A Sweet Revenge

Milk is the most unpredictable and attention-seeking (and hence agitating) material in the kitchen. It curdles if it is not kept in the fridge in time and takes revange if we fail to provide attention to it while boiling..

Yesterday I kept the fresh milk for boiling and turned back to wrap-up the daily chores. In a short while it started to bulge in the pot. I had to jump over everything that came my way to reach the burner and switch it off, only to  witness its performance of fizzing and overspilling. What the scene it was!! 😥 The milk had stabbed me in the back for not paying attention to it! Then it had paved its way from the pot to the burner and down to the kitchen sink.. I had to keep all work in hand aside and take the cleaning on priority..

Once beaten, twice shy! Today I stood next to the burner while boiling the fresh milk. But after a while it started sending notifications that sounded like baby fire crackers. I gasped but then realized; the milk was on the way to curdle. Then using Vinegar I curdled it properly. I yielded good amount of creamy Cottage Cheese!

I had cooked Kadai-Paneer (A savory tangy thick curry) yesterday. Now what to do with this fresh Cottage Cheese today? 🙂

I followed these steps:

  1. Mixed the cottage cheese well and made round flat balls.
  2. Took 2 glasses water + 1 cup sugar into a cooker and added the balls into it.
  3. Cooked the balls for 2 whistles. They become puffy. (Had I added some rose essence, I would have yielded ‘Ras Gullas.’)
  4. Took a packet of 1/2 Lt fresh milk and kept it for boiling.
  5. Staying just next to the boiling milk I cut julliens of 8 almonds.
  6. Kept the boiling milk boiling by simmering the heat for 5 more minutes. This made the milk little thick.
  7. Added almond pieces + 1/2 cup sugar + 15 strands of pure Saffron into the milk. The milk started releasing good aroma and color due to saffron. This is flavored milk. (Adding Pistachio slices brings good color combination and taste but since this was not a Lockdown Recipe I did not shop them passionately. Xb)
  8. When the flavored milk and the sweet cooked cottage cheese balls both came to room temperature, put the balls one by one into milk and basted them with flavored milk around.
  9. Kept the dish into fridge for chilling.
  10. After a good chilling of 5 hours, we gulped the chilled creamy outcome in no time. 😀
Ras-Malai

Ras – Malai Ready to be Chilled

Ras-Malai Ready to Eat

Tip: Always keep the sweet cottage cheese balls separate in the flavored milk. Topping them one over the other breaks their shape.

This way, I too, took revange on milk by curdling, boiling, rolling, chilling, and finally gulping it.

Before the milk takes another round of revange on me that makes me run to a weighing scale, I declare no more revanges now. Afterall, all is well that ends well, right? 😀

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happiness is hearing my mother call me my child when I myself am a mother of a grown-up child.. 😀

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Celebrate Womanhood!

Womanhood contributes similarity to all Varnas of Hinduism, I think.

You might wonder, why I mentioned ancient Hindu culture on Women’s Day? 🙂

Ok, to throw more light on my mention of Hindu culture in the context of womanhood, let me explain a bit of Hindu Varnas for Non-Hindu readers:

The ancient Hindu religion has boradly divided its followers into four Varnas as follows:

Brahmin – those who seek and share knowledge
Kshatreeya – those who rule and fight to protect people
Vaishya – those who run businesses and shape economy
and Shoodra – those who work hard to keep social places clean
These four Varnas are called ‘Chaturvarnaas’.  Every Hindu belongs to a particular Varna by birth.

Now look at women like this:

Woman introduces her children or students to alphabets and numbers. She teaches them manners, etiquettes, and prayers. She tries to keep them from bad vices, and imparts good values in them. She helps them shape their character by sharing her knowledge with them. She then belongs to Brahmin Varna.

Woman protects her young and dependant children. She can go to any extent when it comes to protecting  children and family. She raises children vigilantly and educates them on self defense. She can be an excelllent ruler. She is no less than a Kshatreeya then.

Woman teaches children how to manage, save, and multiply money. She demonstrates that not every problem is tackled with holding the bat straight; they need to twist the bat at times. She herself has to be a negotiator and teach children how to negotiate. She belongs to Vaishya Varna then.

