Category Archives: PS’ Peculiar Stories

~नमक स्वाद अनुसार~


कभी मम्मी कह दे कि आज  ज़रा और  पढ़ लो, Exam नज़दीक आ रहे हैं।  तो लो ! पढाई वहीँ ठप  हो जाती; बड़ा ठेस पहुँचता स्वाभिमान को। अगले दिन सुबह के  तीन बजे, आँखें मलती हुई , गुनगुनाकर , नींद से लड़कर पढ़ती। Mummy  पानी पीने  के लिए  उठकर देखती और कहती, “इतनी भी क्या पढ़ाई ! पागल हो जाओगी !” फ़िर तो ! नींद गायब और चार घंटों  धुआँधार  पढ़ाई  शुरू !
 
उसे आदत  नहीं थी  कि कोशिश में उसकी कभी कोई कमी रह जाए। चाहे painting बनाने में हो, लोगों से मीठी बातें करने में या किताबों  में डूब कर अपने कल  का सपना देखने में। आस- पड़ोस  का आदर्श कहलाना, सबकी नज़रों में अपनी गरीमा  बनाये रखने  में… उसे खुद पर काफ़ी ग़ुरूर था।  अच्छाई की इतनी गंदी  आदत लगी थी उसको , की किसीसे न बुरा बोल पाती और न ही सेह पाती।  ख़ैर आदत भी अति ही थी। … 
 
वक़्त के पहिये पलटते गए,  किताबों  की भीड़ में टहलती -खोती , खोजती – ग़ुम होती। …अपने  राह कुछ चुने,  कुछ  बनाए ।  पर कोशिश हमेशा जारी रहती। 
 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
बावजूद इसके कोई खुश न था ! कभी बिंदी का आकार छोटा लगता , तो कभी हाथों में कँगन कम दिखते , कभी बहुत बातूनी लगती , तो कभी “चाय बनाने के लिए भी आलसी “… 
रसोई कभी आयी नहीं थी उसको।  अब आने की कोशिश पूरी थी।  डर और खुद पे भरोसे की कमी…कोशिश जितनी ही गहरी थी । 
 
पिछले कुछ सालों में कोशिश कुछ कम पड़ रही थी, शायद ; चाहे कितना भी जान लगा दे वो।  हर बार उसके कोशिश की मुलाकात किसी के सलाह से, मज़ाक से , नुस्खों से या फिर तानों से होती।
 
ग़ुरूर क्या ? यहाँ  हर सुबह अपने स्वाभिमान को टटोलती।  
 
“तुम कोशिश करोगी, तो कर पाओगी।  ये इतनी बड़ी चीज़ तो है नहीं। चलो आज की सब्ज़ी तुम अकेले बना लो। देखते हैं। ”  
 
हर दो मिनट में उसके एक चमच मसाले के बाद माँ  स्वाद चखती।  “अरे और ज़रा सा डलेगा शायद … अरे ये तोह तेज़ डल गया… ज़रा सा ध्यान देना ज़रूरी है। …”  हमेशा वो उससे भी सतर्क रहते, कि कहीं गलती से भी उससे गलती न हो जाये। 
yamini_workshop2_slideshow
 
कहाँ वो यहाँ ज़िन्दगी अपनाने चली थी ! यहाँ तोह उसकी गलती भी उसकी अपनी नहीं हो सकती थी ! 
 
सलाह इतने सलीक़े से आते, की कब घाव कर निकल गए, किसीको पता भी नहीं चलता। हर बार वह कहती , “जी माँ , सही बताया आपने।  अगली बार फ़िर  कोशिश करती हूँ, पूरे मन से ।” कई बार तो इतना मुस्कुरा कर कहती कि मानो , किसीने मुसकान  को चेहरे पे  Fevicol से चिपकायी हो।   
 
मन!? मन तो दद्वं  में ऐसे उलझा होता , रोज़ खुद से ये कहता, ” तुम कह क्यों नहीं देती उनसे ? तुम सेह क्यों लेती हो हमेशा ? तुम्हारी कोशिश कुछ कम नहीं थी… बल्कि उनकी कोशिश पूरी है, की तुम्हारी कोशिश को नकार दें !”
 
