Monday 30 September 2013

The White Rose - Part II

Read Part I here

Thomas couldn’t repress a smile as he thought of how Mathew had described the envelope. A Pink envelope. He knew who that came from. He had asked Sheila to fetch it and as she brought it to him, he could almost hear his heart speak out the name of the sender.
Sunetra. Sunetra Sankar. Netra to him.
What was in the envelope ? He was infinitely curious ! 
A letter  was unusual and totally unexpected. Netra usually sent him e-mails ; beautiful e-mails,  which he loved to read over and over again for their sheer beauty and simplicity cloaked in a lucid flow of language. Thomas took the envelope from Sheila in his hands, trying to feel the contents. He felt something spongy, and something hard beneath that.
Excitement tickled his insides…what was this ??
“ Shall I make a move, Sir ?”
Sheila’s question broke his array of thoughts.
“ Yeah, sure, Sheila. Thanks a lot.”
“ Sir, Mrs Jennifer woke up when you were away. I have given her the medicines for the night. Please call Sister Diana in case of emergency. Thank you, Sir,” Sheila informed him before she left. Thomas nodded and bid her goodbye.
Closing the door, taking care not to disturb Jenni, Thomas took his seat near the window, with the envelope  in his hand, the cool evening breeze engulfing  his warm spirits.
He couldn’t contain his excitement as he neatly tore open the envelope and carefully took out what was inside.
A greeting card carefully wrapped in a thin film of sponge, covered in a pink satin cloth.
It was a beautiful card, on a rectangular piece of thin but firm purple cardboard. A white rose with two green leaves, was quilled on to it. The corners of the card were covered with ornate golden quilling. On the rose rested a small butterfly, again quilled in elegant colours. It breathed life ! Altogether, it was the best piece of handicraft that Thomas had ever seen.
Beneath the design were quilled, the words – “ to eternity”.
Thomas smiled as he opened the card to see the words inside.
Inside, printed in golden letters was the poem -
                                                  I live a life, of love and care,
                                                  Short but sweet, and very fair,
                                                  Full of colours and extremely vibrant,
                                                  You will never find me, for a moment, silent ;
                                                  I fly by , happy , cool and gay,
                                                  For me, it’s the ‘now’ that holds sway,
                                                  I count my life by moments, not years,
                                                  I find no time for sorrow or tears ;
                                                  My mission in  life is to  show you all,
                                                  That days are few, life is so small,
                                                  As you live, love and die,
                                                  Time just moves, with the flash of an eye.
                                                  Live your life, happily ever,
                                                  Despair not, fail at heart, never,
                                                  Please listen to me as I flutter by,
                                                  I am just a lovely butterfly !!

Under the poem, scrawled in shaky letters, was the message –
                                                “ Would love to see you, always …
                                                        Lovingly Yours, Netra. "

How true the words in the poem  were !
Thomas read and re-read the card many times. He smiled.  
Her card had come at the time when he craved for moral support. He knew he could always rely on Netra to cheer him up.
He had not spoken to Netra for a long time now. He took out his phone and dialed her number.
Switched off.
He tried again. The same result.
He checked his watch. It was  8.30 p.m.
He made a mental note to call her the next morning. He checked on Jennifer, she was still asleep.
He had a sandwich for dinner, and sat back on his chair, the card on his lap,and let his thoughts take a ride back to his student days.
To Netra.

To be contd.....

Sunday 29 September 2013

The Rising SON !!

5… 4…. 3…. 2…. 1…..


At the blow of the whistle, the ten participants of the running race sprinted forward.

I watched in anxiety and eagerness as the fourth one in the row, my eleven year old son ,Viswajith, ran in full spirit of the competition.

The occasion was the first ever Sports Meet being held under the aegis of the Rotarians Club, West Zone, in commemoration with their Annual Day Celebrations, at the St Theresa’s School Grounds, Dehradun.  
This was the second day and most of the events had been held the previous day. Only the running races and hurdles were yet to finish.
And Viswajith was participating in the 200 Metres being held now.

This was indeed a special moment for me.
Natural for any mother to feel so, if her child was participating in an event and she was there to support him.
But more so, for me.
Because my son couldn’t see.  

Viswajith was born completely blind. It was of course not apparent immediately.
But he never responded to my gestures and never seemed to fix his gaze on me. This aroused my suspicion.
And I took him for a full check-up.
I still remember the day I held him in my arms, listening numbly to the doctor’s words, “ I’m sorry Mrs Mehra. Our tests tell us that the little one shall not be able to see. And we don't think transplantation can actually help.”
“All his other senses are proper, though,” he had added, as though comforting me.

The comprehension of the fact hurt me then, beyond words.
My little bundle of joy, being denied a world of lights, sentenced to life, with darkness !!

My tears wouldn’t stop…. I kissed his chubby cheeks again and again, even as my tears soaked him wet.

That was the moment, I felt the mother in me grow stronger.
I shall be his light.
I shall not let him wallow in self-pity.
He shall be as normal as possible, and he shall lead his life as any other child of his age.

The growing years were difficult, but Viswajith lived up to my resolution.

Once he learnt to trace his steps, he had to feel the edges of the couch to try walking, as he couldn’t see.
I cried for the first time, ever since that day in the doctor’s room. I couldn’t bear the sight of him, edging his way to the kitchen, all along ,feeling the walls for guidance.

But I couldn’t break down, could I ?
I was the proud widow of Major Swadesh Mehra, who had sacrificed his life for his country at the border.
I couldn’t cry. I wouldn’t.
My son needed me.

