Amusement at the Amusement Park

A memory from a few years back popped up when I and the twins were talking about understanding dog “language”! And they were trying to fit words to different barks, grunts, groans, growls, and whines… it was fun and I had tears running down my face as we rolled with laughter. I recalled having posted in WP something about a dog and its owner at an amusement park we had visited about three or four years back. Sharing it here as the memory brings a smile and a chuckle back again.

“We’re going to an Amusement Park this Saturday,” piped the twins.

“Where?

“On an island.”

“An island?”

“Yes. It’s not too far. We’ll be taking a ferry ride.”

“Okaay… How do you have an island with no sea around?”

“It’s a river island.”

Clicked this from the ferry as we approached the Amusement park at Centre Island.

IMG_2289

Satisfied with this info, I wondered what I’d do at the amusement park. To see me on a normal day, of which, thankfully, I have many in the continuum of ‘good’, ‘not-so-good’, ‘better’ days, you’d wonder why I was skeptical about the amount I’d have to walk and the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the outing.

Well, my condition is quite unpredictable. I could be walking, bending, and doing things normally… and then, just like that, I’d be laid down with a lumbar disc issue which would leave me unable to walk, sit up or even turn myself on my side in bed; not to mention, the excruciating pain. And then, not to be left behind, are a cervical disc and knees that like to surprise me now and then. So every action, even though I am careful, can trigger terrible consequences. Although I am careful, things can go wrong with the most simple turn or bend I make.

So, I decided I’d be the official photographer and resort to people watching to keep occupied and humored. I wasn’t disappointed. One encounter with a young couple and a grandma with her little grandson makes me laugh even now.

I was sitting on a bench and eating nachos while the rest were doing the rounds of a few rides that they had still to go on. A young, Indian couple with a cute little dog, a 5-month-old pup, sat on the bench behind me. I picked up a conversation about the pup. Soon, a granny, whose grandson was crying sought the pup as a good diversion for the little boy; it worked. He stopped crying and she swapped stories with the couple about their respective pets. I returned to my nachos.

Just as I lost interest in their conversation, the grandma turned to leave, her purpose in speaking to them being achieved. The pup began yapping at her as she walked away and she turned and waved to it. It wagged its tail. Then she turned to leave again and it yapped. This drew my attention back to them and I eavesdropped on the conversation that followed. I admit I’m glad I did… I was getting bored!

The young man apologized for his pup’s incessant barking and thought he should explain it like this:

“He doesn’t want you to go. He wants to talk to you.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” she said, graciously but eager to move on. However, the young man was not done yet. So she lingered a while longer as he continued.

“But he can’t talk, you see,” he explained, as if he were imparting some unknown fact, “that is why he is barking.”

‘She knows that silly!’ my mind said. I was enjoying this little scene that was playing out before me.

“It seems he likes you and doesn’t want you to go. So sorry,” the young man continued. And tried to pacify the pup that was getting shriller and more agitated.

I wondered, ‘why are you going on and on playing interpreter? It’s a dog. It’s barking. Period!’

“Yes,” chipped in his companion, grinning broadly, “he can’t talk our language, no? So he’s talking in his language.” I thought she was done, but she wasn’t.

“We can understand his language,” she said with a broad grin, nodding her head from side to side, “but everyone can’t understand, you see. So don’t mind that he’s barking at you. He’s actually liking you.”

The smile on the lady’s face was no longer amiable and a glazed look replaced the warm one. I could see that she wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Were they daft or did they presume she was daft? She opted to say nothing.

She nodded her head briskly and walked away with a quicker step dreading, I suppose, that he’d drag the inane conversation further.

I was indeed at the Amusement Park and I’d had a quiet laughter ride with no risk of injury!

Farley Defends His Turf -Part 2

The first part of Farley’s adventures, is in a post in which I introduced Farley, the seagull. Read about him here: https://wordpress.com/post/capturedjoyaimshoot.wordpress.com/607

On another day, at Tim’s, I was amused to see how Farley had appropriated that area for himself… his territory, and how he would defend it! I’m glad I could capture it in photos. I do have a short video that I cannot share here.

I espy Farley walking to the garbage bin outside Tim’s. Behind, I see a crow, also eager to forage for food at the same place. Farley hasn’t noticed it yet, or then, chooses to ignore it.

Then he senses movement and knows that the crow is edging into his territory.

He turns around and flies into a rage, literally! The crow is caught unawares and hops away and out of reach.

But Farley isn’t giving up. The crow is certainly intimidated and tries to protect itself. As if it knew it was trespassing.

