Archive for October, 2011

“Daadoo…….!”, comes an excited yell from across the house. It is early morning yet. I have just picked up my newspaper and am savoring my first cup of tea – a tissue restorative with which I prefer to start my day. With nimble feet, my 18 month old grand-daughter runs up to me. She catches hold of both my hands and, demonstrating athletic skills which could put a professional to shame, climbs up my not too sturdy a frame and promptly maneuvers herself on my lap. The English daily attracts her attention, and she joins me in an impatient browsing of its contents. “Vroom… vroom!”, she says, putting her dainty finger on one of the car advertisements. This is the start of a typical day in the life of our household.

The love and affection one feels for one’s grand-children is not easily captured in words. One never realized when and how one’s own kids grew up! Tied up then with responsibilities, chasing career ambitions, juggling the diverse roles one has to play in the society when in that age group, seldom did one have the luxury of spending quality time with one’s kids. But with grand-children, the scenario is quite different. Responsibilities have taken a back seat, and there is ample quality time available to be spent with the little angels.

Their simplicity and innocence is remarkable. Their million dollar smiles are priceless. The pranks that they play keep one amused. The clarity in their sharp eyes is such that one can peep into their souls. No prejudices and no biases – theirs is a pure soul. The soul is blemish free, yet to gather fresh impressions of a new life time.

They live in a world of their own. To them, life is possibly a garden, of which the lawns are covered with the soft morning dew. The sky is a brighter blue and the grass of a greener hue. Dawns and dusks are more fragrant. The days are carefree. See them doing a pantomime when playing a nursery rhyme like “Twinkle, twinkle, little star……” and you would see what I mean! Put them in a bath tub with a couple of toy ducks, and see how much they enjoy themselves!

The speed at which they learn from us and from the environment around them is simply amazing. Quite often, one realizes that their acts are merely a mirror image of what one does in their presence. Wordsworth, while expressing his love for nature, said that “The Child is father of the Man”. He was surely not off the mark. Grandchildren teach us how to experience unalloyed joy and love! They keep the family united and spread love amongst all the members.

The way we handle situations, our little angels quickly learn the same. When we feed the poor, they get a message. When our children show empathy and concern towards our welfare, their kids end up imbibing the same spirit towards their parents! When compared to a unit family system, the joint family system provides a healthier environment for the next generation to grow. The joint family system ends up creating an ecosystem which enables continuity in our cultural values and social beliefs. The same get passed on to subsequent generations.

On the flip side, children surely know how to wrap you around their tiny little fingers and get the result that they want – be it nourishment, entertainment or a simple toy which would lit up their face with an inner joy. If “management” is about getting things done, children are effective managers. Ask any marketing wizard, and he/she would vouch for the efficacy with which kids today determine the contours of a company’s advertising budget.

Their tiny egos surface the moment they feel neglected. They need undivided attention. Their demands brook no delay in execution. Tantrums come easy to them. Tears are one of the several weapons in their arsenal which they use with deadly precision to get what they want.

When one lives with one’s grand-children, one gets a unique opportunity to rewind one’s life back to the days of childhood. Each moment reminds one of one’s own childhood. Life itself is nothing short of a miracle; to see it reinventing itself, making a fresh start, and getting prepared for a new future is a blessing indeed.

“Allo, allo, allo…….ayye jutoo malo…”, she says. I find that my grand-daughter has started prattling on my cell phone. She has a very serious and intent look on her face. In her universe, a more serious telephonic conversation perhaps never took place! Soon, she hands over the phone to me, expecting me to continue talking to an imaginary person at the other end. I do her bidding, since I know she would expect me to chat endlessly for a few minutes. Meanwhile, her attention would waver and shift to some other object or activity. I can then possibly get back to the steaming cup of my morning restorative!


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Divine Grace is always there to protect us. Unaware of this fact, we continue with our mundane lives. Then, out of the blue, something happens, and we wake up to realize the presence of Divine Grace in our lives!

During August 2002, an unprecedented occurrence in my life strengthened my conviction that Divine Grace touches us at all times. The incident left a deep impression on my psyche.

Have you ever been kidnapped and held in captivity any time? Have you experienced the challenge of utter helplessness and extreme isolation that a situation like this throws at you? The realization that you are absolutely on your own, with nobody to brainstorm your ideas with? To top it all, a raw fear gnawing at your innards, that I and my son may not live to see the next day? It was as if Death came looking for us and then decided to give us a reprieve for the time being.

I was then working with a small company in a very senior position. Tired of living cooped up in flats in Delhi all our lives, and fed up with the hustle bustle of a city life, we had decided to build a small nest of our own on the outskirts of Puducherry, just off the East Coast Road to Chennai. We had moved into this peaceful and thinly populated area during November 2001.

On that fateful day, after a rather exhausting and long day at office, I was returning home at about 10 PM, driving a company allotted small car. Wife was not at home, and son, then an engineering student in Chennai, was expected to come in for the weekend during the course of the night.

