Monthly Archives: August 2017

Grandma’s Chess Game

It is late in the afternoon. The curtains are billowing in the breeze. My mom winds up her chores and settles down on the couch with her afternoon mug of coffee.

She smiles in anticipation, as she awaits the arrival of her youngest grandson, my nephew.

Soon, the door bell rings. My five year old nephew walks in, hugs me and then runs to hug his grandma.

The aroma of love wafts around the house.

My nephew has brought a plastic bag. He pulls out a box from within, and then informs my mom,

“Grandma, today we are going to play chess. I have brought my chess board.”

My mom: Sure, sweetie.

Image courtesy – Canstock Photo.com

They clear the coffee table, and sit down on either side. My nephew arranges all the pieces carefully. As he arranges them, he quizzes his opponent to see if she can identify the various pieces, and identify which way they can move.

My mom passes the test.

My nephew: Grandma, I will take the white pieces and will start first.

Grandma: Sure.

The game progressss, my mom taking her time, my nephew, impatient. He knocks off a few pieces from the board and whoops in joy.

And then his queen is at the wrong place at the wrong time. My mom grabs the opportunity and knocks down his queen.

And then the rules of the game change, and how! My nephew cannot accept that his queen is not around.

He looks at his Grandma and says sweetly, “Let us go back a few moves ok? Let’s bring my queen back.”

My mom says, “No, that’s not fair.”

Nephew: No Grandma, it’s okay.

And this is how the game progresses. My shoulders shake in mirth. My mom’s pieces are watching the game from outside the board, while my nephew keeps bringing back his queen and his rooks, and other pieces. My mom indulges him.

The game finally comes to an end with a loud checkmate. My nephew announces grandly, “Grandma, I won.”

He then walks over to her and sits on her lap, reveling in all the love and the cuddly hugs. She asks him if he wants cookies.

And as my mom heads to the kitchen, my nephew carefully packs his chess pieces and puts them back into the bag!

I watch this truly special bond between grandma and grandson.

A love that lurks in black knights, pawns and rooks, who gave up their cause for the love of a grandma for her grandson.

The Indian Crow

The sun is not visible today, but it’s heat can still be felt. I stand on my balcony, looking at the traffic at the junction.

My attention is diverted by a streak of bright yellow that is flitting between the branches of a tree. I realize that it is a beautiful oriole, busily going about his day. I keep watching the oriole for a while. My attention is then drawn to the pigeons – sitting on ledges, swooping down, taking a breather. There are so many of them.

Then I begin to wonder. There is not a crow in sight. In fact, I haven’t seen one in the neighbourhood in a long, long time.

I keep seeing mynas, sparrows, parrots and hornbills, but never a crow.

And suddenly I feel nostalgic. Nostalgic for my childhood, where the crow formed an integral part of our lives.

Image courtesy – Wikipedia

Where the crow featured as the hero in many of the stories told to us by our grandmom and aunts – intelligent in some stories, foolish in some stories, thirsty and intelligent in some others. But the crow’s presence in our lives could never be ignored.

Babies were fooled into swallowing uninterestimg vegetables and yummy rasam rice, when a crow swooped into their yards. Babies were mesmerised by this bird, whose caws in the gentle afternoon breeze sounded like lullabies.

When we were growing up, most Indian women would put out some cooked rice for the crows, on their window ledges or terraces, before serving food to the family.

The crows were so used to this that they would show up at the prescribed window ledge or terrace at the appointed hour. And, if for some reason there was a delay in the arrival of their food, the crows would caw loudly, causing the woman of the house to hurry up!

My aunt had names for the crows that visited her window ledge, and would talk to them everyday, and affectionately chide them if they cawed too loudly.

Such was the role that crows played in our childhood. The crow was truly one of our childhood heroes.

Just a speck

My husband and I are in a restaurant, on the 64th floor of a building. The restaurant boasts of a wonderful view of the city.

After we finish dinner, we go up to the rooftop viewing deck. The sky looks a hazy grey, with silver clouds floating about lazily. The moon keeps moving between layers of cloud – now here, now gone.

