Monday, December 22, 2008

A quick tale 220

Everyday Christmas

The Santa sitting next to the till looked cute. His head bobbed whenever a customer placed their shopping bag on the counter. Shop, shop, he seemed to say, shop till you drop. Is that for sale?, she asked of the shop assistant. Sorry, that’s just for display. There are others in aisle number...18.

The Santa doll would look good on her golu steps. He would sit next to Chettiar and Chettichi dolls. Sort of like a strange cross-cultural exchange in the toy world. The two bulls which she inherited from her mother would go on either end of the step. She wondered if she could get her mother-in-law to ship Lakshmi-Saraswathi dolls. They would have to be packed well though. Otherwise they would end up with chipped noses. And no matter how mach PVC glue you applied, it would never quite look the same. There’s still time for all that, she thought, it’s only December yet. There’s almost 10 months between now and Navarathri.

Soon it will be Pongal. Then Maha Sivarathri. In April, it will be Rama Navami followed by Varusha Pirappu. And come June, there will be one festival after another. Janmashtami, Varalakshmi Nonbu, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Navarathri and soon thereafter, Deepavali. In between, there will be an assortment of smaller family occasions like birthdays and anniversaries to mark and celebrate. But it is always a good idea, she decided, to keep her eyes peeled for valuable additions to her doll collection.

Merry Christmas, wished the sales assistant, handing her the shopping bag. And to you too, she replied looking up at the Santa one more time. He didn’t seem so cheerful now. Paavam, she thought, just one festival every year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A quick tale 219

Ananya, Arushi, Advait, Ankit, Aryan

In class she was C. Geetha. There were two other other girls with the same name. R. Geetha and L. Geetha (whom she recently discovered on Facebook. Only now she was Geetha L Narayan). It would annoy her immensely whenever her name was called out and several heads turned to answer. It was back in school that she resolved never to answer when she heard her name but instead to wait until she was tapped on the shoulder. A habit which continues to date despite the fact that she is the only Geetha in her household.

It’s funny how she now has her own house and family. Just recently she was still her father’s daughter. A third daughter born after much beseeching to the gods for a male offspring. Even as a child she knew what an intense disappointment she was to her parents. Why else would they give her a name that was as commonplace as salt? In fact, she was uncannily right. Because it was not her parents who chose her name. They were still blaming the gods for not paying heed to their prayers and had completely forgotten to pick a name for the newborn. So much so that for months, she remained nameless. Some would call her ‘baby’, some others ‘ponnu’. Until one afternoon in her ninth month when a grand aunt who was visiting them from Bangalore, was playing with her and offered her a bunch of keys to rattle around. The little one clutched the keys firmly in her plump grasp and shook it this way and that way. Its clinking shiny metal kept her amused all afternoon.

Soon it was time for the aunt to leave and she needed her keys back. Papa, she gently demanded of the child, key-thaa...The little one shook her head and turned her face away. The elderly lady persisted in her appeal. Key-thaa, baby! Key-thaa, please! But no amount of pleading could get her to change the infant’s mind. Finally, some one had to prise the chubby fingers open to release the keys. The grand aunt missed her train that evening but the little one had gained a name. Key-thaa which later in the school register became Geetha.

Now, sitting in a far away country, 7-months pregnant with her first child, Geetha goes through Maneka Gandhi’s Book of Hindu names. Abha (glow), Aabharana (jewel), Aardharshini (idealistic), Aadhya (first power), Aadita (from the beginning)…so many fantastic names to choose from. She decides she will have at least half-a-dozen children. Each with a memorable name, unique like no other.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A very tempting resignation letter

I, So-and-so, do hereby resign from my post as mother, food provider, eternal comforter, lost sock finder, homework helper, nappy changer, 2 am feeder, bed time story reader, Boochandi monster fighter and from my countless other avatars. I also surrender my title of ‘Best Mummy in the World’ which was so graciously handed to me this morning after a particularly hideous tantrum from my part.

My reasons of resignation are various. But the chief among them is my desperate need to regain what remains of my earlier life before the onslaught of children. It was a life filled with deliciously slothful behaviour. I could have leisurely lie-ins on Sunday mornings. I could leave home at a moment’s notice without having to pack for an apocalypse. I could hold long conversations on economics without regular and frequent interruptions from a child demanding to know if he could have credit crunch for pudding. In short, it was a golden period. And I want it back.

I am deeply aware that I have been very blessed to have been accorded my role – twice over. However, I think I’m undeserving of such goodness. I am an extremely selfish person who needs her 8 hours of undisturbed sleep and one who worries about her brain turning to mush from too much nappy changing (what do you know? the human body works in mysterious ways). I crave a role beyond that of a mother. And now that I have completed my biological task, please may I be allowed to diversify?

