Watching the rain….


I received this photo on our family group yesterday – a picture of my little niece and her grandmother watching the heavy rain through the window.

A baby and her grandma, who are seven decades apart, and are looking out the window. My niece is watching the rain, transfixed by the play of the street lights on the falling sheets of rain. Her grandmother derives joy from watching her granddaughter, reveling in her widening eyes, her cooing and her babbling at the rain.

One is beginning this journey called life, where rain will mean splashing fun, paper boats, samosas and hot chocolate. For the other, who has seen life, the rain evokes so many memories of the past, of being a child, of being a teen, a married woman, a mother and now a grandmother. She has seen rainy days and ‘rainy days’ in this long journey called life.

Time seems to stand still, only the lashing rain can be heard. Just like everything else in nature, rainfall is part of the changing seasons; this is also true of our lives, change is happening all around us.

Life flies past in the blink of any eye, but then again, life also stops for a brief beautiful moment like this, when time and age become irrelevant, when only pure love exists.

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When the wind carries a tune…..


It is late in the afternoon, and I type away furiously on my keyboard, my eyebrows furrowed in concentration. After a few minutes, I stretch my neck and back. My eyes fall on a musical windmill that we have in our living room. For the first few weeks after buying it, we would often wind it and enjoy its music, but now it just sits snugly, a mute spectator to our lives.

I get up and wind the windmill. As the blades of the windmill turn slowly, nice tinkling music plays. I am immediately transported to a cold, windy day in Delft, Netherlands, to a pottery workshop we visited. I still remember how our teeth chattered, and how we huddled with the kids to manage the cold. One little musical windmill was all it took to transport me to that beautiful vacation.

We all have these songs and tunes in our lives that evoke strong memories and deep nostalgia. There are some old songs from the 70s, which bring back my Dad’s voice, and my childhood, with such clarity.

There are songs that my husband and I share, which are truly special to us – for they symbolize some sweet, some poignant and many fun moments in our marriage.

Then again, there are the songs with the kids. Nursery rhymes, lullabies, movie tracks of their favourite animated movies and now their favourite bands and albums, songs which float about in our home, creating impressions and memories in our brains, like old records. These songs with the children are the melodious threads that bind all of us, and that fill our home with love and rhythm.

Then there are the songs with our friends, back when we were in high school and belted out popular numbers of the time. There were only cassette players then, no smartphones or mp3 tracks. We couldn’t share music files, but we sure shared time with friends and sang to our hearts’ content.

There are many more such – kitchen and cooking songs that flow with the chopping and the stirring and the boiling and the frying; workout music and the peppy beats to push myself to walk everyday, and of course, songs in the shower! And now, as I cruise through the forties, meditation music has been added to this collection.

And so, the next time the wind gently blows your way and brings with it some beautiful melody from your past, stop and relive those wonderful memories – for in those musical notes lie the very stories of our lives – of those halcyon days of our youth, of times with our friends, of some moments that transformed us from within; of music that made us new parents, of music that made us parents of teens, and of music that defines who we are!

A Ramble…


The evening sun burns with a sudden fervour,

A last burst before it glides away for the day.

The hustle and bustle of a weekend are all around me,

As I go plod, plod, plod on the winding way.

Sweat rivulets flow down my face and neck,

The gentle breeze brings some joyous respite.

The city’s drone slowly dies away,

As I go plod, plod, plod seeking some quiet.

The blue flash of a focussed kingfisher,

And the contortionist routines of the squirrel.

The crisp chatter of two raucous mynas follow,

As I go thud, thud, thud on my ramble.

The rich dark brown soil,

Receiving dried leaves worn and frail.

Ready to absorb and recreate life,

As I go huff, puff, huff up the trail.

The wind swishing through the branches,

A golden apricot poodle bounding up the hill.

A pause, a break to replenish with water,

As I go glug, glug, glug and have my fill.

A bunch of bright red flowers on a branch,

Drooping down as if the tree has overflowed.

A pitstop that brings a smile and some joy,

As I go jog, jog, jog down the winding road.

