Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mahashivaratri: I'm loving it!

When I was a child, Mahashivaratri bhajans used to be conducted at home. It meant 24X7 work for my parents, especially my mother. But this is the one festival that we loved to get ready for. 


You had to prepare in advance for hosting so many people overnight. They had to be comfortable yet alert because no one who stays can be allowed to fall asleep unless they are unwell or on medication. So, if there were aunties who wanted to take a ten-minute nap, I would time it and call them exactly in ten minutes!


The joy of watching grown-ups make a fool of themselves over getting few more minutes of sleep cannot be underestimated especially when you are ten or twelve years old!


Perhaps it is those beautiful growing up years that make it difficult for me to stay away from an all-night vigil during Mahashivaratri. I can't stay away from it no matter where I am, even if the following day is a working day. This year too, I attended the Mahashivaratri bhajans at the Sai Center, Lodhi Road, and I enjoyed every minute of it though I was alone. 

The only occasions when I have seen my mother make an effort to ''dress up" is for bhajans and festive occasions, but even that is confined to wearing a 'pattu saree' (silk saree with traditional borders) or a Kerala kasavu saree. She would wear a big red bindi and then ''dressing up" is over. No face cream, no foundation, no rouge, no eyeliner or kajal and if you suggested lipstick, she would have been scandalised. If you must know, she has to be ''forced" by us to wear such things for occasions like weddings. Personally, I think she never needed it. She looks beautiful the way she is. 

Coming back to my Mahashivaratri routine this year, I made an effort to get ready, wearing a traditional forest green saree with a gold brocade. Green is my mother's favourite colour. 

There is a tiny shop in my neighbourhood where I like to buy bindis and earrings. The owner is a lovely lady with an excellent taste for the loveliest pieces of hand-crafted jewellery that she picks up on her travels across the country and her recommendations have always been ''god-sent'' for me because I am quite hopeless with colour-coordinating these things. Also, the truth is that I can spent hours reading a book but I don't have that kind of patience when it comes to choosing what to wear, getting ready, etc.



I had to reach the venue at least by 6 PM and I stopped on my way at her shop for bindis. I opted for a small green bindi and almost bought it when she gently put something else for me - a big green bindi - and said, "You should wear big bindis - you look transformed. See it yourself." I was really not keen on having that big bindi - only Usha Uthup can carry it off! Then I looked in the mirror and what I saw surprised me. I felt I could see my mother in the mirror, not me. 


Do I look like my mother? No one has ever told me so. But when I wore that bindi, I felt the resemblance strongly. And I felt intensely like her. 

"I think I will have the set of bindis instead of one," I told the lady and she smiled an ''I-told-you-son" gentle smile.

I was about to pay the money for the bindis when I saw a beautiful pair of earrings - black studs latched on to green drops - that took my breath away.

"Can I try it?" I asked and reached out. Human nature - we want more of pretty looking things even when we know it isn't needed!:)

When I wore the earrings, she clicked this picture and said to me, "Nothing looks more beautiful than this right now. See?"



You can see the earrings here if you look closely. You can also spot the stacks of bangle boxes in the background - this isn't a shop. It's a treasure trove, I tell you.

From here, I headed to the venue, where the bhajans were in full swing.

So, what happens during the Mahashivaratri vigil?


As a Sai devotee, I sing my lungs out. That sounds too easy, right? But singing all the way with the same spirit and energy till 6 AM the next day isn't a walk in the park unless you feel it with every cell of your body.

At a much deeper level, there is a lot happening - a sincere attempt to let go of the ego, desires and all the baggage that ties you down in material life. Anything that you believe ties you down - work on it. 

When I listen to Sai bhajans, I lose interest in everything else including who I believe i am and who I want to be. I forget my deepest grief, my strongest desire and my identification with myself. All that I become alive to is the ragas, the svaras, the lyrics and the feel of each bhajan that wraps itself around my consciousness like the peaceful stillness of a frosty morning. 

