Sunday, April 15, 2018

The power of brother. . .

It has been three years since I last saw and spoke to Kailash. The day, or in fact the last week of his, on this earth is etched as an ediagraphic memory deep in my heart and brain. On the tenth of April 2015, I called him to come home. He denied it owing to some hospital duty that weekend. Further, he promised to come on the 14th of April - The New Year's Day, The birthday of my Mother, The Day of divine worship Vishu, the day of him to start his prayers and fasting for Sabari Mala. His work commitments never allowed him to join me for all these celebrations during the second weekend and third week of April.

 But on 16 of April, when I boarded my bus to be back to Chennai, I called him. His last minutes on earth and his last conversation with me is, " A girl gets complete when she is married off and earns a good name at the in-laws. Girls are like the paddy crop: they are like the 'Naththu' at the parents home and at right time and age, like how the Nathu(young paddy crop) is planted in the field to yield golden grains, the girls should be married off to attain the bliss of womanhood." These words convinced me to say okay for a wedding.

His one and only criteria for my husband to be was the boy should respect me and treat me with dignity, no matter what.He continued his advice, " Trust the family. If the family has moral values, the boy will be the best of all. In any case, never let go of your respect and become a victim of comparison. Stand with gentle valor guarded by love. In case of any problem, give me a call and say that you want to meet me. I PROMISE I WILL BE NEXT TO YOU IN THE MINIMUM POSSIBLE TIME in whichever corner of the world you are. Until then, try to be patient and avoid confrontations.I will never let you face anything alone." 
Dr.Raj Kailash Mohan - Painted by Poongavanam Arts
He won. He won on that very same day, same minute in gaining my confidence, in gaining my acceptance to a wedding which my parents could not. He made me realize the essence of life, morale and womanhood. Till date, I do not realize how could a young kiddo talk word with so much meaning. His promise and his words of wisdom is the only strength that I rely upon. It is truly difficult for me to follow his words to a tee. 

There’s a tendency for people to make his death the pinnacle of dying. I dunno how he went. I dunno if he was afraid to leave the three of us alone. I dunno if he underwent a lot of pain. But I know for sure, He was so loved, He had a hearty conversation with all the three of us,  minutes before he left. But none of these is considered. Many people, treated by him, are revived back to life. Why can't he be? Why did he leave so early? What did he feel when he breathed his last? Did he know that was the last breath he took? There are many unanswered questions in all our hearts. But, lest we convinced that he is definitely that guardian angel from up above the sky, longing to look at our smiles. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Prayers' Power . . !

A few years back, Kailash went to Sabari Mala praying for my good health. There were a grand feast and pooja for all the swamis at our place. He ordered a full stomach filling food. About 100 people or so visited our home, attended the pooja and blessed us all. We were extremely glad. His trip to see Ayyappan was also an eventful and successful one. He came with his usual surprise gifts.

Kailash on his first birthday

That night, I was teasing him and scolding him the long pending scoldings. It is a practice that one who wears the garland and fasts for the pilgrimage, should not be scolded. For his forty-five days plus the three days journey, altogether of forty-eight days of non - scolding him, I was in a full form to tease him. I asked him, what he prayed for. He replied, " I prayed for a life one day longer than yours." I was taken aback by this reply of his. I did not understand why he said so. I mistook him, slept angrily that night. A few days later, when I fought with mom like the usual happenings of those days (even now) and was in solitude in my room, he came and he sat next to me and said, " You are very naive. You need me around for every bit of your life, to tease, to support, to play with, to rely upon. So, I won't leave until you leave this world. That is a promise." I remember pushing him aside angrily and he smiled, patting me back saying, "Loosu Gaana, come let's play Monopoly." After a decade, I keep remembering his promise, every day. I held on to the anger that he did not fulfill his promise. I memorialized certain events and kept the pain of missing him, so close to me.

But, I have grown to make peace with the fact that his physique is the absent one in the contemporary world. I began holding on to the beautiful memories of him tightly that in his absence, the memories soothe me. I began to joyfully accredit that I have had the most beautiful brother in the world. I have begun to accept the fact that his death can not lessen the love that he had for me nor I had for him. I have begun to loosen the grip on the pain but tighten the grip on the joy of thinking about him. For, I am sure, in few earth years, I will be with him, hugging him tightly and teasing him like the usual....

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Unbroken Promises made . . . .

