In Proteas’ Land…

Elegantly laid out avenues, running in east-west and north-south parallels, neatly cornering at children’s park in the west, and gracefully communicating into intervening tee and cross-sections, like eternal asphaltene lovers in bewitchingly black raiments, witnessed on either side by giant oaks, eucalyptus, pine and jacaranda trees, through which the rising sun’s rays filtered in dappled delight, as protea plants and jasmine flowers in the hedges waved fragrantly in gentle morning breeze, heralding dawn of a golden new day on the 14th July 2015. The wintry day unfolded, scaling up from a bone-chilling low of three degrees Celsius to a gradual, relatively bearable high of eleven degrees, as I ventured out towards noon time, for my routine walk around the three mile radius of the villa, located at 8th Avenue, Highlands North, Johannesburg, where I presently am since the first week of July. A tall and stout pine, believed to be nearly a hundred and thirty years old, trimmed like a Christmas tree, a regular shelter for flocks of pigeons and mynahs, stands in stately guard near the gate, and its rustling leaves seemed to whisper stories of few generations of yore. As I paced forward, the gentle breeze propelled me from behind, to ease my steps as it were, in my laboured movement up the steadily sloping road ahead. I walked past houses on either side of the road, with families trooping out of or into some, or dogs peeping through gates and making their displeasure known rather loudly, apparently not taking kindly to my passing by. The children’s park at west end of the road sprawls out in a long open stretch of faded green, equipped with swings, slides and merry-go-rounds, adding to variety of the enchanting landscape. Along the northern part of my place of stay is the route leading to over a century and a quarter old St Mary’s Anglican School, almost brushing shoulders with another institution known as the Waverly Girls High School, established in the middle of last century, located, in close proximity, on exactly opposite side of approach road, lined with rows of jacarandas on both sides, lending a distinctive character, enhancing their profile as two of the oldest educational institutions in Johannesburg. It was, apparently, recess time at the Waverly, so the wards, smartly turned out in their uniforms of navy blue skirts or trousers and white tops, could be seen spread out on the playground, in groups of five or six, animatedly exchanging pleasantries. It was a sight prompting me of my own school days in the serene 1960s, when girls in the convent close to the boys’ school back home, where I was studying, donned uniforms of same colour, in consonance with boys’ uniforms of navy blue shorts, white shirts with house-coloured neck ties, and black shoes going with white socks. 
 photophoto (1)photo (2)
The oaks and eucalyptus stretch their denuded arms skywards, holding promise of wearing new leaves with the advent of spring towards early September; the same assurance is held out by jacaranda trees, waiting for the spring, to adorn themselves with floral crowns of blue and violet, and transform the region into a paradise. Along the walking trail, I can sight quails and hadada ibis, rollers and wood hoopoes, chirping around trees and shrubs as if they too are participants in the day’s chorus. There is a stillness and tranquillity pervading the entire area, the magical spell further enriched by music of birds’ calls, and broken only by muffled sound of occasionally passing vehicles. I continue walking for an hour in silent meditation, in commune with nature, before getting back to the villa to anxiously await good news from my son at the nearby Linksfield Hospital, where my daughter-in-law is undergoing a C section to bring forth new life into the world. 
 
My anxious wait stretched till about 6 pm in the evening, when my son called up to convey good news of new addition to family in the form of a baby boy. My thoughts transported back in time across a little over three decades, to that memorable occasion when I became a father myself, blessed with the son who is now in the same spirit of euphoria, according my wife and myself the privilege of becoming grandparents, creating the torch-bearer who will carry the family legacy forward to another generation. We drove to the hospital around 8 pm, to catch a glimpse of the new born. The baby was fast asleep, unaware of the steady stream of visitors wanting to feast their eyes with pristine vision of new life in nascent purity, as fresh as morning dew on newly sprung blooms. We left the hospital, after a couple of hours, leaving our son, baby, and the ecstatic mother needing few more days at hospital for post C recovery. 
 
It was late in the night; the cold winds and darkness outside, as we drove back home, seemed, to me, to be gradually fading away, to awaken into a new dawn of luminous dreams and aspirations around the precious gift of life presently in our midst, the littlest feet making the biggest footprints in our hearts, as God’s ringingly beautiful reminder that the world will carry on, bringing to mind Dante’s words, “Three things remain with us from paradise: stars, flowers and children”. Life has turned a full circle, with an end signifying another glorious beginning, another ripple in the cosmic ocean, widening ad infinitum. The months already behind us saw several rounds of discussion on preferred name for the new born. Hundreds of names were tossed around, and finally there was consensus building around the chosen name, to be announced at the formal naming ceremony, which, according to our tradition is celebrated on or around the 28th day of the new arrival.
 
