Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Good, better and ugly


A beautiful princess is floating on the air as clouds
Trying to cover the mountains with her zari lined sari
Why did God make the hearts of some people hollow
Like to honour Him with a degree; where is He?
(A song from late 70's by Kannadasan) 
 
(சொல் குற்றம், பொருள் குற்றங்களைக் கண்ணதாசனும் அவனது தாசர்களும் மன்னிக்க வேண்டுகிறேன்.)
One can live through the meaning of the first two lines while travelling from Trivandrum to Kuttalam via Kulathupuzha, Thenmala & Ariyankavu. (The last two lines, one is confronting anywhere and everywhere without getting any reply.)
I was travelling along the beautifully winding ghat section a couple of weeks back. A wonderful experience as usual. You would be marvelling at the dark clouds and they would transform into rain drops suddenly. You just can't pin point exactly at which point the transformation takes place. And then again suddenly some of the clouds join together and allow the sun rays to penetrate in the gap, making the hills partly bright with sun shine and partly dark with the shadow of the clouds. A natural beauty I can only enjoy; can't fully describe in words. And the rain water falling through the gaps in small rocks making tiny water falls is music to the ears as well.

When I was working in Aryankavu branch, I used to get up at 4 in the morning and prepare some food for 2,3 days and would run to catch 6 a m bus, leaving my 7 & 10 year old sons with my husband. The 6 a m bus would be cancelled due to diesel shortage, the 7 a m bus would break down and I would be forced to take the 8 a m bus and be late to the office, putting all my efforts in vain. The only solace to my saddened state of mind would be the beautiful scenery on the way.
Let it be.. let me come to the other scenes that caught my attention during my recent trip to Kuttalam.
Some positive scenes such as ... teenaged girls riding bicycles with school bags.... Young women riding two wheelers loaded with farm products...... Women travelling alone in buses and mini buses to nearby towns, running small errands...And during such travels, offering to keep the babes from the standing co-passengers who could not get a seat and caring the babies as if they were their own... It is indeed a heartening scene. If you make a small talk with the woman it would in all probability turn out that they are members of this or that SHG and are on their way to a bank or returning from some Government office.
If one lists out the good things that happened to rural women in recent times, it may go something like:
  1. Bicycle
  2. TVS-50
  3. Self Help Groups
Together these three help rural womenfolk become more and more self reliant.
Teenage girls use bicycles to go to high schools/higher secondary schools even if situated only in a nearby town.

Young women load their TVS-50(or other such handy scooties) with their farm products and take them to nearby market places to get a fair price for their products.

Women of all ages form self help groups and get trained to undertake financial transactions and gain confidence to approach officials in Government offices and Banks to transact business with dignity.

These are definitely heartening scenes.... But the travelogue won't be complete if I don't mention a scene that should make us all put down our heads in shame.
A scene of men squatting in the morning on the sides of their fields or on the road side on the train route. Luckily one may not see a woman doing so, not because they have access to private toilets but because they are trained to answer the nature's call in the dark, well before dawn. On the cursed 3 days and on all 30 days. Privacy of a closed toilet is alien to them. We who are blessed with that luxury can never understand their pain fully.
We raise our voice against so many evils. But why are we reluctant to raise our voice against this? Besides being an ugly and undignified scene it is a health hazard not only to them but to the passers by too. Can't we as a society do something to stop this by getting enough hygienic toilets constructed? Is it too much of asking from the Government headed by a woman who should be more aware of the pain and indignity?
Sorry guys to have taken you to this ugly scene as well. But let us hope some good will come out of it.
And when you reach Kuttalam after all this and more and allow yourself to be showered by the water falls, Nature's own shower it is indeed a bliss.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

கண்ணில் வரும் காட்சி எல்லாம்....


