ANI MEETS HER SHADOW
Ani, all of eight months old,
Had just learnt how to crawl.
She set out happily on all fours;
Eagerly propelling forward her body so small.
But as she set out speedily to explore,
Some of the interesting things she could see,
Ani suddenly stopped, sat down on the floor,
And looked around, rather worriedly.
After a moment, she decided to set off once more,
Crawling along on her chubby little hands and knees,
But once again, she stopped, and stared at the floor –
A strange black object was following her, she could see.
It moved when she did, and stopped when she did,
And loomed menacingly over her little head.
Ani’s face puckered – she was ready to cry;
Something was chasing her, and it filled her with dread.
But suddenly, in a burst of bravery, she stuck out her tiny foot,
And tried to kick the black object firmly away,
But alas! It didn’t budge, and instead, Ani’s mama began to smile;
Ani bawled – couldn’t mama see the fearful, black thing in her way?
Why was mama laughing? Ani just couldn’t understand.
Ani was frightened – something was definitely amiss;
Then mama came forward, her arms outstretched,
“The black monster will disappear if I give you a kiss….”
© Santhini Govindan
Please do not reprint/publish this poem without getting prior permission from the author.
Though I cannot imagine living without the Internet, I sometimes feel, like many of its users, that I am drowning in a sea of information. Many of the stories, and most of the facts that are conveniently placed on my social media pages will never be useful to me, but I am still riveted to them anyway. Over the last month, for example, apart from seeing numerous pictures of the various places my friends have visited, and the food they have eaten, I have learnt that Egyptian Queen Nefertiti’s final resting place might have been discovered, that there is a snake infested uninhabited island off the coast of Brazil, and an orange zinnia flower has become the first flower grown in space. I was captivated by the story of how four friends from France completed a year and a half journey between their country and Asia on a bright green tuk-tuk, or auto rickshaw! I’m not quite sure how any of this knowledge will benefit me, but when I read these stories, I was completely engrossed in them. And of course, these are not the only stories that have caught my attention.
My social media pages often throw up useful tips on health and well being. So, now I know that wakame, a kind of seaweed used in Japanese cuisine helps in weight loss, lowers cholesterol, boosts heart health and energy, prevents cancer, and is one of the main contributors to the smooth, youthful, and flawless skin the Japanese are famous for. I set out optimistically to look for wakame, but none of the various grocery stores I visited had even heard of this magic food. So, I had to content myself with munching sunflower and pumpkin seeds instead. Stories published widely on the Internet inform me that these humble seeds offer ‘incredible health benefits’ so, how can I be so foolish to bypass them?
Four thousand years ago, the Incas built a mighty empire amidst the lofty Andes Mountains of South America. The staple food of the Incas, who had amazing stamina and endurance, was a sacred grain called quinoa. The Incas called it the ‘mother of all grains.’ Through the Internet, I discovered that this nutritious ‘super food’ has numerous health benefits. Though I had no ambitions of building up the stamina of a fearless Inca warrior, I hoped that small doses of quinoa might soothe my aches and pains, and help my occasional forgetfulness. I set out once again to hunt for the sacred seed (after learning to pronounce it correctly as ‘keen wah’) and to my astonishment, my grocer did not say ‘eh?’ and scratch his head in puzzlement when I asked for quinoa. Instead, he asked me if I wanted white or red quinoa. I was stumped, and hurried back home to fall back on the Internet, the fount of all wisdom, for more information. After much googling, I unearthed reams of information on quinoa, including the fact that it sometimes causes severe allergies. Alas! This last sentence sounded the death knell of my hopes of enriching my health with quinoa. But I need not have worried. I soon discovered, via the Internet of course, that quinoa, the super food of 2015 was actually passé, and the new health foods of 2016 are even more ‘super’ than quinoa. I’ll soon be setting out to see if my local grocers have heard of teff grains, kohlrabi, and lupin beans.
If it hadn’t been for hours spent browsing the Internet however, I would never have learnt how to clean my silverware naturally using just aluminum foil, salt and baking soda. Following boards on cleaning on Pinterest gave me tips on how to make bathroom faucets shine with vinegar, and I learnt that things do go better when Coca-Cola is used as a cleaning agent! The Internet has endless ideas for anyone interested in DIY and crafts, and I have happily followed tutorials on YouTube to create masterpieces with my own hands. I’ve made planters from empty Pepsi Cola bottles, angels from wooden ice-cream spoons, and toys from old socks. A few weeks ago, a post on my Facebook page showed me how to cut up an old t-shirt and make a shopping bag without sewing a single stitch. I was captivated by this idea, and showed it excitedly to my mother. She looked decidedly unenthusiastic about it. “We have enough bags lying around the house to carry half the supplies of the Indian army,” she said dourly. “And anyway, where exactly are you proposing to go, carrying a bag made from an old cut up t-shirt?” As I looked again at the photograph of the no stitch bag made from an old t-shirt, I had to admit that she had made a relevant point.
However, when I saw pictures of ‘fairy gardens’ made from broken terracotta flower pots, a few days later, I was completely enchanted. I did not have a broken flower pot, but I bought one the next time I went out, and carefully broke it with a hammer. Then, I spent an entire afternoon landscaping my fairy garden. I was quite pleased with the finished product – complete with tiny plants, miniature steps, and a tiny fairy sleeping on a toadstool. I proudly whatsapped a photograph of my original creation to my daughter, an accomplished gardener, and was delighted when she praised my efforts, and gave me some suggestions on how to improve my fairy garden. I placed my fairy garden in a prominent place on my window sill, well content with my own talent and artistry. The next morning, my maid Suneeta who helps to clean our home, suddenly came up to me, looking worried.
“There’s a broken pot on the window sill,” she said, sounding somewhat confused. It took me a moment to figure out that she was referring to my painstakingly crafted fairy garden.
“Well, what about it?” I asked, after a small pause.
“I just wanted to tell you that I did not break it. I found it that way…”