Saturday, April 23, 2011

A typical day

Morning 6.45 a.m.

Have been awaken by Pickle and am in an unusually good mood in the middle of a three day weekend. So am singing a GNR song that was my favorite years ago.

Belting out 'I used to love her...but I had to kill her...I knew I'd miss I had to keep her...she's buried right in my backyaaaaard'.

Vijay opens one eye and says 'Hai raam - kya ga rahe ho, subah subah...kuchh bhajan-wajan nahi hai kya?'

I sing louder 'I used to love her...but I had to kill her...she bitched so MUCH...she drove me NUTS...and I can still hear her complaaaaiiin'.

Vijay shuts his eye and starts fervently and piously singing to try and drown me out 'Om Jai Jagdish Hare...'

Afternoon 2 p.m.

Me despairing about the clutter in the house after spending the morning trying to clean up in vain. Vijay not listening to me but working on his computer. Peanut coloring nearby.

Me: It's an impossible task to clean this house! But I have an idea. I will throw away 5 things each day.
Vijay: (Gives me the Thumbs up sign)
Me: That way, in a week I'll have thrown away 28 things!
Vijay: (Repeats Thumbs up sign)
Me (After some thought) Wait a minute. In a week, I'll have thrown away 35 things, not 28.
Vijay: (Two Thumbs Up sign)
Peanut, looking up from her coloring: MAMA! LET HE WORK!

Fine, fine. I know when I'm outnumbered.

Evening 6 p.m.

I make a dismal pronouncement on the onset of menstruation. The one major benefit of pregnancy (apart from the children of course) has always been the lack of monthly cycles. But no more, I tell my husband.

'Oh good' he responds chirpily 'Now we can have more babies!'

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monday Morning Mindf**k

Scene on Sunday night: We're having a bad night - especially me - with little Pickle who refuses to sleep properly.

We're exhausted by 6 a.m. when he wakes up all bright and chirpy. He wants to play -when I ask Vijay to mind him for a little bit, while I catch some overdue shut-eye given the gruelling week that lies ahead, the husband attempts to oblige, but Pickle starts to cry. He has become extremely attached to me, and tends to get really upset when I hand him over to anyone else. It's as flattering as it is exhausting and I take him back from Vijay, but Vijay is annoyed and mutters ' I can't wait for him to grow up...I will give him a good beating...'

I get upset about this. Pickle had a rough start with his jaundice, and ten days of phototherapy and I still shudder when I think of him under that harsh bright light, lying there naked but for a nappy and a blindfold that he always scratched off his face. I tell Vijay 'You'll do nothing of the sort...he's such a sweetheart'.

'He's such a gunda' says Vijay with feeling. 'I'm sure he got switched at the nursery. He's not like Peanut or Papad'.

'Nonsense' I say and turn away. I've heard this one before. Pickle does look different from the other two - Papad was almost a carbon copy of Peanut at a similar age. What a mean thought, though.

But Vijay persists. 'I'm telling you. It's possible'. Then a thought occurs to him and he asks me with a rather evil smile 'So tell me - what would you do if it were true? If we found out now that Pickle was not ours and had got changed with our real baby in the nursery?'.

I'm not letting him get to me. 'That's easy' I declare 'We'll keep the other baby too and we'll have four and that way they can all play carrom nicely with each other'.

Vijay scoffs at me 'Oh come on. It's not like the other baby would still just be in the nursery after 8 months, you know. He would be with Pickle's real parents - and they would want a baby too. So tell me now - what would you do? Would you give away Pickle and take back the real twin?'

I think hard about it and after a few moments, I am completely flummoxed. The question is an incredibly difficult one. I begin to feel truly uncomfortable until it occurs to me that the question is also a truly inane and unnecessary one. I turn back to Vijay and ask him what the specific reason for this particular Monday Morning Mindf**k is.

He just giggles like a schoolgirl, and it is clear that he has truly enjoyed the conversation.


Friday, April 15, 2011

At Ninety Five, It was a good life.

My grandfather passed away today.

He was in his 95th year. Amazingly fit - still doing yoga, pranayam, regular walking and so on. Completely independent. But he had had enough. He was tired.

For the last few days, he had not been feeling well. He had a bad cough and was getting weaker and weaker. He kept stating how he was ready to go and resisting attempts to medicate him. I think his basic problem was loneliness.

His wife passed away 3 years ago. He lived in the same complex we do, with my Bua. He was well taken care of but lacked company. I tried to spend time with him, but somehow never could find the time.

We went to visit him yesterday, and it struck me how this was the one man in my life whom I have never fought with; and who always saw good in me. Who always saw me as that little baby 'the sweetest child in our family'. Who mistakenly believed I was still as sweet even now. Who was one of the only people who told Vijay 'You're so lucky to have her', whereas usually we seem to be getting it the other way round. The man who unconditionally loved me, and believed in me so blindly is gone. I'm being selfish about this, of course. The fact is that it's good that he's gone with minimal suffering when he felt he was ready.

He was especially fond of Vijay, though. He absolutely loved him. Papa was into Shayari, having studied Urdu and Vijay, thanks to his general interest in the subject could actually keep up with him, and they exchanged many wonderful moments in the last few years engaging on this topic. When Papa would struggle to remember the second line of a famous couplet, Vijay would search for it on his iPhone and delight him with it. There's no one who brought more joy to Papa in his last couple of years, and for that alone, I know I married the right guy.