I learnt the Braille Script and taught him the alphabets  and numbers at home. I read him story books till he became fluent enough to read them on his own.
He learnt to walk with a stick in his hand, tapping it on the floor to make his way.
His sense of hearing was well developed by this time, and he could even run, if there were no obstacles on his path, with surprising agility.
When he learnt to speak, he would accurately guess the dishes for dinner from the smells that wafted out from the kitchen.

Getting him an admission in St Theresa’s School wasn’t easy, as the Management was skeptical about accepting a ‘visually impaired’ child among the normal children.
I argued my case. My son was as normal as any other child. Was it his fault that he was visually challenged ?
He could still hear and speak well. He could walk and even run like any normal child. Why should he be denied a normal education, then ?
I, and the Management’s respect for the late Major Mehra, won the case for my son and he was admitted to the school. That was five years back.

I knew, deep in my heart, that gaining the acceptance of his classmates would be very difficult for my child. But I was sure he would sail through.
Surely enough, the initial days were tough as expected.
He was ridiculed by the narrow-minded, teased by the bullies. A young boy of six, visionless, all alone among his classmates.
However, Viswajith held on with the terrific instinct of survival in his veins.
His name was special for him. Viswajith – the Conquerer of the Universe.

Now,  here he was, participating in the 200 Metres race, to prove himself to the world around.

It took me a moment to realize that my thoughts had carried me away and I bounced back to the present. The spectators were unusually boisterous, cheering and applauding, craning their necks to look at something on the ground. I followed their eyes.

One boy was sprawled on the ground in a face-down position, his hands spread out like an eagle. My heart gave a jolt, as I read the number printed large on his T shirt.
4. Viswajith.
My warrior had fallen. I rose from my seat, and cleared my way to him, unmindful of the fact that I would be breaking the rules of the game. He needed me now.

I had just reached the fence of the tracks, when all the clapping and cheering stopped and the crowd around me grew silent.

I looked at Viswajith. He was up on his knees now. The rest of the competitors had stopped running and were standing where they had been before, as the boy who was the clear winner till now, walked back to Viswajith.
I could recognise him, as I had seen him in their class photo. He was Anirudh, Viswajith’s classmate and the class topper.

As the crowd waited with bated breath, Anirudh walked up to Viswajith, took his left hand in his, and urged with a smile, “ Come on, Jith !! We are not gonna run without you ! Come on, get up….let’s run! Not much to go, yaar !!”

The stadium burst into a exultant applause, as Viswajith got up and dusted his knees. The next second, the race had resumed with renewed vigour.

In less than half a minute, Anirudh had won the race, with Viswajith and another boy ( Satwik, as I learnt later) finished second.

Even though the race was disrupted, the referees took a favourable view of the situation.

My son had proved himself. He had gained the acceptance of his friends. He knew he was a part of them. With his courage and spirit to participate in the race, he had won over the hearts of his classmates. They knew what being Viswajith meant.

My tears began to flow again, as I silently blessed Anirudh and the rest of the boys for the solidarity they had displayed.

I didn’t wipe my tears.

Not now.

Heck, I deserved this happiness.

Don’t you think so ?

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

*Purely Fictional*

Thursday 26 September 2013

The White Rose - Part 1

“Dr. Thomas, there’s a call for you in your consulting room.Dr Mathew is on the line. He says it is urgent.”
Thomas woke up with a start and looked around. He was in his wife, Jennifer’s room. She was on the bed, sleeping peacefully.  Their three-year old son Daniel  was with his nanny at home.
Sheila, the head nurse on duty, was at the door, waiting for his response.  She  looked  as fresh as a rose, though he knew she had been on duty for more than 12 hours now.  He didn’t know when he had dozed off.  Trying to shake off the sleepiness from his tired eyes, he got up and walked to the door.
Sheila sensed his discomfort at his sleep being disturbed. “ Shall I ask him to call you back in some time, Sir? “, she asked.
“ No, no. I shall attend the call right now. He wouldn’t call if it wasn’t really urgent. Could you please stay here and take care of Jenni while I am away?  I shan’t take more than a few minutes.”
“Sure, Sir. Take your time. I shall be here. Sister  Diana is there on the floor for other urgent cases.”
Thomas thanked Sheila and walked out of the room, to the far end of the rather long corridor, wrestling with thoughts in his mind.
Why would Dr Mathew call at this time? He had been asked to go to Paris on an urgent consultation and had to leave at a very short notice. He was currently at Delhi, waiting for his evening flight to Paris. He was one of the best  surgeons  in the country at present, and  had waited patiently to complete Jenni’s  eye-transplantation successfully, before leaving for Delhi.  Thomas was grateful that Mathew took special interest in his wife’s case; Mathew had personally attended to her and even before his journey, had given thorough instructions to Thomas, a Cardiac Surgeon himself, on how to take care of her. Thomas couldn’t help but marvel at the man’s professionalism. 
“ I wonder, what makes Dr Mathew ring me up at this time….he is a man of method; he wouldn’t waste a call for nothing,” thought Thomas to himself as he picked up the receiver.
“ Hello, Dr Mathew ? Thomas here. Is anything wrong ? Are you alright? “
“ Hello Thomas. Nothing wrong here. I just rang you up to tell you that there’s a  pink envelope addressed to you in the top right hand corner of the book-shelf in my consulting room. Sheila has the key. It arrived this morning, you weren’t there and I thought of giving it to you before leaving, but forgot. I am so sorry for that. Just got reminded of it now, so called immediately. Please take it, is that ok? “
Thomas couldn’t help appreciating the care Mathew bestowed on him. He said, “ Yes, Dr Mathew. No worries. Shall take it. Wish you a safe journey, Sir. Take care. “
“ Thanks a lot, Thomas.  I feel relieved now. It’s time for me to check in now. See you all soon. Take good care of Jenni too….. . Bye.” And the call got disconnected.
Thomas couldn’t repress a smile as he thought of how Mathew had described the envelope. A Pink envelope. He knew who that came from. He had asked Sheila to fetch it and as she brought it to him, he could almost hear his heart speak out the name of the sender.

