Joy in the little things of Life!!

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Potter, Writer, Blogger, Quiller, Avid Reader, Chatter Box, Traveller, Foodie, photo crazy, Orchid lover, FB addict, and an enthusiast.... I work on extremes... You'll either find me laughing insanely or discussing something seriously serious.... I suffer from a laughter disorder...I am a lover of arts and crafts and anything that's colorful, bright and beautiful which includes my plants and my little lovely birdies... I am a mad friend, an insane daughter, a crazy wife and an unconventional sister... I choose to love, laugh and live!! My smile is contagious....So be careful :)

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Recipe of Joy


Recipe of Joy

Nostalgia is an emotion that can wrap around you anytime, anywhere. Couple it with homesickness and you have a perfect recipe for a blog on a snowy winter day. That’s how R and I have for the past few weeks. December tested our patience and hope both. R’s dad’s health wasn’t doing the best and we were biting our nails here on the other side of the globe, hoping he recovers soon. But they say Christmas is a magical time of the year and how! My dad in law started recovering soon after Christmas and ever since has been fit and fine. Thank goodness! All’s well that ends well. Anyway, that story for some other day.

Let’s get back to “Nostalgia”. Ever since we heard of my dad in laws’ illness both of us have been homesick. Now that he is hale and hearty, we are relieved. One thing leads to the other and homesickness led to home, family, and our favorite childhood food. And when one talks of childhood, matters do get out of hand (in a good way). Childhood takes you back to sibling fights, school, friends, lanes that recognize you, people who love you, and food that you love.

Lunch boxes - something every Indian mother is obsessed with. If you have grown up in India in the 90’s you will identify with this. I did not grow up with pizzas and burgers, neither did R. In fact, it only became popular in the last decade or so. Before the advent of cheese pizzas and fries, parathas ruled many kitchens in India along with their counterparts like dosas and idlis and the likes of it. My mother’s simple recipe of “meetha paratha” did the trick for me every time (Indian sweet bread stuffed with either sugar or jaggery). Childhood was easy. Bad grades, meetha paratha. Sibling torture, meetha paratha. Maths homework – meetha paratha. On days when my lunch box had meetha paratha, I felt hungry much before the recess bell rang. R and I got talking about it and we discovered that his childhood revolved around meethi roti (another name for the same paratha that I devoured while growing up). As if that was his answer to life’s problems back then. Hilarious, I thought to myself. We are so alike.

This time around too we decided to cope with homesickness with meetha paratha/meethi roti (or whatever name you would like to call it). Nostalgia took over my house with every bite of it. We laughed at things that once seemed so important. We talked about the pranks we played, the trees we climbed, the friends we made, and the subjects we loved or hated with equal passion. The innocent yet embarrassing questions we threw at our elders. We laughed harder on their (our elders) coping mechanisms to situations when they had no answer to our silly questions. Giggles!  

During one of my calls to my mother I told her how her recipe saved us. She laughed and said it was the easiest thing she could do to make me happy. "Sigh! I knew my sweet tooth has always been my weakness," I joked.

As the day ended and the sweetness of our childhood lingered on our tongue, we wondered how this recipe of joy was lost and forgotten. "It indeed is a recipe of bliss and deserves a special place in the family recipe book for future generations," I winked. R acknowledged it with a grin as we glided in to slumber. Funny, after so many years this unusual recipe was once again our way to trick life’s uncanny snags. Nostalgia is not a bad thing after all.

Photo Credit - Mr. Husband

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dear Nandita

Dear Nandita,

When you first told me I should update my blog little did I know that soon I’d be writing about you. Today our conversations are playing in my head, in a loop. We’ve spent such a good time together in such little time. Funny, isn’t it? But then you left suddenly. You did not give me any warning. Or maybe you did. May be I thought your “I-won’t-ever-give-up” spirit will win again. But one day I woke up and realized that you are not around anymore. I woke up to the harsh reality that I don’t have the luxury of calling you and asking you to meet for a cup of tea. That now when the fire alarm beeps I can no longer find refuge in your house with you. That I can no longer discuss my office worries with you. That I can no longer tell you anything. That I can no longer go on those little picnics at Glendora with you. That I won’t see you anymore. And that my friend has broken my heart in to a million pieces. Your sudden departure has left a void in my heart. Your leaving us has wounded our souls and we will all take a long time to heal. You left us too soon, too soon.

