The year that was…2016 in a nutshell

And like that another year comes to an end. As we roll on from 2016, and to 2017, it’s always nice to look back at the year gone by and count one’s blessings, be thankful for the good and learn from what didn’t go down that well this year. So here’s my little list of the good things that happened this year. There was the bad and thankfully there was nothing exceptionally ugly this year- but there’s no point looking back at it. It was bad but its over and thats what it should be, over!

I’m thankful for:

  1. Strength: Of mind, of heart, of soul. The last two years have not really been a joyride but one of the things that kept me going was a huge inner reserve of strength that I didn’t think I ever had. But as they say  strength manifests itself in moments when you least expect it and this inner reserve has led me through the darkest and loneliest of times, just holding my hand and gently guiding me along.
  2. Hope: Hope is what kept me afloat this year. Hope that the next day will be better than this one. Hope that there will be more smiles than tears. Hope that everything will be ok. It is true that when one starts thinking in a different vein with a different filter, things on the outside seem different and thats what happened. As soon as you look at something with a tinge of hope, what you see is not the black hole in the middle but the little stars twinkling at the edges, looking for a spot through which to get in.
    I spent four nights this year in the middle of a forest and at night I used to sit outside my tent and look up at the sky. Shooting stars and a dark sky with twinkling lights is perhaps one of the most beautiful things this world of ours has to offer. Vast stretches of pitch black darkness and when you least expect it, a twinkling little light breaking that darkness and almost just peering out to say hello. That is life. There are stretches when you cant see the road ahead but just then the universe will show you something that makes you smile.
  3. A stable job and a new house: I cant claim to enjoy my job anymore but its stable, I have a fun bunch of people to hang out with and I am good at what I do, even if I say so myself. So I guess the trick is to plough on and be thankful that I get a remuneration that helps me pay my bills and stay afloat. But the more exciting thing is that I have a brand new house. After years of procrastinating, this year saw me move into “my own” apartment, which I can claim to be wholly mine, with no baggage and only memories that I will create for myself and people I hold dear and near. I’ve already had lovely house guests and friends who’ve added cheer and warmth and made this place special and I can only hope that this will continue to get better and brighter as the new year rolls in.
  4. Good health: We are all getting old and while I cant claim to be where I am in terms of physical health, shape and fitness, I am thankful for no creaking bones or any major debilitating illness. Of course there have been spates of illness, when all I thought while curled up in my bed, that was my last hour on this planet. But then even that blew over and I woke up to realise I still had all my limbs and organs functioning. The brain is slowly giving way, thanks to old age, but I guess thats for the better- one forgets shit quite easily and continues to smile like nothing ever happened.
  5. Family:  The family has been well and healthy. And that’s saying a lot. Of course there have been tiffs, tears and arguments. But which one of us dont come from dysfunctional families? If you do, you are dysfunctional yourself and time for you to get help. So yeah, beyond all of that everybody was well and on an average happy and calm perhaps if i really stretch the envelope and want to be nice.
  6. Friends: I always put this last because I can never be thankful enough for the bunch that I have and call my own. My friends have been my backbone, my spirit, my strength…everything I could ask for and much more. And for that I am blessed. There have been times when I’ve laughed till I cried and times when I cried because they gave me so much of grief. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, ever. And in 2017 I promise to be a better friend to them and be there for them the way they have been for me!

So that was 2016 in a nutshell, very small shell of an even smaller nut but just a quick glimpse into a year that was. It always helps me put this down because it teaches me to count my blessings when it feels like there is none around. So come on 2017, match up and go beyond 2016 and I promise to write you an effusive soppy note come this time next year.

Happy holidays people and lots of good vibes to you and yours from this side of the screen 🙂

Just a Rant

There is this weird heaviness I feel. Like something’s not right. Like the cover of darkness is slowly sucking me in, one breadth at a time. There are good days and bad days and I’ve lately been riding this wave where I’ve felt happy, been content with what the universe was providing, accepting things for what they were and moving on. It wasn’t a sense of elation exactly but it was a sense of peace with what was going on and what was to come. You know that sense when you know that even though times are difficult, things will fall into place. And then I don’t know what did it, but somewhere I lost that peace again. I don’t know if it was personal relationships ( or semblances of relationships) that got my mind in or generally what was happening with the world. This morning as I scrolled through news feeds, all I saw was these angry rants about Trump, angry rants of Trump supporters, the Delhi air forcing people to leave the city, the endless queues outside banks and ATMs and people scrounging around for a basic semblance of life. And it just made me want to crawl under a cave and hide till the world becomes normal again. I hate this feeling- this utter despondency at the state of the world and not being able to do jackshit about it. Aarrggghhhh lets hope this passes soon and there is some method to this madness which will emerge soon and reinstate our faith in the world.

When is it ever enough?

Do we ever stop putting ourselves out there? Do we ever tell our hearts to stop counting that extra beat when it does? We don’t or maybe some of us do. I don’t and today as I sit here and write, with yet another heartbreak that is making me feel I cant walk anymore, I wouldn’t wish it to be otherwise. Because that would mean that I have lost my essence. That my soul has given into the cynicism of the world and what they tell you about not falling in love. That fear has overtaken what I consider my greatest strength.