அழகு மிகுந்த ராஜகுமாரி மேகமாகப் போகிறாள்
ஜரிகை நெளியும் சேலை கொண்டு மலையை மூடப் பார்க்கிறாள்
பள்ளம் சிலர் உள்ளம் என ஏன் படைத்தான் ஆண்டவன்
பட்டம் தரத் தேடுகின்றேன் எங்கே அந்த நாயகன்
 
முதல் இரண்டு வரிகளின்பொருளை திருவனந்தபுரத்தில் இருந்து குளத்துப்புழை, தென்மலை வழியாக குற்றாலம் செல்லும் பாதையில் கண்கூடாகக் காணலாம்.(கடைசி இரண்டு வரிகளின் பொருளை எங்கேயும் எப்போதும் காணலாம். விடை மட்டும் தான் கிடைக்காது).
இரண்டு மூன்று வாரங்களுக்கு முன்பு வளைந்து நெளிந்து செல்லும் பாதை வழியாகக் குற்றாலம் போயிருந்தேன். வழக்கம் போலவே ஒரு அற்புதமான அனுபவம். அடர்ந்து கறுத்த மேகக்கூட்டம் எங்கே கம்பி போன்ற மழைத் துளிகளாய் உரு மாறுகிறது என்றே தெரியாத கண் கொள்ளாக் காட்சி. திடீரென மேகங்கள் விலகி பச்சைப் பட்டு விரித்த மலைகளின் ஒரு பகுதியில் மட்டும் சூரிய வெளிச்சம் பட்டுப் பிரகாசமாகவும், ஒரு பகுதி மேகத்தின் நிழலிலும் காணப்படும் அழகை எனக்கு ரசிக்க மட்டுமே தெரியும். வர்ணிக்கத் தெரியாது. மழையில் குளித்த மலைப் பாறைகளில் ஆங்காங்கே சிற்றருவிகள் உருவாகி சலசலத்து விழுவது கண்களுக்கும் காதுகளுக்கும் இன்பம்

நான் ஆரியங்காவில் பணி புரியும் போது, அதிகாலை 4 மணிக்கு எழுந்து இரண்டு மூன்று நாட்களுக்கான பண்டங்களைச் செய்து வைத்து விட்டு 10, 7 வயது பிள்ளைகளைத் தந்தையிடம் விட்டு விட்டு, 6 மணி பஸ்ஸிற்கு ஓடி, டீஸல் தகராறு காரணம் பஸ் கான்ஸல் ஆகி 7 மணி பஸ் break down ஆகி 8 மணி பஸ் பிடித்து லேட் ஆகித், தாளாத மனக்கவலையுடன் செல்லும் போது என் மனக்கவலைக்கு அரு மருந்தாக இருந்தது இந்த அற்புதக் காட்சிகள் தான் என்பதில் சந்தேகமே இல்லை.
அது போகட்டும்.. இப்போது இந்தப் பயணத்தில் என் கவனத்தை ஈர்த்த மற்றொரு விஷயம்..சைக்கிளில் புத்தகப்பையை வைத்துக்கொண்டு கம்பீரமாகப் பள்ளிக்குச் செல்லும் பெண் குழந்தைகள்.. TVS-50 இல் விவசாயப் பொருட்களைச் சுமந்து செல்லும் பெண்கள்... தனியாகப் பஸ்ஸிலும் மினி பஸ்ஸிலும் டவுனுக்குத் தனியே போய் தேவையானதை வாங்கி வரும் பெண்கள்... என நம்பிக்கை தரும் காட்சிகள்.
அப்படிப் பயணிக்கும் போது நிற்கும் பெண்களிடமிருந்து குழந்தைகளை வாங்கி வைத்துக் கொள்வதும் அக்குழந்தைகளின் தலையோ உடையோ கலைந்திருந்தால் தங்கள் குழந்தையாகப் பாவித்து சரி செய்து விடுவதும் bonus காட்சிகள்..
சமீப காலங்களில் கிராமத்துப் பெண்களுக்கு ஏற்பட்டிருக்கும் நல்ல மாற்றங்களுக்கான காரணங்களைப் பட்டியல் இட்டால் இந்த வரிசையில் இருக்கும்.
1. சைக்கிள் 
2. TVS-50 
                                
