Monday, December 11, 2017

Snow Baby (A short story)


                                                                                   Snow Baby

“ This is for you,  Gramma,  in case you feel scared at night.” My granddaughter Reba handed me a heart shaped fluffy pink pillow.
I flew from California and reached Maryland this very afternoon to help out my daughter’s family and care for Reba as Tara, my daughter was going to have a baby soon. 
I looked around the room that I’d be sharing with Reba. Stuffed animals of all kinds, a teddy bear, an owl, Ernie and Bert, Peppa Pig and Olaff were all sitting or standing, piled up on her dresser. Reba’s artwork -  several drawings of loving families with smiley faces and stick figures holding hands adorned the walls.  Even there were glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling assuring help in darkness. And Reba’s bed was just across from my futon. 
“ Why’d I be scared, Reba? You are right next to me.” I  hugged her. Reba gave a big smile. Then clutching a reedy rag doll she rolled her eyes flapping her pigtails, “You never know!” 
She pulled the blanket and cuddled next to me with a stack of books. 
“ Reba, time for just one-bed time story today. You were chatting too much with Gramma, but the clock does not stop. It’s way past your bedtime.” Her mom declared. 
Reba gave me a book to read that tells a story of a seed. It has roots under the dirt and wings up in the air. It has arm like branches and leaves that look like fingers. 
The branches sway and dance in the wind and invite the birds and bees. Birds and bees come and kiss them and flowers grow. Flowers become fruits and the children enjoy eating them. 
Then comes a day when the plant shivers in the cold as the wind blows. It can not dance anymore. Leaves fall, branches wither and drop and everybody says that the plant is dead. Indeed it looks dead. But the seed stays under the ground and when spring comes next year it shoots up again with leaves,  flowers, and fruits. 
“ What a lovely story, Reba!”
“ Do you think the peas I planted on Mothers Day will be alive again, Gramma?  Mommy said it is dead and we threw it. ”
“You never know!” I mimicked her,  rolling my eyes just like she did a little while ago. 

The following day Tara’s friends threw her a baby shower. The weather was bad, so the party had been rescheduled to our house. We hurried to clean up the apartment and make it pretty.  Joshua, Reba’s dad bought some daffodils and some yummy pastries. I learned that they were called hamantaschen. They are Jewish cookies, a specialty of Passover. Tara hurried to get ready and Reba was watching her intensely.
“ Go, Reba. Go brush your teeth and get ready. Gramma  can help you with your outfit and hair.” 
Reba rushed and slammed her door. In a short while, I heard a big commotion coming from  Reba’s room. Reba with mascara on her eyelids and coffee brown lipstick all around her mouth was caught. She tied the heart pillow on her belly under a white dress and attached little blocks on her shoes to make them look like high heels. 
Tara dragged her out of her room as it was discovered that in the process Reba had broken Tara’s favorite coffee colored lipstick.  And now Reba has ruined her pretty white dress with mascara strained tears. 
“You look like a raccoon.  Like a Dracula. Why on earth…” Tara screamed throwing her arms in the air, not sure how to vent her emotion.
Joshua rescued, yelling from the kitchen as if an immediate attention was needed for some other catastrophe.  I took my granddaughter to the bathroom and wiped her face with a face wash towelette. 
“I just wanted to be like Mommy, Gramma.” Reba looked up with raccoon eyes. I gave her a hug and tried to undo her mistakes. 
“ You will be like her, my dear. For now, let’s settle with this pink dress and a nice french braid, how about that?”  I let her share a bit of my colorless lip gloss and showed how to gently put it on the lips, not around the mouth.  Reba, now happy, skipped out of the room. 
I remembered the day when I got a slap on my face for stealing my mother’s perfume. That was fifty years ago. Yet the memory is crisp as a photograph. How beautiful Ma looked when I was a little girl and how much I wanted to be like her.  Then came a day when I did not like hearing that I looked like my mom.  And a time when I hated her mannerisms and prayed not to inherit them. 

