Life comes a full circle for Rohit as he helps his village

When Life comes a Full Circle

Rohit was a first generation expat from his family. He went to USA for pursuing his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering and then settled there. Rohit had everything that a typical well-settled expat Indian is expected to have – a green card, a home, a family and a job profile that anybody would be envious about – he was the VP of the New Product division.

Rohit was also the only child of his parents, who now lived in Pune. He religiously had his family vacations, so that his children could form a bond with their grandparents from both the sides. But such visits however well-planned only meant visits to his parents and his wife’s parents and that was the ‘family in India’ that their children knew about.

During one such India visit, Rohit’s father asked him “Do you remember our village home in Ratnagiri?” Rohit was a bit lost at the question initially, but then he recollected a few faint memories of an imposing wada with a huge orchard at the back. His far-away look was noted by his mother and she simply said, “You might not remember much as after your high school you were usually busy with studies and later you went to USA”. Rohit’s son Anish was listening to the conversation. He quickly checked up Ratnagiri on Google and announced “Dad this looks like a cool place, let’s go there while we are in India!”

And just like that in a discussion over dinner, the Dongre family planned their Ratnagiri visit.

“Okay let’s look up some hotels” said, Rohit. His father simply said, “I will be staying at the Wada, you guys can book yourself a hotel close by”. “Does someone even live there dad?” now Rohit was genuinely surprised!

Yup! My brothers and a few of your cousins do live there. We go there every year!

This got Rohit and his family, even more excited. There were apprehensions about meeting someone for the first time, there was also the fear of how Rohit’s children will take in the rural life! As far as Rohit remembered the wada was a pretty old place.

But there was hardly any time to think! Things moved so quickly that they were to leave in the next two days!

The first thing that hit Rohit when he visited his native place was the lush greenery, smiling faces and the quiet recognition that everyone showed. Rohit and his family were greeted with a lot of warmth and Rohit reconnected with a lot of his cousins, that he remembered playing with as a kid! In the next half an hour, all his new found cousins and their children were connected online, thanks to Facebook! Anish exclaimed “Let’s do an FB live! I want my US friends to know, I have so many cousins that we could make a baseball team!”

Knowing your roots and meeting so many who can be called family was an uplifting feeling. The fear about how his family would take in a village life, melted away!

After they freshened up, Rohit along with a cousin Raghav, decided to go around the village. It was surprising that the people seemed to recognize him; there was respect in their eyes, which didn’t seem to make sense. “I never came to the village, after middle school, yet why is there this warmth?” questioned Rohit to Raghav.

Raghav smiled and steered him towards a tall building in the square “This is the government school of our village, it was started after the efforts of our grandfather! Our grandfather was a qualified doctor, educated in Pune, yet he came back and worked all his life for the upliftment of our village! He was the first doctor in this whole region and was instrumental in starting many initiatives for the betterment of health, sanitation and education in our village and neighboring areas.”

The words got etched somewhere deep in Rohit. He didn’t know much about his grandfather’s work. They came once a year for around 10 days to the village. By then, grandfather had retired and Rohit was too small to understand what his social service or ‘work’ mean! He became curious to know more about the great man!

Over the next two days, Rohit and Anish got to know a lot about the great figure. They were amazed and humbled with the dedication and efforts put in! “Apart from sharing a surname, I wonder what else do I have common with this great man,” wondered Anish and Rohit just replied “Exactly my thoughts son!”

Next day, they were going to their village deity and watching at the lush paddy fields and huge mango orchards that lined both sides of the road. “I want to be a farmer! This is so beautiful” quipped Anish. “With most youngsters not wanting to be farmers or going to cities, I don’t know how long these green surroundings would survive” said a worried Raghav. This caught Rohit by surprise!

“Why was nobody interested in farming?”

“Everyone thinks there isn’t much dignity in being a farmer, plus with so many climatic changes, farming just doesn’t seem feasible, they don’t get labor to work and you never know if there will be any returns on investment! It is a tough life.”

The answer put Rohit in deep thought! We were losing the primary life sustaining business known to man! There was something wrong here! By the time they were returning back from the temple, Rohit had his light-bulb moment! He quickly made a few phone calls and started typing away feverishly on the laptop.

For the next two days, Rohit looked like a man possessed! He was making presentations, watching videos, creating models.

“Would you be able to introduce me to the govt. school management by any chance?” asked Rohit to Raghav, just as he was sitting down for dinner. “Yes sure! I am an honorary member there, will talk and set something up by tomorrow.” But what is this about, asked a curious Raghav?

Well, I am a mechanical engineer and my company is into making machines for farming. I connected with them about the problems here and they are interested in sharing knowledge with the school students as part of their social responsibility activity. We have a branch in Mumbai and we are thinking of having yearly projects in schools that will ignite their interest in science. This will have good cash prizes that students can use for higher education.

The conversation lit up Raghav’s and Anish’s eyes! After dinner, the three of them huddled together over the presentations and there were excited exchange of ideas late into the light.