A bhajan sounds simple and people think that anybody can sing but that is not true. You can be an amazing playback singer and still be mediocre when you sing a bhajan. It takes years of dedicated sadhana to become a good bhajan singer and even then not everyone can claim to reach that position easily. The difficult thing is that you have to motivate yourself - there are no masses clapping for you, no awards coming your way, no rewards or recognition to make your ego feel on top of the world. The only reward that comes from it is the unbelievable satisfaction you feel within when you have sung well.

For yesterday's bhajans, I loved the dash of strategy shown. The best singers and the best bhajans were rendered during the 1 am to 4 am slot - the time when we are most likely to fall asleep. Even the combinations of singers are deftly arranged - among women, the older voices merging with the younger voices to give both the strengths they needed in mastering the song and rendering it with amazing skill.

When you open your eyes after singing or listening to a bhajan, the sunrises and sunsets should feel differently to you. This isn't merely about technique but it is about breaking every rule in the written book to understand the essence of the bhava that you are striving to create for your listener.

One such bhajan that has been lingering in my mind since Mahashivaratri is this, "Arunachala Shiva,Arunachala Shiva,Arunachala Shiva Aruna Shiva Om." A beautiful bhajan, but I couldn't grasp the tune or the rhythm of it. That this bhajan is elusive and slipping out of my grasp is now filling my mind completely. Also, a tiny egoistic voice that pips in, "You think you know all bhajans, couldn't figure out this one, could you?"

As the early morning aarti rang out on the morning after Mahashivarathri, the sky seemed to shimmer, the air seemed colder and the lamp lights from the place where we had completed worship of Lord Shiva glowed around us as the hurrying figures of devotees moved past.

Utter beauty and serenity - that is what Mahashivaratri means for me. Brings joy and peace to my heart like nothing else.

So, what's your favourite way of feeling at peace with yourself? I'd love to hear from you!

And hey, if you liked reading this post, do feel free to check out these too:

In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What's the one delicious desi sweet that you miss?

I grew up outside India for many years - which also meant that while I got to eat exciting types of food (nope, sorry to disappoint you, not grasshoppers - I don't think I would be okay with it!), like crispy chicken in the basket or grilled Chambe fish, I missed out on some desi food options. My parents say that I was such a reluctant child when it came to eating food that I used to take two to three hours to finish a single meal, morsel by morsel! Not anymore....hahaha!

Tea-time snacks at home used to include a variety such as dhoklas, parippu vadas, unniappams, murukkus and cakes. Yes, that was my mom's happiest ''cooking days" sort of phase. She would whip up a new dish everyday and it would turn out so yummy that we would want more of it. Looking back, I can't help admiring my mother because I simply don't have that kind of consistency or energy to even try this on a daily basis. She did this for years while we were growing up outside India, which also meant that she had no domestic help to pitch in with any of the cooking!  


                           [Image: http://petalsfromtheheart.blogspot.in]

During college years, I used to go totally crazy over chocolate sundaes topped with caramelised nuts and dribbles of chocolate sauce. You won't believe this - now I cannot even taste chocolate sundaes without wanting to throw up. 

I guess I grew up...ROFL!

In Delhi, I simply love the taste of piping hot jalebis - the crunchy, juicy taste of jalebis - I have a feeling that you would find it irresistible too! In Kochi, there used to be a popular eatery called Bimbis, which was all the rage in the 90s for those who want to try out North Indian snacks and sweets. I didn't like their jalebis much - dry and flaky, not the real thing, I realise now. 

What's the one delicious desi sweet you miss so much that you'd love to binge on it

Monday, January 16, 2017

Surpanakha was never wronged by Lord Ram and Lakshman; still, we blame them!


You know I love readings books and if it relates to mythology, you've got me glued to every page! It is never easy to recreate the character and the inner world of already known characters - the challenges are many and quite tricky for a writer. 

