It was Friday and I was kinda bored. I thought let me have some intelligent fun competition on FB. So, I posted a thought-provoking picture on my Facebook timeline asking my friends and relatives to write a caption (a word, few words or a sentence) describing that picture. And the results were berserk…
Preeta: “Everything is here, yet it’s incomplete!”
Pradita: “Game of Thrones – Mini!”
Kalpana: “Free Yet Slaves!”
Rima: “Once upon a time…in a faraway land…!”
Ashrita: “Castles can be built when you lose trap of the virtual world and embrace verity!”
Smruti Rekha: “We’d rather be incarcerated in the fortress of virtuality than perceive the reality!”
Aditi: “Building Castles in the Virtual World” – a harsh but real tweak to the old idiom “Building Castles in the air!”
Rain: “Access to the World!”
Gregory: “Where’s the bathroom?”
Kuljeet: “Ok so that’s the virtual castle my kids visit everyday…!”
Parimita: “iCastle on an iPhone: Crush the Castle to unlock!”
Abhinanda: “Imagination – There are no rules of architecture for a castle on the phone!”
All the entries or the captions were excellent and meaningful in their own ways but out of those 15 entries, Preeta Bhatnagar‘s caption moved me. It was absolutely simple, meaningful and well framed. Thus, I chose that as the best and am declaring her as the winner of this contest. I had promised earlier of a surprise reward for the best caption, so she will be receiving a Candles Online Poster Certificate as the winner of the competition.
Congratulations, Preeta Bhatnagar!
Note:The Wining Poster Certificate was set as the featured image of this post and will be displayed on the site’s sidebar as well till the next competition.
Dumping of debris has destroyed more than 20 acres of mangrove forests in Charkop, Kandivli in Mumbai over the past seven years, making way for encroachment by 3,000 shanties and private properties.
28th October 2017 – Indiarimes.com – Remember the shocking images of poisoned trees from Bengaluru, earlier this year? It appears like they have just done it all over once again. This time 30 trees have been cut illegally in what environmentalists suspect was done as the trees were blocking some advertisement boards nearby. The trees at the outer ring road were chopped down on Thursday night by unidentified people.
“Debris continues to be dumped along the Roadpali mangrove stretch, killing mangroves and reclaiming the wetland along Taloja creek. The creek shore has been encroached upon by roadside shops. The latest encroachment, adjoining Sion-Panvel road, will soon grow if deterrent action is delayed by Cidco. Nobody seems to be bothered about preserving ecosystem,” said Rajesh Poojary, an environmentalist.
Ten members of the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at Taloja were booked on Tuesday over release of untreated industrial waste into Kasadi River near Navi Mumbai.
The list is endless. We come across such news items almost every day in the newspaper.
These things and more are happening around us. By people who are living amongst us. It’s time we stop turning a blind eye to the whole thing and raise our voice and educate the people who, for their short term gain are destroying the long term future of our planet.
I remember when we were in class 8 or 9, a compulsory subject called environmental studies was introduced. We read about climate change and global warming etc. Frankly speaking as a kid I thought this was all overhyped and a very distant future. I never expected to see the effects of these things in my own life time. Yet here we are 25 years down the line actually experiencing the effects of climate change.
It’s high time now that we should all be aware and make others aware about how our lifestyle is adversely affecting the environment. I know it’s a daunting task I am not egging everyone to get up and file PILs against the polluting industries. Do it if you can! We all may not be able to take such big steps. But at least start with baby steps like – segregate your garbage, composting wet waste, replace all leaking taps, educate the house help about not wasting water, if you see anyone littering, stop them and show them the dustbins, protect the greenery around you.
There are many small changes that we can bring in our lifestyle and of people around us so that the life of our planet is extended for a little more. And yes if you see anyone destroying the green cover around us don’t turn a blind eye, Raise your voice and report them. Change the mindset…
Is love a taboo? Isn’t this too strong, a statement for a fragile and most beautiful feeling in the universe? Well may be yes, but ironically it is so true for a society that we live in. Since my childhood there have been quite a few relationships in which I wanted to pour out my heart and soul. But I didn’t or I would rather say I wasn’t allowed as I was preached since early age to give my love only to my children, to my parents, my future husband and probably of own status. And these unspoken boundaries limited my capability to express what’s inherent inside each of us.
Love is often hidden in layers or cramped in boxes and as a word is most hard to speak or talk about. Don’t believe me? Look at these statements:
“Think with your head not with your heart”, this propagates you to be logical and not sensitive. Why is it that bad a thing? What do Abraham Lincon, Thomas Alva Edison, Jim Carey and Nicole Kidman have in common, they all were noted a having highly sensitive characteristics and they did phenomenally well in their field and are admired and recognized as leading through caring for humanity, positive change movements, and self-discovery practices, something that sensitive people are good at!
