This is the third part of my story,which would have one more part and that would be the conclusion.I thank you all the likes and comments and constructive comments which have come so far.Please do the same for the other parts also.Thank you once again. An Apology, too late (continued) Years passed by, Srini was now in his teens, with interests like any normal teenager. He was a cheerful, sunny personality and cared little about his physical condition. Thin as a reed and breathless at the slightest exertion, he often sat and watched others play longingly, for he knew he could probably never play a sport. He was however good in his studies, despite long periods of absence from school. He gradually finished high school and joined college with fairly remarkable results. Over the years, his health continued to bother him but he not only learnt to live with it but had an air of cheer and sense of humour that made people instantly warm up to him. Ambujam was proud of the way her son was growing; her love for her adopted son knew no bounds. She showered on him all the attention and care that she was capable of. Over the years, she grew fiercely possessive of her son, the only person she believed she had to call her own. At times, the young man felt stifled by the intensity of love that his mother showered on him but took care not to hurt the woman who had given him all she had. Over the years, he also grew to know his ‘own’ family, the one he was born into. He now had four siblings, who in spite of having each other’s company loved their older brother immensely and never wasted opportunities to visit him. His mother, Hema however wasn’t so lucky. In all the years that passed by she never could quite reconcile to her little boy not being her own. She seldom visited him; there was an invisible ‘line of control’ that Ambujam had drawn around him that didn’t allow her to express her emotions freely for her son. But on the rare occasions Srini visited them, her joy knew no limits. She was a great cook, and made sure that she cooked all his favourite dishes. She would hold on to these precious moments with her eldest son for a long time, yearning for his next visit. Srini was in college, when his maternal grandfather Krishnamachari visited them on one weekend, with the news that Dr. Johnson, a famous cardiac surgeon from Boston was visiting India. Krishnamachari was excited and believed that his grandson could be cured by this doctor. An appointment was fixed with the doctor, through his contacts in high places. The consultation with the doctor brought much cheer to all family members. The doctor recommended a surgery which he said would help Srini lead a near normal life, without the health issues that he was currently going through. All arrangements were made for the surgery. Ambujam was financially well to do and could bear a sizeable amount of the costs while Krishnamachari and Srinivasachari contributed the rest. The womenfolk offered their prayers to various gods, particularly the presiding deity in Srirangapatna. It was the day of operation. There was tension in the air. The operation lasted many hours, starting in the morning to early evening. After several hours of tension and anxiety, the doctors met the family with the good news that the operation had been successful. There were of course strict instructions for the future – he was to be kept in the hospital for a few more days followed by a month of bed rest at home. A satisfactory progress over a year meant that he could live his life as a normal young man, pursuing a career, getting married and having a family of his own. But there was an important detail that was lost; as the years went by one would never know if the doctors had failed to inform them or whether the detail was lost in the general air of celebration. Periodical check-ups every five years and perhaps a corrective surgery after 10 -15 years – should have been on the ‘to do’ list but it somehow slipped between the cracks Once things returned to normalcy, the senior members of the family, including the parents and grandparents started looking for an alliance for the young man. It was decided that facts about Srini’s health issues would not be kept hidden from prospective alliances. Srini, on his part remained indifferent to the idea of marriage. Sometimes he wondered if he didn’t already have too many women in his life; he after all had two mothers, not something most people could boast of! He was now employed in a private firm and was enjoying his ‘liberation’ from constant health problems and having people attending to him. He was passionate about cricket, never missing the opportunity to watch any match live. He also loved films and often went out with his friends and brothers after office hours to catch the movies running in the neighbourhood cinema. Srini’s sense of fun and humour won him many friends – men and women. He was now enjoying his life to its fullest.

