In medias res

Art for the disabled

One of our field coordinators for NalandaWay’s “Art in Education programme” visited a school on the outskirts of Chennai. Through this initiative we train school teachers in government schools to become creative so that they create happy classrooms. A teacher would typically use story telling, drama techniques, painting and craft activities to make learning stress-free and fun for children. Also, this ensures that these kids who anyway come from very disadvantaged backgrounds do not drop-out.

During her visit, at a classroom for third standard students the teacher was introducing the art session for the day. She noticed that a group of three boys were communicating in a unique sign language to a lean short boy. He was speech and hearing impaired. His friends used an unconventional non-verbal style to communicate every instruction of the teacher. As soon as the instructions ended, this boy enthusiastically began painting imaginatively. The teacher told her that before the arts programme, he would be constantly agitated as he did not understand any subject. He became disruptive, violent and his attendance dropped significantly.

Today he is allowed to draw, paint or craft all through the day. He has become calmer and attends school regularly. The teacher also assured her that they would use this art-based approach for him take interest in other subjects too.

Very satisfying!

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In medias res

Agarbathi boy

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“Sir would you like to buy some Agarbathis?”

Vinod Kumar had walked into my cabin one evening in December in the year 2004. He should have been 8 or 9 years old then. I still remember the way he looked that evening; clean roundish face, well-oiled and combed hair, back pack but no foot wear.

Two years earlier in 2002, the riots in Gujarat had scarred and disillusioned me. This incident left me suddenly rudderless on the direction and the purpose of my life.

Vinod’s father had deserted his family. He went to school during the day while his mother made agarbathis. After school he went to different parts of the city to sell incense sticks, soaps and toiletries. At the age of 9 he was the sole earning member of his family. That meeting with Vinod changed my life completely. Vinod gave a purpose to my life and that was to help disadvantaged children. I quit my job in less than a week and started NalandaWay Foundation (www.nalandaway.org). Today, NalandaWay uses the power of arts to change the lives of over 18,000 children like Vinod.

It took over 6 years to locate Vinod again. We supported his school and college education.

Vinod dropped into my office last week again.

He wanted to tell me that he had landed a job at KCP Cements. I was elated at the news.

After work he still continues to sell agarbathis, perhaps there is need for miracles in the lives of many others.

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In medias res

Hope and Faith

“Sir, I did this painting, do you like it?”

Balaji came in unannounced into my room and laid out his painting book before me. It was a splash of colours and strokes imaginatively portraying the future.

He was 13 when he joined our ‘Achieve through Arts’ programme. He used to stay then at the government home for boys at Royapuram in Chennai. His mother, the lone breadwinner of the family had admitted him at the shelter, so that he could stay away from his alcoholic and abusive father and continue his school education.

He has been part of all our ‘Achieve through Arts’ programmes. Our activities  places the child at its centre and empowers teachers to  kindle their natural curiosity, question beliefs, express themselves creatively, succeed, fail and learn from it .

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Our core initiatives include Kanavupattarai, a ‘workshop of dreams’ in Tamil, Kanavu Pattarai is an inspiring three day residential camp inside the beautiful Dakshninachitra campus, organized for children between the ages of 14-17 who suffer from low self worth, disruptive behaviour and truancy issues. Here, children are trained in in role-play, improvisation, creative games, storytelling and dance. The aim of the workshop is to reduce fear improve self-esteem and a sense of belonging among children.  475 children have benefitted from these camps last year alone.

Another initiative is the Structured Arts Education wherein teachers from over 163 government schools in Tamil Nadu engage their children from standards 1 to 8 in our thematic arts curriculum through 25 sessions spread over their academic year. Through a combination of visual arts, storytelling, music and drama, children have also improved their reading and writing skills.

Then there are Art Labs that train talented children from urban slums in fine art, craft, dance, drama and music. Set up inside government schools, colleges and museums experienced artists, musicians and dancers train the children through a structured curriculum. There are 4 such centres in Chennai with 6 to follow.

Balaji is a versatile actor and an artist. He played the lead actor in our play “Patti Vadai Kakka Nari” which had 63 children from the various shelter homes run by the government across Tamil Nadu. ‘The Hindu’ hailed the play ‘fabulous and folksy’ and has been staged 10 times in Chennai.

He moved back home from the Government Home in Royapuram, Chennai when his mother fell sick. He would start his day by distributing newspaper, cooking food, going to school and later doing other odd jobs. He would attend our workshops regularly.

