Friday, June 29, 2007


When we bought our flat, it was one of the nicest places we'd seen in 3 years of searching. The flat per se is still nice, but the location sad to say, inspite of costing the earth currently, is shitty, to say the least of it.

It all goes back to the plot of land behind our flat. It is a HUGE plot, very desirable by all reckonings, esp from the point of view of a real estate broker, it being very close to a big Techpark. And it has been lying vacant, maybe not unsought, but definitely unbought, for some 5-6 years now.

It is a T-shaped bit of land, the horizontal tract is owned by Mr. A Reddy, and the vertical tract is owned by Mr. B. Reddy. And you could safely say that the two are not on amicable terms.

There is no approach road to Mr. B. Reddy's tract, for it is bounded by flats on two sides, by Mr. A. Reddy's land at the top, and by a lake at the bottom. So, I think Mr. B Reddy made an offer to Mr. A Reddy to buy out his tract of land. But, and I don't know the exact reasons behind this one- negotiations soured. And the two went back to being even less amicable than before.

As per the conjectures/ local gossip that ran wild,

a) Mr. A Reddy was asking a huge sum of money, far beyond what could be expected

b) He didn't want to sell and see Mr. B. Reddy gain out of it.

c) The two were family foes.

Now Mr. A got into action. He decided to rent out his tract of land- that horizontal piece, which was by the road. As I said, the land was near a Techpark and so flats were mushrooming all around. There were plenty of labourers working on those sites. Who obviously needed a place to stay nearby. Mr. B Reddy had a ready clientele. He rented out some tents in that bit of land he owned. And his rates were not piddly- Rs. 100/- per tent. It started off with some two or three, but now it has risen to alarming proportions- some 10-12 of them, just a few feet apart.

All this so that potential buyers see the slum just next to Mr. B. Reddy's land and are discouraged. Potential buyers are discouraged alright, but what Mr. B. Reddy hasn't taken into consideration is that existing neighbours are disappointed too. Their dream house is now surrounded by filth. For these unfortunate people do not have a proper toilet. They sit in Mother Nature's lap, whenever she calls. And now that the rains have set in, there arises a lovely aroma sometimes- of urine and shit.

And these labourers are people like us, who live and toil and love and make kids. Dozens of them. All within that small bit of land. And for those dear kids, the road is their park. We vehicle owners have to be ultra careful when we drive, so that those little feet do not get in the way. Oftentimes, a one year old crosses the road, blindly crying for his/her mother on the other side. And I wonder at the contrast betwwen these kids and Sonny boy. The one so protected, and the other so left-to-the-tender-mercies-of-Mother-Nature again. But probably, the other growing so much sturdier, and more independent, than the other.

They are harmless people, these labourers, all of them leaving to work in the morning and returning only by the evening. They have no drunken binges during the weekdays. Some Fridays, like any other people wanting to let their hair down, they have a good time, drinking, singing, getting abusive... But that was not very often and we really didn't have much of a grouse against them, the hapless people.

But, for now, whenever we hear of some guest landing on us, we wince. At having to drive them past the rows of seedy, plastic tents. At having to field their questions of why on earth we chose to buy a flat in THIS neighbourhood. At their remarks of 'the flat is nice, dears, but the location...ummm eeerrrr aaaahhhh...

Thankfully, our particular flat is at the farthest end, and we do not get a ringside view of the slum, with associated smells and noises. Those that do, tell us that the stench is overwhelming on certain days, and that they almost never open their windows on that side.

We can never go for pleasant walks, like we used to do inititally. For, if in the morning, all those labourers are out gazing at us, somehow, through no fault of theirs, spoiling the walk for us. And if it is at night, you never know what you might be stepping into.

You can't even think of raising a complaint against those poor people. For they are living on land that is rightfully theirs. Paying a royal rent of Rs. 100/- for just a few feet of land. But I would LOVE to do something to Mr. B. Reddy. Who, just to satisfy his mean nature, out of greed, and to spite a fellow business man, thinks nothing of upsetting the applecarts of a 100 other families. And purposely goes about creating ugliness...

But I know I can do nothing, except blog about it and let off steam.

Tomorrow, my aunt who lives in Canada, and is a stickler for cleanliness, comes to visit us. I am already shuddering at the distaste in her voice. And at her disappointment- that THIS is the dreamhouse her neice eulogised about in her mails. Sigh!


Have just been to the loo in office, and found it disgustingly dirty. Put in a request to the admin guy to get the housekeeping guys to clean it. And was driven to think that there would be no need for any of this, if only the users maintained a certain level of cleanliness.

