The structures we call home 

Reposting a story I wrote sometime back…
Walking through the park that came on my way to home, I saw a nest that had fallen from a tree. There were two beautiful eggs in it, still intact. The nest had played it’s role. It protected the ones for whom it was created. The mother of the eggs was sitting there on the tree, crying helplessly because she had a premonition of what all might happen to the pieces of her.  I couldn’t resist myself, lifted the nest and climbed on the tree from which they had fallen. I carefully placed it on the branch that I thought to be the strongest and most sturdiest one. The bird was relieved- help came to her in an almost unexpected shape, size and form. I climbed down the tree. The bird was now happy in her nest. Suddenly, another bird came flying and perched on the same branch where the nest was now resting. Both the birds were now in a conversation. It seemed as if they were telling each other what had happened. Language looses its relevance as a mode of communication when there is grief or sadness, happiness or joy. Seeing them content I moved on. I reached my apartment, put the keys in the small container by the door and started to change into something more appealing to my body than what appealed to others. I checked my phone for any messages. Normally there would be messages from friends who wanted to meet or there would be messages that nobody listens to-advertisements, Insurance, assurances etc and etc. There was one message that captured my attention. It was from my dad. ” Hi Son, how are you? Our anniversary is this month. We were thinking of organising a get together. Your mother has asked if you could come?” A chill ran down my spine. Had I become so absolved in myself that the two most important people had become so distant from me. I looked at the time of the message. It had arrived early morning and my clock reminded me that they must have slept. I quickly grabbed a calender and searched for the date when my parents became my mother and father. There was so less time! I called my brother who had received a similar message. We decided on meeting as soon as possible. Tickets were booked, bags packed and I was there in the queue waiting for my entry into the plane. As I entered the plane, my mind was replaying all the memories. I sat on my seat and was waiting for the plane to take off. The seats next to me were empty. As the occupants started occupying seats, I came to know who were to be my partners for the entire journey. They were a newly married couple. They were too shy to talk to one another. When the husband saw me already sitting he took the seat next to me and asked his wife to sit at the corner. The wife was heavily dressed and was holding all the jewellery just like a kid who has been given a large scoop of ice cream. He does not want It to spill, does not want it to fall so he is busy balancing all those load. The ice cream is the most precious thing for him. Both of them were excited and nervous. It seemed that they were in a flight for the first time or they were traveling together for the first time. They were rarely looking at one another, but they did ensure that both of them were comfortable. 

The air hostess came at the front and started the demonstration. The wife couldn’t find the seat belt. The husband when saw this, quickly searched for the seat belt. He found it. His this achievement made him full of confidence, he had shown his wife that he was useful. His wife did acknowledge this by the smile she gave looking down at her feet. While the air hostess was busy explaining the routes for exit if the plane went unruly, my mind took me to a story of my father and mother when they first went on their trip together. “We were married for some time. Back then I used to earn less you know. But I did earn much to feed you mother full.” he used to tell us when we all would come together. He would continue ” 

One day my father said to me, son you have not taken your wife out for sometime. I command you to take her somewhere except this town.”. “So papa where did you take her?” we would ask in curiosity. ” Son you know travelling was so difficult back then. There were no luxuries that we have today and I earned enough to get ourselves an ordinary ticket. But your mother never complained.” Whenever he was telling us this story I could see his eyes sparkle, his voice with an added level of loudness and pitch and his hands adding to the enthusiasm and pride that got inside him. I was brought to the present by the speeding aircraft that was running to fly. I looked at the couple. They had closed their eyes. The wife had held onto her husband’s hand. The husband had gripped her hard. He was abiding by the promise he made to her. “I will always love you. I will always look after you. I will always wipe your tears. You are my queen and I am your king.” my father would tell my mother only to make her shy away in a smile. The plane was in the air. Both of them opened their eyes and quickly shrugged off their hands. Both of them had turned red. Their cheeks covered in the gushing blood that was flowing because of the paced heart beats. The flight was long so I thought of getting to know my partners. They were from a small town and were married a couple of days back. It was their first trip together to a new place. I quickly made friends with them and Told them the purpose of my journey. They were happy to know what I was doing and wished me luck. The end of the journey was closing in. 

