Thursday, July 31, 2008


It’s been 49 years since he died – July 31, 1969. My Ajja (paternal grandfather) – B.D.Appaya. I never knew him. To me he was a photograph in “Shivananda”, my granny’s home in Mercara (now known as Madikeri) the district capital of Coorg. I still remember the pedestal in the corner on which his photograph was placed. This was in the living room and you could see it as you entered. The table top of the pedestal was always covered with a white crocheted piece or a damask table cloth, again pristine white.

The Kodavas are ancestor worshippers; they also worship the river Cauvery and call themselves the children of Cauvery. “Meedi Beppaddu” (an offering to the ancestors and to loved ones who are no more) is an important ritual in every Kodava family. Even today, I associate this ritual with my Ajja, despite the fact that on special occasions and on their death anniversaries, I do it for Papa, Umesh Bojappa (Papa’s younger brother) and for Avaya (as I used to call my paternal grandmother).

I remember in “Shivananda”, every morning, afternoon and evening, the ‘Meedi’ would be placed before Ajja’s portrait. The ‘Meedi’ would consist of a small portion of each item freshly prepared that would consist of the meal for the rest of the family at that particular time. This would usually be placed on a small plate or a small portion cut from a banana leaf. For the non-Kodavas reading this, it may sound funny, sacrilegious even, but the ‘Meedi’ in the afternoon and evening would be accompanied with a lit cigarette placed on a small, clean ashtray and a peg of liquor!!! I got to know Ajja smoked and enjoyed his drink.

On special occasions or before the start of an important event such as an engagement, wedding or birth in the family, the entire family (immediate and extended) present in “Shivananda” would come together in the living room and stand before his portrait. A lamp would be lit and along with the ‘Meedi’ comprising the meal, a betel nut placed over a paan leaf and a small brass vessel with holy water (from the river Cauvery) would be placed before him. Everyone would be given a few grains of rice and Avaya after blowing the conch shell would lead us in prayer seeking his blessings and those of our fore fathers before him. Now the prayer did not consist of any shlokas or bhajans or any such thing, just plain speak; something akin to the evangelist’s style but a trite more sophisticated and low-voiced!! Once the prayer was over, we threw the grains of rice onto his portrait. Avaya would ladle out the holy water with a small conch shell and pour it three times onto our extended palm (the right palm in a scoop, placed on the left). We would then stand in queue to touch Ajja’s portrait three times as a symbol of touching his feet. I have seen some people even touch the foot of the pedestal!! We would then disperse and that was it.

Ajja died two years before I was born. So there is not even a fuzzy memory of the man. Even if I was born earlier it would not have made much of a difference because I was about five when I first visited Coorg. Looking back I realize, I don’t know much about him; I probably know far more details about not only the various Gods in the Hindu pantheon but also various other religions. But not my own grandfather!!!

Yes, yes……there are millions in this world in a similar situation and HELLO, if they don’t feel a thing, then good for them and if they do then I totally empathize. I empathize because there are times when I think of him and I feel like a part of me is missing, like a piece of a puzzle or something.

Of late, it has also begun to dawn on me that when my sisters and I get together (especially Tulsi and I), we have these really funny anecdotes that we share and at times some very intense discussions about our family but Ajja has never been a part of any of these. The reason could be that we don’t know much about him. In fact, until this morning, I was not very sure of his full name and I had to call Chima Bojappa (my father’s younger brother; next in line to Papa). I also mentioned to him that I wanted to know more about Ajja and he promised to share his memories when I visited next. Come to think of it, I have not seen another photo of Ajja either, just the portrait on the pedestal.

P.S.: Suchsmita Majumdar is responsible for this entry. The other day (July 30) she wrote a beautiful and nostalgic piece ending with a few lines about her grandfather. I read it again on the 31st which happened to be Ajja’s anniversary and I guess all my emotions and memories came to the fore.

