Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'll miss Shikha!

Strange. She exists only in my imagination. She was born there, bred there, suffered there, evolved there. Now she has outgrown me, as children outgrow their parents. That’s how it has to be. But that doesn’t change the truth that this weaning is painful.

I’ll miss Shikha when my e novel The Holy Nazrane Family concludes this week. Once the final chapter is uploaded, the umbilical cord is severed. But then that severing took place long time back – the minute she, who was conceived in my brain, took a local habitation and a name in a Nazrane family in Chennai. She has been on her own since. I had no control over. Rather, i had only as much contol over her as a mother, in the final analysis, has over a child. True she conceives it, nurtures and protects it for nine months. But once the infant is out of the protective womb of the mother and breathes in the air of the world, it is an individual.

So was my Shikha. She grew out of me the minute she took her place in the fictional world of my novel. I saw her behaving and dong things that pained me sometimes and made me happy at other times. Many a time she did me proud too. But i must confess that there was little i could do to change her, her life, her travails. Shika is the child of my imagination, but she carried on like any human child. She developed a life of her own, views of her own. She made her mistakes and learnt from them. She suffered, battled with her own conflicts and evolved. I could only stand by and watch – unlike a reatime mother who tries to shape her child and prepare it for life, and extends a supportive hand when the child trips and falls.

A virtual mother doesn’t have that privilege. She can only watch her offspring move about in her world and suffer the trauma of developing an individuality. I could not give Shikha those warning signals. I could just watch her unfold herself and learn the lessons of life the hard way.

Wont a realtime mother make an effort to deflect the course of her child’s life when she sees the child enter the road to peril? Why then does a virtual mother refrain from this intervention?

The reason is simple and that is, the rules are different in the two worlds. The mothers of this world take upon themselves the onus of preparing the offspring for the world which lies before them like a land of dreams, but in truth is also a land of nightmares. They also take upon themselves the equally serious task of ensuring that the offspring does not travel down the road to perdition. But the virtual mother knows better. The minute her child enters the fictional world, she loses control over her. It’s her life after that, which the mother can only record.

And when she finally steps out from the final page into aery nothing, Shikha will sink into oblivion like the millions of others like her. She is not of the material that’ll go down in history.

And I’d have seen the last of her.

But, I’ll miss her.

And there’s no way of letting her know that!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Today is women’s day. For some strange reason, I am in an expansive mood and so not in a frame of mind to contribute my mite to the gender war today. Ever since I came out of my illness, I slip into these euphoric moods and I find myself thanking those forces which decided to give me another lease of life – not once but twice. Today is one of those days when I feel I have won the battle against the killer disease. And I celebrate life - -

When I sat in the balcony reading the newspaper over the cup of tea my Anita made for me, I felt blessed. I could without help perform my morning ablutions despite the wrist pain, which was and is doing everything in its power to distress me. I must admit that when brushing my teeth became a painful exercise, I was shaken - briefly. I was relieved when the scan showed that the pain did not belong to the onco department. It’s an ortho problem, probably the side effect of the treatment. Yes. It did distress me. Is this the shape of things to come, I wondered. Am I going to be dependent on people to even brush my teeth? Yes, I did have a few angry moments – but then that blew over. I found my own way of dealing with it. Wristband, bandage. And then of course accepting what couldn’t be wished away. I decided to will it away. Do you know accepting difficulty – even if it is physical pain- can make the difficulty ineffective? Yes. It’s true. Just don’t let the stupid pain get you. And the battle is won!

Am back to my normal self – despite the wrist pain. You know it takes some humility to accept aches and their fallout. That’s a discovery I made. ‘Listen’, I told myself. ‘What if you have to depend on others? That’s not the end of the world. Cos you are still around on this planet. You can walk, sing, listen to music, watch movies, eat drink, have fun with family and friends, be at your computer for hours, practice music (with the wrist band on) to your hearts content, read newspaper, attend the women’s meeting in the condominium, go shopping, go to the grocers and the cold storage, bake cake on Sunny’s birthday and make Chicken Maryland and Chinese chopsuey and payasam(all with help – so what?), run my home, go out for dinner with friends and family, visit friends and relatives, do Trivandrum –Kochin trip by road or train and and and. Hey, why on earth did I indulge in self pity when this wrist of mine tried to act smart? I have so much to thank God for and I crib about one small irritant!

My elation I guess is fed by all this - and the people around me. The small and big things my family does to make life easier for me. The infinite care with which Anita, my help, does things for me. (How much she has done to make every minute of my life comfortable post disease! How easily she became part of the family after she walked into my apartment four years ago asking for employment! How she lends dignity to her work! How much I have learnt from her about how to deal with life’s problems!) And her anxiety about how I’ll manage when I leave Trivandrum for good three months from now.

I wish I could come with you, she said one day.

Doesn’t matter, I told her.

How will you manage? Will you get someone there who will take care of your diet the way I do?

Don’t worry Anita. God will provide.

And I get propped up by advice from friends - both acquaintances and my net friends who came to know of my illness through my blogs. I get mails with suggestions to fortify the mind to fight the disease. These friends give me books or recommend them - and all have proved to be excellent ones for they convinced me that I am in control.

I know this is a rambling piece. Do forgive. It’s just an effort to understand why I feel elated today. Why, instead of expressing concern about the predicament of women on this day, I am celebrating life.

Celebrating life. That’s what I do. That’s what all should do. We who have a lot to celebrate. We should not wallow in self-pity for the little we don’t have. To have a sense of deprivation is part of human nature. If that is not controlled, it can spread and eat into the human personality - like cancer. The only panacea for this disorder is the age old remedy: When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed/When you are discouraged thinking all is lost/Count you many blessing name them one by one/And it’ll surprise you what the Lord has done.

We should be able to celebrate life if we are to genuinely reach out to those for whom circumstances are not congenial for such a celebration. A discontent soul reaching out to the suffering humanity cannot do a good enough job of extending a helping hand or going that extra mile. our discontentment would chill the hearts causing insensitivity to set in. The hand extended to offer help would hurt by the roughness of its grip. The extra mile would be grudgingly travelled, and the worn out heart would make us snappy and morose.

It’s only a happy soul with song in her heart who can hear and listen to “the still sad music of humanity”.