My Loving Guest


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During my late-blossomed writing career I happened to become a contributor to an e-magazine. The e-mag was owned by Indians in USA and was running successfully but gradually stopped due to economic reasons after going through different stages of paid-contributions, free blogs etc with due apologies.

When the e-mag folded, two of my co-contributors wanted my e mail ID (not given by the mag) so that they could keep in touch with me and my writings. Out of these, one was married and employed and her ‘keeping in touch’ gradually petered off. But the other one Sneha,whose name means love and friendship, took a great liking towards me and continued to be in touch with me. Due to my advanced age perhaps, the initial acquaintance slowly evolved into a status where she looked upon me not only as friend/confessor but also a philosopher and guide. I also benefited much from her friendship. Her various links and experiences as an English lecturer, reviewer and interviewer helped me a newcomer to the literary field in my endeavors, though she was only a year older than my grand daughter. She had always expressed a desire to meet me and spend some time with me.

Recently her father invited her to his native place for a vacation and he consented to her breaking the journey at Bangalore on her way back to Mumbai and spend some time with me.

Sneha wrote to me about her arrival on a Sunday and asked me to send someone to the railway station to pick her up and that she would ‘pay’ him. The only 3 ‘he’s I had knowledge of were my 84-year old husband, my son who lived 25 kms away on the outskirts and my son-in law who lived at the other end of the city. None of them were ‘payable’ types nor were they at my beck and call , more so to pick up someone from Bangalore Station which was notorious for its always-full parking lot.

Finally looking at the time of her arrival (in a slightly leaner period of the day), my daughter with her husband offered to forego her Sunday TV serial and pick her up and drop her at our place. I e-mailed Sneha’s picture to her.

The guest room which was on the first floor was prepared meticulously. The room was swept, swabbed and dusted. The Curl-on bed was given a ‘jhatak’ and fresh pillowcases, bed sheets and blankets were provided. The bathroom items were provided along with towel and hand towel (oh, forgot the shampoo).The missing bulb in one of the bathrooms though on the ceiling was stubbornly replaced by the wobbly kneed old man of my husband, the perfect host. We could not do anything about the gutteral groan of the ceiling fan. The larder (frig) was stocked with fruits. The daily caterer was asked to bring extra food for four days.

On the scheduled date, my guest arrived. Though I had seen her pictures, her actual persona was a surprise to me. I had not imagined her to be so tall and majestic She had a confident air about her befitting a Mumbai College lecturer with 4 years of media experience.

After thanking and sending off my daughter and her husband, I led Sneha to the guest room upstairs and showed her the glorious privacy she could have there. Not trusting me my husband also had followed to show her the location of all the switches. I cautioned her not to keep her bag or hand bag near the window. That did it. She wanted to know how long back a theft had taken place there and if the rape and murder I had discussed in one of blogs was fact or fiction. After that she refused to sleep upstairs. She preferred to sleep in our second bedroom downstairs which for want of occupancy I had been using as my workshop_ iron box, massager, sewing machine, clothesline for winter etc. But she felt safer on the austere hard cotton bed as it was next to our room. However she had not bargained for our neighbor’s passion for 24×7 carpentry by talkative contract laborers, who would work with noisy planing machines and electric drilling machines under bright lights quite late into the night.

Apart from a few sleepless nights, Sneha was quite happy to meet her idol cum mother figure in me. I was also happy to share all my literary experiences and the collected mementoes which I could not do even with my own children .She reviewed my new uncompleted novel and gave useful suggestions for improvement We had an excellent rapport. But what she had not anticipated was the type of personality my Air force Officer husband would turn out to be. She had expected to find him stiff, prim and proper. Instead she saw a jovial, fun loving character who would be joking constantly. His witticisms which had rusted of late for want of new audience had become sharpened at Sneha’s response. She was highly amused the way he would throw his unexpected witticisms while I would be narrating an episode ‘passionately’( her words), stealing the thunder from right under my feet. She also greatly admired his cool, expert, facile way of dealing with the situation when he had to rescue from the bedroom wherein our 40 year old door lock had jammed in. She said, “ I came here as Vimala’s fan , but I am going as Ramu’s fan”.

Sneha fitted in very well in our now nuclear family, in fact, as much as any of my nieces would though some of our relatives had doubted the wisdom of ’harboring’ an unknown friend met only Online as a house guest. We on our part found her sweet, considerate, frank, forthright, accommodative and affectionate who had all good words to talk about us. She had no hassles about our catered food. In fact she liked the way our caterer made the vegetables (palya) which she would gladly finish for us.

The four days passed swiftly. The day of her departure came. Her father who was to come and take her to Mumbai had said he would book the 4.30 pm train. But since he could not do so, he had booked the night 8.30 train. He had told her that he would come himself or send someone to pick her by 6.45pm.But, suddenly at 5.30 pm he rang up, expressed his inability to come and requested me to put her on an auto rickshaw and to send her to Fathima Bakery at Johnson market. Her father had confidence in her. But we were not confident enough to send her alone in a strange city with unknown language by an auto whose driver himself might be a novice in the city.

