Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Real Beauty - A Beautiful Life...

Two days back, I was just back from a road trip across Meghalaya when I saw the mail from IndiBlogger asking 'What does real beauty mean to you?' - The Yahoo Dove Real Beauty Contest. After such a trip what instantly came to my mind is the pristine beauty of the nature that has kept me in a dazed and enchanted state even 48 hours after it was over.

But on second thoughts, I think beauty can be found in many things. Beauty can be a red rose on the snow or a baby's giggly laughter or the bond of love between a dog and its master or in the tears of a woman bidding her lover goodbye or some dried flowers on a dear one's grave or praying to a god whose existence has no certain proof or.... If I go on, I can enlist many such beauties, but I'm going to write about what my heart thinks are the real beauties in this world.

When a mother sees her baby for the first time, after waiting for months, she wants to hold her baby. She does so with her trembling hands, scared that she might hurt the baby if she is not careful. She looks at her baby and smiles, while a single drop of happy tear runs down her cheek - That is real beauty to me...

Not only the mother teaches the child about life, but also the child teaches the woman to be a 'mother'. When the toddler takes the first step or says 'maa' or 'paa' for the first time, the happiness and excitement on the parents' faces - That is real beauty to me...

The mother, in her soothing voice, tells the child bedtime stories that mostly start with 'Once upon a time' and always have happy endings or comforts the child when he or she is scared at the middle of the night from the imaginary bogeyman or the monster in the closet - That is real beauty to me...

The child grows up, passing through adolescence and experiencing hundreds of new emotions and changes. The surprise of puberty, the change of feelings for a childhood friend, the first love, the first romance or the first kiss to the person we love - That is real beauty to me...

Slowly, we enter adulthood and choose our field of study and then one day, our profession too. Whenever we achieve something, small or big, or the day we get our first salary, we can see the pride clearly visible on our parents' faces - That is real beauty to me...

Some years later, finally the day comes when we have to sacrifice everything we love to start a new life with a person who is supposedly going to be our life-partner. The bride walking down the aisle holding her father's hand, who had once taught her how to walk - That is real beauty to me...

The vows a couple takes on the alter while promising to love, comfort and honor each other as long as they both will live; or a Hindu bride taking the Saat Phere with trembling feet, apprehensive of the new life that awaits her; or the shyness of the Muslim bride as her lips tremble while she utters 'Qubul hai' - That is real beauty to me...

The happiness of an expectant mother, the glow on her face, the way she takes care of herself like she has done never before and when one day, she suddenly exclaims to her husband - "Oh! The baby just kicked!!' and the husband tries to hear his baby's heartbeats putting his ears on his wife's belly - That is real beauty to me...

Back to the beginning, when after nine gruelling months, the mother gets to see, hold, kiss and feed her new born and we can see the maternal love in her eyes as she caresses the baby... That again, is a real beauty to me...

In the end, one day her beloved leaves her. Broken-hearted, she mourns at his grave. The sadness and tears, partially seen through her black veil as she lights a candle and puts flowers on the grave, is too painfully beautiful to me... 

Real Beauty is our own Cycle of Life. I am a real beauty and so are you! We are the most beautiful creation of God and with a beautiful heart, we can turn our lives into a real beauty till it lasts.
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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Burning Woman

(Image Courtesy : Google)

Once upon a time, on a dark night,
I found myself standing all alone,
Scared, as always from the darkness,
That beckons towards the unknown....

My only companion - The open sky,
Jet black, with no clouds in sight,
I can hear voices inside my head,
Voices that whimper, cry and fight.

Familiar looks the deserted street,
As if I have been here before,
And then suddenly, to add to my woes,
It thunders and rain starts to pour.

In the distance, I see a lone house,
Lights glowing through its window,
Alone in the dark, I move towards it,
Alas, deserted even by my shadow...

Closer I get, flickery seems the light,
Blazing, as if something inside was burning,
I felt fright, an urge to turn back, yet,
To see what's inside, my heart was yearning...

I cross the picket fence, I cross the lawns,
I reach the rusty door, which was open...
With trembling hands I push the door,
Along comes the smell of char, and then...

