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Reminiscences of a Seeker – Book Review

Reminiscences of a Seeker

Reminiscences of a Seeker – cover page

Book Review:

Book: Reminiscences of a Seeker

Author: Kapil Kumar Bhaskar

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Angel Books Publications; First Edition edition (2017)

Price: 365 INR

Pages: 300 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 8193359909

ISBN-13: 978-8193359907

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

India is a country full of diverse beliefs and traditions arising from various cultures that have settled in this varied land. Many of such beliefs and traditions give birth to a lot of rituals and sometimes even superstitions. It’s our faith and experiences that usually guides which spiritual path one pursues.

Most of us are usually content with our simple monotonous way of connecting with the higher being. But some of us go the extra mile in search of their true master…what’s their purpose here…and following their process ultimately to bond with the supreme almighty.

Kapil Kumar Bhaskar’s Reminiscences of a Seeker is the journey of such a seeker of spiritual enlightenment. As per the author this debut novel is a true account of what all he encounters during his pursuit. The rational and practical ones might find it illogical and at times really hard to believe what all he experienced. But many of you, who have experienced the supernatural in their lives, will definitely correlate to a lot.

The story revolves around Kapil’s initial two Gurus; one being a tantric and other an aghori. The story is a roller-coaster ride of his journey with the mystic…some of them explainable…but some of them really bizarre. In fact for many of the readers, because of scarce material in these types of topics, this might be a turnoff. The book starts with a photo of Kapil’s Guru under whose blessing he continued on his spiritual path, which made me curious and I was compelled to turn the pages just to see whether there are more of such pics and I succeeded in finding one of Sai Baba’. Honestly, the blurb at the back cover or on other sites that you will find while purchasing doesn’t give you a complete picture about what this book is all about.

Back cover with blurb

The vocabulary is very simple and it surely assists in it being a fast read. Kapil tries to justify everything he wrote about experiences with smaller stories and unnecessary introduction of characters, which drags and derails the plot at times.

The book digs deep into the world of spiritual masters, tantrics and aghoris. It gives a detailed description of their practices and rituals. It also showcases the darker side to this so-called ‘white world’. How these spiritual gurus can go to any extent to keep their followers and how they feed on the fears and weaknesses of seekers. How they lure the innocent and then themselves create havoc in their lives so that they are forever entangled with them.

The basic premise of any form of spirituality is that it teaches detachment in its most fundamental element. What this book clearly highlights is, how these gurus once they become powerful, knowledgeable and enlightened (at least they believe so) cannot let go of the ‘detachment’ that comes along and remain intoxicated with power, money and above all followers.

This is a good debut effort with an effortless fluency to the book. You definitely get hooked onto to the narrative after the few initial pages and would reach the end in no time. Kapil masterfully crafts and brings the story to an end in a way that it leaves the reader gasping for the sequel.

The ones who love the mystical arts or are curious about occultism will definitely like it. I am going with 3 out of 5 for ‘Reminiscences of a Seeker: Dark face of a White World’. The uniqueness of the subject makes for a good page-turner that you should not miss. Do watch out for that sequel.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Grab a copy of the book here: Goodreads and Amazon

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A Tale of Malabari Chicken Curry and Two Tomatoes

A Tale of Malabari Chicken Curry and Two Tomatoes

‘Bhaiya it’s my birthday!!! Please make that special Malabari Chicken Curry for me na…Please’. My cousin was after my life. Ok…ok…don’t do this Emotional Attyachar…I’ll prepare it…but I am only doing this because it is your birthday.

I poured myself an extra large of ‘Kala Kutta’ (Black Dog) and took out the necessary two tomatoes from the fridge. He again started, “Bhaiya!! No one in your family consumes chicken…so how come this knowledge of ‘Malabari’ Chicken Curry…hmmm…bolo bolo.” He immediately sensed it that I was not at ease with this question. The best I could manage was a smile…emptied one (more) large in a single go and began…

Few years back…

‘Ladies and gentlemen! Our next performer is surely going to take your breath away. When she moves…even her eyes dance with expression…and please get hold of an armor…as her smile is for sure going to stab your heart and take your life away ;). Please put your hands together for our very own Malabari Tomato’, the anchor announced. Actually, I was the one who gave her that name as every time I looked at a tomato…they always reminded me of her pink chubby cheeks. (Sorry can’t mention her real name)

He disappeared behind the curtains. Slowly the lights faded…the huge maroon curtains, which were hiding her from me, sluggishly began to move apart. She didn’t have a clue that I was a part of the audience…not even to this day. Several spotlights began to bathe her in various colors. It was a scintillating sight.

The music reached our ears…it was a malayali song and my Malayalam being so awesome that apart from that I could not make out what a single word meant. Some other guests told me that it was a mallu song…otherwise I didn’t have a clue 😉 . She was at her graceful…stunning best in a blue sari. She had this uncanny ability of carrying off a sari from her school farewell days. On those particular days…elegance…poise and grace became her best buddies (read biggest virtues). She was the one who in stored my faith in the fact that a girl can look her superlative in a sari too with the perfect spice up of seduction.

She commenced. Her moves…her dance…made it appear as if she was effortlessly floating like a mermaid. She was glittering more than all the jewelry she wore…but it was her big brown eyes that outshone every jewel. Every time she smiled…it gave an instant kick…with a high that lasted longer than any intoxicants. It was literally impossible for me to take my eyes off her…actually no one was able to. That very instance a thought whispered to me. If ever I am going with a dancing partner…she should be her, if ever I am going to marry anyone…she should be her and if ever I am going to love anyone…she should be HER. My heart without informing anyone…even me…was now already in love with her. But I could never muster the courage to let her know how much I loved her pure soul…that had the innocence of a nine year old and maturity of someone way beyond her ages. To add up to my woes, I knew she was already in love with someone else. He being a mallu…I gave myself no chance and hence never confessed my love to her. I was just content cherishing the friendship that we had.

