Sunday, June 24, 2018

The thing about love.

I had thought I was never going to write about love on this blog. Its a topic thats been beaten to death by everyone. But this is probably the last of the many ‘nevers’ that I have had to eat my words on over the course of life.

My five year old is truly, deeply, madly in love with this girl. Its been a year now. The girl is about six months older than him so graduated out of daycare last year. Things are pretty serious as my son has already proposed the girl to marry him. The proposal was crafted in a very creative, beautiful card made by him. It felt a bit weird when our son’s first written words were not ‘I love you mom or dad’ but ‘Will U Marry me ___’. Its been a year that she is gone from the daycare and we thought he might get over it, but distance is making the heart grow more fonder. “Does the girl feel the same way?” you may wonder. Well, she did when they were together. It was another weird funny conversation we had as parents of two toddlers in love. I don’t know what the distance has done on the other side though.

When we eventually came to terms that our (then) four year old was truly in love, in the true sense of the word, it was very enlightening to see the purest forms of love without any ‘chemistry’ that comes with the grown up variety.

Now as a very protective mom who knows the world is a cruel place and this may not be the ‘ever after’ my son is assuming to be an ‘eventuality’, I keep throwing hints about how she may find someone new or maybe he may fall in love with someone else.

One day, both of us were watching this beautiful Marathi movie about two people who are disappointed in their respective first relationships, and find it hard to let go but eventually fall in love with someone else more compatible. I thought this is perfect!

My son doesn’t understand the language very well but understood what was going on. Was very intrigued. After the movie was over, he was quite for a bit, which is when I know the microprocessor is processing.

"So why do people stop loving someone, after falling in love with them?”

I had to think for a second, “I think it is because sometimes people grow out of it and may feel that they don’t get along anymore with the same person.”

“Did you love someone else before you met papu?”

This time five seconds, “As a matter of fact I did.”

“Then why did you not marry him?”

“I think he didn’t want to.”

“Did it hurt?

I did hurt a lot at the time.

“Did he not love you anymore?”

At this point, I was really taking my time, because a) I was talking to my five year old and trying to gauge if this conversation is just an animated toddler conversation or if that steady empathetic gaze in his eyes was to be respected and reciprocated with a genuine adult response; b) I had not really answered that question for myself, ever. It has to be one of my most vulnerable moments.

I thought about it and I said, “Either that, or he never loved enough or he never loved at all. Arhaani, I am really not sure but it has to be one of these three.”

He put his hand around me and said, “Mamu, I love you more than that guy or any guy could ever love you.”

Its been a few weeks since I am processing what happened that night. The gashes and bruises in life, heal. They might leave some marks, but that’s about it. If you have not drowned, you will swim to the other side. The thing they say about ‘time healing everything’ is absolutely true. But sometimes, god steps down from heaven and wraps his hands around you in a warm embrace that takes you back to that moment as little kid in your mom’s lap where no pain in the world can touch you. 

You really don’t need any healing. It may be nice to have someone comfort you when the chips are down but you really don’t need it. What you really need is that warm feeling… the word ‘love’ seems very inadequate to describe it.

Monday, September 25, 2017

When you become 'Them'

I really don’t if it is just us (me and my brother) or this applies to all children, but growing up, even before we were sure of what we wanted to be, there was one thing we were very sure of – what we didn’t want to be. My brother at age 7 kept a notebook of all the lunch-box foods he would make sure his kids do not get. I had some radical ideas about how to make kids study and ‘learn’. Between him and me we had a very comprehensive list of things that could make a difference in the world.

Now don’t get me wrong. My father towards the tail end of his army career started commanding these National Cadet Corps regiments (nothing but platforms for grooming future army men/women). Every time he would get posted out, girls and boys of our age would bid him teary eyed, heartfelt adieus. For us, these episodes were so hard to comprehend that my brother couldn’t help himself once and quipped, “they are CRYING for him!!” We turned 18, we passed college, we got jobs, got married, had kids but the man has not changed. He will cringe at that one stray hair, that spec on our shirt, something on the floor we overlooked and did not pick, that last crinkle on the bed, the sole of the shoe we didn’t polish, that 1 micro millimetre of grown fingernail (yes as a girl too). I will give it to my old man though that he never hit us, although I suspect it was only because of fear of killing us.

