Saturday, November 9, 2013

His & Hers . . . Plans

His
She didn't remember anything . . . Not him, not their home, not even the life they had built together. She didn't even mourn the death of their little baby growing inside of her. He felt so alone. She was his best friend, his only friend and now she didn't remember him. He felt like crying. An anguished sob escaped his lips. He saw her move a little. He stared at her. She was sleeping... peacefully, as if she didn't have a care in the world. One moment, he wanted to touch her, stroke her cheek, kiss her lips. And another, he wanted to shake her till she recognized him. The doctors had told him that she had had a nasty fall. Not only had she lost the baby but also her memories. They had consoled him saying she might remember him tomorrow . . . and then added in a whisper, 'or maybe never'. He could just hope . . . And pray. He held her hand in his and cried softly. After what felt like hours, he got up from her side and walked out into the well-lit corridor of the hospital. As he trudged along, only one thought ran through his mind... How his life has transformed in one instant. Last night, around this time, he was elated. His future looked promising. He had had a promotion, they were expecting a baby. And tonight, just 24 hours later, he had lost his baby and his wife of two years couldn't place him in her memories. He looked back at the empty corridor, 'How can just one night change everything?' 
Hers
She remembered everything . . . Him and the fact that she was no longer pregnant. She was elated as she had managed to kill two birds with one stone. As she lay there, on the uncomfortable hospital bed, pretending to be asleep while he sat there next to her, holding her hand in his. 'Crying like a sissy', she thought with disdain. She diverted her mind to more happy thoughts, to her brilliant plan that had made it possible for her to break the shackles of unhappy marriage to a man she didn't love anymore, as well as terminate her unwanted pregnancy that tied her to him. She smiled to herself as she remembered how just last week, everything looked hopeless and her future, bleak. How while channel surfing, one movie caught her attention. How she researched all evening about retrograde amnesia, and how she decided to go through this one-time pain for a lifetime of happiness. She remembered how she had deliberately missed a step while walking down the stairs. How she positioned herself in such a manner so as to make sure her head hit the floor. It was all cakewalk after that, a little acting, a lot of confusion and she was free. She could feel him getting up and walking out. She opened one eye to confirm. As she saw him leaving her room, and possibly her life, one thought ran through her mind... How can just one night change everything!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

His & Hers . . . Hope.

Hers
She clutched her mobile tightly against her ear. It was ringing. As always, he picked up after a couple of rings. And as had become his habit of late, he didn't say anything. Not even a hello. It always broke her heart a little bit, but she shook the negativity away. 
At least I can hear him breathing... shallow yet strong. 
She closed her eyes and pictured his muscular chest, rising and falling... his strong hands holding the mobile... his handsome face contorted with anger ... his brow furrowed, his lips drooping in a frown. She could picture him running his free hand through his hair. When the silence stretched for five minutes, she said a meek 'hello?'
As expected, he didn't reply. After all hadn’t he categorically said it was over? He had left her and the house they had so lovingly built from scratch for another woman. He had told her that he didn't love her anymore but she was not ready to accept that. She still loved him, with all her heart.
"How are you?"
Silence.
"Please say something. Don’t shut me out,” she begged.
Silence.
A tiny sob escaped her lips, “I will change. I promise I will. I will give you space. I will not snoop. I will do everything you want. Please don't leave me. I love you. I miss you."
Silence.
She didn't realize when her eyes started brimming with tears. More than his absence, this silence pinched her. With every phone call, a little part of his heart broke away.
"Your silence pierces my heart. It's creating a gaping hole in my soul and every day, with every silent phone call that hole is growing bigger... and I am scared. I really am. One day this black hole would swallow me completely and I would cease to exist. I am alive but I am not living."
She choked on her sob.
Silence.
"Hello? Are you there?"
She waited for a response.
"Please. Please talk to me. It’s been a week. I need to hear your voice. Please don’t shut me out completely. Please..."
She pleaded again.
The sobs turned into silent wails. Her shoulders shaking, tears running down her face, she held onto her mobile as a drowning person catches on to straw.
"Hello?!”
His silence was making her angry now. She started crying openly.
“Talk to me damn it! I at least deserve a response! We had been together for three years! three years! Talk to me!"
Her rage got the best of her and she threw the phone at the wall, screaming in frustration. It fell on the floor with a loud clank and shattered completely. The room plunged into a deathly silence. She stared for a moment at the broken phone lying in front of her. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she hugged her knees and lay down in the floor in a fetal position, sobbing softly.
At least he is taking my calls. This counts for something. There is still hope. He will come back. We are not over, not yet.  

