To die or not? To live or not? Or to live as dead?

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When I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in early October, 2017, I was really not shocked, but I was upset with my God all that afternoon and that night.

I didn’t pray that night before I went to sleep. I was not scared, but I felt that my God didn’t care about me shattering my belief of all these years that He liked me and that I was very special to Him. My disappointment was so deep that I didn’t look at the pictures of Jesus as I spent the rest of the day in my bedroom. I felt as if He cheated on my faith and belief.

Next morning when I woke up, I tried to remember the happenings of yesterday. Then that grudge towards God came back in full swing. I couldn’t believe that I am just an ordinary person to my God. He had always given me whatever I had asked Him. He had given me stuff and positions that I had not even dreamed of. Still…….. How could he abandon me like this?

I am not up to date with the Bible verses. I don’t read Bible everyday. But somehow, this verse came to me.

I googled for the full verse which went like this:

Mathew 10:30

I count even the hair fallen of you.

Luke 12:7

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Then I knew that my God is speaking to me. Otherwise, somebody who is ignorant of Bible will not remember the verses like this.

I felt very relieved, after this. I looked at Jesus’ pictures, hung in my bedroom and even begged for his forgiveness for being upset with him.

After that it was very easy for me to accept my situation.  We always think, that bad things will happen in other people’s life, never in our life.

Death:

I asked my husband, if death is imminent due to cancer, will it be sudden like a heart attack? His answer was ‘no’. That gave me an idea what to expect if it is going to be that bad.

Thinking of death didn’t take much time. What am I going to do about it, if it is about an unknown place? I was not scared of death. Anybody who is born has to say goodbye through death. There is no other way but to say the last goodbye.

I feel, “Death is not a big deal for the person who is dying, but it is a big deal for the person or persons, close to the dying person”.

Self pity:

That’s something anybody feels in a bad situation. I felt it.

I was watching TV one day. News was about a 54 year old comedian died of cancer related illness. I am 69 years old now and lived 15 years more than him, then what am complaining about?

I have nothing to complain about my past life. God has given me a beautiful life, I never even dreamed of.

Then I saw few more news on the TV asking  donations for cancer treatments for different age group – :  3, 4, 10, 12 and so on.

It wiped out almost all of my self pity. Why or what difference do I have comparing to them, to ask for a better treatment from God, after accepting all the great blessings showered upon me for the last 69 years? That’s greed!

To live or not to live:

The scene changes!

John was in his early eighties. He had Doctorate in microbiology.  Raji and John are the best couple I came across among my relatives. They were very much in love and it showed in their interactions. They respected each other. Never I saw a fight or a shouting between them. Almost three years, John had to have dialysis once a week. It seems a normal thing after few months. It was not a big deal for anybody, any more. They even visited Kerala for two weeks, last year. I often wondered how did they manage “once a week” dialysis when they were in Kerala. They never complained about anything during their stay in Kerala. Then Raji was diagnosed with Cancer and the treatment started. John was sad that he couldn’t take care of Raji as she took care of him when he had problems with his kidneys. After one month, John had a heart attack and he was taken to the ICU. His condition was not that good. He was using a ventilator to breath. Food was given through tubes… It went on like that without a change for few weeks. Then one day, John’s Doctor suggested to Raji and children it would be better to take John off the Ventilator since there was not much improvement and there is not much hope having a miracle in future to improve John’s condition.

Raji was heartbroken after hearing this suggestion. “John can recognize my touch. He presses my hands, whenever I touch his hands. Then how can his Doctor suggest this cruel action?”

She went on… Nobody dared to say anything to her. So John was moved with the ventilator to an Assisted Nursing Home, since the days in the Hospital stay ran out in his insurance. He was taken care of by strangers in the Nursing Home, since Raji’s health prevented her to be with him 24/7. Raji visited him with children once or twice a week, during her cancer treatments.

After one month or so, they were asked to move John to another Nursing Home, due to his insurance’s clause. This time, Raji and children reconsidered whether to take off John from the ventilator. But John died one day before he should be moved to the new Nursing Home. He had his Ventilator on.

I often thought about this. What would have happened if the ventilator were taken off, when the Doctor suggested? Whether John would have died without going to the assisted nursing Home, where strangers taken care of him? Whether he would had a decent death?  We can imagine ourselves in their shoes, but it is just imagination, never reality.

Who are we to judge others?

Scene changes:

He is John’s brother, Keith. A smart guy! Very successful in his life… He had a doctorate in microbiology just like John. Once he retired, he went to Business. He sold medical instruments/equipments  like X-ray Machines, MRI Machines etc. to countries like Taiwan, Philippines etc. His business was flourishing… That’s when we visited him. His house was somewhat like a mansion in the middle of hundreds of acres. There were not any neighborhood homes nearby. I have never gone to a house as big as that.

Four years ago, Keith had a bleeding in his brain and it made him kind of paralyzed. He was treated in the best Hospitals available to bring him back to normal. After his stay in the Hospital, he was sent to an assisted nursing home, then later to a nursing home. At last he was brought to the home of his son. His right side was paralyzed, he couldn’t talk, but he could hear. He was tube fed all this time. He could breath, so there was no need for a ventilator.

Keith was a handsome man and his head was full of hair, when I saw him about 10 years ago. So when I saw him, bedridden, bald and the face all changed, it was very difficult for me to convince my eyes, that I am seeing the same Keith I know. His eyes were closed. When his wife, Asha tried to wake him up to see us, after a lot of persuasion, he opened his eyes. He saw us. But after few minutes, he closed his eyes and stayed as if he was sleeping. Asha was talking to us about his routines, he stayed as if he was sleeping. After staying for few more minutes, when we were leaving, Asha again tried to wake him up. He just opened his eyes, looked at us and then closed his eyes.