We stand transfixed. The whole city is throbbing with life and lights. The main roads and expressways are sheer golden streaks of light – ‘all-important’ arteries that connect everything.

The vehicles are like glow worms, crawling towards their destination. Far away is the ocean, where small boats and ferries bob about like shimmering jewels.

Life seems to be happening at a frenetic pace in the city. Everything seems to be moving. All the buildings are lit up, with signboards visible at many places.

Standing here, it seems like magic. I feel disconnected from reality. I feel like an observer from another world. From here, as I see the big picture, everyday worries and problems seem minuscule. Looking up at the sky, I am struck by its immensity. I imagine what space would look like, and what the planets would be doing now – revolving and rotating, I guess; in no hurry to finish, taking their time and doing what they are supposed to.

Peace and quiet above, constant movement and noise below. From where I stand, I enjoy both. I love the pulsating city, filled with interesting people, who have big dreams. I love the lights and the water. I love the sky and the clouds.

Very soon, an elevator will take me down, and I will join the sea of humanity below – becoming just another speck in the vast canvas of time.

But while I am still here, I soak it all in.

‘Creating’ memories

The days are flying, and there are days when time seems to have vanished between sunrise and sunset. I try to recall what I did or what I ate, but I am simply not able to remember. Where did the day go?

However, I can easily identify every single classmate of mine from old school photos. I can remember the lyrics to most of the songs we heard as children.

But now, when someone asks me to sing any new song, I can only remember the tune, and I make up my own lyrics on the fly, much to the embarrassment of my children.

Earlier this week, I was a participant in an event, where our group performed a medley of songs.

We had lots of fun preparing for the event. However, all of us had a problem with our memories and the lyrics. For the first few days we used papers and our phones.

But as with everything else, confidence comes only if we are word perfect. So we tried our best to do away with the papers and our phones.

But this presented another problem – this effort required absolute concentration, where we could not allow even a stray thought to intrude into our minds.

One stray thought and the lyrics just flew away, leaving us opening and closing our mouths like fish, trying desperately to get the lyrics back into our heads.

Courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

What happened to those memory chain games where a group of us sat and reeled off names of animals or fruits and added a new animal or fruit to the already long list?

These days, if I don’t remember to write things down, there is a 100% chance that they will be washed away from my memory, making sure to come back and haunt me in the future.

Once I make my lists, I need alarms on my phone as back up. What if I don’t remember to see the list?

And this is how it is now, my life, trying to ‘create’ memories of simple, everyday things.

Dolls and Dreams

I am obsessive about cleaning, and feel strange when I am not organizing or ‘re-cleaning’ things around the house.

Today, I attack the toy cupboard. Sadly though, the toy cupboard is only ‘that’ in name. Very few toys remain; the remaining space has been taken over by other stuff – odds and ends, this and that.

But it was not like this earlier. Every drawer in the toy cupboard was colour coded and sorted by type of toy, frequency of use, easy accessibility and other crazy things that only a mom with OCD would do!

At one point my daughter’s world was in various shades of pink, purple and silver. One drawer in the toy cupboard was dedicated to dolls, Barbie dolls to be specific. My daughter had around eight to ten Barbies.

Courtesy – Clipart Zone

I remember wonderful afternoons, when my daughter and her friends would play, cook, have tea, dress up their Barbies, and do all that little girls around the world did!

Before we knew it, my husband and I were attending our daughter’s interview for admission to school. They wanted to meet the child and talk to her.

My husband and I sat on either side of our daughter, who was at her cheerful best. The teacher spoke to her.

Teacher : Why do you want to come to school?

Daughter: To study….

Teacher: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Daughter: (after deep thought) I want to be a Barbie doll.

All of us burst out laughing.

As with everything else, the Barbie phase came to an end, in bits and pieces.

It began when she stopped playing with the dolls, sometimes. Then came the phase, when she would take them out sometimes, or when a friend still wanted to play. Then came the phase of packing them up, but not willing to part with them. And then the day, when she gave them away.

The dolls were replaced by badge makers, loom bands, beading kits, and lots of art and craft projects.

Pinks and purples have now been replaced by black, silver, and more black and silver.

How time has flown!