Truth!

‘Truth’

she sighed

looked up

turned her head

held a steely stare

spelt each sound

‘if- I -said- the -truth

you- wouldn’t- be- able -to -bear- it’

and smiled

bitter saccharine

dipped in sarcasm.

The fan blades whirred slowly

the curtains swayed

yes, no, neither

as if trying to look innocent.

Even the lampshades

turned their heads

dull eloquent stares

fixed stead -fastedly on the ceiling.

The evening sky blushed red

the breeze took a break

the room grew on him

stifling what was left

‘Truth!’

he muttered beneath his breath

stamping his foot

his ego

years of upbringing

class and sophistication

suppression of himself

turned and walked away.

Many minutes later

at the dinner table

they sat on either ends

chomping food loudly

talking to shadows

the fan blades

tried their best

to quieten the flame

‘will it implode or explode?’

‘morning will tell’

the night sky smiled.

 

 

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You shouldn’t have asked

You shouldn’t have asked

if the smile she wore was dressed in joy

if the badge she showed around was of love

if the hands that held were of holding

if there were creases beneath the well-pressed coat

if the life was too light or too heavy

if there was light or just an absence of it

if the eyes were darkened in hope or clouds

if there were kindred souls to sit down for a cup of tea

if there was  a book to read and a place to rest

if a willing ear lent itself near

if her ‘doubting Thomas’ ever got a cheer

if scrounging was her hobby or need

if hiding beneath the books

if getting lost in the maze of words

if dressing in silence was a choice

if a glance, a hand, a shoulder would have helped

if the wrinkles were of time or strain or pain

if the veneer was losing its sheen

if the heart was skipping many beats

if the lips were sealed in volition

you should never have asked, no, not you!

PS: of love, life and longing

 

 

Now that you are empower’d

Now that you are empower’d

lady

let me rest

after your office

I know you will clean the house

cook my food (our)

clean my clothes

press my forehead

cool my heels

children I know you will manage

feed them well

dress them fine

bathe them nice

sleep them good

parents I know you got to be kinder

gift them stuff

bear them happy

salute the egos

fill the gaps

my finances can never go wrong

coz you are  all-so-power’d

I am just resting fine

you are double the horse power

my mama ever had

honestly I can never say that

but good that you are em……..

and I helped build your confidence

though sometimes your over confidence

is irksome

really  its too much

this over smartness

but I will play along

as long you don’t disturb

or ask unwanted questions

keep your voice low

dad is sleeping

after 3 hours of meditation

I too need some rest

some coffee please

I was waiting

dress down a bit, will you?

at your age!!!

 

 

For the love of a lunch box

I love my lunch box. I truly do. I love its steely shiny exterior and the hot rice packed within. A helping of a curry in a little container. A glass bottle of ‘moru’ to go with it, a ‘touching’ of pickle nestling by the side of rice and a lot of aroma and homeliness.

In fact I look forward to my lunch and I might just gobble it up in my free time without even waiting for the lunch hour, that is if I don’t have classes to teach.

I dearly miss my favorite companion to work when I haven’t cooked decent stuff or forgotten to pack it in the morning hurry.

Every time I open the lunch box a sense of pride rushes into me, no, I am not Sanjeev Kapoor, or ‘chefly’ in any sense, but I do feel a sense of achievement when I dig into my food.  Some times if I am in a good mood, I do go around sharing it too!

Talking about lunch boxes, one of the most elaborate ones that I had seen was in my school time when a certain friend would bring to school, a complete package of rice, vegetables, curry, rasam, ‘moru’, pieces of pappad and a bottle of ‘chukku vallam’ or cooked water or boiled water to go with it.

There was a time when I too had to carry food for the two of us, my brother and myself. I was in 6th standard and he was in senior kg. Lunch time was pretty elaborate an affair, when I had to get him to my classroom, spread the towel, scoop food and see that he ate. The little fellow would invariably drop food on the floor and that meant I had to clean it up too. Slowly though amma started giving us two lunch boxes and I was relieved of my duty of attending to him at lunch.

My father would carry in his (otherwise empty!) suitcase a lunch box, a bottle of boiled water, a container of curry and a bottle of watery curd or ‘moru’. Some times amma would pack him a sweet as an extra treat.