In the mythology genre, Kavita Kane is my favorite writer.  Her books Karna's Wife and Menaka's Choice had me spell bound!. Kavita Kane brought every character to life and I simply loved both these books. [My post in Writers Melon: Why are Kavita Kane's mythological narratives so compelling to read? ]

                                      [Source: Kavita Kane's Facebook page]

If you have read the Ramayana, you already know a little about the story of Surpanakha - the ''wronged'' sister of Ravana. In this novel, the author gives readers a glimpse of the inner world of Surpanakha - her childhood, her relationships with her parents and siblings, particularly Ravana. 

Surpanakha's nature is vulnerable and strong - an interesting paradox - similar to that of a stubborn child who wants attention and when she doesn't get it when she has to have it, she knows exactly how to get it. She manipulates people and situations to get things done her way even when she knows it boomerangs on her at the end.


The revelations in Kavita Kane's latest novel, Lankas's Princess, tell you why Surpanakha did what she did, why she thought in a certain way and why she manipulated her brother to be provoked by her narrative of how Lord Ram and Lakshman had treated her and all of this finally led to the abduction of Sita.

You also get to know that Ravana is a serial rapist - and the revelation is made by his own sister and mother! We also get to know about the curse on Ravana that forced him to behave like a gentleman towards Sita while she lived in Lanka. 

A couple of times it was tough for me to turn the pages of this book - only because I found it hard to come to terms with a woman as sweet, innocent and yet deceitful as Surpanakha seems to be: a sister who continuously goads her brother to abduct another woman who is already married to someone else and she even goads her brother in the presence of his wife! 


Ravana had loved her more than anything but she plans for his destruction at every step of the way, even at the cost of causing the deaths of innocent family members including her own son and her brother's son!

This book gives me something precious in the end - it tells me that Surpanakha and Ravana were not as wronged by Lord Ram and Lakshman as others made it out to be.

I am most certainly awaiting Kavita Kane's next book because she brings to life a meaningful narrative of mythological characters that have been much misunderstood and maligned. Through her narrative, she creates a realistic portrayal that makes readers want to inhabit that world. 

Who is your least favorite character in the Ramayana and why? 

Do write in and share your thoughts. I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips

Time flies faster than we can imagine.  A little girl who is the ''music" of our home is now celebrating her birthday, continents apart. Her birthday is on January 6th and it brought back many sweet childhood memories. She is away from home but never far from our thoughts or my heart. 

Geethu and I, as sisters, grew up together and as most of those who know us already will know, we are absolute opposites but we complement each other in a beautiful way. But let me confess, growing up with a super intelligent kid who could breathe, think and talk science and maths like a pro was a traumatic experience for the older sibling - namely, me. It didn't help that she was also one of the best in all types of sports and we had no space to keep all the certificates and prizes she won for her school in different sports categories. Well, I spared my parents the trauma of having to store my certificates or trophies of glory by not having any...lol! 


What I think is most amazing is how my parents have never compared the two of us in any category but they have been quietly proud of the unique strengths we had, which in a strange way, complemented one another. 

Often, at PTMs and other social interactions, I see many young parents compare their children's strengths and weaknesses with other people in front of their kids. Siblings have feelings too when compared and I wish parents respected that. Of course, I am not a child expert here but I do know that I am glad my parents never did that to me.

As my sister and I grew older, our bond became stronger and more mature. We sought each other's opinions on everything that matters to us. We always had opposite opinions on most things, but that has never caused a dent in our relationship. 

Differences apart, there is also an unspoken code that runs true for us as it often does between most sisters - you mess with one, the other is out for your blood - don't even dream of being forgiven. 

I can take criticism about myself but the slightest criticism about my sister - you've had it and you've earned an unforgiving enemy for life. I am being very candid about this here. This is how I am and I think that this is how most sisters are when it comes to each other. 

Now, as we grow older and sillier, not any wiser with each other, we find ourselves sharing every little thing with each other. She has a practical, methodical approach to solving day-to-day challenges. Her time-management and planning skills are amazing. She starts her day as early as 3 AM and is very clear about what to get done at each time slot. We are each other's strongest critics and yet we are much crazier about each other's kids. My sister has the quirkiest sense of humor and the target is usually......well, me. She makes me laugh like no one else and she knows me best. 

