Holding the door


Yesterday I held the door for a young man as we exited our local YMCA. He was right behind me as I went out into the chilly outside from the comfortable warmth of the building. I held the door for him. He hurried forward and said, “Oh, thank you so much.” Nothing unusual in those words of courtesy, what was unusual, however, was in the manner it was said. There was a certain intonation in those words, a certain dip in his head, a certain respectful smile that caught my attention. As I walked to my car, my heart felt happy at my simple gesture and the kind reciprocation of a fellow human. We often say “thank you” to strangers without meaning it. This man meant his “thank you.”

Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights has left a mark on me. This was my delight yesterday – a few meaningful words from a complete stranger.

The “goods”.


“Mom, are you seriously going to let Sahana take an Uber from the airport?” Ryan asked me last night, aghast at my non motherly gesture.

“Yes!! She is coming in at night. I will be in my pajamas with a book at that time. She is a big girl.” I replied nonchalantly.

It was obvious this response bothered 17 year old, new driver Ryan.

“I will pick her up. I will write to her.” He shook his head.

I could not stay home as Ryan drove to the airport. It was his first time and I wanted to be his co-pilot negotiating with Sahana where she was waiting to be picked up. As he drove and I chatted, I told him this was very nice of him. He said, “Well, she picked me up after my prom at 1 am. This is the least I can do.”

Sahana, understandably, was very pleased with her little brother for helping her save Uber money. She thanked him profusely. And as I listened to them chatter, I thought I have been building cathedrals all these years and now that I am getting close to seeing the whole structure, I like what Sean and I built.

I have given up writing about the ‘goods’ in my life due to laziness but I wanted this sweet act of paying kindness forward to live on my blogsite. These little moments, gestures create joys in life.

Khushi’s 9th birthday


“The month of May is just awful!” Khushi, whose birthday is on May 27th, told Sahana during our recent visit to Kolkata.

“It is your birthday in May. Why is it awful?” Sahana asked.

“Didiya mamma and dadai died in May.” Khushi replied. Those are my parents, her adopted grandparents. Sahana told her despite those terrible losses May is wonderful because the world got Khushi in the month of May.

Little Khushi is 9 years old today. Every time I see her I marvel at her maturity and poise at this young age. Even at this tender age she sees her mother’s struggle to give her a chance at a better life and most importantly, she recognizes it. She knows that they live in extreme poverty and she is resigned to the fact that she has to go without. She goes to a school where her peers come from middle class background. She is a popular child, kind and well liked by others so she gets a lot of invitations to her friends’ houses to play. When she goes to their houses she sees how the other half lives. She can never invite them to her house because she lives in a tiny room where the bed takes up the entire space. There is no space to even move around. Her mother cooks somehow in a tiny space in the same room. Water leaks when it rains. They have to put a bucket underneath and stay up at night if the storm is too bad. She knows all this. So she never asks for anything. I sent her some gifts through Amazon. I have asked Gouri to buy her a cake. Every year my parents celebrated her birthday at our house with cake, pizza and gifts. Last year was a year of loss but this year I want to acknowledge that the world is a better place because little Khushi is in it. But she does not know any of it yet. I called her mother to keep all this a secret. I asked Breshpati if they are celebrating Khushi’s birthday with their family. Breshpati said, ‘Na didi.’ Money is short and Khushi knows it. She told her mom she does not need anything but if it is not too much would her mother make her pizza? She LOVES pizza. That will be the celebration – home made pizza. They do not have an oven. The pizza will be made on stove top.

On this day, I hope you will join me in blessing this little girl and wishing her a wealth of happiness in her life. And success – whatever is her measure of it. I am so very happy to have her in my life.

A year of resilience


On Sean’s birthday eve, we took him out for a fancy dinner to a fancy restaurant. Between bites of wild mushroom and walnut risotto, we asked Sean how he would describe this past year, his past year. I prepared myself for yet another onslaught of pain as I expected him to talk about our loss. Instead, he said he considers the past year (past 2 years really) as year of resilience. He acknowledged the deaths in our family – his aunt, both my parents, my 3 other aunts to Covid. The impact of Covid on our family – losses, sadness, lack of any joy, despair. As well as how Covid impacted others – loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, deterioration of mental health, rise in domestic violence. Yet those of us who survived the pandemic persevered. Yes, we had differences about how we would deal with the pandemic which drew yet another divisive line among us, but we persevered. We came out of it. Medical professionals worked day and night to prepare vaccines. Governments made it accessible in varying degree in different countries across the globe. Despite our losses, we are laughing again, we are living, loving.

Recently, I saw one of our regular customers at the library after many, many months. I had not seen him since we reopened and I found myself thinking of him often. He keeps to himself mainly, paces the library, mutters to himself. I was shelving when I saw him slowly walking towards the computer with a cane. The cane is a new addition but he was alive. He came through the pandemic. I felt such a surge of relief.

There is a war brewing. Innocent lives are again being sacrificed to greed of autocrats. People are fighting back though – with arms, with donations, with kindness towards refugees. Human resilience at play, yet again.