But today I won’t write about all of this. Today I will write about the wonderful person that you were. I will write about how beautifully you celebrated life! I will write about the wonderful time we spent celebrating our little friendship. Today as I take stock of my life I understand that our friendship blossomed over cups of tea (your masala chai will always be my favorite), over random rumblings, over books, over spiritual journeys of people we have known, and sometimes giggling at our childish husbands too. 😊 We were not best friends, or childhood friends, or long times buddies. We were just friends. Friends who were always happy to see each other.

We laughed at stupid things like crazy. Reminds me of the time when these boys brought the huge flask for my “single” cup of tea. They convinced me that they are visionaries and that I must make tea for them henceforth to award them for their “intelligence”. I am still laughing at it Nandita and I know some where you are laughing too. You remember how we smiled when Rakesh cracked horrible PJ’s? I wonder why we never told me how terrible his jokes were! You remember how we laughed like crazy when Harsh imitated that Chinese man drooling over women. Uff!! It was hilarious. You remember how Harsh was sitting like a round laddoo until he convinced us to go to Wonderland with him? Do you remember those funny looking glasses that Harsh and Rakesh picked up? I still have them. 

This is my favourite photo of ours.


In the little time that we had together you taught me so much, Nandita. Your attitude of never giving up is so much to learn from. You’ve taught me to remain positive in the most difficult situations. You’ve taught me to forgive and let go. You’ve taught me to live in the now, in today. You’ve taught me to face difficulties head on. You are the bravest person I have ever known, Nandita. You braved such a disease with your smile. You never complained or whined. You never questioned the pain you went through. And that is how I will always remember you.

You’ve taught me to be grateful, Nandita. So, today I am grateful that we met. Although for very little time our paths crossed and we made memories. Ones that will stay with me for a long time. Our trip to Port Hope will always be my favorite. We had planned so much more but we couldn’t do everything. There is so much more that I need to tell you. There is so much more to do. I have been told that one day we all meet our loved ones on the other side. That gives me hope. I have been told that you are in a much better place and that you were meant for a higher purpose. Shreya told us today that now you have everything you need. I believe her. My dear friend you have embarked on a new journey and I am sure this will be one of peace and love.

The next time I go to Tim Horton’s I will look for you, Nandita. Hoping to see you in that corner sitting on the couch waving at me and telling me how they never have your favorite bagel.

You’ve brightened every life you touched. Saying goodbye to you was the hardest thing I ever did. Be happy wherever you are!

Until we meet again on the other side, I’ll miss you my Hero.

Love,
Khushboo


P.S. Today I wore the stole you gifted me on my birthday. I was hoping you will see it.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Last Night Supper