I am grateful to Suchi though; this entry of mine will probably help my kids – Manoj (in the immediate future), Aarzoo and Tamanna (in the not too distant future), know me better in some ways and see the softer, bumbling and confused side of me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thought for the day

Across the country in all the Kendriya Vidyalayas, the morning assembly is much the same. You have the drill called out by the School Captain. Then the prayer

ॐ असतो माँ, सद्गमय
तमसो माँ, ज्योतीरगमय
दया कर दान विद्या का
हमें परमात्मा देना
दया कर दान वीद्या का
ॐ शांती शांती शांती

That's how the prayer ended. The students were divided into four houses. In most of the schools the houses were named - Ashoka, Shivaji, Tagore and depending on that particular KV there was one more which may or may not be common with the other KVs. For example, in my school in Chennai, K.V.CLRI, the fourth house was Bharati after the great Tamil poet Bharatiyar but in my school in Cochin, K.V. Port Trust, we had Raman after the great scientist and Nobel laureate Sir C.V.Raman. Every week each house would be assigned the task of carrying out the assembly programme which included the pledge, the thought for the day, the news, announcements and the National Anthem. There would be a slight variations in the theme if it were a special occasion or we had a special guest (more likely the Assistant Commissioner or the Education Officer of that particular region).

Now the assembly programme would be in English, thrice a week, in Hindi - twice a week and in Sanskrit, once a week. This meant that the pledge would be taken according to the language of the day and the thought for the day and the news too would be read in the same language. The pledge - All Indians are my brothers and sisters......... - led to a profusion of PJs (potta/poor jokes) with, "Why did Rajiv Gandhi marry Sonia Gandhi?" taking pride of place. The answer was because she is Italian and all Indians are his brothers and sisters. Truly juvenile!!!

The, Thought for the day, depended on the school. In some KVs the student assigned the job would just read a line like, "Pride comes before a fall" and be done with it. At times which were few and far between, a student may seek something more profound and read it to the assembly but again it would be just a line or two. But some schools insisted on a three minute speech as a means to ensure that students were trained in public speaking. The news consisted mainly of the newspaper headlines of the day. Announcements would include the results of various competitions or the exam dates or some new rule or whatever........ My school in Mangalore, K.V.Panambur used to set aside one day of the week for quiz during assembly. Unlike in other schools, here we used to stand according to the house we were in and not in single file along with our classmates. More like Hogwarts (surely you know the school that Harry Potter went to). So there were four questions asked; one for each house.

I must mention K.V.Vasco-da-Gama here. It was the first KV, I went to, after a brief stint in the world of convent/private school education. I was in Class IV and I do have many memories of how naughty I was and also my first serious crush (after my dad of course).

When we had a special guest for the assembly, he/she would give a speech and we would have to sing a few extra songs of the patriotic type; read Vande mataram, Sare Jahan se acha, Ekla chalo re, Hey Muhinjo watan etc. Or put up a little skit or dance, in short a little programme showcasing our talents!!!!

Assembly times could be tough, especially with the sun beating down on us and we would become very fidgety (we would make marks on the ground with our shoes, whisper to the friend ahead or behind, pull the skirt of the girl in front or if one got really bold her braid, some really naughty boys would manage to sprinkle ink on our shirts and so on). Those who had a class test would bring out little sheets of paper and try furtive rote learning; we got quite good at that and were rarely ever caught. A few lucky ones would faint in the heat and be carried away into the shade. We would also be envious of the mate who was on class duty (this came according to roll number) or who had prior permission to stay away from the assembly owing to ill-health or some such reason. The really sneaky ones would somehow manage to be let off only to sit behind and complete the unfinished home work or project. But hey it would be their turn to envy us if we had a games period on that particular day. The ordeal would come to an end with the singing of the National Anthem which we would sing full throated and with gusto.

I must confess that I am severely musically challenged and would often get kicked in my shins for singing the prayer and the anthem (and of course the special occasion songs) off key. My best friend, please note, my best friend - Indira Krishnan - would actually turn around and gnashing her teeth, whisper loudly, "Muthamma, just shut up", or "Shut up ya, stop braying like a donkey"!! Can you beat that? The other person who quite vocally blew away my musical aspirations was my sister Tulsi (my father's favourite niece....grrrr) and the man himself, B.A.Devaya (my father) but we shall talk about it some other day.

