The boy on the bench

Sympathy

I was waiting for a friend, we had plans to have coffee together. I decided to sit outside and wait for her. He looked beautiful, innocent. He was sitting on the bench across the road , must be all of 9 or 10 years. Same age as my boy. Almost the same built, dark hair and deep eyes. Sitting on the bench he watched people pass by. What was he observing ? What did he first notice on them as people walked past him in a rush , some on the phone and some pretending to be on the phone, some rushing with a purpose and some without. It’s not strange why no one observed him. Was it because he has no shoes on him or was it because his t-shirt was too big for him. or was it because he sat there without a purpose ? He seemed lost maybe disillusioned. His hopeless eyes sought nothing it seems. Briefly troubled by a fly as it was hovering his head for quite some time now. Tired , he stopped moving his hands to shoo off the adamant being . He gave up on the fly but the fly was in no mood to. They became friends it seems.

The wisdom in his eyes didn’t match up with his age. He stood up to stretch and to scan the dustbin near by. He picked up a thing to taste it and threw it back inside. He searched again and then discovered a half eaten banana. The earth below me was shaking or was it me ? I had shivers and tears rolling down my eyes. My boy would be in school eating his healthy lunch at this time. So, why is this boy less deserving ? We may name destiny, karma or fate ? He doesn’t belong here and why just him and million kids like him surviving this irony called life.  We went in as my friend arrived and sat down for our coffee, my eyes still on him as I chose to sit by the window. Saw him playing with a broken toy which he must have discovery next from the shacks he scanned. He seemed happy and contended. I couldn’t eat a morsel fearing what if the boy outside spots me  enjoying my sandwich. I felt ashamed eating.

I directed my driver to come across the road. I stood close to the bench he sat on as he continued playing oblivion to my presence. He made roaring sounds with the broken car. Don’t all kids play alike , all have small little hopes , all expect a little love and attention except for this one boy on the bench. I couldn’t gather courage to approach him or even look at him. Though I wanted to sit and talk but I didn’t. I wanted to ask his name but I didn’t. Why ? What was I ashamed off ? He looked at me for a few seconds and then looked away. I must give this to him before my car arrives I thought . I held out the box to him and said ” this is for you”. He stood up and stared at me. “Some food for you in this box, please eat”. He took the box with a wide grin and his smile reached his eye. As my car rolled up on our side and I was getting in he asked me my name -” Preeti ” I said. He folder his legs and sat back on the bench to open the box and shouted “Aur main hoon Srikanth”(and my name is Srikant) and waved me an animated bye. He must have sat there since morning with some amount of wamble in his stomach but what kept him contended ? What kept him going each day, what did he expect from life each day? He did not beg around for food as if he expected nothing from the world around him it seems. Moreover, he wasn’t ashamed of asking my name. His name and his life state didn’t agree . ‘Srikant’ – which means lover of wealth and fortune.

Sympathy was what I felt for myself after meeting Srikant. Antithetical is life.

Advertisements

Recite

 

I knew what to recite today. It was his favourite song. A hymn from my school almanac. Every time I sang it brought a smile and a tiny tear to his eye. Maybe he liked it as much as I did. The high notes of this hymn did agree with me ,without my voice going into a shiver. So we waited , me and my sister for the evening and for him to return from work. A daily competition between me and my sister of who will sing the best tonite. And the judge being my Papa .

We waited for him to change and settle. For him to finish his dinner with the daily dose of his news at 9 took 30 minutes.

We never recited together. Our voices never matched and still don’t . She wanted to go first and I would always let her. Thinking the last song I sang would garner more praises and would have a good recall value. Or so I thought !

She sang, she was good today and It was my turn now.

I sang with all my heart, I sang to take his tiredness away  so his day would end on a sweet happy note. I sang with reverence in my heart for the one who was out for 12 hours a day. Never took a day off . He who had 3 shirts and 6 days of work. He who never shouted on us a single day. He who had no demands . He who was and is still a pillar of strenght.  He must smile throughout my song today and a tiny tear in his eye would mean he is touched, and that would be my medal for tonite.

The song ended. He called us both to hug us and pat us on our back. We were hoping for his verdict on who was the best amongst us. But like each day he said  “ How lovely you two sing , Very good, very beautiful songs, thank you for singing for me.”

We both wanted to know who was the best singer from papa but he never said , never compared. As we both lay in bed she said “ I think I was better today” and I argued “ No, I was”. As I closed my eyes I thought which song would I recite tomorrow for my dad to be the best. But the verdict till date remains the same and He still is the best dad.

A Callow Mother..

A child gives birth to a mother 

And a mother was born 

She was amateur and callow 

Her life seemed a bit hollow

Vulnerable to the dreaded postpartum 

Luck turned her into a spartan 

Fear of being clumsy and confused 

She perpetually felt abused

She didn’t know what to do 

With this bundle she just delivered

Who seems so selfish crying and howling 

Even as she quietly quivered 

Found no love for this being and no bond

She only waited  for a magic wand 

So she took each day as it came

Alone battling this game

And with no help around 

Dopamine was nowhere to be found 

Days turned into weeks 

And weeks into months

She hit a all time low

But had no time to slow

It dawned on her , one fine day

Its not easy being a mom

Dripping and smelling of lactose

And no time to comb

She walked around like a milking cow

In her XXL maternity gown

Then a transformation came slowly 

When postpartum said goodbye

She learnt to make time for herself

Made herself some pie

She got better as the days passed 

By stealing time in between

To make herself a cup of Chai

I Hope that’s not called mean

Learning new things each day

She was now on her own

This bundle became her prized possession 

Oh this soul she had known 

 His angelic smile, his babbling and his cheer

Melted her like a candle  

She was now on top gear 

A day came when she patiently watched him in sleep

The bond grew deeper and stronger 

But why did she weep ?

