A Prayer for Two Girls…

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Two bright young women: one graduating in both Computational Mathematics and Astro Physics, another securing her dual degrees in Pure Mathematics and Physics. The former looking forward to starting her doctoral studies in Machine Learning and the latter, her PhD in Mathematics… Both love the colour of the seas, the taste of fish and their mothers’ cooking.  They are good friends who hail from two opposite corners of a country- across the globe- far from where their University is situated.

This is a toast to youth and their dreams. Their love and their kindness. Their indomitable spirits and sense of being  inclusive.  Their beauty of hearts. Their brilliance and hard work. Their loveliness.

Children, I am so proud of you! I pen my prayers for you:

 

Be yourself every day :

Like the skies and seas, unconquerable;

Like the Nile, (remember the holy words,)

Overflow with understanding.

 

Remember your inheritance:

The alert beauty of a jaguar’s eyes,

The effortless charm of a spring afternoon

The deep comfort of a yellowing book’s fragrance

The sturdy support of a friend’s heart

Solid like teak , unbreakable.

 

Be brilliant like sunshine-

Warming, cheering, uplifting

Shimmering hope all around.

 

Be  wild like the wind:

Storm and thunder, rage and howl;

Also hum like a gentle breeze

And  do return home to rest.

 

Be universal in spirit:

Look beyond appearances

The blood flows red and deep

In everything that walks.

The head bows low and true

In every canticle uttered.

 

Be a seeker of joy:

In the humblest things of life,

Find the precious legacy

Of clean, fresh, simplicity.

 

Be a breath of fresh air:

Renew yourself with music

Dance, laughter, stories

Told and untold, heard and unheard.

 

Be a bringer of bliss:

Enjoy pouring water,

Touching the earth,

Creating value,

Holding a child

Embracing your love.

 

Know this, remember this:

Each journey is solitary

Every step belongs to you.

No one else determines

Your dreams or destiny.

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

വിഷലിപ്തമല്ലാത്ത ചിന്തകൾ

v p menon

“കേരളത്തിൽ സ്കൂൾ വിദ്യാഭ്യാസം എത്രയോ മുന്നിലാണ്…അവിടെ കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങൾക്ക് വൃത്തിയുള്ള വസ്ത്രങ്ങളും, കഴിക്കാൻ ഉച്ചഭക്ഷണവും കിട്ടുന്നു. സ്കൂൾ ലൈബ്രറിയുണ്ടാവും…പച്ചക്കറികൾ സ്കൂൾ അങ്കണത്തിൽ തന്നെ നട്ടു വളർത്തുന്നു…അധ്യാപകർ എത്രയും ആത്മാർഥതയുള്ളവർ! നിങ്ങൾ അവരെ പോലെയാകണം! കേരളത്തിൽ ആശുപത്രികളിൽ, ഡോക്ടറുമാർ സേവനത്തിന് എപ്പോഴും തയ്യാറാണ്. അവിടെ, വൃത്തിയും വെടിപ്പുമുണ്ട്. പേ വിഷബാധയ്ക്കും, പാമ്പിൻവിഷത്തിനും ഒക്കെ antivenom സ്റ്റോക്കിൽ കാണും…നമ്മൾ കേരളത്തിനെ കണ്ടു പഠിക്കണം!”

ഉത്തർപ്രദേശിലെ, എത്രയോ ഗ്രാമങ്ങളിൽ, ഞാൻ എന്റെ നാടിനെകുറിച്ച് അഭിമാനത്തോടെ പറഞ്ഞിട്ടുണ്ട്…”ഞങ്ങൾ വീടുകളിൽ ശൗചാലയം ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നു…ഞങ്ങളുടെ പെൺകുഞ്ഞുങ്ങൾ സുരക്ഷിതരാണ്..അവർ സ്കൂളുകളിൽ പോകുന്നു…നിങ്ങളും അവരെപ്പോലെ….!!!”

