This is the last boarding call for the flight number…..

This is the last boarding call for the flight number…..

The voice had trailed off and faded long ago. Amongst the milieu of strangers she could only hear her wailing, holding his limp hand, ‘ don’t leave me Aru, don’t leave me alone.

The brightly lit corridor was stark and bereft of any life, quite antiseptic. The faces mouthing routine apologies had long receded inside the closed doors leaving her alone to her miseries. Her tears had dried and left streaking marks on her face, a face aged but still beautiful, any blemishes carefully covered up by well applied makeups, now horribly gone wrong by all her tears. She took out the cell phone from her bag. Who should she call first? Does it matter now?

**

Years ago, in a different time and a different world, these same words had been music to her ears opening the doors to her dream world. Aru was holding her hand as they slowly proceeded to the opening leading her to a new world.

‘Aru, you will never leave my hands, will you?’ She was apprehensive as she was about to leave all she had known in her life till that time and was about to step into a world that she had only read about and heard from Aru during the last few days.

‘I shall never leave you’, said Aru.

‘ Aru, you promise? Promise Aru.’

‘ I promise my darling. I, Arun Dutta, hereby solemnly promise that I shall never leave the hands of Mrs. Anuradha Dutta as long as I live. Now let’s go, otherwise the flight will leave us behind.’ Arun said with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

‘Oh, if I only had known to read your eyes then as well as I know now, I would have known you left yourself a wiggle room. You always did’, Mrs. Anuradha Dutta dabbed the corners of her eyes with some kleenex as tears started rolling down her cheeks again. What is she going to tell the kids?

***

Anuradha Miri, better known as Anu to one and all who knew her, grew up in a bucolic village by the side of the river Subanshiri in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas. A brilliant student, she didn’t have much option of schooling at her village and against her father’s wishes she was taken by her maternal uncle to the nearby town, where he lived and worked, with a promise to continue her studies. She hated the town. Not that her uncle didn’t enroll her in school, he did, but with household chores helping her aunt and taking care of her young cousins, she didn’t have much time in her hands for studies. Her teachers loved the sincere student and because of their constant inspiration and her own hard work she shined in her matriculation examination. All her teachers urged her to go to Guwahati, to Cotton College in particular, the premier educational institution of the state. Her father was extremely reluctant, her mother didn’t have much say but due to the push of her teachers and well wishers her father ultimately relented. She was accepted to Cotton and as she was awarded a scholarship, the financial burden on her parents was not that high. However, moving from her village and the small town where she studied to Guwahati was a shock for Anu. She felt lonely and mainly confined herself to her studies. Due to her friendly nature, she was loved by her hostel mates but they more or less left her alone. Her loathing for big cities grew and she often became homesick, crying herself to sleep many nights. After four years, she graduated from college with high honors but this time her father was adamant. No more higher studies. It is time to get Anu married to a suitable groom. Anu was getting mentally ready to a life of teaching in the newly established school in her village. She was happy to be back home.

And then the miracle happened.

****

Arun Dutta was a brilliant student all throughout his studies and after finishing his masters from Delhi University in Mathematics, he was pursuing his doctoral studies in a prestigious university in the USA. He had already finished his coursework and was well into his research when his family wanted to solemnize his wedding. Being from a middle class family, they were looking for a suitable mate for their son. A simple but educated girl with good looks would fit the bill. Arun’s sister Mitali had exactly the most suitable girl for her brother in mind. Anu was her classmate in college and she always had a soft corner for her studious but sincere classmate.

It was mainly due to Mitali’s push and recommendations that Mr. and Mrs. Arun Dutta had flown to USA that day long time ago, hand in hand, to start a new life.

*****

Much water had flown down the Mississippi from the time Arun and Anu had landed in the small university town. Arun had to curb his ambition to go and work for a big name university that he was well capable of doing because of his educational career. Being deeply in love with his newly wedded wife, he was disturbed to see her slowly going into a cocoon of her own world. He initially didn’t realize that big cities frightened Anu. He was busy in his research and Anu kept herself confined to their small one bedroom apartment in the big city. The glow had vanished from her face. Most of the time she would keep to herself, rarely talking to Arun, answering only when Arun asked her some questions.

