Vijay Diwas

“Tomorrow we start our fireworks”

17 years is a long time but I remember his phone call like it was yesterday. I could literally hear the excitement that he was so trying to mask in an attempt to quell my anxiety and fear that threatened to swallow me.

Indian Air Force was cleared to launch air-strikes against infiltrators on 26th May 1999. The Kargil Conflict which lasted almost three months began early in May 1999 with the Pakistani intrusion and capturing and inhuman torturing of soldiers of Indian Army patrolling the area. The situation escalated soon enough and Air Force was called upon to provide air support to our men in olive-greens around mid-May.

For any fighter pilot worth his salt, being trained in air warfare, an opportunity to engage and thwart the enemy is the biggest high. But while all the warriors of sky at Srinagar prepared for show of strength, the families back home sat glued to television fearing the worst turn of events.

When the Kargil conflict reached its frenzy, I was engaged for almost seven months and eagerly waiting for month of October when I would finally be in arms of my beloved. That phone call from my fiancé, a pilot posted in Srinagar, on 25th May 1999 set the tone for coming days till next two months for me.

No sooner had Air Force struck on the enemy when two aircrafts were shot down by Pakistani stinger missiles with one of the pilots taken prisoner of war and another brutally murdered by the Pakistanis. The news sent fear waves among all the families of pilots participating in the Kargil war.

I can only imagine what the martyred pilot’s wife must have gone through on hearing about her husband’s sacrifice. Though I was yet to be married but the news had made me numb….never had I prayed as much as I did then….everyday.

The day began with newspaper. Only after scanning each and every page would I get on with rest of the day. The most routine work seemed never ending and incomprehensible. I kept checking the wall clock willing the day to end soon….I often thought the clock wasn’t working and would check other clocks of the house to reaffirm that time was indeed slogging past.

We did not have cell phones then. The air base at Srinagar had all but one public phone booth and obviously everyone wanted to call back home to assure their families of their well-being. Every night at eleven I would sit by the telephone waiting for his phone call before calling it a day.

Even during such times he would call up and whisper sweet nothings from the public telephone booth unburdening my worried heart. Everyday I made him promise that he would call me back the next day….it was my way to assure myself that he would be safe next day and talk to me again…

As we celebrate another “Vijay Diwas” for the victory of Indians over enemy, for reclaiming the land, for remembering the brave hearts and for honouring their sacrifices and indomitable spirit, I feel immensely fortunate that my soldier is safely back with me.

Wars are most devastating for the families of men in uniform….the casaulties are merely a number for others….Yes, our husbands, brothers and friends are paid for their jobs…but how many of those who say so will be willing to go and stand before the enemy for same amount of pay?

This ‘Vijay Diwas’, I wish people start respecting defense services and their personnel with more compassion….and not measure their sacrifices and their committment to duty.

I am proud to be associated with these brave courageous men who put their family life and comfort at stake for the service to nation.

May they always win all battles of life. Jai Hind

Aaji….

“Shoma, meri zara bandook toh lana( Shoma, bring me my gun!)” 

I distinctly remember her words which sounded funny even then, back in 1984-85 when I was a 9 year-old who was witnessing violence among Hindus and Sikhs, in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Houses of Sikhs were being attacked and burned by Hindu youth and Hindus were being killed by young Sikhs who roamed with bare swords in their hands. One such Sikh man reached our door step while my parents were away on their duties as doctors in the government hospital at Ghaziabad. My grandmother stood near the door and shouted for me to bring her imaginary gun as me and my sister giggled inside the room hidden from the view. The perpetrator scooted off without getting a chance to harm us!!

Whatever little fearless spirit I have is passed on due to my strong Aaji. As far as I remember, this woman, my dear grandmother addressed as ‘Leela Aatya'(Leela Bua) by all and sundry even her own sons always had silver hair, wore white soft cotton saris, pearl ear-drops, two light gold bangles in her wrist with a small safety-pin hanging in one of the bangles and a thin gold chain. She had this coin sized depression on her forehead…a reminder of a childhood injury.

I never knew my grand father….he died when my father was a mere 14-year-old boy. All the responsibility of four young sons fell on his wife… my AAJI.

She was one hell of a brave woman. When whatever property she had inherited from her deceased husband was lost in gambling and to the money lenders by her brother-in-law, instead of crying and feeling helpless, she shifted to her brother’s house in Gwalior for providing better education to her four sons. But she did not burden her brother with expenses, instead she completed her high school and trained as health-worker and mid-wife. She shifted to Nagpur and taught as primary school teacher for few years but later shifted back to Gwalior and worked in hospitals as health worker. By then my father had joined a medical college and could support his brothers and mother by taking tuitions of small school children after college hours.