His
The phone call ended abruptly with a loud noise. He kept holding the mobile to his ear. The ear piercing scream was still ringing in his mind. Finally he disconnected the mobile with an audible sigh. He stared at the stranger’s phone in his hand. He had found it lying in the bushes by the roadside a week back. There had been an accident on that road in which a man in his early thirties and his companion had passed away. The police overlooked checking the bushes but he, on his way to work, had heard the ringing phone. He picked it up intending to tell the person who was calling, about the accident and then hand over the phone to the police. But as soon as he answered the phone, before he could say anything, the woman on the other line started pleading with him to forgive her. He stood still listening to the crying woman proclaim her love and requesting him to come back. He couldn’t say anything… he stood rooted to the spot.
How could I elevate her pain? How could I tell her that her lover or fiancé or husband had left her forever? How could I extinguish her hope?
Thinking all these thoughts he disconnected the phone in a panic. But he couldn't ignore the love and sadness in her voice. He knew once the police will get hold of the phone, they will call her and tell her that the love of her life was no more. He knew it was wrong but he couldn't make himself do the right thing. And now one week later, he was as confused as before.
'Am I doing the right thing?'
The phone beeped in his hand.
'I love you. I know you will come back. I am alive because of this one hope that we will be what we used to be.'
He read the message again.
If my answering the phone gives her hope, then so be it.

‘Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all that they have. - H. Jackson Brown’

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Things No One Warned Me About . . . Being Mommy!

When you become a mother, many people tell you many things. Suddenly, even a person who has had no contact with a newborn baby or even a toddler will give you advice on how to feed the baby, massage the baby and what not. But, in spite of all the advice, all the suggestions, all the feedback, there are still certain things no one tells you. This post is about all those things that no one warned you about . . .
  1. Motherhood is all about guesswork. From the day the baby is born, you will be guessing what is the reason behind her crying . . . is she hungry? is she sleepy? is she wet? is she cold? it's like a series of trial & error and it will continue for a long long time.Even when she refuses to eat her food, the guesswork will start. why isn't she eating? is she not hungry? is the food  not to her liking? is she teething and so on and so forth.
  2. You will at one point or another will be found intently engrossed in examining your baby's poop to figure out if it's too hard or too soft. 
  3. The 'terrible twos' or the time when the little angel transforms into a yelling, screaming tyrant will not start when the baby turns two. one day she will be dancing and waving on her first birthday and the next day she will be rolling on the floor demanding a wine glass. 
  4. You may not be the one doing the hitting. As the baby develops her motor skills, she will start using her hands, a lot and on most of the time you will be at the receiving end. there will be times when in a bout of frustration or anger, she might hit you, really hard . . . right across the face. during those times, you will need to remember that you are the adult and refrain from hitting back. if you are lucky, you might stride over this phase with just a few pinches and pokes. But rest assured, she will definitely pull your hair and even try to put her finger in your mouth, your nose and your ears.
  5. Once the baby starts eating solids, you will eat her leftovers . . . And I don't mean the food that she hasn't eaten but also the stuff that she has put in her mouth, chewed on a little and is covered in her spit. 
  6. When you are a mommy, you will lose your patience many times . . . and after all those times of being impatient, you feel guilty. really, really guilty. 
  7. One time or the other you will be uncertain of your abilities as a mother. you will question your parenting technique. you will feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities. you will think if it was the right time to have a baby. you will miss you life before the baby. you will blame your husband for not spending enough time with and / or taking care of the baby. All or some of these episodes will occur but these occurrences will be few and far between. 
  8. Motherhood = 40 percent love + 20 percent adoration + 10 percent fun + 10 percent fear + 10 percent doubts + 5 percent guilt + 5 percent regret.
This list is from the top of my head. I might keep adding on to it. And if you can think of something that no one warned you about, you are welcome to leave it as a comment. Happy reading!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ramblings of a troubled Mother

I have a 1.5 year old baby girl, BabyS. She is a friendly, out-going happy child. *knock on wood* (Superstitions!) She is a single child and in a few months we are planning to send her to a play school where she can meet children of her own age. we are hoping she will make friends, learn to share and develop her basic skills. But recently, the milestone that I had been so looking forward to for a long time, now just fills me with dread. Everyday as I go through the newspaper and read about rapes and child molestation cases, I am, on one hand, disgusted and mortified at the state of perversion of our men and on the other hand totally and utterly petrified of sending my little baby girl out into a place full of these monsters. The thought of letting her venture out into a world full of sick, depraved and inhumane beasts is enough to give me sleepless nights. Her same qualities, her extrovert nature that used to fill me with joy and pride now has become a reason for my troubled state of mind. 