Well, I have no idea, for what joy I have written all this. But I was going through my diary in which I had written some lines, each of which would have made a good, 'Though for the day' and memories of school came flooding back. In case any of you reading this are in KV currently, please feel free to use these lines for your morning assembly.

"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our reciprocal gift to God".

"It does no good for sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism, when the wolves think otherwise".

"A good teacher's influence affects eternity".
(you will surely score brownie points for this particular one. Better still use it on teacher's day and by jove, all thy "sins" shall be forgiven)

"There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music".
(Now use this with care. If you have a Princey who is not in favour of extra-curricular activities or CCA periods, you will be a marked person and hence I will advice caution. For the uninitiated, CCA or co-curricular activity periods is time set aside for inter-house competitions or various school club - like nature club, scouts & guides or drama club etc. - activities. These are usually the last two periods on Saturdays in about 99% of the KVs)".

"One who brags that he is a self-made man relieves God of an awful responsibility".
(Again caution kid, don't say I didn't warn you; your Princey/class teacher/house master or mistress may believe he/she is self made and will haul your arse for a good kick)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hugs for Rakshita

This is for my favourite niece Rakshita…… lovely princess and champion all rounder. Tuesday is the day of the week we had set aside for us to have our long telephone conversations but somehow I have not been able to stick to the schedule. Let me clarify, I think of calling her every Tuesday, but it is always either too early in that she may still be in school or too late, she is in bed!!!

Rakshita is a lot like me; shows affection quite easily and showers me with loads of hugs and kisses. Quite a few times she told me, “Muthamma Maasi, you are the best”. The memory of this perks me up whenever I am feeling low and never fails to bring a smile on. She came visiting this summer and we had a great time, the ten days that she was here. Rakshita and I would hug each other often and Aarzoo would join, followed by little Tamanna and we would get Rupan (Rakshita’s mom and my soul sister) to join. We christened this group hug our circle of love.

Aarzoo and Tamanna’s paediatrician, Dr. Nagesh has this poem on the notice board at his residential clinic. I have always wanted to write it down but could never do so as I would be busy with either one of the girls or both. But the other day little Aditya fell ill and I went with my friend Runa (Adi’s mom) to the clinic and while they were consulting with the Doctor, I jotted this poem down.

So Rakshita here you are; today is a Tuesday and you must be in school in far away Chandigarh. And I am sitting here at my desk in Bangalore and hoping that someday when you get net savvy (which will be sooner than I think) you will read this……


There’s something in a simple hug

That always warms the heart

It welcomes us back home

And makes it easier to part.

A hug’s a way to share the

Joy and sad times we go through

Or just a way for friends to say

They like you ‘cause

You are you

Hugs are for anyone,

For whom we really care

From your grandma to your neighbour

Or a cuddly teddy bear.

A hug is an amazing thing –

It’s just the perfect way

To show the love we are feeling

But can’t find

The words to say……

I don’t know who wrote this piece but the copyright belongs to Kingsley, USA.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Did Nothing Today

Suchi this is for you – a tribute to the weekly checklist you put up

I saw this on the notice board at Aarzoo’s school – Little Feat. I just loved it and requested the Admin Officer at the school to give me a copy and she did. Thank you Ma’am. I wanted to share this with everyone and hence the entry in my blog. In a way, I feel it does hold true for all of us……….

I Did Nothing Today

When children come home at the end of the day

The question they’re asked as they run out to play

Is “Tell me, what did you do today?”

And the answer they give makes you sigh with dismay

“Nothing. I did nothing today!”

Perhaps “Nothing” means that I read a book,

Or….with a directress I got to cook.

Maybe I painted a picture of blue,

Or heard a story about a mouse that flew.

Maybe I wrote in my journal myself,

Or found a great book on the library shelf.

