like the fierce Santur Pills our soft voiced aunt had in thumb-sized steel box: bitter herb that scared whooping cough, sneezes, hiccups…
tiny round terrors that could cure malingering children of tummy ache before school. Ma just whispering, ‘Sant,’ could bring instant relief…
our Santur dear relative lived alone in Mangalore where I was born. Her laughing tiny frame & white cotton sari all in stark contrast to her pill box! I thought of her this morning after a local silence at 8 am; there’s a School next door but today its all shut up. Our apartment kids aren’t at any school either these past few days after a health care warning. Streets are not falling over with wheelie- bikers, dog- walkers, joggers. Where do you go when they ask you not to go out too much?
You watch more movies at home, read, work new recipes, search out cobweb/ stars @ night, monitor each others’ sniffles, text/ do letters, check news…for nice news … like sports, but they’re cancelling tours? We even had breakfast together this morning.
“Don’t touch elevator surfaces,” Rish next door says, “…not staircase railing..”
His wife Jaruna is not as worried, “This will leave like it arrived, suddenly. Summer will burn it up; be happy and it boosts immunity, releases endorphins, kills stress..”
I feel a sneeze begin and run to the safety of our front door. We’ve had a morning of putting away older paintings for few more in theme with the Season.
It is Lent. Some of our friends are on a veg. fast (which for some reason includes fish).
Our Chinese neighbour Pinna had 2 days of “velli ba’ cough y’know,“. Gingko cured the thing. Pinna was born and raised in Kolko’a, “but people are ‘ellified of me. I don’ like go ou’ more much!” she grins, her darling eyes dissolving into wrinkling skin.
While I enjoy local kids not playing cricket in available car parking lot and we drink up lemon- ringed water,
I scour the news for mice cured of Covid, and this photograph shows up in Google search along with an Edvard Munch bio. possibly after yesterday’s Post.
For anyone unfamiliar with long suffering Job and his infamous wife who said, “Curse God and die!”,
this was a good man, so good, it made Satan do a strange bargain with God:
“You put a hedge of protection around Job, won’t he sing happy the whole 24×7, why won’t he be your star disciple?!
So. Hedge & favour withdrawn now, Satan gets God’s consent to try Job by fire, in Epic test of faith.
One by one, Job loses everything: children, wealth, health. His few friends taunt him, as he sits in the market square in proverbial “ashes & sackcloth”, but nothing shakes his trust in a God he calls his Redeemer.
“Oneday I know I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” Job tells his friends who insist there must be hidden sin for him to be sitting in the dust, running sores like that. Is when his wife asks him to curse God and die,…
is when Job does the ultimate antidote to dis- Ease:
He asks God to not let his ‘friends’ perish. This shocks any further Satanic mutation. Sigh. What can succeed like that kind of Immunity against evil: absolute Love. It is death to destructive forces.
A Contagion deadlier than the vilest Pandemic, is my mind mutating with Things opposed to your wellbeing.
Fearless Job believes he will see Goodness in the land of the living, and he does. There follows a time of Restoration in which he takes back all his friends. Check here, for more on the ‘Patience of Job’ if you like.
What’s it got to do with Corona- care: maybe it does have a lot more to do with us than we know.
Maybe Fear invites things we do not know yet, to know:
maybe when faced with mortality, humans get Perspectives right.
Maybe I’m bargaining a bargain with my Maker: that we will ask good lives for each other. That you and I will not walk away from this experience, indifferent.
Maybe it is that time to ask in the open, ask redemption of lost time, lost life, lost peace. Maybe I believe we the human race aren’t as gone as we think we are, maybe we can still be shocked into restoration:
Just got this beauty (Pl check details below) from my very talented friend Shilpa W., also performing;
if you’re in Bangalore or planning to, do not miss it. (Description*).
My guess is, it’s going to be intense, tight scripted with merciless precision to details that must exclude kiddie viewership, though- it just might involve kiddie victim?
