GRAB THE BROOM AND SWEEP AWAY THE DUST

Ever since I shifted to Bangalore, I chose not to keep a household help and preferred to do the chores myself so that I stay active at home. People often are taken aback and ask me how do I manage to do so much all by myself and I tell them that I want to maintain an active lifestyle and without going out for work, this will ensure my routine in the house doesn’t get lethargic. Doing the cleaning job myself ensures that all the nooks and crannies are clean and clear from unwanted dirt and dust.

Lately, like many others, I too have become the victim of pandemic stress. Yes, I must admit that on watching and reading the news videos and similar stuff, I ended up fuelling up the negative thoughts inside me. I even wasn’t sure if I could write up my article scheduled for today because I was feeling too low until I talked to Chiradeep, whom I messaged about my inability to write. While we discussed the increasing rate of depression in this COVID era, we also conversed on how we can immerse ourselves in doing positive things.  It’s strange, yet funny at times when you know the exact cause of your worry and still keep thinking about it. The situation is similar to that web in one of those corners of your room. You know that you have to remove it with the broom, but you try to ignore it instead, only to realize that the spider has got enough time to build a bigger web. And, when it becomes too shabby, you just swipe it with a broom.

Our brain is now filled with numerous stuff- work, chores, kids (their health, online classes, screen time, entertainment, homework, etc), immunity of family, and a lot more. Above all this, we load our minds with all the negative stuff that we come across social media. And this needs to stop. We need to sweep away this adverse junk to make the head feel lighter and life easier. Apart from this, you have to trust. Trust in God. Believe in your prayers, asking Him to remove every dirt that you have in your minds. He is and will be there for you, forever.

TOGETHERNESS IN PANDEMIC

It was a 45th marriage anniversary celebration this June in 2020 for my parents as well as for my paternal uncle and aunt, both the couple married just 4 days apart. We had planned a get together last year only and were so looking forward to our gathering until this COVID pandemic ruined our plans.

We wanted to get rid of the growing negativity and monotony, so we sisters, Kuljeet, Prabhjot and I, decided to make a family video to celebrate our love and togetherness. We have a WhatsApp group by the name of ‘Pyara Tabbar’, which means loving family and is quite an active group. So, almost 40 members of our family danced and the final compilation was simply prodigious. Our efforts were highly appreciated and all the members confessed that it was so much fun and they wanted to have a similar kind of celebration frequently. We didn’t let the pandemic and lockdown dampen our spirits.

Whenever we feel low, we make a group video call, sometimes only our generation and sometimes with the elders. Our elders get cheered up just by seeing us all together on one screen. When we cousins make a video call, it’s more of pulling each other’s legs- making fun of someone eating during a call (Prabhjot, I didn’t mention your name), laughing on our pity state of too much work and chores, proudly telling about the new dishes that we tried, etc. One day, my brother, who’s currently in Bangladesh, staying alone, showed us his house, his in-house gym, and his lockdown hobby- painting. Till now he had made more than 10 paintings and has reduced 12 kgs by running on his treadmill every day. Altogether, it’s a wonderful feeling to share our feelings and inspirations. These kinds of video calls happen across the time zones too. last week to celebrate my uncle’s birthday we had a group video call. His son stays in the US and because of the opposite time zones he was half asleep. Poor thing he couldn’t keep his eyes open but we kept teasing him and pulling his leg throughout. Didn’t let him fall asleep 😉

In my friend circle, I have a group of friends who regularly get together to play Ludo online. I never thought playing ludo would be so much fun all over again. It’s like going back to our childhood. Adults fighting like kids in the game. People are also playing Dumb Charades, Antakshri, Lotto online with their extended families and friends. It’s a great way to reach out and come together.

My co-sister joined meditation classes with her sister. Sister stays in New Delhi my co-sister stays in Mumbai and the classes are conducted by a person who stays in another corner of New Delhi. Unheard of around 6 months back. But it works! And gives the sisters a shared experience too.

What if we are all locked up inside our houses. We can still get together and have fun. Connect with your loved ones. Just seeing each other’s faces gives the feeling that we are close by. Like my uncle in Canada said that next time you all join the video chat ensure that your children are also with you. We want to see how big they have grown. Such calls make great memories and give a feeling of being close.

