Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Special Visitor

This is the visitor mentioned in yesterday's post. Last Monday on May 4th I was sitting on the sofa looking out into the backyard when I saw a movement. Lo and behold, a grey heron has visited us! How did it even know of the 4 little goldfish living peacefully in our pond? Maybe it didn't come fishing at all.. I am not sure. It was one beautiful bird! The photos don't do justice. It had a little tassel hanging on the back as seen here. I had to quickly snap some pics through the patio glass so it could only be so clear. Here are two minutes worth of pictures captured in my camera through the glass.

Just Landed

Checking out the fish
Looks like a good catch!

Wait! Maybe not.

Someone is looking at me

Hello, I have come in peace.

Hi there

I am going to take leave now.

I just had to call my son to show this to him The sound and the movement probably alerted the bird and it flew away. It was just great to see this beautiful bird right in our backyard by the pond. My daughter missed it since she was sleeping but she and H were happy to see the pics. Thanks for the visit beautiful bird. I shall go on thinking this indeed was a very special visit since such a bird hasn't come this way before or since.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This Mother's Day

This is the beautiful poster that awaited me at the airport on this saddest of all mother's days. My molu made it for me. I love it. I can't describe it but the colors are very vibrant and I love how she arranged the whole design! She was holding it up for me to see as I was coming down the escalator. The three of them were waiting for me. I was coming back after a quick and upsetting four day trip to India to attend my mother's funeral. My sweet mom who loved plants and flowers and animals alike and whose kitchen always had food for the hungry regardless of where they came from... If she didn't go to heaven I am not sure who will in this day and age. My sister said she had a dream of my mom's soul traveling with the light towards heaven. It may sound like blabber but it gives me infinite peace to hear this from her. I believe the visitor I had the other day in our backyard was my mom coming to say goodbye to me. Never had I seen such a majestic bird (grey heron) anywhere here before. Will post pictures from that visit in the next post.

My mom is old enough for people to think, yes it is her time to go, she has lived a full life with all her ten children living fulfilling lives themselves. But then you don't know my mom. She is ageless. Although we had celebrated her 80th birthday nine years ago the implications of her being that old never struck me. I still went ahead and brought her over to stay with us for three months in the summer of 2009. She made that journey at 83 all by herself, of course with assistance from the airlines. It is also the year my girl started kindergarten with her blessings. Spending that one-on-one time endeared her all the more to my babies who were crying uncontrollably when they heard the news. That time we had her, they were competing to be her favorite. My kannan always ready to help her move around, my molu always remembering her medicines and making sure she takes it on time. Mom always appreciated that time with them afterwards. She was happy to give them the forbidden tea when I was not around :-) She was with us for a year after my firstborn arrived in 2000. He was already born and I had returned home from the hospital. My tummy was still big and I remember her kissing my tummy thinking he was in there and exclaiming in delight and surprise when she saw a baby on the bed! I remember her watching the presidential elections with avid interest that year. The same interest that got me the national merit scholarship and help me get to the top in general knowledge quiz competitions at school level. She is the one who taught me basic lessons of English even though she had not gone past the old 7th form. She is the one who made math my favorite subject. She had the best handwriting in the world. I loved looking at the neatly written math problems that she would set for me to do as extra work. My dad was the school headmaster but it was she who made sure all her children were educated and was not stuck anywhere in their lives. When I found Social Studies a little tough she got my older sister to help me through it and it became a favorite subject too. I remember this now as I help my girl who is finding Social Studies not so social just like I did. I know she will get over it just as I did too. The sweetest time for my mom was perhaps the six months she and I spent together here when I was single and brought her over (again by herself) just for the fun of having her with me. I know she enjoyed that time which was only a few years from when we lost our dad. She loved wearing the colorful saris that we insisted she wear for this trip and pioneered the art of cooking puttu in a steamer! We spent a lot of time singing her favorite songs and doing shopping. When I came home from work, it was great to see her sweet face waiting eagerly for me with news of the birds she saw from the window that day. She was the one who started the chain of events that led me to meet my husband. She had wanted her last child to be happily married too, no matter how happy I was to be working and independent. My mom was not only smart but also brave. She was down to earth and shy and humble and loving and sweet but utterly fearless. None of us children are as brave as her whether it is in talking to people or facing snakes. Yes, even snakes never fazed her. Living in eco-friendly Kerala that still has an abundance of snake population, it is difficult not to have encountered at least one especially in those days. The ten acres around our charming childhood home built by our maternal grandfather following ancient carpentry rules on the side of a hill is filled with my mom's presence. She has roamed that land endlessly. Every tree and plant was touched and cared for personally by those hands. The peppercorn vines that climb so coyly around the tree produced ample crop for her.  When she decided to try her hand in producing bananas in a little plot on the land, she excelled in it. Anything she put a mind to it flourished. When she saw that the vanilla bean creepers she had planted will not pollinate on their own, she found out how to do it and got people to hand pollinate it for her and got them to produce. The little plot of untouched forest that rose out of the various plants and trees and crops she planted in spare time, down the side of the well that draws the sweetest water, is filled with all kinds of birds and butterflies. I am glad my brother loves this stretch of land and is striving to keep it pristine as much as he can. I saw two species of butterflies as big as the monarchs there the other day.

