Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Afternoon with Ammamma

After attending a cousin's wedding on a sultry day, exhausted I was, I tried to take a nap and relax while sharing the bed with my maternal grandmother. My granny felt happy that she finally had someone who can lend ears. Granny's tales began with her financial accounts, grandfather's jail life and his contribution during Independence, her sisters, cousins, brothers, complaints about her sons and daughter in laws, daughters and finally grand children.

She then started praising some of her granddaughters - Mrs X, Miss Y and some distant cousin of mine. I patiently waited but my turn of glory never came.

I thought Mrs X, Miss Y are giving me serious granddaughter goals.
Finally, she expressed displeasure about few grandchildren who didn't visit her or call her often. She whined about grandchild Mr. A, Mrs B..etc. Having sensed the intensity of the situation, I slowly fled from there before my turn came.

P.S. Aforementioned is what I wrote earlier. But, I later realised perhaps we have become mean in our own busy lives and do not take out time to talk or spend with our grandparents often. What is that my granny expects or rather any grandparents expect from us ? Just few words of love and gratitude. Nothing more. Having brought up 9 children, 22 grand children, 21 great grand children (still counting), 1 great great grand child (still counting), her siblings families and their grand children, at the age of 90, she just needs a lending ear, warming heart, empathetic people around her.

For the love of Mani Ratnam

For the man who rules millions of hearts through his stories
For the man who has showed me luring faces of Madhavan, Arvind Swamy, Siddharth
For the man who drifts my soul into the magical world of Cinema
For the man who makes me weep, emotional, think, grin with his every piece of work
For the man who gives visual treat of hopeless romance and love
For the man who creates awe-inspiring, strong, candid characters
For the man who depicts ugly truths of life in a subtle manner
For the man who taught me life lessons that no text book taught
For the man with extraordinary taste of music. For collaborating with Ilayaraja and AR to give us mellifluous tunes.

Thank you for Nayakan, Roja, Sakhi, Ravanan, Geetanjali, Amruta, Bombay, Guru, Anjali, Dalapathi, Mounaraagam and all.

You are an icon. You are an enigma. You are a legend. You are more than that. May you touch the highest number a human can possibly live.

Happy Birthday Mani Sir !!!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Withering Souls

"Yaadi... Yaadi... where are you? Come fast or else you will miss the bus to the town?" I said anxiously.

"Oh.. stop grumbling. Let me fill some water in the bottle" screamed Yaadamma from inside the muddy hut. 

"Water in our mudpot is frigid and refreshing. Fill your bottle with it. The sun appears to be performing taandavam these days" my daily dose of unsolicited advice continued.
"Ok ok. I am leaving now; you take care of the house. Water the plants. Feed the hen. Prepare manure with cow dung. DO NOT intake much of tobacco. Your coughing is tremendously increasing each day and it is scary" said Yaadi sounding like an old tape recorder reading aloud the list of my daily tasks. Actually it is my failure of memory. 

I promptly replied "Do not worry! I shall take care. You come home soon" 

"Well! it is not in my hands. That is directly proportional to quick selling of Jasmines. I cooked rice for you. Tomato pickle and curd is kept on the attic" saying this Yaadi staggered to the bus stop.

I stood up with great difficulty stooping and placing my right hand on the side bone. Tardily, I took bath under the motor pump and glanced at the sky. Sun looked fiercely at 45 degrees in shades of bright red and orange with rays penetrating deep on my rough skin causing scorch. Time must 10.30 roughly I thought. Hunger played pranks ejecting ludicrous sounds indiscreetly. It only grew profoundly every minute. Soon I rushed inside the hut to have my brunch. No, it is not a Sunday. But we have only brunches daily unlike the rich. The tomato pickle and wheat rice tasted exotic today. Yet, I am craving for Sambar. I asked Yaadi to cook it for me but she would say "Sambar needs lot of dal, tamarind and many vegetables". I shall prepare it for you the day I sell the whole basket of Jasmines. 

I look after Jasmine plants, take out weeds, water and manure them. While Yaadi entwines flowers to make chaplets, wreaths, garlands and carries them to the nearby town to sell it in the market. That's our summer mundaneness. The job of visiting market was mine in the past but owing to my old age, blurred eyesight and hearing impairment we have interchanged our roles. Thus, I officially became home keeper and gardener and I am thoroughly enjoying it except few times when I laze around. It is an apparent consequence of old age. I must be nearing 90 and Yaadi is somewhere in 80s. My parents were illiterate so my birth date was not recorded.  Once my Father's brother told me that I was born in the summer in Shukla Paksha two days before Amavasya in the year when Gandhiji's Salt march kicked off. Few years later a school teacher of my Village guessed my birth year as 1930.

