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Human Relationships

Henry : The Special Visitor

Henry is nine year’s old. Like most children his age, he loves to play. But he prefers to play by himself on the bars in the school playground. He flips on them, hangs upside down and catches the sunshine. He likes to walk and wander around the school. He stops in front of every classroom and intently watches the art display on the windows. He smiles a lot but does not like talking as much.

It was my day of volunteering in the third grade classroom. I had crossed paths with Henry while picking supplies from the office and making trips to drop them in the classroom. Amidst the cacophony of a school recess, I had noticed him pay attention to everything that other’s were not paying attention to.

Continue reading “Henry : The Special Visitor”

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Saying Good Bye

The most painful goodbyes are the ones that are never said or never explained. It is one of the most traumatic aspects of human relationships. A loved ones goes away sooner you would want them to leaving a void and a silence that can never be filled and questions that will always remain unanswered. But one has to move on with life, the show must go on. Sometimes that means saying goodbye in a different way. 

 

Continue reading “Saying Good Bye”

RED

“Once upon a time in a country called India…” She paused and rubbed her severely wrinkled forehead. The children sat around her patiently. Everyone knew you couldn’t rush a story out of Dadi.
“No, not India. In Pakistan. But at that time those houses were in India.” The children were all very quiet, even the youngest lot. 
“It doesn’t matter. There are no houses anymore. At least not there.”
 “Amma! They are too young for this!” Shanno turned her attention to the little ones, “Chalo! Run home! School tomorrow. You too, Sheetu.”
The others ran away and Sheetu pretended to snuggle up and sleep. Once Shanno was out of earshot, Sheetu sprang up.
“Who lived in those houses, Dadi?”
Dadi coughed and whispered, “Sleep, child. Your mother would be back to check on you.” Sheetu used to share Dadi’s bed on the terrace that overlooked the village.
“Did you live there?” Sheetu ignored.
Dadi didn’t answer. She continued instead. “There were eleven houses in the tiny village and every evening children from those houses wrecked havoc in the fields. From stealing mangoes to chasing donkeys through the field, they kept all elders on their toes. And all of ten, she led the gang of the little rascals. Junaid was her best friend out of the lot. Religion had never mattered there. Their families had lived together in the tiny village forever. They had never tasted slavery and so didn’t really understand freedom. The English had never travelled to those parts.”
“They didn’t even know about Britishers?” Sheetu’s eyes widened. “I know about British rule and I wasn’t even born back then.”
“Once a year,” Dadi smiled and continued, “Junaid’s abba would go to the next village, Bada Gaun, and sell the produce. He would then buy provisions for all houses. No one needed to go anywhere for anything. She would always climb on the last tree right at the top of the hill and watch him disappear into the forest across the railway tracks.”
“What was her name, Dadi?”
“Whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. She was busy climbing trees with Junaid and the other children when the rest of the country was gearing up for Independence. The last tree was the most coveted one because that was the only one which gave a clear glimpse of the train that passed through the next village down the hill, across the patch of forest, every fortnight.”
 “After a long day of running aimlessly, the children knew it was time to go home when the crickets started rubbing their feet to invite the moon. On that night, the air was different. It smelt different. She noticed it and so did Junaid. The rest of them were too busy chasing fireflies. Junaid’s Abba stood with the rest of the men, listening intently to what Hari chacha was telling them. Junaid signaled to her and both slipped away from the rest of the bunch and inched closer to the elders. No one seemed to notice two shadows behind the Chaupal.
 “So where are we now?” Her father asked Hari Chacha, the postman from Bada Gaun.
 “I don’t know. The village didn’t figure in the list on the Indian side. Maybe you are in Pakistan now?”
 “Hmmm. Does it matter? It hasn’t so far…and bodies, you say?” Junaid’s Abba shook his head.
 “Uncountable bodies, Khan sa’ab, unimaginable. I suggest that you do not go to Bada Gaun this year.”
 “Arrey? If we don’t, who will negotiate the crop prices? That is what carries us through the rest of the year and I have to go as soon as possible. Nothing will happen. Those are our people. All these things happen in big cities where people have lots to loot and kill for.”
 Junaid pulled her away. Abba seemed relaxed. He assumed there was nothing to worry about.
 Next morning, all the little ones raced to the hill. It was time for the morning train. Junaid was the fastest runner amongst the lot but not as fast as her. She outran him and quickly climbed to the very top of the tallest tree, and perched on the thick branch facing the valley. Junaid grumbled and got on to the lower branch. From where he sat, he couldn’t see her. That was another reason why everyone tried to get on the top – the thick maze of leaves made it a perfect hiding space.
TOOOOOT! All kids held their breath. The train chugged nearer.
Da Dhak.. Da… Dhak…… Da….. Dhak…… Da…………. Dhak.
 It had slowed down. The children exchanged puzzled glances. It never slowed down here. But that day, it stopped. Junaid looked up. He still couldn’t see her. The air smelt different again.
They could hear people shouting at a distance. Tiny specs had spilled out of the train and were making their way up the hill. The children sat rooted in their trees. Soon the specs turned into people, and soon the people were clearly visible – complete with blood shot eyes, blood stained clothes, carrying bloodied swords and air that smelt different.
Junaid fell out of the tree just as the first of the bloodied lot reached the top. She was too shocked to let go of the branch.
A moment’s silence was followed by a sickening whoosh of the sword. Then they shook trees. The other trees were smaller, and one by one the little ones fell.
Swoosh. Slash. Silence.
 She still held on.