“कब बोलना सीखेगी अपने लिए !?! बस कह डालो।  कि तुम्हें चुभती हैं ये 108 नुस्ख़े उनके…की तुम्हें भी तकलीफ़ होती है … “
 
रात भर उसकी अच्छाई -बुराई  उसके मन में जंग लड़ लेते।  और शहीद होती तो उसकी नींद, उसका सुकून। काग़ज़ पर लिख कर, Book Shelf  पर चिपकाकर वो सो जाती , ” लेहरों से डरकर नौका पार नहीं होती।  कोशिश करने वालों की कभी हार नहीं होती।  “
 
महीने बीत जाते  और उसकी कोशिश हमेशा कम पड़ जाती।  कभी चाय में चीनी कम  तो कभी सब्ज़ी में नमक ज़्यादा पड़ जाती। … 
 
फ़िर एक दिन , धैर्य हार मान लेता है।  कोशिश करने सी ही इनकार कर देता है। 
 
कमरे में चेहरा पोछते हुए इक खाली पन्ने पर वह लिखती , ” अति का भला न बोलना , अति की भली न चुप।  अति का भला न बरसना, अति  की भली न धूप ” इस काग़ज़ को पुराने वाले के ऊपर चिपकाती। महीनों तक वो उस काग़ज़  को पढ़ती… अपने रूह में उन शब्दों की सेना बनती। और कमरे से बहार निकलते ही उस सेना को भूला देती। 
 
रसोई से प्रेशर कुकर की सीटी और माँ की पुकार ,अब खाना लगाने की सलाह दे रहे थे।  नमक की डिबिया को वह मेज़ पर रख लेती- आज उसे मालूम था की सब्ज़ी में नमक कम था। आज तक न नमक उसका, न फ़ैसले उसके, न ही गलती ही उसकी हो पायी थी।  सब कुछ तो बस सलाह था !
03-1462276112-cooking (2)
 
खाना खाते खाते दो चार सलाह और मिल गए थे , “Recipe Book में जैसा लिखा हो , बस उतना भी कर लेने से ठीक बन जाता है। कोई बात नहीं , अगली बार कर लेना। …” 
 
इस बार “कोई बात” ज़रूर थी।  इस बार सालों से सुना हुआ “अगली बार ” , कानों से गुज़र कर दिल पे नहीं , स्वाभिमान पे लगा था । 
 
Recipe book  की और झाँकती , उसकी मुस्कान अब Fevicol  वाली न थी। अपने कटोरे की सब्ज़ी में नमक डाल कर उसने नमक की डिबिया उनके ओर  बढ़ाई ….. आवाज़ में उसकी, गरीमा  लौट आयी थी…  
 
“माँ जी।  में नहीं कह रही हूँ। आपके Recipe Book में लिखा है , ‘नमक स्वाद अनुसार’ ! “
 
किसीके गले से निवाला उतरा नहीं और वो सुकून से अपना खाना ख़तम कर, थाली रसोई में रख, हाथ धोकर अपने कमरे में चली गयी। 
अपने डायरी के पहले पन्ने पर, भगवान् के नाम के नीचे, बड़े बड़े अक्षरों से लिखा , “नमक स्वाद अनुसार ” … 
 
और हँस पड़ी। 
PS: Excerpts of the two poems cited above are from Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s ‘Koshish karne waalon ki kabhi haar nai Hoti’  and from Kabir Das ke Dohe, respectively.
The characters bear no resemblance to the author, yet they bear all resemblance to all the women out there, who juggle with their aspirations in life and struggle with their rites of passage in marriage.
And one fine day, become the Namak Halal/ Haram (depending on whom they bear allegiance to ) and say it aloud, “Namak Swaad Anusaar”
Peace.
🙂

~Bou~


unnamed-1

The woman who pretends to read the English paper, just to be clicked wise!

It has been exactly an year without you. I cannot say that I miss you, I feel your absence and there are tears in my eyes.Yet there is no void without you, somehow you refuse to go and stay put in our lives. And weirdly cruel it might sound to you out there, but each time I remember you, I just cant stop laughing at the silly,funny and annoying acts that you merrily did. I am imagining you in that Universe where you are stealing those white stars thinking that they are Milky Bar chocolates. You were a sweet old nasty rebel who lived the world the way she wanted to.