And then Anu was pregnant with their first child. Arun was happy beyond belief but Anu became more gloomy. One day when Arun came back home from the university, Anu was lying on the bed unconscious with blood trickling down her wrist. She had cut the vein on her wrist.

******

The psychiatrist had talked to both Arun and Anu separately and together many times. Arun, who promised never to leave Anu’s hands till death, had by that time decided to move to the small university town rather than risk another episode of depressive bouts.

Anu was happy again with the wide open spaces of the small town, the house with a big front and backyard and the small rural community. She gave herself completely into bringing up her son and the daughter that they were blessed with after their move to the town. She was a good mother. Many times when Arun felt a tinge of regret thinking of what could have been, it would evaporate the moment he would hear the laughter of his wife and children and contently he would go back to his studies.

*******

The kids had grown up and flown the nest long ago, the boy to the west coast working for a multinational company and the girl to the east coast working for an investment banking farm. Both were married, though Arun and Anu had no way of knowing whether they were happy or not. Though they tried to come home during Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays, it was either one or the other as their spouses had to visit their side of the family too. The grandkids would come sometime during summer but as they were growing up those trips soon dried up. Too many other commitments, rural towns were boring, nothing much to do etc. etc.

Through all these Anu was happy. She was a village girl at heart. Though her heart yearned for her kids and the grandkids, the thought of moving either to the east or the west coast filled her heart with great fear. She had visited both her son and daughter many times with Arun. The clogged roads, the skyscrapers filled her heart with anxiety. She just wanted to come back home to her little corner of the world.

********

‘ Anu, I booked the tickets. Brian will take care of Ruff, Rose and Billy as usual when we are not here’, Arun had said. Ruff was their cocker spaniel, getting there on age. Rose and Billy were her cats. They were family. They were flying to Los Angeles to attend the high school graduation of Mit, their grandson. Mit was Ajit’s, their son’s eldest. Diti, their daughter along with her kids were flying in from New York. After a long time the whole family would meet. It would be a joyous occasion.

On the cell phone keyboard, Anu pressed the numbers one by one. She called Ajit first. She didn’t know what she was going to say? Where is Arun when she needed him most.

*********

She waited till Ruff died. Ruff was Arun’s baby. He wouldn’t have liked giving up Ruff for adoption. Who would anyway adopt an old dog though Ajit and Diti were insisting on it and make the move at the earliest. Brian had taken in Rose and Billy. Brian was sad to see her move but he understood. Everyone may have to go through something similar one day or another.

Anu went through the list meticulously. The house was given on the market some six months back. Properties move slow in small towns. She had made a trust and the sale proceeds would be deposited there. The trust and the will were explicit so nothing would go into a long probate process.

She went to the backyard, picked some flowers and placed them on Ruff’s grave and bid goodbye.

She locked the front door and opened the realtor’s lock and put the key inside and locked it. She would drop the envelope with the spare car key and instructions addressed to the charity where to pick up the car on her way to her destination. Then she called the realtor. The house no longer belonged to her.

**********

As Anu walked down the long stretch of sand, she realized that she had finally overcome the fear that had dogged her all her life. It didn’t matter now. The doctor’s report had come in after she had decided to move. She never wanted to be a burden on anyone. Why did Arun go back on his promise? Did he think she would be a burden on him in his old age?

The pressure on her ears was unbearable. Her eardrums were about to burst. She thought she was hearing someone announcing ‘This is the last boarding call for flight number ….’. She was not bothered at all. This is the first time she had chosen her flight and it was not going to leave without her.

A small bubble rose from the bottom of the lake and spread out in concentric circles. And then there was silence, dead silence.

