Step Parenting…And a Book

When I started the  English translation of this wonderful novel  written in my mother tongue, by some one I personally consider as one of the finest writers I have ever read,  the  total of the page numbers looked  rather formidable.The language- so poetic, the metaphors- deep and dark and resonating at regular intervals, the craft- exquisite, the characters- haunting. The theme – enchanting. The novel, well, as a reader let me say that I had finished it at one huge gulp, skipping breakfast and lunch.

“Wonderful,”  writes the author  and sends me her love and affection. To her, I say, “Thank  you dear…for the privilege. I learned much about myself in the journey, and hope to learn more in the years that we’ll work together. Your wise perspectives have certainly broadened my outlook in life.”

The  main character sat next to me and told me to use, “impassive” instead of “indifferent” since he said, he was really bleeding inside all the while , did I not see, as he put forth that ice cold face for the world. Somehow, he felt “impassive” caught that idea better. Well, I shrugged, you were a damn fool were you not, by the way ? You did act indifferent when so many were struggling for your compassion, so why try to take refuge under “nonchalant”  and all those synonyms  now, when  no one cares a damn any more and the truth is staring at you on the face? The fact is, I coughed, you are blind -factually and metaphorically. And unless you dare to open your own inner eyes, you will never see the truth. He looked indifferent.

When  she came in, her long hair swaying, and looked at me with her half lidded eyes, she murmured that I should try to paint her in darker tones of pain.  I am a good artist, I retort, and I know exactly how many tints of grey to colour you with. You went all out to claim what you thought was yours, did you not? And there you are – the ash coloured sari, the haunted eyes, the large heart, and that serpentine envy within you. But then, you played a brilliant last move, my dear. I wish I could have shaken you hard. From the depths of the well, she croaks out to me: I was the main heroine, did you not see? I did, I did, I say- without any words. You loved too much, you poor woman.

When she traipses in, radiant and dimpled, I take a deep look. Amazing creation! You light up lamps wherever you go, do you not-literally and metaphorically- you beautiful woman, you have that gift within, do you not ? What is that strange fascination that you hold over the male imagination? Eternal, cliched, and rather ridiculous at first impressions, if I may say so. The author, she obviously had a great time, creating you. But I, I saw the real you  only towards the end. What resilience, what strength…I am amazed by your radiance. All cliches flew out of the window as you emerged from within the dewy drops of imagination and sat down in sunshine, near me. I started liking you.

As for you, dear friend, whose palm smells like an ink plant, you epitomise what happens when friends get intimidated by those they care for. You also showcased the turmoils when a friend becomes an alter ego. Then you emerged from your friend’s shadows and you grew up fast. It took someone special, but one could see the change. Even the smell of your palm changed, did it not?

I loved the journey with all of you. A translator is like a stepparent. Though one does not give life, the responsibility of making the child thrive in a new environment, is all yours. Let us see when the child takes the stage-the world will verify if both  sets of parents had played their roles well.

Stay radiant!







Warming Sunshine

When we start , the Arctic chill has coloured the fog an opaque white. The drive is long and the cold intense. But she is smiling. When the debate gets over, and I tell her that she had spoken well, she smiles again. Every one is excellent. The eight toppers had come after clearing a  rough total of two hundred and forty schools, each representing their respective branch levels, where they had stood first among thirty schools, to compete at the regionals. She does not make it into the top three, and being a biased mother, of course, I  am really irritated at the end results.

As we return, the sky is clear. She enjoys her tiffin, and wonders on the board practicals that had begun. She wishes aloud that her optics  and electricity experiments would work out fine.

” Are you not disappointed? ” I ask casually. I had literally pushed her out of a warm bed at an unearthly hour for this round of competition.

” Well, to be truthful, I prefer losing to better competitors. Not really at the top of the cloud, but  I had a lot of fun, you know!” She smiles.

Suddenly the car passes by three  very young girl children, carrying firewood on their heads. They are in rags in that bitter cold. Their mother is loading more firewood on her own head.

My daughter stops smiling.

” My sister’s age…” She murmurs.

” And that…”, I tell her, ” is the reality that you have to change by your work. Science and debates and life are meaningless if not for that resolution.”

She nods her head.” I will  continue to teach  Science to needy students,” she says. ” I will do it, irrespective of the place I join.”

This time, the sky clears in my mind.

I look out at the sunshine and smile.





Chocolate Muffin


To my daughter:

You deserve every bit of it- the joy, the adulation, the cheers, the congratulations. You have made it into a world-class University,  to study the subject of your choice, on your own merit. I know the struggles you went through, your hard work and your indomitable will. I remember your determined little face when you faced failures,(those were many) the beautiful sunshine lighting up your face  whenever you won  (those were many too) and the stoicism , in between. I never found you complaining about life’s vagaries.

I remember the red rose your grandmother pinned next to your left ear as you stepped out for the nursery school next door, all of three.  I know that you sat on the ground, with the rest of the children, learning the letters in  your mother tongue. But that starting has done you great. At seventeen, you snort when I point out a pretty dress and shudder at the ‘name of the rose’. You listen to songs that I have no clue about and speak about string theory and the Phantom of the Opera in the same breath. You are an excellent debator and can charm the ears off a donkey with your speaking skills. You also tell me sagely that Ouranos personified the night sky and that Chronos preferred to snack on his offspring; praising Rick Riordan’s fabulous imagination.You speak  fluently in your mother tongue when you  energetically fight with your little sister. You still love chocolate muffins and hate mayonnaise.

You still mention your grandmother in your application essays and the twelve schools that you studied in during all these years(if one ignored the nursery school next door). I moved you from place to place due to my work constraints. You tell me that you have become better for the experience and can make friends easily. I think frankly that you are being nice . It must not have been easy changing three schools in a single year.

When you whoop in joy, and I say a prayer of gratitude, you tell me that the best is yet to be. I see the invisible wings fluttering strongly. You are expecting more invites, you smile. You are all set to learn from  some of the best mentors and teachers of Science. You do a jig. I watch indulgently. Today, I rejoice. If there are parallel worlds, as you tell me, inspired by both science and spirituality, I would love to be your mother in all of them. It has been a blessing to bring you up and nurture you, my dear one. All my life, it shall remain my privilege.

I wish you joy, every moment.May you keep calm when life does some unexpected twists and turns. You should trust that there will be light always- if you persevere enough. You should again re read Kipling’s ‘ ‘ If’ and Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher, to know much of what mothers wish to tell children.That is why both are great literature.

This article is my proud indulgence. My piece of chocolate muffin. It is also my thank you note to the Universe, my dear. After all, you are the Rhonda Byrne fan.

Now, as for tomorrow’s class….did you put the alarm on? And do tell me, why is the table so dirty? Ahhh…Penrose, hyperbolic geometry, Angels and Devils…but what about your finger nails, eh?? Are you sure you did not have time for those?