In the memory..

November 4th, 2018

 पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
 शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Behind that unassuming smile of his lie a student who wish to seep all the knowledge that one can grab to make life more meaningful than ever. My association with Peda-Pedanaanna (eldest of my dad’s brothers) is unlike any other siblings of a vast 9 children family of my grandparents. I lay no claim that I am better than anyone but, I am sure that I am the lucky one. Today I woke up looking at a bad news that he departed this world physically and a billion thoughts breeze past me like a tsunami. All those childhood memories that I have filled mostly with utmost respect had something in them that I understand now as somewhat mature person that behind that calm figure lies a learnt soul. My conversations with him were casual for better part and yet had an element of intellectual exchanges. Being a child of the youngest sibling, I not only had ‘easy’ access but for better part of my adolescence, we were living close-by. The small talks that we shared were mostly clouded by my grandmother’s visits. Barely I saw him not with a newspaper in his hands, no matter the time of the day. For his times, he is very well educated and had a highly respectable job. I barely knew him before retirement and yet can connect all the dots of his life with whatever I could get from him. His assumption that I am well read came with the burden of removing clutter from our conversations. His tone always had the ‘inquiry’. Carefully chosen, his choice of words were stamped with authority for me as a child. Having his mother beside me always put me at ease in front of him. He is more of a father figure for my father and that carried with me whenever I met him. Including my father, all the siblings (my father is the youngest of the 3 sons) has this unique sitting posture with their right leg governing over the left leg commanding respect that naturally comes from the recipients.

I remember all those tiny details of the front room (Vijayanagar Colony) that he had, and the order and essence of their unique presence, for a man who would show his interest in me, ever changing as I was growing old. Time to time, Mom used to send some chutneys and savories which he loved the most.  For some reason he assumed that I can know everything, painting, singing, literature, etc. It has nothing to do with reality but for my association with SriRama Navami. For any person, this would bring a sense of guilt that carry on heavily on one’s shoulder but, for me, it only drove me further.

I am glad that he spent his post retirement life to the fullest, getting to know us (all the cousins) all and understanding the order of the universe. His sense of ‘duty’ towards life unknown to me at that time made all the sense in the world in later days. Grandmother’s departure invariably created a huge gap for my visits. As time passed by conversations became rare and precious. A walking encyclopedia she is, Dodamma always knew about us all and may be she was the source of his connection to a vast family tree.

Our conversations only became longer with distance.

Things changed for him and me, almost simultaneously. He decided to spend his final journey in the Holy abode of Puttaparti while my life took an interesting turn making me a relentless seeker of ‘Advaita’. Somewhere there is a connection that would only transpire in our conversations. He understood my babyish ignorance and yet kept his ears wide open. Over the time, I think he understood my journey more like a friend and only had encouraging comments. Unknown due to my ignorance, the order of the Universe connects people to seek out from each other. The wise listen and the unlucky ignore. I will carry that small unfulfilled wish that I cannot see him in flesh and skin. I nevertheless will not be sorrow that his time has come, for one, he is still alive in my memories as precious as ever.

He came from ‘Purna’ and he is blessed to merge with ‘Purna’, a person who was always ‘full’.

Good bye Peda-Pedannanna!

– Kishore

Stories of Life – I love this Ghost

October 23rd, 2008

This is truely an amazing story, I should say experience. Most of you wouldn’ believe (as if I care:)), but what I am about to tell you is a fact, pure fact.

Thirteen years back…..

a tragedy stuck my family. Death of my Grandmother was not exactly unexpected. We knew that it is coming as she was very sick from past few days and everyone kid of expecting that she is counting her days now. Its so hard if you know something in advance that would break your heart. Grandma was especially close to me and my brother. My father was the last child in my Grandma’s family and she loved being here mostly because, one she hates my Mom personally, two she loves to eat anything my Mom makes.

She was in her early eighties and probably her children had already came to life’s terms and did not burden their hearts. Me and my brother were on the other side of the turf and started breathing heavily for the last couple of days.