Once he chases it outside the boundary of his territory, Farley walks back triumphantly to have his lunch. The crow hangs around a little while, not attempting to cross the line but stay at a safe distance. Then it gives up and flies away.

Ever since the pandemic and lockdowns etc. Farley, I’m guessing, gave up eating at his new haunt! Now though this place has opened up, Farley is missing… I miss watching him. Especially how he’d scrape off every bit of mayo that dropped on the sidewalk!

I Saw Farley At Tim’s – Part 1

This was first published on Capturedjoyaimandshoot.wordpress.com, my photoblog.

In over a year of visiting Tim Hortons, almost every day, this was the first time I saw garbage strewn outside. I had just entered and having bought my tea I sat at a seat near the window. I was shocked to see garbage lying on the sidewalk by the parking area right outside the window.

I knew there was a garbage bin outside but there’d never been garbage on the walk. I was wondering who could be so irresponsible and crass as to not put their trash into the bin carefully. That’s when I saw the culprit – a gull! I immediately christened him Farley, the gull who’s always in search of a snack! He walked out from where he was hidden by the wall. I watched him go about opening closed plastic containers and gobbling the food. I noticed Farley ate what was inside a burger and not the bun which it tossed.

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Farley loved the mayo! Wherever the mayo fell when he tossed, turned and shook what it was he was eating, he went to each white spot and, literally, scraped as much as he could off the ground!

The people at Tim’s and Wendy’s were informed but before they could attend to the mess, he had his time.

There was a plastic bag that was filled with stuff but the bag was tied tight at the top and the plastic was too strong for him to tear. He tried. And tried. Again. 

He dragged the bag off the sidewalk; pulling it with his beak and making stops to peck at it furiously. It was of no use. The bag didn’t give.

Sea Gull

Finally, he gave up and flew off. He’d had his fill.

The mess was cleared soon after and no one would have even known what Farley had done! 

On second thought, I wondered why gulls had to come into a city and eat fast food. It was food for thought and I came back and Googled it. There were a whole lot of articles about it and quite a few not in favor of the seagulls and their forays into the city. There were reasons that seemed valid. I had a lot on my mind when I went to bed. Well, nothing as grand as a plan to save the world or gulls or… but quite a bit!

The Slow Demise of Snail Mail

I love the rebelliousness of snail mail, and I love anything that can arrive with a postage stamp. There’s something about that person’s breath and hands on the letter.”

-Diane Lane

I switched with the times, and also because ‘snail mail’ was precisely what our postal system used to be way back in the pre-internet days… and perhaps even now since fewer people write letters these days. I began writing letters as emails. The same format as one would follow in a regular letter penned on letter paper. Typing was harder and slower than writing with a pen, but the strong desire to learn and get better at it was the knowledge that it would reach immediately at a click. Also, the anticipation of an equally quick reply spurred me on.

Snail mail usually brought news of welfare, someone’s illness or sought advice in some bleak situation. By the time your precious advice would reach, the matter would have been resolved for better or worse. And as for your queries about the latest developments in the illness and prayers for a speedy recovery, the person would have either recovered a month or so before and would be back at work in a recovered state of health or worse, had just expired! Within the country itself, letters would take weeks to reach at times if one lived in regions far away.

So, emails became my way of maintaining my love of letter writing.

And I wrote emails quite regularly to my dearest and nearest…did I get e-letters? Ah! now that’s a million-dollar question. Suffice it to say that, I just switched to WhatsApp when it became available. Not the same, but it works for me. It’s more like a substitute for the telegram than a mailed, handwritten letter… a supersonic speed telegram via WhatsApp!! (I wonder if they still use telegrams to communicate. Concise. Crisp. Succinct. The very dry form of communication)

I recall grandma telling us how she dreaded getting telegrams when my father was at sea during World War II. Letters were extremely rare. And once, when a letter he’d written arrived, it was after he’d got back! So if he would send telegrams whenever he could to inform them that he was well. Not that they reached as early as you’d expect they did. But definitely earlier than a letter would! Both my grandparents waited anxiously for news and yet dreaded it when the postman knocked on their door. Grandpa would laugh as he recalled how grandma would start crying even before the postman placed the telegram into her trembling hands… Only to end up drying tears of joy!

Back in those days, the postman in a small town in Punjab was more of a friend. Many illiterate people would ask the postman to read the letters out to them. And it wasn’t odd if they even asked him to write a letter for them as they dictated it. At my grandparents’ place, he was their tea and hookah buddy. No wonder letters were delayed more than necessary, they weren’t delivered in time!! And I say this with understanding and not as a rant.

