The Shooting Star.

A lovely book by Shivya Nath. These days I am reading her. What impresses me is her language, her choice of words. The way she narrates her travel story, her journey from being a homely Indian Girl to the Global Girl she is now, touches my heart deeply. I tried to put off that book and start working on mine, but there is a little whisper at the back of my mind which lures me back to read it and by the time I realise, I am already deeply immersed in that book of hers. Her style is so expressive that it makes one experience the feelings she is going through. When the adrenalin running through her veins; circulates in yours, you cannot make out.

Through her writing you can feel the cool breeze rubbing your cheeks. The night sky of the places she’s been to comes alive in your memories. Her fear, her confusion and her anxiety all become your personal experience. Her agony, her joy her friends and above all her experience with the people she met through her journey and people on her personal upfront all seem acquainted to you.

I never found any memoir so inspiring and intriguing that made me cry, cry for the life I am missing, the way I wanted to be. This particular book made me realise that I have wasted my half life doing nothing apart from washing laundry, cooking meals and dusting the cob-webs. No, I am not blaming this book about making me cry but praising it to make me accept the small voice of my heart. From past few months I am longing to lead a nomadic life, somewhere deep inside the far off places. The places which are not yet been explored call me. From the age of adolescent, I’ve been touring places. But I now realise that I don’t want to be a tourist. Actually my heart aches for wandering. I want to be a traveller in the real sense and not merely a tourist.

`The Shooting Stars’ engulfs me so much that at the point I am craving for getting back what my soul is searching for. Infect, I want my life to end up soon and I be born as a wander or have the opportunity to lead a free life.

I want to scale the high mountains, run in the valleys, breathe in the fresh air. I want to feel the nature embracing me. I want the sea waves to giggle under my feet, the warm sand and wind slapping against my face. The rain drops drenching me to the core of my soul and quench my thirst.

There is so much that I have not done and it pricks like a thorn in my heart but the time is not over yet. I still am breathing and walking so I have decided to make up for the lost time. May be I cannot climb summits or paraglide but still I can travel to new places and at least try to track some of the mounts. Meet people who are not yet civilised go, deep in the heart of my country. Learn from the nature sleep under the open sky counting My Shooting Stars!

Papa…through my eyes

Papa was posted out of home town after ten years for the first time. We accompanied him. He was very particular about everything so that we don’t have to face any problem regarding anything. From house to school and house help. Because it was the first time for us to be separated from our big joint family, and maa had to maintain the household all by herself.

Back at home, there were many people to help in house hold work and take care of me and my younger brother. Here it was all to be done by maa and papa without any help. But, as I mentipned papa was particular about making arrangements of home and house help we got a beautiful home and the house helps were provided by his office. So, now only problem left was our school. That too was solved soon but he was still worried about me that how will I manage in school all by myself. As, back at home I was accompanied by my cousins and sibling and here I had to attend school alone, all by myself and that too at such a tender age of 12.

Papa was so much worried about me that one day he came over to my school to just pay me a visit and confirm that I was doing well. He saw me sitting all alone in the quiet corner of the playground area(as it was recess time) and went straight to principal’s office. I was then called. This made me nervous as I couldn’t understand what mistake I made. On the way to her office, my legs were shaking and there were cramps in stomach. In her office, when I saw papa, sitting very serious, I felt afraid and confused and couldn’t understand what have I done so bad that they had to call papa. I wanted to run away but papa noticed saw me and my teary eyes and face as pale as dry grass. I stopped dead at the door. He arose from the chair and walked towards me. My heart was beating in my mouth, as fast as express train. He came near me and lifted his hand, placed on my head and asked why did I sat alone in a corner? We were given extra time after recess was over to talk. He looked at me and asked if everything was okay? But now I know and deeply believe that he came there to make sure for himself that I was safe and doing well.

One another such day, I was suffering from stomach flue but couldn’t take leave from school as exams were coming near. At school, classes started after Zero period in which we had some physical activities. From the ground I saw Papa pacing up and down the corridor in front of our class and Principal was standing along with him. She signaled me to comeover. When I reached them, Papa was already at the top of the small flight of stairs. He asked about my stomach ache and gave me some syrup. He even made sure that I will go straight to the class and take rest. Then he said to principal that if required she should call him. After he left, she said that I was one lucky girl to have him around and that he cared so much about his li’l princess. He came all the way just to make sure that I am OK. He was one worried parent who loved his daughter so much.

Though thirty-four years have passed, I cannot forget what my principal said about him, ever. Those words are engraved in my heart so deep that they will never ever fade.

I always remember Papa with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. His loss is something I can never cope with. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am writing a memoir about him but fighting a turmoil of emotions to complete. This post is one small example of it, which I planned weeks back but had no courage to start and when started, completed today but posting it without any re-reads or corrections. Hope I am forgiven for that.

Writing a memoir.

Hi dear fellow bloggers and writers.

