The mango

It was the evening of 24th July 2019. That was the last time I heard her voice. Since few days, prior to that, the urge to call her was so strong. She owned a Nokia 1110 phone and due to 90% vision impairment, she couldn’t use a smartphone. So I was trying to manage the timing with my uncle and aunt to talk to my grandma but I was unable to due to busyness at work and the time difference. I still can’t explain how I felt. All I knew was that I just had to do it somehow. I didn’t know the whys but something or someone was telling me not to make it late. I finally got an international calling pack and tried calling her whole day on 24th and finally she took the call in the evening.

Dadi, ghar k aam ki bahot yaad ati hai” (Grandma, I miss the mango tree at home a lot)

Beta aajao. Iss baar itne huye nahi pedh pe par tumhare chacha bazaar se acche aam le atey hain” (This year the tree didn’t fruit well but your uncle gets good ones from the market)

Par dadi vo pedh k jo khatey meethey aam hotey nah, ekdum taaza pedh se todhey huye. Aur aese bhi abhi toh nahi aa rahi. Ab toh seedhe December mey Christmas k liye aungi” (But Grandma, those sour and sweet ones freshly plucked from the tree are the best ones. Also I’m unable to come just now. I’ll come in December for sure).

Beta abhi aajao, kuch dino se tumhe dekhne ka mann hai. December mey toh bahot deri hojaegi” (Child, come just now. Since few days I have been wanting to see you. It’ll be too late in December)

This really troubled my mind. I talked to my friends about it and they said that it is normal for grandparents to say so. My grandma was from Bhutan, an immigrant. She lost her parents when she was a kid and was brought up by a missionary lady. Education and work was most important for her after her love and devotion towards God. Never had she asked me to visit her with so much desperation.

On 1st of August 2019, she fell sick and stopped eating. She was admitted in hospital on 2nd of August. My parents reached on the morning of 4th of August. They called me and told me that they have reached and her reports look fine. The strangest thing had happened around that time. It was around 6am and I had stayed awake whole night. Hearing that her reports looked fine, I decided to finally sleep. As soon as I dozed off, I heard a woman’s voice say goodbye. This suddenly woke me up. Within fifteen minutes, my dad called me and asked if I can come home. Before he could say anything, I knew it all and told him that I’ll be there beside them soon and I know that Dadi has gone. Grandma left for her home in heaven in the most peaceful way. No one even got to know about it until my mom went to check if her clothes were changed and found no motion in her abdomen and then noticed that she had stopped breathing. I could reach early morning on the following day and then there was funeral, followed by memorial service on 6th.

On 7th of August was my birthday and of course there wasn’t any celebration. I was sitting with my aunt when she started asking me about my life in Poland. I told her how much I missed few things and mango being one. Then she told my cousin, Khushi, to go to the refrigerator and get a mango for me.

ye akhiri aam hai. Jis din dadi bimar hui, usi k teen din pehle unhone mangvaya tha. Ye akhiri reh gaya tha. Khushi ney pucha ki vo kha le par dadi ney pehli baar usey manaa kar diya tha kisi cheez k liye. Shayad ye tumhare liye hi vo rakhi hui thi” (This is the last mango. She didn’t even let your cousin touch it. It seems she had kept this just for you)

That mango indeed tasted exactly how I like- that perfect sour and sweet in one. She left but my birthday gift she didn’t forget- the mango.

One for meat, the other for wheat

“I’m homesick”, I cried.

Dad said I must visit home

when the borders unbolt.

I found it hard, I cried inside.

All I bothered about were my parents.

Its not that I don’t have it all,

but a part of me was a child still small.

Tracing the graphs and plots,

I was trying to understand the fate.

But nothing more could I do than to sit at home and pray.

The news got me engulfed

so much that my heart crunched.

It crumpled and curdled

as I read the articles.

I longed to be updated

but not be shaken.

The gust of emotions couldn’t be at peace,

on watching men walk back home

while everyone sleeps.