Dancing Tomato

Dancing Tomato

Years flew…

By now, she had a blog…sorry two blogs. One was dedicated to her cooking and the other – for her real self. I feel that these days’ urban girls are more of a food blogger and less of a cook (no offence to anyone). There was no chance in hell that I was not following her on them, as it became the only medium to get to know about her after college. She was like that old coffee addiction…no matter how many times you have had it…the addiction never fades away…and yeah…I was addicted to her.

One day She wrote a poem…a real heartbreaking one…a rare tearjerker even for the Joker. I immediately guessed it what the reason could be. But me being I…again was ditched by confidence and courage to man up myself and walk up to her and let her know that I have always loved her and I am always there for her in any and every sense she wishes me to be.

A year later…

The moment my flight landed…I switched on my mobile phone and messaged her, ‘I am in your city’. I literally had to dig deepest inside me to find this much mettle and character to make this day actually happen. I had to meet her…I had to tell her how much I care for her…how much I love her…how much I need her…before its too late.

Two hours later I was standing outside her home. I rang the doorbell. From behind the door I was very easily able to make out her childish squeaky voice. ‘Who’s there’, she shouted. With no response…she opened the door. For seconds she wasn’t able to recognize me as in these years, I had gone from a Hrithik Roshan (Hair wise) to a Anupam Kher. She was taken aback…the moment she realized…or I should say…she recognized me. Fighting hard with her emotions and trying to resist her tears…she finally gave in…and gave me the warmest hug ever. Time did not have any effect on her eyes…on her cheeks…on her hair…on her fragrance…on her smile…even on her mallu accent…every thing was just the same. For me… time simply stood still

After catching up with some college ‘gupshup’ and what she was up to these days…she immediately remembered that she hasn’t served me anything. She forced me to have lunch and then go back. She even tempted me by saying that she was going to prepare my favorite malabari chicken curry, which she always got for me during college days. I questioned her, ‘How come the recipe for this is not on your blog?’It’s a secret recipe which has been passed on for generations in our family’, she replied. I pleaded her to share it with me…and to my surprise she agreed today. She gave me two tomatoes of average sizes and told me that to get that perfect taste one needs to put two tomatoes of these sizes.

The moment I took the bite…the years started rolling back…tears started finding their way from my eyes to cheeks and to the plate. I confessed why I was there…and what I felt for her over the years with utmost honesty. She simply smiled through her moist eyes and said I knew this all along…but I guess it’s too late. Her eyes guided me to her marriage portrait on the wall at the bottom of which was inscribed, ‘who needs a prince charming when I am already married to a soldier’. I looked back at her…couldn’t swallow any more bite…the lump in my throat was eating me from inside. I was trying desperately hard to hide behind a teary smile…my stupidity…of not noticing that portrait the moment I entered that room. I was too mesmerized to be in her presence that for a moment forgot a world still existed outside this room.

She moved close to me…way too close…held my face in her hands…trying to wipe off the salt water at the same time. She said ‘Hold me…close to you’. She leant forward…our tears met…our eyes met…our lips met…and we met. She shattered me back to reality…before my hands could ignite anything in her, by saying, ‘I am a loyal wife’. My already broken pieces of heart were now further broken…

Life again made a mockery of me…Destiny again was laughing at me…God again was playing with me…and the joker again was smiling through me…

Every night just wanted to sit next to her…be invisible (if given a special power) and see her type the chats…see her expressions…see her big eyes move more than her lips…remove those strands of hair which disturbed her while she worked…listen to her endless talks in her childish malabari accent…sleep with her head on my chest. The next mornings prepare for her, her favorite coffee before she gets up…give her a forehead kiss before I leave for work everyday…and simply be a part, however small it may be, of her life for the rest of my lifetime.

Today when I miss her…I pour myself endless pegs while I m cooking the same Malabari chicken curry with two tomatoes. Read her blogs…look at her graceful saree pics…her eyes…her smile…her hair…mixing the salt on my cheeks with the bitterness in my mouth…till I the time I start seeing her…and…simply go numb.

For all those who love to dance,

For all those who love tomatoes,

For all those who love Malabari chicken curry,

For all those whose love is still hidden in them,

For all those who have confessed it to their love,

And

For all those who still go numb…

Its not a GoodBye…
But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han…this one is purely fictional 😉

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

 

0

Private India – Book Review

Private India – Book Review

Private India

Private India

Book Review:

Book: Private India

Author: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Price: 350 INR

Pages: 450

ISBN: 978-0099586395

My rating: 3.5/5

Thank you Blogadda for giving me an opportunity to review Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson’s latest offering ‘Private India’. Somehow I get to only do book reviews for Murder mysteries and thriller fictions and this one is no exception either. Although it’s a collaboration of Ashwin Sanghi with James Patterson but I believe he (James) is happy to take a back seat here as it is not mentioned on his personal website about this book. So, I believe, its pretty safe to say it’s a Murder mystery from an Indian writer. I have never read either of the two before and hence have tried to review uninfluenced from their previous work.

My Review:

When two people who are literally master at their art…collaborate, sparks are sure to fly. Honestly this is the best one I have read so far (from an Indian writer). I have read Dan Brown also and to be fair to them it can’t be compared to his work because when people write, I am pretty sure that they keep him as a benchmark when it comes to a Thriller fiction.

The cover of the book takes inspiration from the James Patterson’s ‘Private’ series where some of the most iconic monuments are usually on the cover. This time it’s the Taj Hotel (Mumbai) and the Gateway of India who get a place on the ‘Private’ cover. The color combinations and the sleekness of the cover give a pretty international look’n’feel to the book.

The tagline reads, “It’s the season for murder in Mumbai” and I swear the book literally lives by that. The moment you take a plunge you are encountered with a corpse in the first chapter itself. The case is handed over to India’s finest detective agency – Private India. It is now up to Santosh Wagh, our hero, to nail the killer. The 51-year-old investigative genius is constantly tormented by his painful past where he has to live with the guilt of killing his own family, which he tries to suppress with regular whiskey shots.

