I was unpacking my bag. It was a difficult task as I had to keep everything neatly in a limited amount of time and with minimal noise (every new parent would understand what I mean)
I was walking on tiptoes trying to balance as much as possible in my two little hands when something fell sharply, making a jingling sound. I turned immediately to make sure the baby was asleep. Yes she was, in her deep
slumber, smiling as if teasing me on my clumsiness.
I looked on the floor and the culprit was a set of two bells tied together with a bow of golden and red strings. The sight of the bells immediately took me to the busy suburban Thursday market in Goregaon.
“Oh wow, so cute,” I had commented to my sister as I fell in love with them.
The market was a major feature on Thursdays. It was the day when a sleepy marketplace morphed into a giant fair of commodities. People would be selling anything and everything from cheap toys to home-made delicacies. There was a huge spectrum of articles from hair accessories to fresh fruit and vegetables. The market would usually be on the road leading to the railway station so that the people rushing to catch their train home or returning from work would get an opportunity to buy their favourites. The number of stalls and the noise of the vendors would grab the attention of everyone who ventured on that road.
On any other week day the ‘station road’ would be sleepy with people walking in a rhythmic motion to and fro from the station. However, on a Thursday there would be a wave on enthusiasm as the people would be more
energetic to grab the best bargain. ‘Nothing should be bought at the price offered’ was the golden rule and haggling was a must.
I was walking on the road watching the innumerable number of stalls and people when my eyes saw the cute bells with a red and golden bow. I bought them immediately.
Now, almost a month later, I was back home admiring them once again. After all, it was their jingling that had taken me back to the extravaganza of the ‘Thursday market’ in Mumbai.
Autumn was nearly approaching and we wanted to get our driveway done as soon as possible before the harsh reality of winter showed up. Everything was set, the planning was done, the builders were summoned, quotes were taken and the colour of the bricks was also chosen in advance. There was only one problem, a cherry tree. It was a small (if I can call it a baby) cherry tree exactly my height but at close proximity to our front door. It was so near that the branches and the flowers banged against the lounge window on windy days. It had become imperative to get it transplanted to a safer place before it matured into a fully grown tree.
We spoke to various gardeners who proclaimed it to be a very difficult task as a five foot tree would have deep roots going right under the house. Plus there was no guarantee that the tree would survive the ordeal of being transplanted. We didn’t want the tree to die but the driveway work couldn’t commence with the tree positioned as it was. We had moved to this house recently and wondered why the previous owners had thought to plant it so near to the house but the gardener had the view that it probably grew from a stray seed.
We both looked at the tree which now had four fruits on it. We couldn’t let it die. A little time spent on Google gave valuable answers. It could be done but success was not guaranteed.
My husband came from work early the next day, changed and brought the spades out from the shed. It was six in the evening and we started digging a hole in the back garden at a safe place where the tree could actually thrive. The next day we started digging the actual tree. My little girl joined with her toy plastic spade as well talking to the tree and telling that it was going to be all right.
The digging was a more difficult job than written on the websites. We soon discovered a big main root horizontally going right below the drainage pipe. The sun had set and the darkness made it very difficult to see. We had to leave it half way but couldn’t leave the root exposed. We covered it with dried brown leaves.
The next day we started digging again and my husband finally managed to get as much of the main root out as possible. He brought it to the back garden but there was another problem. The hole that we had dug was smaller and hence we had to dig some more. Finally we planted the tree again and watered it that night and the next.
After three days all the leaves of the tree fell down and our heart sank. We took refuge of Google again and found out this was exactly what was supposed to happen. A transplanted tree actually sheds all the leaves so that its energy is utilised in strengthening its roots. The outcome of the whole process could only be known in Spring. Thus with great anticipation we waited for the cold, dark winter months to end.
Finally Spring came in all its glory with leaves and colour everywhere but our baby cherry tree was still barren. Every morning we looked in its direction for some sign of colour but were always disappointed.
The sun shone beautifully yesterday and with the cool breeze it felt wonderful, not too hot, not too cold, just pleasant. I went out with my daughter in the back garden and couldn’t believe my eyes. All the branches of the tree were brown but on one of them were two incredibly small green leaves. I jumped, laughed and cried to the amazement of my daughter. I called up my hubby who was in the middle of a meeting and said ‘the leaves have come’. He knew exactly what I meant and I got his call back after the meeting was finished. It felt wonderful.
The morning started with my book being approved on Smashwords for premium distribution and by the evening I saw the cute little leaves. It felt symbolic.
Never had two leaves given me so much of pleasure as this time.
Spring has started to reveal its presence in the garden. The trees, the shrubs, the bushes all seem to sway in a rhythmic way to the gentle music of the heavens. There is colour in different shades of green, yellow, red and pink.
The plum tree full of little pink buds appears caring and compassionate as it gives shelter to two magpies. The black and white birds seemed to be quite interested in the tree flying around it for a long time before finally deciding to build their home there. The nest that was in full view at the start of Feb is slowly being veiled by the maroon leaves.