I was then reminded of a poster which proudly adorned the wall, in the loo at one of my earlier workplaces. If I remember right, it said:

Ladies! Please remain seated till the end of the performance.

Gentlemen! Its shorter than you think, please direct well.

Every time I caught sight of it, I smiled through my performance!

Do any of you have such gems you'd like to share?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

buying cigarettes in Madurai.

Daddy completed all his years of service in Tamil Nadu, and I was born in Madurai. Which could explain the affinity I have for all things/people Tamilian.

Daddy used to get transferred every 2-3 yrs, and sometimes, the places would not have good schools. So there came a time when the decision was made that Mom would stay back in Kerala with my sis and me in her ancestral home so that we could have an uninterrupted education in one of the best convents.

We used to join him for our school vacations. The more boisterous of the two children, I totally loved those days in hot T.Nadu, where Daddy used to be staying in colonies, and I used to have loads of children to play with, of both sexes. Madurai, Pollachi, Udumalpet, Rameswaram, Sivakasi- all of these places hold delightful memories for me.

Daddy used to be a chain smoker before he gave it up totally. And his brand was Scissors. For the man of action satisfaction, the packet said. One morning, when we were in Madurai- this was later when I was around 6-7 yrs old- Daddy ran out of cigarettes. There was this shop at the start of the road to our colony, a small petti peedika which sold all sorts of odds and ends, including cigarettes. I was entrusted with the task of buying one packet urgently for my Dad. I set out importantly.

Reached the shop. As usual, the front of the shop was crowded with people wanting soap, safety pins, hairpins, cigarettes, matches.... I waited patiently, before climbing onto a pile of stones deposited by the side of the shop. The shopkeeper saw me and asked me what I wanted.

"One cigarette," I called out across the other people. The man looked at this chit of a girl asking for cigarettes, but I held his gaze firmly.
The man shook out one cigarette from a packet and held it out to me.

I was confused. I had never seen ONE cigarette bought. Dad always only had packets and packets of the stuff.
"I want the cigarette in the packet," I said.
The shopkeeper decided to humour the little girl inspite of having other customers. He put the cigarette into a packet and gave it to me.
I was even more stumped.

"Not just one- I want more cigarettes..."
Enna ma, the shopkeeper grumbled, and shook out some 5-6 cigarettes into the packet- pothuma..?
By now I was getting flustered, for the other customers were enjoying the show.

Then- brainwave!
I spied a stack of Scissors lying on one of the shelves.
"I want that packet," said I triumphantly.

The shopkeeper grumbled- "If you say one cigarette, you will get just one cigarette.You should have asked for a packet of Scissors in the beginning itself.

I nodded in agreement. Next time, I promised myself. Fortunately/unfortunately, I did not have to use my new found wisdom.

Love thy neighbours.

Was reading Sunitha's post on how she has this family friend who's very curious about what she feeds Joyce. And was transported back in time.

To give you the background- I stay in a flat that must have been built on a site which was the location for a putra/putri kameshti yaga. ( a puja done to beget offspring) I got pregnant within 2 months of moving and within 6 months, all the women of the flat(who were of childbearing age!) were expecting. So that made it a total of 7 pregnant ladies. Most of us first timers, except three, and all scheduled to deliver their babies 2-6 months apart. One of the last ones the stork visited was this lady, Ms. Nosy.

At the time, we were all SAHto-be-Moms. With the result that we had all the time in the world to do whatever it was we wanted to do. So we shared notes on experiences with pukes, looks, books, doctors, granny tales...lots of stuff. But this was when we happened to catch each other out on walks or when one happened to bring the other some especially healthy food-for-preggies she'd made. Life was delightful, inspite of the puking 20 hrs in a day. One by one, all the little bundles of joy tumbled out- some late, some early, some boys, some girls, but all healthy.

Ms. Nosy was second last in the list.
I missed out most of her pregnancy tales because, I was under bed rest after my 5th month, then I went off to Kerala post my 7th month and then I came back only after Sonny boy was 3 months old. so when I came back, Ms. Nosy had gone for her delivery, I think, or she had just come back.. Dunno, I was too wrapped up in Sonny boy to remember the details.

But Man, she compensated. And how! She would keep asking me what I did with Sonny boy, on ALL things- from sleep to bath, to feed( breast and bottle), to wails, gurgles... Gawd! She did get on my nerves. And she would keep comparing- her little baby apparently never did anything the way Sonny boy did- why was that? Lady, because you and your husband made her, and I and my husband made Sonny boy!

