Realistic Fiction

I Too Lived

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“The similitudes of the past and those of the future

The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them.

The certainty of others, the life, the love, sight and hearing of others.

Fifty years hence, hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence others will see this, enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood tide, the falling back of the ebb tide. What is the count of the scores of hundreds of years between us.

It avails not – time and distance avails not. I too lived. I too walked the streets of Manhattan.”

Walt Whitman

Nagamani Kuchimanchi

Sudheer tried to dissuade me saying, “ma who ever crosses the ferry these days except for tourists on a joy ride, the Brooklyn Bridge takes you to Manhattan in a jiffy, Aashi will drive you wherever you want.”

Ah! Aashi she is my lifeline and mentor.

Stubborn me, I insisted as always and won – so here I am crossing the Brooklyn ferry taking in the same sights and smells ever so hundred years apart, how true how very true as the great poet says “Ah! What can be more stately and admirable than mast hemmed Manhattan.” Mast hemmed? There are no masted schooners now.

Yes the swift currents are rushing so swiftly and the dazzling sunlight is playing imaginary games on my mind and psyche. There he is jumping and waving to catch my attention __ me the simple, young child- bride hesitant, forlorn, unable to understand, not following instructions. The exasperated look on the officer’s face as he pointed at my handsome husband waving for me. The final lap of the 36-hour journey — but 10 seconds seemed eternity.

Now _ not this time _ greyed, owlish supported by a quadcane, the spirit is alive honey. I so want Aashi to be here with me and show her the sights which I saw when young and giggle and play funny as before. But she has other plans busy getting ready for her new life, selfish of me. She is getting married to that guy next week. American what else, Indic scholar she met at Benares when he came to India. Getting married per Vedic rituals. Sudheer and Aparna have to relearn a lot to perform the marriage as per Vedic traditions. Aashi belongs to Save The Earth Foundation. Saving the Environment is her passion. Exasperated she is with my non-eco-friendly habits of water and food wastage. I belong to the old school difficult to unlearn. Gobal warming, climate change alien concepts for me. Even the mighty leader is saying what global warming my….

Aashi, how can she come with me now, I am no longer the thief that she caught and imprisoned or the kid she kidnapped and held for ransom. She taught me to sing when she was three, corrected scolded and reprimanded. She played, cried, taught and learnt. I was everything to her then, her playmate, teacher, mentor and her most loving teddy bear and she was everything for me then and now, my whole world, I sometimes wondered am I her caretaker or she my mother. She mothered me and brought me out of the self-imposed shell of grief and taught me how to live again. She is the sunshine of my life. If not to see her happy on her big day why would 80 plus tottering me cross the oceans to be in the land of her dreams.

My room and my bed were her world. One day school she is the teacher I her student, next it is a kitchen and we are making Youtube videos of yummy recipes saying Hi guys today I will show you how to make. Next it is the airport and plane. One such plane, I gave an old discarded passport for her to play with. Then started her American dream. Daily we travelled to Disneyland and she played with Disney princesses. Now she herself is the princess living the All American dream _ Baseball, hotdog, apple pie and Chevrolet _ the jingle.

Sparkling waters reflect the Statue of Liberty as we pass by. The mighty protector of freedom, equality and liberty. We have ‘Unity’ now. The game of one-upmanship is rolling on. Mirror mirror on the wall who’s the tallest of them all.

Liberty_ what liberty_ I hear about walls_ I hear of impeachment _ the walls are crumbling –Are they_ no never _ Maybe sometimes _ some walls _ walls _ external walls _ internal walls _we keep building. Will they keep us safe? Will they divide us. Take a guess dear.

Impeachement __ The first strange word that I heard when my husband and Raja were discussing heatedly at our apartment in Jersey City. 2787 Kennedy Bouelvard famous once upon a time. Frank Sinatra lived there it seems. Now rundown and a disappointment not a match for my bridal dreams.

