Sunday, February 21, 2016
It was a stubborn Wednesday and I was dragging the week somehow. Amit had been working till late, so I was looking after the kids and home for a long time at a stretch. It was exhausting to say the least. Especially when the kids are down with cold and cough. We had not even gone out for two days due to the same. I wanted to breathe some fresh air, wear neatly ironed clothes and look better if not nice. I was done being sweaty and sad looking. But I did not have an option so I kept reminding myself of how lucky I was to be able to spend every moment with my precious ones. They will not be this small forever. That story though true wasn't working well in my head. My mind kept insisting that I could do with a tiny break. Amit finally came home and thus followed happy screams from Evan. Glad to see baba home his face lit up. We had dinner and I suddenly realized that I had completely forgotten a thing to be bought to send with my friend who was traveling to India the next day. That thing was a loving demand from my adorable pregnant sis in law Neha. I told Amit that I would have to go and get it from the store though it was already 9.30pm. I quickly added that I would take Evan along with me to save Amit from the riot. But instead Amit suggested that I take my time off. Those words were golden in every way. Without much discussion I agreed. I rapidly got ready before I got the time to change my mind. Finally after blowing kisses to Evan and promising to come soon I stepped out of our house. My face had a constant grin. I walked to the bus stop. While I waited for the bus I took long breaths. The air felt cool. It had just rained so the roads were damp. The moon was peeping out from the sky. It was a perfect night to go to the grocery store! I shopped all the things on the list. While returning home and listening to my favorite playlist simultaneously I was consumed by the thoughts such as 'how lucky I was to have a husband like Amit!', ' how I should remember this when we gave an argument next time!' , or ' how did I manage to be so sure to find the perfect groom for myself at the age of nineteen!' By the time I reached home it was 11.15 pm and our house was still wide awake. Evan ran towards me in excitement as I entered. Amit had made Arin sleep. I thanked him dearly for taking care of the kids even after a tiring day at office. But I had to be thankful to something else too. Singapore was such a safe haven that a woman could without thinking twice travel by public transport at 11 pm. This is definitely rare to happen any where else in the world. The Aamir khan statement being still fresh in my head, this experience made more sense to me than ever before. I retired to bed with all these thoughts making rounds in my head. As I lied down and closed my eyes I heard Arin's soft cry. Well who knew, my day was not over just yet! :)
Right from the time I was pregnant the second time to this day I am either asked why I dared to take the step again or I am praised and patted to have taken it up! That got me thinking. Why is it so hard for people to digest that a second baby does not always happen by mistake and can be a dream come true. I think having two kids is the best decision of my life. For that I don't need to wait for them to grow up. There are pretty solid reasons for believing this. One. Since the baby has arrived Evan has suddenly acquired a sense of responsibility. He is on the run when it comes to the little tasks like bringing the diaper or calling me out when the baby cries. He doesn't need to be told to share. He insists that baby use all his toys and clothes. I have to assure him that ones Arin grows up he will definitely share. He is a huge help when I massage and bathe Arin. Doesn't mind even if Arin pees on him. He has learnt to care and love more than he did before. Two. Both of them will have a friend in each other for a lifetime. That's a mighty good reason. Three. A family always has its own fun stories, moments of joy and sorrow, that incident when one of them had fallen off the stairs or how one of them has had a terrible haircut. Such and many more such little things are part of a happy closenit family. When together these memories are often recurringly talked about and laughed or cried at. My kids will always have each other to travel down the memory lane even when we wont be around. They will always have family around in each other's presence. Four. They will always have someone to talk about stuff they might not be able to talk to us. Including complaints about us. Five. The best gift that my parents ever gave me is my brother. That sums it up. Definitely a square!
After we brought Arin to Singapore one of our friends passed on their baby cot to us. It is big enough for Evan to sleep in easily. Arin is too young to be sleeping in it so we kept nudging Evan to begin sleeping all by himself. We encouraged him to try it and find out for himself how much fun it would be to share his own little bed with his favourite soft toys Woody , Buzz and the rest of the gang. Tonight he finally agreed. So Amit in-spite of being awfully tired moved the cot near our double bed so that Evan could sleep beside us yet be independent. Evan excitedly brought all his favourties to his new bed. Arin was on my lap. I was humming a lullaby to him. And in no time my eyes filled with tears and my heart felt extremely heavy. A flash of the last four years I have spent with Evan zoomed by. I could not contain my feelings and I began to cry. My eyes were acting like a stubborn child not willing to stop. Evan sensed it immediately and peeped in to look at me. He worriedly asked me what had happened and I couldn't bring myself to speak. I hugged him and cried some more. While arin watched with his big black eyes in wonderment. I finally expressed to Evan how emotional it made me to let him sleep away. Every single night he has been beside me. Right from when he was just a little baby like Arin is now. I realized that I need him more than he has ever needed me. Tucking him in my quilt and singing to him did not seem like a routine any more. I realized that it is something I need to do, without that sweet ritual I might not be able to sleep or even breathe. The love in a mothers heart is as vast as the sky and as deep as the ocean. I was living that exact same feeling. The imagination of separating myself from my son itself seemed difficult forget acting upon it. There will be so many such moments when I will have to remain strong enough and let him live his moment of independence. There will be so many instances when I will want a little more of him while he outgrows it all. He will need me less and less. I will have to prepare myself for it. Every transition is inevitable. It will make my heart sink but will also make me proud. Tonight was just a slight start to all that is in store. The thoughts took me away to my mother. And I texted her saying that I miss her so much and that I could only discern how she must have felt while Sanket and I were growing up. Arin was asleep and as I placed him down I could hear Evan whispering to Amit that because Aai had cried he had decided to sleep beside me tonight. I was so overwhelmed. My baby is growing up. Real fast.
