Monday, November 16, 2009

Chronicles in a Cold NIght

In the month of December at Haridwar it was too cold. The minimum temperature was 6 degree Celsius. In our home Abhijit was busy chatting with his friend Hemuda (H.P.Roy). I and his wife Kabli were busy in the kitchen. We were experimenting something. Kids were busy with their tricycles. It was 7-O'Clock in the evening. The door bell rang. I opened the door and saw Maloti was standing outside with a horrible expression on her face. Her son was in her lap and the kid also looked frightened. Instead of asking her to come in, I asked her "What happened?" In a single breath she told us "We were returning from Haridwar to our township through bye - pass road. The road was totally empty and you know there are no road lights on that road. It was dark and we were alone on the road. At one place, before the road turns sharply, a scooter over took us and vanished. We turned along the road. The scooter was not visible in the cars headlights. Probir asked me to look behind if the scooter was behind us but it not there either. Probir stopped and took a u-turn. We came back to the bend where the scooter had overtaken us. We could see a light and also could hear the sound of a running scooter engine in the woods on the road side slope at the bend. Probir aligned his car to beam the car head lights towards the point. Now we could see one person lying unconscious. We thought that the fellow did not turn with the road and went inside the woods and met with an accident. His face was covered with blood. Probir said "Let us help him". With great difficulty, we put him in the car and rushed to your home. You know this is a medico-legal case and Probir is scared. So please Abhijit-da help him."

Abhijit rushed downstairs, followed by Hemu-da. After them we three ladies and kids ran. Probirda was sitting in the car on the driving seat. On the back seat of the car, a Sardarji lay unconscious. The car was Premier Padmini, so Abhijit and Hemuda sat on the front seat beside Probirda. Probirda drove immediately and they went off. Maloti and her kid were left behind with us.

7:30 PM: We three ladies were chatting. The kids were playing. Maloti felt normal now. We talked about kids, school, kitchen, maid servant and mother in law.

8:30 PM: Chatting was going on

9:30 PM: We fed the kids

10:30 PM: Kids went to sleep. Silence covered my home.

11:00 PM: Anxiety built up. It was so heavy that we three ladies were sitting side by side in absolute silence.

11:30 PM: The three men arrived. They were giggling and laughing. Our anxiety turned into anger. "Where had you been!” We questioned. The answer was like this:

Probirda - "When we reached the hospital, we met Rajiv (Dr. Rajiv Dhusia is one of the dearest friend of Probirda) He was in emergency duty. Rajiv looked at me suspiciously and said ‘You have hit this man. I told you a thousand times not to drive too fast. This is police case. I am not going to touch this.’ I told him the whole story, but he would not believe me. I said that whatever I have said about the incident was true - ask Abhijit and he said ‘No I don't know anything. I am not an eyewitness to the incident. I joined Probir from my home much after the so called incident happened.’ - Look they call themselves my friends. Finally, Rajiv investigated the Sardarji and asked his assistant to clean him up. His forehead got three stitches. Another paramedic staff came and gave him an injection. That fellow recognised Sardarji and said ‘Yeh fir aa gayaa?’ (He has come back again?) Rajiv asked him ‘Do you know him?’ The fellow named Joginder said ‘Few days ago some one brought him here. He was heavily drunk and had fallen in a drain.’ Rajiv asked the paramedics to check his breath and wash his stomach. After sometime, Sardarji was regaining his consciousness. Rajiv asked him to get up from the table and walk. Hemu rushed to help him. Sardarji took support on Hemu's shoulder and started walking. Rajiv asked Hemu to leave him alone as he wanted to test the level of consciousness in the patient. Hemu left him immediately and Sardarji fell down. Joginder and other paramedics picked him up and settled him on the table. We were waiting for him to regain consciousness again."

