Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The lost art of writing letters

Festive season was here. The city was sparkling and glowing with lights, lamps and candles. Every nook and corner was brimmed with festive atmosphere. The exchange of pleasantries, packing the goody bags for special someone, the sweets and cakes on stores were the highlight. To top it all the events and soirees were pretty much a delight and icing on the cake. The decorations and organizing games took a front seat and not a single life felt isolated and withdrawn. The city was admired for the energy and joie de vivre. 

In the midst of all this, one tends to feel the height of glory and one always gets charged up.  I too felt the tidal wave of varying mixed emotions in my heart and felt the need to express my gratitude to my set of loved ones. So at the end of the day when the year 2016 was on the verge of getting to the point of shutting down its curtain, I ended up writing letters. In the days of social media, a letter may seem obsolete, trash and outdated to many but I can never get rid of the old charm that only a letter offers.

A letter is like opening the eyes of our heart and showing its true essence and nature with a personalized touch. In a world of communication where technology is a breakthrough and has opened up so many doors that a person doesn’t feel distant to their loved ones anymore, letters take a backseat and often seen as a backward means of channeling your thoughts and ideas to the opposite person. But I felt it is the lost art which is worth bringing back. Therefore I wrote. Firstly, it thrilled me to a great extent.

 The prospect of sharing those ideas by bringing it to the pen gave me a joy that knew no bounds. The ink when touches the paper, those scribbling and overwriting few words, making a subtle nuances to the alphabets was unparalleled to the pressing of alphabets in the keyboard or pressing the send key in the messenger.

Going back to literature, letters hold a significant or rather coveted position in bringing two lovers together. A person’s rejection or acceptance depends on the manner in which the letter has been written. Letters were a common literary vehicle used to correspond. Many of the literary works include letter writing as a personal favorite. For example, In Austen’s Emma, the iconic work of the author, when Harriet smith comes running with a letter from Mr. Martin, Emma Woodhouse quickly asks her how great the letter is, and how is the length of the letter. The relationship formed through letters, it was held together through letters and lasted because of those letters.

I would like to quote the piece in New York times which is written by Catherine Field :
“A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.

Following to the above passage, creativity lured in the corners of letters. A good letter was a blue print of an investment of good stationery, pretty piece of paper, and beautiful supplies.

The wait of receiving a letter was always a comfort giving, breathtaking and curiousity driven. There was a rush in our heart and minds when we saw the letters in mailbox. One waited to get back home and read those. The great excitement and thrill were the elements that letters brought out within us. The handwritten words and pictures meant a lot. Often the person’s state of mind was visible through their well- organized words, writings, and striking of a sentence.

In all the BBC period dramas and stories, I have often seen letters prove a great deal. The entire day was spent in answering them with detail, precise, and to the point. There was no way a letter was acceptable when it posed ambiguity, lack of clarity and short in means of length. Women would wait for a proper hour to let themselves alone to read the letters. Also the great power that a well handwritten has is remarkable. Think about the letter of proposal that transpired between Elizabeth and Darcy. It had a power that affected two lives dearly.  When we look back, there was a separate genre for letters in novels. Epistolary indeed! It was wholly engaged in writing a piece of work using letters as a central ideas. To name few of those kind which were exceedingly successful were Bridget Jone’s Diary, Letters to Juliet, The Princess Diaries, The Perks of being a wallflower and Last Days of Summer.

Growing up, I have often seen people write letters in special occasions. We have experienced the joy and anxiety too as our family used to receive letters to the distant cousins and relatives. It talked of happiness, good tidings and good health. Even the marriage preparations were discussed. So ours was an era where letters lived and relished in the comfort of human hands which generation next could hardly get a taste of.

Not only this vintage communication connected war separated lovers, or used for deliver news but every beats of life were unabashedly discussed. Therein, approbation and comfort were sought in one another.

