In the quiet hours of afternoon, I stood in the balcony watching a Gerbera Daisy bud, swaying in the breeze. A light breeze blew a few strands of hair that were resting on my cheeks and it took me to something back in Alleppey, a smile blossomed on my face.
Alleppey, my hometown is an abode to all sorts of water bodies. It has lagoons, canals, backwaters and beaches. Each time I visit, I am mesmerized by the scenic waterways, and the reminiscence of what was once a well-planned hub of business and transportation. With the development of much bigger Cochin port nearby and other means of transportation like roads and railways, development of Alleppey took a back seat. Small canals, which once crowded with canoes that took goods and people in and out of the city are now covered with a layer of weeds. The city is now a major tourist location.
Whenever I visit Alleppey, I never miss an opportunity to visit the Beach. I hear Her welcomes from far. When I reach close by the welcomes become louder. When I get closer, walking in the sand, Her waves make a big thud and rush to embrace me as if they know I have stepped on her sands. The waves are carpeted with tiny white bubbles that pop at my feet as if in celebration of my return. The canvass of sky bears different hues and strokes each time. Whenever we meet, I make sure there are some quiet moments between us. I close my eyes and listen to the thunderous thud the waves make, and feel the breeze and soak in the warmth of the sun. The Beach patiently listens to the beats of my heart and feels the storm in my mind, strokes my hair with the breeze and calms the storm. As I enjoy the welcome of the waves, one after the other, they dig my feet deep in the sand without my knowledge, rooting me deep within as if they do not want me to leave. Before I get back home, I make a promise to return soon.
This is what these innocent places do to you, isn’t it? They cleanse you and connect to your heart so well that no matter how far you go, you find your heart lost in the nook and corners of those places and beating for it.
I was returning home after the Cradle Ceremony of cute little Anushka. The blessed angel slept in her well decorated cradle in midst of chatters and laughter of all her relatives who surrounded her. “The world has so much in store for you Little Anushka, go ahead. Explore!”, the thought crossed my mind, as I smiled and rocked the decked up cradle. After the ceremony, there was a sumptuous meal. Yum! Thank you Little Anushka!
Heading back home with an over-full tummy, especially in an Autorickshaw is a tough job. With the wind blowing in from all directions your eyelids feel heavy. My daughter had already surrendered. She comfortably snuggled on to my lap. Struggling to keep myself awake, I looked outside. At a traffic signal, I saw just what I was looking for. I saw three girls, standing beside an auto rickshaw, with their little money bags open. They were pooling in money to pay the driver I assume. The driver had a Will-I-Get-The-Money-Anytime-Soon look. I smiled! Those open money bags dragged me back to my little bag of memories.
We too were a “gang” of three at college- Anagha, Vaishnavi and me. We were doing our Masters at University of Bangalore. After our class, we would go to places and dawdle. Often, we would go to Gandhi Bazaar, Jayanagar or Commercial Street to check out what’s new and eat at the local eatery or else we spent hours at the University library doing our assignments and having coffee at the university canteen and sharing our food. Anagha and Vaishnavi both had that interest in introducing me to local food and language and took care of me so well as I was new to the place. The by two coffees, the Palak Chaklis, the Chitranna; which Anagha fondly called Picture Rice (‘Chitra’ means picture, ‘Anna’ means rice), the Prasadam at Iskon; where Vaishnavi took us enthusiastically, The Star Fruit and many more! Those memories live so fresh in me that I almost had a feel and taste of all those and I felt a little hungry. As I sank in an overwhelming feeling of gratitude towards them I heard the auto driver ask something. I gave an inquiring look.
“Ee Gate aa (This gate)??” Asked the Rikshaw driver.
“Haudu (yes)” said I.
I’d been to a shopping mall today. As I recollected what I wanted and moved swiftly past the shops, my eyes fell on the doughnut shop. It has been a long time since I had one. I made an instant decision of having one. I walked towards the shop. I glanced through the wide range of doughnuts and there it was in a corner, a very simple Sugar Doughnut. I ordered one and waited for it at the table. While waiting I scribbled down a rough list of what I wanted. There it came. I took a bite, like a gentle breeze flipping the pages of a book, it flipped back many years in my mind.
“What do you want?” asked my Dad,
“That one” I replied with a smile, pointing out to the Sugar Doughnut.
The doughnut reminded me of this conversation many years ago. I still remember watching it through the glass of the bakery display case. It was my very first doughnut. No doughnut I ate in the later years matched the taste of it. Not even this one. Thank you Dad.
That doughnut I ate opened a big box of memories. The one at the beach, is my all time favourite. I was scared of waves when I was a kid. The scare was wiped out through a trick. Dad used to hold my palms tightly, and wait for the wave to come. Once it was there near our feet, he used to lift me up. Then put me down gently, I felt the water withdrawing under my feet. Gradually the scare vanished. The trust I had on you during those ‘wave attacks’, has multiplied many times, as I encountered many waves in life, and without fail you’ve lifted me up always. Thank you Dad for being there and making memories memorable.
Now when I see my husband and daughter, I see my dad and me, the bond between a daughter and a father. It is a delight to watch them. I am reliving the experience through them. Like the shape of a Sugar Doughnut, in life, I have reached back where my dad and I started.
Happy Father’s Day!
With the start of the academic year, starts a rat race. A race to get Albert Einstein and Marie Curie out of children. Little do some parents realize that if children are left to pursue what they like, and nurture them, they may grow into Leonardo da Vinci or may be Pele in later years. Let us give our children a childhood full of memories to go back to at later point of their lives. Like I am doing now, as I sit with my daughter’s books and some brown paper to bind. I was cupping my hands and feeling the edge of the book underneath the sheet, and the time line in my mind scrolled a lot back to 90’s when my mother used to sit with me and my brother during the book binding sessions. While she bound my books, I used to always wonder what new I might be learning. And yes I loved the smell of new books. I still do. Slowly my mother taught me how to bind. In a few years I will teach my daughter how to do it. Thank you mom.
Meanwhile, my daughter woke up and came to me. She looked at the books and asked “My books?”, “yes” I replied. “You’ve to go to school today” I said. I noticed her eye brows where pulled together in a Do-I-Have-To-Go manner. “Don’t you want to go?” I asked. “Yes” came the reply. Then I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude towards the teachers at the pre-school who toiled to settle her down and make her feel school is a secure place. Initial days at the pre-school were equally stressful to me and her. She was never willing to part with me. Then after a couple of months the stress levels gradually came down. Towards the end of the pre-school days she used to pick four to five fallen flowers, at the apartment pavement check for its freshness and bundle them with her little fingers while going to the school. Later I learnt she used to give them to her teacher. I was speechless. A little human being, who is two and something was practicing gratitude.
I thank those teachers who wiped her tears and held her closely, during stressful times. A million thanks to you for protecting her from falls and many more for teaching her all good things. May their blessings protect the children they taught like a brown binding sheet to a book, a book in which they will write their destiny!