To be contd.....

Monday 23 September 2013

If only you were here !

This wonderful writing exercise at Write Tribe requires us to post any creative literary piece of work in exactly 100 words. This week's Prompt is given by Kajal Kapur of Rainbow Hues - " if only you were here"....

If only you were here,
I would teach you to dream….
No worries, nothing to fear,
Only eyes full of gleam…

So much to explore, so much to do
So many things you’d love to learn
So much to discover, you’ve no clue
This or that, which way to turn…

Questions to fire, answers to get
All forgotten in a day’s play…
You haven’t learnt all you can, yet
The rules of life, you must obey…

All said and done, it’s wishful thinking
You wouldn’t come, even if you could
I imagine, without blinking,
What you could’ve been, my childhood!

I am linking this to 100 Words on Saturday - 5 at Write Tribe.
100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

Sunday 22 September 2013

Life without him......a flower without fragrance !

And before I knew it, I had hit ' Send'.

I sat staring vacantly at my laptop screen , unmindful of the ' your message has been sent' notification flashing at me.
I couldn't undo it now.
It took a few minutes for the horror of what I had done to engulf me.
Oh my God ! I had just mailed him that I wanted him to grant me a divorce.
Divorce !
How could I ? How could I let go Sisir ? He was my life….

I had met Sisir on my first day at Globetech Solutions,  the IT giant I worked for before taking up freelance journalism.
He was my team leader; he had joined the company three years before I did.
Young, dynamic, handsome, soft- spoken, well-educated –  a guy any girl dreamt of.

Time bonded us so well, that we both didn’t know when and how it happened
But happen, it did.
It was  as silent as a flower unfurling; you never know it till the fragrance fills the air around.
That’s how it was, for both of us.
Sisir was everything I wanted my husband to be ; and to him , I was the world. He loved to look into my eyes, with a deep gaze and I found myself blushing every time he did that.
In more ways than one, he invoked the femininity in me….and I loved him for it and much more than that !

After a year of whirlwind romance, we got married, with the blessings of his parents and Father John, in whose orphanage I had lived ever since I lost my parents.

And that was when I called it quits at Globetech and got ensconced in my new role of a homemaker. I took up freelance writing for newspapers to keep me occupied and at home, I learnt the nuances of my new status as Sisir’s wife and a good daughter-in-law of the household.

All was fine, till the day it happened.

I was at the gyneac’s clinic, many scans and medical check-ups later, waiting with a sweet expectation to get the good news from her that we would be parents soon. Sisir was inside, talking to the doctor. When he came out, I was quick to notice the lifelessness in his eyes.
“Sisir, tell me….why do you look so troubled?”
“ No no nothing, Astha. Can we go home now” ?
“ No, Sisir. Tell me… I not pregnant? What did the doctor say? Why do you look so sullen ?” I wanted to know.
His tone was firm , “ Astha, can we go home and speak on this, please?”
I chose not to ask him further, but I desperately wanted to know what the doctor had said. It was fine even if I wasn’t pregnant, but Sisir’ s attitude was what made me uncomfortable. Why wasn’t he ready to tell me anything?
He was thoughtful all along the way home.

Later that night, as we lay in bed, Sisir embraced me gently.
“ Astha, shall I say something ? It is very important. Promise me that you will be with me.”
I turned on to my left to face Sisir.
“ Sisir, don’t you trust me? Don’t you know I am devoted to you? I promise , Sisir. I am all yours. I shall be with you, no matter what.”
“Astha, we must stop thinking of our own child.”
My world crumbled that instant.
“Why ? Why, Sisir ? Why so ?”
Avoiding my eyes, Sisir patiently recounted what the gyneac had told him. How the scan for pregnancy  had detected a tumour in my uterus. How it had been followed up with a test for malignancy. How it was diagnosed to be cancerous and why hysterectomy was the only option…

I looked at Sisir, even as my world of dreams of life came crashing down with a reverberating roar.

His eyes were moist.
“ I can’t lose you, love. I want you to be with me till death. So what, if we don’t have kids ? Aren’t we happy with each other?”
“Sisir, I am sure there’s a mix-up somewhere. This can’t be , Sisir. Why don’t we take a second opinion?”
“ It has been done, Astha. Dr Gia has already done that. The confirmation comes from AIIMS”.

I don’t remember what happened in the weeks that followed. I have vague memories of Sisir convincing me for the surgery, myself being wheeled into the theatre and waking up hours later with a numbness.
Of senses and soul.
A part of me died that day.

But I still had Sisir with me. The next few months passed fast, with me nursing my health back after the surgery. I took up a small job as the sub-editor of a local newspaper , to divert my mind.

We were trying to be happy as a childless couple, hoping to discover new realms of life with each other.

