and with your humour you normally won over most people. I wish I had inherited that quality from you.
I still remember the second Sunday of May 2003 . It was also a Mother’s day and we three sisters were travelling from Baroda to Madras along with you and your two toddler grandkids by train. We realized we had been talking so much (maybe at a volume audible to others) and having fun when some passengers who were travelling in the same coach a few berths away told us that they liked our lively and cheerful banter and struck a conversation with Amma. They seemed as if they were eager to know about all of us.
You always went out of the way to help us . When your grandkids were infants , toddlers and your kids could not go to buy train tickets or because of the summer rush it was impossible to get tickets you always volunteered to buy us tickets by going personally to the railway station by taking the trouble to be there at the booking counter in the morning hours ( around 16/17 years ago – which seldom your generation ladies would offer to do).
You were employed with the Accountant General office in Madras and Delhi for 11 years- a central govt job, but you gave it up after the birth of your twins and I have never ever heard you grumbling about it even at times when you were annoyed with us. Appa left home never to return when a tragic accident snatched him away from us. You remained a pillar of strength for us .
I quote here the words of my dear Uncle ( Amma’s younger brother) to his nieces ( to myself and my sisters)
“From Valady ( a place in Tamil Nadu) to Vadodara her life has been a life which inspires confidence. The life values she has imparted on you all, after the untimely snatching away of your beloved father, without buckling and complaining tells a lot about her confidence and maturity and fighting spirit. Resonating with her name ‘Visalakshi’ she adopted a broader vision and courage to stand against some meaningless customs and practices”.
When we were living in the same city post my marriage , I would call you up on my way to your place to keep tea ready for me. I could take this liberty with you. According to me this is what I call a closest relation called ” Amma” .
Amma , we miss you many times and fondly remember so many things about you . We ( kids, grandkids) remember your dialogues, proverbs that you often used, reactions to our activities . It is lonesome without you since you have gone away but we seem to hear you whisper to us to cheer up and carry on . Each time I see your picture you seem to be telling us with a smile “Don’t cry, I am in God’s hands and we will meet again someday.
Amma, I hope and wish that I too prove to be an adorable mom to my kid, the same way as you are to me.
Today as I am keying in, I want to write so many things but I would restrict myself now and summarize with a beautiful poem by Pat O’ Reily
I borrow the words from Pat O’Reilly
“ Wonderful Mother”
God made a wonderful mother,
A mother who never grows old;
He made her smile of the sunshine.
And He moulded her heart of pure gold;
In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,
In her cheeks fair roses you see;
God made a wonderful mother,
And He gave that dear mother to me.
I am sharing the link here for one my posts.
I watched a movie recently on AIDS awareness. The plot revolves around a few people who are waiting for the results of the blood test of the dreaded disease. The reports of the blood test will come only in the evening. The emotions portrayed by the characters is overwhelming. Initially they are in a state of denial when someone asks them if they are waiting for the report of the ELISA test. Time seems to be heavily weighing on them with the clock seeming to appear to tick at a snails pace. During the waiting period they try to enter into a conversation with each other . They reveal to each other how circumstances put them in situations which make them suspect ” could I have contracted the deadly virus??” . Evening time approaches and as they await their turn to collect the paper that will reveal the status , there is an overwhelming suspense . The overwhelming suspense has been depicted beautifully both for the viewer as well as in the characters .
The movie made me ponder over the various developments for quite some while. A very different kind of movie. I am talking about a yet to be released tamil movie “Sila Samayangalil” that was screened at a literary festival recently in India.
Around a quarter century back I associated “Feast” with the Sunday “special menu” & alternate Thursday’s ” change” in the dinner menu of the hostel mess.
Over the years I have realized that apart from the taste senses a feast can also be associated with sight, sound ,smell & feelings on an abstract level.
Nature never ceases to delight us. Mother Earth is filled with the most beautiful landscapes that mesmerizes all.The ocean, the flowers in full bloom ,the snow clad mountains, the greenery near a mountain side after the rains, the deep valleys, gorges, cascading waterfalls, sunrise, sunset, rolling hills, dense jungles, sand dunes, the lazy river, pristine beaches, swaying trees in the breeze, the clear blue sky, rainbow, carpet of flowers on the ground are such a feast to the eyes. Every time I get a chance to see them I try to drink their beauty with my eyes.
Once when we were on our way to Ooty , midway during the ascent the bus broke down in the wee hours of the morning . When I alighted from the bus I could see dim light somewhere down the hills & could hear “Suprabhatam” ( in M.S. Subhalakshmi’s voice) emanating from that direction. It was dawn & the view around was breathtaking . I still long for that perfect early morning which is captured in my mind’s eye & ears. A little later we did click pics of ourselves while waiting but we did not try to capture the sight in the camera immediately nor recording a viideo way back in the winter of 1997 was possible in order to capture the sight & divine sound .
