Anita’s Attic

Sowbhagya arrived with Dosa for her breakfast. The dining table was converted to one of my four workstations but she managed to find space. She was trapped but I blame her. She did show interest. So I launched into the synopsis of Manjula and my story, written for Anita.

SB was immediately engaged and liked it. We both enthusiastically remembered Manjula: her character, her kindness, her fun. SB could see connections with her and other women’s experiences but also how she was especially adventurous, strong and independent in the face of so many challenges.

I’m encouraged.

Last Saturday was the first session of Anita’s Attic. A programme for writers — yes, that’s me, officially a writer, of sorts — over the next twelve weeks.

There’s ten of us in the online group: taught, facilitated and mentored by Anita Nair.

Anita is a famous writer of English novels, here in India. My own favourite is Ladies Coupe and I hope that our story will feature similar expansive characters to help us discover more of India and wonderful people I’ve been fortunate to meet.

Meet We Three….

Hello from Manjula, Lucie and Stephen. Please follow the links below to the videos introducing you to our family.

An introduction from Stephen

A wonderful message from Manjula on what would have been her 47th birthday. Created by Faizan from the many videos she made for Stephen and our worldwide family.

The two lovely videos below are made by Tom and Amy who became so significant in our lives, we ‘adopted’ them.

Manjula preparing a meal and gifting her love.

Stephen guiding a MYcycle tour and providing historical, political and cultural insights in a boring Yorkshire way.

Lucie

the grief gravy group

I have been part of an online therapeutic group with two young women and a therapist, for the past few weekends.

At our final session we were asked to creatively reflect on our journey and how the group has helped. Here’s my feeble effort.

The detail in this rich picture will be shared by the end of our story. Yes, I’m writing and it’s far from complete but it is progressing: at the pace of a snail slithering along on the shell of a tortoise that’s travelling backwards.

Please do feel free to guess what the different images represent. There maybe a prize.

The group been an incredible support and very productive to help me swim along the grief gravy river and keep my head above liquid.

I know you’ve seen it before but I had to post the drawing of Manjula again as today’s attempt is so baaaaad.

Monisha Srichand, the group therapist is a skilled facilitator. She got the balance just right, providing enough structure, guidance and professional input so everyone felt comfortable and confident to share their own challenges whilst enabling us to provide insightful support to other members of the group. Highly recommended.

I’ve also posted details of the empty chair technique used in one of the sessions where you will also find contact details for Monashi and a network of therapists.

A great representation of the group by one of its members. Spot the dog!

If you or anyone you know is dealing with grief and need help. I can recommend books, have a chat or recommend the therapist who facilitated our group.


“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
― Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

More masking.

We announced in August that Vasanth’s wife Sumati was making Masks.

There was tremendous interest from our Mysore Bed and Breakfast family. Vasanth has now posted masks to Europe, India, Australia and North America.
Victoria in London is very pleased with her Buddha mask.
Of course, I have to go over the top. I have a great selection of Sumati’s but sometimes carry Manjula with me.
And the boys are spreading the mycycle word…

The big guy

Each year we’d buy a terracotta Ganesh, place him in our Pooja room with the appropriate rituals with lots of food (he’s a hungry god).

Sowbhaghya after preparing himself. The small Ganesh in the middle of the yellow flowers is the one we’ll take to the river.
Typical Indian male with giant belly. Says the Yindian breathing in!
The bigger version of Lord Ganesh lives here. I bought him cheap as a left over from the festival years ago.
We’d usually buy him from the potter’s street

After the stipulated number of days he’d be taken and immersed in the Kaveri river near Srirangaptnam.

Last year there was no ceremony as it was within the first year since madam departed. This year it was more subdued.
Satish did the honours.
While they attempted to drown a girl next door.
And I finished the job, immersing him three times and releasing him into the river.
Manjula was with us and
Lucie was tolerant
The remaining gods were driven back home.

Manjula forever giving

On Manjula’s birthday she’s provided the meals for elderly people, who might otherwise be destitute, at their ashram/home. The NGO also has a children’s home which we will visit.
There are now four benches in two different gardens.
Tea and cakes in the park on her birthday

We captured each other’s heart

Cycling Manjula around Mysore

Visiting Bamboo Bazaar slum where Manjula lived as a child. Sharing sweets and showing her photo. I wonder what they think of Manjula now and how her life changed so much.
Kanchana’s team have completed a few projects including this patchwork quilt from Manjula’s clothing.
It’s designed to go on the wall or the bed.
Manjula’s memory tree decorated by our team of old drivers and two young people.
Manjula gives BIG photo album (that’s for me) and shopping bags.
Manjula’s plaque on the tree outside our door.
Manjula gives steel lifetime straws and personalised pens in pouches made from her clothing.
Thank you Manjula for being with us on your birthday. I can’t say it often or loud enough and show how much I miss and love you.
In the future Manjula’s giving will be to support to specific projects in a sustainable way.

Waiting rewarded….

Happy Birthday Manjula we love, miss and cherish you.

We wanted to hear from you on your 47th birthday and we’re not disappointed. We have a lovely message… check the video…. below

Thank you Manj.

Manjula never ever let me down and together we created a wonderful life. Thank you Manjula for making me happy.

Lucie and I, are now missing our brilliant smiling light. The memories and intensity of her giving soul of a beautiful caring, compassionate woman lives with us still.

Here’s a challenge:

How to keep in touch and show one’s love, on her birthday, when she’s not physically here, anymore.

I think I have a solution

I have found a famous time machine on eBay for sale by Leonard of the ‘Big Bang Theory’.

so I can travel back in time …..

and pass on a message

That was then and this is now. What fun and a great success but I think I’m back one day early. What date is it?

The next test is whether my strong-willed, determined most positiveness wife can somehow gets a message back to me. As she said: “we’ll see.”