A smile Goes A Mile…

It’s Sunday morning. Can’t say ‘a lazy one’ because I have my guitar classes on this day and I don’t mind the 2 hour long drive as those 40 minutes bring eternal peace to my mind and soul. On my way to the music school there’s a traffic signal from where I take a right turn. Why did I mention this signal? Reason number one- Every Sunday I am stuck in traffic light invariably. Reason number two- I see little kids in shabby clothes selling fresh roses and bouquets there. I see these kids begging people to buy their flowers, I see them being shouted at, I see them being shooed away like stray animals on road, I see them squabbling with their parents and siblings, I see them washing their faces with water in the peak of summer and getting slapped on that face that had just felt the balmy effect of cold water due to shortage of cold drinking water.

Amidst the hurricane of events I come in contact with these children and we connect. All we offer each other is the curve that straightens all crumpled matters… a smile. It’s quite strange that they came only once to me with a red rose that I bought instantly. Today also we smiled at each other. The little girl was knocking at the window panes and pleading each driver to buy her flowers. I had the urge to take her picture. The only reason was her contented smile. She was shy. Her mother said to her, “Go, get your picture clicked”. With wavering steps she advanced towards me. Suddenly, an 8 year old boy popped out of the blue right in front of my open window, hugged the girl and said, “Ma’am, take my picture with my sister.” I can’t explain in sheer words how I felt but I was in tears. I took their pictures, bought the pink flowers, bid them goodbye and started my car’s engine. I could see them waving at me till they could see me and vice versa.

I wept as I drove. They literally have nothing to look forward to. No food, no shelter, no clothes, no relations, no support, no help… they have nothing. And yet, they can afford to smile and even giggle and laugh. Why can’t we? We, the elite class, the educated lot, the so-called carriers of our culture and tradition, are the worst lot. We have everything. Then why do we find it so hard to draw that winning curve on our faces. We show off branded items that adorn our body. Why can’t we wear a smile that costs nothing?

I believe that the costliest brand in this mundane life is the ‘smile’. It’s beyond the reach of the selfish, the egoistic, the arrogant, in short, the hollow lot. It’s accessible to the simpletons who love from heart, who can see beauty in the littlest of things, who help without any ulterior motif, who are contented with what they have and to those who value relations.


Life’s just one , right? Also, it’s a battle, a struggle, a compromise. But for who? Who crosses your mind when you say ‘Life is a battle’? It’s those people, who have hurt us, have let us down, those who have made us feel inferior and tried to sabotage our existence into nothingness. In despondence we  question ourselves that all the while when we have been a good Samaritan to others why did they let us down by hurting us to the core tearing us apart into pieces that probably would fail to recoup. But do we really fail to  recoup? Do we give up? Should we allow people to have an upper-hand over us? NO. We don’t. Then whose fight is it anyway? The answer is simple. It’s yours. It has always been yours. Then who benefits from this struggle? It’s you. It has always been you.

Today, something happened and I was urged to admit by a friend that I am short-tempered and that I would work upon it in future. It came like a massive blow to my whole being as a human, as a mother, as a sister and most of all as a concerned friend. This was a shocking revelation not only to me but to the person who knows me the best in the whole wide world… my mother. It’s only a mother who knows her children best. And all I needed today was her certificate of assurance, her encouraging words of motivation and her unconditional love.

In this journey of life all I have perceived so far is that people misinterpret your silence and helpful nature as your weakness. And your opposition to something that’s actually not right as your flaw. The thing is, people have groomed them well enough with all kinds of negative terms to label you with. They will thrash you with their criticism, shred you ruthlessly and then blame it all on you. So, in this situation, what must you do? Succumb to the oppression? Grieve in pain? Accuse your fate? Repent for having undeserving friends? Torment yourself for being betrayed by those who promised to be your pillar of strength especially in times like this when you needed them the most? Dare you do that.

No one has the power to make you feel lowly and worthless without your permission. Cry as long as you want. Get angry on things around. Scream. Do whatever you want to in order to calm you down. And then my dear, as you wipe your tears, do realize one hard fact of life that you are actually all alone in this battle of life. No one cries or screams in pain with you. No one comes to rest a helping hand on your shoulder to say “Don’t worry… I’m there.” It never happens. All you have got to yourself is YOU. 