Abhijit -  "Meanwhile Joginder searched some register and said that his name was Lumber Singh of fabrication shop of BHEL and stayed in Sector -I of the township. Rajiv left his chair and walked up to the table. He patted Sardarji's cheeks and called ‘Lumber Singh..... Lumber Singh..... Look at me.... here look at me...What is your name?....’ Lumber opened his eyes and said ‘Surjit Singh Sahab!’ Rajiv asked ‘Then who is Lumber Singh?’  He said ‘I am Sahab.’ ‘Then why did you say Surjit Singh?’ Rajiv questioned. Sardarji said ‘You said Lumber, tell me your name... so I thought you know my name.... so .... why I said.......’  This time Rajiv asked politely ‘Who is Surjit Singh?’ Lumber said ‘My father, Sahab.’ Rajiv lost his temper and shouted ‘Always add Shri or Mr. before father's name.’ Hemu said that this was a good logic to prefix Shri or Mr. to the father's name, otherwise we might have thought that Surjit Singh was his son. We felt that Lumber was out of danger now, so we started back home. This is really a chilly night."

Hemuda - "On the way back we thought that we must inform his home. So we went to Sector -I. It is a cold night. Not a single soul was visible outside. Fog was growing denser as time passed. We took 15 to 20 minutes to search his quarter as Joginder had given us the address. Probir stopped the car and said ‘Hemu please go and tell Lumber Singh's family that he is in the hospital.’ I said ‘I will never do this because I remember when Abhijit purchased a new motor bike and offered me a happy ride, I was really happy till he hit the old man. The old man fell down. Abhijit stopped the bike and rushed to help the old man. Suddenly, the old man's son ran towards me and hit me a solid blow. Full 15 days my left eye was black. NO I am NOT going to tell anybody anything. Abhijit may go.’ But Abhijit said that he had a problem with unknown ladies. So Probir should go. Then Probir said that in a winter night at 11:30 PM it is not good to knock someone's door and tell a lady that her husband was in hospital. How would she react? If she starts crying then what should we do? Then all three of us went together and pushed the call bell. After five minutes, the lights were on. Some lady asked from inside "Who is there?" Probir said "You don't know me madam. I just came to inform you that Lumber Singh was in hospital and he......." His speech was interrupted by the voice from the inside the quarter "Yeh aadmi marta bhi nahin!" (This man always survives.) and the lights went off. We understood that the lady was accustomed with such incidents. We came back. Bye the way what happened to the kitchen experiment - let me see the result.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Perfect Rotis???

At the last leg of the almost 48 hours long train journey from Varanasi to Bangalore we were tired and feeling like deboarding the train as early as possible. Few months ago my elder son got married and I was eager to visit his new home. After having reached his home late in the evening at about 9:30 pm, we exchanged greetings and pleasantries, and settled down for dinner. My daughter in law served us freshly prepared home made food with garma-garam ROTI.

Roti is an Indian home made bread generally eaten by 80% Indians. The special thing of roti is that most of the Indian women can make it nicely. Recipe of the roti is very simple. Take two cups wheat flour pour some water ,kneed a smooth dough. Roll it flat like a disc, then toast it on a pan. Thats all.

My heart blessed Neha, I remember those days when I had started cooking - specially roti. Before marriage I was knowing how to eat only and not to cook. After marriage I came to Hardwar with my newly wed husband a man whom I did not know very well.

In our new home we spend 15-16 days with boiled food, fruits, milk and bread. My husband (poor soul) never uttered a complain about the food I served him. In evenings, his friends used to invite us and fed us a good home made food for a couple of week. 15-16 days later, I made up my mind to cook roti. Those days I had a kerosene stove. It was more complicated than gas stove. The flame could not be managed easily in that stove.

I started from first step. First I collected the THINGS I NEED. Then I took a big bowl and put 2 cups flour in it. Then I poured some water in it. In a great hesitation I dipped my fingers in the bowl as I had to mix the water and flour together. Few minutes latter I felt that the flour was not binding. So I mixed some more water in it. Again I was mixing the water and flour but this time the flour made a paste like formation. I added more flour in the bowl and tried to make perfect dough. .After 5-6 times of adding flour and water, I succeeded in preparing the dough. Though it was not very perfect dough but I thought that I could make roti with it.

