Thursday, April 23, 2020

T is for Telepathy and Toxic Weather #AtoZChallenge

A friend shared this in a WhatsApp group a few weeks ago.

"Maawan diyan aandran" : If literally translated, maawan means mothers and aandran means instinct. But for all those who have felt is and experienced it, the phrase means telepathy.

Seema and I often wondered about Mummy's supernatural powers to catch our lies by just looking at us. But let's rewind back to a time when I didn't have my sister or my brother as accomplices in sharaarten (mischief) and therefore no one to share my wonderment with about this thing that Mummy possessed--this uncanny ability to uncover the truth even though I dug deep, deep holes to bury it and added mounds of mud on top just to make sure it stayed underground--never to be found.

I was four years old. Two houses down the gully, a baby was born. As was the custom of the times, all the neighbours paid the new born's parents a visit with sagan (a gift for the new born--usually money in an envelope or a set of hand knitted cardigan and booties). The visits commenced after a period of forty days (chaliya) of social distancing had been observed by the new mother and her baby. 

Mummy asked me to come along. I was thrilled.

The baby, however, was far from thrilled. He was rather shrilled. He cried and cried and didn't stop so he, or rather the bundle he was swaddled in, was passed from godi to godi (person to person) to the soundtrack of ...olle, olle...na..na...shhhh....na...puttar...olle ...sona baby kaun hai...shhh...followed by the standard lori (lullaby) of the times...lallaa..lallaa..lori..dhoodh ..ki...katori....but the new baby refused to lower his decibels. One of his aunts took pity on the mother and her visitors and took the baby to their verandah for some fresh air.

As was the custom, we were offered tea with namkeen and mithai and fruit. Mummy was a teaholic so I'm sure she must've had a cup. But what I remember is the apple and the orange that were brought on a plate because the most beautiful looking knife I had ever laid my eyes on was lying next to them.

While adults talked, I watched the cutting of the apple with the prettiest looking knife. The only knives I had seen till then were the ones Beji had in her kitchen. They were functional and had never caught my eye. Papaji's pocket knife, however, was dear to us for it gave us the first slices of any fruit our grandfather cut--apples, pears, guavas, mangoes and even the unpopular chakotra (grapefruit). 

One day, when I grow up, I will have a pocket knife just like Papaji's and I will cut the fruit myself. I used to cook up dreams of a sharp future when I was four.

The handle of the knife in our neighbour's drawing room was white. Red and orange were also present on the white. What they were, I couldn't make out as the hand that was holding the knife was working deftly and quickly. Red apple skin was snaking down to the plate in spirals. 

Halved. De-seeded. Quartered. Sliced. Arranged in a semi circle on the plate, the hands offered the apple to me. 

I took a slice and said thank you.

The knife had been left on the table, next to the plate of gulab jamuns. Its blade was as long as its handle and almost as big as my hand.

The hands picked up the pretty knife and magically folded the blade back into the handle--just like Papaji. I could hear my heartbeat getting faster and louder. My future was coming into sharp focus in front of my eyes.

Suddenly, all around me, the adults started moving. The hands had picked up an orange to peel but they put it down in a hurry. The new baby hadn't stopped bawling so it was decided that he must be hungry so his mother who had been talking to Mummy got up to leave the room.

We left too.

I couldn't wait to get back home. The knife felt so mine in my fist. It felt cool and smooth--like a marble. And for the first time I realised that the handle which housed the blade, was curved slightly, like a loosely drawn C. 

I had seen my mother keep an old iron knife under pillows to ward off bad dreams or evil, so I knew where I'd hide my precious when I got home. And I did. 

The rest of the day went by so slowly. Evening wouldn't fall and night took forever to knock on our door. 

After dinner, when I was alone in the room, I took my precious out. The handle was white with little red and orange flowers painted or printed on it. The blade unfurled out of its sheath like a ballerina--effortlessly, gracefully.

"Arti....." Mummy called. 

Blade in handle. Precious under pillow. Head down. Eyes Shut. Sleep--not to be found for a long, long time.

Next day, Mummy asked me, "Where is aunty's knife?" when I got back from school.

I was stunned and very, very disappointed.

I was made to go to the neighbour's house to return the knife and apologise. It was the most humiliating experience of my young life. They were a lovely, warm family and our families continued to be close, but every time I stepped into their drawing room, the episode of my knife infatuation followed by its short stay under my pillow haunted me. 

For a very long time, I didn't see that I had done anything wrong. As far as I was concerned, I had picked up a beautiful thing and taken it home with me--like I did with flowers, twigs and pebbles I found irresistible in Papaji's garden or any other garden.

"But did you ask them if you could take it?" Mummy tried to make the rules of society and morality clear to me.

It took me a few years to figure that out that the difference between theft and taking is the asking of permission. 
*****************
A mother's instinct is a difficult thing to explain. It's easy to experience. And in times of Covid19, when mothers like me, whose children couldn't travel back home from universities etc., worry for their safety, I feel we can send them our best healing, protective armour like energies through mediation and prayers and perhaps telepathy. 