ഇപ്പോൾ സാമ്യം പറഞ്ഞു പ്രേരണ നല്കാൻ ശ്രമിക്കുമ്പോൾ എന്റെ മനസ്സ് മന്ത്രിക്കുന്നു…” ഇനി എന്ത് പറയും?പ്രബുദ്ധമായ എന്റെ ജന്മ നാട്ടിൽ, ചെറിയ പെൺകുഞ്ഞുങ്ങളുടെ ജീവന് വിലയില്ല എന്നോ? അവരെ ദുഷ്ടമനുഷ്യരിൽ നിന്നും, പാമ്പുകളിൽ നിന്നും സംരക്ഷിക്കാൻ എന്റെ നാടിനു ഈയിടെയായി കഴിയാറില്ല എന്നോ?”

പേ വിഷത്തിനും, പാമ്പിൻ വിഷത്തിനും  മറുമരുന്നിനായി, ആരും, ആരോടും കെഞ്ചേണ്ട ആവശ്യമില്ല..അത് നാമോരോരുത്തരും അടയ്ക്കുന്ന നികുതിപ്പണം കൊണ്ട് വാങ്ങിച്ചു, ഇന്ത്യയിലെ എല്ലാ സർക്കാർ ആശുപത്രികളും വയ്ച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്… വയനാടിലായാലും, ബാരാബങ്കിയിലായാലും അത് വിഷ ബാധയേറ്റ വ്യക്തിക്ക് കുത്തിവയ്ക്കാൻ, അവിടെ ജോലിയെടുക്കുന്ന ഡോക്ടറുമാർ ബാധ്യസ്ഥരാണ്.

ഒരു കുഞ്ഞിനെ സ്കൂളിൽ വിട്ടു എന്ന് വയ്ച്ചാൽ , ഇന്നത്തെ നിലവിലുള്ള നിയമങ്ങൾ പ്രകാരം, അവളുടെ ജീവന്റെ, ആരോഗ്യത്തിന്റെ ചുമതല കൂടിയാണ് മാതാപിതാക്കൾ സ്കൂളിലുള്ള അധ്യാപകരെ ഏൽപ്പിക്കുന്നത്. ജുവനൈൽ പ്രൊട്ടക്ഷൻ നിയമങ്ങൾ അനുസരിച്ചു കേസെടുത്താൽ ക്രൂരതയ്ക്കുള്ള സെക്ഷനിൽ അദ്ധ്യാപകനും , ഡോക്ടറും ജയിലിൽ പോകേണ്ടതായി വരും…അതും ഇന്ത്യയിലെ എല്ലാ സ്ഥലത്തും ബാധകവുമാണ്.

ഹരിദ്വാറിൽ വനിതാ ജഡ്‌ജി വീട്ടിൽ പ്രായപൂർത്തിയാകാത്ത പെൺകുഞ്ഞിനെ ജോലിയ്ക്കു നിർത്തി, അതി ക്രൂരമായി ഉപദ്രവിച്ചതായി വാർത്ത വന്നിരുന്നു. ആ കുഞ്ഞിന് വേണ്ടി ഒരു പൊതു താല്പര്യ ഹർജി വന്നു. ചീഫ് ജുഡീഷ്യൽ മജിസ്ട്രേറ്റ്, തെറ്റ് ചെയ്‌ത ജഡ്ജിക്കെതിരെ ശക്തമായ കേസെടുക്കാൻ നിർദ്ദേശിച്ചിരുന്നു ! ശക്തിയുള്ളവർക്കു വേണ്ടി പലരും പൊരുതുമല്ലോ…’പൊതു താല്പര്യം ഈ വിഷയത്തിൽ ഇല്ല’ എന്ന് വാദിച്ചവരോട് അദ്ദേഹം പറഞ്ഞത്, ഈ കേസിൽ , ക്രൂരത കാണിച്ച വ്യക്തിക്ക് അനുകൂലമായി പ്രവർത്തിച്ചാൽ അതാണ് പൊതു ജനത്തിനോട് കാണിക്കുന്ന ഏറ്റവും വലിയ തെറ്റ് എന്നാണ്. ഇന്നത്തെ വാർത്തയാണ്…

