A NOTE OF GRATITUDE TO MY ALMA MATER

My dear Alma Mater,

I entered inside your huge gates as a tiny tot of three and a half, holding my parents’ hands. The sudden familiarity and comforts of the home were soon replaced by strange faces all around. I never could understand why my parents had to leave me with you every day and then pick me up after some time. As the A-B-C-Ds and the 1-2-3-4s started sinking into my mind, I realised that it wasn’t that bad after all to spend some time in the company of strangers!

Within a year, I was made to understand that you were to be a part of my life for many more years. Though it was difficult to fathom what that actually meant at that time, the picture became pretty clear when I saw the Report Card at the end of each year.

I am grateful to you for all the sweet and sour memories that I have had with you that have played a crucial role of shaping me into what I am today. It goes without saying that I am grateful to you for having such expert teachers who instilled the subject knowledge into me. I still remember some of those difficult formulae of Maths and those experiments in the Chemistry lab which would invariably end up with someone breaking a test tube resulting in severe reprimanding.

And yes, these days when I see people going crazy for physical fitness regimens, I often remember the compulsory PT (Physical Training) classes each week, which we would often look for convincing excuses to skip (but could hardly ever succeed to escape from the vigilante team that were assigned the task of exposing such escapists). I find many of those exercises I did at school then, in the fitness training modules today. A salute for incorporating such ageless fitness regimens!

I am grateful to you dear school, for training me in three languages so well. I can vouch for every student that our English, Odia and Hindi speaking, writing and reading abilities are among the best. It is such a misconception in our country that English-medium schools compromise with regional languages training. But, a school like you wonderfully dispels such doubts by churning up multi-lingual scions.

I am grateful to you for the discipline and values that you have imparted, that actually made you one of the best in the city. Rules were a bit too harsh, I must admit. But, they have moulded and made me.

As I am grateful to you, I am so much more grateful to my parents for introducing me to you – one of the best decisions they have taken for me!

I can go on writing letters running into pages to express my gratitude, dear School, for what you have been to me. But, more on it when I meet you in person in the Alumni Meets!

Gratefully yours,

Rajnandini

MERCI BEAUCOUP MON AMIE!

Dearest Shruti,

Hi. Won’t ask you about your well-being and the quintessential things people ask in a letter; we have smartphones for that. But I would say things that are difficult to speak on the call, but they are simpler to write.

We are school friends and are still going strong, despite the miles spread out between us, you are closer to my heart than most people living near me. I am writing today to thank you for being my friend.

We don’t call each other for months on end, but your welfare and well-being are always on my mind. I know the same goes for you. We belong to the era when we didn’t need FB or Insta or WhatsApp to stay in touch. We used to visit each other.

You have stood by me through my thick and thin. You were always so easy to like, love, be around and me, just the opposite. You are still an outgoing, extrovert, people’s person. I am still the same shy, introvert, loner person. We were poles apart; I think that is what pulled us together like a magnet.

I still remember your dog, Fuzzy. And your wacko but awesome dance at your birthday party. You always kept me close, making me a part of your world. I was so thrilled to have you as my friend that a couple of girls from our school asked me if I had a crush on you.

It sounded indignant at that point of time, but today, I can say, if not crush, at least I had always admired, adored and loved you so much.  Maybe I wanted to be like you, lighting up the entire room with your energy and vibrant aura, pulling everyone in the current of my cyclone, making them a part of your joyride.

You made those years special with your pranks and practical jokes, sassy humour, and bold words. I still laugh at the lizard prank you pulled on me. The week you spent at my place was one of the very best times of my life.

You are a gifted and talented person. Your art always represents the wild child in you. You are such an enigma. Multi-tasking and doing several things at one time. I look up to you, your brushes add colour to every life you touch.

The most beautiful thing about our bond is our mothers. Mine loves you and yours loves me. Your family has always been my extended family, and I miss it all. Whenever I see something bold, colourful and out of the box, I think of you. You are the beautiful mess that gives an order to my chaotic soul.

But the thing I cherish most is your faith in me. You never lost faith in me. Thank you so much, my friend, for always believing in me. Thank you for carrying me in your heart and making me feel special, even it was two days late. :))

Thank You, Sweetheart!

Your Friend,
Saakshi

P.S.: Coffee never tastes the same without you.

THE GRATMEET

It was one of the usual afternoons for Mrs. Mintington since the time her old man had left for his heavenly abode. Though she found her loneliness heart-wrenching at times, she kept herself pretty much occupied with anything that her hands could lay on.

