“Do take a chair.” I told the lady patient.
“I am your mother in law’s friend.’ She introduced herself.
This seemed more important than her name. I would have to be at my best behaviour.
‘Your name please.” I asked.
“I am a retired teacher. Have taught hundreds of students like you. We were in the same school.” She said.
“Please tell me your name then…” I repeated.
“See how forgetful I have become! One day you too will become like me. Here you keep asking my name and I don’t tell you. Instead I am telling you trivial things. You are not interested in it. I am really Bichitra!” She exclaimed.
I sat up a bit. My features always betray me. Why can’t I appear interested in ‘ inconsequential things’? I still did not know her name.
I thought of writing MIL friend in the name slot. All thought that I had a nice handwriting. Changing it should do the trick. I planned to scribble the name in such a way, that no one could make head or tail of it. She interrupted me as I started writing.
” Bichitra Sangma Doc. It starts with B…not M..”
I tried to hide a smile. Teaching over the years had given her a different perspective.
I remembered my surgeon teacher of Aravind Eye Institute.
“Hold that Dialer right. Your angle is wrong.’ He had said from the other end of the long Operation theatre.
I had wondered no end.
” So you want me to read that.” She said.
“Yes. Please read what you see.” I said.
“If the Doctor wants me to read, I will have to do so.” She said.
Yes, please do.” I said and waited and kept on waiting.
“You cannot read…..” I was about to blurt out. I bit my tongue.
It is my conditioned reflex..you see.
They are conditioned to make you land into a hot soup.
“Read..huh.” She mumbled.
I was losing my patience slowly. As it is, I did not have much of it.
“I read a Dark Lady.” She started.
“You read a what?” I asked surprised.
“Yes. I read a Dark Lady. She..” She started saying.
I sprang up from my chair. I wanted to see the chart myself. When did a Ghost enter inside my box? That too a dark one and even replaced the alphabets🤔🤔.
The Chart looked perfectly well. All the alphabets stuck religiously to their own seats.
The lady was humouring me when I was in no mood of humour.
“Come on..read.” I reiterated.
She made a woebegone face.
A few alphabets were making her peevish while she had been teaching hundreds of students all her life.
No one had perhaps advised her in her prime. Do what you love and you won’t have to work a single day in your life.
She started hesitantly,” I read a dark lady with a darker shawl covering her head.”
I gawked in surprise.
She then clapped her hands in jubilation,” Oh..its me. That’s me!”
She was reading her REFLECTION!
I almost fell off my chair laughing. She too joined in.
The noise made some patients peep in curiously.
I immediately turned solemn and went about the rest. I handed the prescription to her.
“Doc, I cannot afford to buy both. I can buy the spectacles or I can pay for your consultation. Which one should I prefer?”
“The former.” I said quietly.
“Thank you. Give regards to your Mother in law. Which shop should I go to?” She asked.
“Whichever shop you want. You are staying near the hospital. Do come there from next time. Its’ free.” I said.
“Please examine me in the same way!” She said.
I nodded trying to make it seem the final Nod.
“I am preety ugly looking, isnt it Doctor? She turned towards me.
“Saw a mirror today after many years.” She said and went away.
I know not why it hurt.
She used to come to visit me every couple of months. Talking about her students, who were doing very well in life, was her favourite topic. Her two sons, had left the home and hearth after marraige; thanks to her matrilineal society. She did not have a daughter. She had lost her husband over a decade ago.
” Do come and visit my house someday. I have pigs and chickens which I rear myself. See I did not become bent little old lady like your MIL. We eat two chicken pieces everyday in sharp contrast to your vegetarian MIL.” She said laughing.
I agreed with her wholeheartedly. I had never seen old and bent tribal women.
Slowly she started becoming bent too. I did not have the heart to ask her the reason of it. I could make out from her countenance.
She understood that I knew.
“I no longer needed the house. So I sold it. I made a small hut by the roadside with these hands. A strong one. No wind can blow it off.”She said, laughing.
