Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Love & Togetherness

Grandparents and grandchildren have always shared a special bond. To me my grandparents spell wisdom and love. I did not get a chance to know my paternal grandparents. My paternal grandpa passed away when I was a year old and grandma when I was eleven. And we would see grandma only during vacations. About her, I shall share later. But today I am writing about my maternal grandparents--Koka (grandpa) and Aita (grandma).

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance.  They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life.  And, most importantly, cookies.  ~Rudolph Giuliani

Since Maa married young, my sister and I were entitled to young maternal grandparents. Since Deta and Koka served the same university, we spent most of our early childhood around Koka and Aita. And my sister was the apple of Koka's eyes. Since both my maternal uncles married and had kids long after we were grown up, we sisters were the sole claimants to Koka and Aita's love and affections for a long long time. And I am sure we still hold a special place in their lives.

Aita was quite young, I think around sixteen years, when she married Koka. Koka was already working and was posted in the region where Aita's family resided. They met at Aita's cousin's place, who knew Koka. Koka was an eligible bachelor and showed interest in taking Aita as his bride and things started rolling. They are a set of opposites. Aita is a good singer, dancer and an actress. She loves travelling and would accompany Koka on his official tours. Koka would hardly travel for fun and is paranoid of water. Koka is always feeling a little cold and would have a sheet at his feet on bed all the year around. While Aita bathes a thousand times during the summer and prefers sleeping with a damp cloth on her with the ceiling fan in full speed.

Koka is the second in ten children while Aita is the third in four. So he had always been the responsible one while she was on the mischievous side. But I have known Aita to be a good and understanding wife and sacrificing daughter-in-law. Koka had a string of sisters to be married off and brothers to be educated, and of course a wife and three children to look after. And Aita shared his responsibilities well, making the most of whatever was provided, taking care of the extended family, giving away jewelry ungrudging but still pursuing her hobbies consistently. She loves to cook and feed. I have seen her helping people with an open heart and open hands, sometimes in fact too open. Till we were ten years or so, all our frocks were stitched by Aita. And yes, she is not really fond of unruly and ill-mannered children.

Koka is the most amazing, loving, caring, patient, calm, liberal and forward thinking man I have ever known. As a young man, he had borne the hardships to get his siblings settled and give a good life to his wife and children. He is learned person, have authored several books in his field and started a soil testing laboratory after his retirement as the dean of an university. He is great with children and adults alike. Maa tells us that as a young girl she remembers him helping Aita with the household chores. Whenever any heavy furnishings of the household were to be washed, he would be there. And he is the only man I know who washes his personal clothing himself till date.

I have never seen Koka and Aita fighting or quarreling in the presence of a third person till now. The only time I remember was while playing carom. Koka and my sister were a team while Aita and I were one. We were quite young and they had a argument regarding some coin, and the game was never finished.

The most amazing times spent with them were the warm evenings with load shedding. We would pull out chairs on the lawn with hand fans and spent a great amount of time looking up at the sky. Koka would point out the constellations and show us the milky way. We would play 'Antakshari' of songs and places' names. And sometimes he would teach us sanskrit slokas. Weekends were always spent with them. Sundays were most fun. Waking up to the sounds of 'Rangoli' at seven in the morning, followed by 'Shri Krishna', 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Jungle Book', 'Duck Tales' and 'Tales Spin' with a breakfast of bread, melted butter and omelets. Then Koka would take us on detour of the vegetable and fruit garden and we would come back to the house laden with our fresh bounty. And Sunday lunches meant mutton curry.

My sister and I had a wonderful childhood, mostly because Koka and Aita were always around. Even Deta says that they had a very positive effect on our upbringing.

Today Koka and Aita are celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary. Even the very thought of it cheers me up. Personally being into the sixth month of marriage, Koka and Aita is a fruitful example to follow. I pray that the Almighty showers health, peace and happiness in their lives and that we would celebrate their union for many many years to come. I love you both very much. And thank you for being there for us, always.