Woman keeps her house and surrounding places clean. She takes care of her dependant children and old seniors. While working on babies’, senior peoples’ or patients’ inability to keep themselves clean, she has to overcome disgust and repulsion. Is she then any less than freehearted Shoodra, who gets dirty while serving others?

carefree-woman

Image credit: Jill Wellington, a portrait photographer in Michigan, USA. You can see her work at: https://www.pexels.com/@jill-wellington-1638660

It is mentioned in Sant Gajanan Maharaj Holy Book (Pothi) that the souls walking on the spiritual path see people with equal compassion for everyone. They see people beyond their Religion, Varna, or Cast. On the similar lines, I think woman cannot be confined to any particular Varna. Whichever Varna woman is born in; she gets to do the roles of all Varnas in her life.

So, isn’t it special to be a woman?  Let’s celebrate the beautiful woonamhood. 😀

(P. S. I am neither a feminist nor I follow any Varnas. I value peoples’ Karma  more than their Varna.)

Birds of Bhigwan

The other day Nishant said, “Aai, your love for birds is getting too far, ha!”, and I reserved two seats for Kumbhargaon Bird Sanctuary visit at Bhigwan with a team of avid adventurers and birdwatchers, the Bucket List Adventure. I would have booked Bhigwan visit even if he would have declared me of being an Obsessive Compulsive Birdwatcher. 😀 Jokes apart; I had to book it because we had been postponing it since the last couple of years. Plus, Pune’s newspaper and the local guides at Bhigwan had confirmed the arrival of a large number of migratory wetland birds.

We reached Kumbhargaon at 8 a.m. On reaching Kranti Flamingo Point, we split into two teams and boarded our respective boats. The boatmen took us into Ujani dam for quite some distance. Clicking pictures while birdwatching is usually challenging because birds don’t remain steady. But this time it was more than challenging because we all were also unsteady due to our swaying boats. 😀

Great Flamingoes

Flamingoes are birdwatchers’ all-time favorite. The stunning Greater Flamingoes with upside-down looking beaks flaunted their white and peach-pink feathers while standing on one leg

Flamingoes

Flamingoes

They often rubbed their beaks on wings and the rest of the body for preening their feathers. Flamingoes are the perfect example of You are what you eat. They originally have light grey-colored feathers. The rosy-pink pigments present in their food like algae and invertebrates like shrimp make their feathers pink. Interesting, right? 🙂

Glossy Ibis

We spotted Glossy Ibis sitting on the Acacia tree on the bank of the dam. Its feathers had metallic green and brown hue. Ibis are wading birds of marshland with a long crescent-shaped intimidating bill, which helps them to probe water for frogs, aquatic insects, mussels, slugs, and mollusks.

Glossy-Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Ibises migrate from East Africa and Australia to India during Indian winters.

Grey Heron

Grey Herons are identified by their overall bluish-grey color and unique black crown feathers. They have a long yellow beak and slender neck with an overall upright stance.

Great-Blue-Heron

Great Blue Heron

One might confuse Grey Heron and Great Egret due to their similar appearance, but there are some noticeable differences.

Great Egret

Great Egrets have darker legs and slenderer bodies than Grey Herons.

Great-Egret

Great Egret

Yet another difference is, Great Egrets may or may not have crown feathers.

Open Bill Stork

There was a stork with an interesting bill: Open Bill stork. Even when the stork appears to have closed its bill completely, there is a gap between the upper and the lower halves of the bill. 😀 The young Open Bill storks lack this gap. Open Bill storks mainly grow up on mollusks, sea urchins, crustaceans, and baby turtles, which require them to use their bills rigorously for breaking the shell of the prey.

Open-Bill-Stork

Open Bill Stork

The bigger the gap, the older the stork you can say, as they have used their bills for breaking hard shells all their life.

Black-Billed Spoon Bill

It has long slender legs like any other wading bird has. The color of its bill and legs match, contrasting its body-color.  Spoon Bill stork has a spatula-shaped bill.  Its bill has vibration detectors from inside.

Spoon_Bill

Spoon Bill Stork

When the stork opens its bills a few centimeters-wide and dabbles into water to probe for food, the detectors help the stork to sense the food and it closes the bill immediately to grab it. Thus, Spoon Bill storks catch food by feeling or sensing it rather than looking for it.