Next step- I took a little ball out of the dough and placed it on the platform. Now I was rolling it with the help of a rolling pin as I saw my mother did before my marriage. But the dough stuck on to the rolling pin. I scratched it and made a ball again. This time I patted dry flour on it and tried to roll again. This time the dough stuck on to the platform. Again I scratched it from the platform and made a ball. This time I patted dry flour on the other side also and rolled it. Believe me, this was not an easy task.

I rolled the dough till 1 millimetre thick but it took a shape of Australia's map. One side was thinner than the other side. Next step - very carefully I took the map like structure and placed it on the pan. While I was busy in rolling the dough the pan had become too hot and when I placed the rolled dough on the pan immediately it burnt. After one hour and ten minutes, I could make only 8-9 rotis. On the dinner table, my husband looked at me. I thought that he was asking me "What is this?" I cleared my sweat from my forehead but could not say anything. I felt very low - I was really hopeless! - good for nothing. I had to eat whatever I had cooked. My poor husband remarked nothing but ate quietly.

In the bed I wept silently with two brunt fingers. Few days latter I visited the pathology lab in BHEL hospital, as my doctor had prescribed me for a pregnancy test. The lab assistant handed me my test report and said “Congratulations, its positive." I was walking to my home I made up my mind that whether God blessed me with a boy or a girl I must teach the child cooking. Through my roti making experience I had learnt a good lesson. Earning bread and making bread both are equally important for survival.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

1st lesson

One fine evening I and my son Pakku were arguing with each other, and the topic was why one should drink milk. I forced him to finish the milk and only then could he go to play. At this time my husband was watching cricket match on TV.
Suddenly my next door neighbor, Probhir-da came and directly asked me, “Do you want to learn car driving?” I knew in the year 1986 he had purchased a second hand car. The car was a Fiat Premier Padmini 1976 model. My first reaction was ‘I can’t believe that anyone would want to teach me car driving’, and my second reaction was, “Yes! I will!” I immediately got ready to go for a car driving lesson.
In the car I, my son, Maloti and her son sat down at the back seat, and Abhijit settled next to the driver’s seat. Probir was driving the car. Few minutes later, we reached the stadium.
The stadium was a huge circular playground, and the audience area consisted of 15-16 steps. The entry and the exit gates were separate. The exit was diverged away from the entrance area by a big white wall. This was to prevent unwanted crownding near the entrance gate.
On the way, my husband asked Probir-da, “Why do you want to teach Mini car driving?” Probir-da laughed and said “This is a strategy.” Maloti didn’t hear it, and I couldn’t understand it.
So in the stadium, Maloti, her son, Pakku and Abhijit sat down on the steps. I was in the car with Probir-da. I was in the driver’s seat and Probir-da was teaching me. “Look, this is the ignition key. From this the motor will start. This is the gear shaft, horn, accelerator, breaks and clutch...” and the theory continued. I turned the key and fired up the engine. Probir-da said “Take the gear and push the accelerator, leave the clutch gently”. I did as he told me to do. The motor car was now rolling on it’s wheels. My heart started pounding faster. My Blood pressure rose up. “Now change the gear.” I did the same “Now accelerate.” I pushed my foot on the accelerator. Now the car took speed and run nicely on the stadium ground. This time Probir-da said, “Mini, now change the gear.” I tried to follow his instructions, but the car stopped. Again I started from the beginning. The car ran again. Then Probir-da said, “Now concentrate on the steering wheel.” “Yes!” I replied confidently. Confidence was beaming out of me now. With confidence I pushed the accelerator so hard that the car took the speed of 100 Km/hr. This speed scared me. Right in front of me was the white wall, that was coming towards me in full speed. My heart was beating fast. “Now what should I do???” Probir-da was shouting and giving me a lot of instructions. But inside me my fuses were already blown out. I left the steering and shut my eyes tightly. Probir-da was still shouting beside me. “Leave the accelerator and push the break.” “I... I... I’m doing so.” I said faintly. He said in same tone. “NO! You have left the steering wheel.” Now I remember, I was pushing the accelerator. I pulled back my feet with the help of my hand. The car stopped just a few feet away from the white wall.
Behind the car Abhijit and Maloti were running. Both the kids were shouting as they ran behind Maloti. Probir-da got out of the car and bust out. “Shala! Onner bou, Na hole chore fele ditaam.” (Damn! Other’s wife, otherwise I would have thrown her out.)
Maloti opened the door and Pat my shoulder and asked “Are you alright?” I came out of the car and felt relieved. Maloti said, “So I’m not learning from this man. He is the worst teacher.”
After a long time I realized the strategy of Probir-da. He simply wanted to hurt Maloti’s ego. And he succeeded. Today Maloti is an excellent car driver.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rock and Roll