I had the opportunity, much, much later to witness a tete a tete between my grandfather and the postman on one of his delivery visits. He was a storehouse of news. And my grandfather wanted to hear all the inside news about everybody! As did many others I suppose. Needless to say, I didn’t understand a word. Even though the postman had changed by then, the new fellow carried on the tradition.

I myself found snail mail wonderful – there was a lot of anticipation and the joy of looking forward to an envelope or inland letter bearing your name and address beats an email on your laptop or phone. There was pleasure in guessing from the handwriting whose letter it was before checking the sender’s name on the flip side to confirm. The handwriting was a personal touch. Besides pushing a letter into a letter box also held so much of hope and expectation… Something that is lost in an email.

I was thrilled when I received an unexpected letter addressed to me in the mail in April, this year. It’s been donkey’s years since I’ve received personal mail via snail mail. I was excited like a child! I tried to guess the handwriting from the handwritten address. But it wasn’t familiar. This piqued my interest even more. Finally I tore open the envelope and discovered it was a handwritten letter asking about my welfare and if I had settled into life in a new city. And wishing me for Easter. It was from our pastor and his wife in NB.

I have kept that letter in safe keeping. It meant so much to me that someone had thought about me and cared enough to not send a store bought card but write a personal greeting and letter. It didn’t matter that it reached eight days after Easter. The personal touch… what happiness it brings.

Not writing letters by hand is bad enough, but what’s worse, I discovered that I was finding it awkward to handle a pen. My handwriting wasn’t as neat as it used to be! With everything typed out, I found the pen an alien object. Anyway, I persist in keeping a handwritten journal even though I’m not regularly writing in it. Needless to say it seems like chickens have been running wild on the pages leaving behind their untidy scrawl.

Times change and we must change with it to keep up in many things. I’ll always miss the personal touch of a handwritten letter that held more than the identity of the person in the strokes, slashes and curls, and the cuts and the dots!

The River – Very Short Stories

This story is fiction loosely based on a true incident. I have woven it around news and true incidents of floods and flash floods that occur at many places during the monsoon season. Read more about it at the end.

The river had always been there. It had been a part of every phase of Nandu’s life. His boyhood was spent cooling off in its cool water during the hot summer afternoons. And of course, the fish which was their daily meal came from the river. The river was their lifeline.

Nandu used to make and sell marigold garlands to the devotees, who thronged the ‘Ghats’. They were people who bathed in the river, believing it would wash away their sins

The river was holy for those who believed. For Nandu, it was an extra buck. The more the people, the more garlands he sold, as these were used in the ritual of offering prayers and other religious rites.

Nandu was an orphan who would have met a watery death in the river if it hadn’t been for ‘Nani’ (Nani is the Hindi word for maternal grandmother). Mary, who was called Nani by all and sundry, wasn’t his relative. She had picked up the abandoned baby from the riverbank. She was the only family he knew. She was poor but had a heart of gold; uneducated but wise. Very early, she taught Nandu the importance of the river in their lives.

He remembered how fascinated and scared he was as a child, when he saw the river in spate for the first time, during a rather heavy monsoon downpour. It swelled and overflowed its banks and the angry swirling water threatened to flood the town.

“Nani, where does the river come from ?”

“From a very big mountain, high up in the Himalayas,” she replied.

“Where does it go ?”

“Very, very far. To the end of the rainbow.”

“What does it do there ?” asked Nandu in wonderment.

“It goes up the rainbow and returns to the mountain.”

“Nani, does the river never end?”

“No, it goes on forever.”

He thought for a while, then turned to Nani again.

“But Nani, why is it so angry?”

“Because you have been very naughty.”

“If I say I’m sorry, will it stop from flooding the town?”

“Well, it’s always good to say you’re sorry,” was her circumspect reply.

“Will it forgive me?”

“That’s for the river to say. I cannot speak for it,” was her gentle reply. “It does what it has to do, goes where it has to go. It is controlled by external powers that often overpower man’s superior and scientific mind.”

“It scares me when it is in fury, like this,” he said. “I fear it will wash me away too. It will carry me away to the rainbow.”

“Don’t worry about that. You weren’t destined to be carried away.” She said that with the confidence that only comes with knowledge.

“How do you know that Nani?!”

“The river takes only those who belong to it,” she replied quietly, “those whose life purpose has been fulfilled. Only they flow to the rainbow.”

Nandu sat quietly, contemplating that information.

Mary’s life revolved around Nandu. Their need for each other arose from a deep-seated pain within, which grew out of rejection and abandonment. Nandu’s adoration and respect for Nani grew as he watched her slog from dawn to dusk, to keep him clothed, fed, and educated. Mary would take up any work she found. Sometimes it would be breaking stones, where a road was being built, or carrying mud and bricks on her head at a construction site. But she was always full of warmth, comfort, and love.