I could understand his feelings. He might be feeling so helpless,  bedridden like that in front of his close relatives. So he would have pretended to be sleeping. He could understand and hear everything. May be he didn’t like us talking about him openly like that. What can he do? Nothing!

May be he didn’t like to stay bedridden and tube fed like that, if he had a choice… But helpless. So what is the purpose of staying alive like that? Is there a choice? Is there a possibility that one day he will become normal like how he was four years ago?

No, I don’t want to prolong my life like that!

Do I have a choice?

Does anybody has a choice?

After seeing all these different scenarios, I understood that the life is not that precious to hang on to.

May be God showed me all these to make me understand, how lucky I am so far.

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Matrimony

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I am always ready and willing to help who ever asks me for help within my limited capacity.
Sometimes even before they ask for help, I volunteer to help… That’s my nature. Then I usually end up in trouble.
So when one of my cousins told me how lonely he felt after the death of his beloved wife of more than 30 years, I suggested to him to find a partner as soon as possible to spend the rest of the life. It was more than five years, since he was living this lonely life. I told him that I will look for somebody too.
My best friend was still in India and I was sure that she will find somebody suitable for him among her friends. Somewhere there will be some widow who would be desperately lonely and wishing for a friend/partner to spend the rest of her life with.
I made a phone call to my friend, Leela. Told her the situation…

How pathetic it is for a man to end up living in a house all alone without a wife and the children grown up… all living far away from home.

She agreed to all my points and promised to keep an eye for a lonely widow who needs company and as of now, there is nobody she knows desperate like that.
I waited for more than two weeks before I called Leela again.
After the usual pleasantries, I asked her about her research.
She told me:
“You wouldn’t believe me!
World has changed!
The outlook of the women in our country has changed.
There was one lady suitable for your cousin.
Her children are all grown up, well educated, married…
They are living in places convenient for their jobs, far away from home. She is all alone at home.
But when I proposed, she told me.
“Leela, you know, Thomachen was kind of bedridden for sometime before he took off finally. I was the one taking care of him 24/7 for the last three months. I am happy & content that I got a chance to take care of him all by myself. But you see, I am not young any more! I was two years younger than Thomachen.
He left me two years ago.
Yes, I am lonely… I am alone. But I am not bored!
World has changed a lot!
There is TV, there is Facebook, there is Skype, there is Whatsapp…
For sure, who wants me as a partner will be older than me, right?
That means he needs a helper, not a partner!
Leela, I need a break!
I am not young any more! I need somebody to take care of me too…”

So what do you think ?”

It took sometime for me to understand what Leela was trying to convey me.

It hit me!
I didn’t know what to say!
I tried to be in that widow’s position.
It makes sense!
I am very compassionate…
I am very romantic…
I am very honest… But who doesn’t need a break at that age?
I have never seen that point of view!!! I was living in the past.
Think about it…

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Prepare for the next journey…

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കൊച്ചിലെ ജീവിതം എത്ര ലളിതം ആയിരുന്നു! മുകളിൽ  ആകാശം, താഴെ ഭുമി അതിലും താഴെ പാതാളം (നരകം) … അത്ര മാത്രം! എത്ര ലളിതം. ആകാശത്ത് നിറയെ നക്ഷത്രങ്ങൾ …  അതൊക്കെ എത്ര ചെറിയ മിന്നാമിനുങ്ങുകൾ, ഇവിടെ തൊടിയിൽ രാത്രി കാണുന്ന മിന്നാമിനുങ്ങുകൾ പോലെ തന്നെ.
മരിച്ചു കഴിഞ്ഞാൽ ഒന്നുകിൽ സ്വർഗത്തിൽ അല്ലേൽ പാതാളത്തിൽ, അവരവരു ചെയ്തു കൂട്ടിയ പാപങ്ങളും  നന്മകളും  അനുസരിച്ച് …
ഒത്തിരി ഒത്തിരി ദൂരെ നിൽക്കുന്നത്  കൊണ്ടാണ് നക്ഷത്രങ്ങൾ ചെറുതായി കാണുന്നതെന്ന് ആരറിഞ്ഞു? നക്ഷത്രങ്ങൾ മാത്രമല്ല മിന്നാത്തത് ഒക്കയും ഗൃഹങ്ങൾ ആണത്രേ, ഭൂമി പോലെ തന്നെ!
നീല ആകാശത്തേക്ക്‌ നോക്കിയപ്പോഴൊക്കെ സ്വർഗ്ഗത്തിനെന്തോരു വലിപ്പം, അതിനപ്പുറം അല്ലെ ദൈവവും  പിന്നെ നമ്മുടെ മരിച്ചു പോയവരും  ഒക്കെ താമസിക്കുന്നേ!
ഇപ്പോൾ പക്ഷെ ചിന്തിക്കുമ്പോൾ തോന്നും മരിച്ചു കഴിഞ്ഞാൽ പിന്നെ ഈ കോടാനുകോടി ഗൃഹങ്ങളിൽ ഒന്നിലായിരിക്കും നമ്മൾ പോവുക! അവിടെ വീണ്ടും ആദി മുതൽ പിന്നെയും പുതിയ ഒരു ജീവിതം തുടങ്ങുക ആയി.. കുഞ്ഞാവ ആയി, കൌമാരം   ആയി,യുവത്വം ആയി അച്ഛനോ(അമ്മയോ) ആയി, മക്കളെ വളർത്തി ഒരു നിലയിൽ ആക്കാൻ ഉള്ള തത്രപ്പാട്‌, അങ്ങിനെ അങ്ങിനെ എല്ലാം ആവർത്തിക്കുക… പ്രായമായി , പ്രായമായി  തീരെ വയ്യാതാകുമ്പോൾ മരിക്കുക, പിന്നെ വീണ്ടും മറ്റൊരു ഗൃഹത്തിൽ ….അങ്ങിനെ അങ്ങിനെ എല്ലാം തനിയാവർത്തനം … ദൈവം ഉണ്ടെങ്കിൽ ദൈവത്തിനും മടുക്കത്തില്ലേ?
ആലോചിച്ചു ആലോചിച്ച് ഒരെത്തും പിടിയും കിട്ടുന്നില്ല.
ഈ ലിങ്ക് ഒന്ന് നോക്കിക്കേ!
ഒത്തിരി നാള് ജീവിച്ചിരിക്കണമെന്നു കൊച്ചു പ്രായത്തിലും, യുവത്വത്തിലും ആഗ്രഹിച്ചിരിക്കാം. പക്ഷെ, വയസ്സായി കഴിഞ്ഞു ഇത്തിൾ കണ്ണി പോലെ ജീവിതത്തിനോട് പറ്റിപിടിചിരിക്കാൻ കൊതി തോന്നുമോ? ആവോ, എനിക്ക് ഒട്ടും തോന്നുന്നില്ല. തേഞ്ഞും, തേമാനം സംഭവിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരുക്കുന്നതും ആയ നമ്മുടെ  അവയവങ്ങൾ എത്രയെന്നു കരുതിയാണ് തേച്ചു മിനുക്കുക? ഏതു മരുന്നിനാകും അവയെ പുതു പുത്തൻ ആക്കാൻ കഴിയുക?
അപ്പോൾ പിന്നെ പളളിയിൽ പോകാനോ, കല്യാണത്തിന് കൂടാൻ പോകുമ്പോൾ നമ്മൾ ഒരുക്കം നടത്തതില്ലേ അതുപോലെ ഭംഗിയായി തയ്യാറാവുക നമ്മുടെ അടുത്ത ദൂര യാത്രക്ക്!
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Usha’s shawl