Today’s workout goals have been met,

But a walk is more than burning a calorie.

There are simple joys to be had at every step,

As I stamp, stamp them into my memory.

A sister reminisces…


It is late in the afternoon, and my mom and I are stretched out on the couch in our living room. My mother is visiting, and we use this time to catch up, sharing things that we miss out on, when we talk on the phone.

Our conversation meanders through the lanes and bylanes of our lives, and we find ourselves reminiscing about the past.

My mom walks further down memory lane, and smiles wistfully, as she fondly remembers her childhood, especially her three brothers, two older and one younger.

Image courtesy – http://www.clipartimage.com

She shares pages from that time in her life, when she was a young girl with long braids and colourful ribbons.

Her older brothers would come home from college or work, and call out to my mom to help park their bicycles inside the compound. This was one of the highlights of her day. From her height, the cycles appeared enormous, and she would step on one pedal and push the bicycles inside.

My mom recalls how she was tasked with the job of picking up a Tamil weekly magazine from the small shop at the end of their street. This magazine was eagerly awaited every week, and all the siblings devoured it with fervour. My mom knew that once the magazine went to her brothers, she would not get to read it for a couple of days at least. So, right after she picked up the magazine, she would sit in the verandah of her neighbour’s home, and quickly read her favourite sections, which included jokes and a short story series. And only then would she pass on the magazine to her brothers!

Later, when she joined the National Cadet Corps, and had to leave for training early every morning, the eldest of her brothers would buy a take away masala dosa for her to eat after training, just so that his sister would not be burdened with the task of carrying a lunch box. The masala dosa was usually packed in a banana leaf, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, which she could easily throw away.

My mom’s eyes mist over as she recalls this – a simple gesture from her brother to make his sister’s life easy.

The other brother, my mom recalls, would give her a crisp ten rupee note every morning, when she left for college. Come rain or shine, the money would always be there on his table, even if her brother was not in town.

When my maternal grandmother was pushing my mom to get married early, as was the norm in those days, my mom was strongly supported by her brothers in her desire to pursue her education in university.

As for the younger brother, who was much younger to my mom, he was her pet, and she fondly recalls how she carried him with her wherever she went, when he was a baby!

Both her older brothers are no more, and she closes her eyes, recalling their love and unconditional support.

For just a few moments there, my mom became a little girl in pigtails again, feeling secure, indulged and loved by this special love that brothers and sisters share.

We Indians celebrate this deep and special bond today, where the sister ties a rakhi on her brother’s wrist, and he in turn promises to love and protect her.

Metamorphosis


A baby is born. The baby starts tracking moving objects with her eyes. The mom takes her to the park; the baby’s eyes follow a fluttering butterfly. She points out and babbles.

Image courtesy – http://www.cliparting.com

The baby becomes a toddler. She plays in the park with her mom. She runs and chases a pretty yellow butterfly, flitting about like a butterfly herself, secure and comfortable, knowing that her mom is around. She comes back to share a giggle, or to take a biscuit from her mom.

Soon the toddler is in school, learning to hold a pencil, and learning how to draw a beautiful butterfly; learning to colour it with her imagination, adding eyes and a smile, and taking it home, where it is proudly displayed on the refrigerator.

The child grows older, and learns about the life cycle of a butterfly. The child learns about transformation, and learns to label parts, and is awed by science, and shares her learnings with her family.

The child transforms into a teenager, trying to find her own unique identity, while also trying to fit in with her clique of friends. She sees the butterfly as a tattoo, as an expression of who she is – colourful, independent and vibrant.

The teenager grows into a young woman, who seeks love, and sees romance and magic in the beautiful butterflies in the park, as she and her spouse take a leisurely stroll.

The young woman becomes a mother, and points out colourful butterflies to her little son. Butterflies have now become school projects, and she sees them in craft paper, and tubes of paint.

The young mother is now the mom of teenagers. She has more time, and takes up painting. She paints colourful flowers and butterflies.

Her children move on to university, to their own careers and independent lives, to marriage and kids.