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NalandaWay’s art classes are fun, inquiry oriented and full of excitement and expression. Our camps are also places where children learn about themselves, how to express themselves, think deeply about ideas, issues, come up with innovative solutions to problems, understand aesthetics and beauty.

“I laughed so much in the camp when I thought I had forgotten to smile!” said a child who had participated in one of our workshops.

Inspite of being a serious discipline, colours, activities like clay modeling, junk art, print making, painting, the visual arts provide children with creative tools for expression. Likewise, performing arts, dance, theatre and movement, allow children to express freely with their bodies, voices and expressions. With these skills, children find a new understanding of themselves and the world they inhabit.

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Balaji completed his school board examination with distinction, but continued working to support his mother, younger brother and abusive father. I still remember the joy and sense of achievement in his expressive face, when he was selected for B Sc Visual Communications course at the Madras Christian College.

“Good job da,” I said and looked at him standing near the door in my office. He seemed uneasy and quite fidgety for a confident person. He came regularly to my office every day after his morning job and before he left for college.

There were noticeable bruises on his chin and arms. One side of the face looked swollen than usual.

“What happened? Did you have a fall?” I asked.

He avoided my question and rambled about something disconnected. After some persuasion he became silent.

“My father bit me barbarously last night because I would not give him money for alcohol,” he replied and showed the bite marks all over his right arm. He had also hurt himself on his face while trying to escape his hold.

“But don’t worry sir. This is not the first time. I am rock solid,” he said and smiled confidently.

Our children might have come from the most exploitative situations but their self-confidence that they have improved by participating in our classes have helped them endure all the struggles that have come their way to stay focused and create the lives that they truly aspire.

This article appeared in the “Aalaap” magazine, June 2014 issue. Names of children have been changed.

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Stories from far and near

Rama’s anquish

Rama was looking at the direction of Ayodhya. Seated on a rock, near a stream, his eyes were moist. It was only a couple of days, after Bharat had announced that his father had passed away. Half-dozen scenes raced through his mind, scenes that featured the King of Ayodhya; as victor, ruler, avenger, warrior, husband, lover, father. A sparrow landed next to him distracting his thought stream. The sparrow looked at him, while making sharp head turns. “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me,” Rama told himself.

He had spent many days by himself and Sita mindful of his need to be alone, allowed him to grieve. Sita was saddened by the look on Rama’s face, when he reached their dwelling. Rama’s body was bathed in perspiration from the long walk from the brook, as well as the heat of the late afternoon. He had been there for some hours. At the sight of Rama’s sweat-wreathed face, Lakshman began to untie his ang-vastra, but Sita waved him away. She gently used the corner of her saree to wipe the sweat off Rama’s chest and shoulders. When she had finished, she gave him water. He drank mechanically, but spilled some on his chest. After that he sat silently for a long time. His eyes were gazing at some distant horizon within the landscape of his memory, some place she could neither visit nor visualise. Sita waited patiently until she could take Rama’s silence no more.

“It’s time to move on Rama,” she said “it is several weeks now.”

Rama pulled himself from his deep thought, and looked at her with distant eyes.

He nodded in agreement, and moved slowly to sit near the steps next to the door. He seemed to grow more remote.

“I still remember how Bharat mentioned of my father’s last words.” “Rama I am sorry”. Sita was equally shaken when she had heard those words. She had hated her father-in-law for forcing them to the forest, over a promise he had given to his lover.

“My father had suffered from the pain of attachment, memory, and guilt”, he sighed and buried his face in his hands. “I have always been pained at leaving my mother for Kaikeyi ma, but he had always been a great father and a mentor. Sometimes it seems to me, that the only end of men is a sad and tragic end. Guilt, regret, resentment, pain…are these the only rewards that lie ahead of us?”

Sita had never seen Rama speak like this before. The words shocked and frightened her. “Of course not,” she said with more vehemence than she intended. “Well it is very sad and disturbing, what happened to your father. Are you not forgetting what he has got us into? For no fault of us? I strongly believe that life is a celebration and death is part of the journey. It is men who want a tomb-stone with their achievements written on it after death. We are happy, sad, afraid, elated and one day we die. Please don’t generalize Rama.”

“Yes, yes,” Rama said. “You are right, of course. I know these as well as you do. It just seems, so cruel. Must the Gods make us suffer even after we repent? Is there no forgiveness, no heed paid to good intentions?”

“You know there is Rama. You have yourself said it many times. Why do you speak so morosely today? Why do you lose hope all of a sudden?” she was concerned.

He looked up to her, “my faith is not shaken, Sita. I miss him and the times that I have been around him. His affection, care and love for me and everyone whom he cared. I only speak these thoughts aloud to help me understand the way of things. Sometimes the minds of Gods are difficult to fathom. I am only a man. Forgive me if I falter from time to time or show a moment of weakness.”

She caressed his arm. “There is nothing to forgive my love. I can truly empathise with your grief. Whatever has happened to us, he might have been careless, but he would have never desired even in his wildest dreams. You are now going through an emotional upheaval Rama, but please share it with me. You will definitely feel better. I never doubt that you will find your way to your rightful place, Rama.”

He smiled and kissed her hand. “With you beside me, even in my darkest hour, your presence lights up my world.”

That evening, they sat quietly, comfortable in one another’s silence. The sounds of the jungle began to vary with the passing of every day.

“Rama?”

“Yes, my love?”

“I wish to have children.”

“We will definitely have them.”

“I wish to have them as soon as possible.”

“Very well, my jaan.”

“But not here, not in the jungle. I want our children to be born in Ayodhya, in the comfort they deserve.”

“It shall be as you say.”

“They shall be princes. Or princesses. I do not mind either. Do you?”

“They are our children and I will love them dearly.”

“And someday, we shall tell them of years in the forest.”

“We should.”

“And whatever happens, we shall never let them suffer the same fate. Our children will never be exiled like us, live like hermits, searching for food, battling demons and wearing torn cloths.”

Rama was silent.

“Promise me, Rama.”

“Promise me that our children will never be exiled as we were.”

He looked at her surprised, “do you think I would let that ever happen?”

She averted his eyes. “No. But even your father never dreamt of sending his much loved son to the forest. Yet he did so of a promise that he had made to Kaikeyi.”

He smiled. “Do I have to be worried about what promises that I should be making later after this? I hear that the princess of Nagas is a beauty and the King wants me to marry her.” He laughed with a roar.

“If you ever dare to even contemplate such a thing, I would put her eyes out and you will have to do with a blind second wife.” She ignored his laughter. “I want you to promise me that you will never do anything that will subject our children to our fate.”

He controlled his laughter with some difficulty. “So be it.”

“Say it!”

“I promise.”

“What do you promise?”

“That I will not banish my own children to the forest or would subject them to any hardship or suffering. Or you happy now?”

“No matter what?”

“No matter what.”

She kissed him on his cheek and sighed in relief. He wrapped her around him, while both of them looked at the dark bluish sky, eagerly waiting for the dawn.

This story is part of the series titled, “Stories from far and near” that includes adaptations from Indian folktales, classical poetry and mythology. Copyright © 2012 Sriram V. Ayer. This story may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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Stories from far and near

Draupadi

All of twenty and four years into marriage, Draupadi has had three husbands and two children already. Arjun had skipped the order and Nakhula, had to take his place. Arjun had forced himself into exile in the forest, and has had three dalliances, two marriages, that included, Subhadra, sister of Krishna. Arjun, was her husband now, based on an agreement between the brothers as advised by Sage Narada.

“If he never loved me, why did he have to win me in the swayamwar? He has always kept me at a distance. I still can’t forget that night, when he unilaterally banished himself into the forest, because he accidently entered the bedroom when I was with Yud, Maybe he never loved me. It was a clever ploy to run away from me. Am I that horrible? Now he is pretending to be concentrating in a game of archery with Bheem, and avoiding me. Bheem is nowhere close to his prowess”, Draupadi ruminated.

“How I so wish he smiles and catch my eye? I am struggling hard to avoid Bheem’s stares. He is a darling, but very rustic and crude”, she continued, depressingly.

Draupadi lay back, resting on a tree, gently caressing a long lock of her hair, and watched Arjun and Bheem bowed to each other.

“Are the babies’ things packed for the travel?” reminded Kunti.

“Yes Amma, I have taken care,” she replied. She did not relax the laziness of her posture or stop looking at the men.

“Anyways I got to get things sorted out, back in the kitchen. The maid always forgets to grind shikakai with hibiscus, for Arjun’s oil bath tomorrow. Well, I only have a hold on the maids. No one listens to me anymore.” Kunti sulked, as she walked back into her private quarters.

She had been noticing a sudden change in Kunti, from a mother who held her sons on a tight leash, to a graying old lady, loathing with self-pity. Her hair had whitened quite a lot and the change had been very sudden. She also noticed a change in herself, her attitude towards Kunti and other elders, or for that matter her multiple husbands. She started respecting herself, but that did not mean she stopped respecting others. She was increasingly getting tired of pleasing every one and seemed to get things done better in this state of increased self-confidence. And indeed, what did it matter if these people thought any less of her.

“What are you thinking?” she quickly turned her head to check who was talking to her.

“Sorry to have scared you, didn’t mean to interrupt your solitude”, Sahadev took a rough patch and sat a feet next to her.

“No you did not. I was just thinking if Amma was suddenly looking older. I have been having that feeling for some time now. Have you noticed it?” she wondered.

Sahadev smiled in return and paused, “time flies isn’t it? Hasn’t it been four years since you came?”

“Yeah, in the fourth year”, she paused and thought of Arjun. “Next year I would be staying with you.”

Sahadev smirked at the thought.

Draupadi was irritated at his body language, “what, don’t tell me you don’t like me?” visibly angry.

“No, no I was not being rude,” Sahadev was quick. He was aware that Draupadi was prone to short temper. “I was only wondering how this rotation arrangement has been for you?”

“Finally, someone did ask my opinion. Congratulations Sahadev!” she clapped her hands in a manner of being contempt.

“Well, jokes apart, I have started enjoying and making the most of it,” she laughed out loud looking at the horrific expression on Sahadev’s face. “Now don’t look shocked, otherwise I would have to pretend that I was shocked too, and it doesn’t suit me. Well, life has thrown a challenge. I could either embrace it or be frustrated. Being depressed and mopping over what did not happen, doesn’t suit me.”

Sahadeva paused as if he was trying to say something very difficult. Draupadi turned towards the fighting men who were now working up a fine sweat trying to displace each other.

“Bravo, my Lord, bravo! You are the best warrior to fight using the gada (maze)”, she was addressing Arjun, and that left Bheem amused and Arjun confused.

“Draupadi”, started Sahadev, “I distinctly remember the day when you stepped into the hut at Ekachakra with Krishna after the swayamwar, before Amma unmindful of what had happened, asked us to share among us equally, as if you were some kind of eatable. You were brimming with happiness, pride, spunk and youthful spirit. Much had changed after, which we believed, you concurred and was happy. But for all your talk of enjoyment, I can sense that you are unhappy. I know that you are angry with Krishna for getting Arjun married to Subhadra. And now you are talking like this. This kind of cynicism doesn’t suit you”.

Draupadi took a deep breath and paused. She was looking at the grass with her eyebrows raised. “What would you want me to do Sahadev? But let me warn you, that I am increasingly getting tired of people who advise me.” She looked at him, “didn’t mean to be rude. The friend, whom I most trust, Krishna, knowing me so well, has done this to me. As if I don’t exist anymore. You brothers will make your choices, even including who would sleep with me for the year, and I have to obey, as if I had nothing to do with the act,” she paused.

“Krishna was the one person I thought who would look out for my happiness, but that is not true. It looks like the only person who has to be responsible for my happiness, is myself – not you, Krishna, Yud, Bheem, my brother or Arjun,” tears rolled down as she tried to compose herself. “I am neither cynical nor bitter. I am just trying to be realistic”.

“But I want you to be happy Draupadi” said Sahadev.

“Sahadev, you expect me to be happy! What have you or your brothers done, to understand, what I really wanted? How do you expect me to be happy?” she was agitated. “My marriage with you all, was just for convenience. All my father cares is defeating Drona, his arch-rival. Now that he has not one, but five sons-in-law to do his bidding. I hear that he is a happy, happy man. His daughter, of course, is the pawn traded in the process. To preserve unity between all of you, I had to marry not one man, but five.”

“I have two children now. While all of you have other wives and colourfull affairs, I try being happy with what I have.”

Sahadev remained silent.

Draupadhi looked at the men silently.

“Look at the way Bheem threw Arjun on the ground”, she roared in laughter.

Draupadi relaxed again and smiled, “so tell me something?” she paused.

“Go on Panchali”, insisted Sahadev.

“Have you ever thought of me, when I was with your brothers?” she smiled coyly.

“No,” Sahadev was firm, “I don’t think I am sufficiently in love with you, yet.”

“Well let me see what we can do about that next year,” Draupadi giggled.

Before Sahadeva could respond, Bheem let out a huge roar as Arjuna again, fell to the ground panting.

“Are you hurt honey?” Draupadi rushed to Arjun’s rescue with towels and water, while Sahadev smiled, seemingly aware of the events that were about to unfold.


This story is part of the series titled, “Stories from far and near” that includes adaptations from Indian folktales, classical poetry and mythology. Copyright © 2012 Sriram V. Ayer. This story may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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Stories from far and near

The Prince’s Bride

“It’s time, my love,” Aabha was lazily lying on a rounded white satin bed. Inder, was the perfect lover a woman could ask for. It has been couple of months, since they had found each other. Living, up in the clouds was new to her. A fairy tale, like the story that her poor father had narrated, when she was a child. Inder was a large hearted person with a hard loud core. She laid there on the soft shifting bed, stroking his hair, imagining how her life would have played out, if she had stayed, down under.

It was May, and the Sun played havoc on the lives of people, who depended on rains. Raju was a poor farmer, who lived with his beautiful daughter. Her mother died giving birth to her. She was his only refuge in his otherwise lonely and morbid life. He grew Bajra (Millet) in his small farm, passed down from his father. Rain gods have been miserly, for several years. Raju would endure any hardship, to ensure a comfortable life, for his daughter. She was his pride and grew up to be the desire, of every eligible bachelor in the village. “I will give my daughter only to a prince!”, and dismissed every potential suitor. The women folk of the village were worried, that his daughter would die alone unmarried, due to the Ostrich-like attitude of Raju.

Inder opened his eyes and smiled at Aabha. “What’s the rush sweetheart?” he whispered in a base voice, but was so loud, that her brow furrowed in concentration. “The south westerners would be fast approaching any time and would you not like to make the maximum exploits?” she smiled at him wickedly. “You have become more mischievous, and had never imagined you to be such a tiger. I still can visualize the day when the cold northerners of the storm clan were raiding your lands and you stood there unmoved, looking directly into me. I knew you were special, but still imagined you to be docile.” Before he could complete, she jumped at him, “don’t you dare think of controlling me? You cannot live ever without me.” Inder pulled her closer and kissed passionately on her lips, that shut her up. She smiled coyly, looking away from him.

Raju believed in miracles, for that was his only resort now. He spoke to a local prohit (priest) to organize a special ritual to invoke the blessings of the Big God, with hopes that a prince would marry his daughter. His daughter would laugh at him, whenever he mentioned about his plans. But she loved him immensely and would never dismiss his beliefs. The day of the ritual came; the prohit started a large fire and chanted mantras from ancient texts. Raju spent a large sum from his savings for the ritual, much against the wishes of his daughter. The prohit froze, all of a sudden, motionless. Raju was worried, if that was a bad sign. Prohit had a premonition. He warned Raju that destiny was a mixed bag and that he should take happiness along with the pains that followed.

Inder, noticed that the south westerners were arriving faster than usual. The sun had torched the earth for several weeks now, that they were carrying a large measure of the colourless liquid riches, for the nourishment of life below. It was time to keep their promise. Aabha was waiting for this moment for several weeks. The world around them was getting darker. The smooth, cool, white mass made of very small drops of precious liquid, also called water, was becoming grey and dark at a rapid pace. They heard people shouting from below, “Monsoons have come, rains on the way, all praise to the Gods”. People, animals small and big, sang and rejoiced. Inder eagerly waited for the right moment.

The village elders, warned Raju of a storm fast approaching. “Could it be this day?” The prohit had warned him the other day. The prohit had narrated, “it would be the day when the winds would wreck havoc in your fields, don’t lose heart.” Raju waited with bated breath. His daughter felt that something mysterious was about to happen. She was not afraid. The clouds had darkened the sky and shut the sun completely. The villagers were worried. His daughter was suddenly drawn to the middle of his farm, and the clouds were closing in. She could see a dark tall outline approaching her. She was a spirited lady and was holding ground in spite of the winds. A streak of white light descended on her in wiggly lightening streaks. She fainted in fear. The tall dark outline was approaching faster and more definite.

Raju ran towards her fallen daughter, and Inder, pierced through the winds making a thunderous roar. She woke up as Aabha and streaked through the sky with a bolt of light and Inder roared again in thunder. Raju was ecstatic. He was not afraid of losing his Queen of lightening to the Lord of Thunder.

Inder found his Aabha again, to chase, to dance, and to love.

This story is part of the series titled, “Stories from far and near” that includes adaptations from Indian folktales, classical poetry and mythology. Copyright © 2012 Sriram V. Ayer. This story may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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In medias res

Lost time

I was late for my train. The cab that I hitched from Nagerkoil was an old rickety Ambassador. I was returning from a lecture at an engineering college near Kanyakumari. My train to Chennai is scheduled to depart from Nagerkoil in less than thirty minutes.

“Driver could you make it little quicker, I have a train to catch”, I egged the driver. “Saar in just 5 minutes you will be at the station. Saar have you been to America?” The driver was a little chatty more to my discomfort. “Yes”, I did not want to start a conversation that would distract his mission of driving me to the station.

“I really want to go foreign and settle down there. I could even start as a driver. I have never traveled outside Tamil Nadu. I have a one year old. My parents wanted me to get married. Now I want my life. I am frustrated at my life. I am rotting here.”

Wow where did that come from. He was visibly angry at his situation. I looked at my watch, I had another 12 minutes

I did not react to him immediately. A guava selling boy in green-blue suspenders ran past the car making the driver brake to a screech. Surprisingly he did not yell at the boy.

“When I was young, atha (mother) always warned me that I should concentrate in school and studies. But I was always happy playing. Not that I was in to sports or something. Studies did not excite me at all. I was so happy to get out of my school after failing my 12th standard exams.”

“Well my father is a farmer, not very rich but not poor too.” He paused. “I am a driver and maybe I will die being one. I have lost my time”.

I could already hear the PA system of the station. “Have we come already? Oh good.” I had 3 more minutes. I quickly grabbed my back-pack, touched his left shoulder from behind, “Make up for all the lost time, do something you really like, stick in there, and try harder. You will make it.”

It was perfect shot for a ‘Pepsodent’ ad. All I could see was his teeth.

The station was not very big and did not have more than one platform. “Sir, has the Kanyakumari Express come?” I hurriedly enquired the Ticket inspector who was busy examining a bunch of small loose sheets. His mouth was leaking with pan and I couldn’t really make much of the sound he made. He shook his head sideways as if he was pinched from behind while answering a strict teacher in school. “Well thanks”.

I still have time. “Oru mineral water bottle kudunga (Could I have a bottle of water?)”. The bumpy ride and the driver’s emotional outpouring made me thirsty. The train had not arrived. I settled myself on a granite slab. A middle-aged man, should be in his late forties was reading a medical book, while listening to his Ipod. He smiled at me while I was curiously trying to find the title of the book from the wrapper.

“Sorry”, I smiled sheepishly trying to cover my embarrassment.

“I am Sarathy”, his handshake was firm. “I am trying to read up a bit about cancer of the lymph.” He didn’t seem like a doctor.

“My mother has cancer, so trying to make sense of the reports”, he said with a straight face. He paused. He did not get into his book immediately. He was looking at the tracks.

I did not know how to react.

There were not too many people at the station. And there was no sight of the train. Its running late.

“Sriram, do you live with your parents?”, his eyebrows were like an inverted V.

“Yes I do.”

“My family and kids live in Orange County in California. Been there, done that. Earned more than what I would have ever imagined.” he was tired. “Amma brought me up all by herself. My dad had passed away when I was really young. The last fifteen years I have visited may be once or twice a year for couple of weeks during my kids’ vacation”.

She was a strong and independent lady. She did not want to join me in the States. Last year  I actually decided that I move back. Start a company here so that I will have more time with her.”

“I missed her and I know she did too”, he was emotional.

“Well now that I wanted to spend more time, destiny had other plans. Amma has Lymphoma and has been diagnosed very late.”

He remained silent for a couple of minutes. I did not want to interfere at this emotional moment.

“She has very little time.”

“I am sorry why I brought this all up. I am sorry”, he was very apologetic.

“Not at all. Please don’t worry sir.”

A small child came running out of nowhere and stood in front of us. Smiled at us and ran away making a sound from some super hero movies. Both of us smiled.

The PA system announced that the train was arriving.

“Its my train. Glad meeting you sir. Take care. Please convey my regards to your mother”, I shook his hands. He smiled in agreement.

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