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Usha and Varkey are our best friends.

Actually they are my husband’s classmates & best friends. Husband’s friends do not mean that their Chemistry should click with mine. But this couple became my close friends too.

A Karnataka girl so fluent in Malayalam, you will never see in your life that is Usha! Both Usha & I are not fair, may be that’s why our frequencies synchronized. We understood each other very well. We didn’t have to explain too much about anything. We understood!

Even if it is only for few days, when we visited India, we tried to see each other. Last year, when we were just passing by, we stopped for half an hour at Varkey’s.

They were just finishing the evening clinic, when we walked in. I was in typical Kerala style, Saree, matching Blouse, Hair put up and so on…

The Temperature was in 90’s. I started to sweat once I was out of the Air-conditioned Car. There was a surprised look on Usha’s face, when she saw my attire. Our relationship is so straight forward, we didn’t need any formalities to start our conversation. Usha was very casual  in pants & top.

Usha asked me.

“Why are you wearing this heavy Saree in a hot day like this? Why don’t you wear pants or salvar?”

I know… I am trying to be modest. I am suffering. I couldn’t stand the heat & humidity.

“Oh, I can’t help it. Once I land in Kerala, I go back to my old self. Also my elder brother once told me that here in Kerala after certain age women from good families don’t wear Salvar! So here I am, sweating in this attire!”, I was very honest.

“Come on! You just came from US and I know that it is very cold there in US at this time of the year and this hot & humid weather will be too hot for you. I don’t know how you can stand this humidity!”, Usha was concerned!

I didn’t have any thing else to say. I go back to my old self when I come back to my native place. I can’t help it.

Usha was wearing a simple top with a Pant.

“Do you know something? Something really funny happened to me.” Usha started.

“I went to buy some Kurta from the Mall . I saw few which I like. I was looking for some shawls to match with the two Kurtas I liked most. But I couldn’t find any. One young sales person was with me trying to help me to find the shawls. He may be in his early twenties. He was some what handsome too. He tried his best to find what I am looking for. But all in vein! So I decided not to buy any, since there was no matching shawl to go with the Kurtas.”

“I was almost going to walk out of the shop. The Sales boy looked at my face. He wanted to say something before I left. So I stopped.”

He said,

“Madam, how old are you? I know it is rude to ask a lady the age, still… ”, he stopped in the middle.

I am not that sensitive about it, so I told him. “I am in my sixties”

“See, Madam, just looking at your face people know which age group you are, then why should they bother to look at you further down…?”

“You don’t need a shawl Madam. Those Kurtas fit quite well.” He added.

“I walked back to the store and bought both Kurtas. This is one of them”, Usha showed what she was wearing…

VANITIES! VANITIES!

That was a good story. It made me understand my vanities. I stopped looking for shawls! Who cares what I wear? I am in my sixties! LOL. That salesperson’s words were kind of rude to swallow, but too sweet to spit out!

It reminded me of something which happened in my life.

I was in my early thirties. That day I didn’t have to wake up early as I usually do to go to work, since it was a public holiday. But my husband had work. So he got up early.

He didn’t bother to wake me up for coffee, since the automatic Coffee Machine I set up yesterday night was punctual in brewing the coffee. He took shower and got dressed. I was half asleep, when he gave the usual peck on my cheek. (That was an unwritten agreement between us, who ever leaves first, should give a kiss to the other before leaving.)