***
ഇന്ന് ട്രെയിനിങ്ങിൽ ‘Adaptive Leadership’ എന്ന വിഷയത്തിൽ ക്ലാസ്സുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. അവിടെ , ഒരു ചോദ്യം…
‘Who are you ?’ അതിന്റെ ഉത്തരം ഗഹനമായതാണ്.
ഞാൻ ആരാണ്?
ആദി ശങ്കരന്റെ ‘നിർവാണഷ്ടകം’ ഓർമ്മയിൽ വന്നു…ഞാൻ ആരാണ് എന്ന് അറിയില്ല, പക്ഷെ ഞാൻ ഇതല്ല എന്നറിയാം.
പിന്നീട് ആരോ പറയുന്നത് കേട്ടു ..’We are what we do …’ ആണോ? ആണെങ്കിൽ കാരുണ്യമില്ലാത്തവർ പഠിപ്പിക്കാൻ പോകരുത്.ചികത്സിക്കാനും.
അനുകമ്പയില്ലാത്തവൻ/അൻപില്ലാത്തവൻ വെറും ശവം എന്ന് നമ്മൾ സ്കൂളിൽ കവിത രൂപത്തിൽ പഠിച്ചതാണ്… നാരായണ ഗുരുദേവൻ്റെ അനുകമ്പാഷ്ടകത്തിൽ.
***

100 Best Letters (1847-1947) എന്നൊരു പുസ്‌തകം.

അതിൽ, മഹാരാജ ഹരി സിംഗ് ലോർഡ് മൗണ്ട്ബാറ്റൺന് എഴുതിയ എഴുത്തുണ്ട് …ആ എഴുത്താണ് ജമ്മു കാശ്മീരിനെ ഇന്ത്യയിലോട്ടു ചേർത്തത്. Instrument of Accessionനുംകൊണ്ട് ഡൽഹിക്കു പോയത് ശ്രീ.വി.പി. മേനോൻ . സർദാർ പട്ടേലിന്റെ കീഴിൽ, സ്റ്റേറ്റ്സ് ഡിപ്പാർട്മെന്റിലെ സെക്രട്ടറി  (Secretary , States Department)!

Quote Maharajah Hari Singh to Lord Mount Batten (26 October, 1947)

First line…

My Dear Lord Mountbatten,

I have to inform Your Excellency that a grave emergency has arisen in my state and request the immediate assistance of your Government…

Last paragraph…

If my state is to be saved, immediate assistance must be available at Srinagar. Mr.V.P.Menon is fully aware of the gravity of the situation and will explain it to you, if further explanation is needed.

In haste and with kindest regards,

Yours Sincerely,

Hari Singh

***

എന്റെ നാട്…എവിടെയാണ് അതിന്റെ സ്പർശം അനുഭവപ്പെടാത്തത് ? അത് എപ്പോഴും നന്മയുടേതാകണേ!

 

 

Red for the Diplomat

” How do I look?”

As my elder girl turns to the younger one, for her much respected opinion, I remember my own childhood.

” Try another watch- golden colored,” says the young fashionista, assessing her sister’s ensemble, with narrowed brows.

” Aww..are you sure?”

” Yes. It coordinates better with your dress,” comes the firm reply.

The strange way in which the power balance changes in a moment!

In all other circumstances, the elder one rules, whether it is answering the query on Umbridge’s middle name ( Oh, chechy, are you sure it is Jane? Of course! Go check- Dolores Jane Umbridge and I read it years before, huh!) or clarifying a map location (Mumbai is not in the middle of Karnataka, you goose!) or even picking up the ice cream flavour (chocolate, chocolate and it is chocolate.)

I watch with a hardly disguised glee, as the elder one, becomes putty in two dexterous little hands .

