Friday, November 8, 2013

Peace In The Midst of Tragedy

Though not a born romantic, I have seen, read and heard my fair share of romantic stories to have had developed my own version of how an ideal romantic day should be. It had roses, picnic baskets, walking hand in hand, and every other clich├ęd idea I had picked up during my impressionable years.
The fact that mine is a love marriage, much against the wishes of my family, thanks to our different religions, added enough melodrama. The stories and movies I had seen cemented the concept of filmy displays of love in my mind as well.
Marrying your best friend comes with its own perks, but it has its cons too, which I realized a few months into my marriage. We knew each other inside out, tested each other’s patience and had the regular set of minor conflicts to major verbal spars that happened in any household.  Add to it our inability to be emotionally expressive and stubbornness when it comes to our opinions, and you get the basic idea. 

There were days when we looked at one another and wondered how we had ever gone from friends to lovers, and if it had been a wise thing to get married after all. As years went by, we mellowed down with age. There weren’t any over the top displays of affection or fierce fights…we were friends, and we continued to be friends first and foremost. 

Yet, my Platinum Day of Love came unexpectedly, and in the middle of a loss that I mourned. And to be precise, this day came on April 26th, 2011 for me.And it is about this day I would like to write as my submission for Platinum Day of Love contest. 

Now, to give a little background information; my family has been Sai devotees since a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean from the time my father was a child. Over the years, my mother became a devotee as well, and we as a family, have been devotees since quite a long time.
 Coming back, I stay in Bangalore with my husband, close to Puttaparthi where Sathya Sai Ashram is located. On April 24th, we received the news of Sathya Sai Baba’s demise on our way back home from our cousin’s place. I got to know that his body would be placed on public display for the devotees’ view for two days, following which the burial would be carried out.
Knowing that I was a devotee, H offered to drive me to Puttaparthi on Sunday, 24th April though it was Easter. I’d like to point out at this juncture that he had never shared my enthusiasm or devotion when it comes to Sai baba. I was confused and refused, not sure if I wanted to travel 155 kilometers to see Swami’s lifeless body. I knew that the body would be placed on display on Monday and Tuesday in order to accommodate the devotees who would be coming to Ashram to have one last glance.
However, by the time Monday had come and left, I was left with a strong urge to visit Sathya Sai Ashram just to catch a final glimpse of someone I considered a part of my family. My family was bereft and so was I and I decided to continue with my plan and visit the ashram on Tuesday. I insisted that my husband take me to the Ashram. Knowing that it being the final day of mourning, the crowd would be massive and probably uncontrollable, my husband didn’t warm up to the idea and asked me to consider my decision. I insisted stubbornly that I had to go, and he finally relented saying that we were going “at my risk”. He said that the crowd could get uncontrollable and I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.
I was hurt by the thought he had placed the blame on me even before something had happened, and held on to my decision to go. Finally having decided it was pointless to argue, it was decided that we start at 6 in the morning. We reached Sai ashram at around 9:30 am in the morning but were unable to park anywhere close to the Ashram like we normally did. We had to park our car in a ground located approximately 3.5 kilometers away from the ashram and walk to the Ashram.
Since Ashram normally did not allow mobiles to be carried inside, we had decided to leave our phones back in the car. We walked all the way from the ground to the Ashram and reached a spot where women and men were asked to form separate queues that would be allowed inside the Ashram.  H decided that we will meet each other at a restaurant we had visited at on one of our previous visits, in case we lost sight of one another once we joined the queue.
And as expected, once we became a part of the jostling crowd that formed the queue, we could no longer locate one another. The queue moved at a snail’s pace and the crowd started getting restless. I still remember being sandwiched between women, unable to breath due to the number of people around me jostling, pushing and shoving. The claustrophobic in me found the experience a tad difficult as breathlessness set in. With the sun straight above our head, our throats parched and feet tired from all the walking, we continued waiting and walking through the sandy dust filled roads onto the Ashram gates.
There wasn’t water to be drunk, there wasn’t shade to rest in, and everyone else somehow seemed to be in a rush to reach the gates first, even if we weren’t going anywhere right then thanks to the closely controlled long queue before us. Once we reached closer to the Ashram gates, things got a little better though, and we were asked to line up outside the gate while the volunteers offered food, water and refreshments to anyone who needed it.
I remember entering the gate at close to 1 and being guided into the hall where the body was placed on display. We were allowed a quick look that lasted for a few mere seconds before asking to move forward. Once I was done with the darshan, I got out of the ashram and tried to reach the meeting point I had decided on with H. This was at around 3:00 PM in the afternoon.  By this time, I was tired, hungry and emotionally and physically drained out by the experience. My feet hurt and head throbbed, and the only thing I wanted to do was to reach H. I had an overwhelming need to be near him, and somehow felt that he would make me feel better.
When I tried to move in the direction of the restaurant, I was stopped by a lady constable who informed that I couldn’t go there because the road and the area had been blocked for public. I tried to explain to her that my husband was waiting for me in the barricaded area, but she refused to listen and guided me in the opposite direction. I tried to get directions from a few people, and tried to get to the restaurant through the sub lanes and in roads but after a few minutes realized that I was lost. I had no idea where I was going, and had no means to contact H, the one person who’d know what to do. I tried borrowing someone’s phone and calling him in the hope that he might have reached our car somehow but didn’t get an answer. This only meant that he was somewhere around; just that I didn’t know how to reach him.
I kept wandering around, trying to use my sense of direction to get to the meeting point with no luck. Finally, I retraced my steps and reached the gates of Ashram I had exited earlier.
 I made a second attempt to cross the barricade and move to the area where the restaurant was located. I was stopped once again by a young constable who seemed to be giving me a piece of his mind, thankfully in a language I couldn’t grasp. I tried to explain that my husband was waiting for me but he wouldn’t hear of it. I was almost on the verge of tears when I saw his superior officer walking up to him to enquire about the situation that involved a very frazzled looking me trying to explain my plight using English, broken Tamil and flailing hands. I repeatedly told both the officer and the constable that I was supposed to meet my husband somewhere in the area that had been barricaded off, I had no mobile and had no way of contacting him. I don’t know what the superior saw in my face but he asked the constable to let me through.
I ran as much as I could, with my blistered and tired legs, trying to locate the restaurant and started looking around for H. For a second I couldn’t locate him, and I could feel a panic attack starting up inside me. That’s when I saw H sitting on the side on the footpath pavement, waiting patiently for me, looking at me, perhaps with a little hidden amusement in his eyes.
I had never felt the sudden gush of relief and calmness that engulfed me in the moment I saw him sitting there. I have never felt safer, happier or more emotional than in that one second, when I finally spotted him. As I walked up to him, I knew that I had started crying, big fat tears rolling down my cheeks, as I babbled on about how I had not been allowed to come to this spot, how I had almost got lost and how I didn’t know what to do, hugging him awkwardly all the time.
I remember that we walked all the way back, another 3.5 kilometers, my hands safely held within his. My blisters wouldn’t allow me to walk for a long time, and we had to stop every ten minutes or so. He kept checking if I wanted water, food packets or fruits being offered by the volunteers. He kept asking me if I wanted to wait for some more time before continuing with our walk. He kept making sure that I was fine, physically and emotionally. I answered mostly with the nod of my head because of the overwhelming flow of emotions within me.
On one side,  I was upset and broken over the loss, but on the other side, I was glad that I had found someone who would stand by me, support me in all my craziest moments, take my nagging and accusations and still find ways to make me comfortable and happy.
Once I reached home, I simply thanked him for taking me to the ashram but have never told him how it felt when I saw him sitting there, waiting for me.
So, that friends, was my Platinum day of love, the day when I realized that what I shared with this man was something as precious as Platinum, if not more. His love, and understanding, had not faded away with six years of marriage, and his care fit and formed the perfect band around my heart. It’s been two years now but I will never forget the sense of peace that seeing his face in the crowd brought me, and that is enough for me to know that I have found my best friend, the biggest support and better half, all rolled into one.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Past Musings: Accident At Work

