Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Owning half the year

Life was simple then,
summer months were
no big deal for us,
no particular events
made them ours.
But from Independence Day,
(my mother's birthday),
to Republic Day,
my parents' anniversary,
each month
'belonged' to us.
August, mummy's birthday
September, sister's,
October, brother's
November, mine,
and December Daddy's,
and their January anniversary.

Of course I've added
many more dates and months to this list,
but my original family calendar
feels so empty now.




Sunday, January 24, 2016

Her voice, my voice.....

When you speak
your own voice
comes from inside you
the sound waves you generate
traverse both  internal and external paths,
impinging on your eardrums in distinct ways,
the voice you hear and the voice others hear
two different entities.

It's only a good recording
that helps you know
how you sound to others.

Recording the toddler's antics
on my phone camera,
I found myself
laughing aloud,
singing  along with the music,
and talking to her
or about her
in my late sister's voice.

After all these years of
thinking myself as
so different from my sister
Sounding like her
is now a comfort.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mommy House

Mommy House
was what my daughters asked for,
whenever they came over,
after the toddler had left.
Enough Dadi House now,
We miss the feel of home
and the toddler isn't here
but we are,
so make it nice again
for yourselves,
and your visiting
nearby children.

Me being me,
the colour scheme queen,
was inspired today
by the freezing cold
to do up the living room
and dining room
in warm, flame colours,
a welcome change
from the cool teal blues.
The maid had a day off
so the floors are dirty,
but after today's
yoga class,
breakfast making
dishwashing session,
and the big change
it doesn't really matter-
please excuse!



Let me share Mommy House, and Mommy herself in her winter headgear, (looking most squaw-like,
I know) with you, dear readers!






Thursday, January 14, 2016

The unbearable strangeness of home
























This rented flat
has charmed me, again and again
(though my heart still wants its 'own' place,
with no original packing materials
stored against a 'final' move.
Though I know that
nothing on this earth is final.
not the earth itself,
nor the people,
nor their houses).

Still charmed by the space,
the sunlight,
the fresh air,
all still present, still appealing,
but now also peopled by memories
of the tiny figure
who hopped and skipped around,
calling out to the pigeons, and her parents
and us, fond grandparents, and the fans,
and her toys ( especially Doggie)
it remains, more or less,
as baby-proofed as it was
ten days ago.

Those artefacts that added
character, personality, and colour
to our home,
I'm aware of their absence,
each one of them that is missing,
hiding in safe spaces.
I think of them stored away, safely,
asking me, softly,
when will we come out again?

The lacquered Japanese music box,
the Turkish bowls,
the ceramic candle holders
the brown and blue glazed jugs
on the sideboard,
the ceraminc Ganesha from Pondicherry
almost abstract, a subtlety ...
The fat turtle from New Mexico
with horsehair burned patterns,
a gift from one son,
brought to us by the other
The antique, timeless clock,
the Dokra musicians,
the lost wax 'people tree',
the many bowls and candles
and photo frames,
I remember them all
and I miss them all,
but I cannot bring myself
to bring them out again.

Not yet.
Not yet.
Not yet.

Life goes on without them,
As it does without
the toddler who left us last week,
who will be a different person
when we meet her next.

We see her in the garden downstairs,
where, like a little puppy,
she held my finger and led me
to where ever she wanted to go.
Holding on to her so that she wouldn't
fall into the ornamental pond,
fascinated by her own reflection!
The swings, the slides, the merry-go-round,
Many little people there,
but not our little person,
Who sat on my lap
in the colony vegetable shop
and ate a (complementary) banana
after walking what seems like a huge distance
for one of her size!

Who knows when we will see her again,
and how old will she be then,
How much older will we be? 

And yet time cannot, and must not, be frozen.

We will delight in her as she grows,
our precious grandchild,
waiting for the day when Skype
and phones make sense to her,
until we meet again.
Our home still feels strange, though.
And so empty.......




Monday, January 11, 2016

The Toddler is Curious

As is but natural. All toddlers are. The world is theirs to explore.
Our granddaughter is no exception. My son calls her the FBI.
We called her Dopey Chand Jasoos, having combined the title of a 1982 film and a particular expression that our son also used to have in moments of deep thought.

We were meticulous in our efforts to toddler proof the house.We needed to protect both her and our valuables from each other!

Every accessible (to the toddler) plugpoint was taped shut.

All breakables were removed from low levels.

All our ceramic coasters were packed away.

Our large, low, glass topped coffee table was covered first with a folded durree, then with a thick bedcover as tablecloth. This was our phone table, and the toddler would sit on it and press the orange speaker icon on the telephone, thrilled with the sound it made.


We had small locks put on our 1985 vintage sideboard, which housed some crockery and our medicines, as well as some alcohol- the section on the right is called the dava-daaru almaari!

My old glass-fronted Parsi crockery cupboard had a lock but no key. The carpenter carefully removed the lock, which the RE then took to the neighbourhood chaabiwallah, and brought it back with a pair of keys., which the carpenter then re-installed.

The RE's filing cabinet had keys, which were in hiding in his desk which had been pushed to the wall. So the doors were tied up with a ribbon, but the drawers above were left to the mercy of the toddler, who would open them whenever she chose to. The contents were boring papers and envelopes, hence safe!

