A Moment of Sunshine

I am pushed and pulled

and then thrown around

back and forth

back and forth

till I am dying in my living body.

I am pinched of the last iota of strength

draining,bleeding of whatever spirit that holds me together.

Then I am angry shouting,shouting

screaming silent in my dreams.

Burning then within is a soul

boiling inside are feelings of disgust, of anger.

Too busy to look around

I only look inward

as the volcano bursts forth

a lava of vengeance.

And I fold my palms to gather it in love

to build something positive of anger, of hatred

and then this came! A verse, coz, I have heard him say

in words most eloquent

in ways only he could speak

“In the midst of hate, I found there was within me, an invincible love

In the midst of tears, I found there was within me, an invincible smile

In the midst of chaos, I found there was within me, an invincible calm

I realized through it all that..

In the midst of winter, I found there was,within me, an invincible dream

And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger, something better, pushing right back- Truly Yours, Albert Camus, The Stranger”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enna Thechu Kuli! Oil bath,the panacea for all illness!

Enna Thechu Kuli! A Panacea for all illness!

Every time I take a day off, my mom panics “ayyo, why? “as if I were a school girl missing an exam. A stickler for rules, amma takes dereliction of duty very seriously. If I call her up hoping to be pampered and praised, for being the super woman, that I think I am, I am certainly barking up the wrong tree. Her advice would be “Go take a hot bath. Apply that “pinda thailam” before you take your bath. You will feel fresh and then you can get back to work. Why take leave?”

In fact, the hot water bath after applying warm “pinda thailam” or “murivenna” is the panacea for all illness according to her and I would not blame her.

She grew up, as one of the 11 children to an ayurvedic physician, in a household where ‘enna thechu kuli’, or taking bath after applying oil is nothing short of a ritual, a supplication and a custom!

The earliest memories I have of my grandmother is watching her in awe as she carefully, and most leisurely, applied that warm”neelibringadi oil ” (which it was said was specially prepared by my grandfather) to her locks which reached way below her waist coiling into a thickness of silvery gracefulness.

Well! there I would stand admiring Raghu mama, one of my 7 uncles, who was easily the tallest and the most hand some of all, combing his thick black heavily oiled hair, splashing oily wetness on to the walls marking them for years to come.

Or there was my grandfather whose evening bath was a daily event. Preparations for which were closely monitored by my grandmother. A tub full of hot water with neem leaves swimming in it. Fresh water drawn from the well to fill another tub. The mysore sandal soap which only grandfather used. (The commoners in the house used Life Buoy, the red bland variety!)

As my heavily oiled grandfather would pace up and down the verandah, chanting some mantras, preparations for his “japam” would begin. A mat would be spread in the “nadupura” or the central hall and a small wooden container of “bhasmam or vibhuthi” ,that was home made, would be placed next to the mat.Post” japam” and after anointing himself with “vibhuthi” grandfather would open his eyes, and the ladies of the house would move quietly to the kitchen to serve dinner.

Dinner was always simple, “kanji” or rice porridge with lentils and a dish of the seasonal vegetables. Drawing in food perched on our separate raised wooden seats or “palakas” we would slurp and gulp kanji in almost a synchronized manner. The leaf spoons made of the ripe jack fruit leaves or ‘pazhutha plavila’ pinched together with a piece of “eerkila” or tendril of the coconut leaf called for special handling skills. Often gentlemen and ladies visiting us from farther places had to be taught this delicate art of using the “plavila”

One of the jokes that run in the family, is of Baby mama complaining that his wife, Jaya chechi, never gave him enough oil read ‘pinda thailam’ to apply on his body, as any ways it was to be washed off!

New born kids were always allowed to lie on the mattress or “pulpaya” after they are given a good massage using warm oil. If the rays of the morning sun fall on the kid so much the better. The oil used for applying on the body was usually plain coconut oil or the “kachiya enna” ,  the seasoned one my mom used to prepare, spluttering a few grains of rice, a few curry leaves and tulsi sprigs in coconut oil, would be ready to use when the aroma spreads in the room.When there was enough time and coconut at hand, coconut milk would be extracted and this would be applied on the body. This, however, was a rarity.

In his book called “Ayurveda Dinacharya” or the “The Ayurvedic Lifestyle”, Ashtavaidyan, Brahmashri. Vaidyamadam Cheriya Narayan Namboothiri, emphasizes that “abhangya snanam ”or “bath after applying oil” strengthens all body parts. He adds that oil should be applied on the scalp, in the ears and on the feet. Application of oil on the body has many benefits which include reducing fatigue, boosting immunity, ensuring good sleep and improving appearance.

In these days and times with shampoos have taken over the traditional “champi” and oil on hair is a big no, no, does anyone still think of a good “enna thechu kuli” as the elixir of life? I wonder!

 

 

 

Preparing the child for THE entrance exam

My good friend “S” is blessed with 2 very bright and beautiful kids, the radiant girl “S” and a tiny brat called “S”.

Smart mom that she is, “S” spends enough time with her children, helps them in their home work,monitors their school work and discusses with other moms about what more she could do for her kids.

Interestingly, her daughter “S”is a gifted child. A young lady who has a mind of her own and is determined to do nothing short of the best. “S”, the son is not too keen to impress teachers but is definitely capable of doing great at school.

Now what troubles, “S”, the mom ? Like every other mom, S after doing more than her bit for her children, is always worried of not doing enough. The question that taunts her is what more should I do for my children?  There is something about moms that make them guilt-factories….

Well! guilt-ridden thoughts like was the break fast good enough? Am I taking care of my children in the right honorable manner? Perhaps I should find time and money to take her to that dance class? Or may be chess in the evenings? Should I arrange tuition for her?Should we shift our residence to a better locality, may be nearer to school? Is there enough protein in the diet? Is the hair strong and black enough? May be I should tell them more stories, well! for that I have to read them first! Or mathematics, should I give them interesting puzzles to improve their memory skills, along with soaked almonds, but then I don’t know what 2+2 is !

God! there is not a moment of dullness in a mother’s life!

When “S” asks me what she should do to prepare her smart wiz kid for an entrance exam to a school, I am stumped!

As it is schools are dying for students and will welcome them with open arms. Secondly, “S” will easily stand out in any group with her quiet confidence and abilities.  Thirdly, what can schools ask a 7 year old,more than the regular math and spellings?

But yes! some schools can go crazy with their entrance tests. Since proving their market value and standard is so important, they can come up with absurdly difficult and complicated questions even for a  7 year old.

In an age when information is free for all to find and use, its only attitude that schools should concentrate on.Strangely, schools would’t agree and if they did, what happens to their haloed existence in public minds as the be-all and end- all of knowledge?

But since “S” insisted here are some sites to look up for fun!

www.shelsilverstein.com/

https://www.vocabulary.com

http://www.talesofpanchatantra.com/short-stories-for-kids

http://www.pitara.com

http://www.jumpstart.com//activities

www.origami-instructions.com/origami-for-kids.html
www.mathplayground.com

 

 

PS: Trust your child and his/her abilities. Trust yourself. You are doing the best you can for your kids! Kudos to all moms and dads across the globe!