My surgery hadn’t gone well with my in-laws. They wanted a grandchild of their own, and Sisir was their only son. Now that the hopes had died, they were bitter. I could sense their resentment in their behavior and this increased my sense of guilt.

One day, when Sisir was away at Mumbai for a week on an official call, Ma  approached me.
She spoke in what was her matter-of-fact voice.
“ Astha, look here, I have nothing against you whatsoever. But don’t you feel that we need to pamper a grandchild born in our own blood? Don’t you think you are being more of a sentimental fool , hanging on to Sisir like this? You know you can’t give him a child. You also know he will not let you go. Don’t you think you should do something about it soon? Why don’t you be practical?”
As discreet as that.
The meaning of what she said pierced me so hard, that I felt my heart burst. Without Sisir near me, I couldn’t live. How could I leave him ?
What did she want me to do ?
Run away ? Where to ?
Initiate a legal separation ? Why ?
I lay crying the whole night.
No, I couldn’t imagine a life without him.
But I also wanted to see him happy.
Yes, Ma was right. I was denying them a pleasure in life. I had no business to. I couldn’t stop Sisir from having a new life. I owed it to him. His happiness was mine, wasn’t it !

Two days of thoughts later, here I was, sitting down and writing out a long mail to him.
I was breaking the promise I had given him that night, of being with him no matter what.
I was surprised that it didn’t ache anymore. I firmly put him, Ma and Pa before me. I told myself, even as I wiped my tears away that my Sisir must get to live a happy life. My presence should never hinder his happiness.

And before I knew it, I had hit ' Send'.

“ Astha, how could you do this to me ? I…never….. I can’t imagine it Astha….I just can’t.” Sisir was sitting with his hands   supporting his head.
  He had read my mail and had taken the morning flight back to Kanpur.
“What came over you, Astha? Did someone say something? Tell me…how could you ever think of leaving me ? You think I will marry someone else and be happy? Can I ever look into another girl’s eyes and discover my soul as I did in yours? Do you think my love was fake?”
A volley of questions. An answerless me.
Sisir shook me, his hands on my shoulders, to wake me up from my stupor.
I looked at him, tears blinding me.
How could I ever think of leaving this guy ?
He cupped my face in his hands, kissed my forehead , looked deep into my eyes as he always did and whispered, “ I love you, as you are, Astha. You are my life. I don’t want to know what made you send that mail. I just want you to promise me that you shall never ever leave me. Not even in your dreams.”.
I started to speak, but he silenced me with his finger on my lips.
“Kuchh mat bolo. You know what, why can’t we adopt a child ? I can convince Ma and Pa. I met Ms Nalini Vohra at Mumbai. She is the trustee of an orphanage, NIDHI. We are going there tomorrow. You will come with me, right ?”
I was speechless. I knew what being an orphan meant; I knew what it was like for someone like that to get a family to call his own.
I hugged him tight and sobbed into his chest, against his heartbeats.
Those were mine too.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

*Purely Fictional*

Thursday 19 September 2013

100 Words on Saturday - Truly Alive !

This wonderful writing exercise at Write Tribe requires us to post any creative literary piece of work in exactly 100 words. This week's Prompt is ' Truly Alive'.


He  stood near Dr Uma, as she asked Pooja to open her eyes slowly.
They would now know, whether the transplantation was a success.
She opened her eyes slowly and looked at him, her eyes shining.
Her gaze moved to the wheel chair next to him, to the woman who was about her mother’s age.

Her lips quivered, as she looked at the little girl.
‘ My son, my child’, she whispered.

‘Are you, his….?’, Pooja asked them, her voice excited.
They nodded, their smiles masking the flow of tears.

Their son was truly alive ,in those deep, lovely eyes!

This is my debut at 100 Words on Saturday. Looking forward to participating more and more :-)

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

Wednesday 18 September 2013

THE Violation, THE Verdict.....An Open letter to Nirbhaya !

Dear Jyoti,

I have wanted to write to you for a long time now, but I have been putting it off , for the dearth of words.

I am writing on behalf of the women in the country. And any woman in the world who can see you in the true light.

Ever since that night, when what you suffered numbed our conscience and created the deep, unfathomable void in our hearts, we have been praying for you.
Did you ever know that the whole country  was with you, as you lay on the bed, fighting for a breath, with all your courage and spirit , laced with a passion for life ?  
Did you come to know that the enraged masses had literally conquered the roads, in their efforts to protest the fate that had befallen you ?
You wouldn’t have. You were fighting a battle there, while we raged on and on, voicing out our anguish at the sheer injustice of all that had happened, praying silently all the while for a miracle to revive you.
But that was not to be.
Your redemption came as a call from God, and you left behind the world of pain and suffering.
You had suffered all that you could and even more. Much much more that what anyone can ever think of  or experience.

In the very short span of time that the world came to know you, you became a symbol.
Of all the worse things a woman can expect to endure in life.
Of the true plight of women in a country where Goddesses are worshipped in the same intensity as their male counterparts. Quite an irony !
Of the real condition of women, how much ever educated they be, in the Land of the Vedas, which preaches the old dictum from manusmrithi , ‘ yatra naryastu poojyante, ramante tatra devataa’.
Of what can actually happen, if a girl celebrates the little joys that life gives her, with a movie or a late night walk.

