Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Service before Self

I recently visited Canberra, our nation's capital for the first time in 8 years that I have been living in Australia. I went there for my brother's Army Graduation Ceremony  He has been a part of the Australian Reserves and has been training to become an Officer in the Army. We are both from India and we moved to Australia to study/work many years ago.

The visit itself was a very interesting and inspiring experience for me. We do not have a family background in the military in India and for him to be a part of the Army in another country was quite an achievement. My husband and I arrived late morning in Canberra and we went to see the Australian War Memorial. The building itself with its beautiful domed elevated structure was breath taking. But what was inside was even more compelling.

The interior walls were full of names of all the soldiers who have fought for Australia. This roll of honour etched in the walls has a beautiful tradition, anyone related to the fallen can come and add a poppy to the side of the name. The wall is beautifully adorned with poppies signifying both the solemnity and respect given to the fallen but also the red signifies the blood shed in the wars. The internal chamber with the eternal flame and the beautiful murals and stain glass windows depict the heroes of World War I and II.

I just got thinking what it would feel like to have been a part of the war, or to have your father, brother or husband lost to the war. That just made me think of an incident that took place a few weeks before we arrived in Canberra. My brother was away for the final training and assessment program for three weeks in the bush around Canberra. It was during this time that I received a phone call from him  asking me if I could send him some food, specifically an Indian flat bread that I make, called thepla. How could I ignore a request for food from my brother from the back of beyond. Not to mention I have a general tendency to show my love through food as do most Indians. So I got my mixing bowl and rolling pin out and got to work.

I made the theplas and wrapped them nicely in glad wrap and then sealed it in a zip lock bag. I then set out to the post office to send this little parcel. All through this process I felt like he was a contestant in the hunger games ( yes I am a fan of the series) and I am his mentor trying to get him sponsors to send him gifts. It was impossible not to be excited and emotional for me considering he's the first in our family to be a part of the Defence force. I then bought him some more goodies from the supermarket; brownies and lollies, wrote him an encouraging note and sent the parcel off to him. I wouldn't know whether he received it or not till much later.

 A few days later I received a letter from him. The letter was written on two scraps of paper that he may have found or foraged. The scraps themselves were full of words and in no way insignificant. It said that he was fine and that the training was difficult as the weather was very hot and harsh. He said he received the food and that it was a great morale boost and how sick he was of the ration packs. It was such a great feeling knowing that he felt so happy with the food.

It just made me wonder about the conditions during war time and what sort of environment did the soldiers have to endure. I come from a country that had to struggle for its freedom. My parents and grandparents have grown up during different wars be it the freedom struggle against the British or the Indo-Pak and Indo-China wars. I am very anti-war but I am very pro military. I suppose I understand the sacrifice the soldiers make, and the danger they put themselves in to protect the country. My brother's girl friend is very anti military and does not seem to think that Australia has to spend so much on their Armed forces. I suppose it is a valid point as Australia has never had to fight its own war, it has only been an ally in the Western world and continues to do so. The role of the military here is very different to a country like India where terrorist attacks and acts of violence are only too common.

Life couldn't have been easy for these soldiers, I suppose I honour their sacrifice and the spirit with which they put service before self and marched on into the arms of danger.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Letting go

She got up early again this morning. It has been really hard to sleep, she has had a lot on her mind. If only she could see him once, just once again. She would memorize everything about him; the wrinkles on his forehead, the shape of his lips, the way his eyes shone when he looked at her, the way he could make her feel. Oh she would give anything to just experience that feeling once more.

She has been left alone in this world. The one person who was her entire world is no longer with her. The hollow feeling tugs her again from within making her nauseous. Why did he do it? They were so happy together. She would talk nineteen to a dozen and he would sit back and listen to her with a smile, she would cook him everything he liked and he would be the most appreciative eater, she shopped for him as he absolutely detested it, she taught him to dance and enjoy life and he taught her to love herself. 