In the industrial township, our routine was generally the same everyday. 8 o’ clock, all the men went to work, and generally all the ladies were busy in house hold work. Those days I was living on the first floor of a hostel block. There were six two room flats on each floor connected to each other by a 40 feet long lobby. Mostly at half past ten or eleven o’ clock, we ladies were extremely busy in preparing lunch and during this time period we let the kids out in the lobby where they used to play. Out of six families, which used to live on the first floor, only four families had kids. My family was among those four. All the kids were below three years of age. The youngest one was Barsha, just one year and five months old. Her mind and body was so fast that even her parents could not keep up with her, and naturally, had lot of problems managing her. So at about eleven o’ clock everyday, her mother habitually placed her in a walker and tied the walker with a strong rope. Rest of the three kids, including my son, would play and run around in the lobby. Poor Barsha, called them or shouted at them to draw their attention towards herself. I always felt bad for the poor girl. One or two times I asked her mother to untie her, but she said that she is not like other children. If she leaves her then she will surely fall down from the staircase. At that time I thought that though children are innocent and careless, they still have a basic instinct of safety. They don’t go near animals, objects or even places that scare them or will hurt them; like kids don’t go near fire or dogs. I thought that if the atmosphere around them is unknown, any kid would always stick with their parents. Everyday the three kids played. Many times their ball or toys would fall down the staircase but they never dared to climb the staircase down. In such situations they always asked for our help.
One day, out of mercy I untied Barsha. The moment I untied her walker, she tried to run and eventually fell down. I bent down to help her get up on her two legs, but before I could do that, she crawled out of the walker. Her mother was spreading a wet bed sheet on the lobby railing. Barsha started running with her full speed. Her mother screamed, “Oye! Barsha!!” I didn’t understand the situation at that instant. But soon I realized that Barsha was running towards the staircase. Her mother started running behind her. I was still confused but I decided to run after Barsha too. My speed was better than Barsha and her mother. Barsha’s mother was right. Barsha was heading towards the staircase. But before she could raise her feet in the air to step down on the staircase, I grabbed her. Her mother, who was also running to catch her couldn’t stop due to her sheer inertia. She jumped to avoid a collision and fell down the stairs.
Two days later, I made some hot soup for Barsha’s mother. I went to her flat. She was on the bed with blue and black patches on her thighs and back. She was very lucky (or insanely strong for that matter) that she didn’t have any of her bones fractured. She tried to sit up on the bed. I helped her and then fed her the soup. She finally said in a very faint voice, “Why did you untie her?” “I’m ashamed and genuinely sorry for what I’ve done.” I replied. From that day onwards, I promised myself that I would never interfere between ma and daughter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sleep baby sleep

One fair weather night it was ten o’clock. Me and my husband were sitting side by side holding our hands. Our son Pakku was playing with his entire fleet of vehicles. I asked Pakku “Come on baby, it is time to sleep”. He looked at me surprisingly and said “Now!”. My husband said “Come on Pakku let us go to bed”, and his reaction was same “Now!” I gave up and told to my husband “It is a very difficult task to make a baby sleep. You may go to bed.” Unknowingly I hurt my husband’s ego. He said, “OK. Let me try. I will make him sleep.”
He called his son, “Pakku come on. I want to talk to you.” The little fellow rushed to his father’s outstretched arms. He asked the kid very lovingly. “Do you want to see an engine?” I jumped up, “What do you mean by ‘Engine’?” I know one thing for sure, that my son was extremely fascinated by engines.