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.  ~Alex Haley

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Serene Dusk

Sitting on the praying stone, by the water side
I listen to the cool wind passing by,
Carrying secret whispers of the trees
Can life be so calm, I wonder...

The crickets have began their chirpy hymns
The winged ones are returning home,
Some are singing the day's last song
The trees are talking in sleepy tones;

It is almost night, I am urged indoors
Time's over for further stray,
Only a hint of day now remains
Let me soak in some more serenity I pray...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lovey Dovey--The Sequel

You might remember my post on turtle spotted doves (kopou) from last year ( This post is a kind of a sequel to that one. Well, the doves I wrote about earlier, did not stay long in their prospective nest behind my kitchen's exhaust fan. I don't know why. May be they found it too noisy and bright after dark, thanks to my dinner making process. But I did see the lovely couple with their little kid after a couple of months.

Since all these doves almost look identical to me, I don't know whether the dove couple fooling around in my balcony later were same or the other. I have always seen these doves moving around in pairs. Very romantic I must say.

Last year, one kopou couple tried making a nest behind my kitchen's exhaust fan. This February, I was not home from mid of the month till mid of March. When I came back, I saw that the one pair of kopou have already put up a nest in the hot spot. Not only that, eggs had already been laid and the mother was sitting put on it. So once again, I tried to be as quiet as possible in the kitchen after dark.

Since I was off to work the whole day, I could keep an eye on their activities only during weekends. Later when Ma came to be with me, she would tell me their stories.

Only the female stayed in the nest. Obviously, the space was too small for the couple together. They had taken the space only to raise a family. The space is inside the balcony and so well protected from the harsh sun, wind and rain. The nest was a clumsy circle of twigs (Kopous build it that way). Normally these doves lay a pair of whitish eggs and so we also assumed that this nest too had a pair. During the day, the common mynahs would pay visits and ask the young mother how things were going. Everyday in the afternoon, around 1.15 p.m., the female would start calling out to her mate.. Krookruk-krukroo... kroo kroo kroo. I simply adore their vocals. And with her cooing, Ma would start cooing too. I bet she had silent laughs on humans. Then the male would promptly arrive in a while and exchange places with the female. She would go out, spread her wings, take a bath (may be), have lunch and then come back. It was routine. And she had become so thin that I felt like stuffing food in her beak.

One evening, when I came back home, Ma told me that one egg had rolled over and was stuck on  a blade of the exhaust fan. And the female does not even seem to realize that. As it was night time, we decided that I would get up and reach the exhaust fan in the morning and put the egg back up. Next morning, when I tried to put the egg back, I realized it was only half a empty shell! The little birdie has already hatched. Of course, the mommy did not care about the empty shell. And a couple of days later, we saw her feeding her little one. I guess they had only one egg. The chick was already around five inches tall and was spreading its wings, enjoying food from its mother's beak. It was such an wonderful sight. But after that we did not see the chick again in action. It seemed to be sleeping all the time. 

On April 5th, we saw the mother flying out as usual in the afternoon. A little later we saw her watching the nest from a nearby tree while drying her weeks after a bath. In the meantime, I was trying frantically to get a glimpse of the baby and click a picture. The baby was hardly visible as it was almost the same colour as the nest and was curled up in sleep. Surprisingly, the mother did not return to the nest at dusk. Ma was worried about the little one staying alone and I teased her saying the mother was bored of looking after it and so had gone out for the night. But in my heart, I feared the worst.

The next morning, my fear was confirmed. Ma told me that neither of the parents have returned and she had seen ants crawling up the nest. The common mynahs were flying about frantically. The little did not make it. May be it got sick. It was a sad day. Ma used to spend her whole day looking at the family and trying to communicate with them. They say nothing's worse than parents' losing a child. And it is no different for a bird. I hope the little one is, at least, at peace now without having to worry about survival.

P.S. Since I am moving to Delhi shortly, I will be missing these winged companions. I just hope some couple would take up the space next year to start a family and do it successfully and in peace (without me!).