Somethings just happen to you and you are so overwhelmed by the effect of it that you don’t know if you should react or just remain poised and silently and subtly enjoy every bit of it. Moreover, sometimes these things that happen to you are so small for the world outside that you are left wondering whether or not you should even talk about it. But I have left those inhibitions far and behind. So here I am to talk to you about something as small as a supper but something that has had a far reaching effect on me.
So if you know me you know that I have immigrated to a new country about 3 weeks ago. They say that the experience of moving from one country to the other is overwhelming. However, for someone like me who has never travelled abroad being overwhelmed is an understatement. There is not one thing that I am not overwhelmed about. Leaving behind the place you called home, planning to set up a new base, saying a teary good bye to your family, and telling your little niece that now she will have to make a long journey if she decides to spend her vacations with you. The last part is the toughest. But what bothered me the most was the thought which revolved around me accepting this new place as my new home and people in this new place accepting me as one of their own.
R is well-read and well-travelled. I am just decently read. Obviously, I was scared. What if the new place doesn’t like me? What if we are not accepted? No amount of pacifying by R helped. I was excited to immigrate but I was scared too. But then the last 3 weeks have changed my opinion quite a lot. I am so glad to have done what we did.
We were immigrating to a country which did not have any of our relatives. So R and I decided to look for a B&B (Bed & Breakfast) arrangement till we find a decent accommodation for ourselves. This would work for us, R explained. The logic was that we get access to kitchen where we could cook our meals and not spend too much money eating outside. B&B works out to be reasonable on your pocket and meets all your requirements of a safe temporary accommodation. Little did I know that B&B also provides you with some fringe benefits. It puts you in touch with some of the most amazing and kind people. People who make you feel so warm inside that no amount of temperature outside can rob you off that warmth.
Before I tell you about my experience let me give you a glimpse in to this B&B business. B&B if seen from the surface is actually a commercial thing to do. Your host is not required to cater to your whims and fancies. You pay them for the room and both of you could go about minding your own business. Once the tenure is over you pack your bags and leave. Matter over. Most of the times guest and hosts don’t see each other for days. Even if they do they hardly talk. They know so little about each other. They just share a roof in most cases and it ends there.
But I guess with nice people it doesn’t work that way. They walk that extra mile, break all the barriers of a host-guest relationship and set a benchmark. They share gentle smiles and warm hugs. They share delicious meals and the rarest of the rare wines. They share stories of their woods and towns. They share experiences and ambitions. They share trust and affection. Most of all they share a piece of their heart with each other. A piece that would just stay as a cherished memory with us for ever. From complete strangers they become these treasured friends who you would love to cherish for a lifetime.
So it all began when we met this gorgeous couple – M&T. We met them when we moved in to their B&B as guests for few days. Before I tell you further about my experience with them let me introduce these beautiful people to you. M has the most beautiful smile and an equally beautiful heart. (You will drool over the food she makes). T is a gentleman - gentle with his words and even gentler at his heart. We had never met both these lovely people ever. A quick interaction on a website and boom we landed luggage and bags at their door. Skeptical in our heads about whether this would work out or not we made our quick journey to their beautiful abode. And before we could even blink our eyes M was already helping us with the luggage and making sure that we settle down in this new place. And then M welcomed us to a tasty supper. Who doesn’t like tasty warm food served on a cold day especially when you are tired and worn out?
It may sound silly. I mean what is so big about sharing a supper, isn’t it? But sometimes small things have a profound influence. It does for us. M&T had a long day at work. Both of them were as tried as I was. Yet, R&I were treated to a sumptuous meal and conversation that will stay with me for a lifetime. We (all four of us) spent about 2 hours on the dinner table talking about random things. Things about this and that part of the world. Things about food and wine. Things about kids and adults. Things about our cultures and how different yet similar they are. Things about inventions and discoveries. Of course I did most of the blabbering and the others put up with it with bravery and courage. All this while both M&T had a long tiring day at work yet they wanted to spend some time with us.
In a new place with no known face around one looks out for a smile to latch on to. Immigrating isn’t easy. In such a situation when you meet someone who makes you feel welcome it makes a difference. It does. M&T accepted us in to their house with open arms. We were treated like family and we truly felt like one. R&I are genuinely touched by this gesture.
We belong to different countries and cultures. We have different skin and texture. We speak different languages. We may also have different opinions on many things. But beneath this skin we are all the same. The smile and the hug are the same. The heart and the emotions it feels are just the same as well.
The supper last night was such a beautiful gesture that even in this unkind chilly weather R&I felt warm inside.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Let's get drenched!

This post has been published by me as a part of Blog-a-Ton 55; the fifty-fifth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. In association with ​Rashmi Kumar, the author of Hooked, Lined and Single and Jyoti Arora, the author of Lemon Girl. .





1993:

“What are you looking at K?”, Papa asked me as I stared at the rains with tear-filled eyes.
“I want to go play in the rain.”
“Then go play, beta. Who is stopping you?”
“But Maa will scold me.” I pointed at Maa who was angrily looking at me from the other end of the dining table.
“But she can’t scold me. Come, let’s get drenched.” I squealed with delight, while Papa and I ran downstairs and played in the rain like crazy. 