Now I am a pretty take-it-easy kind of Mom and I was never too bothered what Sonny boy did or didn't, so long as he was a happy baby and his doc thought so too. For any doubts, my first recourse was my Mom, (usually the only) then his doc and then last on the list came my flatmates- senior and junior Moms in the same boat.
Ms. Nosy too asked her mom and her doc. But she also asked all the rest of the flatmates, her MIL and then, she asked me. My ears were the repository for all of her woes and joys. Inititally, I didn't find it a bother. But then, she would catch hold of me whenever she caught me outside my door. And she just wouldn't let go.

She would tell me that her baby was not drinking milk, had a cold, had fever, was teething, had yellow potty, green potty, was not doing potty, was puking, was colicky... the list goes on... And she would ask how it was with Sonny boy.
I would tell her what I did, from what I remembered. And she would say that her doc said not to do that. So lady, why do you ask me then?

And she would ask me if it was ok to do this/that? And I'm like- I' m no doctor, nor have I had brood of kids yet, so I don't really know enough to advise you. But it doesn't get into her head. Or if it does, she still wants to get an opinion from me.

Then she would get into how her MIL gave her advice that she didn't like. So I would tell her not to follow it if she didn't want to. And then she would ask me how she could do that. Wouldn't the MIL feel bad? Wouldn't she think she was bad? Lady, why do you want to make my day bad?

And then she would get into a list of what the other 6 mothers did in similar circumstances. She would go on and on, driving me nuts. I would be alone at home, and I would have finished most of my work in the moning before my maid left, so I couldn't really use work as an excuse and get away. And Sonny boy liked the baby, and would gurgle and jump in expectation when he saw Ms. Nosy's baby, so the lady would come right into my home.
But I thought enough was enough when she asked me one day what to do about drooping breasts. Apparently her husband was upset, and she didn't know what to do.

Now I have absolutely no qualms about discussing the nitty gritties of sex, but it had to be with somebody on my wavelength, broadminded, with a sense of humour, with whom I was comfortable. She was none of these. And I had nothing at all in common with her husband either(!!!) And I did NOT want to get into details about their sex life. And then have the lady asking me about mine. For I did not know how to get away from her questions, save snubbing her or going to the other extreme and telling her that we had a wild time in bed. That we had group sex occasionally with our friends. My husband had an eye on her- would she be interested in an orgy?

Well, that was when I thought that maybe leaving Sonny boy alone and going to work just MIGHT have its good side. It would save me from this emptyheaded woman, who droned on and on about what this lady did and that. Who asked and gave me advice, both unwanted. who knows, after some 10 years of listening to her, I might just start being like her? Shudder!

Now that I am home only for about 5 hours in the day, I don't have to worry about her coming in. Even if she did, I would send her packing, with the excuse of having to finish my chores. And Saturdays and Sundays, I tell her that I have to catch up on cleaning and tidying.. Or we go out.
Good riddance.

She's not terrible, actually. Maybe she would have got on like a house on fire with some others. But she and I are just not on the same wavelength. We share absolutely nothing in common, except that we have children of the same age. So for now, we live and let live. In peaceful harmony. I smile brightly at her on my way out to office. And the few times that we stay and exchange pleasantries, it is ok. I can be genuinely nice to her, and enquire after her babies, without the fear that I might have to stay there half the day.

PS. I hope she never gets to read this. She would be devastated to think that I thought all this about her. And I would be devastated to think she knows.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Restoration age writings!

Well, in one of my earlier blogs, I mentioned that I migrated to English Litt. after graduating in Chemistry. I took to Literature like a duck to water, and was fast throwing my feet around in the waters far better than my fellow ducklings. For I read much more than most of my classmates.

The English library was so diferent from my concept of a library.
In the first place, it was NOT located near the staff room. Secondly it was not a dark, boring place. Thirdly, the 'wanted' books were not all thick, heavy tomes, dog eared and yellowing. But yes, there WAS that all pervading, uniquely lovely smell of books. Not the intoxicating fragrance of new books, but still mmmmm......

The library was bright, airy, had desks and chairs comfortably arranged, fans that worked, silently with no irritating drone, stools near the shelves, and two attendants with eagle eyes and dog ears. (Inside the library they were dragons, but outside, they were dear lambs.) And the shelves- there were separate shelves for the different kinds- Indian, American, Foreign, Drama, Prose, Criticism, Poetry, Shakespeare... loads and loads of lovely, yummy books- all in perfect condition- old and new, and lots of copies.

I remember, one weekend during the early days, Dad dropped in just like that to see how his 'little' daughter was coping, and he was astounded -and later he told me in a letter, delighted- to see me in the library. I realised totally, what people meant when they said- like what you do, and it will be no drudgery, but a pleasure. (wish I could say the same about my job now, sigh!)