What impeachment. Who is Richard Nixon? He is our President Honey. The TV the Radio the media all ablaze with fervor. Watergate, Deep Throat. My dreams of becoming a TV journalist back home in India like Woodward like Bernstien. In awe I sat glued to the TV _ not always about Nixon and impeachment. Now we hear of impeachment again. I enjoyed the soaps too. All in the family a good one. Oh! How I laughed at Lucy’s antics. Aashi graduated from Columbia School of Journalism and landed a job at CBS. CBS Evening News Walter Cronkite my favourite Anchorman. What vicarious pride and sense of achievement. How can she ever understand. But she grew up away from me all these years. How can she understand my yearning.

She will she is not what she seems to be _ More much more deep and perceptive and sensitive. After all she is today’s child.

The day I read about the Charles Mason cult in the book In One Era and Out the other, the macabre death of Sharon Tate _ Roman Polanski – what orgies is this the dirty life of celebrities. Sleepless night I had. Grim and gruesome. When Murali was not at home I kept the TV on even if it was baseball just to keep myself away from fear and loneliness.

What is all this about political eavesdropping . Watergate. For years Watergate lent its name to scandal after scandal. Panamagate, Coalgate, Porngate to any scam just add gate and the media gets the TRPs . Now It is Rafale. What difference does it make. Media is suffering the scandal syndrome.

Hudson, East River, Ganga, Godavari __Vedam la pravahinche Godavari Swargadhamla vilasille Rajamahendri. Rivers flow on, water everywhere. Water flowing from times immemorial. Water, pain, suffering, love, happiness flowing, flowing surviving from times immemorial. Even politics and scandals are like rivers from times immemorial. What did Kautilya say, asking an officer of the king’s coffers to remain honest is like asking a fish not to drink water while living in it.

The more we change, the more we remain the same. Things change, people change, governments change but everything remains the same. Water flowing through the ages. Now climate change big thing. We understand then do we not what was to come to us here and now. Who knows.

but I am enjoying this.

Being here, coming to New York to enjoy Aashi’s big day is sweet. But this _ this is my personal pleasure. My joy. The first time I crossed these waters was as a young bride on honeymoon.

Much waters have flown down the East River and the Godavari. Life has cha nged. Life has remained the same.

Four score and seven years ago….. Lincoln to Trump. On the stroke of midnight India awakens to freedom…. Nehru to Modi. What difference does it make. Trump__ Modi __Walls are everywhere. Outside us to confine us ___ inside us to stifle us. Walls are being erected. Walls are crumbling across the continents and nearer home. Are we there have we reached? Emergency? No big deal trust me this too shall pass.

But who will kill the hydra-headed monster. Paris, Iraq, Kashmir, Santa Fe, Maryland, Pulwama. You chop one head another takes its place. Where are the knights in the shining armor? So young so full of fervour, Rest in Peace comrades. Sara Jahan Accha but no place safe.

“I too felt the curious, abrupt questionings stir within me. In the day among the crowds of people they came upon me. In my walk home late at night or as I lay in my bed they came upon me.”

Yes here we are at last. The sun is sinking, the day is drawing to a close. The waters turn a splendid hued rainbow on earth. There she is my sweet heart waving happily at me, coming my dear. what a handsome guy he is standing beside her and leaning into her slender frame. What future do they have? Can we preserve the earth for them with all its resources?

Naidu gaaru yekkada unnaru __ Cyberabad__ Vision 2020 the show is done the showman moved west weaving new dreams. Now onward Ho to 2050. A long way, a long long way to go. What about Aashi, her husband, her children and countless others and their progeny. Where will the journey take them. Will more walls be erected or will they at last reach the destiny where the mind is without fear. That Heaven of Freedom.

Inspired by Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry from Leaves of Grass

Vedam la pravahinche Godavari __ swargadhamamla vilasille Rajamahendri: The River Godavari flowing like the Vedas, the city on its banks Rajamundry (Rajamahendri) shining bright like heaven. Rajahmundry was the seat of cultural renaissance and social reforms in the early 20th century.

Naidu Garu yekkada unnaru…..

Where are you Mr. Chandrababu Naidu? (Former chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh. Mr. Naidu envisaged a policy statement Vision 2020 which led to the development of Hyderabad and Secunderabad into a megacity with the Hitec city, Cybertowers and Cyberabad.)


The above story is an entry into the writing event(Feb 1st – 24th) hosted by ArtoonsInn: #TrainOfThoughts #Legends3

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Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen


Lady Justice
How long, Mother


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