Year of resilience it has been. Year of human resilience it continues to be.

A mysterious surprise!


This box appeared on my desk at work today. I did not sleep well last night, so I woke up tired as usual. Contemplated life over coffee, looked out and glared at the cold weather, completed Wordle on the 5th or 6th try. Dragged myself to shower, put some eyeliner, slapped on my mask and stepped out into the cold, muttering how much I hate winter.

At work, I clocked in, exchanged pleasantries with some coworkers and walked to my desk. And there it was. A gift from a mysterious giver. I asked a few usual suspects if they had gifted me a box of chocolates. None of them had. I wondered all day who this kind person was? Who knew that I need a little picker upper today? That act of love carried me through my work day. And I must write it in my blog to remember, down the line, how gestures of kindness matter.

If you, the giver of chocolates, are one of those who reads my blog – I appreciate you. You made my day. Much ❤!

Goods in 2021


The beginning of 2021 was so full of hope. When I racked my brain for what was good in 2021 for me personally, that is what comes to mind first. Hope. We were so hopeful, naively hopeful. I remember saying to friends “After we get the vaccine, let’s plan on going to Kolkata together. “

Well that hope was shattered. I lost my parents and 3 other relatives to Covid in 2021. So try as I might, I can not find the goods this past year. There were goods – kindness was showered upon us, Sean and I took a couple of fantastic trips, Sahana graduated magna cum laude from college, Ryan kept his GPA up, improved his time in swimming, Sahana got jobs and planned for future, Ryan moved to dorms and had good school life, Sean continued his efforts to make a difference in people’s lives all over the world, donors in his organization donated money to help in Covid relief, my work friends held me up when I was afraid of drowning, books, as usual, became my anchor.

But all these goods could not balance the loss in my life. I am afraid to hope but I want to remain hopeful that the goods in 2022 will outweigh the bads. My best wishes to all of you out there who drop by my blog site. Stay blessed and healthy.

The “goods” in the week of September 27th.


Ross Gay, the author of The Book of Delights: Essays has inspired me to find delights in little things around me and since I am trying to emulate him in looking deeper and feeling deeper, I discovered I find delight in hearing the tak- tak suction sound that my vacuum cleaner makes when it sucks in the little particles of debris into the vacuum cleaner. That sound is truly very satisfying. A audible result of me trying to clean the house. I discovered this delight yesterday as I vacuumed my oft neglected basement. The vacuum cleaning was good of the week, sure, but that discovery of delight was the real good.

Most days last week were sunshiny with blue sky. Durga puja is around the corner and the sky of America resembles my sky of Kolkata around this time. I find no joy in Durga puja but I love the sky. On my walks, either in the fields behind my house or on my breaks at work when I take walks around the grounds of the library, I soak in the sun and the sky. This weather will not last and I will revisit this sunlight in my mind during the dark days of winter.

The plants in my flower garden are still giving me some flowers. Obstinate ma plant is threatening to bloom. I touch her leaves sometimes and smile.

Sahana absolutely loves her new job and everyone at her new work place have been extremely kind to her. It makes my soul happy to hear her talk enthusiastically about helping people get their print job, or find the book that they are looking for. Working at a public library is extremely rewarding and people are mostly good. It reaffirms my faith in humanity.

Ryan was quite sick over the weekend, but seems to be on the mend today.

We had my friend’s dog for overnight. She was good for our souls.

Sean fixed all the light fixtures in our house that needed fixing. That man is a true giver in every sense of the word. He spent his entire weekend trying to make our lives easier and more comfortable.

I am currently reading Sooley by John Grisham. I can not say I am loving his style of writing. However, I did write a blog for our library blog post and I see they published it today. If you want, you can read my review of the book If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha here.

Not simply the ‘goods’ but the best thing this weekend is my friend’s love to me in the form of an exquisite shawl that she knitted for me. She gave it to me in the garden at work while we were having lunch in front of the paver stones dedicated to my parents. Her love and kindness – “bests” this week.

Hope your list of ‘goods’ is long. Have a great week.

Cumulative kindness


A friend asked me how I dealt with this double tragedy of losing my parents within a span of 9 days of each other right when it happened. Did the kindness of your family and friends help you recover, she asked. I thought about those horrific days when I sat on the couch completely numb, catatonic even. For a short time, I did not want to live anymore. The kindness of others did not even touch me at that point. When I look back, although looking back is very painful, I feel like I was so completely submerged in profound grief, I was beyond anyone’s touch. I felt my family around me hugging, crying, doing things for me but I was simply an observer of their action. Friends and community poured their love and affection but if I am honest, at that time, I was simply acting the way that I was supposed to act – saying thank you, smiling.

Slowly with time, I felt like I was emerging gradually from the quagmire of deep, heavy, suffocating grief. I read a friend’s post on social media, who lost his mother 7 days before I did that he was going to live his life to the fullest because that truly is the last and most precious gift that his mother gave him. He would honor and cherish that gift by being the best that he can be. That struck a chord. My life is truly their gift to me and I can honor that gift by being the best that I can be. It was then that I started looking around. And I found the acts of kindness and love all around me.

