Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mera Bharat Mahan - Par Mein Nahin..!

       So tomorrow is Independence Day? More than 6 decades ago, India gained freedom, a handful of wiry men in Loin-cloths, went hoarse shouting for freedom from the British. Many leaders came and vowed to make India nothing like what the Britishers had made us. 
       So today, everyone of us will be 'proud' to be an Indian. 
       We will send our kids proudly off to school for a flag-hoisting ceremony without knowing why we do it - hoist the flag that is, sending them to school, we must, that would take them off our hands wouldn't it? 
       We will make them wear little caps and paint their faces with the colors of the Tri-color.
       We will buy those 10 rs wallah small flags being sold at Traffic Signals. 
       Then we will host a party at home - Arrey zaroor aaiyega, aaj hum dinner rakh rahe hain, Chutti hain na? Chalo socializing ho jaye’
       The kids will sing Jana Gana Mana with their hands glued to their foreheads like little  tin toy soldiers, without knowing how it came into existence. The teachers will sing alongwith, while inside they are actually cribbing at having had a Holiday spoilt. 
       Some technologically advanced schools will set up projectors and play ‘Gandhi’ or such (all the while yawning), while at home, people will watch with glee films like ‘Roja’, ‘Indian’ etc where they serve up patriotism with dhishum-dhishums. 
       We will scold the under-age-servant and make him work harder. But no, we, the educated ones, will not ponder that child-labour is illegal. No, we will make those 10-12 year olds change the baby’s nappy, clean out commodes without a care. We are paying them after all, right? 
       By the time kids come home from school, it is time to have a family-meal. Who cares about the millions in our country going hungry? My obese idiotic child’s belly is all that matters to me. 
       We will clean our houses and throw the ‘kachra’  onto the roads without a care in the world. 
       We will keep the tap open while brushing,  enjoying the soothing lilting melody of water gushing forth, without thinking of the lakhs of people who get 15 minutes of water every 3-4 days. Aren’t we the posh ones? The ones with status, money? 
       Oh it is evening, ‘chalo, chalo, let us go out’’ and we will each take out our 4 cars, one for each person, no, no, the word ‘car-pooling’ does not exist in our dictionaries. 
       And then we will go out and proudly gloat over the new swanky malls and buildings coming up in areas that were marked for ‘garden Projects’  by the city. 
       Gleefully, we will spit and compete on who can redden a public building corner first. 
       And write ‘Tinku loves Pinku’ on World-Heritage buildings. While our children observe us and mimic us and grow up inheriting these ‘legacies’.  
       Oh, yes and how can we forget updating our FB status spaces with claims of how we love India and how glorious it is and what-nots? 
       So we walk around like proud peacocks, never mind the fact that we, actually have done absolutely nothing for the nation. 
       So why not start now? 
       Say no to that babu asking for a bribe. Say no to that person throwing rubbish onto the roads. 
       Educate. Teach. Act.
       Do something at the grassroots level. 
       It doesn’t have to be major. 
       Stop favoring child-labour. Instead, help to send that child to school. Doesn’t he deserve an education just like your children do? 
       Just do something, anything, and then be truly proud.  
       You should actually start off by not smirking at this note written by someone who is changing and has hopes that you will too. 
       No realization is too late. 
       People died for freedom, and they died because they dreamt of an India free of corruption, sex-discrimination, red-tapism, feudalism, fanaticism. 
       Not this seedy worm-infested underbelly of ‘India Shining’.

Friday, August 05, 2011

From Pappa with Love

This entry is a part of the contest at in association with

'I'm 29 years old, Pappa. 29. Not 2. Not 9.' I almost shout at him just before he leaves for work. But I know it wouldn't change a thing. Even if I had that tattooed over my forehead. 

Pappa will still distribute his pearls of wisdom (or in his case, rusted bits)....Mummy rolls her eyes and goes back to weaving magic with the broom and mop in her hand. She rubs a little of the broom on the floor, n voila, like Cinderalla, I'm transported into a squeaking clean house. Well more of her later.

The reason why my blood is boiling over now is because I have been subject to Pappa's free advice ever since I woke up at 7 this morning. More reason why I should stay in bed till he leaves.
So that on working days, when Mummy is already in school, n he is leaving at 9, he wakes me up just in time to shut the door. Those are days that I can escape from the grim reality that in his eyes, I'm still a child.

It starts off in the morning, like I said before. Let me say, I wake up at 7.00 am. The one-way preamble goes something like this.

7.00 am - I am stirring in bed, listening to my parents talking in the living room. I lie there for some time, but then my kidneys threaten me. So I shuffle to the Loo, n there he catches me on my way out. 'Open ur eyes n walk. U will bang onto the walls or stumble over something n fall down.' I cannot attack as my body is still getting used to the whole waking-thing. 
But yes, he is a witness to the numerous days that I have walked into a wall, (with a bang), all bleary-eyed and yawning.

7.10 am - I pour the tea into a cup, n inevitably 2 miniscule drops fall out. There he is again, just behind me with some waste cloth (which usually turns out to be the duppatta mum has kept aside to starch, n which, on her finding out, gets Pappa a shouting..*chuckles*). 'Wipe up all this. And don't spill any eatable-thingies. The flies will be crowding the whole house now'
For those who don't know, the house is on the 7th floor of a multi-storeyed buidling, invincible against flies and mosquitoes.