Ofcourse, that is the sickening brute act of abuse: it has zero respect for age, innocence or ‘shame’.
I love the Title, and what this can do to create awareness in a Decade that’s seen #MeToo, and some amount of shame like never before.
Ach. But Shameless makes for gut-wrenching reality that facilitates Change. Change in perspective, awareness, offensive defense….ugh, why does that last one smack of Dark Age suppression?
As I post this, I hear the nag of a chainsaw at another tree outside our home. Hmm.
What does an everyday Citizen do:
kick up fuss & dance, yes, must. Tiring though, and you might either run up against or crash a bull dozer besides! That perhaps is what a 2020 everyday Citizen is counting on.
I’m thinking on parallel lines here, of long-stacked child abuse, and other routes of suppression in homo-sapien existence that might take a whole few bodies of humans to redress.
You got to drag (generational?) skeletons out of closet, ignore stench, rid that closet of access to you forever, reduce it to wood ash: reap from it, having sown seeds of shame-stunning radical change effective from a back date you do not want to remember if you’re a ‘victim’ but,
one could choose to.
(Victim: Sheesh. Another ugh word. Say Survivor, say Winner: a more Advantaged human now, all for the experience that tried to take your teeth).
Shame is probably the most misrepresented word in the history of humanity. Shame is what makes us cover up, hide, fake it, smooth over, wear lipstick over bruise.
Shameless – that is a whole other kind of what we were made to be, in the face of de- humanizing factors, especially that, those.
Masi Kuma rang our door bell, 20 minutes before the 2001 earthquake in the neighbouring State of Gujarat rocked our 5 storeyed apartment building in Mumbai, India.
I lugged both our little ones down three flights of stair case, to the one wide-open window over first floor landing.
It was like the deadly thing Uncle Masi had been prophesying all December; was he surprised?
I was. I’d rubbished his forecasts about the Malad Fault running right below our Building he said, and how at any time It could decide to do what Earth faults do.
“We survive by sheer chance, y’know!” He’d muttered 20 minutes before we quaked! Epicentre was miles away in Gujarat, what we had was just .. aftershocks?
I was tired of his imagery… and it was pretty vividly decorated, his whole body swaying from side to side, showing me how we (Mumbai) escaped each quake, and that there were many to come, he muttered, his eyes gleaming with the tragedy already.
When Gujarat was hit, Uncle M. asked me why we were in Mumbai at all. He was leaving with his wife and son, they were going to Australia and he was at least happy about that. “As it is, this city Mumbai is just made-up reclaimed land, oh we are not a proper island made of rock, you know that, nah?”
Mrs. M. his wife sighed.
She loved Mumbai city, she’d lived here all her life: what place was safe on earth, she said in the flat tone of one who now forgot how to hope.
Their kind-faced son Raji, a curious meld of his parents + 24×7 half smile- Raji looked forward to the prospect of a ‘nice Indian girl’ in Australia, I wondered about that…
“Oh and there are other things,” he said.
I didn’t ask, but after all our quakes died down, Aunty Masi told me their son Raji worried about allergens, apparently caused by holes in the Australian sky, that’d affect migrants more than others. Uh?.”What…? ” I asked.
Aunty M. screamed, “Don’t ask! They’ll not stop talking about it.”
I didn’t understand.
They were buying up Anti- histamine, Ayurvedic powders…swallowing vitamins…
why were they migrating then?
It was puzzling. I had my own busyness with two little ones gearing for PreSchool.
On the day they were leaving Uncle Masi came in and sat a few minutes. “Thing is, I know this city will not stand anymore pressures,” he said with hooded eyes.
Oh my. He loved it too. Yes, here in this sprawling maddening reclaimed city called the Gateway of India, he’d met Aunt in college, here they’d got married, had their life …
He nodded. “Beta (child), run while it’s safe. You got your kids and nice husband to think of. Just imagine a city this vast, in any quake, or war. Or epidemic. Specially an epidemic.“
Years have gone by, our Faults all over India show up now and then.
