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You know I am trying to get started on writing, since I left my column writing habits in my teens.
I didn't think about the impact or the lack of it then but now that I am older and wiser perhaps,I want to think about what I write and its impact even remotely on anyone reading it.
And I want my son to read my writing and get to know the person I am. But the one hundred word condition is proving a bit taxing on the writer in me, as I have to stop to count the words.
For the past two days, I and vijaya have been sweeping the yard which is almost covered with partly golden and partly green neem leaves.
This is the time of the year it sheds its leaves and only the bare brown branches remain.
Today we made a huge bonfire with the gathered leaves sending smoke billowing out into the street.
You could almost taste the smoke.It left a bitterness deep in the throat.The large mosquitoes of the yard quit in disgust.Neem smoke they say, is a good mosquito repellant.But they will be back again no doubt.
Krishna rushed in to say he saw the squirrels riding piggy back on the black crows that had come to share the food with them.
I was more than surprised.In all these years that I have put food and water out for the squirrels under the huge mango tree in the backyard,this hadn't happened.
I had seen the omnivorous crows hopping away if a squirrel got too close.
But letting them climb up their back and maybe pick out something creepy crawly perhaps,from their feathers was something new.
Talk of cooperation when necessary, between two unlikely partners.
I rushed to get krishna ready to school, then sat down to read the newspaper.
The lady selling the greens came with the basket on her head.She usually has an early start.By 6am she is around on the street calling "keerai,keerai".
She hands out her collection for the day dirty notes and a lot of coins.She finds the coins heavy to carry as she ties it to the last of her saree paloo and tucks it into the waist part so that it holds. I count the change out and hand her two hundred rupee notes.
My Passport didn't return from the Passport Office.
Since we do not have an Office in Coimbatore(surprising?),I had to rely on an agent.
After months of waiting and some writing to the Passport Office,I gave in my son's Passport for renewal quoting my file number as reference. Now both Passports are held up.
Your Passports were renewed in Lagos,they say
we are waiting for their approval.
It was the reverse story a few years ago, when we renewed our passports at our embassy in Lagos.
we are waiting for approval from the Chennai Office they said.
I am not really sure if I will be happy leaving coimbatore.Any place where you have been born and have lived most of your life is like family.
.I wanted Krishna to see and feel the spirit,I found here and I think he did.
I loved Asaba too. Asaba is special .And it was Asaba that was Krishna's first home.It was when he was at the tender age of five months that we first set up home in Okwe village,on the banks of the mightily flowing Niger river.It was one of the greenest places ever.
I collect the unripe mangoes which have fallen during the night in a basket.The children on their way to the municipal school stop and shout
at the gate.
I distribute the raw mangoes to them.They chatter away happily, as they continue on their way to the school.When I am not around,I leave the mangoes on top of the post box.It always surprises me that they understand my intensions and the mangoes are always collected.
It is always the older ones who ring the bell to ask if they could take it.
Krishna is worried we will not be able to make it to Bahrain.I have told him everything depends on our passports arriving on time.
He was planning on buying a
as he calls it,once he landed there.He wants to ride it to school.
He knows that even if he gets a bike here,he will not be allowed to ride it to school because of the heavy traffic on the main roads.He insists that once he gets to the eighth standard,he will go on his bike to school.
when should I let go...
It is a dull day when the sun hardly appears,so thick is the cloud cover.But I do not think it will rain.This is one of the faces of the Coimbatore weather.
There is a time of the year,when it is so windy that you have to be careful when you talk on the roads.You might end up with a mouthful of the dust that rises up like a small wave.The breeze is what catches you first,as you step out of the plane,when you return from distant lands.I am home at last.
It did rain yesterday night.Of course,it seems to rain more these few years.
But to experience the fury of the rains,you have to experience it in Africa.In Asaba,on the banks of the Niger in West Africa,the thunderstorms can turn an atheist into a believer.Who are we,but mere mortals trying to brave mighty nature.
On one of the more stormy days, I watched in fear as the stabilisers and the UPS popped as it thundered. Do not touch the switches when there is lightning they say,it can get you through the cables!