3. சுய உதவிக் குழுக்கள்
                                     
 
இவை மூன்றும் கிராமத்துப் பெண்கள் சொந்தக் காலில் நிற்பதற்குப் பேருதவி புரிகின்றன.
    1. சைக்கிள்.. பதின் பருவப் பெண் குழந்தைகளும் தமது ஊரில் உயர் நிலைப் பள்ளி இல்லாவிடினும் அடுத்த ஊர் சென்றாவது படிக்கத் துணை புரியும் ஒரு துணைவன்.
    2. TVS-50.. விவசாய விளை பொருட்களை அடுத்துள்ள சந்தைகளில் கொண்டு விற்று நல்ல விலை பெற உதவுகின்றன.
  1. சுய உதவிக் குழுக்கள்.. பெண்களை சொந்தக் காலில் நிற்பதற்கும் பணப் பரிமாற்றம் நடத்துவதற்கும் அலுவலகங்களிலும் பாங்குகளிலும் சென்று நம்பிக்கையுடன் தங்கள் தேவைகளை நிறைவேற்றிக் கொள்ளும் தைரியம் உடையவர்கள் ஆக்கவும் உதவுகின்றன.
இவை எல்லாம் நம்பிக்கை தரும் நல்ல காட்சிகள் என்றாலும் மாற்றம் இல்லாத, நம்மை நாணித் தலை குனிய வைக்கும் ஒரு காட்சியைப் பற்றிக் கூறாமல் இதை நிறைவு செய்ய முடியாது.
வயலோரங்களிலும் ரயில் பாதை நெடுகவும் காலை நேரங்களில் ஆண்கள் ஒதுங்கும் காட்சி. பெண்கள் ஒதுங்குவதை நல்ல வேளை பார்க்க முடியாது. ஏனென்றால் அவர்கள் அதி காலை எழுந்து, முடியும் வரை மற்றவர் கண்களில் படாமல் தங்கள் காரியத்தை முடித்துக் கொள்ளும் திறன் பெற்றவர்கள். மூன்று நாட்களிலும், முப்பது நாட்களிலும். பூட்டிய கதவின் உள்ளே நமக்குக் கிடைக்கும் தனிமை அவர்களுக்கு அந்நியம். அந்த வலி நமக்கு ஒரு போதும் முழுமையாகப் புரியாது.
எதற்கெல்லாமோ போராடுகிறோம். நாம் நினைத்தால் இந்த அவலத்தை மாற்ற முடியாதா? ஒரு பெண்ணின் தலைமையில் இருக்கும் அரசாங்கம் நினைத்தால் தீர்வு காண இயலாதா? தலை குனியாமல் இயற்கையின் தேவைகளை நிறைவேற்ற அவர்களுக்கு வசதி செய்து கொடுக்க முடியாதா?
இதை எல்லாம் தாண்டிக் குற்றாலம் சென்று அருவியில் குளிப்பது... ஆஹா என்ன சுகம்.. முடிந்தால் பிறகு சொல்கிறேன்.

Monday, 7 October 2013

நன்றி ஒருவர்க்கு செய்தக்கால்---when you do some good deed



நன்றி ஒருவர்க்கு செய்தக்கால் அந்நன்றி
என்று தருங்கொல் என வேண்டா நின்று தளரா
வளர் தெங்கு தாளுண்ட நீரைத்
தலையாலே தான் தருதலால்.

nandri oruvarku cheidakkal annandri
endru tarun kol ena vaenda -nindru talara
valartengu taaLunda neerai
talaiyale thaan tarudalaal.

 
When you do something good to someone
don't do it with the expectation that they will reciprocate ;
Think of the coconut tree. Someone pours water at its root;
It grows tall for years without giving anything in return ;
After years it starts giving back in the form of water and flesh inside.

That is the literal meaning.

But thinking of the analogy provokes more thoughts.

The tree takes water from someone and takes some years to grow. He may be a mere gardener doing it for an employer in which case he may not be around to enjoy the fruit. If he is an old man, he too may not be around when the coconuts are harvested. The fruits are enjoyed by some who may or may not be connected with the planter. But the planter tends to the plant in spite of knowing that he may not be the one to enjoy the fruits. Similarly when you do some good deed do it wholeheartedly bearing in mind you may are may not be able to enjoy the benefits of the deed.

That is from the planter's or giver's angle;
And from the taker's angle--- when you receive something good from someone, be it in kind or any other form of help, you may not be able to reciprocate in the same way to the same person. But you can definitely do that to people who need it like the coconut tree taking water from someone and giving the benefits to much more people.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Trimming the Balance Sheet or கண்டக்டர் தர வேண்டிய சில்லறை பாக்கி


I, like many of you, am an ardent lover of old Tamil film songs. 1960s & 70s can be said to be the golden period with Kannadasan ruling the roost. No, this is not to list his hit songs. That deserves a seperate post. It's about our attitude towards those ever green melodies. But look at their picturisation. Heroes above 50 or 60 years of age attired in flashy coats and suits sometimes acting as college students trying, in their vain attempt, to cover their pot bellies in those flashy coats running around heroines their daughters' age, unable to hide their difficulty in breathing while sitting down or getting up. Still we love the songs even after 40 years or more. Why? The poetic beauty of the lyrics rendered in melodious voice with simple background music that doesn't attempt to tear our ear drums help us forget all the negative points mentioned first. Isn't it so?