Once when she was travelling along with a six-year-old me in second class sleeper via Kalpi, a small town in Uttar-Pradesh, some one tried to snatch her only possession in the dark of the night…her gold chain. She held on to the chain and did not let the thief get away with it. The thief had to release the chain when the train started moving again and pulled away from the platform. Her palm had a deep gash from holding on to the chain and I realised of her injury only when she woke me up the next morning on reaching our destination!

In another incident in 1984, when we had recently shifted to a new house and new city Ghaziabad, three men attacked our home when my parents were on duty. The thieves hit her on head with pistol butt and stole whatever they could lay their hands on. The fearless woman, locked me and my sister in the house and with the bleeding head in a heavy rain, walked to the main road, reached another doctor’s family who had a telephone at their house and contacted my parents!

Years later, in 2003, when my daughter was born, in spite of poor eyesight and failing health, she stitched frocks for the baby fashioned out of her soft saris! She even massaged the baby, cradled her to sleep and sat near me telling all sorts of do’s and don’ts of upbringing a baby.

Love you Aaji....

Love you Aaji….

My grandmother died when my daughter was three years old. Her memory had failed her and she was bed-ridden with many body sores. It was painful to see her in last few days of her life because I felt helpless as she lay in bed unable to recognise me… But her sloppy smile and a faint recognition that lit up her eyes on seeing my three year old daughter is the most important memory that I cherish….I feel satisfied that during her last few days my daughter could bring a little smile on her face.

Memories of her time spent with me and my sister are many…times when she pampered us, scolded us, protected us, made sweets and her special treats, feigned her annoyance, let us do her hair, told us stories, scolded our parents for scolding us…..

Her continuous struggle in life is an inspiration to never give up…stand up against adverse situations and take troubles by the collar….

I wish I had half her courage, I might have been more successful in life I guess……..

A world of my own…

lodgy-design-1.jpg.ximg.l_12_m.smartA family of three with an adorable pet dog, we are much into weekend trips around Pune. And, for a recent trip, I went about packing inflatable pillows, bed spread, hand towels, torch, medicine box, camera, night-wear, barbecue sauces, veggies, and charcoal briquettes for camping at the secluded beach at Nagaon, Maharashtra…Oh! How I wish I had this new car, the Renault Lodgy. All this along with other camping gear fits in superbly in this new generously comfortable car which has ample space to house not only our camping gear, charcoal barbecue grill, our overnight bags, beach ball, hammock but also enough space for our Labrador, the handsome beast of a pet and his bowls!

I looked over at the two sleepy heads on the bed… one a 12-year-old and another 42-year-old, who though excited about the camping trip were still lazing away on the Saturday morning.

Years ago, when Aamir Khan with a guitar in hand, swayed to the tune of ‘Papa Kehte hain….‘, the teenager that I was, fell in love with the wispy golden-brown mop of hair of the actor…but I had not imagined even once that at 24 I would fall for this dashing young fighter pilot who even at 26 had hair that were salt and pepper…15 yrs later as I wake up beside this man who still has salt pepper hair, I can not think of anybody else as my partner… Aamir Khan never had a chance 😉

Our daughter is one tom-boy…. climbing up trees, trekking, fishing, staying in a tent, catching bugs….such activities interest her more than Barbies and dressing up….she always ends up scraping her hands and knees much to my consternation! But I would rather have a lively free-spirited girl making noise at home than a dull and under confident child!

I felt a need to shake up both the lazy bones, but their peaceful faces on the pillow made my heart melt….As I gazed at them, both woke up and were amused to see me smiling at overview-1.jpg.ximg.l_12_m.smartthem….I couldn’t resist diving in the bed with them….after all they are the most important part of my world! Soon our dog jumped in too!! Hmmm…I think the plush leather reclining seats of the Renault Lodgy are just perfect to snuggle up during long-long drives when either of us drives and the rest of the family stretches and relaxes!!

My husband, daughter, our pet, barbecue grill and our camping gear….if  these three lively beings and two things are with me…what else would I need to make my world the most perfect one!!

Ha! Except may be the Renault Lodgy!! And if I did have the Renault Lodgy I could have literally taken my world with me and roamed the world with 12 volt accessory sockets  to charge up our laptops, mobile and even listen music and drive happily ever after!!

I’m participating in the #LiveLodgycal contest with Renault in association with BlogAdda to get a chance to be a part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive in Goa.

 

H for Home

HToday I am missing my home because I am far far away and will return to my nest only on Saturday.

As a teenage, I could not imagine myself as a wife and mother. I used to freak out even at the mention of household chores…..the cleaning, cooking, dusting, washing. I was careless, moody and rebellious. And I always chided for being so. The more my mother scolded me, more I rebelled (within certain boundaries) and became aloof to things at home.