Let’s take a look at this statement, “This is not your age to fall in love”. Well, what does it even mean? I guess the moment child is born; it develops an emotional bond with its mother. Have you ever noticed how when a child crawls it keeps coming back to its mother? That is Love! So guess, the above statement by ‘experts of society’ remain flawed.
Not agreed yet?
How many of you watch the daily News? Most of you, ever heard of love being talked about in the news channels? Forget about News channels in our own social media accounts how many times do we share thoughts or tweets about love. Remember that couple that we all have on our facebook friends list, so much in love and are always posting romantic pictures. After some point in time, we start criticizing them, start getting annoyed or sometimes even block them. “They were show-offs.” Really? Aren’t we dealing our own fears here?
As a young girl, we had a maid and she had a daughter just my age. As kids, we are the purest soul and never care about the classic obstacle in our mind ‘What will they think! I remember when her mother used to do the daily chores, I used to play with her daughter, and we slowly became best friends, completely unknown to my mother, who was a working woman.
I used to share all my toys with her and she used to get me ice candies from local ice cream shops all the way from her home, most of the time I consumed my ice candy in the form of colored water. But what matters is the gesture!
It was my Birthday and I had all my friends at my place, dressed in colorful and expensive clothes. As my mother, held my hand and took me to cut the cake, I told her I am waiting for my best friend. “Did I miss calling someone dear? As far as I know all your friends are here?”“No, I am waiting for Meena”, it was my maid’s daughter name. “You and she can’t be friends, her mother works for us and that is the only relation you have with her, let’s cut the cake.”
As I was cutting the cake, I saw her standing in the corner, she was easy to notice as she was the only one in that party with faded frock, messed up hairs but that always welcoming smile and today she was holding two ice candies as my Birthday gift. I so wanted to go up to her, give her a bite from my cake and tell her how much I love her but couldn’t. The societal block overcame me that day. I lost a friend over a taboo!
Years passed and now Meena has taken over the responsibility of her mother. Whenever I look at her, she still greets me with same loving warm smile and makes me wonder; maybe we could have been friends if society rule of love was not based on our socioeconomic strata. Today as I sit here and think, how can love ever be inappropriate? Shouldn’t we say “I love you” to anyone we want, simply because we feel that way. Shouldn’t we deny the internal and external pressure to hide our feelings because they’re somehow inappropriate?
It all starts early; in schools and colleges we get teased by our friends for falling in love and are often mocked. Why, is it such a bad thing?
How many times have you felt uncomfortable when someone told you “I love you”, be at school, at college, a work, at our own homes. Sometimes we freak out when our parent come and tell us “I love you”. You have thousands questions running your mind, when all that is needed is a simple “I love you.”
Guess we don’t have much choice here either we can continue to live in a guarded way to feel suspicious of love and or we can work to reduce the taboo that love is for us!
Nina got up, silenced the alarm. There was something unusual about this day, it was not the month end targets or lined-up meetings that were driving Nina like she was driven throughout all these years. Nina was not her usual self…she was happy. Without wasting a second she got up and got ready. Her packing was done. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, rocking to and fro. She could feel butterflies in her stomach as she was waiting for the call from the Reception to inform her about the arrival of the cab.
That period of 10-15 minutes seemed to be ages to her. And finally her wait was over as phone rang, “Ma’am, your cab has arrived”, the receptionist informed her.
And within five minutes Nina had checked out and was in the cab. The trip started and her journey too for she was finally taking a step forward, a step little closer – driven by her emotions which had been hibernating within her for so long. Throughout her journey her past rallied in front of her eyes but surprisingly only the beautiful images from the past – fond memories were marching. It was nothing less than an amusement for Nina herself because she was habituated to recall only the dark days which unfortunately outnumbered the joyous moments.
She was lost and a sudden brake brought her back to the present. “We have reached Madam”, said the driver looking at Nina through rear view mirror. “Oh! Thank you”, said Nina with a jerk as if she was completely unaware and someone was physically trying to bring her back to her senses. She got down and the driver helped her with the luggage that was resting in the rear of the car. She thanked him again with a gentle smile, made the payment and turned towards her home.
She rang the doorbell and Sathya opened the door. “Diana Di… Nina Di has come”, she loudly informed the family while taking her luggage in with a smile. “Everyone is at the dining table”, Sathya guided Nina towards the dining room.
It was lunch time. Riya and Kiara like any other kid, were throwing tantrums to finish their meals and on seeing Maasi entering the room they got charged up as usual.