The hardest thing in life is letting go and she would have to do just that, not knowing why.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Proposal

The cold rain, the chilly winds and the two of them in the middle of the ocean. All I want is some dry clothes she said. All I want is you he said as he slipped the ring on her finger. The clouds had cleared and the sun began to shine...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life is beautiful

She walked into the room with him, just as she accompanied him everywhere these days. He was expecting them. He took a look at the reports and said that it didn't look very good. They would need to operate. She could'nt believe it. She could'nt imagine a world without him. He had always been there for her so strong and brave. Tears welled up in her eyes she tried to be calm and have a straight face just or him. It will be ok she said, its very normal these days. They wouldn't let her into the operating room and she couldn't rest till she saw him. After the long wait she was let in. He was asleep and she sat by his side holding his hand, he opened his eyes and smiled at her. Life was beautiful again...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai's three day tryst with Terror

The recent terror incidences at the city of Mumbai has not only created an uproar in the city but a nation wide vendetta towards all acts of terror. It makes one wonder what really propels the minds of the people behind these acts. What blinding, all consuming faith ignites their mind, body and soul and demands the sacrifice of innocent lives. The Deccan Mujahideen who took responsibility for these acts is yet another organization contributing to terror and mayhem in our society. I always thought religion was supposed to teach one the difference between right and wrong and make us better people. Recent events definitely tell me otherwise. Surely Islam does not preach causing unprecedented terror in the world or taking innocent lives and yet these self proclaimed Jehadis continue to shed blood, their own and of others– for what–to gain control over Kashmir, Hyderabad or Junagadh. This incident has caused political upheaval in India creating more chaos and the blame-game is on. The real heroes are our Armed forces and the police, many of whom have died protecting Mumbai from the wrath of terror. In the wake of recent happenings I want to salute the armed forces, the police, the staff at Taj and all others who helped end the 3 day tryst with terror and sincerely hope that the ugly face of terror vanishes from our society. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Memorial

I was returning home after visiting a friend. I had to change two trams to get home and so when I reached the stop where I had to change, I got off. I noticed something new at the tram stop. The road sign next to the stop was looking different. The pole was decorated with flowers. There was a creeper of bouquets running along it. And below on the base there was a board that said " A friend, a sister, a woman, a cyclist died here today. We pray for her peace"
It was a little memorial to the lady cyclist who died in an unfortunate accident. I realized that one person has an impact on so many lives, shares hopes, aspirations, memories with so many. When one dies someone loses a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend and the list is endless. Life is very valuable be it yours or mine, so lets help everyone live to the fullest and be safe.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What! Where did you come from?

I am doing my usual weekend chores on a Saturday afternoon. Everything is as normal and mundane as it can be. There is nothing novel about the weekly process of cleaning and washing and dusting and then suddenly something changed all that.

Nothing extraordinary but something that stirred up memories within me; some very fond memories. So I had just finished my laundry and had taken the clothes out of the dryer and was folding them. (Yes Yes I know this is boring but I am getting to it) It was my bed sheet's turn to be folded. I just shook it hard once before starting to fold and something rolled out from it onto the bed. It was a small dark object. At first I thought it was an insect and was a bit freaked (yes I am petrified of the creepy crawlies) and I certainly don't expect to find them in fresh and clean sheets. On closer inspection I discovered it was a coffee bean. I was like What! Where did you come from? It was particularly strange because I remember clearly that there was nothing on my sheet when I put it in the wash and I certainly don't think my dryer has coffee beans in it. The strangest thing is I don't have coffee beans in my house. I use instant coffee; so it was a very strange find.

What was so amazing was that the little coffee bean transported me back nearly five years, when I was sixteen. My friend/philosopher/guide/crush I don't really know what he was to me then; had just visited Coorg and had brought me a present. It was a little jewel box with a coffee bean in it. It was a promise that I would never lose it and will always keep it; might sound a bit corny now but it meant a lot then. The coffee bean reminded me of the innocence of that promise and the strong bond of friendship that I still share with him and all my other friends; that I made in those golden years.

After some time when my mind drifted back to reality I realized I still did not know where the bean came from. It certainly wasn't the same coffee bean; as I still have that box with the bean at home in India. All I know is it reminded me of that promise and of a simpler time...