Always read that history repeats itself.

I thought “Fight it all” flowed through our veins.

Didn’t I say this to the German lady in the plane,

“India will never nurture any Hitler”.

Little did I know or simply ignored

that the battle may still be lost,

not to any Hitler but,

to Mussolini that our eyes can’t trace.

The history books are back to life,

men and women trying to be on streets,

with children having nothing to eat.

Wasn’t it similar during the droughts, famines and the plagues?

Only that now we have none to blame.

They have no jobs,

no notes in hand,

with babies tied on their backs.

Isn’t this what should be called

the repetition of history,

just in a different era and century?

As the only resort and no other option,

they walk through roads and streets,

just to get their ID and some wheat.

“I’m homesick”, they never cried.

All they desire is a little rye.

flowed

Letter from 90s kid to the millenials

Dear Millenials,

As the dusk of today was near, it dawned on me to write this for you. It might be annoying for some but may turn into reality for few.

Many of you would have left home or would be leaving soon for the future aspects of your career. It is always good to be reminded to value the time and memories you’re making with your family. When I was hardly 13, some one told me the same but I could barely understand it.

Two Christmas being away from home and this is my third Easter away.

As I was walking down the lane to buy groceries for the week, I saw families going with little baskets of food to the church. Poland has a beautiful tradition of being with family during any festival. I recalled my childhood days when my mom would hold my finger and take me along to church. I dressed the best and felt like my dad’s little princess. Today, I didn’t go for the blessing of basket but just for a walk around the area in an alabaster colour shirt. I could remember how my dad would love getting me frocks in this colour, even though I had many in same shade. I didn’t like any shade of pink so much back then because my friends would count me as being extremely girly and my internal rebel never agreed to be stereotyped. But today I could imagine myself going infront of dad in this shirt and his eyes glowing because he loves this colour on me.

Each time I saw little girls going with their dad, I could imagine myself with my dad and remember my days when I was still living with them. My mom’s delicacies on all these festivals, the hot cross buns, the boiled eggs, the easter eggs and lots of candies are all that I miss now. I remember how I hated waking up as early as 4.30am to be in church at 5.00am for the sunrise service. Now I can stay awake even whole night waiting for the service to start because now I realize the joy of being there to celebrate our Saviour’s resurrection. There were chantings of Christ is risen and the reciprocation with Indeed he is risen. It is in Polish here but sadly I am still not well-versed with the language to understand it. No more would I mind my mom getting angry on me while waking me up at that time.

I saw two women who passed each other and called out Wszystkiego Dobrego (“All the best” in Polish). I can now admit that my introvert nature never enjoyed when my parents would talk to random people in church and greet them and I had to forcefully talk to many of them. Some were my friends but I found it difficult to mingle with everyone. But now I realize what it does to the soul when two people greet each other. Once a stranger greeted me with the same words and I couldn’t help but smile the whole day. Its good to mind your own business and live in your own cocoon, which I do mostly, but it is soothing for the soul to have someone greet you or to make someone’s day by greeting them.

Back then being told to value what I have now at the age of 13, I couldn’t get the weight of those words. Now as an adult I do understand each word of her.

This I write for you millennials to value each moment you spend with your family. Your friends might leave you and go but your family will always stay by your side even when you will move thousands of miles away from them. No treasure in the world compares to the smile on your parents’ face and the joy in their eyes. You might fight with your siblings as kids but they are the ones who will support you in all your decisions. It might hurt to lose friends but only the true ones will always stay beside you through thick and thin.

So, always remember that what you have now might not be there tomorrow so you must never forget to make as many memories as possible. As the course of life changes every month and year, the memories reminds you of all the good days that were and will come.