Her face was sunburnt and her hands were rough. She was strong. Nandu was in awe of her especially when she got into one of her tempers. Her eyes would blaze and her tongue would lash the recipient of her ire.

One day, Mary came home with Paul, whom she had met at the site where a Christian hospital was being built. Nandu and Paul sat talking late into the night. That day Nandu learned about another river – the river of life that flowed from the Rock of Ages.

Paul began visiting them often. Nandu’s curiosity led him to question and debate all that he was learning about the “great Fisherman”; His life, crucifixion, and resurrection. Day by day he grew in the knowledge and love of Christ. He would read passages from the Bible Paul had gifted him, and listen intently as his new friend explained the mysteries of the Word. Mary watched with immense joy and contentment. Her life’s work would fructify in Nandu and flow like the river, beyond the rainbow to salvation and everlasting life.

One day they gathered at the river and Nandu was baptized by a visiting pastor. That night dark clouds gathered in the sky. There was a mighty crash of thunder as a cloudburst over the town took the people unawares. Before they realized what was happening the deluge engulfed and destroyed everything in its path.

Nandu awoke in a hospital ward. He was disoriented and confused. Paul, sitting on a chair by his bedside, silently watched him.

Nandu shut his eyes and slowly it all came back.

The flash.

The roar.

The deluge.

It wrenched his heart and his body convulsed with bitter sobs. The only vivid memory he had was of Nani being carried away by the devouring water. She didn’t fight or try to save herself. She seemed a part of the river — She was the river, flowing on forever.

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(This was first published on FaithWriters.com (2006-2009) Under the title ‘Beyond The Rainbow’. I’ve edited it a bit and changed its title.

This story was inspired by a true incident where someone I knew, an affluent lady, adopted the girlchild of a laborer she saw while driving down the hilly, undulating roads of the place she lived. The woman was on work as a part of the paid labor working on repairing the hill roads. Her baby girl, about a few months old, was in a hammock made out of cloth and hung from branches of trees stacked up to hold the hammock with its tiny load. She agreed to give up the child who was the youngest one of perhaps 4 or 5 kids! She already had two girls and was only too happy to give this one away. This little girl grew up in her new well-to-do, non-Christian family without any knowledge of her birth parents. She was educated in a prestigious Christian school.

Much later, when she was a young woman, like Nandu in the story, she embraced Christianity. I learned about this last development recently. Another similarity, like Nandu, she lost her mother, my colleague, when she was still a young schoolgirl. It was an untimely death and came as a shock. When this story was written, I never imagined in my wildest thoughts that the little girl my colleague had adopted would turn to Christ since the family followed another religion. So I was quite surprised at how this story merged in some points at the end.

The rest is all fiction.

Let’s Talk… not on the phone

I’ve noticed, in particular, during the lockdown days, how people, who weren’t employed in any job (so no WFH) were more often on the phone calling or face timing with friends or relatives. It’s not that they weren’t doing it before, but during these days they seemed to be desperately in need to chat. I would wonder how they could keep chatting almost every day for hours. And I wondered what they talked about. And then it struck me that it was a psychological reaction. The lockdown distanced us physically. And that created a false sense of emotional distancing as well. So facetime calls and phone calls picked up to belie the false sense of being cut off from family and friends.

I’m not much of a phone person and as such, I don’t get any calls unless there’s something – some news or necessary information – that has to be conveyed to me directly. I rarely call someone just because I want to chat or someone wants to chat with me. Some have tried calling me to ‘pass time’ as they call it, but either I would be occupied with something and not pick the call or then I’d be brief, and after finding there wasn’t anything important or urgent about the call, I’d curtail the chitchat.

If at all I connect, it is via WhatsApp. And that is always a back and forth short messaging. I get to know what’s happening at their end and that all is well. They get to know that we are well. Videos allow me to see activities, conveniently at my time, without me getting stuck in one spot. Barring one friend, I’ve not had phone conversations with anyone, friends or relatives, that lasted any great length of time! And even with her, we’re not on the phone often. Our calls are few and far between, but when we connect, we lose track of time and could be on the phone for two hours! No exaggeration.

So the lockdown didn’t send me to the phone. It’s not that I wasn’t affected. I was. But in a different way. I missed not being able to have my usual pit stop after my walk, at Tim’s, where I’d sit with a cup of almond milk tea and read, write, or catch up with a group of new found “Tim’s” friends. I savored those moments… at times three hours would pass away in a jiffy and I’d be surprised.