The first year passed by like a dream, with me having maximum fun in class as well as outside, for I am a strong believer in the all work and no play making Jill dull funda. And beside, here, like I said earlier, work was fun too.

Well, all too soon, it was exam time, the usual jitters caught hold of everybody, and I was no exception to the rule.
Exams went like a dream too, and soon it was time for our viva. Here, I was getting a wee bit worried, for they might ask me anything, on general stuff, that the others would have learnt in three years of graduation...

However, the viva too went by- almost like a dream- except for one last question, that was almost an afterthought by one of the examiners. I remember there were 3 guys, and one of our own professors, and I sailed through everything..there was one last question on Wilde and Comedy of Manners. I spoke confidently and well, and the guys all nodded and smiled in farewell, when there came a parting shot from one examiner-

"Why is it called Restoration comedy?"
"It is is one among the works of restoration drama, "went I. "Generally, the satire lends to comedy, hence Rest. comedy."

"Yes, but why Restoration?"
"It focusses on the restoration of moral values."

A quizzical look.
"It brought back into prominence the play of morals"

Why Restoration?
Ultimately, as politely as I could, without telling him to go boil his head in oil- "Because it r-e-s-t-o-r-e-d values back in society."

Why Restoration? It could be called any other name..? "
I gave up.

I could sense that he was driving at something, but it was beyond me to even guess. This is just a little of what I remember of our interchange of questions and answers. I think the two of us would have spent a good five minutes going back and forth without either of us getting any happier, but neither of us giving up.

"Go back to what you learnt for your graduation," sympathetically urged one of the other examiners, all of whom had become very interested in this exchange. They couldn't understand how I was unable to answer so 'simple' a question, when I had done so well and articulately for all the rest of the session..

I was defeated.
"I didn't do my BA. I did my B.Sc in Chemistry, and then shifted to MA English, because I liked English and Literature, I said, ruefully, looking to my Professor for support in this statement. He smiled and nodded at the others.

Tension eased in the room. The examiners laughed in understanding. I was far from laughing. But I WAS relieved at the sudden release from stress.

"Its called Restoration drama because Charles II was r-e-s-t-o-r-e-d to the throne, "said my tormentor, using my own tone.

I laughed too, glad that I was redeemed, nay, restored in his eyes, for English history was not part of the MA curriculum, it was part of the BA curriculum.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What will he be when he grows up?

Read about that poor 15 yr old kid in Trichy who performed a caesarean operation on a 20 yr old girl, and was horrified at the parents who actually supervised it.

It made me wonder- how ambitious can a parent be for their child? To what extent can they push their children? And when does all this start? In the womb? Would this mother have been reading medical books during her pregnancy?

I know that during my pregnancy, I made it a point to do lots of things in the hope that Sonny boy would imbibe... (ala the legendaryAbhimanyu, who heard his father Arjun speak about the chakravyuh, even while his mother dropped off to sleep...) - listen to good music, read good books, not laze around, think good thoughts... I really tried to do all this, in between puking, throughout the day- from month 3 to month 9.
My MIL told me that reading the Ramayanam was tantamount to getting a good offspring, so I did. I faithfully read C. Rajagopalachari's ramayan and thoroughly enjoyed it too. Tho' till date, I haven't told her this. ;-) (Supposedly if you can't read all, if you just read the sundarakandam is also enough)

Maybe all that will yield result, but when, is the moot question. Right now, nothing seems to hold Sonny boy. Sonny boy's attention span really has me worried.
I guess it is kind of OK if he is an average kid. (After all, I am no Einstein, nor is his Acha. I rejoice in the fact that Einstein was considered a dud at school!)
Like any parent, I too would like to see my son reach a higher level of life than me, however, Jack of all trades, master of none is what my son excels at being.

His attention begins to stray 5 minutes after we sit down to some learn-and-play.
I laugh about it later with his Acha, that a boy who otherwise has to be forced to go to sleep, only has to hold his crayon in his little fingers, for the yawns to come in an army.
When we go to the park, Sonny boy sits for a minute on the swings, while he eyes the slides. He trots off to slide, when he espies the see-saw. Off again to see-, but before the -saw, he is off to his cycle, and then again to that gymnast rod.. it goes on...

I mean, how can a child (or its anxious mother) know what he likes, if he doesn't even experience it to the full? Ditto for all else. He is like the proverbial butterfly, sipping from this flower and that, generally buzzing around... I see other children close to his age who at least manage to stay with one toy to finish whatever they are doing. Or at least, they have a favourite toy. Not so Sonny boy.

