maya-angelou-819x1024

Everyday life…

Its what we try and live every moment, sometimes in a routine, sometimes with awareness, sometimes with rebellion, sometimes with courage and sometimes with a desperate wish to do more and more… to live more and more the only way one knows how… right or wrong… it does not matter how…

Having reached a considerable age in human years and hopefully in soul years, I have not been untouched by death, the most impactful was that of my mother’s and I am still getting over it… there is no saying how long that “time” takes to heal.. one never does in a way…

Living and losing is a part of life’s game and yet… it makes for so much pain. I guess I would not be human if I would not feel it again and again. The pain is in a way reminding me that I am still human…

Among the multitudes of souls that pass by some souls just touch you deep in your subconsciousness, just by being themselves this was one such person.

Rituraj Choudhury or Raj as he was called… came into my life as this crazy friend a year after mom died. It was the 31st of Dec and I pushed myself to get back to normal life for the first time, going to a friend’s house. It was his birthday and well I was born on a 31st too…(what a coincidence, I thought.. tough numbers, tough destiny..)

We talked cars, we danced to the night, we celebrated his birthday cooking and drinking generally doing things what people do… It was my first step towards getting back to normal life..

And somehow he became a very dear friend. Describing him would be very difficult as he had all the great things that made him a wonderful soul and all the not so great things which made him so human… I think I am the only person who knew him for such a short time. All the rest seem to have known him forever… And yet, it seemed like a long time. He had loads of friends from all walks of life. And he was generous with everyone to a fault. Everyone.

Then he became severely ill which he just refused to admit to himself until it was too late,  and took us through the agonising moments of his death. The many procedures his body had to go through, the clutching at straws knowing this is a point of no return and just rueing the fact that it is such a waste… but then maybe he did what he had to do… with his life..made his choices …. so there…

It has been 3 days and I am still trying to control the flow of tears out of nowhere as I sit and do my work.

I know it is life. I know the soul lives on forever, and I will meet him again and again… if its so willed..

I know that we don’t die… only change our bodies… and roles…

And yet, this role of mine which knew him as a friend in this lifetime is so pained at the loss…. cannot comprehend why… I am just trying to get through… maybe because its so sudden, maybe because it was such a close encounter…  I dont know… So here I write… I get through better when I write… And I affirm the following…

wake-of-loss-affirmation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to thank him for so many things..  Little things which we take for granted… in the wake of racing with the world..

1378709_10151618127742890_823384916_nI would like to thank you for all the fun dances…. we had as friends…

For all the times, when we were stuck, you offered your car or bike or whatever…

For having my red tea once with a grimace even though you preferred your poison..

For being so positive and “so what” even in the face of “what will I do ?”

For those warm hugs…

For giving us the space to be… joyful and enjoying the moments..

For rushing to be with us when Dad had his surgery… even though it was too much for you to get up early and make the long journey… I will never forget that…

For the lovely music..  You have a collection I love.

For swinging to Rabindra Sangeeth…. even though you said you never understood it… I will never forget that night with You and Jaya… as we both got caught by cops that night and also let go…. what a memory… I am still chuckling… as I write this… you were a badass rock star … far away from Bangla songs… hahaha 🙂

For the plants you forcefully bought for me… while walking with me to the horticulture garden.. no reason… you had to give them to me..

For the many evenings and afternoons, you spent with us, making us laugh…even getting angry… (I keep expecting you to ride by with your yellow glasses and hailing us and stopping to chat…)

For sharing your Five Star Chicken and Coke… I will always remember you when I have that now.. ( so many silly memories)

For the photos you clicked… I remember you crawling on the floor to get one good shot… and you were drunk… sigh…

For caring for so many people… wanted to please many…

12049653_10152995233897890_3339534337722018632_n (1)For spending time with my Dad…  You guys had a gala time when I was not there.. and you made sure I knew that… good for you…

For the silly gifts which only a friend can give… I will treasure them all… the silliness of it all makes it all the more special..

For those comments on FB… I will treasure those caustic notes.. ( I am not much for social media but it is so nice to go through your thoughts now)

For the deep talks and even the sharing your tears and fears with us.. I hope you know now that we all have similar fears and live through it every day..its not easy to share tears for a guy… I was humbled by that..