One of my father’s friends once sent my mom and his wife on an errand while we stayed in Ottapalam, ‘to find the biggest lunch box available in the market’.  So, off they went and came back with a huge circular box which was perhaps never intended to be used as a lunch box, but Damodaran Uncle, my father’s friend was more than happy. It is said that he carried his wife’s prized kitchen delights to work for many years to come!

Some of my colleagues do bring pretty hefty large important looking lunch boxes with many accompaniments that would make it look like a feast every day. Well, we know who does that for them,right?

Oh! I am not jealous, just that mine is rather elementary to say the least.

There are times I would get to take the ‘vazhayila poti’ amma would sometimes pack, the added advantage being the aroma of banana leaf in which the rice is packed and the fact that you don’t have to wash the dish! Wow! that was a winner!

While studying at Govt. Victoria College, Palakkad and when I had to stay in the hostel, my good friend, Sudha’s mom would sometimes pack a lunch box for me. That was a special treat, imagine getting that when you are famishing on the dull boarding house stuff!

In fact, packing a lunch or food for someone might look like the most mundane of tasks, but you will surprised at the thought and effort the person puts into it so that you have a good experience.

While you go on long journeys by the train, when you go on outings, when you devour food packed and presented to you and go on to lick your fingers, do take a moment to go back and thank the person who cooked that food for you and packed it too!

Amma never forgets to ask me of my opinion of the food she packed for me for an over night journey from Calicut to Bangalore and she beams when I compliment her, and goes on to explain why she did what.

Recently while travelling back from Dehradun to Bengaluru, me and my daughter looked at each other, giggled and smiled happily as we bit into some amazing sandwiches we have ever had. All thanks to Monu and Remya!

Food connects the best!

But how was your lunch today?

Go on say a thank you, it won’t hurt!

Thank You

You perhaps didn’t hear me right

when last time we met

your words said not

what your body spoke

waiting for those sounds

to tumble down your lips

I heaved a sigh

let down a lock

shed a few tears

in silence then I prayed

reached out to you

love, as usual though

you were lost in your jargon

I guess you didn’t notice

when I left, how and what I left behind

actually it was nothing

let me be honest, I had carried away my pride

a bit of sunshine and loads of surplus laughter

treasures forgotten

until you turned away

no, until I walked away!

when the song is over

it doesn’t matter who walks away the first, or does it?

but thank you, from the bottom of my soul

you have been a teacher nonpareil

your lessons have been lasting

your methods though devastating

keep this bouquet, it sings, stings?!

PS: Thank those who are harsh for they are kind.

 

A Case for Teaching as a Profession

So you have heard horror stories of teachers. Teachers being unpaid. Teachers being humiliated. Teachers not getting  the respect they deserve. Teachers being abused by parents. Teachers who are crucified. Teachers who would have done anything else but teaching and even teachers not getting proposals as in marriage, I mean some of us!

Three days into my month long yearly break, I am literally celebrating my wisdom to return to teaching.

I had walked out of the school teaching 4 years ago, when things were getting very tough on the personal front.

I had decided to explore and I went to meet people seeking opportunities, trying to understand what lay outside my comfort zone. Luckily, the person I had consulted to find out about a certain opportunity found it fit to call me with a job offer exactly a month after. It was a challenge but I decided to take it up and did so gratefully.

I remember how my former colleagues would call me up and ask, ‘how is it mam’ and I would answer ‘oh! it’s nothing compared to the work we do at school’!

Many of my students inquired, ‘Why are you quitting teaching when you love it so much?’ I said I was going to do content writing. My students/children took to the belief that I was going to write a book, become an author and seriously and sincerely checked up with me for a long time, ‘How much have you written?’, ‘We will ensure that your book is a hit’, ‘When is it going to be published’,’Don’t forget to give us some credit’ and so on.

In fact one of them insisted, ‘ I know you won’t leave teaching without some reason, what is it, tell me, I can help you. I have a job now as a corporate lawyer’. These conversations became my strength and my pride.

2 years later I moved on to another company with a better pay but I was missing  classrooms.

I felt the dire need to share. An opportunity came my way and I jumped at it and returned to teaching. Life seemed to have come to a full cycle.