Maybe I helped a friend today,

Or went to my favourite area alone,

Maybe today was the very first time,

That my scissors followed a very straight line,

Maybe I sang a song right to the end,

Or worked with a special brand new friend.

When you’re three, four, or five your heart has wings

And “nothing” can mean so many things

I have no idea who wrote this gem. But whoever did was a very keen observer and may be a teacher. However, I think that this is true for anybody whatever their age. There have been times when I have come home after a long day at the office and felt that I had not done anything. But if I were to list out the things that I had done that day, I am sure I would have quite a long one, which may include –

- chatting with a friend who is feeling blue

- thinking, strategizing and drafting a proposal

- making those calls which could clear paths or create new obstacles

- tearing my hair out

- taking a break and actually doing nothing

Thank you Suchi, for putting out that list. Like I said, this one is for you………….

In case you are wondering who is Suchi; check out

Monday, July 21, 2008

My daughter, my teacher

I am usually not one to fall for those pleading eyes and whiny pleas of the puppy dog kind but for some reason gave in to Aarzoo’s pleas of, “Please Mummy, please, please, please, just this once”. I had picked her up from school and she wanted a balloon; the last one left from the balloon seller at the gates. I am really tough on the kids and therefore quite unpopular with them. Brook no nonsense because give and inch and my brood will take not just the mile but the whole darned 1000 square miles!

But on the afternoon of the 17th of July 2008, I gave in for some reason. Maybe it was because I was recovering from a bad cough and did not want to lapse into a spasm arguing with the persistent daughter. Maybe it was my sister Deepti’s birthday and we were on our way to wish her after school. Whatever the reason, Aarzoo couldn’t believe her luck and because she did not want to take a chance lest I changed my mind, she quickly scampered towards the hawker. The lone balloon was round in shape, translucent white in colour with a bright magenta coloured heart shaped balloon inside. The treasure cost us Rs. 10/-

Aarzoo was excited beyond words when the plan to visit her aunt unfurled and she decided on the spot to gift the balloon to Deepti. The ride from school to Deepti’s place was spent rehearsing the process of gifting the balloon and what she was going to say. Me of little faith was quite cynical about the whole thing and I was like, “Yeah, right! Let’s see if you go through with this”. For when push comes to shove, the kid within might win over and all those generous intentions may slide down the drain. Come on, let’s be realistic. After all who does not like to own and play with a fancy balloon like that, aged five and a half.

Thankfully, all that was just thoughts I had and were not said aloud. Impervious to the doubting Thomas gnawing at me, the little one was glowing with delight and getting on my nerves with her impatience. I guess, at that age, when you have a plan and focus, even a five minute drive can seem pretty long.

Deepti is my youngest uncle’s (on my father’s side) daughter and among my youngest sisters; Aarzoo addresses her as Deepti Kunjavva (Kunji = little, Avva = mother, in Kodava Tak, the language of the Coorgs). We arrive. Finally!! Aarzoo jumps off the car and runs up the stairs hesitating a little on hearing Nano’s barking (Nano, a six month old Labrador retriever, is the latest member of member of my Uncle’s family). Now my daughter is not afraid of dogs or animals but she does respect their space and temperaments and I am pleased to see that in the manner in which she deals with Nano as well. Anyway, she is the first to reach and there is total pandemonium. Aarzoo was screaming her lungs out singing, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEEPTI KUNJAVVA, Nano’s barking had reached several notches higher in terms of the decibels and he was jumping on Aarzoo. Poor Deepti was trying hard to keep Nano under control, respond to Aarzoo and welcome me into the home, all at the same time!!!

Aarzoo stood her ground, so Nano piped down and I could give Deepti a hug and kiss her cheeks and wish her in relative peace. Aarzoo immediately held out the balloon and said, “Deepti Kunjavva, this is for you. My birthday gift for you”. Deepti was all smiles and mid-way through a “thank-you Aarzoo”, when the brat quipped, “And see that heart shaped balloon inside this round one? That is to tell you, I love you, Kunjavva”.