A friend sent me an audio recording of Vapu Kale today. After listening to it I was tempted to listen more of him. So I searched on YouTube and found more audio recordings. While listening to it I was travelled back to his times. My grandparents times. Times when world was much simpler than it is today. In one of his narrations he says that a man and a woman should always have defined chores. He attempts to boldly say that a wife should take care of the house and the husband should work outside to earn. If he would have said it today to someone itcwoukd surely have been a controversy implying that he is a womaniser. But what he means is far more deep than you and I can apprehend. He further says that there should never be a competition between a couple. Their worlds should be different. When a wife starts working her respect for her husband reduces and she might just say, " What's the big deal in what you do? I can do it too!" And vice versa. There at that very moment competition enters the relationship. The proportions of respect and love change. The equation loses its charm. Does he say anything wrong? I do not feel so. In today's times where we are marching out and shouting out loud about how men and women are equals and how there shouldn't be discrimination, are we turning into rebels too? I agree both deserve equal amount of respect and rights. But this whole scenario is making the basic relationship of a man and woman much more complicated than it actually is. What he puts forth is aa simple and forgotten fact of today. A man and a woman are different. They have different hormones to create different feelings. They are two different poles of the earth. They have different thinking mechanism. What makes them stand equal beside each other is the very fact that they need each other. Equal can also mean differently similar. Today in relationships we have more of a competition than compassion. More of words and less of understanding the silence. More of acting together than thinking together. "Even I am capable to do it" has ruined the delicate nuances of a man woman relationship. A woman might be a CEO of a company but she still is afraid of a lizard on the wall. A man might be strong and physically more able but he still needs a woman to move her fingers through his hair and ask if things are okay. No matter how much we fight about equality we also need to remember that we are different and that the beauty lies in being so. Just for a moment forget the equality fight and think. Appreciate more. Compete less.
Today was Arin's weekly check up at the pediatrician. So we hurriedly got ready. My mom and I packed all the things we might need along with some we knew we wouldn't need but carried anyway (you know how mommies think! Fine. Over think!) Evan tagged along with his water bottle and a couple of toys. We boarded the car. Evan settled at the back seat along with my mom. Arin was peacefully sleeping on her lap. I loaded all the stuff on the seat beside me and switched on my GPS. As I drove with the American lady guiding me through the chaotic roads of Ahemdabad I started enjoying , to my surprise. It was an half an hour drive amidst the indisciplined and honking city. Not very enjoyable for a regular commuter. But for me it was. I realised that today, only when I was behind the wheels after a long time. I was about to turn 18 when I kept pestering my dad to teach me to drive. He did. And since then I have been overjoyed to drive. I love it. Because my dad was out of the country for many years after I turned eighteen I got the car solely for myself. My brother was still young and my mother was never fond of it.I remember how I had convinced my mom to let me go alone once and how she had been scared to let me. But once she was confident of my driving skills she always praised me. If I ever got the golden chance of dropping someone to their home or picking someone up I would be thrilled. After Amit and I started seeing each other I would pick him up and we would switch places. That was the time I enjoyed being a lady and let him drive. But the secret was and still is that I love to drive alone. I love myself the most when I am driving. I feel a sense of confidence and pleasure. I love to check myself in the mirror once in a while...play songs and sing along in a loud voice....smile at myself if someone is staring at me in wonderment. I enjoy it More because there is no anxiety at all. I feel totally in control of myself. All these feelings surfaced again today while I was taking my little one to the doctor. What a rare co - incidence! Though I had so much in my mind when I began my drive in no time it made me forget all of it and focus on the road and on myself. I was a different person. I was a girl long forgotten by me. If a drive to the doc can give me so much solace then what would a drive without any purpose do? That idea has kicked in now and am sure going to find time to do it before I travel back to Singapore.
Before falling asleep it’s a ritual my mind follows without being told. It brings in some thoughts for me to chew upon till I finally slip into my deep sleep. I always remember Chetan Bhagats statement in his novel Two States that some people have to shut down fifty windows of thoughts in mind before falling asleep. I am one of them most obviously. Last night my mind chose to think about my parents, not only my parents but also about being a parent. What does it actually mean? What it should mean? Since having Evan I have wanted to do the best I can do so that he is happy, cheerful and healthy. But I keep asking myself, is this enough? Am I doing enough? Am I overdoing it? At such moments I immediately think about what my parents are for me. That helps me realize the answers for my questions. Time has changed. It always does. That’s like the ground rule, isn’t it? But the emotions, the affection, the respect, the warmth, the principles, the friendship and most importantly the love in this most unique and natural relationship will remain unchanged. What determines the success of this relationship is the proportions of all the above in right measure. Not all parent – children relationships are a success. By success I mean whether there is love and respect or only fear, whether there is care and warmth or only duty, whether there is fun and laughter or only rules. These aspects decide whether the relationship is a success or not. For me my parents are my pillar of strength, by that I mean when my mind is emotionally imbalanced, one phone callto them makes it alright. When I am worried about something, one message from them can make my attitude positive. When I am extremely happy I realize that they are happier than me for me. I cannot beat them at that. Whenever I have asked for anything, I have always received hundred times more. But the most magical fact about my relationship with them is that no matter how much they give they do not spoil me. They never preach what they don’t practice. That’s speaks volumes. I had read a quote somewhere that – Children don’t listen, they observe. I guess my parents never had to be told this. They already knew. When you strive to be a good parent, you become one. But it is most definitely a conscious effort you have to make every day. No one can replace a parent. No one can love as much. No one can care as much, except your own children. But only if, you succeed at making them feel all that you felt about your parents. At times when I lie down with Evan to make him sleep he gently cuddles me, rolls his palm on my back as if he is taking care of me too and that is when I taste the success in my relationship as a mother. As the night darkens, the chaos in my mind is replaced with a soothing humming sound and I fall asleep.