After this episode, Life intervened. Papa continued working too hard to provide for us and we got busy growing up. We got so busy with Life that we never got a chance to play in the rain again.

2013:

“K, Papa has been talking endlessly and randomly.” Mom worriedly informed me one morning on the phone.
“Randomly?” I asked
“Yes. He has been like this for the past few days. He has been telling me things that are about 3 decades old. Last night he was talking about A's childhood suddenly. Before that he had abruptly gone quiet for about a week talking only a few sentences in between.” Mom informed.

I think when you are away from your parents, you become closer to them. I sensed the panic in Mom's voice and left for Mumbai immediately. For the first time in 5 years (after my marriage) I wasn’t welcomed home with open arms and smiling faces. Instead, an indescribable situation unfolded itself brutally. When Maa opened the door, I was welcomed by a frail man with a sunken face. I looked at him, hoping for a smile. Instead, my father kept staring at me with an uncomprehending gaze. With a sharp pang, I realized that he did not even recognize me and moreover, he looked visibly upset that someone strange was in his house.

“Papa? How are you?” I asked as tears rolled down my cheeks.
The frame of my father simply walked away and sat on the bed quietly. I followed him and grabbed his hand. He lifted his head and looked at me, trying hard to recognize me. It strained his mind. But soon a pale smile spread across his face.
“K, is that you?” He whispered.
“Yes, Papa, it is me. What took you so long?” I asked with a lump in my throat.
“I don’t know. Something is happening to me. I am unable to tell you.” Helplessness choked my father's tongue.
“Don’t worry. I am here now. You will be fine.”

Deep within my heart I knew that something was wrong, terribly wrong. I called up my siblings and spoke to them. Both of them were away and all we could do was to try our best to do what we can in our individual capacities. We arrived at a conclusion that may be meeting a neurologist could help Papa. I felt a throbbing pain in my chest. The man I had always seen strong and healthy had suddenly reduced to a piece of bone with little understanding of what was happening to him. His appetite had reduced, which was quite visible in his health. His memory had turned dizzy to such an extent that he had forgotten that a tablet is swallowed and not chewed.

The appointment with the neurologist was just another blow to our deteriorating situation. Never in my wildest dream did I ever think that I will be told something so horrible, so bluntly. The neurologist – Dr. Bharucha - was a well-known doctor in his late 70s. He had a reputation of being grounded and empathetic. He studied Papa’s case for a few minutes. Soon after, he wanted to have a conversation with me, alone. You know that something is not right when the doctor says, "Aapse akele mein baat karni hai". After Maa and Papa left the room, Dr. Bharucha's face turned pensive. He leaned forward from his chair and looked straight at me. I can still recall his gaze, his eyes, and his husky voice. 

“You must see a psychiatrist.” He said. All hell broke loose. The world around me came shattering down to pieces.
“Psychiatrist? What do you mean?” I revolted as I tried to gather myself.
“It is a case of depression, K.”
“Depression? Do you even know who he is?  He is a retired scientist with patents to his name. Do you even know what you are talking about?”
“Yes. I know. And now as you tell me that he is a retired scientist, I can connect the dots. You must see a psychiatrist as early as possible. People with analytical bent of mind often encounter this.”
"No. That cannot be true".
"K, as a daughter I understand that it is difficult for you to see your father like this. But denial will lead you nowhere. He needs help and you must do as I say".

I was annoyed and abruptly walked out of Dr. Bharucha’s plush cabin, my head doing all kinds of hoops. There are a few occasions in life that makes you pity doctors. It must be so difficult for them to deal with people and situations like me. I am sure that a part of Dr. Bharucha ached when he disclosed Papa’s condition to me. As I reached home, I could not contain it any longer. I broke down in front of my mother. I cried, like I had never cried before. My mother hugged me tight and tried comforting me.