Both of them got ready and so did I. We went to Hardwar railway station, which was about 11 Km away from our home. It was ten thirty at night. We purchased platform tickets and entered the station. The last train had just departed. The platform was almost empty. Only one Diesel Locomotive was standing at one end of the platform. Father and son were busy exploring the engine. There was an engine driver who was a friendly person and took interest in them. I love to drink tea made at the railway station. We spent some time and returned. On the way back Pakku fell asleep on my lap.

As soon as we stepped in, Pakku’s father gave a victorious smile and said, “Look, I made him sleep.”
Now whenever Pakku did not want to sleep he asked his father to show him the engine.
One night I had a bad headache. I lied down on the bed. My son was busy with his drawing book. He was spreading all his assets like crayons, color pencils, drawing sheets, etc. I asked my husband to make him sleep. He said to Pakku, “Come on Pakku. Mom is not well. Let us help her.” Pakku asked, “How?” He said “Let us sleep peacefully so that she feels better.” He readily agreed and packed up all his stuff.
Then they lied down on the bed, covered themselves with a blanket, hugged and kissed each other, and turned off the light. Then Pakku asked, “Baba! How does the sleep come?” He thought for a while and said, “This is a natural Process.”

“How nature will tell me?”

“It does not tell you, it just comes like dreams.”

“Do you see the dreams?”

“Yes I do.”

“What do you see in the dreams?”

“Hmm... Sometimes rain or trees or flowers...”

“You mean nature.”

“Yeah! Do you also see the dreams?”

“Yes I do.”

“What do you see?”


“What Nature?”

“The moon.”

“Why not stars?”

“Because Ma says stars are too far and I’m too small. Do you see the stars?”


“How does it look like? Small or very big?”



“zzz ... zzz ... zzz ...”

“Baba! Baba!”, Pakku called. But there was no response. Then he crawled up to me. I saw his face. He said “Baba has fallen asleep.” He had the same victorious smile he had on his face as his father had a few days ago.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chronicles of the Missing Key

The day was Saturday and the time was 7:30 in the evening. Me, my husband and our three year old son had a dinner invitation at our friend Probir & Maloti’s place. They also had a three year old son – a couple of months older than ours. At their place we met Dr. Rajiv Dhusia, his wife Sucheta and their son of the same age group. The three boys got busy in some game immediately. The three men got busy with cricket on TV and drinks. We three ladies got busy chatting. After a while Maloti started preparing dinner for us, so Sucheta and I were helping her in cutting and chopping while we continued our chatting. We had a nice time together.
It was 11 o’ clock and the children were feeling sleepy after dinner. It was time to go back. We wished each other good night and my husband started his scooter. While adjusting my self with my sleepy baby on the pillion I asked him “Do you have the key with you?” “No” he said “It must be with you as you were the one who left the flat last.” I got down and stared to search the key in my purse. He also put the scooter on stand and started searching his pockets. No, neither I nor he had the key. We went back to Maloti’s living room. This time the men and the children also joined in the search. The chair cushions were moved, the divan mattress was lifted but the key could not be seen. The divan and all the furniture were moved to see if it might have slipped behind. There was still no trace of the key. We then moved to Maloti’s bedroom. Kitchen was also not spared. Her beautifully set home was ransacked – all in vain. Suddenly Maloti said “Mini, you and Sucheta had gone to her flat to fetch the cold drinks. Any chance you might have left your key in her flat?” I along with the two ladies and three children went there but could not find the key. I wanted to cry on my absentmindedness.
Back in front of Maloti’s flat my husband shouted in anger “This is the third lock I have to break in six months.” I was at the end of my wits too. I also screamed in full volume “No, this will be the second one in six months, because the first one was broken eight months ago.” We started to quarrel and blame each other. Quietly the doctor family moved away. It was almost 12 o’ clock in the night and my son was sleeping on my lap. My husband asked Probir “Please give me a hammer or something like that for breaking the lock.” Probir said “Wait, I will also come with you.” and took a hammer and chisel. Our flat was in sector 2 about 5 km from their place. At midnight, with no traffic on the road, we reached our place within minutes.
When we reached our apartment, the security guard opened the main gate. We climbed the stairs and when we were in front of our flat, we saw the key was stuck inside the lock and the door of our flat was open. Probir started laughing loudly and my husband frowned at me. I went inside and found that every thing was intact and our belongings were safe. I thanked my stars, our security and our neighbors. I came out and saw Probir and my husband were still laughing. Probir said “Good morning Mini it is past midnight now.” He had a hammer in one hand and a chisel in the other. I could some how utter “Sorry Probir da.” and slipped inside our flat.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The First Report Card

