Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Rao Saab

On the eve of this new year, our entire family lost the most loving person ever born among grandfather. My tata.
I used to lovingly call him Rao saab.
It is with still some shock and disbelief that I write this. We all seem to be going through the motions of what comes after but time hasn't really ticked for us. Our hearts are stuck in those few hours and set on memories we last shared with him.
Tata's last social gathering was at our place, when we had the pujo at home on 29th December, 2017. That was when I last physically saw him, fed him, spoke to him, and Subhash and I took his blessings. Little did we know or possibly imagine in our wildest dreams that that would be our last. Strangely enough, like at my ammama's time, I was travelling when it happened. What fate this is, I haven't understood yet. The two people I love most, left me when I wasn't next to them.
It all seems impossible and unreal, even as I type this. It's incredibly difficult and too soon for me. But I write as it dawns on me that my grandfather wasn't just 'my' most favourite person. He was loved by so many of us and so deeply and we have so many souls to thank. He was a scholar, a thinker, a grammarist, a published poet, a singer, a musician, a drama artist, a brilliant chess player. Specially reserved for the family was his deep knowledge of Carnatic and Hindustani music - he knew each corresponding raagas in the two schools of music - I'm yet to come across others who specialize in this. So many evenings spent singing for hours and we never had enough of him. Not once through the years do I remember thinking, 'Oh yes, I have heard this bit before'. Such was his knowledge.
He could also sleep talk perfectly about Yeats and Keats and Shakespeare and recite many a sonnet in entirety. That's where my love for English probably started. I wasn't blessed with his brilliant memory but I was the luckiest possible child to walk on this planet to have been brought up by him in my super young years. Someone had correctly said, children don't learn from what they are told, they only follow what they see. My language fails me today to describe how perfect a parent he was to me.
My tata loved company. And the company loved him. He has lived in a number of cities throughout the country and he had countless friends everywhere and of all ages, from 5 years to 50, 90 or more. Some of them, I remember from some twenty-five years ago, were his 'freedom-fighter friends' at Delhi's Baba Kharak Singh Marg. Yes, the 'Azaadi ki ladai ladne vaale' elders. I have no idea how he found them but I was taken along on these visits regularly. They used to look so old that I would be scared of them. But tata insisted I come along on every visit. They spoke for hours and I used to play on the porch. God knows if I ever picked up anything intelligent from such rare company. But they loved me, fed me, remembered my birthday and bought me clothes. When one of the 'freedom-fighter' tatas passed away, my grandfather was grieved! Tata would tell me about their great struggles for the country. I absorbed some of it at an age that was too young to entirely comprehend it but my childhood was certainly shaped by it. By my tata.
To no one's surprise, I turned out to be a most possessive grandchild in the years to come, and I used to think nobody, absolutely nobody could love my tata more than I did. But I'm humbled today. As friends and family have started calling and posting messages, to hear them speak of the time they spent with him, particularly of their conversations, how he kept up correspondence we didn't even know of, their favourite song of his, the letters he wrote or the poetry he posted, and most of all, the love he had for them - people who met him twenty years ago, spoke of him as they met him only two days back and each one spoke to us of the 'special bond' they had with him - we are trying to gather ourselves enough to respond to all the love but we don't seem to be enough people to do that. The grief in the voices we hear has nothing to do with common courtesy. It is much more real and comes from a very loving place. To be perfectly underrated, tata was much larger than the life he posed and had a much bigger heart than I knew of. Strangely enough, we are not surprised at all at this. We knew it all along but just as the dust settles even on the brightest diamond, we let it, in our daily lives. But with each person who calls or writes to us, a facet is getting polished and we remember anew his life and his brilliance and bask in the afterglow.
The biggest legacy my grandfather leaves, is the legacy of love. For there were long years of struggle. He served my grandmother for many years in sickness and took care of her lovingly. It wasn't even easy for the younger ones to tend to her. But he did. Day and night. The couple had five children and eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and a tightly-knit extended family and close friends. But before my grandfather's strength for her, we all were nothing.
The other, I realize, is the simplicity with which he lived his life. He demanded nothing. He was a man par brilliance but never procrastinated on the mundaneness of life. He was a religious person who followed the madhwa ways of life. He was lovingly called ‘appa’ by most thanks to our kannadiga ancestry. He gave strength to his children when they needed it the most and was proud of all our achievements. He was happiest when we visited him and blessed us from afar when we couldn’t. Humanly, if he ever faltered from his good nature, one would be unhappy only because he himself instilled high values in us. He enjoyed austerity in life: he read and blogged and solved scholarly puzzles everyday. If I was around, he would read me options and asked me which one I liked better to post. His food was simple. His attire, even more so. He had a harmonium, a walking stick, a pair of glasses that hung from his neck, books, and a lifelong photographic memory of sorts. He looked for no special service. The things appa didn’t have, he didn’t complain about.
As everything happened in a daze, I reflected later on the peaceful look on his face when he left us. I believe that it is only possible for a man who forgave us all for our shortcomings, which would have been many and left us only with love in his heart. I like, many others, feel guilty now of the time not spent with him. But what's the use in that. I shall write for him though, as much as I can. I will thank our friends to remember him, as deeply as possible. And I'll try to be his granddaughter till I meet him again, in this world or another.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

समय.. खुद चल पड़ा है यह..

जो चला गया और रास्ते पर..
उसके पास भी कहानी का एक पन्ना था..
उसके पास भी सच का एक टुकड़ा था..

ना किसी ने सुनी, ना कहने दिया..
कोशिश नाकाम रही, कशिश को जाने दिया..
चला तो गया और रास्ते पर.. पर जाते जाते एहसास छोड़ गया..
एक पन्ना अपना पकड़...अधूरी कहानी छोड गया..