The sight that meets my terrified eyes,
I would never forget in my life throughout,
I see a burning woman in the flames,
Burning! Burning with her arms spread out...

Petrified, I realize I'm looking into a mirror,
The burning woman is none but me,
I feel a fear that I have never felt before,
For it is hard to believe what I see...

I see my soul burning, but I can't help,
Finally realizing it is hell where I stand,
I touch the mirror, trying to reach out,
As she does the same with her hand...

Her tormented eyes meet mine,
And in her last moment, we both scream,
It's at this moment that I wake up,
Realizing that it was just a scary dream!

Outside, a gust of wind joins the torrential rain,
Howling and wailing, as if in terrible pain,
In the darkest corner of my heart, I know that
I'll be seeing the woman tomorrow night again...

- Sanghita, 12/05/2011 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meri Chahat (My first attempt at poetry)

चाहने को तो बहुत कुछ चाहती हूँ...

आसमान में उढ़ना चाहती हूँ,
फिर से खुलके हँसना चाहती हूँ,
बचपन वापिस जीना चाहती हूँ,
चाहने को तो बहुत कुछ चाहती हूँ...

चैन की नींद सोना चाहती हूँ,
बेफिक्र अंगराई लेना चाहती हूँ,
एक नयी शुरुआत करना चाहती हूँ,
चाहने को तो बहुत कुछ चाहती हूँ...

जब दिल किया गाना चाहती हूँ,
जब मन चाहा नाचना चाहती हूँ,
जैसी हूँ वैसी ही रहना चाहती हूँ,
चाहने को तो बहुत कुछ चाहती हूँ...

हर दर्द भूलाना चाहती हूँ,
हर दोस्ती निभाना चाहती हूँ,
मैं फिर से प्यार करना चाहती हूँ,
चाहने को तो बहुत कुछ चाहती हूँ...

बारिश में भीगना चाहती हूँ,
हर बूँद महसूस करना चाहती हूँ, 
मैं बादलों को छूना चाहती हूँ,
चाहने को तो बहुत कुछ चाहती हूँ...

आसमान में उढ़ना चाहती हूँ,
ज़िन्दगी वापिस जीना चाहती हूँ,
हजारों ख्वाहिशें पूरी करना चाहती हूँ,
चाहने को तो बहोत कुछ चाहती हूँ...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life @ LIBA... Lanes of memories

Few days back I had to fill up a section of the Yearbook - "What will I miss about LIBA?" Such a simple question, but it took me few hours to decide what to write there. But even after that, something kept bothering me because I felt that was not all. I had not done justice to that question.

So now as I close my eyes and think, scene by scene the Life @ LIBA flashes before my eyes. So let me take you on a journey through my memories once again...

Scene 1: Its 7.50am... As usual I'm running late for the morning class... Keeping my fingers crossed I run down the stairs to the streets, wishing I'll get an auto and reach the college in time... Like everyday, I blame myself - "Kabhi nahi sudhregi!!!" After waiting for few minutes an auto passes by... I stop it and ask - "Anna, Loyola college back gate, ulle pona, ewlo??"... The guy quotes Rs. 30... I say - "Anna, daily poro... Rs. 20 correct rate anna..." After a little persuasion he agrees... Phew!!! I reach college starp at 8am and run to the class. I'll miss this!!!

Scene 2: I am inside the class. The faculty is scribbling something on the board, oblivious of what's happening behind him. I start dozing off, head flopping over to one side. He turns around and the whole class suddenly becomes very attentive. Someone elbows me and I wake up startled, pretending I have not even blinked. Well what we assume as micro-sleeps lasting only seconds, are actually around 15 minutes long each. And by that time, everyone in the class has seen you, has had a good laugh and some have even taken some photos of you. I'll miss this!!!

Scene 3: I'm in the canteen. On a table where only four can sit, atleast four more have squeezed in. It's like an adda. We are all here for 2 'F's - Food & Friends. I am gorging on some junk food from Give Life cafe and of course, a bottle of Pepsi. I can hear giggles and laughters all around, people pulling each other's legs, all kinds of masti-mazaaks, gossip sessions, people desperately trying to pass their food coupons and shout their orders to the guy behind the counter... "Anna, masala dosa", "Coffee Anna, less sugar", etc. Someone once told me that a college is incomplete without a canteen, like Tom is incomplete without Jerry. So true... It's where friendship emerges. I'll miss this!!!

