Happy pedalling!

Happy pedalling!

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Few days ago, I spotted a little girl cycling  around my apartment complex, oblivious to the world. It was nostalgia for me as I remembered my childhood, when as a little girl, I had done the same, albeit a bit later than my friends.

Not adept at pedalling, I spent many an evening watching my friends cycling around our neighbourhood, laughing as they pedalled by.

Their happy demeanour never failed to catch my eye. The ribbons in their pigtails coming loose as they flew past on their cycles, their giggles echoing all around as they swapped jokes about this or that, or teased each other as they raced ahead. How I yearned to join them and experience the magic, myself!

No, they never teased me, or laughed at the lone figure  watching them (with a tinge of jealousy). Their laughter was born out of  the freedom they experienced on their two-wheelers. Or so I would like to believe.

An older cousin promised to teach me to cycle. Sadly, though, he lacked patience and was not very good at managing his time.

Dad used to be busy with his work, and expecting mum to run alongside  me as I cycled, was unimaginable! I remember wondering how long before I would be one of those girls, atop my own bicycle, shrieking with delight.

One fine day, the sun shone from behind the clouds of despair and Lady Luck smiled upon me. Uncle Shri, our friendly neighbour,  called out to me as I stood in my veranda, watching my friends cycle.

Why don’t you join your friends, Shilpa?” he enquired.

“I am afraid I can’t cycle, Uncle,” I murmured, embarrassedly.

“Uh-huh. No problem, child. I will teach you to  cycle. Believe me, it is the most easiest thing on earth! In fact, you can learn it in a day!” he gushed.

His excitement was highly contagious, because no sooner were those words out of his mouth than I grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the shop that gave cycles on rent.

A rupee for an hour was the rent for the rusty  bicycles. I was thrilled simply to be standing there, gaping at those beauties!  It was indeed my lucky day!

Uncle Shri paid the rent and urged me to climb onto a cycle. Gingerly, I perched onto its triangular seat and held the handlebar with my cold and trembling hands. My feet  firmly on the ground, I waited for the next instruction. Uncle Shri noticed the enthusiasm in my eyes, perhaps, because he had this big smile on his benevolent face.

“Now, Shilpa,  all you need to do, is place your feet on the pedals and, well, pedal away!   Oh, and remember,  do not look down. You must focus on the road ahead ,okay? “ he beamed, encouragingly.

“But, Uncle, what if I lose my balance and fall?” I mumbled, nervously.

“Don’t you worry, little one, “ Uncle assured me, “I will run alongside you and hold you if you fall. You just look ahead and pedal, okay?”

Trembling with excitement and nervousness, I began to pedal – slowly, at first, and then a little faster – wobbling and faltering, I manoeuvred my way through the busy street, with Uncle running alongside me, cheering on.

Try as I might, my eyes wouldn’t leave the cycle’s handlebar. I was too exhilarated to remember Uncle’s instructions.  Each time he said, “Look up, Shilpa! You might run into someone!” I would jerk my head up and look ahead, and then lower my head all over again, to gaze at the rotating wheel.

So mesmerised was I in the entire activity, I did not even notice when Uncle let go of my seat. I just kept pedalling on!

I cycled up to my house and called out to mum. Squealed would be the right word here, because she rushed outdoors to see what the matter was. My ear-to-ear grin was enough for mum to know I was finally  fulfilling my dream, thanks to Uncle Shri.

Uncle was so right. That day, I  had learnt to cycle!  Well, almost.  It did take some more days for me to learn to focus on the road. Days, and some mishaps, too.

But, I learnt to cycle, and  soon joined my gang of girls.

And, experienced that magic I had been longing for all those days.

All thanks to Uncle Shri.

Image source: PIXABAY

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In search of my lost childhood. #writebravely

In search of my lost childhood. #writebravely

The park looked deserted, save for a couple of kids playing on the jungle gym. I made my way to the swing and  sat on its faded, red, plastic seat, gingerly.  Holding the thick  rusty chains of the swing, I gave myself a slight push and the swing began swaying, back and fro.  And, just like that, the moment whisked  me back to many years ago, when the park was my favourite place in the whole world.

