Onward 2023🎉

Some years start with looming clouds and dark news. But then the frogs croak in the rain bringing memories of a time when I fed frog spawn in a small fish tank. That time my sons were small and we were living in a country which has become very different now. I enjoyed living there as it seemed to be teeming with inclusivity for all human races. But that is another story. Having returned to safe harbours, I can recollect my journey in tranquility and even write humour. 

That was a time when my children were children and had not grown into adults. Catching tadpoles instead of fish was much in vogue among young men from across the world — they were a mix of Nordic, Thai, American, Indian, Singaporean and Chinese — and they gathered around a stream that ran through the gated community. The artificial stream would turn pink with cherry blossom blooms in spring. But given the time of the year, it just ran like a little brook. After much time spent at the side of the little stream and attempts to “ fish” with butterfly nets, the boys returned home with tadpoles. The young gentleman from Finland filled his bathtub with spawn driving his mother frenetic with his newfound pets. 

I found a small plastic fishtank in the garage and homed the tiny squiggly creatures there. We placed that on a table in the patio overlooking their home, the stream. What to feed them was a major issue. My then eleven-year-old googled and told me to boil lettuce for ten minutes for the creatures. My housekeeper refused to go near them. I boiled the lettuce, fed the tadpoles and cleaned the tank till they started growing bigger, and looking more menacing. 

I am not an animal activist or particularly fond of animals, so the prospect of frog princes did not excite me. I realised I had to get rid of the tadpoles before they hopped around my home, my teacup and perhaps even bed or kitchen. Imagine a frog jumping into a pot of boiling soup mistaking it for a spa! 

One day, when there was an announcement for a storm, I convinced my twosome it was best to let the tadpoles, now growing tiny legs, go. We put them back in the stream when my four year old was finally convinced that strong winds could upset the frog’s homes and they could not be given shelter in the house or the garage as it was uncomfortable for them. 

I should be pardoned for that one as I feared having half a dozen frogs jumping on their sofa, accompanying us on cross country drives or serenading us! Though every time frogs croak in unison across the river that flows outside my window, my husband swears it was my culinary expertise  at boiling lettuce that makes them spout lyrical in praise of my skills.

Being a mother to youngsters is what I enjoyed most in my life! I am a mother and homemaker. That I write is because I breathe. I wrote about these frogs in a book in 2014. And this year, I have another anthology to recreate in reality the inclusive world of my childhood, a world that we can only dream of for our children and their progeny, if only all of us can dream of belonging…

Let us write ourselves into a world where humankind sees itself as one race on their home, the Earth, which might need to expand into a larger cosmos, that includes stars, moon and planets streaming across the Milky Way. Living in harmony with nature and setting out to find new homes in outer space is part of our heritage, our instinct for survival. We would merely be emulating many of our ancestors when they walked out of Africa, where the bones of our primal mother, Lucy, were laid to rest…

Onward to  a future we can look forward to in 2023! 

— A Mother & Homemaker 

To access the 2022 book, Monalisa No Longer Smiles: Writings from Across the World, click here. A huge thanks to all the authors who made this book a reality. To those who endorsed us, thank you. To all our readers, thank you. And a most heartfelt thanks to our publisher, especially the editorial.

Access to reviews on the anthology can be found by clicking here.

Click here to visit Borderless Journal. Again huge thanks to all our team members, to our contributors and readers. We exist because you are. Thanks to all our well wishers.

Click here to access the book with stories of bringing up my children

Click here for the India link (The other version of the book published from within India is a pirated version. The link below takes you to the genuine book.)

Click here to find the book’s free updated version in an online journal


Happy reading in 2023! 




People started using a language to communicate at some point in history…They say about a 100000 years ago… could be more… some say 200,000 years ago… Intellectuals and scientists are still trying to figure out that one.

Linguists continue to cogitate and have agitated arguments over the issue of the evolution of the first language. But the point is, they can argue because language and words evolved and they exist. And it is a fact that language is what has separated humans from the birds, bees, lions, tigers, apes, fishes, crabs, whales, dolphins, elephants and Neanderthals. These creatures communicate too (or communicated too, in case of Neanderthals) with grunts, tunes, trills, gestures, dances and notes; but none of them can (or could) talk or communicate in ways as complex as humans.

Neanderthals evidently had the tools in them to talk, but were too primitive to develop speech, which ultimately fell into the forte of our ancestors, the homo sapiens, who evolved somewhere in Central Africa.

Sometimes, I wonder if the famed Ethiopian Lucy of the Australopithecus family called out to her beloved in words or grunts or notes? She has been much celebrated with words by not only intellectuals but also by songsters like Beatles and Elton John. And yet, perhaps 3.2 million years ago, did she speak? Would she be able to understand the serenades for her?

Would she be able to comprehend any of the modern languages we use today? Can you believe that currently there are more than 5,000 languages in the world?! It might seem an astounding figure, especially compared to Lucy’s times, but from a handful of people, the human family has to grown 7,500,000,000 large… quite a leap from Lucy’s lifetime, I believe!

At some point the first language must have started with grunts coming out of descendants of Lucy, the first men and women that lived in Africa and, eventually, in their progeny who walked out of Africa to create homes all over the world. We, the progeny of these walkers, now speak in complex sentences, using varied words in varied languages that probably our early ancestors would have found impossible to comprehend.

Languages, like their users, tend to run into each other. They share some words or some word roots in common. They could all exist in harmony and learn from each other if they did not join their users in a rat race to prove themselves superior or the most spoken. With a cutthroat cultural race among different nations and states, languages have become a commodity. Politicians use it to prove their prowess and power. Some languages have been wiped completely off from the surface of the Earth by invaders and rulers or sneers from people who considered them inferior. Some of the power brokers ironed out the differences among people who lived under their protection by ironing out their language and uniting them under the banner of one language that they called the national language.

Today, when a person speaks, he is immediately classified into a nationality, a class, a creed, a culture and a region. Henry Higgins of Pygmalion (play by G.B. Shaw, 1913) and My Fair Lady (Hollywood adaptation of Pygmalion) fame created more than a century ago made a pertinent observation on this issue. He says,

an Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him: the moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him...

We can apply this well in the context of  the spoken word, not just for English speakers or ‘an Englishman’ as he says, but for speakers of all languages. The minute we open our mouth, we are labeled.

There are people who frown on users of languages they consider spoken or used by hostile groups. But one just wonders, is it the fault of the language or the users? We associate the power of words with the negative impact the users have made on society…much like we associate the power of the atom with the devastation caused by the nuclear bomb.

Then, there is the case of mother tongue… when you do not speak, read or write it, people among your family and friends often frown… I have always wondered why? Perhaps, because of the theory that says language evolved from mother tongue, that is the sounds used by the mother to communicate with the baby… then it must have been in an arboreal environment… now, we do it in more than 5000 different ways! And yet, in this long linguistic list missing is the original mother tongue of all mother tongues that evolved in Africa 100,000 or 200,000 years ago! We do not even know what the language is…

Our research of speech starts with the written words. The oldest known written language is Egyptian or is it Sumerian…? I am confused! Logically, there must have been something they spoke before they built palaces and homes… and that would be the mother tongue of all the human race. That is what we all would be speaking if we went by tradition and culture…that is what our ancient ancestors spoke when they walked out to populate the beautiful green Earth. And that is what we have lost to the dusts of time…

Now the babel of more than 5000 languages have become sources of unhappy divisions instead of a means to communicate to make our own lives easier and happier. I wonder, how our great (to the power a hundred and twenty thousand generations or more) grandmother, the celebrated Lucy, would react to this medley of words …