After the recent spurt of rapes, I read many articles where people were urging mothers to raise responsible men, where they tell parents to teach their sons to respect women and not see them as mere objects. But, what about the men who have already grown up with this notion. The men who have seen their fathers treating their mothers as nothing more as servants. The men who have seen their sisters getting less food than them just because they are girls. they are the real danger, right? they are out there masquerading as the friendly milkman, the nice  newspaper man, or even the educated neighbour. How do you know the difference between them and a maniacal pervert? can you tell them apart?

After reading many of these articles, another thought came into my head. what should I tell my daughter? She is a toddler who loves meeting people. If you smile at her, she will not only smile back but will also give you a flying kiss as a bonus.Recently, on a weekly grocery shopping trip, a young woman smiled and waved at BabyS who got so delighted with this tiny friendly gesture that she jumped out from her father's arms and went to the woman. it took 15 minutes of cajoling on our part for BabyS to return to the protective embrace of her father. As I said before she is a friendly baby. She likes meeting people, she loves making friends. But, not every person who smiles at her is nice. And there will be times we will not be with her to goad her back. how should i prepare her for times like those? Should I curb her natural out-going extrovert personality and instead turn her into a shy introvert baby who shies away from everyone? Is that fair? Should I tell her to not smile back? not to return every wave? Will that help? 

And if you think I am worrying unnecessarily, let me give you an example. Some months back I heard about an instance where a little girl kissed her mother on the lips. the mom didn't think much about it until the girl started using tongue. that's when the warning bells started ringing. when asked where did she learn to kiss like that, she told her much-horrified mother that the drive 'uncle' who drops and picks her to and from her playschool taught her how to do that. she was 2.5 years old. I know of another instance where the owner of a playschool raped a 3 year old girl. These are not isolated incidents. There are many more examples. A 6 year old girl was raped by her neighbor. It seems you can not trust anyone anymore. I do plan to teach her the difference between good and bad touch when she turns a little older but what do I do till now. BabyS is not even two. right now, she doesn't understand the difference between a good touch and a bad touch. She doesn't know that no one except her parents should touch her private parts. what do I tell her till she does start understanding? Should I tell her to distrust every person she ever meets? And what if the man turns out to be someone she knows? like the driver 'uncle' or the servant 'bhaiya' or her friend's 'papa'?

After reading, listening and seeing about all these instances I have started distrusting everyone. whenever the security guard or the courier guy smiles at my daughter, I hold on to her a little tighter. i know it is unfair. not everyone is a paedophile but these stories do color your perception. I understand everyone is not a monster but you never know when someone might turn out to be one. And haven't we be taught since childhood - better safe than sorry?  I am a mother and I have to protect my daughter. So I ask again, what should I do? What should I tell her? Maybe I should home-school her? maybe before teaching her how to swim or play tennis, I should make her learn judo, karate or Taekwondo? Maybe instead of buying barbie dolls for her, I should give her a pepper spray? maybe instead of teaching her to talk softly i should just let her yell and scream? maybe I should pick and drop her and stay outside her classroom everyday? Seems a little farfetched right? Maybe so.

Growing up in India, i have witnessed monsters of my own. i am sure almost all women have. i have been groped in a bus, i have been whistled at, i have been subject to lewd remarks. and honestly i think myself lucky that i didn't encounter more. There have been times when I have kept quiet and there have been instances when I have given it back, where I have made a scene and made sure that the man who was old enough to be my grandfather was left shamefaced when he rubbed against me on purpose . . . or the college student who tried to touch me inappropriately while pretending to be asleep has been taught a lesson. But does that stop the next person to try their 'luck'? I am afraid not. That is the sad state of our nation. The realization that one day, BabyS will step into this world gives me jitters. I know I will have to let her go. she can't walk holding my hand forever. I understand that I will have to let her step out of the protective cocoon that I have created for her and let her fly and reach her true potential.

but, what if my daughter is not as lucky as me? God forbid what if she encounters a big bad wolf? How should I prepare her for that? what should I tell her? should I tell her to bow down her head, dress conservatively and not trust people? should i tell her to not attract attention to herself but instead be a part of the crowd and accept this as her fate? but will that help? or should I tell her instead to be her usual friendly self and not be scared to fight back at the risk of losing her life or being scarred for years to come? and then i think what good will that do too? she will end up being just another statistic. We all know how the justice system works (or doesn't work) in our country. the 'juvenile' involved in one of the most horrific gang-rape cases could be free in three years. and the young girl who dared to fight back is no more. Another sad reality of the world we live in.