And it came, the time to say good-bye to our Grandma and we were just in deep sorrow. There is a saying in Telugu that “The one that left us is always good” and true to that, she had lot of affection for us. Our house was filled with saddened faces and a host of deprived faces and sorrowed air. In a nutshell, I would not wish those moments come back to my life, ever.

She was bedridden for last two weeks and we volunteered our bedroom for her for that whole time. Cremation was completed and every one came back from the grave yard with heavy shoulders. Soon enough, night fell upon that evening with a very strange gloom, more so in every one’s eyes.

Everyone just slept whereever they could find place; it was not a big house to squeeze so many relatives. The preist adviced that no adult can sleep in the bedroom where she died and the only room that was spacious was quite obvious. I decided to sleep in that room that night, while my brother thought I was a bit crazy as often people doesn’t like to be near dead bodies and a very fresh scent of it. We both loved our Grandma to our cores, so my decision was overpowered by my love towards her and after few objections, no one stopped me from doing that.

Soon every one was asleep; including me. But,..

suddenly at midnight, I heard a voice calling me, initially thought that it was a dream, but I can feel that my senses are perfect and I am not sleeping. I opened my eyes to my amazement and saw that my Grandma was sitting right in the center of the room and asked me sit down near her. Without having a clue of what was happening I just saw beside her and we had a brief talk. I do not know what happened after that but I slept the whole night on the bare floor at the same spot.

Morning brought me goose-bumps, but you know what, I love this Ghost, it was my Grandma more than anything and we all love her a lot.

…and she is welcome to visit me anytime she wants.

In the memory of my Grandma, a little late but better than never.

Stories of Life – The train journey

July 29th, 2008

I do not exactly remember the date, however I do remember that I was in my 7th grade at that time and we are going to Narsapur (my Mom’s native) by train. The reason why I remember this journey is one person. And, to dramatize the events…

It was the evening time and we just left the platform, waving goodbye to everyone on the platform. For those who do not know these train journeys in India, go get a life! I don’t recall if it was July or August, but based on what I remember all I could guess is that it should have been August. Again, for record, Augusts in Hyderabad are generally romantic and occasionally sexy. The cold breeze, light blue skies and puffs of white clouds decorate and scent the city for most part. It gives me great pleasure when I look at those skies, calm and peaceful while God is always thinking of how to paint that huge canvas.

I am too selfish to leave the window seat to anyone and we were slowly leaving Hyderabad, 30 minutes into the journey. I was feeling the air with my palm and the rest of the family are still working out on other stuff like who sleeps where, who eats what and when and brother was busy searching for another window seat and occasionally trying to get to the top berth.

We had our dinner around 30 past 8 and slowly the light started disappearing into the wild. Most of the folks in the train were busy eating and there was this odd and uneasy calm. I normally prefer sleeping on the upper berth. By the way, there are normally 6 berths on one side and two berths on the other with a walkway separating these two in II class compartments. We were four and the other two were still empty. I guess someone would either join us in the middle of the journey or they might just be ours to enjoy 🙂

Anyway, I popped myself to the upper berth and switched on the fan turning its head towards me. You won’t get too much light up there except for the light sneaking in from similar heights. I was an great fan of Chandamama and since I knew we have a long journey, I decided to read it twice. Being late to bed that day, I felt the stop over and thought that this train is on for a short break. I could hear odd noises at the time of the hour. I think it was close to 10 pm and I almost decided to shut my eyes down. I hanged my head over the berth disturbed by some noise in our side of the train. The other two berths that were empty got the company. Both were females (hm mm!). I thought it was a grandma grandchild combination and of course I found later that I was right. The old lady requested my dad if he would take the middle berth. They got the middle and the top berths. Lucky me to for the fact that the only choice left for her grandchild was the top berth, facing of course my berth. She might be in her teens just like me and for a second I felt that she might me little older than I am or may be of same age. You now know my happiness, do you?

Normally when I jump into a book, I seldom turn my head around and more over it was Chandamama, my favorite. Sometimes, you will be just lucky, you shouldn’t ask why, it happens! My fellow passengers might have had dinner before they boarded the train, so their only interest during that time was indeed go to bed. The grandma settled in quickly and 5 minutes have passed and we could feel that she was already sleeping. But for outside of the compartment, most of the lights were turned off as people were prepared to go for a long sleep, while I was vested in my Chandamama. I then saw her climbing up the little steps to come on to the top berth, we saw each other casually and obviously smiles were exchanged.

