Short Story Archive for Life:

Journal contd.. Fireflies, glowing eyes

FireFliesInForestDeviantArt

“I am but a firefly caught in his jar and when he looks at me, I can’t help but glow.” ~ Kellie Elmore …
in light of this quote… For me it’s mom and dad all the way ..we mutually glowed and basked in “us”
~ ~ ~
and she said, “You don’t say!”
I am left wondering whether this was a robust yea or nay !
plus am still figuring out who said it in my dreams… the figure is hazy as hell.
For past two days my dreams have been peppered with eyes
full of overflowing emotions.
Chasing those eyes with my dreamcatcher reminded me of childhood jars filled with lightning bugs. Often in burgeoning darknesses of late evenings we’d capture a firefly in our tiny white kerchiefs and our childish eyes would goggle up at this marvel of nature…and then we’d gently release them…following their trajectories with “ecstatic eyes”
It did not take much to be content and happy in those days.
I digress… here I want to correlate those eyes chasing my dreams to fireflies of my wonder years in the fifties and sixties. Life was our oyster and we shucked it to our heart’s content.
In a movie I saw yesterday a brother and sister reminisce about what they most recall of their “mom” and both said in unison “she had the happiest of eyes!” After the movie was over I tried to recall what kind of emotions do I recall about those I hold absolutely dear and close to my heart… I was at an impasse.
I recall “sorrowful eyes” of mom the most esp. when I had been bad throwing tantrums about trivial stuff and when she was at the cusp of crossing over at the time of her death. She was full of worry about “unsettled”me and that is why I feel her presence around me all the time. Dad on the other hand had “happy eyes” and he simply loved putting me through my paces physically and mentally.
Mom’s eyes mainly glowed with an otherworldly light as she sang in her off tune voice from the Hindu holy scriptures. Her unworldliness filled us with tenderness for her and a fierce urge to protect her …this role reversal happened early on and that was how maturity crept into our wonder years : imperceptibly… we’ll talk of other eyes later…maybe…perhaps…who knows..
Image : Forest Fireflies: Deviant Art

love

image

How shall I express this love of mine as it spills here, there, everywhere. All I can hope for, being a Virgo is that it be discriminate.
Totally in love with life, besotted with baby Krishna, loyal to the nth degree, plenty of love still remains overflowing abundantly, ebbing with reluctance.
It’s natural for my granny heart to swell at the sight of my kids and their family but it equally gambols at sight of children I’ve held and known but who have since moved on. Love never abates even though these kids have moved out of my physical orbit.
One can understand that most of us can and do experience a rush of love when meeting people in person but what about feeling a sudden gush of love for people you’ve never laid eyes on except on social media… how this phenomenon plays in, never petering out.
Key must be the way these e-friends whom I truly love express themselves and their self projections via photographs and images that they share. These give a glimpse of what they are or could be in real life and that can be pleasurable and intriguing. There are a handful in whose heads I’d love a stroll to experience the breeding ground of their incredible thought processes.
Being a bookworm, good turn of phrase, uniquely expressed emotions can be quite heady, delighting no end. It also indicates the mighty hearts that so generously expose their veins thus.
When I love, I do it unconditionally as I don’t like to do anything half assed .

painting is by Raja Ravi varma

Early Life’s Highlights

Today I’ve decided to visit all the flagged, so called peaks in the EKG of my life.  This is one reading I can do without waiting for medical reports to come in and disentangle me from tenterhooks’ misery.

Most families have black sheep and “monsoon wedding like uncles with octopus limbs- I’ve had my share and reason why I recall them is the Tom and Jerry element of it – my cousins and I were quick on our feet and usually eluded these rascals.  Molesters do come in many garbs and I wish the elders had warned early on before the fact instead of sweeping under the carpet later.