With Love,

From 90s Kid

Christmas eve of 2002…

Christmas of 2016 with Mom, Dad and Andy

It was 10.00 in the night when I wanted to go out with my friends where I lived. My friends and I had planned something for Christmas eve. We had contributed our little pocket money that we had to buy snacks and fire crackers. In India, where I come from, the church service and the celebrations are on Christmas day and not on Christmas eve. I was just ten years old. There were other older children from the campus where I lived and they planned the bonfire night . I wanted to be with them and enjoy with my friends than being with family. But we had church service at 8.30 in the morning and my dad didn’t let me go because for a ten years old little girl like me it would have been impossible to wake up so early. I was sad that my dad wouldn’t let me enjoy with my friends. I had all bad thoughts in my brain then, without knowing that one day I would be longing to be with them for Christmas eve.

Sixteen years passed by and I’m in train, traveling to Nowy Targ to be with a family for Christmas day. I’m remembering that night in 2002 and wishing silently if I had realized that I’d be moving far from home and wouldn’t get the joy of being with my folks on Christmas and New Year one day, I would have spent that night bringing all the joy to my family. Now I understand how beautiful was that Christmas eve of 2002 when I wasn’t with my friends but with my family who have stood beside me and encouraged me always.

I can never get over with all that my mom dad did for me. I am incapable of giving them as much love as they give me. Those little sibling fights used to be annoying but now I understand the love behind it. So this is a blog to let them know that I love them and however far we are, we are in each other’s prayers which makes it even more beautiful.

As humans we fail to count the little blessings in life. Each day is a blessing. Everyone in our life is a blessing.

I moved….

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It has been nine months, I moved from my country to another. Things changed drastically. The little girl who was safe with parents, grew up suddenly and learnt to stay all by herself. The time passed quickly than I imagined. I fell in love with this place. I have limited friends here and no family. There were times when I felt lonely but there has always been an assurance that God who brought me so far is with me even here.
Over nine months I have complained over numerous things, but I realized that each situation taught me something. There were times when I slept crying, cuddled in the blanket to feel safe, walk like a zombie thinking about what lies ahead. But the weak days made me stronger. There is no reason to be weak because in God I am always strong. I understood the importance of right people in my life. I understood what it means to safeguard my heart from the world. I understood that people in the world have greater problems than me and there are people in the world without any support or friends. I felt better thinking that I have my family, even though far, is always encouraging me when they talk to me.
But above all what I understood was that God has a plan for my life and it will be fulfilled. Yes, my faith had gone weak. But there were people around who helped me uplift it again. Even if the whole world fails, he will be by my side in all circumstances “because he remains faithful even if we are faithless”.

Virtually active but emotionally closed

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With just one click or a swipe, one can be added or expelled from one’s life. With over thousand virtual friends, whom do you go to when you really need a shoulder to rest your head? During the time of being socially active, we are turning into emotionally closed beings. With accounts on all social sites and apps while trying to keep pace with the fraternity, we are losing our impassioned facet. No more the compatibility matters for two to be friends but the number of fan following and the attractiveness of one’s profile photograph is the shortest way to be in one’s list of friends.

I have also been a part of this legacy since a decade. It started with the flamboyant testimonials of Orkut then moved to Facebook for the joy of private messaging. Twitter kept me in tempo with all the happenings world-wide. Instagram helped me flaunt my photography skills. Smule gave me a chance to sing and display my aced power. How can WhatsApp be left behind? More than 200 contacts and 50 groups, I still don’t know the whereabouts of 60% of them. All the interaction is through forwarded rib-ticklers and emojis.

All these do justice to stay in touch with the friends who studied with us in school or college. There is another side, too. I am young and beautiful and enjoy having so many friends on virtually social platforms. Many became my friends because they either found my work interesting or some may find me beautiful. Of course, some rejected me too. The world has its own beauty standards that decides the number of my companions. Heart is a secondary aspect in this virtual world. Yes, there are double standards- one that I am and one that I post.