Sometimes I feel that technology makes me a little crazy now when I try to click pictures or record videos . I realize how I forget to capture the images in my camera like eyes that God has given !!. Will I really get time in this fast paced world to sit and look at the photos at leisure after a few years ???
An infants smile, yawn, other activities is also a joy to watch. One forgets all the worries of the world and time flies very fast just watching them.
The architecture of man made monuments of historical importance, temples, churches, mosques are also a feast to the eyes.The engineering skills of our ancestors has always fascinated me. Without machinary, lifts, construction equipments there is perfect symmetry in the monuments built centuries ago.
Anything ethnic, handicrafts, handlooms, textiles, home decor, artefacts , jewellery, the riot of colours of the different outfits are also very attractive to the eyes. Even window shopping for any of them gives a feel good factor .
Similarly, some people may find latest gadgets, different models of four wheelers & two wheelers , watches, wild life photography, watching sports, a perfect yoga pose , books (for voracious readers) , old classic songs very fascinating & exciting to watch / experience/ read /hear.
Plants, Bonsai, flowers in full bloom ,well maintained gardens, lawns too are so relaxing and provide a calming, soothing effect to the mind . Off late the jacaranda and gulmohar flowers in full bloom are something that my eyes & heart rejoice in !!
Some people are so nice to be with, we enjoy having them around. They bring sunshine to our lives and are a feast to our souls.
For somebody interested in music , any good composition, note , lyrics are a feast to their ears & they too look forward to attend the performance/ concerts. For a parent / teacher their child’s / students performance is a visual / aural treat.
The smell of earth after the first rains is heavenly.
When it comes to an authentic , well presented food there is an interplay between all the five senses!
Finally beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and perspective is what that makes all the difference.!
We have got so used to recharging our gadgets on a daily basis that sometimes we forget to recharge ourselves on a daily basis. The daily grind leaves hardly one with enough time.
We look forward to vacations to break the monotony of the daily routine. Vacations have become so popular these days . It does make me wonder sometimes at the impact nature and travel has on the mental and physical well being of a person. Travel, sports, visiting new tourist places, sight seeing, camping, trekking, hiking are some ways to recharge our batteries .
Apart from these things I consider some more things equally important to recharge oneself on a daily basis like expressing gratitude for whatever one has works like magic. A simple thankyou expressed from the bottom of the heart works like magic to recharge both the body and soul.Prayers too said sincerely, it could be any time of the day, when said from the heart works wonders and recharges the mind. God never said take bath before praying , avoid x y z food items, perform x y z rituals for me. It’s all created by humans.
A visit to a hospital , blood bank made me realize and learn some important lessons in life. Blood donation is something so important. Blood transfusion for a patient in need of blood saves his/her life. This fact made me realize how it recharges one’s physical body with life. As I watched the crowd who had come to collect blood for their loved ones -Travel, sports, visiting new tourist places, sight seeing, camping, trekking, hiking for recharging oneself seemed so insignificant at that moment to me.!!
Meditation too is said to play an important role to recharge. I am yet to practice this and experience the benefits of this form of recharge.
A warm genuine smile, kind words, acknowledgement, laughter, encouraging words, interesting company, food of ones choice, a nice book, writing wherein allowing thoughts to flow, heart to heart talk ,yoga,running,walking, hobby, the feel of cool breeze, music are also some other ways to recharge oneself.
It’s time for me to wake up and recharge myself!!
Heartbreaking photos of a calf crying and guarding his dead mother surfaced on the social media last month. The video showed a baby elephant wailing for its dead mother and refusing to leave her side.
WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE
Cherry On Top- A photo of a detail that makes a good thing even better.
“a desirable feature perceived as the finishing touch to something that is already very good.”
Rangoli also called Kolam is an art form from India in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. It is usually made during Indian festivals. Designs are passed from one generation to the next, keeping both the art form and the tradition alive.The purpose of rangoli is decoration, and it is thought to bring good luck.
Here is a picture of a Peacock rangoli. When flower petals were added it enhanced the beauty of the rangoli
The flower petals enhance the beauty of the Rangoli
The students are seated in the examination hall . The bell rings and the three hour duration examination begins.
I observe what a sharp contrast it is ,as the venue and time span is same for me (invigilator) and students but our brain activity is so different!!
For a student the brain is at its productive best I feel -sharp, thinking , concentrating, recollecting, as they are answering their papers.
For me a very different frame of mental activity-least productive I feel.
For them every minute is precious and clock is ticking fast whereas for me every minute seems so long and the clock seems to be ticking very slowly.
As I sit and watch them answering their papers, many thoughts cross my mind as I watch each one of them.
As I observe their hands and fingers as it works on the drawing sheet using the ” T Scale ” , set squares, drafter, pencil and compass, I recollect the moments when they were trying to learn how to use the instruments, the A, B, C of spatial images & learning how to stretch their imagination & visualization skills.
I also get to notice the different shades of the same colour uniform. Some bright , some dull & faded, different hairstyles of the girls and boys . I notice oiled hair with a parting seems to be a thing of a bygone era!