Northern Shoveler Duck

Northern Shoveler Ducks migrate from the Americas to India during winter. They have a flat-tipped black bill that they use to find small water creatures while dabbling their heads into the water.

Northern-Shovler

Northern Shoveler Duck (male)

Their uniquely-shaped bill has saw-like tiny projections along its edges to filter grassweed, algae, molluscs, and small aquatic animals from water.

Ruddy Shelducks

They are bright yellow-orange-colored ducks with black beaks and legs. No, they are not a couple in the following image though they are swimming in pairs. They both are females for the fact that females lack black neck-ring, which their counterparts display during their breeding time.

Rudy-Shelduck

Ruddy Shelducks (female)

Ruddy Shelducks are considered sacred in Mongolian and Tibetan cultures.

Silver Gulls

They are natives of Australia. They have a white head, upper body, and belly, with very light grey-colored back. Their wings are black at the tip. Adult seagulls have bright saffron-colored bill and legs.

Silver-Gulls

Silver Gulls

It looked like they were fond of fish more than any other small aquatic animals. The boatman fed them dry fish, which they happily took.

Red-wattled Lapwing

We found many pretty Lapwings when our boat returned to the bank of the dam. Having very distinctive colors and long slender legs, the Lapwings belong to the family of waders.

Red-Wattled-Lapwing

Red Wattled Lapwing

Their large eyes depict that they hunt for worms and insects by sight rather than by feel. This is often called Did You Do It? bird, as its call goes in the same lines of pronouncing this question. 🙂

Paddyfield Pipit

When we were walking towards the flamingo point to have food, I spotted some movement on the nearby pile of soil, ash, and cow dung. A small bird had camouflaged so well with the background that hadn’t it moved, I would have barely noticed it. It was a Paddyfield Pipit.

Paddyfield-Pipit

Paddyfield Pipit

It displays modest color and call. It was there to collect insects and worms. Again, its eyes depict that it ‘looks’ for food.

Pied Bush Chat

I couldn’t overlook the sweet call of a small bird while walking towards the food joint. The bird turned out to be Pied Bush Chat male.

Bush-Chat-Male

Bush Chat (male)

Shortly in some time, I spotted its female too.  These countryside birds are found perching on thorny trees, fencing wires, or electric cables. They feed on insects and worms present on the ground.

Bush-Chat-Female

Bush Chat (female)

It was time to go home, I had to drag myself towards the bus. The number of birds I could get to see in this visit was undoubtedly more than what I had expected. There were many more birds, which flew away till I could lock them in the camera. But I am happy I could at least got to see them. 🙂 I am so happy I did not postpone Bhigwan visit anymore. Bhigwan is indeed a paradise for birdwatchers. 🙂

What does a Woman Want?

Dear men,

What does a woman want?

A classic question, isn’t it? 😀

You often complain about failing to understand what does a woman desire to be happy in spite of her having everything that you provide. I received multiple answers to this question in a single day all from Indian women of different generations. 🙂

It was the day when I went to see my 88 years old granny. I let her speak mostly and listened to her. While unwrapping her old sweet memories she mentioned that she was married off at a tender age of 14. Her parents fixed her marriage with my grandpa, who was then 22, working with a government job and hence the most eligible groom of that time. She said that she had seen my grandpa first on the day of their wedding. :O That was quite surprising to me. I asked her how come was she okay with that then she laughed and said, “Those days women were considered negligible creatures. They were not even privileged to wear foot ware.. Also it was then widely accepted for the bride to not to see her groom before their wedding. Your grandpa did not have bad vices to waste the money on. Ultimately it is always important for a man to be able to provide for his family than how he looked.”

My homemaker granny was mostly depending on grandpa for major expenses. He was the sole decision maker though she extended her hand to increase their wealth in her own capacity. In spite of having less rights, granny was happy with my grandpa.

After a couple of hours I took her leave and went to my maiden place. Granny’s life story and her approach to look at her life partner was on my mind for quite some time.