My heart went out to her.
I gave her the calcium tablets, vitamins and some eye drops I had collected from medical representatives for her. I offered some money to her. She refused.
Her hut was far off from the hospital. Coming again would not be easy.vHer sons had forgotten about her existence. Looking after her did not fall under their duties anyway. What if she had spent her life’s earnings on them?
If only her job too had a pension facility…
” You know Sapna….I bought a small mirror.” She said; on reaching the door.
I had graduated from Doc to Sapna.
” Now you know that you have a very sweet face.” I said.
She smiled and said, ” I will come again.”
I continued my collecting spree. Days passed into months and months into years. I never saw her again.
I read, that day, that not taking care of parents would become a punishable offence. Her face suddenly; swam before my eyes. Perhaps she had turned in her grave.
P. N. Pictures are sourced from Google and are only representative.
👷♀️I restrained them with a cap and rested my head on the back of a white chair.🪑🪑 The latter stood proudly at equal intervals.
Far away were a few colourful boats, lined up stately, waiting for the adventurous among us.🚣♀️
Paragliders hung above suspended from the sky.
A cool breeze almost lulled me to sleep. I got up suddenly.
I did not want to sleep when so much beauty was around.
I opted for a train journey from Mumbai. The owners at https://fewdayzoff.com knew about my interests and inclinations well before hand. Unpleasant surprises rattle me no end.
The time is not the most opportune one for sure. Trees are shedding their greens and the earth is thirsty. The pantry car of the train did not disappoint us. Soups and fruit salad, biryani and samosas, dahi wadas and cold drinks did the rounds. We basked in the adulation.
We travelled to the hotel in local cabs. The hotel stood on sandy shores. Sand had already entered our sandals. We dusted them off and entered our rooms. The simple yet, tastefully decorated rooms were clean and spacious.
I ventured into the balcony with my cup of coffee.
The view left me spellbound. The Ocean spread out as far as I could see. Gentle waves crashed against the shore, one after the other. The blue waters sparkled with the Sun. If only this could continue forever…
A long sigh escaped off me. All play and no work makes John and me, not only dull but Paupers too!
Two minute read
We all have come across a variety of PRAWN DELICACIES, but some are such that, they can never be forgotten. GREEN PRAWN CURRY is one of them.
I am transported to a time back to my teenager days. My little brother is helping me in the kitchen while I am trying to cook PAO_BHAJI which I had had at a fast food centre, near my college.
How time has flown and my brother has become an accomplished Chef himself. A special Chef who caters only to his family and friends, in his own home!
Now taking a ‘fewdayzoff’, I am with him on a small vacation in Mumbai. What culinary delights I am being treated to! He got even his wife on board !
The treat below is one of many.
Prawns( fresh, cleaned and deveined) 500 gms
Fresh coriander leaves….200 gms
Fresh garlic tender scapes……200 gms
Garlic pods …….6..7
Coconut milk(Home made company’s has a thick consistency)……300ml
Curry leaves…. 20 leaves
Green chillies …5
Heat three teaspoon butter in a flat bottomed pan along with one teaspoon of any refined oil. Finely chop garlic pods and fry till golden brown in colour. Add along with six to seven curry leaves.
In a mixer jar, grind, washed coriander leaves, garlic scapes and seven to eight curry leaves together. Now add this grinded mixture to the pan and let it cook in a medium flame for five minutes. Add coconut milk, salt to taste, three teaspoons sugar and a few chillies cut finely. Let it all simmer for eight to ten minutes.
Then, add the prawns and simmer again for another ten minutes. The more you cook, the harder the prawn becomes. So, adjust the time accordingly to your taste.
Season it with cream for that exotic taste and looks. It is purely optional. Cook it with lots of love and patience. Have you ever noticed the special taste the latter, adds to any dish whatsoever? There is a secret behind it.
The exotic taste of GREEN PRAWN CURRY, will linger on for a long time.