The increasing speed of technology rings a death knell to the sweet sounding literature. They are drifting away slowly from our lives. Today, social media have taken correspondence by storm but not to forget that in this gust of storm, letters serve as a fresh whiff of air coming through a narrow channel called heart.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Indrayani Diaries - Part one

Indrayani Diaries – Scroll 1

Like a blooming flower with fresh morning dewdrops, with wet droplets shining on her hair ends was she. No, they were pearls freshly hatched from oysters. She stood unfazed. The moist lips were luscious, so delicate and feathery. She kept on admiring herself with her tresses let loose in front of the golden mirror in her room’s wall. The mirror hung perfectly opposite the east facing of the room enough to let the light of sun enter. It was early morning and the sun had risen very early that day. The lights filtered the drapes and fell on her hair. The hair shone like a thousand stars blanketing the clear night sky. She wore a golden blouse and very thin see through blue sari. She looked like a mermaid enveloped in silk like fabric. She was ready to pull off the sari from her supple untouched skin. Was it untouched or inhumanly touched? She could not fathom. She touched her neck, face, and her lips. And she felt cheated all of a sudden. The sorrow surfaced slowly and a darkness shrouded in her eyes. The tears no longer felt warm but it became ice cold. She saw herself with those expressive eyes. Those eyes where one could easily drown and would not be able to get up. It was a bottomless pit.
She was Indrayani. A girl who equated pain with pleasure, hut with laughs, mornings with nights and curse with gift. What were her thoughts and disappointments in her life? Who was she? What bothered her? Was she married? Was she a virgin? Was she an independent working alpha woman? She was a culmination of everything yet she was in no man’s land. She was an embodiment of beauty. She was a woman of dreams, desires and hopes who loved to be content. She had so many men behind her yet she searched for one person who defined love. The love which will take her breathe away. The love which will make her connect with herself. The love for which she was waiting for.



Indrayani Diaries – Scroll 2
The night was silent and calm. The silence disturbed her. She opened the window to see if her husband has arrived from his workplace. With no hint of arrival, she closed the floral curtains and switched off the light. She couldn’t sleep and turned and twisted. Indrayani got up and leapt from her bed. She opened the chest of drawers and rummaged through the papers and sheets that were carelessly kept inside. She was searching for a letter from her dear friend. A friend who kept on sending her letters but got no reply from the other side. Indrayani did not write to her because of the past which caused a tumult in her heart. Vindhya and Indrayani were best friends right from childhood. They always confided in each other and had stood with each other even in the times of adversity. Especially when Vindhya’s father lost his job and finding very difficult to make the ends meet, Indrayani quickly asked her father who is an industrialist to offer her friend’s father, a job. Vindhya‘s family were forever grateful for Indrayani’s perspicacity and kind heart. Hours and hours pass in a jiffy when they are together and both did not find any need to make any new friends. They were content with each other. The news of wedding came as a delight to Indrayani’s ears. The boy was well educated and of good background and loved her very dearly. Vindhya too was very happy and excited with the arrangements and happenings. For once she thought all this was tantalisingly beautiful and she was in a state of incredulity. Indrayani was with her side throughout the event and stood as a maid of honour for her beloved friend. Everything went smoothly and both the families hugged each other in merriment. But a quick turn of situation arose and the friendship of Indrayani and Vindhya started to take a rough path.
Ashok, Vindhya’s brother has an eye for Indrayani. She never liked him more than a brother and often politely dismissed his thoughts with a smile or a laugh. But he pursued her with all his might. Vindhya noticed the two of them and her brother’s thoughts and chided him saying that Ashok should not trouble her by going after her and he should focus on his medical career. Vindhya had high expectations from his brother and hoped one day that he would become a respectable doctor in the whole town. Vindhya tried with her polite talk and being an elder sister, she even reprimanded and asked him to behave properly but Ashok knew his mind. He wanted Indrayani badly and he loved her and lusted for her. But Indrayani tried very hard to convince him that he meant nothing more than a brother and cannot revert to his feelings. She pitied him sometimes but more than that his ill-mannered ways roused her with anger and frustration.
One day, when Indrayani was sitting alone and waiting for Vindhya in Vindhya’s marital home, She dozed off. And that’s when Ashok entered. He saw her in the sofa. He made advances on her and tried to molest her and assault her. Indrayani’s temper flare and she made a tough attempt to escape from the monster. He was drunk and was not in his senses.
After reaching home, Indrayani locked herself in her bedroom and cried profusely. She was aware of his wayward ways but did not expect him to droop to this level. She was flabbergasted and bewildered, all at the same moment.  Cheap. Holy shit. Non sense. She spew curses on Ashok. The thoughts of his act came to Indrayani like waves. One by one gushing heavily and sweeping her dignity in a second. She thought she will narrate the entire incident to Vindhya.