As I said earlier, when luck favors you, it does it in a big way. My Dad wanted my Chandamama, as he is normally a late-bed person. I was in two minds, one I have a girl exactly facing me and I don’t know what to do and the other, my only alibi had to be handed over to my Dad. The second one won the race and I had to reluctantly gave away my book. But, things weren’t that bad. She spoke to me a while after settling-in; “Hi! my name is ..”. Now this is the bad part, I don’t remember her name, so sad! But you know what, I would have to name her something for this story, and I choose Shruti. Its not an obvious choice for a boy of my age to take things granted, when a girl (she was really beautiful) says “Hi!”, you normally give her back a dumb and wayward smile, I should say a funny face, but I told you that luck was on my side, so instant came the words “Kishore” (by the way, you don’t shake hands with girls in India, at least during those times) and I was happy that something started.

She had a pillow and a blanket with her and she rested here lovely face in her palms with elbows resting on the pillow. Had I been a poet, I would have written an sonnet, had I been a painter (which I am), colors would flow from my brush, it was a wonderful sight to watch. We slowly started talking to each other (mind it, the rest of the train was almost asleep) and then came the little sad part. She was in her 8th grade. Normally, girls look bigger than her age and I was mislead on that theory and I should say that I was disappointed, a little. I decided to make this small journey a memorable one, at least for me and we swirled and swung across many topics. One bad thing (actually good) about me is that when I decide to give a shot, I will pour myself on everything and the opposite persons are normally impressed, but sometimes it goes overboard, way over 🙂

I was so selfish that all I wanted to do at that time was listen to her and not say anything, just listen and watch (actually I was staring) her talk. We spoke to each other about an hour and I was already a hero. Sometimes, you can make out that a person will meet you some day in your life and you would like to spend the rest of the life with them, she was exactly that. Please do not think this to be a ‘bada hero dialogue’. Indeed it may be, but that is what I felt at that time. However my thoughts were, she was 1 year older than I am and things will not work out. I am writing exactly what I felt at time and I may laugh now thinking about that. It was not funny at that time and she simply mesmerized me, with a wonderful smile, a charming personality and a beautiful face. I reserve the best part for later.

Before I knew, it was pretty dark outside and all I could hear near me was the orchestration of my train.

Minutes later we said each other “Good Night”, while she pulled her blanket over, I was prepared to read some book for few more minutes and give up for the night. Moments later, I could not concentrate on my book and even did not stop looking at her ( I guess she already slept) face. Disturbed, I stepped down from my bed and walked slowly to the compartment door. Someone was smoking at the door, widely open and thank God, he just finished and left from there. With a big sigh, I just stood by the door, looking at the dark sky and a fast passing dark houses and what not. I left my brain at the bed to continue thinking about her and lifelessly staring outside the door for about the next 10 minutes.

I was sleepy but uncomfortable, my eyes were staring outside and the next thing I noticed is that the girl of my dreams (unslept) was right beside me. She said “Hi” and asked me if I am not getting my sleep. It took me few seconds to believe that she had the same sleepless condition and was searching for me. We spend close to 2 hours at the door again chatting about everything below the sky and I know I would not be able to spend my night any better than that.

We finally decided to give up and go back to our beds. Now comes the real surprise of my life. She gave me wonderful good night kiss, and I will never forget that moment.

I will stop this story here as I like it to end without an end. Memories are old books in our brain, with so much to ponder and sometimes you wish you can set the clock back and re-live the moment.

Stories of Life – A new friend

July 9th, 2008

1984, 6th grade English Class.

I did not know at that time, but thinking about it now, I feel that there are some serious people who love Shakespeare. By the way my teacher’s name is Macbeth. Anyway, that’s not the story here. I think lot like love, Friendship starts suddenly, of course it takes a lot to grow, but you know it happens! This is about one such Friend, suddenly!