In our official life we meet with so many kinds of people, not all to our liking. An inconsiderate boss, a rude colleague, a disobedient subordinate and numerous unrelenting clients. We learn to deal with these and many more. Most of them occupy a space in our official life that we can't totally avoid them. Nor can we change them to our liking. What do we do? We try to ignore the negative side of their characters and try to build rapport on the positive aspects, at least to the extent it is necessary to maintain a workable relationship when thrown together due to unavoidble situations.

When we see umpteen posts in Face Book, asking us to accept people as they are, or asking us to forget those who have hurt you , if not because they deserve it, for the sake of your own peace, our immediate response is to like the posts and share them. Don't sit in judgement of other people, you don't know what they have gone through; You might have fared worse if you were in their situation. Posts containing such words get many likes and shares. Even in case of friends, we have to be open minded in order to continue the friendship. Oruvar porai iruvar natpu, as the saying goes. One being understanding saves the friendship between the two.

But when it comes to the so called mistakes committed by our near and dear ones, we employ very strict norms. How many times we see whenever a fight erupts between couples or siblings we immediatley resort to using incidents that took place years before as weapons to hurt the one at the other end? We are not prepared to forgive or forget even after long years. May be whatever was said or done was said or done when the other person had much lesser maturity at that time. May be we too contributed at that time with our own immaturity level we then had causing the drift to precipitate. We carry the unnecesary baggage for years together all the time at the cost of our own peace. Why don't we apply the rule forgive and forget for our own sake in such cases?

I am reminded of a pudukkavaidai I read in Aananda vikatan more than ten years back.
Nowadays most of the Tamil magazines have started publishing pudukkavidaigal. But I always find those in aananda vikatan more crispy. It goes something like this:
(It is written as if from the mind of a bus traveller, travelling through ghat roads full of beautiful scenary all the way.)
விரைந்தோடும் பச்சை மரங்கள்                                               
அதில் சிரிக்கும் பூக்கள்
சலசலக்கும் சிற்றோடைகள்
கை எட்டும் தூரத்தில் வெண் பஞ்சு மேகக் கூட்டம்
பக்கத்து ஸீட்டில் தாயின் மடியில் குழ்ந்தையின் புன்சிரிப்பு
இது எதையுமே ரஸிக்க விடவில்லை கன்டக்டர் தர வேன்டிய சில்லறை பாக்கி

Viraindodum pachai marangal
Athil chirikkum pookkal
Salasalakkum chitrodaigal
Kai ettum dhoorathil ven panchu megak koottam
Pakkathu seattil thayin madiyil kuzhandiyin punchirippu
Idu edhaiyume rasikka vidavillai conductor thara vendiya chillarai baakki.

Roughly translated it says:

Lush green trees full of smiling flowers pass by
Numerous riverlets run making musical sounds
Clouds scattered like flowering cotton pass by
The lovely smile of an infant in the next seat in its mother's laps
I was not able to enjoy any of these
Because of the balance of change the conductor owed me.


The words may not be the same as written by the author or the translation may be imperfect. But the meaning got stuck into me and lingers even after about ten years.

Some small change, be it in money or anything else, that someone owes us puts an invisible curtain over our eyes and we refuse to see beyond that curtain, letting that small change cataract our vision.

In banking parlance we call it 'Trimming tne Balance sheet'; when many loan accounts with small balances are outstanding and recovery is difficult or impossible, the loans are written off and the Balance sheet is devoid of those non performing assets. The recovry efforts may continue, though.

Likewise why don't we learn to write off unnecessary memories from our mind and keep it fresh and trim to be able to enjoy the innumerable pleasures every minute offers us?

What the conductor owes may be significant at times, but the world outside has much more to offer. Let us not lose it for the sake of the balance of change he owes us.

Statutory Disclaimer: This does not refer to any one person or any one incident in particular. I have named the file where I keep my writings as 'My Musings.' It is just that. My musings.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Kannadasan

நாம் பேச நினைப்பதெல்லம் தான் பேசிய கவிஞன் கண்ணதாசன்.

