High Heels

Meher felt uneasy, she turned to her side, trying to shield her ears with her cushion. Words that fell on her ears sounded like noise. She tried hard to sleep. But the dreams that filled her eyes and mind were disturbing. She didn’t see her fairy angel this time.

She woke up startled, and started kicking, trying to grab attention. Like always, kicking did not go unnoticed. Meher felt the pat and heard those magical words, “hey baby, so you are awake. Don’t worry, mamma is here. Are you hungry?”. Meher kicked again. “I knew” a pat with a chuckle. “You know what, mamma is hungry too. Lets eat something sweet”.

Meher felt content, and she dozed off in dreams coated with the sweetness of her mother’s words! “Mother’s womb is such a beautiful place to be”, she thought. But what was that noise?

Meher’s entry to the world was marked with bitter and sweet moments. At the age of 2, she was judged for being short, like her mother. At 5, she was advised to practice wearing heels when she grows up, if she wanted to grab a good husband. At 9, she was made fun of, for being the shortest girl in her class. “Nobody can see you”, everyone would laugh at her.

She would come crying to her mom, “Why am I not tall like other girls mamma? Why is being visible so important?. Her mamma had no answers, she was advised to eat protein rich diet during her pregnancy to have a tall baby. Meher was judged even before she was born. All her mamma could say was, “Don’t worry baby, mamma is here. I will buy you a beautiful pair of heels and then you will also be visible”.

At the age of 12, heels became Meher’s best friend. She wore them like a pro, blocks, stilettos, cone…she adored her heels for giving her, that much needed visibility.

At 13, she was hit by lightening. Her heels would not be able to help her anymore. She was covered from tip to toe in a black naqab. “Why were they all so worried about my height, if all they wanted was to cover me up?” she complained. She wanted to rebel, but her mamma stopped her. “It will not help you Meher. Find your own heels, and then everyone will see you”.

She found solace in books and read as much as she could. Meher was a natural at stage, an extempore speaker. Her voice would wake up the most sleepy heads in an auditorium. The shortest girl of the class started representing her school in debates.

College was a dream come true, she took a bold step to change her naqab into a hijab, but heels still remained her favorite. Now she had a face and also those heels, to make her stand out in the crowd. She was visible enough. Meher became an integral part of drama and oratory club. Her dream was to be a great orator, and she chose an idol for her. “I would be like him, one day”, she promised herself secretly.

“Hey Meher, director is calling you”, her friend called. Meher rushed towards the director’s room. She had good grades and she was outstanding at extracurricular activities, so there was nothing to worry about. “May be, there is an event coming up and they want me to compere for it” she guessed.

“Hello Sir, did you call me?” she opened the shaded glass door of director’s room after knocking once.

“Yes, Meher, please come in. I wanted to talk to you about an event”, director declared.

So she was right. She sinked into the chair and listened attentively.

“We have a special guest coming in next week and we want you to plan out a 2 hour program. It should be based on nationality, challenges of current generation and the changes that your generation want to see around you. I want you to take the lead. You can plan it as a drama or musical but you should speak about a topic. You will be the first student to meet our guest and also take a short interview”.

“Sure sir, who is the guest? I will prepare the interview questions accordingly”. Meher inquired.

“I can’t reveal that as its confidential. Don’t worry, I am confident that you won’t have any trouble framing your questions as soon as you meet him”, director smiled and indicated her to start with the preparation.

The Day

The college was buzzing with activity. Meher chose to wear sleek golden stilettos for the occasion. Guest had arrived. She hurried towards director’s room and knocked, “May I come in Sir”.

One look at the guest, made her go weak in her knees. She stumbled in her heels, getting engulfed in his aura. Her ankle twisted bringing her back to her senses, and she said, “Sorry Sir, I mean, Hello sir, its a privilege to meet you”. Interview went on for half an hour and she felt captured. Captured in his enigma. Her idol was sitting in front of her, answering her stupid questions.