” Your nail polish is red, and the dress is green and red. What about the red footwear?”

The Devil wears a little frock in my house! She will definitely graduate to Prada in a few years too.

My elder girl looks at me helplessly.

” Practice your speech now. The footwear can wait,” I say, officiously.

” Respected Secretary General and Fellow Delegates from across the world..” she begins, and then stops as suddenly.

” Mom, are you sure I should not change my footwear?”

My little girl giggles. Ah! The power of suggestion!

” You are a Ukranian diplomat elaborating on the country’s economic crisis. No one will look at your shoes, dear,” I scowl at the betrayer-in-arms snuggling close to me,looking as if butter would not melt in her mouth.

” The debt pile ..,” I prompt.

” She should wear red,” declares Ms. Anne Wintour in the making. She flicks a dust speck off her frock.

The diplomat changes her shoes.

” And now,” she declares her policy openly, ” I will violate the ceasefire agreement, if you open your mouth till I finish my piece!”

Peace reigns in my house.

My little girl falls asleep as various solutions are presented to the honorable members of the UN.

The diplomat leaves with a grin.

” Ma, when she wakes up, tell her I think she has great fashion sense!”

And that is how, I reflect somberly, global problems are solved within the family. Acceptance and tolerance of differences and strengths, indeed.

Whew!

*****

*******

Refusing To Exclude

The learned author was cribbing about the immigration policy of a particular country. ” They are refusing to exclude students from the total immigration numbers,” he wrote.

I blinked.

‘ Refusing to exclude?’

What does that mean?

‘Insisting on including?’

The country insists on including students in the total immigration numbers..okay..now sense dawns..that means the other immigrants lose out, students are also restricted..okay. It took me a long time to analyse that one out.

Why on earth do we embrace the double negative?

(Never say never/hatred of the negative/negating the contradiction/paradox of the conundrum…ewwww!)

I refuse to exclude simplicity from thought, expression, and action.

*********

” Can an exclamation replace a question mark?” asks my little one, eyes furrowed.

I am flummoxed. I mutter that it might be a printing error.

” No, it is written by Enid Blyton,” comes the verdict. Mother might be wrong. Blyton cannot be.

For the past one hour, she had been asking about golden retrievers, scones and honey, and peat-moss for hens in that particular order.

I had managed most, except the peat-moss. I could not understand, what on earth, the hens would do with it.

I seek the help of Google Master.

An exclamation can be used to close questions depicting extreme emotions.

Example : ” What on earth are you doing! Stop!”

” You do not know everything, do you?” asks my daughter.

” No, I do not my dear,” I agree humbly.

I am game for using exclamation to express my extreme emotion!

I am refusing to exclude humility from daily life and learning.

Full Stop.

******************

Peeping At The End

So  the little one gets the ‘ Mystery of the pantomime cat.’ It has been retrieved from her sister’s old collection and understandably lacks the cover page.

” Oh, it is the best Five Find outer book I have ever read. So sad, it made me cry,” says her sister.

” Why? I do not like sad endings,” little one sniffs like a diva.

” Cried out of happiness. They catch the  real criminal. The innocent is freed at the end,” her sister elaborates.

” Can I peep at the last page ma?” My younger one wonders aloud.

” No way! You are such a lazy goose,” responds her sister in outrage.

” Why not? What is the harm?”  Little one asks,ever rebellious against the standing orders.

Now, that question was very pertinent.

I wonder on the market of such an industry- that told us the end in advance. From horoscopes to astrology to lawyers- aha!

If we knew where the end would be, how many of us would traverse the path we are currently travelling?

If we knew how much hatred or love is being stocked up against us or for us, every moment, how many will squander our energies in destructive attitude all our lives?How many lies repeated hundred times make up for a simple truth?

I hug my little pundit.

” There is no harm. If it makes you happy to know that all will end well, no harm at all. But you have to promise to read the whole book, still!”

She grins and reaches for her book.

Her sister groans in disgust.