My younger son had started to go to prep school. Unlike my elder son, who was very willing to go to school, the younger one was not at all interested in going to school. He had literally ragged us when we tried to get him admitted in Delhi Public School at Haridwar. Any way that is a different story, but finally he was in the prep section of DPS Haridwar. Every morning he would scream and cry as I pushed him on the school bus. I could hear him cry “Maa....” as the bus left and the cry would touch my heart. I had to act tough as I knew that schooling was very important for building up his future, but my mother heart used to weep after coming back from the bus stop. I knew that he would be alright with passage of time.

Five months passed. It was November. After a good festive season of Durgapuja and Diwali, the children were tortured with half yearly examinations. After the exams, on the Parent – Teacher meeting day, I went to the school. I spent a lot of time in the senior wing where my elder son was studying - talking to the teachers, other children and their parents and saying Hi! – Hello to my friends. When I went to the junior section for the younger one’s report card, it was too late. His class teacher Seema ma’am had already left. We came back.

On the next afternoon, I was waiting for my younger son at the bus stop. The bus stopped and the younger one stepped out of the bus. His school bag was hanging on one shoulder, the water bottle was hanging on one side from his neck, his belt hook was opened and the two ends of the belt were dangling on both side. He was holding something in his hands and was chewing it. This was a normal site. He was always in a bad mood while going and returning from school. I picked him up in my arms and snatched the card he was chewing. He put his little arms around my neck and put his head on my shoulder. On reaching home, I put him down. He threw away his school bag on one corner of the room and was struggling to pull out his shoes. Now I took a look at the object he was chewing. OMG it was his first report card. He had chewed the report card from one fold like a crescent moon and a large portion was wet with his saliva. I was shocked. I asked him “Look! You have damaged an important document. Why did you chew it ?” Pat came his irritated reply “Baaki Pilloo ko khilaa do.” [Feed the rest of it to pilloo.] (Pilloo was our newly adopted pup) I said “This is very bad. Your teacher will punish you.” He was least bothered and continued his undressing act. I opened the card. Inside, no information was lost. His report card read as follows:

Class Activites: Avg
Physical Activities: Avg
Habbit / Manners / Punctuality: Avg
Social Behaviour: Good
Sense of Responsibility: Avg
Cleanliness: Avg
Muscular Coordination: Nil

I just could not believe it. “Muscular Coordination – Nil” The word Nil was written in blue ink and underlined with red ink. “What did the class teacher mean by Nil?. Medically speaking, no or nil muscular coordination should mean that one’s nervous system was damaged and or that the child was retarded – something was horribly wrong.” I mused. “Was there something wrong with my child? No no no!” I couldn’t think any further. I was perturbed. I could not make the hell out of what the class teacher Seema meant. My husband had gone to the office after his lunch much before the child was back from school. Those days we didn’t have any telephone in our home. All horrible thoughts were coming to my mind. I waited till 4 – O clock in the evening and was the first person to visit the sector dispensary where my doctor friend Mrs. Sarani Dutta used to sit. I walked into her chamber. She was a qualified doctor and mother of two and had known my kids since their birth. She should be able to understand my pitiable condition. Instead of presenting her my medical card like a patient, I showed her Piku’s report card. She was taken aback. “What’s the problem?” she asked. I showed her the last line – ‘Muscular coordination - Nil’ and very hopelessly asked “You know Piku since he was born. Do you think he has some medical problem? What is the meaning of this statement?” I almost choked. She touched my hand and said “Calm down. I know your Piku very well. He is a normal child. There is nothing wrong with him”. She went on “I think you should talk to Seema Agrawal directly. Perhaps she can explain why she wrote so or may be it was a mistake.” I was little assured by her kind words. I tried to get some reassurance from my husband when he came back from office, but he laughed it away and said “Don’t worry dear. It is not of any significance.” I thought no body was understanding my plight. I could not sleep through out the night.