“You have a great voice Meher. And you are extremely well informed. You would be a great orator one day.” he paused for a second and they said, “And your heels are beautiful”, he laughed out loud.

“Lets go to the auditorium for the cultural program sir”, Director said and Meher followed them.

She had to make an opening speech, the topic she had chosen was close to her heart, about her favorite heels. Meher walked on to the stage, stared down at her feet and stepped out of her stilettos. 4 inches shorter Meher stepped forward and opened her speech, all eyes curiously glued on to her.

“Hi everyone, can you hear me?”. A loud uproar echoed in the auditorium.

“Can you see me?”, audience burst out laughing.

“Never mind” and Meher continued.

It was her “Mitron” moment!!!

 

Chasing the Rainbow

“Its too hot in here, when are they going to fix the air conditioning?” cursed Sid, loosening his tie. He had flown to Delhi in the morning, for a customer meeting. As soon as he reached the client office, he was informed that minimum ventilation is available due a major power breakdown. Electrical team had been intimated and were on their toes to fix the issue ASAP.

Sid, a passionate engineer, worked in a multi national company as a senior executive. He had landed in Bangalore, the IT capital of India, soon after completing his engineering course. It wasn’t difficult for Sid, to find a job of his liking, He was a star performer in his university and a sucker for technology. As a child, he would see his cousins living in cities, use mobile phones and it fascinated him to the core. His dream was to invent and innovate. Numbers excited him and he fell in love with binary as soon as his eyes fell on it. There was no looking back or going back. He was hell bound on making his life a success. He grew up in the corporate ladder like a shark attacking its prey, unstoppable and unbeatable. Travelling in business class and breathing the conditioned air had become a norm. Anything below was derogatory for Sid.

And there he was, in a carpeted, round table conference room, sweating in front of a pedestal fan. He gasped for breath and rushed out of the building. Scene outside was no different. His Burberry sun glasses were seeking shade from the scorching rays of the sun. He wished that it rained !

Was it his dream vision? No! Clouds surfaced, blinding the sun. Mild breeze, blew Sid’s hair. He closed his eyes and let our a sigh of relief. Breeze suddenly transformed into a wind storm.

“No, No….don’t take the clouds away”, pleaded Sid.

“Your wish is my command”, breeze blew into his ears and it started pouring. Sid ran under the patio. Smell of the mud, being tickled by the drops of rain, reached his barren heart and he got lost in the reverie of thoughts.

Sid saw the cracks in the land in front of him, the land which yearned for water. Eyes filled with tears, but those salty tears could only make the land even more barren. His father’s quest, and the defeated look on his mother’s face when she served only a spoon of rice to him and his brother. Amar, his elder brother was so different. While Sid was always fascinated with the life beyond farms and village, Amar had a strange connection with his fields. Even though he was good at studies, he never tried to look for a life beyond his farms. They had seen their father struggle and that had transformed both the children in a different way. Sid hated the struggle and Amar challenged the struggle.

The drought had lasted for 2 years, but when it rained, it brought prosperity and rainbow! Sid would run across the fields and chase the rainbow. “Its not an achievable dream Sid, don’t run behind something that you will never reach”, Amar used to tell his kid brother. It did not deter Sid’s resolve.

“Hey Bro’, you were wrong, I caught the rainbow”, Sid looked up at the VIBGYOR in the clear sky. It wasn’t hot anymore.

A week later

“Heavy rains since last 7 days have disturbed the lives in northern parts of India. Farmers struggle to save their crop! Rivers are overflowing and villagers have been alerted to move to safe places identified by rescue teams. Help is pouring in from all parts of the country”, news flashed on the TV. Sid stared at the name of his village flashing on the screen. Gates of the dam near his village had been opened to save it from heavy pressure of water building up on the other side. He looked at his smart phone, which obeyed by unlocking itself. “Amar” was the first number in his address book.