The more Santosh’s rides to investigate and make his mind run…the more he hits roadblock after roadblock…murder after murder. The yellow garrote with which every victim is strangulated makes it a no brainer that this is a case of a serial killer but the intentional clues in the form of strange and uncanny objects that the ruthless killer leaves every time with the corpses makes it chilling as well as interesting from the detective’s point of view.

Private’s detective team included Nisha Gandhe – the head-turningly attractive assistant to Wagh with the same pedigree to her investigation as her boss’. Mubeen – the medical examiner, whose specialty itself was ‘Death’. Hari – the tech wizard of Private who was always awesome at his job. The team gets very able support from Jack Morgan, Santosh’s mentor at one time and Rupesh – the inspector in-charge who was once a very close friend of Santosh but time had its own course.

I don’t know whether this would have worked a decade back but today when one would have at least seen an episode of CID on Sony (read CID TV) it becomes very easy for readers to have a mental map of the characters. The characters are finely written and given equal space in the book.

The book hits the top speed when Santosh tries to connect the clues, which the twisted killer leaves at every killing. The way he connects and with what he connects is truly spine chilling. Once again it shows that no matter how much Ashwin tries; he couldn’t resist the temptation of putting a mythological theme to it, which you will surely love.

The reason for which I personally like this witty thriller is the way the serial killings have been used. You would have read serials killings and the killings would have a pattern but rarely and I mean ‘rarely’ do you get serial killings where the victims were related too. Ashwin very nicely tries to portray the troublesome past of the killer and how each and every victim’s death had a meaning to the killer. Before I spill out too much let me cut it short.

The negatives are very few but they surely are there. I know sub-plots make a book interesting but sometimes too many sub-plots can make the reader wander and loose the plot. Although it is a very fast read and you will complete it in max two days but still the sub plots make it tiring.

The book is a delicacy for those who love racy and pacey spine chilling stuff. The moment you feel that you have figured it out all…you are in for another twist like an Abbas-Mustan thriller. All his (Ashwin) books have been based on historical, theological and mythological themes and this one too uses it but very subtly. After Amish Tripathi’s Shiva Trilogy this one has taken Indian writing to newer heights.

It’s a racy, witty and an ‘unputdownable’ Thriller. Make sure you grab a copy of Private India. I am going with 3.5 out of five for the simple reason that it is way too bulky with extra pages…chapters…and subplots. Nonetheless, it is an awesome read. Don’t miss this one from Mr. Sanghi.

 

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

10

The ALIEN BRIDGE

The ALIEN BRIDGE…

It was a very humid night. The sleep eluded me because of the muggy and sticky weather. The summer power cut made merry while it was irritating for me. I was getting twitchy and restless to the extent that I decided to take a bit of stroll round the terrace. The sky was getting murkier and murkier…the rain clouds gave a crimson touch to it. I felt that even the wind became more and more uneasy. I thought to go inside before the rain actually gets me all drenched up. I came back to my bed…gave another shot at sleep…but the pillow was becoming damp coz of the sweat and at the same time it was becoming difficult for me to get a drier part of pillow. I was very tired because of the research work that I was undertaking and the amount of overtime that I was dedicating in the recent past…hence I finally gave in and didn’t realize when I actually fell asleep.

The window just next to the bed started banging against the frame and the window glass was making a shattering noise. I hurriedly got up to close it…but was shocked of what I saw outside. Neither it was raining nor the wind was fast (Sarcasm)… it was actually a S-T-O-R-M. Though it was very dark, I was able to make out metal sheets from roofs of houses blowing away with the wind…the trees were terribly rattled and the squall even caused a few of them to kiss the ground. It was a terrible sight as if something was about to happen. I closed the window and had a glass of water.

A fluorescent blue light was blinking at the right top corner of my so called smartphone…it suggested an unattended message or call. I picked it up, to check who it was. It was an unread message from ‘the Big Bang’ on my ‘WeChat’ messenger which I recently downloaded from the app market. Annoyed…I tried to find out who it was. Contrary to what the weather was implying, it was actually ‘Mr. Stephen Hawking’. I was way too happy to be called sane at that moment…was excited beyond imagination. The message said, “I have gone through your research work and would like to share some things with you…which might actually help you in the book that you are coming up with”. He continued, “The big bang is my signature and please use this only while you are making any conversation with me and it will better for you if you use something like this”. I replied, “sir from this point onwards I’ll be using ‘The Joker’ as my signature”. He simply replied, “ 😀 😀 :D”.

He immediately got busy and straightway went to the business. (Now onwards I’ll write the conversation as it happened on the WeChat messenger).

The big bang: I have a new device which uses a certain kind of technology which the world is yet to see or hear. With the use of this we can talk to people from past and they can talk to us in return and we will use this WeChat messenger as an interface to hear what they have to say. Today is the perfect weather for us to use the application.

The Joker: (Wiping off the sweat off my forehead) Awesome!!! Great application sir, but why would you tell me about this technology and help me with my research?

The Big Bang: I have seen your work and whatever you are doing with ‘Adam’s Bridge’, I actually want to know the truth. I am really impressed with your work as it gives an ‘Alien Edge’ to the whole thing and I don’t think so that anyone has ever thought on these lines. One more thing, stop calling me Sir.

Ref: en.m.wikipedia.org

The Joker: (Trying to control the excitement) Thank You Sirrrr…..sorry sorry…Big Bang.

The Big Bang: I guess the best person with whom we can begin this conversation – in fact without whom my technology wouldn’t have been possible – is the person who was responsible for the ‘theory of relativity’.

The Joker: No need to even mention his name…what’s his signature?

The Big Bang: ‘E=MC^2’…what else…

The Joker: Ohhhh Yeahh!!! My mistake.

The Big Bang: I have sent him a request…let’s wait for him to reply. Joker…you won’t believe when I’ll tell you that I have already conversed with him many times before…the only problem is the weather…we need a storm every time we need to connect.

E=MC^2: Hi Big Bang…what’s up?? Who is this Joker guy who is a part of this conversation? Have you revealed our secret?