Someone I know very well and who is a therapist by profession keeps telling me that I am ruled by my heart. That the nurturing spirit that I have will really be my greatest winner in life- he calls it my trump card 🙂 But yet then I wonder, how does this go wrong every time? What is it that the world sees that I am missing every time and I go headlong into it, prepared for what the universe will dole out, yet not quite prepared for the heartbreak that I somehow I know will follow. It often makes me think whether we set ourselves up for it? To have heartbreaks, one after the other, every time wishing it was different and yet thinking that this was a lesson I needed to learn? I dont know and my foolish mind tells me I will get stronger, this will get better and I will be wiser. I will be able to see it way before, like a bright red light telling me not to take one more step forward. And I know my heart will ignore that red light completely and go ahead, knowing that a crash is only inevitable. But then again I live in Delhi and I have seen enough people go through red lights in a blink of an eyelid and come out safe on the other side. Yeah, I know that’s not cool but the point is that at times one has to zip past red lights to address other important things that’s lying at the other end. And maybe one day I will follow traffic rules, only go ahead when its green. But that would be superbly boring. So till then that happens I think Ill follow what I am doing right now. And nurse myself back to health, hoping every time that there is a wee bit inside me that’s just getting stronger and wiser. Till then 🙂


The Light That Wasn’t

I’ve been there before
I saw it coming
The moment the light caught my eye
But that’s what it is about the light
It spellbinds you
Washes out the dark spots
And all that you see are bright luminescent spots
Merging into different colours
And weaving images you didn’t know existed
That’s what it did to me
Took me to lands I hadn’t seen
And journeys I never thought I would take
But the light never stays
It wavers, it drifts, it breaks
And all it leaves you with
Are little shards of glass
Broken, jagged, cruel
Making cuts
That always leaves a scar

My mum turns writer :)

This is the first time in 32 years of my life that I have read something that my mum has written, out of choice. Emotional, easy and simple, this is an account of her experiences at Loreto College, an institution she has revered all her life and is proud to be associated with. While it’s a simple first person experience, it gives me an insight into a her professional life and the part its played in making her who she is today. For me, this is like going back to her hey days and seeing life through her lenses. For me, this is connecting with a woman who is so much more than just my mother. For me, this is a piece of herself that defines who she really is.

My  Days in  Loreto College

1st June 1968 was a special day of my life. I joined Loreto College.

I can vividly recall the day I appeared for my job-interview on 16th of May, 1968 at Loreto College Library. Mrs Laxmi Banerjee (whom I was going to substitute for the next three months) presented my application to Mother Loreto, the then Librarian. I was ushered to the empty staff room, two elderly nuns entered and sat beside me. I was an unnecessary third at the interview. A glimpse of my first interview:

Mother Loreto                        :  What is your name?
                                            :  ……………………
Sister Stella                             : Rama Chaudhuri, right?
Mother Loreto                        :  Your qualification?
Me                                            : ……………
Sister Stella                             : Done your Library Science degree. Right?

 Mother Loreto was asking me the questions and since she had in her hand my job application Sister Stella was obligingly giving the replies. All I got the chance to say was ‘Thank you’ only at the end. But I got the job.

At the beginning, I was very nervous of my new job, specially because there was no one to tell me how to handle the 2nd year and 3rd year hostelites who were quite eager to bully me on the very first day. But John Bag, who was the library helper that time, came on my rescue. He was a wonderful person and helped me in every odd situation I had to face. So did Jeanne, our office-in- charge that time.

After three months, I became a permanent librarian and that started an unforgettable learning process for me from Mother Loreto. Mother Loreto took me under her wings. She was my mentor, guide and teacher. She taught us how to love books and make the users aware of the golden mine we have in our library. I think, till date, with its rich collection, open access system, beautiful reading room and ambience, this is the best college library I have ever seen in Calcutta.

During that period of time, so far I can remember, our college library was one of the very few colleges which used to import books straight from the publishers overseas. From the day of the arrival of the books from the book sellers, it used to take about a week for the users to get the book in their hands. In addition to a huge collection of books on all subjects, we have an enviable collection of Bengali books, though on those years, there were very few girls had Bengali as an optional subject. The collection of books has always been ever-increasing. We had a unique system of issuing-system. Books used to be given out to the student on an over night basis, after 2 pm everyday and were to be returned the next morning before 10.30. The main reason behind this was to ensure that, instead of the books sitting idle on their reading table at home while the students were in the college, the books could be used by others. Now, of course, with time our library has been modernized and computerized and some of the old rules have been changed. The present librarian Mrs. Papia Mukherjee, Bonny,Pranati  and others are doing a wonderful job.

Mrs. Maya Das, my co-worker for thirty years and I had wonderful time together. I can not resist myself without telling two of our experiences which involved Mother Loreto also. Sometime in June 1971, on one rainy day both Maya and I were sopping wet when we arrived at college. We were quite happy in anticipation that on seeing us, Mother would ask us to go back home. Mother Loreto was shocked to see our state and hurriedly went inside, brought two nuns’ habit. We were dressed thus the whole day at the end of which she brought back our dried clothes. We never got that God-sent rainy day holiday, but got the chance to have a dress-rehearsal as nuns. On another occasion, we two decided to treat Mother Loreto to a Chinese lunch. Since she was not allowed to go out for lunch, we took the initiative to go out and get the packed lunch from Waldrof. On her advice, we left Mother locked within the library and took the key with us. On returning we found her happily deep asleep on papers spread on the floor and after laying the food on the table when we made her wake, she gave her typical child-like smile of delight. When ever I think of my library days she is always present in front of me with her motherly smile.

 I have worked under five principals and remember all of them fondly. I have learnt new things from each of them.

We were like a family here at Loreto College. At times we had difference of opinions, but that never stood on the ways of our bonding. We still have very good relationships amongst us and I miss them all. In my thirty-nine years service I received much more from all of them  than I have given. I feel myself blessed and grateful to all.