Waiting for the next wave….which is already on its way… A wait need not always be long!!
Waiting for the next wave….which is already on its way… A wait need not always be long!!
“She is perfectly normal.”, said the doctor.
“Really?” asked Priya, her mother.
“Are you sure, doctor? Maybe we need to do a few more tests, you know…” suggested her father, Vishnu.
The doctor, controlling his rising anger looked at the parents and said “You are the first set of parents I’m seeing who deliberately want to prove that their kid is not normal. Please…”
“O sorry doctor” interrupted Priya, “but the all her teachers insist that she is not normal.”
“What?! How can they say that?”, said the doctor, looking at the innocent face of Varnika.
As the incessant rains thrashed over the tin roofing, Asha looked at the clock, perhaps for the hundredth time. She then looked outside. It was quite dark, no street lights, as power had been switched off to avoid accidental electrocution.
Except for the occasional loud thunders and thrash of the rain, there was no other sound. Thanks to the inverter installed during last monsoon, there are lights in her house. Most of the other houses were adjusting with candle lights. The deathly silence was broken by the sudden ringing of her mobile phone from somewhere inside. She rushed to grab the phone.
“Asha, this is Renu…”
“O Renu… Yes.. Tell me…”
“Has Rohit come?”
“Manoj called up just now… Most of the roads are flooded and traffic is blocked… So everyone is stuck… Don’t worry.. Rohit too must have been caught in the jam… He’ll come, but will be late, Ok…”
“Hmmm…” Asha murmurmed, already in tears.
She couldn’t imagine where he could be or in what state. For the past three hours she had been trying to contact him. His phone was switched off. She had tried calling his office; there they informed her that he had already left.
It took roughly 45 minutes for him to reach office even in heavy traffic. And he always kept his phone in full charge, every time he travelled. She could not make sense of his absence. She had been watching the flash news an hour back, before the power went off, where reports of people being washed away by the rising water level had been aired.
She looked around the house. Everything reminded her of Rohit. The remote over which they fought every night. The cupboard which he always messed up. The windows which he always kept open and she wanted them closed. She remembered every argument and fight they had had in the two years of their married life. In her mind’s kaleidoscope she could see his small faults, and how she had magnified it.
Her heart felt heavy. She wished she had uttered a sorry, at least once, to him. Her train of thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a bike. She ran to the door.
“That must be Rohit”
On opening the door, she saw that it was Divya’s husband.
“Has Rohit arrived?” Manoj called out.
“No…” Asha said shaking her head. Her voice choked as she said that.
“The roads are all full. There is roadblock on every road, and unending lines of vehicles held up. Don’t worry. Police have been deployed everywhere and they are helping out. Rohit will reach soon.”
Asha nodded, and went inside.
The force of the rain had reduced now, but it constantly reminded her of Rohit.
Nothing sounded right. She was scared. Manoj, despite his office being quite far away, had returned, but Rohit hadn’t. His phone too was switched off. Where could he be? Was he hurt? Has something happened to him? Or was he…She tried to calm herself; to distract herself; to keep the lamp of hope burning in her mind; but found it impossible. She prayed fervently to every God she believed in. She promised to the Omniscient that she would never ever quarrel with her husband. She vowed never to hurt him. If only he came home safe and sound….
She began walking from one room to the other. Her mind was in turmoil imagining every possible fatality that could have befallen him. Suspense and nervousness was making her more and more anxious. With panic rising, she quickened her pace. The avalanche of unanswered questions followed her. She tried to outpace the vicious presentiments that were haunting her; totally unaware of her surroundings.
Daylight was streaming in through the glass window. The curtains had been drawn apart, and the light fell directly on her face, waking her up. As Asha slowly opened her eyes, all she saw was a white mist surrounding her.
“Where am I?”
The mists cleared slightly to reveal an unfamiliar room, and a beautiful lady clad in white sari was telling her, “You are ok. You are home.”
A distant voice boomed out, “Yes… A little more rest and you will be fine.”
“I know… oooh…never thought there will be thorns in heaven” she smiled contentedly and dozed off.
The next time her eyes opened, which was a few hours later, the mist had cleared and she realised she was in a hospital. She looked around and then remembered about Rohit. She wanted to know what had happened to him, but there was no one around to ask.
“You are awake. I will get the doctor…” said the nurse.
“Wait… Where is my husband?”
The nurse had walked off.
Why doesn’t anyone tell me? Is Rohit…? Who brought me here? Why am I here?