The Month January of every year led to new beginnings, new thoughts and newer attitude. We loved to celebrate January. There is a new year day, Pongal day, Kanupidi, Republic day and what not… Kanupidi is a function that the Indian – Bhramin ladies in the house celebrate for the prosperity of their brothers. Kanupidi day falls on the next day of Pongal. Every home, that has a brother, celebrated Kanupidi. Ours too! We never missed a year. Even when our granddad passes away, the ladies of the home thought we must keep kanupidi or atleast pray for our brothers’ peace and prosperity.
I was never an early bird, you know. Getting up early in the morning seems like a really bad thing to me. Especially when I began going to college. Kailash used to wake me up in the mornings, especially for on these days, telling me to memorize the ‘rhymes’ that we sing during the occasion. It used to be funny. He would do most of the things on behalf of me – chopping sugarcane to pieces, mixing rice, bring and arranging leaves for the morsel of food to be kept, every tiniest of the tiny things was taken care by him. Mom used to be so proud of her son, who helps her in the kitchen chores. And, after the event – for which he ‘helped most’, I would get a present from him in return. It is beautiful, isn’t it?
I used to make promises to him – ‘I will get you this. I will get you that. I will take you outside to this place.’ So on and so forth. But, when I remember, with all pain and tears welling up, his promises were loaded with infinite love. His promises were not compromising. His promises were futuristic and his promises were realistic. His last words to me, a few hours before the horrible moment were, “Stay calm. Never be afraid of the new people. They aint gonna be new anymore. All of them are your family. You are their family. In any worse situations, remember, stay calm. It will be difficult. Yet stay calm. Call me to tell , ‘you wanna see me’ and I shall be before you in the least possible time. But, until then, stay calm during adverse times.” I, a young lady of 25, was a career oriented, goal driven dumbass who never foresaw anything beyond lab and research. When talking of wedding, my first thought was Fear. I did not even share the fear with my parents. Neither did they take the initiative to clear my fear for they thought, I would eventually figure out and be a good girl. But what surprised me was, kailash talking to me about all this. His promise made me say yes to a wedding. Deep down my heart, I am sure, he is still keeping up his promise to me, in some form or the other and it is me who is failing to realize it.
I wanted to go back to those times of promises being made. I wanted to change my promises. "I will be there for you in times of adversity. I would be there to hold your back. I would be there to snatch you away from the clutches of death angel..." I wanted to... But, I realized, I have new promises to be made to newer people of my life. I realize, I must strive hard to keep up those promises. I began making promises, 'Our lives are finite. But, my love and care for you shall stay for you till eternity. Until then, I shall strive to be honest and transparent in the relationship that we share. I shall be there when and if needed and possible.." 
Making New Promises that are more meaningful and more realistic......

PS; To pacify my own mind, I requested if I can cook food for a kid at my work place, He  generously accepted the offer.I owe the kiddo some prayer. 

Friday, January 05, 2018

The Power of Positivity

And, it is the resolution week of the year! Before beginning, let me wish you all a healthy, peaceful 2018 ahead. Let us strive hard to understand each other’s differences and maintain a less – strained relationship, forego jealousy and hatred and escalate the humanity within us to make the world and days to come a great one!

Most of us, brood over the insults of past and would complain/keep complaining the bad things that have happened to us. But this year, for me, began in a different way. I met a game changer woman at my workplace who by her actions, taught me to think differently.

On the first working day of 2018, as we quenched our screaming tummy with yummy food and warmed up our fingers with a cup of hot cocoa, we started talking about ‘women at workplace’. Trust me, it was not at all a gossip. But, it was about the different challenges that most of the women face, differently, in the workplace and how should those challenges be overcome.

We were sharing our challenges that we were then facing: having an 18 month old baby at home who was close to being sick, being robbed in a foreign land, searching for a new career opportunity with a ViSa sponsored, writing a couple of research articles, and the list went on and on for every one of us, personally and professionally. When I was feeling low about my ‘relocation’ process and letting go of a promising career (which I always loved to take up) that I would have had, if I had stayed here, I understood, I am not alone!

Having an 18 month old baby girl at home, my colleague travels to her workplace, completes her job responsibility and gets back home to be a beautiful mother in her 40’s and yet, she is so positive and inspiring. “You are worthy of more than what you can comprehend,” she says. “Show your denial, if it is reasonable, with a smile. Being bold is beautiful definitely takes a lot of bravery,” she smiled. I was astonished by the positivity she carried with her and the aspirations she was thrusting upon all of us. I thought, at that moment, ‘when a multi-challenge – facing – women like her can smile so gleefully, why not me?’ That was her impact on me. That was when I realized, being bold with a smile, matters!