“We will see a psychiatrist, K. What is wrong in it? Why do you have that inhibition?” Mom told me while wiping my tears. “If that is what it is going to take to bring back your father to us, we must do it.”
I wondered if Maa had some super powers. How could she not break down? We siblings were broken and frightened. I am sure that deep inside, she felt shaken too. Yet, as always, there she was, standing strong in the face of this adversity that stormed into our lives without any warning. She was our strength, she had always been, I realized. 

Finding a psychiatrist in no joke in India. With so much taboo surrounding mental illness, finding a psychiatrist is like finding God. Nonetheless, a psychiatrist was referred by a close relative in Mumbai. Though I was unsure of him, I had very little choice. We had been told that he will be able to help us and that he has cured several patients in the past.

We arrived on time for our appointment. Papa sat next to me, frightened. It reminded me of my childhood. As a kid, I hated going to the doctor and whenever I was taken, I would sit quietly like a timid child. How time had changed and turned upon us!

The clinic was filled with gloomy faces eagerly waiting to break free from the illness that caged them. If I had seen those people in a crowd, I wouldn't have ever known that each one of them was fighting a battle within themselves, I reflected. On the outside, you are a healthy person, and given a chance, the world will try to hurt you. I could relate to each one of them sitting there. They say difficulties make you compassionate.  I realized it to be true.

The doctor finally arrived. I must take time to describe this doctor. Not much about his physique or his suffocating clinic room, but more about the cloud of arrogance that surrounded him. We had waited patiently for about an hour for him. Then the receptionist gestured to us that we could go see him.
We entered his cabin, took our seat, and I explained everything to him. He did not even bother to ask any questions. After listening to my description about the change in Papa, he announced that my Papa’s case was a lost one, that there was no hope for him, that such patients lead a very miserable life and that very little could be done for them. He wrote about 4 tablets and suggested that we start him on them immediately. He didn’t bother to explain anything. Seeing the long queue of patients impatiently waiting for him, I took my dad and walked out of the room. Unsure if I was doing the right thing, I started dad’s medicine. Of course, I did not trust this doctor much and decided against following him blindly. To no surprise, after just two doses of his medicines, dad started sleeping continuously for hours together. He lost his ability to speak clearly and blabbered in sleep. Instead of improving his condition, it had worsened due to the tablets.

Losing all hope, I called up my husband who was anchoring me emotionally through all this. R calmed me down and suggested that we speak to our family doctor in Bangalore. Sometimes God speaks through your loved ones. R's advice worked. To my disbelief, I was informed that the long list of medicines that were prescribed for Papa were nothing but sedatives, rather, different forms of sleeping pills.

“Sleeping pills? What?” I asked in disbelief.
“Yes, these are sleeping pills to sedate him and make him lethargic and sleepy. Many doctors do this and the patient’s family thinks that the patient is feeling relaxed, hence the sleep” Said my doctor from the other end of the line.

I was furious. My blood boiled. I felt cheated. But in a situation where my father on one end was sedated and my mother was putting up a brave front, I had no choice but to attend to them. I immediately informed R about the cruelty that was served to my father. R suggested that I get my father to Bangalore so that we could consult a better doctor. I knew he was right and that my father also needed a change of place. We left for Bangalore in two days. Every minute of those 2 days of my life were spent praying. I prayed while I slept, while I ate, and while I did all I could to keep Papa happy.

As soon as I reached Bangalore, I booked an appointment with Dr. Srinivas – a well known psychiatrist. The way things had shaped up, I wasn’t hopeful. But Maa kept on telling me that it was just a phase. That God was just testing us, our patience, and our love for each other. Maa was perhaps right. Meeting Dr. Srinivas turned out to be the best decision of our lives.

Dr. Srinivas is a compassionate doctor and is sensitive towards his patients. He doesn't quite believe in medicines as much as he does in care and affection. He spoke to papa and made an effort to understand his history with me. He was both patient and considerate.