Just a few meters before our house, the car headlights picked up a group of four persons, wearing French toupees and carrying batons. They signaled me to stop the car. Imagining them to be policemen out to make some enquiry, I obliged. Before I could realize what was happening, I was blindfolded and gagged. My cell phone was whisked away and the car was forcibly driven to an isolated spot which lay somewhere between the East Coast Road and the highway connecting Puducherry to Tindivanam. Company cash of Rs. 15,000 in my possession that time was taken off, and so was some minor amount in my pocket  at the time. I could not believe this was happening to me!

The story eventually unfolded like this. My kidnappers’ gang leader was lodged in the Cuddalore jail on some murder charges. To be able to meet the High Court lawyers’ fees, a sum of Rs. four lacs was desperately needed. Somehow, the gang thought that I was a very rich guy, owning one of the multi-brand stores in town, and for them to find the amount lying around in my house would be a pretty quick and simple affair.

Once we settled down in a secluded area, a discussion could take place between the gang and I. Despite my poor understanding of the Tamil language, I could understand their problem. It took me some time to explain to my captors that I was a mere salaried employee, that  I had just finished constructing a house based on a bank loan, and even an amount of Rs. four thousand would not be available in the house! Amidst threats of being killed, dismembered or being embroiled in false murder cases, I gave them the house keys and told them to check this out for themselves.

They took up my offer and went off to search the house, leaving me in the custody of one of them. The sense of isolation was intense. Beneath a clear star lit sky, I sat in meditation, invoking protection from all the superior powers that I had faith in. In the middle of the night, when the gang was at the house, my son walked in. He was promptly bundled up and brought to the very spot where I was being held captive.

Protracted negotiations took place. On gun point, I was forced to affix my signatures on several blank sheets – plain as well as non-judicial stamp papers. I could somehow convince the gang that I shall approach my bank manager the next day and try to raise a loan of Rs. one lac for them. Obviously, I was not supposed to get the police involved. The sim card of my cell was returned to me, so the gang could keep in touch with me.

Around dawn time, we were driven to the Tindivanam highway, blindfolded. The gang leader wanted to take the car. When I explained to him that the car belonged to the company I was working for, and if the car went missing, the company would surely report the matter to the police, he relented. We were released without any physical harm, except for a facial injury my son suffered in an initial scuffle with them.

We returned home in the early hours, to find that the whole place had been ransacked. A camera, a suitcase and couple of other items were missing. However, my wife’s jewelry kept in the house had not been traced by the gang and was very much in place.

It took me a whole day to pick up the courage to meet a senior police official informally. He identified the gang leader pretty quickly, and handed over the case to the jurisdictional police officer. In about a month’s time, while I went off to the North to seek mental peace and solace, the police rounded up the culprits and took effective action. Some of the valuables taken off from the house were promptly recovered.

After the incident, support poured in from all sides. My family formed the core of the support group. Friends trooped in to console, guide and direct me against relentless follow-up by the gang leader to either quickly pay up or face the consequences. Unsolicited help came to us from diverse and unknown quarters, raising the whole family’s faith in the Divine’s way of working in our lives.

Till almost a year after the incident, I was paranoid. I lived in guest houses and with family friends in the town area. It was three months before I could return to my own house. I continued to have nightmares. Gradually, a notion developed that an incident of this kind would not recur, as if a protective ring had been thrown around the house.

I confess that the psychological scar of this incident lasted a very long time. Six years down the road, my son got married and his reception took place very near our own house. That night, after the last guest had departed, I felt that all the negativities in the environment had eventually got replaced by a benign and positive ambience. Later, at a healing workshop, I was finally able to forgive my tormentors and look back at the experience in a positive manner.

There were invaluable lessons learnt from the incident. On the physical plane, we became more conscious of our security needs and checks. Thanks to the incident, we remain vigilant till this day.  We came to appreciate the positive role that our law enforcing agencies play in letting ordinary citizens like us enjoy the peace in our lives. We learnt never to lose our calm in the face of adversity, howsoever acute it may appear at the time. By negotiating with the gang, we could secure our release from captivity.

On the spiritual plane, we realized that it is important to offer gratitude to the Divine even when things appear to be going smoothly in life. Under normal circumstances, we look up to the Divine only to seek protection when we hit a rough air pocket in our mortal flight. Moreover, just like Arjuna who witnessed the demonic side of the Ultimate Reality in Lord Krishna’s Vishwa Roopa on the battle field of Mahabharata, we could understand that there are dark forces in the environment. Sure enough, God has a purpose in their presence in the universe.

In retrospect, who guided my thoughts and actions throughout that night? The whole incident somehow unfolded as if a greater force acted like a hidden hand, driving all thoughts and actions, thereby ensuring a pre-destined and positive outcome. The incident reinforced our belief in the divine protection that we all enjoy throughout our lives, whether in good times or in bad times. In the realm of our consciousness, the incident was a true manifestation of Divine Grace. It revealed to us some of the mysterious ways in which it works in our lives!


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