Present day:

The memories haunted her lie a nightmare. A thick, dark cloud formed in her mind everytime she thought about that day in Vindhya’s house. Storm came the very next day in the form of Ashok’s suicide when he left the note saying how he loved Indrayani and how her wish was not answered. All hell broke loose when Indrayani got to hear about it after she herself suffered from a major trauma of Ashok making advances on her. The incident left a acrid taste on her heart and mind. Vindhya got to know from her and she thouroughly understood and heard everything in equanimity. But Indrayani took every blame on her. Vindhya lost her brother but slowly she was losing her best friend to the guilt that she had not committed. Indrayani shut herself from Vindhya completely and came back to Mumbai after marriage. None of the letters were answered and calls were received. But today, as she was flipping those letters, the words and expressions brought back to her the feelings unknown. She tightly pressed each and every written word on the pages and took in the moist feelings they once shared.  She was swamped with the surge of sadness and happiness by seeing those letters. The handwritten letters had that effect that it could stir even a stone hearted man.

She took out the paper and pen and started writing a detail letter to her friend. She spoke about her life, family and her desires. The happiness which she was searching was not mentioned as she does not want to disappoint her friend. 

Part 2 coming soon

Friday, April 1, 2016

Summer Vacations and the gifts to my students


                  The month of exams have started and is making a huge rush in the blood stream of both students and teachers. Assignments, revisions, reviews, test series and what not. We all wait for this deadly month to get over and wait to welcome the spring of April and the months ahead till June. You know why? To talk about summer vacations is super fun indeed. The way the exams unfold and get over, the way the new month brings in more possibilities, opportunities and wishes. I, as a teacher, crave for this 2 month super fun where only the list of fun activities have a special place. Some children love to travel, some join few activity and skill development classes, and many others stay at home and enjoy the sunset and sunrises. Whatever it is, the calmness and soothing experience of the vacation cannot be unmatched to any other fun in life. Nowadays, technology has taken a priority over anything and children don’t want to get out of the zone of computer, videogames and mobile games. I really miss those days when we used to play outdoors, go to the woods, read library books, tell stories to each other, sit on trees and eat grapes. Such were our days. But the children have forgotten the act of playing outside and want to get trapped inside within the walls that technology has built.

               I even remember when I asked my student that what she does at home as her parents are working. Does she go out to play after school hours? Or does she invite her friends at home and play together? She said I don’t do any of those things as I like being alone. Now this is a serious disorder that our young minds are developing. In this tender age, they want to be alone and feel comfortable with the virtual world. Alone means they are only physically alone but there are many virtual games and friends who keep them engaged. The human to human interaction and being one with the nature have lost their game already. The text and social networking world have tied the young minds and adult minds so tightly that they feel comfort in this new form of captivity. But I don’t want to digress from the topic I thought to write.

Summer vacations give one an opportunity to explore different set of books. The bibliophile find it a best time to indulge in more and more amount of books. The book exchanges, writing blogs on those read stories, building a piece by yourself brings in more fun to the table. So every year as a set tradition by myself, I purchase books for my students. This is a small effort from my side to encourage them to read and involve their time productively. The fiction world is super awesome when he or she feels it. You can travel to many places at the same time, know many things, think new perspectives, and talk on those things with your family members or your peer group. Such is a beauty of books. So this year I chose to give ‘Little women’, ‘To kill a mockingbird’ and ‘Sudha murthy’s short stories.’

There are books which talk of human literature in a humorous way and there are some which give a serious thought to our grey cells through a plot based on children. So I would like to talk about these books which has an interesting theme and all these are plotted differently with a great style.

