Plants grow, so do you?

Four months ago, I took in five money plants of finger’s length and planted them in three cute little coffee cups I got for a low rate from Big Bazaar and an old Old Monk bottle I “stole” from Hyderabad. Finally, I had an assemble of money plants by the window sill of my bedroom. I came home yesterday from hostel after finishing a semester and to my surprise, the babies have grown. But they were all lying low and so within ten minutes I tied their stems to the grill and now they look so grown up!

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Four months is it took. All of them are growing at different paces, but growing nevertheless. Now I am sitting on the floor looking at them. When I am away, my cousin takes care of them by making sure they are watered daily. So all the credits of them being green and healthy should go to him. And yet, I am sitting here thinking how much they have grown over a semester. It makes me wonder if I have also grown a little. Beyond my broader hips and bigger tummy, I genuinely hope that I have matured inside. As I look inward, I cannot really see how I have changed. Have I become a little less selfish? A little more aware of what is happening around? A little more empathetic? A little less anxious? I cannot tell.

I wish there was some qualitative instrument to see how I have changed in a given span of time. I know that there are projective techniques and personality tests that make it possible today, but how much can I rely on them? Why is it important for me to know that I am a better individual than who I was a semester ago?

My plants will be bigger when I come home next time. I have plans to tie them to the grills like an arch. I am not very sure about my plans for myself.

Cool ways to improve your language!

Language skills are the capabilities related to the different aspects of using a language. They facilitate proper comprehension and communication in that language. Language skills are generally divided into two major divisions – Receptive and Productive skills. Understanding, reading or listening to a language is termed as Receptive Skills. Producing language through speaking or writing is included in Productive Skills. In the case of first language acquisition, these skills are attained in the order of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing – together called LSRW skills.

Listening Skill is a receptive skill that requires the use of ears and brain to comprehend what is being said. It is the foremost skill involved in first language acquisition. It is the key to effective communication without which messages could be misheard or misinterpreted. Effective listening involves not only the reception of words uttered but also being aware of the speaker’s body language and non-verbal cues.

Speaking Skill is a productive skill that involves producing sound through the vocal tract and the brain. It is the second skill employed in the acquisition of the first language. The skill allows the speakers to express their thoughts or ideas in a thoughtful and convincing manner. Speaking situations could be interactive, partially interactive or non-interactive in nature.

Reading Skill is a receptive skill that employs the eyes and the brain to comprehend the spoken language. Effective reading involves recognizing the written text, connecting it to prior knowledge and retaining the information. Various reading strategies are employed in the process of reading, such as skimming, scanning, extensive and intensive reading.

Writing Skill is a productive skill that requires the use of hands and brain to produce a written text. It facilitates communication with a larger audience both online and offline. Effective written communication is enabled by spelling-free or grammatical-error-free text.

 

3rd floor

We live on the fifth floor. Each floor, we have options of either climbing up, then cross the corridor or cross the corridor and then take the stairs as we live in the opposite corridor to the stairs. Two nights ago we chose to cross from the third floor.

It’s hard to see someone die. To see the last breath escaping and then realising that’s it. At that moment, you can see that they know it’s ending. They needn’t even say that loud because it really doesn’t matter. We are mostly the dumb ones who don’t realise it with hindsight. But they seem to know.

It was a cat. Our hostel has a number of cats and kittens living with cat lovers who feed them, which is clearly against the rules. At first, we thought it was sleeping. You know, just a cat taking a nap. But as we went closer to one of the unused stairs, we saw that it was struggling to move. Ar. started to cry almost immediately. The other two were holding her back as to not get any infection, in case it is sick. I was dumb folded. My mouth refuses to synchronise with the brain at times. Did the cat see us standing close? Could it see how sorry and helpless we were? Ar. poured some water into its mouth. We doubted if it was still alive. In that moment, it moved as if to reassure us and then went still. We waited for some time for it to move again, then retreated.