And also the times, at least thrice in the week, the grandkids would accompany me on my walks only because they wanted to sit with me at Tim’s later. It’s amazing how they’d also keep occupied with crafty things, reading, drawing or then we’d play table games like Name-Place-Animal-Thing, Qwirkle, or Spot It! We’d talk too… joke and share little snippets of our day. These were wonderful moments. The creation of beautiful memories. I missed this very much.

I admit, the lockdown did affect me. But it didn’t drive me to the phone. My walks helped me at these times. I love to be in open spaces. But inclement weather, rainy days, snowfall, black ice, storms, played the villain quite often through, each in its own season, season after season but more so during the long winters.

Snowbound… beautiful outside, but bound inside! Pic: Joy Clarkson

I missed not being able to connect with nature. Be out in the open. Beneath the boughs of the trees that lined the sidewalks and lanes. Look at the clouds that floated above or an early moon that walked me home.

The companion that walked me home. Pic: Joy Clarkson

Still, that didn’t send me running to the phone. I never needed to chat away the hours to ward off boredom or the doldrums. Instead, I’d occupy myself with reading sitting by a window, or as I do now, where I shifted, by the wide dining room door that opens out onto the deck and the backyard.

I’m glad I connect with nature, in a way, daily via my walks. But I’m also glad I am that person who when locked in during the pandemic restrictions or then due to inclement weather, will stand by the window and look out and:

Soak in the patch of blue sky. Float on the billowy white clouds

My patch of blue. And billowy clouds. Pic: Joy Clarkson

Gaze in awe at the splendor of a sunrise or at a sunset as a masterpiece of divine art.

A beautiful sunrise. Pic: Joy Clarkson

Sway on the branches of the tree below my window.

Pic: Joy Clarkson

Run with the squirrel along the fence in the backyard.

Pic: Joy Clarkson

Hop with the little bird on the deck looking for morsels of food.

Our frequent visitor. Pic: Joy Clarkson

Or have a staring match with the black cat that also comes uninvited into the yard and at times peeps into the dining room! A peeping Tom!

The peeping tom. Pic: Joy Clarkson

Sit with a crow in silent companionship – he perched on a lamppost by my window, I leaning against the window – solitary observers.

Pic: Joy Clarkson

Dance with the snowflakes to the song, “Hey. hey snowflakes, my pretty little snowflakes, the change in the weather has made it better for me, Hey, hey snowflakes, my pretty little snowflakes, you got me warm as a fire with a burning desire for you,” as they twirl in crazy swirls, buffeted by the wind and float down past the window pane.

I need nature – the outdoors, even if it is only a glimpse, as the parched earth needs the rain.

A phone call and gossip aren’t what I need to fill a void.

I love to chat with friends and family, but not too often on the phone. I prefer a face-to-face conversation. I think that places me in a minority group. Almost everyone from teens to the elderly is connecting with family and friends daily, more than once in a day! I can’t call up someone just to tell them what I’m cooking or give them a rundown on my daily chores. Nor would I call just to pass on some juicy gossip! If at all I’m inclined to do so, there’s always WhatsApp! It keeps chatter short. To the point. Gets news across and spreads gossip even faster! 😛

“When you meet me, you think I’m quiet. When you talk to me, you’re glad I’m not. When you know me, you get scared when I’m quiet.” I have no clue who to attribute this to. I read it online.

I’m not a quiet person per se. I am quite chatty. But I like my quiet moments between exchanging news and views with the immediate family around me, conversations, and games with the grandkids. I’d rather immerse myself in a book, or in a mystery/detective/thriller/comic web series, movie. I like to cook if I have hearty eaters to feed. I like to sketch, paint, sing, and click photographs, or then get engrossed in some form of activity involving words if there’s nothing much to talk about or there’s no company!

Lately, I’ve been seriously trying to record as many memories as I can to compile coffee table books with photographs, recipes, anecdotes, etc. for the family. And all these activities preclude conversation. Unlike many others, I don’t like to chat even when I’m cooking! I want to be alone while I work in the kitchen.

The mobile phone, as far as I’m concerned, is a great thing to have when you need to communicate with someone urgently, or convey a message, give necessary instructions, and very convenient for reaching overseas contacts. Handy as a ready-at-hand diary. You have all the important information like addresses, phone numbers, etc., in one place and at hand.

So, yes, though I don’t use it all that much to chat with friends and family, nevertheless, it’s something I need. I panic if I go out without my phone. The phone is as necessary and important to me, too!

Across The Bridge – very short stories

From the archives! This one is loosely based on a true story told to me by a colleague. I’ve added some and embellished it with my own imagination.