I can't help saying that she also happens to be one of the very few people in my life whose love I take for granted. I know that no matter what I say or do, she will stick with me. 


Throughout the years, she has always stood by my decisions and when I went through some of the toughest tests in my life, she gave me the courage to believe that everything happens for a reason and while that reason may not be apparent, it is what will help us to grow and be strong.

My mother always used to long for a sister because there are many things that you can share only with a sister. She used to say that Geethu and I are so lucky to have each other. While we were growing up, we used to scowl every time she said this. But now we say this to our children because we want them to know that they are lucky to have each other and we want the bond between us to continue to grow through our children.

When Adi was born, Geethu's batchmates traveled all the way from Marthandam to Kochi just to see my son. They came as a group to stay at home and they were so overwhelmed to hold a newborn baby and I felt my heart burst with happiness because though I didn't know her friends well, they had undertaken a long journey and come all the way to welcome my baby.

I am still in touch with them because every relationship is sacred in our life and they have a special place in the journey of our hearts.

Life has taught me that people we expect nothing from surprise us all the time. For the same reason, I try very hard to nurture all relationships just as I have seen my father do. If he has helped ten people, probably one person remembers and the rest move on in life without even thanking him. I have seen him remain unperturbed by this. 

While I don't have my father's patience, I do understand that human nature is complex and that no matter how much we try, we always fall short in the eyes of another. You could help someone find a decent job that helps his/her family in a significant way and later find that same person work against you. How others behave is never in our control, how we behave is a reflection of our core human values and that is within our control.

I find that children are different from grown ups - they respond to love and attention, like a flower opens up to sunshine. This is why I want to talk to my niece every day - that she is a miniature replica of me puts me in a fun spot because I feel like I am talking to a facet of myself and having lots of fun! [Do read2016: The Year That Taught Me That Nothing is Impossible]



When my nephew Vihaan talks to me about his school and my niece Aishani calls out my name, every morning when I call her on Viber, I feel an ocean of love swell up within my heart. 

They are mine to love and cherish as much as they are my sister's.



And I tell Adi what my mother once told me, "You are blessed to have each other because this relationship is what will hold you to each other always."

I still miss the daily squabbles with my sister. But you know, it gets difficult to pick fights across continents.


"In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips."  — Whoever said that, you got it right!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The Year That Taught Me That Anything is Possible and Nothing is Impossible

Loving Happy New Year wishes to all of you and I say this with all my heart. If I don't feel it from my heart, I can never sit down and write these words to you. 2016 has been a roller coaster year for me - I am sure it may have been the same for you and your loved ones too. 

Life will keep unfolding, the best thing we can do is to keep evolving and making new choices that bring us more peace and clarity about being in the "present." I don't know if this sounds like mumbo-jumbo nonsense - yikes, I hope not.

As a working mom, the toughest challenge that I faced this year has been to be fully focused on my son. As my son is growing older, he has far too much to tackle in his studies. What I strive for is to have open discussions about any topic that he has questions about even if it means answering questions that are not easy to find a balanced response to but we discuss everything openly. 

I am not a control freak mom and I don't aspire to be one. I want to watch my son grow up with an independent mind of his own and not have a mind where his mother has to molly-coddle his every thought and feed it into his head about what he has to think or say. Personally, I would be very disappointed with myself if I did that to my only son.The balance that I try to strive with my son is unconventional but works well for us. 

We enjoy "we-time" together, we experiment with new books and exotic dishes and we tend to be welcomed everywhere we go - at least, people seem happy to see us including the folks at Big Chill care at Khan Market and the regular bookshops where Adi is greeted with hugs,, touchwood.


We also attend parties together even when it is strictly not meant for children but yes when it has the Chief Justice of India as the key speaker, I think it is right that we go together. I cannot keep my son aside and attend a party, period. Those who invite me, think again:) 

We also go for movies but I am increasingly selective about this. We also like to travel - be it to ashrams or vacation spots, and we simply love it because we see every experience as an opportunity to learn new things, side by side.

