A letter to the garden that I left behind





My beloved garden,

I left you behind with a very heavy heart when I moved from the city that I lived in for two years. And move I had to. But how I miss you! Not a day goes by when I don’t think of you , when I don’t yearn to be with you. The first thing I would do after waking up would be to open the door leading to you and greet you with a smile, thanking each new flower for gracing us. From the moment I would wake up, I would wait for my favorite part of the day, sitting on the chair in the verandah , sipping hot tea and gazing at you. You, surrounded by the white picket fence that I always wished for, the wish fulfilled by my dear husband.

How are the Frangipani plants doing?  The plants that were on their way to becoming young trees when I left. How I had waited and waited for these frangipani/champa plants to gift me with some flowers! How I had rejoiced and laughed happily when I came to greet you one morning and saw the beautiful first flower that smiled at me! I remember rushing inside and bringing my husband out with me, to show him the wonder that had blessed us. The white, virginal and pristine flower which infused a warm glow in my whole being. The hibiscus plants nearby had also started gracing us with pink and red flowers. I hope they are surviving well. The golden yellow hedge which grew from a tiny baby into a lovely cheerful fully grown magnificience. And yes, the various bougainvillas must be growing by leaps and bounds now, begining to cover the iron fencing.

Are the Jasmine bushes flowering? They had been planted with a meticulously measured distance between each of them . The  divine perfume from their flowers made my evenings serene as I would walk past them and sit on my favorite swing. They lent an intoxicating smell to the air in my home. Is the creeper in front of the verandah full of flame coloured flowers now? How desperately we tried to save it from withering, and succeeded twice. What about the sadabahar/periwinkle flowers? Are they flourishing as they were, when I was there? We had planted them in seperate spheres of earth, dug out under the bedroom window.These brave flowers showed up even on the coldest and harshest of days, glorifying the resilience of life. Is the Papaya tree growing nicely? And how is the Rockery? I hope the different coloured hedges planted in it’s different levels are flourishing. Do the 4 P.M. plants flower every evening, justifying their name?

The Kaner plant that we shifted from a pot to the ground at the entrance was already almost a tree. How beautiful it looked, laden with yellow flowers! And the Morning Glory creeper that covered the entire fence near the gate, is it healthy? A spectacle of a blue flowery fence awaited me each morning when I would come to stand at the gate alongwith my kids, waiting for their school bus to arrive. Oh, how lovely it made my mornings! Do you remember the laughter of my children as they rushed out to you daily, with joy in their heart. Do you remember the admiring glances from the passers-by as they took in your glory? Do you remember my pride for you?

It is in your lap that I sat on countless nights, crying, after my mother died. It is you whose peace seeped into me, during those nights. Those nights that were the darkest ever in my life. Your silent presence assured me that I was not alone out there in the dark. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, my dear garden. May you continue to give happiness to all the future residents of the house. May you always bless their children with happiness, like you blessed my children. And I promise, I will come to meet you once again. Amen.

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

Romanticising the past

 All of us tend to romanticize our past; scrubbing it and shining it till it gleams in our memories. With time, the memories of the tough times also change. The rough edges are softened and when we reminise about a particularly difficult phase, we tell ourselves that it was a learning experience. However, in contrast, the person who we think was the perpetrator of the tough experience, is never forgotten. Infact, the dislike for the person just keeps increasing. After all, we are, but regular people. Not saints,  who will forgive and forget.
The same goes for worshipping the departed souls. Our culture forbids us from speaking ill of those who have passed away . Hence, we compulsively praise the dead, hoisting them up onto a pedestal they may or may not be worthy of. Their less desirable traits are never mentioned.
But maybe this is what helps us in shrugging off the negative load of unpleasant memories from our minds, hearts and souls……This romanticising of the past.

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

Oh gentle rain! I request thee to bless my children

Oh rain, how gently you drop from the sky,
like a loving gift from the clouds,
to their friend, the earth.

Oh rain, how soothed the weary and tired earth must be,
whose soul has been blessed by you,
made to feel moist , made to feel the stirrings of life.

