Thursday, December 31, 2009

Inflation and the SRE

The SRE often reminds me of royalty. I'd read once, long ago, that the Queen of England never handles money. She never needs to, apparently- there are always ladies-in-waiting around to shell out the cash, and merchants are probably thrilled to give her stuff and then put up signs saying 'By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen'. Well, the SRE hardly uses cash, apart from what he gives his caddy, and the occasional tip when he travels out of town. He does use a credit card, usually for buying books,CDs and clothes. And since he never needs to check whether or not he has sufficient cash in his wallet to pay for them, he tends to buy what he wants to buy regardless of the price. He is, however, not at all familiar with the prices of many of the other things that are used in the house. At times he expresses shock and horror at the total monthly outgoings, but is routinely shot down for not knowing the price of anything.
While my mother was in hospital, however, our household routines were quite disturbed. The SRE bought a dozen oranges for me to take to the hospital, and was horrified to pay Rs 140/- for them. (They also happened to be the biggest and most expensive oranges at a shop in an expensive residential area, but at times convenience does rule). That was bad enough. A day or so later he realised that his razor blade needed replacing. For some years now he has being using Gillette Mach 3 blades, which are really expensive but do last for a long time. He had, however, never bought them himself. When he finally did, he was so horrified at the price that although he has bought a pack and kept them in our bathroom he can't bring himself to actually use one! He now claims that he is like the traditionally scroogy bania who would just hold out his roti near the ghee tin, and feel happy that the ghee wasn't getting over. So he simply looks at the packet of new blades, and has a perfectly good shave with the old one!
Methinks the new year deserves a new blade. I pray that I can continue to do the regular shopping so that the SRE, the most generous man I know, can shave in peace! Happy New Year 2010.

This is especially for M, my eldest child, who wanted a happy post for the New Year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

Although it has been a really hard month for all of us here with my mother not showing any major progress since her return from hospital, we did have a wonderful Christmas with much of the family with us here in Kolkata- both my sons, my sister and her daughter, my sister-in-law and her younger son. We decided that having a good Christmas dinner together was the best way to keep us all cheerful. We did have a lovely time together.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beyond Biology- broadening the concept of parenting

Given that for many people today, becoming a parent is no longer an inevitable consequence of marriage, we need to widen our definition of a parent as a person who brings up a child, whether or not she/he is the biological parent.
Giving birth to a child is generally perceived to be the ultimate fulfillment for a woman, and there is still a social stigma attached to one who either voluntarily or involuntarily does not produce a child. Even if a couple chooses to not produce a child, for whatever reason, there is still often a lot of explaining to do and various pressures to face.
Those who wish to have a child and are unable to do so are subjected to tremendous pressures, both in the traditional mould ( being advised to visit various holy places, wear amulets, perform certain rituals etc.) and the modern. Reproductive technology is, no doubt, a worthy field with valuable research and tremendous scientific breakthroughs.
But it often increases the desperation of women who feel that they must conceive, at whatever the emotional and financial cost. Very often, assisted reproduction techniques require more than one attempt, each of which is often very expensive. Repeated failures can become even more soul-destroying for a woman who has set her heart on bearing a child. Such women must be made to understand that if biological motherhood is not an available option, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot experience the joys of motherhood- adoption has to be treated as an available, desirable option. We need to lay less stress upon the biological origin of the child vis-à-vis the way in which he or she is brought up, and our society at large needs to be sensitized towards the needs of both the adopter and the adoptee- the process of adoption needs to be perceived to be as normal a way of having a child as physically producing one. The fundamental message to all those who desire to have a child is that bringing up a child is of far more importance than producing a child. Also, you don’t necessarily have to produce the child you bring up. A more all-encompassing view of children is needed- not just as belonging to a mother and/or father or family, (therefore they are also ‘belongings’ or possessions of that family, and often valued as such-as an investment to be nurtured for future returns), but as members of the larger community. A world view of “our” children, in the larger sense of the word, vis-à-vis ‘my’ child, needs to be promoted.
This, in turn, leads to the question of the sharing of resources that are often limited.
An ethic encompassing caring for and sharing with others needs to be inculcated.
Each child can, and does, in his own unique way, enrich the lives of those who share their lives with him.

PS: I'd written this a long time ago. Reading this inspired me to post.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Back Home

My mother was discharged from the hospital this Saturday, after an eighteen day stay.
The proposed cardiac intervention has been postponed for now.
Despite all nursing efforts in the hospital a bed sore has formed, which adds to her problems.
Her mental state is now our greatest cause for concern, as she is often very confused and disorientated. A psychiatrist has seen her and has prescribed several medicines. We are hoping that they restore her mental equilibrium soon. We are still not used to this stranger that often takes over our mother's usual personality.
Life continues complicated.

Thanks for all the good wishes and prayers. We need them now more than ever.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The day after the uneventful surgery (where the word 'uneventful' is a positive one), my mother had severe chest pain. After an ECG which showed significant ischaemic changes, she was shifted to the ICCU, and was hooked up on a cardiac monitor. She also received two units of blood, and is continuously on oxygen and various drips. The doctors are now waiting for the surgical incision to heal sufficiently before doing an angiography/angioplasty. She remains in her private ICCU room till then, where she is permitted an attendant, given her age and extreme frailty. I spend most of the day there, and a private nurse comes in at night. My sister looks after my household and our father, who is being very stoic about the whole business, and yet can break my heart with a slight downturn of his mouth. My eldest daughter came in yesterday, and will spend time at the hospital so I can deal with some other necessary stuff and take an occasional break. The SRE has curtailed his travelling for a while and is a great source of strength. The curly haired son was having exams, but came over to the hospital whenever he could to cheer up his grandmother. My sister-in-law and nephew will be here next week from England, as will the older son from New York. My uncles, aunts and various cousins call frequently. I am truly thankful for my family.

I am also thankful for my wonderful blogworld family.
Thank you for all your good wishes. Your prayers are still needed.