What you do next is your decision… make sure it’s a wise one.


Famine,Photography and the Fatal Fate of Kevin Carter

Kevin Carter's soul-stirring picture.

Kevin Carter’s soul-stirring picture that won him Pulitzer Prize.

Today I read a journal on Kevin Carter. The urge to know more about this South African photojournalist who received Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 1994, made me restless. That is when Google came handy. Following is what I perceived about his mastery and his dilemma that led him to commit suicide.

Born on 13th September,1960, Kevin Carter joined army after dropping out of his high school studies. He escaped from the infantry only to join the Air Force. There he was beaten ruthlessly by few servicemen because he had defended a black mess-hall waiter who was being insulted.

Since childhood he saw his parents being “lackadaisical” about the struggle against apartheid.

Journalism happened to him in 1983. He started his career as a sports journalist. Thereafter, in 1984, he joined  Johannesburg Star and exposed the barbarity of apartheid. In the mid-1980s, Carter became the first to photograph “necklacing”, a public execution by the black Africans in South Africa. To quote Carter –

“I was appalled at what they were doing. But then people started talking about those pictures… then I felt that maybe my actions hadn’t been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing to do.”

In March 1994 Carter went on a trip to the village of Ayod, Southern Sudan,  accompanied by his Portuguese photojournalist friend Joao Silva.The journalists were strictly told not to touch the victims of the famine stricken Sudan to avoid the chances of transmitting diseases. They traveled with the UN aboard Operation Lifeline on 11th March 1093. Both of them were told that they had just 30 minutes to take the shots as the time was enough for the distribution of food. While Silva got busy looking for the guerrilla fighters, Carted was arrested by the whimpering sound of a 3-year-old girl who had stopped to catch her breath while struggling to get to the UN food camp. To add to the sad plight of the emaciated poor toddler, a vulture had landed just a few meters away from the child. Carter, shocked at the several things that he had seen for the first time through his camera in Sudan, took the shot and shooed the vulture away.

This soul-stirring pic of a starving skeletal toddler being stalked by the deadly vulture won Pulitzer Prize for Kevin Carter in 1994. But it became the center of detrimental controversy all over. It was sold to the New york Times. On 26th March 1994 this picture was published for the first time. Later it  appeared in several other newspapers and journals all around the globe. Hundreds of people inquired after the sad fate of the toddler. The paper ran a special editor’s note saying that the girl had managed to walk away from the giant vulture but her ultimate fate was unknown.

Unable to get rid of the horrifying images of the victims of famine and haunted by the piercing criticism by everyone around, Kevin Carter committed suicide at the age of 33 in Braamfontein (a central suburb in Johannesburg in South Africa) near the Field and Study center, a place where he used to play as a child.

Carter left a suicide note portions of which read –

“I’m really, really sorry. The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist… depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners … I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”

Sources,however suggest that it was not just his much criticized emotive picture that made him commit suicide. He had family problems plus he was fighting a drug habit. As a photographer he was traumatized by the massacre he witnessed in the famine stricken and war-torn places. Also, Carter was shattered by the death of his dear friend and colleague, Ken Oosterbroek, who was shot and assassinated while working in Thokoza,a township south of Johannesburg. All this and may be more piled up to execute the tragic end of an enthusiastic photojournalist named Kevin Carter. RIP.

The judgement is left on you as a reader.

Kevin Carter, the photojournalist.

Kevin Carter, the photojournalist.


Deciding Their Names

Moms must have heard or even read the book ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’. Well, I haven’t read it. Not yet.  But, both the times while expecting, I expected to find a good, stylish and unique name for my kids. Finding such names for boys was such a tedious task that I didn’t want to have a boy child. I searched for names that start with an ‘R‘. Why? The name of my father-in-law starts with that letter. My mom-in-law named both her sons Rahul and Rupak because she wanted it that way. She hoped that her daughters-in-law would not break the family chain of names starting with ‘R‘. So, I decided to respect her feelings; hence Raayon and Raynaa.

Raayon : 17th Nov 2008

My son, Sunny, now 4 years old, goes to LKG.

I was so worried on his birth as I could not find a name that would suffice my wish. Then my eldest aunt called me up from Kolkata (West Bengal) to congratulate me. She said “I was trying to find a name for your son that would have both ‘R’ (of Rahul) and ‘N’ (that’s the letter my name starts with). I found it. It’s ‘R A A Y O N’. How’s it?”