Those were the final two minutes of a cat’s life that I witnessed. We felt bad, but then we needn’t be. The pussy was fondled by many, fed generously and even had water poured into its mouth before its last breath. We choose to take that route that night when we had exactly five other ways to go and I’d carried my filled water bottle, which I always don’t.

It’s been two days since this happened and I am still not over it.

Review: A Love Story for my Sister

Novel- reading time!

Jaishree Misra, the best-selling author of Ancient Promises had come to our college to promote her new book and my friend got the author- signed copy. And sooo……. I sat down to read, and smile and then weep…

Let me get this straight. It’s not about Stockholm syndrome. I would never agree to it after reading the book, even if Misra herself claims it to be so. And this is not about Women Empowerment. No.

When two girls, both eighteen year old ones are kidnapped and later revealed to have found love in the “eyes” of their “predators”, the similarities begin. But the former happens in 1857 (during the time of Sepoy Mutiny or Our 1st War of Independence) and the latter in 1997, both in India. The stories of Margret Wheeler and Tara Fernandez reveal themselves through the narrative of the protagonists and Tara’s younger sister and aspiring novelist Pia Fernandez’s quest for truth.

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A love story worth reading, worth sharing,….

Of Margret and Tara, we can easily associate with Tara who is rebellious and outspoken with her family and attention-seeker at school. You know… we can imagine how much the world turns upside down if she, on her way home from school, is being kidnapped and get raped! But both had the advantage of having a soft-cornered captivator, who gives them the opportunity to go back to their people, which both declines. And they have reasons for every decision that they take, unbeknown to the world.

After the initial chapter, the novel takes up the pace of one compulsive reading. The three narratives are interspersed with each other, shifting between the times of 1857, 1997 and 2013. The only disappointment is at the end when the narrator takes the liberty of making wild guesses of what later events might have happened in the life of Margret Wheeler. Nevertheless, Kanpur and Peshawar forms beautiful backdrops for Margret’s and Tara’s love stories.

Kidnapping and Raping has happened in every chapter of World’s history and it has not ceased. More stories flood our lives, most of which do not have any ray of hope that Wheeler and Tara had. More number of Nirbhayas sprout in every part of the country, even while we are heading towards the 68th independent year….

Teaching me Life!

Whatever they say.. that Death is inevitable, that she was blessed to have a peaceful death, that she was lucky to have all her children and grandchildren around her,… it is We who are suffering the loss.

Even today, I almost stopped at the door to say “bye” before going to the college. One thing that they say is true… it will take time. It will take time to get used to her absence.

Meanwhile many little things remind me of her. Like ‘tea’, of how many times she used to ask for tea in a day. I think it is only now that I fully understand her.

  • She was a good student at school. Being the daughter of a central-govt. employee, she got the opportunity to study in many schools at different places. She could recall instances of her student life even at 83!
  • Even though she was interested in continuing her education after 10th std, even though she went on hunger strikes at home, her father (my great-grandfather) stood by his policy that girls won’t be sent to school. One of the few times I saw her with tear filled eyes was when talking about how she felt when all her school mates went to study in the college.
  • She never told me at what age she got married, even after me repeatedly asking her about it. Did she not remember or did she not want to remember?
  • Her husband was an Army man and was constantly away from home. She became a mother to her five children, none of them having any distinct memory of their father.
  • She stayed with her parents and siblings even after marriage. My father tells me that they were brought up by their grandfather.
  • She spent a few of her years in Mumbai, thus learning to speak fluently in Hindi and years later, to teach me Hindi.
  • Not only Hindi, but in all my subjects, she was my first teacher. In a way, if I love the English language and literature today, the credit show first go to her.
  • For a long time, there was no news of my grandfather. She sent hundreds of letter to the Defense ministry inquiring about him. An year after he had died in a plane crash, my grandmother knew that she already was a widow.
  • A strong woman who knew the value of education, she gave her children ample opportunities to study, meanwhile supporting her siblings and their families.
  • She had to undergo a cataract surgery and had heart diseases, but could do her things on her own till her late 70s.
  • She helped people in many ways that she could. She has served food to people who came to her, making them sit along side her sons.