The crowd moved on. She still held on. Shrieks rang out behind her. She recognised each one of them – Babaji, Abba, Junaid’s ammi, Ma, bhaiya, Kaka, bhai jaan – one by one she recognised them all.
The bloodied people returned. The dried blood was replaced by fresh stains, and ground below was now darker and wetter. She still held on. 
TOOOOOOT!
 The train chugged along.
 Da…………. Dhak. Da….. Dhak…… Da… Dhak….. Da Dhak.
 She still held on.
 That evening Hari Chacha returned.
“Arrey Khan Sa’ab!” He hollered. “I have found out! We are in India! Look, I even brought a flag. Khan Sa’ab?”
She could hear his crazed screams as he ran from one house to another. Then the screams got nearer. She let go.
Junaid cushioned her fall. Now she was drenched too. The pale pink in her clothes took on a darker, more sinister hue. Junaid’s blood – on her clothes, her hands, and in her head.
Hari chacha scooped her up and ran down the hill towards Bada Gaun. He was still clutching the flag. Colours were swimming in her eyes – saffron, red, white, red, green, red.
 Dadi went quiet. Sheetu’s throat went dry and her eyes were moist. She found her voice after a while, “Dadi, what happened to her? Who killed them? Why?”
“She breathed. She died that day but she kept breathing. The day the country got free was the day that she was lost forever. If only she had let him win that day……If only she had let go in time, she would have been one of the dark stains on the earth below the tree. But she lived. And she never forgot the flag. Never celebrated it, and never forgot it.”
Somewhere, someone burst crackers. It was midnight. 15th August was here.
A single tear rolled down Dadi’s cheek and she murmured, ‘Saffron, red, white, red, green, red.”
Story Credit : Dr.Tanushree Singh. Tanu Shree is a frequent storyteller at Chatoveracuppa. She is a parent to two boys, a lecturer in Psychology, a storyteller, a bibliophile, an artist and a baker among many of her other talents. She blogs at tanushreesingh.wordpress.com and at Huffington Post India. 

Photo Credit : Soumi Haldar 
The story was originally posted at Tell a tale as a part of #myindiastory contest. Participants had to write a short story about the India they know, the India they think existed or the India that should be. The story was to start with the phrase “Once Upon A Time In A Country Called India… 

Finding Love Again

Finding Love Again. Open a new door, find a reason to fall in love again, make a new beginning

Meera stood by the entrance of her apartment, carefully placing the brown clay lamps around the small Rangoli design; her ears alert and she, ready to spring into action at any sound or movement inside the house.