இதோ சில முத்துக்கள்.


"கலையெல்லாம் கண்கள் சொல்லும் கலையாகுமா
ஆலயமணி படத்தில்
 
நான்கே வார்த்தைகளில் அழகான கவிதைக்கு எடுத்துக்காட்டு.
....
மாட்டுக்கார வேலன் படத்தில் இரட்டை வேட கதாநாயகனிடம் கதாநாயகிக்கு உண்டாகும் குழப்பத்தை அழகாகச் சொல்லும்
"ஒரு பக்கம் பார்க்கிறா"....
.....
பாலும் பழமும் படத்தில் ஒரு அருமையான கவிதை.
"காதல் சிறகைக் காற்றினில் விரித்து வான வீதியில் பறக்கவா"
சில நாட்கள் கணவனைப் பிரிந்திருந்து பின் மீண்டும் சந்திக்கப் போகும் மனைவியின் மன நிலை.
...
பிரிவின் துயர்
"உண்ண வென்று உணவை வைத்தால் உன் முகத்தைக் காட்டுகிறாய்
உறக்கம் என்று படுக்கை போட்டால் ஓடி வந்து எழுப்புகிறாய்"
...
மரணத்தின் முன்னே கையாலாகாமல் நிற்கும் டாக்டர் கணவனின் துயரம்....
"எலும்புக்கும் சதைக்கும் மருத்துவம் கண்டேன் இதற்கொரு மருந்தைக் கண்டேனா இருந்தால் அவளைத் தன்னந்தனியே எரியும் நெருப்பில் விடுவேனா?"...
சுய நம்பிக்கையின் வெளிப்பாடாக ஒரு அருமையான பாடல்..
"உலகம் பிறந்தது எனக்காக, ஓடும் நதிகளும் எனக்காக"
சொல்லிக்கொண்டே போகலாம். இப்போதைக்கு நிறுத்துகிறேன்.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

My father


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My father would have turned 100 on 9th July(17th June according to his birth star) if he was alive. He might not have allowed us to celebrate it as a function with fanfare. He didn't when he turned 60 way back in 1973 though a religious function (sashtiabthapoorthi) was the norm of the day in middle class families at the time, perhaps even to date. But thanks to the initiative taken by my elder sister we all had a wonderful time in a unique way. All of us in the family(parents with all of us the children as none of us had got married then) went to Tiruchendur the shore temple. It was so rare an occasion to go on an outing with him let alone to a temple. Leaving aside the cost involved (which we knew he could not afford an outing what with his meagre income from a clerical job he hated from the day he joined the company till he retired from it), he could bring the whole world indoors with his imagination and wisdom and declare that wherever you went all you see is the sky above your head and the earth below your feet. And quote Oscar Wilde who said "why do you say The Nayagara falls is one of nature's wonders. It would have been a wonder if the water rose from below to the top. Water falling down is normal and not a wonder after all". As for visiting temples he was least interested and perhaps done twice or thrice in his whole life of eighty plus years. So it was such a rare gift he gave us all in his sixtieth birthday by accompanying us to the shore temple. But then since he hailed from Pathamadai in Tirunelveli District he had a soft corner for Tiruchendur.


That said I'm not sure how we would have celebrated his turning 100. But I think I owe at least this to him. Just a meagre attempt to thank for all the intangible assets that we have inherited from him. Yes, he was not great success in today's parlance when a man's success is inevitably linked to his financial assets. But if Thiruvalluvar's words 
 