I prepared myself to meet my parents. The wife of the husband next to me was still sleeping. The wife had put her head on her husband’s shoulder, the husband did not move. He was freezed in that position, wanted to provide his wife with a place to lie her head. He occasionally looked at her wife. There was this one streak of hair that was disturbing her. He was too shy to touch her but was angry at the streak because it disturbed the most important person to him that very moment. After a while when he couldn’t resist he took the streak and put it behind her ear. He was happy that he could comfort her. The pilot announced that the flight would be landing soon. Everybody started preparing themselves for the landing. I looked outside the window. The land where I was born was welcoming me, another flashback struck me. “Son, you know what all your mother has achieved, she did it when she got married to me. She did her further studies when you were still a baby. She would daily care for you, feed you, make you sleep, took care of the needs of the family and still god knows how she got the time to study. I remember I would stand outside the examination hall holding you when your mother gave her exams. When you would wake up, she would come outside, make you sleep again and then continue her exams. Your mother has done lot for us. Never ever disrespect her.” he would say. There was numbness in my feet. I couldn’t feel the ground beneath. After all those years of struggle and hard work, after all those years of sleepless nights, my parents never asked for anything. I remember my mother scolding my father for every thing that was not needed. My father would always reply to this, ” Let me fulfill their every wish. I couldn’t do it back then.” We did not realise this before, but now when I look at those times, my father gave us a life of a prince. The plane landed and the pilot welcomed us to the city- the same city where I was born, the same city where I learned to walk, the same city where I got my first medal. After the flight, I had to take a flight of stairs down to the ground. The air knew me, the ground welcomed me. I took my bags, bid adieu to the couple and took a cab to the house. As the driver drove, I could see the streets that had changed to let new birds set up their nests. They had widened, the chairs outside were now in an air conditioned environment, the food cooking outside was now covered in a veil of “class”. I remember my father and I used to go on a walk everyday in the morning. We would discuss everything except studies and I always used to get that smoking hot delicacy from around the street. ” You make this so delicious.” I would always tell the man who was busy attending his long queue of customers. ” I am glad you like it.” he would tell. That street corner was now taken by a well renowned saloon. “Development is always necessary. You develop the older so that It continues to Spell magic. We can always throw away an old thing. But new does come at a cost.” My father would always say whenever we asked him to throw away his used clothes, to get rid of old books, to get rid of the ancient. ” I have memories preserved in every thing that you see here. Your books, your clothes, your drawings. How can I throw them away? They help me remember how we became what we are today. One day I too will get old. Then what will you do?” he would say. His every word struck me like a drop of water that falls in a silent night. Every drop that falls, it touches your heart, refreshes you, gives you something to think. Continuous, perpetual, periodic, rhythmic. Everything he ever spoke was to help us in the future. 

