01.01. 2016

First day of the year. We decided to spend the day in a nearby village. There is this primary school at the verge of the village. The kids there were in celebration mood. I feel children are always in that mood…….happy , bubbling, laughing , infusing others with a kind of positive energy. In their innocence every child is a source of light and love and if we permit them they can teach us to be the same. We lived that happiness, experienced same joy while spending time with the children.

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The air had a slight wintery nip. The children had collected  fallen twigs and branches on the roof top, preparing for winters. They threw down some of the twigs and fire was arranged in open. The crackling fire spread the warmth while kids around filled the surrounding with their continuous chatter and laughter. Ah, what a lovely, cozy feel it was.

 

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As it was first day of the year, head mistress and teachers of the school had planned to celebrate the birthday of the children falling on the day. The ‘cake of Halwa’ was prepared fresh there in school kitchen only. The  toppings  on the cake was of bright colored gems. Room was decorated with festoons  of used  papers and were made by students. The caps for birthday girls were made by their friends out of thrown away pizza boxes etc, complete with shining papers etc. I felt like basking in glorious sunshine.

 

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A pen-pencil holder made of used bangles, wall hanging from used match boxes and bangles, the green branches in the flower vase carved out of empty water bottles…..it was really delightful to see the creativity of the children. under the proper guidance of the teachers who are committed and involved true potential of children can be explored fully. Resources and facilities play an important role but shortcomings of these can be overcome by zeal, perseverance and honest intentions.

 

 

Swinging on the hanging roots of the big banyan tree was the loveliest fun time. The pure joy, the ringing laughter had a cathartic impact on heart. I am sure no expensive ride in any big amusement park can fill the heart with the kind of happiness we all felt under the benevolent shade  of that majestic tree.

 

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The lemon-spoon race………after a very long gap enjoyed it. Kids in city no more enjoy such fun-filled competitions.

 

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Our day at the village ended with lunch of hot fresh poori, kachauri, chapati and green chuteny. Some desi dishes of fresh milk were very tasty.

We returned to our homes refreshed, energized with a promise to ourselves to spend  more such days  but some where deep down lurks a sadness…….We are loosing our villages very fast, the concrete jungles are gulping down the shady trees, the green fields.

 

pictures by Sunder Iyer

 

 

 

 

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Sunday 20th april 2014…we met these kids at the ghats of Ganges in Varanasi.  They were in the age group of 8 to 10. We were sitting on the steps of one of the ghats when they approached and requested us to offer coins to the mother Ganges (by throwing coins into waters).

Since I can remember I have seen people following this ritual of offering coins (money) to the holy Ganges as a  way of paying obeisance, showing respect. When trains, buses or other vehicles crossed a river bridge people make a point to offer coins, throwing it through windows. Quite a common scene.  And when the water levels are low, one can find children of fishermen in their boats waiting for such offerings and the moment one threw a coin they will jump into the water to get it. As a kid I watched the entire process with utter fascination. I felt awed by the courage and expertise of those young boys. I wondered at their sense  of precision to guess where the coin might land in water.

As the kids were playing and swimming around us asking to throw coins , we kept talking to them. All of them enjoying bare bodied. One of them who talked a lot seemed the smartest.

What is your name?

Vicky

and your brother’s?

 Mithlesh

 How your name is so modern while your brothers…

Actually my name is Aditya but I like to be called Vicky.

That brought a smile on my face.

Sunder was also talking and playing with the kids in the waters. He asked, you seem to be an expert, teach me some swimming…the kid smiled with pride and said…no, I don’t know much…When I too asked him to teach swimming to uncle, with all the seriousness of a professional came a reply,  yes I can teach but…but there should be some charges (haan, sikha sakta hoon par sikhane ka kuchh lagega)…Ohh….

The kids were taking dives from the steps of ghat and from the boats anchored nearby. They were now assured that they will be paid for this.

Sunder told Vicky, I am asking aunty if she dives like you I will pay her twenty rupees for that.

Vicky said,  Oh no! she will hurt herself,  for us it’s altogether different.  His confidence charmed us.

Sunder once again said,  Ok, diving from the steps could be dangerous but she can dive from the boat, then there won’t be the risk of hitting the steps.

This time Vicky stared at sunder with all seriousness and asked with a pause, ‘ unko dubone ka irada hai kya?[ do you want her to drown]

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Kids definitely are the most honest lessons in happiness. They teach us to enjoy the moment as the next might not be same.The time spent in the company of these kids was refreshing like the cool waters on that hot day.

 

 

 

 

                        

 

                  

 

The covered verandah running parallel to our drawing room is enclosed by the grill and just above the door leading to the drawing room is one tube light. Yes, tube light is there but it has never been switched on, the reason being on one corner of the rod is a permanent home of doves. The nest is there for almost more than ten years. This nest is kind of maternity home to dove couples. During this long period many couples have made it their home. Or is it the same couple ? they come when the mother is ready to lay eggs. Every time we see a new would be mother or father sitting there smugly incubating the eggs, we start waiting for the kids. After a long patient wait we are blessed with the soft cooing of the kids and protective reassuring voices of parents. It’s the beginning of a period full of hope and joy.

After few more days we are able to see their small unstable heads over the nest. ma and pa dove visit the nest frequently. Every time the wind blows with force, we are out on the verandah ready to do our bit to protect the nest and the kids but then dove parents have kept all the security measures in mind while building their home. Till date no wind or rain has been able to harm the nest.

It has always been two kids at a time and invariably one is smarter and stronger than the other. May be the stronger one is the elder one. One kid comes out of nest earlier than the other. They come down and start hopping in the verandah. Along with the parents we are also on a constant vigil. Once the sly cat of the back lane had crept in stealthily and in the evening when we came out few small soft feathers flowing desolately and some blood stains recounted the horrid tale of the irreparable loss.

We have been witness to one more sad incident. Once one of the little one fell down from the nest. I don’t know why but that dove parents have not repaired the nest properly before the hatching period started. They usually do that every time. The nest was too small to accommodate two growing kids. The tiny kid was hardly of the length of a finger .The body was trembling in short subdued spasm. Almost nine feet fall was too much for the small, delicate body. With the help of news paper we kept the body in the nest but next morning we found it again on the floor and this time it was lifeless.

Barring these two incidents,  we have always seen the kids grow day by day. Enjoyed the beautiful sight of parents feeding kids .The kids hopping down on the floor, taking short flights and then coming back to the nests always fills our heart with content and pride . And then one day they fly away to explore the world on their own way.

Just two days ago we have wished bon voyage to two more grown up kids and now the empty nest rests silently on the rod and we all are waiting for the new arrivals.

 

The comforting cooing, the soft hues of feathers and those round beady  eyes with tender looks ……..the doves  are a great source of reassurance and hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pictures by sunder iyer