My 1.5 year old daughter is going to start playschool soon. she will be away from my eyes for two-three hours everyday. I would have to trust men and women i have never met in my life to take care of my little baby girl. I have six months to prepare her and myself for this new phase in our life. I am scared and I don't know what to tell her. I don't know what to do. do you?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Perceptions

She was soaring high in the skies. She loved his gentle tugs, those intimate pulls . . . they reminded her that she was not alone. He was there, on solid ground, but letting her fly. In fact, he was the one who had seen her potential . . . Who had inspired her, gave her wings. She knew he'll be there, alert and ready to run and catch her if she ever fell. After all they shared a strong bond. Smiling, she flew this way and that, taking in the sun. Suddenly, she felt something was wrong. . . The bond that she had thought was unbreakable, the tie that held them together had snapped. She was free. 
'But I don't want to be free!' 
She wanted to run back in his arms. 
'He must be missing me too. He must be lonely like me.' 
She turned to look back. He was caressing another. He was looking at the new love in his life the same way he used to look at her. His hands moving along her delicate body the same way as they had done on hers. She was seething with anger. 
'He is mine!' 
But she didn't know what to do. He was her guiding light . . . Had always been one. 
'Without him, i am nothing.' 
She fell to the floor, limp and broken. 
For me, he was my whole world. For him, I guess I was just another kite.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Being Mommy . . .

Being a mother is no piece of cake especially when you are handling a baby on your own with no over-indulgent grandparents or a full-time maid to help . . . And the said toddler being hyperactive and over-inquisitive doesn't make matters easy as well. It does gets stressful. There are days when you look at your life and think is this it? Is this what you left your career for? Sometimes, you even question yourself, were you ready to be a mother? But, the next minute your baby runs up to you and snuggles her face in the crook of your neck and gives you a big sloppy drool-filled kiss and you realize - yes, this is worth all those sleepless nights, all those dirty diapers, and all those screaming crying sessions. You realize - Yes, you were are ready for it.

There are so many different emotions you experience in just one day . . . from amazing highs to awful lows. There are good days, bad days and downright ugly days!

It’s not all bad though . . . there are moments which do take your breath away like when your baby starts walking without support . . . when she tap-dances to a song on the radio . . . when she calls you Mumma for the first time . . . when she starts recognizing you in a crowd . . . when she runs to you and hugs you tightly . . . when she stands next to you on the balcony, near the clothesline handing you one piece of cloth at a time so you can hang it to dry . . . when she sees you putting your face cream back on the dressing table and runs and gets her lotion and places it next to your bottle. These enchanting moments are too many to jot down.

But, like I said all is not hunky dory all the time. There are bad days too when she is cranky for no reason, when she keeps spitting out her food, when she screams for anything and everything, or when she throws whatever comes in her hand on to the floor! During those days or moments, a mother is filled with doubt. She racks her brain for answers . . . why is she doing it? Is she hungry? Is she hurt? Is she teething? Is she not fed properly? Am I not paying her enough attention? Or am I too indulgent? Tired of playing the guessing game, she starts looking for answers. She logs into the Internet, makes frantic calls to her baby’s pediatrician, refers to the many post-pregnancy books she had stocked as soon as the baby was born to find a smidgen of reason to her baby’s behavior. At last, she does what she had vowed never to do - call another mother. She had promised herself the day her baby was born that she would not do that because all babies are different right? But what is she to do? She needs to find out that her baby’s behavior is normal, that she is not at fault, that she is not doing something wrong . . . and maybe, just maybe, they will be able to answer her and tell her it is alright. She calls a fellow mother and finds solace when she learns someone else’s baby does the same thing too. We, moms, are crazy like that!

But, that call brings a plethora of another fears and doubts to the fore. It opens a can of worms, you can say. Her baby can walk, why can’t mine? He weighs that much, but my baby is so skinny? She has so many teeth, mine only has two! Her baby has never fallen sick, but my daughter fell ill twice last year! She doesn’t breast feed anymore, why does mine still insist on feeding before sleep? These questions only lead to a bigger question that every mother, at one time or another, has been plagued with – Am I a BAD mother?! Am I not taking good care of my baby? Is it my fault that she is acting like this? And she feels guilty for no reason whatsoever because all babies are indeed different.  And, the whole rigmarole starts again. She logs onto the Internet going through the discussion threads and trying to make sense of her situation, she looks up recipes to make her daughter fatter, she stocks on teething pills and what not. And God forbid, your baby might fall sick . . . only a mother knows how horrifying and absolutely frightening those days are when you see your baby in discomfort and you can’t do anything to lessen her pain. 

Being a mother is indeed no piece of cake. You forget that you are a woman first. Your whole day revolves around taking care of this tiny person who is dependent on you for their every little need and want . . . from brushing her teeth, to cleaning her potty, to making her have her food, to bathing her, to playing with her, to teaching her, to making her fall asleep . . . you are responsible for everything. And then during the day, when she takes her nap . . .  Ahh . . . you long for those precious couple of hours when you are truly alone, without your baby clinging onto you for something or the other. How much you crave those hours to do whatever you want to do. Sometimes, you feel like talking to your friends, finding out what is going on in their lives. 