I hope Uncle M. and family survive and thrive where they ran to.
We moved from Mumbai back home to Bangalore City, South of India when there was a job change;
today, we face a new threat, Coronavirus.
For few years here now, I’ve been running from my cousin-in-law, Letti- she’s like Uncle Masi, a Prophet of Doom:
to never be visited if there’s an epidemic, or news of anything that triggers alarm, even rise in price of the onion.
The last time she & I had a terrible meet it was about Chikun-guniya fevers. Letti was at her worst- best. She had the symptoms she said, it was worse than labour pain. I went home and actually got the virus. It ate my thoughts, ran fire down my spine, then turned my cells to batter.
When Dengue hit our city, I refused to answer Letti’s calls. She left messages about Papaya leaf extracts for cure and said to please not hang around in any garden, even our tiny balcony not till 5 pm, these mosquitoes wore black and white pin stripes in their evil legs and to wash every vegetable with soap. Not eat outside, not go anywhere unless you had to.
Then H1N1 (or something else?) arrived; cousin Letti ganged up with a WhatsApp group and I hadn’t the presence of mind to block myself from grouping.
By now Letti & Co. were a force to deal with: they were making powders to drink first thing in the morning, cleansers, even types of prayers that went in a chain link and God forgive you if you ignored that link to seven others. Letti and her group knew if you’d read them, WhatsApp blue ticks gave you away, “why didn’t you respond? Get the powder! Tell your neighbours.“
This was worse than neighbour Tupperware women who made you buy oversized Salwar Kameez you “couldn’t get anyplace else for their rates.”
After that, Letti ached about drought, non-existent rains, farmers, and the rises of prices. I thought life would have worn her out by now, but Coronovirus begins.
This time, I’m worrying,
but Letti isn’t calling like before.
Is she sick? Scared to ask, I worry that her forwards are too spiritual these days, about the end of our times, and how we must not be afraid. Why waste breath worrying….?
We met two days ago, she not wearing any mask like some other friends are, and no familiar odor of sanitizer: her eyes large with peace, no panic.
What’s with you Letti? but I don’t ask.
She spills it.
There was a dream in which she gave away masks.”These masks are my prayers,” Letti whispers, like a Corona- Whisperer.
“It is all in our attitude.Fear, anxiety, these things break down immunity.”
I search her face for negativity but there’s only the aura of well-being. “Eat well, sleep well, wash your hands, forgive all enemies.There’s more death on streets from people not wearing helmets, than people dying from Corona! So. I’m pouring out prayers to rinse the air around. Do it.“
Her spark has more fire than before.
Back home and just in the door, a new neighbor asks if we know a good doctor; I’m scared to ask why, while he chats on about persistent cold and weakness….
I admire this new – free of worry cousin Letti. And sigh, I miss her fanged zeal for disaster management. This new fearless woman makes me feel alone in my quest for remedies: I was hoping she’d have a solution to newspaper headlines everyday. I miss her WA group prayer ammunition and powders. She has too much peace, it is stilling: we’re supposed to be at least a little apprehensive?
(Um. Want to give to give him Letti’s advice but the words aren’t forming yet):
must meet Letti more often, her spirit is catching…
“Howmany sides does a coin have?” I ask eight blind kids in their Creativity room. 7 of them are quiet. There is shyness, diffidence, anxiety in the room.
One little girl twists her ribbon to knots. Then there’s Varun (name changed), always in trouble for speaking his mind, for being local ‘Complaint box‘ and ‘Motor mouth’. Young Varun has faced both destitution and comfort: he’s been ‘corrected’ for being unruly and is a tamed little lion today. All of which maybe has made him unselfconscious. His mind is an undefensive scramble of questions. Varu may not be the highest scorer in academics but he’s the curious one.