So go ahead and make a dance video with your cousins, or join Zumba with a friend online.. Challenge someone to a cult fitness workout… Or join a prayer meeting with your grandma. All from the confines and safety of your home but together.

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY KULJEET SAINI AND PREETA BHATNAGAR

THE 10 PM CONSTRAINT

Some of the best days with my cousins Kuljeet and Prabhjot were spent in a beautiful colony of IIP, Dehradun. As their father (my uncle) was working in IIP, one of the CSIR labs, in Dehradun, he stayed with his family in the residential complex, within the campus, which is one of a kind. Spread over hundreds of acres of land, the colony was full of trees and tea gardens. With the flora, the fauna also flourished and animals like monkeys and jackals were easily spottable, and even leopards too (which was rare though), the area being adjacent to forest range. Due to this proximity, the residents avoided stepping outside their homes late in the night. 

I used to visit my cousins often, especially during vacations. Before my elder cousin, Kuljeet got married, I stayed there for a couple of months. Her friends, Dolly and Archana, became my friends too and we used to have lots of fun. Our houses were very close and hence frequent hopping from one house to the other was common. 

Since we used to laugh out loud every now and then, my uncle, who used to get up early in the morning, had put this 10 pm constraint, stating that most of the people in the society sleep by 10 pm and since our voices could travel far away, we were not supposed to talk or laugh out loud. Though we were not restricted to go to each other’s houses, we were careful enough not to make noises of any sort.  We followed a ritual of late-night tea and each one of us was assigned days. So, when it was another friend’s turn, we would cautiously go out, have tea at her house, chit-chat, roam around a bit, and then come back. On days when it was our turn, our friends used to come over our place. Our laughter was out of force of habit, so to avoid our loud volumes, we would bite our fingers and laugh. Crazy we were and crazy were our talks. We could go on laughing endlessly and over any trifling thing.

Another important aspect was the midnight birthday celebrations. Careful planning and execution were done to do the needful. The birthday songs were sung in a hush tune and the birthday bumps were given silently. 

Our late-night conversations and celebrations still make us nostalgic. Though our volumes were restricted, our friendship bloomed and those were the wonderful days of our lives.

THE LIFE OF ‘NO’

The first word that we teach a child, unintentionally, of course, is NO. 

No baby, don’t cry.

No, don’t put your finger in your mouth.

No, don’t touch that!

So basically, restrictions are born with the birth of a child, even before, as the mommy-to-be follows many restrictions for the safety of the baby and her own good.

As the child grows up, the restrictions also increase and hence the number of Nos.

Can you get me that toy? No

Can I watch TV? No

Can I eat chocolates? No

I guess parents insist more on imposing restrictions on their children, rather than telling the logic behind our ‘NO’s. Obviously, the restrictions are for their safety, but we forgo to explain the reason behind them. It happens with me too. The moment my child demands anything, instead of telling him the reason, I simply say ‘No’. The result is instant- cries and screams are all for your ears! The reason is simple- your logic or reason behind the restriction is not comprehensible for them, so it’s always better to take the short-cut and simply say a No. We don’t even try to explain our point of view to them until they grow up to their rebellion age when they demand an explanation from every answer of yours. And slowly, the restrictions as parents mellow down.

I feel, eventually, restrictions take a U-turn and come back to the parents, which most of us must be experiencing, especially in this pandemic. 

Don’t go out without a mask.

Don’t watch the news on TV, it’s all negative.

Don’t go to buy the groceries, will order instead.

But all we hear is that same old story, “Outdoor walk is essential. You panic so much. We have also seen epidemics. In our times, nothing like of this sort used to happen”, etc, etc.

Restrictions act as prevention, they are difficult, yet they are imposed out of love and care. Few restrictions can be over-ruled, but when it comes to the safety of one’s life, these restrictions act as a boon.

Restrict when required

Restrict yourself from restricting

When you can avoid.

MY RANSACKED HOUSE

Couldn’t have a better weekend”, I said to myself, as I was on my way back from a weekend stay in a resort. I was accompanied by me and myself. Yeah! It was a solo trip and I had the greatest break of my life after the pandemic got over. It was such a calm and relaxing experience that I felt rejuvenated and pampered. The lazy mornings, nature walks, and the peppy evenings added to the bliss. 

Ma’am, we have arrived”, said the cab driver, as I was lost in my daydreams about the trip. 