Scene 4: It's someone's birthday...(Let's assume it's a guy... that way it's more fun)! He is gonna cut the cake in the canteen... Half the class turns up for the celebration... Most of the people are more interested in the cake than in his birthday and half of them are more interested in giving the guy some birthday bumps, than in either the cake or his birthday... As soon as the cake is cut, the torture starts... All you can hear are Ooh, Aah and Ouchs and many more @#$%^&*s (censored swearing). I'll miss this!!! }:>

Scene 5: Festival Time!!! Whether it's the Festival of Lights or Mahabali's homecoming or any other festival, LIBA celebrates all with equal grandeur. Everyone turns up dressed in their best attires on the day, some for fun, some for friends and some for the good food (called the Theory of 3 Fs). In LIBA, dates really doesn't matter. We may end up celebrating Janmashtami during Onam and Onam during Navratri, but its the spirit of celebration that matters. I'll miss this!!!

Scene 6: It's a conference day... 3 buses are waiting in the parking lot to take the students to the venue... Everyone turns up earlier than usual, suited up... The consolation prize of attending these 'Attendance compulsory' conferences are that - you get to have yummy food and yummier dessert. I'll miss this!!! :-P

Scene 7: It's either Freshers Party (when people are dressed as weirdly as possible) or Libarated (when we tune our vocal chords, walk the ramp and burn the floor) or Chrysalis (when we are at our intellectual best) and as usual, there is a flurry of activity all around. You can feel the energy and enthusiasm in the air. And then comes the DJ night with people dancing on the beats of "Munni Badnaam"s and "Sheila ki Jawani"s. In the end, they were all good good nights. I'll miss all these!!!

On a more personal note, I'll miss walking out of college with Pritha, I'll miss pulling Munna's coogly woogly cheeks :P, I'll miss going to Nescafe with Chaitik and Navisha, I'll miss the trips I have taken with some good friends, I'll miss reading Chaitik's hilarious posts on Pandora's box and if I keep writing, I'll miss even the CRM exam that I have tomorrow...

I have been through myriads of emotions in the last 20 months... I have met so many people, some of whom I'll remember throughout my life... I have learnt so many valuable lessons, some through the people and some through the vibrant life we spent here. I can proudly say no matter what, those were the best days of my life and I believe this lively culture will keep throbbing in the heart of LIBA even after many many years.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Steven Johnson Syndrome - A Survivor's Story

Have you ever looked death into the eyes? Ever felt the life slip out of your hands? Ever heard your loved ones weeping all around you as if it was your funeral? I have been through all this 13 years back. If you are reading this post, I would first insist you to go to Google images and search 'Steven Johnson Syndrome', see how it looks like and then read further. Also, it's a long story, so please bear with me...

(Disclaimer: This article is about my ordeal with SJS. It may lack medical technicalities.)

It was the summer of 1998. That was my first time visit to Chennai. My final exams had just got over and I had come with my parents for some treatments at the Apollo Hospitals. The doctor who was treating me prescribed me a medicine, known as Tegretol (manufactured by Novartis). We returned to Silchar on March 28th. I lazed around for 3 days, as the classes were about to start from the 1st of April. It was the night of 30th March when the first symptoms showed up. It looked like measles to me. I complained to my parents that I was getting weird eruptions on the skin and that it itches. Never in my dreams, would I have imagined that I was so close to the end of my existence. My Dad consulted with our family physician (Dr. Ajit Bhattacharjee), who is a Dermatologist and upon his suggestion that it might be a drug reaction, he called up the doctor at Apollo to consult with him. Instead of asking me to stop the medication, he denied that the reaction has nothing to do with Tegretol and asked me to continue taking the medicine.