There are a few of the things that she told me which stay with me even after he is gone:

  • She believed that whatever the output is, the 50% is of the hard-work we put in and the other half of the God’s blessings.
  • She was a strict vegetarian and was highly religious.
  • She insisted of maintaining books neatly. Taking the dog-eared notebooks of both my brother and mine, she would unfold the bend ends night after night, when we were asleep.
  • The only time I contradicted her was when I was wailing with terrible menstrual cramps, she told me it was because I was born a girl, I had to undergo it and to pray that atleast in my next birth, I won’t be born as a woman.
  • She believed that if we help someone, that help will come back to us from some other source when we  most need it.

The more I think of her, the most I am aware of the void that she has left behind. One thing is for sure, as long as I am alive and as far as my words can reach, there will be people to talk about her and to remember her.

Such an ordinary soul has left behind such a deep impact in our lives.

Thelma and Louise

In spite of all the work that I’m supposed to do, with the deadline to submit assignments and for taking seminars so close, I find myself downloading movies and watching them.

So the one that took my time this weekend is Thelma and Louise and I am so glad I watched it.

Geena Davis plays the role of Thelma, who isn’t sure of herself. She takes everything that she thinks might be useful when going on a “vacation” to the mountains with her friend, everything from the lantern to the gun. And she is married to a man who behaves more like her father.

Her friend Louise is played to perfection by Susan Sarandon. She is that one person who pushes you to do things that you always wanted to do. She does things as-a-matter-of-fact and is the one who tries to keep things straight.

When they both take chances and go on their own, they encounter people and events beyond their deadliest nightmares. Everything they do turn out to be disastrous, yet they come out hand in hand. Never is there “it’s because of you” kind of accusation. They take up the responsibilities of their intentional and mostly, unintentional actions upon themselves. And in the process, both discover shades of them they didn’t know about each other.

Thelma: “I guess I went a little crazy, huh?”

Louise: “No, you’ve always been crazy. This is the first chance you’ve ever had to really express yourself.”

These two women are not super-women. They do their best in every chaotic situation that they are held up in and that makes them superb. A lot of movies have been made round the world about the male-bond, but a few about the friendship of women. But if such are the movies, then those few are more than enough.

This 1991 movie makes you feel so good. When you somehow feel that things will certainly go out of hand in certain places, they take you in surprise.

No, I wouldn’t call it a “feministic- movie”, it’s just another movie that shouldn’t be missed in a lifetime.

Bonus: Brad Pitt plays a dangerously-charming role in here!

‘m sorry, but NO!

“You… yeah, you come here. Take this from me and keep it at that side of the table.” “Where are you going? Go to the ‘whichever place’ and ask if ‘whatever’ is available there. Go, quick!” “Yes? Then bring it.” “Hurry up. We don’t have much time!”

How does one say “NO” without sounding even slightly arrogant?

I don’t have any issue executing a duty assigned to me, but something that happened last day to my best friend got me thinking. She was called to do something which she very perfectly did, it was then followed by another one and then another, which took hours and by the end of it all, she fell down from the stairs and was hurt. She was bleeding alright, but was not seen by anyone. She, being exceedingly polite, did everything she was told of, without any protest. I was shell shocked at the comment she had to hear at the end of it all, “We should have called someone smarter.”

I mean, really? Are they so insensitive to people who help them without expecting anything in return?

This friend of mine is now asked to take 2 weeks rest; she can’t climb stairs for a few days, She got her nerves twisted, all from that fall. And from those unselfish deeds.

I feel so bad for her. How can anyone behave in such a manner to anyone else?

I didn’t know what to tell her when she was all in tears and blood… Should I have scolded for not being careful or for helping others? Should I console her by saying it’ll be alright in a month or that it wasn’t really her mistake?

I just wish they could see that she was struggling and had divided the work among others. I wish they had even acknowledged her for what she did. I so badly wish… she had said “No” with that smile of hers, when she knew she couldn’t bear it anymore…

I think this is what happens when we so badly want something to be done by any means so that the finger is not pointed towards us.

SJ, recover soon dear.