Of Thought and Rhyme



Fairy lights.


The most beautiful time of the year is here again. The time which reminds me of the time gone by.

Diwali has been the most festive time at the Garg household, always. And now that the clan has moved on to the individual nuclear setups and each nucleus has its own little stream of week-long festivities, the onset of Diwali always takes me back to the time when the entire family stayed together, ate together and celebrated together.

Fresh flowers would adorn the house, and each member of the family was supposed to dress up in the traditional fineries. The sweet smell of rosewater, cardamom and cinnamon would waft through the kitchens, and the traditional feast of no less than eighteen dishes was prepared on the big night. Evenings were characterized by designing rangolis in every courtyard and corridor of the sprawling mansion. The two-hour long pooja session would be orchestrated by the family pundit, where the cousins retreated in the background playing pranks on each other. Pointing and laughing games would ensue when the mantras and shlokas had someone’s name embedded in them. The girls and women of the family would receive cash and gifts and status of goddesses, even if just for a day; and the little boys would stand in a corner, sulking.

Festivities would continue till late, with everyone assembling on the terrace, lighting up the night sky with an array of fireworks. And standing in a corner, far away from the maddening crowd jostling for their turn to light another sparkler, my heart would swell up with the sight of my own little piece of the glimmering sky, brought alive in my balcony by the little fairy lights.

Times have changed, people have moved on, and that balcony doesn’t exist anymore. But the swinging pretty lights are still the same – the only continuing part of the tradition. Every year, they recreate that magical time when life was a fairy tale, bringing me my own little piece of the glimmering sky all over again.



यूँ तो सर्दियों में कुछ ख़ास नहीं
बस आब-ओ-हवा सर्द हो जाती है
पर बात सर्दियों की
गाहे-बगाहे ख़ास बन ही जाती है

धूप वो गुनगुनी
और चाय की प्याली

माँ के हाथ की बुनी ऊनी जुराबें
और रज़ाई जयपुर वाली

हवा की तेज़ थपेड़ों से फ़टती चमड़ी
और गालों की लाली

गाजर का हलवा
और पिन्नी काजू किशमिश वाली

यादों और उम्मीदों भरी आहें
और जेबें ख़ाली

लाल-गुलाबी-नारंगी फूलों की बहारें
और पीली ड़ाली-ड़ाली

कटकटाते दाँत, कंपकँपाते बदन
और होठों पे ग़ाली

कितने ही शिक़वें बिना शिकन के सुनती
सर्दियाँ हर साल आती और चली जाती हैं
यूँ तो सर्दियों में कुछ ख़ास नहीं
बस कुछ ख़ास एहसास करा जाती हैं

Unfair weather friend.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Of course.

But is a friend *only* in need a friend indeed?

The go-to friend in times of despair. The absent friend in times of cheer.

You feel cheated. But you love them, so you keep lingering. And the pattern just keeps repeating itself. Every time there’s a problem, you’re the shoulder to lend support. But the moment things go smooth, you’re not a part of their life anymore.


Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.

Mark Twain

Of little treasures.

It’s Monday. The day of pending emails, approaching deadlines, panicky clients, and never-ending joblists.

That little thing which should’ve reached your desk last Thursday isn’t in your mailbox yet. The presentation you worked on till wee hours because it was urgent has been rescheduled. An outstation client visit needs to be planned for which you have no details as yet. And you’ve not even started to think about the day’s work. You stare hard on your laptop, tapping the keys sharply. Your hair is in a mess, face contorted and anger is the only language your body can speak currently.

You have blocked the world out. And suddenly the corners of your eyes send a signal to the brain that someone is watching you. Standing in front of your desk, watching you purposely. You try to shove that information away, but distractedly look up. And then the words greet your ears – “Stop looking so pretty!”

You melt in a puddle. And for the next three minutes, nothing matters anymore.

What is more precious than having people in your life who find you worth looking at when you are at your absolute worst? Nothing, sir. Nothing.

Marks do matter.

Yes, marks do matter. In most of the cases. At most of the places. For most of the people.

Of course, there are outliers who make it big despite not having a big score on their report card. But the numbers are far few and between. And there is a reason why they are outliers. Because, fortunately or unfortunately, as a norm, marks do matter.

Education system is the very foundation of any society. However flawed, it is that system which determines that linearity, progression and development of a student. At least in the formal education space.

I can only speak for myself, but, I can speak for myself with full authority. And whatever little I have achieved till now – professionally AND academically – it is all because of the marks. Be it at the school level, graduation, or post-graduation. Or competitive entrance exams, for that matter. Nobody told me marks don’t matter. Or they do. As a matter of fact, it was never a question. At the end of the day, it is the theory of evolution. And to survive and secure a spot for yourself in the race, you have no choice but to stay ahead of the pack.

My 10th standard board marks may not matter today, at five years of work experience post a PG degree, but that doesn’t mean that we forget the importance of those marks in the scheme of things. Admit it or not, but 10th standard marks determine the subjects you end up choosing for the higher secondary school. And in my case, they ended up changing the course of my life. I wanted to study science, but could not because of the inadequate score. I had to take up commerce as a consolation prize (that’s another story that I ended up loving it!), which I absolutely hated at that point. Moving forward, 12th standard marks determine the choice of college AND choice of subjects. And so on and so forth.

I’m all for not putting pressure on our kids and letting them thrive. But this whole brouhaha that marks don’t matter is taking it too far. We have to be realistic. How many dropouts have you seen succeeding in the regular course of life? And the ones who do, do not ‘because’ they dropped out/ scored less marks. But they succeed despite dropping out/ scoring less marks. Unfortunately, there are only limited spots for success, and the chances are, someone much better, brighter, and determined is already fighting for that spot, reducing the odds for your success.

So let’s not be delusional. Let’s not make our kids live in delusion. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and the kids should see it for what it is. And if they are okay with the repercussions of scoring less marks and being left behind in the race, let THEM make that choice. As for the most of the world, marks do matter. Like it or not.

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