The red silk skirt


The deep red silk skirt glows in the afternoon sun, as I gently remove it from the white cotton cloth it is wrapped in. I lay it out gently on the easy chair in the living room and move the chair over to the balcony. The silk skirt needs some fresh air and sunlight before it is wrapped-up in the soft white cloth again.

And as I move around the house, bringing out old boxes and cartons from various cupboards in yet another attempt to declutter and reorganize, my mind keeps going back to the beautiful red silk skirt with its beautiful green border.

The beautiful silk skirt

This skirt is nearly fourteen years old. It was a hot, humid afternoon, when my friends and I went shopping for our daughters for their very first classical dance performance.

The teacher had given us a long list that included the costume, make-up, hair accessories, jewellery and many other items.

All three of us were brimming with excitement, as we walked in and out of many shops – looking for, purchasing and ticking items off the list. It was late in the afternoon when we finally wrapped-up. We quickly decided to grab a cup of coffee before we went home, all the while talking about how we would get the girls ready for their dance programme.

The days soon flew past, and it was time to get our girls ready for their first-ever dance performance. We decided to meet up at one of our homes and get the girls ready together.

We knew the sequence in which the make-up had to be applied, but with no prior experience in classical dance make-up, we applied foundation that was a little patchy, eye make-up that looked thick, and blush that was overpowering.

The hair was yet another challenge! The girls had short hair – and to this we had to attach false hair, braid it and make it stay on their tiny heads. Add to this the confusion of the girls suddenly wanting to move or eat or drink water; and we were reduced to a bunch of anxiously giggling moms, desperate to cover our ineptitude.

The girls were finally ready, and we drove them to the venue. The teacher took the girls aside, and gently corrected their make-up and ensured that everything else was in place.

Out of sheer fear that the false hair we had attached would come crashing down on the stage, we had stuck so many hairpins and u-pins into their hair, while double-protecting the whole arrangement with black thread. Little did we know that our girls were in pain, carrying all those extra “mom-anxiety-reduction” pins.

The girls performed beautifully, and the three of us stood watching them with pride and misty eyes. After the performance, we high-fived each other in sheer relief that nothing had fallen or gone wrong on stage.

The girls came down. Their initial euphoria gave way to tiredness and irritation. They demanded that their make-up and hair be brought back to normal immediately. We went to the green room, and as our daughters winced and made faces we removed the huge army of hairpins we had loaded in their heads for protection.

The make-up came off with coconut oil and cotton. Our girls ran out like butterflies, feeling lighter now, and chased each other down the corridors. We packed up the various bits and pieces, and carefully put them away for the future.

I come back to the now. How can I ever part with this little skirt? It has in its folds the choreographed memories of laughter, friendship, music and dance and precious moments with my little princess and her darling friends!

The last drop


It is late on Sunday afternoon, and this day seems no different from any other in these pandemic times.

I have lots of work to do, and I find the thought of sitting at my work desk totally unappealing. I shift base. I am now on the recliner sofa in the living room; my legs comfortably stretched out, my back arched at an unhealthy angle and my laptop on my lap.

The balcony windows are open. The rays of the afternoon sun stream gloriously into the living room. My mind soars outside the balcony, away from my laptop and my work. It flies to the blue sky and the cotton-puff clouds, it flies with the birds and sways with the gently shimmering leaves. A sudden thud from somewhere brings me out of my reverie, and my mind crash-lands on the sofa, irritated by this sudden halt to its joyous afternoon sojourn.

I plead with my mind to cooperate; it agrees to focus, but on one condition. It demands a nice strong cup of filter coffee.

I readily agree. I hop to the kitchen. I return with a steel tumbler filled to its brim with strong South Indian filter coffee, perfectly frothed up, with a few drops of strong decoction lacing the bubbles on top.

South Indian filter coffee

I set the glass down, and settle back in. I take the first invigorating sip. My mind is fully with me now. Sharp and focussed, we work in harmony. Every now and then my mind prods me to take a sip.

Soon, my fingers are flying on the keyboard. I am nearly done. My left hand seeks the coffee glass. I realize that it is empty. I feel cheated. I peer inside and find only two or three drops.

I tip the glass back and wait for the excruciatingly slow journey of those delicious drops of coffee. They finally fall into my mouth. I relish them. I feel a deep sense of accomplishment.

I am now ready to take on more work!!

A special bond


The energy at home when the kids are around is palpable. And this manifests in many ways that only moms notice. Shoes in the exact angle they were taken off, left by the door. Bags, wallets, keys, and now masks as well! All these are clues to locate the kids when they disappear into their own rooms. And these bits and pieces of their presence breathe life into the walls of our home.

This last week, my son discovered that his sister had gone from one bedroom, which my son uses for his classes, to continue sleeping in another bedroom. Her bed was unmade as she literally sleep-walked to the other bedroom and plopped there!

My son stared at the unmade bed, grabbed my daughter’s quilt, bunched it up and walked purposefully towards the other bedroom.

When I asked him what he was going to do, he said, “I am going to throw this on her.” And I ran behind him trying to stop him from irritating his sister.

Image courtesy – http://www.123rf.com

And as I entered the room, I saw him gently putting the quilt around his sister and tucking her in.

My throat catches for a moment. I get back to work with a smile.

Dawn and Dusk


In these Covid times, the words dawn and dusk seem to have taken on a new meaning. Where before they were beautiful words to be found in poems and books, these days they have merely become mechanical cues to pinpoint the transition between days; days that seem to merge into each other.

However, even in these difficult times life does manage to bring some magic into our lives. Enter Dawn and Dusk!!

Dawn and Dusk are two little mynahs that have been visiting one of our dear friend’s home for the last eighteen months.

What began as a tentative entry into the kitchen from the window ledge has now grown into a deep friendship. Initially my friend would leave small pieces of fruit on the kitchen ledge. As they grew comfortable with my friend and his family, the mynahs would walk into the kitchen or living room, following them and awaiting their fruit treats.

Even to this day they visit twice, once at dawn and then again at dusk – to claim their grapes, bananas, dates, apples and cashewnuts. And that’s how they got their names.

My friends tell me that Dawn and Dusk usually come in and remind them if they find that their treats have not been refilled. At such times they wait patiently, without making any noise, seeming to completely understand if my friends are attending phone calls.

Somedays they bring a couple of friends with them, confident that their friends will also be treated with love and care!

What a beautiful friendship indeed! While all of us may not be stepping outdoors as often as we used to, Mother Nature has her own way of keeping us connected with her.