The cab stopped at my house. It was still standing their magnificently just to tell the world that it is always there to protect the ones that live  inside. I paid the driver and thanked him for the ride. I took my bags and rang the bell. I was waiting there and suddenly I saw my school bus passing through. It stopped when I lived there. I never was ready on time and both my parents would take me as it is And drop me to the bus. I always wore my shoes in the bus. Separation from them was never acceptable to me. When I would come back my mother would be Standing there to receive me. She did not let me touch the ground. I was the son in her arms. And today I was standing there at the same house. The house that shielded us when everything was against us. My mother came out to see who had come. I could see big tears rolling down her cheeks. I ran to hug her and she burst into tears. ” Ma don’t cry. See I am back.” I tried to console her. She didn’t say a thing and took me inside holding my hand firmly. She didn’t want me to leave her again. As i entered the home, my every memory also entered alongwith. ” Don’t run in the corridor. If you get hurt get ready for more thrashing.” my father would always scold us when me and my brother would run after each other to tear each other apart. Many a times we fell, many a times we got hurt but my father never thrashed us. He was always there with his first aid kit that comprised everything iodine, sweets, bandages- both for the pain and the heart. He was always there for us standing rock solid but with a heart that melted only for us. I noticed my mother’s hand. Her grip had weakened. She was trying to hold onto her tears. ” Ma I am not going anywhere.” I assured her. At the end of the corridor, my father was sitting on the same chair he used to sit whenever he got time for himself. He would switch on the television. ” What hypocrisy is this? They are good for nothing. Let me come at their position. I can do wonders.” he would tell everybody in the room. He was there sitting, the television was not turned on. He had slept on the chair, his glasses still on his eyes and the cup of tea right besides him. My mother went closer to him and woke him. He jumped on his seat, adjusted his glasses and then saw me. ” welcome back son.” He stood up and came closer to me. He hugged me. He had shrinked in size. My father’s shoulder were the highest peaks for me. They may not be the highest now. But they still are the strongest. He was very happy. ” I am very happy today. I shall have a big bowl of sweets today.” he exclaimed. I sat there with him while my mother went inside to call my brother and bring something for me. My father went along with her to help her. I sat there and looked at the walls where I was brought up. ” Son, our house is small. It was very difficult to get here. I used to earn less. Everyday I walked kilometres to save money. I don’t know how many times I and your mother slept without food. All we ensured was you were fed fully. Your mother has burned her hands over stove, got electric shocks from heaters, fell many a times in unconsciousness. But son we never gave up. Every time we did something it was you and your brother who were in our minds. Although the house is small, but it is all that we could do. I remember when I came here, there was not even a single house. There were farms all over. When I looked at this land, I knew this is the place where my house would be built. Son, we have toiled hard to make what you see today.” he always told us this whenever we talked about him shifting with me or my brother. What is a house I thought? Initially it is just a piece of land. A piece that could have been anything- a farm, a school or may be even a temple. What makes a building a house. Is it just the bricks and the mortar that helps stand it or something more stronger? Why is that people get attached to things? A building cannot be living. I said to myself. My whole family was now in the same room. I met everybody, ate the delicious cookies my mother made and went to my room to change. ” It’s the same as you left it Son.” my mother told me. I went to my room. It was the same. The cupboard had that blue texture covering and on it my examination schedule was still stuck. There was a small note on it. “All the best Son.” I kept on watching it for long. My table was well organised. Although it was never when I studied on it. All my pens were still there. I opened the drawer and found my slam book that was filled by my friends. I sat on my bed. It felt familiar. I kept on reading the book. I fell asleep. I don’t know whether it was the tiredness of the journey or the bed that made me feel at home. When I woke up I saw my shoes had been untied and I was covered in a blanket. ” Don’t sleep here son. Okay let me take you to your bed.” my father would lift me everytime I slept on the couch and make me sleep on my bed. Whenever he would leave he would move is hands over my head, just to make him sure that I was sleeping fine. I opened my cupboard and found my old school dress hanging meticulously there on the hanger. It was like my parents wanted to preserve everything. Everything that did not mean anything to us. They were busy collecting everything that we had left back. Everything that did not fit us. Everything that was old. I took out my clothes from my bag and changed. I went to meet them. A party had to be planned! We deliberated on every thing and then decisions were made, caterers contacted and guests were invited. I saw how my parents fought over many things and how they consented on one thing. The day of the party came. Guest arrived and me and my brother received them all. We took care of all the arrangements. My parents were sitting on the atrium. They were happy to see everyone smiling and enjoying. The party came to an end and we took off for our home. We entered the house and my father narrated the incident when they arrived first time in this house. ” You know kids. When this house was completed, I asked your mother what was the things she wanted inside. You know what she said. I want you all.” We entered the house. That night we had a talk like never before. We slept while talking. The next day both of us had to leave for our work. My mother was crying hard to see us leave. She did not want us to go. But my father gathered herself together. We left with tears in our eyes. I took a flight back to my city. As i was being driven to my apartment, a thought came to my mind. What is House? A structure that is built on a land with bricks and mortar. There is use of steel for reinforcement, wood for doors, paint for finishing. Is it just the materials that make a house or much more. A house is more than a structure. It is the conglomeration of the various aspirations and desires that a man tries to fulfill, nurture over time and try to create it in reality. My mother and father always wanted to build a home where we could always stay together. They bonded the house with their love and affection, nurtured it with their foresightedness, reinforced it with their understanding and brought it into a reality with their hardwork and the respect that they had for one another. Although they fought many a times, got angry over things irrelevant, but at the end they always saw the bigger picture and helped each other grow together. Today when I see them, my respect for them grows by leaps and bounds. They created a Home from a house, they created us, they made us what we are today. As i reached my apartment I was filled with amazement how they pulled this off together. I was standing at my apartment. I opened the door and as I entered I heard some motion. I got alerted and took in my hands a bat that was lying there. I started to move towards the source of the sound like a lion approaching his prey. I saw that a window had broken due to the storm. The storm had caused something delightful. At the window of my apartment I saw something very beautiful. A pair of birds had made it their home.