Olden days Bombay abounded with Irani Hotels around most street corners.  We were no different.   We were often sent on small errands to buy bread (pav) and butter from these places.  One such hotel owner was a real lecher and dangled free candies as a lure. I recall us kids grabbing the candies and making a run for it.  He was too lazy and fat to give chase.  We had lots of “scramble” practice as we often stole guavas and raw mangoes jumping boundary walls of our building being chased away by a furious stick wielding guard.

We often ate hibiscus flowers but spat out raw papayas at they tasted yuck.

Another great memory is sticking our tiny fingers in the pickle jars “marinating” on our building roof belonging to neighbors and mom.  Their taste still brings a mouth watering rush in mouth.

Speaking of roofs, brings back memory of maternal grandpa’s house where the street had back to back houses and the roofs had common walls.  It was a great lark to jump over these walls and reach the other end of the street.  Come to think of it, it would’ve worked perfectly for cops and robbers in our movies.

We often peeked into houses out of sheer curiosity and one memory I am ashamed of is peeking into a newly wed bride’s chamber on her first night.  How we kids had tittered at that making up tall stories.  They were Kashmiri Brahmin family and the bride was drop dead gorgeous.

Another great “roof” memory at grandpa’s house is of the lit tandoor and freshly baked stuffed paranthas liberally served with fresh home made butter and lassi.  We put away so much food but were still as thin as reeds. One thing I greatly enjoyed was narrating english horror movies to maternal uncle and aunt and as my memory was impeccable I brought all the horror and gore alive- uncle (Mama) would shiver and hug his wife tight and we had a good laugh.

Dad’s sister too lived in Amritsar and her sprawling mansion was next to the rail tracks.  We had fun at her place as well as they lived in one big joint family and there were cousins galore.  Especially boy cousins who had other “boy” friends and we had a great time mingling with them.  We enjoyed fierce table tennis and carom board matches among other things.  One memory that is seared in my brain is viewing a bleeding head separated from its torso of a suicide that had occurred on the rail tracks and we had a clear view from the roof.  I did not sleep for a long time after that.  For breakfast in aunt’s house we were served fresh paranthas topped with ghee and rolled into logs- sometimes it was topped with jams.  They drank gallons of tea and I think I developed my tea habit here.  In Bombay we usually had bread and porridge for breakfast hence this recollection.

Dad mostly stressed on English language and was a walking dictionary as I recall hence my Hindi and Marathi grip were rather poor and learnt from the help or whatever we heard when mom read from the scriptures daily.  Here in aunt’s house, my cousin bro read a lot of Hindi detective novels of Captain Vinod and his sidekick Hamid –guess our Indian version of Sherlock and Watson.  Being an incorrigible bookworm and out of sheer boredom, I took to reading these books and thus polished my Hindi.

Before starting school in Bombay dad had engaged a tuition teacher Miss. Caur who was a real lady “Hitler”.  She had mom oil our calves daily to enable her to smack us with a ruler in case we didn’t come up to snuff.  I have always been too proud to cry and had deprived her of that pleasure.  The sheer ignominy of it still rankles!    Luckily Ms. Caur got married off soon by her uncle aunt as she was an orphan and dressed in our Sunday best, full of joy we waved her goodbye as her ship sailed away for Singapore from the Victoria docks, Bombay.