***********

At the same time Fiona, Ajit’s wife, was frantically trying to call Ajit that Anu didn’t arrive by the flight as was supposed to be, a park ranger, some thousand miles away from LA, shone his torch light through the windows of a car by a lake shore. Finding no one inside the car, he looked around. A set of footsteps on the sand led him to the lakeshores where the footsteps had vanished. Frantically he called the headquarters for backup help.

Taking Stock

This road that lies ahead I had traversed,
Many a times through the ages alone,
Uninvited I come and will leave unannounced,
With memories erased of lives bygone.

I have sailed down this river again and again,
Navigating blind, downstream to ports unknown,
Many a port of call I crossed and stopped in vain,
Alas, the erased memories of yore had let me down.

The path was never paved smooth nor was it sleek,
The road bumpy at times and full of potholes,
Thrill of the journey unknown, adventurous and never bleak,
Continuous cycle of coming and going in the company of eternal souls.

Oh what a fantastic sailing on this ever flowing river called life,
Full of potentials, cyclones and whirlpools, sail without fear and thrive.

Face Thy Fear

On the distant horizon

As the mellow winter sun

Slowly dips its toes 

In the cold waters of the ocean

And gentle waves lapping

Probing dark fingers of evening

Slowly creeping

And the ever present gulls

And the cormorants

Indistinguishable on the dark surface

Finally take flight

Tentacles of fears

Slowly rising from the depth

Gently embraces me

Calling to me ever so slowly

To shed all my fears

The unknown beckons

To let go

And step into the waters

As the waves gently laps around my ankles

And pulls me down

The cold slowly rising

And I shut my eyes with fear

To meet darkness with darkness

The cold hands of death

Ever so gently

Opens my eyes

And the denizens of the depth

Nibbles at my flesh

At last nirvana

Fear no more

And I sink to the bottom

Cradled softly by the darkness

I see the ray’s of the settin sun

Tomorrow will be another day

I may not be there

Conquering my fear

Someone sure will take my place

And face fear and rise

Banish the darkness

And conquer

And in death

Face fear of darkness

And soar

And see the light

Alas, too late now

For me to matter

Fear corrupts

Fear corrupts the heart,

And then the lies sprout.

The door opens for the devil,

Manipulation becomes the norm.

Truth becomes the victim

While the newly converted

Babbles sanctimonious,

Telling all the world how

Everything said and done is just,

And the congregation just need

To change their shades,

While the perchers bury

their heads in sand.

Power corrupts but the fear

of losing power corrupts

Absolutely,

And we the preached

Bemoan what went wrong

Oblivious of our responsibility.

Shadow of the stars

When the stars cast their shadows

And the moon goes dark

Path uneven lies forward

Every step out of sight

Eyes of the octopus targeted

At your heart

Sinewy tentacles keep pulling back

Down to the bottom of a dark past

When everything seems lost

And pervasive defeatism creeps in

Wounded soul comforted

By false bravado of

Suicidal paranoia

There is still hope to clutch

As the world turns

Sunrise not far

Shadows retreat

Path uneven lighted

Steps surefooted

As the shadows of fear shrink

Retreating stars smile

Depression fades away

Looking into Death

It’s not death that I fear,
Death will be embraced
When the time is near, 
Fear I most is being invalid,
Death, a friend, a true constant,
From the time took my first breath.


This post was in response to an email with an excerpt sent by a friend today morning as follows

I woke up fresh and wide awake and popped open to my bookmark in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche in Google Books on my phone and soon came upon the following passage that I felt compelled to highlight and annotate… And I feel further compelled to share this with you all.
The excerpt:

Looking into death needn’t be frightening or morbid. Why not reflect on death when you are really inspired, relaxed, and comfortable, lying in bed, or on holiday, or listening to music that particularly delights you? Why not reflect on it when you are happy, in good health, confident, and full of well-being? Don’t you notice that there are particular moments when you are naturally moved to introspection? Work with them gently, for these are the moments when you can go through a powerful experience, and your whole worldview can change quickly. These are the moments when former beliefs crumble on their own, and you can find yourself being transformed.

