When at last he came

When at last he came

I was tired of waiting

having gotten used

to my loneliness

I said, stay back

leave me alone

but he so insistent

bent down on his knees

holding my hand gently

sought my company

on a whim I winked

and smilingly joined

him on  his chariot to oblivion

speeding ahead of all that lived

racing past the sun

high above the clouds we went

to enter a lifelessness

of love and longing

where at the cafes

hanging out like buddies

were translucent creatures

evanescent, effervescent

holding me close he said

“now no life can separate us”

and we rocked the dance floor

against thunder and lightning

and some ethereal music

that I cannot gather now

sometimes death is such a tease

& to think of him is such a joy!

 

 

The Lie of Perfection

Worshiping at the altar of perfection

the imperfections of living

immune to many self-imperfections

uninitiated to  the joy of many flaws and fissures

of scatter,disorder and chaos

of a little times lost

of wandering and loitering

of timeless rest

of i-responsibilities

of creative truths

and made up worlds

living the lie of perfection in an imperfect world.

 

 

 

At ALEAP, Hyderabad

I am at ALEAP head quarters in Hyderabad for a training in Digital Literacy. The audience numbering about 40 are ladies who have enrolled for Jute bag making courses at the institute. The course in Jute Bag making runs for 3 months. Most of the ladies have traveled far to reach the training center. Their enthusiasm and energy is infectious.

As we begin the session, the women share their journeys, of stepping out of their comfort zones,of learning to travel on their own,of learning to make jute bags, of selling and of earning enough to spend for their children and for themselves. The pride in small yet significant achievements they have made during training played out in their eyes. They were still not ready to speak up. When asked to count the languages they know a list including Hindi, Telugu, a little of Tamil comes out. Its ok not to know English, I assured them and the audience heaved a collective sigh of relief. The atmosphere is cordial, the ice is broken and the stage is set for more interaction and learning.

Vani, one of the attendees is thrilled that as a social worker she could invite attention to the dilapidated condition of a local hospital. “They respond”, she says confidently, “when I write mails to them or call and show them the photographs of the situation as it is. Even a road in my area has been repaired.”” They actually listen,” she tried to convince the rest of the audience who have never ever thought it possible to raise a public grievance.

Vani had successfully used social media to alert the local administration about public utilities that is in disrepair in her area. She urged others to do the same. The audience seemed to take her advice with a pinch of salt. Some looked at her  with suspicion at her attempt to hog the limelight. There was also some  quiet introspection at work.

Then a young girl, Jyothi stood up. ” I have come here to learn Jute Bag making, now I want to give jobs to 100 people. I am saying it in front of all of you, so loud and clear, so that you can question me, if I don’t do it.” The audience responded with a spontaneous applause. The confidence and courage that Vani and Jyothi showed touched others.There were more smiles, giggles and laughter. Some leaned forward, others sat upright, the audience was now ready to stand up and share experiences and views without fear.

In the post lunch session, another group of 30 students joined. These graduates and post graduates were  young businessmen and women, students of entrepreneurship, now asked more informed questions. The classroom could not have been more heterogeneous but the interest and encouragement of one another made learning enjoyable. A model of communication that involved both parties under the trainer’s guidance originated,perhaps, out of need. It was a delightful experience.The youngsters  eagerly demonstrated the use of digital devices for self-development, while others lapped on to each of the idea that floated.A lady in the crowd asked,” My daughter always uploads her photographs on Instagram. I don’t like it much. I am afraid this will harm her.” The answer for this question came from the participants who  tried to dispel the mothers’ concerns. They however, cautioned her that  misuse of digital devices is rampant in the society. Stringent laws need to be in place to monitor activities in the digital world.

When the training ends, there is scramble for selfies and group photographs. The enthusiasm and energy is palpable even at 6 pm. I head back to the hotel thoroughly impressed by ALEAP. There’s much to the credit of this organisation that was set up in 1993 under the leadership of Ramadevi to disseminate information regarding the start up procedures for any business. ALEAP aims to  support women to be economically independent and guide them in converting their idea into business. Today, ALEAP is winning accolades across the world. To its credit, ALEAP has developed India’s only industrial estate exclusively for women in Hyderabad. ALEAP has been a torch-bearer for women empowerment in Andhra Pradesh. Will there ever be such initiatives in other parts of the country?

 

 

Office & Friendships

You walk a mile

I walk two for you

she smiled

yet there were fissures

oozing tears in the facade

cracks growing deeper by the day.

Having come a long way

having set the tone for the song of her life

with her own music

she was still unsure.