” I cannot bear to imagine how horrendous it is to know the end in advance,” she protests.” It has been such a long time since I read that.. Lemme look,” she says and inhales deep the book scent.

” To each, her own,” I murmur.

As for me, this moment is enough. Two bright faces, enchanted over one little book. The beginning and the end is in this moment.

Truly blessed.

Witches Ahoy!

So I was searching for a book to entertain myself with, and my elder daughter offered a dog eared copy called, ‘Which Witch”. It was by Eva Ibbotson. ” Try this ma. Bet you will be totally into it in five minutes time,” she grinned. ” I am too old for this,” I protested. ” A witch pageant ma, no less. Who would be the blackest witch of all? The end is deadly. You might find some early inspirations of Harry Potter magic in this one,” she tempted me. Suffice it to say that I indulged in it. And was absolutely fascinated by the irrepressible humour and plot of the book. The subtle wisdom, hit me in the heart. Quote: ” Happiness is almost as good as magic for altering a person’s looks.” How true! How absolutely, gorgeously, fantastically true! I hugged my girl, when I returned her book. ” Returned to safe custody. I loved it,” I said. ” Yup! Has been my favourite since  I was eleven,” she smiled. ” Would you consider giving me another book of hers?” I asked. This time , she returned the embrace. ” Ma, I told you!” she giggled. ” I want you to  read ‘ The Witches ‘with me,” said the younger one, peeved by all that attention going to her sibling. Oooh, Roald Dahl himself!

I am so into witches now. And loving it. ****

Little Women (Continued)

1. So she comes, eyes red with grief, nose puffed up, hands a tight fist. ” What happened?” I ask, perturbed. I know the answer even before she speaks.

” My team did not win!”

Another tear trickles down the pretty face.

Ouch!

” You know, ma, I was the only one answering! None of the team members were participating.”

“Like the Big Bang Theory? Sheldon did not allow the Russian scientist to answer the Physics case, did he?’ I joke, rather weakly.

She rubs her nose.

” Did you pick your team?”

” No.”

” Did the winners select themselves into one team?”

” No! Of course not.”

” If you were a part of the winning team, what would you have  done differently?”

” Would have carried that gold medal home today, ma,” she says crisply.

” Done differently?”

” Mommmmmmm!”

A small grin appears, albeit resisted a lot by the competitive spirit inside her.

” Done differently?”

I am like the stuck music disc.

” Oh, well. Nothing different. I would have still done my best.”

” Which you did even now?”

” I guess so..”

A poignant pause.

” Does anything else matter? That is the only thing under your control”.

” There is that other competition tomorrow…”

A smile flickers sunshine onto her face.

” What’s for dinner?”

***************

” We did it! Yayyyy!!”

She is ecstatic.

” It was wonderful!”

This time, I think of the dead young cricketer, the two young men in a coma after driving competitions, and a host of others who play with life and death- like competitions every day.

” Good. Victory is wonderful. But sometimes , I wonder…,” I mutter to myself.

**********************

Revelations

Picture 145

1. Fever

She turns

Feverish,

Mother, it is so cold.

I feel numb too,

Hugging her,

Try to warm her

With my own self.

Later, fever down

She smiles

Mother, it is hot,

Can you move away

A bit?

I am happy

To be told to move

Away,

For the first time

In my life.

2. Cards of Life

Mother,

My team is not that good,

And I wish

I could change,

Winning will be tough

This way.

I grin to myself and think

Of the cards life gives us

To play with.

I clear my throat and say,

What matters is

How well you played with

What you were given,

Gifts, talents, teams.

She ponders, smiles

And then shrugs,

A teenage-

Whatever.

Little Women

Picture 208

“So,” I ask, with a typical amma tone, preponderant pepper mixed with affectionate salt, “what do you want for your birthday?”

My little girl, wiser than her years, looks up seriously at me. That look is so knowing that  I get that odd feeling yet again-that a very dominating great grandmother from my maternal clan has reincarnated right into my home.