Though the mornings are still cold the warmth of the sun is starting to feel pleasant. There is life, hope, peace and happiness all around in nature and the only thing I feel it asks back is appreciation. Enjoy the colour and vibrancy of the season.
Life is full of unexpected events. We were sitting in the waiting room and I decided to grab a newspaper to read. However, instead of taking the paper I picked up a spiritual magazine. It was full of stories of people who had gone to psychics and supernatural healers and how their life had changed. There were also various ads of people who did past life analysis and I was really intrigued.
In our return journey I wondered about my past-life. I googled and discovered that getting information about past life known was not a cheap affair. Finally I found a website that promised to tell me about my past-life for free. I typed a few details and got the following result:
I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation. You were born somewhere in the territory of modern North India around the year 900. Your profession was that of a writer, dramatist or organizer of rituals.
I showed it to my husband and he laughed at my excitement. I was always a writer I said and he smiled.
We had decided to do a little trip to the south of the city and visit various destinations. So we set out mid morning with all our enthusiasm to visit the first destination of our choice that was the Mahalaxmi Temple. Our journey had started from the suburbs and hence we thought that it would take a long time to reach the south of Mumbai. However, Mumbai is a city that changes and reinvents itself in a very short span of time. The driver took us to the Bandra-Worli sea-link that was the most fascinating part. We reached Worli in more or less 20 minutes and then to Mahalaxmi in another 20. If someone would have told me about this ten years back, I would have laughed but I truly feel that the sea-link is a miracle that will gain popularity. Yes, you do have to pay a toll when you cross the bridge but that ensures that the condition of the roads remain good.
We first went to Mahalaxmi temple. Next, we decided to visit the Babulnath temple. The taxi driver dropped us on the road near a narrow entrance that was supposed to be the way to enter the temple. He advised us to take the lifts instead of climbing the stairs. After all it was 1000 feet above sea level.
We were stopped at the entrance by the flower vendors who gave us the basket that contained stuff for the puja. You were expected to pay for them on your return from the temple. The basket had the usual items flowers, incense sticks, prasad, Bel leaves and surprising a small plastic bag that contained milk to offer Lord Shiva. We walked and reached the elevators that took us straight up to the temple. The entrance of the temple felt absolutely majestic and there was peace all around. There were very few people and we got a very peaceful view of Lord Shiva in all his glory. There were numerous copper pots kept near to a water tap for the devotees so that they could pour it on the Shiv Linga. We opened the plastic bag offered milk and flowers. There was also a place where you could light the incense sticks. There were various other gods and goddesses and we looked at all of them with absolute awe. We sat on the temple steps for a long time afterwards admiring the beauty of the actual temple itself. The unique thing that I felt about this temple was the serenity. Nobody who is standing outside on the road near the narrow entrance would imagine such a calm setting above.
On our way back to the elevators we were mesmerised by the sight of the buzzing Mumbai city below. There was the vast ocean on one side and the changing skyline of Mumbai on the other. I looked behind at the temple once before going in the elevators and felt that inside it felt as if the time had stopped. We could be in the forties, fifties or even sixties but outside was Mumbai city of the 21st century.
The last whole week has been amazing. My first ever novel Coffee @ 4:00 came on Amazon Kindle and the support and comments I received from family and friends has been really great. The number of emails and text messages have not stopped coming since then and I feel truly blessed. As my ebook starts flying of the virtual bookshelf I sincerely hope that the reviews will also start coming in soon.
To all my friends and well-wishers, I would like to tell that your comments meant a lot to me as I now have a renewed vigour to continue my writing dream further.
My best friend in school is going to Calcutta for the summer holidays and she is very excited. We decide that we will send each other letters. The final exams are over and our summer holidays start. It’s only been a week and I run to the nearest post office which is just 200 yards away from my house and get a postcard. I write about the little events that happened in the past week and post it. Then, the wait begins and I am too eager to get a response from her. After nearly two weeks, I stop waiting as I think that she might not have received my postcard. I convince myself that it might have been lost in the enormous piles of letters that are being sent from Mumbai everyday. I am disappointed and even think of sending another one when after nearly three and a half weeks the postman finally brings a postcard addressed to me from Calcutta. I am so happy. I read it full in one breath.
Thirteen years later
I am getting married and very soon will leave Mumbai. My best friend is happy and sad at the same time. This time we promise each other to keep in touch and exchange email addresses. Time moves on and we keep in touch via email sharing the triumphs and losses of each others lives. Although, it’s not the same as the thrill I received when I got my first postcard but still every email is a genuine pleasure.
Some more years pass
Life has completely changed and our responsibilities have increased. Yes, agreed, it takes a few minutes but it’s still hard to keep in touch. One day we discover a networking site. Communicating couldn't have been easier. It's just a few words or sentences but yes we know whatever is happening in each others life. Every post or scrap brings the same smile to my face that I had when we used to chat for hours.
I feel that technology is great and it's good to keep up with the times.