The moment our National Anthem plays, a strange change occurs in me. My heart reverberates with the song and the eyes feel wet. I feel overwhelmed with a sea of emotions as I stand up for it. Republic day, Independence day or a visit to the Cinema hall are such occasions.
May I be always true to you, my dear motherland. May I never do anything that will bring any harm, in any form, to this country or its citizens.
May I be so blessed dear God that when I leave; I have the satisfaction of leaving this place a better place to live in.
May I be able to repay the debt of the care and sustenance my motherland has provided me. May I be able to instill love for the country in the hearts of my children too.
God please bless us.
Some values are such, that can be more forcefully instilled during such occasions. There are only few occasions where all the country men unite to celebrate. To celebrate the FREEDOM that required untold sacrifice and suffering. The sacrifice of lakhs of faceless countrymen, whosecstories we will never know. The maintenance of which too, again necessiates the sacrifice of thousands of our soldiers.
Do the PROTECTED COUNTRYMEN even have an inkling about it?
I had seldom heard about people who lived past their age but had hardly seen them. What was the Elixir of their youth? What magic potion kept them preserved?
The man had walked into my evening clinic that day. Only one or two patients probably remained after him. I was in a hurry. Examination of the kids were looming in the horizon.
“This you have to guess, Doctor.” He smiled
I looked at him carefully. A fresh face with few lines on the forehead and a few stately grey hairs near the ears. Jet black hair fell in curls on the forehead. He must have been handsome in his youth.
” You are sixty years of age.” I said, nonchalantly.
” Alas Doctor! You really are way off the mark.” He said.
Now I was at a loss.
I thought probably he was much younger. Nowadays the young have grey air and get some wrinkles too.
” You must be about forty five years then.” I said.
He bit his tongue.
” No, no..higher then your earlier quote.” He said.
” You are about seventy years. You gain nothing by hiding your age.” I said.
” He quipped.
” I suppose you are approximately eighty years of age.” I uttered foolishly.
” Increase some more.” He said, enjoying my discomfiture.
” Are you ninety years?” I asked hesitantly.
” Increase some more.” He said, laughing now
I thought the man has lost his mind and was making every effort to make me lose mine too.
So on it continued till it stopped at hundred and ten years!
Still finding it incredulous; I asked him what he did for a living long time back. He was a retired school teacher.
“So you have seen the British!” I quipped.
It pulled the trigger for him to explode into a flood of memories.
I wish I could co author a book with him then.
That was the first instance of meeting a centenarian. I met many of them thereafter. They abound in the North Eastern states of India.
These principles are the ‘ELIXIR’.
Their life is at one end of the Spectrum, and of the others at the other end. I see glimpses of Saints in some of the former.
I had almost dragged my kids into the cinema Hall to see this.
Why do you think we need to see this? It is not a children’s movie like FROZEN orAVENGERS.” My son said loudly.
“It is about our country’s history! We must know about it.” I said vehemently.
“Oh..just our country’s history! We are already reading it in our books. I do not want to study any more about it. I do not like History at all.” My daughter said in disgust.
“You read very little of our country’s courageous History in your books.” I said.
There were towering rock mountains which were only beaten by the valour of humans. Next came in the perpetrators of deceit and treachery and traitors and their accomplices. The latter destroy the fabric of the country and bring untold suffering on innocent masses for generations to come.
This brought me back to the present. Man has made such strides in Science; that his lifestyle is such that Kings of yester-years would envy. He is even able to fly to the Moon. His moral fabric, has become increasingly tattered over a similar time period.
Have parents failed their children?
I hoped I would be able to inculcate such values in my children, that their deeds would never harm their own motherland. They should be proud of their country. Their existence should add and nurture the good in the world. It is my paramount duty as a mother.
Alas, the history that they read in their text-books falls woefully short of instilling pride in them. It does manage to inculcate a sense of worthlessness and self-pity.
Nowadays, all information is just a click away. Parents can fill in the void created by History books and instill a sense of pride for the country, in their children.