“Beep beep beep….the number you have dialed is not in the network coverage” Sid heard the message over and over again. “Where the hell is this guy?, he threw his phone on the sofa.

“Amar, where have you been, is everything OK? I saw it in the news. How are Baba and Maa? Just take the next flight and come here, I will book tickets right away!” It was 3 AM in the morning, Sid was woken up by the shrill of his phone ring and all he could think was about “Amar”.

“Beta, its me. Amar gave his phone to me in case I needed to contact you for emergency. They are not able to find him. Gates were opened and we all were moved to neighboring village. Amar was trying to arrange for cattle to be taken to a safe place. Nobody saw him after that”.

Sid did not know if he couldn’t hear anymore or if his father had stopped speaking. Phone slipped from his hand and fell on the floor, shattering the screen. Light from his night lamp fell on the shattered glass, forming a rainbow and Amar’s name twinkled on it.

Have you really wanted something in life?

“When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho

Few days back I was pondering over a question regarding this famous quote. How does one know whether he is aspiring for the right thing or not.

So I asked this question on the open forum of face book.

Within minutes, I received numerous responses from friends and family. However, I didn’t seem to get my answer.

After some more days of soul searching, I found my answer.

As a school kid, I once read the famous story of “Merchant of Venice”. “Venice” was the only thing that held my curiosity and I decided to approach my father to know more.

I do not remember what he told me about Venice except for the fact that, “The city was on water”. In that moment, I replied without thinking, “ I will go there one day”. And in my mind I added, “on my own”.

Europe trips are very common these days, especially for IT professionals but back then, for a small town girl from a middle class family, it was an unachievable dream.

However, if I look back now, even then when I had no means or way to fulfill my dream, I still thought of “Venice” every single day.

Today I realize that whatever happened in my life there after was only to fulfill my aspiration.

I wanted to be a doctor, but was destined to be an engineer.

I was initially working for American clients and was supposed to travel to US but fate had to play a role and I was suddenly moved to work for European clients.

That’s when I realized I was getting closer to my dream. However after few more years, my mind started questioning its theory.

And then as if it was destined to happen, I got an opportunity to go to Europe.

It was the most difficult decision of my life, as now, I was not only married but also had a 2 year old kid.

But there was no holding back, I knew this was my opportunity.

When I reached Europe, I started getting mixed reviews about Venice. Some said that it’s one of the most beautiful place of the world and some called it a waste place to visit.

I was a little apprehensive about visiting Venice now. I didn’t want to be disappointed about my dream destination. But I also didn’t want to go back without even seeing the place.

So the tickets were booked.

When I stepped out of St. Lucia railway station and had the first look of “City on Water”, I knew, “being able to see Venice…on my own” was the only thing that I had wanted in my life till then. It was true!!! City was indeed on water and that feeling itself is mesmerizing. And I spent my entire money to describe this to my father. He was right, it was on water. Oh, that feeling was out of the world. I felt like a small girl again who had just got her favorite doll (just for your information, that I never played with a doll, was always more inclined towards breaking my dolls)

Weather beauty of Venice is comparable to Eiffel Tower of Paris is all together a different question and it didn’t bother me much. After all, I had not seen Eiffel Tower till then.

I realized that everything that I had ever wanted before like, studying to be a professional, being independent, being able to work, and several other things were all meant to fulfill my dream.

And whole world had conspired for me. I never forgot my dream and whole world paved the way for me.

It may sound stupid for some readers that how can “visiting a place” be wanted so badly. But that’s how it is.

The feeling when I stepped on to the soils of Venice cannot be put into words and that scene can never be forgotten.

I can only say that If you have ever felt this way, then you have achieved what you wanted in life.

And if you have not, then the world is still conspiring for you OR you are not aspiring for the right thing.

However, question here is “Have you really wanted something in life?”.

 

PS: This blog was originally posted on my old blog: http://thelhour.blogspot.com/2015/07/have-you-really-wanted-something-in-life.html

The School Bus

Mornings and afternoons were the happiest times of the day for Ajay. Why??

