Madhu Bazaz Wangu | Nani’s Page
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Nani’s Page

NANI, DO YOU KNOW WHAT M-A-TH-E-M-A-T-I-C-S IS?

Our grandson, Mokhta has written his first fiction book. The two-hundred-plus-words booklet has four chapters. Written with a pencil on two 8 x 11 mauve colored thin drawing papers, the pages are cut in half and then folded making the booklet sixteen pages long. The title is Basketball Meets Pin. I reprint it below without changing a word. He wrote all exclamation points himself. Chapter One Basket Ball was lonely. He met pin. They played. They talked. They had fun. One day Basketball saw a swirl. Not just swirl, a beautiful swirl. It was a single swirl with lots of colors in it with some green color. The swirl could take them 97 miles an hour! It was funny. Chapter Two Then pin came over. Can I greet you, asked pin. Yes, said Basketball I...

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Rebirth of My Golden Pothos

This morning one of my twin golden Pothos plant delighted me! As I turned this lush indoor climber around I discovered three stems lying on the ground waiting to be trimmed. Here is the story of why this sight was so pleasant. One of the many things that thrilled me when I came to the United States was luscious indoor plants. Seven years later, when my parents visited us my mother too was delighted with plants thriving inside our home. She added a philodendron to my small collection. That plant is a quarter of a century old now. Its attractive foliage, although gone through many ups and downs, continues to grow in soil enriched with humus. Through years I have placed it in shade, under filtered light or in indirect sun....

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A Letter to My Granddaughter

My Aria, My Rosebud, A few months before your birth your mother called to tell us that you were going to be a girl. "What a blessing!" I said as the images of my own two blessings surfaced in my mind. As a young woman, I used to daydream about having a little girl of my own. My fortune doubled when we were blessed with two daughters: your mother Srimal (Garland of Happiness) and your Massi Zoon (Moon). Now some thirty years later, with your birth a fresh wave of delight has surged. You, Aria (Melody, Hymn, Song). Here is another opportunity for me to observe and experience your life, a young woman's wonderful world, all over again. As I write this, you are one year old, and I am at the threshold...

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To Do List

            It was the Monday after the Fourth of July. Our daughter and her husband entered our front door, hugged their eight-month old baby Ariana and kissed their son Mokhta, now five-years old. "Did the "To Do List" help, Mommy?" she asked me in the kitchen where I was brewing Darjeeling tea for them. They had returned from a three-night break at Nemacolin Resort to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. Before she left, she had placed a piece of paper on the refrigerator that read: "Ariyana's To Do List" 7:00                                             Wake Up and 4oz. milk ~10:00   ...

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“When Apples Turn Red”

My husband and I were waiting for the arrival of Mokhta, our grandson, when we heard our daughter's car stop in the front of the house. I opened the front door and saw Mokhta already out of the car looking up at the crabapple tree. He turned toward us and after a moment's pause, started to run. Afraid that he might fall on the pavement, I walked briskly toward him and he jumped right into my open arms. I kissed him and hugged him tight; my love of four months was waiting, wanting to be expressed. I kissed his little hands, his silky head of hair, and his cheeks that were not as plump as they used to be when he was a baby. "We ate chocolate, Nani," He said as...

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The Day my Heart Blossomed into a Nani Heart

It took me a while before I got used to my new appellation "Nani"-maternal grandmother. Nani was just a respectful title my grandson, Mokhta, was going to address me with. I began to think myself to be a Nani but it was very slowly but surely that I began to feel like one. Another new term of endearment that took me a while to get used to was my daughter as Mokhta's "Mommy." My baby was now herself a mother. At the hospital, the day she gave birth to our grandson, I was not quite sure how the young couple was going to ease into routine after a major transition in their lives. Before we had left their home she had said not to worry and assured us that they...

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A Letter to My Grandson

My Mokhta, My Pearl, With your birth on September 16, 2006 you raised my status in the family by making me your, Nani, maternal grandmother. Thank you for that! Nine months prior to that date when your mother told me that I was going to become a Nani I understood it but didn't know what to feel. How to feel? I had heard a grandmother's love for her grandchildren is overwhelming. Why didn't I feel it right away? My grandparents had passed away before I was born so I had not experienced this love. I had some knowledge of what I, now a Nani, was supposed to feel for you but I didn't feel it yet. I was more worried for your mother's health during the pregnancy and delivery. Being a painter, I...

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Vines, Creepers and Trees

Female Creepers, Male Trees Portrayal of a virgin entwined around a blossoming tree is a characteristic motif of the early Indian art (c. 2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE). Such voluptuous females with abundant jewelry, elaborate headdresses and coiffures are reminiscent of Indus Valley terracotta figurines. These figures are believed to be charged with potent sexual energy. The trees are their male counterparts in vegetal form. Such leaning females are called Yakshinis and the trees they lean against, when in human form, Yakshas. Yakshini is a vessel of fertility, capable of bringing forth new life. Yaksha is a water deity. When both figures are in human form they are known as Mithuna. All these images, Yakshini, Yaksha and Mithuna are fundamental symbols of water, fertility and vegetative growth. Yakshinis and Mithunas,...

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Ancient Female Deities

Ancient Female Deities, Now Retired More than four thousand years ago inhabitants of the fertile region of Ganga-Jamuna delta sang hymns of praise. They sung in honor of the powers of nature, of sky, of atmosphere, of earth. They sung the hymns of awe and terror to the powers of dawn, sun, ether, night, earth-its fertility and fecundity, water, vegetation and fire. Slowly the powers were personified. They were given thousand eyes and ears, multiple heads and hands. Most of these were male but many female: mothers, and spouses of the male deities. Consorts, spouses and mother deities were efficacious but lacked profile and power. They were easily interchangeable with one another. Their names were simply the feminine suffices of the names of the male gods. For example Agneyi was...

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First Things First

My growing years in India were spent in the company of some wonderful women—my mother, sisters, sisters-in-law, nieces and aunts. But eternally present at the periphery were Hindu goddesses—Durga, Lakshmi, Parvati, Sita, Radha, Kali, Sarasvati and many others. Religious or not, we found ourselves dyed in the hues and tones of the goddesses, their colors unbleachable.  How did the full-fledged Hindu goddesses emerge? Why, about five thousand years ago, were thousands of female figurines modeled in clay? Why did Indian artisans start to sculpt voluptuous dryads and nymphs by 300 CE and distinct symbolic images of the goddesses by 500 CE? And finally why are these goddesses highly cherished deities of modern India?  # The earliest female figurines were unearthed on the banks of the Indus River during the early twentieth century. They...

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