Hold it. What was that? I don’t think that was part of the rehearsed lines. Where did that come from? I got all choked up and risked getting emotional and teary-eyed. So I bent down to pat Nano still reeling from what had just happened.

“No big deal”, you may say. “Not worth wasting reams in cyber space”.

“Ah! But you are of the generously forgiving nature”, I say. “Remember the cynic who did not believe that her five and a half year old brat would part with such a treasure as a balloon with a magenta coloured heart-shaped balloon within?” “It was ME of little faith!!

Well, I better start eating my thoughts, for my little one has a lot of teaching in her soul for this weather beaten hag of a mother.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rumblestrip Venkity…....for Kauser

C.S.Venkiteswaran is a friend who writes his column Rumblestrip every Thursday for the City Express in Cochin. I am a privileged reader in that I get a preview whenever he remembers to send me his piece for the week a prior to it being published. He constantly urges me to write and I love reading his columns. The following is a chat we had one afternoon in late 2006. He has been nagging me for quite a while to put my thoughts of Kauser on paper. One fine day I shared this chat with my film-maker sister Shubashini and she suggested that I enter this chat into my blog as is. I do as she suggested and I hope you understand the connection I have with Kauser…………

Chat begins:

2:59 PM me: Hi

How are you

venkity: fine

me: I am Ahmedabad now

venkity: on nation-trot again?

3:00 PM me: Hahahhhahhaha

venkity: on business?

me: Do you know Kauser Banu

Yes on work

venkity: no

3:01 PM how r things?

9 minutes

3:11 PM me: Sorry was on the phone

Ok about Kauser Banu......

neither do I know her

3:12 PM But we have something in common

Both of us conceived our first child around the same time

3:13 PM Only I did so in peaceful Cochin and she was in Ahmedabad and during the riots was raped and "dewombed" and left to die

Her foetus thrust onto a trident and taken round the streets

Am I traversing the very same streets now

I will never know

3:14 PM venkity: mm

me: But I am pregnant with my second child and

Am in Gujarat

Do I have a destiny for these things?

I will never know

venkity: (congrats anyway)

me: Kauser Banu I will never know her either

3:15 PM Thanks

Bye for to go

venkity: there is a very touching aspect to what u said

me: Will be writing about this soon and will send it to you for editing

Oh tell me what

is it

3:16 PM venkity: the parallels i mean

me: Yes I know

I saw the picture of the foetus on the trident

3:17 PM Aarzoo was a foetus at the time and of the same age

venkity: phew


me: You can imagine what it did to me

venkity: i can guess

3:18 PM me: There are times I look at my baby and can't help but think about the baby that was and of Kauser

Being here in a sense is quite traumatic

You should see the Hindu Rashtra sign boards

venkity: send me some pics

u have a digicam?

3:19 PM me: Nah....wish I could send you

3:20 PM Sorry about that

Will you take a look at the piece when I write about this and help me with it

3:21 PM venkity: sure, but pls do write it

me: Will do

venkity: it is something that should be written i feel

me: In fact I want a big favour from you

Can you save this chat and forward it to me as e-mail in order that I will be able to remember it

3:22 PM I was thinking about this and wrote to you impromptu

3:23 PM venkity: ok done

3:24 PM me: Thanks and I promise to write it as soon as I can

venkity: i think it gets automatically saved if it is not off the record

3:25 PM me: Ok ....but I want you to save it nevertheless as a file and then copy paste it and send it to me as an e-mail

venkity: ok

me: One can never be sure of these things

Ok then

3:26 PM venkity: take care


me: Bye for now and thank you for agreeing to help

venkity: anytime, mam

End of Chat

I often think of her and her unborn baby. Aarzoo is a constant reminder and Tamanna to an extent. How old was Kauser when she conceived and when she was killed? What were her dreams? Did she think of her future and that of the life within? Was hers an arranged marriage? Did she love her husband or had she made compromises? Was she a working woman? Did she live in Ahmedabad all her life or did she come there after she was married? Did she plan to go to her mother’s for her confinement? Would our paths have crossed, ever?......Millions of questions for a woman I will never know……….A woman I would not have heard of and we each would have lived our own lives and played out our destiny. May be this is it…….this is the way it was meant to be. She going away and I overwhelmed by the connection, writing these pieces as a tribute to a fellow human being, a woman I will never know. Adieu Kauser, may you rest in peace, may your baby forgive this cruel world. May I be a good person and a good mom and bring up my daughters as good human beings, a fitting tribute to your “ajanmi bitiya”

Thank you, Venkity, for the constant encouragement to write about this. It helped as you said it would.

