Valentine’s Day – not so cheesy after all


The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
-Mother Teresa

I have always had my prejudices about Valentine’s Day. The red roses, the red hearts, the love poems, the teddy bears, the chocolates have all seemed quite cheesy always. This time around too, I was feeling quite wary of all the pre- Valentine’s hype all over Facebook.

What followed was SOS from Google, where I started reading about the origin and the significance of this day. To my rescue came the simplest answer! Valentine comes from the Latin word ‘valor’ which means worthy. Yes, it is a day to show your love to those who are worthy.

This made beautiful sense and I thought why not make the best of this new found meaning and make the day special for someone worthy, who we otherwise do not acknowledge in our busy day to day lives.

Amber liked the idea too and this is who we wanted to share Valentine’s Day with.

Meet Ma’am Sinha – Amber’s English teacher back in school. She was every child’s favourite. She renounced tuition culture and she never let any child’s morale go low. She was such an inspiring and likable person that students loved attending her classes, unlike most other classes which they would not mind bunking.

Ma’am Sinha, a spinster, used to stay with her sister very close to the St. Aloysius School, in Kanpur. Her blissful life soon took a dip, with family problems and the loss of her dear sister. All the emotional turmoil gave Ma’am Sinha a severe paralytic attack. The right side of her body became close to non-functional. And since that terrible attack in 2001, it is her students from all across the world who have been taking care of her right from finding her a nice home, to her food, regular visits to her, spending time with her and several other countless beautiful ways.

When I visited her for the first time, I was amazed by the grace she still carries, the beauty that is so evident in her manner and her words and the genuine love for all her students that seems to have become her life force now.  Soaking in her timeless love and beauty, time just flew by in conversations and soon we had to take our leave.

We returned to Delhi. Weeks passed by and I kept thinking about her from time to time but never got down to writing to her. So on Valentine’s Day, we bought a beautiful diary, penned in our letters to Ma’am Sinha and shipped the gift to one of the students living in Kanpur who could deliver our package.

On Valentine’s Day, we heard from him saying Ma’am Sinha was touched and very happy to see our little gift and she sends us lots of love, which ofcourse made our day very very special.

So Yes! Valentine’s Day is surely all about love and this time around, I felt the love in the air too!


The DOG Family


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This September, my husband and I moved into a new rented place. One day our landlords, an old Bengali couple, informed us that they were travelling to Mumbai for a week and we should feed the street dog outside every evening, on their behalf. Being animal lovers, we happily agreed.

That very evening, we were greeted by a frail Indian dog waiting outside, wagging her tail for us. She had very little fur and was constantly biting on the infectious wounds all over her body. This was preventing her wounds from drying. After having fed her milk and bread, we found rescue with Google and stumbled upon a blog describing basic medicines and their dosage for dogs. The next day onwards, we started giving her medicines to dry her wounds, antibiotics to reduce her infections and de-worming to make life a little easy for her.

Our landlords, of course were back but we continued feeding Pagli (if you see her wagging her tail, you would not want to call her anything else either!). Soon, her health improved and so did our bond.

Meanwhile, another dog began paying us a visit. For some reason, which only my husband knows, his name is Paglu! To me Paglu is nothing close to his name. His ways are truly army-like. His walk, his manners, his sense of pride is nowhere close to those of civilians. He would not run behind us. He would wag his tail just once; to let us know that we can feed him if we want. Handsome, groomed and proud, I adopted Paglu the moment I saw him!

We bought two earthen bowls for our new children and feeding them every evening has been a ritual since then. As winters approached, we realised they were having trouble with the cold milk so we began warming the milk and adding eggs to keep them warm through the night.

Some weeks down the line, Pagli stopped coming. I began to get worried that she may have been caught in a road accident. Amber went about looking for her in all possible places but she was nowhere. Then one afternoon, as I was talking to the cylinder-guy from Indane, I saw Pagli jumping from behind the gate, wagging her tail and trying to tell me a million things. As I went closer, everything became crystal clear, as we shared eye contact with our teary eyes. She had given babies. They were hiding right under the cemented drain near our house. Since the last couple of days she had been too weak to come out for food or water. I was so happy for her. She had been a brave girl!

I rushed inside to get her some warm milk and bread. She ate hungrily and came back to me, thanked me with her wagging tail and crawled back into the drain. Following this, Amber and I read up all about nursing dogs in trying to understand basics of feeding them. We realised their appetite increases manifold and so we began feeding her thrice a day.

Her babies are still in hiding. We peeked inside and counted five of them, tucked in each other’s arms. Every time we bring food, we call out for her and she comes out of the drain. That’s when we get to hear the sweet “kooyi kooyi” of her babies.

I am very grateful to Pagli for letting me be a part of her motherhood. Before I have my meals, I feed her. Sometimes When I feel she may be thirsty, I put water outside for her. And then there are other times when she seems too tired to come out and eat. So, we leave some food right outside the drain, to help her conserve energy.

Paglu, on the other hand seems to have softened a bit too. He sees that we wait for him to finish his food so he has started coming and letting us pat him a bit before he heads off to grab his place on one of the car roofs.

As for us, we are happy that Paglu and Pagli came into our lives and chose to love us. Often, we find ourselves discussing them like proud parents. Seeing us, they come jumping and running and there is no better feeling than that.

I cannot wait to meet Paglu and Pagli’s babies and tell them all about their awesome awesome parents!