Zero…..he became

Desperate

You are nothing but a zero
shouted his father at him
throwing his progress report on the floor
making him squirm in shame

You are nothing but a zero
fumed the father through clenched teeth
when he fumbled and mumbled
in front of people

You are nothing but a zero
snarled the father at him viciously
look into my eyes when I talk to you
and try as he might, he just couldn’t

You are nothing but a zero
thundered the father at him
at your age, I had to fend for myself
and his self esteem sank further

A day arrived when he came to believe that he really was nothing but a zero
he couldn’t talk to people
couldn’t look them in the eye
and felt powerless, worthless, useless

The word “zero” haunted him day and night
gnawing at his senses and his soul
he failed at everything , his father’s words proved right
he did turn out to be a “Zero”

© Oct 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

With or without you

with-or-without-you

“With or without you”- this gem of a song by the rock band U2, has been a favourite of mine since the growing up years. Now, it is almost the theme song for my married life. The hubby and I regularly belt out this number for each other. With or without you, I can’t live…with or without you. There are times when I glare my eyes out at him. There are other times when I desperately wish there was a remote control device made  bespoke for him; where I could just say “Mute”, “Off”, “Change”, “Volume low”, and other such sweet nothings. Just imagine , how nice it would be! Hey, I can actually see all you married souls grinning!

Some days, I feel so exasperated with this  marriage thing that I want to shout at the universe- ” Give me a brrrreeeaaaakkkk  “- from this pig headed and obnoxious man , who always talks in a high pitch; from this opinionated alpha male who raves and rants about every topic under the sun ( where’s the bespoke remote? ). There are times when I have earnest conversations with the supreme presence, and ask him- Why, oh why, is it, that a “discussion” with THIS man ( fingers pointed ) always and always turns into a full- blown argument? Will there ever be a day when we will be able to have a sane, calm “discussion”( do I see men looking heavenward at this word? ) without tempers fraying and one or both of us stomping out of the room?

Then, there are times when I feel ” What would I do without this lovable bull ? ” This bull who :

is a wonderful father to our two daughters and who let’s himself be bullied, punched and pummeled by his princesses; who has been a complete hands on dad since their births; who gives in to their Sunday morning demand of shampooing their hair.

buys those packets for me with panache, when cousin Red comes visiting every month. And insists on going on at eleven in the night , if he comes to know that I don’t have any.

eats whatever I cook , with gratitude and love; and praises it to the skies ( to anyone and everyone) , leaving me almost embarassed as I am no Julia child ( or closer home- Tarla Dalal ).

didn’t let me move out of the bed for a month when I was unwell; and nursed me back to health, like a mother would.

lets me BE and respects me as a “person”, above everything else. Doesn’t ever try to impose any of his ideas on me and wants me to be my own person, always.

is as liberated as they make them and treats me as his intellectual equal. I would have felt stifled with anyone else.

stood like a rock behind me as I took decisions for myself; telling me to stop worrying about what elders/people would say. And I know that it’s not a cakewalk, saying and doing that.

gave his 500 %  and more, to his family and near ones; striving to be the best son/brother that one could be.

I am writing all this, and I am realising that the “Don’t likes”have been outnumbered by the “I loves”. So, my dear husband, I know that you are truly one of a kind ; and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have come to find your raving & ranting about a million issues of the world, quite endearing. I know that you will enter the hell with me, if I need you to. I know that even you would not have it any other way.

With you, I fight. Without you , I wither away.

© Oct 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

Say yes….

yes

Say yes…

To those evenings playing and laughing at your children’s behest
because they will soon grow up and flow the nest

To an idyllic day just smelling the roses
because the door to those could be the one that god closes

To that oil and spice laden delicious curry
because life has a way of passing you by in a hurry

To those heels and that sexy little black dress
because feeling good never added to anyone’s stress

To those short trips taken impromptu
because a day will come when you will not be able to

To life, love and laughter
because you will not live ever after

© Oct 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

मिटटी, मेरे हर घर की

hands-planting-flowers-in-garden-2

मेरे इस नये घर की बगिया
धीरे-धीरे अपने अन्दर समेट रही है
मेरे हर पीछे छूटे हुए घर की खुशियों और यादों को
हर बार जब गमलों की मिट्टी खंगाली जाती है
तो कुछ मिली जुली मिट्टी हर गमले के हिस्से में आती है

कुछ मिट्टी मेरे प्रिय देहरादून की
कुछ शांत स्वर पहाड़ों के
कुछ सुरीले गीत वादियों के
कुछ उन्मुक्त हँसी मेरे बच्चों के बचपन की
कुछ अवसाद युक्त व्यथा उस समय के एकाकीपन की

कुछ मिट्टी रंगीले जयपुर की
कुछ गुलाब के फूल सी रूमानियत गुलाबी शहर की
कुछ सिहरन पैदा करता रोमांच रेगिस्तान का
कुछ खिलखिलाहटें मेरे बच्चों और उनके सखाओं की
कुछ गौरव प्रेम और निष्ठा से संवरे हुए खूबसूरत घर का

मेरे इस नये घर की बगिया की ये मिली जुली मिट्टी
धीरे-धीरे बिखेर रही है
मेरे घर में बहने वाली बयार में
मेरे हर पीछे छूठे हुए घर की
मिली जुली खुशी, मिला जुला अनुभव और मिला जुला सफ़र

© Oct 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

Shraadh – performed with full faith. By a daughter. For her mother.

shraadh

I believe in God; as in, a supreme presence existing in the universe around us. I do pray sometimes, it makes me feel calm and fills me with hope. But I am certainly not one for doggedly following rituals. I don’t believe in the concept of observing a fast to appease any particular deity. I am, most definitely, not religious. It makes my blood boil- people’s orthodox and extremist beliefs on the basis of their particular religion. But, there is a particular ritual that I perform with all my heart. And that is the “Shraadh”.

