Monday, January 27, 2014


I am lately hearing my mom say, a lot more than often, that having a man in the house makes a major difference. Though I'd rather beg to differ, it does leave me thinking. 

In all these years the only thing that I have heard my mom say was that she found herself one day, with 2 rupees and a 1.5 year old on hand. It was right after the monsoons in Mumbai and there were almost no groceries. It seems at that time, they had habit of clearing out the entire kitchen right after the monsoons and buy everything afresh. I have had random people asking me why my father left us. I tried asking him myself to which he said "some things in life don't have answers". There was a point in time when I was in despair. But then I realize in retrospect that as long as my (maternal) grandfather was alive, I really didn't worry too much, nor did I have a care in the world. I was quite the happy child, except for the occasional scolding I'd get from my mother about working harder. 

Mom always said she had the most blissful married life. And that my father was one of the most soft-spoken genteel men she'd ever known. He was classy, good looking. And that he was a tremendous singer who sincerely believed he'd never get anywhere. Maybe that was his destiny. 

The day I started singing Ghazals my mom wrote to my father asking him to spend time with me and when he did visit us, my landlady happened to mention that he seems like a man who has returned home from office in the morning. "It doesnt seem like you have been apart for 10 years... Ennadhu idhu Bathma" she asked. Mom never had the answer. My father apparently remarked in court that she'd have had a glorious life if she had married anyone else and that it was her misfortune that she married him. God knows what he meant by that. 

I haven't heard one complaint about him from my mother. Or one complaint against my mother from my father, the few times I was forced to meet him because my mom told me so. I made my resentment very clear. I'd go into a shell. I briefly went to his house where he lived, with their father, his brother and his family.. and ran back home as soon as I could thinking my mother would never take me back home because she believed I would have a more comfortable life living with my father. 

I met him two more times. Once when I went to receive the All India Radio gold medal for Ghazals, to which my mother requested my father to take me, all the way to Jammu, since "I have seen you grow as a singer.. he has not had that joy, he deserves to be there since he is your father". I didn't talk much to him. Except when I wanted to eat or drink or sleep. We went to Vaishno devi, where I lost him on the hill. I found him after a very long two hours. I went crying, asking how to find my father. And then I saw him sauntering toward me, hands in his pockets, smiling and coolly asked me, "Where were you?". We got back to Delhi. I called my mother's friends. And asked them to pick me up from the station. I refused to go back to Chennai with my father thereafter. My mom's friends had to pick me up, they were highly embarrassed and finally my mom came to pick me up from Delhi.

I met him once again, at my mother's behest, as my father's father was 96+ and was ailing and that it was my duty to go meet him as there is a "soul relationship". After his monologue for an hour about music he left me with a solid piece of advice. "Artists should not marry and I advise you too, to not marry". He then turned over to the other side and went to sleep. He lived on for 5 more years, God bless his soul. But I never understood him. Nor did I understand the entire circumstances. 

Our neighbours in Mumbai apparently told my grandmom that it was definitely 'voodoo' And my grandmom and mom believed how can anything go wrong in a house where Vishnu Sahasranama is recited? (my grandmom told me this once, when she was randomly saying a lot of thing.. apparently there were anonmyous letters that would land up at home, one every other day, with kumkum or strange drawings and curses which would say 'your child will die.. you will die..' and things like that. We still have those inland letters. They never found out who sent those letters. All the stress during her pregnancy took a toll on my mom.. mine was a very difficult birth. She didn't recuperate fast either, post the C-Section.)

Well, things did go wrong. And there are never going to be any explanations. I now have sudden relative-claims from my paternal side. Which I refuse to acknowledge. I don't think anyone bothered how I was clothed, what I ate, how I was educated. And I truly understand the battered old saying, "how success is relative - more the success, more the relatives." Not that I am really close to relatives from my maternal side either. We chose to stay away, lest someone think/fear that we'd ask them for help.

Would we have lived in better houses, had better landlords if I'd had a father around? Perhaps.

Had a better life itself? Perhaps.