Memories strike you more when you realise how much your life has changed. But no matter how many tilts, turns and tornados your life goes through one part of your life seems almost unmoved and unbiased. That part of your life is called friends! It doesn't matter what you do in life, how much you achieve, how bald you get, how many hair on your head has turned white, how much flab you have put on your stomach and even if you are miles apart from each other. Nothing deters friendship. True friends are real treasure of your life. When Amit and I got married we moved to Chennai almost immediately. Our stuff was transported to Chennai even before we left Mumbai and it was suppose to reach before us. But unfortunately major delay happened. We temporarily were staying at Amit's old accomodation and looking forward to move in to our own home. That now seemed impossible. So we continued staying in the old accomodation. Amit lived with two of his friends. The house was typical of how a bachelors house would be. It had one big living room and one spacious bedroom. Amit's poor friends had to let me in their home and tolerate me as well. To my surprise and relief they were extremely understanding. They made me feel at ease. I was living there like a fourth friend. There were more lizards than people in the house. So I was always watchful! There was a guy who claimed himself to be a cook and would come daily to cook for them and now me too! The kitchen was a total mess. I cooked for them at times to make them realise what real food meant. They had almost forgotten it after eating Ramu ke haath ka khana. After fifteen whole days of sharing the house with them we finally moved to our home. Even though the stay might not have been very convenient it was surely memorable. Anirudha (urf manager) and Ajay (urf geem) were humble enough to let me stay with them. Now we are all miles apart but those days will always hold a special place in my heart. School friends are the oldest and the bestest friends one can ever make. That's my belief because I have experienced it thoroughly through out my life. I value them way too much in my life. So two years back I decided to make each of their birthdays special. It had been years since we had gifted each other anything. So I tried and made their birthdays grand. But what they did for me recently was totally overwhelming. They travelled all the way to Ahemdabad while Amit was here, to surprise me. They arrived at my doorstep with a cake and two garlands (lol) to congratulate us. Sometimes it is still hard to believe that all of them could find time on the same day! When we were in double mind about moving to Singapore our very good friends from Malaysia who were now residing in Singapore encouraged us that we should. We were welcomed in their house for a whole week when we landed until we found an apartment. Dont know what we would have done without them. Later when we moved into our own apartment I was unaware of the fact that I would make such great friends there. But thanks to my cousin sis who lived there for several years helped me find them. Sometimes it takes years to get along with someone and few moments to click with some. When I moved in to the new condos I was clueless of everything. But then I met them and it fit like a jigsaw puzzle. There is a true connection between us. I am totally grateful that I found these bunch of girls and am so looking forward to be back in Singapore! Friends are such integral part of your life. They are family. I am glad I have been gifted with such amazing souls in my life!
Today having a baby is a huge affair. From the websites which update you about the weekly progress of the LO growing inside you to the maternity photo shoots. Having a child is a decision to make and not a natural process for a married couple unlike before. So it is celebrated in a fancy kind of way. Once you know you are going to have a baby ....the celebration begins with the way you tell your parents...cousins...friends and relatives ...followed by continuous debate and discussions with your friends who are pregnant along with you...then comes the grand photo shoot where you pose with your husband and make memories for a lifetime. There are some things which I dislike but come hand in hand with pregnancy today. How much weight you gain while expecting is a topic of discussion for everyone you know. No one is ever really happy with how much you have put on. It is either less or more. Anyways the reason behind this post is not discussing pregnancy but highlighting parenting. The question is do we celebrate parenting as much as we celebrate being pregnant? Do all of us understand what it really is? I am no god but I am a mother and I have my mind in place. Since I have come to India for delivery I have seen all kinds of parents. Not that Indian parents living abroad are more sensible than parents in India but they are naturally well behaved and carry the civic sense. What hurts my heart terribly is that being a parent is taken so lightly. Kya farak padta hai are the most dangerous words a parent can utter and it seems to be the motto here. A sensible parent should be able to teach his/her child basic keys to living a healthy and harmonious life. Parenting is reduced to clicking selfies with your child with a pout! Important habits that have to be embibed in the child from the age of two to three years old are conveniently ignored. I see parents throwing garbage on the road...a father spitting his lungs out in front of his son....kids wasting water like they create it themselves....just today morning I saw a girl holding a big piece of thermacol and littering the garden of the complex. What was shocking was her mother was right beside her busy chatting with a friend. I become speechless and feel a sense of shame that we Indians are such ignorant parents. We do not care about our surroundings and so fail to make our kids understand the same. Evan keeps questioning me when he sees waste being thrown on the road and I tell him that even if others do it he should not. I also tell him that he is free to politely tell people doing wrong to do right. There should be a license to parenting. Parent's capability to not just produce a baby but their sensibility to upbring their child should be screened. Otherwise we will have no scope of a better India!