I told my husband from my sleep,

“Don’t forget to lock the front door and back door when you leave. Don’t forget, when you leave in a hurry.”

“I am alone and sleeping… If somebody comes in, I will not know. Yesterday, I heard over the radio that somebody was raped in a nearby town, when the woman was alone in the house.”

He gave me a peck again and said,

“Don’t worry too much. Who will come to rape you, other than me?”

I threw my pillow at him. He took his car keys and ran out laughing…

Oh my God! It is something I can’t prove and I don’t want it to be proved either.

I laughed a lot. Whenever I think about this episode, it brings a smile to my face.

Too sweet to spit out, too sour to swallow! But I liked it.

I have told this joke to my very close friends at different times. Only once, after hearing the joke, one young girl asked me…

“How can you let him put you down like that?”

I was speechless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daivasneham (Infinite love of God)…….

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This is the last night I have with Maya & Nora my grand-daughters on our short visit with them. Tomorrow they have School. So they have to go to sleep early. It is already past 9:15 pm.
Nobody will be here, in this house, to say “goodbye” to us when we leave tomorrow around 11:00 am. My kids would have gone to work as early as 7:00 am. Both Maya & Nora would have gone to School by 8:30 am.
Maya had promised me when she visited us for summer vacation that she would be ready with a Malayalam Song, I already gave her to record for me to upload to the YouTube. But it didn’t happen… Last three days I was with her, but we were too busy doing other stuff. Now it is too late to practice or to record… I know that she didn’t practice it well enough to record.
She called me to her room, asked me to sit down in front of the iPad to play the music and an iPhone to record it. As soon as she started, in the first take itself, I knew that she has not practiced it enough to record. So I said,
“May be you can practice it some more, record it later & then send to me”
Her face became gloomy.
“No, Pancho, No! I will practice one more time and then we will record it.”
She insisted. But I didn’t want to rush her.
“No hurry. Take it easy. We can do it later”
She still insisted. Her eyes are pleading…
So we started to record it.
Nora was there to prompt the starting …
“One, two, three”, Nora said and started the iPad.
I started the iPhone. Maya started her song. Then Nora got up and walked around in the room.
Everything went well till the 6th line. Then there was a mix up.
Maya stopped.
Maya shouted at Nora,
“It is your entire fault. You broke my concentration. When you are going through my stuff, how can I concentrate?”
“I didn’t touch any of your stuff.” Nora screamed back.
“It is all right. We will do it again.”
One more and one more…
More mix ups. That was the end.
Tears started rolling down on Maya’s cheeks.
She blew her nose.
She tried hard not to show her emotions.
She sobbed quietly.
“It is all right Maya. You can do it some other time. I understand. I am not upset. It is already late. Don’t you have to get up early tomorrow morning to go to school? You may go to sleep now.” I tried hard to calm her down.
Nora was standing still not knowing what to say.
Between the sobs, Maya was repeating…
“No Pancho, I want to do it now. Otherwise I will not forgive myself. I know how much you love to hear it. If I don’t do it now, I will never be able to do it.”
I didn’t know what to do. She went on and on.
Then I said,
“Ok. Then read the lyrics one more time to make sure no more mix up of lines. Don’t sing, just read.”
I am not a music director. I have never done this before. I have learned some songs when I was young. I had learned classical music for few years, when I was a Teenager, just to please my mother. I was not a talented musician. As I told Nora, when she was shying away from singing, saying she was not talented.
“Not everybody is born talented. Very few are… Others study & train a lot to reach that talented state. I myself was not at all talented in music. I took lessons and became a good singer and competed in School competitions and won first and second prizes many times. So Nora, with proper training you can also become a good singer.”
Nora listened to me. It made sense to her. She learned two songs with Maya and I recorded them.
Maya wiped her face. She read the lyrics.
“Are you ready, Maya?” I asked.
“Now you wait for 5 minutes. My face is all puffed up… I will look pathetic in the video.”
She ran to the bathroom. Washed her face, wiped with a towel and came back.
Her face was all puffed up. She still had teary eyes.
“Maya, Are you not in bed, yet?”
I could hear Priya, their mother, yelling from downstairs.
“Tomorrow you have school. It is almost 10:00 pm. Go to bed.”
We were silent for a minute.
“Ok, Maya, we will do it now. It will not take more than 5 minutes to record it.”
“Ok, Nora, you prompt…”
“Ready, one, two, three…” Nora prompted, then started the iPad.
I started the recording.
This time, Maya did it right. No mix up… no mistake.
It may not be that great to hear. But she did it for me. That made the difference.
I don’t know what I did to deserve this great love.
Here is Maya’s song on YouTube: DAIVASNEHAM

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A mother’s heart…

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“My Heart is aching. I don’t know how to explain to you my situation.”
It was the beginning of a long distance phone call between Soumya & I.
She is my College-mate. Soumya is a bubbly character. Her face all lighted up with a big smile, is what comes to my mind when I think about her. She doesn’t need much to start the laughter. She is very humble and kind. I enjoyed her company a lot. When she walks into a gloomy room, she can light up the whole room with her simple laughter. Her happiness is contagious. Without any persuasion from her side, all around her will start feeling the same state of happiness.
So when Soumya started talking about her heart-ache, I was concerned.
“So tell me, I am all ears.” I said.
“My son wrote me an email saying that his parents may be the worst parents in the whole world. I can’t believe, my son wrote to me like that. You know that financially we are self-sufficient. I don’t need any money from my kids. I don’t need anything from them, other than few words of love, a phone call once in a while…an occasional visit.”
I was searching my brain for proper words to console her. Something related to that situation. If she were near me, I would have given her a Bear-hug.