The Big Bang: I am perfectly fine E=MC^2…just counting down my final days. This joker guy is doing a research and you will be glad to hear the direction and the focus that he has given to his research. He wants us to help him and I can get some of our friends from the past to help also. Please don’t worry…our secret is totally safe with him…and we actually need someone to carry our baton in the future.

E=MC^2: (To The Big bang) Okay then…if you say so…Hi Joker…how may I be of help to you?

The Joker: (Astonished) Hi… E=MC^2…I cannot express what and how I feel at this moment. I can’t even believe it’s actually real.

E=MC^2: Big Bang…see this is what happens when you bring a new guy to our conversation.

The Joker: I apologize to both of you…I am not doubting anyone here…since I, the joker, has never felt anything like this…that might be one of the reasons.

E=MC^2: Leave it buddy…quickly tell me what you want to discuss before the weather changes and we are disconnected?

The Joker: E=MC^2…I am doing a research on ‘The Adam’s Bridge’ which according to the Hindu mythology is called the Rama’s Bridge or ‘Ram Setu’. During my research I have come across some astounding facts which makes me believe that the way it was built and the technology that was used to build it…didn’t exist then…and to me it occurs as if it got a bit of extraterrestrial help. Since the only person alive who can really help me with this is Big Bang and I really persuaded him hard before he actually showed up today on my messenger.
E=MC^2: I understand what your query is…but I can only help to a certain extent. I guess we need some more people from the past who can really help us out here…and I would like to contact them…what’s say big bang???

The Big Bang: Absolutely E=MC^2…you have all the controls…take it over from here…

E=MC^2: Big bang I think the person who was really a genius according to me and whatever he thought…whatever he suggested…whatever he said…was always ahead of his times…I think he can throw some more light on this extraterrestrial aspect.

The Big Bang: I don’t clearly get it E=MC^2…whom are you talking about?

E=MC^2: Ohhh!! Big Bang…you should have guessed it…Joker…do you have any clues about whom I am talking about???

The Joker: E=MC^2…I have totally lost it…my mind along with my body has totally gone numb…it is actually too much for me…a mere mortal…to handle all this in a single night…you please go ahead and reveal his identity.

E=MC^2: You Dumbos…I was actually talking about the man…the genius…the superhuman…whose signature is ‘The Mona Lisa’. I have already sent him a request to join…he should be replying soon.

After a few minutes…

The Mona Lisa: Hi!!…Everyone…Hope you have not forgotten me…so tell me what is, that requires this common man?

E=MC^2: Common man…hahaha…nice way to introduce yourself…or were you trying to make fun of me and Big bang…because the third one is already a Clown.

The Mona Lisa: E=MC^2…nothing like that…I was just trying to sound modest…I apologize if that sounded offensive…please go ahead with your enquiry…

The Joker: (I interrupted them…I felt this was unnecessary and might take this conversation on another tangent) The Mona Lisa…I wanted to know that, “did you ever encounter any extraterrestrial happening in your life??”… I have closely read about your life…I have gone through it again and again…but there are specifically two years …of which there is no record mentioned anywhere…not even in your own books…I have heard that you went in a cave and didn’t come out of it for those two years. Is it true…because I have a very imperative question regarding the same???

The Mona Lisa: Who are you by the way…and why shall I tell you anything about my life…about which there is nothing known to the outside world leave alone aliens…if possible please come to the direct question that you have in mind and I’ll see to it whether I can of any help or not.

The Joker: Sir, I have a very simple query, it is regarding the ‘The Adam’s Bridge’. I just want to know that whether you have any information regarding the bridge and can you corroborate on whether there was actually some alien help involved?

The Mona Lisa: Son you are trying to fetch too much here…don’t you think so…if I answer this…whether in affirmative or not…I’ll put myself in a kind of spot which I have avoided during my lifetime and will try today also. But I am not totally going to disappoint you. I can get you to the two most important people with whom you can directly put these questions and let’s see whether they themselves help you or not…please give me a moment…

Everything and everyone became quiet…no one said anything and suddenly they appeared…

Unknown: Hi all…since Mona Lisa forced us we are here…we actually don’t need any introduction but for the sake of this messenger and to let everyone know…one of us here has a signature ‘The Lord’ and my signature is, ‘The Ten Heads’. Hope you all would have recognized us with this info only.

The Mona Lisa: Good Evening…The Ten Heads…I hope you will first answer me before answering this lad here…I want to know…that I made a blueprint of an airplane some four hundred years before something like it actually took flight…but there is clear description in the ancient writings found in your country that you had something like it, which was very much capable of taking an aerial route.

E=MC^2: (To The Ten Heads) Sir before you answer that…I have myself read a lot about you and know for sure that you were the most intelligent of all the living beings that ever walked this planet and want you to bless me please…

The Ten Heads: Can you people keep this a bit professional…I have my own question to ask to The Lord…How is ‘Seeta’ buddy??? Hahahahaha

The Lord: (Angrily) Will you ever change…The Ten heads…you know it for sure that this was a below the belt kind of blow…I think the thrashing that I gave you was not good enough for you…

I knew that this was getting out of hand and I had to intervene before it is actually too late and I might never get a second opportunity at this…

The Joker: Could you all please shut up and focus to my problem and the question I actually put up in the beginning…

Everyone was silent for a moment…

The Lord: Yeah!! son…go ahead…shoot your query…

The Joker: Hey!! Lord…Please answer, whether you answer it in yes or no, but please do answer…‘The Ram Setu’…or the bridge that you built…was it actually built by you or did you actually receive some alien help…please answer it…my whole life’s work is based on it…

The Lord: Do you really want me to answer that…because there is thousand years of history that is on stake here…there are belief of billions which will shatter and I am sorry to say my friend…but then the whole concept of God will be fake and no one will believe in us…no one…

The Joker: Sir please go ahead…please…and answer it….

The Lord: OK then…here it is…What do you think who we are…how we got those special powers…how we were able to do stuff which nobody else could…and the real answer is…

Ref: yousigma.com

Ref: yousigma.com

And just as he was about to answer it the Storm stopped…the sky got cleared and I got disconnected to everyone without even getting to know the correct answer. Whatever the correct answer may be…I’ll never come to know the truth…and neither will anyone else…
My research which was already very complex…critical…and Confusing became more so in all the three aspects.

