Monday, May 30, 2011

Chasing the SRE

out of the house is what I plan to do this week! I need to go out of town for a few days, and I prefer to travel when the SRE is also travelling. Since he travels so often, it should not be too difficult to synchronize our travel plans. So, last week our separate itineraries were made, and we were supposed to be returning to Kolkata on the same flight this Saturday. But the powers-that-be decided that this was way too simple, and the SRE was asked to cancel his visits to distant towns.
Long years ago, every summer would see the kids and I leaving the man for a couple of weeks at least, visiting grandparents in different towns. At the time, the SRE was mostly resident, his sister lived about a kilometer and a half away, and he would also manage to feed himself sometimes- I would stir fry and freeze veggies in small packets, which he could pop into a boiling pan of Maggi noodles. I think he managed to cook eggs, too!

I am sure he was quite vague even then, but he seems far more scatterbrained now. I feel that he needs someone to take care of him and make sure that taps and gas cylinders and light/fan switches and air-conditioners are closed firmly and switched off. Even when we come home to an empty house together, and I am taking the key out of my handbag, he will ring the doorbell. I wonder whom he expects to open the door.

I have gently suggested that he move to the company guest house for a few days, but he has decided that going to Durgapur and working over there will suit all concerned. I never thought that the day would come when I'd actually be glad that he will be spending a few days away from home. Talk about a vested interest!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lessons from mommyhood!

The Bride tagged me to write about ‘what mommyhood has taught me’.

The tag:

It’s been a while since us Mommybloggers came up with something to celebrate, well, mommyhood, so the lovely Monika and I came up with this. A tag that has us list out five lessons of life that Mommyhood has taught us, these could be sweet, bitter, funny, touching, whatever. These could be survival tips or cooking tips, or something as simple as the best thing to get puke smell out of hair.

So, the rules are simple. Put the badge up. Write out five lessons that Mommyhood taught you. And tag five mommybloggers.

It's kind of hard to believe that my kids were ever babies, but of course they were, decades ago.
So, as requested, I'll try and share my perspective as a mother of grown up kids.

1. If marriage helps knock your ego into a more streamlined shape, having kids gives it the kind of hammering it may never recover from!
When they are tiny, these wordless, utterly dependent creatures teach you to put another person's needs first. You may be dying of lack of sleep, of hunger or thirst, or even just to go to the loo, but it is possible to fulfill your needs only when the baby lets you.
You want to protect them from hurt and injury, but you can't always do that. It is easier to console the child with a scraped knee or the one who needs thirteen stitches in his chin than the one with a broken heart. You still do whatever you can to help them heal, even if it doesn't really seem to help. And you still ache for them. If they are far away from you and ill or miserable, your helplessness and grief knows no bounds. I think that even if you are an atheist or agnostic, having a child will often times see you praying with all your might for the child's well being.

2. They can teach you so much about their world, and enlarge yours exponentially. Listen to them talk.......
I know that I wouldn't be blogging, or listening to Sufi music, or aware of Latin American literature, or have some absolutely silly jokes in my head that make me smile whenever I think of them, if it wasn't for my kids. What you receive from them is priceless- love, affection, tremendous support during difficult times, endless demands, hungry friends......
A variety of experiences that enrich your life in unimaginable ways. Yes, my older son and his friends actually helped us sneak into an Abida Parveen concert!

3. They enlarge your circle of relationships as they find love and significant others of their own.
The family enlarges to include their loved ones and their families too.
Having kids does sensitize you to other children- you grieve and worry for the child's friend who had an accident, or is ill, or whose parent is ill, or even for the random children you read about in the newspapers.

4. They reassure you immensely sometimes that you brought them up more or less okay!
When I saw the tenderness with which my kids spoke to their ailing grandparents, it was like a warm soft blanket around my heart! Whenever they do well in life, it feels wonderful, far more than an achievement of one's own.

5. When they fight or disagree with each other or hurt each other, as siblings inevitably do sometimes, it really breaks your heart. You can't play favourites, and you can see each child's perspective, and you are utterly helpless till they ride it out and are friends again.