Now he replies with excitement, “Three sides, no?” Heads, Tails, and the Edge. He rolls the coin across the table to me, of course he knows exactly where I’m sitting, his young face filling with light as if he’d just found the key to the universe.
If I were to blindfold myself, or shut my ears for an hour, would I be able to solve a few problems that have baffled me before? Chances are…. who knows? Yes!
I don’t know how, but our son Joh who was born blind, always finds missing things at home. He says he knows when we last used it, and where we kept it. Keys, wallet, glasses, a book, papers… it is uncanny. He remembers details we cannot easily remember. Is his memory sharper? Perhaps he’s just using all he’s got, and the sense of sight he lacks, propels him to search deeper at muddles and mysteries. He knows the time of day, knows if it’s going to rain…his olfactory senses are high toned, auditory nerves on edge, every hammer and anvil fine tuned.
What does it take for us to respond to a new question from an opposite state of mind? If I’m a logical person, I respond from one side of me. But what if, when I’m startled, shaken, pushed out of comfort zone, I now respond from the Creative side, or vice versa;
My own childhood began with being left handed. In the chaos at early school where one of my teachers did not understand me, I began writing in reverse, & speaking in reverse, (spoonerismwould soon turn out to be a fun diversion in classroom and some moments of boredom).
I’m unsure how and when the transition to ‘fun with being an odd one out’ began but my parents were not conventional people. Some of the places we lived at were dangerous stations, there was travel by tiny boat, deep sea/ river crossings…and yet things seemed to turn into a joyful classroom for me. A kind of Jungle Book lens through which to enter what was given.
I met Fagoo Behera the boatman from Khujang, (names unchanged), he sang to ‘baba crocodiles’ in the Mahanadi River, Ma said. (Baba, for baby). Not to underplay how tense some days were, but when you have a Life you must live, and choose to respond not from underlying Fear/ Anxiety, who knows what you will find?
Ma taught craft & music at Stations where Dad worked (Ministry of Lights&Shipping, Govt.of India). We lived in ports from Kanyakumari to Mandvi in Gujarat 200 kms from the India border. There was always a Lighthouse, and the Net was only what a local fishermen used. My first freelance job was with Drama production at Akash Vani, Bangalore, (if you discount our Amateur Theatre, age 5, 6, 7, ..with neighbour kids. We did Shakuntala, desi Cinderella…. on septic tanks and under guava trees, little knowing oneday we’d be drawing from these Treasures).
I’ve volunteered at Schools where our blind son was at, and being with these beautiful people reminds me e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y of how we misunderstand some acts/ facts of everyday living: how I interpret the word “Challenged”, what ‘handicap’ implies. Or the word, ‘Special’. Our second daughter once remarked with loud sigh, ” …maybe if I’d had some sort of disability I’d be called Special!” It was a rude awakening for us; and I’m thinking now, perhaps the worst disability is a bored person/ with lack of confidence, or someone who has no foundational strength.
We are really only using 2% or less of our faculties.
We as a Race are now probably farthest from our creative selves than we’ve ever been. Illness both physical and otherwise, could be changing us into a species of indifferent mammals, or ones controlled by Fear.
A few years ago, Dr.Joseph, a good friend of ours here in Bangalore, invited me to a Conference for Personality Developers. ‘Be yourself’ he said.
Was I nervous? Sure, but not just nervous. I’d grown to be a full time mom by now, and hermit artist with little worry about boardroom protocol. (At home we were getting used to the world of the ‘Disadvantaged‘, with firm jaws and steel too!…)
by 3 pm that day, it was clear my notes weren’t going to work: it had been a morning full of discussion on reasons for Communication breakdown. I would need to change the dialogue here to get through to Tea break without everyone yawning at me.
I look back with a happy shudder:
me in sedate blue sari, waving my kitchen wooden potato masher in version of how early man oh, and woman !- may have communicated before they made polite words.
The room burst with noise and laughter as some immediately traded ‘fight‘ stories;
Soon it was time to ask, “How many sides does a coin have?”