Then I remembered something. I was only four years old. My mother might be in her late 30’s. My mother and I were travelling alone in a Boat.
Now I know that I was travelling through the Pamba River. Other than that I don’t remember the reason or anything else about that travel. There were other passengers in the Boat. It was almost full with passengers. I sat on my mother’s lap for sometime. Then she asked me to lay down on a Towel, she made for me on the floor.
One old woman was sitting near my mother. They were getting to know each other and a very interesting conversation was taking place. She had three children, boys, all grown up, married and had children of their own.
She was wearing a white “Rouka” (Blouse) which was tied at the bottom. A simple white “Mundu” for the waist and a small white shawl around her neck were the rest of her clothes. I could see the skinny folded stomach of her between her Rouka & Mundu. How many kids she would have carried in that folded stomach? She looked very graceful with her white hair tied up at the top of her head in a Bun. She was very thin & tall. She looked very classy to me. But her face was very sad and depressed. I was not paying much attention to their conversation. All of a sudden that Grandma started crying. Then I started listening to their conversation.
Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She was trying her best to hide her sorrow from other passengers.
My mother prodded her to talk about herself.

“My kid! You can’t imagine how cruel your kids can become when you become very old like me, when you can’t fend for yourself and when you need their help for everything.”
She wiped her eyes with the end of the shawl. Her eyes welled up with tears.
“Do you know something? Our enemies in our previous life are our children in this life. They make us learn to forgive and forget like Mother Earth. They will teach us to share. They will teach us how to love unconditionally.” She stopped to wipe her tears.

“Do you know what my son told me? He told me to get out of his house and he never wants to see me again.”
I was shocked to hear this.
My mother asked her, “What about your daughter-in-law? What did she say, when she heard this?”
“She joined with him. She threw my Box & clothing to the yard”, she sobbed.
“Thus she made it easier for me to pack my stuff.”

My eldest brother at that time was about twenty years old. He is still in College. I imagined him few years ahead after he becomes older & got married, then I tried to put him in that grandmother’s son’s position. It didn’t fit. I don’t think my eldest brother will ever throw my mother out like that son. I can’t imagine my brother in that position at all.
But I saw the pain of a mother for the first time. Still she didn’t curse her son even once. She cursed her fate for the heart-breaking things happening in her life.
How many times she would have given him bath, cleaned his bottom, wiped his face off his vomit, and fed him? What else she wouldn’t have done for her kid when he was growing up?
Later, (at that age of four) I asked my Mother, “Will it happen to you? Will my eldest brother throw you out one day like that old woman’s son did?”
“Oh, no! He wouldn’t do that to me.” My mother said.
She was immersed in her thoughts for some time. Then she added,
“People can change, I will never know!”

This incident I have never forgotten. Now I could see that Boat crowded with passengers, Towel on the floor, and that Grandma…
So I told Soumya:
“Soumya, I am also wondering why a son should write like that to his Mom? Even if the parents were bad, nobody says so directly.”
“Have you heard a saying in Kerala? Your children in this life are the reincarnation of your enemies in your last life. That makes sense. They teach us patience. They test our patience. We forgive them as if we have never forgiven anybody else. We do all kinds of sacrifices for them. We loose our sleep for them. We spend our time coaching them or helping them with their home work, even if we have other 101 things to do. We waste our time, transporting them from home to School, school to different playgrounds or places. We know that our kids are never going to become another Michael Jordan or K.J.Yesudas or Miley Cyrus, but still we take them to participate in all kinds of sports, send them to music and dance classes. We buy the best clothes & shoes we can afford to give our kids. We spend our hard earned money for the College fees… What else we don’t do for our kids? Even if our kids are the worst in the neighborhood and we know this truth, still we wouldn’t exchange them for the best”
“I know, I know… Let me ask you one question. Do you think we are the worst parents as he wrote? I loved & cared my kids more than my husband. Now I feel guilty about that. My husband is the one who gave me those wonderful kids. I tried to straighten out my kids when they failed. I tried to help them & direct them as I know, through the right path when they strayed. There is not any book to follow or to know the method of bringing up children correctly. I tried everything from my wisdom to educate them. I didn’t beat them up. But I had caned my kids to discipline them. Haven’t you?”
I couldn’t see Soumya’s face, but I know she was crying.
“Yes, I did too.” I admitted.
“You are not worst parents.” I didn’t know what else to say to console her.
I told her that I will pray.
Here is my prayer for all the mothers who are going through this kind of a situation:
Just praying to God to open the inner eyes of our kids to see the mother’s unconditional love for them… God, you can see our mind, our thoughts and everything. Please, God, don’t punish them for their behavior because if you punish them, it will hurt their mother’s Heart.

This is written by one Mother.

From the moment you were born my heart was yours
I looked in your eyes and saw all my hopes come alive in you.
I LOVE you more than you ever know,
For now for always .”
Almost all mothers think this way.

To all Kids,

Love your mother & father without any selfishness.
Tell them “I love you” any time you get a chance because you never know when they say the final Good Bye. Other wise you are the loser and when you regret later in your life for not expressing your love to them, then they will not be there to hug you and say “It is all right. I understand. Everything will be all right. You are mine, so how can I keep a grudge against you?”

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The Dollar Bill and the unknown fruit…

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After the church Service, the five miles walk to my home was always tedious. Hunger, thirst & tiredness are the main reasons. Even though we would have reached the church half to one hour late, the long Service would still take another two hours or so to end.