Part 2

continuing so called highlighted moments of growing pains in 1950s Bombay –

Life as I recall was rather simple in those days and for entertainment we had lots of outdoor games
with droves of friends from same school, hood.  I had a close gang of sixteen at one time and I recall
this due to number of  birthday invites. We played eyes-spies, seven tiles, kabbaddi, hop scotch during
dry months in outdoor games and for indoor games we played with marbles and cowrie shells plus carom and
ouja-planchette boards during the relentless monsoon season.   One evening it was exceptionally dreary, wet
and grey and the as the grown ups were at a nearby get together we decided to beckon spirits on the planchette.
The atmosphere was perfect – if only we could lure a spirit to predict our school results and satisfy our
curiosity on love and marriage.  With one finger each firmly holding the glass down with flickering candles
for light and billowing sheer curtains we were quite hopeful when suddenly the glass started moving briskly.
For a moment we became fearful but with hearts in mouth we doggedly started taking turns seeking answers to
our burning questions.  We had called the spirit of a known young person who’d died recently and knew us
as I recall.   We all got ball park numbers as far as school marks were concerned and a couple of startling
answers that were not common knowledge.  Then suddenly the candles blew out followed by a violent crack of
thunder and lightening and then a deafening sound of a craaaashhhhh.  The glass fell from the table shattering
into smithereens even as the curtains billowed violently frightening us to death.  Rather chastened and shook
up we all slunk away avoiding each other’s eyes.  I am not sure if it was us moving the glass as a single
entity or if we had had a ghostly guest.  It’s anybody’s guess.

In those days neighbors that we frequently got together with were punjabis and the Arya samaj faction of it
formed a moral police of sorts.  I don’t recall mom and dad ever joining them preferring to keep own counsel.

 

In building next to ours was a Cinderella family  with nasty stepmom and sisters.  Our Cinderella was nothing
much to look at being spitting image of her dad with gaunt face and bunny teeth but we all felt sorry for her.
I don’t recall what brought events to head but one Sunday the whole community got together after the
ritualistic Sunday Havan puja. They congregated outside the Cinderella apartment and loud peremptory tone
ordered the family out.  Said family trooped out and then the leader of the moral police garlanded the
cuckold with a string of old slippers and poured cooled down ashes over his head blackening his face
infront of whole community.  They decried the fact that he couldn’t stop his wife from ill treating
the step child and forced him to marry her off at the earliest with everyone’s help to bring some
cheer in the poor girl’s hitherto sorry life.    The stepmom was ostracized by everyone.

I was a slip of a girl and in early years was constantly coaxed to eat my veggies and fruits along
with fish oil and other health supplements.  My dangles were mostly indian sweets, chocolates and puddings.
I think I grew up mostly on these supplements together with jello puddings.  I was rather raucous when
in throes of hissy fits and tantrums and once at the end of his tether our mild dad scooped me up and
lowered me in a huge gunny sack with handles which he hung on the living room wall.
The sheer humiliation of it still reddens my face in recollection.  I was put out of my misery
when I finally fell asleep in it and woke up in my bed.  Dad was six two and he often let me play
with the ceiling fan when it was off.

More later….maybe

 

 

 

 

to be contd….. maybe

survival instinct

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Painting is by Amrita Shergill
~
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
? Anaïs Nin 

These words resonated deeply with me as I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. Fear disables, browbeating into submission. Was conditioned early on that sacred vows are for life, no matter how throttling. Karma can make sacred into scared in no time. You learn to live internally, biding time. It mattered not that it took a heck of a long time taking toll on mind and body despite a healthy survival instinct. Courage is as courage does depending upon one’s viable options. Enough said.

When time was ripe and options opened up, courage did expand life. Fate, destiny, karma, survival instincts along with nurture play a majorly role and I make no bones about it as I’ve thus lived and survived.

in this life of mine….Part 1-6

Have taken many cruises – one long many mini ones – waters with unknown depths fill me with pleasurable speculations about lost treasures in sunken ships, pirate’s booty and at the same time fill me with inordinate fear of drowning. Two near death mishaps in childhood years have left this indelible scar. Mom tried to rid me of it by immediately having me join swimming classes and I can swim but it has become a throbbing fear under my skin.

Trees give me maximum pleasure and I feel inexplicable affinity to them. No matter where they are seeded and/or rooted, trees always move upwards with serene adaptability. They remain unfazed whether environment is inimical or conducive to growth. They keep burgeoning in height and girth. I feel they have this special tie to the sky and like mischievous kids wish to tickle star bellies with their claw like branches. I can sit and enjoy the sight of trees flirting with sun’s rays and breezes for hours. Light puddling at foot of trees in lacey relief can look rather intriguing. Guess I am an unashamed tree hugger.