I remembered those mornings, from eons ago, when I would slip out of the house in my school uniform and head for the park.  When I would stand on the swing and sway as high as I could, to feel the wind in my hair, and that glorious exhilaration of almost flying like a bird. When mother would come looking for me at the park and berate me for being such an irresponsible little girl. When I would leave the swing dejectedly to go home and head for school. When school was really not my favourite place in the whole world.

I looked around me and took in the changes the park had undergone in all these years. There were a lot more trees around, and the park  seemed to be well taken care of. But, the warmth and the love the place exuded was still the same. Untouched by time. The realisation  warmed me and I felt like a little girl, all over again.

I pushed myself a bit more now and the swing began swaying higher. I stretched my legs in front of me, and holding the chains tighter now, leaned back and turned my face skywards. A little patch of the light blue sky peeped through the canopy of lush green trees. And, in that little blue patch I saw a swarm of dragonflies hovering above me, as if wondering who this new visitor might be!

I felt caught in a moment I did not want to end. A moment from the past when life was all about playing in the park even after the sun had long set; about friends who made promises of being together forever; about studies that were most hated and yet not a burden, but mostly about laughter, happiness, joy – unbridled joy.

I stayed  on the swing long after it had stopped swaying. The sun had touched the horizon and was biding adieu for the day. The weather had turned muggy and the dainty dragonflies had now been replaced by the humming mosquitoes. I looked around me at the now deserted park and felt myself unable to move. Was I really unable to move, or was it that I just did not want to  move?

Why, oh why, did I have to leave this place, this moment,  and go back to the adult world where I did not have any such place that was my most favourite place in the whole world? Yes, I did have my home – my cocoon – but then, why did I feel so safe here, in the deserted park, with not a soul around?

Maybe it was the memories the park held, the sound of laughter that still echoed there even after all these years, the carefree atmosphere it held within its bosom – that was what seemed to keep me rooted to the spot. That was what I most yearned for in my present life – the warmth, the coziness, the pure innocence of childhood. All of it that had gotten lost along with time. All of it that, despite being in the present, was not really the same.

No wonder then that it’s called the most precious period of life –  Childhood. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, never to return. However much ‘young at heart’ one stays, it is not  what it used to be!

Do you miss your childhood? Where do you look for it? Do share with me, I would love to know!

Hugs!

Love,

SHILPA.

 

The golden period of our life--CHILDHOOD

Linking this post to The WriteTribe ProBlogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge.

#writebravely  #writetribeproblogger

Write Tribe

 

Sweet memories.

Sweet memories.

We bloggers do stumble upon writing prompts in the unlikeliest of places, don’t we?  Like I did, just a while ago. Of course, it isn’t the unlikeliest of places; it’s a blog I just visited where my dear friend,  Shailaja,  has written a beautiful post – do visit her. But, it was there, that I remembered a time from years ago, which prompted me to write this post!

Let me begin by asking you a fun question.

Do you remember which cosmetics you owned or used for the very first time in your life? How did it make you feel?

Mine has to be a bright orange nail polish my mum bought for me, quite surreptitiously, I must say!

Back then, when I was in school, we weren’t permitted to use cosmetics, jewellery, et al. But, that’s precisely why I loved wearing those things so much!  I remember vividly, I had this pair of blue and white studs – the cheap plastic ones we got for a few bucks – that matched with my school uniform. And, every day, as I got ready for school, my hand would fondly reach out to them, pick them up gingerly and yearn to put them on. But, I knew dad would never approve of it.

“You are going to school, not a fashion parade!” he would say.

Scared that I was of the man,  I would drop those pretty blue studs back into their box and close the lid, on the box and on my desires. Why couldn’t he be a wee bit indulgent?  my young mind would wonder, longingly.
Despite knowing how dad disapproved of all things bling-y, I was in love with it all – jewellery, nail polish, lipstick.