My mother on the other hand, did use her hand (and other household equipment) very freely early on and can’t remember when she stopped doing it. It was probably when she saw we were famous in the cantonments for having a fierce mom. Again, if you saw her tiny and fragile frame you would think she could not harm a fly; but those bones hurt! But when she stopped hitting she bombarded us with her reminders, lists, to dos, quirks that never end. Quirks mostly. For example, we could go without food and water in her house but not the birds and squirrels and her endless variety of plants (she even talks to them). Her dad used to call her ‘Baby’ and that’s exactly what we call her now.

Now it has been a while since we’ve been at home. These days, by the end of our long vacations both parties have had enough of each other and we head homewards to keep the love intact.

The other day I skyped by brother and asked what’s new with him. He showed me his little balcony garden full of flowers and crotons. He showed his ‘Krishnakamal’ blooming at midnight with a childlike excitement that I have only seen once before! Meanwhile he tells me how sad he is about leaving his plants behind since he is moving to another city soon. I could not sleep that night! Life pulls these wicked ones on you.

Anyway now that my comrade has buckled in and I can’t bring him back living a million miles away, I get on with my life. My friend's two year old is coming home for a playdate and I am so looking forward to it. Her parents drop her and soon the house is about to come apart. I notice my son’s nails,  bring the nail clipper and get rid of the new moons. My eyes now fall on these bear claws! The two year old recognizes the look in my eyes and tears are turned on immediately (her folks have told me how she HATES getting her nails cut). I distract myself and watch TV with the kids, but somehow my eyes keep twitching. I pick up the nail clipper and put it back in the drawer.

On that fateful evening, I grabbed my friend's two year old, wrapped my arms around her snug and tight and declawed her amidst a lot of drama. She howled for the first two and then caved in because she realized there was no escaping. Her dear old auntie had turned into someone else!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Working Mom

Never thought I would ever become an advocate for gender equality or a women’s rights activist. Because I felt I really didn’t have to deal with a lot inequality growing up, or in school or even at work, to be a true representative. In fact growing up, I didn’t have the ‘darling daughter’ life that other friends enjoyed. We siblings were constantly questioned on our life survival skills by our dad. Being dependent was not an option from a very young age. At school I was a teacher’s pet. At work, and this is the strangest thing, I have never had a bad boss!!! Yes, not even my Principle during the dreaded Articleship. Yet, as I saw more I can see there is a different world out there for most women.

But this is no activism, but just an observation. So at my work place guess who are the three most technically respected subject matter experts, the ones who get projects done, or the ones who people bring in to get a rotten project streamlined – ‘three working moms of toddlers’! I appreciated that even more when I became one.

A toddler’s mom is on her feet till that little blob of energy finally sleeps. She wakes up every morning with the little monster pulling her out of the bed. She’ll get lunches fixed, kick hubby’s butt to get the bugger and himself ready to make it to work on time. And having reached, she knows she only has 8 hrs to get things done. There are no leisure hours at home at night, to make up for lost hours from that coffee/lunch break that ran over due to a heated debate about who’s hottest. She is the master of ‘Scheduling’. Even a 10 min update discussion goes on the calendar. You do not stop by the desk to ask random questions and hang around till you’ve talked about your MIL visiting or your sick dog. She will cut you off and go back to work if you did not have anything worthwhile to discuss. Everyone’s health on the team and personal commitments are key to her job getting done, so she notices everything around her more than anyone, that sneeze, that engagement/wedding, that soccer game, that exam, so everyone loves her. Since she feels strongly about efficiency and how hard she works at her ambitions, she is constantly encouraging, pushing the team to work hard, to push a little harder. Being a den mom comes easy now. And she will show you how its done without wasting tons of time. Quality is of utmost importance as she does not like to waste time in back and forth. She pre-empts needs and be prepared as she likes to avoid any requests for last memos that are needed “right away” at 6 pm. Decisions are not procrastinated upon, as she hates surprises at work. Beware you elusive superior, she will hound you down for an answer. This is not fluff, this is real and happening at my workplace and this is “Public accounting in a Big 4”, known for its ungodly hours, rough and inhumane work environment.

And yes, they do not look tyrannical, men-like or forget to put on make-up and comb their hair. In fact, they are very beautiful, very feminine, and love shoes, shopping, jewelry and that glass of red wine like every other gal does!

So now, every time I will see situations where employers avoid hiring working moms, I will think, either 1) these guys are ignorant or 2) they are insecure that these ladies would outshine them. Back home in my country I know 1) is very true as people have not hired and seen the difference a lot. When I am back I have promised myself to shine the light on this wonderful phenomenon called the ‘working moms’. It is just beautiful to watch!