Anna awoke from her sleep with a start. She sat up in bed. She was drenched in perspiration and her breathing was heavy. The dream was recurring more frequently these days. Teresa was by her side in an instant.

“What is it memsahib” she asked. “Is it the dream?”

“Yes, the same bridge with turbulent waters flowing beneath, and I stood looking longingly at the dreamland on the other side, but was too scared to go across. I was trembling all over.

Pic: Ronaldo de Oliveira. Unsplash

“Don’t worry memsahib,” Teresa said, and gave her a glass of water and tucked her in.

The next day, Anna woke up to exceedingly good news. Rhea, her granddaughter, was coming from Singapore. She had met Rhea for the first time the previous year. She was twenty-three, bright and vivacious. Anna’s son had married and settled in Singapore. She had met her daughter-in-law just once, when Deepak brought his newly wedded wife to meet his family. After that Deepak too was an infrequent visitor.

Anna was ecstatic. She flitted around tidying up her little room and even took extra care in choosing her clothes and doing her hair. Teresa was happy to see her memsahib looking so nice. It had been a long time since Anna had taken interest in herself.

Anna was born into an affluent family. She was the only child and her parents doted on her. Every little wish of hers became their command, till she turned seventeen. Anna fell in love with a boy her parents didn’t approve of, but she stubbornly stood her ground, and they relented quite reluctantly. Anna’s hopes of continuing her college education were cut short when she became pregnant a month after the wedding. By eighteen she was a mother; at twenty-one, she lost both her parents in an accident, and on her twenty-fifth birthday, she became a widow.

According to the custom of her in-laws’ community, she was forbidden to wear bright colors or jewelry, and she could not participate in any celebrations. And according to superstition, she was considered unlucky. Her husband dying on her birthday made things worse. There was talk about it being a punishment for this ‘interfaith’ marriage. “Manhoos” (bad luck) was what they branded her. She was shifted to two small rooms in the outhouse attached to the servant’s quarters. However, Deepak, her son, was made to stay in the main house and was brought up by his uncle.

This was when Anna realized her folly in not paying heed to her parents’ objections to her marriage outside their religion and culture. Deepak grew apart from his mother and the chasm widened when he was sent to study abroad. If it hadn’t been for Teresa, Anna would have landed up in an asylum. Teresa had been sent to her by her parents, to look after Deepak. But God had other plans and Teresa became Anna’s caregiver.

Anna couldn’t forgive her in-laws for what they had done. She was angry and thought God had given up on her too. The only person she met or spoke to was Teresa. Sometimes someone from the house would come to meet her, but she wouldn’t talk to them. Soon even these visits stopped. Then Rhea came into her life like a bright ray of sunshine. Whenever she came on business trips, she visited her and she’d spend most of her time with Anna whom she called Dadi (father’s mother). She was pained to see how Anna had been treated by the other relatives and couldn’t understand why her father did not take his mother out of this pathetic living condition. She had left with promises that she would do something if no one else did.

Anna kept looking at the clock on the wall. Time was dragging its feet! She was annoyed. She was excited. She was waiting eagerly for her beloved granddaughter. What if she didn’t show up?

The sound of a car, a honk, followed by the sound of footsteps, perked her up.

“Dadi, I’m back,” announced Rhea hugging Anna tightly. Wasting no time in further chit chat or pleasantries, she turned to Teresa, “Pack up Dadi’s things. Oh, and yours too,” she added.

“Why missy baby?” asked Teresa.

“Because you are coming to live with me too. I’ve joined a firm here and shifted base and I’m taking my darling Dadi with me.”

There was hardly anything to pack so it wasn’t long before they were in the car and speeding along to their new home. Anna closed her eyes and relaxed. And once again she was at the bridge, but this time she was not alone. Boldly she put her hand into her Maker’s hand and crossed the bridge.

“Dadi, wake up. We’ve arrived.”

Anna opened her eyes and smiled, Yes my child we have indeed, she said. What’s that line you quoted the last time you were here?

“If you hug to yourself any resentment against anybody else, you destroy the bridge by which God would come to you,” repeated Rhea.

“Ah, a wise head on such young shoulders,” and she kissed Rhea tenderly.

Joy Clarkson

(This was first published on FaithWriters.com in a series of stories between 2006-2009)

Three’s A Crowd – Cagha with a bell.

