Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Reminiscences- That Story...

Did you witness what was supposed to be the last complete lunar eclipse of this year? I missed it! By some fifteen minutes. So when I finally did climb onto the terrace, the majestic moon was not clearly in sight. That was because, it was right overhead. Putting her knowledge on display, my sister pointed upwards and said "Aapko pata hai didi, jab moon sar par hota hai, tab hamara weight sabse kam hota hai." I grinned and looked up to thank Mr. Moon for granting some respite to a universally-criticized-for-being-overweight-girl. I do not know the logic behind this fact, nor the veracity of the same- but I am glad I locked eyes with the famously romantic moon.

With a halo of soft glow surrounding it, the moon surpassed it's own reputation for being one of the most alluring celestial objects. It glowed right down at me, and like a loser out of some romantic bollywood flick, I smiled back at it. On fewer occasions have I seen it more beautiful. Nascent out of an blanket of darkness, which first consumed it, and then revealed with care and titillation its radiance to the world, the moon was like this fresh damsel waiting to be appreciated by all. Why would I not get poetic? And then the focus shifted from its beauty, to its blemishes. These otherwise obscure spots were strikingly visible today, may be adding more to the moon's beauty (as the cliche goes), may be taking away from it. For me, they played the role of a memory bell, which rang hard to bring back to my mind the most touching of stories I heard this year, which is fast fleeting by.

It interests me to know the story behind each new individual I come across. All of us do have our stories, each distinct, each worthy of being told. I met many interesting people this year, heard many interesting stories, but there was this one which stuck by with remarkable obstinacy. I do not think I am the authority to be telling this story, still I will. Because I know this is one tale which will not simply breeze past my head once I feel I have absorbed it enough. I feel a need to put it into words. A simple, subtle, short story.

There was a girl in my college, a junior, who with humility in her disposition, sincerity in her eyes and sweetness in her smile immediately warmed my heart to her. She was one of the most active workers of WSDC, the society I presided over when in college and with whatever responsibilities she was given, did never let me down. I often noticed some hints of recalcitrance in her social interactions, but once given the confidence of being the ablest at discharging duties entrusted to her, she would work with tireless dedication to translate all our visions as a society into reality. I did also notice some abnormality in her skin sometimes, it appeared to me too wrinkled for her age. But I didn't think much about it, partly because of the fear of developing awkwardness while looking at her, and partly because of her face which I genuinely found wonderfully beautiful to look at. I did ponder over the possible story behind her ever smiling face, but never had time to ask or to sit down and listen to her.

This was till she herself told not just me, but our whole WSDC family a small part of her life's story in blue ink, on a couple of A4 sheets. We had organized a bilingual creative writing competition for pan-Delhi students, the best entries of which were to be published in our annual magazine "Being A Woman; Being Me". She participated, chose to express herself in Hindi and picked up the simplest, yet the most sacred of the themes to write her entry on- "Mamta Ki Chhaon". While I received the best of poems and powerful prose works under the same heading, hers was different- it was a simple tale of concealed poignancy.

I was right when I thought that the wrinkly skin she has was kind of abnormal. From what I got to know later, she was born with it, born with a rare skin disease. Belonging to an extremely humble background, she related how her mother told her later on in life the reaction her birth met with from the elder and insensitive relatives. Her's was not a celebratory welcome to planet earth. Her welcome was one ridden with shock, dejection and, as I hinted earlier, insensitivity. Firstly, she was a girl- and yes, my experiences within the framework of WSDC have taught me that large sections of Indian populace are still obsessed with the wont for a male progeny, which often leads them to lament the arrival of a girl-child. Secondly, she was not the prettiest of babies, as her so-called astute relatives saw it. The concerned relatives did not hesitate from labeling the new born as inauspicious, as a burden and best to be kept away from. And yes, I hope you could guess I am writing as euphemistically as I can.

However, God's abundant grace, encapsulated within the single body of her mother was what proved to be a lifelong blessing for that still unaware infant girl. Her mother was the one who saw all the beauty in the world in her daughter's innocent face. She was the one who resolved to not just take care of her child, but to help her grow into a smart and educated young lady. Her mother was the one who ensured not a single speck of dust ever touched her daughter as that could trigger off immediate allergic reactions. Her mother was the one who stood by her daughter and inspired her to consistently progress ahead. She always tried and is still trying to find a remedy for her daughter's skin condition, but that without ever letting her daughter feel that she lacks something or is different from others in anyway. Her parents have fasted for her; told her she is their adorable and intelligent daughter. The girl, on her part, admits, that if she is alive, it could not have been if not for her mother. She prays that each daughter born on our land be blessed with the kind of affection her mother showered her with.

I do not know if this is her story, or her mother's, but the beauty of a mother daughter relationship is that they are both inalienable parts of each others stories. Because their lives overlap, their stories do too. It is only one of those many stories I know, which is in the process of unfolding. I only hope the best for this girl who gave me the most memorable story of the year. And since this post has turned out to be very long, and I cannot find a fitting end to it, I will just leave the readers with these lines I read somewhere on the occasion of mother's day-

Motherhood makes women crib, complain, eat chocolates and cry. But ask any mum whether she'd barter it for anything in the world and you'll get one hurt, definitive answer. A big, fat, "NO".

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