May they be safe and healthy in these testing times.

I'll leave you with this song sung by our daughter, Arshia. She writes, composes and plays her own creations and every now and then, she shares. The more I write about my childhood, the more I miss my children. It's a funny connection of life and nature. 

Hope you enjoy it.

Toxic Weather by Arshia Jain

What are your thoughts about telepathy? Or a mother's instinct? 
Did you ever get tempted to steal/borrow without asking when you were little?
If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear.
Please be safe and stay healthy.

41 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    I don't recall any specific thing such as you have here - but I do think that I must have learned very early that I cannot lie even if my life depended upon it. And since very early I have been known for such pure honesty as, itself, to prove somewhat disturbing to some. I perhaps have the telepathy without ever having been a mother! YAM xx

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    1. You are a beautiful soul indeed Yamini. Grateful to have crossed paths with you in this lifetime.

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  2. The mother's instinct does exist, I'm sure!

    T is for Taupe

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  3. Awww...
    It is kinda embarrassing to share but I couldn't resist picking up chalk pieces from school and college, lol. All those tiny pieces of broken chalk which no one wanted were mine (and my friends). We shared them among ourselves so can't really call it stealing. :D

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    1. I'd call that 'not wasting' and being green about chalk resources Srivalli; definitely not stealing. Those little stubs were so precious.

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  4. Arti Arti...I'm so glad I found you in this challenge. I can't get enough of what you write. And what a lovely song by Arshia.. my daughter just walked in as I listened to her. She's little..Only 10, loves music. And she so enjoyed it. Thank you for today's piece.

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    1. You're welcome Sonia. And likewise. I've been sharing your blog site with all the history enthusiasts in my circle of friends and family and there are a few.
      I'll let Arshia know she has a 10 year old fan:) Cheers.

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  5. Your daughter has got a very beautiful voice! She's a great artist in the making. :) I wonder how your mother found out! But that's the thing about mothers - you can't hide anything from them.

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    1. I'm a fan of my daughter's voice and her poetry and music---I sound like a typical mum, right? Ma akhir Ma hoti hai:)
      Good question Shweta. Actually, our neighbour realised her knife had gone missing after we left and told Mummy soon after we got back. Mummy was hoping that I'd come clean on my own so she waited and waited till she could wait no longer.

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  6. Mamas are given a gift when a child is born arent they?
    Though there are times I wish that gift would let me sleep.
    Hope you are well, Arti/
    Time

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    1. I know what you mean Moonie:)
      We are all well and hope you're doing good too. Thank you.

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  7. What a rich post! I couldn't help but laugh at your "cook(ing) up dreams of a sharp future" Indeed! And I have such love for that little you, wanting that enchanting knife, having to give it back, and then the ensuing embarrassment. Children are so precious, so mysterious, so paradoxical - with their unknowing bravery and their tender tender hearts. Sigh. And mothers with their telepathy and unerring nose for secrets buried deep in the mud. Unnerving and perfect - just like life, no?

    Your daughter's song is wonderful, and it was a delight to listen to it this morning. How hard it must be to be separated! But one thing I know for certain is that love knows no boundaries, so it is strong and resilient even in these most extraordinary times.

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    1. Unnerving and perfect--love this phrase.
      Thank you for reading and for listening to Arshia's song.
      And young Arti, all of four, thanks you for your love. xx

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  8. You summed up the difference between theft and taking perfectly. And as for the song - absolutely delightful!


    T is for ...

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  9. That was such a sweet tale! I can imagine the happy eyes of litte Artemis on her small achievement.

    I am used to calling from office in the noon time when the kids reach home from school. So its so happens that they reach and my phone rings. A much younger Arav would pick the phone and ask,"How did you know we just entered! Either you are spying on us or you have a magic camera/mirror." And i will proudly say, "Mothers always knows everything".
    As a kid, I could hardly hide anything. ( not very different now). One Diwali we were gifted this gorgeous velvet dress. Black velvet for my sis & Brown for me. It was the best dress ever. I was super super thrilled. That was my favorite dress for that year. It came with a starry metal belt that added to the glamour quotient. My mom used to warn me, don't wear it everywhere, nazar lag jayegi types.
    We were visiting some distant family. It was the 1st and the last time I saw them.There was a small girl there too and typically our parents wanted us to get along & play with each other. I think we were given some ludo to play, but that child was just not interested in the game, she kept starring.I tried for a bit and sensed some danger (telepathy) so ran towards my parents, hoping we could leave for home. This child followed me around & suddenly started crying. I was shocked but I knew they were crocodile tears.As the parents got involved,the child insisted she wanted my starry belt & did not stop crying.She was clearing faking it,I knew it!I so knew it! But no one believed me. My very generous parents asked me to hand that precious belt to the child. I hesitated but couldn't save my belt.The child instantly stopped crying and ran away with my belt.I was so sad, so very sad. I was promised to get another such belt, but it never happened.
    We were told,never to ask anything from anyone,when it didn't belong to us.And like good girls,we did that.But how is it fair to give away what belonged to us too? Chut bhi unki Phut bhi unki kaise???

