A beautiful new present slowly evolves. Will it be ready for Christmas Day?
There’s two stories today, well one is a sad story ‘The Memory Tree’ so check it out before you show it to a little one. It’s a lovely story in its own right and really useful in a context of a wider conversation about death. Here is a link to how I explained to my granddaughter Poppy what happens when someone dies. This was after Manjula slipped through my fingers.
The next is a rhyme by Roald Dahl, a different take on Cinderella.
I’ve had a technical question from my granddaughter about my filming set up. I expect that behind this question is an ulterior motive. That I need to up my game and improve the quality of the video. So I’m trying a different Heath Robinson set-up. It’s a bit out of focus, for that I blame my age.
Here’s the photographic evidence of my studio.
America recalls students. India sort of gets involved.
We’re at the end of season so our very last guest left today. a PHD student Adam who’s been recalled to the US. Eric another student who was to look after the house and Lucie while I was planning away for three months has also been recalled. He’ll not be available to help me. They have no choice as their funding was to be withdrawn if they didn’t return. It seems OTT (over the top) but who knows. Isn’t it creating unnecessary worry and travel? But Donald (Duck?) is in charge so it’ll all be OK.
I have to rethink my plans.
As I return from walking Lucie there’s a gathering of neighbours in the street. There’s been a visit from the city corporation and foreign tourists have been asked to leave. Exactly as happened to Sally in Kerala. I explain that there are no more tourists expected until August. That seems to satisfy them.
Fact is it’s only been friends staying here this season.
I am however a foreigner, so where does that leave me?
India is typically consistently inconsistent. In this case no different from anywhere else.
Here’s a few headlines from the local paper.
closing places to reduce passing on the virus and continuing big events….. it’s a conundrum
In England, one friend and her husband, have isolated themselves in a country cottage. Everyone seems uncertain and confused
Happenings create opportunities for the powers to promote their agenda. This may be a way to polarise and emphasise ‘the other.’
It could lead to all sorts of social changes and new challenges, both positive and negative.
everyone wants a home and needs to feel wanted
a short factly fiction tale, a monologue, written by Stephen, but its NOT him speaking…
‘Isn’t she lovely…isn’t she wonderful, isn’t she precious’……
“Stevie Wonder, really got it right…. I feel good.”
[Stevie Wonder’s ‘isn’t she lovely’ is playing in the background. Our own Stephen is out looking for something, but what?]
“It’s so crowded here and a bit too bright for my liking. It seems very orderly but I reckon that we’re held in a bit too tightly. How am I supposed to get noticed in the midst of all this? How can anyone see me, let alone pick me?
Here, what about me? Hello, Hello……, yes, me! Look here!
What’s your problem? I’m beautiful – obviously, bright – yes, I could just about be a star… reach for me!”
‘Isn’t she lovely, made from love….life and love are the same’,
“yes Stevie, take it away.
Hang on, Who’s this? He looks well meaning, clearly got purpose, we could make it work.
What is he doing? He’s got it completely wrong. No, not her, put her down, what about me? Come on get a grip.
I’m yours for the taking.
Hang on a minute, I’m getting attention from him. Yes, that’s it, pick me up, look me over, no no , you’re tickling. Oh no, now he’s putting me back. What an idiot!
Hey, he’s coming back, let’s look extra special, maybe if I send positive waves, he’ll appreciate my OBVIOUS charms. Yes, He’s looking my way again, picked me up, stroking me, yes, yes, you’re getting it. Now he’s talking to the nice lady, getting out his wallet, yes we’ve got a RESULT…. wonders never cease.
He hands a card over, payment is made, I’m nicely prepared and we’re off.
This is sooooooo exciting.”
‘I can’t believe what God has done’,
“back to Stevie Wonder, this is so my song.
I’m with the guy who picked me and I really think I’m about to meet my life’s purpose.
But now I wonder, what will it really be like? I don’t really know this character, can he be trusted? Where does he live? He’s white skinned is that good or bad? Calm down. Peace man. Give him a chance. Less of the anxiety. It’ll be OK, remember those positive waves.
Hang on. there’s another man with him who I hadn’t noticed. I can just about make him out. He looks like Father Christmas, big white beard and belly. Now this is a bit weird. Does that mean, you know, that they’re together? an item? Oh no, that’s not my idea of bliss. I’m not judging others, you’ll understand, it’s each to their own but if I’m moving into their place I need to know the set up. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m modern, I’m fresh, I’m new, I know that gay marriages, partnerships, people living together without getting married are all the rage but I just need time to adjust.