Traffic lights come in various shapes, sizes and forms and can be fun to view. Old fashioned Gas lights are a huge draw for me and I’ve managed to photograph a plethora of them during our various journeys across world’s face. Recently we visited this old
Town in Idaho called Wallace with its solo traffic light –due to some quirky mayoral ordinance this traffic light was removed and the whole town was so upset that they held a full fledged funeral at its passing. We viewed this famous traffic light resting in its coffin at the city’s museum. (chuckling)

I am an unabashed people watcher. Have met so many different people with whole gamut of quirks, mannerisms and habits – wish I could enumerate them all here.

Part 2

have this inordinate repulsion of reptiles. I think I can safely lay it at the door of childhood conditioning. When I see little kids caressing and touching snakes in all dimensions, it fills me with awe and horrified fascination. The story of kissing a frog and turning it into a prince- I wouldn’t be able to do that for all the tea in China and not $$$ as I have always maintained that I have tea in my veins, loving a good cuppa any time of day or night. Growing up in India, one gets used to seeing snake charmers and cobras. It becomes old hat. When I heard fellow travelers holding their breath and tittering in excitement at the sight of snakes in busy town squares in Morocco I was mystified. So much hoopla and fearful squealing and then it dawned on me that they’d never seen snake charmers and it made sense. I also recall mendicants and even young kids going around begging for money with snakes in their hands calling them “nag devta” snake god in India. Lord Shiva, one of India’s holy trinity Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh (Shiva) has a snake around his neck and perhaps that is why snakes are revered by some people in India – I am merely hitting in the dark here. Lord Krishna, incarnation of Vishnu has my total devotion and allegiance and I’ve had several wonderful experiences in my spiritual quest. One I can share here. Many know of it already.

After I lost my first husband, I was leaving for USA from Delhi for my niece’s wedding when on the way I saw this beautiful blue statuette of Krishna in a jewelry shop window and I was at once attracted to it. I went inside and asked to buy it but the shopkeeper said it was their store deity and not for sale. Rather despondent, I left the store after much pleading and after having gone the whole length of the street I heard footsteps and heavy panting behind me. It was the jeweler and he signaled me to stop. Quickly he handed over Krishna statuette saying “the lord wishes to travel with you”
I was completely and happily taken aback. “What! I cried! Okay “how much? I asked” He said “thakurji” (lord) is not for sale and hastily retreated as no one was in his store.

This little Krishna has been my constant companion and travels everywhere with me. Somehow he is tied up with my immense love and longing for my departed parents.

Life is wonderful and full of mysteries. One must maintain an open heart and mind
as anything and everything is possible. As we say in Hindi “Kuchh bhi ho sakta hai”

Part 3 – July 26, 2014
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others stay awhile, make footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.~Anonymous

Dajiba (Daji Rao Udeg) came into our lives when I was maybe five or so years old. Somehow he was the missing puzzle piece in the game board of our life. With his easy going nature he soon welded and became part and parcel of our household. He was the all important pivot around which the wheel of our lives ran full circle.

Being a Maratha Brahmin, he was quite fastidious and kept himself scrupulously clean. He carried a small portrait and a figurine of the three headed god called Dattatreya standing in front of a figure of a cow. We north Indians were not familiar with this figure of god or form if I remember correctly until Dajiba came along and introduced us to this image of god. Our house reverberated with stories of Krishna and Lord Rama and now Ganesha and Dattatreya entered our threshold as well. The more the merrier. .As it is, our household had an open kitchen and any roving mendicant, yogi, priest, monk or a Kashmiri Haata- sufi was welcome to stop by and have a meal— my mom never ever turned any one away from our door empty handed… she was a loving generous gentle soul- I think all three of us cherished her and shielded her innocence and gentleness- it was a kind of role reversal where she was concerned as she was quite unworldly.