Once more Asha was tangled in a whirlwind of questions. But this time, she got her answers almost immediately, for Rohit walked into the room smiling.
Asha felt delighted and relieved on seeing him, as tears of joy streamed down her eyes. Later, after her discharge, he answered all her questions.
He began his narration – I started from office quite early that day. The roads were fast filling with water. But I managed to drive. But due to the roads being flooded, I failed to see a pothole, and fell down. My phone got lost. I continued to drive and then suddenly my bike stopped. It simply refused to start. I abandoned it. I was frightened. I didn’t know what to do. I stood in the middle of the road holding a traffic light post tightly. As I stood there, waiting for someone to help, I saw some people being washed away. I don’t know for how long I waited. Finally a lorry driver picked me up and dropped me at this junction.
Reaching home, to my shock, I found the front door ajar and you lying unconscious in a small pool of blood. For a moment I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t take you to a hospital because all roads were blocked. Then I remembered the nurse who stays in the opposite flat, above Manoj’s. I sought her help and she said that you had hit your head on something hard and had fallen. But more important was the fact that you looked totally exhausted.
Today, early morning, Manoj somehow managed to take us to the near-by clinic in his car. Luckily the duty doctor had not yet left and you were taken care of.
“But, tell me Asha, who hit you?”
“I don’t remember much Rohit… I was scared, tensed that you had not returned. All kinds of frightening thoughts engulfed me and I started walking to clear my mind, to get rid of those feelings. But I instead of calming, I went into some kind of frenzy, I guess. I don’t remember anything after that…”
“I love you, Rohit…I will never ever quarrel with you.”
“I love you too, Asha.”
“ While struggling in the floods, I kept thinking of you…I was not even sure if I will see you again…And then when I saw you lying like that, I can’t tell you how I felt… It was like my whole world had crumbled to pieces… I swore that if I get you back I’ll fill your life with happiness…never be angry at you…or shout you…and love you like there is no tomorrow…I’m truly sorry, Asha, for having shouted at you so many times..”
“I too have been quite rude to you many times.. I’m also sorry…”
They hugged each other, and thanked the Almighty for having given them another chance at life.
A week later
“Rohit, give me the remote… It’s time for my serial…”
“You watch your serials everyday… Today there is an important match… I came home early to watch it…”
“But its climax today…I can’t miss today’s episode..”
“Hey.. How dare you grab the remote? Better give it back…”
“I WILL NOT”
Noise of things being thrown and more raised voices could be heard from the couple who had vowed never to fight. Let us take leave of them, as they continue to profess their true love.
“Amma….Take me back….”
The room is filled with such and similar cries. No, I am not about narrate a horror story. Its not a torture scene as well. This is happening on the first day in a kindergarten classroom. The tiny tots dressed in their very best are crying for their mamma to come back to them and not to leave them with these strange new faces who are trying their level best to bring down the volume levels. Do I see a faint smile playing on your lips as you visualise this scene?
The sky, with its infinite expanse,
The land, encompassing innumerable man made and natural objects
The sea, hiding countless secrets in its depths
Earth– showcasing a surprise everyday….
The Annual School Day functions had not begun yet. My daughter pointed out her friends sitting on the other side. Her whole class and their parents were sitting there.
“Let us go there, Amma”, insisted my daughter Vani.
I hesitated. I didn’t know most of them. But we went and sat there, anyways.
“Anyone knows of any good guitar classes” came a loud voice from somehwere
“Rani, try Mathew sir. I’ll Whatsapp you the number. He’ll come to your place and teach.”
They were all discussing about studies, homework and other activities with each other. Most of them knew each other, as they meet everyday while picking up and dropping the kids to school.
Vani goes to school by van. So I hardly knew anyone there, including her teachers.
I felt like a total stranger. Vani had gone off to chat with her classmates. I tried to smile and make eye-contact with a few ladies sitting near me, but they were too engrossed in their discussion to notice my attempts.
Just then, someone tapped on my shoulder from behind. I turned and smiled.
The lady, clad in a heavily embroidered saree, introduced herself as Srilakshmi, Myhtili’s mom.
“I’m Vani’s mom, Sumitra”
For a few moments I wondered – when I was a child, people knew me as Mr. V’s daughter, after marriage as Mrs.K and now I’m introducing myself as Vani’s mom!!!
I relaised that Srilakshmi was asking me something.