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one correction in my first part.The presiding deity in Srirangapatna is Shri Ranganathaswamy and not Shri Lakshmi Narasimhar Although There is a smaller temple for him.My sister,Sarayu Ramaswamy points out. Second part. An Apology, too late (Continued.) A few months passed by. The much awaited day of a girl transitioning to a woman, finally came; Hema attained maturity. She herself couldn’t understand much and was terrified by the changes that were occurring in her body. Her mother, Padmasini, could see the confusion and fear that her daughter was going through. She took the frightened girl into her arms and gently explained to her the facts about the body of a woman. She also spoke to her about the things that she could look forward to. In those days a girl attaining puberty was a day of celebration. These celebrations were also done to announce that a girl was ready for marriage, to welcome alliances. In case of married girls, it was to indicate that it was time for her to return to her husband’s place. Friends and relatives were called, the girl was made to sit on a mat or ‘manai’ (a small wooden platform) placed in the centre with the ladies sitting around and singing songs in praise of the Goddesses. A ‘tambulam’ consisting of betel leaves, betel nuts, haldi kumkum and coconut were given to all the women An auspicious day was chosen for Hema to return to her husband’s house in Mysore. Lots of jewels, silverware and sarees were again chosen for the young lady to carry back with her for the occasion. Her in laws and husband, Shrikant, were only too happy to welcome her back. Marriage in earnest had now begun for the young couple. Months passed by and Hema became pregnant, much to the pleasure of both sets of parents. She returned to her parents’ house for the delivery. All care was taken to keep her happy and in good humour. In short, she was pampered to the maximum. It was the thirties of the last century, when infrastructure developments were still in primitive stages; electricity being one of them. Many in those days were scared to use electricity. It was late one evening when Hema had gone to the backyard. As she searched for the switch in the dark, her hand came in contact with a live wire near the switchboard. The pain that shot through her was unbearable and she screamed in pain. Padmasini and a few others heard her screams and rushed to the spot to find her in a state of semi consciousness. The family and the neighbours who had rushed in to help were in a state of panic. That particular day, Krishnamachari had gone to Mysore for a case. Those were days of long distance trunk calls. It was hard to get through to him. A neighbour helped and Hema was shifted to an hospital in Mysore. Krishnamachari was also apprised of the situation by the neighbour and he came and quickly took control of the situation. After hours of tension and with doctors struggling, a baby boy was born. It was just that he was premature and with a congenital problem. Everyone was dumbstruck and gloom set in. The shock took some time to register among all family members. Being diagnosed with a heart problem with serious consequences, it was considered incurable at that time. Prayers were offered at all religious shrines. Hema could not face the truth and she was in a state of denial. Both sets of parents were more philosophical by taking recourse to more prayers. To quote “more things could be wrought by prayer than what the world could think for”. Medical opinions were sought from far and near, with the best possible course of treatment given. The boy was named Srivatsan, endearingly called Srini. He was a fragile child who needed constant care. But despite his condition, he was a happy child and everyone in the family flocked around this first grandchild. As days went by, Hema gave birth to another child. It became increasingly difficult for her to handle two children, especially with one needing special attention. Her mother in law, Kamalam, was still coming to terms with her grandson being born with a heart defect. The family business was now running into losses. The medical expenses became a bit of a strain on the family’s finances. Everything seemed dark and dismal. Hema shuttled between Mysore and Srirangapatna. She often felt she would snap under the pressure of handling two boys; she was barely a child herself but with responsibilities which called for strength and resolve beyond her age. While all of this happened, there was someone watching this in this family closely from the sidelines. Ambujam, a close relative of the Srinivasachar family had lost her husband soon after marriage and had no children. She herself was well off with substantial family inheritances. She not only longed for children of her own but could also afford to raise them well, including incurring the heavy medical expenses. After a lot of deliberation, she decided to approach Kamalam, Hema’s mother in law. She spoke with an air of dignity, saying “I have approached you with lot of hesitation since it is a delicate subject. If you all agree, I would like to adopt Srini. I will look after him like my own son. God has provided me enough to spend for his medical expenses.” At first no one was willing even to consider it. Srinivasachachar was adamant in not wanting to ‘give away’ his grandson but Krishnamachari was more practical. He argued that the child would get the due attention required for his condition along with a mother’s love and affection. Gradually everyone, except his own daughter, began to see his point of view. The idea of giving her son away broke her heart but there was little she could do, especially since the family,s finances were down. It was finally decided that Srini would be given up for adoption to Ambujam, on the condition that they would be allowed to visit him at their will. Since she was a relative and staying in Mysore, this seemed to be a minor problem. An auspicious day was selected and he was given in adoption. Hema’s heart was heavy with grief when the day arrived but she made herself believe that it was the best for her child The year was 1940 and he was barely two. Ambujam looked at her new son who would become the focus of her life for the years to come with love and pride. He would later grow up to be a cheerful, sunny personality and cared little about his physical condition. He was thin as a reed and easily turned breathless at the slightest exertion. When tired, he sat and watched others play. There were days when he was ill for long stretches of time. During these bouts of illness, Srinivasachar, his paternal grandfather, often visited him, sat by his side and read stories from the the Ramayana and Mahabharata to him. As he looked at the frail but spirited boy, he often ruffled his hair and said to him affectionately “Don’t worry, my child. One day you will grow up to be as strong as Bheema”. (To be continued)

An Apology,too late.It was a pleasant evening. Arundati sat in the veranda, watching the setting sun. She was sipping her coffee and also as is her wont had a book on her lap..Several emotions were crisscrossing her mind as she recalled the past. Her past was intermingled with her mother in law, Hema’s story. She decided to write Hema’s story,most of which her mother in law had told her at different times. It dated back to the thirties of the last century. Srirangapatnam, situated on the banks of the river Cauvery, was something of a cross between a village and a town.It had a scenic beauty, with the river flowing full. It was famous for the Lakshmi Narasimhar temple with its devotees thronging at all times.It is said that Tipu Sultan, now a controversial figure,was also a devotee and used to visit the temple daily to offer his prayers Hema, a girl of twelve, had her own group of friends to roam around and play with. Her mother, Padmasini constantly worried about how this playful girl could adjust and fit into the family she would get married into. As she watched her playing one evening, against the setting sun, she called out to her repeatedly. “Hema,Hema, how many times do I have to call you? There is so much of work to do.You have no sense of responsibity. How will you adjust when you get married any to another house?I will be blamed that I didn’t bring you up properly.” Her father,Krishnamachari ,a renowned lawyer in Mysore and surrounding towns ,was listening quietly. He intervened at last, not able to bear her scolding his only daughter,Hema. “Why do you keep on scolding her? After all she is just twelve.We can wait for a few years more.”. Padmasini knew she couldn’t argue. Hema was mighty pleased and continued playing with her friends. As luck would have it, very soon an alliance came up.Those were the days of early marriages and any girl over fifteen was considered unsuitable.The alliance was from Srinivasan,a boy of about twenty and was helping his father with their family business.Horoscopes were matched and found suitable.The traditional girl seeing ceremony was over. Hema was too young to understand.To her, it was about more silk sarees, jewels and having all her relatives coming in. With the house full of uncles, aunts and cousins, she could have a nice time.She started looking forward to the day. At last it was her day. She was married off in a grand style with friends and relatives arriving in large groups. Since it was a five day affair, there was an air of festivity around. On the day of the marriage, Hema was absolutely tired but she thoroughly enjoyed the fanfare.She was to leave for her husband’s house in Mysore and the pangs of separation set in. Hema and her mother, Padmasini were inconsolable. But as was the practice those days, she would return to her parent’s place till she attained puberty.

