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.

Mom-paedia


I have just gone in to take a shower. My son seems to have this uncanny ability of sensing this precise moment, and chooses it to ask questions across the closed door – over the gushing sounds of the shower water.

There is a sharp knock. I pretend not to hear it. My son repeatedly hollers, “Mom, mom”, till I give in and answer wearily.

“Mom, where is the cordless phone?” asks my son. I tell him that it must have gotten wedged between the two seats of our sofa.

I come out of the shower, and in just a few minutes, my daughter asks me if I know where one of her workbooks is! Sigh!

And this is an integral part of being a mother – the skill of knowing where every article in our home is at any point in time. But, I do also know that every mom is blessed with some form of sophisticated MOM-GPS that thankfully helps her remember and identify the precise location of her daughter’s favourite hoodie, or her son’s graph notebook that has mysteriously disappeared from his school bag, and the hundred other things that go missing in the house.

And then again, most moms are also walking Mompaedias, for they need to answer questions that straddle many levels. From answering questions about why rainbows are formed to answering questions about the purpose of life (to a teenager), to answering questions about fashion, which are immediately deemed as being outdated, to answering questions about the little bird that visits the plants on the balcony – a mom needs to have answers to simply everything.

A mom also knows that while her sub-ten year old will cling on to her every word, her teenager will probably listen with a disinterested look, or with an expression that says, ‘Can’t wait for you to finish, mom’.

But from all these years as a mom, I do know that children listen, even when they don’t want to be seen as listening. They watch and they learn.

And they do love their moms, for no one in the world could take her place. When she is not around, they even miss her nagging. The energy of the house is pure mom. And come Mother’s Day every year, they pack all their love into their lovely cards and gifts, and make the day super special for her.

My daughter has already given me a beautiful coffee mug; my son is giving me knowing and secret smiles, and is slinking from one room to another, planning his big surprise.

There was a time, not many years ago, when the excitement of keeping the mother’s day gift a surprise was too much to bear for my son. But he has now transformed into this big boy, who is able to keep secrets.

So, I wait patiently.

I think of my journey as a mother and what it has meant to me. I realize that this is a love so deep, which only keeps growing with time. I wonder how one heart can hold so much love. But that is who a mother is – every pore of hers filled with love. A love that comes camouflaged in many flavours – happy, sad, silly, proud, angry, irritated and nagging, but all of them mere manifestations of that one all- encompassing love.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

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

The bench


It is 5 pm in the evening, and I head out for a walk. The rain has spent itself, and puddles have formed everywhere. Silver water drops hang precariously on leaves and branches. Some droplets catch the evening sun and sparkle.

I walk down the trail, taking in the scents of flowers, rain-soaked leaves and wet soil. I can hear some birds calling out, but I can’t see them. There are beautiful flowers and buds. There is this group of mynas in front of me, their attention drawn to something in the bushes.

I click some pictures, trying to capture the beauty that I am experiencing. Ants on leaves, star jasmine flowers, buds filled with promise and hope, a flower that has fallen down on the trail – totally unmarred – and dried leaves that make squelching sounds when I walk through them.

It is an idyllic evening, and I stop frequently to observe the plants. And then, at about the midpoint of my walk, I see this – a beautiful wooden bench, surrounded by green foliage.

This bench is my pit stop. I sit and close my eyes, and focus on the sounds of the rustling leaves. I focus on my breath, I take long, deep breaths, and life seems perfect just the way it is.

Yesterday is gone, tomorrow seems faraway. I am in the here and the now, and a feeling of peace envelopes me.

Sitting on this bench, I ponder over the mysteries of life and its purpose. I am grateful for this moment that is totally mine, to look within.

The birds are heading home, the plants are settling down for the day, and I leave this beautiful bench, totally rejuvenated.

The King’s Game


My husband’s mom walks into the room, where my kids are sprawled out. She wears her reading glasses, and looks at what seems to be a small rectangular box in her hand. She passes it to my daughter, and says, “This was a puzzle that belonged to your Dad.”

My kids look excited, and look curiously at the small box from nearly four decades ago. They open the thin box to look inside.

The objective of the game is to bring the King down from his summer palace to his winter house. There is a sheet with instructions.

My husband’s eyes light up, when he sees this small box that contains some of his childhood memories; memories that come gushing out and bring a delighted smile to his face.

The kids move the puzzle pieces this way and that. They liken it to a game called Klotski that they play on their phones. They talk about how the mobile game has so many levels and challenges.