“Chocolates?” I ask nervously.

“That is usual,” she responds. Then she flicks an imaginary bit of dust from her dress.

This one ruled for eighty years, I surmise, narrowing my eyes.

“Barbie?” I try again, feeling as if Mable teacher was sitting on the cot. Only difference being that Mable teacher sat on a chair behind a very heavy table, and I had been six at that time.

My seven  year old sips her milk.

“I have many of those,” she is perfect in her coolness.

I break into a sweat. No one does that to me, no one, never- except this little soul- perfect in her making.

I reflect on all life lessons learnt-

What did the sacred books say?

That Children choose their parents.They are part of God’s design to teach you what you still have to learn.

I look at my wise little teacher with respectful eyes .

She takes pity on her mother.

“Amma, you give me a bath today, ok?”

I am stunned, tears sting behind my eyelids.

As I hug her, I whisper, “Has it been such a long time?”

Of course, later, we also shop for chocolates, Barbies and a tent made of pink plastic.

*********

“I hit it against the coat hanger,” she says.

Amma looks askance at the angry red bruise on her arms.

“Walked into it with eyes closed, I presume?”

My Dr.Livingston looks at me with great patience.

“I wear spects, ma,” she condescends with all her teenage authority.

By the time my brain crows, sarcasm, sarcasm, she disappears behind a book.

“What do you want to say?” I try my amma skills.

She pretends not to hear.

“What are you trying-not to say?” I try my Scorpio sense.

She answers.

“That I hate it when you take me for a kid,” a murmur arises from within the pages.

I grin happily. I have much, much experience of that particular salvo.

I  had trained with my mother for this boxing experience. Man, was she a tough teacher!

I go silent. It is a very tough thing for me actually.

“Mom, you are plotting something,” she answers, quick on her uptake.She is my mother’s granddaughter, after all.

I laugh. She laughs.

After five minutes, we agree that she gets to attend the inter-school camp. Provided that my young adult promised not lose her spects and  not to walk into coat hangers there.

“That is truly the best birthday gift,” she says, smiling. “That you trust me enough to let me go.”

What did the sacred books say?

That children….

Bringing Up Myself and Other Tales

Picture 110

1. Bringing up myself

On the occasion when I stamped my feet, and insisted that I was NOT, NOT, NOT, NOT going to wear the pretty skirt and blouse that amma had painstakingly stitched  for me,  my amma  turned Durvasav.

Durvasav incidentally was the hot tempered Sage in mythology, who was given to making life uncomfortable for others, by predicting their futures.

” I am declaring to all the Universe ,” ( My, my, she still can be so melodramatic if she wants!) she said, ” that one day, you will have a daughter, and that you will understand my pain at this moment.”

I remember sniggering , not so very gracefully. I was fourteen.

I did not believe in prophecies coming true. Besides, who wanted to  have kids?Yuck!

Today I stand, another raging Durvasav, as my daughter tosses all the lovely blues and pinks to the side  and insists on Black.

” But you look so lovely, so graceful in blue,” I plead.

Better to try theory Y of that  BSchool learnings, before giving vent to a virulent theory X that I have stashed away beneath. Barely under control, simmering away like dosa on a heated vessel…hisssssssss…herssssssssss!

My daughter rolls her beautiful eyes ( why can’t she wear a little kajal for Chrissake?), and says, “Mommmmmmm”in that Western-serial way, that has me jumping on my toes.

” Amma”, I insist “Amma.”

” Amma, I hate pinks and blues.”

Good- time for trying out that lesson on negotiation they taught me at the Academy- I was supposed to get any rabblerouser change tracks with that strategy!

” Check out this purple one-the tag line is cool too..Princess Attitude”..I try simpering now.

The eyes roll in the opposite direction.

” Mommm..sorry, amma, I DETEST purple.”

So much for buying her Enid Blyton from age three. I am to blame for my fate. All her vocabulary!

” So what do you want?” I bleat like Baa, Baa, Black sheep.