That wasn’t all. You came to be adored as  the spirit of womanhood.
An icon of the strength latent in a woman.
You made us look deeper into ourselves and find meaning in our mundane, monotonous existence.
We opened our eyes to the fact that despite all the ‘emancipation proclamations’ that keep floating in the air, the women of the country are still the deprived lot. I say deprived because, we are being robbed off the security for life. We are forced to think that the whole life is to be spent behind the veils.
We were shocked that, for every rape that is reported, there are many which are silenced.
We learnt the very tough way that we cannot expect even an iota of love , respect and security from the society where lusting eyes ogle at us.

Of course, none of this knowledge was new to us.
 But it was  your struggle, the courage you put up, that catalysed us into action.

We fought. We fought for justice. We fought to tell them that silencing us is never the option; we have the right to be heard and justice needs to be meted out to you.

The nation saw an upsurge of protests as men and women fought hand in hand for your cause, so much so that the issue attracted the attention of the world in a never-before manner.

And yes,inevitably there were talks. There were people who asked whether the ‘Life of Pi’ was so important a movie for you to have gone watching late in the night. Someone raised a question on why you were out at night with a member of the opposite sex. Many blamed your parents for having sent you to the city to study, for having been over ambitious. Some criticised the dress you had worn. Ironically, they had never even seen you. Total strangers, blaming you for what wasn't your fault.

These were people who saw you as ‘just a woman’ ; who were being guided by the age-old principle of ‘woman behind the veil’, the shackles of which we have been trying to break for so long. They never knew you, they never understood why you lived and enjoyed life the way you did. They weren’t ready to acknowledge the fact that what happened to you could have happened to anyone, any time, anywhere. They could never understand why clearing your exams and securing the job was important to you and your family. They couldn’t accept or see reason in a counter-argument that if the way you dressed was a reason for the unfortunate incident, then why were and are the fully clothed old ladies or small girls seen as objects of desire !

You could never expect them to know all this.
For they all were, are and will be blind. With prejudice.

Jyoti, I can see why your parents named you so. When you were born, you brought light into their lives. And they knew you would bear the torch for them as they grew old.
But you have done much more than that. You have brought light into the lives of many women in the country, who now see you as an immortal inspiration.
Even as you struggled for life, you filled us all with a new passion to live fruitfully!
Your life has taught us that a woman’s life is not something to be crumbled by insensitive beings. It’s worth much more than that.
Your plight has helped us see the social viruses like sexual abuse, female feoticide, dowry deaths and of all, rapes, in a clearer , even though sinister, light.

You have given the other victims of rape, a hope and a reason to live. They now know that the  brutality they have survived is  no fault of theirs and that they aren’t guilty for what happened. They are now all the more keen on not letting this happen to anyone else. They have reinforced their strength, determination and the will to live life with passion.

You are indeed the true spirit.

When my daughter grows up, I shall tell you about her.
When she reaches an age that understands, I will tell her that womanhood is much beyond the few ounces of blood shed every month.
That womanhood is not mere sexuality.
It is about trying, flying and touching the sky.
That, being a woman means being the torch-bearer in all senses of the term – physical, emotional, spiritual.
That courage is not the absence of fear, but mastering it.

 Did anyone tell you that the perpetrators of the crime have been gifted the gallows ? That the noose is waiting for them ?

Yes, they have been sentenced to death. The nation is hailing this decision as true justice.

In one way, it is justice. For all the brutality they inflicted on you. For all the unspeakable, unthinkable things that you had to endure. For their being a shame on the society. For their having shocked the collective consciousness of the world at large.

But suffer, you did.
They would never be able to fathom the depth of it.
You are beyond comparison ! Beyond conquest !
Those who conquered your physical senses have done only ephemeral harm.
They can never destroy your soul.

It shall guide us in the years to come.

We respect you, Nirbhaya !!

The ME in Me.

Saturday 7 September 2013

A Diamond for you !

Have you heard of the Diamante ? :-)

It is a poem of 7 lines, with the text forming the shape of a diamond. It begins with the subject in single word in the first line, and ends with a contrasting subject in the last line. The five lines in between follow a certain pattern with respect to grammar. More about this can be learnt here.

The Write Tribe Festival of Words with Theme '7' ends this day, and I thought of winding up my side of the challenge with my own Diamante .

A Diamante for me and you.

                                                    gregarious, friendly,
                                               reading, writing, commenting,
                                           blogs,  articles,  friends,  networks,
                                                meeting, chatting, befriending,
                                                   sweet, warmhearted,

This is a diamante debut ;)

Friday 6 September 2013

7 Mathematical Specialities !

We are on the 6th day of The Write Tribe Festival of Words with theme '7'.
I am taking part as an external arm, and I have enjoyed writing so far.
I have also been able to read some very nice articles with 7 as the theme.

For the 6th day, I thought, why not write about 7 specialities in Mathematics ?

Ok ok...I know this is touchy ;-) Some of us didn't like Maths at school . We were scared of the teachers and had nightmares about scoring less marks or failing in the subject. We dreaded the homework and couldn't make sense of why we were being taught the area of a circle and perimeter of a square or the congruence of triangles and all that.
But this is different from all that , isn't it ? This is just a matter of infotainment, if I can use that word. Just some fun numbers :-)

Mathematics was one of my favourite subjects at school, and I was fortunate to score well in the exams. But I lost touch with the subject after my twelfth standard, when I headed for a graduation in Commerce. Since then, my connection with Mathematics has mainly been through puzzles or snippets of knowledge like this.