I asked my mother what did she want from her man; my father? She replied that she looked for a happy life with a man without bad vices and enough income to care for his family. It was 1970’s when my mother had started earning before her marriage. Hence she also wanted my father to let her continue with her job. She further said that she looked for the words of appreciation from him for her hard work and ability to manage all the relations of her in-law’s side. (Most Indian women’s worthiness was then measured on the criteria of their ability to work for the wellness and happiness of their husbands’ relatives. In the bargain if she had to overlook her health or emotional well-being, she was considered as the most dedicated and family-oriented woman. This criteria is present in a large number of Indian families even now.)

Then I saw my friend, who came to visit me at my mom’s place. She is a creative business entrepreneur. We talked on our own perspectives of what do we women want from our men?

The more we discussed, the more we realized that creating resources for one’s partner and children is an outdated measure of a man’s worthiness. These days the man and the woman both can earn and multiply their wealth together. Today’s woman doesn’t want you to provide her resources. She can earn them for herself and for multiplying the family’s wealth. She needs you to provide her a few intangible things:

Presence. She needs you to be present with all your mind and attention; preferably making an eye contact when you communicate with her. In order to to connect to emotionally it is important for her that you pay mindful attention to what she says.

If you can make a woman laugh,

you can make her do anything.

– Marilyn Monroe

Your Everlasting Support. She is a woman before your wife. When she wants to learn something new or needs to expend money for herself, cooperate her. When she faces a failure because of her own decisions, she has already spoken to herself deep inside about it and felt remorse. She has made a note of being careful thereafter to avoid any losses. When she is brave enough to tell you about the failed outcome of her decision, she doesn’t need to hear how careless, absent-minded, or illogical she is. She needs you to just listen to her and understand her viewpoint; as any of her woman friends would do.

Trust. I understand it is important for you men too. Everyone of us like to be with a partner who does not lie, however hard the things may be. For a woman trust is a critical factor that directly rules her level of intimacy with you. Trust is vital for her for a sound romantic relationship with you.

Loyalty. When she has given you every bit of herself with loyalty and integrity, she has the right to get the same from you. Be loyal to her in not only your actions but also in your thoughts. A true loyal man remains truthful and moral even when his wife is not watching him.

Man-Woman-Loyalty

Though the saying in the picture above has been true since ages because men and women are wired that way (you have exploited enough this brain-wiring-thing of yours when it comes to having wandering eyes ;D)today’s woman is seen changing a part of wiring in her brain. She is not ready to play a victim if you are disloyal because she knows that infidelity comes by choice. She stands alone and walks out of the wedlock if you compromise your fidelity towards her.

Equality. Men and women have different roles and they have absolutely the same rights. She knows she is no less than you when it comes to her rights. The moment a man and his woman share intimacy, they become equal. Hence she finds you funny when you say, you are letting her do this or that.. 🙂 Treat her equal, value her being. Don’t rule out her expression. What goes fine for you is also good for her and what goes unacceptable for her is also unacceptable for you: keep no double standards.

Respect. She needs you to value her opinions and not manipulate, dismiss, or overpower them. Valuing her opinion doesn’t mean you have to blindly follow only what she says. A balanced and sensible woman is open to discuss. In addition, she needs you to understand what she does for the family in all the small and large ways, and she needs you to respect her efforts and emotions. When your woman is giving you something that deserves respect, why deprive her of it?

Goodness and Gentleness. She needs you to be a matured and a gentle person, who actually behaves as one. She wants you to be respectful towards other women. A true gentleman never passes nasty remarks on women. A true gentleman treats his wife in a way that makes other women envy his wife; not the other way round. 😀

A Good Man - Anastasia Netri Quotes

The Freedom to Decide. Now this is important. You can say, this is the mother of all answers at once to what women want. 😀 Here I remember a medieval story – Sir Gawain and A Loathly Lady.

