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June 4, 2014

The boiling milk

Filed under: common man, family — neosurya @ 17:04

As the night slowly opened up to the calm morning sun, Malini woke up to see her husband peering into the laptop. “Since when are you awake, it is not even six. Sleep for some more time.” she said. Vijay replied: “Good morning, I just woke up. I have to leave early for work. When did the kids sleep last night? Sorry, I just could not stay awake beyond 9:30.” Malini said: “They fooled around till 11:30 last night. They just have one more week. School starts and I shall tighten their schedule. Both will have to wake up at 6:00.”. Vijay responded: “Yes, that would be nice. I can take them on a nice long walk while you get the tiffin ready. Munde is dead, BTW”. “Which Munde?”, asked Malini.

As Malini took the laptop from him, Vijay got up from the bed, stretching away the laziness from his bones. He quickly grabbed a shirt: “The minister, he died in a road accident.”. Malini was asking something, but he left the room in a hurry. “Good morning amma, good morning daddy”. His father was occupying the bathroom. Vijay hated using the bathroom in his master bedroom. He preferred to squat while completing his morning affairs. And the only Indian toilet would be captured by his father. There was a daily competition of sorts between the two. At least one of them had the uncomfortable pleasure of sampling the gastronomical smells left behind by the other.

Vijay reached out for his toothbrush, and found the usually white bristles shaded blue and orange. He remembered that Priya had used his tooth brush to color her dolls. Vijay walked to the garden and got a nice neem tweed for himself. As he continued brushing, he remembered the question asked by Malini. He went back to the bedroom and said – “Munde was the newly appointed rural development minister under Modi. He died in a car crash.” Malini took a few seconds to realize that he was continuing a long forgotten thread and said – “Oh, so sad.”.

Malini decided it was enough time trying to ascertain the meaning of the shlokas she was learning. After her reading, a good half an hour got sucked into ablutions and cursory chats with her Mother in Law. Her MIL, Vijaya was busy preparing pickles to be packed into porcelain jars. Her in-laws split time between two suburbs of Hyderabad; staying for three months at the IT hub of Gachibolwi with Malini and Vijay, and the following three months at their ancestral home near Alwal, where their Daughter was living with her family. Each quarterly transition was marked with frenetic preparations. Preparations, that changed with the prevailing season. Being June, the season of the sun God, the making of pickles and home-made appadams was in progress.

“VijayaLakshmi, I am going on my morning walk, you want to come or sit there with your children”, shouted Mr Murthy. Vijaya muttered to her DIL: “40 years of marriage, and he never calls me Vijaya or Lakshmi, he always has to use the long name. We will go for our walking OK, I will be back in half an hour.”.

Malini smiled at her, and started off for the kitchen; Vijay would need to leave soon for office. She also had to get ready for her Sanskrit class. She saw Vijay and asked him: “What are you looking for?”. “Nothing, I just wanted to make Ragi malt.”. As she looked about the kitchen, her expression changed. “What is all this? How many times have I to clean this mess. Day in and day out all the vessels are used up for making some or the achaar. I am fed up with this aavakaaya and appadam making. Look at this – VijayaLakshmi garu used up all the vessels, and there is not even a vessel to boil milk now.”.  As she walked over to the sink to clean a vessel, Vijay said: “Look, they do not mean anything bad, if they did not leave a vessel, we can clean it naa. Let me clean it for you.”. “No !!! it is not just about the vessel. They are not at all dependable. Leaving for this place and that place every few months. They do not follow a schedule. Every three months, they disappear. The first month and the last get spent in a massive cooking fest. At the same time they nag me that I should go for a job and they will take care of the children.” .

Vijay replied: “We should take these things with a pinch of salt. Look, when we visit your parents, your mom troubles me with all her odd customs, and your father – oh he is unbearable. But I do not fret. We have to laugh these things away.”. This statement fired up a powder keg: “How many times do we go to my place? Once or twice a month at max. In any case, this is not about parents, it is about cooking. If you are a daughter in law, you will know how difficult it is. I cannot tell them anything.”. Vijay replied: “Look, no one is asking you to behave in a certain way. I never tell you to make my breakfast, or do the bed. I do everything myself.” Malini retorts: “Does that make you a saint? All good husbands must do that, there is nothing special in it.” Vijay replied: “That is it. You do not have to make the ragi malt or anything, I am leaving for office.”. He then corrected himself, came back and said: “I even suggested that we should buy a flat. You never agreed.”. Malini, with even more fire retorted: “You make it sound like I hate them. I like staying with them. I just, do not like this travel and cooking business. Look at the kids, they are so happy now. Priya will nag me for three months for her grandmother. The children always ask me why they have to go. And I cannot stop them from going.”.

In the meantime, there was a loud hissing sound. The milk boiled over. Malini and Vijay looked at each other. And smiled.


June 2, 2014

A sad experience.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — neosurya @ 14:40

My mother was refused a seat in the APSRTC city bus today for being from Andhra. She was traveling home from a local bus depot called Mehdipatnam. The driver said – you people from Andhra should not board buses in Telangana. Go back to your place. He made her stand 12 Kms all the way till the destination. She is 59, and while it was physically uncomfortable, it was mentally much more upsetting.

I guess this is how differences are sown. I feel sad, and a bit helpless. The shrill rhetoric of politicians is accompanied by boisterous and thankfully, scarce mobs on the ground. The former was asking Andhra people to vacate apparently “important positions” and return to their “native” after June 2nd. The latter were salivating at the prospect of grabbing easy resources, or maybe they were genuinely happy. One can never know for sure.

I honestly wish people of all regions the best. But I also have a bigger wish:

Can I dare to dream for a day when there will be no Telangana or Andhra?
A day when we forget who was Marathi or Bihari,
A day when there will be no Madrasi or Hindi.

A day when Buffalo ceases to fight with Bangalore,
For jobs, visas, permits, and corporate galore,
A day when borders vanish and differences cease.

A day when we meet eye to eye,
And see just humans,
Not yellow, black, brown or white.

A day when we find empathy,
Not just as man and woman,
But as co-habitors of a common domain.

A day when we think not as a species on a food chain,
But as part of common nature,
United, unbroken, and endless.

A day when we cherish our life,
Not for its own obscure survival,
But for the strength of co-existence.

Maybe this is easy for me to say while sitting in an air-conditioned office. Someday, I shall get out of this office permanently and try to find answers to this and other questions.

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