Meeting Mom

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First!.”

I was trying to chase the tiny, cuddly, yellow puppy with silky fur, big green eyes and small tail. It was so much fun. We ran around the big trees and the bushes and even ran close to the lily pond.  At one point I had to stop and watch the brown squirrel with stripes on his body trying to carry the nut. Then the puppy came from behind me. He tried to get my attention with a soft bark as if to remind me that we are in the middle of a game so I needed to continue that chase.  In the middle of the beautiful chase I heard my name

“Wake up Sue, wake up”

I opened my eyes slowly and saw my grand- mother, dressed up with a beautiful sari and sparkly gold jewellery. She leaned towards me and said “There is a surprise for you, so get ready quickly, we have to go to the airport.”

Like all kids, surprise was a nice word for me, although, it was associated with so many things.

Lots of different thoughts wandered in my tiny brain and excited me too much.  My grand- mother’s happiness associated with surprise could mean a lot of things, either I will get a real puppy, or a new dress again or we will go for a long drive, or a coloring book or may be a new parrot for the empty cage (for the third time). I could not think of any thing else. It was too much to think in the morning.

We are a very big family with lots of aunts and uncles and maids to help. That particular day they were all running around, decorating the house with beautiful lights and flowers, cooking various delicious dishes,  as if there will be a big party. I was wandering around in the house and looking at the decorations and the excitement on every one’s face when one of my aunts carried me to an upstairs bed room and put me on a chair. She opened the closet and looked for a pretty dress, then dressed me nicely with a light blue silk dress with white laces on the border and small white flowers on the collar. I had a gold chain on and two bracelets on both wrists. I turned my face to the mirror and liked my reflection.

I was almost ready to go down stair to see the surprise, but my aunt asked me to sit still on the chair in front of the mirror. She combed my long thick hair and made a nice ponytail. She bent down with a big satisfied smile and squeezed my cheek.  Then she carried me downstairs to the car. I sat close to my grand –father. He was very tall and handsome and always had a big smile on his face. He was and always will be special to me. I loved him a lot. He used to carry me everywhere and bring the things that I liked -sweets, chocolates, ice cream and lots and lots of books.  I loved my grand- mother too. She was a very loving, gentle, kind hearted and warm person. She used to take me to movies, to sari and jewelry shops and to her friend’s houses. Every night she used to tell me beautiful bed time stories. They were more than parents to me- they were my Universe, for five years. As I was the only kid in the house, I was on everybody’s radar. I was not a princess from the fairy tale but was treated as one in the house.

There were three cars with aunts and uncles.  We drove to the airport thirty minutes from the house. I could see the big entrance gate.  We got out from the cars and walked towards the building. I held my grand- father’s hand and walked up on the stairs. I looked through the big glass window, it was very sunny but the sky was blue with nice white puffy clouds. I like the color blue that always make me happy. Then I noticed the big, long plane. Lots of people were coming out from them. I turn my head to see my grand -parents and noticed their twinkling eyes, big smile and lots of excitement on their faces. I thought may be the big plane and the people were the main reason of all these happiness. After a few minutes a door opened and grand- father carried me inside and all the others followed him. There was a tall guy with a lady and a small boy.  They came and touched my grand- parent’s feet and hugged each other. I saw a few drops of tears on my grand ma’s eyes. Quickly I handed her a cotton napkin to wipe the tears because I do not like tears. I like smiles and lots of them.

I turned my head towards the lady standing in the corner with the small boy. She had a fair skin, long hair in a braid, and big eyes with eye glasses perched on her nose. The small boy, taller than me, also had a fair skin and big pink cheeks. This is the first time I saw such fair skin or I did not notice it before. The lady walked towards me with a pretty doll and handed it to me with a smile. I looked at my grand -parents to a make sure that if it is fine to accept the doll from the stranger. They held my hand gently and told me that “Go ahead take the doll. Do you know that they are your dad and mom and the boy is your elder brother? Go give them a hug” I looked at them and my grand- parents with confusion and surprise. I stepped back. In my mind I was in a dilemma about two sets of parents because my grand-parents were the world to me, and I could not live without them.  Then suddenly I had one more pair of parents and a brother! I backed away few feet and hugged my grand- father tightly with tears in my eyes and said “I do not want to call anybody else dad, because you are my dad, is not it?” He bent down and wiped my tears then told me “we are your grand- parents and loved you too much.  Your dad went to Canada to do his PhD with your mother and elder brother. That time you were just a tiny baby so you stayed with us. Now that they are back you should stay with them. But in every weekend you will come and stay with us and we will have fun too.”

