“Aww! My baby….mamma loves you so much.”
I moved towards my mom taking Ziva in my embrace.
“Mom, I know it’s going to be tough for you to take care of Ziva alone. But what to do!? I am stuck. I have to go to interview the budding writer, Surabhi Kaul. Her new release is on the stands.
You know mamma! She is such an outstanding person. So excited to meet her after many years.”
I kept talking while putting my belongings into my tote bag, the one I love to flaunt.
Ziva has started playing with her toys. She is aware of the fact that I’m going outside. The best distraction trick I usually use is I gave her some potatoes to play with. She like the different shapes and sizes, it amazes her.
“I’m already late. It’s been months that I haven’t done anything constructive. Even got a warning from my editor. Mamma….I have given words that this interview will be a fantastic one. Please, Mamma, manage it for one day.”
I talked with her in a convincing way, while rushing towards the door. Knowing she is growing old, and handling a toddler of about 24 months needs lots of energy and patience. I am worried about these two beautiful ladies, although Mamma’s excitement to spend time with Ziva amazed me much. Ziva also seems to be loving her grandma’s company.
Being busy with personal commitments doesn’t mean that you forget to match up with your professional ones. I am thrilled over the thought that I’m going to meet Surabhi, as we two share a sister-like bonding. A connection is mutually growing between us. At such a tender age, her achievements are remarkable, from pain to fame, struggle to success and desires to contentment. She reflects a divine aura.
The moment I stepped in, by the look, something mesmerised me. A glimpse that lures you to stay there. A view that refreshes you with peace and serenity. The fragrance of love and solace welcomed me at that very first moment. I glanced upon the interiors and belongings. Not a big house, just a small apartment with one or two rooms, but still magnificent in its own.
There she comes. A beautiful lady in her early twenties. She has the most beautiful curvaceous and contiguous smile. She styled her long black tresses for one glam look.
Her blue eyes can compel anyone to write poetry on them. Light Brown in colour and perfect combination of beauty and brain. Anyone can drool over her personality.
It’s been two years since we last met. As I choose to admire her beauty, she comes close to embrace me in her proximity. A Compassionate feeling generated in my heart as if we are known to each other for ages.
“Hey, Prisha di, how are you? Long time. You promised to give a visit, the time we last met. But here you are! Coming here for professional reasons. Come on di, hope you won’t start it with the same old story… I was tied up with family, commitments and that all.” (Smile)
I laughed out loud. “You caught me. Well no, I am not gonna say that. (Giggles)
But yes, I must say, I missed you and Granny Sheila. I am so sorry to hear about her sad demise. (Deep sigh)
She will always remain in our prayers.
All the musing and cosmic energy you are getting, are her blessings. May her soul rest in peace.”(remembrance)
“Oh yeah! Absolutely! All that I have learnt so far in my life are her teachings. She was my goddess of life. She remained everything to me. The book is about her beliefs, morals, preachings and the lessons, she taught me about life, relationships, morality, religions, love, etc. ”
“Aha! Yes. Congratulations. Your second book is out now, which I am sure, is again set to be among Best Sellers. Tell me something about your new release, rather I am more curious to understand its title. Please explain that too.”
“Prisha di, as you know in my first release ‘ Ode to Life’, I wrote about how life and relationships perpetuate each other. From that book, you all came to know about mine and Granny’s life. How we both survived after we lost our family. How we both started looking up for life in each other. How we embraced life’s challenges, sorrows, pains, crisis…. and all other What?! Why?! When?! Uhh!”
A deep sigh filled up the silence. Being aware, how she is feeling at that moment, I put my empathetic hand on her shoulder. Had read about their struggles in that book. She was only 3 years when she lost her parents, uncle and grandfather in an accident. They all had gone for a pilgrimage tour and while returning back home, that horrible incident happened. As little Suri(Surabhi’s pet name) was not well and her Granny too had a muscle burst, they both stayed back at home. Unfortunately, they were left alone in life too.
From my engrossed thoughts, she brings me back in present to offer a cup of tea. Wow! The Tea Cups are equally delicate and beautiful, complimenting her personality. I thank her and she continues.
“Di! The new release ‘Unapologetically Happy ‘ is in continuation of my first edition. As we two-faced difficulties in our lives, we fought them bravely too. But more than external circumstances, we fought with the inner ones, loneliness was one amongst them. There was a kind of vacuum that was clinging to our life, especially Granny’s.
I saw her crying. When people around us asked, ” How’s life going?”; She struggled hard to say ” All good. We are doing fine”. It took her efforts to look normal even in front of me. But she chose to fight all odds. She knew I was there with her so she became a warrior. Every day she smiled, so as she wept off her tears in her loneliness, She accepted everything as part of life. And……..!
One fine day, when I was 6 years, as I came back from school, and saw Granny burning some papers. She was setting fire to the photographs of Grandpa and herself, my parents, uncles and some of the Good times of our whole family. I asked her why she’s doing so?! Why she’s burning all those photographs of our family’s happy times?!
She remained quiet. Next day she called a photographer at home and asked him to click as many photographs of both of us at every possible location.
After some days, as I came back home from school, and saw all the walls, from the entrance to the living area to our bedroom, were covered with the frames of mine and Granny’s photographs. As I was trying to understand the scene, Granny picked me in her arms to sit on a chair. She caressed me as I was sitting on her lap.
Granny said “You know Suri when I was a child, my parents, teachers and every other person told me that we are social beings. Our life revolves around our families, friends and relationships.”
