Braveheart

She took one last look in the mirror to make sure her hair was in place, smiled and turned to leave. I observed her immaculate attire. Everything was matching to perfection. There was nothing in her demeanour to suggest that she was headed to the hospital. A new day had to be accorded the respect it deserved, she always maintained.

We were driven to the nursing home where mother was to have a small procedure to check the working of her heart. Palpitations some days back had got everyone worried. While the cardiologist was optimistic, so was mom.

I`ll be back in ten minutes and we`ll have a hot coffee together, she assured me as she was wheeled to the OT. We clicked some pictures of her in the smartly tailored hospital outfit. She liked the style and might get some night suits stitched when she got back home.

My mother has been a walker most of her adult life, an independent walker, one who depends on no one for company but herself. She has scant regard for weather or season. Be it peak winter, summer or rains, she can be spotted somewhere on the road, post 5 am, humming her prayers, smiling at fellow walkers, a hello here and a Namaste there. She even pauses to ask the regular beggars outside the temple as to how they are faring, paying for their tea occasionally. She loves the way her day begins and how she welcomes it. The silence and the bird songs both enthral her in equal measure. She is a true lover of life, one who celebrates every moment with warmth and smiles.

The ten minute wait at the nursing home soon turns to two hours. News trickles out from the Operation Theatre that two major arteries are blocked and stenting is in progress. This is a complete shock for everyone. The morning is not rosy any longer. Everyone waiting for her can sense the tension in the room. She would have hated this atmosphere, I remember thinking. She, who loved joy and lightness of spirit over anything remotely serious.

Two painful days in ICU and mother’s back in the room. All the curtains are pulled back so that she can see the trees and relish the rain drenching them. Her only question to the doctor is regarding her discharge. As the last canulla is removed from her horribly punctured arms, she is eager to wear her freshly laundered clothes and head out, she takes a step out and then turns to me, she gives me a tight hug and says, “Thank you for being there for me. I have to greet a brand new day with a brand new heart. Do you have a lipstick on you?”

STREET Smart

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The quaint bird seed shop..ten rupees per plate of assorted bird food 🙂

Such shops fascinate me, the barber under a tree with a makeshift chair, a cobbler with his tools also under a tree, on some sidewalk. The ubiquitous tea stalls with their trademark bread pakoras and samosas 🙂 They provide livelihood to thousands on the streets of India.

I admire their grit and determination…I think of the lost days of work, spelling no wages when the monsoons hit. I think of them joking and laughing as they go about their work in the sweltering summer heat.

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It’s the streets that sustain them. The streets with their unending flow of traffic..and it’s demands of quick solutions. Be it in the form of pirated books or mobile charger leads 🙂

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These unexpected shopkeepers have more of a hand on the pulse of what people need than those holding positions in high offices… 🙂

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The Dance that One Dances

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India is one place that can take you by surprise at every turn. So much of life here exists by the roadside. There is always a juxtaposition of sorts here. Something that can pull one out of complacency and force one to think about a larger picture.

The brilliantly coloured umbrellas held by the lady in a faded saree, clutches the heart. In a way it reflects her situation poignantly…

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On the other hand is the provocative shake of the hips by this nimble dancer 🙂 the only catch here is that the dancer is male. Clad like a female, these dancers play the role of women in a narration. Nothing in their movement is awkward, it’s pure grace and a joy to behold..

Two worlds can and do exist here, they compliment each other and add to the music that one creates or the dance the other dances 🙂

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That’s India….. Colorful, vibrant, delightful, heart-wrenching, frustrating, infuriating yet captivating 🙂

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Flying without Wings..

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I am driving my car and trying to come to terms with what I am feeling. These are alien emotions, I have never felt them before. They are a curious mix of awe, tenderness and inspiration.

I have just finished a one hour art group and have been amazed by what I have seen. My group consists of differently-abled people. It is a cohesive and energized group of young and older adults. When we work together, there is much laughter and good natured banter. In the course of making art together, I have seen some of the very severely challenged people become the most enthusiastic and happy artists. Their delight in mixing colors, trying out new and exceedingly difficult subjects, while being severely restricted in movement, is awe-inspiring to watch.

They love their art and through them I love it even more. I have new respect for the human spirit and its attitude to persevere under the most adverse circumstances. As I see them bend over their task with absorption, smiling as the colors magically  cover the page they are working on, I do not know how to verbalize my feelings…

Suddenly, these words, coming from the radio, fill up my car…Flying Without Wings.. I have never heard it before but it is a beautiful song and somehow these words describe exactly what I am looking for…How does one fly without wings, I wonder? One flies because ones imagination takes wing..crossing all boundaries and barriers that an immobile body cannot physically do..One flies because one refuses to let circumstances become bigger than ones magnificient spirit…