Of Poets and Healing…….

I found the poem in my last entry a couple of years ago. The Gujarat riots of 2002 shook the very foundations of my faith in our democracy, secularism and all the other isms and made it collapse with the earthquake within, that measured 7.0 on the Richter scale. The riots of 1984 which shook the country prior to this was the first instance of my core turning to rubble…….all that I heard and saw on television or read in the papers made me question my oh so “Kendriya Vidyalayan” beliefs.

The riots of 2002 received greater coverage owing to the influx of cable television and the increasing number of news channels. In the melee that followed, the newspapers and magazines were not to be left behind. I had seen photographs of the massacres and in particular the picture of a foetus on a ‘trishul’ (trident) was devastating for me but I had to stay strong for the foetus inside me. She (I did not know it was she then) gave me the will to go on and take a breath and then another and live on, not reel under the images that I was seeing.

I realize though that I was not healed. But this poem, this poem was written for me. For closure. For healing. For peace. For hope. There have been many instances when I have read something that either seemed as though I had written it or that the author was me, only in a different body, space and time. It was the same with “Kauser Bano ki ajanmi bitiya ki ore se” – the poet knew something was amiss and wrote this piece to heal me or was it to heal himself and in turn offer me some kind of closure?

Found this poem in the compilation titled – Dark Leaves of the Present, Edited by Angana P.Chatterji & Shabnam Hashmi, Published by ANHAD

Thank you, Anshu Malviya for writing this poem. If I had the same felicity and verve with Urdu, I would have written this posting in the very tongue which was the first language I ever spoke.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kauser Bano - A tribute

कौसर बानो की अजन्मी बिटिया की ओर से

सब कुछ ठीक था अम्मा
तेरे खाए अचार की खटास
तेरी चखी हुई मिट्टीअक्सर पहुँचते थे मेरे पास.......
सूरज तेरी कोख से छनकर
आता था मुझ तक

मै बहुत खुश थी अम्मा
मुझे लेनी थी जल्दी ही
अपने हीस्से की साँस
मुझे लगनी थी अपने हीस्से की भूख
मुझे देखनी थी
अपने हीस्से की धुप

मैं बहुत खुश थी अम्मा
अब्बू की हथेली की छाया
तेरे पेठ पर देखी थी मैंने
मुझे उनका चेहरा देखना था
मुझे अपने हीस्से के अब्बू देखने थे
हीस्से की दुनीया देखनी थी

मैं बहुत खुश थी अम्मा!

एक दींन
मैं घबरायी....... बीछली
जैसे मछली.......
तेरे कोख के पानी में
कीसी चीज़ की छाया थी

मुझे लगा
तू चल नही घीसठ रही है
मुझे चोठ लग रही थी अम्मा

फीर जाने क्या हुआ
मैं तेरी कोख के
गुनगुने मुलायम अंधेरे से नीकलकर
चटक धुप
चटक आग मैं पहुँच गई

वो बहुत बड़ा ऑपरेशन था अम्मा

अपनी उन आंखों से
जो कभी नही खुली
मैंने देखा
बड़े बड़े डॉक्टर तुझ पर झुखे हुए थे
उनके हाथ में तीन मुह वाले
बड़े-बड़े नश्तर थे अम्मा........
वे मुझे देख चीखे

चीखे कीसलीये अम्मा-
क्या खुश हुए थे मुझे देखकर
बाहर नीकलते ही
आग के खीलोने दिए उन्होंने अम्मा.........
फीर तो मैं खेल में ऐसा बीसरी
की तुझे देखा नही -
तूने भी अंतीम हीचकी
से सोहर गई होगी अम्मा
मैं कभी नही जन्मी अम्मा
और इसी तरह कभी नही मरी
अस्पताल में रंगीन पानी में रखे हुए
अजन्मे बचचों की तरह
मैं अमर हो गई अम्मा!
लेकीन यहाँ रंगीन पानी नही
चुभती हुई आग है!
मुझे कब तक जलना होगा ...........अम्मा!

