The Buddha Smile







Pom's parents believed him to be a miracle child, a gift from Lord Buddha himself, a blessing they received after seventeen years' of marriage. They pledged to provide the very best to him. 
However meager their means, their strength of purpose always shone through. Pom was sent to an International School. 
Pom turned into a beautiful and humble boy. He had a peaceful and calm demeanor and his smile was as pure as Buddha himself. By the time he finished high school, both his parents turned old and weak. Pom refused to enroll into college, completed a course in IT and started looking for jobs. With his impeccable English, in a country where their mother tongue and national language was all that the majority could speak, he didn't have to try too hard to find an IT job with one of the MNCs in the capital.

Before Pom could gain any experience, both his parents fell ill and the Global Meltdown struck...


Aditi was irritated; her parents and in laws were clicking pictures at the Suvarnabhumi Airport and Bharat, her husband went shopping liquor at the duty free. She was battling to calm her yelling toddler all by herself, but whatever she tried only resulted in more chaos. 
They stood at the meter taxi line. Bharat put his King Power packets on the pram.
Aditi decided to sit in front of the cab, next to the driver. They had lived in Bangkok for two years soon after their marriage and Aditi had picked up some Thai. She started giving directions to the driver in her elementary Thai. The driver seemed amused with the whimpering toddler sitting next to him and placed his hand on his little forehead. Much to Aditi's surprise, the whimpering turned into peaceful laughter. Their forty five minute drive to The Grand Centara Hotel was mostly silent, with the people at the back sleeping to their heart's content. The only two people who spoke were the driver and her toddler.
On reaching their destination, Aditi thanked the driver and asked how he spoke such wonderful English. 

With his calm Buddha-like smile, Pom replied, "I learnt it from the movies".

Intrigued by his answer, Aditi watched as Pom drove away in his hot-pink Bangkok taxi.

I celebrate you!

My stint with an online greeting card company, at the beginning of my career, made me appreciate the need to celebrate special days; to celebrate people, to celebrate us. A day for the mother, the father, a day for love, for sisters and brothers, and then days for merrymaking socially on festivals. There’s a day for everyone and everything.

Imagine (please) if you celebrated your birthday every day, would it remain special; if Christmas came once every week or Durga Puja once every month, would it still cause the exhilaration and celebration it brings and takes with it.

In the course of our journey, we come across people who are neither family nor spouse, with whom we have never shared the blood and the bone – but they still choose to tower; sheltering us, nurturing us during times when our dear ones are unavailable, times when they could have easily chosen not to, times when our kin are hesitant or unsure of the course.

It is incredible how these people step out of the dust and the storm, brandishing sword, galloping into our war zone, rescuing us, and then disappearing into the quiet after making the valiant effort.

I have been lucky to know a handful of such knights in shining armor; some brilliant ladies and gents.

This Thanksgiving, I celebrate you, all of you!

Domestic Helps - Angels or Humans

My grandfather's house (paternal father) in Burnpur covers a total area of 24 catahs, the garden behind the house alone stands upon about 7 catahs of land (some of my short story attempts have been centred around this house). Dadu had a gardener whose wife was the domestic help at the house until she was very old and later her daughter, Umi didi replaced her from a very young age. Umi didi is roughly 55 years old today. All the kids in the house have been extremely fond of her.
I remember following her where she had her lunch and sat through her entire lunch watching her eat the mountain like quantity of rice in utter amazement. She first drilled a hole at the peak of the mountain, poured her daal, then everything else into the hole thus formed and like an active volcano, coloured the rice slopes yellow and brown or green depending upon what she was eating and slowly ate her way towards the base of the rice hill and the edge of the plate. I followed her all around the huge house, to the local fish market, to the aata chakki, to my eldest sister's bungalow nearby. I was, like all the other kids before and after me, very fond of her.
She still works at our house and none of us or the extended family have ever seen her develop any arrogance (or lyaj as we might refer to the attitude in bangla). "The arrogance or Lyaj includes every kind of attrocity you can think of directed to the immediate or the extended family".
At my maternal grandfather's house, in south Kolkata (Mudiali), there was a domestic help, who I addressed as Paban Mama. He grew up there since he was a small child from Sunderbans as a family member. My Dadu educated him and later helped him financially to start off his own business. He started doing well in his business, Dadu helped him move out to begin his own life, he then got married and eventually had two kids. Paban mama, untimely passed on to his eternal abode due to heart attack at about 50 years of age, last year. Never seen him develop arrogance (or lyaj as we might refer to the attitude in bangla). "The arrogance or Lyaj includes every kind of attrocity you can think of directed to the immediate or the extended family".
In case you have employed long term domestic helps, who treat your loved ones bad, may be you should stop, take some time off and ponder on the simple fact that they are all human beings and come with flaws and no matter how trustworthy they have been, may be something is seriously wrong. More so if all your extended family members are also telling you to do the same. Not all domestic helps are good.
Not everyone installs CCTV cameras to check on what they actually do and what they say they do..... "to and with your loved ones."
It is sad that your loved ones have to even ask you to look into it. Or may be your loved ones are mistaken to call themselves your "loved ones".

Precious

It was a huge property, walled and surrounded by a big garden. The bungalow in the centre could be seen from the other side of the fifteen feet high iron gate.
Mr. Alok Kumar Ray tried to visualise his property while sitting on the lower berth of a train several miles away, in a different country. The place where his property stills stands has two things to talk of today - an IIT and a railway platform, but Mr. Ray's fondness for the place was beyond everything else.
He didn't realise when a big drop of tear, unrestrained by his thinned and grey eyelashes fell on the wrinkles of his hand.
On the eve of his eightieth birthday, he just gave away his bungalow.

Mr. Ray wiped the teardrop off his right hand and held it closer to his face. The hand had performed some very difficult tasks in the last few weeks.

He met her when he was twenty five and still doesn't seem to know if it was her golden perms, her pearly white teeth, the nape of her neck, her slender waist, deep blue eyes or her kindness that he first fell in love with. All he knew was that, they were meant to be together from that day forth to all the days that was there till eternity.

She looked beautiful on her wedding day, as he recalled pecking her lips after the minister said "You may now kiss the bride".

As they both walked out of the church, hand in hand, he was completely unaware as to how, Edwina, his German bride would one day learn to speak bits of bengali, would make the perfect rasogollas and tomato chutney that he was so fond of. He didn't know how much she would sacrifice for him while they were both at Germany for buying that property in Kharagpur, a place that meant nothing to her but everything to him and his parents.
Edwina and Alok were married for thirty eight years after which they separated. They never had a child and Alok shifted base to Thailand post his retirement from Germany. Living out of their respective pensions, they always remained in touch and never fell out of love. The distance made their hearts grow fonder and they met twice a year, every year. Their decision to get separated never made any sense to them.

Alok's tears were no longer coming out as drops, they now formed a steady stream on his face. As he looked at his right hand one last time before taking it to the searing pain on his left chest, Edwina's wedding ring glistened around his little finger. He felt his left side go numb, there was darkness everywhere.

He was returning home after burying two of his most precious possessions on earth, Edwina - to heart attack and the Bungalow - to charity.