But, here I am today married for 15 years and proudly claim that I keep my house in a wonderfully neat, clean and decorated. I am reasonably good cook, faltering only at times when I try out a new recipe. I am not averse to washing either 😉 I feel happy when the food I make delights my husband and daughter, when people compliment about my home, when after all chores are done I still find time for my hobbies of writing and drawing.

The house….doesn’t converse, doesn’t smile, laugh….it is so inanimate, yet we miss it !! Why? Does the house develops a heart tucked away under those bed sheets… in the warmth of the oven….in the chaos of crayons, pencils, erasers scattered on the study table, in the pictures hanging on walls, in the scents of aftershave, baby powders, in the carelessly lying wet slippers, sticky reminder note on the refrigerator……..and other such hundred small things?

The house must be growing ears and eyes too….coz it is reverberates with voices of small quarrels, little fights, sniffles, hugs, laughs, scampering feet, jubilant hurrahs, grumbles, passionate moans and kisses too!!

It must be developing hands and arms too coz it enfolds all into a one unit called family, it closes its doors on evil-eyes and keeps the secrets safely locked in its confines.

Yes, house is inanimate but the home is alive….and that is why we miss it because it is the most large-hearted member of the family which stays at one place waiting patiently for us to return.

This post is for A to Z Challenge.

The Last Day……

It is six in the morning…..a Sunday Morning. I have always lazed on other Sunday mornings but this Sunday morning is totally different. I could not sleep last night….how could I, knowing that the morning will bring along my last day…last to breathe, smell, see, touch and taste?

Today is the last day of my life !! Really? But I have hundred things to do….thousand words to say…. and  zillions of moments to discover!! My two treasured possessions, eleven-year old daughter and an extremely handsome loving husband……Will they miss me? Will they remember me?

Whether they miss me or not, I have loads to do before the day ends….yes, things to do, words to say and moments to live!! I  decide to write them both individual letters.

My most precious and dear daughter,

I love you a lot even though I keep pointing out your mistakes and tell you a long list of do’s and don’ts. But you see that is what mothers are like…. I point out your mistakes so that no body else can point you out as wrong. I tell you what not to do because I have made those mistakes and I want you spared of heartbreak though I know a person can best learn from mistakes. But I can not bring myself up to see you broken and disheartened…..

To be honest today I might be the one to break your little heart…..you see today is my last day and I won’t be there tomorrow to wake you up for school, cook your favorite cake, dress you up in your favorite gown, style your hair or to tuck you in bed with a big noisy kiss. So whether you hate the rules …the do’s and don’ts,  here I am again with some fresh ones….

  • I know you will study hard and become somebody important in society one day but DO NOT forget to enjoy the journey to success.
  • I know you are compassionate and loving but DO NOT try to make each and everyone happy by suffocating your own happiness. DO NOT bend backwards for anyone to achieve something.
  • IGNORE and FORGET those who hurt you…..it may not easy to forgive them but believe me such people are not worth your attention. So forgive too. World is very small….who knows when you might come face to face with those whom you hold grudge against…your anger will only hurt you not them.
  • One day you will grow up and fall in love but DO NOT love to give up….commit and nurture your love yet NEVER let anybody abuse your love, faith, honor and respect.
  • Making love is the most sacred and wonderful emotion…..casual sex is not. DO NOT indulge in wasting away this precious gift.
  • TRAVEL, EXPLORE and widen your horizon. DO NOT let duties bog you down.
  • Gossip is good to hear but dangerous to spread because it muddies the rumor-monger too. Listen and keep it to yourself and BE WARY of the person who spreads it and cautious of whom it is about.

I might not be the best example or the best teacher or the best mother there is…..but there is nobody who will be happier than me to see you succeed in all stages of life. So live, love and be happy always.

Your ever-loving

Mom

My dear loving husband,

Today is my last day…..I have been always honest and direct with you even if at times it has led to a big argument. You have been a wonderful, caring and loving partner to me and a wonderful hands-on father too. You are capable of doing everything even if I am not around yet I have few words for you too…

  • You have to play my part too now…..BE mild and gentle to our daughter. She will be at a stage when she needs a woman’s ear to offload her growing up concerns….. BE that WOMAN for her. DO NOT let her be on mercy of others.
  • Live your life…..

I might not be the best partner and support but my love for you has been true.

Yours ever-loving,

Wife

And I sit and cry again…..till my tears suffocate me and I feel a heaviness on my chest….I am gasping for breath…. Its only six in morning…..Do I have only this much time!!??………Suddenly a little sleepy hand lazily creeps out of sheets and clutches my thumb and another adult palm sleepily caresses my shoulder. I wake up with a start…

It was all a dream!! Oh! Thank God it was just a dream….I start crying and kissing both of my gems…… They wake up….