His nature is evident from the fact that when I tell him to go play with his toys, he goes and tumbles ALL the toys from his toy basket onto the floor. Just in case a few get caught in the corners and don't fall out, he pokes them out! He delights in seeing them strewn all around. PlayDoh is out of bounds in my house now, cos he makes little balls out of it and then runs his toy cars over it to see the tyre marks. Very creative and innovative you might say. NOT, says the mother who had a tough time trying to clean the carpet of the sticky dough. The carpet still has bits of fur rolled in dough!
The ONLY toy he has liked more than the rest is Thomas. He spends some minutes with the tracks and Salty and Percy and the others.. laying the tracks out, connecting them...
And he also loves anything to do with water.

But yeah, sometimes I wonder if I watched any (too many?) kittens while pregnant. Sonny boy simply loves string! A rope, a belt, a tape.. anything that he can wind and loop and tie and knot and use to connect... He can really spend an hour doing intricate, puzzling winds and turns..tying the chairs up, looping the table to the chair, the chair to the sofa, tying up one of our legs in the process. He can also simply walk around the dining table, looking back every now and then, at the way the string follows on behind him.

The Acha and I are totally blank as to what future brillinace this is a sign of. Any of you who drop in here- any ideas?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

God give strength to little Piyush's parents.

Read today in MM's and Sunitha's posts that little Piyush had expired.
When I read that and commented on both those posts, it was as a parent who felt for the loss of another parent.

But this afternoon, I went to and read through the experiences of 5 unbelievably long, unbelievably short months. And I felt very sad. And then I just clicked on the fotos. To see this little boy who had fought so bravely. And my heart really broke for those parents- Maltesh and Swati. Who will only have memories to hold on to now.

It is hard enough for me to have only memories of my Dad. But at least he in his own words, had lived his life well. But Piyush... to have a life cut short at its sweetest..
If I, who only came to know of this sweet child after his death, feel so much for his loss, what must be the plight of the parents?

Dear God, Why do these things have to happen? No parent should suffer like this. To have your little son diagnosed with a rare disease. To get so many people to pray and contribute. To be ABLE to do the best for your son. And then to have that best not be good enough....

Dear Maltesh and Swati, God be with you. And help you, and grant you peace of heart, in all the long days ahead. God bless all those good people that helped generously with all they could.

And dear dear Piyush, God obviously treasures your soul, may you be one of His brightest cherubs.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

O Laila...!

Yesterday was a friend's daughter's second B'day. And Sonny boy was cordially invited, with family.

She had come over for Sonny Boy's b'day earlier in Feb, and her parents and we'd gone together for another friend's kid's B'day subsequently.. where the pair of them were the only two toddlers and they'd made a hit pair. She would run after the chettan (big bro) and the big bro would lead her a merry dance. Basically both of them were totally taken with the acres of space after being coccooned in flats, and they had a rip-roaring time running around bushes and lolling about on the green lawns.

Yesterday, when we were on our way, we cautioned Sonny boy that the brightly wrapped up gift was for the B'day baby and that he had to give it to her, and wish her, and not poke his fingers into the cake- it was Leya's not his! and generally be a good boy.. and then we asked him,
"You remember Leya baby, Sonny?"
"O coursh!"
"Where did you see her?"
"In my house"
And then he trills merrily, "Laila, Laila, Laila...!

They proceeded to have a merry time at the party too.
By the time we left, guess Leya's Dad was glad to have his daughter separated from her Majnu.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My hostel days...

I stayed at home all the years through my schooling and graduation, and I thoroughly enjoyed those days. I was part and parcel of all the giddy celebrations, all the joyous homecomings of my NRI uncles and aunts, all the happy parties, and quiet, peaceful days of family bonding...( putting up with the dozen irritating relatives, and their views, on everything too..;-)

But after my graduation, I certainly didn't want to do my PG in the Women's College that was within walking distance from my house ( not after doing my grad at that unruly, boisterous, totally undisciplined, but totally lovely Co-ed college that I studied in..) I'd much rather have sat at home and learnt knitting!! No offence meant to all those people who knit so beautifully and laboriously, but that was how I felt.

This was because, at the time, my college didn't offer a PG course in Eng Litt. which was what I intended to take up.
Which was what I'd have taken for my graduation as well, if not for the 'well-meaning' advice of relatives who said that was just not done! That Science was a subject you could score marks in... that Science was what mattered.. .They brainwashed me and my parents, and so off I went, to study matter and atoms and particles, all the while yearning after Caesar and Shakespeare and the world of letters... I scored 65% in science. And was among the first 5 in my University, for my marks in English. Without putting in for English the efforts I made for Science. Bull for the scoring marks theory.