“I learnt to love my parents, my siblings, my cousins, my friends, my neighbours. Every society has some norms and we all should follow them. Respecting, sharing and caring are basic features of being a ‘Sanskaari Person’. I too was one such ‘Sanskaari Child’.
“My life revolved around my family and friends. But when sometimes, I complained about others for not being so ‘Sanskaari’, people used to advise me to mind my own behaviour and not to expect much. In fact, nothing from others. They told me ‘ Mind your own Karmas’.
I found a huge gap between practice and preaching. Even what we read in books and what we practically do had the extreme difference.”
I grew up listening and following those principles. But later in the years, burdened with life’s responsibilities, I started complaining about other’s behaviour and attitude for taking me granted.
I went through a difficult phase, if you understand, it was something called depression. I was burdened with thoughts, some were wanted while some unwanted. I started complaining about each and everything, which pushed me towards loneliness, that too in the company of everyone.
I was in melancholy. That time each and every person including my doctor motivated me to embrace my loneliness. They said ‘Make yourself a priority once in a while”. It’s not selfishness, it’s a necessity.
Love yourself first, because that’s who you’ll be spending the rest of your life with. Look in yourself for all inspirations, motivation, love, support, focus, happiness. You are here to become more and more alive, intelligent, happy, ecstatically happy.”
I started wondering what they meant. A few years back they all were preaching to think about others, be a good human being, not to be eccentric, to think about others before yourself. But now, what was coming from their side was confusing my mind. I was unable to understand what to keep and what to discard. Anyway, I somehow managed to escape my bewilderment and depressive state of mind and regained myself.
All I understood was to grow and to walk ahead in life, you need to learn to unlearn. If not everything, but definitely something.
“Suri! My child. You know why I removed all those frames because I want to detach myself from the memories and souls of my loved ones. They are now out of our life, of course, their part will always remain at the core of our hearts as cherished memories.”
“Now onwards, we will not miss them on a daily basis. We’ll learn to embrace their absence so that we would be able to enjoy our own selves and togetherness. I have learnt to live with my own self long before, but days to practice them have come now. Gradually you too will learn how to live that way and to embrace your loneliness. One day you will be alone, as I too will leave for my last journey.”
Listening to her words I started crying, the fear of losing her had frozen me. She draped me in her arms and that was the last day when we cried over our melancholy.”
A pause filled the moment.
Suddenly, Surabhi starts giggling.
” What happened Surabhi?!” I asked her with anxiety.
” Oh! Nothing!, Di. Just recalled a funny moment from the past. Granny was not all about these serious talks. She sometimes gave me important Gyan with her witty thoughts too.”
She again starts giggling and with a pause, she starts saying
” Di, I was in my tweens, when one fine day, I came back from school, upset over something. I skipped my lunch and went to hit the hay. I was about to nod, granny knocked on my bedroom’s door and came inside.
“What happened to you, my baby? Why are you skipping your meal? Tell me I’ll try to help you come out of that awkward and bewildering thought which is bothering you. Come on tell me.” She cupped my head just to put it on her lap. She started caressing my hair.
I started crying. I told her about one bad incident that happened in school, When my classmates teased me. “I won’t go to school granny. I won’t. I don’t like kids there. They tease me over one or other things. No, granny, I won’t!”
There remained silence for some moments. Granny just raised my head with cupped hands off her lap. She stood up and started looking for something. There, she found it. She took that chair and came near to me. Next moment she was up on that chair. I was shocked to see her. Everything was spontaneous.
Hey, granny! What are you doing? Be careful, you may fall down off it. Please come down.
” Don’t you worry suri darling. I’ll be fine. I’m perfectly fine here.”
I hid my face with cupped hands. I piped out. It seemed like she was preparing for some act. She folded fingers of her one hand …as if she was holding Mic in it. And she began.
“Suri my darling, people will often advise you in a way
‘If life gives you lemon …. squeeze them and make lemonade out of them’.
They won’t tell you about how hard those lemons will be. They might not be that juicy. What to do next in that case?
Umhhh…! No one will let you know. No one!
My darling. Then the big question arises ‘what to do with those lemons?!
Uhmmm! I tell you. Pick up lemons and cut them into pieces, sprinkle some spices over them. Add some sugar. And leave them aside. They gradually ripe to become a sour and sweet tasty lemon pickle. Yummm! (Licking lips)
Yes, my darling. Life is not always that easy to live. Sometimes it tests you with hardships. You only have to put your efforts with full dedication and faith and forget. Just like those unripe lemons.”
She enacted like some old movie scene. Ahmmm! I think that was ‘Sholey’. And she mimicked like Dharmendra. I was laughing rolling on the floor. “
Surabhi starts laughing again. I accompanied her too.
” My granny was the best. Love you most granny.” She blows a kiss in the air.
“Prisha di, I don’t know whether you have noticed or not, I too have detached myself from her, May her soul rest in peace.”
I look around. Yes, the room, whose walls were earlier full of frames of Surabhi and Granny’s love and togetherness, now only has Surabhi’s solo picture frames. In those pictures, she is full of life, happiness and harmony. I look at her face, there seems no sign of any grief, in fact, it has Solace and Serenity that she is living with. I moved close to her and next moment we two embraced each other.
“My best wishes for the success of your book, Surabhi. Now I am sure, this book will definitely transform many through showers of peace, serenity and divinity in their life. This book is a must-read for all those striving to enjoy their loneliness.” I affirmed.
( Sanskaar means – sacraments, values)
(P.S. The cover page is designed by one of the students from an NGO SaaksharHum. )