“Grandma, not again!”

This is Sally. The bubbly teenaged granddaughter of Mrs. Mintington.

Ah! It seems the kind old lady had once again invaded her granddaughter’s privacy and had set her messy room in order.

“Ha Ha Ha, my dear princess, I will continue to intrude into that little storm-hit-of-a-kind room until you learn the art of keeping things tidy and organized. You remember the deal, right?”, quipped the wise old Granny even as Sally threw her hands up in the air and stomped into her room.

“Freshen up and come in here quick. I want you to lend me a hand with the dinner preparations. You know we are having guests over tonight, don’t you?”

“Yeah, coming”, shouted Sally from her room.

Meanwhile Mrs. Mintington took out her prized porcelain and silverware from the cupboard. It was one of the four times of the year that she took them out. Not many people take out time to visit others these days. Holidays provide the much needed break from work and are usually spent in catching up with household chores. Entertainment is available just at clicks, taps and swipes. Visiting family and friends, is thus, quite occasional.

With age slowly bringing out the aches and pains in her once agile frame, Mrs. Mintington found it quite a task to travel anywhere these days. But, she made it a point to have her loved ones over for a weekend four times a year. A get-together every three months! And, no one complained! They all made it a point to be there.

Her two daughters along with their husbands and children drove in one after the other and the otherwise calm house sprang into animated conversations, fun and laughter.

“Mama, you will never listen. Huhh! When we had told you we’ll be getting enough food to probably last us all a few days, why did you have to strain yourself to prepare all these,” said her younger daughter Queena with fake annoyance as she helped carry the food from the kitchen to the table.

“My girlies and boys and their cubs would come and I would be sitting on the rocking chair and keep rocking away all through the day, without shaking a finger! Can it ever be possible, my darling”, answered Mrs. Mintington with a faint smile curving her thin lips.

“And, how the children love her banana brownies and mint-flavoured ginger ales! It would be disservice to rob them of Mama’s delicacies”, said Sheena the elder one as she helped lay the table.

“Wait, wait, wait, do you guys think Grandma has made these all by herself? An absolute NO! Let me tell you . . .”, barged in Sally just at that moment.

“Ah! Yes, Sally of course has been of such help, you know”, said Mrs. Mintington with a wink of her left eye and they all burst into a thunderous laughter.

“This laughter is what keeps me going my dearies, else life had almost come to a stop that day when Roby and Ruth met their fateful end, leaving my little sleeping princess to my care.” (Roby was Mrs. Mintington’s son who had died in a car crash along with his wife, Ruth thirteen years back when Sally was a toddler.)

“How grateful I am to God for this precious gift of family – for each one of you! And so, I will continue celebrating for you all till there’s breath and strength enough to keep me going.”

“So, what’s the date for the next GRATMEET, my girlies and boys?”

OH, MY SOUL, WHY DO YOU WORRY

Oh, my soul, why do you worry?
The Creator thinks of me and cares for me daily.
The one who created me
Has kept His eyes on me with much care,
And I rest assured of the fact –
Day and night, He watches over.
All that is good for me
He provides without hesitation,
With all His goodness
He becomes my ultimate provision.
The one who sustained me till now
From the time of my birth,
He will carry me through, in future,
Whether I am full or in dearth.
Whoever has taken shelter in Him
Has never been felt discouraged…
Then why on earth I spend all my time
On worthless thinking and depressing chime.
Has anyone ever got anything good
Without relying on God?
Yes, letting go off all my worries,
I’ll serve Him, trusting Him at every odd.

He hadn’t allowed everything that I had wanted
But He made sure, I sleep at peace without any fright.
For Him, my heart fills with gratefulness
Who strengthens and sustains me day and night.

(Note: At this time of difficult situation all around us because of Covid19 and Economical turmoil God gave me this assurance, and His faithfulness prompted me to write this poem with a heart of gratefulness to Him. Keep reminding yourself that He is the only source of our sustenance and provision. Don’t be worried and dismayed. He will take care of you all the time.)

AN ODE OF GRATITUDE TO MY LORD

When I think of Your mercies untold,
My heart fills with gratitude manifold.

When I remember the prayers that You have answered,
Humbly in worship, I surrender this insignificant self.

When I count the sins of mine that You have forgiven,
I realize how uncountably numerous they have been.