My oldest brother told us a story of that well. The dowser who was called to find a spot to dig the well asked my mom to touch a spot on his body with her finger. This was 60-65 years ago. My naturally shy mom did not really want to touch the person anywhere but since he asked she touched his forehead with her finger. The man right away said that the water will be found only after drilling through rock formations because she touched the toughest part of the body. And it came to be true. The well had to be dug deep enough and through rocks until water was found! But because it comes filtered through all the rocks, this water is ultra pure and water is still drawn from it to drink. My brother realizes the purity of this water and has decided not to add a pumping system to it since the oils from the mechanical system will certainly corrupt the water. To this day we always have enough drinking water and more from the well. During the rainy season water will come all the way up to the top which is an awesome sight.  I thank God everyday for letting me be born in this charming place as the child of my parents and also the grandchild of my maternal grandfather who is the most awesome person that I have met to this date. It was the most enchanting childhood that anyone could ask for. I thank God especially for having given me the most loving, brave and sweet mother in the world. Like Samson's hair that gave him strength, it is the knowledge of my mom's constant prayers for all of us that kept me up in the trials and tribulations of this world. I know she will continue to watch over us in heaven. The rain that poured down suddenly with thunder and lightning while the three of us sisters left our motherless home for the first time is proof enough for me. The last few years of her life was colored by the dementia she had. Yet she was struck with it only towards the last 3-4 months of her life. Her sheer love of life let her live it fully despite the illness. It is in a way luck that we were not aware of the extent to which this debilitated her since that allowed her and us to lead a normal life almost to the end. She went as she wished just like how her dad - our grandfather - died. She was especially lively and walked all the way to the front of the house on her own and ate well that last day. My sisters had visited her in the days leading to her last day. My brother said she woke up in the morning (evening of May 5 for us here) and slowly shuffled to the bed next to hers. Then since she started sleeping again sitting down, they lead her back to her own bed. Here she slept when the home-nurse heard a slight hiccup and by the time she called my brother it was all over. No fuss just like how she wanted it to be. I hope I will have the same blessing when it is my time. Now she is finally in heaven with my grandparents and my dad in peace.

Only four months ago you will not believe she could get this sick so fast. She was always energetic and so full of life that I could not believe it when I saw her in April when the four of us went to visit her. I booked the tickets on a whim, not really because I thought she was ill but because I thought I just wanted to see her with all four of us. But after I booked the tickets things got serious and it is a blessing that we made that trip while she was still alive. Another brother also came at the same time so we could all spend time together with our Ammachy. The sweet smile that welcomed us even from inside memories that were clouded will stay on as the cooling touch on our burning hearts. Only now I realize that 89 is really a long life for anyone. Being the youngest of ten children she was always young enough for me. I know each of her children will have their own memories based on their own time with her. She stayed 60 till the last four months which is also why it is difficult to believe that she left so fast.. The number of people who came to pay respects for her in death were many. Even more heartening to hear was how so many were touched by her energy and liveliness at that age. She always made it a point to help people who needed it almost to a fault. This was an overwhelmingly huge need of hers to always do something to help others. Nothing swayed her once she determined a person needed help and how he or she should be helped. In her time her kitchen always had food for the hungry and her home always had clothing for the needy. May her shining example live with us and propel us to do as well.

My mom did the embroidery in the picture below. Her was voice was always sweet when singing.  I secretly hold dear the memory of when she called me 'my ammini' when I was growing up. In the evenings when I sense that she is not in the house I will go searching for her. This was her own time spent feeding the cows with special treats herself or going off to the land and walking around endlessly. I will call her in the longest voice and I could hear the response from far below and she will always come up. We will sit and talk and soon the normal needs of the household will catch up. She loved that I loved to read. She loved that we all liked to study. She and I used to sing omanathinkal kidave together when she was here. Mom and memories are one and the same. So long as I have memories she will live there. Only a tiny portion can be put down anywhere. May was a favorite month of hers. It is the month of Mother Mary, Queen of May. My mom passed away in such a spot of time this month that was the most convenient for me to make the quick trip to bid her the final farewell. It also made it possible for my oldest brother who is here to make that trip in a similar fashion. All ten of her children could be with her at this time which has happened only once before at her 80th birthday celebrations. I hope to live as you taught us through your example. To be resilient and to never give up, to be kind, patient and forgiving and most importantly to be giving. My mom, I love you now and forever.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Aramasobha - Glory of The Garden

There's this amarchitrakatha comic named 'The Magic Grove' about a girl called Vidyutprabha who married the king because she was so pretty and also had this blessing where a whole garden/grove moved with her. This garden provided her and the animals and birds she loved with water, shade, plenty of food and protection. The king loved her and named her 'Aramasobha'. 'Aramam' for grove and 'sobha' for glory. It is a beautiful story and difficult not to like. I am no Aramasobha but I do have a small garden that stays in the same place I stay! I can always come back to it and with a husband who is back to tending flowers, it is pure pleasure in spring time to be out and about in the backyard. We missed the boat on veggie planting this year but the flowers are making up for it. They shine like little queens in the sunshine and I wanted them to be appreciated in a picture post that tells more stories than words.

A New Selection - Clematis, creeper

Good Old Hibiscus
Dipladenia : Another creeper
Lantana: Konginipoo  in Malayalam- constant 
companion on my walks to the elementary school.
Don't they add charm anywhere?
My girl's cactus plant
Aptly named Black Beauty
Black Beauties!
Even if they are not so black they are still beauties

New addition. So pretty!
My marigolds
More of  'em

From a tree in the  front that was there when
we bought the house. Don't know the name

The marigolds are a dream come true just like for SS from soulsearchingdays. Marigolds were so omnipresent during my childhood that the first bloom took me back some right away! They didn't bloom thick and dense as I had hoped but there is always a next time.