I was thinking to a write a memoir from a long time but was not able to start. The reason was that I couldn’t decide upon the topic. I am not a big personality nor a known figure, so, at a point gave up the idea. As who would like to read my memoir but then a point striked in my mind. It is, basically a theme for my photo album, about my father.

The time spent with a loving father, who is no more to guide you, is the most cherished treasure for any child. That said, I chose to write a memoir about him. Anyone can relate to the emotion, easily.

So, I planned two-three subtopics along that main idea. And started working upon them. Recently, wrote outlines for the first few chapters. But, I felt the need to break from writing the memoir. Because, the memories are overwhelming and I cannot take it in one go. So, just to find the support and comfort, I turned to you people, who are my strength and supporters in times of breakdown.

The memoir is called, ‘ Remembering father, through the eyes of a daughter.’ Hope you understand what I meant by saying ‘overwhelming’. I have to go down the memory lane to fetch the most minute details. Every time, I come out of the dream world when Papa was alive, I get hit by the harsh truth of his demise, long ago. This makes me emotionally robbed once again.

These are the times when I need him by my side, the most. I understand that whatever your age may be, but your first comforting shoulder is of your father. In any trouble, you look upto him for support. And today I am feeling lonely. In his absence I am all lost. The feeling of emptiness engulf

Something that scares me sometimes.

Paranormal – one of my favoriteacan’t say completely that I believe in it nor I can say that I don’t believe but it amuses me. I mean the topic.

Well leaving behind all the debate of I believe or I don’t, let me tell you a story. A story which occured years ago in my ancestral home.

It goes like this, one of the men working at our mansion, had always trouble sleeping in his quarter. As I mentioned it was ancestral so was centuries old. And being so, it had it’s own share of spooky stories. But,now don’t let me embrangle you from the main story. Well,I think I should not call it a story but true incident. So, this guy, who worked for my grandfather was given a quarter in the outer portion of the mansion. There were others also in his neighbouring quarters but they never said a thing about some sort of disturbances.

This guy alone had a problem, so we all thought either he is imagining things or hallucinating under the influence of cheap alcohol. But every morning he used to wake up with sores on his face and shoulders. In the evenings when he used to come up with cowmilk for the household, we used to surround him to tell us the story of his ‘brave’ encounters. May be from there my interest in paranormal and horror genre started.

Well, coming back to my experience, yes my experience as now I can own the incident bravely. One day he was supposed to go to his village and return by the night. That evening another house help who was assisting him, came to deliver milk and gave the keys to his quarter, saying sorry as he couldnot stay in there. First we thought this guy is influenced by the stories but then he showed a slap mark on his left cheek, which he had covered from a cloth, used to tie on head to save from heat.

Next day, we children planned to go and see in the quarter, what the mystery was? So, without telling elders and the nannies and specially the governess, we sneaked out. Six of us, a whole bunch of screaming and shouting children, full of excitement, reached the outer garden and then crossed the garage areas and there was the outer line of the house helps’ quarters.

The keys were with the eldest cousin. At time he used to be very weak hearted. And I was the bravest one. All the others in the group encouraged me to take the keys and open the door. And being a good loving elder cousin to rest of them, I did what they wanted me to. We entered in and to my surprise, the bulb which one of us switched on, went off with a blast. And imagine who was the first to escape? No, it was not my eldest cousin, but me! Yes me. Because I have acoustic startle reflex. May be some of you might be laughing at me or questioning me over the claim of being bravest of the bunch, but believe me I know what the hell I deal with when I say ASR. Enough of my side story, I will tell you what happened next.

The moment I jumped out of the room, everyone followed the suit. I gathered my wit and entered again followed by rest. We stayed in there for about half an hour but nothing happened. Apart from one of my younger cousin, who actually was scared, felt cold and heard something. Looking at his condition we left the room and locked it again. Kept the keys back in place and didn’t utter a word about our expedition.

The guy returned in the evening instead of previous night. And we were eager to see if he notices something in room. He stayed the whole time out of it and after dinner retired to his room. We were watching him from the main gate to the main mansion.

Next day it was sunday, yet we woke up soon and gathered in the common verandah. Before elders could question us, we all ran from there towards the quarters and what we saw was unbelievable. The guy with his bed and bedding, was lying outside with the bed atop him. Rest of the men and their families had come out and surrounded him. He woke up and took all his belongings back in the room, came out shutting the door behind him. We asked him what had happened to which he shrugged his shoulders and told us that it was nothing new as every night someone threw him off his bed, only this time it’s out of the room with his bed. Then he went back to his work and we came back inside.

We didn’t say anything about our expedition and never spoke about this experience with anyone. Today, decades have passed but this is the second time I am mentioning this incident. Prior to this time I mentioned it to my hubby some two years ago, I think.

For now this is all. May be in next post I will share some other such experiences from my home and other places, that too if you like. Thank you for reading till end and if you didn’t then also for bearing with me.