But the loss only made me more determined- to pursue my first love, come what may... The HoD of the English Dept at my college (dear man, he's no more now, bless his soul), came and recommended to my Dad, that I be allowed to do my MA in Eng Litt., that I would for sure be a rankholder... Aahh! how nice it is to be praised by a professor, no less than an HoD, in front of parents who were forever berating you for not studying...Divine justice, I called it then.. (I'm sorry, Sir, that I didn't go on to fulfil your prophesy, that I ditched MA in between...)

So I went off to join the University Department at Calicut. (at the time there were only 3 universities in Kerala- M.G., Kerala and Calicut) And thence started my voyage through hostels...

Calicut University Women's Hostel was a blast. Honestly. It was free like no other hostel- maybe because all of us were post graduates (how big that sounded till I became one myself!) and the authorities thought that we were all mature individuals.
In college, we' d looked upon the PG students as some kind of dodos- all studious and stuff...And there at the Uty, the PGs were the lowly juniors. There were bigger seniors, the second years, M.Phils, the research scholars..the JRFs, the SRfs...refresher course-takers...loads of higher scholars!

My Dad and Mom came to drop me off at the hostel, and tho I was sad, I managed to hold tears at bay, for I didn't want them upset/worried.
And then I was whirled into a life of
timings and
queues... (Queues! In every single hostel I stayed in queues were the order of the day- for bathrooms, for water, for meals, for coffee/tea, for phones...)
and girls!!
Inspite of having studied in a girls' convent and growing up in a family dominated by the female of the species, one thing that struck me that first evening was that there were so many girls! Everywhere you looked, you seemed to see only girls. So many girly attires, so many types of hair, so many girl voices, young girls, old ladies (yeah, truly, with old hair and all) thin girls, fat girls, pretty girls, not pretty girls, jovial girls, serious girls, girls from the North, girls from the many girls
to be contd..

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Aaah.... Dad!

Today is my Dad's B'day.

He would have been eighty if he were alive today. We would have forced him to celebrate his Shashti. And he would have scolded us for indulging in all that sham...

But as it is, all that I have to show my son of his Achacha is a foto- on the wall of my living room and a bigger one of the door of my wardrobe. Daddy's cheek on the foto in my wardrobe is a little faded on one side. This is with all the drooly kisses Sonny boy has been giving him since he was able to kiss.

Aah... Dad! If only you could have lived just a little longer... if only you could at least have seen my son...

Daddy had kidney failure. But he was one of the fortunate people who did not have to lie agonisingly unwell in bed, stretching out their dying days. He was active till the last week,weak and tired, but in full control of his senses and body. He passed away on 21st Dec 2002.

In Nov, on one of my regular visits to him, he and I were sitting on the verandah, when in an unusually expansive mood, he said.. I have had a good life, you know... I have 'lived' life... and I don't have any regrets... except.. maybe I would have liked a car of my own...and I would like to see your child... and you move into a house of your own...

Aaaah.... Dad! At the time, I certainly didn't know that he was going to go away from us so soon, but I wonder if he did...

We had just been chatting on how his illness made him lose out on certain foods which were so dear to him. Daddy loved good food and he loved to treat people to good food. But he was telling me that all that was alright, that he had reached a ripe old age, and he had lead a happy life, surrounded by friends and family who thought the world of him. (Irrespective of the fact that he would tell people to their faces what he thought of them- be it complimentary or not!) And the fact that now in his old age he had to compromise on a few food habits wasn't all that big an issue. "I have had a good life, you know..."

My son was conceived 6 months after my father passed away. Ah! the bitter sweet joy of knowing that one of my Dad's unfulfilled desires was coming true... How I wished that it could have happened a year earlier.. that he could at least have held his grandson in his arms..that one old, lined, stubbled cheek could have rested for a second against one smooth soft one..Aah... Dad!

At home, in Kerala, Daddy's foto is hung in the living room there too, and when he was of an age to baby talk, Sonny boy would look at the foto and say Achacha...Sonny boy has a rare smile for his Achacha. And every time he kisses the picture stuck on my wardrobe, my eyes fill up, as I look into the eyes of my father. Who seems to be comforting me at times.. who seems to be reaching out at times...straining to hold his daughter and grandson... Aaaah... Dad!

I think of him in all the happy times-
When we moved into our new house, just 4 months after his death, as per schedule and he wasn't there and neither was my Mom...
when I decided to resume working and got my appointment letter...,
when I got my first salary again, and couldn't spend it on a shirt for him...
when Sonny boy takes up a 100 rupe note and says Achacha..! Gandhiji and Daddy look similar-they're both bald!:-) Aaahh... Dad!