All my life, I saw my mother perform the Shraadh for my grandparents. She had never seen my paternal grandmother, who passed away when my father was only two and a half years old. My paternal grandfather, she stayed with for about three years after her marriage. He passed away soon after that. She performed the rituals with full faith and devotion, and she had to do it all by herself every year, as Dad would be away at sea. For us kids, it was an exciting day, as we got to eat a variety of goodies. We would all offer our prayers and only then could touch the food. This is one of the many beautiful images of hers, firmly etched in my memory; her performing the Shraadh with utmost faith and devotion.

And this is the reason for my being absolutely appalled when it was suggested that my father in law’s Shraadh be done away with; meaning that it be performed once and finally at Gaya. My husband and I had to force our way in, to insist that we would perform it till we are alive and won’t hear of it being done any other way. When we performed it the first time, three years ago, I was constantly on the phone with my mother, with her telling me the hows and whys. Two years after that, I performed the Shraadh for my mother too.

I am a female, and traditionally it’s the son of the deceased person who performs the Shraadh. And surely enough, this is being done by my family at my Doon home. But I couldn’t stop myself from following my heart, and so, I do it too. Actually, it happened quite naturally; there was no need to give a second thought. So, me and my husband offered our prayers to both the dearly loved and departed souls. Our Pitras. I do it my own way as due to time constraints, the husband can’t always come from his office to offer the prayers. I prepare Poori, Aloo (Ranjan’s dad’s favorite; and next year I plan to prepare Chholey, another favorite of his), Paneer ( my mother’s favorite; and next year I will make Thinchwani- a garhwali dish, which she and I used to relish; also, baingan bharta, which no one made like she did), Tori and Kheer. Then, I arrange five platters with portions of these food items for specific animals to consume. The feeding of Brahmins comes next. I offered two platters to my husband’s Khalsa/Sikh buddies (sahayaks); who, according to me are some of the bestest people that I know. To me, they fit the criteria of being a Brahmin by karma (deed) perfectly – he who is pure of mind and soul. Next, some ration ( which is called Seedha) meant to be donated to Brahmins again. My maid, who is one of the gentlest souls that I have seen, fit the bill perfectly. I do all of this in good faith; because isn’t that the meaning of Shraadh- “Faith”?

This is my way of performing the Shraadh . I hope they smile from up there, seeing their favorite food laid out for them; made with utmost faith. Food made for them. Shraadh performed for them. By a not-so-prefect daughter-in-law and a not-so-perfect daughter. A daughter, who will continue to do it for the rest of her life. Dear Mummy, I hope you are feeling happy, as you watch me follow in you footsteps. Rest in peace eternally.

© Oct 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani

A sticky business…and we are sticking to it

sticky-business
We are now four months into our sojourn in this monkey-infested small cantonment. With time, we have learnt the tricks of the trade and the long tailed primates don’t intimidate us anymore. Armed with a stick, I go for the long evening walks; the walks that I was missing like crazy. The cantonment being small, we daily come across most of our friends and acquaintances , all doing the same walk-routine. Since everyone carries a stick, the manner of greeting each other is quite “sticky”- raising one’s arm and waving the stick at the other person. Any new onlooker would probably think that we all hate each other with fervor, because everyone is waving his stick at everyone else. Really, we have become quite “stick-centric”. The STICK – it’s almost a mini fashion statement here.

We are at least a four-hours drive away from the nearest decent town. A shopping mall- huh, what’s that? Dominoes/Pizza Hut/Modern civilization? Du..uu..hhh..What was that, again? This distance from the happening hubs has made us a wee bit relaxed about the “fashion sense”. Always passionate about my walks, I would step out in smart sports gear, purchased with the same passion. But now, my favourite pair of white coloured shorts is lying somewhere at the back of the cupboard, not been used since the past two months. The hubby returns from his evening golf session and I hastily pull on loose-fitting track pants paired with a mis-matched tee; and off we go for the walk. BUT, the stick is the latest in fashion, mind you. How? Well, for almost a month, I happily walked around , carrying a longish heavy iron rod ( coloured white ), unaware that maybe I was causing embarrassment to the hubby. Who knows; when he was walking beside me, maybe he wanted to announce, “I am not with her, this iron-rod-carrying-unfashionable woman”. So, one fine day, I was presented with a “hip and happening” mahogany coloured stick made of some fine quality wood. It’s the finest one in the area and many people have enquired where we got it from. Going by the numerous glances it gets, I fear it might get stolen one day. I secretly gloat, flaunting my prized possession daily.

So, we walk daily, and we carry a stick daily. Being the fashion-conscious lady that I am, I change the stick sometimes. Then I walk around, with a song buzzing inside my head- “looking great and feeling good, with The Stick”.( replace “the stick” with “Lakme”, and you will remember that 80’s jingle,) I see such a variety of these sticks daily, that I want to suggest a really new form of entertainment here. ( badly needed ) What about a fashion show/contest for the sticks? It could be the Fall Collection. “The Stick Fashion Week”. Apt name. Eh? I guess I will have to keep my mahogany stick stored under lock and key till then. I am already dreaming about the things I will do with the prize money!

© Oct 2016 Sapna Dhyani Devrani