Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The joys of childhood and the love for books

“Oh, to be a child again and to go through the lanes passed by”
Most of the happy memories of my childhood involve books. As I grew up in the 80s, there were some blessings – there was no cable television and internet.  So, whatever time we had after school were either spent on playing outdoors or reading. Since I had studied in Kerala for some time, I knew to read Malayalam. Knowing two languages meant books in both languages. My father used to take us all to a market every month to buy clothes, vegetables, etc. Every such visit inevitably had one stop - A small book stall outside a restaurant. This stall had Malayalam magazines and story books. I always picked up two, one was ‘Balarama’, a children’s monthly that had stories, General knowledge topics, contests and so on. The other book that I bought was ‘Chandamama’, a fortnightly book that had many children’s stories and it had beautiful pictures.  Oh, yes, I also picked up Amar Chitra Katha Series and Tinkle too. Uncle Pai had a larger than life image in almost all children’s lives those days. Then, one day, I had the good fortune of seeing him and I thanked him from far for my lovely memories and for the various characters that he helped etch in us. 
Once I got hold of these books, I would just want to reach home and catch a corner and finish each page, sometimes twice. Both books would be read even before dinner was served.

These stories taught me many things about life. It took to another world where truth triumphed, where friendships were all about helping and trusting each other, where men and nature lived in harmony and where the world was a great place to be in. The various characters, Mayavi, Supandi, Shikhari Shambu, villagers, and many more, were an integral part of my life. And even today, I long to meet them.
These stories slowly developed in me a thirst for reading. I started reading more and more so much that, I would never even throw away the paper in which peanut seller packed the peanuts. I would read it once and then put it away. Books also ignited my creativity and imagination. I would imagine confabulations with the characters and sometimes, I will be led to their world and I would be able to tell more about them. These skills have held me in good stead today as my love for writing and penning short stories and poems have come from this love for reading that my parents encouraged.
I do not have children of my own but if there is one thing that I would like today’s children to have, then that would be books. Yes, there are tablets, computers and kindles where children may have a chance to read, but what I would wish for them is to have real books, ones that they can touch, feel, embrace and keep beside their pillow. How I wish children would subscribe for such weeklies and monthlies and wait anxiously at the doorstep for the delivery man to bring in the books! How I wish they would tear open the wrapper and devour the stories with excitement and curiosity!
Image source: 

Reading opens mind and brain of children. When they read about fairies or the world of Gods or mythological tales, they are also transported into this world. They are able to imagine a lot and who knows, one day, they will be capable of creating such a world themselves. Reading even helps in studies. A child who loves story books will never hate his school texts and that’s for sure.

How I wish every night, every child world over, will have book beside their bed and a bookmark to remind them that the night will be peaceful and the next day will be a beautiful one because there is a story waiting in there for them!

Note:This post is being written for the #BachpanWithFlinto blogger contest.

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Thursday, 11 June 2015

A letter to my one-year-old nephew

My nephew (I call him Honey, he is one sweet drop!) turns one on June 15. I wrote him a letter to suggest ways to find his way from the plethora of advice that might come his way.
Read the letter here:

Monday, 1 June 2015

No RIP Aruna, at least, not now

Aruna Shanbaug (1 June 1948-18 May 2015) symbolised many things. She was a thorn that pricked our collective conscience, a case of an innocent suffering for no fault of hers, a case for euthanasia or mercy killing, a symbol of hope for humanity as she was looked after for 42 years by nurses and doctors who cared and even, a poking truth that when you have only your beating heart as a sign of life and you lie on bed helplessly without any knowledge of the outside world, you will have none by your side, not even your family. Aruna had 9 sisters but no one allegedly came forward to volunteer for her care. Aruna was still lucky, there were her colleagues who decided to stand by her.
The man, the culprit, who took his revenge, on the woman for reporting his malpractices, in the most inhumane way, was let off after serving just seven years in prison, for attempt to murder. A question arises, why did anyone not take notice on his acquittal that the person whom he ‘attempted to murder’ is no longer alive, as a ‘normal’ person would be and why was then another case not charged on him by treating this crime as one of the ‘rarest of the rare cases’? No one paid any heed and the man is reported to have started life afresh somewhere. He was not punished for lifetime for a heinous act but Aruna was serving a brutal ‘life sentence’ just for fulfilling her duty. Where is justice?
Once in a while, Aruna’s story reappeared on newspaper pages, reminding us of how cruel destiny could be and how inhuman a human being could be. We read Aruna’s updates with a heavy heart, shed a tear or two and then, got back to our life. Has sexual harassment at workplaces stopped after November 27, 1973, the day Aruna was brutally attacked at her workplace? Were women safer after November 27, 1973? It is shocking that in our country, monstrous crimes find followers, and we soon hear similar incidents all throughout. Our law does not seem to be a deterrent. There were more Arunas, though referred to differently as acid attack victims, gang rape survivors, etc., the irony is that none of them have won their battle but battle with their life on a daily basis. Aruna endured it silently without any awareness while the others bear the attack on their soul silently, fully aware.
Pinky Virani, the author who helmed a biography of Aruna in 1998,titled, Aruna’s Story: The True Account of a Rape and its Aftermath, filed a case for Aruna’s mercy killing in 2009 and soon Aruna became a centre of debate on euthanasia. Who decides the case for euthanasia? The person, for whom the debate is on, is not in a position to stand up and speak. It is left to the care takers to decide. Aruna’s care providers did not want to go with it. There were many who even blamed these nurses for not letting go of Aruna. Some said it was because they wanted to appear as righteous. But even then, wasn’t it great that a team of doctors and nurses stood by their decision and even kudos to the government that it did not snatch the room from Aruna and allowed her to be?
Now Aruna is no more, as per medical terms. For lakhs of us, who followed Aruna’s life, she had died on the day she was put on that bed, almost lifeless. But then medical world decides the definition of death and law puts a stamp on it, so we will have to hear terms like brain death, and so on.
I say, Aruna, Do not RIP. You have rested for 42 years but without peace, now it is the time to liberate yourself from all agony, pain and sympathy. Go dance away, laugh and smile. I am sure in that another world, you will find hundreds of things to do. Do them and live your life that you could not for 42 years. Do not RIP but be peaceful. Do I see you smiling?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

My article on colour and age bias in advertisements, published on www,

This lipstick is for the fair, fairer and the fairest

Friday, 2 January 2015

A short story written by me was one of the top 5 selected entries of Women'sweb monthly contest, Muse of the Month (December). The cue was, “It’s astonishing how we comment on change, as if change is something remarkable. On the contrary, not to change is unnatural, against nature,” from Shashi Deshpande’s That Long Silence.