Not even a day passes without thinking of you atleast once before I sleep. And honestly when I had outgrown your lap, I hadn’t found time enough to remember you so often.  Now that you are unreachable, your penguin walk comes strutting before me- always, all ways and there is no escape.

Bou is my Bou. She wasn’t the grandmaa a Jeje Maa is supposed to be. She was the Mummy, the friend, the teacher, the Cartoon Network, the enemy, the Punching Bag, the Family Clown, the all… while I was talking those first steps in my life.

I distinctly remember how she would enjoy the tough times she had while handling the unruly me, while Mummy was away doing her Post Graduation. She would oil my hair and I would punch her for damaging my hair style and later make her shampoo it. I was in Kindergarten and none less than a hyper-melodramatic moronic kid. I would forget my homework at home and she would nervously run to school, carrying all my notebooks, not knowing which one could be the forgotten homework copy for which I could be punished. Then she bribed my Ayaas there for sneaking that notebook to me.

She would make tiny clay utensils for me to play kitchen-kitchen. She would drag me to the gents barber shop to chop off my  bird nest like hair, lest I wailed to have the Madhuri Dixit hair do for school. No hair= No care! She would fight with all the people who picked up fights with me. She would tell me endless stories until I finished my  food or fell asleep. Now, she has gone to sleep forever.

fullsizerender-2

Bou, Mommy and Me.

Bou! We would be annoyed at your extraordinary skills of stealing anything sugary and forbidden. We would laugh at your never ending desires to dress up like a 20ish bride. You never failed to sneak into my cosmetics and consume the entire bottle of perfume, lotion , nailpolish , despite having your own. You always thought mine was better- you out-rightly naughty woman! And of course pluck those exotic roses from the garden in the name of offering them for Puja and then they would pompously sit on Goddess Lalita’s Bun (Head+ Pitch Black Tassil – Hair) 😛

We would frown at your never ending chatter about all the irrelevant stuff in the world, while you watched the repeat telecast of a previously watched episode of a mindless soap and took pride in predicting the next scene before it came. When you were asked relevant questions about the ‘n’ number of mischiefs you had done throughout the day and the crate of ripe mangoes was found empty- you knew where to divert the attention and feign innocence. When you were silent, your Ludo dice would endlessly clang in its tiny box. You would play Ludo by running all the 4 colours yourself and being your own opponent. You never trusted our ability to be a player of your match and never were you ashamed of cheating to win. You crooked woman! I often wonder, if you took revenge on us for raising all the nasty kids in the family for 2 generations,and hence suitably being a bounty combo of All-in-one-Oldie!

402415_299422980105964_1269577501_n

She was the Fuljhari, the Diwali Dhamaka!

I had so many dreams of getting you so many things with my first salary, making you proud by becoming someone someday. When I think I reasonably became one, I didn’t find you much proud. I think, you were always infinitely proud of me irrespective of how big I was in years, or seemed to be by ‘big’ accomplishments. You were a merry and content lot- always. I thought of buying you more of those fancy bangles that I got for you always… and those silver payals, you were unhappy that they didn’t make much sound like that of a bride! My Bangles , my payals were with you till your last. I wish I was there too.

I regret that I couldn’t buy you the promised new Ludo Set, couldn’t play Ludo with you one more time- where no matter what , You always won. I never can fight with you again, over the loud volume of the TV, over the spilled nail-paint bottle, over eavesdropping on my telephone conversations with my friends…

You have never complained of less attention, of being old, of being made fun of, of being scolded or of being in pain- even while you writhed in that heart attack.You had come to this world, a wailing infant. You lost your mother before you could understand what a mother was. But you never failed to be the best Mother for the kids and kids of the kids… and you dreamt of raising my kids as well!  You loved us all infinitely, nurtured the child in me immeasurably. But when you turned a child, I got impatient and fought with you. I can never forgive myself all life through, although I am still in doubt whether you picked up those fights intentionally and actually enjoyed them.