“I thought I found a friend

but the fiend of competition ruined it”

The two souls who could just have let their hair down

to share a laugh and crack up a little more

now put up against each other in a show of strength

strained to look into each others eyes.

In an atmosphere of distrust and veiled jealousies

there was no room for compassion

the space for ‘I lend a hand, you lend a hand’

was so horribly convoluted with silly complexities

that there was space only for pretensions and putting ups.

When the mask of mutual love,caring and respect came down

the smoke screen of delusion had already faded.

Yet there was hope.

There will be a time to laugh again with a good soul

there will be a time to sit down and smile

catch a play or cook up a prank but till then

the  journey is meant to be solo, I heard her sigh

if its the design of life itself, so be it.

 

 

Grow up!mom & dad

“I can’t stand this.I lost sleep and appetite.Life has become a dull routine for me. There is no meaning to it.”

I hear these words often, coming as it were from the depths of despair, causing me to tear up and say, so tell me what do you want me to do? But not this time. I had just gone through the trauma of ending  a  relationship that never took shape, in spite of the 7 vows and the 3 rounds of the ‘katir mandapam’, with  the sanction of parents and blessings of elders. I remember how the whole process was. I had to doll up for almost 17 men, their inquisitive parents, undergo scrutiny and investigation before my parents and every body else chose this man, Raju, as a life partner for me. This was done after a lot of deliberation.

In front of the tears that mom shed and the silence that my father withdrew into , I had to finally give up my defenses and had in good faith agreed. My parents were ecstatic and I too had reconciled to the goodness of life, after all they said, only good things happen to good people!Perhaps there was no other go. I have never been smart in getting along with the other sex and had no clue when it came to social skills. I kind of froze when I had to socialize. Considering everything, I decided that all was well. Life was set for the best.

But it was not to be. When I moved to Bangalore after marriage, I was in for a huge shock. Raju returned home from work drunk. He was violent and abusive. I did not complain, not until he branded me with hot iron one day, because I had not served him breakfast. My parents rushed to Bangalore and were aghast at my condition. They took me back home. Raju’s parents tried to cajole and ask me to return. But in those 3 months of marriage, I had come to know a lot more about the person I married than even his parents ever knew. Finally, his mom  begged to be forgiven. They never knew this about their son, she said. My parents were clear that I deserved a better life and we decided to file for divorce.Having taken the decision, my parents were now fearful of what will happen to their daughter, what will the neighbors say, how will they face the relatives?

I had kept my quiet and had found work and was fully engaged. I made friends and was quickly overcoming victim hood and was learning to live again. I found that I am a pretty confident person, I had great talents and men did find me interesting.  That’s when the divorce procedures came to an end. While I breathed a sigh of relief, attacks of panic set into my parents hearts.

There they were already, visualizing a lone some sad life for me. The many cruelties the world inflicted on divorcees and so on. In jest when I suggested that I could find some one again, they started sermonizing, we can’t allow you to do that. You will ruin your life.You can’t choose someone just like that. You can only choose divorcees etc.  Hello, I said, you have done that already, haven’t you? Can we talk about this later? Can you just leave me alone? No, mom said, we are concerned about you and you have become selfish and don’t even try to understand us.

I am exasperated with these people. I  literally want to just go off alone to some place.

Meena looked at the walls. Her beautiful huge eyes now  dull and on the verge of giving up. Her colleague and friend sat near by . His caring eyes noting  those frowns on her otherwise cheerful face. He said simply, come, let’s go for a walk. She got up wearily and joined him. From a distance, one could hear her lively voice again.

Human spirit is an incredible thing. It does not require much to heal and bounce back. That evening walk and a few cups of coffee later, there was laughter and smile in Meena’s life. But some times, her heart cried, grow up mom, grow up dad. Come on, let’s live this life! Forgive, forget, let go.

Rendezvous on a November evening

Driving home as if on a blind date

on a familiar route with an unfamiliar someone

tiring the poor astigmatic eyes which  anyways registered little

a dark cloud suddenly descended

and the  rush was halted.

Impatient honking and cursing followed

on a rather cool November evening

men& women, rushing as if on a death row halted.

There she stopped

unfazed

by bright lights

or crowded streets

majestically turning to glance at

poor, wretched humans.

Patient, unhurried, even if death herself called

she stood rooted

until they came, the two calves

bewildered by the evening rush on the roads

eager to reach home for some rest and some sleep

touching  her tits, rubbing closely

for warmth and love.

She then  turned,slow and steady

a movement in magnificence

allowing her children to step ahead

she waited.

A swish of the tail later

she blended into darkness,the beautiful buffalo.