1.       Little Women – Louisa May Alcott:


 Author Louisa May Alcott has written this novel with a purpose of bringing out her own childhood story. The story is based on a family called March. The family which consists of 4 daughters and a mother and father. The mother takes care of the 4 children while the father serves the army. As I told this story is loosely based on the author herself and her three sisters, the passage from childhood to womanhood is strongly depicted with some sorrowful moments in between. The four daughters are special and talented in their own way. While one is a great and budding artist, the other sizzles in playing music. While one is a bibliophile and immerses and finds bliss in the company of books, the other is a dreamy eyed with a profession of governess. They all get into fights and little wars but manage to get through skilfully. The ending can come as unexpected as you might have expected a different end to the theme but you will not get disappointed as author has mixed drama and reality with elan. Author narrates a gripping tale and values comfort, literature, and the beauty of natural world. Some of the learnings that Mrs. March provides them with speaks the reality of the outer world. Some sorrows bring a sense to their existence and they become a strength for each other like Beth’s illness and the bird’s death. For a writer in me, I find the following quote amusing and inspiring which is I want to do something splendid, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I am dead. I think I shall write books.”


2.       To kill a mockingbird – Harper Lee:

Another one which I gave my students is this yet another brilliant novel which went on to win Pulitzer prize for Harper Lee, the brilliant author of all times. This is set in a sleepy southern town and throws a light to the southern literature. The author draws a parallel between compassion, idealism, and conscience and portrays a novel mixed with childhood, drama and serious element. I love the character Atticus and how the character has a deep seated meaning in this whole novel. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. The above said quote hits a nail and talks more on empathy. In fact the whole novel which talks about how to kill the notion of racism and other social evils that has stuck to our blood and flesh goes beyond the word empathy. Mockingbirds spread joy and are not to be caused harm is a thing which we always knew. An undisputed classic with a message is what this this novel is and surely can qualify to find a coveted place in your book shelf.


3.       How I taught my  grandmother  to read and other stories – Sudha Murthy:

Having gone back to classics and discussing serious aspects, we come to an easy read of a well-known and established author of this generation. This book has total 28 stories and portrays the tiny aspects of humanity and its importance. It is a book written keeping in mind the likes of children and also serves a good company for adults. Here she stresses on hardwork, humility, and sacrifice. The stories which I loved are “Hassan’s Attendance problems”, “Who is Great”, “Gowramma’s Letter”. All in all, an inspiring book for the younger lot and a thought provoking aspects for the older lot.
As everyone knew this that we all are judged by the books we read and the company we keep, the books shape our life and our mind set as does our friends do. Summers are the best way to pamper ourselves with fun, laughter, friends and immense reading. So a tiny motivation from my side to my students and future torchbearers always have helped them to connect with me and their minds at large.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Saki - A woman of strength

We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.”

Emily Dickinson, a famous poet of all times, have clearly mentioned in her above poem ‘Aspirations’ that one never knows their true worth and value until an unexpected event hits one like a sucker punch. In the first stanza, she states that we all have a power to rise and shine in our chosen fields, be it women or men, till the situation calls for our true power. The true will shines and the spark reaches to the shadowy paths.

In the third line, she hits the nail that even we know our power and talent, we should try and plan and work assiduously in our path in order to achieve our goals and sustain the achievement. So knowing is one thing and planning and executing is the key thing that will provide us fruits.

As our aspirations envelope us, our worth glitters like a gold and our skills come to light. So here is a story of Sakshi. A girl who rose from the abyss and carved a niche for herself.

The sky was empty without any clouds yet the twinkling and dreamy eyes of Sakshi wrote so many dark stories that one cannot comprehend. The sun was scorching heavily and its light fell on the leaves and shrubs making it more visible in the blister hot summer. Some leaves withered and gave away and the story of those ended with the arrival of new hot day. My eyes followed to my hardworking and laborious neighbor Sakshi or Saki as I fondly call her when we sit in our teak wooded bench in the garden of our complex overlooking the waterfront.