It was his first day in the school. Most of my classmates are either brown or black, I could count the fair ones in my tips. This boy was different, very fair, indeed he was English fair, lean and of course handsome. The introduction happened before entering the class as his mother accompanied him that day and I just happen to pass by. But, I did not get his name then, probably I just ignored; by the way I am the number one in the class, the numero uno at least until then. He sat right behind me it the class room and somehow I had a strange feeling that day, I could not foresee things.

The class was in chorus announcing the teacher’s arrival, a symphony that happens at every single class. Mrs.Macbeth had wonderful personality and a very strong posture, extremely suitable for English class! While the attendance was being taken, the boy behind me did memorize few names (he is smart, I say) and soon came the time for the teacher to introduce this new lad. Bharat was his name, I looked at him with a proud smile as I knew the proceedings. My teacher had of course a special announcement to make to the class, indeed it was for the new boy, Bharath. She told him, “Kishore is number one in the class and in the school and in every thing good, I expect you to follow him and compete well”.

I know I know, you were thinking I am boasting, of course yes, but it is true and I was a pet for all the teachers. Bharat nodded his head and oh! boy he was quick to his nature I guess, he started talking to the boy next to him, non-stop, but whispering all the words. Mrs.Macbeth was uneasy that day and nodded her head in disarray and looked at me. I knew something was wrong immediately, but the damage was done. Hurt by her ego, which she thought was a total contrast to my introduction, she thought that I was the culprit and talking to the new boy. Very reluctantly, she asked me to stand on the bench and so to Bharath. You can guess, the best student in the class was standing on the bench without any reason, with his ego hurt, head down and lots of fire for the new kid on the block.

Mrs.Macbeth asked us to sit down after few minutes, but I could not concentrate further, my mind was pre-occupied with shame and outrage. I wanted to tell my teacher that I did not do anything wrong and Bharat was the real reason. Then came the final words from her mouth and I immediately went to her, but I guess I was late by few seconds. Bharat came from behind and told Mrs.Macbeth that it was he who was talking and I had nothing to do with that, indeed. I turned my head back and looked at him, he was clearly guilty. Mrs.Macbeth was impressed, very impressed and told him that she will continue to see that same good behaviour but with a silence.

Our friendship started with his sorry at that moment and I am happy that we sowed the seed that day. He introduced himself again, “Hi! I am Bhupesh“, I was like, but “Bharat?”, “my Mom calls me Bhupesh, she likes it like that”. I was happy to meet Bhupesh and not Bharat. We eventually became very good friends and it continued for a good 3 years.

Bhupesh had to leave the school, I think his dad got transferred to a different place. Time flew in a jiff and soon I was busy with my 10th class examinations. Days went quickly for me, and I was waiting for my holidays to come by. Of course, life starts after 10th and you are officially an adult then. A week past by after our exams and I was helping my Mom with something in the house and brother was playing outside.

Suddenly I heard someone running towards me and it was my brother. With a heavy breath (he was running at top speed), he told me that my friend Bhupesh is here. I couldn’t believe my ears and soon turned into a deer. As soon as I saw Bhupesh, I had tears in my eyes and, out I go and hugged him, hard. That was a wonderful feeling, the warmth of friendship and the touch of a friend. In 3 seconds I recapped everything we did and thank to God! he spent the whole day with me and we were talking and talking and talking and talking and talking, and talking. We both knew that he had to leave and do’nno if we are ever going to meet again. I hope we had phones in those days, but I got his new address, they were moving to Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

Then came the moments to separate, thanks to parents to let us live with all the memories that day and we both were happy and sad at the same time. We exchanged few letters for the next 1 year or so and his last letter mentioned that they were moving to a new house and he has a new ‘best’ friend. I guess, you always find friends, some remain best and some remain ‘forever’.

I cherish those moments every time I think of him, I do remember his face from 6th through 9th grade and I do remember those eyes when we last met. Even today, when I do not know where he is, he remains one of my best, in friendship. For me, only few people will en live your memories, only few people can lighten up your thoughts and they always remain in our hearts.

Thanks Bhupesh, for still living in my memories!

Yours lovingly,

Kishore