Would people who worked with me treat me better if they dealt with a 'father' than a 'mother'? Maybe (Though I don't really have any complaints. I somehow believe that those who have issues having a professional dialogue with my mother must have something slightly weird going on, especially event organizers)

But yes there are several times that I feel that my mother was shortchanged. In some cases, so was I. And I really don't know if it had to anything do with having a father around. Though many people said that is a reason.
Actually I know other women too treated divorcees differently in the 90-s. I had a friend whose mother was genuinely mean to single women.

However mom says hers was a 'kaarana' kalyanam. A marriage that had to happen because I was supposed to be born. She came to terms with things as they were.

As a child my forehead used to be a multi-color space. Neighbours would make fun of me. Sindhoor (from a hanuman temple), vibhooti, sandalwood paste, kunkum and all that. God knows how I fit it all in. But I did. I loved doing that. I loved the concept of devotion and faith. And now, I am questioning all that. I am questioning God and the 'divine plan' and 'divine games'. I sometimes feel like telling God, if you want to play, go and play somewhere else and stop bothering me. Maybe tell him off like how sometimes, Calvin's parents tell him off.

Each day, hour in and hour out, is a learning experience. And that's all there is to it. 

My mom said I used to say each night before sleeping "Parda bandh!" and say "Parda Khol" each time I woke up. I guess I was wiser as a 4 year old. This entire life is a drama. :)

There was a time when my blood was on a constant boil, because I sought answers. Why? Why? Why? I'd storm about in my mind. And weep in despair. And then I came to know that neither life, nor people, nor time give us the answers we seek.

To you, the reader, all that I wish you now, is happiness that radiates from your very being. 


Sri said...

Dear Chinmayi,

I don't know what to have enlightened us with so much that you and your Mom went through and still at the end you wish your readers happiness!

As your Mom said, everything happens for a reason..maybe you wouldn't have reached where you have if your father had been around...

Rajesh alias Balasubramanian said...

Great article.. reflects my mind mostly .. my father was dead when I was 6 with a sister(4rs) and a brother (1r).. except couple of maternal relatives and paternal relatives.. most maternal and paternal relatives didnt care... contrary they were afraid if we would go to them seeing help or share in my ancestors properly..

As a child my forehead used to be a multi-color space. Neighbours would make fun of me.
[rajesh] in my case, my classmates made fun of me. However, I always believe, such an upbringing guided me in righteous path.

And now, I am questioning all that.
[rajesh] - yes, me too questioning the existence of god especially after reading some literature recently. however reading Gandhi and Thirukkural gives me one ray of light. Truth is God. I believe in God.

Though I am questioning all these rituals yet I am have not rejected them completely.

I am questioning God and the 'divine plan' and 'divine games
[rajesh] - have felt, if there had been father, perhaps the relatives would have been "kind to us in 'those days also' ". however the absence of father also made me strong and understand and respect the humanity better.

Subramanian said...

Divine Child Chinmayi...

Did you ever truly bother about knowing 'who you really are'? Are you the female bodied Chinmayi, the singer, who sings excellently well, who has won so many awards...? Are you this external personality, and end up like this just questioning existence, God, and creation etc.? Are you just this limited perishable personality...? If you have ever thought seriously about solving Life's problems (and goodness too) then ask yourself as to 'who you really are'... The answers you seek are lying within you, your own inner Self little Child.

Do not grieve. Absolute surrender to your inner God (your inner self, that sustains 'you') is absolutely essential and rather than hating your existence/birth, just start being happy about this existence and just be in tune with this 'self', and slowly and steadily everything would be just fine in due course.

It is not a man in 'man's form' is a 'man', and a woman is not the woman in 'woman's form' - these are just external vehicles/identifications, if I can term somewhat like that - what in the end really matters is who is being housed by this shell (and within this shell?)...

To marry or not to marry is not the question - that's for the outer world, and may be necessary at some point if the correct understanding happens. The true marriage is one that happens with your own inner self - the impartial one - with which you are always 'in love' - but right now it seems to me that, Chinmayi child is (nowadays) quite often - going out of this 'self'...

All achievements, awards, learning etc. are just like dust. True realization about yourself (and about your 'self') is what matters - and could be considered as the greatest of all awards...

What else this little 'self' could do to this little 'lost' child, known to the world as 'chinmayi' except wishing her all God's Love and Blessings...

Just rush 'inside' and a glorious world is awaiting you little one.