The story goes like this:

Once King Arthur’s knight Sir Gawain committed an unforgivable mistake. Hence the King ordered him to go into exile and bring an answer to the question: what exactly do women want? The King assured to spare his life if he brought a reasonable answer in a year or he would behead Gawain otherwise. Gawain obeyed the King’s order and went on the quest to find the correct answer. On his way he asked almost every woman he met: what does she want to be happy? One woman said a lot of money, the other said a strong man, and some others said big house, children, gold, and gems. Each woman answered differently to add to Gawain’s agony. In a few months he was frustrated. An year had almost come to end when an ugly, old witch saw him sitting under a tree engrossed in thoughts. She offered him to listen to the correct answer to this question on a condition that he must marry her and stay committed to her for all his life. Sir Gawain submitted to her condition and married her to save his own life. They got married and the loathly woman told him the most awaited answer, “Women need equality in their marriage to be happy.” 😀 She assured him that the king would be certainly satisfied with that answer.

gawain_and_ragnell_by_sigune_d1uaffn-350t

Sir Gawain and Ragnell: Singune, an artist from Belgium drew this beautiful picture. You can find his work at:  https://www.deviantart.com/sigune

The knight was then peaceful but still gloomy. On their wedding night, the witch asked the knight that why was he unhappy even on getting the right answer? The knight answered that he was unhappy because though his life was saved but he had never thought that he would have to spend his life with an ugly old wife. The witch then thought for a moment. She smiled and said, “You kept your word of marrying me hence I wish to grant you a boon. You can have me ugly during day and beautiful during night OR you can have me young and beautiful during day, and ugly during night. What do you want me to be?” Gawain, still left with some humanity in him lets his wife decide for herself. Surprisingly, the witch chooses to be a young and attractive wife during day and night; forever. Being a woman, I can tell why: she must have felt an immense need for herself to give him the best of her because he had respected her right to chose her own way… 🙂

In a nutshell, all women need sovereignty to decide for themselves.

You don’t need to be a macho man flaunting a three-pack-abs, or aggressive, overbearing, adamant, insecure, controlling, confused, brute, or an alpha man. She needs you to be a gentle and genuine person wearing a real face with whom she can be herself.

Flowers, chocolates, hugs, care, love, admiration, romance, open one-to-one communication, eye contact, attention, affection, trustworthiness, loyalty, compassion, kindness, safety, security, good surprises, efforts, support, honesty, loyalty, ability to read her unspoken messages between the lines, emotional connection… This all is what a woman wants from you. But above all; she definitely needs the right to decide for herself. Do not take it away from her; she was born with it.

Please give it a thought: God gave you both the same rights but she cannot have equal right of decision with a man when she is his young daughter. She cannot practice equal right of decision with a man if she is his old dependent mother. She can practice equal rights with a man only when she is with her partner; because she shares a romantic bond with him that brings two of them on the same ground.

By all means, providing these all tangible and intangible things is a bit of hard work for some of you; but then the pay off is handsome if you do. 😀

I hope you received the answer.

Sincerely.

PS. I have tried to throw light on this out of my real-life keen observations from all around. I am neither a gender-biased person nor I have anything against you as you have been a notable part of my personal as well as professional growth. The secret is, when a woman with high moral sense and integrity is set free, she actually gets tied to her family more immensely than before. Sadly, majority of men don’t understand this and they become control freak. (In contrast, if a woman sets her man free, it’s the opposite. :D)

I should park here for not to make the PS as long as another blog post 😀

Happy Friendship Day!

Dear friend,

They say, “A man is known by the company he keeps.” I won’t mind being known as a jovial, little weird, and an optimistic by being in your company. 🙂

We have spent countless time and thoughts together.. People wonder, how come we are so deep friends? We are different with our choices, lifestyles, and so many ways.. but I think these things don’t matter much. What matters is, accepting each other, standing by each other, and most importantly; sharing the same set of core values and virtues of life. 🙂

We showed each other our own worth when we realized the other one was at times forgetting it. At times we drove each other mad but we also inspired each other to what we should become.

I never had to pose or be diplomatic when I am with you. My ‘no’ meant ‘no’ and ‘yes’ meant ‘certainly’. I didn’t need to keep my house clean and tidy all those times when you were going to visit because I know you visit me; not my house. 😀

Friendship

We have helped each other, been there, done that.. We brought one another to our true self when we found ourselves somewhat lost…

I want you to keep knowing all my vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Because I know I can express my true being to you and my emotions are safe with you. And you know, I still need a partner to do with and say to all the little stupid things. 😉

So let’s promise each other not to change ever.  😀

Happy Friendship Day!

Soni Aaji and Sontakka

After a large number of years I came across this basic beauty, Sontakka. Generally all white flowers are found to have intense aroma. Though I like each and every color the mother earth displays and my eyes can see, I like white flowers more like Jasmine, Jai, Jui, Sontakka, and Raat-Rani: due to their modest dressing and extraordinary aromatic qualities.