A Nice World. We live in a nice world, Everyone here is nice. Nobody ever kills anybody. Corruption and scam, Nobody is guilty at any of these. If at all we indulge in them We know how to get out of them Or fly off to far off land. Rape,murder and intolerance. What are these words? Never heard of them. A country,glorious past And rich heritage. Eminent leaders led the country. Hope it comes back Some day in the distant future For future generations To live happily and peacefully. Are we right in expecting a world Justice prevailing with equality No fear or favour shown? All that is described in the beginning Are they just illusions,reality Different?We do want such a world. A distant dream perhaps. P.S.From a disillusioned citizen.

Children’s Day.

On the eve of children’s day,here is a simple poem.
Children of the world,unite.

A famous poet counted the ways he

Could love his beloved.

Let us count the ways you could 

Protect yourself.

Protect yourself from unwanted advances,

From touches of strangers.

From exploitation from others,

Either for labour or bondage labour.

From inequality citing your birth,caste

Creed or sex.Fight with all your might.

to pursue your education,

Ambition or career goals.

children that you are,unite and fight

For your rights as well as others.

Never resort to violence,but

Should a need arises to protect yourself

Even your teeth and your claws

Become your weapon.

World is not only roses,it has thorns as well.

Everything is not good as it appears.

Learn to differentiate between good and bad.

Have a goal always and pursue it with determination,

Hard work and skill.

You would have your parents and teachers

And friends to guide you and help you achieve.

Once you near your goal,don’t forget 

the steps you came up with.

And help others,younger and lesser than you,

Achieve the same.

All my best wishes to all the children.

Dedicated to all girl children.
International Day of The Girl Child.
Our hearts swell with pride,

At the thought of a girl child.

Not just today,every day

She is special.
Considered auspicious in traditional

Households,supposed to bring

Wealth and prosperity.

No doubt shunned in some parts

And killed on birth or treated shabbily.

Forgive them for what they do.

They know not what they lose.
Your daughter remains with you

Come what may,not “paraya dhan”,

To be gifted away to somebody else

After marriage,As was the concept

In olden day’s.Consider she is going 

There to light up some other family.

Nothing can disassociate the bonding.
Light up a girl’s life,educate her to the

Maximum.Encourage her in her aspirations.

A girl child nowhere inferior

To be used as a doormat.

Glass ceilings breaking now.

Sky is the limit.
Let her not face social limitations

Or humiliations,or physical abuses

Teach her to fight back,when abused.

If you have a son,inculcate the correct 

Values and teach to respect women.
Stop child labour where girls meet

With more abuses.If necessary

Take recourse to law,with the hope

something would change for the better.

Do not employ them at home.

Treat them as your own.

Educate them and empower them.
Cherish all girl children,not just your own.

Those not just blessed with daughters,

Treat all girl children as daughters

You never had.Those who have them

Remember they are with you for ever

Caring,devoted and affectionate.

Today is World Smile Day.A poem by Shiv K Kumar in Tamil gave me the idea to write these lines.Thank you.
World Smile Day.
This day celebrated as world smile day,

The word bringing a smile to our lips.

A smile is infectious and spreads cheer 

Many smiles have won the hearts

Of many all over the world.

They were old but had love

For everyone,irrespective of who they were.

Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa

Are two names that come to my mind.

Now mired in controversies 

their names may be,but undeniably

Charming at their times.
Look at a child and look at his smile

Or her smile as the case may be.

Can anything be compared to that?

Innocent with not a care in the world.

A smile of a newly wed,with expectations

In the hearts and love in the eyes.

Old and wrinkled faces,yearning for

Love and attention and the face lit up

When given unconditional love.

Smiles of various types,of a teacher,

Of a parent or a grandparent.

All signifies happiness and cheer.
Why do some keep a wry face?

Smile to your heart’s content.

After all it doesn’t cost you anything.

Neither all your riches or wealth

Can buy you a smile.

Abundant love and care for the fellow 

Human can bring a smile to a face.

If you can do it,your life is worth living.
Shiv K Kumar.