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.

GRATITUDE IS RICHES

I am not your driver,” Gaurav slammed back to his wife Reena as she coaxed him to drop her and their daughter Palak to a friend’s party. His frustration was genuine as he had just reached from office after spending more than one hour in heavy traffic. Driving through the snail pace traffic was indeed tiring, physically and mentally as well.

Reena was flabbergasted by Gaurav’s reaction and wished she could drive. It’s not that she never tried driving, it was only the fear of driving alone on the busy roads. She instantly picked up her cell phone, booked a cab and went with her daughter to chill with her friends. Throughout the party, one thought kept haunting Reena that Gaurav wasn’t her driver. She HAD to learn to drive at any cost. 

The next day, Reena enrolled herself in one of the driving schools where the instructor was impressed by her previous learning and was very sure that she would be a perfect driver within two weeks as she only lacked confidence. 

The next month Gaurav had to go abroad for a business meeting. Reena had started driving already and used to make trips to the nearby grocery store. 

One fine evening, Reena was busy preparing dinner when the doorbell started ringing continuously. “Palak, stop doing that,” Reena shouted, thinking that must be her only. 

It was Palak’s neighbourhood friend Ashi. Before Reena could say anything, Ashi was panting “Aunty, aunty…Palak…”.

Ashi, what happened?” Reena asked in surprise.

Aunty, Palak fell down from her bicycle”, Ashi said, grasping her breath.

Reena turned off the gas stove and rushed downstairs. Palak was already surrounded by her friends and was crying loudly.

Reena could make out that her daughter was in deep pain. She mustered the courage to see her. Thankfully, there was no blood, but she was holding her elbow. The skin around had turned darker. “I am getting the car keys, just look after her,” Reena instructed the kids.

She picked up Palak and drove to the nearest hospital. The x-ray was done and it turned out to be a hairline fracture. They returned home after getting the temporary plaster.

Thank you Gaurav,” Reena said in her mind as she felt that it was only because of him that she could become a good driver. The sense of gratitude filled her with joy.

THANK YOU STRANGER FOR THESE WINGS

Dear Diary,

15 years back I had a very comfortable life, my husband was earning well and kids were doing good too. My role was that of a provider to the demands like housewives in our country are expected to do. I always aspired to be a dancer but with marriage, I packed my aspirations in a bag on the way to my new address. And really never got a chance to open up that sealed bag (smiles). Responsibilities piled up so does the monotony and mundaneness of life. At the end of the day, I had this feeling of being hollow from within. But no matter what, I had (still have) this habit of visiting the local library every 15 days. There I met this stranger. She was searching for a book on Indian classical dance. And coincidentally I was reading the same genre. She came to me and quietly (almost in a gesture for we were in a library) asked, “in which corner did you find this?”. I showed the directions and got busy with my book again. In a  few minutes, she came back and sat reading. As we lifted our heads from our respective reads we passed smiles at each other.

She was very young, around 20 years. Now I saw her more often at the library. We slowly became friends despite the age gap between us. I found out she had an inclination towards Indian classical dance like me. She was pursuing her dreams. I was in awe of her. I told her “Roshni (so apt to her which means light) you are so lucky to be able to live your dream. I am in awe of your family too.”

She smiled and said “I don’t have a family. Born to a sex worker, rescued by a good samaritan, called names by the society, it has always been a struggle to survival. But that has made me strong only, strengthened my resolve to make it better for myself and likes.

I was left dumbfounded. I could only say and all this while I have been complaining about my life when it is so comfortable. She chuckled hard at my words. Days passed and I eagerly waited to meet her again at the library. But she never turned up again, instead of left a note with the librarian addressed to me.

Don’t belittle your problems by stopping to dream and only complaining. Thank the hurdles in your way, thank the taunts and insults hurled at you for they might appear to be stones but you can make them into stepping stones to your success and happiness. They might appear to be dust and twigs directed towards you but you can make them your wings. A comfortable life doesn’t always mean a happy one too. If you’ve got one such life make better use of it and don’t waste it slogging through years. Your happiness is your responsibility. And show your gratitude towards God by being a good human and having humanity.”

Chaya finished her diary writing and glanced at the state award she received for her exemplary work in the field of humanitarian service to the sex workers and their kids and yes beside that award stood her achievements as a classical dancer, she always dreamt of. And in her heart, she thanked Roshni again “Thank you for the wings”.

 

 

 

Never Fail To Look For The Light, Despite The Dark.”

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.)