I looked up, around with a disturbed emotion. My lips were half opened as if to say something but drew a breath and stood silent. My heart squeezed.  I did not understand these strange relationships but had to accept.

I opened my hand and took the doll from my mom.

( This is my real memory of meeting my mother in the airport.)

A Beautiful Saturday- Reflecting.

Hindsight

A fresh cold,windy and wet morning. The turf and paths are rustling with moist red and brown leaves. The rain fell fast enough to slice the green leaves from the big oak tree. The Prim rose and Crocuses are hidden under wintry drifts. The cold blue sky is half hidden by clouds. Today is Sunday. I am relaxing with a cup of roasted Dandelion root tea. The laptop sits on my lap and warms me further. I open up the daily prompt in  WordPress.

‘What? Really!’ I murmur to myself. I was surprised  that  I have to rewrite my first post. I thought that I misread the prompt. So I grabbed my reading glasses from the table and adjust it nicely on my nose, and then re-read the instructions. O’ fine, I say to myself. My first post was a very realistic experience, and was perfect for that particular time. The beginning is always so special and wonderful, from which I  started my journey in  WordPress.

‘We do not learn from experience..we learn from reflecting on experience.’–John Dewey.

Every day while writing we learn new ideas, face different challenges, and become more creative. I look forward to participating in each daily prompt.  Each blog wraps me  with more and more satisfaction and a happiness not only with my creation, but also in meeting other bloggers, making new friends and going through the comments,ideas and their sincere support. Things are better when shared. I am thankful to the WordPress for giving me  this beautiful space to explore.

The chirping sound of the baby  birds  woke me up . I turn my head to look  through the window. I see the sunbeams piercing the chinks of the shutter. I walk up to the window and see the beautiful rising Sun has painted the sky in pretty colors ,the still air humming, bustling  with summer life. The garden lilies scented the air and bloomed  in bright and brilliant scarlet and buttery yellow color.Some neighbors  are getting ready for walk with their dogs. Joy flash into my heart and light it up at once. My lips half-opened in  a vivid smile, an expression of joy. I have been waiting for this day.

After joining in the new job it is getting hard to make time for workout . But today I  have decided to go early to the gym, and try the new class they are offering. Morning tea can wait, so I gulp a glass of water and leave for the class.  It is very hard to find a parking place mostly the first two months of the year, as if every one suddenly gets aware of their health and tries to stick to a healthy routine.  The parking lot was full but there was one empty  spot under a tree, to the back of the YMCA building, as if waiting for me. I parked the car, rolled up the windows then walked leisurely towards the entrance of the building.  As soon as I enter, I met Robin, almost seventy-five, but still upright and trim. She is like an inspiration, always happy, cheerful and never misses the gym. After a little chat,we walk into the class room.Five minutes to class start, so we find a comfortable spot and decide to stretch a little just before the class to warm up the muscle.

A tall skinny lady walks in with a cheerful, pleasant smile wearing a shirt which says‘Body combat’. She introduces herself as Amy and about the class as a  non-contact martial art based fitness class,  with moves drawn from Karate, Tae- kwando, Kung- fu,  Kick boxing, Muay Thai,and  T’ ai chi. The music starts slowly, pulsing from side to side as the music builds up, then the fighting starts. It consists of simple punches,boxing hard, side and back kicks, shoot lunge. We visualize the  opponents and unleash into a series of fight. Our focus is speed, power and endurance.Sweats starts pouring like water, and heart-throb faster and faster.I try hard to concentrate on the Brazilian martial art “Ginga” and once mastered it flows perfectly. Right at the end we do the fast and powerful  shoulder blasting jabs. When the class ends we feel so tired but at the same time,  a smile of inner satisfaction that we stay to the end of the class. Legs are cramping but I walk slowly towards the new instructor with a smile to thank her for her high spirit and for the wonderful class. She gives me a hug  with a warm smile on her face and says,’please come to my next class on Monday’. ‘Sure’ I say and left waving my hand as if it is a promise to make each other happy by attending the class. I walked back slowly to the car with a heart full of gratitude for the wonderful start of my weekend.