You were a messy, illiterate, unsophisticated, funny lady. You Bou! But your spirit, uncomplaining attitude, never ending cheerfulness, infinite ability to endure pain, never getting mad at us for all the jeering- I wonder whether my education could ever teach me that.

img_1723

You, who claimed to be my husband’s second bride.

 

I want to cry out aloud today, because you are gone. But when I remember you, countless happy memories dance before my eyes and your silly smile makes me smile too. I wonder if I will ever be able to leave the world with as much grace as you. I still can’t remember the last time I saw you hurt, sad or in tears. How could nothing make you sad Bou !?!

 

unnamed-17

4 Generations in a frame. We cant miss her. She is unmissable.

 

“When Children are small- they talk and you laugh.
When Children grow big- you talk and they laugh.”

I wish I hadn’t laughed, I wish I had been more patient. I wish I had played Ludo with you one more time. I wish I had let you pluck all those yellow roses, Oh my Lalita Devi! I wish I had watched TV aloud with you- even the 6th repeat telecast. I wish I could talk and I wish I could laugh on you, one more time…

Bou, today you smile in a garlanded portrait in my Puja room…that serious looking, somber image doesn’t suit you well. It makes me nervous… You better become that goofy, whacky woman who cant live one day in her life without annoying people or making them laugh…

Bou. I hadn’t really realized how much I have loved you all my life…

img_1746

You are the Love of our Life.

 

Bou! You are and always shall be picturesque, the brightest colour of our life’s portrait.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rizzy!


I realised that day I was no more a child. It was 5:30 in the morning. I turned off my alarm. It wasn’t needed anyway. I had stayed awake the whole night, sitting by her. I was no more a child, ‘coz I could care for a child too. Rizzy was born and I was so damn happy.

427998_246227045452775_218951494846997_533535_2071240935_n

Time flies fast while you decide whether to fly along or stay back watching its flight. I flew until my wings were wrapped in cobwebs of ‘circumstances’. I stayed back until I could break open times’s prison and fly free. All way long I had wished. I need a daughter-my alter ego, my mirror. She would think like I think, Speak like I speak. But she wouldn’t speak what I speak. Her words would be like whispers stolen from the storm, an oasis from the desert, a tear from the stubborn soul, a balm for the bleeding bruises, a smile from the weeping bride… Oh Rizzy!

~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●

389268_468600099876793_1945739806_n - Copy

Rizzy grew up before I could realise. She was in School! An affable soul, she made friends soon. And like a protective mother, I would spend hours following her friends, stalking their daily routines, weeding out the bad from the good. After all a child is a reflection of the company she keeps. And then there would be endless comparisons of her performance, her popularity with her friends.
I would invest all my emotions, energy and efficiency on her. Sometimes, even getting berserk not being able to figure out why she lagged behind others, despite her potential. And at others, I would get overjoyed and mad with pride over her little accomplishments, over the compliments that people gave her. A self- congratulating mother!

~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~

422993_386807264664284_100000050410663_1472938_1222894281_n

As Rizzy started being her Mom’s friend, she started being her confidante too. I would tell her all my secrets, until they were no more secrets- unlocking the huge chest of guilt locked up in my chest. I would share with her my life’s experiences. I would tell them in stories- sometimes true, sometimes made up.
She would be so curiously confused, constantly pestering me. “Tell me Maa! Is the girl you mentioned in the story, You? She so much resembles you!!” And I would smile and say,”you shall know, someday” 🙂 A part of me trying to believe myself, it was me. Another half thinking it couldn’t be.

~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~

578118_177143925739876_100003328088309_282623_1962426503_n

Despite all the experiences, stories and wisdom- Life teaches the teacher more than it can ever teach the student. I learn to accept that Rizzy is Rizzy. Rizzy isn’t me. I learn to unlearn my expectations.

Rizzy revolts. She is obsessed  with the glamour she sees in the world, running after fans and followers, popularity and pals. “Likes” and “Comments” have begun to shape her opinion about herself.  I had her promise me, to honour just one opinion in life- that of Conscience. But even conscience seems conditional these times!