Thakkaar thakavilar enbadu avaravar
echaathal kaanap padum
தக்கார் தகவிலர் என்பது அவரவர்
எச்சத்தாற் காணப் படும் 
(whether a man is worth his mettle or not is measured by what he leaves behind)
are anything to go by then he was a great success I can say.
We have inherited quite a lot of virtues from him.
That I am able to write these few words even if sprinkled with lots of spelling, grammar and contents mistakes (சொல் குற்றம் பொருள் குற்றம் பொருத்தருள்க ) is in itself a great asset that I have inherited from him. He was indeed a man of letters. A voracious reader in the true sense of the word. His appetite for reading never left him even after he turned 80. He loved authors like Oscar Wilde, A.J. Cronin, Somerset Maughm, Aldus Huxley and the list is long. Of course his most favourite was the inimitable George Bernard Shaw. He used to note down passages he liked from the books he read in note books like a student studying for exams and discuss with his literary friends who were of course rare. Though he tried to inculcate the habit in us we were busy with our own school books and the need to fill the space created by his inability in financial matters. We didn't realise that we were closing our eyes to such a great treasure quite close at hand. Only after securing a decent job in a bank(which i hated in the beginning as he did his, but started liking it afterwards though) I turned my eyes to the treasure of collection of books that he had. One of my all time favourites from the treasure is 'The Citadel' by A.J. Cronin. I still remember the passion with which he would quote the final speech made by the protagonist, who was a medical doctor, before the Medical Council ridiculing the foolishness of their contempt for traditional medical practitioners. Thus I developed a healthy admiration for him, but again due to my job and laziness I didn't fully utilise the opportunity to gain more from his vast wisdom. This is one of my few regrets in life. I for one take life as it comes, own up my decisions and not regret things I have missed.('What can not be cured has to be endured' my father would have quoted Shaw.) But this is something I can't help regretting. Especially after my sons started growing up and developed a taste for reading, initially with my encoragement and soon on their own and I too grew along with them. Oh dad how much I long to have you with us to discuss with you the little that we read.


Another great quality in him was that he was fit as a fiddle, rather as the strings in his badminton racket almost till the end. Yes, he was a ball badminton player and represented his company TVS in quite a few matches. That was perhaps his only pleasant memories about his company. By the way his father was a close friend of Mr.T.V.Sundaram Iyengar, the founder of the TVS groups. My father was well acquainted with the sons of the great business tycoon of south India. Any one with that sort of contacts would have tried and derived maximum personal benefits out of it. But not my father and I am proud of it.


Well, back to the secrets of his health. He used to walk at least five kilometres every morning till the end. Most of the days more. And that too a brisk walk. Everyone in the extended family knew this and appreciated it. As in reading I can claim to follow him in this good habit also, if not to match his standards, at least to some extent. Due to these two healthy habits of walking and playing he lead almost a disease free life. Yes, almost, except for a chronic stomach pain self diagnosed as peptic ulcer. He suffered from gastric trouble because of that and had a perennial fear of death. I remember him waking up every one at midnight due to his nagging pain and because his gastric problem would give him discomfort to his heart and breathing, he would declare that he was going to die immediately. We children would be scared and speechless. But my mother, cool as she was would give him some water and butter milk with asafoetida and vendayam added and he would be back to normal soon. He rarely went to a doctor because 'doctors would experiment on our bodies like we were their guinea pigs'. That said he had very great respect for doctors and the medical profession for the great strides made in anatomy.


He was a great lover of carnatic music. Though he didn't attempt to sing, he could easily identify ragas. And he had learnt it simply by listening to the great musicians either in person or from the radio. He hated film songs. But was a great fan of M.K.Thaiagaraja Bhagavathar, the film actor and a singer. I naturally preferred the next generation film singer TMS. My father would generously appreciate carnatic based film songs wonderfully rendered by TMS, like Madavipponmayilal, ennamellam oar idathaiye naaduthe, Radhe unakku kopam agadhadi(M.K.T has also sung a song with similar pallavi in the same raga, my vote was for TMS's and appa's for MKT) Naan paadidum kalaigalin sandam and the list of songs is long too. And I remember one incident. Once Karpagavalli nin porpathangal, the undisputed master piece by TMS was played in the radio followed by a great song by a greater female musician. To my untrained ears the TMS song was more appealing and I expressed it to my father expecting a refute from him. To my utter surprise he agreed. This is one of the greatest memories I cherish and treasure. An ear for good music is all I have inherited from him. Here also I could have done much more.