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A Taste of Independence

“The car has become – an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad and incomplete”-Marshall McLuhan.

Aabha wrapped up the office work, and was almost done with the final draft for her class presentation, when the dark grey sky caught her attention. She adjusted her glass and looked through the window. It reminded her that there is a forecast for snow tonight. “O’ no, she said to herself,” The snow will start at any moment, but where is Sohil?” She looked at her watch and it was almost 4.” Ankit needs to be picked up from the school”.  Aabha decided to walk to the school before the weather gets worse. She locked the door and stepped outside. The north wind was blowing real hard, making her face numb. Aabha adjusted her hood, wrapped the scarf a little tighter around her neck and started speed walking. Finally she arrived at the school. As she opened the front door, Ankit came running and hugged Aabha, “Mom you are so late. All my friends were gone, and I had to play alone. Where is dad”? Ankit asked without taking any breath.  Aabha touched his face affectionately and said, “he will be here soon, not to worry.” His teacher Ms. Felinco walked up to her and said,” Good evening Mrs. Aabha! How was your day? Ankit was waiting eagerly for you. Please try to pick him up on time or let us know earlier so that something can be arranged at the child care center until you come.” Aabha apologized and promised to be on time. Then both Aabha and Ankit walked to the front entrance to wait for Sohil. They sat down on one of the bench and watched through the window  the  white, silvery , light snow flakes falling soundlessly from the sky and setting on  the tree branches, swing sets , sea saw.

Aabha and Sohil with their three and half year’s old son Ankit, came from India to Iowa for further studies. It is a small city comparable to any Indian city but to do errands one need a car. They are trying to adjust with one car but for sure it was not that easy. Late that night, after tucking Ankit to bed Aabha walked to the study room to finish her homework.  As she pulled the chair, Aabha noticed that the TV was on, but Sohil was lost in his own thought. She slipped onto the couch close to her husband to know what bothers him. Sohil rubbed his forehead and said, “Yes, I am enjoying my classes and work study is going on fine. But my schedule is so tight that it is hard to squeeze in any other activities. Sometimes I am getting late to work. But it will be a big help if you can get a driver’s license. Then it will be easier. We can take turn in doing the errands as dropping or picking Ankit from school and take him to the library, or to the park.” Aabha knew that Sohil had to juggle a lot, so she looked at Sohil’s concerned look and said “yes I guess it is a right decision and I will go for it”.

It was the second Saturday of May the driving lesson started. Sohil purchased a driver’s license book for Aabha to learn all the basic controls as windshield wiper function, the lights, seatbelts, blinkers, pedals, breaks , how  to adjust the mirrors, how to look and recognize different road signs. As Aabha was going through the manual, she thought for a second that ‘This is a cake, too simple’. But she had no idea about the next step until Sohil asked her to take the driver seat. Aabha slipped into the seat and turned on the engine for the first time, adjusted the mirror, changed the gear and started to push the pedal gently. The car moved but stopped in a jolt then Sohil said ‘Do not break just push the pedal slowly. After too many sudden breaks, they heard a sigh from the back seat, ’Mom will you please drive like dad otherwise my tummy hurts”. Aabha turned her head towards concerned Ankit and said ‘sure son I will try’. Then she headed to a nearby quieter neighborhood, and practiced driving back and forth, in circles for one hour. They did not know that her stop and start driving would generate suspicion among the older people in that street. They must have called the cop. It was getting dark when Aabha was finishing up her final turn for the day, when she noticed the flashing light on her mirror and the clear sight of the cop car. “O’ no it is the cop, I hope I did not do any mistake”, She wiped her forehead and steered the car to the side of the road. The cop approached to her and asked for the license then Sohil said “Officer I was teaching her to drive”. The officer smiled and said “It is fine, but please find out a different place and practice before the sun set and good luck to you!” Then he left. Aabha was thinking that the lessons were not a smooth ride.