It’s not what I’d expected. I’d wanted a more traditional thing, I ooze tradition, obviously. OK, OK, Don’t prejudge, let’s calm down and see.
So, where are we now. Back home, I expect. It looks big, difficult to tell as I’m so small. There’s plenty of space, loads of plants, we could make this work even if its not what I expected when I was brought into this world.
Hang on. What do I see, through a crack? There is a woman, Now as Stevie Wonder says I’m lovely but hey this woman is something else, she’s absolutely beautiful. A gorgeous tasty chocolate colour, unlike the pasty white guy. The other guy I now realise, was just a friend. Pheeeew…
‘Isn’t she lovely…isn’t she wonderful, isn’t she precious’ Stevie Wonder, I imagine, would sing and now there’s two of us!’
I get it now. The first guy who picked me up, and bought me and the woman are clearly together, there is a soft warm vibe that I feel. I’ve always been complemented, by the others, of being ‘in tune’ and understanding the humans.
Yes its happening, he doesn’t hang around. Non of this waiting for the best time, he’s straight at it.
‘Manjula’… he says, then I can’t quite catch the rest…. blah blah blah….get on with it man. blah blah… Wow what a smile she’s got, I’ve got a full view of her now. Now she really is a star. I could get to like her. What did she say? I didn’t quite catch it.
She’s acting very shy, coy even, which is probably not surprising in the circumstances.
So what was that I heard?
Spot on, wonderful that’s made my day… no, my year, my whole life… I hope this means happily ever after.
…. she’s beaming at me and him, I suppose, and let light into the whole room, Ok I admit, probably accentuated by the fact that my box is now fully open. Whatever, its love all around, I’ve come to a wonderful home. Yeeeeees!
She takes me out of the box, Strokes me. She’s radiant, I really really love this, and her, I’m going to be so happy.
He slips me on her finger. She had said yes, I’m over the moon.
This is absolutely wonderful. I have my very own family.
Life settles down to a sort of normality, a routine. I’ve been her engagement ring now for over two years. I’ve travelled to England (where he is from), been photographed so many times, shown to what seems to be absolutely everyone, mainly foreigners admittedly. I’m not always on her finger, only on special occasions and when she has on her ‘sunday best.’ But it’s then I’m at my best. We were made for each other.
Otherwise I’m placed back in the box or wrapped in a tissue, and tucked away in a warm place in her bra, under her mattress, in the midst of her many many saris or bedside drawer.
Since that very first day it’s been an absolute joy. This is a very happy house with many people from Mysore and around and from all over the world (whatever that is) constantly coming and going and I’ve even got used to the big black dog.
I had expected a companion, yes a wedding ring but it seems like its not their thing. There was however the crowning glory and yes, eventually TWO YEARS LATER they did get married (twice), so we all had our day of celebrating their love.
Manjula was at her most beautiful, whether at the registry office, in the field, on the Tonga, by the river or for lunch hotel, she beamed like a constant smiling beacon, a lighthouse lighting the way for us all.”
“So what’s happening today? It’s almost four years since their engagement and over a year since they married. Everything is out of sorts. Manjula’s husband who I now realise is called Stephen or maybe Stevie, but he’s not a wonder! As you will soon see.
Manjula left the house yesterday in the Ambassador car with Stephen her driver. She left me at home so I thought it was maybe one of her regular trips to a clinic or hospital. Its unusual as she’s pretty much been been here constantly for most of the last year and she hasn’t taken me!
So what’s he doing now? Stephen has come back on his own. Well he’s clearly sad and his eyes are wet.
I’m wrapped in tissue paper, I think I’m under the mattress, which he’s lifted.
Hey! I’m here, be careful! Stop whatever you’re doing. Woooooooaah I’m sent flying through the air, roll along the floor and come to rest in the corner of the room.
The mattress followed by the cot, the bed itself are taken out of the room and outside, what is going on?
Whatever, I’m in the corner of the room and he has no idea that I’m here.
Hey You? Steeeephen, your klutz.. I’m here. Here in the dark in the corner, under something. Come and pick me up. Please.
I give up. It’s been hours or maybe days I have no way of telling. How will he ever find me?
Hang on someone is coming. It’s not him, Stephen the careless. It’s a woman, not my Manjula.
Here, look this way!
She is scanning and has eagle eyes, finds me, picks me up, I’m up up and away… and puts me in a warm place.
My friend Brian, from the UK, and I bought Manjula’s engagement ring at a jewellers in Mysore. On that very day I asked Manjula to marry me. Thankfully she said yes. That was four years ago. We’d been together in one way and another for nine years until she died earlier this year. On the day she died, as part of the Hindu rituals, she was brought home and laid on her bed, that I’d placed outside the house for people to visit, show their love and do the necessary pooja.