Love so sweet

Why not release me from this bondage of love
A candle lighted from both ends, have nothing more to give
Your silence speaks volume that I am unable to decipher
Either you sent the wrong signal or my heart got the wrong vibe
You bind me with a string so strong that I can only follow
Love so sweet, the fear of leaving you has left my heart hollowed

Thursday Tidbits: Most Surprising Thing

Not the post I had in mind to write when I got up today morning.  However news that I received through social media first thing in the morning last week, not once but twice, and one of them today morning, made me change my mind

Whenever I have faced emotional issues, I have found myself going back to reading the Indian epic Mahabharata.  Its stories had helped to calm my mind, providing solace and answers to many questions I have in my mind. It’s amazing that an epic that was written thousands of years back are replete with stories addressing issues that are contemporary.

Today morning as I woke up and looked at my Whatsapp messages, I was greeted with a message from on of my friend back home in India regarding the death of one of my ex-colleague.  He was in the ICU for an week prior to his death.  Another ex-colleague who was admitted to the same hospital around that time had passed away couple of days. Continue reading “Thursday Tidbits: Most Surprising Thing”

Thursday Tidbits: Two Countries, Similar Issues

Two countries, one is the oldest functioning democracy and the other the largest democracy. One , where I am a naturalized citizen now and the other, my country of birth.  At this time of my life I have lived nearly half of my life in each country.  Both of them are currently embroiled in the question of immigration.

When I left my country of birth, my home state was undergoing nearly six years of protests and agitations to expel the illegal immigrants from a neighboring country that was threatening to change the demography of the state.  Couple of weeks after I left, an accord was signed between the Prime Minister of the country and the agitating student leaders with an agreement to identify and expel immigrants after a certain date.  This date automatically legitimized people who were illegally coming into the country for more than twenty years after the first National Register of Citizens was prepared. When I arrived in the country that would ultimately be my home, I found that the same issue of illegal immigration was being debated here also.  After nearly a year of my being here, the President of the country signed a sweeping immigration reform bill granting amnesty to nearly three million immigrants who were in the country without proper immigration papers.

Both the accord and the amnesty were supposed to take care of “illegal” immigration for all time to come.  Little that we knew at that time that after nearly three decades the same issue would be disturbing the places that I called home.  We never factored in the politicians and their lack of will to solve burning issues or their willingness to push issues to the next generation for political benefits in the short term.

Now in my country of birth, current Prime Minister and the ruling party is pushing a citizenship amendment bill (CAB) to make all people of certain religious communities coming into the country from three specific countries citizens immediately.  This is being done with an eye to the elections to be held soon this year though the government is trying its best to hide its purpose behind the veil of religious persecution of minorities in those three countries. Unfortunately the government had not raised the issue of religious persecution of a certain community in one of the neighboring country at all in last five years in the UN.  My home state of birth is in turmoil now after three decades of the accord being signed for fear that the indigenous people will be reduced to minority if the CAB is passed and made the law of the land.  This is after more than eight hundred and fifty people had laid down their lives for the cause at the hands of their own country’s police and armed forces. On the other hand, President of the country I call home now has vowed to build a wall to keep immigrants out ( and as per his words to make the country safe) and shutdown the government partially to get his wall built.  Though there is no proof that a wall is a viable solution to keep people away who are desperate to make their lives better or a wall will keep people in the country safe (all the 9/11 perpetrators entered the country legally and were from a friendly country), playing to the emotion and fear of his political base the President has made a mess of the whole immigration issue.

Will the Citizenship Amendment Bill in my country of birth or the wall in the country I call home now solve the issue of immigration for all time to come.  Hardly.  If without addressing the root cause of immigration (which may be a topic of future discussion), political expediency is allowed to shape decisions, we will see a repetition of the issue soon.

Unfortunately in a democracy people get the government they deserve.

trumpmodi

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