For the future you saw and wanting all of us to be there…

For just being you… incorrigible, reckless, rambunctious, naughty, freaky friend on one hand and the same time, a generous, kind, sensitive, emotional, loveable friend…. for not hiding the ugly and the beautiful… thus making it easier to accept you more easily..

For showing me that extremes can exist in one person… its just the choices that one makes that paves the path…

You did what you could… you lived as you wanted to… and its ok…  Now Remain in Peace and Light , till we all gather together and reminisce this lifetime we had and prepare for the next….

 

 

Meanwhile, I remain here with the rest… just another tiny soul… waiting to cross when its time… and wishing, wishing… wishing and swimming between What Ifs… 

Sometimes, I think the past makes me happier than the present… hahahah 🙂 I believe in living in the moment but there are some triggers which weaves a thread of joy when it gives me seconds of peeps…. and that is enough…

I have been thinking lately that I need to get away from Facebook but its times like this… when someone posts something so heart warming … that I keep hanging on to this space…

As it happened today morning while just browsing through with my cup of tea. I remember my schooldays with fondness… and with little giggles as I was the naughty one and would be up to no good many a times… I loved being naughty and supposedly getting away from it.

620wide+9532602I have so many memories which make me pause and smile that I feel blessed sometimes, that I actually moved through school with so much joy and unaffectedness.  And yes, all the competition of being the best would actually put me off.. while the rest were busy competing for the top positions, I would engross myself with my own daydream or the next plan of action… some new adventure… and the works… Books were still my favorite pastime and I would be more often be wondering about the next bit in Enid Blyton series or Secret Seven series… Or Hardy boys and Nancy Drew adventures…

My favorite was Mallory Towers, I loved the midnight feast scenes and it was such a fun book to read. Reminds me to get the collection for myself online.. 🙂 One more for the library.. 🙂

As I moved into the teens the hot bits were about smuggled photoromances… It was a treasure more so as it was forbidden… hahahah:)

I would hang out with as many groups as possible sometimes, would not understand intense friendships between two girls and jealousy not allowing the third girl in… onto their space… WHOA…  we would leave them alone…

I am having a deluge of memories…  and its tumbling through..

stmarys3

Photo taken by Madhumita S. Bhattacharya

I remember mornings.. Mornings was spent in preparing for the hymn singing. We would get turns in preparing for hymns and I would be happiest when singing.. I did not know then but now I do that the songs that we would sing in the praise of our Lord, would actually ground me and give a good start to our day. I would be feeling joyous the day I would get to sing in the prayer assembly… 🙂

One of my favorite was “One Day at a time Sweet Jesus

I’m only human, I’m just a woman.
Help me believe in what I could be
And all that I am.
Show me the stairway, I have to climb.
Lord for my sake, teach me to take
One day at a time.

Chorus:
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.

Do you remember, when you walked among men?
Well Jesus you know if you’re looking below
It’s worse now, than then.
Cheating and stealing, violence and crime
So for my sake, teach me to take
One day at a time.

And Another one which comes to my mind very often is this hymn by Rabinranath Tagore which I loved to sing

Give Me Strength

This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.

PT used to be the bane of my existence and believe me even today I really am not the athlete type or the gym type and I would make creative excuses like ” my heart is paining ” (today I wonder what the good Sisters thought). At first the Sisters would be sympathetic but seeing me prance away… or rest during PT sessions would make them realize that I was feigning… 🙂 and there was no escape.. in fact I remember one good Sister.. who caught me and said that if I did that she would give me ” pat” “pat” on my behind… hahahah 🙂

Lessons

Lessons were fun.. I had my favorite teachers and well, it would make me preen inside if I got a “very good” from my teachers.. but not for a long time.. I had my dear friends who would compare marks and show off or get bothered, I was always onto the next bit of moment thinking, what could I buy to eat… oh there were so many bits to eat from the kongs who sold stuff like tamarind, sour fruits, lozenges,  etc etc..