Scrutinizing her Rangoli artwork, Meera wasn’t particularly proud of it.
“What the heck! It is darn good considering I have not designed one in ages.” Meera concluded.
Meera threw a glance around her living room admiring her efforts at decorating their home. It was Diwali time and though for the last couple of years she didn’t bother with the festivities, this year was special – a year of firsts, a year of new beginnings and a year of embracing life again. The cool evening breeze made the orange paper lantern sway out in the balcony; its tail swooshing gently and at times getting entangled. Meera’s eyes sparkled along with the tiny colorful lights that she arranged surrounding the lantern. The lights, like little vibrant, colorful beads, dancing in unison made her home look beautiful. No one could say that the house lacked a man’s presence and Meera recollected those innumerable times when she was dependent on Ravi even for the smallest of the things at home.
Ravi, her husband of 8 years, was no longer in her life. The relationship had gone kaput two years back when Ravi had announced one day, that he wasn’t cut out for marriage and wanted a divorce.Meera later realized, what he really meant was, “he wasn’t cut out to be married to Her”. A year after the divorce Ravi married another woman… a colleague from his office.
Meera had often wondered why she had never seen it coming. The late hours at work, weekend seminars and the absolute No for having kids – the signs were all right there in her face; then why couldn’t she see that something was wrong in their marriage? Maybe it was the blind trust or maybe she was complacent with the situation at home, but the whole incident had left her broken, bitter and lost. For someone who was dependent on her husband for the smallest decisions of her life, being on her own was a daunting thought.
Meera took up a job for the first time in 8 years and started spending every waking hour at work to keep the loneliness at bay.
“You will be 35 soon. You cannot carry on with your life like that.” Meera’s mother had said one day. “You have to find a partner, someone with whom you can spend the rest of your life happily.”
“But you are alone too Ma. Its 10 years now since Dad passed away. What about you? Don’t you need someone in your life?” Meera contradicted.
“I have you Beta,” was her mother’s warm words.
Meera had gone back to her empty house that night and the conversation with her Mother had kept her awake till late.
It wasn’t a eureka moment or a spark of enlightenment, but it was the result of many months of sleepless nights arguing with self, challenging her own capability, bracing herself for the society, taking her mother in confidence, making a conscious decision, talking to necessary people, filling out the applications and a wait of 7 months which had finally bought meaning and enrichment to Meera’s life.
Today, like every day for the last month had been blissful. Meera was in love again. She had never felt so happy, content and complete in her life and a smile lingered on his face thinking about the reason of her happiness. Meera was pulled out of her thoughts when a wailing broke out.
“Ahha, my Khushi is awake” Meera rushed to the bedroom and stood by the crib, her voice soothing the year old baby girl.
“Here My darling… Mamma is here. Hush there you little one.” Meera picked up the child who instantly hugged her tight, putting her cheeks against Meera. The new mother closed her eyes, enjoying the pure, innocent love of her baby girl – her partner for life.
When Meera and Khushi came out in the living room, the little girl’s eyes followed the lights and her chubby smile brightened up the already decorated home.
Meera whispered slowly “Happy Diwali Beta,” to which Khushi responded by gurgling and snuggling closer to Meera making it the best Diwali of Meera’s life. 
Everyone says when you adopt; you give the child a chance at a better life. Meera believed it was the other way round. Yes, a child does become part of a family, but when someone adopts; it’s most definitely the parent/parents whose lives turn better and beautiful.


Written By : Jyothi D”Mello. A Book Lover, storyteller, dreamer, foodie, mother and a writer (an Amateur one albeit). Writing is her way to express fears, anxieties, inner demons, bottled love, guarded feelings and cherished memories. She writes because that is what she loves to do, that is what keeps her sane.

Picture Credit : Vipin Kalra 

Stories of a ‘lil boy and his grandpa

Mrs Vijay Tiwari is a poet, writer, grandma of six and a gentle soul. She reminisces of a time when her kids were little…

Do you know, among my three kids, my youngest has always been the most ready witted. Along with this, he was bold and believed in saying the right thing. I am referring to a few such incidents.

The first incident goes something like this…
I am talking about something which happened when he was hardly 6 years old.  One day, his grandfather asked him for a glass of water saying, “Look I do so many things for you, can you get me a glass of water?”  However, the water ended up being brought for the little boy instead of for the grandfather!  The little boy queried, “Grandpa, what are all the things do you do for me?” Grandfather said, “Look, I go to drop you to school, come to pick you up after school, get food for you, and get water for you.” Immediately my son countered, ” Ok, so can you please get some water for me?!” On hearing this, Grandpa rolled over with laughter as he had been hoist with his own petard!