” Finally you asked me that. Mommmaaaamma..Black.Black is cool. Black top, black tights, black boots.”

And she is supposed to be fourteen and into colours!

” Black on festivities? Girl, you can wear all the black when you reach University..your don gowns..even those are golden and yellow..Dear, come to your senses.”

She turns temporarily deaf.

(My mother laughs from her home. She is laughing really, really, hard.)

What the heck!

” Ok, for this one time..because my feet hurt and I cannot see another pile of tossed up colours..pick one.”

She picks up XL size- four  teens of her size, would fit into that one.

” Are you mad?” I almost yell. Theory X has come out spurting like over cooked idli and spluttering sambhar.

My kid grins at me symapthetically, as if I am a puppy that has gone slightly wobbly on the head.

” Relax mom..you see, I have to go out and exercise , nah? So loose fitting is better.”

” Even two of me will fit into this one, girl!”

I am almost reduced to tears now.She has managed to do the impossible. Usually I cry after extreme stress, that too in private. Boo hoo!

Fifteen minutes later, my teenager walks out of the mall, whistling . She has bought four dresses-all in XL size, all in pitch black.

I look like Sylvia Plath with her head popped inside the oven.

As I sit down to drink a  hot cappuchino (she insisted on a cool drink in that cold!) , my little six year old asks me gently:

” Amma, when I am her age, will you get me pinks? Pink, pink, pink dresses like Barbie.”

I break down and cry, hugging her.

My mother in Kerala cries along with me.

All is well. There is hope at the end of the blackest dress.

*********

 2. Nailing It Black, Without White

My teenager bares her claws- her finger nails are perfectly manicured, sharp and pale.

” I want to paint these black,” she says cautiously.

” Er, consider red,” I suggest politely.

An old memory, of a cinema in which the heroine asked the hero (who was a kitchen hand in the first half) to fetch her ” Quetex- red, apple red”, reverberates in colourful resplendence in my mind.

“Amma, red is sooooo boring!”

” Any colour but black on your nails? Purple, pink, silver..”, I canoodle in vain.

” I love black. Goth is the style,” she says.

” Vulgarity and Classy- they have a narrow line in between. A very, very, delicate line. So watch your black,” I murmur, and withdraw into my own world.

Black triggers a gun shot full of smoky memories.

The ashes after burning dry leaves and rice husks in the old brick choolah.

The kitten with one green eye and one pitch black eye, which would nestle amidst the warm ashes.

The soot on the clay vessel in which fish would be cooked at noon.

The colour of kohl, as castor seeds mixed with lemon and ghee.

The robe of Dracula in the children’s magazine. The colour of his flaring eyebrows.

The raven turn of wings drawn on a beautiful actress’s eyes- making them appear angelic and devilish at the same time.

The smudge of slate pencil on a black slate.

The spilt ink of Indian Black. A nib pen lying besides a black ink pot.

The dot on a baby’s cheek, to keep evil at bay.

The black bindi on a clear forehead, marking a sacred spot of energy, a rebellious show of power.

The black pearls in a traditional wedding chain, interspersed with gold.

The monsoon clouds, angry and wild, darkening, blackening before the burst of showers.

The black splashed brush keeling on the white canvas, tinting, unraveling mysteries at the same time.

The black tresses, gleaming with oil scented with camphor and basil

The black, smooth stone that touches the maiden’s cheeks, as she picks up one by the side of the rivulet

Black, as the speckles on a witch’s cauldron- especially after boiling a concoction of  hawthorne buds and belladonna leaves.

“Go ahead, wear black,” I say, emerging from rumination’s black cave.

” Actually, I was contemplating dotting it with white glitter,” she grins at me.

I shudder not too delicately.

” Don’t spoil my black,” I say pleadingly.

” Since when have you become a fan of black?” she asks, astounded.

” Ever since I really looked at it,” I reply with a smile. ” Besides, you have beautiful, black eyes. Go ahead.”

She paints her nails black.

********