- Anshu Malviya

Kauser Bano ki ajanmi bitiya ki ore se

Sab kuch theek tha amma

Tere khaye achaar ki khatas

Teri chakhi hui mitti

Aksar pahunchte the mere paas……

Sooraj teri kokh se chankar

Aata tha mujhtak

Main bahut khush thi amma

Mujhe leni thi jaldi hi

Apne hisse ki saans

Mujhe lagni thi apne hisse ki bhookh

Mujhe dekhni thi

Apne hisse ki dhoop

Main bahut khush thi amma

Abbu ke hatheli ki chaaya

Tere pet par dekhi thi maine

Mujhe unka chehra dekhna tha

Mujhe apne hiss eke abbu dekhne the

Mujhe apne hisse ki duniya dekhni thi

Main bahut khush thi amma!

Ek din

Main ghabraayi…..bichli

Jaise machli…….

Tere kokh kepaani mein

Paani mein kisi cheez ki chaaya thi


Mujhe laga

Tu chal nahi ghisat rahi hai

Mujhe chot lag rahi thi amma!

Phir jaane kya hua

Main teri kokh ke

Gungune mulayam andhere se nikalkar

Chatak dhoop.......

Phir chatak aag mein pahoonch gayi

Woh bahut bada operation tha amma

Apni un aankhon se jo kabhi nahi khuli

Maine dekha

Bade bade doctor tujh par jhuke hue the

Unke haath mein teen muh vaale

Bade bade nashtar the amma……

Ve mujhe dekh cheekhe!

Cheekhe kisliye amma –

Kya khush the mujhe dekhkar!

Bahar nikalte hi

Aag ke khilone diye unhonne amma…..

Phir toh main khel mein aisa bisri

Ki tujhe dekha nahi –

Tune bhi antim hichki

Se sohar gayi hogi amma!

Main kabhi nahi janmi amma

Aur isi tarah kabhi nahi mari

Asptaal mein rangeen paani mein rakhe hue

Ajanme bachchon ki tarah

Main amar ho gayi amma

Lekin yahaan rangeen paani nahi

Chubhti hui aag hai!

Mujhe kab tak jalna hoga……..amma!

- Anshu Malviya

This poem written in the Hindi font will make all my teachers cringe with dismay and for all you know they may hunt me down and march me right back to school. I shudder too when I look at the grotesque spelling errors!!!! Therefore it is not only for those of you who cannot read the Hindi font but for my own peace that I have written this piece in the English font too…….

I have read this piece a number of times but not once have I been able to keep my emotions in check. Aarzoo who sees me like this once asked me to stop reading it if it makes me cry………The sweetheart, if only she knew the deep connection the two of us have with this person and the unborn baby……

Will explain later……..

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sausage Stuffed Tortillas

It’s been over a month since I quit my job and turned myself into a stay at home Mom. Not that the kids are very happy with the situation considering that I can be quite the Sergeant Major!! Anyway I have taken it upon myself to fix breakfast for my brood these days. Was warming up to the whole deal, getting comfortable about it and wondering why most women cribbed so much about a simple chore as this. It does not take much to get the cornflakes bag out, fix some toast with butter/jam and fry a couple of eggs. Do a couple of variations on the theme from day to day (depending on how short a fuse you are on of course!) and you have the first “grab-meal” of the day on the table. Hah!! Simple enough isn’t it?

