30 May, 2011

An Everyday Affair with P

My grandparents passed away when I was very young. I have hazy memories of plaiting my grandmother's hair, telling my grandfather to put 'dottle' (that's how I used to say 'dettol' when I was four years old) for mosquito bites and he used to come with a bottle of dettol in hand and pretend to dab the bites with it :D

I was too young when they passed away to understand what was going on. I remember carrying the wreath to put over my grandfather's coffin, and when I looked down that 6 feet grave, I trembled thinking that I would slip and fall in there, I didn't have an idea that it was my grandfather lying down there.

I didn't even realize their absence at that time. Though there were several instances when my friends would talk about their grandparents who were still with them, and a pang of sadness would shoot fleetingly through me. It's only now, since the past few years that I think of them frequently. And I've been wondering why I suddenly think of them so much... and then one day I realized - this was all because of P* Aunty.

P Aunty was one of the aunties who lived at the old age home for women, adjacent to our hostel. I shall never forget that old age home  - it had [and maybe still has] this depressing air to it and smelled utterly disgusting. I have no idea how the old women lived there. I ventured inside one of their rooms once with P Aunty and was appalled at the state they lived in. One of her room-mates [an old lady] would pass urine and faeces in her bed as she couldn't reach the washrooms fast enough and the bai's [servants/attendants] were busy taking care of other women and other duties. The stench was so bad that I almost threw up right there.

I dashed away as soon as possible, I couldn't bear a second longer in that place, and I have no idea how the old women were staying there - left by their families, some choosing to live there, living on a meager bank account, with rude attendants, and hardly any friends.

So, when I met P Aunty for the first time, she was sitting in her wheelchair, with her round and slightly wrinkled face, smiling brightly at every girl that entered or left through the hostel gate. As I walked past her, she smiled at me with happiness and never having seen somebody smile at me with such purity before, I just nodded my head a bit and walked on, feeling a bit queer for lord-knows-what-reason.

Everyday, while we would rush out the gate to college/work, she would call out a genuinely cheerful 'Good-morning' with her ever pleasant smile. We would wave at her, smile back or yell a hasty good-morning back at her and rush out of the gate. When we would return, we would always find her on the porch, in her wheelchair and she would ask us how our day went, what we did etc. etc.

This went on for days, then weeks, months and well, it was an everyday affair. It felt good to see someone like her everyday. She would smile at everyone, even at the nasty attendants and she would laugh at their incivility like it was the biggest joke on earth. I had read about people like her only in books and newspapers, I always wondered if I would ever meet such a person in my own life. And now here she was, child-like, optimistic, forever giving hope and joy to others, when she herself was and had gone through crisis.

She had lost both her legs a long time back and she was a diabetic; her parents were no longer there, her brother [whom she dearly loved] took care of her for sometime but then shifted her to the old age home due to problems that arose in his home. So here she was, living off a bit of her little amount of finance, with hardly any of her close ones around her. She had us though, and we had her.

She was the most popular woman here. Every girl who returned from college, work, party, or any other errand would stop by, some of us would sit/stand by her side and talk about this and that and everything else. She was an agony aunt for many of us, and she would always pray for us, and make us smile when we were down or homesick. Being human, there were times when she would break down and cry... we would pat her, clasp her soft wrinkly hands, or murmur soothing words to her.

When she was touched by some news, she would grab us and plant a wet kiss on our cheeks and smile delightedly... you could almost feel the bubbles of tenderness bursting in her :) In some ways, she filled that void of a grandparent in my life. A constant friend, a patient listener, an understanding guide, and a gentle soul.

As she was a diabetic, our Matron had warned us not to pass any food that would make it worse. Still, being P Aunty, she would try and convince one of us to give forbidden food stuff to her. :D "After all", she said, "I will die one way or the other."

When I face tough situations that seem to break me completely, I think of P Aunty, sitting in her wheelchair and smiling a real smile at everyone - even at her life. She put all her faith and trust in God, God knew what he was doing, she felt. According to her, He had a reason for her life to be this way - I personally think, that maybe it was His way of showing us how to live life even when it seems like there's nothing to live for. P Aunty was His example of how to face life when it seems to have beaten the hell out of you, when everyone seemed to have turned their backs on you, and when you are left on your own - alone.

P Aunty with her faithful bunch of us girls at her feet and by her side, showed us that faith, trust and a smile is all you really need to live life - whatever your circumstance. It's very difficult I know, it takes time to build up such a strong character, for some it is easy - if they already love themselves for who they are no matter what and are honest with themselves.

P Aunty gave me so much love, care, happiness, wise sayings, sensible thoughts and an optimistic outlook - I'm grateful for having met her. She is just - She.

I still wonder though, how it would have been if my grandparents were still alive, would they have been like P Aunty? [I'm not comparing, just wondering], would they have taught me the same lessons as she did? Would they have listened to me? Joked with me? Played with me? I know I won't get anywhere with those questions, but somehow, I can't stop them. It sometimes feel good to just let the mind wonder and wander like that.