The other event …
This is also from when my son was around 7 years old. If memory serves,  all three siblings were sitting with my father-in-law (their Grandpa) on his bed. While thus, their father entered the room and his glance fell on the broken window pane. He asked the three, “Who broke the glass?” All three said, ” Papa, we did not break it”. My youngest quickly added, “Papa: It must have been Grandpa who broke the window pane, as he is so quiet.” Once again, Grandpa couldnt stop laughing as he was the culprit indeed!

The Gift

Anamika Mukherji is a brand new mom and an avid old time blogger. She tells us this beautiful story about human relationships, about a little boy and his “sister”.

He woke up and smiled as he stretched his long legs – they almost hit the bedpost. Not long before he was nearly as tall as Baba (father). He saw his sister sleeping beside him and remembered it was Bhai Phonta*, and it was Sunday. He must ask Ma for an envelope in which he could put the stickers he’d been saving to give her.

It was starting to get chilly. He shivered as he waited for his water bucket to fill up; his mother insisted on cold water baths, only relenting in December to allow hot water up from the kitchen. Hurrying through his bath he ran down, gulped down the tall glass of milk that sat in an ancient brass tumbler waiting for him. Before his mother could see him, he sneaked out of the house.

He was only 10, but this was Allahabad in the 1960s, and children were safe to run around on their own. They did know to be careful of the fake sadhus, of course, the ones who dressed like holy men but actually kidnapped little children and sold them as beggars in big cities. He followed the familiar route to his didi’s (sister’s) house. The young widow lived a spare life in a spare room at a relative’s house. He felt the rumblings of hunger as he reached her lane, knowing the feast that awaited him, and the gift.

He covered the last few metres with a hop, skip and jump, narrowly missing the drain running parallel to the row of houses. He leapt over the slab that served as a small bridge, and entered, unannounced. The doors were open. They always were back then. Her relatives were huddled around cups of tea. The patriarch was reading the newspaper and had his back to the entrance. He lightly ran up the stairs to her room, his nose filling with the smell of hot, frying luchis (deep fried flatbread).

She had been up since dawn. Folding up her thin mattress and sheet, she had swept the floor. Now there was a small aashon, or mat, waiting for a skinny little boy to sit on it. For the last few weeks, she had skimped on a potato here, an onion there, while cooking her own meals. Last evening, she’d bought fresh maida (flour) for the luchis. And there she sat. Bathed, draped in white, her back straight, the maida dough ready for frying. On a massive brass plate with upturned edges sat various bhajas – deep-fried potatoes, deep-fried onions, a dollop of mango chutney, and a growing pile of luchis. She heard the footsteps and turned with a smile. She knew it was him; no one else came to her door.

He smiled, and held out the flowers he had picked along the way from the park. She placed them in front of her frowning gods. He knew the drill and sat down on the aashon. She reached for the small silver dish with incense and some sandalwood paste. She dipped her ring finger in the paste and held it to his forehead, mumbling the lines about immortality. Done three times, the ritual was over, and he just had to touch her feet in thanks for all the worlds she had just wished him. He sat back more easily, waiting for the next bit.

She turned to her little stove, the blue flame sprang to life and she got to work, smoothly rolling out the luchis, small white moons that slithered into the oil and puffed up immediately in indignation. The pile on his plate grew. The ones that failed to puff up were rejected, landing on a tiny plate instead, which was her share for later. It was a treat for her, too. Right now he was the bhai, the king. It was his day.

He looked around at the room as she cooked, taking in the bare shelves with a few religious books on them. Kali glared at him from a giant calendar where the dates formed just one-tenth of the whole page. He quickly looked away. A small trunk had all her clothes. No cupboard. This woman had no jewellery, nothing that needed to be locked away.

When she had fried enough luchis to keep a healthy young boy busy for a while, she handed the plate to him with a smile, and sat back. He ate fast, talking the whole time. Who he was trading stamps with at school, imitations of school-teachers, things happening at home, arguments in the cricket team. She listened with a smile, drinking in the stories of a busy world packed with characters and the great big outdoors. A life lived outside the house.