Oct 2nd, 2009

Dear God,

Never ever do that to someone… I saw her in pain and I was shocked. I couldn’t think for a minute and I haven’t recovered from it even now. I would like a hug. I did get one from a colleague, but somehow I am missing H. If he was around, he would have held me close.

I am also a wee bit proud that I did everything right and got help immediately, but I will never ever grudge her for anything silly. I was upset with her yesterday, but I had forgotten the whole thing and had come to have a Happy Friday…and look at what happened, it’s a Freaky Friday now. I am so freaked out even now. I can still see everything in my mind…the blood, her pain, the way she screamed out…it's all etched out in my brain and seems like it wont leave me alone. I am missing H so much right now.I wish I could go back home.

There’s such an eerie silence in our team today. it’s just me, the boss and A and all of us are lost in our own world. The only sound that breaks the silence once in a while is A's sniffing and coughing.
How is it that when something horrible happens to someone u don’t like, you feel kinship to that person and it feels like you would do anything; including giving them a hug for being fine….or is it just me and my obviously tied in knots mind. I think it might be me…
But right now, the relief is so big that I could give her a bear hug for being fine…Thank you, Thank you for keeping her fine.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Musing: A Brief Update

Dear God, 

When I began blogging, it was because  I wanted to use this place as a storing place of my innermost thoughts, secrets, musings and confessions...which goes on to explain why I chose the name I chose for my blog....later, the high of making new friends, trying to be popular and trying to keep up with all the blogs got the original idea side tracked.

And after a few months, I somehow found myself in a situation where I had to take up writing as a job, and so had little time left for writing for pleasure. The only posts I wrote anymore were those for blog contests...writing had become a means to and end. It was as though the world of blogging was lost to me...I was a stranger peeping through the key hole once in a while to see what was happening in this world.

Now, I'm acting on my impulse again and starting with this blog...this time, though, there's a difference. I am going to post all the diary entries I have written so far, with nothing to classify them.
Why I'm doing this, I have no idea....I just know that I want to do it. And in retrospect, isn't that what life should be about? To do what you want to do?