So, here we go :-)

The Ramanujan Number , 1729 : I am sure most of you have heard the story of Professor Hardy visiting Srinivasa Ramanujan, India's most revered mathematician, in a car numbered 1729. Ramanujan corrected Hardy's ill feeling about the number, stating that it is a unique and special number, being " the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of 2 positive cubes in 2 ways " :-)
1^3 + 12^3 = 9^3 + 10^3 = 1729 !!
This is one of my most favourite anecdotes about the subject ! :-)

The Golden ratio, 1:1.61803 : Also called Phi, named after Phidias, the Greek sculptor, this is the natural ratio as it is found in nature. This is supposed to be the most pleasing rectangle proportion. It is found in flowers, eggs, sea shells and why, even the human body ! Any work of art created with this ratio incorporated in the measurements shall be the best! Anyone who has read Dan Brown's ' The Da Vinci Code' will be familiar with this.

12345679 : Looks weird, right ? This number, when multiplied by any 2 digit multiple of 9, will produce an answer which shall consist of only that number which multiplies with 9 to get the above multiple.
12345679 * 36 = 444444444 ( which is 36 / 9 ).

Googol : I love this number. It is 1 followed by a 100 zeroes. Even though this number has no particular mathematical significance, googol became a hit with google ! Yes, Google is a misnomer for Googol !! :-)

The Kaprekar's constant, 6174 : Named after the Indian mathematician D. R. Kaprekar. Try this trick:
- Take any four-digit number, with at least two different digits.
- Arrange the digits in ascending and then in descending order to get two four-digit numbers, adding leading zeros if necessary.
- Subtract the smaller number from the bigger number.
- Go back to step 2.
After a maximum of 7 iterations, you will be left with 6174, the Kaprekar Constant !

701 : I once came across a wonderful property of this number. This is nothing much, still it interested me.
701 = 1^0 + 2^1+3^2+4^3+5^4 :-)

5, the only odd Untouchable Number :  An untouchable number is a positive integer, that cannot be expressed as the sum of all the proper divisors of any positive integer, including the number in question :-) ; this means, the proper divisors of no positive integer adds up to 5 ;-)
Say, for example , 9. It can be expressed as the sum of divisors of 8 ( 1+2+4). But 5 is the only odd number for which this property doesn't work :-)

So happy to find out 7 peculiarities in numbers. I tried finding many more and there are many many more puzzles out there for enthusiastic mathemaniacs ! May be, some posts in future :-)

Thursday 5 September 2013

Take a stand for Teachers !

September 5th.
The birthday of the most gifted President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
And, most importantly, National Teachers' Day.

Oh ! the nostalgia of schools and colleges !!
The very word 'Teachers' conjures up an image of a classroom, with one person near the blackboard, with a piece of chalk in hand, and 30 or 40 or even 50 pairs of young eyes riveted on her ( or him) , listening in rapt attention, taking in evey word, waiting eagerly for a question to pop up so that they can 'let their hands bob in the air ' and answer, waiting for an appreciative smile :-).

Remember the Teachers' Day Celebrations at school, when the senior students were allowed to dress up as one of the teachers and take charge of the junior classes for the day :-) ? It was fun !! And, just as wonderful was the happiness in our teachers' eyes, when we wished them , a ' Happy Teachers' Day' in chorus, supporting it with hand-made cards :-)

Just as in India, Teachers' Day is observed in many countries. Afghanistan celebrates it on October 15th, while it is on October 4th in Bangladesh. Greece ( January 30th), Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman , Morocco, Libya  ( February 28th), Indonesia ( November 25th), Mexico ( May 15th), Poland ( October  14th) - all of them have their own days for these 'Lamps of Knowledge'.

The UNESCO celebrates World Teacher's Day on October 5th. Many countries like Pakistan and Philippines, celebrate on the same day too. The title of this post is the UNESCO's motto for the World Teachers' Day !

And 'Teacher' is a 7- letter word.  That is one of the reasons why this is perfect for the Write Tribe theme :-)

For me, the 7 qualities that idolise a teacher would be :

Tenacious : A teacher has to be persistent, determined and not ready to give up. His or her job isn't easy, and it might be easy to give up and say, ' I'm sorry, I don't think I can teach you brats ! '. But someone with a love for teaching wouldn't do that :-) He shall hold on and go on, till he succeeds !

Erudite : Needless to say, a teacher has to be erudite. This doesn't indicate the degrees or doctorates that he or she has. It aims to say that a teacher has to have the quality of erudition, whether it be from his degrees, or from the circumstances he has been through as an individual. What matters is his ability to gain knowledge and pass it on.

Affectionate : An affectionate teacher kindles the warmth in you by his love and care. Who is the best teacher you remember ? Is it simply the one who wore the best sarees to school ? Or is it the one who smiled at you often, who took care to see that you understood what she spoke, who treated all students with the same love and affection ? For me, it is the latter. And I am sure, it is so for most of you, too !

Committed : A committed teacher is one who stays rooted to his profession with the aim of seeing his students excel. Commitment to the cause is important for a teacher, because our subconscious imbibes  that from him or her.

Honest : Honesty begets exactly that, in the long run. A teacher who practices honesty can only preach it among his students :-) Honesty doesn't mean only an abstinence from lying, as many of us often think :-)  it means, thorough trueness in words, deeds and intentions :-)

Empathetic : Being able to view any issue from a student's point of view enables a teacher perform his job better. Empathy is required in all walks of life, but more so for a teacher because he's most often dealing with someone younger, and looking at the world with the other pair of eyes is very effective !

