She spent the day , reading recipe books. She had grown up reading books , this seemed easy. Cutting the vegetables was the longest step in the process.She cut them slowly all in to right uniform shapes. Several small cuts over her left hand as she cut with her right hand. Frying with ready made spices would not be tasty. She looked at the ingredients at the back of the ready made spices packet , writing them down. Then she put them in multimix. She could not find the masher…. Mixie made a noise, it did not mix silently. She heated the sunflower oil , added the spices , and last she added the uniformly cut vegetables , there was an aroma of cooked food. Rice was made by the pressure cooker , … She heard the calling bell and ran to receive him with a smile , hoping for a comment about the delicious smell ….. she set the table and kept his plate, put everything that she had prepared ….. he saw it with disdain ….he tasted a spoon and yelled ….” Whoever calls this food? ” She watched unable to comprehend , how could her taste buds lie ? He went out , came home satiated.She went to bed hungry. Next morning he filtered her gravy , washed the already cooked vegetables , put his ready made spices. She was speechless. He said as he left the house ” I did not want to waste food just because it was cooked badly”
“Language is alphabet in disorder -Gertrude stein”
His eyes looked up from a well. Speech had an accent, he was trying to camouflage it with an Indian accent , I smiled at him “It is okay to have any accent with a doctor , I am supposed to figure it out” …. He relaxed. He was born to Indian parents in the United States. He had decided to relocate to India in his seventh grade. Parents said the decision was his despite the inconvenience. Now , he could not pass the compulsory Kannada examination, he found the theoretical , marks driven Indian education system as foreign. He was lost and being an intelligent student was his proud identity in the United States. Here,he was an exotic misfit from States. As we spoke about life in general , I casually asked him why he chose to come here…..
He looked at me and sighed “Mom was lonely, she wanted to talk in Kannada , she liked this country , people …she was a misfit there. She braved it for me for 13 years ! I thought I could do the same for her , but this is not my country , I thought hers will be mine…..but it is not…I do not have specific learning disability , I can not master 8th grade language in few months….. even though it is my mother tongue , it is not mine”
There were huge bundles of clothes by donors. She was clad in the same dress even on the eighth day , Misha asked her gently ” Do you want me to remove some clothes from the bundle , if you can not do it your self ?” The girl looked at her “I come for food as I have to live , to find the one I love in these ruins…. at least a dead body … Then I will find a job with out certificates , all are in rubbles” .. Misha nodded , it was the first earthquake in decades of this magnitude. Misha moved towards the clothes bundle. The girl protested
” No …I can not use them , they are used clothes of others…. I lost everything….yet …. I feel very humiliated by this generosity…. I prefer nudity . May be few more days I will be brought to my knees till then ….. few more days , spare me my dirty clothes, that is all the home I have on me”
She was eleven years old, she could not see at all at nights. She could not see her favorite Pogo show Thomas the tank engine, she was slowly going blind, and her retina was degenerating. She was the nerd of the class with thick spectacles, she wanted to read, and she wanted to be able to read even when she would be blind. She was blindfolded and taught to read in Braille, every day….I saw a dew drop on the daffodil petal, hated myself for seeing….did not want to touch anything at all…..
There are moments, just a fraction of a second when life changes. It takes an androgynous mind to understand violation of a woman; it is a creative mind that understands destruction. That anger of a man towards another man who violated a woman as though he is a woman, fires a frozen network to restart.
Starting exactly where she left off.
It takes the knowledge of million books to tell a child big books do not always offer big knowledge. It takes extra-ordinary number of mirror neurons to protect a healthy ego (Battered by those who underplayed the potential) wanting to re-read all the big books.
It takes a huge need for love to imagine that someone would actually wait for you with out a question ….What if someone did?
Wounded healers do not recognize a mirror…..
They see the wounds
Not the healer…..
” Most painful goodbyes are the ones never explained nor said to each other “
“I don’t want to die by suicide” She wept. her daughter had committed suicide three years ago and later husband committed suicide. Neither left her a note , they were a happy family. Daughter could not cope with her exams and husband could not cope with office politics. Both had unidentified , untreated major depressive disorder. We spoke about “Guilt” of not knowing……. I spoke of guilt of the dead who did not speak …..after many weeks of speaking and resolving …….She carried a gift for me….. Two beautifully embroidered kerchiefs…..It was a gift for the weeping eyes , perhaps we had designed together …….
He was mute for 6 months. After the untimely death of mother. Paternal aunt did not want to divulge the reasons, said the woman was adulterous , she should be dead. The boy looked at me with those haunted eyes of a deer…..He looked at the photograph of Mother Theresa in the room…… I asked him to draw a picture…… he took the black pen….. A long strand of my hair fell on the white paper ….. he looked panicky….. I removed it….Just a strand of hair…. I smiled reassuringly…… I asked write one word … hoping to get something in free association he wrote ” Con -Science” and scratched it with black lines….. Mother had consumed hair dye , bought by the son….. Child thought he had murdered his mother…..I arrived at this by two more clues…..scars of those left behind after suicide… he finally sobbed ” I do not want to live”
It was fear of death, people developed fever , breathlessness and died in 24 hours. Young mothers , small children died by the hour , there was no vaccine yet , hospital suddenly resounded with cries of grief….. As I went round the wards , it became mandatory to wear a mask . Another doctor found it to be funny , he said men wore the cups of a bra as masks . I was suddenly disgusted with mortal fears or him saying it to a woman doctor as a joke…
I thought it was highway hypnosis, the way he answered every song that I hummed with another in the car drive. He converted a musical monologue in to a dialogue. I was humming songs to forget death, to me that was reverence for life. He was reminding me to live, they were love songs. Why did I start singing lullabies? Did I know he had not slept in years? Or was I missing my mother, who got jealous when father listened to me more keenly than to her? He stopped the car at a motel, drank as his family felt disrepute and innocently small. He looked at all the wrong places and it was enlightening to know he did not judge lust, he understood it. But he judged virtue to be a sham, he did not understand it…..we passed a temple of Lion man. I felt a flash of a struggle. He fought fathers. All his life, the reasonable, the unreasonable fathers in general ….And all of a sudden I wanted my father like a little girl. I wanted to go home and not to the green room.
She read the question paper in utter shock ! These were the questions her friend had said would appear in the exam, she had protested it was impossible. Nothing wrong with the questions, she knew all the answers , but…….it was not an exam if everyone knew the questions before….she gave the empty answer sheet to the invigilator. He tried to reason , “Are you blank ?Take some time ” She did not listen. She did not get a degree , she could not become a lawyer , disillusion lost a future of fighting injustice.
( This is the real story of my mother , who raised four children, became a homemaker after she walked out of this exam, a poet and social worker. Because of her , I completed all my exams. Thanks Mom)