“Maasi, Maasi” they were erupting with joy and were about to get off the table, but were suddenly stalled by a booming voice – “No! Don’t you girls get off from the chairs before finishing your lunch. Even Maasi won’t entertain that”, said a stern Diana. Nina was enjoying this scene – the cute faces were hell-bent on making her laugh, a hearty one but she controlled because she didn’t want her sister to lose control over her kids as a mother. That was important. She went to them, sat on her knees between chairs with her hands rested on chair arms. “My little angels, you must listen to your mom because she is the best and a best mom will always want her angels to be the best and to be the best you have to finish this yummy lunch prepared by your mom. What say?”, Nina waited for their response. “But Maasi we like capsicum only on pizza not in the curry, it’s not so good”, they replied with frowns.
“Hmmmmm, ok finish your lunch – then we will go to the amusement park this weekend and there we will have capsicum….”, she paused to catch the reaction on their faces. They were staring at each other as if asking each other, “what is she trying to say?” then she concluded “….on pizza as you like!”
“Yay”, giggles and cheers followed, and the girls did resume this important task called eating 😀. Diana thanked Nina with a nod.
“I shall leave now and see Ma”, Nina seemed to be in a hurry.
“Yes Di, but please have lunch first, she is sleeping anyways”, replied Diana. Nina refused and said that she would have it later.
“Seems Maasi also doesn’t like capsicum, see mom”, giggled Riya. She was instantly hushed by Diana whereas it left Nina smiling more brightly as she made her way to see her mom. Her sister’s family was a replica of a family she always dreamt of.
She reached the hospital. She went to her mother’s room and slowly opened the door and saw from the gap. Her mother was lying with closed eyes. She carefully entered the room so as not to disturb her and sat on the chair beside her. She was carefully looking at her mother. Her face once very beautiful, had gone through the test of time and now lay parched and wrinkled. Staring at her mother, in no time she was engulfed in a tide of emotions which found its exit through her eyes and a drop landed on her mother’s hand. Nina quickly wiped her tears and was about to wipe it from her mother’s hand too.
The moment she touched her, her mother woke up. “Nina” and before she could say something else “sorry Ma, sorry to wake you up” there was some kind of restlessness in Nina’s voice, pretty much the same she had in her childhood.
“It’s okay beta, I was anyways about to wake up”, mother said calmly trying to get up. Nina lent her support and adjusted her bed in an angle comfortable for her and asked “Ma, shall I bring some tea for you?”
“No, I don’t want anything, please sit with me. It’s been really long since I saw my doll. In fact had lost hope of seeing you in this lifetime for all the bitterness I had shown”, her voice nearly choked.
“Ma, it’s okay, please calm down. In fact I am sorry for being so rude and not being there when you needed me”, she clasped her hands and was trying to calm her mother.
“See Nina, perhaps I shall be the one who should be seeking your forgiveness because you only gave what you got, how could that be your fault my child?”, said her mother as if absolving Nina for whatever she did.
“Ok Ma, let’s stop this here because whatever we say now we won’t be able to change our past. So we should better look forward for a new beginning together.” So saying, she laid her head in her mother’s lap. She felt the warmth of her lap and when her mother’s hand caressed her hair she almost broke down. Had it been on the day when she was injured, things would have been so different but nonetheless no regret from either side would change anything.
After gathering her composure, her mother asked her many things. Where she had been all these years, what she had been doing, who took care of her and so on. Nina answered everything as if she had met a long-lost friend.
“Is there anyone in your life?”, her Mom asked softly.
But this one question made Nina pause and literally took her into a trance.
Hospital chores kept both Nina and Diana busy. Nina took a month’s leave from her work. It was quite evident, as she had reconciled with her mother after years of separation since she left their home at Mysore and went to Kolkata in search of a living of her own.
Itwas not easy for Nina to handle the surge of emotions that engulfed when she forgave and reconciled with her Mom. But Kiara and Riya’s innocence, their beautiful relationships with their own mother and Diana’s encouragement made it easy for Nina. She and her Mom rarely spoke to each other or asked forgiveness from each other… they both simply kept looking at each other and holding each other’s hands to let the loving communication flow between them. Nina was aware that her Mom was sick and she should not be made too much emotional. Thus, she kept herself away from her mother, locking herself inside the washroom to breakdown and weep vehemently. Diana was wise and let Nina weep as much as possible without interruption but she kept a close watch on her sister all the time.
A week passed by… Diana’s husband Shekhar came back from his tour. Nina had never met him before. She found him to be quite an amicable man and she was happy for her sister’s beautiful family. It was a family time in the hospital that day as all were there together in their Mom’s room before they were scolded by the doctor for making the patient hyper. They apologized and came out of the room but their Mom started to recover by leaps and bounds in the midst of her family, especially in the presence of her long lost daughter, Nina.
