My aunt and the knitting needles


For most of us who grew up in the eighties, the days in a year were of two types. School days and holidays. We had a long summer break, and a shorter winter break. School days were packed with classes, homework, and studying for tests and exams. Holidays, however, were blissful, long days; days that stretched this way and that to accommodate our lassitude, days that watched us indulgently as we discovered new books, authors, games, and movies; days that saw us squabbling with our siblings or go out exploring with friends looking for beetles, bugs and magic.

While our holidays were packed with fun activities, there were times when we would suddenly run out of things to do or books to read, or would want to completely avoid our siblings due to an ongoing cold war.

And at such times, I would always seek out my dear aunt, who was a pro at knitting, and who took in orders to hand-knit the most beautiful sweaters, baby mittens, mufflers, scarves, ponchos, shawls and caps. She had a beautiful knitting pattern book that she would pore over every afternoon.

So, at times when there seemed to be nothing to do, I would tell my aunt that I wanted to learn knitting. And with a patience that I can never ever have, she would teach me to tie the wool to the needle, and would slowly explain how to create a knit and a purl. And each time I dropped a stitch, she would patiently undo it and give it back to me.

Many glorious afternoons were spent like this. However, the moment a friend called out to me or if the cold war with my siblings had ended, I would sweetly tell my aunt that I would come back and knit later.

She would smile, and put away my needles and ask me to go out and play. And all through my childhood, I could take up knitting at will, without any pressure to knit anything useful. I made long pieces of knits and purls, that were abandoned till the next time I sought out my aunt again.

Finally, when I had just passed out of high school and had a longer break than usual, I bravely embarked on a knitting project – to knit a sweater for myself – I chose a pale peach colour and discussed a simple 5 knit 5 purl pattern of squares with my aunt.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

And I spent hours knitting; and when I reached the right length, I handed the piece over to my aunt, who then brought the front of the sweater to its right shape. Then I worked on the back of the sweater, and knitted another long piece, and again handed it over to her for completion.

And finally, my aunt got the sweater ready! I had just knitted long pieces, but my aunt told everybody proudly that her niece had knitted the whole sweater.

When I think back now, I realize how rejuvenating those times with my aunt were. She never forced me to learn knitting or master it, she never said anything when I wanted to leave halfway to play or to read. She was simply there for me, allowing me to just be.

And, even today, when I see wool or knitted wear, I feel happy; for it brings back memories of peace, love and contentment and those truly precious moments with my dearest aunt.

A flash of red


Heavy rain is imminent. Dark, grey clouds are hanging heavy and low in the sky. The gentle breeze ‘that was’ is now gathering momentum, and the leaves are rustling and giggling in anticipation.

I am on my walk, my mind filled with a hundred thoughts, as restless as the leaves. The usual calm that prevails on my walk is missing today. I just accept it and plod on, allowing my thoughts free rein and watching their play.

As I begin my ascent on one of the roads, a flash of red on the pavement catches my eye. From where I am, it looks like a bright red stone or a shiny bit of paper.

When I get closer to this shiny object, I stop in wonder! It is a beautiful petal, reddish-orange in colour, fallen on the grey pavement. Beautiful water droplets adorn this petal, reflecting its vibrant colours even more, and sparkling in the dull evening light.

I am fascinated. The petal lies there, its days over, but still seeking to give joy, still seeking to bring a moment of softness and gentleness to this hard road called life.

I quickly whisk out my phone and capture a picture. The skies open up, and I dash for cover.

I stand under the sheltered walkway, watching the dancing raindrops, the pitter-patter of the rain on the glass ceiling, the swaying plants, the rivulets of water….such beauty.

I think back to my beautiful petal. The rain would have carried away the petal, a drop of bright red floating away in a stream of joy, to places unknown.

The rain peters out. I sigh. I wait awhile. And slowly, the crickets start tuning their instruments for their nightly chorus. Huge silver water drops fall with big plops from the trees. The sky is clear. My mind is bereft of any thought. I walk back home.

Gained in translation


It was late in the afternoon last weekend, and I was on a video call with my sister. The call was a busy one, with my niece and nephew frequently popping their heads into the video frame to talk to me. Likewise, my kids also walked in and out of the call, catching up with their cousins and watching my baby niece gurgle in delight.