In 2016, a significant milestone for me as a mother is that I am spending more quality time with my son. I am confident that he opens up his heart and mind to me and I pray that he always does - a distant dream as he grows up - but a prayer is a prayer and let us not forget, it is a mother's prayer. 

Still, December has gone too fast, I say! I look back at the year that was - the good months and not-so-easy ones, and I wonder, "Whoa - I went through all that and I am still active, not retired and still kicking" which makes me want to pat myself on the back and say, "Not bad, gal, you are stronger than you think!"

Now this reminds me of a beautiful passage I read in the novel, "The Liberation of Sita" by Volga. It is an ''imaginary" snippet of a conversation between Ahalya and Sita and it reads like this:

"You are enduring great pain. You think you are enduring it for someone else. You think that you have performed your duty for the sake of some one else. You have surrendered your courage and your self-confidence to others. What have you saved for yourself?"

I know that every mother goes through phases of soul-searching. Those are the toughest to handle. I know how it feels - trust me.

The key question is - What have you saved for yourself and how do you feel about it deep within?

That is all that matters.

For me, 2016 began with a beautiful darshan of Lord Balaji in Tirupati and of my Guru in Puttaparthi. The months that followed were full of exciting changes and challenges and it was not easy - but I sailed through the waves, with Lord Sai's abundant grace.

Some gifts that God blesses us with comes in unexpected packages. The gift of family and friendship is something I value and never take for granted. Some of my dear family members, colleagues and friends have stood by me and extended their full support to me throughout some of the difficult phases that I went through this year. Their loving energy and support will be the most precious "golden" trophy for me to treasure and cherish, this year.

If you believe in yourself as a good human being, a down-to-earth, balanced parent and a responsible professional, trust me - anything is possible and nothing is impossible. That is what 2016 has taught me.

Cheers to 2017! Have an amazing year and do let me know what 2016 was like for you! I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

KR Meera's The Gospel of Yudas: A gripping, disturbing portrayal of the Naxalite movement during Emergency in Kerala

Winter mornings are great to read gripping novels that explore the heart's longing for the forbidden, but you need the comfort of a warm sweater, an inviting quilt and a cozy bed to snuggle into. 

And lots of chai - piping hot, laced with a dash of cardamom.

That is how I read the first sentence of KR Meera's novel, The Gospel of Yudas, translated by Rajesh Rajamohan, and the sentence simply leapt  into my consciousness as I read the words, "A traitor can never sleep. His hunger is eternal; his thirst, insatiable."

I HAVE to say this: This blurb took my breath away - the different shades of green-blue tones and the sinking girl evoked strong emotions even before I touched the first page.




And you feel a spark of rebellion stem from within when you read poignant sentences like this, "In our lake, dead bodies raced among themselves daily to find their way to the surface," and "In our feudal home - our Naalukettu - before I went to sleep in my room under the yellowed ceiling made of Anjiliwood, I'd chant silently 'Naxalbari Zindabad!'

The story of the hero, is narrated through Prema, a retired policeman's daughter who is infatuated with Yudas, a man whose existence is all about diving into lakes and river bodies to retrieve corpses. 

The  novel is constructed around Prema's dangerous obsession with Yudas, who is still grieving over his betrayal of the woman he loved - Sunanda. This leads Prema to undertake an intense exploration of his past, blending with it all the elements of a bittersweet love tragedy, neither page turning nor sensual, but deeply moving. 

One of the most impressive aspects of this book is that within the hidden layers of human behavior, more is revealed about what the Emergency did to change human nature, turning it into something  darker than we can ever imagine and how those people caught in its warp try to snap out of it but remain stuck, unable to pierce beyond the damage that the era has wrought on them.

We are perplexed by the questions that Yudas and Prema inject into our minds as they dive deep within their own seas asking-  What is it about fear that causes people to betray those whom they love?

Prema's self-inflicted confusion is consistent and comes through more strongly than the author may have intended. It is made bare for us to see when she meets Sangeeta, who tells her, "I am not scared, sister. Don't I have the blood of Sunanda and my grandfather coursing through me?" 