The party went full swing. Reba and her mom both forgot and forgave each other for the morning mishap and were thoroughly enjoying the games and other activities. While I was in the kitchen, cleaning up I overheard,
“ Well Tara, if you ever need a break, … I know how much we love our moms and how useful they are…yet…you know..I have  an extra room in my basement” Rolls of laughter drowned the rest of the comments. 
I was shocked. I had never thought of this possibility.  Could I exhaust her while I thought I was helping?  Could I be that one-too-many in this family, soon one day? My heart ached. 
Later that night Tara did not feel well. There were some complications and  Tara had to go to the hospital.  The doctors were worried. She was admitted right away. 
When Joshua and Tara left with the little suitcase, Reba looked lost. She stood in front of the window waving them, though it was dark at night and nobody could see her. From the ninth floor kitchen window, we stood still until the backlights of the car illuminated; the two tiny red light flickered and slowly swerved merging to Westbard Avenue. 
Reba turned to me, eyes welling up, “Will my Mommy be okay?  When will she be back?”
“ Mommy will be okay, and she’ll be back with the baby.” I brushed her hair kissing her forehead. 
“ Will my Mommy die, Gramma?  What if my baby dies?” Reba brought her face very close to mine and looked straight into my eyes.
“Mommy will not die, Reba. There are doctors to make her feel better.” I gulped. 
Reba stirred and left. Then she brought her lanky, reedy rag doll again and told me that she had inserted a  tiny plastic baby doll that was given as a party favor earlier this afternoon,  in the rag doll’s belly. Reba cut off the rag doll’s belly with a pair of scissors and now all the stuffings were on the table. 
“Gramma, I can’t find the baby!”  She looked worried. She churned all the cotton and now the little rag doll looked really pathetic. 
“ Fix her Gramma. Fix her please.”  She pleaded sniffling.
To cut the long story short we managed to find the tiny half-inch plastic toy baby under a chair. I brought some thread and needle, put the cotton stuffing back and sewed up the doll’s belly.  “There you go. All better, see. ”
Reba wiped her cheeks that were streaming with tears and a wide smile like a rainbow beamed on her face. 
“The doctors will make Mommy all better.”  She kissed me and hurried to the kitchen bringing a couple of plastic bowls. 
“ Let’s have some ice cream, Gramma.” I knew Reba was feeling fine. 
In a short while she fell asleep on the sofa, her head on my lap, all cuddled up, while I tried to keep myself distracted with an old show of Golden Girls.
But I drifted. 
Down the memory lane, I came across a lost world. It was a stormy dark night and I entered a haunted house. Thunders clapped, the wind howled. Doors and windows flapped with loud thuds and clanks. Bolts of lightning flung brief glimpses of rooms and corners that were dark and inky. Memories were buried here. Memories that taunt and mock, whimper and moan. I was scared. I wanted to get out of here, I looked for that pink heart pillow, but I was stuck. 

I remembered my mother. I remembered her last years when she was stuck in bed as a stroke victim and the guilt I felt.   I could not be with her when she needed me most.  My father thought Ma would be the first one to go as he was in much better shape, health-wise.  But that did not happen. Ma was left alone with hired caretakers in Calcutta, while I was twelve thousand miles away in America. 
A young girl, Rani, used to take care of her at night.  I could be with my mother for only ten or twelve days each year during her last four years. 
One time, when I went to visit her  I happened to sleep next to Ma under the same mosquito netted bed. Rani slept on the floor in a sleeping bag without the mosquito net. She believed that mosquitoes didn’t bite poor people. They only go for good, rich blood. 
“Rani, I need to go to the bathroom” Ma called her. 
“Ummm!”  Rani mumbled. A few minutes later Ma whined again, 
“ I really need to go, Rani, or I may wet the bed.”
No response.  Deep breathing and snoring sound from Rani’s deep slumber floated. 
“Seriously, Rani.  Can’t hold anymore. I’ll have an accident.”
“Yes, yes…just a little…. “Rani mumbled again turning to the other side.  At this point, I sat up and yelled
“What’s going on Rani? Is this why we hired you? Is this how you take care of her? I just happened to see it today.”  Rani startled, hurried and took Ma to the bathroom.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I thought of the day when I overheard Rani scolding Ma. Rani thought no one was around.  As soon as I entered, she straightened it like smoothing out a bed cover. 
I felt miserable thinking Ma’s helpless situation.  I felt guilty and hopeless. She shouldn’t deserve this, oh God! I had a conversation with God and prayed to let her go.  Please take her now God, I can’t see this anymore. 

The next morning the sun shone through the window. Ma woke me. 
“ Look what a beautiful day.” A kokil chirped kuhu kuhu.. and Ma said, “Look, spring is here. Check the flower pots on the rooftop. The lilies must be in bloom.”  
I took a sip of my tea and gave Ma a tight hug.
“ Ma, I can’t see all that you are going through. The way the physiotherapist pulls your arms and legs making you scream, the way Rani treats you. I decided to have a different night care for you. This is not what you deserve. Life should not be like this. “
“Life is fine, Khuku (my nickname).  God has given me enough in life.  These things happen in old age.  When the physiotherapist makes me do those exercises I feel like ants crawling all over me and pins and needles pricking…but he was only trying to make me better.  And don’t you think of firing Rani.” 
We both stayed silent for awhile until,
“ Rani loves me.  She brings cakes, though cheap ones, but with her own money to share with me.  She is like my Tara.  Remember they were born in the same year, the same month?” I did.  Rani’s mother used to work as a cook in our house. 
“ She is young like Tara, full of energy, hard working and so they sleep well at night.  Only Rani is poor, She needs the money.  She will have to take another night shift somewhere else if she loses this. Don’t fire her, please.  Only if she gets married, let her go. And if I am not there give her the gold chain that I kept in the locker. You don’t live here, Khuku. I don’t get to see you when I want.   I look forward seeing her face every morning. 
I felt a deep pang.  I knew Rani could do things that I couldn’t.  I would not be able to help her in the bathroom.  I tried that once and it was a disaster. 