I think I’m missing the flora and fauna of my surroundings in NB. I miss the crows that would often alight on the trees behind my room and the ones that frequented the big one outside the dining room window. So, I hopped over to my photoblog to view some pics I’d clicked through my window. I liked these ones and the refreshed childhood memory of my pet crow Cagha. A crow that I didn’t call my pet because it was caged. But a crow that flew free and wild but visited me and responded to my call if it were ever in the vicinity. I am sharing this post I’d written much earlier for my Photoblog.

Through my window, I watched a scene played out within seconds between 8.21 am and 8.22 am, on the branches of a tree. At 8.21, I observed a single crow land on a branch. Quick on its tail came the second one. That’s when I decided to click them.

I hurried but by then, I saw the third fly in and perch by them. I clicked furiously and before I knew it the third whizzed off. The other two continued in silent companionship for a while and then made for wherever their heart desired. Somehow I found some humor here and also nostalgia.

Two’s company, three’s a crowd,’ I thought. My mind going back to #Cagha… my ‘Cagha with a ghungroo’! A ghungaroo is a small dancer’s bell. A number of these are either stitched to a panel of cloth or strung on a cord which is then fastened around a dancer’s ankle.

I was looking for some quotes about crows and found quite a few; poems, quotes, sayings. There are so many things written about crows and not all complimentary or kind. Its black color and lack of any aesthetic features, its nature – predatory, all seem to go against it.

Back in my country, crows don’t come under such strong discrimination. At least, I’m not aware of it. In fact, superstition says, if a crow sits on the roof shingles, patio, verandah, garden or branch of a tree in close proximity to the house, faces your property, caws away to glory, it means you’ll be having guests, usually, unexpected ones!

When I was a little child, and we lived in the Southern part of the country, locals believed that eating crow’s meat would cure whooping cough! I cannot vouch for this cure but it remained a popular belief.

To me, crows were sneaky snatchers. I’ve had sandwiches and other eatables plucked out of my hand many a time. But as a child and an adult, my attitude towards them has never been one of hatred or dislike.

In fact, as a little girl, I found them interesting. I associated them with the occult, magic, and other sinister activities and since I loved reading about witches, ghosts, and everything scary, yes, they had my attention; crows were intriguing. This anecdote from my childhood will illustrate this better.

CAGHA my pet crow –

We lived on a Naval base in the South on a manmade island in the backwaters. Flocks or should that be a murder of crows flocked to our big front garden daily because I and my brother would feed them with crumbs or anything we could snitch from the store. I would call out “Aaa, Aaa,” {”come, come”} with an outstretched arm, goodies in my cupped hand {that’s also how, sometimes, my food would get snatched out of my other hand! ;)}.

One day, a young crow landed plonk in the middle of the spacious front verandah where I sat astride the balustrade eating and feeding the crows as usual. My elder brother picked the bird to inspect what was wrong because it was hobbling, and couldn’t fly either. Someone had clipped a few of its wing feathers haphazardly and injured one leg.

We swung into action. It was so exciting. We yelled for Mummy. She always knew what to do when we were stumped! Especially with wounds, cuts, bruises, or illness. She’d come up with some home remedy that would work winders.

Sometime later, Mummy, with the cook’s help smeared turmeric and some kind of oil, coconut or mustard, I’m not sure, on the wound and bandaged it. They put the poor thing in a cage that had once housed a parrot that escaped. I removed a small brass ‘gunghroo’ from my ankle bells {Indian dancers wear them around their ankles} and tied it around the neck loose enough so it wouldn’t choke, and tight enough so the bell wouldn’t fall off.

We nursed Cagha, that’s what I named the crow, back to health. The wing feathers grew back a bit and it would hop and make short flights around the room until one day, Cagha flew out the door and perched itself on the balustrade of the front balcony. There was a sudden shout of joyful cawing from a few fellow crows gathered outside; in the garden and the tree outside the wall.

Cagha cawed, spread his wings and joined the tribe. I was sad, lost and alone.

Many days passed and Cagha never returned. Mummy consoled me saying that the season had changed and the crows would be back after a few months. Still, I would ritually make my calls for Cagha every day from the front verandah. I have always been the ever hopeful, persevering one!

She was wrong. 

Cagha returned after two weeks or so.

He flew down to where I was, bigger and stronger, with the ghunghroo jangling around the neck. Words can’t describe my joy! Our twosome companionship carried on a few months and then, Cagha disappeared.

Later that year, I spotted him, the jangling bell giving him away. He was in the branches of the tree outside. I called to him. No response. I gave up.

Then I heard a flutter of wings, a caw and there was Cagha. He flew in like the wind, perched near me for a split second, and took off. Not alone, but with the other one on the tree. He had forged his own twosome – COMPANY. I made it a CROWD!

“Goodbye Cagha,” I whispered softly.