The emotion this statement triggers in Prema makes her vulnerable and strong at the same time, as she reels under its impact, "I was speechless. Rage surged inside me...Sunanda was always ahead of me."

This 'Prema-moment' feels like the ultimate moment of truth and betrayal.

KR Meera's novel, The Gospel of Yudas, offers no answers but it is dark and brilliant in a way that intensely grips your mind, word by word, para by para and page by page. 

Prema's obsession throws into your face the bleak truth of what happens to human beings when they are forced to conform with laws imposed on them by an authoritarian State, where brutality becomes a way of preserving the draconian laws.

The way this book ends turned out to be slightly disappointing for me. I had expected something very unpredictable, as KR Meera had done in The Hangwoman. But that didn't happen with this latest novel on Yudas

[MUST READ: How the Hangwoman Swept Me off my feet ]

And if you liked reading this book review, do check some of the other books that caught my interest:

1. The Other Woman in Your Marriage
2. The Nambisan Novels
3. Daughter by Court Order 
4. Custody
5. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

Summing up, KR Meera's "Gospel of Judas" is a short, gripping book that has much to say about how the Emergency messed up many lives in Kerala.

Now, it's your turn to tell me - What's on top of your reading list this winter? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Vidyarambham: How and why Malayalis celebrate writing the words ''Harisree Ganapathaye Namaha"

For Malayalis, Vidyarambham is an auspicious day on which the elders and children mark the day by writing the sacred words, "Harisree Ganapathayeh Namaha." The observance of this ritual may differ from region to region, community to community and family to family. Whatever I share here is based on how vidyarambham is celebrated in my home. 

Vidyarambham: How Malayalis observe this sacred day

In families where the children are gearing up to enter pre-school or play school and are not yet ready to join the formal schooling system, Vidyarambham marks an important occasion for an elder to introduce them to the world of "vidya" or "knowledge." The words ''Harisree Ganapathayeh Namaha" are written on the child's tongue by the grandparent, an elder or parent.  

                                     [Image credit: Travel Manorama Online ]

Vidyarambham: Why it matters 


An interesting aspect of Vidyarambham ceremony lies in the relationship with the person who is marking the words for the first time on the child's tongue. That person will always have a symbolic importance in the child's life.  For instance, children who have had their Vidyarambham conducted by my father tend to seek his blessings when they get a new job or something auspicious happens in their life. The relationship is considered sacred and lasts a lifetime, which is why in most families the ceremony is conducted by a grandparent or the parent.


Nowadays, many Malayalam TV channels also report that Churches are conducting this ceremony in their unique way. 

Vidyarambham: What's so nostalgic about it?

Vidyarambham is also a special "bonding" day when we hold our little ones close to our hearts, seat them beside us and we hold their fingers in our own. We know that we cannot control their destiny but can only guide them as far as they are willing to let us do so. In a small plate or vessel filled with raw rice grains, a dash of turmeric and kumkum, we put their little fingers into it and they are as delighted as we are, to feel this unique experience, to set in motion a different feel and energy into the many tiny grains of rice beneath their fingers.

Then we whisper and make them write,"Hari sree ganapathayeh namaha."

On this auspicious day, we teach our children to always invoke the divine energy within us to add grace to our efforts and bless us with the results that we aspire to attain. 

As I held my son's fingers in mine and wrote in Malayalam, "Hari Sree Ganapathayeh Namaha," I felt like a child.

As though I had stepped back in time, my parents' embrace held me close, their fingers holding mine as they taught me to write. 

Vidyarambham is such a beautiful experience and every Malayali knows how humbling and strangely empowering it feels. 

Perhaps the quest for knowledge begins here - in knowing and recognizing - there is a vast Universe to make sense of, a greater Divine energy that propels us to attain everything we aim to grasp and accompanied by an awareness that we have a long, long way to go before we can finally say, "Been there, done that. I know it all."

Now it's your turn - how do you celebrate Navarathri? Do you have special traditions and customs in your family just like the one that I have shared?