Oh rain, bless the soul of my children too,
that it should remain innocent and full of hope,
that it’s light should guide them when surrounded by the dark.

Oh rain, bless their soul to be childlike always,
like it is today, guileless and pure,
like it is today, brimming with joy and wonder.

Oh rain, look how they are welcoming you,
dancing and singing with happiness ,
as they would welcome a dear friend.

Oh rain, I request you to bless these friends of yours,
that they find the path that is meant for them,
and that they have the strength to continue to walk on it.

Oh gentle rain , I request thee to bless my children.

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

My last minute wedding jitters

Growing up, I was never one of those girls who dreamt of getting married. Of course, I too wished for a guy who would sweep me off my feet. ( and then would readily dance with me! ) But being married to that dream-guy never crossed my mind. The word ” Marriage ” would scare me to death. I was as independent as they make them. With Dad being away at sea mostly, we learnt everything from an early age- accompanying Mom to banks, gas agencies, water/electricity board offices, family events, and basically everywhere. I was also the official driver of my home and would drive Mom around the town, from a very early age.

Also, there was no hierarchy in my home regarding finances. Dad didn’t “control” the money, something that I saw ( and still see ) in most families. Mom and Dad managed that together and us children were also kept in the picture about everything. All this ensured that I never had to lie about anything. I would go for sleepovers at friends’ homes, movies, drives, parties. ..everything. My friends from more conservative families would sometimes tell their parents that they were visiting me , and would go for movies. So basically, I was not in a place I wanted to escape from. I was working, studying and life was good.

Then, a day arrived when I was only a week away from getting married. How I reached to the point is another story, for another day. But here I was, terrified and getting cold feet. Ranjan (my hubby) had been assuring me that my life would stay the same; that ” leaving one’s home” and ” separating from one’s family ” were all outdated concepts and I could put my fears to rest. In a lighter vein, he would also keep reminding me not to do a ” runaway bride ” on him. Strange as it might sound, I was happy being a fiancee and didn’t want to get married! I had a wonderful fiance and yeah, life was as good as it could be.

Coming back to my “cold feet”. Mom got worried seeing me totally spooked and tried to reassure me. My childhood friend Monika Sahal Tiwari visited me and I blurted out to her, ” I don’t want to get married. I want to run away. My life is changing. What about my independence? And my beautiful room!” Anyways, she made a list of the cosmetics I would be needing and both of us went shopping. Cosmetics and shopping cheered me up for the day. ( So much for serious life- changing thoughts! ) Dear Prerna Sharma Deshwal , you also did some shopping for me. Ira too. Thank you my friends.

You might wonder why I am regailing you with this story. The truth is , I have no idea. Maybe it all came to me as I have got cold feet again. Why? Don’t worry, it’s only because of the air conditioner. But this time I know what to do. I am wearing socks! 😉 😉 ‘)

By the way, did you get an attack of ” Last Minute Wedding Jitters” too? Do tell.  🙂

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

Posting aa gayi ?

Whenever a fauji is reaching the end of his tenure in a particular place, everyone has only one question for him and his family at all gatherings- ” Posting aa gayi? ” It’s not too different from that dreaded query- ” Beta shaadi kab karoge?” Or worse, ” When are you giving us the GOOD NEWS ?” , from a newly married couple. ( Really, we can beat anyone hollow if there ever was a competition for asking personal questions. Us nosey / pokey Indians! 🙂 )

You might be making a desperate dash from the dressing room to the swimming pool ; because you just discovered that your swimming costume is not being able to contain the various body parts which are spilling out. Just then, you are waylaid by a curious & well meaning samaritan – ” Hi. Posting aa gayi? ” Grrrrrrrr. Please just let me dive into the pool before I completely spill out of my swimsuit that has become 3 sizes too small for me.