Wow!, I mean there couldn’t be a better name so far. All my pain caused by a c-section vanished in thin air. I was eager to know the meaning. She said ” . It’s a Bengali name. Benevolent kings who loved and cared for their subject were given this title.” I liked and locked the name for my son. My father suggested the spelling RAAYON so that people pronounce it the way it should be. Nick of the moment a man came in with the Birth Certificate form. Victoriously we filled up the form without any cloud of doubt on my mind. What a relief it was! God bless you my baby!!!

RAYNAA :3rd July 2012

My daughter, 8 months old, keeps me on my toes.

This time I was well prepared. Thanks to Google. A lot of research went into deciding her name. The criteria were –

  • The ‘R’ factor.
  • There should be an ‘N’ too.
  • Raayon means king so my daughter’s name had to be queenly.
  • There shouldn’t be any bold sound of any consonant other than ‘R’ and ‘N’.

Finding a perfect name for my daughter became an obsession. I spent sleepless nights thinking on this matter. My daughter should never feel that I was partial. Kids are very emotional. Even a teeny-weeny name-issue has the potential to hurt their sentiments. So finally, after spending hours in front of my computer screen, without blinking I guess for the fear of missing ‘the’ name, I came across this beautiful name ‘REYNA’(Spanish word for Queen) and ‘RAYNA’ (Russian and Latin word for Queen). Eureka!!!

I preferred the one which starts with R A Y … because my son’s name starts with the same letters. Also,since Raayon has 6 letters I modified the spelling and added another ‘A’ to it. So now it is ‘R A Y N A A’. Their father loved it too.

Most importantly I was happy that both my kids have names that complement each other. Raayon and Raynaa. It also has a little part of their parents into it “R and N”. Love you guys!!! God bless!!!

From Mom To You.

Today You Turned 5 My Baby, 17th Nov.2013

Today You Turned 5 My Baby, 17th Nov.2013.


It’s afternoon, lunch time for most of us in all over the world. I decided to call up to my father and wish him a very Happy Father’s Day. Then my husband, Rahul, wished the same to my father. The call ended with love and laughter. With the mobile still in his hands I told him to call up to his father today. He replied “My father won’t understand these things. We’ve never had this culture of wishing Mother’s Day or Father’s Day to our parents”. I took the mobile from his hands and dialed his father’s number. Of course my mom-in-law(Mumma) answered the call. I told her my purpose of this call. She was overjoyed and said “It’s our good luck that our daughter-in-law values such celebrations. I’ll just give it to your Papa(I call him Papa)”.

My father-in-law is an octogenarian who cannot see or hear properly. Once he used to be one of the best  managers in Steel Plant. He sacrificed his desires and likes for his sons. Now the elder one is an ENT specialist and the younger one, my husband, is an engineer. I wished him a Happy Father’s Day. He replied”OK Ok”. I knew that he barely heard what I said to him. Then, in a loud voice, I said “Your son wants to speak with you”. He didn’t say anything. He just waited to hear the voice of his child, now a grown up man touching 40. Rahul took the mobile with much reluctance and finally said those words “Happy Father’s Day”. Rahul was blushing. I don’t know what his father said to him in reply but I do know that these three words made a father’s day. I was happy and at peace

Mumma was filled with guilt as she never imbibed the importance of these days in her children. I told her that in those days the culture was different. So she needn’t feel bad for anything. My words did help her pained heart.

What touched me more today was what Mumma told me about the poor old mason who is doing the repair work at her place with his 20-year-old son.The mason came to work on time. But his son didn’t. The mason seemed quite annoyed. There was a lot of work to be done. He was worried too because it was pouring heavily outside.Terrifying thundering and lightening added up to this old man’s fear.

Finally, his son, all drenched, shows up. This old mason was thoroughly miffed, perturbed and weary by now. He bombarded his son with hell lot of questions -“What took you so long?” “Where have you been?” “Where is your sense of responsibility?”

The son, in his artless way, replied ” I went to buy a pair of trousers for you, father.”

Two Little Hands Go Clap Clap Clap!

Two Little Hands Go Clap Clap Clap!.