I cannot stop her but I cannot surrender either. I sympathize and support but silently try pulling her out of the mirage of sociability…Rizzy scoffs at me for a while, lonely without the stamp and seal of world’s acceptance. But ultimately she seems to have discovered her Nirvana. She rejoices. I can sense sensibility and gratitude in her words… the whisper stolen from the storm, “Thanks Mom” 🙂

1005782_10151843145063185_785437704_n

~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~

And the day comes. Rizzy grows. Rizzy goes.
Rizzy grows. Rizzy outgrows me.

The world has changed and so has she.
My thoughts can no longer accommodate her ‘big ideas’.
Her large frames seem incomplete with my tiny paintings of her… Hence, I resist sharing my thoughts with her. I hide away my purple diary so that I donot disturb Rizzy with my superfluous advises, terrible thoughts… I no more pen down.
I refrain from giving her my paintings to frame them for me.
Rizzy goes, paints her own paintings.
This time, time flies while I stay back and watch its flight.

208854_10151099705138185_1314942293_n

I had held her hand, not letting her to walk on her own. I have to stop before I cripple her by choice, by obsession. I have to stop being a possessive, zealous and hyper mother.
But I know, I still have to love. I have to love my attachment and yet practice detachment. Someday daughters marry and go… a smile from the weeping bride..
I have to love. I have to let love stay at a distance.

556714_695072297177879_1908888830_n

~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~●~

My Thoughts have departed. I wait to depart someday.
Rizzy shall stay back. She wouldn’t let me depart by parting ways with my thoughts. A part of my thoughts would always reflect in her mirror…an oasis from the desert.
~●I walk on the sand washed by the waves,guided by no footsteps. Whether I leave any footprints or not, I am content that, I had the courage to tread the path I set my heart on.●~

224799_10151052596293185_1596779963_n

May be Rizzy is my footprint. May be not.
May be Time is the wave that washes away my footprints. May be not.

Well, Rizzy! time may wash you away, but I would never.
Happy birthday dear Rizzy! you survived half a decade with this mad author, your Blog Mother!!

Is authoring a Blog any less than Mothering a child?! I shall not think so (for the moment atleast 😛 ) Like a Baby it hasn’t let me sleep through endless nights, that I spend on crafting and caressing her. I have waken up at intervals penning down my thoughts, as if waking up to change diapers! I have drifted through long afternoons, embellishing her with widgets, pictures, poems and awards…as if decorating my daughter! With people appreciating my Blog, my Baby- I have become overwhelmed, hyper ecstatic. With critics, I have turned tensed, as if my baby has flunked in her school! I have spent hours gaping at my blog with nostalgia.. As if looking at picture albums and scrapbooks of my child who has suddenly grown big today! 😛

998764_472669962803140_1709648128_n

Well Rizzy!! What a journey, a metamorphosis!
How big have you grown girl! How well, how wise have you evolved!!
Here again, Happy birthday from the proud mother of the lovely Resonner
! Oh Rizzy!! 😀

5thbday

The Homeless of the Palace


Home is where the heart longs to be even after seeing the grandeur of the world outside.
Home is where there are the few people who love you, within the walls inside, even though there are million better people in the world outside. Home is where there is freedom, confined behind the bars of love, respect, trust and belonging.

Many people in this world are without a House- sleeping on streets on cold winter nights, couching under polythene sheets when it rains, rolling on dusty footpaths in scorching summers… Yes there is Pain. But there is Freedom too.
For many others, trapped within the four walls of the mansions of their masters- it rains fear. And Life is an endless winter-cold, dry. Life is a footpath which people trample by.

help380

This story is of two such children who unfortunately have such kind of a Home- Bubbly and Chutki. Bubbly is a black eyed, black bodied 15 year old girl. Chutki, who was so small when she came that nobody remembers her real name. For her mini size, they call her Chutki.

It is Raina’s Birthday, the daughter-in-law of the majestic mansion. There’s a cake being cut, snacks distributed to the guests. Raina feeds the cake to every member and calls out for the two girls. Fear gripping them, they run away.

