Wednesday, July 25, 2012

മഴയമൃത്


മഴയൊരു നനുത്ത സ്പര്‍ശനമായ് പെയ്തിറങ്ങി-
വനി തന്‍ മേനി നനയ്ക്കവേ;
കുളിര്‍ കൊരുമാ മഴയെന്‍ മനതാരിന്‍ തീക്കനല്‍ 
പതിയെപ്പതിയെയണച്ചിടുന്നു...
മുകില്‍ മാലകളാകാശപ്പരപ്പില്‍ നൃത്തം വെച്ചോടി-
മറയവേ, മാമരങ്ങള്‍ തലയാട്ടി ചിരിപ്പൂ!
ദാഹിച്ചു വലഞ്ഞ പക്ഷിലതാദികള്‍ മഴത്തുള്ളികള്‍ 
തന്‍ ലാളനമേറ്റു കുളിരണിഞ്ഞു നിന്നു...
വരണ്ട ഭൂമിതന്‍ മാറിലൂടെയൊരു നീര്‍ച്ചാലൊഴുകി
നീങ്ങവേ; പ്രകൃതിയാമമ്മ ചുരത്തുമമൃത-
മഴയാം പാല്‍ കുടിച്ചു കരുത്താര്‍ജ്ജിയ്ക്കുന്നു
അമ്മതന്‍ പ്രിയരാം മക്കളൊന്നൊഴിയാതെ...
ഏറെ നാള്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞിട്ടിന്നു പെയ്തൊരീ മഴ-
യെന്‍ മാനസപൊയ്കയില്‍ നിറപ്പൂ
ആഹ്ലാദത്തിന്‍ വര്‍ണ്ണ ശബളങ്ങളാം പുതു 
താമരമൊട്ടുകള്‍ അനേകങ്ങള്‍ !!!





Monday, July 23, 2012

Captain Lakshmi Sahgal - a tribute!

Today, when I learned about the demise of Captain Lakshmi Sahgal, a strange feeling engulfed me. Even though I have never met her personally, I have heard many anecdotes about her that I feel a certain closeness to her. Her death today has truly brought an end to an eventful era of the Indian political history.

Though I have heard her name in school (while learning about the Indian Independence struggle and the role of INA), it is not until I got married into a family which knew her personally that I began to take interest in her. Subsequently, I learned about her activities and had come to regard her as an important player in the Indian Independence movement.

I confess that I am unaware of her history in detail. But what little I had learned about her has only fortified my respect for her. She has been an iconic figure, who, I am sure, was an inspiration to a multitude of people. A doctor by profession (she had an MBBS degree from Madras Medical College as well as a diploma in gynecology and obstetrics), she had joined the INA of Subhash Chandra Bose as the leader of 'Rani of Jhansi Regiment', the women's army unit of INA. It was the first of its kind in Asia.

Captain Lakshmi got married to P K Sahgal, who was an officer at the INA, and they settled Kanpur. She continued to live in the 'Manchester of the East' and continued her social service activities. She was also a Rajya Sabha MP (represented the Communist Party of India - Marxist)  and was even nominated for the post of President in 2002. Her social activities included organizing various relief camps (in Calcutta) and providing medical aid for the Bangladeshi refugees. Moreover, her clinic in Kanpur was a refuge to the poor and downtrodden people of  this erstwhile industrial city. Befittingly, it was in Kanpur that she breathed her last.

One of the most memorable stories about Captain Lakshmi Sahgal was the one I heard from a family friend of mine. Once, she (my family friend- lets call her chechi) and her husband was travelling to Kerala from Kanpur by train. In those days, there were no direct trains from (or to) Kanpur and so, one had to get down at Jhansi and catch another train to Kerala. To chechi's irritation, an elderly lady in the same bogie was giving her instructions like aisa karo, aisa na karo (do this, don't do that) continuously. Our Chechi, who was  pregnant at that time, was very much irritated with this lady's unsolicited advice. She expressed her displeasure in her mother tongue (Malayalam, which a Hindi speaking lady wont understand) to her husband. In spite of this, the elderly lady continued to give them her advice.

Soon the train halted at Jhansi and Chechi went to the washroom to freshen up before the change of trains. As she entered the dirty washroom with wet floor, guess who she sees? Yes, the same elderly lady. As chechi ignored her and proceeded towards the toilet the lady says -  സൂക്ഷിക്കണം,  വഴുക്കലുണ്ട് (take care, the floor is slippery)!!! Chechi got the shock of her life and didn't know what to say!!!

It later turned out that the elderly lady was none other than Captain Lakshmi Sahagal. When she had advised the young couple, it was not because she liked to interfere in other people's lives, but because she was qualified to do so as a gynecologist and because she was genuinely interested in the welfare of others.

This incident taught me two lessons - lesson no. 1 is that just because one think that the other person cannot understand what one says, one is not at a liberty to say anything about another person. Lesson no. 2 is that people may not be what they seem. A person whom we think a nuisance might be a blessing and vice-versa.  So, it would do us good to remember that appearances can be deceptive.

This incident also show us how caring and thoughtful Captain Lakshmi was. It is no wonder then that even at the ripe old age of 97, she used to go to her clinic in Kanpur where she provided medical aid to the poor and needy.

She was the messiah of the poor and I do hope that her life story will inspire the generations to come, to work for the upliftment of  poor and needy...



I salute the social spirit in her and her service mentality. And I bow my head in respect to this unsung daughter of India... May her soul rest in Peace!!!