And I think of him in all the unhappy times, difficult times, and I look up at him and ask if he's seeing all this, and can't he do something to make things better.. after all he's up there now....
Aahhh... Dad! does the pain ever grow less, I wonder? Do you ever stop missing, stop longing... stop wishing...

Happy Fathers Day to all Dads!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My dearest girls, where are you...

Some years back there lived 4 girls, in 2 hostels, in Cochin. Three of them in one and the one in a different one. And very good friends they all were.
One of them was me, of course. The other three are Ap, My and Ar. Ap and My were my roomies. Ar was my colleague in my first job. (I do not mention their full names for fear of intruding into their privacies, wherever they are now.)

We were such good friends that I have no idea what any of them are doing now.

The last I heard from them is that Ap was married to a guy P in Chennai. She subsequently had a child, dunno the gender, and knowing her, am sure she would have had at least one more. I am also sure that she would be enjoying familial bliss, she is the kind who would make an absolutely irritating,but adorable mother and wife. With an opinion on anything and everything, but who is a solid rock in times of need.
Ap, did I ever tell you how much I loved you? Am smiling now as I write this and wondering if you will ever get to read this. And if you would still be getting irritated over the thought that, though you were my friend before My, I got so much closer to My. I love you and My like a pair of sisters- equally in different ways.

My got married to B, her boyfriend of a few years, after overcoming much parental opposition. They were in the US and they had a baby girl, whom I think they called either Shreya or Shruti. This was before the dotcom bust, and B was a s/w engineer by profession. I have no idea if they had any trouble of any sort with the bust. I fervently hope not and if they did, I hope they are out of it and thriving now.
I especially bonded with My because both of us were in love with boys our parents didn't love and we were determined to bring them around, and wait till they did...
A priest in a local temple told her that they would get married, but would face great opposition and hardships before and after the wedding, she would be better off to marry the person her parents chose for her... But she stuck by B. That priest is why I wonder if she had problems in the dotcom bust.
It can't have been easy in a foreign land, with a partner you fought with your family over, with a kid, and no job... My, I hope you are alright, you and B and S and any newer additions to the family.

Ar eloped and married J, her boy friend of a few months( I will never forget the emotion in her mother's voice when Aunty asked me over the phone if I couldn't have given her some inkling of the way things were...we were distantly related...) and has a son, who is I don't know how old now. I met up with the husband J some years back (we were all colleagues) when he came over to B'lore and then I briefly got in touch with Ar, and then lost touch again... Her husband is diametrically opposite to her in so many ways, I think of them as the perfect example for 'opposites attract'. I can probably trace Ar out when I visit my in-laws' place. But I have not taken the pains so far. I wonder why I don't.

These are 3 friends, of whom I have the fondest memories.
There was the time when Ar related the way a passing motorist had squeezed his fingers in mid-air at her when she sailed past him on her Scooty. Who had persisted in the act even after she gave him a glare. She thought it was an amorous gesture intended at her breasts, and was fuming at his effrontery. But it turned out that she had her headlights on in broad daylight and the poor man was just informing her of the fact.

There were the times when Ap would be aghast at My and my total disregard for consequences... Whereas the truth was that we were as bothered as her and were just pulling her leg. To get her streams of abuse...
Ap would buy fruit bread on her way back from office and My and I would shout at her for buying something as ordinary as bread, and would then proceed to eat all the bread..

Ap and My and myself have shared 4 walls which were witness to plenty of laughter, some tears, some heartburn, plenty of curses for the establishment, and some wholesome bonding....for 2 years. I was the first to flee the nest.

And now long years later, am wondering what my dear friends are doing... Wherever you girls are, I hope you are all faring well.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Amma, do work!!

I have long been envying the SAHMs and WAHMs their time spent with their children, and wishing that I could at least be a WAHM, even if SAHM was totally out of question.

But yesterday, I was wondering how easy it actually was...

I had some urgent mails I had to send, and so admonishing Sonny boy not to disturb Amma, Amma had work, and leaving him to the snoring mercies of his father, I sat in front of the PC. Initially I could hear the father's exhortations to sleep, but after some time, the noises died down and I thought all was well.

Not so. In came Sonny boy, trailing his baby pillow.

"I no sleep Acha. I sleep Amma." determinedly.
And so saying he plonked himself on the diwan-cum-bed in the room. He lay down there, with Goldilocks, turned a few pages, murmured something about Big and Small and Just right, and Porridge and Chair and Bed, and then beamed at me- "End of shory. Now go to sleep"!

And up he climbed into my lap. The keyboard (which I normally balance between the table and my lap) was displaced. He placed it carefully on the table, adjusted himself in the most comfortable position, took firm hold of my ear and then looked up at me, and said,
Amma put your hands there.... (on the keyboard)
Amma, do work!!!"