Suddenly we decided to start immediately and take her ourselves by our car to Fathima bakery. Only it was important for my husband to return home before sunset as night driving was anathema to him. We hurried Sneha, bundled her into the car and jumped in ourselves. After going some distance, my husband suddenly realized that he was wearing a dhoti and Hawaii chappals, not very conducive to driving. We rushed back. I picked up his chappals, rushed out banging my head, opened the lock, threw away the chappals, collected his slip- on shoes and specs, locked the door and got into the car, all in a split second and off we set again. He had brushed off my suggestion to change to trousers in the car!

Braving the crazy back-from-work traffic, we managed to drop Sneha at the rendezvous at 6 pm. Her people had not reached yet. We had to rush back, racing the sun. There was no time for sentimental farewell speeches or fond good byes. I gave her a quick hug ( a hand shake from uncle) waved good bye and managed to reach home just as the sun was on the verge of setting.

But having left her on the road side alone, we were worried. So we kept texting till her father’s friend picked her up and put her on the train with her father.

Thus ended my loving friend Sneha’s visit , a bright spark in our sober routine life.

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52 thoughts on “My Loving Guest

  1. Nuggehalli Pankaja says:

    It runs like a story by your facile pen.! I felt disappointed when it ended. Your flair for humor follows you everywhere! And the picture you have of Sneha is enticing! I came to know her through you,and began to like her through her writings, and now astounded by her humility!
    Your novel-writing is good news; Can I know something about it? Wish you all success-one of the most enterprising persons I have seen!

    • Dear Pankaja,
      Surprised to see that you have already read my blog. Yes, Sneha is all that I have portrayed unbiasedly.As for my novel, it is still in a very raw stage, not yet worth talking about though Sneha is all fired up about it.

  2. Namita Sathyan -Very nicely articulated Vimmu Aunty!!! We got to know Sneha through your pen! Welcome to the family Sneha!
    courtesy · Facebook

    Kanthi Narayanan -So wonderful to read the interesting narration of Sneha’s visit Vimm. Like Namita has rightly said, welcome to our family Sneha !
    courtesy Facebook

  3. Now,! Now ! I know all the gory details. A novel? Well I am intrigued to no end…of course I shall get a copy for the first dekko 🙂

    And Sneha…I am yet to ‘see’ her but your word-picture puts my imagination into fifth gear!!

    Great post…liked the dhoti – chappal part…howlarious!

    Envious to not being there…

    PS: I don’t blame Sneha…If I were there I would be sleeping on the floor of your bedroom…gosh! Am I scared of sleeping alone?

    • Loved your comments, Geeta. It was sheer vanity on my part to let my secret out about the novel Though I had intended to keep it a secret even from Sneha, I did indeed wanted to see how one would react to the subject matter. But the technical advice she gave me also came in a lot handy.

  4. subbu says:

    Thanks Mrs. Vimala Ramu and Mr. Ramu for all the affection and love showed to her. I am still feeling guilty for changing my programme at the last minute but i think that is what it is these days. I too was in a new place without knowing the language. Wish we all had a common language to speak. Thanks again

  5. Sneha says:

    Dearest Vimala,

    I am going to treasure this write of yours lifelong. Thank you very much for al the love and sense of belonging that you and Uncle gave me. I could see years of companionship through both your eyes and the lovely equation you two shared was a delight to my eyes.

    Uncle is a gem of a person… He seems to be in the list of my ‘real heroes’ (there’s just my dad and now him in the list) cause he always manages to keep his damsel off distress 😉 I was amazed with the finnesse of him doing the nitty gritties.

    I could almost re-live my entire four days of stay in your lovely house. I can now put into perspective every article you write 🙂 I am glad to be included as a small part of your family.

    Just one last thing before I end my comment, if I may; the comment in reply to my dad’s should be Subramanian, sans a y.

    Thank you, and do not cease writing your novel until finished.

    Love to you and Uncle,
    Sneha

  6. Dear Sneha,
    The feeling of ‘belonging’ was mutual or as they say in films the ‘chemistry’ was great.
    I take it that your PC is working now. Dr Vivekanand Jha wants me to persuade you to send your
    poems within March 31st.
    Thanks for all the sweet words.

    • Sneha says:

      Dearest Vimala,

      Heartened to see all my friends commenting. Though my PC is still giving problems, I’ve managed to send my poems to Dr.Jha. Hope the two of you are good.

      Love,
      Sneha

  7. Stacey says:

    Ah, Sneha is a delight wherever she goes. She’s quite simple, down to earth and charming with her loveliness. I am sure it would have been a wonderful opportunity for all of you. I must say, I quite enjoyed your blog, Mrs Vimala.
    Kind Regards,
    Stacey
    Cananda

  8. Stepphenie says:

    Dear Mrs. Vimala Ramu, Beautiful thoughts recounted. I’m a friend of Sneha’s from the USA, California. I really loved reading your blog about your experience of staying with her. I’ve only known her as an articulate editor and lovely poet; this shows me new shades to her personality. Thank you!

