Monday, January 26, 2009

First one

A foggy morning, and before the dawn sets in I'm out of my bed. It's monday but a holiday as
today's the Indian Republic Day. Thirty minutes, I'm on the mat, meditating. All the while I'm reflecting on how long has it been since I sat for meditation at this Godly hour. That it was 23 years ago on this day that we moved into this new house. That today is the first eclipse of the year and I have a special meditation session to attend. That it has rained badly in Jammu yesterday and the temperature's freezing, hope they've kept my kid properly wrapped up in warm pullovers.


Death is on my mind as I drive through the early morning streets. Two days back at this hour, just a few miles across the city, a drunken car moved down four early morning joggers. The very thought sends a shudder as my grip tightens on the steering wheel. I swerve carefully across every bend, slow down at every cross, suppress my urge to press the pedal once roads become long stretches--I'm careful to the core. Yet, I jump a signal and drive straight into the arms of a waiting policeman.

'Didn't you see the redlight, sir?' he smiles. 'You know what happened two days back?'

Nausea. I want to get out of here as soon as possible.

'The fine will be rs. 400.' He's too polite for a cop.

'I'll pay 200,' I blurt out. Should I have said 100?


Back in the car. Accelerate. My mind's a battlefield. Right? Wrong? You just added your precious bit to this corrupt system. No, you've to be practical. Cut the shit, you're no hero, you are this system. No, no, it's like this...

Why didn't I think twice before deciding to chuck the fine and circumvent things? Why was I lost for those 3 minutes? Why did I slip into survival mode so fast, throwing out all reasoning? Why was my focus only on saving 200 rs and nothing else? Why wasn't I thinking of light all along....


My body resists but gives in gradually. Sitting unmoved at a place for four hours is not a joke, but you can train yourself. Slowly at first. I manage to meditate for an hour and a half. Thoughts run wild. My first job, four years back. I'd just finished a course and was brushing up on a few things when a friend called up to say,'There's an opening.' I refused.'Give me sometime to prepare,' I said, not admitting to myself a terrible nervousness, a sense of inadequacy. 'Nothing doing,' he said.'Just attend this inteview or you'll regret it. You think it's going to wait for your preparation?' With a fluttering heart, I set out and sailed smoothly into my present job.

Lessons are seldom learnt. I'm still preparing, still equipping to move from here to something better. Stepping into the water, inch by inch, learning how to swim by testing the waters, feeling the cold...Just take the plunge. Nothing waits. You'll always be on the surface. It's as if the same friend is exhorting me. He's here no more.

Not just the job. Everywhere. In every place. At some point, you pack up the never ending preparations and just take a leap of faith. You bloody jump.

'We shall end the session.....' comes the voice. The eclipse has just ended. You're already in 2009. Look ahead, will ya?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fathers and Sons

My room is empty again, after nearly three years. Archana and the kid are in Jammu for two months and I'm back to bangalore, back to the routine after spending a week with them. I'd secretly wished for this solitude, waited to be alone here, with my dreams, with my freedom but now....I miss them. I miss my son, I miss his laughter, his kisses, his mischiefs, his tears, his complaints...This attachment is new to me.


It's newyear eve and I'm leafing through a book when Dad clears his throat. 'We've brought a
bottle of whiskey,' he hesitates.'Would you like to have some?' I refuse but he insists: 'Just a
small one.' After sometime he goes upstairs, sits with my brother-in-law with the bottle and two glasses and they're on the way to welcome the newyear in high spirits.

What's amazing is the degree of openness that has developed between Dad and me over the past few years. I couldn't have imagined him offering me a drink, say five years ago but things have changed slowly. He's relaxing into a sober background and allowing things to happen, immersing himself into his favourite activity: writing short stories. He has a strong attachment towards my son, and tejas too prefers to spend more time with him whenever Dad's at home. Sometimes dad will be out for the whole day and upon returning at night, he'll walk up two storey's to our room to cuddle our son, just because he couldn't do so in the day.

At home sometimes I fly into a rage when tejas is admonished or glared at for his antics, and soon I'll be lecturing all and sundry about proper child-rearing practices. Dad watches silently, maybe amused, maybe feeling helpless because his role is limited only to offering love to his grandson and nothing more. Then he sighs. 'Our kids grew up so fast, maybe we should've spent more time with them, given them more attention...'

It could be his constant interaction with my son which opened bridges between me and Dad. Or maybe it's so with all parents--with age, you mellow and soften towards your kids, overlooking their drawbacks, understand them more. Or maybe it's the other way; becoming a parent makes one more responsive, understanding and forgiving towards his parents

Your upbringing contributes most towards making you the person you are. But sometimes you defy it, positively. Dad grew up in harsh conditions yet was far more gentle and compassionate than what his upbringing was expected to make of him. Maybe it was his reading, his creative abilities or some inner inspiration that shaped his personality, rather than the humiliations, loneliness and insults he faced growing up in a backward village. If only his Dad had been as responsive and attentive as he was, if he had met someone like my guru at a young age, if this and if that....

Nope. Life is just and fair as it is, beyond our myopic preferances. Dad's and Mom's parents shaped their lives the way my parents shaped mine and helped me become the person I am today. And when I and Archana take decisions for our kid, we're aware that every step we take will contribute hugely towards his future, towards his personality, his character.

That makes it all the more challenging amidst the fun, inspiration and exhilaration of parenthood.


I'm reminded of a wonderful poem from one of Tabor's life stories. A tribute to her dad: 'Salt of the earth'. How many times have I read it!