But, sometimes, you just want to lock yourself in a room and cry your heart out . . . it does get that overwhelming. And some days, you want to spend those two hours in the whole day not wanting to talk to anybody, not returning calls, pings or messages, or worrying about the food or doing the dishes or the laundry. You just want to spend that time with yourself doing what you want to do. Maybe you just want to sit in the balcony and watch the rain pour while you sip on a hot cup of coffee, maybe you want to take a long shower which has become a luxury nowadays, or you want to watch TV while you paint your toenails, or you just want to curl up next to your sleeping baby and read a book, or maybe you just want to write about something that has been going in your head forever and you haven’t been able to put pen to paper because you didn’t have the time. You are entitled to that, right? You are allowed to spend few hours in a day not thinking about anyone else but yourself. But, then also there are some who make you feel guilty for not taking their call or responding to their message. At those times all you feel like doing is telling them – Go have a baby and then talk.

I reiterate being a mother is no piece of cake . . . it is everything everyone ever told you about and then some. It is stressful, tiring, overwhelming, terrifying, frightening . . . it makes you doubt yourself, fills you with anxiety, makes you feel guilty BUT still it is absolutely worth every minute of your time. Seeing your baby laugh at your antics, looking at her playing with her toys, or her breathing softly while she lays in your arms . . . these are just some of the things that makes it all worth it in the end.

P.S. - Before angry comments starts pouring in about me equating grandparents with maid, I mean no such thing. I just mean an extra set of hands who can take care of the baby for sometime. That's all.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Loneliness . . .

After she tucked-in her children for the night, she came and lay down on her bed. Her husband was already asleep, snoring softly next to her. She stared at the dancing shadows on her bedroom's ceiling unable to shake her mind off from focusing on the disturbing turn of events in her life. she wanted to share this strange development with someone, but no name came to her.
she turned and faced her husband. she could see his rising and falling chest following rhythmic mechanical breaths.
you should talk to your parents.
She smiled sarcastically at her heart's suggestion. she knew it was no use calling them up. hasn't her mother been telling her since the day she got married that from now on her husband's house is her home, his family is her family. She felt her maternal home was no longer her own. seven rounds around the sacred fire and she had become a guest in her own home, a stranger for her own family. Someone who is spoken to formally but all the decisions that she was a part of before are not shared with her anymore. she had made peace with it. what else she could do?
you can talk to your in-laws . . .
This suggestion made her laugh inwards. how can she talk to her in-laws, when for them she was still an outsider. Almost ten years and two grand kids later, her mother-in-law never forgets to mention that she is not her own flesh and blood. at first, it pinched her but now, she had learnt to choose her battles and this one was certainly not worth fighting for.
What about your friends? you have hundreds of followers on facebook and twitter.
Friends. Did she have any genuine ones left? Anyone with whom she could share what's happening in her life ? anyone who would listen patiently and offer sound advice? she didnt think so. Since the day she had got married, the delicate thread of communication had been stretched to its breaking point. she had made conscious efforts to be in touch with many of her friends but after her wedding, her priorities had considerably changed. weekends were no longer spent gossipping with friends, but instead in grocery shopping. Slowly everyone got busy with their lives and BFFs turned to just a name in each other's smartphones. she couldn't even remember when was the last time she had chatted with a friend over the phone. lately, it has just been pings on whatsapp or birthday wishes on FB wall. she had tried to tie up the broken threads many times but with knots in them, they were not as strong as they once were. the only friends she was in constant touch with were the mothers of her kids' friends.  I cant share intimate details of my personal life with them. its not appropriate. 
She took a deep breath. She kept staring at him, sleeping peacefully unaware of the storm raging inside her.
You can talk to him.
Her heart suggested tentatively. This suggestion made her sob inconsolably. She got up and ran inside the bathroom. she turned on the shower at full blast and stood under it, fully clothed.
why don't you talk to him?
Her heart repeated again. she could talk to him. after all, he had always managed to make her feel secure. he had always held her hand and assured her that it will be okay. but, she knew, this time he will not be able to help.
how can i talk to him when he is the reason for my anxiety? how will he say that everything will be alright, when he is the part of the problem.
Her salty tears mixed with the water and made zig-zag lines across her face. She closed her eyes, willing herself that she will not cry. but, the tears came down strong and hard. she had found the flight tickets in his suitcase. she knew that his business trip was more personal than he cared to admit. she knew that he was cheating on her. she knew that he had been lying to her. She looked at her hand, where a large diamond glistened in her wedding ring.
he was the centre of my universe. he was my everything. i never felt alone, because he was there. i gave him and this house the best years of my life and this is what i get in return. Now, what am i supposed to do. 
The same ring that seemed like a bond of their love, looked like diamond studded shackles from which she needed to be free. Forcefully, she yanked it from her finger where it left a light mark behind. Still crying, she sat down on the bathroom floor clutching her wedding ring to her chest, getting drenched in her own tears.