Mum owned a red lipstick, which she never applied, ever. I once stumbled upon it when I was rummaging through mum’s cupboard. My joy knew no bounds! Checking to make sure no one was around, I took some of it on my finger and applied it on my lips. It wasn’t in a tube, but in a small, rectangular case. I could have pocketed the case for myself, if I could, but left it where it was. And, each time my parents went out on some or other errand, I would rush to mum’s cupboard, reach in and grab the lipstick case, dab a bit of it on my lips and keep staring at my reflection in the mirror.

Sadly, as mysteriously as it had appeared, it disappeared, too. I was heartbroken for quite some time, but soon got over it, because there was something new I had laid my eyes on, something I had never owned.  I spotted a bottle of nail polish at a friend’s place, and now I craved for it!  I did not even know how much a nail polish cost back then, but, oh how I yearned to own one!

I pleaded with mum to buy one for me. But, she refused – at first gently and then a bit firmly- to fulfil my itsy-bitsy wish! Eventually, seeing me crestfallen, she relented and went ahead and bought that much-desired bottle of magic, surreptitiously; I was advised to apply it only during vacations,  else I would be at the receiving end of dad’s ire.

The said polish was orange in colour – bright orange, to be precise. A colour I would simply brush aside if placed before me now. But, to the kid in me, back then, it was nothing short of a miracle that I now owned a nail polish! And, I remember very clearly, there was a tiny ball ensconced in the lid of the bottle, so whenever I shook the bottle before applying the paint, it made a tic-tic sound. It was music to my ears, that sweet melody!

I used the polish sparingly, lest it got over quickly. I would wait for the vacations to begin  so that I could paint my nails and keep staring at them, admiringly! I did crave to use it oftener, but hesitated; it would amount to blasphemy in dad’s books! Of course, the paint dried up, eventually, and I had to let go of my precious belonging. Sigh. It was a tough decision for the little girl in me to part with an object that had given me immense happiness. It was so dear to me, I remember all about it to this day!

Guess, I am a bit too sentimental a person; I find it difficult to let go of people, too! People, who have been so dear to me, that letting go can be  torturous, but I tend to also remember them, for years to come. Ah, well, let’s talk about that in some other post, shall we? For now, I just want to delight in these sweet memories of my distant past. Maybe, I will go paint my nails in a shade of my now-preferred brown, and also call up mum, so we can reminisce about those halcyon days together!

It was mum’s love, unconditional love, that led her to give in to my childish demands. It was her  craving for some precious mother – daughter moments that she must have wished to collect and preserve for the future, when her little girl would be all grown up, living a life of her own. Moments that would fill her heart with the joy that nothing else ever can. We never really know how a mother’s heart functions, do we?

Thank you, mum, for these sweet memories! They are still alive within me and bring me endless joy during moments of melancholy that threaten my peace of mind, every once in a while. Thank you for those fun moments; they taught me so much about what goes in making a perfect mother!

Do share with me your sweet memories! I am sure they will take you on a happy stroll in your past and help you return refreshed, rejuvenated!

Love,

SHILPA. 

Friends forever.

Friends forever.

Image: Stocksnap.io



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 We met when we were little girls, dancing to the clinking sound of the cymbals at our dance class. We – P and I – were Bharatnatyam students in our early teens. A shy, “HI“, or, “Hello“, was all that we exchanged, both of us being reserved and shy of nature. I fail to recollect the period vividly, as we were quite young then, and not chummy with each other. 

However, it was in our late  teens – 17/ 18 years of age – that we really began to bond as we prepped  up for our Arangetram. Within no time did we learn a lot about each other, especially the fact that we were so alike in many an aspect – the basis on which friendship,  as a relationship for a lifetime, finds its foundation. Those were the years we shared our dreams, our fantasies, even the rare  grouse that we had with our parents during that rebellious age!

We practically grew together, as we met each other on a daily basis. Not a day would go by when we did not speak with each other, or exchange hellos via  the telephone. We did have our differences, and I, being a sulky (a term she often used for me) would take a day to get over the trivial disputes we had. I could not dream of going without talking with her  for more than a day! But, soon we grew up some more, and grew out of our juvenility, and grew closer, still. 