Next day, after my hubby had gone to the office and the children to school, I went to the school and sought an appointment with Mrs. Seema Agrawal. I was waiting in the visitors lobby. After a while Seema came and asked “What happened Mrs. Banerjee?” I said “I want some explaination about my son’s report card, but please tell me first whether he is a normal child or not?” She said “Ofcourse, he a normal boy, and an excellent story teller as well.” Now I showed her the report card. She bounced back “Mrs. Banerjee! What did he do with the report card? He has eaten it?” I covered the missing area of the report card with my hand and pointed out the line ‘Muscular coordination – Nil’ I asked her “How can you explain this?” She explained “Look, we give the children some kind of project or some small things to do in the class. Few children do it very well and so as per school rules we grade them VG- Very Good, G-Good or Nil. Yes, I remember, your son did not do the project work given in the class at all, so I have graded him – nil. Secondly you have to pay a fine as you need a new report card.” I asked her “What kind of project work did you give the children?” She said “I had given them a chart paper and a paper cutting of a candle which they had to paste neatly on the chart paper. All the children submitted their work but Abhirup (Piku) did not submit his work.” I felt relaxed. I told Seema “Please change the word Muscular coordination to some thing else as medically it means different.” She said “Please give this suggestion to the school authorities”. “Sure I will” said I and returned home.

That evening, Piku was playing with Pilloo (Our newly adopted pup). The elder son was also playing with his friends in our compound. I called Piku “Piku! I want to talk to you.” He rushed to me and jumped on my lap. I asked him softly “Some kind of project work was given by your ma’am in the class – some candle or something – do you remember that?” He readily said “Yes, you know, ma’am gave us a big chart paper and you know my chart paper was of pink colour and Varun Gupta’s paper was yellow.” “Yes, but what did you do with that paper?” I asked. He said “Nothing.” I asked “Nothing? But what happened to the candle?”. He said “I pasted it on the desk and threw the chart paper in the dustbin. You know ma’am tells us to keep the class room clean.” I was amazed and asked “Why did you paste the candle on the desk? You should have pasted the candle on the chart paper.” He said “Oh mom! Our ma’am teaches us every day in that A B C rhyme .... XYZ ....Candles on my desk. So I pasted it on the desk.” Now I was truly RELAXED AND HAPPY.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The embarrasing Hit and Run case

One fine evening, I went to Jwalapur market with my little son. He was just a toddler. There was a huge barren land area between my flat and the market. There were two route to the market. First was along the main road, but it was longer way. The second route was the shortcut that cut through the field. Beside few Jhoparees on one corner, the field was clear.

I was returning from the field. One or two men or women were walking on the field. My son was jumping and running around as he came along with me. Suddenly a fellow on a bicycle came cycling towards us. I had a shopping bag in one hand and with my other hand I tried to grab my baby. Before I could grab my son, the man hit him. In simple reflex I dropped my bag and gave the man a good solid slap. I picked up my baby as he was crying. The man was confused. In haste I picked up my bag and took my baby in my arms and rushed to my home.