Many young people hesitate to take up teaching. Thus educational institutions miss out on great talent that could have enriched the lives of many young people.

Here I present some reasons on why you should choose teaching as a career.

  • Be with the young, stay young. Seriously, one of my former colleagues at Daly College, Primary School remarked that her husband chides her for her ‘kiddishness’ and blames the company she keeps for it! I too find teachers in the primary school, all so dressed up and gorgeous and gregarious mostly! Some of us who teach do actually manage to stay in high spirits.
  • Challenge yourself. Nothing is more challenging than a child with a question and when it comes to many children with many questions, you know how that can get you to learning. One of my colleagues listens to ‘Ted talks’ while travelling back home everyday, she says she has to do this if she has to have something to speak to her students everyday. Makes sense.
  • Holidays. Yes, teachers do get a fair share of holidays. Some schools are generous to give a winter vacation and a summer vacation.
  • Keep it simple. The fundas of life are simpler in an educational institution. Yes, C.P Snow’s Masters (a novel) might hint differently but compared to other areas of work say politics, cinema, corporate, educational institutions don’t need much of your craftiness. Your employer might rather have you keep your mouth shut and at work,I mean, manage the classroom, complete the syllabus, kind of stuff!
  • Good company. Maybe I am biased, but I genuinely believe that teachers make for good company, especially those who are forever learning, ready with stories, willing to share time and experiences. They are in general fun to be with, contrary to the depiction of us poor lot as dull and boring in popular media.
  • No retirement. Actually, teachers like politicians and doctors mature like old wine and can go on teaching, consulting, advising like forever. I have seen some really senior teachers still in the business, they come as visiting faculties, they take home tuition, in general, you can continue to make others miserable, for as long as you want if you are a teacher, especially if you know some mathematics!
  • Share your knowledge. You might be a journalist, a writer, a doctor, a lawyer,a social worker but you can take some time off to teach others and share your valuable knowledge with the youngsters who will get a real time understanding of your area of work. In a country like ours, there is an urgent need to bridge the gap between the educational institutions and the real world, perhaps you will like doing it too and may be, change many lives for the better.
  • Gratitude. Gratitude is a huge factor in teaching. It might come late but when it comes it will lighten you up. You will be choked to tears with students’ expression of love and respect for you.  Not everything is measurable,right?
  • Facilities: Some educational institutions take good care of their staff. You might be just get lucky to find one, if you do, just stay on. Well,this is an area than can improve.

So to young people, consider teaching, it is a profession that keeps you grounded. To parents, please don’t discourage your children if they want to take up teaching. To adults/ professionals, try teaching some time, it’s fun.

Cheerio!

 

 

Of Women at Play

It was a team event. Most women like yours truly, refused to participate, at least initially. Then some of us agreed to cheer for others and then well, went on to play.

What an experience it was! To feel the ground beneath your feet, to feel free and competitive, and to be part of a game, though most of us did not know the ‘T’ of Throw Ball.

Some body said, ‘it has been 20 years since I played any game’. ‘Me too’, joined another!

Most of the women were not used to sports, may be a little bit of running in school times but definitely nothing after adolescence. No wonder then that the game was clumsy at best except for the spirited fresh and fit youngsters who knew what they were doing.It was great to watch them, more enthusiastic, better trained, and more in groove with themselves taking the lead, it was great as well, to be able to do whatever was possible, if only to stand by and cheer like John Milton said, ‘They also serve who only stand and serve’.

Yet the outdoor experience was fun. It was a great time for some female bonding, across departments, away from the digital screens and the classrooms and the usual pressures of teaching.

I was thinking of the very ‘womanly hesitation’ to get out and be yourself.

Hitching up sarees and hitting the ground does not come easy, overcoming consciousness of the body, the appearance, risking the look to look dirty, unkempt is not easy either, but then when the girls got down to play the game, there was obvious cheer and much celebration.

Where are the public spaces for women? Where can our girls go out for a walk, or go running or just get together and play a game without being objectified?

Where are the public places for just walking,sitting down and chatting or trying a game of badminton or kho kho?

The simple pleasures of living are denied to most women, yes, especially women!

Public toilets are still  a luxury in our country, perhaps its too much to expect spaces for public recreation!

Maybe!