That was until late last evening when Supriya announced – no bread in stock, no eggs, low on the stock of cornflakes and no, not enough dough for puris to be served at breakfast as well. The dough for puris is just enough for the lunch tiffins, she insists. This, just when I thought, I could nip the panic attack in the proverbial bud and have a restful night’s sleep.

Watching a lovely movie, “Khuda Ke Liye” from across the border managed to stave off the anxiety for the following morning. The movie did disturb me and move me and added to the myriad thoughts and emotions racing through though of a different kind and context. Will write about that later, I promise myself. Good-nights said the family dispersed to their respective rooms and I snuggled into my bed. Just as I was getting into the REM stage of my slumber, a “Sanjay Kapoor”, “Karen Anand”, “Madhur Jaffery” and “Grandma” kind of light bulb clicked on in my head and I almost sleep walked to the refrigerator hoping against hope. Well what can I say save for the fact that the granny spirits were with me and YIPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! I did have sausages in stock and enough left over chappattis in the safe to save my morning. The idea was to roll a sausage each into a lightly buttered left over chapatti! Problem solved.

But with the first light of a new dawn came new ideas bursting forth. Quickly took about six sausages and defrosted them in the microwave (dumping them in some warm water could have served the purpose too). Once done, I then chopped them into little bits. Took the processed cheese left over in the little storage container, and chopped that too. Would have grated it if it was a decent quantity but with the teeny bit that was there I did not have the skills required to grate it without doing serious damage to my fingers. Something I could ill-afford at that point.

Prep done, the skillet was on the stove pronto. A dash of olive oil, heated slightly and in went the chopped sausages and cheese which melted just enough to blend in. This mix was then sautéed. In another burst of inspiration, I grabbed some kasundi (a staple presence in the larder of any Bengali kitchen and a secret ingredient that adds that extra zing to any dish). Now kasundi could be simply described as mustard paste and I am not sure if it is any different from the English Mustard, but the ingredients in this paste include – salt, turmeric, dry ginger, black pepper, tej patta (bay leaves) and vinegar (acetic acid). I am told that this secret ingredient is an import from erstwhile Bangaal (currently Bangladesh). Will research a bit and confirm that for you. So far so good but I wish I had some spring onions in stock but no such luck. I lowered the flame and placed the tava on the other burner. A bit of butter on it to melt and a left over chapatti was placed on it, then turned over and another bit of butter to coat the reverse side of the chapatti sizzled on the tava. That done, a bit of the dressed sausage bits are placed on the chapatti. A wee bit of tomato ketchup splayed on and this is then made inot a roll and secured with a toothpick or two. Voila! I step back to admire the handiwork for just a second before placing the plate on the table before the teenaged son, Manoj. With an expectant look that only a hungry teenager can have he asked me what it was. Sausage stuffed tortillas I responded without batting an eyelid. He was suitably impressed but I am like, “Now where did that come from?”. Tortillas are the Mexican equivalent of our very own chapattis and I did good. I mean imagine saying – Chappattis with sausage. The buzz would have gone round and everyone would have run the marathon in the direction opposite of the table. A case of the “ghar ki murgi, dal barabar”. Tortillas sound more exotic.

The kid took a bite and of course despite the bravado my spasms of anxiety came rushing back (if the experiment turned out to be a disaster, I had no plan “B”). I needn’t have worried because seconds later the word “Awesome” came tumbling out. I take that as a true compliment for he is the son of Radha Chechi in Cochin (the lady I consider the best chef in the world) and having grown up in her home you can well imagine his discerning taste buds. Whew!!

Given a chance I would have also added some baked beans to the mix giving it a true Mexican texture or maybe added some soya and chilli sauces to bring about the Chinese flavour. But now having made a mountain out this molehill of an incident, I cannot help but admire homemakers who came before me to the profession and wonder how they managed. I look at their world with a whole new pair of eyes and spectacles too. It dawns upon me then that we share a common gene pool which comes to our rescue and helps us think on our feet.

To the scores of home makers past, present and to the future generations of them, known and unknown, please accept this as my standing ovation to you. I would not have made it thorough without your collective energies which propel late starters like me forward.