Guess her feelings were now truly deep

A mother was born with feelings so pure 

Now she is not just a mother

But a nurturer to cure

She longed to hold him and cuddle 

As he learnt new things each day

Adding feathers to his cap

He will be a big boy one day!

Now she is a pro and an experienced mom

Before she knew it, the second one came along

She’s truly out numbered 

As now they are three! !

Not a moment for her

Will she Ever be free?!?

Her eldest being a quadragenarian 

This one’s a tough nut 

But he loves her deeply

There are no ifs and buts

Three men in her life now

Keeping her on her toes

Can’t imagine her life without them 

Like a Phoenix , she rose !

I have to leave this unfinished here ..

And come back some other day

To tell you more stories

Of her nights and her days…! 

Preeti Manaktala

My School and Christmas

I went to a Convent school in Delhi and my school had a Catholic Church within the campus. As I recollect, everything about my school was welcoming & grand..The school assembly was an everyday affair as we dragged through our daily rituals of the morning prayers like Oh Father in Heaven and other sing along hymns and rhymes.The assembly invariably ended with a ‘thought for the day’ by our beloved Reverent Sisters a.k.a Nuns.

I remember, one of my favourite subjects in school was Moral Science. Firstly, because there was not much of written CW or HW given. Secondly because it spoke about the good positive virtues one ought to have in ones life. And Lastly, it was taught by one of my favourite Sisters. Sister Maria. She taught us how we should grow up to be a : Kind , Caring , Humble , Giving , Forgiving human being.. And to all these adjectives that I stumbled upon in this class, I vowed to myself that they will be a part of me as I grow up. I wanted to posses all those virtues and become a Good-Nun one day ! . Hee Haw ! Yes, I was so much in awe of my Nuns and their charisma that I dreamt of become a Nun and run a Church or a convent one day. Don’t know why , but I felt I was born to be a Nun. Period . My career was decided ! So I never missed my Moral science lessons while secretly wondering and wishing for a peek what lies underneath the white coif our nuns wore ! Always wondering if they had long hair or short hair or any hair at all !

Apparently ,my best Friend in school was a Catholic Christian and she used to attend those Catholic class while the other non catholics like me attended the Moral science class.. and even though I loved my moral science classes but still the budding nun in me was curious to know what happens in a Catholic-class and why they were more privileged  to be taken to the church more often than us!  I even started to think if being a Catholic was a sure shot way to become a Nun! I was so in love with the last surname that Christians had like Martin ,Thomas ,Lewis, Carlos as they seem to be so trendy and happening that I even picked on a few to choose from just in case my father agrees. So gathering all my courage, I shared my thoughts of changing my religion and my ambition to become a nun with my father one day. He smiled, but didn’t give me a yes or a no. My heart sank and so did my dream & career; or so I thought . The following week my father called me and gave me a framed picture of Jesus. Does that meant we are all converting ?? I was thrilled, I asked mom if she would allow me to place my frame in her little temple space that she had created in her room. Her shelf had all the Gods she believed in from Krishna, Durga, Ganpati , Gurunanak and now the God I had faith in ; adorned her shelf too. I even taught my mom the Sign of the cross and we prayed often together. As years passed by my desire to be a nun and convert my religion slowly left me. Now when I look back to it all seems so silly . So what if I couldn’t become a Nun…I am glad I could become a Super-Mum !

That was the impact of my school on me. Whilst my school made me understand the special place of my family in my life, it also taught me to embrace the good values & morals each culture-religion had to offer. And of course ,the best month in school was December as Christmas was celebrated with much fanfare and grandeur, with skits and dances, tuck shops and a trip to the Old Age Home..Each class had a small Xmas tree fully loaded with bells, balls ,stars et al.. Our very own Princy (Respected Principal) announced a prize for The Best decorated class for Christmas each year. This festival brought with it the charm of Giving and Sharing.

No wonder this festival holds a special place in my heart . The essence & The spirit of Christmas is something I have grown up with.The singing of the Carols and the sound of the bells from the churches still give me goosebumps.Though, I am not a Christian, but It’s my festival too and I feel the onus is on me to let my children feel & experience the spirit this festival has to offer.So every year we put up an Xmas tree 🌲 Decorate it with all the enthu .. Buy presents for each other and pretend Santa still exists .. Share stories and sing carols ..Watch the trending Christmas movies and gorge on the Rum & Plum cakes from our favourite gâteau shops, accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate for the kids while we wine it up !

So, lets cheers to the Spirit of Christmas and pass on the magic of this festival to our kids and to the kids at the signals who sell those red Santa caps and reindeer horns oblivious to the significance or the stories behind it. We have been Santa for our kids on every Christmas, so why not be the Santa to at least one poor child each year.

As another year comes to an end, Let’s be Loving-Giving-Forgiving, and keep spreading the cheer among our little angels, so that they continue to make good & beautiful memories in this beautiful world along the way…

Hope you have a Wonderful Insightful and Peaceful year ahead!