Since a few days I have been pondering over this that how many will remain with me if I fall into a trouble or a false accusation? How many will stand by me if I need help? How many will pray for me in time of dearth and problems? Will they all be even bothered if something happened to me today? Will they shed a tear and remember me for good if I fly away to glory in God’s arms? Many wouldn’t even get to know. There was a time when I had just one friend to talk to about everything from good to bad and from being happy to sad. Now there are so many around that when I feel dejected and despondent, I am perplexed with whom to share. This is never an issue with happiness. I enjoy sharing my joyous times with others. But the pains remain hidden. Nobody gets to know, nobody gets to see. I remain my own companion in all good and in need. This made me learn to love myself and discover myself more. Jesus said-
“Love thy neighbour as thyself”
How can I know how to love others until I don’t love myself? With so many friends around, one friend always stays along- Jesus. Be it for my iniquity and shortcomings, he forgives me and loves me in all situations. Even if nobody is around, nobody is texting and no one is calling, He is there beside you. He is just an experience away.

I’ll age and grow old, develop wrinkles and lines and some blemishes too. My skin will sag and eyes will lose the brightness. My hair will be silver but the days will be golden. Those messages on sites and apps might reduce because I might not look the same anymore. I will have those around me who know me for who I am and not for how I look. I might not be able to walk or even see and the world will fail me. I won’t be able to operate the apps anymore. But, the blessed assurance remains that Jesus will be by my friend. In times of joy and sorrow, He will remain as he has.
This is a hymn written by Joseph M. Scriven, in 1855.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

From small to uncivilised – the haunting stare

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It is summer vacations. My family has this usual habit of going to a cafe or a confectionery post-dinner. Since I had stayed back home yesterday, so we decided to go out after a long time. Like a kid, I was thrilled for this. My work had kept me well-occupied the past month to be able to spend some quality time with my folks.

It’s a small city where I grew up in. The city is growing, population increasing, malls coming up, all the branded stores are here now and the road is full of cars. Still the city remains calm and serene than other places.

The evening was cool and the soft breeze was blowing. I was enjoying the breeze cuddling through my hair. We decided to keep the windows of the car open and enjoy the gift of nature.

Its a very old confectionery with a restaurant on the top floor. The commissioner seemed to be enjoying his dinner at the restaurant.
My brother and my Dad left to buy the goodies as my mom and I remained seated in the car. It was a lovely weather for some quality mother daughter conversation. We were engrossed in laughing at some random bits of strangeness in life but then we suddenly noticed a man who stood just next to my window. He was wearing sunglasses at 9 PM. This is India and not Sweden, its dark at 9 PM. We thought him to be some mentally retarded man. But there was a lecherous glare on his face. It was okay until he came and stood just next to the driver’s seat with his hands inside the car pretending to be working on phone. We weren’t sure of his malice, but one thing was sure that he had no good intention. I told my mom that it is quite possible that he has mistaken our car to be his, and it will be fine once Dad and bro comes back. My mom asked him the matter. He took off his glasses, stared and grinned. We weren’t sure if he was trying to check if the car key had been left inside for him to snatch it or he was trying to get his hands over us. My brother returned by then. The man sided but his stare continued. I brought my fringes to the side and turned my face to escape his eyes. As shameless as he was, he went to the back of the car to stare from behind. We were waiting for my Dad to come back. Dad reached but still this man did not stop.

The Police commissioner was dining inside the restaurant. His guards were waiting for him down at the parking area. For a commoner, police is our superhero. We look up to them for help. Be it a guard or an officer, a police personnel is the one who takes the oath of helping the civilians. My dad approached the commissioner’s guards to check the man. It was easy for them to dodge it because this doesn’t come under their realm. Their work was to guard the commissioner.

This is the same city where I grew up and till few years back, I could come back home alone even at 9 PM without any signs of danger. But, now even with my family around, it isn’t safe anymore. Just two weeks back, a friend was brutally raped by her own neighbour. Neighbours, who are to be trusted and depended upon for help, are forgetting the meaning of neighbourhood. The small city is turning bigger.  More franchises coming in, Malls building up, All branded stores are here but people seem to be going the opposite way to being uncivilized.

The small city was safer than the big city we have now.