Or I would think of lunch… Or i would daydream… I would have some dear friend come up and tell me, : “look I got 99 or 100 which is 1 mark more than you..” which would make me think… “well alright, go for it… ”  ( it was a different issue back home when Mom would get really pissed if I was not in the Top 5 which I was mostly, She was competitive enough for me, whereas even today, I hate competition, my motto was do what you know with passion and very well, and you will always shine no matter what )

I remember my least favorite subject was Political Science and I would score the lowest. My Teacher Ms Kaveri, a very strict teacher knew I was good in other subjects and would talk to be after class to motivate me to do well in her subject.. I liked that and tried harder. Its not surprising that even today if there is a thing I dont like to do and someone tells me nicely to do it,  I just do it with that much more passion… like I do many other things.. 🙂

We had nick names for our teachers. I think we were blessed with many good teachers during that time and they were like celebrities to us.. Some where beautiful, some were so knowledgeable. And any gossip about them would have us abuzz with interest.  Someone married outside her community and we would wait for her patiently to see the changes… she would have in her appearances.. like a Bengali teacher marrying a Malayali man and she suddenly turning her appearance like a south Indian.. for us South India was a far off country and somewhat exotic… 🙂 It was very interesting to see a Bengali woman transform into a Malayali hahaha 🙂  ( and today I am almost like one… hahahah living and breathing the Southern air… and loving it)

And having lunch secretly before lunch time… sometimes, I would get away with it and sometimes, I would be made to stand up and given a slight scolding.. I would be properly ashamed but do the same activity after.. some days…

I loved English, Geography, Algebra, History, Mechanics, Trigo, Science. All because, maybe each subject was in my mind attested to teachers I really respected and wanted to do well for their approval and to shine in their eyes.. 🙂

I loved the interschool games too… I never was the athletic kind but I could cheer myself hoarse….  and of course admiring the good looking boys who would be allowed for games… we were an all girls school…  🙂

And the Science Fairs… I was an avid participant in that… I remember making an active volcano model, the first of its kind, with Pottasium permanganate and Sulphuric acid to show volcano at work… WOW…. We attracted a lot of crowd at the fair and also won a special prize… I loved that time when we got together as teams to make models for competitions.

I remember ragging a participant who was showing a chart on Malaria and he proclaimed that Anopheles was a Male Mosquito and Culex was a female mosquito… Ohhh, that got my gut and I ragged him and ragged him.. till the bugger got it… hahahah 🙂

stage_fright

There was one inter school competition where I was a participant on some extempore. The topic was very simple… “Flowers ” and I worked myself up and fear struck me… and when I went to the stage I forgot everything and what came out of my mouth was  ( I was in Class VII, quite able to speak eloquently on flowers/gardening)

Good afternoon, the topic today I am going to speak about is flowers/Gardening.

Pause… GULP… Pause…  [mind totally blank]

Flowers, I… love… flowers… rose is a beautiful flower…. my father loves flowers…

And i love flowers….

Pause… GULP…. ( sweating nervously) Pause… looking for a desperate out…

Thank you…

Suffice it to say, I was reprimanded very strictly by the Sister who nominated me for the competition.. And well that was the end of me taking part in  debate competitions…

I was also the designated singer of my class… my teachers would always pick me for school functions… and yours truly had a major case of stage fright… so much so that everything would go blank in front of an audience…

I found out a solution for this…  After thinking a lot and working it out.. I had started wearing lenses and my eyes were myopic and I could not see much without glasses. Hence, I decided if I did not wear my lenses I could not see anyone in front of me and I could sing… And IT WORKED… 🙂

I started performing with my lenses off my eyes… and I had got a magic formula…

The most memorable song I remember singing and choreographing ( musically)  with a group was Aye Mere watan ke logo. The emotion of the song was very strong and it still touches me when I listen to the original version.

I loved acting in plays and directing plays. I remember acting in the play Bluebeard and run around the stage spouting some dialouges… it was so much fun.  And yes I did have my lenses off during that time as well..

Interestingly, today I have to frequently address one form or audience or the other and I am glad I got over this fear of speaking in public.