Yaadi is my distant uncle's daughter. Her full name is Yadamma. The first time I saw her, she wore some bright coloured Paavadai and her oiled hair was kempt with beautiful jasmine maala (Chaplet of flowers) adoring her thick long hair. I instantly loved the way she looked. She was perhaps 12 at that time. An year later we got married immediately after she attained puberty. We never bore children but I promised to stay loyal to Yaadi and so did she. Yet, we have beautiful lives, few hens, our own home filled with greenery. Cruel, stoic, jobless world it is which often inquisitively questioned about our children for many years after our marriage and gave unsolicited advices. When anyone questioned about our offsprings, Yaadi would cannily reply with a grin "We have hundreds of children playing in our backyard and thousands of grandchildren who spread happiness with fragrance". 

Our lives are dependent on this flower business that is inherited from our ancestors. Albeit our efforts, it is so disheartening these days people don't buy flowers. They would love to spend thousands on Beers and Biryanis and not a mere 20 rupees on fresh flowers that spread smiles and happiness. By chance if they decide buy, they would bargain for lesser price or few more flowers. It is a rare sight to see young girls wearing Jasmines or any other flowers. Jasmines not only embellish woman's hair beautifully but also bring coolness to their head. That's what was told to me by my Grandmother. 

Our village school teacher, the one who told my probable age used to visit at times to buy handful of fresh Jasmines for his wife. He once said his wife teaches a subject on plants in town. It is called something like "Bootny" and she loved Desi Jasmines. Each time he bought flowers from us, he told us how useful these Jasmines are. He once explained "Science has proved that these will bring calmness to the body and refreshes mind. These are used in perfumes, herbal, health and beauty care and in making oils. Along with herbal uses, jasmine is also used to brew Jasmine tea. The extracts of these flowers are used in healing stress, headaches, sunstrokes, pain, irritability, uterine problems..etc and sometimes in curing breast cancer." And few I do not even recollect. You see my fading memory. I just knew and believed that Jasmines do good for the body and mind. But never understood why young girls these days avoid wearing them. Ironically, they at times pick up beauty and health products, chemical bearing, of jasmine flavor in excitement exclaiming they unstoppable love for Jasmines. When doctors said fresh fruits can do much favour to our bodies than fruit juices, people understood and are trying to follow it. Shouldn't it be applied here too?

Anyways you are more learned, educated and knowledgeable than me. So you decide. Oh.. Ghosh!! I need to cut down old Jasmine trees in the backyard. They have become old and weak. The main stem has turned fragile, delicate, stooping. Today was theirs last flowering day. Nonetheless, we have planted new trees instead. These shall be blossoming tomorrow I suppose. Yaadi has been waiting for this day. I should tell this to her when she is back. She will be ecstatic. We keep aside few flowers to offer our family goddess Pochamma whenever new plants bear flowers for the first time. A ritual followed since ages.  

The layers of darkness are sweeping in, birds flew back to their nests, farmers returned from fields but Yaadi hasn't turned up. She usually reaches home before the dawn sets in. Now, I am becoming more anxious. Body pains are creeping in, my joints are mourning. I think I should settle down in the Veranda gazing the road till Yaadi returns home.

It is more than hour I guess since I am here in the Veranda. I could hear some squabble voice approaching our hut. I could decipher only few words from their conversations "Old lady", "sun stroke", "body", "gloomy", "Basket full of jasmines". My heart beat increased rapidly and I was panting. Few seconds later I saw people carrying a body. I had no guts to know what happened. I couldn't speak or react. I was startled. Something was happening to me. Eyes starting burning, nerves pulled impetuously, there was churning in my stomach. I felt like throwing up. The last thing I saw was Yaadi lying in our Veranda (Porsche) peacefully beautiful than ever with chaplet of flowers adoring her hair bun. And my nostrils felt arousing aromatic smell of Jasmines. Instantly I remember Yaadi's words "There are only two beautiful fragrances in this world. Smell of fresh Jasmines and Petrichor. That's why both cannot exist coherently. One comes after the other and in that lies the greatness of nature."

I closed my flimsy eyes and went into deep slumber swiftly in my deliberate attempt to reach Yaadi. We had only two desires "to have three full meals with Sambar and Papad, to see buds blossoming on the young Jasmine plants in our backyard". 

By the way my name is Saidulu, no pet names thereafter. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Conundrum

So, it is apparent that I am of marriageable age (as per Indian statistics) and there are many people around me - family, extended family, distant relatives, neighbors, friends-close/not so close, acquaintances, birds, animals, insects who are deeply concerned about my marriage than my parents or me. So, they unrelentingly judge, advice, ask, suggest, worry, poke, gossip, irritate, enquire, embarrass, offend, hurt and humiliate.
Since I couldn't fall for a guy on my own, I fell for the concept of arranged marriage. Once and for all I have decided to clear all doubts or speculations around this conundrum.