Recently I have been reading a lot about "working moms" and "stay at home moms". Women and mothers from every corner of the world writing about how easy or difficult or challenging or peace giving it is to be what they are. Number of blogs and forums on which this topic is nowadays debated or dissected is surprising to me. When I was a child my mother was a stay at home mom. Its just that I never knew that term. I believed that she was much more than just a person who stayed home besides being a mother. I believed that she was the core star of our solar system. She was the one around whom our livelihood revolved and nourished. She was the life and light of our existence. Even my dad's existence. She was everything but never just a stay at home mom. So frankly speaking I really do hate it when we now refer to mothers who bring up children without earning any money of their own as SAH moms. Likewise...the term working moms is also equally annoying. To define any kind of mother in such cliche words is truly not worthy of what a mother actually is. Adding adjectives or discriptions such as these is itself a bad idea. A mother is a mother. Even if she works to earn her own money or not. Its her choice based upon various attributes that make her life. But what I really want to highlight in this post is that my mother never had a problem accepting that she preferred to be home for us. She never wished to work outside our home. She was happy with her decision and even proud of it. Today I find women complaining about not having the chance to step out to work or not getting enough time with their children. They are caught up in their own decisions. They don't read their own mind well. They are confused because of the society we now live in. They don't know what kind of decision will be accepted by the society. If they happily express that they are glad to be home they will be looked down upon. On the contrary even if they announce how exciting their careers are, they will be judged. This is truly sickening. Why are not we able to live a simple life anymore where there is no fuss about anything.....everyone is just being themselves without pretending. Like our parents lived. When there was no need to prove. I am too caught up in the fuss factor of today's society. But I wish to break free. Do you too?
What a feeling it is to be reminded by the husband about our engagement anniversary!! (For a change) because generally this is what women are famous for! Twelve years of courtship. Eight years since getting engaged. Seven years married in a couple of days. When Amit messaged me today to remind me that it is our engagement anniversary I beamed because he remembered. I had not forgotten about it but had missed out on mentioning it to him. Now I am glad I missed. Its not like you love each other more on such special occasions and otherwise love less. It is such days that gift you a joy ride of the wonderfully shared moments that have passed by like a breeze. Each one of us has a cute little story about their relationship and marriage. Every story has friends who helped, parents who supported or some who did not, some strangers that made a difference and some relatives who messed it up! This post is my way of highlighting those fabulous beings who made our relationship happen! First and foremost ...Amit. If he had not messaged me one fine day on my mobile this would not have even begun. Secondly our friend Gullu who suggested Amit to message me causally (Dont know what he was thinking! :) ) That first message was the beginning of our beautiful courtship, the chat was continuous for a couple of months. Then the official proposal happened. I remember telling my parents about it. They were extremely supportive and believed in my choice (without knowing much about Amit and that I was only nineteen then...i dont know how they found the courage to do it!) Gradually Amit became a known face to my cousins too. But my dad was still away. When he arrived months later he even got a new mobile phone for Amit (without meeting him in person). I simply cannot be more grateful to my parents who effortlessly considered him as their son rather than an outsider. Sanket my little brother was a huge help! He would be the peacemaker when I reached home late. He would be my partner in crime. He has saved me innumerable times! ;) Finally when Amit broke the news to his folks, they were equally happy to accept me. (I already have written a post in remembrance of a funny incident that happened when I first met his family) After all the ups and downs like in any relationship we got engaged once Amit got a job and then a year later we married.(less to Amit's amusement and more to my happiness) We have moved so many places, lived in so many houses, shared so many varied experiences...but one thing has always remained constant and that is love. We always found it. Even after a fuming arguement or a silent war, we did find love at the end of it. Now that Evan is the centre of attraction our love has grown manifold. Wishing you a very happy anniversary Amit. Many more to come! Love you.
Sometimes when i feel gloomy, almost without a sight Sometimes when i am upset with simply no might I suddenly become vulnerable to every person and every place I have no enthusiam and find no solace Its like I am falling from a mountain so tall No one to catch me from my frightful fall I almost believe that I have to dwell in this scary scene Just then, come to my rescue my reds and my greens The paper ever so white for me to spoil silly The true form of expression comes out freely My brushes fat and thin wait to get drenched in the colour Splashes and strokes fall down on the plain platter Just then the pen pops its head from the drawer For me to write my heart out and clear out the clutter Sometimes I make sense and at other times I dont The healing lies in the process, not in the result alone The journey to explore the inside of me Only begins when I am down to my lowest key My hobbies and passions always outlast me My true partners in life when its tough to be
It is always heard and said that one should live only in the present. Not ponder over the past or worry about the future. But I believe that some memories of the past are like a rainbow. A rainbow shines colourfully in the sky even when it is sunny and rainy at the same time. Some sweet and sour memories also act as a rainbow in our life. When we are facing new challenges in life, these memories make us smile, assure us that beautiful things do happen too. They give us the hope, place a hand of faith on our shoulder and smoothen the hard realities of life. Such memories should always be remembered. Not only remembered but talked about too. They recreate laughter. They bring back some long lost smiles. Mainly they help us connect to our younger, cooler, carefree version. I always love and cherish the details of such awesome time of the past and that is one main reason behind writing the posts that I do. Tomorrow if I am unable to recollect those, I just need to read my posts and it will all play itself like a video. The times of childhood when Sanket and I fought like crazy demons, when my mom yelled at me for not waking up on time and then skipping breakfast, when my grandfather gifted me my first wrist watch for completing my school, when my grandmother taught me sanskrit shlokas and recited them with me till I could pronounce with accurate precision, when I noticed I was growing up because I no more fought with my dear brother, instead became extremely protective towards him, when I was a helping hand to my mother instead of a troublemaker. The times of adolscence when you were first stared at, or when you liked someone like crazy, when you were teased in school over it by your girlfriends, when you behaved bizzarely but it felt right, when you shared one wada pav with a friend because you did not have enough money, when you let go off a few buses just to get one look of someone special, when you stuck posters of your innumerable heart throbs on your cupboard without caring about spoiling the look of your room, when you behaved like the sky iS falling down on the day your crush got married to someone else, when you imagined fairy tales, made them your own and believed all of it would be true some day! Some memories dont have a photograph to be proven or recreated. They just exist in our mind and heart. You can make them come alive by calling up the person you lived the memory with. Reminiscing the times with that person can be such a stress buster. If the past can give you pleasure and peace then hold it fiercely and remember it in detail. It will always give you the much needed rainbow effect in life. Its up to you how you look at such memories, you always have a choice to change your perspective. You can let them make you regret or make you grin. I choose the latter. What would you choose?