They need to remember and remind them, that we all, are guests in this world. For we are not invaders who have come to plunder and plough and to loot and kill. We all should do, whatever possible, to leave this country and the world a better place to live in.
I was returning home when I remembered I needed to buy some groceries. I did come across Malls on the way but preferred to buy them from small shops along the roadside. They had families to feed too. I am indispensable to them. Mall Owners do not need me.
A few people were already standing in one of the shops I frequented. I waited patiently for my turn. The shop keeper too had loads of it…patience I mean. He chatted, smiled, laughed and chewed a betel leaf, while giving each customer whatever he asked for, while I waited.
A labourer waited beside me. His back was bent with sacks of rice and he was still waiting for more to be piled on him. My waiting was painless but his was not.
” Please give him whatever more he needs to carry on him.” I told the shopkeeper.
He was exchanging long pleasantries with one of the customers.
He stopped and gave the labourer a disdainful look.
” He is used to waiting. I have more important things to do.” He told me dismissively.
” Your more important things can wait. He is standing already bent with all that weight. Don’t you see that?” I told him.
He called out to the helper inside and barked some orders, looking angry. Another big sack was put on the labourers back and he went away shuffling.
While the shop keeper returned to his work; I quietly moved away. How can humans be so inhuman?
I had no wish to buy anything from that shop anymore. He could stack things in his shop because of that labourer. He could sell things in bulk because of him too. How was he not sensitive to his discomfort? Does just paying a few bucks in return suffice for all that hard labour?
We buy so many things for our daily subsistence everyday. Perhaps we should remember and thank all those faceless people, who with their tireless efforts, ensure a hot nourishing meal three times a day for us.
I crossed that shop everyday afer that incident, but refused to go and buy anything from there any more. Almost six months later, I was just passing by when my eyes fell on the Shop keeper. The moment our eyes met; he looked down with guilt on his face. I know not why I felt guilty too. I moved towards the Shop smiling. I had a long list in my hands.
Tum kidhar mein namega
Hindi and its variations have never seized to amaze me; be it with a spice of English, Bengali or Marathi.
Meghalaya has a substantial population of Bengalis. Perhaps substantial is not a correct word. There has been a slow exodus of this community from here for various reasons over a few decades and not many remain here anymore.
I rather prided myself on my Hindi language skills as far as speaking is concerned. Unfortunately that skill does not extend to writing, in that language.
I still remember how my Hindi School teacher Mrs. Rana, used to be appalled at my absolute lack of interest in her subject.
“Murga banau kya, HAEN…Banau Murga?” She used to say threateningly.
I used to try to keep as straight a face as possible for my insides would be churning up with laughter at the HAEN!
On arriving in Meghalaya, the Hindi spoken by Bengalis was such, that each seemed to be a stand up comedian to me.
One of the days I was travelling with some family friends. There was a person of Hindi origin with us.
The driver asked him,” Tum Kidhar mein namega?”
The person looked all at sea.
Driver tried to explain,” “Namega..tum namega nahi janta hai? Kaisa hindi manush hai tum?” He said, scratching his head.
Others pitched in to help.
” Gadi se lafa(jump) ke dono pa( feet) ek sath korega tum kidhar?”One of them asked him pointing to his feet.
The poor man stared at his feet in dismay.
” Ore Baba…Tum hindi kuch nahi samajhta..Bangla bhi nahi samajhta. Hum korega kya?” This was the driver again in anguish.
By this time, I was in a state where I thought I would burst with laughter.
“Bhaiya, Aap ko kahan utarna hai?” I asked him.
He turned towards me with joy and relief on his face. He got down soon after. Others looked at me with admiration.
Soon I realized that no one understood the Hindi I spoke. Even hindi speaking people spoke that eclectic mix of Bengali and Hindi in day to day life. I also started speaking in a similar way. Initially I felt like a clown doing so, but then it became a matter of habit. Now there was a new problem. When I spoke to old friends back in Maharashtra, they became bewildered.
