Sunday, May 16, 2010

Massage and Message from my Maalish Mausi

Mausi ,hailing from a village near Ahmednagar about a nine hour bus ride from Bombay , is maybe sixty five years old or even older ; she says she does not know but working backwards from the number of children she has had, and the children they have, whose ages she told me , I am sure I am not too far from her correct age. But she is fitter than I am , fitter than someone even younger than I am and goes about her work in the neighbourhood I live in with a discipline and diligence that can teach any professional service provider a thing or two.
Mausi ‘s hands have a magic of their own and she gives massages to newly born babies, their weary , worn out mothers, random grandmothers and aunts and didis and whoever is lucky enough to be home when she comes around. I say that because even though I could enjoy her services every and any Sunday, my being home and not working on the day of Sabbath is such a rarity that I miss her every time she comes around .
But not today and one look at my S shaped back (been plagued with the mother of all backaches for the last few days) she would listen to no excuse; brook no opposition. I was home on a Sunday after ages and with all the travelling and not being able to take any time off to catch up with household chores I had loads of laundry to attend to and all kinds of random stuff. But she had a determined look in her eyes and said she would wait till I finished all my work but a back massage she would surely see I received today.
She settled herself comfortably on her haunches in the living room and watched with bemused amusement the fare being dished out on Channel V while I finished those chores. I was a bit wary actually not wanting to aggravate the back with any external intervention but I had had enough of muscle relaxants and the really uncomfortable belt what with the heat so I eventually gave in to her ministrations.
Coconut oil, Mausi’s strong, coaxing palms and fingers and FM radio’s Sunday special of old songs and I was transported to another world. For over an hour and a half she kneaded, crushed, pulled, pressed, and stretched my aching muscles till I was on another plane altogether ; outside of my aching, bone weary consciousness and entering a world of numbed bliss.
It was nothing short of magic for I realised that the excruciating pain was gone and only some residual discomfort remained. As Mausi was working her magic she also had her own opinion to share about why my back had folded in like this. She blamed the stooping over my “computer machine” completely for it and also the fact that today one did everything sitting in such bad postures .
Patting her flat stomach which had seen as many as eight pregnancies ,and stretching to her full , supple and wiry height she said with all modern conveniences like counters in the kitchen and chairs and tables for eating and working there was no way stomach and back muscles got any kind of exercise.
She dared me to sit on my haunches with my feet flat on the ground like she had for the past two hours giving me my massage and chuckled at my pathetic attempts to do so. “See , if you sat like that , automatically your abdomen would remain firm with the pressure and all the repeated sitting and standing that would follow such a posture would also give your back muscles the required exercise and strength it needed.
It all made such simple and practical sense and as Mausi got up she asked me not to look so woebegone and guilty and told me for my age I still was pretty ok as far as fitness went. She showed me an exercise which she said would help keep such back aches at bay.
I asked her if I could write about all she had told me on my “computer machine” and share it with my friends and if she would also let me take a picture of her showing me how to do the exercise and she was all blushing smiles saying in all these years no one had taken a picture of hers !! And anyway her “old man” is no longer around to object she adds.
So she sat on her haunches and showed me how to touch the right knee with the left elbow and vice versa saying this would ease all the pressure from the shoulders to the lower back.
Something about her shared confidences and our interaction today made me feel a strong bond with her and I asked her name – I know her as the whole neighbourhood, only as Mausi (Aunt) .
She said no one in years had ever asked her for her name or called her by it – she was Aaii . Aji , Mausi or just “Budhiya” or old woman to everyone . I gently pressed for it and with another shy blush she said “Kalavati”
Kalavati I think means one who is skilled and devoted in her art (Kala) and I cannot think of a more fitting name for my sweet Mausi for it is indeed a fine art she practices , her heart right there in her finger tips as she soothes aching muscles into peaceful and painless state.



What a find! What a woman. I agree with her totally that it is our lifestyle(way of working) that has brought about this lack of suppleness in our bodies. Remember I wrote about it once?

Glad yu are better, Viji.

Kamini said...

Kalavati is so lithe and supple, and has such a glow on her face!
Slow down, Viji. Look after your health!!

Baby V said...

\m/ . Kalavati is also quite pretty.

Anonymous said...

She is amazing- I have to try the exercise. Not sure that I can sit on my haunches! Glad to hear that your back is feeling better! Lin

Anonymous said...

She is amazing! I will have to try that exercise, but I don't think that I can't get on my haunches! Glad to hear that your back is feeling better! Lin

YOSEE said...

Great "message" from Mausi ! Would love to try out her prescriptions. I loved the fresh and glowing look on her face.

Meera's World said...

lucky you:)