Hahahahah 🙂

Oh the joy of living with so much carefree attitude…

I remember being a substitute for my teachers and teaching junior classes… It made me feel so adult.. and grown up. I would teach mathematics and english to the younger classes. I was in my last year of school and we were kind of role models and very focused on studies and our boards.. we talked and moved like very busy souls… with lots on our heads, tutions, getting through exams… and captainship was a big responsibility then… we were also responsible for disciplining the young and errant kids. LOL

I still remember, there was this class of very young girls which had a very bad reputation.  I think it was Class V. The whole batch was so naughty and restless and incorrigible that teachers would be pained to take their classes and avoided it somehow and well with me being so eager to teach, I was given the responsibility to handle the class. The class was so infamous that it was situated away from the normal classes so that any loud noise would not disturb the rest.

downloadI went ahead and thought in my mind.. what a treat, handle the whole class !!! Little did I know what was in store for me..  I went in as usual and saw tiny faces who examined me with interest. Started my class… and just 5 minutes elapsed when the barrage of questions started..

“Miss, she is troubling me”, said one tiny voice, from the back.  Me looking questioningly up.

“No Miss, it was her”, and then “Miss, may I go to toilet”, “Miss, why does this sentence do this”, “Miss, this, Miss that.. ”

I was nonplussed… after a while, I loudly said “QUIET”, and then continued…. with my lesson. The quiet lasted for 5 minutes at the best… and then it started all over again…

I was at a loss, and made them stand up as a punishment and read…. or something…

Every period there was a different cacophony of noise..

I was at my wit’s end and vowed never to enter that class ever again…  hahahaa 🙂 I told myself if I ever became a teacher, I would teach only the upper classes and went and saluted the class teacher of this batch really appreciating her. hahahah 🙂

I had very good friends, today many are in FB, who actually tolerated me.. and my antics… I am ever so grateful to them.. I had some who I think hated me but heck I had many I liked and was liked by. They would encourage me to sing.. during lunch time, they would conspire with me, they would laugh with me… I so miss the years of camaraderie which gave my soul the impetus to grow joyfully… I do am grateful for that…  from a tiny tot to a mature teen… it was a wonderful journey with them… like all good things, this also ended.. in the year 1990 when we had to go our separate ways and reality started its biting..

Today I seem to have the same kind of tolerance, love and compassion for the Gen Y souls that I manage in my team, I have very smart young people who do not mind taking advantage of some situations and getting upto some mischief… and one day I caught one of the young uns and told him, ” Dude, stop your nonsense or dont get caught. Whatever school of thought you are employing, I am the principal of that”. hahhaah 🙂 He would never know of course what a brat I was but I think I have a soft corner for brats who excel at work and are creative enough to live well… with joy and good mischief… mischief and fun is good for living.. I think if its harmless to anyone around us…

stmarys2

Photo taken by Madhumita S. Bhattacharya

My refuge

Studying in a Catholic school, we were very familiar with mass, the philosophy and the discipline.. Our school had an orphanage and nearby there was a lovely chapel. I would love visiting the chapel and sitting with myself… I would sneak away from all the din and find some solace just sitting there..  I can still feel the contentment… when I think of that place.

In fact I would love taking a walk in and around that as there were beautiful flowers and there was a beautiful statue of Mary covered with bushes and flowers that would fascinate me… and give me pause..

The teen body would be subconsciously  be drawn into the serenity that this place projected. It would also be my refuge when I was going through something difficult.. typical teenage situations.. 🙂

And on the lighter side this space would also be an excuse to share deep secrets with friends about something important.

All was not hunky dory… 

When I was in Class II or III I think I was caught with a bottle of Ajwain seeds, which I used as mouth freshener. I was suspected of drugs…. hahahahah 🙂 My parents were flustered. I think it was Sister Aloucious who told me that I was carrying drugs… EWWW.. that scared me..  Poor Sister, she did not know Ajwain seeds..were a spice.

There were many events which made me pause as well. Losing good friends, losing good teachers… it was part of life but it did make me wonder… There was this beautiful girl called Rosanna, she had long curly hair and a beautiful smile, she was a beautiful girl, and her death haunts me even now. She tripped from her stairs at her home and fell to her death and one morning we got the news and it was devastating… I kept on remembering her smile and I think she looked even more beautiful in death..

There was Kong Itri our mathematical genius, she had squinted eyes and was really old… we loved figuring out if we was looking at us while scolding or elsewhere.. She was a whizz in maths… and could solve any problems. She passed on due to old age and we went to her funeral.