“Teri tabiyat toh theek hai na?” They would ask, invariably.
Then I would wonder, stare at myself in the mirror and feel my pulse and wonder again. Later on, I realized there was absolutely nothing wrong with me with the sole exception of my tongue. They were too polite to point out that to me.
Then once, I was speaking to a new friend from Uttar Pradesh. I was speaking in the best Hindi I knew.
“Haan kya?”I said at regular intervals.
At the end he said,” Aap Marathi kafi accha bol leti hai!”
My mouth fell open.
“But I have been speaking Hindi all the time!”I ejaculated.
“Is this Hindi? It sounds exactly like Marathi.” He said.
I later realized that “Ho ka?” is my Haan Kya…
My pure Hindi is heavily influenced by Marathi!
My confidence has still not taken a beating. I still consider myself head and shoulder above others.
Here again today I heard someone say, “Apun ka Shorir koisa?”
(Kaisi hai aapki tabiyat?)
God knows what the other person answered on the other end.
” Dekha..ham kaisa bodiya Hindi Sikha.” He said to his friend sitting with him.
I felt a familiar laughter growing within me.🤭🤭 I instantly turned my attention to the newspaper.
At 67,385, highest number of babies born in India on New Years’s Day.
Time to turn solemn.😟😟 It saved my day.
I had felt very relieved on the last day of last year. It has nothing to do by it being the end of the year. The sword of Democles had been hanging over my neck from the last two months or so in the form of final examination of the children. First it was the school exams and then the Bhatkande hindustani classical music examinations. The practical examination ended at 1 p.m. Wow…what a huge relief.
I felt free like a bird. My daughter chirped on the way back home.
Our new year had truly begun.
A task achieved or a job well done instills some peace within. Satisfaction and contentment are perhaps the key to it. Setting new goals and achieving it makes the journey exciting. What if we did not have the new year to remind us of it? What if time was an illusion?
Nature does not celebrate the new year and still it goes on in circles. So do the rivers. They flow on irrespective of time and tide. When they don’t, they stagnate, harbour mosquitoes and stink. Our lives are similar too. It needs to flow continuously overcoming the rocks and pebbles, the ups and downs while nourishing the shores of the soul all along by the assimilated wisdom on the way.
Every day is a new beginning, irrespective of the date. Does the New Year remind us of that?
My daughter remained engrossed in a book in her Kindle, after reaching home. I eyed the shops selling crackers with some alarm. They were inclined to rob me of my precious sleep at night.
The night sky of Shillong remained illumunated with them beyond one a.m.
I woke up when the Sun rays broke in, this year. There was a lull everywhere. The road near my balcony seemed forlon. Even the birds had turned silent. It was only when I called them repeatedly with a tch.tch..tch..did they flew in to peck at the grains of rice I gave them. Do they too get dusturbed and suffer from lack of sleep like us🤔🤔
Can’t say for sure.
I saw the crows coming in later and elbowing the little sparrows out. As for the pigeons; they did not really care as long as they got their fill. I wondered at the human tendencies in all of them. The meek and the mild as well as the wild…all co_existing together more or less happily.
I hurried through the morning chores. Mung dal Khichadi and Brinjal fry for lunch along with fried papads would suffice.
The roads seemed deserted on the way to the hospital. The hospital seemed deserted too. My department was closed too.
What was wrong with the world?🤔🤔
The Casualty Department was buzzing with patients. I went to the Doctors there.
” Are the out patient departments closed today?” I asked one of them.
“Yes. So you have come to work today too?” One of them said and laughed.
“Give yourself a break, just one day at least.” Another said.
I made my way back thinking that I will give myself a break today, like all the others. So the new year is about taking a break, contemplating, rejuvenating and basically taking it easy. Till today, I had thought otherwise. New Year was about sitting up, shaking off your slumber, making new year resolutions and working earnestly towards them. But honestly, I cannot remember following the resolutions for more than a week..😇😇😔
Times have changed. We are more in touch with reality now. So flow with the times and make merry…
Wishing all here a very Happy New Year . May you all be able to stick to your new year resolutions unlike me.