 
'Drifting aimlessly in the ocean of life,
No hope, no land, no savior in sight.
Surrounded by a deafening silence,
Her only companion - crippling loneliness.'

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Grass is always greener on the other side . . . or is it?

It was seven in the morning. she was standing in her bedroom window staring at her neighbor. Dressed smartly in a grey skirt and white shirt, her friend was off to work. She felt a pang of jealousy.
This could have been me. 
She sighed. she knew she had left behind the competitive corporate world for a life of quiet domesticity. It was her decision to get married and stop working. It was her choice but, sometimes, when she saw her friends going to work with their smart phones and their Mac Books in tow, she felt envious. When she heard them talk about their work, their travels and their every increasing paycheck, she always felt a twinge of regret. It was not that she wasn't happy in her own life but there were days when she couldn't stop her mind from questioning her heart.
Is this it? Is this my life now? 
Today, standing in her bedroom, framed by the window she felt claustrophobic. she longed to leave the shackles of domesticity and sour high in the sky. she wanted to not think about the grocery shopping and laundry but wanted to worry about figures and presentations. She was lost in her thoughts when she felt someone tug at her pyjamas. she looked down and saw her two year old standing beside her groggily rubbing his eyes.
"Momma!" he said happily and motioned for her to pick him up.
she smiled and bent low.
"Good Morning."
She turned and looked back at her husband. he came towards her smiling, carrying a tray with two cups of tea on it. he placed it on the bed and handed her one cup kissing her lightly on the cheek. her son rested his head on her shoulder and heaved a content sigh. she couldn't help herself, she smiled broadly.
"What's with the smile?" his husband asked, sipping his tea.
"Nothing." she took a sip, "Good tea."
she looked back at her friend who had climbed into her new car and waved at her. she waved back with a smile on her face.
Life is not so bad.
She put the cup on the window sill and hugged her little boy tightly.  

Sitting in her new car, she waved at her friend, smiling tightly. A wave of jealousy swept over her.
Here I am all dressed up and off to work and some people are still in their pyjamas!
She started her engine and reversed her car from the parking lot. Her phone started ringing. She glanced at the screen. it was her assistant.
"What?!" she barked into her smart phone.
Her assistant told her that the meeting has been postponed by an hour. she listened, with her temper rising, and then threw the phone on to the passenger side seat.
This is just perfect.
Involuntarily, her eyes again went to the window on the third floor where her neighbour was standing cuddling her two year old son in her arms with her husband by her side, sipping the morning tea. she looked at herself in the car's tiny rear-view mirror.
Is this it? Is this my life now? 
She had decided to pursue her career going against her family who wanted to get her getting married. Now, five years later, she was the youngest manager in her organization with an impressive bank balance. She was happy with her life . . . she liked her work, she liked going on dates, she liked her independence. But, then there were those days, like today, when she couldn't help but think about her life, about how lonely it sometimes felt to be on her own all the time. There were days when she felt like giving it all up and getting married and having a brood of kids.
Where I don't have to worry about profits and losses and just think about my kid's grades. 
Her beeping phone brought her back to reality. She picked it up, frowning. it was an email from her boss. As she scanned her mail, her face lit up.
Another promotion! 
She pumped her fist in the air.
Life is not so bad after all!
She started the engine and drove to work, smiling broadly.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

From Darkness to Light

Broken and empty, she walked alone; 
Clutching tiny pieces of her heart, she wandered lost . . . Shielding her soul, hiding her tears, shying from prying eyes, shuddering at every helpful touch.
Months passed and years flew by, devoid of desires and scared of her dreams, she uttered a hopeless cry.
Opened her eyes and found him standing beside . . . Kind and considerate, warm and understanding.
Distrustful of even her own shadow, she ignored his friendly smiles.
He matched her steps, walking by her side . . . Silent but strong, he became her companion, her only ally.
No questions he asked, no answers were sought . . . He taught her to trust, to laugh, to live.
Soon, she was whole . . . Beautiful and full of sunshine. 
Her heart was healed, she was complete, he filled her very being.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Writer's Block

