I had read long back somewhere, “What God has given you is His gift to you, and what little you can give him back is your gift to Him.” I read it, thought about it for a while, and then well…. just forgot about it. And the many years down the line, I met a Guruji, and he told me, “Do something for God.” I asked him for the list of offerings I could do. And he smiled and said, “You have got it wrong. God does not need money from you; he himself has given that to you. A prayer from your heart would do. But what actually he needs from you is COMPASSION and EMPATHY for the people lesser than you. Do charity, but not through cheques and cash. Make food with your own hands and give it to the needy. But you must make sure that you don’t give the food packets to simply the poor, it has to be for the really needy people.”

The next weekend (On a Saturday), I prepared 11 food packets, and along with my husband, went to the nearby Shani temple. Being a Saturday, we thought it would be the best place to find the needy. All the way, I kept on wondering, “How do I find the really needy people, amongst the crowd of poor and beggars?” We reached the temple premises, and strange but true that we could not find a single beggar, leave alone a poor person. I started to feel let down, and then we thought of going to MG Road, which is a large shopping area in Pune. When we reached there, we could see a whole lot of beggars. There were children, women, men, old people…so many of them. Now we had to choose the really needful of the lot. We chose old men and women who could not even walk, small children who were working really hard to earn a rupee. But somehow, I was not at peace, and was left with 2 packets.

I was adamant that I would be very choosy about the people I give the packets to. While just standing there on the road, I saw a leprosy ridden couple. The wife was pushing the more affected husband in a roller cart. I went to them, and handed one packet to the woman. She immediately took it from me, and kept it aside. I offered the last packet too, and she gave me a look which asked me, “Are you giving me another packet too?” I just smiled and said, “You are 2 in number, so keep the second packet also.” Both of them just kept looking at me, joined their hands together, and walked away. The moment they left, I started crying. The tears were of relief, satisfaction….of being compassionate towards humanity. I had the best sleep ever that night. I try to do whatever possible from my side, for the less accomplished. I go to orphanages, donate clothes, toys, and money whenever I can. But the satisfaction I get when I make the food packets and give it to the “real” people cannot be compared with anything. It’s bigger than even going to temples. In this process, I have come across beggars who have given me a scornful look saying, “I don’t want food, give me money”, or who accept the packets with a bored look on their face. But each time I have distributed food packets, I get alteast 1 person who has the look in their eyes, which makes the entire effort look just PERFECT, and I pray for that one person, before starting from home. All it takes is a little effort to give back to life and in the process to God.

INNOCENT LOVE ….Memories of childhood

I first noticed him when I was in 9th standard. Actually it was all the hush hush talks in my class which made his existence conspicuous. All my friends used to tease me about him, and this is what made me more shy and reserved in front him. But that did not stop me from noticing him from the corner of my eye. He was our Maths teacher’s son, so I used to secretly see whether sir’s scooter was parked in the morning. The sight of the scooter used to assure me of his presence in the class. But still that never stopped me from being more distant from him.

And then he did not come to school for almost a month, he was down with some minor illness. And then the feeling started settling in me that I missed him. But still I kept the secret in my heart. My friends started talking more about him to me. Especially his friends would come and talk about his feelings for me, and everytime I used to shove them off.

When we were in 10th standard, he got me a card on Valentine’s day, telling me that he liked me. I accepted, and that’s when we officially were a couple. But we were far from that. Somehow we never were able to speak to each other face to face. We were so shy of each other, that we literally used to avoid each other. I would be in cold sweat of being conscious when any teacher used to ask me read a lesson loud, because I knew that he would be noticing me more. I used to take care of my uniform more, the way my plaits were tied, my newly found pimples. I used to apply medicine on them religiously or pray for a miracle to happen so that the pimple would just vanish before the next day of school. We would say bye and hi in the most discreet manner. We would share notes like it were not notes, but some secret codes. He would call me at home from the local phone booth, as he did not have a phone initially. And then when he got a connection, we would talk on the phone. Actually it was over the phone that we actually communicated. He was a very good singer and used to sometimes sing in the class or over the phone, sometimes for the class and sometimes for me. When our Maths teacher used to take our class, I used to notice the similarities between his features and his son’s, and smile accidentally. When Sir used to ask any question to me or him, we would try our level best to answer.
One day he came to me after the class asking for my Science Practicals Notebook for some notes. I gave him and he promised to get it the next day. I readily gave him my book, thinking that my book would be in hands the whole day and night. He called me up the same evening saying that he has finished with the book, and would be getting it the next day.

