Wednesday, 7 December 2011

BREACH FROM THE PAST


Thank you Khurana sir for the lovely title and Pa for your valuable inputs.

Seeing “Jhaiji”, my maternal grandma lying on a hospital bed semi-comatose with no consciousness of life around her, my heart sank and I had a gut-wrenching feeling of what I was about to lose again and had already lost when “Mummy”, as we called my paternal grandma, passed away over a decade ago.

I was lucky to have had grandparents for all of my 37 years, but right now, with Jhaiji being in such a critical condition, there are some hitherto unidentified feelings I am beginning to discover.

Remembering her lying on that hospital bed with so many sick people around her with all sorts of tubes attached to her body, only one thought comes to mind…if she knew what they were doing to her in that hospital she would have been very cross with us all. She had a fetish for cleanliness and was one of the smartest grandmothers I have ever seen; wearing the best cotton sarees she could buy - she called them “dhotis” - chosen with her impeccable taste for colour and quality.

The last time she had come back from the hospital, she was very weak and needed assistance for the simplest of jobs such as drinking water and taking her medication. But such was her will and determination for cleanliness that one day when my mom and aunt heard the water running in her bathroom, they were shocked to learn that my grand-mom had decided to take a bath, all on her own.


That's how she was. A strong and unwavering woman, she and my nanaji helped and supported all their siblings (some 11 of them), sacrificing their youth for their family's welfare.  And as her whole family waits for a miraculous recovery there has arisen in me this unfathomable sentiment of a breach with the past. A past as my mother has related to us innumerable times, full of togetherness, laughter and love...a past which will go with her when she goes. 


I am feeling this deep sense of loss of two women whom I could have shared so much with. There’s a great deal I could have learnt from them; their experiences, their stories, their lives as daughters, wives, daughters-in-law, mothers, friends, sisters and above all as grandmothers.

The burden of not having asked them to relate their happy and sorrowful experiences when they were fit and able weighs heavily on my heart. There are so many things I wish I had said and done or talked about and asked them to share.

I don’t understand these feelings…why didn’t I think about all this while they were here with us? Was I so busy with my own self — growing up, studying, getting married, having children and maybe working even, that it didn’t strike me that one of these days my grandma was going to leave and I would never be able to see her? Not even after we lost Mummy!

Why is it that we realise what we are going to lose when its already too late?

Don't slip away so soon Jhaiji. My life with you has just begun.



Monday, 5 December 2011

MY EXPERIENCES WITH THEATRE


As a newly married girl all of 21 years, I suddenly realised there were many things I had forgotten to experience and explore. So, there I was auditioning to join a theatre group. I was selected though not for my dubious acting skills...the theatre group manager was so impressed by the fact that a married woman was willing to step out of the house and encounter unexplored territory that the moment he set eyes upon my resume he knew he was going to ask me to be a member of his group.

I had the happiest moments of my life doing theatre and I felt the need to share with you all my experiences little by little ...piece by piece.  



It was many years ago that I had seen a production of a well known play performed by a theatre group. And then there I was a part of the group some years later. Every day that I was there it brought back memories of the theatre I did as a girl. The fun, the togetherness, the gossip, the funny comments, the nastiness, the tension, the butterflies, the being part of something that other people are going to come and watch, each transported me back to the days long gone but never forgotten. Away from the humdrum of daily routine, it was those two hours of practice that breathed life into me and made me look forward to the next day with eagerness and I came home to my very supportive husband invigorated.

It’s not about being very talented or confident or being a professional dancer or an actor, it’s just about doing something that rekindles that fire in you and makes you feel alive. It also teaches you a lot about yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, about people and what makes them tick. I would not be telling the truth if I don’t mention that it is also about the kick you get from performing on stage in front of an audience. But it was only when I left myself at home and took the dancer or the actor (however bad) to the stage that I could really enjoy. Oscar Wilde said “I love acting. It’s so much more real than life”. So I was actually reconstructing life on stage but only someone else’s.

I am a great one for talking but a lot of my fellow theatre members will I am sure remind me of our first practice on stage. Well nothing special except the fact that I literally froze and my lips refused to budge into anything even akin to a smile. A lot of practices and tears later it no longer looked like I had been dragged onto the stage by my other partners. And thus it was that I looked forward to the big day, and fervently hoped that this time my lips would comply and my feet would do what my heart does every time I am on stage— take to wings and soar.

So ladies and gentlemen, yes you out there. If you feel you have it in you and those who feel you don’t, get up and listen to the rapturous reverberating applause in your ears and be a part of something that will make you forget yourself.  It’s something you will never forget. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

HOMO SAPIENS: THE EXTINCT SPECIES?


Something I feel very strongly about and felt the need to share with you all...something disturbing, very basic but seen only rarely.
                          
Question: Do you think there is intelligent life on other planets?
Answer: I don’t think there is intelligent life on ‘this’ planet.

This dialogue on a TV show I was watching recently put my grey cells into a spiral and I am still trying to find my way out of it. What’s wrong with the human species is what comes to the mind again and again. Didn’t God give us a larger and superior brain than all our other co-inhabitants on earth for a reason? 

Over the years the reason has been long forgotten by the best of our species, lost among the rigours of life, the daily wrangling, and the antagonism, bereft of even an iota of the so called humanity that makes us so different from others who have the privilege of sharing earth with us.

Ben Okri, of Nigeria, Africa, of Earth, observes: "There was not one among us who looked forward to being born. We disliked the struggle for existence, the unfulfilled longings, the enshrined injustices of the world, the labyrinths of love, the ignorance of parents, the fact of dying, and the amazing indifference of the living amidst the simple beauties of the universe. We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see."

I can never forget the sight of a man in a temple who prostrate before god was entreating him to forgive his sins. This it seems was his daily ritual. A righteous man I thought to myself until the day I saw him at the telephone exchange openly asking for a bribe. 

But don’t we all swim in the same deep waters? You and I, with our eyes closed, tolerating the wrongs, the injustices, the cruelty, the brutality we see every day, letting it all become a part of our baser instincts, letting greed and the love of power overtake our humanity, fostering and nurturing it all like a little child, by our passiveness and inertness. 

A lot many of you may be thinking of how we housewives are far away from these things- but are we? Don’t we all indulge in some kind of prejudice, unfairness, and misjudgements, by gossiping, spreading malicious rumours, backbiting, distrust, pettiness and not supporting each other?

Is this all because we don’t care or notice, or is it because we have developed short-sightedness to shield ourselves from the vagaries of life? We don’t even remember that it’s only the little things in life which can again bring our latent humanness to the forefront; the simplicity of a smile, a helping hand, politeness, a kind word of appreciation, empathising with others can go a long way to gain back our lost humanity.

The other day in a group presentation I attended, a lot was said about etiquette and manners. Good conduct and comportment was thoroughly explained. 

But for me good etiquette is only about one thing, being a good human being. Not a superficial shell but a true human in the truest meaning of the word. Rising above the petty squabbles of everyday life and setting an example for our future humans is what we need to endeavour for. Undertaking this enterprise is not very complex if we can start with a clean slate scripting a new beginning for the almost extinct species- Homo Sapiens.

“When humanness is lost the radical difference between the bodies in the pit and people walking on the street is lost."  Edward Bond

"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be."
William Hazlitt