Images sourced from Google and cubesnjullienes.com
A nice, old and sleepy centre stood among the hills, almost hidden by the tall green trees. It had taken almost three hours to reach here. Approximately, half of the journey was along roads; which were being broadened. Thick trunks of trees lay along the road on either side, cut and left there to dry. It pained me no end. They must have stood for fifty years or more perhaps, providing shade and oxygen. Will we able to grow such trees again? All were being sacrificed at the altar of mindless development.
In one place, a JCB was being used to cut a tall Euclyptus tree. It had raised its claws almost vertically and was cutting onto the higher part of the tree. The cuts looked greenish and sap was running out of it. I felt as if it was bleeding with these superficial cuts. Few cuts with the axe and it would not be so painful perhaps. They too deserve some respect in their last moments. To top it all, people had crowded around the JCB and were laughing. I missed out completely on the mirth. I had become one with the tree.
The centre was crowded with patients. But there was no dearth of sitting places. Thick roundrels of tree trunks of different colours, about one foot high each, were placed everywhere, neatly arranged along the walls.
” I just told my staff to go and collect a few tree trunks from those lying on the road and got them cut. They look nice, isn’t it?” The Incharge of that Centre asked me.
“Yes, they do. It’s a pity so many trees are being cut like this.” I told him.
” The roads have to be made broad. How long will we travel on these narrow roads?” He said.
” Hmmm. We did not meet many vehicles on the way.” I told him.
” Have you seen the road which is made already? A four lane road for us to zoom away.” He said, happily.
“Ya, a four lane modern road leading to a village like small town.” I said quietly.
He stared at me, shrugged his shoulders and moved off.
We rapped up our work in another five hours or so. My staff had become very deft in their work. Such was the dedication that, one of them held a urine sample of a patient in his left hand while grabbing cookies with another during tea break.
I ticked him off.
” Do not come near me with that kind of a spectacle in your hands next time.” I told him.
“I will have to test this for sugar.” He answerwd, smiling broadly.
In the midst of all work, ten minutes time can be solely dedicated to nourishing this temple of a body, isn’t it?
When we started back, the sky was still bright. Along the way, the sky turned a dark orange and then started fading. Lots of JCB’s remained suspended in the hills, hanging precariously, clawing at the brown soil repeatedly. I thought they looked like the extinct Dinosaurs of yester years; ferocious and monstrous. I craned my neck outside the window to have a better look at them. They seemed to defy gravity, hanging miles above us like that…
A particular red coloured huge one, loomed above us at a distance, atop a hill. The moment our vehicle reached near it, it suddenly made a one hundred and eighty degree turn and lurched downwards towards us at a great speed! We all yelled in fright together. The huge claws had almost picked us up along with the vehicle by then.
It then suddenly came to a stop. After releasing us gently, it turned upwards, back to work.
” Sorry….it was the Handyman driving.” Someone yelled from the hills.
It was turning dark. We were more than relieved and happy to be on the road again. Even though we reached home safely in another two hours; my heart kept jumping wildly within. What a day it was!
The next day; I was narrating that incident most solemnly to my colleagues in the Doctor’s room, near the operation theatre. General, Orthopaedic surgeons and Ophthalmic ones came for a tea break in between operations.
These guys laughed their hearts out.
” Really you provide us the much needed break. You go for an eye camp and on the way back, the JCB comes down and scoops you all up and puts you on a hilltop. Can you imagine how ridiculous that is?” One of them laughed helplessly as he said this.
” I did not go and sit on a hilltop inside a car. Do not exaggerate.”I retorted.
“News paper headlines. Dr Sapna left atop a tree on a hill. Coutsey: JCB.” Said another.
The scene came alive and vibrant in front of my mind’s eye this time, and all of us broke into a collective laighter. Finally with that, my heart beat became normal again and remained so for a long time.
Visits since 2017
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