She was the one who suggested #365gratefuldays, which I am currently posting on my social media feed. The concept is, to be grateful for the small things around us, spreading cheer and positive vibes. Down the lane, when we look back, we shall have umpteen number of things to be glad for.

When I thought of whatever I ‘complain’ about, they are actually challenges in disguise and everyone has their own shares, fairly measured and bestowed upon them to face. Well, I am no mother of an infant and a teen yet but will definitely be one, in times to come. And, at that time of my life, I will be having added responsibilities to what all I have now. I can’t escape from those responsibilities. When I pondered over, again and again, the thirty /forty minutes of conversation with her, all I understood was these: a) When we start counting the blessings that are in small forms as well, we will stop complaining the negativity. b) It is okay to say NO for an answer provided you are reasonable and honest to your own self. c) Fight for injustice but know what you are fighting for. Not to forget, fight with a smile and not with a curse, which most of us do not do (including me).

Let us stop arguing over the ‘last seen status’, ‘who is great’, ‘who is better’ and all those profanely insane questions and start living a life of substance, knowing our worth, acknowledging the small happiness, spreading positivity and embracing humanity!


Again, Happy 2018!

Lots of Love,
Riya ©

Ps: Thanks Semanti !

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Ushering with hope . . .

December is the month of joy, the month of celebration and the month of winter. Kailash was an ardent Ayyappa devotee. Year after year, every year, he used to visit Sabarimala after strenuous and disciplined fasting and strict adherence to the rules. He gained many lovable souls during this journey and his ‘Swamy Saranam’. For all the reasons we had a big number of friends to be with us, it was also undeniable the friends he brought into our lives through his devotion, was a huge draw. He was, so in turn were we, surrounded by beautiful people that were not just showing off their devotion and the pilgrimage trips, but they lived it to the very word of being an Ardent Ayyapa devotee.
His first trip to the Sabari Mala happened when he was a toddler. Everyone in the troupe, when they returned, spoke so proud of this baby boy, a toddler, who carried his pious irumudi all by himself throughout the journey and was thoroughly disciplined, as well. When we asked him, how the trip was, he said with a frown on his face, with so much of sigh, that the God he saw was of urgency to poop! We all laughed out loud, looking at his innocence. But when the Guruswamy explained about the significance of the sitting position of the Lord, he listened to it carefully and never forgot. Every trip of him, he was sincere. He was devoted. He was honest. He brought the prasad and would share it with everyone he knew. He would let me take the divine ghee and ashes to my college. My then HoD did appreciate that gesture then. 

It has been almost thirty-two months since I know that he would never come back with those ghee and bells. Every time I see a Swamy in black dress or brown dress, I see him in them. Every time I hear that Saranagosham, anywhere, I am struck with the strongest desire that, somewhere in the group of Swamy Mars, He would be there, His bright innocent face would flash in. Every devotee that he knew of, used to update us about their Sabari Mala trip and would bring home, the divine Prasadam. His recent troupe members, never fail to leave his regular chair empty. Upon their return, they tell us, “We saw Kailash at the Sannidhanam!”. Everyone made us believe, he is there, living with the Lord. Be it KR mama, Shree Raju sir, Shri. Aravind, Balu Gurusami or Siva Gurusami or MSS Mama, be it any of the ardent devotees who visit the PanthalaRaj year after year, they tell us that they saw Kailash with HIM and they believe Kailash is with HIM.  I cannot stop hoping to see him just for one day, one day when he returned from the SabariMala Yatra with so much positivity, the one day when he had so much of stories to share, the one day when we used to be all ears to listen to the the description of the pilgrimage, the one day when he would bring something for the three of us for the wedding day that got over and the birthdays that was to come, the one day when I could happily irritate him and scold him after forty-five days, the one day when he would also get equally irritated to reprimand me, and for that one day, I am ready to redeem my 1000 days. With the hope of seeing him in different forms of life, Ushering into the New year and the years to come….

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The constant of my life.!