Rani stayed with her all along. I was not there when Ma passed away. My heart filled with a strange emotion now and I felt ashamed of me. What did I know of life that I wished my mother’s death, who made peace with her own problems.  How selfish was I to pray like that just so that I could wash my hands and end my guilt feeling? 
Today I prayed for her forgiveness.  I was ready to show how much I can love if I had one more chance.  
But Ma’s gone.
A chime in my phone woke me up.  
It was Joshua sending me a message. 
‘Tara gave birth to a beautiful baby girl an hour ago. Her name is Eira Sabita Goldman. Eira means snowdrop, and Sabita was your mom’s name, Tara told me. Mom and baby  are doing well.’
My eyes welled up. I looked out the window. It was early morning, snowing. Treetops shimmered with icicles and dollops of snow. The Westbard Avenue was cloaked with a white blanket. The cinnamon brown buildings looked yummy like chocolate cake with frosting.  I kept on enjoying this view from the ninth floor window until the morning sun dazzled with a rainbow smile.  Now I could wake Reba to give her this big news.
A couple of months later I received a letter in the mail.  It was from Reba- a picture of a flower on a long stem that she drew with a caption. It was with all misspelled words but I could make out what it meant. 
‘The seed didn't die.’  



Monday, May 16, 2016

Rickshawgirl and message of hope

Yesterday we went to see a play in Berkeley, The Rickshawgirl.  I know the writer Mitali Perkins as her parents are also Bengali speaking and our friends.  I was very proud to see what a wonderful story Mitali has written about a girl and her family in Bangladesh, the rickshaw puller's family.  There are many things in this story, but a most importantly, a message of hope.

The play was superb too and Sonali Bhattacharya's live song with the live music gave it a different dimension.

Mitali Perkins, the author will be present to sign the book next Sunday.

There are many organizations perhaps that are supporting women's endeavor to be self supporting, especially in underdeveloped nations.  Two of them I really like.

Women For Women

KIVA foundation where you can loan money to a needy person .  See how it works.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bead Peep Blog Hop 2016

What fun I had in this Beed Peep  blog hop!

On this lovely Sunday morning, today ( May 8)  I opened my package one more time that my partner Andrea Glick sent me.  There were lots of lovely things, but for today I  am choosing  the lovely  hand made lamp work focal ( by Marcia Seever of Shazazz Glass) to work with.

Andrea sent me lots of these lovely things.  Sorry this picture did  not  do much justice. I'll show later  the pieces I chose for today's project. In Andrea's stack there were some cool Greek beads and lovely pink swarovski, rose quartz and czech glass rondelles that I plan to attack soon another quiet morning.

This was a great opportunity to ask myself  what I love most in making jewelry.  And I found that in terms of colors, I like them all. I have no  particular color that I absolutely hate.  It depends on the shade sometimes.  For that reason I love to work with Polymer clay where I mix different colors and experiment.  I  am just beginning to understand the importance of negative space regarding colors and design.

I work with wire a lot and wish I had more time to play with that technique.

I also work in the area of wire knitting and that comes easy for me.  I integrate gemstones, crystals, precious metals or not-so-precious all to experiment.

Some times I like just good old stringing and today I am  in the mood for that.  Nothing complicated just let the lamp bead say what it wants to...

Handmade Lamp Bead
 and I chose the  the  hemalite, (not  hematite) string of beads.  To accent,  I added  red and white accent tube beads from her stash.  Here  is a necklace that I came up.

I think I am going to keep it for me.  It will go lovely with many things I wear.  I could not resist showing off the sterling silver clasp she sent.  I am not sure if Andrea made it herself.  It is just darling.  Thank you Andrea.  So I put it at the side.  The necklace is 24 inches in length.  I could just slip it over my head and not bother opening the clasp.  It is just for show!

Andrea sent me some nice  pink swarovski and jet black  beads from Greece but for today I chose these.
This is what I sent to Andrea:

Please check the other wonderful participants of this blog hop and see what they made.
Here is the list of the other participants:

It was fun for  me taking part in it.  Thank you Linda Anderson for hosting it.