It was a Saturday morning. Diana came from home with her family and asked her sister to go home with Shekhar and the children as she wanted to stay with Mom during the day time. Nina was also tired as she was with her mother the whole night. She agreed and went back with Shekhar and the children after lunch in the hospital canteen around 12 P.M.
That day after visiting her home and then meeting Mom the next morning, Nina didn’t book any hotel room for herself anymore. She decided she will stay in her parents’ house, her ‘Home’. She was pleased with the fact that Shekhar had agreed to stay at his in laws and take care of Mom. Diana had literally taken care of everything which she would have done if she were there with her Mom. Moreover, it was only because of her, Diana came to Bangalore to meet her from Mysore leaving Mom alone with Sathya. Diana stayed back for a night in a different hotel along with her children only to spend some more time with her, and that was the time Mom got sick. Only she knew how she had driven that day from Bangalore hotel to reach the hospital in Mysore. A three-hour journey seemed a day!
She thanked God in her heart, closing her eyes thinking about all that had happened a week before, sitting in the backseat of the car.
“We are home Di…” Nina heard Shekhar saying and nodded at him. She smiled looking at two sleeping beauties sitting beside her. She pinched their bums to wake them up and they got up giggling, pinching back at their Massi. Nina went inside and rested for some time. In the afternoon around 2 P.M., she informed Shekhar that she needed to go to Bangalore for a night to bring her belongings from the hotel and would be back the next day. Shekhar booked a private car for her so that she could keep it till she returned from Bangalore.
Nina reached Bangalore around 5 P.M. and got down at a mall on the way to her office asking the driver to park the car. She went straight to the ladies section in the mall to buy few clothes and other things as she hadn’t brought enough clothes with her when she came from Kolkata.
While shopping, a soft pink and white frilled frock hanging inside the glass showcase of another shop caught her attention. She quickly walked inside that shop and asked for that frock. She was thrilled to see that beautiful frock imagining Riya and Kiara in it. Without any delay she asked for another piece of the same frock but unfortunately the salesman denied her saying, “Ma’am, I am really sorry… We had only two pieces of the same design and…”
Before he finished saying Nina interrupted saying, “Then give the other one too… I want to buy for two girls… they will look so beautiful in them.” She excitedly gave a delightful glee to the man.
“No… Ma’am, I am afraid I can’t do that… The other one is already booked by another lady here…” And he said showing towards a lady standing a little ahead of her in the same counter.
“Oh! Then I should drop this one as well… Do you have similar kind of frocks so that I can take two of them?” She asked feeling disappointed.
“Yes… we have…” The man said and displayed many such frocks in front of Nina but only to her utter dissatisfaction. She didn’t like any one of them. She sighed and started to walk off the shop when she heard someone calling from behind… “Hello… Ma’am… Listen…”
Nina turned her head and looked back to find a beautiful lady smiling at her holding the same frock in her hand. She looked at her intently as her face seemed very familiar to her… But she could not recall anything about the lady.
“Please take this one Ma’am… I have only one daughter and I can take some other frock.” The woman replied.
Nina’s face glowed in gratitude towards the woman as she walked back smiling, “Thank you so much… I know I troubled you… But I really want to take these two for my two fairies…”
“I thought so as you pleaded for two such frocks…and I am sure your daughters will look very pretty in those dresses.” She replied as she handed over the frock in the counter to be packed for Nina.
Nina stretched her hands and clasped the woman’s hands in hers and continued to thank her for the kindness… “No… No… They are my nieces, not my daughters… I am not married… But I really don’t know how I can thank you for what you did…” Nina paused a bit and asked again, “But do we know each other… have we met each other before?” Nina asked with thoughtful eye brows.
“No… I’m Sorry… I’m afraid I don’t know you Ma’am… Probably you must have seen someone like me.” The pretty woman replied to her.
And as they kept talking to each other, they walked out of that store towards the cafeteria. Both of their amicable attitudes established a new bond between them. To seal it they sat down for a cup of coffee talking about each other casually. Nina came to know that her husband is on a US tour and will be back only after two weeks and she came to know that Nina’s Mom was in the hospital. And she promised that she would visit Mysore to see Nina’s mom when her husband came back.
Before saying goodbye to each other they shared their phone numbers and names…
“Nishhhhaaa…?” Nina thought about the name as her driver drove the car towards her hotel. She had gone through so many emotional upheavals that she could not really recall anything significant, but she was extremely happy that evening meeting that wonderful lady whoever she was… She had her dinner after reaching her hotel room and went into a peaceful slumber till the alarm screeched piercing her ears the next morning.