Resourceful : Being able to analyse situations and find ways to overcome hindrances to reach the goal is a necessary quality ! A teacher who helps his student reach within and understand the qualities latent in him , his strengths and weaknesses as also his conscience is the best teacher ! A good teacher always finds ways out of a labyrinth. Always !

That is for me, the T-E-A-C-H-E-R of being a teacher. What are yours?

I dedicate this post to all my teachers, my mom who taught me the very first word, ' amma', my (late) maternal grandmother , who first taught me the alphabets of my mother tongue, my teachers in kinder garten, who opened the world of knowledge for me, my teachers at school, who always brought out the best in me, my teachers at college, who guided me to the right profession, and my teachers at my profession, who made me what I am today !

I am indebted to you all !!

*Thanks to Google for all images*

Wednesday 4 September 2013

A thought to cherish, and follow !

I was reminded of this quote I read somewhere.

Sincere Soulful Service, Secures Supreme Soaring Success !!

7 Words.
Each of 7 letters.
And beginning with the same alphabet as 7 :-D :-D

Any activity, done with passion,dedication, and sincerity,results in superb success , sooner or later !

A very simple concept , which I thought of sharing as a part of 'Theme 7' for the Write Tribe Festival of Words!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

7 Series - Post 2 : The VIBGYOR of Life :)

So, the Write Tribe Festival of Words with '7' as the theme is going strong, and I am taking part from outside the group as I had missed out on the registration deadline. I was thinking seriously as to what I should post next  after that first post on my new found love, Blogging, when I dropped in to one of the philosophical moods of thoughts.
And hey ! As I thought deeper and deeper with my limited knowledge of life to guide me, I was pulled into a web of ideas....aren't we all philosophical some times ? And many of us, most of the time ? Don't we all want to live life to the fullest, achieve the best we can , be as happy as we can be , spread as much warmth as we are able to ? Will anyone of us deliberately choose sorrow and despair over their negative counterparts ? As all these thoughts invaded my mind, a concept emerged clear.

And that, is today's post.

The VIBGYOR of life ;-)

Here we go :

Virtuousness :                        
Following the virtues we learn in life takes us a long way.
We are all taught some basic morals in life, which we may overlook, as time passes by. But I am sure they are latent in us. Always. All that we need is just dig inside. Underneath the parched surface would surely be the soothing flow of our own values, which are enough to guide us through , till the end :-)

Integrity : 
We are all honest :-) Come on, we like to believe we are, don't we ?  Even if we tend to give in to the temptation of lying at times to save the neck, or to maintain a 'knowing silence', we are all honest in essence. That's how we have been created and moulded ( exceptions apart :-) ). But integrity is a greater concept. 'Honesty is ,what you are when you know the world watches you ; Integrity is your honesty when you know you aren't being watched ' :-)
Well, that explains it.
 Some thing which we all can practice in life to gain the ends ! I definitely need to practice ! ( See, I am already practising it by admitting it :-P )

Benevolence : 
Good begets good. Benevolence needn't just be an act of kindness or charity or anything to do with material contribution. I personally feel , what matters is the heart to do good, and to spend something which you deem important, on someone else. Say, for example, your time. By spending some time with your loved ones, or lending your ears to the problems which your friends have to share with you, you are actually bestowing them with something important to you, which you may never get replaced. You are being benevolent here. And strengthening your relationships as a reward to yourself. Again , GIGO. Good in, Good out ! :-)

And see this image !
How 'Love' is so much a part of benevolence. From one perspective, I feel it as a return gift ;-)
Benevolence flows from you to others, and this makes Love flow from them to you !
Wonderful, right ?

Gentleness :
Needless to elucidate. When we meet people, we generally expect them to be soft spoken and gentle. That's the reason why we aren't sure of the results of some meetings; we are apprehensive about whether our expectation of them would actually match their behaviour to us. Gentleness is a virtue we all would love to possess :-)

This is what even the scriptures say .
Again, something which I have to definitely follow :-)

Youthfulness :
Of course, we all pass through this phase of life in its physical sense,as in age. But here, I am speaking more about the emotional state of being. We can always try to cultivate and maintain a youthful temperament. While acknowledging that we get older and older as the days pass by, we need to keep up the spirit of the young in us :-) To maintain the youthful exuberance, to keep alive child-like enthusiasm and to take on life with all energy, is all a gift !

G B Shaw, one of the famous pens who influenced the world with his words wrote, ' People don't stop playing because they grow old; they grow old because they stop playing ' :-)
So true !
Let's revitalize ourselves and stay young in heart throughout life :-)

Organised Approach : 
Well, the first thing that 'O' brings to mind is optimism, but I am taking a different path here by being organised. Having an organised approach in life, is more often than not, a satisfying experience. Being organised helps us in all walks of life. Weren't we all advised to do learn our portions daily, at school ? Weren't we asked to follow a time table ? We all have been at the receiving ends more than one time for not having kept a clean desk or table or room. And how many of us can now work in a cluttered kitchen or a messed up work desk ? And how many times have we tried recollecting something from the deep vaults of our mind, where there is a mayhem of thoughts falling on top of each other ? Yes, let's organise our daily life. And wait for results :)

Yes, so much to think of and plan !

Realistic Outlook :
Realistic approach is a balance of optimism and pessimism. Optimism is being way too positive, in some cases to the extreme, that a negative result can never be accepted. Pessimism is being way too negative, that a positive outcome isn't pictured. Realistic outlook helps here.
Being a realist means, expecting the positives, accepting that there might be hindrances in the path and doing the best to avert them or to reduce their intensity.
It is more about taking an effort to bring a positive outcome and accept one's failures.
  At the end of it, we are happy that we tried !