She stared at the word file. Her slender fingers resting on the keyboard, she was willing herself to write . . . But, no thought, no idea, no words came to her . . . her mind was as blank as the document opened in front her. She stood up and walked towards the lone window in her one bedroom apartment. She stood by the window and glanced out. She loved the view, especially in the mornings. The kids would be laughing and stomping their way to school. The men would be driving off to work. The women would be seeing off their kids and husbands. The street dogs running around barking. The maids would be reporting for work. The newspapermen and the milkmen would be cycling around delivering their respective goods. Doorbells would be ringing, birds would be chirping. In the mornings, the street itself felt alive and pulsating with the cacophony of sounds. But, now, it was three in the afternoon and not the favorite time of the day for her. All was silent. It was a sleepy afternoon. She could see a huge Gulmohar tree in the veranda of the house right across the street from her. It was in full bloom and the ground below was littered with red flowers that had fallen from its branches. In the morning, the tree seemed to be dancing in the gentle breeze. But, now, the wind had stopped rustling the leaves. The birds had stopped chirping. A dog was lying lazily on the ground in the shade of the tree as if lifeless. The street looked and felt dead. She pictured all the housewives and the kids lying on their beds with the AC's on full blast taking their afternoon naps after consuming a hearty lunch. She looked up at her rusty creaking fan. She smiled sarcastically.
Such is life
She went back and sat in front of the laptop. Staring at the blank document filled her with anger.  
Why is this happening to me? Why can’t I write? Everyone is going on with their lives and I am just stuck. I need to write something . . . anything, but something.
She, once again, placed her fingers on the keypad. Once again, she was met with a wall . . . strong and indestructible. 
Maybe I need a break. 
She closed her eyes to rest for some time. In the descending darkness, she could see a murky path underneath her. She was walking on it looking around trying to make sense of where she was. In the distance she could make out a vague shape. As she inched closer, she realized it was a giant bookcase. A huge beautifully-carved wooden case filled with numerous books. She quickened her pace. She wanted to touch it, smell it, feel it. . .  she ached to run her fingers over the smoothly carved surface and caress the various engravings. She was getting closer. Her pulse quickened. She inhaled the scent of freshly carved dark wood, the intoxicating aroma of old books. She took a long breath so as to fill every pore of herself with the musty scent. She touched tentatively the carvings of flowers and butterflies engraved intricately on it . . . the wood felt cool as ice underneath her wandering fingers. She was close enough to realize that there was an empty space between the many books stacked neatly. There was space in this magnificent bookcase for one more book – hers. The idea made her giddy with excitement. She felt as if her heart would burst with happiness. She extended her hand to slide her book into place but her hands came up empty. She searched around frantically, but she had nothing with her. She noticed the bookcase had begun to recede in the background. She took a step towards it and the case slipped a little further behind. She realized with growing anxiety that it is moving farther and farther away from her. She shrieked, “NO!” and started running towards it but it continued to elude her until the darkness swallowed it whole.
She woke up with a start. She looked from side to side. She was all alone in her tiny room. Apart from the rhythmic creaking of the fan, all was quiet. She glanced at the open laptop in front of her. It stared back at her, mockingly.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Life is what You make it

She met him, by chance;
Trusted him, by choice.
 
They fell in love, by chance;
Got married, by choice.
 
He met another, by chance;
Left her, by choice.
 
She was alone, by chance;
Got herself someone new, by choice.
 
They met again, by chance;
Both remarried, by choice.
 
He was lonely, by chance;
She was happy with her choice.

Life is a series of chances and choices, but how you end up . . . depends entirely on you. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Oath of the New Mommies

  • Thou shall refrain from imparting your infinite wisdom about child-bearing as well as child-rearing until and unless asked explicitly.
  • Thou shall not judge other fellow new-mommies based on their parenting choices.
  • Thou shall not brag incessantly about your kid's every little achievement.
  • Thou shall not turn your baby into a show-doll demanding her to sing, dance, recite poems as per your fancy / to entertain guests. 
  • Thou shall not exclaim or gasp in horror as if the world has ended upon hearing that another baby has not reached a particular milestone at the same time as your baby.
  • Thou shall not impose your parenting techniques on others. 
  • Thou shall refrain from 'tut-tut'ing, sneering, rolling your eyes and /or passing a scathing comment on a fellow mommy who seems to be having trouble controlling her little explorer in a public place.
Something that I have learned in the last one year of being a Mommy. You are welcome to add to the list.   

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dreams . . .