At an Orthodox church most of the time, you have to stand throughout the Service. Seven year olds like me standing still for a long time doing nothing is something impossible to do. I will try to stand on one foot for some time, so that the other foot will get a break… If we try to kneel on the side wall, there is an old mean lady who stands behind us will come and pinch us first and then move us to stand in a row straight in the front not touching the wall or the large Pillars. So standing on one foot was a better way to give a break to the tiredness.

Even though the Service was boring, I liked to sing the songs towards the end of the Service and once you get immersed in singing, Time will pass faster.

Another thing I liked in the church was a fifteen to twenty minutes Sermon delivered by the Priest in the middle of the Service. There will be some interesting stuff like one of his experiences or a short story he will describe to make his Sermon interesting. I still remember a part of his Sermon he delivered after his short visit to USA. That was the time very few people travelled overseas. At that time, in ‘Malayala Manorama’ News Paper, there appeared pictures of people going to UK or USA or some other foreign countries with a short description of the person and the reason of their visits.

I used to read those News, but I never felt jealous of these guys who are so lucky to travel to another continent, since I was not at all interested to see other contries. But I remember when I was in my Teenage, just like any average person in India where no foreign goods were imported legally in bulk at that time I liked Contraband stuff like Crepe & Chinese silk Saris and perfumes available in the black market.

When the Priest started that Sermon, dramatically he took out a ‘one Dollar Bill’ from his pocket and said:

“This is an American ‘one Dollar Bill’. I want all of you to see it and try to read what is printed on it.”

While the ‘one Dollar Bill’ was being circulated among the parishioners, people who knew English tried to read the print on it and the Priest continued his Sermon:

“America is the richest country in the world. Actually I don’t know how to describe what I saw there. Where ever you go, it is very neat. The public restrooms are so clean and nice smelling, you wouldn’t mind sleeping on those floors. May be you can compare it to Heaven. I have not seen Heaven, but still I can imagine the Heaven will be beautiful like America.”

He continued:

“It is the richest country in the world. It is the most developed country in the world. Do you know why America is the number one country in the world?”

He paused for few seconds waiting to hear an answer from us. But nobody said a word. We are the ignorant people who have not seen Heaven or America… How do we know the reason for America to become the number one country in the world?

The ‘one Dollar Bill’ had almost reached the last row of people in the church.

The priest asked,

“Is there anybody who could read the words printed on that ‘one Dollar Bill’?”

One person at the back row stood up and said:

“One, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GOD WE TRUST”

Priest said,

“I don’t want to hear any more…  IN GOD WE TRUST. That’s the key to all their progress. They give importance to God. They are not ashamed to declare that IN GOD WE TRUST on their currency. This is what I want you to think about. Are you ashamed to admit in front of the whole world that you are a believer in God?”

That’s how the Sermon ended. That seven year old is now sitting here in America or Heaven as our priest said. I was not even that eager to visit America after hearing that Sermon. But I was impressed by the Trust America bragged about on that one Dollar Bill. I never wanted to leave my small town in India. I was happy and content with what I had. Also I was more than ready and patient to see the Heaven after my death. But God had different plans.

I am hungry, tired… We have reached the end of the public road to my House. The remaining roads to my home are good for pedestrians or cycles only and too narrow for any other kind of vehicles. At the end of the public road there was a Cart. It was full of some kind of fruit. The Cart was overflowing with its content. Some fruits were on the floor. The color of the fruit was dark green. It was big and round like pumpkins. I have never seen that fruit. One of them was split opened and left near the Cart to lure the passersby. I have never seen such a beautiful color.

Dark Maroon color… Inside, it had black seeds like pearls shattered around its center.

It was very inviting…

I asked my mother,

“What is that fruit? I want one…”

I don’t care what it is, I wanted one. I am very hungry too.

That color has already mesmerized me to think it should be sweet.

She said,

“It is Watermelon. You wouldn’t like the taste.”

I don’t want to hear a ‘No’.

I started nagging her.

“I want one.”

There is no point in creating a tantrum. It will not work with my mother.

I started crying…

I was hungry and tired after the long walk from the church. So it was very easy for me to cry…

At last she gave in, but on one condition…

If we buy, I have to carry it all the way to my house which was almost two miles away from where we stood.

I agreed. Mother paid the money.

I took the biggest Watermelon and started walking. It weighed more than 6 lbs at least. It was heavy for a seven year old who was not that healthy. But I had to keep my word. So I carried it.

First I had to climb the huge bridge with about 20 steps up and then 20 steps down.

There were few more narrow bridges on my way. The huge Bridge we passed.

Watermelon is not in a bag. I am holding it with my two hands. My hands are getting tired. My mother could see it. She would have laughed in her mind.

My enthusiasm was diminishing every second…

I looked at my Mother, pleading through my eyes. She just ignored it.

Pride is something I do not know of at that age, especially to show my Mother.

At last I gave in. I sat on the side of the path. Put the Watermelon down.

“I can’t carry it.”

A simple statement…

Mother looked at me. She started mumbling to herself,

“Will not listen to what I say. Now I have to carry it all the way. I knew it is coming… That’s why I said not to buy… No way! She won’t listen”

Then she took the Watermelon. She carried it all the way home.

I know she was hungry and tired too. But still she carried it for me.

When I reached home I was in a hurry to cut it. She opened it for me.

The first bite I took, I knew my Mother was right. I didn’t like the taste.

That’s the first time I was convinced myself that my Mother is always right.

She knows me better than myself.

I stopped questioning her judgments about my Taste buds.

She knew what I liked, better than me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Culture

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The way of life a group of people follows.

What exactly is it?

It is not something you can describe in few words. It is the way people are or the customs followed by people from generation to generation. You can not teach Culture as we teach Mathematics or Science.