She is now a grandmother, baking butterfly shaped cookies for her grandchildren, and pointing out butterflies to them in her beautiful garden.

She is old, and frail now. Her grandchildren are older, and take her for walks in the park. She looks at the butterflies with her feeble eyesight.

She marvels at creation, and at this beautiful metamorphosis that is inevitable.

The 3:1 battle


On a Friday evening, many aeons ago, my husband somehow managed to convince me to join him on his morning jog the next day. I agreed, but only in a moment of weakness, when my mind was not with me.

I put forth two conditions – the first was that we would walk and not jog, and the second was that we would not rise with the birds or beat the sun at his game. We would rise only when my eyes opened of their own volition. My dear husband agreed to both these conditions.

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, and I was ready for this – walking shoes, cap and water bottle.

Courtesy-www.123rf.com

We set off at a normal pace, and reached the gate of our condo. Another couple, good friends of ours, were also leaving for their walk. We called out cheery good mornings to each other, and went our separate ways.

About 10 minutes into our walk, my husband was nearly a hundred metres ahead of me. I called and asked him to wait. And he stood there, as I walked quickly to join him.

Me: ‘I thought we were supposed to be walking together?’

Husband: ‘Hmm. Well we are supposed to be together, but you are strolling rather than walking.’

The irritation that wives reserve only for their husbands surfaced in me.

Me: ‘Look at my heart rate. My Fitbit shows that I am in the cardio range. Can’t help it if the ratio of our strides is 3:1, three steps for me and a giant leap for you!’

Husband: ‘So, do you want me to stroll with you? I will hardly burn any calories.’

Me: ‘Nope. You go ahead and run, and blaze a trail. I will go for my own morning stroll. Bye!’

Husband: ‘Ok, bye.’

He sounded relieved. And..that was that. My husband’s form took off in a jog, I was not going to follow him. I took the opposite road.

After an hour of walking, I got back to the condo, and the other friends that we had seen earlier were also returning from their walk.

We smiled at each other, and they asked, ‘Where’s your husband?’

‘We took different routes’, I said, and smiled.

A really polite smile.

The better half


The sun was a bright orange orb, already quite low in the sky and sapped of most its intense heat, as I walked home yesterday. Silhouetted birds were already heading back to their nests.

My muscles ached, and I was eager to get back home and take a cold shower, but the last leg of my walk still remained. As I cut across the beautiful park, I saw that a wedding photography shoot was underway.

The bride’s gorgeous white gown was beautifully arranged on the lawn, as she looked up at her life partner with a smile. The photographer asked the couple to move this way and that till he got ‘that’ perfect angle for the shot; a picture that would be talked about and remembered for many, many years.

Courtesy – http://www.clipartlibrary.com

The bride and groom were lost in their own magical world, as they navigated the photo shoot in the real world. They caught me staring, and I waved out and wished them. They waved back with huge smiles.

And as I walked back, I thought about what a beautiful journey this young couple was about to embark on, and all that this journey would entail.

This also made me remember another very sweet old couple in their eighties, who visited our condo last year. Every morning, when I stood on the balcony to catch my breath after my kids and husband had left, I would watch them as they ambled over to the small exercise park that is directly below our home.

The sweet old lady would usually sit down on one of the benches. Her loving husband would then help her settle down, and also help her roll up her sleeves to allow the morning rays of the sun to warm her bones. He would then start walking around the park. Once he was done, he would join his wife. On some days, they would just sit in companiable silence, while on other days they would talk and laugh. Once the sun moved away from the park, the couple would slowly head homeward.

I come back to the now, and compare the two couples – one pair which is just beginning married life, while the other is enjoying the many memorable years together.

And between these two points, life happens – love, romance, petty fights, the big fights, hugs, cuddles, kids, milestones, vacations, hospital visits, ageing parents, laughter, grey hair, compromise..and lots more.

Each couple’s journey is different, but in the sunset years, I would consider it a blessing to have my spouse next to me, on a park bench, sharing the golden silence of a beautiful life lived together.