God had beckoned to my grandparents when I was a tiny tot, but then, He also gave me P Aunty.

*Name is undisclosed to protect privacy.


17 May, 2011

Love Stains

I don't know what it is about Love that makes people go bonkers - both happily bonkers and depressingly bonkers. Since the past few years, I've heard and seen so many people falling in and out of love. The initial heady-giddy stages, then the habitual meetings, the routine fights and then in some (rather, most) cases - heartache, heartbreak and break-ups.

This time (past few months), love is going through a really, really rough patch - throughout all age groups. It's become so bad that it actually inspired (can I use this word here?) me to write this poem.

The heartbroken people will probably relate to it... probably... if you don't, you can tell me what I missed out on and I'll include it in this poem below:


Stark white
dawn bright;
the eyesight.

So clear
so dear;
the sneer.


and feeling;

No gain
when insane;
love leaves
a stain.

I know it seems very 'to the point' with no crying, whining or lines of soppy stuff... So sorry for that.

And hey, if you come across some feel-good love stories, do share... it feels good to know that at least some people are happy in love and appreciate it with all its ups and downs :)

Cheerio till then!

Venice :)

08 May, 2011

Heartfelt Gratefulness

I would like you to think of the last time someone was truly grateful for something you did for them. Not out of habit or because they wanted to get into your good books, but true and simple gratefulness. Someone who acknowledged your contributions - someone who held it close to their hearts. Does it make you want to give them more? Think about it...

Ask yourself - What do 'You' feel is gratitude? Are you the kind of one who acknowledges something that someone has done for you? Do you express genuine gratitude when something truly touches your heart? [Or is that you just don't realize the worth of someone or something in your life?]

Most of us are not grateful for the plenty of things we are blessed with in life. We tend to take things for granted and ignore the valuable assets in our lives. How many of you are grateful for having a supportive family? Do you feel grateful for living your life and learning from it? Or are you ungrateful for it?

Sometimes people are ungrateful because they do not understand the importance of things that affect their lives. There are others who fail to appreciate what they have. They crib, cry and complain, not realizing how fortunate they are. This attitude of ungratefulness may lead to self-pity, bitterness and pushing the blame on other factors when things go wrong. It's a pretty sad situation! And believe me, once you fall into this trap it takes a lot of effort to get out of it.

People could also be ungrateful if a bad event occurs. They have no clue how to get over it. Friedrich Nietzsche aptly said, "That which do not kill us makes us stronger." By recognizing a bad issue as a lesson and by learning from it, we can be grateful for it as gratefulness will help us heal and grow stronger. Just because something bad happened to you doesn't mean you'll get stronger automatically. It works only if you treat yourself properly after the injury. Remember that, being grateful for it doesn't mean that you're asking for more or that you want it to happen again. It's just one of the ways of healing your wound.

Moving on, there are four kinds of people when it comes to Gratitude:

1. The first type are blessed with the Best things in life... however, they aren't grateful for what they have

2. The second kind are the ones who, at the start of life, go through rough patches but later on achieve what they've wished for. Yet they are ungrateful as they feel that their present state is a 'compensation' for what they did not have earlier

3. The third set of people are those who have less but are grateful for whatever little they receive

4. The last kind are those who have everything in life. These people understand the value of what they have and are grateful for it  

    Now, what type of person do you feel you are? Are you one of the last two? If you're not, it's easy to start being grateful...

    Begin with small things, for example-

    Be grateful/show your gratitude for:

    A. Having great and crazy friends

    B. A lovely family

    C. People who genuinely help you

    D. Those who stood/stand by you through any situation in life

    E. Having the things you need the most in life with you

    and so on... build your own list now.

    You could note down new things to be grateful for everyday - read them every night before going off to bed. Trust me, it will help you sleep better too! :)

    Learn to appreciate the small things that make your life. Be grateful when a person smiles at you, you will be happy knowing that he didn't glare at you!

    Most of all, don't forget to EXPRESS your gratitude. When you are grateful to someone, go up to him and say, "Hey, Thank you! I'm glad I have a good friend like you!" Wouldn't you like someone come up to you and saying those exact words to you? Train yourself never to put off the word or action of gratitude.

    Being grateful for everything that happens, good or bad is one of the biggest shifts in the way you think. Gratitude for the good will give you more of it. Gratitude for the bad is what you need to learn in order to grow; without it, the tears in your heart and mind will always be there.

    So, the next time you are grateful for something, act out your gratitude, and if you are grateful to someone, begin by telling them what you feel.

    Stop taking things for granted, and Remember -

    "You don't know what you've got, until you say Goodbye."


    Venice :)

    NOTE: This piece was written by me as an assignment at college. I would like to thank my friend Sharon who contributed in creating the foundation of this work; it helped me elaborate on the theme.