7.15 am - I have finished drinking my tea and am reading the newspaper. The empty cup is on the centre-table next to my propped-up feet. 'You will swing your feet in style, n that cup will fall down n break into pieces'. So saying, he takes the cup n deposits it in the place where it rightfully belongs, in the sink, next to the other cups. 
It is another matter, that we do have a macabre collection of cups, missing their handles, spouts, bottoms. Courtesy - Mummy n I on one of our butter-fingery spree, most of which took place, when I was doing what I'm doing now.

7.30 am - He has gone down to bring the Municipality drinking water supply. He refuses to let me bring it. It is just one bucket after all. Oh, so there he appears, 
"Atleast keep the drinking water-container (which looks more like a rocket-launcher with its little legs and snout) open. So that it is easier for me to fill it up"
The days that I do keep it open, for his ease, the advice is 
"Why did u keep this open? The pigeons will come n shit in it.
Wow, since when did Pigeons know exactly which one of all those million vessels lying there, is the drinking water-wala vessel, at potty-time?
(I'm sure u have guessed by now, that I'm absolutely not retorting to any of these pearlies. Didn't Gandhiji say, turn the other 'ear'...?)
By this time, I'm counting the minutes that I will be putting up with this 'gyaan'.

8.15 am - He is dressed to go to work, looking at the things that need last-minute adjustments (like dyeing his moustache black with Mummy's eyebrow pencil, and Mummy still doesn't know why her eyebrow pencil is always blunt when she is about to use it, no matter how much she sharpens it). At this time there are 2-3 things that he throws my way.

-"Keep the windows and doors closed, the pigeons will make a nest otherwise, in the lofts". Which is true. I'm trying to make this particular pigeon-couple my pet, n therefore invite them in with bits of food and 'Ghoo-Ghoo' noises. That the female pigeon gets attracted to me, mistaking me to be another male, is something I don't want to comment on.

-"Switch off the other electrical appliances when u switch on the A.C. - it draws more load than the allotted load, n a short-circuit will occur n the whole building will burn down."
Blame it on his being an engineer, or his being a Rules-follower, at night, he wakes up after we have slept, to quietly tiptoe down to the kitchen n switch off the fridge. The fridge is rendered un-openable the next morning, n Mummy is in a hopping rage, but of course he knows it.

-"Do not wash my white shirts and baniyans with the rest of the clothes. They will all be spoiled." - He rummages around and picks up a shirt (which, because of sins committed by Mummy in the past, she unwittingly washed with the others in the machine, n now it sports a 2mm by 2mm stain in the front) and dangles it in front of me. When I refuse to look up at him. He thrusts the shirt into the sacred, holy space between the paper and my face. The rabid, foaming look I give him is enough to make him scurry away.

8.30 am - There now, he is looking for his socks. "Where are they. My socks. these are Mummy's. Why don't u tie up the pairs? So that I don't have to waste time looking for them or pairing them up!
Why Mummy would want to wear Men's socks is something only she can answer, but there are 56 pairs of socks all tied up neatly, kept on full display in the corner-stand, and yet he rummages around, looking for the newest pair to wear.

By this time I'm losing my patience. The irritation starts showing. And I'm about to explode.

8.40 am - Now he picks up his bag. His tiffin-box and his mobile. His specs. His watch. The ten-rupee notes and loose currency for his autorickshaw-walas. And then finally he is out of the door.

I anticipate the last string of advices almost eagerly. For after that is Redemption. Hallelujah.

-"Do not open the door if someone knocks". Oh did I tell u, that we don't have a peephole! If I ask "Why don't u fix a peephole here, Pappa?", he replies "What if someone points a gun at it n shoots. Or pokes something through." Absolutely no idea, when he got that idea, because we did have a peephole in our previous house.

-"Do not agree if someone knocks the door and asks for water". Well, I suggest that perhaps, I could just show that person the drinking water container which is, supposedly, full of pigeon droppings. No? No. This time I get the rabid look.

-'They (no idea who 'they' are) will come saying there is a courier for you. They will quickly see that you are alone and then they will come back with more people to break open and steal and go knows what else."
 -"Do not open the door to any lady who says she is selling things. These women are more dangerous, as no one suspects them."
All through these, I have no idea on how to find out if the knocker is a courier-wala or a lady-selling-bra-panty-pickle-detergentpowder-neemfacepack, unless I OPEN the damned door. We don't have a peephole, remember?

'Aaaaaarrrggghhhhhh' - I scream (in a whisper, of course). 
Mummy was so right when she said - "When ur Dad retires, he can put up a table n chair under a garden umbrella, right at the crossroads, with a board that says 'Nair-saab nu free-advice ni dukaan'...!"

There it is. The last one. Quick, get it out Pappa, so that I can go back to Peace.

"Bolt in all the 3 places. This is a flimsy door. Will break into two if u kick it 10 times".
I do not want to point to the hinges and say that it will take 'them' just one screw-driver to have the whole 'jaali' n door in 'their' hands.

"Did I forget something? You and your Mummy don't remind me anything. See how that Aunty on the 8th floor takes care of her husband.
Right at this moment, Mummy rolls her eyes again, n shouts from the kitchen - 'Well if the 8th floor Aunty is so nice, you can ask her to cook for you and remind you everyday. Don't start me off, now".

This is where the ice melts. Pappa winks at me. I let my lips curl a little at the corner.
And then he, yet again asks, all serious. The last one. I can see it coming.

"Did I forget something?' Wallet, Mobile, Specs?"
"Your brains. Did you take your brains from the pickle-jar, Pappa?" I ask.

He smiles. I smile.
There the irritation is replaced by a sense of being cared for.
I shut the door and go back to my newspaper.

Until another day, another morning, another round of 'advices' from a father to his daughter.