Encounter with Tiger

Year 1995. June.
Place Jim Corbett National Park.                           Time: 11:00 AM

We headed for breakfast, towards a small restaurant in the Ram Nagar santuary guest house.

The place was small but very luxurious for the government unit, it had a library and an amp hi theater apart from the restaurant. There was a ‘machan’ built on a tree near by our apartment and it was near the boundary surrounding  the guest house. Few meters away from this tree, there was a stage like structure built about the height of a single story. It was for climbing the elephant.

So, we stood in a que near the stairs  to go up and waited for our turn. After about fifteen minutes or so, we climbed the stage and we’re asked to climb the elephant in another five minutes. We all sat on same elephant.

The moment it started to move, it was an experience for lifetime. A wonderful memory to store. The way it swinged while it moved forward gave goosebumps that made me giggle. The ‘mahavat’ asked me to be quiet as we were on the safari and that too for tiger watching, so being quiet and still was for most requirement.

The elephant took us on a trail filled with excitement for both elders and children equally, through the deep jungle. Sometimes, patches of grassland emerged between the huge and dense trees where the grass was at the height of four to four and a half feet. The ‘mahavat’ said here the danger lurks hidden in the grasses, for the elephants carrying the tourists as last month same time a tiger attacked and elephant twice but the courageous elephant defeated the beast and took the  tourists back safely. But the tourists were so afraid that even though they were grown ups, they literally did shit n their pants and the lady with them started cry and fainted.

On listening to this incident, we were not afraid but our curiosity increased to another level, specially for us children. From those lurking open grass lands we moved to shaded grassland spots and at a distance we saw a herd of deers.  Moving ahead say for a half meter we saw some wild boars and at a place we saw a fawn and mamma deer fondling. This was the time, when all the childhood stories came tumbling forward to my mind from a deep slumber. It gave a different feeling, say, sort of nostalgia. How and where they lived and may be their homes were hidden somewhere in the deep jungle. In my mind at that time, the homes of the animals were same like depicted in the comic books. From there we moved in more deper part of the jungle.

At a distant part of the jungle we heard some particular type of whistling and at the same time the ‘mahavat’ got excited and asked us to be alert. He asked us to keep looking around carefully as we could get to see the big cat anytime now. I was so excited that I chuckled and told my baby brother how it would be a privilege to see it. Papa glowed at me signaling to be quiet.  My brother was sitting in front between my parents, just behind the ‘mahavat’, then sat my uncle and behind him sat aunt and me. We both sat adjacent to each other.

The ‘mahavat’ started to speed up the elephant and it literally started to walk briskly. From opposite came another elephant, carrying another sat of tourists but it was running in different direction so our ‘mahavat’ asked theirs, which direction? He pointed to the left behind us. And next moment, without loosing a second our elephant was turning back. Then it traced back the track from where we came, up to five hundred meters and then took another track and continued to walk in the direction of the whistling sound with that another elephant following us.

After reaching to spot between big trees and dense shrubs, I saw two or three more elephants standing in a circle and all tourists were pointing in a direction and bustling with excitement. I could not understand what was the matter. My brother was overexcited but still I didn’t get the point. And was busy figuring out what’s the reason, looking around and between the bushes. It was then that papa said there was lion, lying in its full majesty and giving us the chance to admire his beauty and charisma. In all the people, I think I was alone who could not get even the glimpse of it and told so to papa. The ‘mahavat’ then faced the elephant in the opposite direction so that me and aunty now faced the spot. Aunty was like oh my god! What a beauty. And me? I was like what, where and what the all fuss is about. I was looking around in all the directions except where I should actually be watching. Annoyingly mom told me to look down.

That was the moment. A moment of pride, a moment of thrill. Some feet below me, just meter away, lying there was a fifteen feet magnificent tiger. In its full glory he stretched like a mighty king, who seemed to be resting after a good kill and letting the admirers take a look. It seemed less bothered about all of us. I was all awestruck with its beauty, strength and stealth. I was so lost in my admiration of it that I forgot to take a picture. That massiveness of flesh and bones, raised its head just once to look at us and then waved its tail in a motion to flew off the flies and then went back to sleep. It seemed the tiger was telling his intruders to leave.

Taking the sign we turned back an left. On our way back to guesthouse, we met couple of safari elephants on their way to tiger trail but we later came to know others were not as lucky as us to have even a glimpse of tiger. Our ‘ mahavat’ asked for “tip” as a token for showing the tiger. Even other two ‘mahavats’ who returned empty handed, wanted some “tip” as we saw the tiger.

At lunch, everyone was talking about the sighting of tiger but no one knew who saw. It was then, someone at the reception asked the manager, and he pointed towards me ( I was standing near reception area to take some mouth freshners,  after lunch) and then the loads of congratulations poured in over our group.

That day and incident are graved in my memory like it happened yesterday, in its full vibrancy and details.