A short story about life coming a full circle and finding purpose

In the next two days, some more phone calls later, the presentation was arranged. Rohit showcased how his team would be interested in introducing basics of mechanical learning and creating farming related tools as a vocational subject in the school. This would prepare the students for the year end competition. The competition would revolve around creating simple and cost-effective machines that would help farmers.

The vocational classes would happen via video calls and once a month, one of his team members from Mumbai, would come to access the situation and understand the on ground realities.

By the end of the presentations, Rohit could sense that the teachers and the management alike were interested in trying this new way of learning. Rohit did a small introduction with students, to understand their perspective and the result was amazing! As he showed them how a cost effective rice-cutting instrument could be made by the students, he saw the excitement in their curious eyes.

“This is just the beginning”, Rohit mused to himself. He had just ignited a hundred little flames!

The Cradle

Curious of all the commotion in the neighboring room, a heavily pregnant Pooja went in to have a look

She saw numerous beautiful wooden toys, silverware and an exquisite handcrafted cradle!

That’s the cradle of Amey’s grandfather! Amey himself and now Amey’s child will play in this cradle, her MIL beamed.

Pooja was stunned looking at all the treasures and listening to the memories her MIL was rattling away looking at various things in the room.

Pooja had been skeptical about delivering the baby in the ancestral home. It was in a small town with good hospitals around, but she was vying for the luxury hospital in the city.

Pooja could see a baby Amey in the cradle, as her MIL shared beautiful memories.

In that moment she realized, the warmth of memories and love of people would be the best luxury she could offer her baby.

Linking up with Mayuri and Tina for #FridayFotoFiction

Nostalgia #writebravely

It was a typical busy, dull day at office

The familiar ping on the phone made me look at the screen,

An FB friend request from a long lost friend blinked on the screen

A familiar rush of happiness surged through me as I saw the name

Nostalgia consumed me and the countless happy memories left me with a smile on my face

One accept and a messenger wave later, we were on a trip down the memory lane remembering the good old school days.

After the chat I feverishly started searching for other school friends and adding them

Just then Facebook suggested his name! My first crush and a dear friend

We lost touch after school, and now there on facebook his name popped!

I kept the phone aside and was trying to focus on work,

Did he ever know I liked him? Would he accept my friend request? Would it be awkward?

While my brain and heart debated on such endless questions

Another ping on the phone drew me towards it

He had sent a friend request with a message

“Hi! It’s been so long, remember the last time we met…”

We shared a bit of past, a bit of present, a bit of what was unsaid, had a hearty laugh and a promise to catch up soon.

And just like that an old friendship was renewed.

prose poetry about nostalgia

A bit of tech a bit of heart

I know this isn’t the theme for today, but I wanted to write on this theme and I have a series running on Friday, so couldn’t post then, hence posting now.

Write Tribe

#Tiniature – Twitter Tale

Twitter _tale

Twitter usually evokes mixed reactions. There are few who love it and then there are few who hate it. I think it’s more about finding your tribe. Once you find it, you will love Twitter. The above post kind of sums up my relationship with twitter.

Xenial – A hospitable stranger

There was a heat wave across the country. It was sweltering everywhere and the only safe haven was air conditioned offices and stores. Veena was standing on the road, waiting to cross. It was lunch time and she had to go to a close by eatery to buy her lunch. As she waited for the vehicles to recede a small girl around 5 came to her begging for some money. The heat was so annoying that Veena just waved her hand, asking the girl to go on. She saw traffic thinning and without a second thought she quickly crossed the road.

Just as she started walking under the canopy of trees and into the eatery, she realized what had just happened. She just couldn’t bring herself to eat, thinking about that girl alone on the road in this smoldering sun. She also realized there must be many such children on the road. Veena got up and went back. She asked the girl if she had eaten anything, as the girl nodded in negative, she took the girl with her to the eatery. She asked the girl to sit down and ordered two meals for both of them. The girl was stunned and suddenly aware about her surroundings. She told Veena meekly “Please give me Rs.10, I will eat at the roadside shop.” Veena nodded and asked her to sit down. Just then a hot meal arrived and Veena didn’t miss the way the girl hungrily looked at the food.

From that day Veena was a changed woman, she carried small biscuit packets with her and gave it to the street urchins around her office. The children knew her as the ‘Biscuit Aunty’ and others as a xenial woman.

 

Victimized

A usually vivacious Geet was extremely silent. She was a photographer and the team had come together to discuss the way forward for a new coffee table book for an NGO. Geet had gone to Vrindavan to shoot the images as per the brief and had just returned from her 15 day stay. Neeraj the creative director had seen the images and the same were being circulated with other members. “These are great images Geet, very moving and tear jerking,” however Geet seemed distracted.

She just looked at him calmly and said ‘No’. Before Neeraj could say anything, Geet said “No, I don’t like the ideas that are being discussed here and NO, I am not really happy with the images. Our Coffee table book is about the Widows of Vrindavan. A much neglected and probably a forgotten part of our society. Showing some more despondent pictures is just adding to the noise. These women have been victimized and there is enough said about that.”