I'd love to know about it. Do write in!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A little boy always pops into my heart

A little boy always pops into my heart - he has shining eyes, a bubbly smile and laughter that is almost melodious and lyrical. I can close my eyes and see his face burst into smiles. He's a miniature "me" - so to speak. And maybe that's why I adore him more than words can express.

A few months ago, a senior Seva Dal in Puttaparthi had the most surprised look on his face when he saw a little boy called Vihaan Rajit remove his sandals carefully before entering the room, do a full padanamaskar in front of Swami's portrait and then come to answer questions related to his identity and passport. He bowed to the Seva Dal with a bright smile, his hands folded in namaskar, saying:  Sai Ram.

The Seva Dal turned to my father and asked, "He's your grandson from Sydney?"

When my father nodded, the Seva Dal looked stunned and he said, "We rarely find our kids show humility or respect to elders these days." 

I told you guys - he's "miniature me"! Okay, I better not irritate my sis....

Vihaan Rajit turned 7 years old last week. How quickly he has grown up!



Vihaan is my sister's son. We like to call him the ''little poojari" because he likes to take charge of ''pujas" at home, chants mantras and sings bhajans almost effortlessly. He loves the certainty of rituals just as he loves sports and swimming. Every evening, when he wraps up his prayers, he distributes vibhuti with the solemnity of a real life priest. He's serious and sincere about his prayers and fun loving by nature. And he loves his french fries and pancakes like kids usually do. That sounds like me by the way.....*grins*

It's quite an experience of sorts when Adi and Vihaan get together. They are up to all kinds of pranks. Vihaan adores "Adi chetta" and tries to do everything he does.   When he was a toddler, he first began to crawl up the stairs in my parents' home when he saw that Adi can easily climb the stairs!
He also tried using Adi's tricycle for the first time and the two had quite a "It's mine, it's mine" tussle around it. As kids do, they both wanted to use it at the same time! 

I recall an instance when an older kid told Adi, "Lets go out to play but leave him behind...."

Adi's reply was instant, "I can't do that. He is my younger brother."

Whenever I recall this, I say a silent prayer to the Almighty: May this always be. Let this love not lessen or change.

They always hug each other tightly and sleep. And when one of them has to go somewhere or be apart, the other one cries, mopes around and doesn't even eat properly or watch cartoons.
If you ask , "Are you missing your brother?," you receive a noncommittal, boyish reply which means nothing and can mean everything if you choose to interpret it. 

Guys, i tell you! Why can't they loosen up a bit at least with moms? 
The moment the other returns, all hell breaks loose and there's madness all around that you wish for some peace and silence once again.

A few months ago when we were sitting together in Prashanti Nilayam, Vihaan asked me a question: "Do you love me or Adichetta?"

I like to tease Vihaan a bit so I asked him, "Well, you know the answer. So, what do you think?"

He gave me that super sweet smile and said, "I know you love us both equally."

Another amazing thing is the effort he takes to win over people's trust and love! He doesn't hesitate to call Sanand and chat with him like for 45 mins at a stretch! When Sanand and Vihaan hang out together, everyone else have to take a step back because the two guys get along so well and just leave out the rest of us!

The sweetest conversation I've heard between Vihaan and Sanand was when Aishani - my sister's daughter - was born. A thrilled Adi told Sanand on the phone, "She's my carbon copy, Acha. If you compare her baby pics with mine, you will think we are the same."

Immediately, little Vihaan takes the phone from Adi and tells Sanand, "Actually Valiyachaa, she's my carbon copy too...you have to believe me..."

Whenever I think of my boy Vihaan, my world feels whole and perfect. He makes me feel that I have one more son to treasure and a rich new world of sparkling laughter and innocence that I can look forward to. 
The power of love is strongest when it comes from the heart, untainted by expectations or desires. And when such love begins with you, that makes you the richest person in the world.

Trust me, that's how I feel - because of my two boys - Jyotiraditya and Vihaan.  

They are my world. And I love them both. Equally.

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India is my Country & my Pride