You have to grow up in a culture to know what actually it is and still you will not know the whole lot of that culture, if you move away from that place. Culture changes from place to place … like village to village, Town to Town, City to City or Country to Country… Even this is a Ball Park assessment. There are always exceptions

Now I am not sure whether I know the Kerala Culture that well in which I grew up, since I left Kerala at the age of 25.

I was born and brought up in an Orthodox family. So the customs I followed were the one in an Orthodox family. I came to know a little bit of Muslim and Hindu Cultures from our neighbors & friends with whom I studied.

Respect for the religions other than their own is an inborn thing among common people in Kerala. Religious Fanatics are exceptions, just like Terrorists or Traitors in any country.

In an Orthodox Christian family the Man is the Head (forget about the exceptions here…LOL) and the position of the wife is that of a Chief Minister, supporting the decisions of the Head.

Till I met Parvathi Kavu, I saw any woman in any household as a second class citizen. Later, I met some Nair girls and it changed my outlook. But I couldn’t make any changes accordingly with respect to my life…

I lived with a Muslim friend who conducted the 5 times’ prayer everyday and my other Muslim friend was a firm believer, but didn’t do the 5 times’ everyday prayer. They both were nice and I didn’t see them differently.

There are many wonderful and interesting customs in some cultures we come across, but some of the customs may be difficult for us to digest. Then we ignore it saying, “Oh that’s their culture, why should we bother!”

I had heard about Old people’s homes (Manors and assisted living homes) in the US even before I came to the US.

Labor is expensive in the US. Baby sitting costs… There is a price-tag for any service.

To maintain a some what good standard of life, here both husband & wife need to work.

Living all their life as a single/nuclear family and being leading an independent life, it is difficult for these old generation to move to their children’s home to have a different life pace with the new generation, so mostly they try to live alone in their old cocoon as much as they can. When they become less healthy and need assistance for everyday routines, they move to Retirement Homes or Manors (Skilled Nursing Homes) or assisted-living homes. There, they wait for their final destination of Heaven or Hell. There are cheap subsidized Manors as well as private ones. There are also expensive private Retirement Homes/ Skilled Nursing Homes. There are good as well as bad Old people’s Homes. You will never know which one is better unless you live there few days.

This is something we can’t digest. Why can’t children take care of their parents in their old age?

Then as I said before:

We should ignore it saying, “Oh that’s their culture, why should we bother!”

As parents, they don’t want their children to be bothered with their aches and pains.

 

So I was under the impression, in US, when people get old, they move to some kind of old people’s Home. But in this fast paced culture in the US, I found an exception.

Her name is Pat. She is my grandkids’ Piano Teacher. She is in her 40’s. Pat came to my house once a week.

Pat is a quiet lady; her smile is kind of apologetic as if announcing ‘I do not like disturbing anybody even with this smile ’

Her mother Pauline was always with her. Pauline sat on a chair near the Piano patiently, waiting for her daughter to finish the lessons.

Pauline’s age I am not sure, may be in late 60’s. Pauline & I went to the same Church. So I have known her even before she started to come with Pat.

Pauline always has a pleasant smile and a big hug to share with anybody she comes across.

One day when they came, Pauline was in a very pretty blouse. I did compliment her and she said:

“Now-a-days it is Pat who selects my clothes”.

I asked Pat,

“So do you live with your Mom?”

Usually grown up kids do not come back to live with their parents here in the US, unless they are broke or recuperating from some other kind of falls in their life.

Pauline said,

“She left her family & came to live with me once my husband passed away last year.”

Pat added,

“She refused to come to my house and I felt she needed company, so I resigned my job and came to live with her.”

I was kind of shocked to hear these facts.

“What about your husband and the kids? How do they manage without you at home?”

“My husband comes home during the weekend.”

“I felt Mom is very lonely, but she is too stubborn to leave her house, so I thought if so I would move with her. My husband will retire soon, and then he is sure to join us.”

 

I thought I am hearing a fairy tale. I am the one who proudly say that I belong to a Culture where old generation is well taken care of fully in the old age as an extended family. This is new to me. Here is somebody who resigned her job and came from a far away place just to keep company for her own mother. Pat takes her Mom where ever she goes.

Her Mom is her best friend.

Not a dull moment among them…

I can’t believe it. I thought, I loved my Mom so much. But would I ever think of something like this to do for my Mom. I felt like a Mustard seed. I am nothing… just a zero comparing to these great guys I meet in my life once in a while.

Then I saw this passage in face book:

 

I was shocked, confused, bewildered

As I entered Heaven’s door,

Not by the beauty of it all,

 Nor the lights or its decor.

 

But it was the folks in Heaven

Who made me sputter and gasp–

The thieves, the liars, the sinners,

The alcoholics and the trash.

 

There stood the kid from seventh grade

Who swiped my lunch money twice.

Next to him was my old neighbor

 Who never said anything nice.

 

Bob, who I always thought

Was rotting away in hell,

Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,

Looking incredibly well.

 

I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?

I would love to hear Your take.

How’d all these sinners get up here?

God must’ve made a mistake.

 

 ‘And why is everyone so quiet,

So somber – give me a clue.

’ ‘Hush, child,’ He said,

 ‘they’re all in shock.

No one thought they’d be seeing you.’

 

 

 JUDGE NOT!! Remember…Just going to church doesn’t make you a

Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

Every saint has a PAST…

Every sinner has a FUTURE!

 

 

Think about it… Are we better than our enemies or anybody else we know?

 

http://jesus-loves-you.org/judge-not/?utm_source=FACE&utm_medium=JLY&utm_campaign=STORY

 

 

 

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How my iPhone proved this: “Do not assume”….