An hour later she watches them eat fragments of the cake, in the kitchen crooks. There is ice cream too but the expensive porcelain bowls are noticed to have been misplaced. The father-in-law takes out his slippers and lashes at Chutki. The mother-in-law does the balancing act. She asks to lash Bubbly too…
The two celebrate their birthdays there…the price for being born as orphans and to poor parents is very well paid. They will never blow the candles, where life has rubbed off their flames. They will never cut Birthday cakes, where life cuts them each moment with its injustice and irony…

Raina regrets, why had she ever gifted her father-in-law those Slippers… Why was it even her birthday!!
The midnight party ends. Raina looks at the two who haven’t shed a tear. Their eyes are ice-white and cheeks and ears blood-red. They lick the quarter scoop of molten ice-cream fast, before that too is taken away and flung into the sink.
Raina’s conscience melts into guilt. She cannot revolt, cannot protect, cannot love them too. She cries into the night wondering how they never cry.

Some days she wakes up at 6 to see them being lashed with a broom or a ladle or a lock , for an unclean floor, an unironed saree, or for simply giggling like ‘illiterate and uncultured’ brats. She cannot decide what good literacy or culture might have done to them. She was literate and cultured and so were her in-laws- one was the heartless perpetrator the other a coward, passive passerby…

She hugs them when they are alone,praises them generously, gives them little hair-clips and trinkets, laughs with them, slips candies into their palms each day…They hastily swallow it for fear of being caught, sometimes even being caught and lashed once again…

Again the candy has choked Bubbly’s throat and she has choked the tears somewhere behind her eyes, acting as if it was all a common affair. No guilt, no pain- like the killing of a mosquito.

Raina says, “Bubbly! Look there are many children in this world who donot have a house, who donot have clothes, who donot get to eat even twice a day. So atleast you have all that…Don’t you think so?”… speaking as if they have ever complained. The coward in her conscience, pacifying their hidden pain.

Bubbly smiles with her bunny teeth ajar, “But Didi we donot eat too, when we break the glass tumblers.”

Raina tries to smile. God is kind enough to put these Iron birds in this Golden cage. Had they been birds of glass, they would have shattered just like her.

PS:
According to the latest Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report from UNESCO, there are 57.8 million children who are out of primary school globally, and India with its 1.4 million children out of school, is among the global top 5 worst performers.To put it simply, worldwide, 1 in 10 children are not in school.With an officially estimated 12.6 million children engaged in hazardous occupations (2001 Census), India has the largest number of child labourers under the age of 14 in the world.Nearly 85 per cent of child labourers in India are hard-to-reach, invisible and excluded, as they work largely in the unorganised sector, both rural and urban, within the family or in household-based units,or as domestic helps which are generally out of the purview of labour laws. They are nothing but Bonded labour, because no child will willfully surrender his/her childhood for money whose value he/she is too young to understand.

Ever thought? a child labour becomes a labour first, and a Child never!

Child-labour-in-India-Harmony-International

The Banyan Tree


The Sun shone bright that morning. Its rays scorching the soil, sucking away the last drop of last monsoon with an invisible straw, scathing the skin. Yet, the birds chirped, the squirrels squeaked and the snakes hissed happily beneath the shade of the Banyan Tree.

IMG_5709

The stubborn Banyan Tree who was their friend and protector, their shade and shelter, their guide and mentor. And how couldn’t it be? For decades now it had helped them grow, eat , play, cheat the sun, beat the heat, fight the rain, find a place called home, survive… Live.

With the sun going behind the mountains, they would all gather together to discuss their day, weary yet cheery. The sparrows would brag how they spotted their kids soaring higher than the eagles. The squirrels sqeaked how they visited their kids in the nearby hillock, who brought them an exotic fruit available only at those wonder hills. The snakes would swell with pride talking about their children who now marked the biggest territory of the far off jungles, which they wouldn’t dare venture themselves.

IMG_5740

But there was a mute spectator too. He wouldn’t speak a word these days, pretending he hadn’t heard any of their fantasy tales. But he would silently shed tears into the moonlight, his heart wondering where did he go wrong…

Can a mighty Banyan ever go wrong? Had his mini refugees been right!?! Impossible!! The little sparrows, can they ever soar. At all? They would fall from the branches, like dried fruits and he would catch them in his vines. The snake hatchlings were timid little things, shivering, even scared to emerge from his bark crevices and see the light. Can they ever mark their own territories in far off forests? The squirrels who knew nothing more than squeaking all day, who borrowed his leftover figs to survive the rainy days… now their kids were discovering exotic fruits! Stories. All chimerical stories, just to mock his sorrow, his fate.