Chitra's daughter is getting married tomorrow.I still remember Chitra's wedding at
in Raja street.I am not even sure the hall still exists.
The landmarks change when you are away,and sometimes you feel like a stranger in the very city you call your hometown.The suburbia spreads and new and fast growing places emerge and you feel lost when you do not know the new city.I like to hold on to the old and the familiar.It gives a greater sense of security and belonging.
Wasn't that shopping complex the place where Shubha's house once stood...
Krishna is having tests this week.I try to schedule his studying,so that he gets to work and play.
I don't ever remember my mother being unduly concerned about my studying. I do not even remember any coaxing to study for the tests or exams.I want my son to enjoy studying.But preparing for exams is a different task altogether. Speed writing is an absolute necessity,if the exam has to be completed.There is absolutely no time to spend thinking,during these tests.It should be thorough studying so that it simply transfers on to paper,printerwise?
It is a lovely day in coimbatore,slightly cool with the sun peeping in a bit.
Between October and March we have nice weather,but the mosquitoes swarm in from the
,in our area spoiling the show.
After March,it is hotter but less mosquitoes around. You never really give a thought to this aspect of life when you go away. When you get back they do get back to you with unforgiving vengeance.It sure is one of the more irritating parts of life,in Coimbatore.The windows are netted and the outside doors never left open.
I don't want big telephone bills,so when it comes, I check calls made to cellphones and outstation calls listed.Then we sort of discuss which calls were costing us more.
And then we come to the mystery numbers.Who are these people we called?
After an hour with the address book, there are just three strange numbers.Another fifteen minutes and the last number still puzzled us.
Should I call up this person and end up being called a nut.It was an early call.You do not call an unfamiliar person that early.
It was the Tupperware girl.
The family advice me to follow up, on my passport,which has not returned from the department after five months.
I had written to them six times and had sent a letter by registered post.I do not want to talk to people who do not reply to my letters.
In what way can what they say be relied upon when they do not want to put the reason for the delay, on paper.The status report on the net
Discrepancies in File. You will be informed through a letter
. Pray,what are the discrepancies and where is the letter?
We were baking,Krishna and I.His tests done, we found time for it.
He wants to do everything himself.I hand out the right propotions of flour, sugar and milk powder etc.Having started mixing with the spoon,he changed to dipping his hands in the sticky batter and to crush the tiny bits of slippery butter.
We traced the outline of the trays on baking paper and cut them out,to line the bottom of the trays.Ladling the gooey batter on to the trays and setting them in the warm confines of the oven,we wait impatiently.
They are demolishing the house next door.It was a fairly good house on solid old foundations.A sort of a landmark.
Vijaya the maid thought it was a shame to break a perfectly good house.For people like us she said, breaking a good house which will last four generations is such a gross wastage.
I agreed with her.Isn't there such a thing as recycling? They do recycle the doors and windows,but little else.
I have to put up with the dust and noise for a very long time ,till the new erases memories of the old.
I have to rush to the post office.It is the same place, I have known for the past thirty years.The big red post boxes at the entrance are landmarks.
You climb up a very narrow staircase,so narrow that only one person can pass at a time.If you hear footsteps or a voice you have to stop and see who has climbed more.The one who has covered more ground, has the right of free passage.The loser has to climb back down and restart again or flatten oneself against the wall of the narrow landing midway.
Finally there is some progress on the Passport front. In a last attempt to kick start the process,chandra mailed the Indian mission in Lagos.
Much to our delight they have mailed back immediately asking for more details.We are to ask our Regional Passport Office to send a repeat message also.
Now the latter part is tricky.How do we get our now notorious ignorers of all our mails to do just that! I am not giving up,I will try calling them.
I never did this before,for I wanted them,to put down their excuses on paper.
I made progress on the Passport front.Within forty eight hours of contacting the High Commission in Lagos,all details required by our Reginal Passport Office,has been sent to them and they have mailed me a copy too.
Sounds too good to be true!There are considerate souls,working in our Government Offices in faraway lands.The souls working in regional ones seem to lack kindness.
All I can do now,is to send a prayer to the almighty. Do put some good spirit God,into their deficit souls and let me see its light on our New Passports.