6. One extra, bonus lesson: Insanity is inherited: you can get it from your children!

The five moms I tag are:
1. Yasmeen, who is my contemporary and can tell you about being a mom to her two lovely grown up daughters.
2. Yashodhara, who has twin baby boys and one very lady like young daughter.
3. Mona, whose pre-school daughter and toddler son keep her really busy.
4. Surabhi, who is the mother of the delightful Sanah.
5. Nitya, whose son Arjun is a delight, with his own unique perspective on life, the universe and everything!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Real Beauty

Mountains, trees, rivers, the sea
Oceans, rivulets, birds
clouds, the majesty of nature
the tiny perfection of a puppy,
a kitten, a baby,

The scars I bear,
of not just the babies I bore
but the other surgeries I had,
those scars affirm Life.
The years added to my life
enhance my soul,
the scars are an integral
part of me now.

My aunt is no more
but I remember her smile,
slightly down turned on one side
from a paralytic attack
Her hair combed into "cat ears"
over her forehead,
in her own particular style.
She was beautiful to me.
I never saw her upset,
(well, only once in all those years)
or lose her temper
She was wise, and kind
and strong,
Looked up to by all.
The menfolk in her family,
Husband and sons
Would do her bidding gladly
Because she always
made sense to them.

(The story goes that
She was so lovely
that once he saw her
in their neighbourhood
the young man decided
to marry only her, and
no one else.
It was a long and happy union
A template for many to come.
He outlived her by some fourteen years
sustained by the memories
of their life together,
with a strength and grace of his own).

She wore her saree
the old fashioned 'seedha palla' style,
and was so disciplined herself
you would never dream
of not being so around her.
A natural teacher
you'd learn from her
whether you really
wanted to or not!!!!

Even when she was ill
with breast cancer
she never lost her perspective
or her sense of humour.
The last time I met her,
some months before she died,
She'd been making small
quantities of different pickles
revising for her next birth, she said.
I said, surely your mother
will teach you, in your next birth.
No, she will wear jeans and
work in an office,
I'd better practice
my recipes myself!

I've known so many people in these
many decades of my life
Who are so good looking,
the eyes perforce
linger on their faces
but when I think of real beauty,
it is this aunt who first comes to my mind.

The above blog post is part of a competition hosted by Dove, Yahoo!India, and IndiBlogger.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mrs. C's Lament

Old and almost bedridden now,
Mrs. C mourns the death of her brother in law
whose passing no one told her about,
thinking her too frail to bear this loss.

He was a toddler when I got married,
I brought him up, he had no mother,
he would cling to my legs,
asking to be picked up.

When my first daughter was born
He'd insist on carrying her
Though he was pretty small himself
He'd be very careful.

I lost that daughter some years ago
And I survived that loss, didn't I?
And my husband as well, two years ago
And I'm still here, aren't I?

I'm going to die sooner or later
(and I'd rather it be sooner, lying here,
watching the fan go round and round
is no great fun, let me tell you).

What would it matter if I went then,
When my brother-in-law died?
The whole family thought I wouldn't be able
to bear this last loss....

They meant well, but how I wish
That I could have seen him one last time
And sent him on his last journey
With my eternal blessings.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Diabetic Reverie

Whenever I wear this ring
I remember the ruby droplet of blood
on the fingertip
I pierce with a lancet
for my home blood test.

Dear Blogger

Please get well soon.
Some published comments have disappeared.
You are not available for several hours each day.
Please be back in the pink of health again soon.
In the meantime, my apologies to those whose comments have disappeared.
Hoping for the best,

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dil Boley Harissa!

A friend and I went grocery shopping yesterday afternoon. After dumping our many bags in the car, we went back into the mall for a cup of coffee. Since we are both fond of trying out new things, we looked at the snack bar and saw something called a cheese and harissa bun. I asked the boy at the counter what harissa was, my chief concern being whether it was vegetarian or not. He assured me that it was vegetarian, and said that it had coriander leaves etc. in it. We decided to share one, and asked for it to be cut into two pieces.
Well, my friend and I sat down and waited for our coffee and snack to arrive. We were wondering if harissa had anything to do with hari (green) chutney. One bite told us otherwise. It was fiery hot with not a speck of green. My friend opened out her portion and scraped out what looked like at least a teaspoonful of chill flakes before eating it. We decided that we owed it to subsequent customers to enlighten the boy at the counter, so we did. He was most apologetic, which was not really the point. We both felt that whoever is selling a product should have accurate, basic knowledge of what he is selling.