There was a time, when he would advice them how to raise their kids. He would scorn at the squirrels who would let their kids fall from tall branches, thud on the mud, and break their toes. He would chide the snakes who left their scared hatchlings alone to hunt for the day, while the hawks loomed in the sky. Teaching fearlessness or foolishness, teaching self protection or evading responsibility?
He wouldn’t talk to the sparrows, the heartless sparrows, who had pushed away their children from their nests one day. Can a home really be small to fit in family? Selfish!

IMG_5734

He had planned it all well ahead. Had mentally marked the spots on the mud, where he would plant his saplings and watch them grow. And he had watched them grow fast- haughty, confident and with the pride of a father who saw his reflection in his children. But they had grown too fast and outgrown his plan. They resembled him in every manner- confidence, competition and conceit.

Their vines entwined, they would strangle each other till death over a beam of sunshine, until their Father pleaded them to stop. Their roots would push and shove the mud to squeeze in the scarce drop of water. They wouldn’t ever speak to each other, let alone remind themselves they were a family.

banyan-2

But time had paced up fast. The Banyan Tree looked at his children, and sulked. He couldn’t be proud of them. How could he? His children fought all through, for the sun, the water, the space, the air. So much so that the play-pals of childhood had now grown into competitors, rather enemies- where one’s comfort certainly meant a pain to the others. Unwillingly, unknowingly, he too had become a party to the competition, as he was the mightiest of them all.
They struggled in his shadow to spread their twigs and waited for his death to grow into their full might. They were like him, his reflections- strong yet stubborn. But were they really his children ever?

Banyan Tree

 

He had grown old. The strength had given way to senile sighs now. His branches had stooped low, touching the grounds. Yet the sparrows, ever so grateful, stayed on. His barks had decayed, hollowed, torn apart by the vines of his children. Yet, the snakes couldn’t abandon him. The figs had dwindled and dried. Yet the squirrels said, they were sweet.
These Refugees! Do they need Him? Or does He need them? He had asked his heart this question ever since he thought of shoving those selfish sparrows away…

Once he discussed with the sparrow, elated, how he had wisely marked where to place his sons. But the foolish sparrows! They asked him to reconsider his decision. They even dared to offer him to place his sons in the nearby hills! Atrocious! They had driven away their own kids and now wanted him to do the same! Never!!

But then why wasn’t he happy like the Sparrows? Why wasn’t he a proud father? Why was he a mute spectator, waiting patiently for his death- if only that could give some solace to his children?

Tears streamed down, shining like diamonds in the moonlight. There came the Sparrow. Flapped its wings like a flying kerchief, with futile attempts at wiping dry the tears of a mighty Banyan tree.

The Banyan had known long ago, there were some answers to his own queries that he never wanted to know. But now, his knowing or not knowing made no difference at all. It was too late to even rewind time.

It had spoken a lot, listened too little. Taught too much, learnt too little.

He gaped helplessly into the Sparrow’s tiny eyes, as if asking, “Tell me. Where did I go wrong?”

And with compassion the sparrow spoke.
“ When we meet our children in the skies, see them kissing the clouds, singing songs of success- we feel proud. Had we not thrown them out of our nests, they wouldn’t ever have learnt flying. Now we can breathe our last in peace, that our children have learnt enough to stay back safe and happy, even when we go.
My friend, you never spoke to me for all these years for the offer that I made to you that day. But all that I ever wanted was, never to let you see this day. On the hills they would have grown mightier than you, taller than your plans. You would have been a proud Father. Winds would have brought the fragrance of their woods to you. Birds would have narrated you how your children were as kind as you were- letting them build big nests on their branches. The Sun would have told you, how without your children’s shade on those bald hills, the Earth would have cursed him…

That was Pride my friend. That was Bliss.

 

Image credits: Quilled banyan tree images from papercrafts.blogspot.in