PS: This post will be incomplete without mentioning the other halves. These are guys married to ambitious women and have let themselves get swept in this strong current of a woman in action; and are very secure and confident about themselves to take pride in their woman’s work.

Friday, March 13, 2015

It’s my Birthday!!

A decade ago these three words would probably be written in bold, underlined and put up as signs everywhere a month before the actual D day. I had even realized what a futile exercise it was for my friends to spend hours buying me a gift with a paltry teenager pocket money allowance. So I would come with a wishlist, cost it out and split it up for them as well. I got what I wanted, they could stay in their budgets and everyone was happy. The midnight hours calls were sacred. There was one time when our phone (the good old landline) died on the eve of my birthday and it was going to be the year of doom, but that night miraculously it rang at the midnight hour… oh yeah... Ring it did! You would not dare to look me in the eye if you were a friend and didn't wish me on my birthday!

Ten years later I look back and can’t help but notice life happen between these years. I feel humbled and grounded. A dear friend who lost her mom on the same date as my birthday when we were in school, remembers her mother fondly and never forgets to wish me every year just as dearly; I see the magnanimity in her gesture. The mother in me almost forgets her birthday in the morning mad rush trying to pack lunches and getting the 2 boys out of the door; I feel dwarfed in front of time. A few friends call up and ask very poignantly about when I would visit next and I am unable to make up a good answer; I feel helpless in front of distance. Thanks to the internet the messages, blessing and love doesn't stop flowing from near and dear ones; I feel intimidated and wonder if I have done enough to deserve it.

I wonder what changed in ten years that it doesn't feel right to be the ‘Rockstar who jumps off the stage into the crowd’ on your birthday and thinking instead about ‘how much more there is to do’, ‘how miniscule I am in the grand scheme of things’ and ‘there goes another year’! Mid-life crisis anyone?!

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Marriage Advocate

Last night I met the very person who invented marriages. My two pence, "he had to be the most insecure and low esteemed SOB I've ever met". Now who takes the most beautiful thing in this world - Romance, and attaches the clause of 'Commitment' in the most austere and legal manner and scares the hell out of people. We got into a discussion and I said to him, "a true blue romantic (like me) would have stuck to a person  forever, simply by the virtue of the fact that he/she was in love. But you scare the life out of the person with the whole deal of 'making a life time commitment'...."

In the most annoying drawl he says, "Well! you would have stuck with him anyway, all we are saying is that you have to say it aloud and sign a legal document".

I fought back, "You got to be completely out of your mind. Do you know the whole premise of Romance is to pine for the person of your dreams? There is a whole body of literature in a million languages around the world about wooing the love of your life, singing their praises and expressing the yearnings of aching hearts? The moment you take that away, you've stripped away the very essence of love. Why do you think Shakespeare wrote the story of two lovers struggling to be with each and not about they living happily together and making a perfect family portrait?"

"Well! Not everyone thinks like you, we got to protect our people who are vulnerable and can be taken advantage of. Someone can play with their mind, body and souls and decide not to stay on forever."

"You DO NOT WANT to stay with such a person forever!!!"

"There are other things too. Some people (and with a smirk at me, he says), "especially girls" like to know where they stand in a relationship."

"You are right, but those people need to learn something about accepting reality. If there is a doubt in one's mind about a relationship, you know which way its going. You are taking away the most important lesson in a person's life - Letting Go!"

"Whatever! Why do you care anyway? I see that you dont have to do any wifey like things in spite of being married. You don't wear your ring or mangalsutra. You still have your last name. You are free in your mind as you claim, so what is the fuss all about?"

"Don't you see? I miss being 'coveted'.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Whats so funny!

Sorry this is not even a full blown blog, but thats not the point. Here is the thing. So one has been working non stop, with no breaks, no weekends and sleeping for probably 5 hours at night. (I feel almost guilty for sharing this, because there are colleagues who are sleeping less than this). Add to the misery a harsh winter, where you are ploughing a foot of snow every other day; add to that your husband and your one year old are a million miles away and gone for months; add to that your apartment building catches fire and you are camping at your friend's place for two nights; and this is after they assure you that it will be just one night before you can get in, so you rush from office the second day to the nearest mall before everything shuts down, to buy some clothes to make it to work the next day and just when you are relieved and catching a breath that you got back into your house for your birthday and at least your loving friends didn't leave you alone and took you out to your favorite place... your husband calls you up to tell you that the kid had a bad fall and had to be taken to a hospital because the nose won't stop bleeding.