You are living your life in the most ordinary and normal manner and then comes a moment out of the blue which makes it special, curves your lips in a smile, makes others wonder what you are up to. It can be as simple as listening to a song after ages or someone addressing you with a name you haven’t been called by in a long time. Something of that sort happened to me yesterday while I was crushing fresh cardamom the same way my great grandmothers used to do it. The moment was as if my heart was singing a happy jingle. I was standing in the kitchen of my childhood home. The atmosphere of my mom and grandmother doing their daily chores, then calling me out for a little help. Tasks like peeling off the cardamom, crushing it, crushing black pepper seeds, fetching curry leaves from the backyard, peeling off garlic, grating the carrots for a sweet halwa, peeling off the roasted brinjal were always my duties. I performed all these errands with amazing amount of joy! It made me feel like I was an adult of the house. Other things included, eating one or two basil (tulas) leaves daily for good health, soaking the carrot ends in water and waiting till a leaf sprouts from it, dropping in to my aunts balcony to check over her green chilli and mint plant, watching my granny cut one kilo of lemons for the sudharas (lemon and sugar sweet syrup) to slurp with the rotis, sorting out the pumpkin seeds to cook and relish later and so many many more innumerable memories! Also there was a crow who was a regular in our kitchen, my grandfather used to feed it chapattis or biscuits and it would catch the flying (falling) food in its beak. It was a sight never to be missed. Nowadays life is so easy due to mixers, blenders, food processors and ovens! There were mixers in certain homes back the but it was believed that using a mixer is a more tedious process (LOL). Without instant soups and pastes or without shortcuts like maggi, those were the days when a whole meal was cooked every single day. It was consumed while everyone sat on the cool stone tile flooring. Everyone ate together and it was the best time of my life. Even when I visit my parents today, my mom never fails to make all the lovely chutneys, koshimbirs (salads and raitas), pickles and sweets I love because she is sure that I might not be making them in my own house. But today I made a promise to myself while writing this post that I will continue to make all that even today and never let the recipes and mannerisms of the women of my house slip away. We leave behind so much and at some sudden moment it all comes back like it was just yesterday!
I have always had this unknown sense of attachement towards old people. I have had the best grandparents anyone would ever have and maybe that is why I feel immense love and compassion when I meet any old folks! I love to have conversations with them about their times. I truly believe that their life and their stories of the past can make a positive difference in my present and future! When I moved to Melbourne a couple of months ago, I got one of the most amazing surprise from life. I came to know that an old lady lives alone just below our apartment. I dont know why but I felt this instant attachement with her only by looking at her once from a distance. She was fair and wrinkled. Always smiling and cheerful. I would look out for a chance to start a conversation with her. There is a common laundary room for all the apartments. So we would bump into each other there, or maybe when we would go out for groceries we would see her at a distance. She would smile and I would smile back (beam) and then I would ask her how she was doing, she would ask me how my little one was doing. Thats how it began. Gradually we started talking more and more. Then one day I asked her if she would love to taste indian food. Pat came the reply...why not! She chuckled happily when she said it. I was so glad! One day when I was taking Evan out to the park I spotted her watering the plants. Evan looked at her and exclaimed "Grandma aaji!!" (yes thats what he calls her!) He still cannot speak english and she obviously doesnt understand marathi, but the connection they have made with each other is beyond words. They both are immensely fond of each other! I love to see them bond. As we went near her she dropped the whaterhose reel and smiled. She bent a little looking towards Evan and asked him "Off to the park sweetie?" and Evan replied "Yesss!!" (without understanding what it meant. He says yes when he hears an unknown language!) I asked her " Do you love gardening?" She replied " Oh yes I do! That plant there is rosemary, then that is parsley and this one here is a beautiful smelling flower, I forgot the name. They make perfumes of its scent!" While Evan was playing around our little chit chat was taking place. Then I asked how long she had been living there and she told me that she bought the house in 1984. She had been living there for thirty years! She was from Ukraine and she first came to Australia in 1949. "I was only 16 when I left Ukraine and served the war in Germany. Then I could not go back to Ukraine. I came to Sydney with my sister." When her husband passed away she was left with three daughters aged 8,5 and 8 month old baby. She had the hardest time surviving. She got a job after facing a lot of hardships and kept saving money little by little. She dreamt of buying a house one day, which she did all by herself! I told her that it was very brave of her to do what she did. She smiled as if she did not get me. Maybe because she never believed she was a remarkable woman. Thats the beauty of being truly extraordinary. She told me that she has been a widow for twenty three years. I recieved the shock of my life to know that she was 88 years old. I could not believe her! She lived alone, cooked meals, cleaned the house, bought groceries, watered the plants, dried the clothes, went for X-rays...all by herself! One of her daughter had died just a year ago after being paralysed for thriteen years. She looked after her grandson for her daughter. He is twenty five now and is a proud father of a two month old baby boy. She had the most lovely smile while she spoke about her yougest great grandson! I asked her what his name was and she proudly revealed, "Henry!" Other two daughters lived in different suburbs with their families. "You have a big family! Thats great! We have a big family too back home. Evan keeps missing everyone , he has been among so many people before we came here. But I am glad that he is very attached to you!" I revealed. She gave him a little sumo wrestler shaped stone piggy bank. He was so glad. Then we watered the plants together. It started raining a little so we all rushed in our houses and it struck me that I could have given her some freshly made gajar halwa. I packed some in a jar and rushed downstairs with Evan. With a huge amount of excitement and happiness he handed over the jar to her. He grinned shyly and told her, "gajar halwa ghe, tula avadel" and I traslated it. She secretly asked me if it was okay to give him some lollies and I smilingly agreed. She called us inside her cosy neatly decorated home and offered him sweets. He obliged her instantly! While returning one of my containers in which I had packed her some homemade cake, she said, "The cake was really nice! I had it with some hot coffee." I thanked her and we left. Evan was super happy not for the chocolates that much, but for the piggy bank! I am so honoured to know her, to have these little bits of conversations with her everyday. She leaves me astonished because never does she complain, never has an off mood when she greets us, never has any preconcieved notions. She is confident and independant. Even when she narrates to me her life stories she never boasts about it. She is one hell of a superwoman. She is an inspiration. No matter where you belong, what your skin colour is, which culture or religion you follow, how old you are, you can find an exceptional human being and can connect with them like it was meant to be!