Because that was the school bus time !!!

Adventure would start with the moment he stepped into the bus, rush to sit on the last seat, excitement of meeting bus friends, chattering, giggling, mischievous glances exchanged escaping the eyes of teachers, puzzle time, stealing water from bottles, playing tippi tippi top, stone paper scissor and what not ! It was never ending fun. Ajay would start waiting for the school bus time as soon as he stepped out of the bus.

Years went by, everyone grew up. Games changed to serious discussions and debates. Chattering and giggling changed to last moment revisions, Some love stories blossomed and some hearts were shattered, but that smile on entering the bus remained….on every face. Ajay lived it all.

In all these years, numerous experiences from school bus journeys transformed Ajay. He nourished and cherished his only dream during those 45 minutes of bus time. It was time to finally see his dream becoming a reality. The sweetest ever reality of his life would happen today. He could not contain his excitement, and glanced at the needles of watch going around the dial. Like kids in his school bus called all important days, today was the “D Day” for Ajay!

He got into the driver’s seat of his school bus and turned towards the passenger’s door. A six year old stepped in. Crisp white shirt, grey shorts, belt with the school emblem, shining black shoes, brand new school bag on the back and a water bottle in hand, exactly as Ajay had envisioned in his mind. Child looked nervous. It was evident that it was his first day of school, away from home into the unknown.

Ajay gave a reassuring smile to the child and said, “Welcome to the school bus son, a new world with endless fun awaits you, embrace it”.

Ajay drove off to the next stop, to pick other kids. Smile refusing to leave his lips. His son will now experience the school bus journeys that he had always dreamt for himself.

Who says that living your dreams through your child is a crime?

The Companion

Flames of the pyre burnt their eyes. Their world was crashing down with falling woods of the pyre. A void that could never be filled, had creeped in their lives.
He rested his head on her shoulder, unable to fathom the depth of the void. How can god be so cruel? How could god take him away. He needed his companion. Yes his companion of mischief, of bedtime stories, of cricket matches and of crush stories. He was heart broken because the girl he secretly loved didn’t love him back. Whom would he open his heart to now? Who would be his companion in sorrow and happiness? Tears wouldn’t stop rolling down his eyes.

She stared at the horizon, remembering the flames of “pheras” that had brought them together. “Till death do us apart” was their promise to each other. She was an independent women, financial stability was not her concern, but how will she deal with this emotional turmoil? Ever since they had met in college, they were a team, perfect companions, and now she was left all alone with nobody to talk to, laugh or cry with. She remembered the night when she had joked about needing the entire bed for herself for a night…tears escaped at the mere thought. Now the bed is all hers for the entire life, she will not be able to hold on to anyone anymore.

All of a sudden she realized that her shoulder was wet. She hugged him tight, this was not the time to think about her loss. Her 15 year old boy needed her at this moment. She knew how strong was the father-son bond and she will have to a be a father to her son now. More than a father she would be a companion to her boy till he finds his own companion. She cried uncontrollably, tears wouldn’t stop, his words echoed in her mind and soul, “I know you are a strong woman and a perfect mom, even if something happens to me, you will take care”.  Her tears faded her vision, She wiped her tears and staring at the flames, took an oath to never let her husband down. She will take care…of their son.

Her tears were falling on his forehead. As she hugged him, he realized the depth of loss for his mother. He was mature enough to understand what it meant to lose a life partner. He had come in his parents life much later. Whenever they talked about their dates in college, he used to feel that they have spent a life time together, with so many fond memories. He felt ashamed about thinking of his secret love while his mom had lost her only love. “I will be her companion, she needs me, I can’t get weak now. Papa always said that I am a big boy, yes I can’t behave as a child anymore”, he hugged her back, promising to be for her always and till she finds another companion.

 

Image Source: https://www.canstockphoto.com/images-photos/pyre.html