Image is my first try at drawing. 🙂 

Amma

We all want to thank our mothers for whatever she did for us. But we lack the will to do it. The following story is my way to thank my mother for whatever she did for me.
Cleaning the old store room of my house, I stumbled upon a box. It was the same box that had been an enigma for me since my childhood. The box belonged to my mother who never let anyone touch the box. Whenever I would ask what’s in the box, she would say “everything” and keep the box away. I sat down just staring at the old box that had lost its charm  because it no longer belonged to my mother. Even the box could not bear the separation from its lover, dilapidated, unkempt, unheard, unloved.  I heard a voice, it was similar, it was a voice that made me walk, made me talk, made me find my way in the dark. The voice was that of my mother, but she was far, away from the place, not near me, not visible. I could not open the box. I felt a tingling in my heart, some old records started playing, memories began unfurling, my ears vibrated telling me “don’t open the box”. I sat down on the floor, holding the box in my hands. Sometimes it is the small things that make  you realise that it is the small things that matter, bigger things come into picture when small combine. My mother always says that we are defined by what we do, how we behave with the not so fortunate, how we care for those we love, love is not something that exists between a couple, it is the need that makes you worry about the other person, ask for their health, do a chore for them, massage the tiring work away, call them, talk with them and most importantly listen to them. I started remembering the days when the only thing that mattered was the food that my mother made. How she would carefully dress every bite, wrap it in her filling that comprised every ingredient she could think of- care, affection, belongingness, sprinkle it with her foresightedness, open her mouth so that I could eat it and satisfy her hunger by the eyes that saw the bite entering my mouth, my teeth biting it and it going straight down my throat to my stomach. My father always commented on how she would open her mouth wide, wide enough to let someone peek inside her, to see what she felt, to hear what she never said. Everyday when I came back from the school she would be in the kitchen, preparing delicious meals for me and my brother. The aroma of the food would entice us the moment we would enter the realms where she reigned, the place we called home, where all of us would live, talk, fight, love, stay together. We would bang on the door and she would come sprinting and open the door for us. Dripping in the water that had condensed on her due to the excessive humidity of the abode of spices, she would take our bags and water bottles from us and in a voice that was exerted due to the exhilaration of the moment ask- “how was the day?” and there were we blabbering every thing that happened in the school- the new kid in the bus, the pencil that was lost, the sharpener that broke, the tiffin which the entire class ate, the teacher that spoke in a funny voice, the bird that sat on the desk, the cyclist that fell down. She would listen to our every nonsense and reply with a smile while helping us change. After we were finished talking she would ask- “what happened to your shirt?” and we would go numb, turn our face away from her, look down at our shoes and would say- “Amma what’s for lunch?”. Amma- that is what we used to call her. It was like she knew what happened with shirt, the way the world revolves, how people function, she would not scold us but in a calm voice would say- “you don’t need to fight with every person who starts to fight with you. Intelligent people ignore.” Her words had no relevance for us back then. We would hear it from one ear and let it pass through the other ear. But now I realise- her words were like the water that we give to a sapling, the water that gives it the strength to grow, to fight it’s way upto the top, to stand on its feet, that shapes it. After feeding us till she felt full, she used to escort us to our beds, make us lie down. I remember how when we were sleeping she would occasionally come to check on us. She would move her hands over my head. Her touch was special. It was not soft. Her hands scratched my head, left some marks on it. The delicious meals had carved their spaces on her fingers, her fingerprints disappeared in the tools that helped her prepare ecstacy, her body smell overshadowed by the fragrance of the divine flavours. Her hand was very special, she bore the brunts for the entire family, never complained, always smiled, never exhausted, always full of energy. I never saw her resting. In times when she was sick, we had to make her lie down. Love is not what we show, love is not what we feel, love is melting yourself to make someone better, adding yourself to them so that they grow by leaps and bounds. She always tried to mix with us, match with us in our so called technical know-how but we always ignored her. She never said a word, never changed her love for us, always stood by us. During the exams she would ask -” how are studies, do you need anything” and I don’t know which power she got, she could comprehend the exact same thing what I wanted. She could read faces, hear what I thought, feel the pain of my broken heart. There were times when I got sick. Amma would go anxious, she wanted me running, screaming, shouting. I could see her fighting my sickness with the will that was stronger than the strongest celestial force in the world, searching for the root, devising ways to kill the thing that had kept her little packet of joy on the bed. She would be excited when I was participating in something. Her face reflected how proud she felt when she saw me on stage, her hard work was successful, her kid a star in her eyes. She would clap like crazy and will look at me to make me comfortable on the atrium that was frightening me. Words are always not necessary , eyes speak what words may lack. Whenever I scored well, she would declare to everyone that her kid is the brightest. It was almost a dream come true for her. Amma is a religious person. She loves chatting with the one who lives in some place unknown, but is visible in everyone. Keeping fasts for everything was her way of ensuring that everything went in the same exact order. Anything new that was brought had to undergo a ritual of induction in the family. It was auspicious she said, it makes things last longer. Beliefs are something very dicey. You believe that Earth is round, but at the same time you believe  that the world is flat. Beliefs can drive people to do things impossible or can turn them incapable of doing the possible. Whatever happened she was the one who never broke, never let anything disturb her inner peace or never wanted to show her weaker side. She guided each one of us in the times of distress. Never made us lose hope. While remembering this I realised that i still had the box in my hand. I opened it. The contents of the box took away all the inhibitions I had. After a long time I was crying, crying like a baby, who cannot be consoled. My eyes rolled down tears that were mixed with emotions of respect and love for my mother. I wanted to hug her, wanted to kiss her. But she was not there. The box fell from my hands and everything was scattered on the floor. Everything she had said. Everything for her was everything that we ever did for her. All the birthday cards that we made for her, all the medals we won, all the pictures that were lost. There was stillness in the room, I was crying my heart out. Appearances are deceptive. They cover your inner feelings. After seeing what was everything, I couldn’t resist but ponder what was I doing. I was staying away from the only thing that brought me in this world. I immediately took my car out and started driving in the direction where Amma lived.