Our respective marriages pulled us apart, taking her to another part of the country. I was left friendless, and so was she. Those years, even when  phone and  letters were the only mode of communication, we weren’t able to stay in touch. Life had gotten in the way, and there were complex issues to deal with. I rued the times I had no one to talk to, open my heart to, as I faced  the numerous ups and downs in my new life as a married woman. Ditto, for her. And, we being introverts, found it a colossal undertaking making new friends. Would we ever meet someone who could understand our silence, leave alone the spoken words?

It was only on her yearly visits that we could meet and talk for a while. Talks revolved around difficult in-laws and their domineering ways; issues we had with our respective spouses and, yes, adjusting to a whole new environment for which we had not been prepared, at all! The mere fact, that, albeit for a few hours in an entire year, we could open our souls, reveal our wounds, speak unabashedly about our fears, was such a relief. It felt as if a weight had been lifted off our shoulders.

It was during those initial years of my marriage that I was coming to terms with my MIL’s schizophrenia when I  received another shocking news about my husband’s bi-polar disorder. It was the largest hurdle I found myself staring at, with no emotional support, whatsoever. Those were the times, when I felt  loneliest. Of course, my parents were there for me through every step of the way, but you always feel the need to have by your side someone who offers you their unconditional, non-judgemental support; one with whom you can share your deepest, darkest secrets, knowing fully well you will not be chided for  encouraging thoughts that aren’t supposed to be entertained, ever. And, not having P by  my side during those times was what I missed, tremendously.

She, on the other hand, was suffering at the hands of an eccentric and a domineering MIL, the likes of which we have heard existed in some bygone era. It had been a major shock to her, too, seeing the truth behind the facade  being revealed  day by day. How she faced the woman and her dictatorship, I find difficult to fathom, knowing how soft-spoken and mild-mannered my girl was! She recounted how she put up with everything quietly, never raising a word against the senior. Thankfully, though, her husband decided to shift to the US and P’s ordeal came to an end. Although, there again, she did miss her parents and her only friend. But, at least she was able to find  some peace in her life.It was during those initial years, when P was still in India, that we could manage to meet once in a long while and swap stories of our turmoil. We encouraged each other, motivated each other saying how we were both brave, despite our fears. She would call up before leaving for her marital home and encourage me to be strong; how we both needed the strength as we were to live in the lion’s den!Today, we are in our early 40s. She is a mother to two beautiful children and has different news to give me each time we meet. Her teenage daughter and her rebellious ways remind us of ourselves, although, I believe we belonged to a  generation of comparatively milder rebels! Times, when she want’s to drill some sense into her daughter’s mind but is at a loss, are the times when she suggests I be the friendly aunt who can help her see right from wrong. I find it amusing, though. But, I do try…just for the sake of P. For all that she has done for me.

She, on the other hand, gives me frank opinions when I ask her to gauge my behaviour in  situations vis-a-vis certain  family issues. Needless to say, she does a fabulous job! She knows me like the back of her hand! Sitting miles away from me, she can read my thoughts and give me an unadulterated opinion of what she thinks of me and my weird thinking.

I have heard that we have soul mates whom we meet just once , or twice, in our lifetime. People with whom we connect more than with anyone else. People who understand us perfectly and we them. And, people without whom the journey of our life would be incomplete, unenjoyable, bereft of the magic which we so need. For me, P is the person. P is my soul mate. She is someone I cannot imagine living without, cannot imagine my life without. We have been friends for more than two decades…well, almost three decades, actually! She is an extension of me, an angel God sent just for me.

I know this post is going to leave her overwhelmed, but this is the story of my life, of our life, together. And, she knows it. I dedicate this post to her. A post which reiterates the fact that friendships formed during ones teenage years matter – always – no matter what, no matter the distance between the two people. Their souls connect and their hearts beat in unison, and that’s what matters to them!