Did I have a life so fulfilling...so lovely....so positive before I had Evan? No I did not! Its so amazing that your life changes so drastically after you have a baby....you suddenly have more respect for your own mother after you become one. Its truly a blessing to become a mother but at the same time its a real tough job! I remember my childhood as a very happy one and thats only because of my parents.....I am now thriving to achieve that for Evan. Right now he is small, but he will grow up in no time and start forming memories of our moments together....I want them to be pink, all of them! I have so many photos of my childhood....so many recordings of my brother and me saying poems and singing songs ...our parents in the background encouraging us to get closer to the tape recorder...and suggesting to say that one and this one! Its such a blissful experience to hear all of that now. Every photograph I watch with my parents has some incident or a memory carved in their mind....some frock that I am wearing..or the doll I am holding...I totally believe that my life would not have been so beautiful and so carefree if they werent my parents :-) Now with Evan I realised I have it in me to become like them...I have suddenly become so alert to my surroundings....I am constantly thriving to do better than I am doing...I have not felt these feelings ever before in life with so much intensity... At times if I feel depressed due to something....I am upset or I am just not feeling me.....Evan is the one and the only factor who makes mel alright in no time! He smiles with so much care and love that everything else seems purely irrelevant! And I cant even thank him for what he is doing ...so i shower him with kisses....which is again an experince in itself! :-) But I can surely thank my parents, my brother and also my grandparents who have filled my childhood with so much love and warmth that now I am capable to give it all to Evan!
Though I believe Thane is not the the best place to live on earth...it is one of the most precious places. I have lived here all my life. I love this place to the core! After my stints at staying away from thane began I truly realised its importance in my life. After a stay of two years in Kuala Lumpur I am living thane since past six months. Knowing that I am going to move to some other place very near in the future I am valuing this noisy and colourful city all the more! As I ride my scooty, honk, make a crooked face when there is too much smoke, yell a bad word when someone spits, complain about the pits to myself, blame the government as we all do, forget about it the next moment as I window shop...I realise that all this is fun! Today a fact about this city struck me and made me write this post is that every street has a character and smell of its own. One street smells like wada pav, the next smells like an agarbatti,, the next smells like mogra and then there is one which smells like red mud! There are so many known faces to wave at, there is always a snack to munch on, there is always a shop that I have never been to and a shop I never miss. The transition of Thane at times is disturbing with its ever increasong vehicles and too much crowd. The old bunglows getting demolished to give birth to tall buildings. There is no chanewala, kulfiwala or gajrewala to shout out loud. There are no kids running around barefoot. And yet there is some invisible magnet which holds the goodness and the warmth intact. Some cities are too special for just being places. They are home in the true sense.