The RE thought that the bookshelf in the dining room would be safe enough, but I remember well the toddlers I have dealt with. My motto remains: never trust a toddler. I tied the handles of the bookshelf doors together with ribbons. One afternoon, while sitting on her mother's lap at the dining table, the smart young lady unties the ribbon and gleefully shows me that she can open the bookshelf doors!


All objects on our bedside tables are endangered. Books are picked up and examined. Picture frames need to be rescued, as does our early morning thyroid medication. Lamps and their switches fascinate her.

The day they were leaving was the day Ms. Toddler decided to raid her grandma's kitchen. After investigating each of the lower cupboards, she was happy with several empty plastic boxes, and also demanded my rolling pin, which is identical to the one they have in their home. Several spatulae joined the kitchen equipment on the carpet.

It's almost a week since they left. Our world has changed once more. We still haven't put many things back in their original places. The TV is reinstated as our major entertainment source. The carpet looks forlorn, bereft of both toys and toddler. We miss our little Jasoos and her thorough investigations.



Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Toddler is Confused

The toddler's vocabulary is expanding.
All animals used to be called "doggie."
On her recent trip to Goa, she encountered several crows, whose raucous cries of "Kao kao" became the onomatopoetic name for all birds, especially the numerous pigeons she can see from our balcony.
For reasons of her own, the little teddy bear that waits for her visits here is "Bebi."



Before her first visit here last summer, the fond grandparents had had a laminated collage made of several of her photographs, all taken before she was three months old!!! Since there is no glass that can break or hurt her, she had access to this precious frame. She could recognise all the adults in the different pictures: Mamma, Baba, Dadu and Dadi. What puzzled her immensely was the baby. Who was this baby? All the adults were holding her so carefully, so lovingly. Where was she?
We tried telling her that it was Ms. Toddler herself as a small baby, but it was no easy task.
Her beloved parents and grandparents were holding some strange baby. Truly a mystery for her.

Ms. Toddler was most intrigued.

She now seems to recognise her reflection in the mirror, particularly if she has the reference point of an adult in the real world as well as in the mirror. It is wonderful to see her dealing with new concepts as she engages with the world. But the baby in the photographs remains a huge mystery to her!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Toddler Communicates, and How!

The toddler had a pretty severe case of jet lag. The angel child who usually slept for about eleven hours each night would be put to bed at her normal time, and after a couple of hours sleep, would wake up and cry. After some crying and some soothing, she would go back to sleep, and then the entire cycle would be repeated, all through the night. The son and daughter-in-law were not happy. She had hardly slept on the flight, and so they couldn't sleep then either, and now she was neither sleeping herself, nor letter her parents sleep. It was not a happy situation.

Four days into their vist, the youngsters had a party to attend. They would leave early in the evening, and return the next morning. Given that the previous night had been a night from hell, they were not feeling very chipper, but hoped to eventually catch some toddler-free sleep at their friends' home. They slipped out of the front door, evading detection, but our smart little detective soon realized that her parents were missing. She went to the front door and screamed, but the RE and I managed to distract her, soothe her, and feed her.
Bath time was great fun, as was story time. At a little past seven, I sent a trimphant message to my son. He wished me luck!

Modern babies, or should I say parents, are high tech. folks. We had been taught how to start the baby monitor. After an early dinner and some quiet TV watching, the RE and I retired for the night, with the monitor at my bedside. We had barely dosed off when the monitor squawked- our grandchild was crying. We waited for a few minutes, as instructed, and I went to the nursery (the fond grandfather's office has been closed for the duration and adapted to the toddler's requirements) and tried to soothe the child. It seemed simpler to bring her to our bed. She was happy enough, admiring the pa(n)khaa, the ceiling fan above our bed, and talking to her doyee (doggie), whom she was holding on to. After a while, though, once we had switched off the light, she tried getting out. Since we were on each side of her, the young lady tried to climb out of the quilt from the centre, which seemed a rather dangerous activity in the dark. I thought it safer to put her back in her crib. I took her back to the nursery, put her in her crib with Doggie, patted her and left. And, mercifully, she slept.

Two hours later, she wakes up again. Bringing her to our bed didn't seem to be a viable option. The desperate parents had put a mattress on the floor of her room, so that whoever was on baby shift could get some sleep. (The minute they brought her to their bed, she'd want to play). It made sense to just be in the room with her, rather than march across the whole house in the watches of the night. Sleeping on the floor wasn't brilliantly comfortable, but some sleep was better than none. If the baby cried in her crib, I'd pick her up and cuddle her, and sometimes she'd sleep, sometimes she'd try and wander off in the dark, which was unnerving, so I'd pop her back into her crib. We did this several times through the night. Each time I flipped open my phone to check the time, the young lady would admire the pa(n)khaa. When I took her out of her crib at around 6.30 a.m., she toddled off to the window and pulled back the curtain very dramatically, as if to say,
" Look- it's daylight now. Do not try and make me sleep anymore, Grandma."
I had no intentions of doing so. I was quite happy taking her out-thide the room!