“Ummmm….Mamma its Sunday…why did you wake me up today?” says my daughter. My husband is more tuned in… he guesses correctly that I must have seen a bad dream. He folds me up in his arms, pats my head as if I am a little girl and lets me cuddle up resting on his chest…..

Sigh!! I have hundred things to do, a zillion moments to live and thousand words to say TODAY…. but this cozy embrace is to die for!

wowbadge

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Chronicles of our Love Story : 1. Destined to meet

I was reading a post about “arranged marriages” by Arindam Mohapatra and the associated comments when I got this idea to chronicle the story of my “love” marriage.

Destined to meet

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
― John Lennon

Destiny finds some way to bring the two souls together  and makes them fall in love…

It was in 1984 that my parents got posted to Ghaziabad District Hospital. I was all of nine years old then and unawares of the difference between a big city and a town. The only thing mattered was finding friends in the school and around our home. We had moved in to a rented bungalow which was however surrounded by a lot many empty housing plots. Making friends seemed difficult.

We had hardly settled in the new house and new school when a horrifying experience changed everything. My parents, both doctors had joined the new hospital and were not available till late afternoon at home. My grandmother joined us for few days to help.

Three men had stalked us since the day we moved in. It was pouring heavily when they struck armed with knives and guns. They ransacked the house, threatened my seven-year old sister with knife and hurt my grandmother with the butt of the gun. I slipped out of the door to get help, but the robbers noticed and left in hurry taking whatever they could lay their hands on..

This one incident suddenly changed everything. We shifted to better and more populated locality and a better school. The new rented house had the landlord staying on the ground floor. The land lord belonged to the same community as us and he introduced us to other community members. And suddenly we had a lot of acquaintances in a new city.

This Maharashtrian community celebrated the festivals together and we soon became active members pitching in the celebrations and associated preparations. It was through these festivities that we came across this family…..two grown up sisters and one lanky little boy who happened to be in the same school as I.

Being in the same age group we used to play, fight and argue with each other not knowing that we will end up marrying one day!

Had it not been our destiny to meet, my parents wouldn’t have shifted to new city, robbers wouldn’t have attacked us and we wouldn’t have met with other people of our community and I would have never met this cute guy!!

We were meant to be in that city because up there somewhere GOD had designed the events so that we could get a chance to meet. We were destined to….

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

I missed out on the last week photo challenge “Breakfast” though my kitchen was  most active during last few days. Everyday the clank of many pots and pans made the neighbors wonder what we were up to? Pickles and jams of Indian Gooseberry, jaggery filled Indian breads, khus-khus halwa(sweet made from opium seeds…..nothing illegal about it!!), aata-laddoo(wheat flour balls with a hell lot of roasted dry fruits and clarified butter), khandvi, gulab jamuns and lot many things…….all were miraculously appearing from the kitchen. The last fortnight was indeed an overdose of delicacies which normally was made throughout the year to keep us hooked to home cooked food when we were kids. So why squeeze it all in few days? Ah, that is what grandmothers do, I guess, when they come visiting….

Yep, my parents visited us. The love for their granddaughter and inability of their daughter(to make all these traditional dishes) made them to step in the kitchen instead of resting and relaxing!

So what is family?  A place where one is extremely comfortable is home. And the people with whom we can laugh, cry, scream, play, get annoyed, talk, share secrets, tease, hug, have worst hair day and if a stray FART escapes it becomes a matter of roaring laughter instead of embarrassment then that is family!!

I have had hundreds of arguments with my parents since teenage and I still argue on lot of things even today but that doesn’t stop them from loving me unselfishly. Every time they return back to their place after visiting us, there is this emptiness and a nagging feeling of not doing enough for them….

I hope to be of use when their feet are so tired that they need my shoulder to lean on to…. And this feeling is Family!!

And they say a man’s best friend is the dog! My daughter has always been keen to have a younger brother or sister. However, I don’t see that happening for whatever reason God has in store for me. To get over the guilt of not being able to give a sibling to her I got her a pet to play with… And what love do they shower on each other!! She is there to defend him if I happen to scold him and he is there to seek all her attention on her return from school.  He has become an inseparable member of the family. Though I do grumble on finding dog hair sticking to the curtains, bed, clothes and my carpets but nothing can make me to stop loving him because he is Family too!

   

In-laws are family too whether you get along with them or not! Nobody can take place of one’s own parent but spouse’s parents should be given their due place in the family too( you don’t want to get into sticky situation !!). They are there to lend a helping hand if the need ever arises and they love their grandchildren as much too….