Dajiba as he was my second mom even though he was a Maharashtrian brahmin and was married w/children- but he was an ascetic at the same time and a strict disciplinarian as he kept himself pure for Devdutt (his lord) to enter his body so that he could cure others- he owned farmland in Ratnagiri near Bombay but due to lack of rains and other weather vagrancies, was forced to come to Bombay in search of work and providentially landed in our household and never left us until we left Mumbai in 1972- he was with us for almost 20+ years and I have seen him perform miracles with my own eyes. some people are just healers with a gift from god- He coincidently left our employment at the same time as mom passed away and we left Mumbai to return to our ancestral home in Amritsar…

I am flooded with memories, basking in undemanding and unadulterated love extended by Dajiba and parents on me! This is my tribute to Dajiba an unassuming great man indeed. I think he has passed on. My sister took care of him till his end by way of financial and other needs etc.. He was very proud and dignified. Since he stayed so long in Bombay, his family had disowned him including his wife.

Dajiba, was like a shaman, a witch doctor or a Christian divine healer. He had that touch when he lightly touched a sick forehead. he transferred all the pain and fever to his own self and thus healed the sufferer in the process. I once asked him why does he do that? He had said that Binabai I am very strong ” chinta nako karo amhi bhara aahe” (do not worry I am fine- which confused me as he’d double up writhing in pain for hours before he’d recover and sit up. Mom always gave him tea and sweet biscuits lovingly to brace him up! Even though I was a brat in my growing years I was slightly built and my poor six two footer dad would worry a lot and have me hang from monkey bars, feeding numerous spoons of that icky cod liver oil, chyavan parash (healthy ayurvedic sort of jam) and a burfi (sweet) as a reward! So due to bad tonsils, I was feverish all the time and this fever Dajiba would promptly transfer to his own body and refused to let me suffer!

In fact I was blessed with love of three and half moms actually! Mom, Dajiba, my elder sister who was 11 years older and my middle sister Neena. Mom and dajiba were the epitome of love but eldest was a real terror and took exceptional pleasure in chastising me and slapping me when no one was looking! I had too much pride to let anyone know that she’d hit me but would take sweet revenge with my tongue and took to praying real hard at the nearby Hanuman temple and even gave Rs.1.25 every Tuesday from my pocket money saying please get this one married off early promising more money and sweets to Hanumanji! (monkey faced Indian god). Finally she was actually married off early and I was full of joy but when the day dawned, I was in for a rude shock- I realized I actually loved her a lot. Such is life- you realize full worth of a person only when they are going away. This sister has in later years picked up the pieces of my shattered life twice and made me whole again- we lost her a few years ago. Middle one Neena is only a couple of years or two elder to me but was always motherly and took me under her wing shielding me from elder’s wrath, often. The other thing Neena did for me for which I was eternally grateful was that she ate my lunch, dinner etc as I hated to eat veggies etc. and the parents were never the wiser!! I could survive on puddings, jellies, custards for ever and ever and loved them best.

Another person I remember from my childhood is our tuition teacher Miss Kaur- she was engaged to brush up our math and reading skills in Hindi and English. Ms Kaur always asked our mom to oil our calves before tuition and these she would smack with her ruler if we did not give correct answers! My two cousin sisters and Neena and me would sit there rubbing our calves in pain but not crying out aloud as we were too humiliated by it and furious with Ms Kaur. Luckily she too got married off quickly to a sardar(Sikh) from Singapore and we gleefully saw her off at Victoria docks, Bombay as she sailed away in a huge ship for Singapore.