“Hmmmm!!! Nothing to worry. This is a borderline case of depression. I am glad you discovered it soon. He will be fine. All he needs is a loving environment, and some work to keep him occupied.”
“Was I hearing things? Isn’t dad the classic lost and hopeless case?” my head scramed.
“Are you sure, doctor?” I blurted.
“Of course!” He insisted.” Just take this one tablet I have prescribed and see me after two weeks. I am certain by then he will be fine. Be around him. He is feeling lost without his kids.”
“Kids?”
“Yes. You siblings have all settled in your lives and your father now finds himself lost, away from you all. That’s all. My father had a similar case, K. He just needs at least one of you around. He needs to do something to be busy.”

I nodded and walked out of the room. Dad held my hand and I held his hand tighter because, I, his child, was scared too. We walked towards our car and as we walked Dr. Srinivas’s words echoed in my ears - Papa was missing us, his kids!

For the next two weeks Papa improved significantly. In fact, within a week the change was visible. Slowly yet steadily he started talking like he did before his illness. His diet improved and so did his health. He started reading again. And we started our debates on environment, politics, war, religion etc, again. Our consultation with Dr.Srinivas also continued albeit less frequently because Dr.Srinivas insisted that my father didn’t need a doctor anymore. 

During our last visit he congratulated my father on his fitness and amazing will power. Papa actually didn’t need any medicine or any doctor anymore. He was fine.

"Mr. Singh, I like saying this to my patients. Please don't see me again." Dr. Srinivas laughed.
Papa beamed and wished the doctor well. As papa left the room after the consultation, Dr. Srinivas gestured me to stay back.
“Your father is fine, fit, and super fine. He just needs loads of love and care. Give him that. Your father once told me that you look like his mother.” Dr. Srinivas giggled.
I laughed through my tears. “Yes, he often tells me the same.”
“Then it’s time to be just that, strict and gentle like his mother. Let him do all that he likes doing. Get him more books. Keep his mind occupied and spend time with him” Dr. Reddy smiled.
“Thank you, doctor. I will forever be indebted to you.” The lump in my throat appeared again but my emotions were conveyed through my eyes.

I walked out of the room beaming with joy and saw my papa smiling at me. He looked so lovely, so handsome. His dimpled cheek shone with all its might. He was standing right in front of my eyes, hale and hearty and not to forget, happy too. This time, I held his hand and he held it tighter, aware of my emotions.

That evening it poured in Bangalore. The aroma of pakoras filled the room as mom served them hot. Everything was finally getting normal. A battle was won. My hero had come out victorious.  I stood gazing outside the balcony, overwhelmed with the series of events that had unfolded in the past few months. The daughter in me felt like her world had finally come together, again.

“What are you looking at K?” Papa asked me as I stared at the rain with tear filled eyes.
“I want to go play in the rain, today.”
“Then go play beta. Who is stopping you?”
“But Maa?” I pointed at Maa who was watching me with tear-filled eyes from the other end of the dining table.
“I told you she can never scold me.”
“Papa!”
“Come, LET”S GET..... DRENCHED!!”

It rained heavily that evening and a father and his darling daughter let all their pain wash away through their eyes.



Happy Father’s Day to all of you! Go splash some water and play in the rain with your Papa, Appa, Paa, Daddy, Abbu, or whatever you call him. That is all he wants. :D

Love,

Strong Daddy’s strong girl,
K



We celebrated Dad's recovery in Coorg and he was his usual naughty self

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 05. Image Credits: Monsoon by Yann (Wikimedia Commons). Shared with GNU Free Documentation License CC Attribution-Share Alike.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

English – Vinglish



Spell-bound, awe-struck, enthralled, mesmerized, and a tad bit emotional, that is how I felt today when I stood in front of 27 little kids. My eyes were stuck on them as they wrote their tests. I felt my stomach churning. It was as if I was writing the test. Indeed, I was. They were writing what was taught to them by us. After the test we (volunteers and students) waited patiently to know the results while tiny butterflies kept fluttering in our stomachs. They looked at me anxiously and I smiled back signaling no matter what the results have to say, they were champions for us – for me.

