Last month, we went on a drive to Dodda Alada Mara, located 28 kilometers from Bengaluru. ‘Dodda Alada Mara’ literally means the Big Banyan Tree. During the drive, I told my daughter what a banyan tree is, how big a banyan tree can be, and about the aerial roots that start from their branches. I myself visualized a big banyan tree with its roots finding the way down into the soil.
There are mentions of banyan tree in religions, that originated in and around India. Earliest mention of it is in the Rig Veda, that originated around 5000 B.C. Lord Buddha was enlightened while meditation under a huge banyan tree, called Bodhi Tree. Great sages knew some secret that makes this tree something special.
As we entered the gate, my daughter shouted, “Jungle!”. It did look like a mini jungle with many happy monkeys screeching and jumping around. As soon as I entered the gate, my eyes fell on the information board just and started reading. My jaw dropped! What we assumed to be a ‘mini jungle’ was a single tree, spread around 3 acres. “This is huge!”, I exclaimed, and moved on to explore. There is a tiny temple in the premises of Dodda Alada Mara, outside of which, many people were offering prayers. Monkeys were happily climbing up and down the roots. Somewhere in between those roots and those branches, I was lost. Lost in thoughts: A moment of introspection. As we grow old, like the roots of the banyan tree finding its way in to the soil, we too find ourselves going back to our roots. Like the banyan tree grows high up and spread its branches wide, we grow, spread our presence in the social circles we live in. After we mature, like the roots of the banyan tree, we start to find our way back to where we belong – a journey backward. We want to be close to our home land, where we were born and spent our childhood. Our people and our cultures, from where we started our life’s journey seem so dear. I was snapped out of it by the bells in the temple and I heard my daughter ask, “Why are you smiling mommy?”
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 had learnt in my school that a rainbow is an optical illusion. The one you see is different from the one I see. Millions of tiny water droplets, a few more rays of warm light is all that is required to fill the canvass of sky with colours. You cannot see it just anywhere. You must be positioned at a certain angle from the source of light i.e. the sun.
I visited my home town Alappuzha last week. It is known to many as Alleppey, a major tourist location in Kerala. We spent a couple of days at a small resort, named ‘Kayaloram’ meaning ‘on the banks of a lagoon’. At the resort, there was an array of around 8 cottages, built in old ‘Naalukettu’ style of construction, in a grass carpeted compound that housed a restaurant, a spa, a pool and a pond. A gaggle of six geese patrolled around and honked, occasionally chasing the guests who went too close to them. Drenched by the monsoon showers, the place looked nothing less than heaven.
As I enjoyed the heavenly peace from the veranda of the cottage, my daughter came running, splashing the water on the ground. “Rainbow!” She shouted. She came up to me, grabbed my finger, pulled me outside and pointed up. “You see that?”, she asked with a startled expression. It was the first time she saw a rainbow. She was so elated that she shot a few questions at me in one single breath. The first one was “Who painted it?”. Do I tell her the science or tell her what I believed as a child? I wondered. When I was a child I was quite sure it was God’s painting. Later the belief was destroyed by a few science chapters. “It happens when sunlight passes through water drops up above” I replied. I don’t know how far she understood. Luckily there were no further questions regarding rainbow formation. We were disturbed by the gleeful geese. They were honking and flapping their wings in the pond. They seemed to enjoy the rain. Perception! I thought. Some crib and curse the monsoon showers, some enjoy it like the geese.
It’s how you look at it, isn’t it? Some look at the sky and see a rainbow, some others see just a dull sky. Water droplets up above and the light passing through them is all the same. Only thing that matters is the angle. The angle in which you look at life determines whether you want to see it as a rainbow or a dull sky. As I was thinking of this excellent simile of life and rainbow, it rained again. Like those geese, we drenched and saw life as a rainbow!
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!
Mr. Little Cactus sat in a small cup at my desk (the little cactus at the right side in the picture). I looked at him, his little new leaves for ideas to write. He was a source of inspiration for me. He listened to my grumbling and mumbling during quiet hours when no one is at home. Yesterday night when I was going to give him some water, I saw him broken away from the roots. It left me broken. A few moments of the shock-stare seemed like eternity. I was snapped out of it by the little someone who was pulling my T-shirt because I did not answer one of her questions, else it would have taken a little longer to digest the reality. I was sad. So sad.
I went ahead to my little garden to dispose it off. As I was about to do it, I saw something red in the soil in one of the pots. It was a small, tender branch of my Rose plant. I took it in my hands for an inspection. I found out the plant was preparing another flower. A small bud of rose was there safe in middle of those little leaves. That killed me a little more! I gently stroked it thinking about the many smiles it would have brought to me. My daughter would have had some more stories to tell, and a new set of questions to ask. All gone with it.
Now as I am writing, those little guys are there resting in one of the garden pots. They will become manure to other plants. The bud was just not meant to bloom, its time on earth has ended. Like a wave on the beach coming and touching my feet gently they came and left giving me some memories to cherish. Thank you Lil guys!