Sunday, February 14, 2010

some famous love letters...

Victor-Marie Hugo (1802-85) was born in Besan on, France, the third son of an army general. He was a sickly infant and was not expected to live, but grew more robust from the age of two when he went to live with his mother in Paris--"the birthplace of my soul."
As a teenager he began to fill notebooks with poetry. In maturity he was a prolific and very successful poet, dramatist, and novelist, and the most celebrated author of his generation. His most famous works include The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831), Les Chants du Crepuscule (1835) and Les Miserables (1862).

December 31st, 1851

You have been wonderful, my Juliette, all through these dark and violent days. If I needed love, you brought it to me, bless you! When, in my hiding places, always dangerous, after a night of waiting, I heard the key of my door trembling in your fingers, peril and darkness were no longer round me--what entered then was light!
We must never forget those terrible, but so sweet, hours when you were close to me in the intervals of fighting. Let us remember all our lives that dark little room, the ancient hangings, the two armchairs, side by side, the meal we ate off the corner of the table, the cold chicken you had brought; our sweet converse, your caresses, your anxieties, your devotion. You were surprised to find me calm and serene. Do you know whence came both calmness and serenity? From you...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) was born in Salzburg, the son of Leopold Mozart and Anna Maria Pertl. From the age of five he performed all over Europe with his sister, Maria-Anna.

By 1772 he had composed 25 symphonies and two string quartets. He was appointed honorary concert master to the court in Salzburg in 1774, and after more tours--to Italy, Manneheim, and Paris--and a spell as court organist in Salzburg (1778-80), he moved to Vienna in 1781. Mozart wrote most of his best work in the years that followed: 12 piano concertos (1784-86); six quartets; and the operas The Marriage of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), and Cosi Fan Tutte (1790). In 1791, the year of the Requiem and The Magic Flute, he died of heart failure, at age 35.

This is a portion of a letter sent to his wife Constanze

Mainz October 17, 1790

PS.--while I was writing the last page, tear after tear fell on the paper. But I must cheer up -- catch! -- An astonishing number of kisses are flying about --- The deuce!-- I see a whole crowd of them! Ha! Ha!...I have just caught three-- They are delicious!-- You can still answer this letter, but you must address your reply to Linz, Poste Restante-- That is the safest course. As I do not yet know for certain whether I shall go to Regensburg, I can't tell you anything definite. Just write on the cover that the letter is to be kept until called for.

Adieu--Dearest, most beloved little wife-- Take care of your health-- and don't think of walking into town. Do write and tell me how you like our new quarters-- Adieu. I kiss you millions of times.

In the times of texting, when even the spellings are compromised for lack of time/credit, do we really have the time to romance, to woo? If "UR d lite of my life" is love aajkal, I am terribly terribly old fashioned!!

To the beauty and charm of putting pen on paper, this valentines day make your beloved feel special!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life etc (2)

The drive to the school is about half an hours time, and it helped that I was driving. kept the mind from wandering to the classroom before the appointment. The kids were quiet at the back lost in their own thoughts. They usually dont speak much in the mornings, sleepy-eyed, tounge-tied kids in school uniform and bags, tiny adult figures! Thats what I think when I see them at this time of the day. But then I was just concentrating on the road and keeping the reigns of my imaginary conversation with the class teacher in strict control.

To get a parking anywhere in the vicinity of the school gates is an impossible prayer, but that day, we got one bang opposite the gates! "Lucky", said my daughter, Bond still didn't utter a word, I remember thinking," hope the luck prevails for the next hour or so!"

Got out, got the kids out, forgot to take the keys out of the ignition, went back in the car took the keys out, locked the doors, double checked, got muddled up with the keys, the glares, the hand bag and the phone, stopped, put everything inside the handbag, saw daughter shaking her head in indulgent acceptance. Saw Bond taking my hand in his tiny ones. We crossed the road and entered the school.
Both my kids have their classes in different blocks so it was a kiss and a pat on the back to my daughter, who in turn hugged bond and said, "Just stop being naughty and things will become alright." Then she was off. Bond and I trudged along the steps to his 2nd floor classroom. the teacher greeted us with such a smile that for a moment I thought, I was being mistaken for somebody else, but then she called his name and said come dear, let's go the class, and I shook myself and followed the teacher and the student to their classroom. Sitting beside bond I awaited the teacher to open the conversation, as I kept looking for the smile that was now hidden behind worksheets and notebooks.

Teacher: " Sujata, your son needs discipline. He needs to get into the study mode, he has to get serious. From class 3 they will have long question and answers to write.."

Me:(nodding my head like noddy and taking hope from the last sentence of the teacher): "What exactly do you see him doing in class? When I teach him, I feel he is good at grasping any new topic, but then his retention is not strong, he forgets the details."
Teacher: "Why does this happen? Haven't you wondered? It's not because he has memory problem, because in that case it would reflect in other ways, It's only because of his lack of disciplined study time. He has to sit down and study, revise, do sums,write and do all this regularly for atleast two hours everyday. This might not be true for other kids his age, but for him its required, as he is still very restless and gets distracted very fast. Once he gets into the habbit of studies, all that you percieve as erratic will slowly go away."