I got down and headed for my home. I rang the doorbell. 

No answer. 

Are they still sleeping?” I wondered about my husband and kids. 

I took out my mobile phone and called my hubby. 

No answer. 

Tired, I took out my house keys and opened the lock. 

Oh, My My!” I shouted as I couldn’t believe what I saw. 

My house was all topsy-turvy. The drawers and cupboards were open, the furniture was haywire, and everything was lying on the floor. 

Was it an earthquake? How come I didn’t know? Robbery? Where’s everyone? 

Millions of questions were erupting in my mind and my heart was racing hard. 

I wanted to shout and call out my husband and kids, but it seemed I lost my voice. 

Crash! I heard glass breaking into pieces. 

Mummaaa… ”, cried my younger son. 

Whaaaattttt”, I got up with a jolt. 

Get up mumma, I spilled the cereals as the jar broke. Sorry, please don’t be angry.” He pleaded. 

Mumma, it’s all his fault, I didn’t do anything”, my elder son clarified. 

What have you boys been up to?” I shouted at them as I saw the house in a mess. 

We were playing and wanted to eat some snacks and so we started searching and… ”, the boys tried to explain. 

So YOU ransacked the house!” I said. 

Ransacked? What?” My elder one asked. 

Never mind, I had a terrible dream. It’s ok. You go to your room carefully and I will clean this up.” I replied. 

Welcome back to reality!” I smiled as told myself.

THE STALKER

PROMPT: She opened the library book and found a photo in it…

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(Image Credit – Google Inc.)

She opened the library book and found a photo in it. It was her and her ex-boyfriend. Scared, she held the photo and looked around. Her ex was standing behind the iron shelf. She wanted to run out of the library. Just then, her husband came in with tiffin. They were working in the same college and recently got married. He was an English Lecturer, while she was a librarian. Her husband sensed something and saw the photo she tried to hide. “Thank God you didn’t marry this dude!” He laughed and rushed across to where her ex was standing. “Stop stalking my wife. I know everything about you two and your past. Don’t come in our way now, she’s my present and my future. Now go back to your IT lab, students are waiting.

Happily, she held her husband’s arm and said, “Come, darling, let’s have lunch.”

 

 

 

HAD IT NOT BEEN SAME? – III

So, Mr. Bose, now that the confusion is resolved, we would again like to apologise to you and Mr. Murli as well and would like to take your leave.” Manohar said, holding his wife Satya’s hand, who was smiling sheepishly.

Oh! Come on now Mr. Swamy. You don’t need to be. Besides, after all this, I can’t let two of you go without having dinner.” Mr. Bose said.

Oh yes! In fact, because of this namesake, I had such a good laughter after so many days.” Murli said, grinning.

No, we landed here just like that, committing faux pas, should have ĺthought about the invitation card. It’s our fault we came without thinking a bit. We are already too embarrassed to stay.” Satya spoke in dismay.

Murli turned his face to Satya, looked into her eyes and said, “It’s perfectly ok, Mrs Swamy. Please don’t feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. I brought you two to accompany me.” He said, smiling from ear to ear.

Satya, who was also looking at Mr. Murli, blinked her eyes, breaking the short eye contact and turned her head to fix her hairdo.

Absolutely, Mr. M.Swamy, Mr. M.Swamy & Mrs Swamy, be our guests and enjoy the rest of the party”, Mr. Bose said, signalling a waiter, and handed Murli a drink. Satya, however refused one and picked up a glass of water for herself.

You two, just enjoy and please don’t feel weird about anything. I have got my car, so we can go back together after dinner.” Murli said to Manohar and Satya, excusing himself as he had to go to meet his friends.

Oh! Okay”, Manohar said.

No thanks”, Satya interrupted. “We will book a cab.

Save fuel and care for the environment”, Murli turned back and shouted as the volume of the music was getting louder. “I will see you in a few minutes”, he said and went away.

Such a funny guy he is”, Manohar said, sipping his drink.

It’s all my fault Mano, I should have checked first, but I got so excited at the glance of party invitation only that I completely neglected the norms. Obviously, hardly anyone knows us here and inviting for a party is out of question.” Satya said

Calm down sweety. Its all right. Just enjoy. It was destined for us to come here.” Manohar tried to persuade Satya.

Yeah…destined…Had it not been same” She thought in her mind.