Of course I came home and asked Googleji what harissa was.

According to Wikipedia: Harissa is a Tunisian hot chilli sauce commonly eaten in North Africa whose main ingredients are bird's eye chili peppers , serrano peppers and other hot chillis and spices such as garlic paste, coriander, red chili powder, caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil. It is a standard ingredient of North African cuisine, most closely associated with Tunisia and Algeria but recently, commercially produced Harrissa also making it inroads into Morocco and the Arab Gulf countries, Egypt, Mashreq and Turkey.

It was really really hot and spicy. Well, now we know.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Of Mice and a Man!

We got home late on Saturday night after watching the movie "Chalo Dilli." (A decent, enjoyable movie, by the way).
The SRE felt like listening to something.
Now Boseji's table has a very small part of our music collection- some albums of poetry, but mostly bhajans, which we keep in a box to save them from the dust. God alone knows what the SRE felt like listening to at that point in time. He scrabbled about, and managed to find an MP3 disc of film songs, which were duly listened to.
The first photograph shows the results of his search.
The second is what the table usually looks like, on any 'normal' day.

A spouse of many decades is a privileged person, who does not get scolded. He gets teased instead.
"There must be a great big mouse in here, who messed up all the CDs."
The SRE grins and says, "Yes, we need a great big mousetrap."

All I can say, in the immortal dialogue of countless Hindi movie wives,
is "Tum nahin sudhrogey."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Bonus Month

By the beginning of May last year, my father was rapidly sinking, and seemed to be in obvious distress, breathing with difficulty despite our keeping him on oxygen for much of the time. I called in his physician, who examined him, and gave him just another forty-eight hours to live. He also prescribed a morphine patch, to ease the acute discomfort. I called my sister, who flew in the next morning.
On the afternoon of the 4th, which was the second day, a close friend came to visit. The three of us were chatting, having tea, and exchanging our rather sombre thoughts, when we were all jolted by a mighty roar from my usually soft-spoken father. He'd woken up from a nightmare in which the home nurse was apparently trying to poison him. He said he didn't mind dying, but refused to be murdered!
I somehow managed to soothe him, explaining to him that it was just a bad dream, and that the home nurse was the last person who would murder him, because she was attached both to him and to our household, and that both the day nurse and the night nurse would be bereft and without work for a while at least if anything happened to him. His doctor came to see him, and thought that this recovery was nothing less than a miracle. I seriously wonder if this bonus month was God's gift to the home nurses, who seemed to be very attached to our family, and especially to Daddy. My sister and I were, somehow, resigned to his inevitable departure- once Mummy was gone, we could see that he had completely lost his will to live.
As it happened, Dad's doctor went away for a couple of weeks towards the end of May. I consulted him once over the phone. Somewhere within me, I knew that he would not see my father again.

A Deliberate Blemish

This is the kilim we bought in Istanbul last year, which is now finally on view in my sitting room.

Kilim, a word of Turkish origin, denotes a pileless textile of many uses produced by one of several flatweaving techniques that have a common or closely related heritage and are practiced in the geographical area that includes parts of Turkey (Anatolia and Thrace), North Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia and China.

We went kilim shopping in Istanbul with a Turkish colleague of the SRE.
After a glass of delicious home made lime juice served by the shopkeeper, and the painful business of choosing one kilim that both of us liked, we decided that this was the one.
Which is when we noticed the small dark blue section in the corner, an obvious defect. We were about to reject the kilim because of this, when the shopkeeper told us that this was a deliberate blemish.
I thought that it was probably a nazar-battoo, against the evil eye. (Turkey is full of these amulets, called nazar. So is Egypt!)
The kilim, however, was not woven with its own nazar, though.
The deliberate blemish was a humbling reminder that only Allah is perfect, His creatures cannot create perfection!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Strange Dream

This afternoon
I dreamt that we were in
a hotel somewhere
packing to leave,
and I look round
making sure that
there's nothing left behind
And I see a bag and/or a pillow
that we need to take
(Dreams are vague like that)
The toilet flushes
and my mother emerges
and I hope that she doesn't ask
"Where's Daddy"?
because I know he's not there,
and I don't know how to tell her.