November is a month of happenings. Prior to his demise, I had happy memories and post, there were many traumas! Let me recall the beautiful memories and try to let go off the trauma, now. I would like to paint the beauty of life, as of now. May be, later, when I am long gone, you can focus on my ‘November Trauma’!
November was the month that laid the foundation of our birth. Yes, the Mohans marriage. Year after year, every year, Kailash and I used to gift our parents many tiny stuffs. We would hide under the cot or close ourselves in the cupboard, break our piggybank – buy things or make things - paint – wrap and do many things in secrecy. It is supposed to be a surprise, you know! The November, before his sad end, Kailash and I, organized a party with our cherished circle to commemorate the 25th year wedding anniversary of our parents. Rings, new dresses, dinner and invitations, many things came to them as a surprise.
Sitting at the back bench, me and Kailash passed running commentaries, pun – intended, for every wish that the couple received from the erudite, on stage. At one point, both of us, ran outside to have a hearty laugh and came back to the celebration with laughter choking us, literally.

A last picture of our complete family - Nov 2014.

A couple of days ago, when I was accessing my drive for few pictures, there was him in many folders, his life measurable by the bunch of images, the all smiles and the all cuteness, the strict facial expressions, the childish twinkle in his eyes, the divine aura spread all over, there were many images. There were some videos, which presumably had his voice in it but then, I had no courage left in me to open those video bytes.
Year after year, the anniversaries are to come. But, we will miss him till eternity. We will miss his pun – intended comments to pull my parent’s legs. I will miss him while planning surprises. I will miss him during the dress selections. I will miss him to comment on the colours of my choice. I try not to miss him, by looking at the sky. Most of the times, he kisses me as rain. I have been struggling to accept that everything around me - the people, the season, time - is always changing. I realized he was the only constant I ever had and will never have. I am trying not to allow the sadness in my mind to be my only sibling left. But sometimes, I have got no other choices.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Learning to Live . . . !

I have faced many losses in my daily life. A teacher, A friend, A paternal Uncle, A maternal uncle, Granny and Grandad. Yes, I have lost people. Rather, I would like to say, I gave back these people to their creator. I knew they have lived their life happily and any more day beyond their last day would be just as painful as anything that words fail to describe. But, losing someone who fits in every possible relation ; A teacher – to teach me what is right and what is wrong, A friend to be in need, A guide to give me suggestions, A companion to travel with me, A parent to understand what I would need, A co – gamer to play with me, A grandparent to cook for me and tell me stories and above all A BROTHER – to love me with all his heart; yes, losing him is a pain to me every day, every minute.  
Three months later, I was experiencing a paroxysm of weeping for the first time after my brother’s demise, that I started telling stories of his life to a few friends. When I began mentioning his life in ‘past tense’ my friends stopped me and asked me to talk in present tense. Few friends in-boxed me saying that they did not want my 'Kailash diaries' on 16th of every month. Instead, the 23rd of every month. The reason they tell me is that I should start celebrating his life more than brooding over his death. 
Friends have always been my family so far. I do not know, how to thank them for all that they have done to me at various points of my life. Friends filled in so much of my life’s pages. And, here by friends I mean, people elder to me. When ‘Friends’ by themselves are an advantage to any human being, I had the perks of having experienced (I really don wanna call them Old, u know!!) friends who had always taught me to look the other side of any story being told. When I hang up any calls with them, suddenly, from nowhere, this feeling of loneliness creeps in and occupies my whole self and gives me the relentless reminders being orphaned (Oh yea, I do have my parents! But, Kailash was above all the kith and kin). I was not someone who used to weep and wail so easily. I was soft yet stubborn. I wasn’t pampered much but I made sure or at least he made sure that I got what I deserved.

I once went to him with a problem. I felt I was exploited and abused by one of my mentors during a project phase. I never knew with whom I can share. I was afraid of telling my parents. For, they would tell me to withdraw the project and come home to them. I can’t do that! I called him over phone. I told him my trouble. His immediate response: “Every coin has another side. I would not say you are the only person right. Neither would I say you are the only person wrong. Learn the experience from this. Learn the mistake and know to do it right. Forgetting or forgiving the people involved is your discretion. But, learn. Learn to learn and learn to accept and learn to prioritize your needs and learn to empathize. Remember, you are on your own now. Kerala is our neighboring state. Yes, I agree. We can come to you by an overnight journey. But, it was your choice to go there for your project. You are responsible for your decisions. Live and Learn to Live!”

I keep remembering this more often because of the experiences - the bitter and best, the people around me keep giving me. My present situations make me feel the pangs of remorse that I am missing a trust worthy kin. How true was his word ‘live and learn to live!’ I still wonder, maybe he is the gospel to many of our lives. Even as being as translucent as I can be, I can’t stitch words together to express the lacuna in my life because of his physical absence. But, I am learning. I am learning to accept.