31st March morning, I started to lose some sensations as if I was going numb. By afternoon the eruptions looked like those of chicken pox. I got ulcers in the mouth and also, started to drop saliva from the mouth, which was pretty numb by then. When my dad came from his office and saw my condition he decided to take me to another doctor - Dr. Manabendra Deb, who had treated a similar case before. The doctor checked me and asked my Dad to get me admitted in the hospital immediately. My first reaction was why the hell am I being admitted to a hospital because of just skin problems??

It was then when the Doc explained to me that I have symptoms of 'Steven Johnson Syndrome' (SJS), which is a life-threatening condition affecting the skin and subsequently the eyes, blood vessels and other organs. If not death, outcomes such as organ damage and/or blindness is common in this case. I was immediately put on saline and protein drip. Blood and all other possible tests were done. And then came the life saving steroids.

1st April : You would call me crazy if I say I was very excited as family and friends were dropping in to see me. The worst was yet to come. It was only towards the end of the day when someone switched on the light and I shrieked, that everyone realized - I have developed photophobia. My windows were then covered with green curtains and only one dim light was allowed to be lit in the room. My condition started to worsen during the night, with more life saving drug being pushed in through the saline syringe at regular intervals. I was not letting anyone come near me, except one particular nurse and my Dad; not even my Mom.

2nd April : The worst day of my entire life till date. It was around 2am, when everyone was sleeping, that I suddenly sprang up from the bed and started vomiting blood. There was blood everywhere, in my hands, on the bedsheets and on the floor. It was like I was living in a nightmare.... Till date, I remember that moment as vividly as it was just yesterday. The resident doctor was called immediately. It was at that moment when the doctor said there was only 0.1% chance that they could save me.

From the next day onwards, I was prohibited from looking into any mirror. With blood red eyes and lesions on the skin, I would have easily got a role in the 'then very famous' Zee Horror Show. In fact, I even heard a family friend of mine comment that I looked like one of those ghosts.

I was in the hospital for two entire weeks and it was only one particular day when a drop of tear dropped out of my eyes when my uncle and aunt (Tauji and Taiji) were shifting to Delhi and came to pay me a visit before leaving. We were a joint family till then and he had just got his transfer orders during those days. It was at that moment that I felt, I was hearing their voice for the last time in my life. I couldn't even see them as I had bandage over my eyes. I could only hear my Taiji's sobs and then I cried, for the first and the last time during those days.

Over the days people kept coming over. I heard them cry, as if all hopes were lost. My best friend Puja couldn't even enter the hospital chamber. Someone told me she was standing at the entrance of the room and crying. Even the Principal of my school paid me a visit one day. Over the time, my lips got sealed and I couldn't even speak. If I needed something, I used my fingers to spell it on someone's hands. I had syringe punctures all over.

I was being treated by Dr. Prabhati Dhar Purkayastha (ENT), Dr. Sandeep Dhar (Ophthalmology) and Dr. Bhaskar Gupta (Dermatologist), along with Dr. Manabendra Deb. I also remember that two doctors from Apollo Hospitals (Chennai) had come down to Silchar to pay me a 'visit'.

I don't remember few days in between as I did not have any consciousness. After almost a week my conditions started to improve a bit. Slowly I got rid off the photophobic condition. I felt God has gifted me with new eyes. Everything was so colorful all around. The world was beautiful! Then slowly I was able to speak again. I blabbered so much as if I was speaking after decades. But I got tired very soon. Then one day (after almost 10 days of being admitted) the nurse, asked me to step down from my bed and take a walk. You can't imagine how happy I was. But as soon as I tried to take the first step, I tumbled over. My legs had gone totally numb. The nurse caught me and slowly taught me to walk again. With each step, the numbness disappeared. I felt I was in heaven. I even shed nails and new nails grew in their place.

I was discharged on 15th April. I was going home 'finally' and I was on the seventh heaven. My nurse came along with me and stayed with us for almost another month. The first thing I did after stepping inside my home, was run to the nearest mirror. I still looked pale and horrible. I can only imagine how I would have looked during the first one week. I was prohibited from much exposure to sunlight for an entire year. The best part about that was I skipped prayer at school for the whole academic year.

