In this life’s journey as I forayed into writing, I have met people, like-minded, kindred souls who have honored me, blessed me with their own journeys with words, images and stories. Now in my ripened 40’s, when life has given me the bounty of poetry and language, enabling me to break some shackles in my own small way, these fellow authors I have met have also enriched me in unimaginable ways, as our association stemmed from words and their nuances, the strange concoction of images and narratives.
One such kindred soul whom I consider my elder sister from another mother is none other than the prolific and highly talented Dr. Santosh Bakaya, with whom I also had the good fortune to edit three anthologies, including our very recent ‘Muffled Moans Unleashed’: An Anthology on Abuse and Gender Violence.
Critically acclaimed for her poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi, Ballad of Bapu [Vitasta; 2015], academician-essayist-poet-novelist, Dr. Santosh Bakaya is the recipient of the Reuel International Award  for her long poem, Oh Hark! Sanely insane, a pathological procrastinator, a die-hard believer in Martin Luther King’s dream and John Lennon’s Imagine, she dreams of a day when there is ‘nothing to kill or die for’, and ‘all the people sharing all the world’. In May 2016, she was conferred with the Universal Inspirational poet award by Pentasi B friendship poetry group and Ghana government. She is also the recipient of the Poet Laureate Award from The Poetry Society of India.
Many of her poems have made it to the highly commendable category of Destiny Poets, a UK based poetry website, besides having figured in many international anthologies. Her book of peace-poems ‘Where are the lilacs’, has also won international laurels. Her collection of 58 essays on the joie de vivre of life, ‘Flights From My terrace’ is yet another critically acclaimed masterpiece of literature. Also her recently published novella ‘A Skyful of Balloons’ has received much fanfare and critical acclaim.
Today as the very honored Guest Author for the month of March, she shares a very special excerpt from her forthcoming book of essays, ‘DIN ABOUT CHINS’, vignettes from a daughter’s growing years. I thank her wholeheartedly for presenting to us the wonderful world of her words and for giving me the delight and the opportunity to showcase her work in my website.
[The author, academician and TEDX speaker Dr. Santosh Bakaya]
“I entered the room stealthily, like Sandburg’s fog, on cat’s feet.
But she sensed the fog. She sensed me.
Lying in the crib she started kicking her little limbs, her small body
a bundle of quivering anxiety. Her sleepy eyes lost their languor, and
soon became twin stars, twinkling and bright. She had no words, but
her eyes spoke. Volumes.
“Pick me up, pick me up”, they pleaded, beseeched ,ordered,
blackmailed, coerced and cajoled .She stretched her tiny arms towards
me, while her legs flailed in different directions, the notes in her
eyes reaching a crescendo of appeals .
I hurled my books on the sofa, my purse on the table, and myself at
her. Her little thumb shot into her mouth and she snuggled and nuzzled
against my neck, mewling contentedly.
And then she blinked.
And in the blink of an eye, time too flew.
Soon she was lisping, crawling, giggling, and chortling. Running all
round the house, eyes round with questions, touching and feeling
things asking everyone, ‘yeh kya hai?’
Yes, the curiosity bug had bitten her good and proper, and she was at
a stage where she was coining new words every day. Draping my sarees,
dancing to the notes of the song, ‘gunghtay mai Chanda Hai’. [ the
moon is under a veil] , pouncing on scampering ants and trying to
gobble them, looking at lizards with round-eyed wonder ,cheering on
as the squirrels romped and cavorted in the park , playing with the
mongrels in the compound , or chortling in glee as the cat cleaned and
sunned herself in one sun-lit patch .
‘Gunghtaey mai chandey hai, phir bhi hai Charon aur ujaala from Koyla
was her favorite song, and whenever she heard it, the one and a half
year old, would break into dance. Ever since then, songs have come and
gone, but the music has played on, becoming an integral part of her
As I write this, many images come stumbling and tumbling, yelling for
attention, let me write them before I forget.
Both of us, on many of our rambles would see nature soaking up the
summer sun. She would go into raptures seeing a dewdrop on a petal,
chortle merrily as the naughty breeze tickled her golden ringlets. Oh,
how she loved chasing a squirrel, absolutely bewitched by the striped
curve of its back and the swish of its tail. When it disappeared
behind a tree, she would look at me with an absolutely devastated
expression, wondering at this disappearing act. Giggling at a gaggle
of geese as they quacked their disapproval at our intrusive presence,
clapping away as the monkeys jumped from branch to branch, and
watching the antics of the chameleon with sharp intakes of breath.
The winter sun, the hues of the rainbow, the rain- drenched gardens,
the plucky pups, the mischievous monkeys, the grandiose green of the
gulmohar, the yellow blossoms of the amaltas blooming with an awe-
inspiring resplendence from April to October, delighted her no end,
and she just loved to be drenched in nature’s resplendence, spellbound
by the turquoise blue of the skies and sunshine.
And then time flew, weathers changed, interests changed, old passions
gave way to newer ones- the next season , the next passion – the next
–the next ..
And then the next …..
“What next?” The six year old asked, when I read one story after
another from The Twelve Months, the fairy tales by Soviet Writers. She
clapped in glee as I recounted the story by Pavel Bazhov about the old
man who went in search of the special goat with the silver hoof on his
right forefoot, who left a precious stone, whenever he stamped that
silver hoof. She would go into raptures when I mimicked the tiny
sparrow of Maxim Gorky’s, “The Tiny Sparrow”, Poodick, which chirped,
“Ch-err-ibly dark. It is ch-eer-ibly dark down there.”
Sometimes so tired at the end of the day, I would feign sleep when I
saw her heading towards me with the book in her hands, not feeling up
to the task of relating one more story to her .
Sometimes, she would slither down the bed very quietly, when I had
drifted off into sleep, ‘The Twelve Months’ still in my limp hands.
She would go to her dad, on cat-feet, and mimicking me, whisper, with
the pompous dignity of a conscientious, but underpaid nanny,
“Sssh, I have put mom to sleep, don’t talk too loudly, okay?”
Then came the volatile teens, and the mood swings – oof! From being
down in the dumps to high excitement and rapture, swinging from one
emotion to another, chills and bitter pills and thrills, irritation
and obstinate belligerence, almost like the cold insolence of winter.
Maybe she has no need of me now? This thought would insinuate itself
into my mind on many an unguarded moment, but then suddenly the
musical cadence of her lilting voice would fall into my ears.
“Mommy, where are you?”
Then this voice would undergo amusing variations of the endearment,
[Mom , mommy , momsy , momsicle , momsi cola , ma , mumma , amma,
ammi] lifting me from the dumps .
Yay, she does love me! My heart would once again burst into song.”
[Collage of the author and her family with her daughter.]