That was like any other day, we sat on the same bench and went on talking about the topic which was hot on those days – School projects. As our children go to same Alma matter, we discussed at length over the various topics that encircled the institution. But that day was little different from the rest. She was a single mother who left her marital home to start a life afresh. I always wondered what would be her inside story but felt too embarrassed to ask or venture into a personal topic. Though we were friends for nearly a decade, I never thought to ask about the sensitive issue. But having said that, I gathered much confidence that day to check on her past. She was too sweet to listen and reply to my question. That was Saki. A bold, brilliant and beautiful lady who always listened to her heart. Her face always reflected what her heart said and never feigned happiness in front of me.

It was close to 3 hours that we talked, cried, laughed together on that topic that I lost the track of the time. The story about her past left me with tears that I couldn’t control it and let it fall like an overflowing water stream. She comforted me but I was not ready to get back to my original state.
It was long, long ago and Sakshi was married to a conservative family of Punjabi. We all have our own dreams and desires that cloud and shroud us before tying the knot. Saki too had built a land of dreams that she wanted to attain after marriage. But fate has its own plans as you may call it.  At first, she thought her husband has always cultivated a nonchalant way to his speech. But he was too fragile to stand up for his own wishes. That said, a man who cannot bring forward his own wishes and desires can hardly adhere to the dreams that his better half has built.  

Saki, like any ordinary girl, handled the things in a polite way. She agreed to what her husband said and her in-laws’ wishes. She had to cook food, clean the house and do all other sundry work that demanded more than what her strength could gather. She did everything without sulking. Her in-laws wanted a progeny within 6 months of her marital life. She had not experienced the marital bliss yet but they were too rigid in their understanding that none of the desires of Saki came into light. Saki did not know what to do. She couldn’t go on more by their ever rising demands. The demand for jewelry and money came gradually but the demand for child hit her like no other thing. She too wanted child and happy to be a doting mother but she wanted to experience the togetherness and love from her husband. The marital bliss that every women craves and yearns for. Moreover, she was asked to stop from the middle of her hot shot career and asked to look after the household. Her family was kept into dark and she was shoved inside a deep cave where there was no other life to hear or listen to her sorrow.

 The ill fate did not stop there. The growing discontent between the couple led to a new woman enter in her husband’s life. The husband who was hitting on someone behind her back marched forward to bring her daily to the household. Saki was shattered and devastated by this fact and her ill fate. But she was not the woman to sacrifice her own wishes and dreams for a family who did not pay heed to her. She gathered support by a NGO lady and slowly inch by inch, she made plans to run away from the family.

 She wanted to punish them but there would be so many Mitra’s (name changed) in the world who will do this again and again. The physical abuse, forced motherhood and butchering of her dreams and her profession led her to take a well thought decision of giving the diabolical man a divorce. They divorced a year later and she moved with her child (now a 10 year old) to a small rented flat. Her maternal units stood with her in all her decisions and gave a pat wholeheartedly. Saki became independent again with all her dreams attracting to her one by one. Saki, now an entrepreneur who holds a recruitment consultancy, shooed away her wealth of sorrow in a thoughtful way. The woman who has a smile on her face keeps all her sorrow hidden beneath it.
As the saying goes, no one knows of the hero within them until a different situation arises; we are all unknown heroes.

Saki is an unsung hero for me who inspired to be vocal to any crimes or injustice. The indomitable spirit of any woman can make a world shudder is a thing which I admire in her.
Saki had been a doting wife and polite in her manners. She even denied at first admitting to the fact of getting mistreated her very husband. But she finally pulled herself and slowly fitted all her broken pieces together to be born again as a Miss and no more Mrs. She is a man and woman and mother and father to her blossoming child and she encourages her child to listen to her heart and keep on working in developing her skills.