You go for/to :

An evening walk- “Posting aa gayi?”
Mess/Official party – ” Posting aa gayi? ”
Private gathering – ” Posting aa gayi? ”
Club- ” Posting aa gayi? ”

Finally, the signal / intimation for the posting arrives. Yippppeeee. You have an answer now! Just like the eligible male/female who can now stop hiding and announce ” Yes! Mujhe ladka/ladki pasand hai. I will soon deliver the GOOD NEWS too! Would you prefer a boy or a girl ? ”


© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

She saw herself, in the winter of her life

she saw 1

She lay on her bed,
Her life flashing before her eyes; as it often did, these days.
There she is, bathing under the stream as a kid, free as a bird.
Now she is standing at the threshold of a new life, as a young bride, dreamy eyed.
Look, she is taking care of her home and her kids, like a devotee.
Her identity is but a reflection of her husband’s personality .
Her kids, her home and her spouse- the reason for her being.

And now, the kids have grown and flown the nest, one by one; building their own nests.
Grappling with illness, she lies on her bed all day.
Musing if the life she lived was worthwhile.
Her children take care of her and visit her,
But she yearns to confide in someone, pour her heart out;
To someone who would listen and understand her journey.
And maybe give her the validation she longs for,
That it was not all wasted, that she did accomplish something worthwhile.

She wonders why she didn’t nurture a little world for her own self.
A world apart from her home, kids and her spouse.
A world that comprised her own friends, her quirks,her hobbies.
A world with her name glittering on it’s horizon.

The icy winds of the winter are freezing her heart, slowly sucking the life force away.
Overwhelmed with the force of the images in front of her eyes,
She shuts them and tries to conjure up a different vision.
Where her being is not merged into her home and hearth.
She sees herself rise from the earth, like a phoenix, a separate being, full of life;
Standing in full glory, arms spread wide, smiling, exulting in it’s freedom.
She sees herself like she was as a child, free as a bird.
She finally breaks loose from the tiny thread holding her to this world,
And flies away- At Last.

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

The cobwebs in my food blog

A year and a month ago, I suddenly felt a very strong urge to start a food blog. I started off with a Facebook page and then graduated to a blog. Not satisfied with the look of the blog, I contacted a professional and gave him the brief – a ” homely looking site”.

He gaped at me and asked what I meant by ” homely “. I told him that to me, it meant a simple canvas on which I could just chronicle my cooking adventures, with some stories thrown in. But he told me that since I would be posting regularly in the near future, we might as well go in for a more ” in ” look. After some discussion I gave in and my new site was built. I like it and he has done a neat enough job but how I wish I had stuck to my ” homely” brief!

My food blog which I saw as a platform to share my food adventures and related stories is giving me guilt – laden moments. It looks like a professional site and I don’t post often enough. Infact, the last post was around a month back and the next post doesn’t seem to be happening anywhere soon in the future. We will be living in guestrooms for about 2 months and I won’t be cooking anything for a long time.

Also, I am not an expert and there are days when I don’t cook anything at all. I am not one of those effecient ladies who rustle up goodies at a short notice and can cook in any kitchen . Infact, I am one of those people who are good-for-nothing in kitchens other than their own.

If my food blog was a room, it would be full of dust and cobwebs by now. Of course I plan to be regular at it once the kids are slightly older and I get more free time. After all, I do love posting the pictures, recipes and the related stories. Till then, it’s just my very own journal.

Again, how I wish I had stuck to my ” homely ” look for the blog. There would be no guilt pangs to deal with. But hey, no more guilt . After all, I AM the Boss of the blog, ain’t I ? ☺☺

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

He danced ! He moved!

A few weeks back, we went for the “DJ night” organised at the Officers’ Institute in the Jaipur Cantt. As we got ready at home, we had a very important discussion .

Me- ” Will you dance with me tonight? ”
Ranjan -” No. I don’t know how to dance. I am only going because the kids want to go.
Me- ” But you know I love to dance, surely you can make the effort for me”.
Ranjan – ” I am not stopping you.You can dance all you want”.
Me- ” Oh really? Do you expect me to dance alone, or with someone else’s husband?”.
Ranjan- ” Anya, Taidu, let’s go. We are getting late.”