As I mentioned earlier he was least interested in religious rituals. I think I follow suit, though I do participate in and sometimes perform rituals just to respect the feelings of those around and also it gives a platform for a social get together given the nature of our society. If he was asked to participate in rituals and to follow certain rules attached to it he would immediately quote Jesus Christ, “Sabbath is made for Man; Man is not made for Sabbath.” One just can't disagree. He would quote an example from his childhood experience. His maternal grand mother was living with him and his parents. He was more attached to her than to his own mother and named his eldest daughter(my sister) after her. Once grandma went to have a darshan of a great religious leader. And was denied entry to the place simply because she was a widow. My father was very much upset by the incident and would often ask us, “The plight of widows in those days was even otherwise pathetic. Should not a holy man have enough grace to fulfill her little wish of having his darshan?” His narrations have had a lot of impact on me I think. Any little empathy I have for the less privileged and any repulsion I have always had against high handedness of the more powerful perhaps has an origin in this narration of his I think.
I know this would be incomplete without a mention about my mother. But it is difficult to write about her for more than one reason. For one, even after 18 years I feel like being lost in the desert without having her around. My heart is filled with pain and eyes with tears. No amount of words would suffice to thank her for what she did. She stood like a pillar and bore the family on her shoulders. Given the nature of my father, she had to take care of all our worldly needs and she did it wonderfully well. One could imagine what Chellammal would have gone through with a husband like Bharathiar. We were witness to something similar to that. With very little formal education, unlike my father, my mother excellently complimented the gap created by his lack of worldly wisdom. Yes, they complimented each other in many ways to make us what we are in their own beautiful way. This complimenting each other lasted till the end. Amma suffered one of the worst diseases for more than three years and appa was there by her side, giving her a silent support and died within days of her death. Perhaps she was waiting there above to receive him and relieve him of his fear of death.
To my dear brothers and sisters, I have said these few words from my experience and perception(யானையைப் பார்த்த குருடன் கதையாக). You might have different and more interesting stories to tell. And how much I long my dear Babu Chittappa was there to share this and comment on it.
Dear dad and mom, continue to lead us from the heaven above.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Padithadil pidithadu


Whenever I read a good article I use to share the link with my dear sons and vice versa. But since I was moved very much by the following piece, I wish to share it with all of you. Your comments are welcome.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Harsh_Mander/love-in-times-of-slaughter/article4442201.ece

For my friends who have no time to click the link I give below the text in full.

The idea of retribution currently holds our nation in thrall, but there are also other, gentler voices that speak of mercy and justice, not for revenge but for deterrence, and of the possibility of reformation.

This is a season for public rage, India’s winter of vengeance. Two men were hanged in quick succession for grave acts of terror. Others — forest brigands, assassins, and serial killers — await their turn. For the boy and men charged with the brutal rape and murder of a young student on a Delhi bus, public opinion will be satiated with nothing short of their hanging.

The idea of justice as retribution currently holds the nation in thrall. But there are other, gentler voices, muffled in the clamour for violent public reprisal, voices that speak of mercy and forgiveness, of justice not for revenge but for deterrence, and of the possibility of reformation. I will — in this column in coming months — carry some of these voices, past and present, known and unknown.

I begin with the story of Yusuf Mansuri, a young bus driver I met in the Shah Alam relief camp in Ahmedabad just weeks after the carnage in 2002. Yusuf lived with his parents and three brothers in a small tenement in the working class Ahmedabad suburb Naroda Patiya. His father drove a bus in the state corporation, and Yusuf, the eldest, supplemented the income of his joint family driving buses when regular drivers were on leave, and apprenticing in an embroidery workshop. In the carnage of 2002, his home was burned down and looted, and more than a hundred people slaughtered and raped in his settlement, many his extended family.

The ravaged family, reduced to penury, began its new journey in the Shah Alam dargah. The medieval courtyards rapidly filled up with numerous families like Yusuf’s desperately fleeing the violence, until more than 10,000 people took refuge there. Yusuf recalls the humiliation of living on charity, wearing used clothes, eating food directly from the floor, using one toilet for 500 people.

I first encountered Yusuf in the camp teaching children in the open spaces of the graveyard with a group of friends. I sought volunteers for peace and reconstruction, and Yusuf was among the first to come forward. Six months later, when the camps were shut down, and I walked with Yusuf through the alleyways of Naroda. As he described to me the horrific slaughter, I remember wondering that if I had suffered what he had, could I have found the same spaces in my heart for ready forgiveness?

Shortly after the camps were disbanded, both Yusuf and his father were arrested, charged with the murder of the one Hindu who was killed in Naroda, with more than 100 Muslims. It was a tactic to intimidate the most active witnesses of the slaughter. During the three months he spent in Sabarmati Jail, I often worried how much this injustice would embitter my young friend. But after his release on bail, I found his spirit and morale unaltered. What he found most difficult was to see his father in prison. But his father would console him: “Do you know who else was confined in this jail, years ago? Mahatma Gandhi. If he could be here, who are you and me?” After his release on bail, he was summoned by the courts every month for four years, at the end of which his father and he, and all the accused, were acquitted. Yusuf worked with us as an aman pathik, or peace worker, for a couple of years. Then the pressures of supporting his family — he had a young bride and small son — compelled him to accept regular employment as a bus driver.