But, my husband and I are stuck in the past, where levels did not matter, where machines did not give you rewards and awards. We played the same games multiple times, and when we got bored, we would move to another similar game or puzzle, and then come back to this one. There was no need to charge any phone or laptop.

The kids soon move on from their fleeting interest in the puzzle box. However, my husband and I walk down memory lane, and many of its by-lanes, exchanging notes about all the games we played as kids.

Life was simple then, so simple in fact that happiness could be found within a small puzzle box; and where success could be had by merely moving a king from his summer palace to his winter home.

Out of bounds


When we were kids, there were certain things and areas in our home that were out of bounds to us – our Dad’s bookshelf, his stationery cupboard and his files; our mom’s wardrobe and steel almirah, and our aunt’s knitting basket!

My Dad could sense if his files and papers had moved even an inch, and I don’t need to even talk about my mom’s antennae.

On rare occasions, we were given the privilege of peeking into my mom’s wardrobe or seeing my dad’s important papers and stationery.

These treats usually happened on long weekends or holidays, when my Dad would decide to clean his cupboard, or when my mom decided to clean hers.

We were allowed to watch and help as long as we were careful and didn’t behave irresponsibly.

We could barely contain our excitement, when we saw the creamy white paper or pens and lovely paper clips that our father had. My hands wanted to possess one of those notepads – to write (not sure what??).

If our Dad was happy with us, we would usually get something from his treasure trove. He would sometimes read out quotations from his notebook, or show us pencil sketches from his college days.

The things we collected thus were so precious, if only because our father had kept them so beautifully. We felt honoured to receive an old notepad or empty diary or a fountain pen.

When our mom opened her almirah, we would gaze in wonder at her beautiful silk sarees, neatly hanging in a line. There was the beautiful fragrance of sandalwood that gushed out of the wardrobe from the fragrance pouches she used.

Image courtesy – Dreamstime.com

Shiny sarees, the occasional sequinned saree, ornate jewelry boxes – we got glimpses of these as mom took out stuff, cleaned her cupboards and put them back in.

There was also a small, square, metal piggy bank that our mom had. It had the picture of a happy family on one side, and for the longest time I thought that it was ‘our family picture’. The piggy bank had a complicated locking mechanism, and we watched our mom pick out the key from a bunch of other important-looking keys to unlock the piggy bank.

When the cleaning was done, we usually went back to play or to study; knowing that those areas were out of bounds to us again….till the next time.

Yay! My Blog turns 3 today


Dear friends,

Three years ago, on the 25th of January 2015, I posted my first blog; to give the words and sentences that constantly dance in my head a chance to narrate their simple, everyday experiences.

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

Writing about these simple moments has made me a keen observer of all those small jigsaw pieces that fit seamlessly into each other, making our lives so vibrant and complete!

This journey, however, is not only about writing. It is also about having met such wonderful bloggers and readers from around the world, who have encouraged and motivated me to keep this blog going. I am deeply grateful to you all for the constant support, and for taking the time to read my blog and leaving your likes and comments.

My blog stats show that I have written 393 posts over these three years! Phew! Can’t believe I have actually written so much.

I hope to continue this journey and capture these simple moments that form the mosaic of our lives.

Thank you all so very much.

Best,

Nimi

Paneer Paranthas & A Decade-long friendship


The sky is fast filling-up with dark rain-bearing clouds. I can hear the koyal’s call as I walk to my friend’s apartment.

It is nearly noon, when I enter her house. Over the next twenty minutes, the ‘gang’ shows up, each of us having rushed through chores and assignments to be here with everyone else.

It is not often that you get to spend quality time with your closest friends; friends you’ve known and grown with for more than a decade.

What’s a meeting of dear friends without yummy food. There’s only one dish on the menu today – paneer paranthas.

The host, who is a cook par excellence, starts rolling and stuffing the first parantha. She tosses it with practiced ease on the tawa, as we watch her in admiration.

Paranthas are to be eaten hot, so we settle down on the kitchen floor for a round of gossip. We take turns to eat. The smell of ghee wafts all around us, as the paranthas are being made. Hot, golden, soft paranthas – perfect in every way. We add pickle and fresh yoghurt to our plates.

We talk about everything and nothing. We laugh at the silliest of jokes and relive old incidents, and talk about cooking fiascos, children-related stories, and of course, our dear husbands.

We realise how time has flown. Nearly a decade has rushed past. Where once we talked about birthday parties and play dates, food and party cakes, now we talk about universities, marriage and retirement. We talk about travel, about meeting up every year.

We realise how blessed we are to have this group of friends to lean on, laugh with and share these yummy paranthas with!