What others think?
  • I am arrogant and reject all the proposals preposterously.
  • I don't dress up in a saree, so guys don't find me beautiful, attractive.
  • I have too many expectations when I say I am looking for a well educated person with a liberal mind.
  • My parents are careless, lazy or apathetic about searching the right groom.
  • Prospective grooms might be rejecting me because of my height, weight and colour.
  • It's high time that I should nod "yes" for any living thing that stands in front of me.
  • Too much late can cause complications during my pregnancy in future. In any case my eggs are dying.
  • My horoscope might suggest some terrible flaws.
  • My family and I are too cool about this thing and will stand bad example to parents looking to marry off their independent daughters.
  • I should visit tantrics, mantrics, babas, godmans, godwomans and 330 million gods/goddesses in India.
  • Our family god is angry on us for not praying him periodically.
  • Daughters shouldn't be given freedom or sent to big cities.

What the truth is?
  • Guys with good education, rational mindset and liberal views are rare. (They don't exist. If they do, they are either hooked or booked).
  • Patriarchal system has creeped too much into the society.
  • No marriage is possible in India without dowry or lump sum gifts.
  • Unfortunately, high price tagged grooms may also not guarantee happy married life.
  • Expectations of guys parents like - girl moving to another city/country leaving her career, cooking and cleaning for the entire family, keeping on ever smiling face..etc are not to be traded. Not even in dreams.
  • I need to give up on mini skirts, jeans, pointed heels if required.
  • People younger than me are getting married, roaming on honeymoons and procreating.
  • I am growing fat, old with strands of grey hair.
  • Guys working in India have suddenly disappeared into abyss.
  • Guys working in foreign ONLY want brides with these qualifications- Btech, fair, tall, rich, some software skills, GRE score if possible.
  • Great astrologers give my parents deadline of 3/6 months and keep repeating the cycle often.
  • I don't visit temple daily, perform puja, do fasting to please god.
  • Yet, I wear thick band of red sacred threads around my wrist.
  • The unending pujas to different gods continue including the cow gods to stone goddesses in villages and we pay exorbitantly for all the rituals.
  • You need to decide your partner within 20 minutes of your interaction that too amidst 10 more family members.
  • We end up spending too much on sweets and savouries when match fixing meetings take place.
  • Everyday I am required to login all sorts of matrimonial sites. (Heck! I don't even do that for my Naukri account).
  • My pics and biodata needs to be kept in handy so as to forward it in fraction of seconds to any matchmaker or prospectives.
  • My granny wishes to see my wedding before she dies.
  • My cousin's saree and jewellary shopping is linked to my wedding.
  • I am the only one left out in the entire generation and my whole family is keenly staring at me.
  • The first thing people ask when they meet us is if we have zeroed on any match.
  • Desperate men of all ages try to hit on single girls irrespective of their relationship status.
  • Single girls do not have family errands like buying groceries, bills, changing baby's diapers, yearly vacations, parent teacher meetings.. so they are not expected to take many leaves.
  • The chances of finding a groom starts diminishing once you hit late 20's.

What I think?
  • May be I am happy single.
  • May be I am tired of taking responsibilities.
  • It is weary to keep sending your pics and biodata everyday.
  • Will I be paying a high price of losing freedom?
  • What if the person turns out to be an abusive, chauvinist pig?
  • What if our wavelength doesn't match?
  • Why can't I find some genuine family who wants a sane humble bride?
  • Can I truly find a man who looks beyond colour, body, properties and social status?
  • Why can't I demand a choice of my own?
  • Why marriage is not a choice in India and is mandatory?
  • Why marriage and bearing children is the primary goal and a flourishing career and my entrepreneurship goal is trivial?
  • How can someone judge me without peeping into my mind?
  • How easy it would be if grooms come with customisations akin to Subway burger.
  • May be I should stop being stubborn on particulars and go with the flow.
  • May be my mom should stop accumulating sarees, jewellary, stuff for the D day.
  • May be I should stop attending weddings and functions for the fear of becoming a muse or centre of all discussions.
  • May be 36-24-36 is extremely vital and I should give up on butter on bread and cake beneath the cherry.
  • Even the ugly friend, dumb cousin, our street dogs are married and have a partner. Then, what is the fault in my stars?
  • I should start making questionnaire, develop factors, criteria to derive at an easy formula. Put the guys details and the result should come out as "Yes/No/Standby".
  • I give a scornful look at those who bluntly make statements on this whole drama.

The list is incomplete, ongoing. Don't get surprised if I come out with books with titles like "Finding a Family", "Buying pomfret vs Buying groom", "Tips to find your groom", "What prospective Indian guys look for", "The importance and happiness of being SINGLE", "Arranged marriages and underlying tales", "Critical analysis on arranged marriages (Detailed methodology, Sindhura's theory, formuale and practice material)".

Followed by training classes and mock tests. If interested, please register. (Absolutely free, free, free).

Happy Mother' day

I mount

I soar

I shine

With you "Amma"

Without you,

I am a mere breathing statue

Dream girl's muse

a sip of wine
over a dine
doesn't make me fine
for the heart of mine
longs for a dutiful prince
who clasps me and dance
relinquishing his endearing stogy
wiping my chronic agony
promising scintillating stars
healing horrendous scars
nah; not another Cindrella story
this is my abysmal melancholy