When he was done, he rinsed his hands on to the plate with his glass, and looked up. She knew what he was thinking. He had to go back to get his own sister’s phonta as well. Her time with him was up. As he wiped his hands on his shorts, she stood on tip-toe and took the gift off the top-shelf, saved over the last year when she went up to the terrace each evening at dusk.

They slipped from her hands and cascaded onto the floor in a rainbow of colours. And he gathered them up with delight. As he picked them up with a wide smile, the sunshine caught the colours on the thin paper and created colourful patterns all over the small room. The chaand tara, the dabalia, the dugga, multi-coloured kites that had been cut and landed on the roof and never retrieved. He would take them home and change the string and they would fly like new, carefully preserved as they were. He stacked them neatly, touched her feet once again, and slipped out of the room, until next year. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhai_Phonta

You can read more of Anamika Mukherji’s blogs at http://righttowrite.blogspot.com/.

Postive Parenting


When a child makes a mistake, what do you usually do ? The common answers will be – talk to them about it, reprimand them about it, tell them what is right to and talk to them about owning their mistakes. Vaibhav Tiwari, the storyteller of this story remembers how his father did it a little differently and how that made a big difference in his life. 
If you are wondering why we bring such stories to you time and again. It is to remember the most valuable people in our life – our parents and to remember that life lessons are usually taught in the daily works of life. Each day a parent spends with a child is valuable and precious. It is spent towards making able human beings.

Every son remembers his father all his life, I am no exception. I lost my father in 2010 but he continues to live with me. I learnt almost all my life lessons from my father – Papa. Sometimes he taught these lessons with words and sometimes no words were necessary.

Let me share two such instances.

I was probably 6 years old. I went shopping with Papa to a near-by market. By the time we finished shopping, it was about 2 pm. Papa was late and he had to go somewhere else directly from the market. He told me he would get me a rickshaw and I needed to travel home alone in a rickshaw. I was scared and the fear was written all over my face. As I boarded the rickshaw, Papa put his hand on my head, smiled and said “If you can conquer your fears, you can conquer the world”. I nodded. Those words stayed with me not only during my first solo 6-minute rickshaw ride but also through my whole life. I have worked and lived in many countries and every time I found myself in a challenging and unfamiliar environment, I have drawn strength from those words. 

I am the youngest in my family. As a kid, I rarely got a chance to go to the market alone to buy anything. My elder brother was always be a step ahead. One Sunday morning, when I was in first grade and aged 7, I insisted I would run the errands. My father explained that I was too young to handle money and might lose it. But I was adamant. So, he relented and gave me a Rupees 2 note(bill) and asked me to go and buy a ‘paan’ (beetle leaf) for him. I was delighted. I winked at my brother and set-off for the paan-shop. Once I reached the shop and ordered the ‘paan’, I realized I had ACTUALLY dropped that the money somewhere! Panic! I did not know what to do.

I walked back home empty-handed but could not muster courage to enter the house. So, I sat down outside on our neighbor’s stairs hoping for a miracle. After about 15 minutes, my brother came looking for me and found me on the stairs. I shared my sad story with him. He was horrified and narrated my ‘crime’ to Papa. He came out, smiled and gave me a Rupees 20 note (bill) and gestured to go again to buy the ‘paan’. He did not say a word. This time there were no mistakes and the ‘paan’ was delivered along with the exact change. Lesson learnt. No words exchanged. Needless to say, I have never dropped money since.


A poet, actor, adventurer and strategy wonk,and now a storyteller at chatoveracuppa that is our author for today Vaibhav Tiwari.

A Conversation

We communicated with Anushree a little after the father’s day week. A vivacious fun loving young lady, a strong and independent woman and a successful fashion designer by profession. She happens to be the daughter of our storytellers Sonali and Tarun Banerji.  People who know Sonali and Tarun personally always compliment them on how well they have raised their kids, a reflection of which we have seen in many of our stories – here. This time around we asked their daughter Anushree what she thinks she has learnt from her parents. Since this was just around the father’s day week, we spoke extensively about her father, our story teller Tarun Banerji

It is always nice to meet eloquent, modest and approachable young people. A simple conversation that displays the thoughtfulness of this young lady. We loved some of the anecdotes she shared.