I take this opportunity to thank the two most important people who have made my time as a mother memorable. It was mostly fun but god, was it boring! Thank you little people for enduring me. You deserve better.



p.s. The next incumbent to the post is hereby notified that we are running low on milk and the nail cutter is missing.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Write with me

Following on from my earlier attempts at understanding poetry, I've decided to try my hand at writing them (ha!). Please join me in my pitiful attempts at rhyme and meter and all that.

Today Jikku's year 1 class had a visitor - a poet called Coral Rumble (I like her already!). And here's an exercise she devised to write poetry.

  1. Take one poem-making kit (a pot, lined A4, plain A4, scissors and a pen)
  2. Fold the plain paper 4 times, creating 16 rectangles.
  3. Cut along the lines until you have 16 slips of paper.
  4. Decide on a subject you would really like to write a poem about, and write all your ideas - words, lines, phrases, similes - on the slips of paper. Use a new slip of paper for every idea and collect them all in your pot.
  5. When your pot is full, empty out your ideas and treat the slips of paper like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Put your ideas in the order you'd like them to appear in your poem. Play around with the pieces until you are happy with your ordering.
  6. Take the lined piece of paper and, taking each idea in order, expand your words, phrases etc into complete lines.
  7. Check to see if you need to add or take away words so that the lines link.
    There you have it - your very own poem!

Share your poems in the comment box and I might just be tempted to show you mine.

Thank you!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A quick tale 218

Cutcheri at 8

Jayalakshmi decided that she would sing Shanmugapriya for her ragam-thaanam-pallavi. It was sashti –the sixth day from Amavasai and Lord Murugan would approve of her choice of ragam.


Jayalakshmi sang the notes in the ragam, her voice echoing around the tiny bathroom. It was a miracle that her voice still retained its youthful ring. She sounded only mildly different from how she did 33 years ago when she gave her first kutcheri. Today people queued up to listen to Jayalakshmi Nagarajan. But how many days had she spent singing to the reflection in the bathroom mirror and wishing that the echo she heard was the resounding applause of her audience.


She let the notes slide into each other luxuriously as easily as if they had been greased with rich coconut oil. One did not get to her level by pure chance. It was all hardwork and struggle all the way. She has earned every bit of fame that she now wore so proudly around her shoulders. There was a time when her husband was the biggest hurdle in her path.

Chee! Why do you want to go and show off in public like that? He once demanded of her.

But, it’s only my music…that I want to share…she had protested meekly.

Why this whorish need for attention? He had barked and she had gone silent for years after that. But in June1992, he had suffered a minor stroke from which he never really recovered. He dribbled all the time and his speech was slurred. He quickly lost his teeth and almost overnight all his hair fell out. It was around that time that Jaya got a call from the trustee of the local pillayar temple one day. He had asked her if she would like to be one of the singers during the year’s Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations. He had demanded a immediate response as he had to give the flyers out for printing. She had said yes without thinking.

On the day of the kutcheri, she had pretended to go to the temple for an abishekam. Her sons were grown and were no longer interested in what she was upto as long as she had cooked their dinner. She hurried out of the house, only pausing at the doorstep to announce to nobody in particular, “I’m going to the temple. I should be home quite late. Dinner is in the kitchen…”

If you had seen her scurrying out of the house, dressed in an arakku-maroon silk saree that evening, you would have thought she was hurrying for a clandestine meeting. Soon she was being approached by others in the local town. There was going to be a Mariyamman kovil kumbabishekam. Would she be able to sing at the festival? The local girls’ school was organising a music competition. Would she be interested in judging it and giving away prizes? Sakthi-Saradha Sabha was going to hold a 10-day celebration to mark their 50th anniversary. Would she like to be among those performing at the event?

She cannot now remember how it happened. But one fine day, she just stopped hiding. She waited for her husband to ask her about the kutcheris. But he never confronted her and she never bothered to explain. She however overheard him telling his sister about “the changed ways of his family members”. But by then she no longer cared for his opinion. Plus, it was not as if she neglected them. She made sure they got their idlis and dosais on time and only then, did she really step out of the house.

This evening’s kutcheri was in Trichy and Jayalakshmi would have to leave home soon if she had to be there on time. The car would be here any moment. As Jayalakshmi readied herself briskly, she caught sight of her husband lying limply in his ease chair in the corner of his room. His dribble had wet the top of his vest. She wiped his chin with a cotton towel and held his face in one hand.

“I’ll go and come back, okay? I’ve told Geetha to give you your dinner at 7 o’ clock. Don’t wait for me, I’ll be quite late returning.”

She turned and left his room not waiting for him to respond. A car was waiting for her at the entrance when she reached there. Jaya settled into the seat, closed her eyes and brought her hands together in a prayer. Muruga…she called out softly as her head sank into the head-rest. They should be in Trichy in 3 hours' time.


For you.