Note: All the names and character that I have used in this particular blog are just for the fictional purpose of writing this blog. I do not intend to hurt any individuals or community’s feelings or sentiments.

Here is a link to WeChat’s youtube channel WeChat Youtube Channel

For all those who believe in Aliens,

For all those who don’t believe in them,

For all those who use WeChat,

For all those who love all the characters used,

And

For all those who believe that the Aliens exist…

It’s not a GoodBye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘SAMEER’ Mukul

WeChat

WeChat

This post is part of the WeChat with Anyone Anywhere Contest in association with Indiblogger.

5

MADE for EACH OTHER

Made For Each Other

The screeching ringtone of my Nokia 3310 rattled me off my sleep…I disconnected and went back to sleep. The phone rang again… this time I made an effort to check who it was. With one eye closed and with the other one half opened…I tried to ogle at the name in the fluorescent green background. It was mom. I sprang up and sat at ninety degrees to the bed. I checked the time and it was 5 30 in the morning. I wondered why mom was calling me at this time. I answered the call… mom’s voice was shaking. “Please come to Ambala…he wants to see you”, was all she muttered in a feeble tone. I immediately realized that now is the time to go as his condition was very serious.

Mom was in her maternal home, Ambala. He was struggling with his life after a serious of paralytic attacks and prolonged illness. Mom didn’t talk for long but it was clear that the time had arrived for me to be there in his last days. I was at home in Lucknow during Holi break of 2005 and it was due in another three days. My father was still out of station. I informed my sister about the conversation with mom and told her that I will have to leave immediately. I, without even getting confirmed reservation…boarded a train to Ambala. It took me twelve long fretful hours to reach there.

My parents had parted ways some three years ago…and hence it became more so important for me to be around him in those days. As soon as I reached Ambala…mom came running towards me…started crying…hugged me…and immediately took me to his room. I saw a longing in his eyes…as if he was waiting for something…or I should say ‘for someone’. Mom told me that, “off late he has developed this habit of looking towards the entrance in anticipation of your father”. “He is really worried for me and wanted to see you before he finally rests in peace”, she continued. “He thinks that your father will have a change of heart and will surely pay him a visit in his last days”, she added. The doctors had given up any hope of recovery and they informed us that he barely had a week with us. He was my maternal grandfather.

The next day as soon as I woke up… I was at his bedside… and decided to spend all my time with him. He wanted to speak continuously but because of his medical condition he was struggling with words. I advised him not to talk a lot but he kept on insisting. His eyes guided me towards a packet of candies which was kept on an old small wooden table near the bed. He told me that he distributed candies and sweets every day without fail to kids after my maternal grandmother had passed away. People made monuments…wrote books…donated money…did many extravagant things in their lover’s memory…but this was his way of remembering and paying a tribute to his love, my grandmother. I was moved by his love…and don’t know how but ended up blabbering, “How did it all start between you and grandma”?

He glanced towards me and then turned his gaze towards my grandma’s picture that was hanging on the opposite wall. With flickering eyes…trembling hands…quivering and broken words he began…

I was born in Plassi village near Nangal in Punjab on 28th august 1932 to Sardar Shyam Singh and Kushal kaur. My father was a railway engine driver. We were financially quite well off compared to other fellow Indians in those days. We had a good home accompanied by large farms and real estate properties. My childhood was decent and got educated up to eighth standard, which was considered fine especially in the pre-independence era. It was not long before I was asked to marry, as the practice of child marriage was very much prevalent in those days. I was just eleven years old when I married your grandmother, Bibi Charan Kaur.

These days you people have all kinds of communication mediums, from telephones to computers…from emails to SMSs. You people at least meet each other…get to know each other…try to understand each other… before you get married. Can you imagine my plight, a boy who is yet to reach his teens…who is yet to even understand what is right and what is wrong…who is in sixth standard…who doesn’t even wear any undergarments (he told me frankly that he didn’t wear any undergarment till he got married) is asked to marry some stranger. Honestly, I didn’t feel anything…I was too small to. I was simply delighted to get the amount of attention and pampering that I was getting and the sweets and the ‘laddoos’ that followed. Everything happened so swiftly that by the time I realized what was actually happening, I was married to a girl whom I had never ever seen before.

I don’t remember the exact date but I recollect that it was around 9:30 am on a Thursday that we got married in a nearby ‘Gurudwara’. I was not even dressed properly for such an occasion. I was wearing an off-white shirt with brown vertical lines and dark brown trousers with a turban of the matching colour. She was dressed in a dark pink ‘Patiala Salwar-Kameez’. Her face was not visible but from her hands I was able to guess her complexion. “I was actually fairer than her”, he said with a naughty smile. If today I have to describe her then I would say that, even before her adolescence, she was looking very pretty and cute as if she was a ‘Punjabi Barbie’.

She was about eight years old when she tied the knot with me. Till today, I don’t know what was her exact birth date…all I know is that it is somewhere around 1935. She was also from Nangal in Punjab. Her father, Sardar Bachint Singh, was a ‘Lambardar’ (a term that doesn’t exist today but in those days it was related to panchayat). She was the lone survivor of the thirteen children that her mother gave birth to and hence she got lots of love and affection from her parents. The first time when I laid my eyes on her face, obviously after marriage, I saw that she was very naïve and innocent. As the days passed by I noticed other virtues that she possessed. I felt she was very tender and caring. She was a very hard working and dedicated family woman. She was brave and courageous but at the same time she respected everyone and obeyed everything what my mother ordered. She was an awesome cook too and prepared meal for the whole family without any help. I loved the ‘Gulabjamuns’ that she specially prepared for me.