So, hello, once again, Blog World! Let's see how long this stint lasts!

Signing off for now...


Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Braid Tales

The story goes that the one thing that the one thing that cinched his decision to marry my mom was her long, thick hair. He says that when he and his family came to meet the girl, he and his family was so much in awe of her hair that his mom, my grand mom, exclaimed that the bride to be (aka my mom) had more hair than that of all five of her daughters put together. The only person who pooh-poohed this was my maternal grandmother, who had her own fair share of stories guessed it right, her dark, glossy, and healthy hair.

So,  When you come from a family with women who are known for their long, thick and glossy hair, it is imperative that you start dreaming about being able to join the club at the earliest. At least, that's what I thought it should be from the time I could remember. Right from the time I can remember, used to b the one gawking at my mom's hair, admiring how my mom plaited her hair. My eyes would move on their own volition when she parted her hair into three, and tied her braid, one part across the other, then the other part across, watching as the long hair braided itself into a soft and thick black rope.  Her braid would hang heavy and would swerve gracefully when she moved around. Her hair, I thought, always winked at me, taunted me, and maybe even stuck an imaginary tongue out at me.  By the time I was 6 or 7, I was determined that I would also be the proud owner of long, silky soft hair.

What I hadn't prepared for was my mother's decision to keep my hair as short as possible, for as long as possible. However hard I tried to convince my mom that letting my hair grow out would be a good idea, she didn't budge from her decision. She felt I was too young to have long hair. 

I still remember going to the salon with my mom, proudly declaring at the tender age of 8 that "I was so over boy cut" and wanted a Diana cut for a change.

 I sat in the swiveling chair, waiting for the scissors to help me get the princess like look I was secretly hoping for. Unfortunately, the lady at the salon declared that I was too young for a Diana cut. She said that what might suit me, and would be a better option would be.....surprise, surprise, a boy cut. And so it happened, that for the first ten years of my life or so, I remained the girl with the boy cut.

Not to be deterred, I continued admiring my mom's (and anyone else's) hair from afar and kept myself satisfied with make-believe long hair...fashioned from bath towels, scarves, dupattas or anything else that would resemble hair. 

And in the meanwhile, I kept pestering anyone who'd listen to me to help me tie my hair into pig tails, resembling my favorite heroine from the comic strip I was a huge fan of. Long story short, I honestly believed that if I could manage to dress like her, and look like her, the genie from the comics would be my friend too. 

After multiple trials, and failure (both at the pig tails and summoning genie) I finally found my excuse to let my hair be when I was admitted to a dance class. Perhaps, it was my whining, or the teacher's insistence, but my mom decided that I could keep my hair long from now on.  My father's silent permission definitely helped to move the case along as well.

From then on, my mom changed tacks and moved over to the "Pro Long Hair" team deftly. With the same tenacity she showed in keeping my hair short, she took over the duty of ensuring that my hair would grow thick and black, and compensate for all the years when it was missing in action. She concocted oils, potions and what not, and gave me the head massages with oil (along with strict instructions) on how to avoid hair fall, split ends and dandruff.

I was the kid with the new toy, and couldn't care any less about the words of wisdom she offered. Just as any other teenager would, I refused to pay any heed to her words and continued with my own fashion experiments, ignoring the effect they had on my hair.  Even after I crossed over the threshold of teenage years into adulthood, I refused to take responsibility of protecting my hair from dust, hard water, weather changes, and everything in between.

 Of course, my dream of thick, long braid had come true, but I wasn't ready to do my fair share to take care of the precious thing. Little did I know that "With great hair, comes great responsibilities"...and what that left me with me was a head full of hair which on the best of days, looked and felt like a stack of straw, and on other days, preferred to resemble Medusa's head. What upset me further was how it felt even worse when I ran my fingers through or over it.

Gone were the days I had walked around with the enigmatic smile, when I saw women nudging one another, pointing out my braid with a tinge of wonder and envy.  Gone were the days when young girls gawked, and giggled when they saw my braid, reminding me of my younger days. Gone were the days, when I tried different styles of braiding and kept going back to the mirror to how each one fared.  And definitely gone were the days, when I could  let my braid caress my neck without the fear of irritation and red patches blossoming thanks to the attack of split ends. And all this, when "The Braid" was back in vogue.

It is at this stage, when in desperation, I was wondering how well the tonsured look would go down with my family, the campaign for DoveSplit Ends Rescue System caught my attention. What can I say, other than that Dove is the Super Man, Spider Man, and all other super heroes rolled into one, for my hair. It has been the protector of the weak (hair), binder of all (split ends) and maker of happy endings (to my braid).

 Now, I can once again braid my hair, and be rest assured, even without doing multiple checks, that my braid would be the thick black one, without the "Cat dragged through it" look. 

Once again, I can renew my admittance to the "Women of Braid" club, and hopefully stay there for longer. 

How will I ever repay you, my Dove, my hero!!!

Written as a part of Dove Split End Rescue System campaign.