One replied,”Heads, tails, and shadow..”
“Impression on palm, if count is held tightly.”
“Education and growing up show negatives and positives: the 3rd side is what I have learned from both.”
We asked a blindfolded volunteer to feel & describe a coin as if he’d never touched one before, and he said, “Flip side, flop side oh… and edge!” Just like Varun the Blind kid had put it.
One lady who had been very quiet, now smiled and said she’d not wanted to participate, (what difference would it have made to her regular life?), & how the potato masher here had seemed silly, but that it was funny and reminded her of somethings she’d forgotten…also, how we best change from regular to a little more ‘unusual‘, please?
A theater person in the room said he’d been thinking on similar lines…but did not know how to break ice in a room he wasn’t used to; and how writing Plays made him appreciate the Unexpected.
Today we live in a modest apartment overlooking army acres of forest: there’s no sparrow, but yesterday we had two peahen, and one visiting Bulbul…..
all from the balcony where Joh and I took baby steps at Homeschooling via NIOS, after his 7th std at Jyothi Seva for the Blind.
I remember hating Braille, crying my heart out, knowing there’s 4.8 million more blind people in India alone, and how little we are geared for Challenges. There would be new ones to face in the next few years, but each only serves to stretchhhhhhh my rigid bones. Life, and you and I, are changing as we speak,
it all shifts faster than we have time to buy another outfit in newer coutre! One thing remains – the Human need for fulfillment, via connectivity with other humans or self.
I grew up with tribals for friends, sometimes a deer, or a lizard that left its tail in my book! There were no Malls, or Google; Life had surprises everyday in its lulls and rogue waves,
Look at this :
Our mind can perform 10 Quadrillion operations/ sec without our even knowing it.
Imagine the power of a human alone or with another. What a big bazaar of Spheres we must all be: impacting each other in ways we might never know yet, with or without words.
Our son Joh, had a semi- paralyzed friend who could not speak, but when we entered his room, his whole body language changed. Joh could not see him, but they had their own unique exchange that was fascinating to watch: a world of touch, the vibrations of laughter… sighs, the rhythm of one’s pulse displaying emotion…
Definition of Edge:
Line or area farthest away from the middle.
Intersection of two surfaces.
Point at which something is likely to begin.
Margin of superiority, advantage.
Our single most important skill that makes for ‘Unique‘.
So, WHAT’S MY EDGE?
In my teens, someone told me I smiled too much. By age 23, a BBC retired Staffer who mentored me at Broadcast (Feba Radio), John Fear, he also produced “What they believe” –
he said, “Rayla, “he said, “Can you smile now and then? ”
JF’s shock of white hair and piercing blue eyes were daunting, but he was kind. “….though, a little anxiety in the right places, might keep you from harm y’know…..”
He urged me to observe human struggles, victories, tragedies; people in footpaths, and high places…. or in the isolation of misunderstood behaviour.
Decades later I realised I’d developed an almost dangerous fascination for Humans: it made me look at footpaths and invisible people in ways that never left, it began to change our home, it made us gaze at the beauty of all God’s Creation, at Life however mundane or high octane.
After we moved back from Mumbai to Bangalore, our visually challenged son, then 6 years old, would hardly speak, now he was further disoriented with temporary rental house and boxes. One morning right in the middle of a water crisis, as we were filling from one existing tap with borewell supply, the connecting pipe fell away from tap as water filled every place it could get. Our son was stunned, then delighted with all the happy chaos. It was just him and I at that moment, but he took charge, his deft little hands working the pipe back to tap faster than I could. His laughter filled my ears for a long time with the feeling this moment would be remembered forever.
As I write this, there’s an urge to return to subjects I used to hate, retrace some ways of thinking, unlock secrets best known to kids. Or better still, go out to play with them like we did in the age of the unselfconscious, curious innocence.
