Love is Labour

April 5, 2019 at 9:15 AMApr (Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life)

When my niece Aarushi was born I was far from home in a place that feels like home- Kashmir. I was in between a very engaging conversation with Shams when Dad called to inform me about my sister giving birth to a girl child, half an hour ago. My first response was, “Wasnt it supposed to happen ten days later?” because I had scheduled my trip as per the date given by the doctor. But nature is beyond human calculations.

I cut short my trip and returned home not because I was excited but because I was expected to be back home. Srinagar to Jammu, Jammu to Delhi and Delhi to Manipal I traveled to reach home only some minutes of my sister and niece arriving home being discharged from the hospital.

When I saw my niece for the first time, I absolutely did not know how to react. There was this sweet little thing which brought a smile on my face but I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. The omnipresent gaze of family and extended family pressurized me to feel something though nothing was said to me. So I kind of made my amusement of seeing anew born baby seem like my joy of being an uncle.

Within ten days I had to leave for Ranchi and I was only glad about it. I was glad because I have never been good with kids. To be honest, I was quite apprehensive when my sister was to move to Manipal for delivery. Just because I am just not fond of kids and I dont know how to be around them or with them around me! So the Ranchi plan made beforehand was, I felt, a savior.

I very enthusiastically went to Ranchi and even after I finished my work in Ranchi went to Delhi and then to Bhopal and kind of tried my level best to stay away from home. But then I couldnt do that for long and had to come back home.

On returning home I had to engage with the new born! But slowly with time and more engagement slowly silently and softly without realizing it I became not just fond of Aarushi but also very attached to her. I did not even notice the shift in me and my equation with my niece.

Interestingly a lot of my friends were either visiting Manipal or crossing by Manipal during the same time and almost everyone visited home and met Aarushi too, with great love.

One friend very curiously asked my sister how she felt when she first saw the child. For a moment I felt really awkward because it sounded like a TV9 journalist question, “how do you feel about it?” no matter what the occasion is. Also to my mind, thanks to our cultured social upbringing, the mother feels bliss when she sees her child. But I was shocked when my sister told my friend that she felt absolutely nothing! She said she did not feel anything for over ten days and she had to remind herself that she is responsible for the child and she needs to attend to it.

“But slowly I began to love her,” my sister said.

In a way I was glad that neither of my parents or any of my relative wasnt around because we are all made to have such romantic ideas about motherhood that a honest statement like this might sound blasphemous! Forget my parents or relatives, even I had almost the same idea. It did surprise me to hear what my sister said but it did not take much time to realize that it could be true because my relation with Aarushi had also formed in a similar way.

That evening after dropping my friends to the lodge they were put up in, I went on a long solitary drive because I had realized something quite significant: Love, of all shades, is finally an outcome of time and labour! Love just doesnt happen. Love demands time and labour and of course dedication.

This is something that hadnt occurred to me earlier for all the yash raj films I had consumed over and over again and again. I felt light and there was a newborn respect for the idea of labour in the super lazy me.

The realization always happens as a result of a series of incidents, happenings. But to internalize the realization and make it a way of life again requires time and labour! That is love for life.

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GR the lion

April 3, 2019 at 9:15 PMApr (Activism, Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Two years ago when a circus company arrived in Udupi, I was keen on seeing a show but was not getting company to go with. One day when my friend Sahamata called to say she was coming to Udupi for some work, I suggested we could together go watch circus. She agreed but never came. I was disappointed.

Around the same time, I got a call from G. Rajashekhar. He had called to ask if he could borrow my copy of Teesta Setalvad’s autobiography. I agreed to lend him my copy on the condition that he would take me along when he goes to watch the circus. Not many who know GR as our conscience keeper and his remarkable life of activism and literary criticism that he has seen all the circus shows that arrived to Udupi in his lifetime. Since I knew of this, I was sure he would be going to watch a show that year too. So I made this offer on listening to which he said, “I usually sit in the Gandhi class and watch circus. I am not sure if that would be okay with you.” I said it was fine with me and in the following week GR and I went to watch circus.

That night I promptly called Sahamata and told her I had just returned home after watching a circus show. “Nice,” she said and asked if I had gone alone. When I told her I had gone with GR, she laughed aloud saying, “People go to the circus to see a lion. But you went to see the circus with a lion.” I too joined her in the laughter.

Photo: Kuntady Nitesh

Within a month after this, we all comrades of concern had gathered at the clock tower in Udupi for a protest. I was talking to GR who was sitting besides the flag post with the national emblem. When I saw another friend (Idrees, if I remember correctly) come join us I went to greet him, who stood on the other side of the the flag post. While I was talking to Idrees I could see the three lions in the national emblem of India and behind the emblem was GR. At one moment GR turned back and it looked like the fourth invisible lion in the national emblem had turned around to look back!

I remembered what Sahamata had said and in that moment I imagined the fourth lion of the national emblem looked like GR. Even if not so, I dont think it would be any unfair to see GR as the invisible lion in the national emblem for he has dedicated his life to defending democracy.

Today is 3rd of April. GR turned 73. Happy birthday, Sir!

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