********************

My Sister Pushpa

I miss your great strength
and resourcefulness

I miss your spontaneous cackle as
There was nothing you couldn’t tackle

Any challenge life threw your way
You met head on with nary a sway

You came through for me, without fail, now
I feel bereft without you and rant and wail

From rich ore of our memories, I have mined and
Strung, a necklace with all the gold nuggets I could find

I’ve bid adieu to all sadness, lingering bitterness, cherishing
Just our enduring love, mutual affection and dearness

Your memory is still fresh, leafy green, time
has neither taken its toll nor robbed its sheen

Your hospitality was legendary
You entertained all and sundry

You were my big sister and I loved you
But came to know how much only after I’d lost you!
~

Part 4 – July 27th

More on Dajiba…
Every evening after work, people would gather in the hallway outside our door with various ailments. They had more faith in Dajiba’s healing powers than modern medicine. They would throng armed with x-rays and medical reports and after a few sessions, leave fully healed. Once there was this person suffering from TB – I recall seeing the lungs become disease free (spotless) after Dajiba healed the man in a couple of sessions.

Once my brother-in-law was visiting us from Punjab and when Dajiba transferred my fever on his person, he was horrified. He made me sit down next to him and explained that what I was doing was wrong. In allowing this transfer I was changing my karma plus creating a vicious cycle. I promised to never let Dajiba heal me again. I vowed to fight it out myself and did keep my word.

Dajiba enriched our lives in many ways. Despite his all pervasive spirituality, he was totally steeped in Maratha culture and brought that into our lives thus enriching us with all the gaiety and color of state of Maharashtra.

Whenever Dajiba took leave and went home, he left behind his cousin Pandu to work at our place in his stead. This Pandu was a real character. Ebony black in color, he had red eyes and red lips due to constant paan (betel leaf) chewing. All the female domestic help loved this Pandu and found him very attractive. He was married and now due to all this female attention, wanted to divorce his wife as she was childless and a shrew to boot but she refused to let him go. So one day while she was asleep, he put ink on her thumb and pressed it on divorce papers thereby getting rid of her. When he narrated this to mom and others we were horrified by this rascal.

One particular incident has stuck in my head. Dad’s younger bro’s daughter got married in Bombay and became a frequent visitor along with her mother-in-law (MIL) – This MIL was a cheerful soul bursting with energy. She loved having frequent gatherings in her home celebrating various festivals, events. One day as she was leaving her home armed with a shopping bag, a teenage boy approached her, beseeching her to employ him. He only wanted a small salary and room and board. My cousin was newly married and they still had house guests. Hence help was sorely needed especially someone who could run up and down the stairs. He was hired on the spot. After a few days, the kid called Ramu became utterly devoted to the MIL. He fulfilled her wishes even before she expressed them. From bed tea to foot/leg massage before bedtime, he did it all cheerfully, mystifying rest of the family. His devotion was extraordinary. After a couple of years, we got the sad news that the MIL had passed away due to a massive heart attack. We were stunned. Parents immediately left for the funeral and other rites. Upon return, they shared this with us….

Ramu, the servant had become inconsolable at the passing of this lady and in sheer misery had gone and jumped off the roof as he couldn’t envision life without the mistress. We were shocked to say the least never having heard of such a bond. Truly, real life can be strange and wondrous.
My cousin and rest of family left Bombay as they couldn’t bear to live in the city anymore without their beloved mother.
~
Prior to our leaving Bombay in 1972 Dajiba had found a good job at the Govt. Secretariat as a peon and he stayed there until passing away
~

Part 5 – Aug. 6, 2015

Will take a leap into my most trying “dilli years” and return to amchi Mumbai years later.

After Bombay I found that ( Delhi folks) dilli ke “humlog” left a lot to be desired. They cared more for what you had on you, in your pocket and home rather than the kind of person you were, unfortunately – guess it was their loss. Enough said.

Due to a major run of bad luck my faith got tested again and again but never wavered.
Krishna (kanhaji) had taken me by hand even before He decided to accompany me to USA later. Had some wonderful interaction that not only flooded heart and mind with utter bliss but also reinforced my faith, keeping me going forward. Felt neither forsaken nor abandoned even once.

