Instruments of Change

by Anita Menon

Instruments of Change


I have always maintained that without the people in my life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. People influence me the most and my tiny impressionable mind takes it all, mouth agape, dutifully imbibing all the wonderous experiences. Unquestioningly, that too.

Two weeks back I went to the city center in Manama and there were these life-size posters of Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem ( Btw Javier Bardem married Penelope Cruz and I think they are smoking hot individually and as a couple) telling people, EAT PRAY LOVE was coming to town. I jumped with joy because that has been my favourite book for a long time now. Musing about it the whole day I realized what a beautiful part this one book had played in my life. Elizabeth Gilbert’s autobiographical venture had changed my life in so many ways. That train of thought took me to many other things that I am going to write about just now.

So this post is dedicated to all those wonderful gifts/items that have played a pivotal role in my opinion, in changing some part of my life. And this is in no particular order

1. Eat pray love- A book by Elizabeth Gilbert  – A friend gave it to me to read because he thought I might like it. He knows I love reading books and he used to pass on any nice book that he came across or had read and liked. We are not friends anymore but I shall be, in my heart, always grateful to him for letting me borrow this one. This book is an autobiography of the time of the author’s life when she started questioning what she wanted from life, from her relationships, her work and herself. This takes her to Italy- to eat, India- to pray and Bali- to love.  This book was a support to me in my darkest times. In her writing and in her experiences, I found such peace and courage to rise above my circumstances. I was able to relate to her, her sorrow, her angst and all that was about being a woman. This shall by far remain a book that shall be ahead of anything I might ever read. Since then I have recommended it to many of my girl friends, distributed copies to women colleagues and bought one for my mom. Everybody claims to be influenced by this piece of writing and I feel a smile warming in my heart.

2. A Black trouser– Another gift from a dear friend who had just got a job and was so happy that he took me shopping. There he bought for me a formal black trouser and a formal purple shirt. This black trouser has been with me since 2004 and has seen the highs and lows – both figuratively and literally :) . It went with me to my first day in office, to the alumni meet where I met my husband, to the gyneac when she confirmed my pregnancy, till my 5th month of pregnancy when I couldn’t wear it anymore. It has seen many of my firsts and till date it remains so special. It changed me in a way where my confidence grew each time I wore it to that special place, for a special thing, for a special person, for a special time. In my heart, I feel, it made sure I achieved whatever I had come there for, in the course changing my life bit by bit.

3. Letters from my father– My father wrote long letters to me when I was in my grad and post grad college. Living in a hostel had been great but I did suffer from bouts of homesickness every now and then. No amount of talking over the phone did it for me. So father wrote to me long, wonderful letters to make me feel at home while I read it. Even when I re-read them. These letters would contain none of those, how are yous, how are you studying content. It contained a lot of information about what was happening in the world, about his opinions on a lot of issues, about stories of people he met, about the incidents that took place, about something that he might have read, about life, about The GITA, about the Mahabharata and about being positive in life.

His letters fueled in me a passion to do things and to do them differently and I started to imagine a world in each of his letter. But I do not have them today with me. They are lost and they shall be the biggest loss of my life. Wish I could have been more careful with them.

4. My home in Greater Noida– My husband, Amit bought this lovely 2 bedroom apartment for us after 2 years of our marriage. This was very important gift from him because for a person like me who had spent all her 27 years of her life in Company Quarters, rented accommodations, hostel rooms and paying guest, having a home felt like I belonged here and that I need not lead a rootless existence anymore. wherever I go in the world, I can always come back here.

This home, my sweet home will be waiting for me. Thank you Amit. You have no idea how important this home has been.

5. My mom’s recipe notes – – As a newly married, I had apprehensions about what my husband and my in laws were expecting out of me. Though I knew how to cook, I hadn’t cooked in a long time since I had left home after my 12th std. So my mom asked me to start with our Keralite cuisine just in case they asked me to prepare something special. She painstakingly wrote down recipes of idli, avial, kalan, sambar in her own handwriting. That note is so dear to me that even today I have it in my purse and take it with me wherever I go. It symbolises passing of legacy to me in some way and her way of ushering me into my married life. Thanks Amma, everybody loves the sadya (kerala feast) I prepare as per your directions.

6.  “Fountainhead”- A book by Ayn Rand, a gift from my cousin. This book had a profound effect on my psyche, I should say, as it inculcated a strong sense of ‘I’ in me and taught me that there is no shame in being selfish.

Thank you, each one of you, for giving these lovely gifts to me.