Few months ago, rather 7 months ago when we began our journey with the students of Parangipalya Government School in HSR - Bangalore, it looked like a Herculean task to teach them basic English. Most of them couldn’t identify English alphabets; some of them who were a tad better than their classmates could at the maximum read few English words. But none of them could explain the meanings of these words. The kids struggled to communicate in English and to make matters worse came from families that had either never been to schools or had a bare minimum education. Thus, it was evident that the exposure that these little gems received was skimpy.  However, there was one thing which was remarkable in each of these kids; they had the hunger to learn. They hadn’t given up, yet. All they needed was a hand to guide them. 

Fortunately, my employer had partnered with Step Up for India, a nonprofit organization that enables volunteers to teach English, Math, Computers, & Drama to children in government schools in urban India. They have an excellent program which is well structured, and designed by qualified professionals who have yearning to contribute towards the society. The team at SUFI is enthusiastic and dedicated. They lose no opportunity to rub their enthusiasm on to the volunteers. Their dedication is highly infectious. If you want to know more about them, please visit their FB page here.

So, after my employer partnered with SUFI, volunteers were invited to join the program to teach English to class IV students of the government school at HSR. Of course! We (the volunteers) grabbed the opportunity with both hands and how. The classes began and step by step with every session we moved only forward. From the phonic sounds to actions words, chirpy poems to sound songs, clap games to dictations, we only inched closer to our goal of improving the levels of verbal and written English. We laughed together, clapped together, danced together, sang together, and learnt - together. In the process a relationship was built, a rather beautiful one. I was their Akka and they were my little naughty stars. And before we could even realize, we were standing at the end of the term, biting our nails, anxiously.  

“A+, most of them have scored an A+”, Sangna announced as she finished conducting the ASER test. 

“And the others?” I asked anxiously still biting my nails. 

“Ah! They are an A and few of them B. They can now read well. They know the meaning of most of the words and have been able to construct sentences with it, easily. They are brilliant.” She smiled.

Really??? Manoj (my colleague and my partner in the SUFI program) and I looked at each other. We couldn’t believe our ears. A smile spread across our faces starting from left ear gradually till the right ear. I felt a little tear finding its way through my eyes to my cheeks (okay! I admit I am wee bit emotional. Okay! Okay! super emotional J). 

I immediately composed myself. "Khushboo Akka shouldn’t cry in front of the students", I told myself. So, we proudly stood there while the students received their certificates. They were beaming with joy and so were we. The core team of SUFI spoke to the students and told them that they must continue with their English lessons even during vacations. Later we clicked pictures, made promises to meet again in June, wished each other good luck and then clapped. Soon the classroom was filled with happy sounds. Sounds that can go for long making you feel joyful.

Each of us from the volunteer group will agree that these kids have been great teachers to us. Personally, I have learnt so much from them. I have understood that if we really put our heart on something, and work hard towards it, then we are bound to achieve it. The ASER test results today just proved it. I have also been taught to dream without any inhibitions and that no dream is silly or small. The silliest of the dream could mean make a humongous difference in our lives. Just like Hanumanthi, who once told me that she wants to dance with me on an English song (she wants to sing the song on her own. Obviously, I will share the picture with you when Hanumanthi and I will dance like crazy) or like Ganesh who aims to score 100/100 in English in his class X exams. I am certain, one day these dreams will blossom in to a beautiful reality. 

When I began as a volunteer for SUFI, someone asked me, “What will you get out of it?” I couldn’t answer it well, then. However, I think I have the answer now. I have got something which is priceless. I have received abundant love from these students. They have showered their affection on me wholeheartedly. I cannot express it in words. It can be only felt. 

I am on cloud 9 today. Super Happy! Right now as I type this, I am already doing the happy dance. I am eagerly waiting for the school to re-open so that I get to see my kids again and they would once again wish me in their singy songy style, “Goood Moorrninggg Akkkkkka” J 
I told you, PRICELESS!!!

Below is the picture of certificate we received today as the 1st session concluded. After which is a picture of the kids attentively listening to their teacher in the awesome company of their most favourite Manoj Anna ( the one in specs and gray shirt). They are adorable, aren't they?

Elated,
K

P.S: if you want to know more about the Step Up for India Program, please write to me on waves.khushboo@gmail.com. I shall connect you to them and you/your organization could partner with them and make a difference.