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I started using the wireless Phone probably in 1995, when I had to travel about sixty five miles to reach the work place. It was bulky and it was placed in a big handbag of its own. The other details of it, like its make, range etc. I don’t remember. But it was a necessity at that time, since I left home early in the morning around 5:45 am and during the winter time that was the only way to let my husband know that I reached safely at my office. Years passed by and the shape, size and style of the wireless Phone changed so fast. I still like the simplest form of Cell Phone. When Cell Phone started to provide camera with it, I was very surprised. Where I worked, Cameras were prohibited. So I didn’t buy the one with Camera.

My kids are crazy about the latest models of Cell Phones and they always competed to buy the latest makes in the market. Later I owned a somewhat modern Cell Phone which had the camera, but most of the other options provided in it, I seldom used. Then the iPhone came in the market. Kids bought them almost immediately. Then after about one year since the iPhone appeared in the market, one day my husband bought iPhones for both of us.

The first day, I took my iPhone to my office, I hid it from others. My intention of hiding it from others was only because I didn’t want the other two girls in the Office to feel bad, since they couldn’t afford to buy one yet. But after two days, one of them happened to see my new iPhone and picked it up and asked me when I bought it.

“Only two days ago.” I said.

She took my Phone to the other girl to show her.

I felt embarrassed feeling guiltier for owning something they couldn’t afford.

Then something happened. Both of them took out their own Phones and compared with mine. Their iPhones had beautiful case while mine was kind of naked, without a case…

That’s when I knew that these two girls had iPhones for the last one year or so…

What do I know about people? Nothing…

As my eldest son advises,

“Do not assume.”

 

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Why does color matter?

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I can write hundreds of Blogs about this subject. The main reason is that I am dark in complexion. I am the darkest in my family. I was not that conscious about it until I heard from my mother. She was worried about my color and was thinking way ahead about my future. I have heard her thinking out loud about my color. She got hold of anything which could make her dark-skinned girl more beautiful. She bought different necklaces of stones, gold and pearls, beautiful ribbons for my hair and Bangles of all colors available in the market at that time she could afford. There were no ready-made dresses at that time. So she designed and stitched elegant clothes for me to wear from her imagination… all to make me even more beautiful. She made sure I was presentable at any time of the day to anybody.

She taught me the importance of wearing beautiful clothes. She said,

“When you wear something  it should add beauty to you and it should not diminish it. Same with your ornaments, they should increase your beauty…”

She never bought me black or very dark clothes. In her opinion those colors diminished my beauty.

I had very long straight hair. I was short and my hair was up to my knees. Mother took time to comb my hair off the knots every day and braided it before I went to School. My Mother had curly hair. I liked her curly hair more than my straight hair.

One kid in my school always dressed as Krishna on the stage for her “Radha and Krishna” dance. She had long curly hair and she left it loose for that occasion. It looked very pretty to me. When my mother knew that I was very fond of curly hair like my classmate’s she did something very special for me. One evening, she washed my hair with native shampoo “Chemparathi Thali” to remove all the oil. Then she dried it and braided it to about thirty braids. The next morning, she opened all the braids and lightly combed my hair. Oh my God, my hair looked curly and more beautiful. I went to school with my long curly hair left loose. All my classmates came to see it and they complimented me. Even children from the other Divisions came to see my hair…

I was the Star of the School for the day. Even the Teachers noticed the style and complimented me.  I felt as if I was at the top of the world. But towards the evening, all of the curls disappeared. It was just like a dog’s tail trying to be straightened…

Even though she came up with all kinds of ideas to make me more beautiful, my mother was still worried about my future. She would have imagined how many rejections I would have to face in the market, when it was time to find a suitable boy for me.

Mother dreamed,

“May be by the time she is old enough to get married somebody would have found something to make dark skin to white, since modern medicine is developing so fast”.

But no miracle or medicine happened to change my color, by the time I reached the age to get married. But I was not allowed to fall in love with anybody, even though I came across few desirable characters in my life, before my marriage.

When I was in fourth grade, I had a friend, Vijayalakshmi. She lived very near to the School and was from a well-known family. She was very fair, beautiful and soft-spoken. Her eyes reminded me of Lotus’ petal. In the class, when the Malayalam teacher described the beauty of the Heroine in any lesson, I always looked back to make sure that it should be exactly like Vijayalakshmi’s eyes.

One day, Vijayalakshmi saw me walking on my way back home. She was in their private Boat with her parents on their way to her father’s home or “Tharavadu” in “Kavalam”. She waved to me from the Boat. Her parents also acknowledged me and waved to me. The very next day when I saw Vijayalakshmi, she told me,

“Amma was surprised yesterday to see you still walking to your house… such a long way to walk? Also my Amma said that you are so cute and beautiful”

Oh my God, Vijayalaksmi’s Mom giving me a compliment like that! I felt like I was at the top of the world, for getting a compliment from the mother of the most beautiful girl in my class. That’s the first compliment I got about my dark-beauty from somebody I thought very highly about. After all these years, my memories are still vivid.

After forty seven years, I tried to find out where Vijayalakshmi is, and at last found where she was settled. One day I went to her house. Her children had all grown up and moved to different places. She lived in a beautiful Mansion with her husband and her Mother. Her father had passed away a few years back. Her mother recognized me. I was happier to see her mother than her.

I described to her mother about the incident above and how much her compliment made a little dark-girl so happy and gave her the confidence about her own beauty, otherwise how low she would have thought about herself.

I will write more about this in my future blogs..

 

 

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