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    1. Arshia is gifted and i heard her music a few times. Touch wood, like my Amma would still say, Nazar utaar do bacchi ka! Stay Blessed darling Arshia.

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    2. I will let Arshia know and she will have to utaaro her own nazar for now:)

      That must've been a very hard thing to do. I know how precious new clothes used to be as we would get them twice or thrice a year for festivals or if there was a wedding in the family. Unlike today!
      So to part with something that dear to you is certainly not fair!
      Did you stop seeing that family because of your belt? Asking as you mentioned that it was your first and last trip to see them.

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  10. What a lovely post Arti... Till date even after I am myself a mom of a naughty little 5 yr old now... My mom can still make out.. Out of sheer telepathy my mood swings.. When I am happy... When irritated... When in tension... I just don't know how. I feel like asking her just like my 5 yr old questions me from time to time... "Muma, how do you get to know everything before me telling you? ":)

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    1. I'm imagining you as a 5 year old Ira and that makes me smile:)
      What a wonderful thing it would be if we never lost that innocence and that curiosity.
      You're blessed to have a mother who can be there for you --they are the best.

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  11. I had a similar experience when I was young. There was a small candy store in my neighborhood. During one of our visits, I took a piece of candy that I wanted without paying for it. My mom somehow knew and she made me bring it back and apologize to the owner. Weekends In Maine

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    1. Our mothers knew how to sort us out despite our 'roving' eyes:)
      Grateful for parents who cared.

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  12. I like how you went into the mind of the child you to write from her perspective. Your daughter's song is really good, wise lyrics.

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    1. Thank you Jade.
      And thanks for listening to Arshia's song and for appreciating it.

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  13. That comic is awesome! A mother's instinct is one of the strongest powers in the universe. Thanks for sharing! - Dragons & Spaceships

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    1. Thank you for visiting and I'm glad you like the comic:)

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  14. Wow - this incident would linger on for a long time with me now. I can feel- as you write- you must be actually recalling the events of that day -as it happened.
    Indeed you have a gift of bringing out incidents on paper very well :)

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    1. Thank you Vimoya.
      Yes, I do enter that world and lose track of myself when I'm recalling memories of my childhood.

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  15. U loved a knife ... I fancied.a Whistle one for friends had and took it home and as u narrated that was first time I understood u need permission otherwise it’s a theft .
    Loved listening to Arshia and now missing shlok .
    Sending all the kids away from home loads and loads of love .

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    1. Thank you Sahitya.
      A whistle? Odd, aren't they? The things we fancied? Or is there a deeper meaning to all this? Let's ponder when we meet after all this business of social distancing is over.
      Love to you my gorgeous friend.

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  16. I haven't had any experience of the sort you have so beautifully narrated.
    However, I have experienced telepathy, more than once. One example: Just out of the blue, I think why a particular friend of mine hasn't called for a long time, and I think I should give him a call at some point of time. Later I think of calling, but I put it off, since I am busy with something. Later in the day, I get a call from friend.
    I have also had premonitions of things that have subsequently happened. So good, some bad.
    There are many things in our lives that can't be scientifically explained.

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    1. So rightly said Pradeep, some things in life can't be explained.

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  17. I will pass to share my experience this time but stopping by to send my love and blessings for all those children who are far away from home. Thankfully our daughter came home just in time. I have heard your daughter before. Glad to learn that you have passed on your artistic genes to her.

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    1. Thank you Pinkz. Your love and blessings have reached me and they're keeping me warm and happy.
      Bless you my dear blog sister.

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  18. Cooking up dreams of a sharp future! I loved that play of words.
    One day, when I was in primary school, I found my friend's pencil box in my bag when I reached home. For some reason, the 6 or 7 year old me never took it back to return it. That's the first thing that popped into my mind when I read your post. So, it is still haunting me I guess!

    My mom has some telepathy about my emotions. She always knows when I am sad or happy.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your haunting tale Namratha:)
      Do you remember what the pencil box looked like?

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  19. At that tender age it is so natural to possess the thing that you like, but yes moms have that sixth sense. I can just recall an incident which was very embarrassing for my didi (who is 8 years older than me), she took me to her friend's house and they kept some namkeens as savoury. I had weakness for peanuts as a child, so I picked all the peanuts from the namkeen plate and ate, and my sister was watching this with utter bewilderment. As we were coming back to house, I got a nice piece of lecture and she also complained to my mom for this obnoxious behavior of me.
    Arshia has a beautiful voice. God bless her with his choicest blessings. Love Nisha

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  20. Thank you for sharing your peanut story today Nisha.
    I did something similar at home when we had guests and a got a really sound daant from Mummy for behaving like I had never seen peanuts before!
    I will pass on your compliments to Arshia.
    Thank you.

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