My lost million

He took the scissors and placed the pointed end on the back of my head, slightly to the right on my scalp. I didn't feel any trepidation. He pushed it in a bit and it tore the skin. He nudged one pointed end inside the skin and started cutting through. Strangely I felt only pressure. No pain. And somehow I was observing it from above. He continued to cut, parting and moving my dark locks out of the way. A giggle bubbled out of me. The whole situation was suddenly too funny. He chided me for moving. 'I don't want it to be crooked' he said. I stayed still. He had reached my forehead now. He was trying to cut out a circle all the way around my head. Right at the point where Jesus' crown of thorns would have rested. He kept cutting. Sticky, dark blood was dripping down my face and onto to my lashes. I tried to carefully wipe it off with the back of my hand without moving my head. He was almost done now. He had reached the point where he had started. "It's done" he said. I tried to run my fingers against the cut. The ridge felt warm and wet. I tried to slip my thumb into the groove. And I felt the first twinge of pain. "What are you trying to do?" He asked. I wanted to take it off. Didn't he know that? I got a neat grip on the cut out scalp ('cut out scalp' isn't that hillarious? ) with both my hands on either side of my head and proceeded to lift it up and off my head. The pain got more intense and the blood gushing out made it slippery. He was just watching me. He was just as fascinated by this as I was. At that moment I stopped. I asked him "Am I going to die?"
Stephanie Meyer dreams of the love scene between Edward and Bella in the woods; goes on to make millions. All I get is scalp cutting. Thank God it's Friday.

PS: If that last part didn't make sense - "I woke up (on that June 2nd) from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately." Quoted from Stephanie Meyer's website at about how she came up with the Twilight Saga which became a best selling young adult fiction series and Blockbuster movie series. She was an ordinary woman who turned millionaire(ess?) overnight literally.

Filicide - A bleak post

Are humans losing their very basic parental instincts? I tried reading up on whether parental instincts are learned or inherited. Most scientists seem to lean towards genetic inheritance while some argue that it is learned from the parents. Looking at all the recent news I read, I am tempted to believe it is the latter. For example a very high percentage of pedophiles have been identified to have been or claim that they were abused as a child themselves. Most cases of parents who kill their own children seem to be born in poverty and drug abuse ridden households. They just never learned proper parental behavior. What they know of good parenting is only through secondary sources like media or someone outside the immediate family.

This article here gives some troubling statistics:

250 to 300 children are murdered by their parents each year in the U.S.
Homicide is the leading cause of death in children 4 and younger. Of children murdered before the age of 5, 61 percent were killed by parents
(It)is the third-leading cause of death in American children ages 5 to 14

I have heard and read of girl child infanticide in rural (and sometimes urban) India. But I have never heard of reports of Indian parents killing their children because the child was an inconvenience. I might be naive on this issue though. It just seems that such things are so frequent in the country I live. Is it just getting reported more here? How can a parent kill their own child. How sick must that mind be to be able to do that?

Evil of such calibre is just too tough to swallow. But swallow I must, as I read about all these ill-fated children, hit on the head, drowned in bathtubs, chopped up and thrown in the dumpsters, choked, spit on or thrown into rivers while strapped on to infant seats and even raped and killed. All at the hands of the person who brought them into this world. Because I am not an activist. Writing about them in this blog is the furthest I can go. And loving and protecting my daughter than my life itself. So glad Leo and I are passing on both the DNA and the lessons of parenting to her.

PS: Here is the article that triggered this post.

About another Grandpa

This post is about another grandpa. Not mine, but my daughters'. My mom and dad leave tomorrow. Has it been 5 months already? Nobody should have to go through these kind of good byes. The kind when you are not sure when you will meet again.