The next day when we met in her child’s birthday party, she told me one thing. We cannot anthromorphise someone but we with our effort and will, can change our own life to lead a happy life. So a change which is inevitable promised her a world of dreams. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Flash fiction - Love comes softly

The grey sky pondered with the thought if love can come and stay in its life forever. That day rain had come bringing in the dampness and washed away the tears that the sky was shedding. The light emerged from nowhere that gave the stars a tough competition. The light too brought in the much needed joy to the sadness filled sky. Only the soft showers were there to cool off the heat on the earth. The green leaves formed a thick blanket of hope to the sky as it danced in mirth. The vibrant flowers danced in meadows. The night fell on the silhouetted trees which looked as black as ink. The moonlight weaved a silver glaze. The sky stood in voiceless wonder and gaze as it witnessed the beauty that nature offered to her. With the night light, the hills and woodlands reflected new hues. The nature unveiled the promise of love and sky’s sullen mood was lit with merriment. There were no thunderstorms. No firecrackers. Only the soft and verdant landscapes which filled the sky’s heart with love. A new betrothal happened that day. “True, Love isn’t fireworks many a times. Sometimes, love comes softly”



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chronicles of my sweetsoul baby 

" Two Pink Lines - A Joy Drawn Parallel 

The fiery green trees saluted me with its usual head shake, the blue radiant sky embraced me with a warm hug, the birds that chirped all along had came in and stood at my window sill. Every single thing beckoned the arrival of you.  

You are the stream of light that surfaced at my world of shadow 

You are the ray of hope that stood at the door of gloom 

As I write, I get all happy and joyous thinking about the day I found you. The insides took a plunge and shifted to adjust to the new arrival. A tiny little butterfly lurked inside me. My each and every part danced with merriment. I couldn’t wait to spread the joy to the people I know. I threw my arms and whispered a loud prayer to the gods and goddesses I pray. The eyes became warm with the small dew drops that came in the form of tears and stood in the corner. The mellifluous raga played at the background reminding my favorite classical tune. I could see thousands of stars twinkling at my eyes and none at the sky. Who cares if there was no red carpet? My soul danced with the amount of red that painted my little joy.  

A Life that formed with hopes and desires overpowered me with its sudden existence. The clean woodsy scent of fresh blooms in my garden , a scent which I could not erase from my olfactory memory touched me and whispered me that there would be new addition to the family of blooming dale. This was the best morning that I would ever feel, the best morning sound that I would ever listen, the best visual that my eyes would ever see. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Bridge Builders of Modern Age

In a chasm where the sullen tide never stopped, there came a bridge builder who persistently worked and came forward to build a bridge to pave a way for the future trespassers. He already crossed that way but leaving all his duties in hand, stood there to help others. A good Samaritan isn't it? This is the famous poem written by Will Allen Droomgoole which earned significant and rave reviews in the era where poetic literature was the food and soul of writers and poets. It sends out a message to be generous and helpful towards others.  

If one wans to illustrate the above mentioned popular poem, what is better to choose than the flood affected India's fourth largest metro, Chennai. The culturally inclined city which is known for the historical locations, holy shrines and ports was severely affected by the heavy downpours. A simple idiom ' Raining cats and dogs ' cannot define its intensity. There was lot of damage for the rich as well as poor. The natural disaster proved that everybody is equal and there is no classification as rich and poor. Everybody became poor in a matter of seconds. The cars, debit and credit cards, money, big palatial house, and status was totally submerged in the sullen pouring waters. Families were displaced all over and some of the families who remained together could not make it and lost completely. The pours alone were not heavy but the grieving hearts became heavy too. The gory act of nature drowned plenty of homes and still maintaining its hold in the act. There was moist felt in the social networking sites too and not only in the eyes of those displaced people's eyes as it came forward to join hands when no amount of coverage and public attention was given to the gruesome calamity which shook heaven and earth. Even though things were far from normal and the roads are still under several feet of water, humanity found a bigger place in everybody's hearts. Though lives of so many children ( physically abled and disabled) have turned nightmare, they learnt a bigger lesson through this. That is how exchanging love and help gains valuable points than anger and violence.  

If respect is what one bridge builder earned in his life and even though it is based on fictional account of the poet, for me, Chennai's people spirit is the image drawn and a role model set up for the future mankind. Now I can say that I have seen and known many bridge builders who are from different walks of life. Salute to humanity and zeal that drew them together in the toughest time in the last 100 years.