I ventured to this buzzing beautiful city when I was 7 months pregnant. Amit had found a very good job and I was not ready to stay back in India without him. I was headstrong about the fact that I wanted to be around him in all the nine months of my pregnancy. Amit had arranged the house and the hospital for my delivery before he came to pick me up from Mumbai. Our flat was on the 30th floor and it was spacious, the highlight being our bedroom offering us the fantastic view of the Petronas towers. Be it day or night the view always took my breath away. The towers were Evans's favourite too and he was equally thrilled to see them everyday. It rained all year long in KL. At times it was boring when it rained too much, but it was always beautiful! Evan used to be so shocked to see the towers vanish when the clouds engulfed them and rains hid them. Once Evan was of a manageable age we began our sightseeing trips. There was always something to see every weekend. That amazed me. Being born and brought up in Mumbai it was very amusing that a city could offer such a variety of places for nature, leisure, adventure, food, shopping and more. We made some very good friends who made the stay all the more fun. Our grocery shopping was also delightful. The train ride which led to Sogo was enjoyable. Evan was always happy in the train. He would keep pointing to the Petronas and Menara Tower amidst his loud happy screams! Sogo offered everything from pin to piano. It was a very cheerful place. There was one mall just beside our condo and that was such a relief. That mall made me fall in love with Starbucks. Until then Starbucks was just a name. It was yet to be opened up in India. Evan and I would meet Amit at Starbucks when he returned from office and we would share a cold coffee while feeding the topping of cream to Evan. Every evening Evan and I would hang out at the poolside of our condo. It also offered a small play area for kids. Our evening time together was the most pleasureable time of the day. Evan would make himself comfortable on my lap as I would sit on the swing. He made me sing innumerable songs to him and we would wait for Amit(baba) to call us out from behind. The poolside was also the adda for all the weekend potluck dinners and gupshup with friends. Every friday night we would all gather, hog on the food and have so much fun chitchatting with our kids around. The store in the condo owned by a sweet chinese female was always noisy and welcoming. To sum it all up, this was a city which gave me the most precious gift, my son. It made me stronger as a person as it was our first venture out of India. It made me realise that being a vegetarian can be painful at times! I just could not get vegetarian options. Even if I would ask the waiter almost irritatingly if they served any vegetarian food, he would tell me on my face that they offered chicken! lol The last but not the least, I realised that one doesnt love a city because of the beautiful roads or the amazing attractions! The stay is ultimately worth it because of your own family, your own people and the relationships you build with the new people you meet and the places you visit.
While touring with my thoughts I reached a place in the past which seemed so unfamiliar to me and I shockingly asked myself, "Is that really me!" Glimpses of my past make me wonder if I have lost myself in transformations. Of course these various roles you play in life make you a better person and make your life worth it. But in that whole process of giving it your best in every relationship, it takes you away from yourself a little bit each time. The real, unfiltered, unpolished and raw version of you hides under layers of transformations. Moreover I feel it happens mostly with women. They try a little too hard to give in. As daughters, as wives and most importantly as mothers. There is nothing sad about it when you do it with love and fulfillment. But at the same time it is also equally necessary that you keep that original version of yourself alive inside your heart and mind. You have to cherish her and have conversations with that "you"! It helps you remind yourself what you love doing, what you hate from the core, what you wish to do, what your dreams are, where your true passion lies...all of this should be treasured very fiercely. So that when life gives you a chance you always know what to do and how to do it! It all comes down to giving yourself the best you can like you give it your best in every other relationship. Love yourself a little more, praise yourself a little more and smile looking at yourself in the mirror a lot more! And then you will get hold of that original amazing version and undoubtedly never let her slip away again!
Today I got the chance to hear some good music while I sat alone (that is very very rare for a mommy) on a bench surrounded by lush green trees around me, soft grass under my feet and blue sky engulfing the Petronas Towers. It felt so good. And the music simply made me realize how important it is in our life. It has the power to make things happen, make life better, make an attitude positive, bring a smile on a frowned face and also make a tear drop down the cheek. I used to listen to songs a lot before having Evan. Humming while I listened was my favourite part. But I have not been doing that often lately. So I miss it big time. But when I do get the chance I make the most of it. Sometimes it helps me amend a decision, at times it makes me stronger than I think I am, at times it just lets me be me, at times it makes me cry, at times it makes me smile ear to ear ....it brings back some good and some bad memories but never does it disappoint me ever! When in life you might be confused and the closest around you are engaged in telling you what is right and what is wrong, all you should ideally do is listen to a nice song! It will guide you in its own way...the lyrics might not always be suitable to your situation but the tune and the melody will help you find answers.
I keep telling Evan (now he understands some words and tone) not to throw things. I know he will keep doing it for as long as he wants, but I intend to keep telling him because one day he surely will know what I am saying and learn from it. But is this all that simple? Evan's observation is better than mine. He watches us, imitates us then gives us a wicked smile and we laugh! But thats also a scary thing in a way. He will do everything the same way or manner in which we do it. So we HAVE to watch ourselves. Thats so alarming. Our generation is very different from our parents. My mom and dad never woke up late. They never switched on T.V. before they were done with their morning chores and work. They did not have mobile phones/ tablets/ laptops. They never yelled at each other. They ate at home except for times when it was something special and we would go out for dinner. They were not fussy about food. They believed everything homemade is delicious than food from outside.They had a certain pattern, a certain discipline to their lives. Even though I might have felt bored to follow it as a kid, I think it was an ideal way to deal with life. Maybe that is why being a parent is so hyped nowadays. Because couples have to give up so many things now to become capable parents. We have to change our pattern of living when we become parents. Our parents did not have to do that. They were never spoilt in the first place! But we are. Not that we are horrible..haha! But we are not as good as them. Waking up early on a sunday is like suicide to most of us. (I know I am exaggerating) But yes its something we would never want to happen. But it does happen. And you got to live with it with a smile on your face. We are good. But our parents were far better. We were smart but our children are much smarter.