लोगों का क्या है.. खुश हुए अपनी जीत पे..
वो चला गया.. तो चले पड़े वापिस पुरानी रीत में..

पर समय..
समय ने एक लंबी साँस भरी..
इंसानो की इस फ़ितरत पर.. फिर एक और आह भारी..
आज तो रास्ते अलग हो गये.. पर फिर दिशाओं को उसे मोड़ना होगा..
फिर सच के सभी टुकड़ों को रूबरू कराना होगा..
कीमत तो एक दिन.. सभी को चुकाना होगा..

जब तलक न समझे उस दिल का हाल, इस दिल को भी धड़कना होगा..
जीत जो लगे, उस भ्रम को तोड़ना होगा..
यूँ ही नही मजबूर करता समय.. उसकी माँग पर तो उस देव को भी उतारना होगा..

जो चला गया और रास्ते पर..
एक बार अपनी कहानी से भी उभर के देख..
समय का अपना साँच है यह..
तेरे लिए.. दिशाओं को बदलने चल पड़ा है यह..
कर्म को भाग्य मे बदलने चल पड़ा है यह..
तू अकेला नही किसी राह पर..
अपने सत्य को लेकर चल पड़ा है यह..
समय.. खुद चल पड़ा है यह..

Saturday, February 11, 2017

These days...

These days, when someone reaches out and asks you how you are, I think it takes a lot of courage to say the words 'not okay'. The 'not okay' maybe due to a trivial thing or maybe for a big reason. Like 'missing a morning cup of coffee not okay' or some 'life changing commotion underway not okay'. But we don't say it. I notice that, that simple question a friend asks, comes with such a loaded answer. I can almost hear the reel turning in my head deciding what to say, before I do with a '...going great, ya'. I suspect, I'm not the only one. The point isn't about how life has become. The point is, how you and I have become. We'd rather not say what we mean. What we think. What we feel. At that very moment. And that is why we don't connect with our friends any longer. We don't tell our friends what we used to, any longer. We don't seek them and we don't let them seek us. The things that made our childhood. The secrets we bonded over. We'd rather not. We don't share how we feel about our spouses. We don't tell how we feel with our children. We don't tell which childhood memory still haunts us. We don't talk any longer about what went through our minds sitting alone in a coffee shop, however rare that maybe now. We don't talk about that dreadful fear of losing our dreams, while working out the daily rut of life. Having a home now but not having enough pictures of different havens we found elsewhere. Not having written that film in black and white. Not about the painting we liked or the poem we read, which stirred something deeper. The touch of a hand and the safety and security of love and how we rediscovered it in the most unlikely places. The pain of losing a loved one and the joy of welcoming a new one. And how that's changed us in the most unsuspecting ways. How the people we hated are not so hateful any longer or the people we loved are not so loved any longer. How a person we met recently reminded us of the lost literature of our lives and the precious chats we had with grandpa. The dreadful fear of forgetting the story we wrote with our minds and in our subconscious when we were young, thinking the time is yet to come. That fear of forgetting that self. Losing ourselves. We don't tell the good and beautiful and we don't tell the bad and ugly. We also don't believe in' time' any longer. That it watches over us and makes moves. We don't seem to believe that minds connect and sync with a certain vibe. That there maybe a reason why a long lost friend suddenly called you or felt strongly enough to do that. He or she doesn't know why either. But they did anyway. And we? We answer them with 'not enough' soul material. Both sides know there's more. Both sides go back unfulfilled. I think we don't connect with friends because they knew us 'from the time' when nobody else 'from the right now', knew us. They know what made us. And we are dead scared they'd bring it up. Coz' deep inside, that's the secret we are running away from. That they know we'd rather fill our Sundays discussing films and scripts or paintings or whatever else, rather than planning parties. That'd we'd review the books and the lines we liked rather than fuss over what's for dinner. That we'd rather not 'plan our time' but 'spend time on' the idea or the dream we woke up with. We are afraid to face the fact that we are unfulfilled, in some way or the other. We are happy, but we are still, unfulfilled. We want to run away from the fact that such a possibility exists. If we face it, we may have to examine it and we are worried about what it might make us do. And who has the energy for that any longer? Our hearts are already full of hurt caused by others. Who has time for those we inflict on ourselves. Not all is gloomy but I think we are constantly struggling to reach a conclusion. Who are we really? The one from the past or the one from the present. Or the one we will become in future. And amongst that that the feeling that as we become older, it'd be too late to pick up the paintbrush. To join that music class. To dance as if nobody is watching. To... I think, this is what we didn't account for. Love for others. Love for life. And love for self. While the textbook answer says we shouldn't have to choose, we didn't know we'd have to, even if it is only an illusion.

The questions, I suspect, are real to all of us. And I think that is why, these days, when someone reaches out and asks you how you are, it takes a lot of courage to say the words 'not okay'.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

For time to end.

If there is a battle I'm to win, it is here.

If there is a freedom I'm yet to attain, it is here.

If there is a path I have to take, it is here.

And while I may not understand the perplexities of this universe,

All I can give it is the constant rumination of thoughts

A promise to learn. And a promise to try.

Time flies, I feel, in front of my eyes.

I fear, if I'm missing something now.

For if I do, I'll have to wait again, for the universe to create another parallel, bound by its own promise.

I fear, losing the lesson. In time.

Sleep envelopes me. A sleep full of thoughts. Feelings. Unrest.

It is too full, I complain. I need emptiness. Rest.

Wisdom eludes me.

I'm not sure what I'm asking for.

But alive I am.

Still I am.

Waiting for time to end.

Thursday, December 31, 2015


Lots of thoughts. Lazy to write.

Very unlike me really :)