Tag Archives: family bonds

The Bulbul’s message

We are at my mom’s, enjoying our summer vacation. We have just had a sumptuous lunch. The children and their cousins are playing a board game in one of the bedrooms.

All the adults are seated or stretched out in the living room, as the day curtains billow in the cool breeze. Each time the curtains billow, one can see the green leaves of the trees outside, glistening in the bright, afternoon sun.

Most of us are trying not to sleep after that heavy lunch. We chat on and off, the pauses and silences are comfortable ones – those that belong to family, to love and to familiarity.

A sudden sweet bird song cuts through this family web.  There is a pause, and the bird song plays again.

My sister says, ” Someone’s got a message.”

Hands and bodies reach out to their phones, like the arms of an octopus.

Most people in the room say that the ring tone is not theirs. The bird sound continues.

We quickly discover that there is a ‘real’ Bulbul bird sitting on our balcony, singing away merrily. We gently move the curtains to watch this beautiful bird.
             

                   Picture courtesy – Wikipedia

How musical it sounds! How could we even mistake it for a ringtone?

We laugh uneasily. The Bulbul gave us an important message today. 

Maybe we should take more time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, those that are not in any way connected to technology or smartphones.

Of Barking, Running & Bonding…

My husband and I hail from the same State in India. However, my husband’s ancestors moved to a neighbouring state around 80 years ago.

So, though we share the same mother tongue, my husband’s version is laced heavily with borrowed words from the neighbouring state, where his ancestors settled.

While I can now understand most of what my husband’s family speak, the initial days of our marriage had me figuring out new words and their meanings.

This was because certain borrowed words, which my in-laws used in their language, meant something totally different in our mother tongue.

Two such funny incidents come to mind. A few months into our marriage, I came down with a cold and sore throat that slowly turned into a bad cough.

As I coughed away my father in law, asked me, “You seem to be barking badly.”

I thought I had heard wrong. I apologized and asked him to repeat what he’d just said.

He repeated the same sentence about barking. I laughed and asked him if he meant ‘coughing’ in our mother tongue.

We were all in splits. What was a common everyday word to them meant something totally different in my version of the language.

The other incident was about a clock. My mother in law asked me if the clock in the living room had stopped or if it was walking. Clocks in our mother tongue usually ‘run’. Another round of laughter.

The hands of clocks ran on one side of the border, while they walked on the other side.

I sometimes ‘walked’ and sometimes ‘ran’; my new family did the same, and slowly we learnt to appreciate the differences in our language, cooking, rituals and practices and started to enjoy the best that each other had to offer.

An Ode to My Aunt

My aunt, my Dad’s older sister, was diagnosed with polio at the age of eight. She lost strength in her legs and had to walk with special shoes. Feeling shy and awkward she dropped out of school and was home-schooled by my grandfather and her siblings.

Those were the days when India was under British rule, and World War II was brewing. An English nurse took a liking to my aunt and taught her how to knit.

After this, my aunt never looked back.  In the mornings, she would help my grandma with the household chores that she could do, without having to move around too much. In the afternoons she would knit – lovely sweaters, shawls and ponchos.

My earliest memories of my aunt are when she would narrate interesting stories to my sisters and me, to ensure that we ate our vegetables.

Every single person in our house wore only  the sweaters that were knitted by her. Both my children have worn sweaters knitted by her.

With age, she lost all strength in her legs and could move only when seated. Despite these setbacks she went on –  ever smiling, constantly learning new patterns to knit her love into.

She was our silent partner when we read late into the night without our Dad’s knowing about it. She knitted on, late into the night as we swotted for various exams. She was gung-ho about watching shows we liked on television, laughing like a young girl.

It took a lot of effort to take her out, as wheel chairs were not in vogue, nor was the hilly area where we lived suited to wheelchairs.

So with hardly any outing, this amazing woman kept herself busy and happy, ever-smiling and content. Always able to see the funny side of everything, not taking anything too seriously and living her life with quiet acceptance.

My aunt passed away two years ago and the void she has left behind can never be filled.

She accepted what life had thrown at her with grace and dignity, and made the best of what she had and lived a full life with her family, who loved her dearly.

She taught us all a profound lesson –

‘To be happy not because of something but to be happy inspite of everything.’