He would usually reach school by 8 am with his father. But that day, it was 9 am and he had still not reached. I kept looking at the parking to check whether the scooter had been parked, and every time it was not there. I thought maybe Sir or he must have taken ill. And that’s when the news came. They had met with an accident and though Sir was fine, he had been hit on the head, and was in the hospital in a critical state. The news hit me so hard, that for some time I went blank. And then I felt everyone moving around me, chanting the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, special assembly in our class. Even I chanted with the deepest of my heart for a miracle to happen, but it never happened. He died in the hospital. I came to know later that he had an internal injury and his face showed no marks of the accident. I remember crying for days in school, in the loo, at home, everywhere. I went to his house for the death ceremony and when I saw Sir, I just fell on his feet crying and he just pulled me up, saying, “Girls don’t touch the feet”. I got my practicals notebook a week later, and I found myself searching for any mark of his on the book. But there was nothing. I kept the book with me for some time and then found that the memories were too strong for me to handle. I just discarded the book and made a new book. After that whenever Sir used to see me, he used always hug me, as if he knew that I was someone special for his son.

Life moved on, I grew up, studied further, started working, got married, but still there were some moments when I would think about him. I told about him to my husband also, and while telling I cried. I guess I still had him in my heart. And then when I was pregnant, one night he came in my dreams, so clear, so alive….telling me he had not died, he had just got lost. He talked me about this and that, and then I woke. I like to believe that he came to bless my son, to say that he still thinks of me. Somehow he made me feel that all will go well with my baby and his birth. And it did.

Just to tell you Vibhu, you are still thought about; our childhood crush was so pure that it has always stayed with me. Do pray for me and my family, as you are closer to God than I am.

Love exponential to marriage

Whoever said only love can lead to a marriage, has got the entire scheme of things wrong. Poor soul…I would say, because neither does he understand marriage nor love.

I have always wanted a love marriage in the literal sense. Finding a guy of my dreams, fall in love, get my parents consent and ofcourse, have a lovely wedding. Well….that is what they call a love marriage right? I must add here that I have had my list of crushes and relationships as a teenager and a young adult. But somehow someone with the blue umbrella up above wanted me to understand much more than a mere love marriage. So as luck would have had it, none of these tryst worked out, leaving me “heart broken”, hmmm… isn’t this what the Mills & Boons speak of?

Enter…my parents, who asked me whether they can start looking for a guy for me? Well, I did not have much of expectations of some knight coming on a black horse to take me to the magical world, so I thought of taking the plunge.

My husband and I met for the first time, and the way a brand conscious person I am, I checked his clothes and shoes first. Thankfully they were branded. It was later that I came to know he is a bigger brand conscious person than I am. Well….now that’s huge! Thankfully we both loved good food and he had just the right speck of humour in him. I gave in, and while our parents were discussing the other formalities, he sent me an sms with Bryan Adam’s lyrics…woah! That really stole my heart away. With 2 months to go for our wedding, we gave lot of revenue to MTNL and Airtel.

Being almost strangers to each other, everything after the day of marriage was new to us, sometimes funny, sometimes irritating…well a mixed bag. If he was the one who taught me what’s chilling out, I taught him what its like to take the newspaper to the loo! Every day has been a new awakening, knowing that I just might know something new about him.

5 yrs down the line with a 3 yr old son, I know this much that its been a roller coaster, with loads of ups and downs, but most importantly, loads of fun, and the need to go on forever. I think what has done the trick is the fact that we never had any expectations from each other when we got married. We were ready to accept each other the way we were and not the way we expected each other to be. The fact that we never knew each other before, did not let any baggage come with us. We never had the issue of “U have changed! U never were like this before!” between us. He has always been the colour sky blue…vast, dreamy, cool, chilled out, calm, and I …hmm well I am the colour red…outright, outspoken, ready to go, roaring. So u see, we are different…2 ends actually, trying to come closer each day.

Manu has been my harbour, the pillar I had always missed in my life. I fell head over heels in love with him….after marriage. Love has been the consequence of our marriage and not the other way round. Every marriage is a love marriage, and its not relevant whether you fall in love before or after the marriage. All that matters is that you find and keep love in your hearts always.

I think I now know the true meaning of love marriage. Thank God.