“What all extra curricular classes is Vani going?”, she repeated.
“She goes to dance classes on weekends. How about Myhtili ?”
“Myhtili has music classes on Monday and Wednesday, dance class on Saturday. Its a one and a half hour class. She attends Mental Math class on Tuesday and English Grammar class on Friday. I am planning to put her in Chess class on Sunday.”
“Oh!”, I exclaimed. I couldn’t think of any better response. I was wondering how that poor kid was managing all these classes, when her mom added, “you know she is free on Thursday evenings. I was just asking around everyone so that I can put her in some class on Thursday too. Do you have any suggestions?”
“Well..”, I stammered, overwhelmed by the sheer number of classes an 8-year old was attending, “maybe she can play on Thursday evenings.”
“Ah! That is a brilliant idea” she responded totally misunderstanding my words, “I have to find a good piano class for her.”
“By the way”, she asked almost as an afterthought, “what does Vani do on weekdays, after school?”
“She cycles, plays with friends, waters her potted plants, chases butterflies, sometimes paints or draws and does just about anything she likes.”
“No, she does not attend any classes, nor do I have any plans of enrolling her in any”, I added angrily before she could ask me.
“The Annual Day functions will commence soon….” came the announcement.
Image courtesy : clipartfest.com
Thatz a well-preserved skeleton of a snake…
A snake that was once atop a tree, now lying still in a glass case,
A snake that once roamed the forests, now a permanent inmate of the museum,
A snake that gobbled up rats and rabbits, now just a set of bones sans flesh.
We waited in the classroom. My daughter was nervous and she kept pulling my dupatta, and squeezed my hand. I patted her hand and tried to calm her. Soon it was our turn. The teacher handed me the papers, and said, “Please check the papers, total the marks and see.”
She looked a bit stern, but I didn’t bother about that. As I turned, she added, “Ma’m, the English, and Science teachers have asked you to meet them.”
“Sure Ma’m”, I replied with a proud smile, while my daughter shivered like a dry leaf.
We took the bunch of papers and went and sat on a bench to “check” the papers.
Few weeks earlier
“There is so much of homework Amma…”
“You have to finish it, no matter what, and then study 2 chapters as well. Don’t forget that your exams start in a week.”
She looked dejected and then scared, and started to do the homework. After about 2 hours when I checked on her she was still doing her homework. I was surprised.
“You haven’t finished yet? Why are you so slow? Look, you have to learn to write fast… When are you going to study?” I shouted.
“Amma, don’t shout”, she yelled back throwing her pencil down.
I was shocked at her reaction and it actually somehow, made me forget my anger.
“What is your homework?”, I asked her calmly.
“Write all question answers from all lessons ten times.”
“What???”. It sounded more like an imposition than homework. I couldn’t believe that any 8-year-old could actually finish this “homework”.
“Sorry dear, really sorry”, I hugged her. I closed her book.
Her face brightened, but then grew glum, “appo homework?”
“Forget it! We will write it slowly… No child will be able to finish this bigggg homework in one evening.” I consoled her. “For now, you go play and enjoy” I smiled at her.
I felt that my decision was right when I saw her gaily skipping around with her friends.
“What’s there to check?”, I asked her.
“Check Amma, atleast act like checking…What will the teacher think of you?”
I took the papers, looked through the marks, finished checking within minutes. I looked around, I saw many moms were checking each and every line written, cross-checking it with the text and notes. Some had come with the question papers too, to check. And in one corner a few parents were discussing as to why marks had been reduced for a particular question.
We again met the teacher.
“Any corrections, doubts?”, she asked
“Nothing”, I replied.
“Ok, please meet the English and Science teachers.
I nodded. As we left, I heard the next parent pointing out to the teacher how her daughter had written everything in the text, yet half mark had been reduced.
The teacher looked up at me, and then at my daughter.
“I had great expectations about your daughter. What happened to her recently ? She is not doing her homework, not coming prepared for her tests….”
“Yes….I know… But she has scored good marks in the exam, hasn’t she?”
“Average marks… only average marks…”, the teacher stressed, “but tell me, she used to be a good student, used to do all her homework promptly.”
“Yes, very obedient and studious”, joined another teacher.
“She is just 8 years old. At her age, were we writing 20 to 30 pages of homework? At least, I wasn’t. I was playing, climbing trees, plucking mangoes, making paper boats. My daughter is doing exactly the same – enjoying her childhood. She is no longer studying – she is learning.”