She pressed “I met them and have shot them so I know they don’t like being portrayed like this. The NGO is doing some good work with them. I think showing the transformations that they have undergone while trying to be self-sufficient is something that I find more appealing. I shot these pictures while I was with them and these will definitely tell you a different story,” said Geet while pulling out another manila envelope. It was full of determined, at work, happy and powerful images that showed the grit of these widows. Geet had succesfully managed to change the profile of the widows from helpless victims to confident humans.

Image Credit- DNA

Photo Credit – DNA Newspaper.

Upset over not having your way

Annika was upset. She was always upset when she had to return. She always cried and threw a tantrum in a futile attempt to postpone her return. She was getting her way this time and she was going to put up a great act, Annika thought determined.

She sat in a huff at the end of her tantrum. Her granny smiled and came to her with a besan laddoo. Annika loved her granny’s laddoo’s but today she controlled her urge to lunge towards it hungrily. She had to act visibly upset if she wanted her way. “I don’t want to go back. Back to school, classes and tutions, I hate it there. Mum and Dad are busy. There are always rules and restrictions. I want to stay with you.” She said with tears in her eyes. Her granny kissed her on the forehead and tried explaining things to her.

Just then granny’s phone rang. She answered it and simply said “Meera, Annika has decided that she won’t be returning to you. So I suggest you get her name transferred in the town school and send some more clothes for her.” Annika squealed with joy for getting her way. She hugged her granny tight but before she could say anything her granny said “Annika, now that you are staying here you need to know, we have rules and restrictions here too. Also, there are no malls here and the schools are open on Saturday’s too. You will study for 2 hours daily as I can’t go and drop you at tuitions.” As her granny listed off things to do Annika suddenly realized that it was no different from home. “But granny you don’t make me do all this when I am here for vacations?” Granny simply said “They are called vacations for a reason darling.” Annika realized her mistake “I will go home granny and come back during next vacation,” she said with a mischievous grin spreading on her face.

Tender Love

Sameer reached the bus-stop early, in-time to see her walking towards him. Aparna always waved and smiled at him, but then she did that with everyone on the stop. From a boy whom the bus driver cursed for being late every day to a boy, who reached the bus stop 5 minutes early, Sameer was a transformed boy.

Nowadays, the school didn’t seem so boring nor did talking to girls seem weird. He took extra care of how he looked while going to school and intently watched all the advertisements about male grooming products. He religiously finished all his homework and even did some extra reading to look smart in class. Though they were in the same class, took the same bus and lived in the same society, Sameer wasn’t able to grab her attention. He wanted Aparna to spend more time with him.

As they entered the bus, he stumbled and fell flat. He was embarrassed and crushed.  Who would be friends with a goofy guy? He was gloomy the whole day and refused to look in Aparna’s direction for the fear of disapproval in her eyes, but after school she came and sat next to him in the bus smiling and just like that something tender and pure bloomed.

 

Stressed about future

Stress Free Childhood

Anita was seething with anger,

She called Harsh inside and made him sit in front of her and demanded ‘How did this happen?’ What were you doing? I focus all my attention and energy on you and this is what I get in return? How can you be so casual about all this? Don’t you know your future depends on it?

She volleyed a barrage of such questions to which Harsh, who was all of seven, had no answer. Her voice was a clear indicator of her temper and that itself was enough to scare an already stressed Harsh. He couldn’t really understand much of what his mother was saying, but he felt it was wise to keep quiet. All he understood was that he had done something terrible.

She continued admonishing him for the next half an hour “Next time I want to see an A+ in every subject. How will you be a brilliant engineer if you score less?” He obediently nodded his head. You can go to play now, Anita announced. Harsh felt sad and stressed, but he didn’t know how to react.

Anita had been an intelligent and a capable woman, but sadly her family did not find her intelligence worth nurturing and preferred to marry her off instead. Now this frustrated mother looked for recognition through her son. She wanted him to realize all her unfulfilled ambitions.

Sadly, what she didn’t realize is all he wanted was love and not being saddled with her ambitions.

Positive

Meera quickly got ready. It was a beautiful morning and she had a job interview. She dressed up in a beautiful pastel salwar kameez and bowed to god before leaving the house. Her father, who was a tailor, wasn’t very happy. “Why do you keep giving job interviews? I sent you to school because you were adamant and it seemed to make your mother happy, but now looking for jobs is too much. Nobody is going to give you a job.” he argued. Meera’s mom brought out a small tiffin and pressed it in her hands. “Eat on time,” she said. Her father tried reasoning with her mother, and she said something that Meera didn’t see. With a positive feeling, Meera left house.

The day went by and she came home. Slowly as she entered the house, her mother rushed towards her. Her father was in the background, but his face gave away that he had been worried the whole day. Looking at her face, he blurted “They didn’t accept you right? I knew it! Beta, in this world where there are so many people who are unemployed, why would they hire a deaf girl? I didn’t want you getting disappointed.”

Meera held her father’s hand and produced a letter. “We hereby offer Meera Singh, the position of stewardess. Her positive outlook and bright personality is what made us hire her for our restaurant, the letter read. She had a big bright smile on her face.