We were too little to understand friendship or love of any kind leave alone the whole concept of marriage. But I must admit she really helped me through this. We started spending time together…began to know each other…I shared whatever I did in the whole day…she listened to whatever I had to say. She never complained about anything…just carried on with her daily chores with total devotion and then had an ear for me whenever I needed her. My mother never used to like her…she had a sense of dictatorship to her and she was always tetchy about one thing or the other. She was abusive and sometimes even hit your grandma…but a lady like your ‘Bibi’ (we all used to call her ‘Bibi’) enriched with virtues…suffered through everything…swallowed every abuse and punishment that was dished out at her without even uttering a single word. No one ever heard her raised voice against anyone…she didn’t even share all this with me then and it was when she was about to leave me for heaven that I came to know about all this. Soon we became friends…good friends.

From day one, my mom was extremely cruel to her. When I now think of it…I end up smiling as there were some incidents when your Bibi got the better of her, without even taking a single step against her. Bibi was incredibly fond of tea but my mother always deprived her of that too. Just to cope up with her addiction Bibi used to swallow tea leaves and sugar and consume hot water after that. This maddened my mother even more. It was normal for women to be confined and restricted in those days… but my mother was simply too much for anyone.

I still remember clearly that day…I guess two to three years into our marriage. I was done with my studies as my mother wanted me to take care of farms and help in farming. We (Bibi, my mother and me) were at one of the farms and working. It was late in the afternoon after the lunch that my mom started abusing her on some issue. She kept on hurling abuses at Bibi and her family but she didn’t even say a single word. This infuriated my mother even more. Before I could intervene…In the fits of fury she got hold of a thick bamboo and thrashed Bibi’s head with it. There was blood everywhere…her head was busted…and soon she fell unconscious. I, along with other farmers, took her to a nearby medical facility. This event was the biggest twist in our love story…actually you can say that this is where the seeds of our timeless love were sown.

(Just about then my mom entered and asked me to have lunch with my grandfather. She thought this way he will have something substantial for the medicines, as he was not having proper meals due to illness. He barely managed to have one chapatti. I asked him to take some rest for a while. Around 5 in the evening…he again continued from where he left off…)

Her parents took her home along with them after that incident. They wanted to end all ties with us because of my mother’s never ending brutality. By this time we developed a special bond between us and we were beginning to understand each other. I became a kind of rebel and revolted against my mother. My father loved me very much and was always supportive of your Bibi. He motivated me to leave the home…get a good job… and become someone of reputation on my own. I decided to leave home and go to Ambala in search of a livelihood and to try to get her back with me. When I was moving out of my parents shadow, I never realized that my biggest test…or I should say our relationship’s…our marriage’s…our love’ biggest examination was yet to come.

She decided that she was not going to leave me alone in this battle and made up her mind to support me in whatever manner she possibly could. Her parents were adamant not to let her go this time, so it was all left up to her to help me save money. In order to cut down on my expenses… she stitched clothes for me with bare hands, I hope you know that sewing machine had not yet reached Indian homes. She made suits, shirts, trousers, sweaters and what not… all without anyone’s help…with her bare hands. She tried to save every single penny that could have been saved.

There were days…and weeks…and months when we were not able to meet or hear from each other… and then there were seconds…minutes…and precious moments which we did get to spend with each other after all the limitations that were put on us and especially on her. My friend, Karam Singh, and her friend, Karamjeet, helped us a lot during those struggling days. With Karamjeet’s assistance she came to one of her farms… and waited for me… sitting on a tree for hours ‘n’ hours. When I did finally arrive, Karam Singh and Karamjeet kept a close careful watch to make sure that we were never caught. It was during these seldom meetings that I began noticing how beautiful and wonderful she actually was. I never really mentioned it to her that during these instants I literally thanked God for actually making my parents marry her. She was an illiterate but she was still as brilliant as an engineering graduate today with abundance of boldness and commonsense. During those days only I realized that our unique bond was now tied with ubiquitous love which made us inseparable.

By then India was granted Independence but our country was left in a very corrupt state. I decided to go to Delhi and stay with my cousin and look for some job. You won’t believe when I’ll tell you that I walked barefoot two hundred kilometres from Ambala to Delhi. There I applied daily for various job positions but since I had nothing to pass under the tables or anyone to vouch for me, I returned empty handed every day. One fine day I was noticed by Hari Kishan Shastri. He walked up to me and asked me about my whereabouts and my purpose of everyday being there. When I told him about the entire situation… he understood… and took matters in his own hand. He made me meet Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, who was the railway minister then.

Her prayers… her efforts… my hard work… my knowledge… and our love did pay off and in the spring of 1954, I was appointed as a train clerk in Ambala for a meagre salary of rupees 60 by Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri. It might sound very less but it was more than enough for me to get my life… my love…my Charan back.

Time flew and few years passed by…

By 1960, she had given birth to our third child. I knew that it was time for me and my salary to get a raise… but for that I needed some decent educational qualification. She encouraged me to go for studies but to leave the job at that time with three kids would have been like committing suicide. She came up with an idea. In those days there was a new concept of night classes. She got me registered to one such class and made me sit with children half of my age. She was the sole motivation for me to study further and I did. With the help of those night classes I successfully cleared tenth standard. I know you will be laughing after hearing this…but in the sixties, just to pass tenth standard or to be able to put a signature in English or moreover to even understand English was considered an achievement and it surely fetched me respect in the society.

Difficult times lasted longer while merrier times just came in short spurts but they surely existed. We were huge fans of the movie ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. It was an epic in itself and the kind of romance that was portrayed in it surpasses the best what today has to offer. I am not sure but I would have watched it more than twenty times with Bibi. I used to go the cinemas even at 4 am just to be the first one in the ticket queue and still found people standing there earlier than me. But let me assure you, none of the shows would have been so much fun and joy if she wouldn’t have been there with me in them.

I didn’t speak to my mother for twelve years but during each of Bibi’s pregnancies I always wished her to be there. I cannot even describe what all pains she took to raise my children… to take care of them… to take care of me. She gave birth to a child in the morning… then by the evening she was again busy with the daily chores. Whether good or bad, my mother received every news about us through our relatives but somehow after all those years… her hatred towards Bibi never shrivelled.