Who knows what one might find in a guava tree, or how the world looks from a wall, a roof top, a swing? Yes, yes we’d probably need help climbing trees and walls, roof: let’s just say who knows what we will find if we would just stretchhhhhh a little?
He walked into a Banquet sans suit and necktie, but with ‘loin cloth‘ representing all his brother- farmers back home in India. Oh he talked, wrote, fasted, got thrown out of here and there, was jailed, unjailed, hailed by kings and the rest, fought gently, made salt against Govt orders(Dandi March, pre Indian Independance……), got beaten up, dared kingdoms, befriended and brought together people of all ‘castes’…. how?
I’m not a morning newspaper person, but today’s header> ‘TomTom Traffic Index Special declaring our city Bangalore as with highest traffic congestion, globally…’ <got me gagging!
‘B’luru‘ is (if you’re looking at attached pic), the abbreviation of my renamed city ‘Bengaluru’, the renaming of which made our Traditional Linguists feel better about everyday conversations and other hazards. ‘B’luru‘ though!🙄
About Rush-hour & motor dioxide….are we surprised? No.
The fine print says we could’ve listened to Lennon’s Imagine 4673 times, cooked 7,033 pancakes, baked 11,702 cookies, watched 139 soccer matches & 215 Game of Thrones, completed 49 Jigsaws and planted 244 trees??…all in the 243 extra hours, a regular Commuter might lose just sitting out traffic jams in a year. That’s a loss of ten days annually, check the math, I’m no pundit there.
Still, we were getting used to things the way they were. It made even kidnapping hard to get away with.
Last year in Delhi, I think? A two AM Traffic jam gave Cops pursuing those kidnappers ample time and space to track the vehicle, with Zero advantage to some people trying to escape crime scene. Kidnappee got back home in time for breakfast…😂isn’t that the best??
Too, these days I’m a muchhhh better pillion rider/ car mate within city limits, for all the crawling congestion! Not that much woe about ankles being scraped while on bike, or head on collisions due to Speed, or being raced by auto rickshaw on one side, local bus on the other, …
no one’s going anyplace that fast, not with the ‘jam!
So, this works for me in an odd way,
(ACH, you wouldn’t want to drive over 80 with me in tow). Ask my husband- any speedometer kissing 100 mph, and I need Oxygen.
It must be hard to live with my high -inaudible almost- shriek at something coming at us from the opposite direction, or family of sudden goats a bleat away from front wheel….this happens so easy on NH4 past Golden Amoon resort an hour away from here, those breathe easy wide open routes via village and some amount of pasture land, never mind industrial advances.
So, there’s all that. Why make a noise? Felt good to say some things about all the trees we could’ve planted while waiting …
Bangalore population = 2,327,000
x 244 trees = 3007788000 trees? It is that many trees we could’ve planted while sitting out traffic jam, right? (I google calculated ofcourse..)
Did Tomtom also meanwhile work out all that about Throne games we could’ve watched, and Soccer? I’m no Soccer/ Throne Room enthusiast, but I love my city, it’s traffic lanes crowding with hawkers selling bike mirror & windshield cleaners, key chain, funny faced hand puppets with rolled in red tongues that squawk out at you,
That aside, am wishing for better days on the road,
Some of us should shift to villages, some get helipads, more of us share cabs and go buses, go metro. Tough. Someday sometime we shall overcome. Was that daddy Luther or Gandhiji Bapu? It is Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniv today…
No, Sir Bapu. We best not lose faith in us all…
our spaces and time crowding with kinds of Hawkers, Traffickers! ‘Thrones…’
and oh this ..
where will Transport go with lesser affordable petrol….who can tell?
In honour of today’s post I’m thinking on planting the Lemon seeds I have+ Orange and Desert Flower from Oman. How will they bless anything? Unsure.
Sometimes you just go do what smiles at the moment.
On a different note,
our girls with an impromptu cover👇… 👸is all the ‘Throne” I have space for….