My seven-year-old heart was broken!

Years later in my teens another pet, the wild and free kind, a chipmunk named ‘Chippy,’ conveyed the same message to me with a tiny nip on my palm! It didn’t break my heart, but it took me by surprise!

A Better Morning. A Proverb. And A Mare’s Snort!

Needed a reminder to hold on tight to my sense of humor. Sometimes, it threatens to slide and I feel a weight on my shoulders! Well, it’s back up where it should be. I am so glad I read this today. The memory is funnier than the account.

It's In The Tale

FullSizeRenderA street in Viña.

It’s a cold day… it snowed in the night and was snowing when I awoke. But now it’s stopped and I’m feeling the cold. My thoughts, as they tend to, travel back and forth to better memories of places or incidents; times that could take my mind off the cold by warming my heart. So, I read through my journal.

This entry brought a smile as it ended. I do recall that day.

A Better Morning

Well, it’s usually a good morning every day for me. So, I thought I should qualify that by a degree and add “Better” instead to the morning. Chilean mornings are different. The house is quiet, in fact, the whole world around our block and a couple of blocks away too are blissfully silent. Not even a squawk from the gulls. Probably, there are no gulls anyway.

How different from the…

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Tiny Conversations – Gloating, Glowing & Loved!

The biggest change that came about when I became a grandparent was the way I’d allow relaxations on rules on more occasions than I did as a mother with my children. And I’d join in the huge fun they’d have because of it. I also noticed that while I loved my sons and still do to the moon and back, with the grandkids it’s difficult to explain how my love surpasses that! I was proud of my boys’ achievements back in the day and in the present too. But with these little ones, I’m ecstatic and over the moon and gloat (shamelessly!). It doesn’t matter if someone might not be so pleased to hear about what they did and how proud they make me. I crow! (shamelessly!)

So here’s a warning: This is a gloating, proud grandma posting!

I like to keep a Word Search booklet with me. It keeps me happily occupied when I’ve done all that I had to do or when I need to take a break from something or the other! For a few days Amaara, the older twin ( by a few minutes) had been watching me. The twins were 7 yrs old then.

Amu: “Dada, why aren’t you doing your word search? Are you tired of it?”

No! I’ve finished the whole book. I need to buy another one. And with all the restrictions and warnings, I don’t go to crowded places myself.

Amu: “Then why don’t you ask mama or papa to get it for you?”

No… I don’t want to bother anyone. Besides, I prefer to buy my things myself. I like to pick and choose what I want. Someone else will not know exactly what I want.

Amu: “Oh! Yes, they won’t know. And if they get something you don’t like, you won’t use it. It will go waste.”

Exactly my point! It will be a waste of money as well. That would be worse.

Amu: “Oh, Dada! she said with the most loving and adoring look.”

She left my room after a bit of chit chat. Later, that afternoon, Miraaya, the younger one, came excitedly into my room with a broad grin on her face.

Mia: “Dada, Dada! Guess what! Amu has a surprise for you!”

She sure had the biggest, sweetest, and most loving surprise for me. My little sweetheart had made a Word Search booklet for me.

Amu:“Dada, see what I made for you. You don’t have to go out. Now you can do your word cross puzzles!”

But I don’t do cross word, baby. I prefer the quicker and easier word search. It leaves me more time for other things.

Amu: Makes a funny, disappointed face. “I made a big mistake. I forgot the name of the activity and wrote Word Cross Puzzle instead.”

She gave me the stapled 3-page booklet with a cocktail of emotions. On her face and particularly in her eyes, I could see the great waves of love, kindness, caring, thoughtfulness, and they engulfed me. What a special bonding we have!

Here is the little booklet Amu made for me so lovingly.

The mix-up in the title she was sorry about.

And I was quite impressed, one day, when the younger twin, Miraaya, brought back this Math feedback she gave to her teacher in class.

I went through the three points she had mentioned and thought back some decades, to the time I was a 7+! I’d have never been able to write with such clarity about what I wanted more from my Math lessons. And in any case, I wasn’t doing what they are learning now in Math class! At seven we weren’t talking “strategies”! And even if I could express myself so well in writing, I wouldn’t have written a positive ‘feedback’ about Math. I never liked math! LOL

I am so glad she likes Math so much. And I’m so blessed to be able to experience these little day-to-day activities. Being a grand parent is such a beautiful part of life. I’m fortunate to be able to be a part of all my grandkids’ daily life. I learn so much when I talk to them; play games with them; when they share their thoughts with me or ask me numerous questions.

Well, if you’ve reached this far – Thank You! I appreciate it 🙂