After passing the written test Aabha was ready for the road test. Sohil dropped her in the Permit office in the morning and said “Not to worry it is just a driving test so just relax, and I am going to wait here until you are done”. Aabha tried to stay calm and went inside. After waiting for ten minutes Aabha heard her name to go to the front desk. As she was approaching the desk, a tall inspector in a neat uniform leaped out from his office  and extended his hand towards her and said,” Hello, you must be miss Aabha.” ” Yes sir”, Aabha replied with a smile. Then the officer asked her to lead him toward the car. He slid into the seat beside her, adjusted the seat belt. “Have you driven before?” “No sir, this is my first time”. He looked at Aabha from the corner of his eyes and must have sensed the nervousness in her, so he smiled and said” you will be fine, not to worry. Start the car then and go straight, then turn right at the corner”.

Aabha tried her best to stay cool, calm and collected. She turned on the engine, and drove the car smoothly, up to the street. Both were quiet, Aabha was trying her best to drive perfectly and the officer was watching her driving skill. Now ’left here ‘, he said and park between that SUV and the Blue van. Aabha looked at the closely parked vehicle but with caution squeezed the car in between them without too much maneuvering. ’O excellent’ he said, now turn into the main street here, and let’s see your driving in the heavy traffic’. Aabha looked at all the lanes and noticed only a handful of cars, then thought, ’May be this is heavy traffic for here, but nothing like the traffic we have in India’. It went smoothly until the officer asked her to take a right on the traffic light. As Aabha was taking the right turn, the traffic light turned red, and with a sudden break she stopped on the middle of the road.  The instruction in bold letter” Stop at the red light” flashed in her mind. Then she heard one or two honks from the concerned drivers and realized the blunder. Aabha looked sheepishly at the officer’s face and said “Sorry officer”, and pulled her leg slowly from the break. The officer was not that happy either. He said, “Go on take a turn here, and take the car back to the parking lot”. As soon as they reached in the parking lot the officer went inside the room and asked her to wait.  That was a very long fifteen minutes wait for Aabha. She had butterflies in her stomach. She was trying her best to stay calm but her heart was pounding faster and hands and feet were getting sweatier. The officer asked her to come in to his office. “Please have a seat. You were almost perfect in every area of the road test, except that one. So make sure not to stop suddenly on the middle of the road while taking the right turn. You will be given the permit, so just relax.”Aabha flushed with delight. She jumped from the chair and almost hugged the officer, but the big table in the middle reminded her not do any more blunder.  Instead, she thanked him politely, and assured that it will not happen again.  Aabha skipped cheerfully to convey this news to Sohil.

“Life becomes precious and more special to us when we look for the little everyday miracles and get excited about the privilege of simply being human.”- Tim Hansel

As soon as she got the license, Aabha drove her son to the school, then to the library, to the university, to the cafeteria, to the park and it was lots of fun. The feeling was priceless. And the real adventure started. One weekend there was very heavy snow and the warning was about ‘black ice on the road’. Aabha had no idea about the black ice. She was driving Ankit to a friend’s birthday party and did not notice that the speed limit which was only 5 miles. She had to drop her son and from there to meet her Prof. so she started driving in 15 miles per hour. Suddenly the car started sliding and Aabha forgot again that ‘No sudden break on the ice’, so as she started breaking hard the car slide more to the right and slowly down to the ditch. Nothing serious happened because the cops came to rescue her. Driving in Iowa was not that hard, although a few times Aabha forgot to change to the right gear as for example, one day she was in a hurry for her class and bumped the car into the tree by going forward instead of reversing the gear. Another time during the winter, just after the snow fall, she had to pick up a birthday cake from the nearby store. The road was slippery and so also the parking lot .But after she parked the car, Aabha forgot to change the gear, so as she stepped out Aabha noticed that the car was moving forward. “O’ my” and that is the only words that came out.  In front of her eye the car bumped into another car.

After nine years in Iowa they moved to Houston, Texas where the driving skill took a different form. One day she was in a hurry to reach home to prepare for the ‘Halloween’ and forgot the speed limit. The car was almost flying and suddenly, she noticed that there were no cars next to her lanes, but only one car that was speeding with her. “Hmm’, then she looked closer. That was a cop’s car. “O ’no, she said, then slammed the break and drove as if nothing happened. Those are some strange and fun memories of her new skill which Aabha has treasured, but tries her best to be a good driver.