Hours and days swept past in happy succession, the days enlarging into weeks, bringing the prospect of warmth, flowers and flamboyance of fast approaching season of colour, mists and mellow fruitfulness that much more closer. Before one could say, hey presto, the keenly awaited 28th day is upon us as Monday, the 10th August 2015, sweetly close to the proud mother’s birthday falling on very next day, and thus a doubly happy occasion for entire family. The National Women’s Day, celebrated all over South Africa on 9th August every year, commemorating the historic anti-apartheid women’s march of 1956, fell on a Sunday this time, with the respective public holiday, thus, spilling over to today, turning out to be a further blessing, facilitating our celebration without taking the day off. Our 28 days young bundle of joy was formally named Dev, meaning ‘divine’ or ‘God’ in Sanskrit; interestingly, it came as a pleasant surprise to learn that the name also exists in Irish language, where Dev means a ‘poet’. Finally, the little one, bearing the full name, Dev Rakesh, son of Rakesh Rajagopal, and, in turn our new avatar as Dev’s grandparents. 
 
So this is the time and place I presently am at. In the stage where life attains a grandeur of its own, with grand prefixing mother, father, son, and hopefully a daughter, in another similarly graced period not too far away in time, as outlook undergoes dimensional changes, in perceptions and perspectives, in the eyes of the world, ensconced as I am on sublime and exalted pedestal of advancing age and relationships, constantly catching glimpses of a scintillating world of greater magnificence looming in distant horizons. As Dickens stated eloquently in Nicholas Nickleby, “For nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own…. It is a pleasant thing to reflect upon, and furnishes a complete answer to those who contend for the gradual degeneration of the human species, that every baby born into this world is a finer one than the last”. 
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73 thoughts on “In Proteas’ Land…

  1. Since I’ve never left the northern hemisphere winter in July still sounds strange to me. Congratulations on the new baby. Love this quote:

    “For nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own…. It is a pleasant thing to reflect upon, and furnishes a complete answer to those who contend for the gradual degeneration of the human species, that every baby born into this world is a finer one than the last”

  2. Hi Raj,

    Congratulations for the most cherished moments of life we look forward to! The birth of a grand child is indeed a blessing! It is such a pleasure that you have shared those wonderful moments with us in such a beautifully worded post…seems just like a poem, dripping with love, delight and pride. I am so so glad that you are savoring those blissful moments with your family… ‘the littlest feet making the biggest footprints in our hearts’! How true!
    Love those words of Dante… More so the choice of such a divine name. My love and best wishes for the newborn, the proud parents and the grandparents.
    Thanks for sharing your elation.

  3. Lovely read about life changing milestone that becoming a grand-parent is. Congratulations and best wishes to you and your family! The little one is really sweet. My father’s name was also Dev.
    Of course “Three things remain with us from paradise: stars, flowers and children”. God bless everyone with these things.

  4. Many congratulations on the birth of your grandson, the nascent poet. It was a true pleasure to read your eloquent words Raj, and the lilting nature you impart with an all-too-rare sensibility as regards punctuation, helped carry me along upon your thoughts and feelings.

  5. Thanks very much Hariod. When life’s blessings come along, neatly defined in clearly punctuated intervals, the least I should be doing is to express myself accordingly…

  6. Wow Raj my heartiest congratulations. Little Dev looks beautiful and may God shower upon him all the goodness and happiness. Enjoyed reading the narration of the lovely neighborhood. Thanks and regarsd!

  7. Such a marvelous write up of a wonderful day in your family. Congratulations, Raj, on the new addition to your family and hope everyone is doing well. Nature is all around us – even us humans and every child, we are part of nature too and have our part to play in this world.

    I loved how you described your walk as you waited for Dev to arrive. “…if they too are participants in the day’s chorus”. Funny how when we slow down and look around us, we are often reminded of the past, and perhaps notice how some things never change over time in this circle of life that we live in.

  8. Raj, I joyfully add my warm congratulations and best wishes on this lovely time of becoming a grandparent. There truly is no comparison.
    As I began to read your piece, I was overcome by your ability to weave poetry and imagery into prose––even sprinkle it liberally with history. Then came the beautiful announcement and description of the birth of this new life! Simply delightful in every way.
    Wishing blessing and grace on sweet Dev (how fitting that the name encompasses the Divine and points to the poetic), his parents and you and your wife as new grandparents. Enjoy this sweet moment.