But nights and mornings between driving his bus, he enrolled in law school. He would call me proudly each year when the results were announced. “I have passed with 57 per cent,” he said to me the first year. He maintained his grades, and graduated as a lawyer. When violence broke out in Assam last summer in 2012, we called for volunteers to work in the camps. Yusuf joined the Aman Biradari volunteer group and, with young people from Gujarat, Delhi and Hyderabad, spent two weeks in the relief camps in Lower Assam. Aman Biradari had one condition: that Bodo volunteers would work in Bengali Muslim camps, and Muslims in the Bodo camps.

Conventional wisdom was that, in the bitterly polarised climate of Assam, after the bloody ethnic violence, this was impossible. But Yusuf knew it was not. He opted to work in a Bodo camp and announced to the inhabitants soon after he arrived there that he was a Muslim. The residents were first unbelieving, then enraged. For hours, they vented rage and abuse about Muslims, who had attacked their settlement. Yusuf looked at them steadily in the eye through all of this, never retaliating, but quietly insisting, “You cannot stop me from serving you.” In the end, they gave him a bed in their tents and food. In the days he spent with them, he organised meetings for the first time with their estranged Muslim neighbours. After uneasy silences and some recrimination, then weeping, both sides admitted of their longing for peace.

Back in Ahmedabad, Yusuf was a star witness in the Naroda criminal case. Over the years, he never missed a hearing. On the day the judgment sentencing former Minister Maya Kodnani and several others was announced, I telephoned Yusuf to ask how he felt. Vindicated, he said, his faith in justice and democracy further strengthened, and Judge Jyotsnaben Yagnik convinced him about human goodness. And yet, as the men sentenced to spend a lifetime in jail for the slaughter were driven away, he watched their young sons weeping piteously. A flashback to children orphaned a decade earlier in Naroda; he recalled their lonely years being raised without the care of their parents. “Their fathers were guilty, but not the children. I longed then to run to Judge Madam,” he said to me, “and to beg her…”

To beg her to let the men who had slaughtered his people walk free.

Friday, 22 February 2013

My dreams--literally


I was enjoying my voluntarily retired life peacefully with both my sons married and settled. Then comes a dream in which I was offered a job back in my bank from where I had taken  voluntary retirement with no intention of rejoining even in my wildest dreams but alas dream is stranger than truth. I accept it and join the dream continues. I am not offered any specific seat and so I start reading bank circular files. I am asked to read HR related files as I might have to attend to HR related work someone says. I try to protest saying that I have never worked in HR and that is not my strong hold anyway. In the evening I was entrusted with the cash keys as the person in charge was to go on leave. Next day I start for the bank in my scooter and was halted on the way as the railway level crossing was closed. Once it was reopened I reach the other side of the railway line and do some shopping. When I reach for my scooter it was missing. I search for it but to no avail. I make a complaint to a police man nearby who pays no heed but starts changing his uniform to normal dress. On my insistence he hears my case and promises to look for it. Suddenly it occurs to me that the scooter might still be on the other side of the line as I hadn’t taken it over to this side when the gate was reopened. I rush back and find the vehicle but parked in such a way that it cannot be moved from the place easily. A stranger comes to my rescue and offers to move it to a more convenient position. I was too pleased to accept the offer and wait a little away from the vehicle. But somehow what the man starts is a car and not a scooter. He asks me to get in so that he would leave me to drive it once we reach a more comfortable place. His family was also there in the car and so I had no hesitation to get in. He drives through rough roads and at one particular point road laying work was going on and there was hardly any space for even an auto rickshaw to pass by. Stating that it would be risky to take that path he suddenly drives down to a path where small metalled path was laid and tarred road was some 18-20 inches above it. I start wondering how he could take the car to such a height and before I put my doubt to words he does it and the car is back on a smooth road. He leaves the car to me and I start looking for the road that would take me to Statue in Trivandrum. I wake up to find the bed room flooded with light may be by switching on the tube only to realise that it was the morning sun who lit the room.

If anyone who can interpret dreams takes the trouble to enlighten me with the meaning of my dream I shall be highly obliged.

One warning.. the request will be repeated as I often have interesting and lengthy dreams figuring even VIPs, of course including me.