Sontakka-White-Flower

Yesterday when I saw the fresh flowers of Sontakka with shining raindrops still adorning them, I bowed down and inhaled their sweet smell to the full content of my heart. While my eyes were still closed, they took me down the memory lane with my Granny, Sumati Aajji or Soni Aajji, sometimes we fondly called her.

She looked gorgeous in her youth and even when she was aged. She was a staunch farmer. She had planted Guava, Custard Apple, Indian Gooseberry, and Jackfruit plants. She also had planted Drumsticks, Indian Beans, and Black-eyed Beans. She used to weed, prune, and water all plants by herself around the house.

She was a generous person. When it came to giving fruits, vegetables, or flowers to any passer-by or a guest, she never held back her hand.

Soni Aajji also had a good hand in tailoring and good understanding of musical notes. She liked to sing and listen to Marathi songs… We both used to sing some songs together. 🙂 She could follow the notes of the songs accurately. Yet another common thing in both of us was she had an appearance, gaze, and the diction of a straight-forward person just as I have now. 😀 hence her concern and caring nature often used to get masked under her straight words though for me, she always used to be soft-speaking and overtly loving. 🙂

One of the most important common traits between us was, we boh liked Sontakka. 🙂

I got introduced to Sontakka first at her doorstep when I used to spend my childhood weekends at her place. My grandfather himself had prepared a flowerbed just below her room’s window. The pink and yellow lilies, white roses, Mogra, Aboli, and Jai.

The Sontakka plants used to get drenched in the rains during rainy season as she had planted them little away from her flowerbed. Their butterfly-shaped flowers used to release an immense fragrance all around the plants.

Sontakka used to hold my attention as long as I used to be there at Granny’s place and long time thereafter.

At times we don’t come to know who left mark on our life till that person is away from us. Soni Aajji is far away from me. She is with God since long ago. I am happy she was a part of my growth. 🙂 The fragrance of Sontakka reminds me of her hidden sweetness behind her sharp persona.

The Matter of Time

Today I and my teenager son Nishant were having breakfast as usual. I always look forward to the breakfast time with him. It is the time when we sit facing each other. Though briefly, we can get to spend some quality time and involve in a friendly yet meaningful conversation. He often exchanges his life-observations that time and I get to know a bit of how he is growing.

He took a rice dumpling in his plate and said, “You know Aai (mom), yesterday in my class a boy proposed a girl to be his girlfriend. He requested all of us but the girl to vacate the classroom and gave her a large chocolate while proposing.”

I was startled to hear what he said. I had witnessed a couple of calf love stories taking place around when I was a schoolgirl. The teenaged girls often used to get into it by mistaking infatuation as love. By the time I adjusted to my helplessness to the fact that class 9 students are engaging in the distracting activities while they are still in their student shoes, Nishant threw another line:

“But I don’t think their relationship would last long.”

I curiously asked him why did he think that their relationship would not last, just to know his viewpoint.Love and Time

He said by finishing the last piece in his plate, “Because at first place it took so short time to form.”

He finished his breakfast, picked up the bag and told me to hurry up while descending the stairs.

Children observe. They notice more than what we think they do. It was good to find him taking right notes. With a feeling of contentment, I picked up my bag and headed towards car parking.

A Treasured Valentine’s Week

That was the mid-February of year 1996, the month of a shoulder season in Pune. The winter was diminishing and summer was taking baby steps. The intoxicating aroma of mango blossom and jasmine had started wafting on the air.

I was studying engineering. My younger brother Yogendra (all his near ones call him Yoga) was a youth of sixteen. My elder cousin sister Nayana, who was studying medicine had come to our place on vacation.

As Valentine’s day was nearing, I was longing for some letter from my beloved, though each casual letter otherwise was also a special one in our long-distance relationship. My parents knew about my love story since it started and Yoga came to know about it little later due to my exchange of letters with my beloved.

