We’ve already established a few goody rituals. Stopping for Pani Puri or rice bhath on the street or an ice cream at our usual cafe or as today the whole lot plus roti, dhal and fruit salad back at my house.
She will often ask for a parcel (take out) of what’s leftover her her teenage auntie back at her grandmothers.
A generous foreigner is too good an opportunity to miss and it is summer camp.
She isn’t greedy but is keen to share her good fortune.
Missing Manjula. Second Christmas and birthday without her
At today’s writers group a presentation from editor Karthika helped clarify what is possible.
I’ve committed to Manjula to write our story with a working title of Full Full. I’ve completed the first draft of many and feels like I’m building the Taj Mahal out of matchsticks. This will take sometime.
Target date March 2022 to complete story
Launch book by August 2022 on what would have been Manjula’s 49th Birthday
Identify Editor, First Readers, Community Publisher advisor,
Create 2000 person mailing list and feature blog posts to help create interest.
Self publish POD and E book with 1000 sale target
Available in Hebden Bridge U.K. and silverfish (mysore) local bookshops.
Next: consider… additional chapters, Children’s book, Online interactive version
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.
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.
It’s late at night and the page is blank so I turn to Laozi and Pooh bear.
Actually that’s not true. I turn to you…… to help me get the ball rolling, to create and share my and Manjula’s story. It’s the age old writer’s conundrum. As you see I have a pile of full notebooks but how to get the blank page filled to begin to start the actual story. Can you help?
If you know Manjula and I or even if you don’t 🙃 what’s the key ingredients of our story that might interest you or a wider audience. What are the main themes that will interest people?
I’m sitting on the balcony with the early morning sun shining through.
Lucie and I are back from our first walk of the day. We stopped and chatted to one of our neighbours who has husband and son at home. They’re not bored, using the time constructively connecting via the net and playing music.
As with anything else the level of awareness and understanding makes such a big difference. People just don’t understand the situation and what to do. I could fall into an easy trap and say eduction helps people understand and act. But we know it’s only partially true. Manjula was a great example of someone who was incredibly aware, in my terms. …’together’ with little if any education. She couldn’t read or write but was so clever, witty, linguist, who was a great connector, wise and SMART. Am I showing my bias again?
I have my breakfast of fruit, muesli and tea here waiting I’d just nipped out to give a poor older woman walking past a small token. I do sometimes amend my own rules. I notice a group of men having a chat on a street corner having parked their two wheelers. They have absolutely no idea of what it means to maintain distance. One has a mask on so it’s alright then, not much use by the way. Education? Awareness? Haven’t the first idea? How in any situation can we engage people’s hearts and minds? Enable them to make good decisions with their own and everyone’s interests at heart? Tall order
The city corporation have sealed off one of the parks, we have three close by. Here’s the sign notifying people.
The announcement of the lockdown was on the 23rd and came into effect on the 24th (the one day curfew was the 22nd). The sign posted on the 25th closed the park on the 21st….. doh.
Breakfast. I’m desperate Dan…..
Next, maybe managing Lucie’s boredom and my hypochondria
She always has and always will. Whether it was her love shared through her wonderful cooking, her gifts, sometimes cash when people needed it and most of all her warm personality. It was in Manjula’s nature to love and connect with people here and around the world. Manjula would draw people to her. Her insights, generosity and extraordinarily sensitive to people’s plight was an integral part of her, maybe resulting from the hardships that she experienced throughout her life.
As a celebration of our engagement we gave gifts: she cancelled what was left of the outstanding loan to Vasanth for his auto rickshaw and gave cycles to the driver’s children and to a project that helped trafficked young people.
Her giving has continued through the funding of meals at a local ashram, the benches in our local park. What next?
We’re looking for ways to continue to reflect Manjula’s beautiful personality and her connecting to people. We’ll keep you informed through this site. Do feel free to make your own suggestions of help we can give in Manjula’s name.
Our latest guest Giacomo (aka Siva and his partner Anita) who has visited Manjula and I in Mysore many times have left a donation towards the next projects we support.
As I prepare to return to Mysore after almost two months away it seems daunting.
I’m tired and it’s exhausting dealing with the turmoil of my emotions.
I really don’t know if I’m ready to go back. I need to but I worry what it will be like. Maybe I should have planned to be away longer but that would mean putting off the inevitable. I need to follow my own insights and advice and remember our wonderful time together over nine years, our fun growing together and creating something special.
Wherever I am whatever I do, I carry Manjula with me. I’m always bumping into memories of Manjula. I miss her so much. I wonder if I will ever move on from all this and if I really want to. Am I going about it the best way? Am I expecting too much too soon? I just don’t know. For much of the time I’m not really motivated to do anything. I think about her constantly, miss her terribly, I have lovely memories and overwhelming sadnesss. It’s a friggin nightmare.
But it’s not the total picture.
It’s as if……
I’m crossing a river.
I step gingerly, stone by stone, crossing the unwelcoming swirling white water. I step on a wobbly stone that pushes my heart into my mouth and brings tears to my eyes, others are unpredictable being partially immersed, others shift erratically with a manic intent to topple me into the churning waves. If I was to fall in at this depth it would be of little consequence but in this current state it’s maybe a challenge for which I’m not equipped.
My muse, Manjula continues to stimulate, encouraging me to act and move forward. I find a firmer footing. I feel her support, her arms hugging me, she whispers her love. I realise that we choose the routes we take.
I can look back and can see that there might have been different approaches to the challenges we faced. An alternative might have rescued my darling from this untimely death but we just don’t know and have to go with what we did choose and hold our wonderful memories close.
I know she forgives me and will always be with me.