Me: "Has he made no progress at all this year, at home I do see improvement with his spellings, with his writing, he is still very bad in hindi, but the note did come as a shock as I did'nt think he was performing that bad as to be called minimal"

Teacher: "Had the letter been not strongly worded, many parents would not have bothered to drop in, He has improved, he is a very social boy, very good in his interpersonal skills, I have no complaints against his oral work, his framing of sentences, but he needs to work on his writing, on his spellings, on his hindi and in general neatness and upkeep of books. Sujata don't spare the rod and spoil the child, be strict, its okay he will still be yours, but if you dont discipline him now, you will lose him forever and then it will be too late.. boys are different than girls, and it should not happen that your weakness towards him is taken advantage of."
Me:(looking at bond and seeing him visibly shrinking in his chair found it very difficult to imagine him taking advantage of me, but in some far corner of my almost non existent logical mind, I did see that as a possibility) "Thank you teacher for having this conversation with me. I will ensure that he sits with me for 2 hours of study time regularly and will come and see you again in 3 weeks time and take it up from there."

Teacher: "For me he is a student, however dear he maybe, he is still one of the 40 kids in my class, to you he is your future, your son, just be strict and ride him for the next couple of years and then there is no worry, you lose him now, and he is out of bounds forever."

Those last lines made quite an impression, I know in my gut that I am lax with him, much more than I was with my daughter but I didnt realise that it was going to take this magnitude. On my way back I kept thinking of how much time I spent teaching my daughter, how rigorous I was with her in her early school years, how insistent on a page of handwriting everyday, on 10 sums everyday, on reading each chapter thoroughly, on answering questions, I guess that was study time. My mind forwarded to the time when bond started school, was there too much on my plate then? Why did I get so relaxed with him, why did I keep thinking of him as just a baby? Frankly I have no clue and there is no point rummaging through the ifs and buts!

Pull up our socks!! shall we! And that is what I have been doing with bond for the last week, a page of handwriting, 20 sums, spelling dictations, question and answers, a stern eye whenever he tries to wiggle through, a pat on the back for a difficult word correctly spelled.

There is improvement in the fact that he sits with me regularly and concentrates for the complete hour, there is visble improvement in his writing, he is still weak in hindi, but the spellings are better, and he still likes maths a lot. Its too early to say where his destiny lies, but if the road has to be through study hours and discipline, I dont see any reason not to comply! Do you?

The picture is from 3 years back at the sports prize distribution ceremony at the preparatory school!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Life etc..

This slot was for the calcutta trip. I was prepared to write about the city's never ending hope. But writing cannot be planned, just like life. A lot of things happened in the mean time that compelled me to take a short break from my travelouge and note them down instead.

One afternoon, Bond, returned from school with a note that said,' Parents, please come to school and meet your ward, Soumya's Class teacher and Hindi teacher on the 6th of february between 7:00 am and 8:15 am. His progress in academics has been minimal throughout this year.' The note also said a lot of other things to soften the blow of the first line, but that I guess is irrelevant.

The regular followers of my blog, am sure, know by now that bond is my weakness. And am sure most of you also know that given two options, I usually take the most illogical and the most complicated one.. I dont know why, but that's how it is .

I sat down with the note, had a series of traumatic motion picture clippings run on east man colour in front of my eyes, showing mercilessly my poor boy's trauma on being singled out in a class full of bright kids. Steadying myself and my feet I went and had a glass of water. Also I mentally prepared my script to deal with the kid, who was innocently untying his shoe laces and giving me sidelong glances. Best not to say what those glances did to my heart. My mind was by this time reeling under the hostel departing scene from TZP.

Almost 15 mins had elapsed by this time, and I had not even broached the topic of the letter with the kid. So I eventually started..

Me: " Did the teacher say anything when she gave this letter to you?"

Bond(opening his shirt now): "Yeah, she said I will remain in class 2 while all my friends will move on to class 3"

Me(collapsing in a nearby chair): " Are you that bad?"

At this time I was trying my level best to garner some anger into my system, but that's all I could manage.."are you that bad?" I know its pathetic..

Bond:( On his way to the shower )" Are you going to tell dad, about the letter, or will you sign it yourself?"

Remembering for the first time in this series of events that I had just overlooked the fact that he has a dad, who needs to be informed about this and who will thankfully deal with this much better, I galloped to the phone and called the husband.

Me: " Bond got a letter from school saying he has not shown any progress in academics this year"

He: " hmm, okay"

Me: " We have to meet the teacher on the 6th of this month."

he: " okay, we will be there, anything else?"

Me : "Is that not enough?"

He: " okay, later"

Me:(under my breath): "life can't get worse!!" On turning my gaze from the phone towards the bath, I saw bond dancing under the shower and singing "all is well" accompanied by the now famous whistles, from the latest hindi flick! My thoughts dashed to Aamir khan..maybe I should have married that guy, he would have made a perfect dad!

Towelling the boy dry, and slowly coming out of my reverie, I once again attempted to gather from him, what exactly the note meant. He was vague, he was more interested in the menu for lunch, and a bit later on knowing, who would sign the note and who would meet the teacher?

Met the teacher today.. That's another post, coming soon your way! until then "All is well.. tweet tweet tweet" I guess.