My good friend who is no more,…. Priyabika, was this gregarious soul who introduced me to the world of fashion and self awareness and most importantly boys… She separated from me in Class VI or VII. I never prescribed to the idea of best friends as it hurt when we separated.. and it was so painful and hence I made sure to mingle with enough in the class to have a good relationship with all.. Sometimes my friends did not understand it… but they accepted it… albeit unwillingly.

I was more often than not, the team captain and the class captain on and off so well naturally there were some souls who did not respond well to authority.  I remember, once i got into a fistfight with another very strong girl because she did not listen to me and boxed me. I boxed her back… and it lasted for seconds… but it was memorable… hahahaha 🙂  I called myself badass… LOLOL…  I must say that we were friends again in the future but I am sure she remembers me as well as I do… and have a good laugh..

The awareness of boys did not bode well for me… I got into a crush stage on some fella, and his sister who was senior to me, came up to me and had a “talk” with me… EWWWWW… that was the most embarrassing moment of my life… and it was just a bloody crush which the fella encouraged a lot… BRRRRR… not a good memory… hahahah… rest assured, I never bothered about that fella again… I felt that the whole school knew about this… EWWWW… again…

I also remember an incident when a teacher out of her strictness had scolded us  using our parents reference… and I rebelled against it… The teacher complained against us and the whole class was kind of suspended, yours truly part of the main group of rebels.. I was given a good lecture and I argued respectfully that it was ok to scold us but to use our parents as bad reference… is not allowed… Good god !! I remember my heart was beating fast and yet I stood up… for what I thought was right… and the Principal almost suspended us from school because of insubordination. There were some who were also punished for being “silent spectators” I bet cursing me inside… but we got over it…

Memories of strike, curfews, friends looking at us as outsiders, and the fear tinge that time till date… and it was not a good time when Shillong was going through a very bad state of terror and there was no discipline. exams were disrupted, many died, the whole atmosphere of that beautiful town was shrouded in darkness and despair. We longed to get out… and be in peace.. little did we know that outside it was the same.. Shillong was just getting into the groove of unrest and terror just like any other state in India…

All said and done.. 

It was a wonderful time… and I loved reminiscing on the same…

Even today as I wished a school friend Happy Birthday, in a mock off tune voice, she quickly reminded me of the Rabindra Sangeet sessions we used to have in school and we giggled like the school girls we were… this friend of mine… has this ability to make me laugh for nothing and every time we talk… we inevitably have lots of laughter in our conversation… and that gladdens my heart… the childlike impulse to giggle… and having someone to share something old and giggle all the more…. (shucks I remember there was a stage when I would giggle with my friends for nothing, even when the pencil fell down… hahahah 🙂 what fun !! )

So dear M, Happy Birthday… And hugssss to you…  🙂

Sipping a cup of tea, listening to modern Bengali songs and working.. with the wind caressing my cheeks there is this feeling of well being which I always look forward to.

I have this calendar of a very naughty puppy who is looking at me with such mischievous eyes that I feel like doing something really childlike like skipping and fly with my arms wide..  And I did see that whenever I wanted to feel like a child, my best way to access that state is to spread my arms wide and run around pretending to fly. And I did that while we were on a team building activity.. I hope my colleagues did not notice it. While they were discussing strategy of a game, I quickly did a round of flying on my own.. around the green lawn.. he he …

Have you wondered what makes you go back to being a child.. ??

I can remember so many things now that I contemplate..

  • Swinging fast on a swing makes me go back to free thinking with no stress..
  • Sometimes playing catch triggers that feeling of catching something precious and feeling happy to do that
  • Stealing something sumptuous to eat just for the heck of it…and deliberately getting caught..
  • Making pictures of clouds takes me back to when I was little and used to be in music class and when I got bored of notes,  I used to just look up at the clouds and guess the different shapes the cloud created as it passed by..
  • Having a tamarind sweet reminds me of the time, when while returning from school, we used to make a beeline for the sweet and sour tamarind which used to put the zing in our being as we walked back home..

That is another key I  access when I want to feel happy and free from this adult life.. temporarily of course..

Sritir shei dhulo batash uralo.. .

Badoler kajoler, meghe der minare digantor kinare,

adhar koreche abar amar ei ghor.