She was packing feverishly. She still couldn’t believe that it was actually happening . . . that she was going on a holiday with her husband. Just the two of them . . . away from the daily chores, the mundane tasks . . . away from the slow life of matrimony she had settled into, no questions asked. She took out a big stack of clothes, her western outfits that she had bought for her honeymoon and which, for the last two years, were laying unused hidden deep behind her burgeoning stack of sarees and suits. She smiled as she put them inside the suitcase.
You would finally see the light of day.
 She held up a dress and tilted her head sideways, trying to imagine herself wearing it. She held it against her body and twirled a little. She was ecstatic. She couldn’t believe it was actually happening.
Two Years. I haven’t been on a holiday for two years!
The last ‘holiday’ she had been on was in fact her honeymoon. After that she had only been visiting her extended family in one town or other.
And God knows that is no holiday.
All these visits were the same, the kitchen changed, the rooms changed, the houses changed but the tasks remained the same. she was still expected to wake up before everyone and make tea. 
All because maji likes to show off how talented bahu she has got. But not this time.
She was anxiously looking forward to staying at a hotel, ordering room service, trying put different cuisines and just having loads of fun.
Just me and him. No family. No cooking. No bahu rani. No hanji-hanji. No dupatta covering the head.
She smiled and carefully folded the dress. She went to her wardrobe to get another stack of clothes when the door to her room opened. She looked up, quickly closing the cupboard behind her. Seeing her husband, she heaved a huge sigh of relief.
“Are the tickets booked?” she asked apprehensively.
He went over to their shared dressing table and took off his watch, “Yeah. We have to leave in a week.”
She asked confused, “A week?! But the advertisement said the offer is only available for flights leaving this weekend that is day after tomorrow.”
“I know. So, we are not going by flight. It’ll be too expensive.” He went inside the bathroom. She could hear him bolt the door from inside . . . The tap water running . . . The splash it made as he washed his face. She stood outside, staring vacantly at the door. She was so excited about boarding a flight. She chewed her lower lip, a nervous habit.
At least we are going on a holiday.
She perked up a little and turned to resume her packing. She saw him walking out wearing his pajamas rubbing his face with a towel.
“What should I pack for you? Where are your shorts?” she said fiddling in his side of the wardrobe, “You look so nice in them.”
He smiled at her indulgently, “They are on the bottom shelf. You only put them there.”
 He sat down on the bed, “Listen, I asked ma and bauji. They haven’t been to Goa either so I booked their tickets too. And guess what, ma asked Rinku mausi to come with us and she agreed to. It’ll be nice with all the family going together.”
He didn’t notice that she had stopped midway as if frozen. Her hands felt like they were made of stone. She was unable to move, unable to breathe.
Maji and bauji are coming? And Rinku Mausi?!
“Bu . . . But, this was supposed to be our holiday?” she asked stammering.
“It is. They are our family,” he replied nonchalantly.
She just kept staring at him. She opened her mouth to say something when the door opened with a loud thud and her mother-in-law entered.
Bahu, did he tell you we are also coming with you. It’ll be so much fun. Rinku and Nandlal bhaisahab have also agreed to come.” She laughed her boisterous laugh, “arre, bhaisahab has only agreed on one condition that you’ll make your famous kachoris for the trip. I toh told him ki bhaisahab that’s a given! No train journey is complete without our bahurani’s wonderful cooking.” She sat down next to her son.
She hastily shut down the suitcase lest her mother-in-law see what she had packed.
“Beta, your bauji was saying that he knows someone who has a guest house in Goa. Staying at a hotel with so many people would be too expensive na. The guest-house has a caretaker and he said that a maid could be arranged. That leaves cooking which I, bahu and Rinku can handle, right?” The mother-in-law looked straight at her with raised eyebrows. She nodded faking a polite smile. She knew she has no say in these matters. She will have to do as the elders deem fit.
“That sounds like fun. I am dying to have that mutton dish that Rinku mausi makes.” Her husband replied smacking his lips.
She sighed.
“So, I’ll tell your father to book the guest-house,” she said getting up, “bahu remember to pack that new saree that Nandlal bhaisahab had given you otherwise he might feel bad.”
She nodded mutely.
At the door, she turned back, “Bahu come quickly in the kitchen; let’s start preparing for the train journey. I think there’ll be around . . .” she counted off her fingers, “around 15 people. I am thinking let’s make pooris and aloo ki sabzi for lunch. Also you have to make kachoris and let’s also make that namkeen that you make. It takes a week no? ” Without stopping to listen for her answer, her mother-in-law left muttering to herself, leaving the two of them alone.
She stared at him with her stony gaze as if willing him to read his mind.
“It’ll be fun. All of us together, hanging out at the guest-house eating delicious home-cooked food. It’ll be just like home, like we never left.”
That’s exactly what I didn’t want.
She bit her tongue. She didn’t like confrontations. She took a deep breath and started replacing the skirts with suits in her suitcase dejected, holding back hot tears.  

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