Last night I had a long chat with my dad (appa) about a lot of things. Death, the Universe, God, Genetics, Natural Selection and Evolution to name a few. He narrated an incident to me about someone telling him about someone else "They both were talking to each other like a grandfather with his grandchild" ("பேரக்குழந்தை கிட்ட பேசுற மாதிரி" ) He said to me, that at the time, he let it roll off almost like it was a clichéd metaphor. But now, he understood what his friend was trying to convey. Because now, he truly knew what it is to be a grandpa. He went on to say that the emotion and love he feels when Lekha runs to him demanding his attention with a loud "thaaathaaa" is not like anything he had ever felt before. It is not like what he felt when he picked me or my sister up when we were babies. Although the love of a father toward his daughter is profound he says, it is distincly different from this unconditional affection and love that pours forth and moves you. He said that it took him by surprize and he did not expect it to be this way. He hadn't felt this when we visited India when Lekha was an infant. Sure he loved her then, but now it's a whole other level. Shortly after that we concluded the conversation and I left the room to have dinner. Because his voice was choked and his eyes were tearing up. I told him we'd skype often and made a stronger resolution within my self to move back to India as soon as possible. It is at times like this I feel like a complainer. I have everything and yet I am frustrated by the way my life has shaped up. I don't want to see the look on my daughter's face when she searched the guest rooms and finds them empty. I know her, she is not one to throw a tantrum, she resigns herself to the absence of loved ones. But I would see her loss in her eyes. I don't want to take away the peace and love my parents enjoyed these last 5 months either. But I have no choice for now do I?

Appa said I'd find out that feeling when Lekha has a kid of her own. Well there's a looooong time for that. But when it does happen, I'll come back and re-read this post and thank my appa again for already having given my daughter what I got from my grandpa. Grandpas rock !


He left us today. I can't stop thinking about the countless joyful memories that he has left for me. He was everything a grandfather should be. He showered his unconditional love on me in his very special way. Some of my very vivid memories of a joyful childhood were my moments with him. My earliest memories are of him taking me with his to the recreation club that he frequented. He would patiently put up with and even enjoy all my antics and never ever got cross at me...I remember thinking, why can't I always be with ammachi and Thadji. I remember when I bug him to tell me a story he would start the rhyme "கதையாம் கதையாம் காரணமாம் காரணத்துல ஒரு தோரணமாம்" and make me finish each line at the end of which I'd be giggling and laughing so much. He gave me the 'Wren and Martin' grammar text from his book shelf. He was my first English teacher. He taught me the difference between the perfect and the continuous tenses. When I was 7 I was hospitalized becaused I was severely jaundiced. When I got a little better, I complained that I was bored and sick of staying in bed. The next day he started bringing me tinkle comics and gokulam children's magazine...My love of reading probably started from that very incident. We had a fun game which we played as a spin off of the sketching challenge from Gokulam magazine. We would take a note pad and take turns making small scribble or squiggly line. The other person had to make use of that line to sketch an image. His sketches were so cool. I had so much fun trying to conjour up a sketch as good as the one he did. He had a unique laugh which expressed his pure joy at the simple things in life. His sense of humor was contagious. I've always seen him in a neutral pastel shade half sleeve shirt and a white dhoti with a small clean handkerchief folded into his pocket...I am glad I got the opportunity to take my daughter, his great grand daughter to him...I am glad he held her in his hands just as he held me. He was a man who seldom spoke ill of others...he didn't dwell on negativity at all...he always surrounded himself with pleasant thoughts and deeds. My Thadji wanted to live long and he did. He lived a complete and full life. A year back he met with an accident while riding his Sunny, he spoke to me after he was back from brain surgery. He said..."the doctor and everyone else wants me to quit taking the Sunny...I've decided that, may be I'll just walk to the club from now on..." This was at the age of 82. He never lost hope over anything. I've learned so much from my Thadji. But most of all I've learned to strive to be positive always. He has touched so many with his simple and just nature. He was an artist. Soft at heart. A gentle and loving soul. May you rest in Peace Thadji. I am sure I have given you at least 1% of the joy you gave me. I love you Thadji and I always will.

The pygmy

I read this story of a young man. He was from the Belgian Congo and belonged to the Mbuty tribe. His tribesmen were all short statured and dark skinned as was typical to his 'race'. His name was Benga. He was living a content life with wife and kids, until one day his fate took a drastic turn and led to a series of events culminating in his suicide at the young age of 32.