That year Papa celebrated my birthday with much grandeur as if it was my first birthday. He told me it was my second life. And till today I regard all my doctors, next to God. I owe my life to them. And it was also a miracle because all the minor health problems I had till then got cured after that, as if it was actually a new life, a blessing in disguise.

I did learn a few lessons from that incident-
  1. First and foremost, one should never lose hope. The reason I never feel disheartened whatever the situation is, because I feel there is always some hope left.
  2. Death is peaceful, but life is too beautiful to let go.
  3. Face every situation bravely and fight till the end. If death looks into your eyes, look back and don't blink! :)
  4. There is a Supreme Being in this world, who creates miracles. May be it's Him whom we call as "God". He is all around us, in different forms. For me, He came to me in the form of my Doctors and saved my life.
  5. Everybody may leave you (even your siblings), but there are two persons in this world who will fight for you and with you till the end. They are your Mother and Father. So when the time comes and they need you, don't turn your back at them.
  6. There is an information leaflet provided with every medicine. ALWAYS read it CAREFULLY, before taking the medicine, especially the side-effects section.
For more information on Steven Johnson Syndrome, refer here (Wikipedia).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In Search of Sophie : A Trip I wish I could forget

I have always loved to write. I get my inspirations from all that is in and around me. This is a short story I wrote almost a year back for the creative writing competition at IIT Saarang 2010. I dedicate this story to my parents and thank all those people who inspired the characters in my story. Also, thanks to Venkat who inspired me to finally publish the writing.

Do leave your comments. I am looking forward to some honest criticism.

Just one request: Read it alone... With the lights turned out... 

Title : In Search of Sophie : A Trip I wish I could forget
Genre: Horror, Thriller.

In Search of Sophie
(Picture Courtesy : Google images)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Makar Sankranti... A time of the year when I miss being at home the (2nd) most

There has always been two occasions during a year, when I miss being at home the most... First being Durga Puja and second during Makar Sankranti or 'Magh Bihu' in Assam...

Bihu is the most celebrated festival of Assam. It is celebrated during different periods of the year as it marks the three stages of cultivation, i.e. beginning of the agricultural season, completion of transplantation and end of the harvesting season.

There are three forms of Bihu that are celebrated in Assam:

  1. Bohag Bihu, celebrated in the middle of April which marks the New Year at the advent of seeding time;
  2. Kati Bihu, celebrated in the middle of October which marks the completion of sowing and transplanting of paddies;
  3. Magh Bihu, celebrated in the middle of January which marks the end of the harvesting period.

Out of the three bihus, Magh Bihu, which is celebrated during Makar Sankranti, has always been my favorite. Magh Bihu is also known as Bhogali Bihu, which originates from the word 'Bhog' and signifies eating and enjoyment.

The festival is marked by feasts and bonfires. On the eve of the Bihu, called 'Uruka', young people build makeshift huts, known as Meiji or more popularly known as Merameri in Cachar, from bamboo, leaves and thatch, in which they eat the food prepared for the feast (purely non-vegetarian). The entire night is spent in and around the Meiji with people singing or playing Bihu songs (Bollywood songs in more recent times), beating 'Dhol', or playing games.

The next day, on Magh Bihu, people get up very early in the morning, take bath and burn the 'Meiji'. People gather around the burning 'Meiji' and throw 'Pithas' (rice cakes) and betel nuts into the fire, as offering to the God of Fire. They offer their prayers and thus, mark the end of the harvesting year. The whole day is followed with community celebrations all across with Pithas being distributed to all. Some Pithas commonly made are Puli Pitha, Chandro Puli, Doodh Puli, Paati Shapta, Malpoa, etc.

The last time I celebrated this festival was almost a decade ago. I miss the picnic like feast with family and friends, the roof top parties at my home during those times, the bonfires, the 'getting up at 5am on a wintry morning' (the worst part), the comforting heat from the burning Meiji and mostly, the Mom-made Pithas that I get to have once the ritual is over... I miss them all, so much that I would rather opt for a Makar Sankranti holiday, instead of Christmas and New Year break...

Happy Bihu / Makar Sankranti / Lohri / Pongal to all... :)

(Picture Courtesy : Google images)
(Facts Courtesy : Wikipedia,