If I am to compare my childhood to Evan's childhood I would definitely feel that mine was much better in many ways. As parents we are giving him all that we can like any parents would. But with all this globalization and "It's such a small world!" kind of attitude we have recently developed, things have changed hugely for every one of us. I remember growing up around my big family. My relatives living in the same city and very close by, my family consisting of my parents, my brother and my grandparents. Our house always filled with relatives or friends or cousins. The kitchen always aromatic with tea and yummy food. Doors of each house open and a very soothing kind of atmosphere with familiar noises which were never unwanted. There was always someone at home. There was always sharing of food. Lunch was so much fun with all of us sitting on the floor and eating a surreal meal of poli, bhaji, koshimbir, loncha, chatni, papad, bhat, varan and aamti. I remember I would everyday insist Dada ( my grandfather ) to mix my varan bhat. I still have it carved in my head how he did it in his own special way. He would add a little water and lemon juice. That meal is simply incomparable to any of the meals I have had in ages. Then in the summer season, aamras puri was the most relished and common lunch cooked in all homes. Dada or Baba would lovingly soften the mangoes after washing them. The aamras of god knows how many mangoes would vanish in no time! And after such a heavy meal we would still be ready for a desert which would be again, a mango! What summers they were with mangoes stacked in wooden boxes with hay. The fragrance of the ripe mangoes freshening the whole house. Now we stay away from our family...not all but most us do! With working parents, no grandparents. No matter how much we do we cannot give them what we earned when we were kids. I always feel the need to give Evan what we experienced and I ll strive to do that whenever I can. When I went to Ahemdabad to stay with my parents with Evan it was an expereince in itself. My aaji, and Evan's aaji ajoba were there to pamper us and give us all that we miss when we stay away most of the time. Evan would wake early and go out every morning with Baba to buy milk and come back so happy! Then he woud play with aai, listen to songs sung by aaji. When Baba returned from work he would be energized only by looking at Evan and play with him. When my mother in law came to stay with us in KL, the bond she formed with Evan was also so special. She taught him so many things and he responded so cleverly to everything.The bond that Evan shares with his both aajis and ajoba is so special. I will never let it fade away. Though we cannot stay with them all year long I will make the most of it.Thats a promise I make myself every day. I was lucky to have got the treasure by doing nothing, my parents did that for me. My grandparents are such a huge influence on my life. My passion for writing comes to me from both my aajis. Dada is someone who can give me strength even though he is no more. It really felt AWESOME when I was a child surrounded by my family. I want Evan to feel the same way! :)
I Landed in Mumbai with Evan and my parents; we were greeted by our near and dear ones at the airport. Everyone was super happy to see Evan and his histrionics! On our way home I was constantly feeling the eagerness the see my parents’ new house, of course mine too in a way! The old houses were demolished and a new building stood on the same land. There were two buildings connected to each other, one three storeyed and the other seven storeyed. The builder had promised to retain the names of the building which was a blessing in disguise. The well was now covered and hardly looked like a well. There was concrete everywhere. The trees which were taller than our old house were now belittled by the new building. It was not like I was against demolishing the old house; it was a practical and correct decision, but my heart kept going back to the thoughts of the old house as I stepped in the elevator to reach the third floor where my parents and my brother lived. The new house was neatly decorated to welcome the newest entrant of the family. Evan had been a very good baby throughout the flight, but the journey had been tiring. After a hot steaming cup of tea we were fresh and chit chatted for a while. Evan was keeping me busy but now I had so many helping hands! Finally after the entire hustle bustle it was time to get some rest. After Evan was asleep, I slipped into my space silently. I slept almost immediately. The coming days were as busy as they should be for a new mother. There was more help in India but with a three month old baby it’s always unpredictable! Amidst all this I always kept thinking about living in the old house. I found myself pondering about the good old days. And then I realised that actually nothing had changed much! Of course the physical appearance had changed but most things were similar. While lying down beside Evan one afternoon with my eyes closed I heard sounds of a typical afternoon many years ago…. trains fleeting to and fro, a vehicle passing by once in a while, the sound of the ceiling fan in the quietness of the afternoon when everyone was enjoying their nap. I visualized my dada sitting in the balcony with closed eyes humming a song, aaji lying down listening to him ….my six year brother, annoyed that everyone was sleeping and he had to be quiet, my mother making tea in the kitchen and then the aroma of the boiling tea waking everyone gradually….just as I was in my day dream my mother called out to tell me that tea was ready and I better have it while Evan is still sleeping. I suddenly realised that my brother was now married and even I was a mother of a baby boy! My dada was maybe watching me from heaven and smiling. Aaji was already having tea. It was an overwhelming experience. Even if the time had changed and the look of our house was different, the sound of every afternoon was similar…it made me secure and told me that I lived in the same place with the same people around me…though now we had to ring the doorbell to go to anyone’s house…we still did not have to take an appointment to visit them. My father’s aunt who lived on the second floor was welcome at our house at any time of the day and so were we. Evan’s Arnav dada (my cousin’s son) was a regular visitor to play with Evan. Things will not change if we don’t let them change!L
Evan is fast asleep. Its ME time when he sleeps. But all I do is think about him.Right now while looking at his photographs from the day I was pregnant to this day when I am planning his first birthday party I simply cannot believe my transformation. I am a totally new person. Or maybe I am the same old person with a brand new heart which can love more than it ever knew to love. Last one year has been the best year of my life and the reason is only one, Evan. Evan made me a much much better person than I was. I actually have forgotten what I was like. Motherhood is so beautifully engaging. Every word in the dictionary will fall short to describe what Evan has given to me. What I give him is negligible in comparison to what he gives me. Its a feeling only to be lived and experienced. All those things which I always thought I wasn't capable of ..I could do them efficiently. Every tear of worry turned into a tear of joy. All I ever wished for in life became him. He makes every morning delightful, every afternoon lively and every evening fulfilling. When he is awake and crawling I am busy running behind him. I so wish he sleeps and yearn to get some rest. But when he falls sleeps a little longer I snuggle and kiss him so that he wakes up. I feel like a part of me is in him. Only when he wakes up with a giggle and a sloppy kiss on my cheeks do I come truly alive. Its a godly experience to be a mother. I am falling short of words to describe the right feeling. Writing after a long time more because I dont find words to describe myself anymore. Maybe with time I will.