When I bring to mind the love that You have showered upon me,
How assured I am of that fathomless flow even unto the end of time!

When I imagine my tiny puny self before a Majestic You,
Can’t think if I would bow or fall prostrate in Your view.

Oh! with what Love You have loved me,
And with what Grace You sought me!

What made You take my sin upon Yourself,
To be mocked, stripped and scourged for me?

Can I ever repay the debt of Your love?
Or give You the praises You deserve?

Forever I remain imprisoned by Your everlasting arms,
For in them I am cushioned against all of life’s harms.

BOSS IS ALWAYS RIGHT

I am giving him too much credit. And he will never let me forget this. In every future confrontation of ours, he will bring this up. Knowing the risk, I am still narrating this small incident of my life. (Maybe I won’t show it to him)

A couple of years back my husband started his own company and I started working with him. (I am telling you not a good idea). I will give you a brief background about myself. Before starting this work with him I was a housewife (right I too hate this term) for the last 10 years. So even though my degrees stated that I had all the required skill for an office job my great talents were obviously a bit rusted. My husband on the other hand was fresh out of the Corporate world with grand ideas about his startup. His expectations were of that MNC level.

My hubby dear used to turn into a typical demanding boss as soon as we started working. I on the other hand was still a bit laid back. Mind you I tried my best. But still, slip-ups were bound to happen. If he got angry with something I had missed and shouted at me I used to feel how dare he speak to me, his wife, like this. I gave him back good and ended up with both being upset. Almost every day we used to fight.

Letters to be formatted in a certain way, customers to be handled in a specific way, records and filing should be up to date all the time. Records should be available on the click of a button. Seriously I was scrambling to keep up with his bossy demands. And mind you we were a Startup and really understaffed. So, it was a struggle. He shouted, I shouted and then I cried (my best defence). But it hardly changed his stance. Eventually, I did understand his way of working and the number of incidents reduced a little. But his standards never came down.

Few years down the line he closed down that business and moved on to another business. And we decided not to keep all our eggs in the same basket. So, I took up a regular admin job in a school. 

Believe me when I tell you that it took me very less time to impress my current employers with my skills. And every time I get praise here for a job well done, I secretly thank my dear hubby for training me so well or at least for polishing my skills a bit. Really grateful for that period in my life now. It didn’t seem like a blessing then but has really helped me in the long run. Because it is the times of necessity and pressure that teach us the most important life lessons.

BLESSING IN DISGUISE

I got discharged from the hospital last Friday. A week of running around by the whole family with me lying in the hospital bed gasping for breath was a traumatic experience. All of us needed rest. My mom and mom-in-law were on toes all through the week and they deserved to go back home and relax.

So two days after I was discharged, my mom said she was taking Aarnav (my 3 yr old son) with her. The idea was to give me some rest. Obviously, I rejected the idea upfront. The mom in me was not able to approve the distancing of my child, depriving him of mother’s love, making him sleep without those cuddles and kisses and overall other mom duties. However, this decision was forced on me by the whole family. Much against my wishes I had to give in. I waved my son goodbye with a heavy heart and tried to console myself by thinking at least he didn’t cry. It’s a different story that he didn’t know he was supposed to stay without his mom for a week.

The first day was difficult. I missed him terribly. I cried. But I fully trusted my mom’s judgement and believed in the idea that he will be fine without me.

Cut to today:
It’s been 5 days and my little munchkin is happy at nana-nani’s house. He is getting that extra pampering, is not bound by any rules and is having a gala time. He is the apple of their eyes. My mom shares his pictures and videos because I terribly miss him but more because she wants to instil that confidence in me that Aarnav is now ready to take baby steps to come out of my wings and prepare to fly. 

The exact same thing that I was cribbing about as to why a decision is enforced on me is something that I am utterly grateful for today. These 5 days not only gave me much needed rest, but it also ensured full concentration at my office work, no additional breaks for baby duties and thus wrapping up work on time. It also gave me some “ME TIME” which I don’t seem to have got in a long time now. More importantly, it showed me that Aarnav is slowly becoming independent, that my baby is growing up. I do feel the mom guilt but there is very little that can be done for it. Guilt and motherhood go hand in hand I suppose.

Anyway, the bottom line is – Lot of times we question the happening of certain things in life. We hate those times. We feel betrayed, shattered or even breakdown. But that happening could be a blessing in disguise. If we are able to manage the breakdown and negative emotions we may experience the blessing in coming time for which we would be ungratefully grateful.