My sister suddenly exclaimed, “Hey, do you know what Amma is busy with these days?” She continued excitedly, “…She is translating your blogs into our mother tongue.”

I felt an inexplicable joy. Later in the day, I called my mom. Her enthusiasm was contagious as she read out the articles in our beautiful mother tongue, Tamil. She had chosen her words and sentences so carefully and had chiseled them to perfection.

Over the last five years of my blogging, my mom had always felt unhappy that she had not been able to access my blogs and read them as often as she would have liked.

When the lockdown began, she decided to catch up and started reading the blogs. The idea to translate the blogs into Tamil struck her one morning, and there was no looking back after that.

Now, she writes the final draft for one blog and a rough draft for another each day. And whenever we talk on the phone, she reads them out to me, and I can sense her excitement.

Courtesy – pixabay from http://www.pexels.com

A writer’s work derives meaning only when his or her work connects with her readers. Whenever my blogging friends or social media friends post comments or likes on my blog, I feel happy and thrilled.

But when my mom reads out her translations, I feel a different kind of joy, a kind of contentment. I cherish these afternoon calls, when we exchange ideas on writing and how the different words and sentences in each blog sound in both languages.

I feel deeply grateful to my parents for encouraging me to read and write, for encouraging me to appreciate life’s simple moments. Thank you Amma and Dad for this precious gift.

The Golden Tree


It is seven in the morning. There is no crazy rush to send the family out to work or school. I cherish the extra time by taking my cup of coffee to the balcony, to observe the world and ponder over life’s big questions.

My eyes take in the sights below – vehicles, morning joggers, the neat array of buildings, trees and birds. Then my eyes fall on this scene.

The rays of the early morning sun are falling exactly on this particular tree. The tree looks bright and golden, and seems to be reveling in the sun’s gaze.

The many other plants surrounding this golden tree are still in the dark, awaiting their turn patiently, as they wait for the sun to light up their day and their lives. There are some other plants that are in the shade of the building, and will never receive the sun’s rays on them directly.

Watching this scene makes me reflect. Just like these trees, even humans wait for their golden moment of fame, happiness or prosperity, and we come alive and bloom at such times, spilling forth our happiness.

Sometimes, we may have to wait for prolonged periods for those special moments, and during that long wait we end up losing faith in ourselves and our abilities. And then again, for some, such moments never happen.

But we still have to live out our lives, believing in ourselves, living every moment to the fullest, doing the best we can and hoping that the sun will peep into our lives one day!

The art of work


The wipers in our car are working overtime. The skies have opened up, and the rain falls in thin transparent sheets. One layer of rain falls, gets wiped away, and for a mere fraction of a second the world is visible, before another sheet falls.

And thus it goes on till my husband and I reach the concert venue. The concert venue is partly open air, with free seating. As we take our seats, the rain slowly peters out; only the ‘backbencher raindrops’ are left, rushing to join their peers, dropping in huge plops from the roof.

Rich Indian classical music fills the air, as the singer transports us to a different world, making us emote. My husband steps away to take a call. Very soon, a little girl of about seven comes and takes my husband’s seat. She has a packet of wafers in one hand and what looks like a small piece of thick cardboard in the other hand.

She adjusts herself comfortably on the seat, looks up at me and smiles. What a lovely and heart warming smile, I think. I smile in response, and wave hello! She says hello too.

After a few minutes, she touches my hand. When I look at her, she shows me the other side of the cardboard. It is an artwork of a three-dimensional flower in a pot. I mouth a wow and clap gently.

Courtesy – clipartlibrary.com

I ask her if it is play dough. “No, this is air-dry clay”, she says.

She lovingly runs her fingers over her creation, and asks me, “Do you like it?”

I tell her that I like it. She then says, “I like it too, a lot.” And her eyes light up. She continues to admire her artwork and looks content.

I realize how difficult it is to experience this kind of joy from the work we do. We are constantly striving to perform better, to attain the goals that we have set for ourselves. But with our sights set only on these bigger goals and destinations, we seem to have lost the art of experiencing the joy in the good, simple and everyday tasks that we perform.

Another lesson learned from a sweet little girl!