After the catastrophic “wrong injection” hubby lay literally dying and I was clutching at whatever straws were to be had. In retrospect I realize why people get suckered in by so-called psychics, healers and charlatans. Sadly no one was genuine like our beloved “Dajiba”. It is not ignorance that drives a person under such circumstances but sheer helpless impotency. Medically, doctors had given up. Hence these exercises though costly kept one engaged and falsely assured that “you were doing your best” as far damage control was possible within your powers. I did all that and much more. Woke up at unearthly hours, chanting whatever was the current flavor in suggested mantras plus getting mantras chanted by pundits who did that as a livelihood and whose enunciation of said chants would be impeccable.. One last thing, during these trying times was that I tried to feed, black crows, black dogs, brown cows or whatever was suggested, ants, fish et al.. Even tried feeding needy humans with food packets. Sadly as luck would have it, neither the animals nor the humans would accept nor eat!

It was rather ironical really. One thought there were starving people, urchins out there plus the stray beasts and feathered friends. Even the black dog ran away without eating. Amused and frustrated plus sheepish came home with my Nepali cook bringing back the food “offerings”. Guess, when luck runs out, it keep running.

One last straw as suggested by someone was to visit the renowned and much revered temple of monkey god Hanuman in Connaught Place, New Delhi. They said all of one’s wishes got fulfilled at that temple. After making suitable arrangements at home, I went to that temple for reverent viewing and pleading.

Finally when I stood in front of the deity I was stunned. Instead of Lord Hanuman, all I beheld was my resplendent Lord Krishna. I rubbed my eyes again and again. The vision
Stayed put. This sight took away all my agony and pain and filled my heart with utter bliss. I realized I was in his care. He knows what he is doing, why was I wasting my time? After this visit, I did not engage in any other rituals, prayers etc…..more later..
~

August 9, 2014
Today I happened to catch George Clooney’s movie “Up in the Air” where he specialized in terminating employees on behalf of those employers who were too squeamish to wield the axe themselves. One experiences the emotional overflow mixed with shock.

In September 2011 both Ganesh and myself were waiting at Dulles airport Washington D.C. homeward bound when our flight got cancelled and all passengers were bused to other DC airport, Ronald Reagan Washington Intl. to catch alternate flight home. As we waited to board, I made friends with a lovely Nigerian lady who was strikingly beautiful. She too was waiting for a flight back to London. As we chatted, we shared usual information about ourselves. She told us that she worked for a major oil company and was head of processing dept… I had heard about most departments but “processing” was a new one. I asked for further clarification meaning job description. Upon hearing her further, I realized that it was simply a euphemism for axing people to put it bluntly. I was a bit disconcerted and had wondered how she felt when letting people go and get a good night’s sleep, afterwards. I was reminded about a shattering incident related to this topic.

My first (late) hubby was close friends with a Puerto Rican office colleague. They’d worked together for several years and we’d met each other’s families as well. We stayed in touch even though we’d gone back to India during depression years and he had stayed employed at same company which was convenient as he had a house close to place of work.

Later when I got remarried and returned to USA to live in New York, I contacted Rafael and his wife and they were very happy for me. We spoke to each other on and off over the years. Then one day, I got a call from his wife. She was in a complete state of shock. She told me that he had committed suicide. I couldn’t believe my ears. After working for same company over twenty five years, he had been suddenly let go. He simply did not know what to do with himself. He would teach his grand kids piano and do a bit of gardening but his heart was simply not in it. Loss of job had broken his spirit and he took that fatal step. I was absolutely aghast. I had spoken to him just a day before but did not detect any depression from his tone. Otherwise I am confident that I would’ve talked him out of it. This sense of loss and regret stayed with me for a long time. Even his wife and son quizzed me about it a few times trying to make sense of it – “had I suspected anything etc. etc…” It has left a profound scar on my heart.
~

 

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