  9. My dear Raj, what a great pleasure it is to read of such a wonderful occasion and addition to your family circle.. Congratulations upon your new Grandson.. And although I am a few days late in reading. I do hope both Mother and little Dev are doing well.
    And I am sure he has been well named.. And if he takes after his Grandfather I am sure he will have no problems writing poetic muses.. I thoroughly enjoyed evert word written here my friend..
    Wishing you and your whole family Many Blessings..
    Sue 🙂

  10. Hi,
    I met you on Danny Ray’s first Meet and Greet in July. Your details are mesmerizing. I couldn’t write this well. I blog blogging advice, LOL.You said you enjoyed meeting others, so I came over to say hello. Nice to meeet you.
    Janice

  11. Dear Raj ✨
    Congratulations on the newest member of your family!… You must be so happy and proud!.
    Your post is beautiful… Your writing is deep and it resonated with me on many levels…
    There are so many good reasons to celebrate, my friend. ✨🐱🐶🐾 Here’s to you and your family!…✨✨✨
    All my best wishes! Aquileana ✨

  12. At the outset hearty congratulations for being a grandfather, this is indeed a precious moment in our lives, when a new life comes into our family. The feelings are only experienced and cannot be described, but the way you have described it is close what anybody could have experienced. The entire narration of your walk and your beautiful observations of the streets, the peeping animals to the playing children to the whispering sounds of the leaves…so nostalgic and reflective, we all have gone through such beautiful moments when we are on travel and walking by a new street.

    Stars, flowers and children are the true eternal gifts of god, we take it for granted and forget what they mean to us and how they have changed our thinking and experience in this world. It is quite emotional as you present the thought that how we pass the baton from one generation to another, and how such change are inevitable but highly emotional. We are mere witness to the change and we cannot do anything to stop and hold back, we have go with the flow and none of us like to end the generation.

    Indeed, our “outlook undergoes dimensional changes, in perceptions and perspectives”…
    Have a lovely weekend.

  13. Dear Raj …your beautiful and tender hearted memoir is of great beauty …I love the flow of your words that evoke the emotion of love …congratulations on this birth …you bless them as grandfather …love , megxxx , your friend who respects your kind being always

  14. Oh what wonderful news! Congratulations on the safe arrival of this blessing to your family. An eloquent post filled with joy overflowing. Sending our very best wishes to your whole family.

  15. This is the first post I read on your blog and it really made me happy. Congrats on the arrival of the new guest in your family… 🙂

    I loved the way you’ve put in your words as a prelude to the good news… “Three things remain with us from paradise: stars, flowers and children”- so true…

  16. Congratulations, Raj! Beautiful post and tribute to your grandson, son and daughter-in-law. I am sure he’ll bring you and your wife many happy times.
    x Luc

  17. Raj, congrats for this event that must make you feel you have traveled in time both backwards and forward. How beautiful when you say:

    “The oaks and eucalyptus stretch their denuded arms skywards, holding promise of wearing new leaves with the advent of spring towards early September; the same assurance is held out by jacaranda trees, waiting for the spring, to adorn themselves with floral crowns of blue and violet, and transform the region into a paradise.”

    There is indeed a writer in you, your’e so good with words. May your grandson fill you and your son’s family with joy and happiness for many years to come, and may you rejoice in the purity and innocence all children posess!

  18. A bit belated but never too late, Raj, congratulatins to you for your grandson. Such a joy to see our children born and such a miracle and blessing to witness a grandchild. I was my daughter’s labour coach 11 years ago in July. There is such a joy to add this generation to our flock…such a joy.

    • Thanks very much Cheryl, for your visit, as good wishes, in the given context, are always welcome, not limited to fixed timescales. Nice to see its resonance in you…

  19. This is so lovely. Congratulations to you. A new grandchild is a gift indeed. My oldest son just left for college, which is another life transition. Life is a series of chapters, isn’t it? From one to the next, and just when we think the next chapter isn’t a good fit, we seem to settle in.

  20. Your write so well it took me to Johannesburg. I could see the sun through the trees hear the birds sing and the cent of jasmine also those proteas. I could visualise you in silent meditation in commune with nature.
    The highlight was the photos and how you felt about your family. Raj what a fortunate baby to be borne into your family in Proteas’ Land._/\_

  21. Oh Raj, I have just caught up with this wonderful post and your exquisite news. Belated congratulations my lovely friend and grandfather. How brilliant that must sound. So beautifully written, so evocative, such lovely and eloquent words. A truly moving post. All good wishes to you and your family, enlarged by that beautiful bundle of joy. xxxx

    • Thanks very much Ruth, your affectionate wishes are a massive booster to another wonderful day I am just waking up to here in Johannesburg. May Almighty keep you blessed and in good health…xxx.

  22. I am sorry I am late to the celebration, Congratulation Raj, who could ask more than a beautiful healthy new grandson? I wish you and yours all the joy in the world. In addition I want to commend you on a stunning narrative, lovely and impeccable. Holly

  23. Dearest Raj: I am a month late but never-the-less feel privileged to have read this most elequently written post. Your lines and words spill with beautiful images that rival great authors of long ago. Surly I was there in Africa walking the wintry streets with you?

    On a more important, personal note, my heartfelt congratulations on the birth of your now, month old grandson. What a fine and handsome boy he is with a strong and powerful name. Beautiful, in all his swaddled cloth with silken hair atop his head.

    Post and pictures to bring another grandparent to tears, Raj. Beautiful, in every way. ❤️

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