From the love of my friends to the many acts of kindness of my coworkers, my community, my cousins, my aunt – I lived in a universe of kindness. I was so immersed in my loss that I failed to feel the warmth of all the love. It was almost a selfish act. Almost, I say since I am determined to be kind to myself. From words of love to food, from taking my shifts at work to sending plants and flowers, from financial donations for Covid help in India in my parents’ memory to cards from all over the world. Prayers were said in several countries in the world by Sean’s colleagues in churches, mosques and temples for my parents’ soul and our peace. All the cumulative kindness of my community of friends and family became this huge cushion of comfort for me to rest my head. I have already written a blog about how my coworkers donated money to engrave 2 paver stones in memory of my parents in the garden of our library. I eat my lunch there these days and I go to see them during my breaks. Yesterday, I was having lunch with a dear friend near their paving stones when she said, “I have something for you.” It was not my birthday! Why would there be something for me? She gave me a gift bag with a tissue wrapped gift. When I opened the tissue paper, my jaw dropped. It was the most exquisite shawl knitted by her with all my favorite colors. She started knitting the shawl for me in June, just after my parents died.

I cried, of course. And then laughed. I went over to the paver stones to show ma and baba the shawl. I told them not to worry about me. I am loved and cared for. And now I am looking around and cherishing it.

A birthday blog


I saw an elated face holding up a victory sign from a distance as I was rolled away to recovery room after giving birth to Sahana 22 years ago. That was my ma. Baba was standing next to her with a grin that took over his entire face. On Sahana’s birthday, I kept remembering those expressions on their faces. I do not recall witnessing pure joy like that ever in my life. I remember raising my hand in a weak wave as their faces disappeared around the corner. It is interesting how those little things stay permanently in one’s memory. That moment, when they heard the cry of new born Sahana, was the beginning of a love story. Sahana could do no wrong in their eyes. And as Sahana grew older didiya and dadai became her people. Since her childhood she confided in them secrets that she did not tell me. Didiya was her sounding board, her confidante, her go-to. Dadai was fellow adventurer.

I don’t know if Sahana’s grandparents are watching over her. It is a comforting thought so I like to think they are. However, the lifetime of all encompassing love that they showered upon her during their time with her is deeply weaved within the tapestry of her life. That tapestry will be an integral part of her whole.

This is a rambling birthday blog. What I really wanted to write was how Sahana has grown up to be a giver. Again, during times of joy or grief, certain moments, some actions stand out. I want to write down one such action that shines as a beacon of light in my heart during my darkest hours. Ma had just died. Baba was continuing his fight for life. I had not been able to mourn ma’s death because I was fighting to keep baba breathing. One morning, after zillion phone calls with Kolkata, I was sitting on my chair gazing at nothing in particular. My mind was blank, numb. Sahana was still doing her last few online classes. I saw her pass by me in the living room, then I vaguely remember hearing some noises in the kitchen. I was so lost in my thoughts, I don’t recall anything else till she came up to me and softly said, “I made some comfort food for you to eat. They are covered in the kitchen. Do eat please.” Then she kissed me on the top of my head and went back to her next online class. I did not realize the significance of this beautiful gesture till much later when I had time to think. But when I did think back on it, my heart simply exploded with love and gratitude at this act of pure kindness. She had made white rice, masoor dal, boiled egg and fried potatoes – soul food for Bengalis.

She has grown up to be a giver like her father. Her love language is doing something for her loved ones. And she does so much for me – picking up Ryan from school, shopping for the family, getting food, buying me drinks with her Starbucks discount….

I believe all the love she received growing up has taught her to pass it forward. The love has taught her to care, to feel, to empathize.

Happy 22nd birthday to my favorite girl. Hope you continue in your journey of showering love to the universe. Hope you find success – success that is defined by you.

The “goods” in the week of May 17th.


Again, it feels quite morbid to find the “goods” in a week when baba died. Thinking about the “goods” is therapeutic though and it shifts my focus away from sorrow.

Baba’s end was peaceful. Like ma, he went gently into the night.

He never had to know that ma had passed away.

He was in his own home cared for by people who cared about him.

My friend from Hyderabad called long distance to arrange for steady supply of oxygen cylinders to make sure baba could breathe.

My friend’s husband, a physician, took baba’s caregiver’s call at any hour and guided him over video call. He took charge of my father’s well being and did his best to help him recover. When I approached my friend regarding his fee they declined.

My cousin registered him for health department in case he needed readmittance to hospital.

My friend from school and her husband stayed in constant touch with the caregiver, ready to help.

A friend from social media who I never met in real life jumped into action making calls for oxygen.

I write all this to show that people fought with him and for him.

My flowers look beautiful and there is not a single weed in sight. Weeding, watering and tending to the plants have been truly comforting.

Sahana graduated from college with magna cum laude in both her majors.

I went to Sahana’s graduation and met my big, beautiful family that I married into. They held my hand, lend a ear and just loved. I could give my mother in law a hug after over a year.

Ma and baba would be happy to know I am enveloped in love and kindness by friends and family near and far in my time of need.