After I arrived at the flat. I immediately looked at my child, for any injuries. I saw a scratch on his left arm and his left leg’s skin was ruptured. I cleaned him and applied antiseptic on his injuries. Meanwhile my friend Maloti came. At that time her in-laws were staying with her for a visit. But she knew that I was alone in my home as my husband was in Hyderabad. Firstly she asked “I think you are alright. I know that Pakku (my son) loves fish so I took some for you and Pakku.” Then she smelt dettol and asked. “Who got hurt?” I told her the whole episode. She was surprised. “How could you slap that fellow. Don’t you know that these Juggi men are puckka criminal. If they come here with other men, what will you do as you are alone.” I said, “Maloti, I think you are over reacting.” She replied, “No I am not. I will not leave you here in this condition. You and Pakku stay with me until Abhijit-da comes back.” I said, “Nothing will happen. Beside that, your in-laws may feel otherwise. I’m perfectly alright. Those men cannot enter these apartments because security is here.”

After a tremendous argument she went off. But before leaving she knocked the Roy’s door and told them the whole story. Roy Dada advised me not to go alone outside and if I required anything, then I should ask him.

I closed the door, ate nicely and played with my son. After some time he slept. Now my sleep vanished. Maloti’s words were hitting me. As the night grew deeper, my anxiety grew larger. But like hunger, sleep is also a natural process. It came to me at 3:30 in the morning.

How much I slept I don’t know. My son patted my cheeks, “Ma, Ma, get up.” I woke up. The door bell was ringing repeatedly. I opened the door. The dudhwala, the kaamwali, Roy dada, Mrs. Roy, Jain family and entire neighborhood was there. All of them wanted to know my welfare. I said “I’m fine”

I felt extremely embarrassed that so may people were worried about me just because I slapped a local Jhopri wala.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Scoleciphobia - The Worm Saga

It was September, nearly 8:30 in the morning. My husband was in office and the kids were in school. I was busy with my household work. The door bell rang. I opened the door. It was Mrs. Roy. Her eyes were full of tears. Her face and body language showed that she was in terrible state. I was surprised. “What happened?” I asked her. She held my hand and replied, “Mini, please help me! Please come to my kitchen.” “What could have possibly happened in your kitchen?” I thought. She dragged me with her up to her flat. She stood in front of the kitchen and said, “Go inside.” Now a (seemingly) nasty thought nasty thought came to my mind. I just hoped at that moment that I wouldn’t find a lizard. That reptile petrifies me, freezing my blood in a way that would fail the best refrigerator at that time. That’s right. I have a phobia of Lizards.

I asked her gently, “Is it a Lizard?” She wiped her eyes and replied, “No, I don’t care about lizards. It’s something even more dangerous.” Now I felt better. Except lizards, I’m not afraid of any living or dead thing in this world. I went inside the kitchen but I saw nothing scary. She said while still standing outside the kitchen that there was a worm in the vegetable basket. Ah ha! That was it.

I took a newspaper, picked up the worm and threw it out of the window. With a victorious smile I came out of the kitchen and patted her shoulders. “Relax dear. It’s OK. The worm in now gone for good.” She thanked me, and offered me a cup of tea. But I refused as I had a lot of work to do. I came back to my flat.

About 15 minutes later, the door bell rand again. This time it was Mrs. Sharma with her eyes full of tears. Her body language was as bad as Mrs. Roy’s. “This is too much.” she said. “I can’t bear it anymore now.” I called her in and offered her a seat. When she settled down a bit, I asked her. “What happened? What’s wrong with you?” She wiped out all the tears from her face and said, “You know, Mrs. Roy always keeps throwing away things on my flat. Her baby daughter always throws her toys, paper, cloth clips, and what not. I always collect the things and give her back. I’m telling you all this because she is your good friend and she may understand you better than me.” She took a deep breath and then resumed. “Today, I will never forgive her for what she did to me. You know, she threw a vegetable worm from her kitchen window. I was outside cleaning my kitchen window and the worm dropped right on my head. I can bear anything, but not worms. You know that worms scare me to death.”

I gulped down a big knot that had formed in my throat. I said “Sorry” out of reflex. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did say it. “But why are you apologizing?” she asked me with a confused look on her face.