2 - 2.5 months later you are still looking up at this huge mountain of work and now you are trying to cram everything into 3 days before you can catch that flight to India for 2 weeks just to see your son. You also have to take care of the shopping list of life saving material from the US of A sent by near and dear ones; arrange a stock pile of documents I need to carry for a visa interview on my way back and pack one week of office clothes, because I fly straight into a week of out-of-town training.

In times like this you start having these moments when you are looking at the screen for hours and trying to accomplish something, you haven't blinked in days, but lo and behold, nothing happened! You see this divine light in the form of facebook beckoning you to indulge. You open your profile and browse through random links and there you see this picture!!! You transform from an atheist to a believer as you realize there is a genius of galactic proportions gracing this earth who came up with such a mind blowing cartoon (judge for yourself)

You jump in joy as if you hit a jackpot and post it. You think the world (ok I am lying, just my friends on facebook) will think the same way and you are staring at the 'like'o'meter' in anticipation to see it start buzzing like a mad bee!!!! And NOTHING happens. 2 hours nothing happens. After 4 hours there are 2 likes. One from a person who likes every link that anyone posts, he may even like a post that may deserve a condolence. The second comes from a person who I see and say 'Ahh! he got it'.. until he messages me about it and I realize he has missed the point!

So now I dare you to explain what you make of this. Do you understand the joke? I want you to explain it and kill the effing joke here! Pelt your interpretations at it and stone it to death!!

PS: Do not be taken aback by the contents of the first two passages. I have survived. My life has always been this way. I have taken an auto rickshaw ride from a Lakme salon in Whitefield to Indiranagar in Bangalore (about what feels like 15 miles) with mehendi on my hair, covered with aluminium foil, with no duppata/scarf as I wore a shirt and trouser to work that day. That disaster and many like that could make up a book!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How will you ever change the world lady?

To be honest, I did not want to write about this. And it was something that struck me months ago. And it takes me days to get over things like these but I did and then it happened again.

I have never been a champion of 'Feminism'. Simply because I think respect has to be earned, power has to be won and rights have to be fought for, irrespective of you being a man, a woman or just queer. For every 10,000 examples of 'the oppressed', you will find 1 person who earned whatever he/she wanted against all odds. One may not get something as easily as another privileged person but then there are privileged people who could not make use of what they had. It evens out. I think in this whole process one is driven by the self esteem they have for themselves. Ones with lower self esteem will try to seek patronage and the ones with higher self respect will fight everything and everyone to achieve what they want. But I thought everyone has it in them even if not in same degree. Days ago I was shocked and disturbed when I learnt that this may not be true.

This was when the Delhi-rape case happened and we were discussing this among friends. And a friend who is born and raised in the city said, "Oh, I am so glad I don't have girls, girls are so hard to raise." To which another friend responded, "Yes, after this incident, I would not want to have a girl." Two dear friends, one used to be a women's rights activist in Delhi and one is a bright IT professional and both women! In those two lines without realizing they trashed their whole existence and acknowledged the huge responsibility they presumably were on their families when they were born. Boys get raped too. And there are men who feel ashamed that a man did this to a woman, but I have never heard a man trashing his own existence over it. 

It got me thinking, it must have taken centuries of cleverly designed societal practices and that too world-wide to belittle the female of this species; to an extent where they themselves feel lowly about themselves. It makes me wonder if it was indeed men who oppressed women in the first place. Think about it... mothers raise their sons instilling in them the special privileges they earn thanks to being males. You would think a woman whose self respect and ego was trampled at every stage of her life would end up raising her children doing it the right way but guess what happened! Men never think too much, mom says I don't do dishes, 'Great'! But in that one small lesson, he was taught, all work is not equal, all work is not dignified, you can expect some else do things for you, especially if it is a female. Your mom can be bigger to you in age, relation and respect, but she will still do your dishes! And I will bet my bottom dollar that a man will ever reconsider this after he grows up. It's us women who have the boon & curse of thinking too much, not them.

Next time lady, when you plan to raise those placards against the oppressions of the male-dominant society, do give two pence to the fact that maybe you are barking at the wrong tree. Maybe it was always in your own hands.