  9. Caren, Northern Ireland says:

    I think Sneha is most wonderful and your blog about her is very special. I am humbled to see what sensitivity she holds in adjusting with an elder couple. I feel she is now a little but important part of your friend’s circle, almost like a grand daughter!
    Caren Thompson
    Editor, Streaks and Shades

  10. John Denver says:

    I’ve known Sneha as a writer, poet and academician (though she’s young, she has done some incredible research work). I’d love to invite her over to my house next, to get the ‘spark’ you so nicely speak about. I must say you have a lovely blog here, Mrs. Vimala Ramu.

  11. Debanjali says:

    The little incident you speak of where Sneha preferred being close by to your room tells me a lot about her personality. She seems adjusting, with no frills. I quite like to see this in today’s generation. I am honoured to know Sneha as a fellow academician and writer.
    Columnist
    The Observor.

  12. Stanley says:

    This write is simply superb Dearest Mrs. Vimala. I am pressed for words as I do not see the young generation very forthcoming to live in someone’s house so simply. Of all I have known Sneha, she is an elegant young lady and it shows when you write such good words about her. I am sure it is a lovely bond that you all shared. I must say this was delightful.
    Stanley, Alabama
    USA

  13. Joyce Richard Beckett says:

    Dearest Vimala Ramu,

    I am of 87 years myself and contribute as a columnist to various newspapers here in Switzerland. Have known Sneha through her work and especially her poetry. You have now shown us all how level headed and adjusting she can be. A girl who can respect elders can never do anything unprecedented. I was honored to read your kind words about her as I regard her quite close, she’s a wonderful writer and academician alright, but quite like one of my grand-daughter’s for me. You too sure must be missing her.

    Love,
    Joyce Richard Beckett

  14. Paula Robyn says:

    I have met Sneha at one of the literary seminars that I attended. Apart from knowing her as a well read person and articulate speaker with superb commentary, I now got to know how it feels like to ‘stay with her’. I am most touched to read your experience, Mrs. Ramu. Sneha seems very down to earth and accommodating. It is fascinating how well you put it in words.

    Mrs Paula Robyn
    New Jersey

  15. Siddharth Thakur says:

    Lovely, Mrs. Ramu. Have known Sneha as a lovely poet, it is so interesting to see this facet to her personality. I loved the blog you have up here. Why don’t you check out ‘The Little Magazine’ and ‘Indian Ruminations’ respectively? Would love to see your work there!

    Siddharth Thakur
    Art Director
    Skylark Advt Pvt Ltd

  16. Anne Rosettei says:

    Mrs. Ramu,

    You sure have a sensitive heart to an equally sensitive woman’s lovely nature. Nice to see this bond and I got to know more about the wonderful person Sneha is … Thanks a ton!

    Ms Anne Rosettei
    Australia

  17. Smita Thakur says:

    Dear Vimala,

    Enjoyed reading this wonderful account of yours of Sneha’s stay. I must smile cause the poor girl must have suffered with the continuous noise of your neighbors! I came to know so much more about Sneha as the real person. I have known her on account only as a poet, which she is wonderful as. I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    Smita Thakur
    Senior Correspondent
    Aaj Tak

    • Thank you Smita. Yes, the day Sneha left, the carpentry work also stopped and a boutique for textiles came up in the garage. It is much quieter now. I am also happy to have come to know Sneha in person. A delightful person.

  18. Sriram, Texas says:

    Mrs Ramu,

    A novel? Sounds intriguing. I’m Sneha’s associate, I freelance with her for a US based publication. Could you tell me more? I’d buy it when it is out. As for this blog, kudos to you and Sneha for being what sometimes even blood relatives don’t. Sneha is a wonderful person, you only bring that truth into more fore and light.

    Sriram,
    Texas

    • Thank you Sriram for booking my novel in advance. You probably know that my three books, a collection of humorous blogs COLORS,WIND CHIMES,DEW DROPS are available on Amazon.com for 99c.each. My first book RAINSONG is available at pothi.com
      As for my novel it is still in the draft stage. With all the nitty gritty of acceptance by the publishers I am sure it will be ready only next year at the earliest. Thanks for your interest.

      • Sriram says:

        I have already taken a copy each of your three books from Sneha and have read them swiftly. I’d be really interested to see your novel coming along.

      • Dear Sriram,
        It is so heartening to see that you have already read my books. What about the fourth one, Colors? Sneha has certainly been doing a good lot for me.

  19. Paul Smith Norah says:

    Mrs. Ramu,

    Please check http://www.fringemagazine.org/
    I’d love to read your articles.

    I thank Sneha profusely for introducing me to the work of an avid writer, who has a flair for wit. Loved this – and lots of cheers to Sneha for being the ‘loving’ guest. She sure is prolific, as a person and academician.

    Regards,
    Paul Smith Norah

    • Thank you Mr Paul for the kind words and the link. My blogs have been appearing regularly in writespace4iw.wordpress.com, induswomanwriting.com and of course my own blogsite vimalaramu.wordpress.com. Sneha has been really lucky for me in that my readership has gone up by leaps and bounds It is so morale boosting for a simple writer like me who took up writing quite late in life. Thanks for the link once again. I shall try.

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