Now this happened a long time back. One day he went hunting with his buddies and returned back to find his wife and children killed by a group of foreigners. (In today’s terms we would call these guys terrorists). They then attacked him and took him in as a slave. He suffered atrocities under these guys. After some time another man named Verner came and negotiated with his captors and took Benga with him and gave him food and treated him well. Benga, who was so glad to be out of slavery, bonded with this man. Verner took Benga to a new world and Benga readily accompanied him because he trusted Verner and he was curious and excited to see this new world. On arriving at this strange beautiful and exciting place, for a while Benga enjoyed everything and aimed to please Verner. Now Verner was a missionary who had agreed to bring some vistors from far off places to a cultural expo that was held at St. Louis, MO. Benga’s short and dark appearance was a curiousity to the locals who had never seen anyone or rather ‘anything’ like him. Soon Benga posed for pictures and became sort of a performer along with other african tribesmen. He was especially popular because of his sharp pointed teeth which had been filed off when he was young as part of his tribe's tradition. He gladly grinned to show off his pointed teeth in exchange for five cents. His short stature and pointed teeth led to various unfounded speculations about him by the mob that gawked at him. People thought he was a cannibal.

As time passed Verner who himself was then trying to find a job could no longer be Benga’s guide. He passed him along to another organization that was willing to take care of him. This organization was the Bronx Zoo. That’s right the zoo took Benga in as an exhibit. He was encouraged to carry around his favorite orangutan that was named Dohong. He was put in a cage along with the monkeys as part of a display endorsing the theory of human evolution. The sign outside read :
"Ota Benga."
Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches. Weight, 103 pounds.
Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State, South
Central Africa, by Dr. Samuel P. Verner.
Ex-hibited each afternoon during September
A newspaper reported that "[he] represented the lowest form of human development."

He was eventually moved to an orphanage for ‘colored’ people. Benga tried to work and save money to return to his native soil. But the last shreds of his hope of returning to a known life were shattered when the World War I broke out. With despair eating at him, he reached the end of his rope. He shot himself with a stolen revolver and died at the age of 32.
As was reading his story I couldn’t stop my tears of anger at the people who did this and sadness for Benga. I had already known that humans are capable of extreme cruelty given the circumstances. But I had always thought of such people as aberrant and mentally disturbed; brainwashed possibly. But in Benga’s case a whole community did injustice to him. A human is a human regardless of his race, color, caste, country or creed. I innately thank God that I live in a kinder era and although even now such atrocities occur, I have been lucky to get an education and parentage that inculcated in me the basic decency of treating a human with humanity.

If you wish to see him, you can visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which holds a life mask and body cast of a Pygmy. The display is simply titled ‘Pygmy’ even today. It is none other than Ota Benga. Google him to see his pictures and more details about his story and pay a minute of tribute to this poor soul.

Rise in Love

Do you remember how it felt to fall in love? Those early days when your heart skips a beat whenever you saw, heard or even thought of your special someone? When you feel a delicious tingle travel up your spine and work its way all the way to the tips of your fingers and toes...when you feel gravity some how has less of a pull on you; When you feel warm and fuzzy inside and like no problem in the world is insurmountable when it feels this heavenly; When the butterflies inside you flutter about in that sweet way that the happiness is almost cloying at times...You catch yourself tearing up for no reason - well not exactly for no reason - Love, of course is the reason. Do you remember when you couldn't focus on anything, anything at all but your insecure, selfish, pocessive, all consuming love for this someone? If you do, you are probably someone just like me, someone who constantly combats the control your emotions have over you. Well not only do I remember it, I re-live it everytime I listen to some very special music. Every so often, a song comes along that I repeat over and over on my playlist, until the my ears tire of those notes. I feel incredibly lucky that my mind and phyche are so receptive to such music. Because the feelings such songs bring about, defy description. The closest analogy is the one I described above. Right now the song on 'infite repeat' is Kayya Pudi from Myna...this song refuses to let go of its hold on me. Just don't care that it's "inspired" from 'Take my hand' from "The highschool musical". I am falling in love all over again...Music is beyond Divine. This song may not be the one that stirs you. But I bet there is some number that has made you forget where you are for just a moment at the least. It's truly amazing to let the right hemisphere of your brain take over - to let go of all sanity and logic - and to let that tear roll off. Music and passion are probably perceived by areas very close to each other in the brain. Was it Kahlil Gibran who said 'I rise in Love'? Divine. Pure. Music.