Linda Anderson
- Hostess -





CatherineLa Vite


Maria RosaSharrow


Terry JeanetteCarter


KellyHosford Patterson


KristinaHahn Eleniak

Robin LynneShowstack

Ingevon Roos










Tami Norris





Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wound up in Wire Weaving

I went back to wire weaving again.  It is so addictive.  This is my new passion now.   I go back and forth with making wire knit jewelry, then polymer clay and there is wire weaving, always wire weaving.

This is what I created recently

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Knitted Radiant Cardigan

The month of January kept me warm with this wonderful knitting pattern that I got from Ravelry.  It was a FREE pattern.  Meghan Jones was very generous to post this pattern free and give me all the help I needed via Face Book messages. You will find this pattern in that link.

I had a resolution this year that each month I'd learn something new.  Indeed I did.

 I had no idea what wt. means in knitting- it means wrap and turn.  It is also called SHORT ROW.   If you don't know what I am talking about , just type wt in knitting and go to Youtube. There are several generous knitters who would walk you through.

And why would I do that wt thing?  This pattern showed me why.  In the beginning it was difficult for me to understand the pattern since I had never done any thing like this.  Kitchener stitch was also a new thing for me.  But once I grabbed the idea the knitting went fast.

I had to knit a sweater for my dear Zoe for her birthday  and each year she expects something hand knitted from me.  One year I just sent her toys...she told me "But where is the hand knit sweater you make every birthday for me?"  That was so sweet.  The love I put in each stitch touched the six year old recipient.  What can a knitter ask for more?

To get a hold of the pattern first I tried it on her little sister as it is only a size 2 .  Meghan made it clear for several sizes in this pattern, so when I did the size 8 I had already had some experience.

 I made the buttons too to personalize them.  I am indebted to Ginger from The Blue Bottle Tree who has a wonderful blog on everything you want to know about Polymer Clay.  She walked me through creating the buttons and gave me enough courage telling which brand of clay to use that will withstand several washing machine agitations.  But I recommend that these cardigans be better hand washed.

I used Knitpicks Chroma Worsted Yarn  for these pieces.  The smaller one is in Lupine and the bigger one in Carnival. I am happy with the yarns though sometimes the weave of the yarn is too thick at one place and not as uniform.  But I think that gives an organic feel to it as long as you are aware of the fact while knitting.

Two sweaters in a month is pretty good speed I'd say.

Thank you for coming to visit my blog.  I'd love to hear your comments.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Kitchener stitch and all about that

Today I understood the Kitchener stitch.  It is a way to join two knitted  pieces, also known as grafting.  Why is it important - because it will be smooth with no bulk.  It is a neat thing that good knitters do to give their work a professional touch.

It was mostly used in joining the toes of a sock but now it  is equally coveted in sweaters, cardigan or other knitted garments.

I had a pattern that is almost finished except this Kitchener stitch part and I was really struggling to understand it for the last three days.

 It is supposed to be a gift.  I have rigid deadline.

And...finally I did it.

For that I am grateful to many knitters who have graciously shared their knowledge and expertise in the Youtube.  One that  helped me:

In this  second one I understood the rhythm better.


I understood it more clearly as she showed the process with a better rhythm. Pick up the front stitch as if to knit, let go  off the stitch,  but not the thread, immediately go to the next stitch of the same needle as to purl.  This the part I was messing up and this video helped me sort it out.

Where did the name come from I wondered.  Strangely, folk lore goes that an English guy who was a Field Marshall General around World War I, also served in India from 1902- 1909 for recruiting soldires to go fight for the WWI  showed the English and American knitters how to graft the socks' end so that the bulge would  not hurt the toes. The soldiers' toes I believe.  Lots of socks were knitted for the soldiers I assume.  This is how the name of this military guy came in to our knitting world.

Any way I am happy to show that my two knitted piece are now grafted with Kitchener stich in such a way that no one will know where the grafting was made.  See the first picture with contrasting purple yarn  is where I showed  the grafting

And here is my second one  where I hide it by using the same color yarn

Now I am ready to finish the sweater for my darling little one. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 and the Pantone Color Trend 

Happy New Year 

A new year rolled in and in a blink of eye 2015 passed away.

Today is a day to make resolution.  Yet why this farce ?  Do I really keep them?  Still I like to pause and think what I want to do this year. 

I was looking into the Color Trend of 2016.  Here is Pantone 2016

It embraces the concept of serenity. Calm down, slow down - is the motto

It highlights duality- think about  unisex designs- that is appropriate for both men and women

It takes us to think about charity, about giving more  for the wellness of others.

With these thoughts I go back to my bead boxes to see what I can make.

Here  Earrings Everyday invites us  to be part of a blogroll where we can take part in the   journey in making earrings.

I wonder what are your resolutions for this year.  What are you looking forward to making or changing ? 

With best wishes- Dita. 

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