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Posts Tagged ‘love’

I was always a fussy eater. Mom would try in vain to make me eat another morsel, for I was painfully thin. And I’d throw a tantrum. Then, Thatha would call. “PuTTuma.. come here.” I would joyfully run. “Here, stand in front of me.” And he would feel my tummy attentively and pronounce- “The Idlis you ate are in this corner. BeNNe biscuit is here, in the centre. Hey! This side is empty. I guess you need a little more food.” I thought it was magic.

I’d sit on his lap in the rocking chair in the balcony, counting vehicles, altogether and separately as cars and autos and buses for hours.

That was his favourite activity. A man who lived by himself from morning to evening for years, he never once whined of boredom. He’d watch English movies, lecture unwilling passers-by, read David Baldacci (a tattered copy of Absolute Power was his favourite), write letters to Readers Digest and play Solitaire by himself.

I remember how he made every chore seem grown-up and important, atleast when I was little. I wasn’t allowed to cross the bustling main road to go to the bakery and it seemed such an adult thing to do. The tantalizing horns of vehicles, the parceling of cakes and buns in the bakery and the honour of getting Thatha something that he wanted tempted me no end. But he’d say importantly- “You’re too little to cross the road by yourself.” I waited for years, before he finally told me to go stand on the road and look up at him. I could cross when he gave the signal. Then I had to get stuff from the bakery, stand at the opposite corner and wait for his signal again. At his nod, I gleefully ran back, and felt proud as a fledgling that has just learned to fly. I remember him smiling, leaning over the balcony, nodding with the trace of a smile, knowing the pride I felt in the moment.

His will was indomitable. Which chronic lung-disorder patient wants to try working out on the treadmill? He did. He stood fiercely for free will. The good God may do as he likes, he won’t stop me; his motto seemed to be. He had no qualms finding fault with God. Krishna was a rogue, he’d say.

And how can I forget his love of giving advice to drug- addicts? Having given up smoking and drinking with absolutely no external help, he thought it fair to pass on his experience to those with difficulties doing the same. I don’t remember ever laughing so much as I did when he advised a young relative over the phone on how to get over withdrawal symptoms consisting of nervousness and more importantly, constipation.

He did not have the gift of inherited wealth that he gave me. He worked for every penny, honestly, diligently, passionately. And on the way, he met the elitist, the famous. He enjoyed relating stories of his youth- he loved telling me how much fun it was to drink beer while driving across the country in raging summer with some famous personality or the other.

But here’s why I loved him best- the people he got along with were his barber, the vendor who would get us bottles of pure ghee, the electrician and the oxygen-machine repairman. Confined to bed, he’d pay the barber to come home and do his job. It was quite a ritual. Thatha would sit on a chair in the balcony as he got his hair-cut and chat with the barber. About the house he sold, about his children and his life-principles. And most importantly, his Bypap machine that he needed for 20 hours a day to survive.

He would summon the Tamilian ghee-vendor over the phone every few months. As they had no languages in common, it was sheer entertainment to watch the process of bargaining.

The oxygen repairman would be called every month, for Thatha would invariably fiddle with his machines and wreck some spare part. Then, he would blame the poor chap for providing sub-standard products and ask for a special discount as he was a regular customer. And then slip him an extra large tip. After scolding him for not bringing Thatha any sweets for Deepavali.

The cable fellow, the electrician and the labourers were his buddies. He’d admonish them for drinking and then give them any amount they asked for, with no calculations or any expectations of getting it back.  

And it was their mourning that touched my heart. The ‘Ayyo!’ sof the barber who was curious why he was not called for over two months, the honest tears of the ghee vendor who called up, demanding to know why no one had needed ghee in six months, the shock of the repairman who wondered how all the machines were functioning properly for so long, the silence of the male nurse who fought with his family, cancelled commitments, and stayed behind to look after Thatha, and later, who sat with a pale face by the side of the room, talking to no one, just waiting till the body was taken away, and the grief of many others, whose names Thatha had written in a book many months before he died, with the title- ‘People to be Notified upon my Death’. The list of these names were Xeroxed and given to each family member.

He had three prospective people in mind who could perform his funeral rites and their names were written on another piece of paper, along with contact details, and instructions that whoever was able to reach earliest should do it. The last few days, he kept asking everyone in the vicinity if they had eaten, because he knew, if he died, no one could eat till the body was taken away. Who plans his own death like that? Only my Thatha did.

It’s been over a year since he died. And now all that’s left is a wistful smile at memories of him, a few tears shed in love, as he’d wanted, and many, many life-lessons.

Image

Thatha in his typical pose

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He runs on…

When my dad runs in the park
The sweat pours down his neck
It trickles down his back
And dampens the shirt.

He runs faster than ever
Between pauses of walking
To shoot a momentary glance
At Mom in the outer ring.

Sometimes he loses breath
And pants or puffs
But he runs again
Never losing steam.

He puts younger men
To shame with his pace
As he walks onward
Long after they tire.

Mom, with her penchant
For doing everything best
Tries to outstride him
Of course, in vain.

He passes her once,twice
At thrice she becomes red
If she is not already
With the walking.

When he is almost done
He gives Mom a smile
She glances, smiles
A look of glowing pride

Pride in her husband
In his athletic skill
In his youthful pace
And steadfast jog

At that look, he
Like a 20 year old
Runs faster than ever
Purely to show off.

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Empty dreams float in the sky.
Like rainless clouds, they vie
To bury the sun’s cheery hue
And bring forth dismal blue.

Magic was in fleeting kiss,
An endearment- euphoric bliss.
Promises of sky and star
Of enchanting lands afar.

The joy of a trembling hand
Away from a world of reprimand
At the whisper, my cheeks redden
I laugh with wild abandon.

That day has passed, and the year
Easy, convergent paths veer.
Now melancholic thoughts knock
And grey clouds at me mock

As fragile beliefs shatter
They ask-Does it matter?
Love is yet another contusion
In a life of dazed delusion.

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Thoughts

I float on the gentle sea of thought

Clear waters, tranquil and soft.

But ripples- violent, unsought

Form as I think of you.

 

Crystal blue waters turn opaque

Pale turns dark, fires rage

In their depths, passions wake

And hurt as I think of you.

 

Tossed and rocked in stormy waves

While within sea, flames build

Love to fury the path paves

Invariably, as I think of you.

 

Erupting volcano the surface nears

Molten lava mingling in sea sand

Washed in a deluge of salty tears

As in vain, I think of you.

 

Then the fresh river of hope

Gushes and soothes turbulent sea.

For the log of reason I grope

Futilely as I think of you.

 

Hope breathes peace into fevered sea

But sparks of fire still remain

Helpless, I let them be

Every time I think of you.

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The Bird

A lone bird with sure wings

Journeying alone into night

To find her with feathers white

Of deep and true love sings.

His vibrant voice with valour rings

In sure certainty of being right.

Yearning only for her sight,

He scorns comforts of even kings.

She has feathers red and blue,

Fluttering wings, friendly trill.

“Why look for her when I am here?”

“It matters not much her hue”,

So he says to the silent hill.

The white one waits with tear.

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Remembrance

I sit alone through the rain

Trying hard to forget the pain

But how can I forget you?

The only friend I then knew.

I turn to my book and song

But for you I still long

I wipe the tear from my eye;

No, I don’t want to cry.

Just when I smile and say- I got over you today

You again invade my thought

You- for whom I long sought.

The star is brighter than the moon

But farther and so forgotten soon

To walk away you did choose

So our battle you will lose.

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