I have completed the morning routine.It has a definite slowdown after eight.The pressure cooker on the stove first,next boil the milk.
Make coffee.Cut the vegetables.It goes for cooking.Toast bread for breakfast.See if the cooker is ready for opening.When opened,season the rice and dal and put it under the fan for cooling. I don't want the tupperware lunch box to crack.Cool a part of the vegetable and pack the lunch box for school.
All the while keeping a steady commentary of time.
Put the book away.If you read at breakfast you are going to be late.
Yesterday,the backyard neighbours cut down a huge chunk of my old mango tree.
For the past few days,they were complaining about the leaf littering their yard.Finally,much against my wishes,I agreed to let them trim the offending branches.I told them they should not disturb any part of the tree,which did not enter their yard.
I can only call them criminal minded.After the tree cutter arranged by them climbed the tree, he cut indiscriminately.I finally threatened to call the lawmakers.I was in tears at my inability to protect my precious mango tree.
Today was the parent teachers meet at krishna's school.This is like an outing for us,and we linger on after the report card is signed.
We get to know the teachers better and I always end up having an extra friend or two.
But the sad part is,the situation of parents,who themselves did not get a good education.They want to get their children educated and are prepared to make sacrifices for them.But very few of their children are able to cope with the competition.It is a sad and vicious cycle.Is there any solution?
The next door neighbours cut small parts of the Guava and Gooseberry trees.If I did allow the backyard people to cut branches,I coudn't refuse those next door.This was the lesser evil.
But,I still wonder,with what sort of feelings will these people who regularly pick Gooseberry and Guava fruit from my trees(sometimes without asking)cut the tree. No trace of guilt?
The whole yard is full of fallen branches and leaves.Will the birds coming to roost,search for their familiar perches? Sorry little fellows, you can always perch on my side of the tree.
I didn't hear any of the birds this morning. They must have felt some of the sadness, when the branches were cut. Did they feel insecure,in what was left of their homes.
I too feel the insecurity.Did I choose right for my son? I do not want him to grow up with people, whose idea of home is squeaky clean concrete structures,without trees. All they spare space for,is potted plants.
Isn't there something majestic and trusting about a fifty year old mango tree,whose trunk is so huge, that I cannot link my hands around it.
The previous night,was spent worrying.The huge pile of dried up leaves and branches, were a potential fire hazard. I felt sort of trapped.
Marudha who cleans the yard every week for me, turned up.Within a couple of hours,she had sorted out the mango branches.The big ones were neatly piled up.The twigs went into her pile,to be carried home,for firewood. The leaves were piled up, for our usual yard cleaning bonfire.
Now there is just the Guava and Neem branches to be sorted out. I am amazed at how much we have done.
The red ants have made nests in the neem tree. I had been thinking all along , that these were birds' nests.The nests made of leaves, are so neatly woven with twigs.
And the ants are everywhere. They march along the telephone and internet wires and attack anything along their path. The hibiscus flowers cannot be picked,as they have taken over the plant. We have to be cautious, when walking in the yard.
After repeated attacks, we are wary of crossing their path. Marudha wants me to smoke them down. I have tried repellant powder.
But, Ant power rules.
They are breaking up the house next door,manually. The young men work with huge hammers and big iron rods. First they hammer down the concrete and push it from the roof, with the iron rods.
Even when I sleep,I can hear the dull thud of the hammer,on the strong old walls.The dust and grains of sand cause a huge cloud. There is dust in every nook and cranny of our houses.
The street looks forbidding, enveloped in the heat and dust.The trees have lost their freshness.
Those huge machines to demolish, have not yet appeared.
This is my last piece for the month and I am not very sure I have kept the east coast time. I have sort of stuck to an early morning bit of writing, hoping that would suit the time criteria. I sure would be dissapointed, if it did not stay on the website for sometime.
Yesterday, out of the fallen branches,we created a play area for the squirrels. This sort of refreshed me and gave me hope. Creativity and work can bring good even from destruction.
Thanks Kalyani, for leading me to this website and to some constructive(?) writing.
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