That's my Take 7 on life ;) What's yours ?

* Thanks to Google for all images*

Monday 2 September 2013

7 reasons why blogging is wonderful !

Write Tribe is hosting the 'Write Tribe' Festival of Words, the theme being ' SEVEN'.
Yes, anything to do with 'seven' .
I missed out on the registration deadline and hence cannot participate, but that needn't stop me from being a part of the festival from outside the group :-)

So here's the first of my 7s.

As a new entrant to world of blogging, much of my time is spent on getting to know various blogs, reading what my co-bloggers have to say, and generally learning the nuances of blogging as an activity. Much of my thoughts these days are consumed by queries and understanding on various aspects of blogging . I was just thinking why I find blogging attractive. And here are 7 reasons why :-)

A blog is a personal statement. Your blog, its content, layout, design, every single thing contained therein is a personal statement of what you are. It reflects you in the perfect light ; it’s your brainchild, after all ! It speaks volumes about the person you are, your emotions, your personality as a whole. That means a blog showcases you the best !

A blog is your brainchild, and is a major boost to your creativity. With incessant demands on variety in content and presentation , a blog compels you to take the creative route. It helps you identify the long-forgotten, often dead areas of talent that you possess and insists that you revitalize it with a fresh dose of energy. Creative juices flow ! In turn this enhances the quality of your language as you start crafting the content to the taste of the readers !

Writing itself is therapeutic. And blogging is one great stress-buster.  Having a blog means having a friend to listen to the outpourings of your heart,your ramblings, deepest thoughts, anything that makes you take the tension-drive, everything, in fact ! It is a wonderful medium to get all the stressful thoughts out of your system and look at it from a third dimension. And more often than thought, such a paradigm shift in perspective offers solutions to many problems which you might have otherwise overlooked or under-rated, by offering you clarity.

Blogs provide you a wide variety of reading material. ‘N’ blogs give you ‘N^infinity’ pages to read and comprehend. The blogosphere is a treasure-house for readers, and a repertoire of knowledge as well. It opens before you a plethora of channels to tune in to, whether it be for information, enjoyment , entertainment, competition, you name it ! All at a click !

Having a blog helps you to network with like-minded people who love words  :-) You bond over the blogs, get to read what they have in mind, get to know them as individuals who share the same love for words and books and music and anything under the sun :-) Many views are shared, friendships forged and networks established. This gives you a sense of belongingness to a like-minded fraternity !

Needless to say, it’s a wonderful medium that offers support for publication. If you have the ‘gift of the words’ in you, having a blog regularly updated gives you ready material as a sample to offer, on your journey to get published. Many blogs which I follow ( especially in Malayalam, such as this and this ) have been published as books and are doing really well  :-). And there are many successful writers, who are avid bloggers too !

Aah, yes. A blog survives on the virtual platform. All that has been recorded in the blog serves posterity. A visit to those pages from the past surely brings a lot of memories, reminds you of what you had been when the blog was born, how you have evolved as an individual over the years, in thoughts and words, how many new friends have entered your lives. It is a diary of all sorts, and a great confidence booster !!

I have just begun my journey on this path. I know I have a long way to go :-)

With all the energy and confidence I can muster, I am ON the track :-)

Sunday 1 September 2013

So much to think; how to put it in ink ?

That was a week-long fun with Harry Potter.
So now, time to go back to the usual 'I-am-trying-to-think-seriously' mode.

Think, I do.

Thoughts are crazy things, you know. Crazy beings, rather. I say beings, because I feel thoughts have a life of their own. You don't know where they come from or what route they are going to take next. Sometimes, you never know when the thought germinated in your brain, what made you think that, why at all are you thinking that when you have something much more interesting to think about ; yet there are times when you enter a train of thought deliberately with an intention to either put it in words or to talk about it to someone else or to simply engage your ' looking-for-exercise' brain. Either way, the thoughts have an identity of their own and they feed and grow among themselves.

Why am I writing all this now ?
Because, I think a lot.
Good, bad, intelligent, stupid, positive, negative, spiritual , agnostic.
Or , everything.
But something or the other every time.

I often find that I am not able to come back to what triggered the thought process. Its like my thoughts have lots of hyperlinks. Each thought takes me to a new horizon each time. And by the time, I attempt a come-back, I find much to my chagrin that that particular page of thought has been closed down and the 'memory refresh' button doesn't seem to work either !!

And the end result ? A clogged and confused brain, with bits and pieces of thoughts and memories strewn around , obviously lacking clarity. This seems to go on for days. Often, I find that my routine life is not affected by this at all. I can still think clearly about the household chores, my job, my menu for lunch and dinner and the mundane tasks that make up a day. It is just my creative process that bears the brunt.

Yet, I know that after this period of 'lull and mull' as I term it, comes a phase that's so refreshingly creative.

Just as grapes churn out the best wine after a period of fermentation, my thoughts, which till now played across my mind and wreaked havoc with my creativity , flow out as words.

And to capture that, is this blog's purpose :-)

I share here a wonderful quote that I read the other day .

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled. ― Plutarch

Yes, instead of filling our minds with mindless thoughts, why don't we just let the spirit within be kindled ?
the sweet spirit of imagination
the spicy spirit of life
the fierce spirit of ambition
the lovely spirit of liveliness
the fragrant spirit of positivism
the refreshing spirit of devotion

Please do think :-)