We reach the venue and sit with soft drinks in our hands. I look wistfully at all the people enjoying on the dance floor. Bracing myself, I start persuading him to dance with me. His excuses:

1. ” One needs to have a few drinks inside to be able to dance freely . I am a teetotallar.”
2. ” I dance like Sunny Deol. Do you want me to make a fool of myself.”
3. ” I don’t like the songs that the DJ is playing. He doesn’t know his job.”

After half an hour of cajoling, requesting, begging; His Highness finally relents . ( The only thing left for me to do was to go down on one knee and ask for his hand; no, his two left feet.)

We reach the dance floor and start dancing . Me, with a big triumphant smile on my face and him, with a self conscious scowl. Just then, the DJ feels a surge of patriotism and starts to play retro hindi movie numbers, non – stop. He plays “Olay Olay”(full song), and the hubby stomps his way through that. Then comes “Jai Jai Shiv Shankar” and the hubby survives that too. I am delirious with happiness as I feel that now he will surely last for atleast half an hour; kind of enough to satiate my dance hunger. And then, the DJ starts to play THE song. The mother of all lusty, busty, rainy songs- ” Tipppp Tipppp Barsa Paani “.

Sunny Deol/Self proclaimed Mr. Two left feet/ Hubby puts both his ( left) feet down and thunders, ” There’s no way I am dancing to THIS FILTHY number!!” He grabs my hand and leads me away from the dance floor. I glare at the DJ and mentally punch him till he drops to the floor. Somebody, please take his license away and tear it to shreds.

But it’s still a momentous occasion. So, photo toh banti hai !!

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

Serendipity – ABBA and Mamma Mia

Today is the day we when we move out of our home, into a guest room. The whole week has gone by in a tizzy- packing, rushing around the city for last moment chores, tempers fraying etc. As I stood in the kitchen store, moving jars and boxes out; I heard the notes of “Mamma Mia” blaring out of the t.v.

I absolutely adore the movie- Right from Meryl Streep’s grace, Pierce Brosnan’s hotness & charm, Colin Firth’s clumsy & cute dance to Streep’s wild & crazy friends – everything!

I’d seen the movie for the first time in Doon when I was carrying Taidu, my younger daughter. Anya and I watched the movie on television and danced to my favourite ABBA songs. Here , in this house too, many beautiful Sunday afternoons were spent watching this lovely movie. All four of us, singing along and dancing too , with me telling my kiddos of the times when I would go for solo drives in the car, with ABBA songs blaring out of the car’s stereo. Back then, even my mom had come to like the numbers. My kiddos too now know the songs and watch the whole movie, without once whining for the cartoon channels!

So, it’s sweet serendipity that the movie was scheduled for today. Again we watched it together, and the happy memories came flooding back, lifting the mood. A befitting closure to our days in this home. Mamma Mia ! !

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

Packing a home into trunks

I kept putting it off and now it’s upon me – THE PACKING. The freshly painted black trunks have been staring at me for sometime now, saying, ” Hey lady, move your butt ,get moving, start packing”. The legendary TRUNKS – a constant part of a fauji family’s life.

Of course, I keep giving away stuff that’s not required and keep downsizing throughout the year. More than anything else, I do it for selfish reasons. Reducing the stuff in my home helps to de – clutter the house as well as the mind and is therapeutic.

I have been trying to think of the pros, instead of the cons. The regular postings, shifting of the houses- maybe this is what keeps all faujis and their families in high spirits always. This mandatory spring cleaning, disposal/donation of old stuff, doing away with broken things that have lived their course- all of this lightens the load, both in the house and in the mind; leaving plenty of room for fresh stuff and thoughts. It keeps one from falling into a rut, from becoming a creature of habit and forming fixed ideas & opinions about everything.

So, let me do away with outdated ideas, opinions, habits, emotions and make way for fresh hopes & beginings. Let me dream of a new life, in a new place, in a new home. Amen.

© Jun 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani