Spaces are very important.

Spaces - their quietness, their whiteness, the freedom they give you to be what you are.

Spaces that let feel your breath and hear your heart beat.

Spaces when all the confusion of life and relationships smoothes out into neat understanding and acceptance. Making sense of it all, like the pauses in a sentence.

Spaces,comfortable and beautiful in their emptiness blending all the cacophony and all the varying shades into a quiet harmony.

Spaces where you meet yourself in an honest encounter and become who you are.

Spaces,short spans of time and moments for eternity.

Spaces, empty and serene - so destressing and so full of meaning.

Spaces without which you could lose yourself in the stampede and suffocation.

Spaes, that are "the breath of art" and of all life.
When we were in Mauritus, Valerie took us to her house.Her mom had this funny habit of adding extra bits of information in every sentence. For example when someone asked her how many children she had she would say :"I have 6 children. Didier, who is not here but lives in paris; Valerie, who is your friend and looks like you; Felicite who teaches at the school..." and so on...She was of french origin. So when I asked how long her family had lived in Mauritius, she said "About 100 years ago, a nun who got accidentally pregnant was sent away to this island. And that nun was my grandmother." Very entertaining but her responses always sounded like a paraphrase of her lifestory. She was that kind of a person too, very open, very warm and very frank. You felt that you had known her for a long time after just one meeting.

I suppose we reveal or betray more about ourselves through these extra bits of information that sneak into our conversations as an aside. It is like we keep them in reserve to be inserted at the appropriate moment - in order to make the right impression or as a cue for the conversation to develop in the direction we would like it to go. "The other day I told this to Mr.Shetty during our round of Golf- we are both members of the same club, you know." Very clever! In the right circles, this would have scored many many points.( I did that cleverly at the beginning of this post case you hadn't noticed!!)

In many cases these also spring out of our insecurities,like this rich relative of ours who , whenever she had splurged on something obscenely expensive would always tell us how it was on offer at a discount which she could not let pass. As if she owed the universe an explanation for her expenses. Well actually, it was more to soften the shock that such enormous expense would have on us, the poorer relatives whose monthly income was equivalent of her one day expenses at times.

And then there is my elderly neighbour who told me this morning : "I got up around 5 for urination and that is when I noticed that the power was not there." I am not sure that the reason why he got up added much to the value of the coversation to me. But I guess he felt relieved(!!) after giving me the information!!
Three months ago, my maid disapperared for 3 days without notice. When she returned she was in bad shape , tired and miserable and in a state of shock. Sitting through her incoherent rants I got the gist of what had happened. Her husband had left her a few years ago for another woman leaving her to take care of a 15 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. She had to resort to housework and selling flowers despite coming from a family that was not too badly off. They hoped that the man would come to his senses one day and return but things got worse. They discovered that he was planning to sell off the land he owned and the son went to confront him as it was ancestral property and he felt he had a right to it too! The quarrel got nasty and the son drank poison in a fit of temper thinking that would shock his father into coming to senses. He was rushed to the hospital and his mother sent for. So she had rushed ina hurry and stayed with him in the hospital, running around, staying awake and crying hysterically for a foolish son and a callous husband. At least the son was saved and sent home with an intestine whose lining was completely corroded by the poison - a 18 year old!!
I gave her breakfast, murmured sympathetic words, gave her some cash and sent her home to rest.Life returned to "normal" the next day. Normal as is poverty, suffering and struggle - at least everyone was alive and no one was drinking poison.
Last week again she disappeared and I attributed it to Pongal or one of her pilgrimages to the hundred deities she believes in. She returned yesterday in the same state of shock, tired and worn out.
What now?
She spent the past 5 days in the hospital this time taking care of her husband , who had consumed poison, as the "other" woman had runaway with all the money he had!!
I asked her where was the need to take care of the man who had treated her and her children so badly.
Her response?
"If I ignore him and my responsibility, what is the difference between me and him amma. I won't be very upset if he had died but I didnt want to renege on my responsibility and set a bad example to my children. They have a bad father but let them see some goodness at least from their mother and learn what good life is."
She did not expect him to come back home but she was happy that she had done what she had to.
WOW! I had to admire this woman!!!
Is this what people mean when they talk about the greatness of Bhartiya Naari hood and how it has been at the foundation of Indian culture? I am not willing to get into the rights and wrongs of her approach or passive acceptance of abuse and its perpetuation.
To me her action makes sense completely as a human being and I think she acted with a lot of dignity.
When Vaish wrote about the things she'd miss about Bangalore in her post before leaving for the United States, I wondered what I'd miss about Bangalore if I were in her place and came up with this list:

The way the vegetable vendor or the greens (Soppu) seller who comes to the doorstep effortlessly calls me "akka" (sister).(Never mind he cheats me on the weight.)

The affection with which the old lady who sells flowers outside the temple gives me 6 inches of strung flowers free for my hair when I buy flowers for the deity.(This after complaining how expensive flowers have become and how she hardly makes any profit)

The anxiety with which a fellow driver on the street draws your attention with frantic honking to tell you your dupatta is caught in the door or one of the doors is not shut properly.

And then the way people listen carefully to you when you ask for directions, ask you to fill in the missing details and then tell you "sariyagi gothilla. sorry."

The way they would admit "gothilla" ( i don't know ) with humility rather than misguide you on anything.

The smell of avrekaalu and sampige flowers.

And of course i'd miss a part of my soul which I'd have left behind in this city if I'd ever have to leave it.
I always end up with tears in my eyes listening to O.S.Arun’s rendition of Subrahmanya Bharathi's “Chiinan chiru kiliye” especially when he struggles after “un kannil neer vazhindaal”, repeats the line as if unable to even bear the thought of his little one having tears in her eyes and then adds “ en nenjil udiram sottudadi” (if I see tears in your eyes, blood starts dripping from my heart). I know parents, especially fathers, share a special relationship with their daughters. But I have not had the privilege of knowing my father very closely having been born into a family where bringing up daughters was limited to ensuring they were fed and clothed properly and married off at the first opportunity. And I could not know it as a parent too as I do not have a daughter myself.
My own generation of parents take their job more seriously and handle the emotional requirements of their kids more sensitively – ok, at least we are trying. And as I look around I see the younger couples taking it even more seriously , especially the young fathers. I can well imagine most of them shedding tears of blood if their daughters were to shed so much as a tear drop.
Is the father- daughter relationship so intense because they know that they have limited time to pamper them? It must be pretty tough to love someone so wholly knowing that you would have to move to the background sooner or later. Of course it is the same with any child, boy or girl, but somehow it seems that the severing of the chord is more final in our Indian system where the girl becomes a guest in her own parents' house after her marriage. And hence perhaps the urgency to pamper the girl completely as long as she remains one’s daughter alone and not playing so many other roles?
Well, I can only speculate as I would never know. But looking at my pretty little neice getting her way with her father using her adorable wily ways I can say this much. The way huge tears stream forth from those big baby eyes at a minute's notice at the slightest pretext to get what she wants, her father could easily die of haemorrhage soon , if he was to have blood shed in his heart every time she has tears in her eyes!! The tears would flow profusely, as if an invisible dam burst forth and stop instantly the minute the demand is met and there would be stars in the eyes and no trace of the tears!!!But I can tell you it is the most heart breaking sight to see a little girl cry, even though you know it is a class act.


On a related note I am reminded a beautiful song written by Vairamuthu.
The girl is adopted ,the parents love her more than life but she is a turbulent and troubled child.
Movie: kannathil Muthamittal

oru dheyivam thandha poovae, kaNNil thedal yeNNa thaayae
vazhvu thodangum idam needanae, vaanam mudiyumidam needanae
kaatrai poala nee vandhayae, swasamaga nee nindrayae
maarbil oorum uyirae.

yenadhu sondham nee, yenadhu pagaiyum nee
kadhal malarum nee karuvil muLLum nee
cheLLa mazhaiyum nee, chiNNa idiyum nee
pirandha udalum nee, piriyum uyirum nee
maranam eenra jananamm nee.

yenadhu selvam nee, yenadhu varumai nee
izhaiththa kavidhai nee, Ezhuththu pizhaiyum nee
iraval veLicham nee, iravin kaNNir nee
yenadhu vaanam nee, izhandha siragum nee
naan thooki vaLLartha thuyaram nee

Both versions of the song - sung by Jayachandran and Chinmayi - are hauntingly melodious. And you can feel the intensity of the emotion and the sensitivity surrounding the relationship between the parents and a troubled child.
What can describe it more than the expression "iravin Kanneer nee" ( you are the tears shed in the night)? Tears shed in the privacy of the night because they cannot be shared with anyone else or hoped to be understood - but borne of so much pain that they must be shed and suffered silently, all alone known only to the darkness of the night.