Chatoveracuppa  : You are doing so well for yourself at this young age. What is the most invaluable lesson in life that you learnt from your Dad ? 

One day I came back home early from my normal play time fuming with anger. My mom and dad were surprised, “Why so early, you had a fight?” dad asked looking at my red face. I told him the whole story about how I had a debate with my friend and she just wouldn’t get my point. At the end I just walked away because she was too dumb to understand my point. My dad said that was where I went wrong – while debating stay cool and never let temper get in the way.  I should never show anger when putting across a point. One gets angry only when his/her logic falls short. Once the anger conquers you, you are bound to lose. He told me a story to prove this point further:

Once there was a debate competition, and the two competitors were welcomed with fresh flower garlands. Little did they know that the garland was to judge them. As the debate started getting more and more heated one of the debaters garland started withering because of the heat generated from his body. And the other one who was calm, his garland remained fresh. Hence, the other one who was calm was declared the winner.
He taught me I could put across my point better without getting angry.  
Chatoveracuppa : Growing up, did you have a lot of fun with your Dad ? 

My dad is a humorous man. I don’t really remember him ever frowning or being sad. All my friends loved to hang out with him. He loves to tell us stories or incidents with the tiniest, funniest, craziest detail. Simple stories from when he went shopping for groceries or what happened at his work. He would narrate the story in his own style cracking us all up. We would watch the funniest and the crappiest movies together. My home has been full of laughter and music and smiles. And whenever life gets serious away from home I always try to remember there is always a scope of comic relief. You just need to be attentive to those funny details. No matter how bad a situation might be, it is up to me in what  frame of mind I should handle it.
Chatoveracuppa : Does your Dad give you any specific advice or has any particular expectations from you ? 

Now this bit about my dad is very confusing. Like all parents, my dad wants me  to succeed and reach my full potential. Whenever he sees me not giving my 100 percent and wasting my time, he tells me, “You don’t want to regret this later” , “You need to work hard to be something”. I see the hopes in his eyes, and I simply adore him like this. But, once I am motivated enough and start working hard, studying all night, he would come and say “Now go to sleep, no need to work so hard”. Or when now I tell him I am working on a Sunday in office, he’d be like “You need to relax also”. 
I guess he gets confused between the little girl he wants to pamper and the successful woman he wants me to be.

Chatoveracuppa : What is that one thing you would want to say more often to your Dad ? 

Every dad is their daughter’s hero. The one person she admires the most. And I am always awestruck of my father- My “Daddy”. And I am proud to be his daughter, and like some people say, be his shadow.

Friendship

This is our 99th story on the blog. Yes, we are just one away from the century. For today’s story we have picked a simple yet most dynamic of relationships to talk about. We often think children do not comprehend the meaning of friendship well. So we asked a twelve year old, what her understanding of friendship is. The story will tell you that like many other things, friendships in childhood is also simple and sans complications. 

The story of my life till now is not very long yet, saying that I am just about to turn 12. It’s not as exciting as I wish it would be, not filled with grand adventures and events. But it has been quite fun and great so far, I find it is worth living. Now, at this moment, I am not exactly sure what I am going to write about. So, I think I will talk about one of the most important things in life, or in my life at least. Friendship! 
Friends are always there for you, whether you need them or not. I have a six year old friend. She is cute and adorable and always very happy. She encourages me to do many things that I haven’t had a chance to do before. We made stepping stones and sat down in the middle of a stream, a thing I had never done before. I love her a lot! 
My brother is probably my closest friend. Although we argue and disagree on many things, we still do a lot of stuff together. We read many of the same books, draw, write, and plan and play pranks! I can always tell him anything, and we will always be friends, no matter what! 
My two closest besties I have know since fourth grade. We read many of the same books and go crazy fangirling over stuff! It’s  really fun with them. I always go to them to talk about awesome stuff that no one else would understand! 
My other two closest friends would be my parents. They are always there for anything and everything and always help me find the right path. I love them! 
I have many many friends, but they are all equal to me in my heart. Even if I had only one friend, I would still be very happy because I had a friend.

*Fangirl – noun
A girl (fanboy = boy) usually between the ages of 11 and 19 who is crazily obsessed with something such as a book or movie or an actor/character etc.

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