(Mom brought the dinner but he refused to have it and wanted to continue telling me the story)

Five more kids later and some ten years down the lane…

During the 1971 Pakistan war, I simply saw a different quality in her. I knew that she was valiant and fearless but I could never imagine that she could go to such an extent. Because of an emergency she had to travel to Nangal. It was a four hours train journey from Ambala. I was astonished and shocked to see that she travelled all alone in that train as people refrained from using public transport vary of the Pakistan bombardments. It, even to this day, gives me ‘Goosebumps’ just to admire and accept this feat of hers.

After the war in the early seventies everything went quite smooth and okay. But destiny as always had some other plans. In 1975, I was transferred to Bhatinda. I was the sole earner of the family with a loving wife and eight kids. She asked me not to go to Bhatinda and stay with them. I was suspended for not obeying the orders. She said we could start something of our own but you don’t have to leave us and go to Bhatinda. She purchased two goats and started selling their milk. The money was slow but sure. In few months time… we had a herd of cows and buffalos. I was not contributing much; in fact I became a reason for most expenditure and because of me they kept on increasing. I fell severely ill during the summer of 1976. On her own only, she kept me and my family going. I realized that my love towards her increased several folds… and I actually began respecting her which was not how women were treated in those days.

In 1977, due to some turn of events and our good fortune I got my job back and that too in Ambala. I married my daughters and invested in my children’s studies. We went from strength to strength. From a struggling poor household we now had good income sufficient enough to fulfil each and every of my child’s dream.

His eyes began to glitter…and suddenly they turned moist (I saw). He continued, “I guess it was 1987 or 1988 when she suffered from an unknown disease”. No doctor was able to cure her; they even failed miserably at identifying the disease itself. Her body became dead from below the waist. Her legs became numb forever (and the tears touched his pillow). It was as if God wanted me to take care of her and do my little bit for what all she gave me…and did for me. I read newspaper to her…washed her clothes…bathed her…fed her…and did everything possible in human limits to make her feel alive and cheerful. But I guess it was too much for her, she had suffered enough. She was born just to take care of others…love them…make them strong and above all believe in themselves. Her love gave me courage…was my support…and strengthens me even till today. If it was not for her…then I would have died long back. On 8th July 1992, she left me all alone forever. You know, till the day she was alive, she made it sure that we had dinner in the same plate and that is the reason why I hate having dinner without her.

I got up wiped my tears…wiped his tears…kept my hand on his forehead and requested him to please go to sleep. I don’t remember when I, sitting next to him, fell asleep.

Ref: 123greetings.com

Ref: 123greetings.com

I felt a hand rubbing my hand. It immediately brought me to senses. He asked me what time it was…I replied it was 3 am…I enquired if he needed anything? He gently smiled…took a pause…and whispered… “Ikk Gulabjamman khila de” (get me one gulabjamun). I resisted…but his weak eager eyes made me get one for him. He had it like a six year old…wished me ‘Happy Holi’… looked at Bibi’s picture… and with a smile on his face… fell asleep. At about 4:55 am on 24th march 2005, he left us for heavenly abode to be with his love…his best friend…his everything…his Charan.

For all those who love their Grandparents,

For all those whose grandparents have such a story,

For all those who have grandparents still with them,

For all those who don’t have theirs with them,

For all those who miss them,

And

For all those who want a story like this for them

It’s not a GOODBYE…

But it’s a GOOD BYE… aur han go to your grandparents and ask if they have such a story to share with you.

Manas ‘SAMEER’ Mukul

6

MOTHERHOOD – The SACRED Emotion

For the past three days I have been thinking a lot about this, writing about it, reading even more about it and trying to come up with a start to this one but I was unable to do so…until now.

When a mother Crocodile lays eggs, it usually lays them around some murky area like a swamp. It takes around three months for the eggs to hatch. You will be surprised to know (if you don’t know it already) that it stays just at the water level in such a position that only its eyes are above the water level. The mother crocodile does this to keep a close watch on the eggs that nobody tries to eat them or destroy them. It does not eat anything for months before it has laid eggs but just after it has laid them, one will expect it to at least have a decent diet. But it’s shocking (at least for me) that it does not move even a single bit till the time they actually hatch. Can you imagine the kind of sacrifices it makes…the kind of pain it endures…and the kind of a selflessness the mother crocodile shows? Irrespective of the species…whether it is a human or an animal…this can only be done and achieved by a MOTHER.

You might be an atheist but the whole concept of bearing a child…giving birth to a living being is in itself is totally awesome…totally divine. There is something very beautiful in being a mother. I have seen people abandoning their parents…their homes…their souls…but you will never find a true mother abandoning its child. No matter how much distressed you are…how much depressed you are…a mother’s lap is the best medicine if not the best solution. Her hug is the soothing heaven. There are days when u are surrounded by crowd and you still feel lonely and then there are days when u have just your mother by your side and you feel BLESSED.

Image Reference: www.imageblogs.org

Image Reference: http://www.imageblogs.org

A pond is bound to have some bad fishes, similarly some of these modern madams…today…are seen shying away from their duties…their responsibilities. Their priorities have changed but still I strongly believe and feel…that the good ones…the dedicated ones…the devoted ones…are far too many that these bad ones can have any effect on the society and one can surely say that Motherhood is here to stay for eternity.

Being a mother, no matter how easy it seems, is the most difficult job of the world and on top of it…surprisingly…there is no salary…no package attached to it. And still every girl wants to get married and be a MOM someday. When a lady gives birth, the amount of pain she experiences is way too much and beyond human boundaries and it is in itself a kind of miracle that a woman bears that much just to get to the end of it…to be a MOTHER.

Image Reference: techmadz.com

Image Reference: techmadz.com

Only a mother can go out there and wash others dirty clothes and utensils so that she can feed her child…so that she can just bring a smile to her child’s face. She undertakes all sorts of pain so that there is none in our lives. You can see mammals…you can see amphibians…you can see humans…and find so many dissimilarities…but the only constant among all is…MOTHERHOOD. The dedication…the devotion…the protectiveness…the care…the selflessness…the love…the MOTHERHOOD…is the visible and remains same among all.