A middle-aged postman whom I called Datta uncle, used to deliver letters in our area. Whenever I crossed path with Datta uncle, I used to stop and collect my personal incoming letters from him before they landed up in Yoga’s hands. The reason was obvious: on getting hold of my letters, he often used to make me run after him from one room to other while teasing and return them only on bargaining something in exchange such as my best piece of stationery. His behavior used to agitate me at times but then my life would have been very boring if he were not so playful! 😀

I tried to call my beloved on Valentine’s day but my calls went dematerialized. He had not called either. We couldn’t communicate, which was quite upsetting. The history repeated on the following two days. I used to attend college, do all my due submissions and practicals, study, and come back home by evening. He used to be on my mind as usual.

On the evening of 17th February after spending a usual college day, I returned home. I was tired like anything. As soon as I headed for the jasmine plants in the backyard to get some fresh scent, Nayana and the granny gathered around me. Nayana handed over to me five large beautiful cards and they both couldn’t hold the curiosity flowing to the rims of their eyes. 😀 My waiting had come to an end finally! I felt like I had met him in person. 🙂 My granny enquired about the card sender’s details keenly and Nayana listened to my answers with twinkling eyes.

They say if you tell a secret to a woman, it no longer remains a secret. And I had to tell my secret to two women! 😀 I told them everything as it was and of course it did not remain a secret then.

On the same evening, Arun called me on phone. Then I came to know that he had posted those five cards to me in such an order that I could receive one card each day so that we both celebrate a Valentine’s week rather than a Valentine’s day. 🙂 But most probably, the postal service didn’t operate daily from MP to Maharashtra then and that is why I had received five cards on the same day just a little after Valentine’s day. Receiving a bundle of cards from my Valentine was a feeling no lesser than winning a lottery. 😀

All of us have some everlasting memories. The time changes so does our belief system but those memories don’t fade. Today, when enough number of years have passed to be able to look back, I think we don’t require any specific day to express our love. Now each day of togetherness is a Valentine’s day for both of us. But yes, that planned Valentine’s week I have treasured in my stash forever. 🙂

Reliving the Nostalgia

It was a cloudy and humid noon of Saturday when I was at my mother’s place.

It was as warm as an oven! The fans also didn’t help. I changed my thought of turning on the AC and went up onto the terrace to get some fresh air. It was warm outside too.

The sky looked grey and the clouds had masked the Sun completely. The birds remained quiet. There was hardly anyone on the road. The clouds growled frequently with the streaks of lightning. The trees stood so quiet as if they were punished to stand still. Especially the erect Indian Cork tree at the corner of the house caught my attention… How tall it had grown all these years!! It was adorned with the bunches of long creamy-white flowers. The women folk of our house could create long garlands of those flowers without using a string.

A sudden cool wave of breeze brought an immense shot of petrichor from elsewhere. It must be already raining somewhere. I closed my eyes and inhaled as deeply as I could.  Something familiar and amazing happened.

The Indian Cork tree swayed. Its long flowers glided down swiftly to the ground. I descended the stairs almost running and went under the tree. My childhood moments were around the corner. 🙂

It started drizzling. Now, the mother will call me while collecting the clothes from the clothes string for she fears the lightning, the father will collect the coconut-halves kept on the terrace for drying, and they both did.

I paid deaf ears to her call and took the opportunity to pick up the Tree Jasmine flowers till my both hands could not hold anymore… The flowers and a few yellow, lemon-green colored leaves rolled on the ground due to the wind.

The Flower Shed

I waited in the drizzle for a little while holding my bunch of flowers till I could feel a chilled raindrop straight on my tongue. My age, social status, and location became insignificant to me for that moment. A couple of ladies passed by hurriedly holding their flat folded bags overhead. They gave me a dirty look, which didn’t bother me. Then I rushed into the house before getting drenched.

Now, the mother will scold me a little for getting wet, the father will take my side, and they both did. 😀

I overlooked what they argued among themselves and I made her sit next to me. Then emptied my wet palms in front of her and held both her palms on my cheeks to feel the warmth. I tried making a garland of the Tree Jasmine flowers without using a cotton string while she brought a dry towel. After a couple of attempts, I realized I couldn’t…

Now, the mother will demonstrate the beautiful arrangement and I will carefully watch her twining the flowers one-by-one, then I will hastily take the garland halfway from her to complete, and we did.

The Flower Garland

I had found it. I had relived it. 😀