I have no idea if rings can appreciate whats happening to them.
The ring is now lost. I have no idea what happened to it. Maybe it was tucked away under the mattress and I lost it when I lifted the mattress then someone else found it, maybe it was taken in the chaos of that day when people were in and out of our house, I just don’t know. It’s not important now.
I’ll be posting ‘creative’ fiction and Manjula’s own actual story, a memoir, over the next few months on http://www.meandmycycle.com
Mysore, July 2019
I know what’s happening.
Don’t for one minute think ‘out of sight – out of mind’ or that I’m not still with you.
I am here…… and you worry me
Have you learnt nothing?
I came as your maid, then nine years later, do you know what I’m going to say?
Yes, you’d become my maid.
That doesn’t mean it’s alright to lean on me soooo much. You should also stand on your own two feet.
I taught you how to manage things. All you had to do was copy me. Now look at what’s happened. The house is in a mess, the cleaners aren’t cleaning even when they manage to turn up, and you just hang around doing nothing in particular. (reading? I’ve told you its overrated) and the list of jobs, like hanging those pictures you’ve not done, just gets longer and longer. You seem to be specialising in self-pity. Now that’s sad. I don’t know about glass half full more like empty empty.
You’re a disgrace 😉.
Please get your act together.
Above all ….. realise that I love you more than anything and will always be with you.
Thank you all for your kind thoughts, precious memories of Manjula and wonderful photographs. There are so many I can’t keep up but please do send more and we’ll create a virtual book.
Here’s some examples.
Thank you for getting to know a little bit of you, from Dana and her family.
We have just received your news and are just so very very sad to hear of Manjula’s death. it is hard for us to take in and must be so for you. She was such a one-off, we were so happy to meet her, loved her humour, her cooking, the way she had your measure! She also had courage. What a great couple you were. We are so glad that you had your time together, short though it turned out to be and we have such joyful memories of staying with you. Sunday night curry – how she glowed sitting at that table in her beautiful saris, take away pizzas, and fruit salad without papaya for me (against the rules!)! We have many very fond memories. We are so sorry that her life has been cut short but I imagine her years with you must have exceeded anything she had expected in her life! I’m sure tears are being shed across many countries, so many people did she connect with.
We also are just so sad for you in your loss. It must be very very tough. Thankfully you are surrounded by people who also loved and appreciated her uniqueness and hope this offers some comfort in your sadness. Much love to you.
Ros and Paul xx
It gets worse.
So to remind you. The BJP who got the largest number of seats has been given by the Governor (BJP) fifteen days (now shortened after the intervention of the Supreme Court) until today? To demonstrate on the floor of the house that they have an overall majority, (which they didn’t get at the election so they will have to poach Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to increase their numbers).
Are you still awake?
Now the president (BJP) , remember he’s supposed to be independent and above politics has appointed a temporary speaker (chair of proceedings) also, you’ve guessed it, from the BJP. This is completely against protocol as it’s usually the senior most MLA that gets the role but he’s Congress so that won’t do, will it? The newish speaker has been in the job before who was censured by the Supreme Court for his….. partiality in a previous situation, involving the same main character Yeddyurappa and corruption.
You seriously couldn’t make this up,
In despair, I’m turning away from this soap opera of unbelievableness to some light entertainment.
As I almost reach sixty and a half it’s time to reflect, review and introduce a view changes.
Already I’m feeling results, my stiff back is beginning to ease up a tad. I am however beginning to think I’m the class clown. Yes they laugh at (not with me) my grunting (kindly teacher calls it music), or my silly walks, try walking on the inside edge of your feet (or IS IT just me?) and to top it all. .., This morning after the final lie down relaxation session, the mat (these are plasticky gym mats) had a perfect image of my body in sweat. Uncanny no one else has any sweat!
Next step cardio. Bring out the buckets. (For the gallons of sweat)
So why did you move to India when you were 53?
Its a question often asked by guests at Mysore Bed and Breakfast. Top Ten answers
I loved the wild west and its stories from an early age. India seems to be just like the wild west.
True or False?
True, I did used to watch the westerns, with my Dad, on the TV from an early age and really got into it.
True, India in some ways is a bit anarchistic (to put it mildly) so can seem a bit of a free for all as in the old west, without the guns (mostly) but it is of course …..
FALSE, its not the reason I moved to India.
Here’s further evidence of a young interest in the Wild West and that it runs in the family
Signs of Ageing:
squashed mosquitoes in peripheral vision
amongst the challenges now is to work which did one’s did actually arrive with age and which one’s can be reversed