Crying is not bad - and should never be considered as a 'weaker side' of a person. Cry for the Lord who is always within - and remember one thing, you have a great example of your sister Sri Andal... You must have read about Her. Just try to emulate her Bhakti - and read those poems (though staunch Vaishnavas, unfortunately, do not truly understand the true import of Her songs on Her Lord, and dismiss them all as 'erotic poetry'...).

And to just mention, there are such things as Voodoo etc. But for one with true bhakti and surrender to the Lord, everything would be fine. A little harm might happen due to karmic effects but you could still ward-off the negativities.

Try to understand about the correct meaning of 'male' and 'female' and 'man' and a 'woman' - what we usually call by outer appearance is all meaningless - at least to an advanced person like you - yes, you are little one - it's just that you have forgotten about yourself ('self'). You are beyond your current 'existence' as 'Chinmayi, the lady singer'...

If possible try to pick up some songs from Tiruppugazh and make a devotional album to The Lord Murugan, and hopefully your Love and Bhakti and Devotion and Surrender to the Lord makes everything alright and shows you the way, and leads you straight to the Divine Self...

Sometimes, I land up like this to your posts - and perhaps might be making unwanted comments. At the same time, I feel, in my own limited understanding, that you do not truly make attempts to truly know who you are - and indeed, this exercise of 'knowing about oneself' is a hard-exercise, and could be annoying, boring and could even be a shaking-one... Some call this as 'Self Enquiry'...

Well, again with blessings...

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Hello ding - dong anonymous commenter. Been reading your comments for a while. Get some help, before it is too late for you :)

Shvetha said...

You express from your soul. The vibrations just seem to reach the reader and touch their hearts. I have been your admirer always, but had no idea what all you've been through. Now, i also think i admire the strength in you. Love you Chinmayi!

Anonymous said...

only few people have the courage to rebuild their lives when some one leaves them...u r so fortunate to have a STRONG woman as ur mother...

Balaji Ramakrishnan said...

Hi Chinmayi, I am a great fan of yours. From this post I understood what has made you a role model for many people. Have you ever noticed, bad things teach us a lot and give us great benefits than good things and success. As one mentioned in the one of the comments, you are indeed the soul. It is your mind which laments, your soul doesn't. All our sufferings big and small are indeed blessings. Please listen to -- whenever you get time.

Basically, our soul does two jobs 1) Play 2) Enjoy. Whenever you have the energy and feel you can achieve something, then it means you soul is playing. When you lose all your hopes and you feel lost, then your soul is enjoying. Still it is one of the favorite job that the soul wishes to perform. Don't worry much. Be happy. I pray to God to give you the peace that you need. As a matter of fact, we always have the peace within us, but we find it difficult to enjoy the it. We need to learn the trick to enjoy the peace/bliss that is already within us.

Happy to hear that you got married. Have a blessed married life!!!


Unknown said...

Dear Chinmayi ,Really Hats-off to your view of how you look at life.Really we are very rarely finding such kind of persons like you. This is what we call "Sthitha Pragna " as told by Lord Krishna is Bhagavathgeetha. But recognizing what life is at a very tender age of 4 is really amaging.Its the insight given to you by the divine.Please try to keep it up through the entire life.I wish You to reach great Heights in Both Professional and Personal Life!!

Deepthi said...

Its Very amazing to find that you have recognised about the essence of life at a very tender age of 4 .Not everybody can get this without the grace of Lord Vishnu.I wish you all the best in your Professional and personal life. Hope you would inculcate such interests you have towards our rituals to your kids also.All the very best!!!

sree said...

hello chinmayi!
you are an inspirer.from your first song-oru dheivam thandha poove,i have been your fan.
my hearty wishes and congratulations for your achievements in your proffesion..
strength comes from has given you tougher lessons to make you "chinmayi sripradha"as known by are an epitome of feats.definitely your mother must be very proud of you and proud of herself for having a daughter like are born to win.your past have definitely made you strong enough to evolve into a bold and outspoken individual,a role model."avanindri oranuvum asaiyadhu".he is the universe."god is great".you are gifted with his blessings.
i have been reading your blogs and they are just awesome.i wish i could meet you someday.

keep winning !!