How do WAHM's manage to finish their work and meet their deadlines in the midst of this?

Acha has pain...

Every day by the time I come back home to Sonny Boy, it is between 7.30 and 8, and this is with me taking on absolutely no late work. I just have time to give him a big hug, that will make up for all the hugs missed during the day, and generally ask him about what transpired during that day, and then it is time to feed him dinner, time for us to eat, and then time for all of us to go to bed. I wonder what I am teaching my son- almost nothing at all, if you don't count the 'shorytime' that has become a sleeptime ritual.

For one, I want my baby to develop a love for books,
for two, I want him to have an imagination of his own and not one fuelled by images on tv,
for three, I want him to have a feel and a love for words...
For all these reasons, I try making the 'shory'-telling session as enjoyable as possible, putting as much feeling into the words, as I know. My husband can keep his eyes open only with great difficulty after 10 pm. So on the rare days when he is forced to put Sonny boy to sleep, he rushes thru the whole affair, and then drops off to sleep, Sonny boy still remaining wide awake!

One night, after Sonny boy was brushed and pyjamaed, I told him to go to bed and that Acha would come and read him story.
"Noooo, Acha's head is paining," came the wail. Acha has no headache, he was told.
"Noooo, Acha's shtomach is paining...."
I firmly told him that Acha had no stomach ache, no pain anywhere else either and that he had better listen to the story and go to sleep.

And leaving him on the bed, with his father, I went off to finish my work. After about an hour, I came back to find Hubby snoring, and Sonny boy lying quietly, half asleep, in bed. Seeing me come in he sprang up in delight and said, "Amma tell shory!" He had been waiting for me to come...and so inspite of the fact that it was nearing 11, and I was almost dead on my feet, and Sonny boy was very sleepy too, I went .. Once upon a time...
And that little head snuggled on my shoulder, his body nestled in the crook of my arm, and his chubby arm crept around to find my ear...

And I am so glad that at least there is at least one way I can bond with my child.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Glory be to God!

Sonny boy's school has started! And I am so so so relieved and thankful and happy and elated and.....

Last week my in-laws and the Terror too left. Once again, Sonny boy got left behind. Thankfully, the Terror and Sonny boy came to blows about half an hour before they were to leave. So Hubs said, Aha! Bad Terror! terrorising Sonny boy like this. Lets send him away, shall we? And so that was how the Terror was 'sent away'. Without much tears being shed.

But that again left a dent in Sonny boy's heart, for after the Terror left, he kept saying 'I love much theTerror' as if to reassure himself that the Terror hadn't really been sent away because of any ill feeling between the two of them.

Then, he just refused to have anything to do with our new maid. Who's not so new now, but still hasn't got the hang of what to do around Sonny boy, how to keep him occupied and how to distract him into doing the things he's supposed to. Her main responsibilities are
1) get him to drink milk- his 'chocolate milk'.
2) distract him while his parents slip /slink/escape away guiltily to office.
3) comfort him in case he spies us and starts crying.
3) get him to eat his food in the afternoon
4) play with him and generally get him to like her.

Madame, in the last 3 days, when she's been having sole charge of Sonny boy for the day has scored almost zero on all counts. Which was very worrying to me. She would look on apathetically when Sonny boy would start crying, and would do nothing to distract him other than a "Sonny boy, come", said just for the sake of saying something. She made zilch effort to win him over. And for two successive days, Sonny boy did not eat his food. When I called, he would just say, "but Sonny boy waiting Amma coming". And he would say "I don wan Muniyamma, I coming Amma office.

One of us almost decided to go home and stay with him the first day- he was that upset, and so were we. But then we reasoned that we had to start the way we meant to go on...Right now neither of us were in a position to work from home and I couldn't let go of my job.

Which was when school reopened. All of us were so glad. And we set out together like one happy family in the morning today, Sonny boy too, to his 'Ginger office' school. That is what he says for the rather big name his school has. He was pleased as punch to strut along importantly with his bright blue and yellow bag and yellow water bottle. He told everybody on the way that he was off to school. And once at the school, that shy look all around and at the teachers, and the slow dawning smile that ended in a huge grin of happy recognition had the teachers laugh over the little 'Senior'.
And we waved a glad bye to Sonny boy, as we left for office and he went to enquire into the affairs of a little girl who was bawling her heart out, and whose Momma was having a hard time controlling her tears too. First time at school, you see. And Sonny boy was venturing to do some comforting.

I am so glad that on Mon, there will no crying scenes that wrench at my heart, and leave me moping during the drive to office. We're off and Sonny boy's also off. Huurray for school.