There are days when a mother can even fight the Gods and bring you back to life from his grasp and then there are days when she can go ahead and take the life of her offspring when she realizes that he/she has treaded the wrong path. I guess they rightly say, “A woman is born again when she gives birth and becomes a mother”. If you ask any woman who has given birth…she will reply with a gentle smile…that the sacrifices she makes…the sleepless nights she spent raising us…is the real joy being a mother and the splendour of motherhood.

Motherhood; it is simply incomparable…immeasurable and you can surely bet upon it that wherever it is present there will be goodness around it. She is the one who understands you without you even uttering a word and she is the one who knows you more than you yourself. For me, if there is any form of life there is bound to be motherhood. Even the gods require a mother to take birth. Motherhood is the most beautiful and sacred of all the emotions.

This one is a tribute to all the mothers out there including mine who gave me birth and made me capable enough of writing it this day. RESPECT THEM AND NEVER LEAVE THEM.

For all those who love their moms,

For all those who care for them,

For all those who respect them,

For all those who are mothers,

For all those who want to be mothers,

And

For all those who can do anything for their mothers,

It’s not a GOODBYE…

But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han just go and tell your mothers how much you love them…Now is the RIGHT TIME.

‘I am writing a Tribute to Mom in association with Parentous.com

MANAS ‘SAMEER’ MUKUL

12

Surprise…Surprise…Surprise…

Surprise…Surprise…Surprise…

“You know tomorrow is my first presentation ever”, she said nervously to me. Her voice was shaking and none of her friends were able to infuse enough confidence in her to make the presentation work. She rehearsed…rehearsed…and rehearsed…to the point that she began to forget everything… at least she felt so. It was left upon me to get that confidence back going for her. I reminded her, “Believe in yourself and think of how good you are and what an awesome presentation you are going to deliver tomorrow”. I knew that my words have a calming effect on her, but this time it was not going to last.

I decided it was time for me to make her feel that I am always there for and I just don’t simply say that ‘I will be there for the smallest of things’. I immediately called her back and broke her heart (for that moment) that I have a company visiting my campus tomorrow and I will have to switch off my phone through the entire duration of the seminar and there might be a possibility where I would not be able to give her a call before the presentation. I checked the tickets and asked my ever so sweet sister to get the tickets done for me (don’t forget me being a student these days was unable to afford the price just a day before 😉 ). She managed to get one booked for me.

The next day I had an early flight to catch and she was still sleeping. So the best I could do was to text her, “All the best for your presentation sone, make me proud, phod phad macha dena, I am going for the seminar muah muah muah forehead”. I landed by 10:30 a.m. and her presentation was supposed to begin by noon. I gave a call to her best friend and told her about my plan to surprise her by visiting her just before the presentation and say, “All the best of Luv ‘n’ Luck to her face”. I knew that girls can’t be trusted when it comes to keeping secrets and her friend proved me right by spurting out every bit of my surprise. The news made her extremely happy as if she won a lottery. It was a complete turnaround…she was brimming with confidence…and in the process completely nailed the presentation and answered each and every question that followed.

She knew which hotel I (we) stayed in every time I visited her city as this would have been my fourth visit in the past four months. As soon as she was done with the presentation she didn’t even wait for the teacher’s response…immediately took an auto and reached the hotel. She enquired at the reception…took the spare keys in an effort to surprise me instead…and came running to my room. She was puzzled not to find me there. She tried my mobile but was switched off. She made a call to the reception but could not get any info on my whereabouts. Her face which was glowing with confidence and courage…now suddenly had an edgy and worried look to it.

There was a knock on the door…she opened…anticipating that it will be me she shouted my name. Less to her surprise and more to her shock it was police at the door. She was beginning to panic. The police informed her that a guy was crushed by a truck this morning and they recovered a bag from the accident site with a printout of booking of this hotel room with your name on it. She opened the bag only to find out ‘a Barbie’, ‘a box of Soan Papdi’ and ‘an envelope with confirmed booking for two days and two nights for a couple at the Marriot’.

She remembered, how, since her childhood she never craved for anything except for a Barbie, she had had many delicacies but it was the ‘Soan Papdi’ that made her taste buds go crazy and she visited many places around the globe… rested in many resorts but it was the Marriot which was the closest to her heart. It was all a part of the surprise that I had planned for my bestest buddy.

There are days when God gives you signs or omens which tell you what is going to happen and then there are days when even the Gods get confused what the omen says.

The police told, “The Guy was wearing this shirt” and handed it to her. She straight away recognized it to be my shirt as it was the same shirt in which she slept the last time I was there. Tears started rolling down her cheeks. The blood on the shirt made her scream…scream…and scream. There were flashbacks of, how every night before we went to bed, I always called her to say how much I loved…cared for her and will be there with her forever n ever n ever. She reminded herself of her decision to tell me that how much she loved me…and wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. She cried uncontrollably…gasping for breath…her shrieking voice made even the policemen feel her loss…her pain…her regret of not telling me just for once that SHE LOVED ME…

There was another knock at the door…one policeman opened it. To everyone’s disbelief it was me who was at the door. For a moment she thought she was seeing me just because of the sheer love for me. Without even caring for the standing policemen, who were themselves astonished, I started… Bubu…as soon as I landed…my bag was stolen…last night I wasn’t able to charge my phone’s battery…hence it died…but what’s this…why is police here and above all why are you crying guddu????

She stood up…ran towards me…grabbed me by the collar…started slapping me…kissing my face all over…saying I Love You…I Love You…I Love You.

For all those who believe in surprises,

For all those who like surprises,

For all those who like giving surprises,

For all those who like getting surprised,

And

For all those who will go to any extent to say that ‘All the Best’

It’s not a Goodbye…

But it’s a GOOD BYE…aur han go out there and give surprises…your loved ones actually love it and a HAPPY DIWALI to all of You…enjoyyyyyyyy.

Manas “Sameer” Mukul