It's great that Papa got to meet Pickle and Papad - although his favorite remained Peanut. So much so that he actually said that she was as sweet as I had been in my childhood. He often reminisced about the days when I made him take me into the forest at Alaknanda. In fact, just yesterday he mentioned, how obsessive I was about the peacock feather that I needed to find, and that beyond a point how I would get tired and he would have to carry me on his shoulders.

Vijay was listening to this story and retorted with an inspired 'So nothing has changed Papa. I still have to give her the peacock feathers she demands and carry her around on my shoulders'. They both laughed at me for a while and then went back to the Urdu.

Papa's one regret towards the end was that it looked like he wouldn't get to read my book. When he mentioned it a couple of days ago, I obsessively took a printout in a large sized font of the first 50 pages and presented it to him. I checked with him yesterday - he had only managed to read a couple of pages but he was still full of praise for my style of writing.

The funny thing is that I had presented him with some sample chapters - 3 in total out of about 30. He had read them a few months ago and given them back to me. He later confided in me seriously that it was a 'very good book' and that he was 'sure that someone would publish it'. I looked at him suspiciously for a while and asked him if he was aware that there was more to the book than the 3 chapters I had given him just like that. He was surprised and delighted to know that there was more where that came from. Pity he'll never read it, but yes, the endeavor has his blessing.

Papa had a tough beginning to life and so much more to it than I'll know. I wish I had had more patience to listen. But the fact is, I don't think this time round I'm going to be beating myself up on this. I know I did get to spend at least some time with him, though I wish I had done more. I know I gave him a lot of love. I know we had a very special bond. I always viewed him as some sort of a last link to my own father who passed away at the age of fifty three. Papa was an amazingly special, lovable person. I don't think he hurt anyone, ever. In fact, he was a doctor and he saved lives in the little towns and villages of MP where he was posted. It feels good to know that there are some qualities I probably have inherited from him, although maybe they still need to manifest themselves more.

Papa's own father died when he was in the womb, having been killed by some tribals. He had a difficult childhood and was a very sickly child, and recalls his mother carrying him around 'from sadhu to sadhu' in desperate attempts to find a cure for his condition, whatever it was.

I sat down with him a couple of years ago, and opened a word doc on my computer called 'Papa'. I was determined at the time to find out more about his long and eventful life so that I could base some sort of a story on it. Unfortunately, I didn't get very far on it, just spent a little time listening to it and then had to leave and never completed the exercise. But still, no regrets.

Today I was at the office when I got a call from Vijay saying that my mother had called him and that Papa was very ill. I rushed home. I was very lucky to have 5 minutes with him before he passed away. I don't know if he registered that I was with him, and holding his hand. I was the only one who made it in time - I would have missed it if we had stuck with our original plan of my picking up Vijay from his office first, but I got dropped off on the way. I saw Papa looking sicker than he had ever looked before - great, rasping, uncomfortable, gurgling breaths. When it was over and he suddenly became peaceful, I was incredibly glad. He took a lot of care to maintain himself and remained so active till the end - I wish he hadn't had to suffer at all, but it was brief and now I know he is at peace. The loss is entirely ours, but we're lucky to have had him as long as we did.

The point is that even yesterday, in his condition, he was telling us about how God has been so kind to him always - he didn't have any complaints despite the fact that it's been a rocky, up and down ride for almost a century. So if so close to the end of your life, your primary feeling is that of gratefulness, it's probably been a pretty good life overall. At least, that's what I figure.

So yes. We will miss him. But one cannot really mourn this one because the most important thing is that it was a complete life and we were so lucky to be his children.

In fact, after he had told Vijay 'you're so lucky to have her' he remembered to add 'and she is lucky to have you'.

Vijay said spontaneously 'But I'm luckier, Papa...because of her, I got to meet you'.

So anyway. Everything is as it should be. What more can one ask for?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And the days pass by...

* Peanut seems to be settling into big school reasonably well. Jumps into the bus happily enough in the morning. Fingers crossed.
* Vijay seems to be settling into new job reasonably well. Jumps out of the car when I drop him off happily enough. Fingers crossed.
* I, on the other hand, may be losing it just a teeny-tiny little bit. My daughter goes to bed at about 11 p.m. I try to write for a little while, but even plotting ( read: Facebooking) takes upto an hour. Midnight I try to sleep. About a couple of hours later, the twins wake up, considerately doing it turn by turn. They finally awaken, strangely refreshed at 6 a.m. and insist that I play with them, which of course I do. The part time maid comes in at 7 a.m. and rescues me and poor K ( who is also up at night helping manage one twin), but by this time, Peanut has to be awoken and made to get ready for school, which of course, needs to be done primarily by yours truly. I drop her off at the bus at 8 and get in a small jog before going home, feeding the twins and getting ready for work. By nine, I'm out, dropping Vijay on the way and then reaching my own workplace. I determinedly climb up 11 flights, fully conscious that this is the only real exercise I ever get. I reach the 11th floor, walk in - it's about 9.40 a.m. usually. I determine to take my boss up on his offer of letting me work from home whenever I want, and think that today I must leave at about 3 p.m. When I next notice the time, it's about 5.30. I rush out and get home by about 6.15 p.m. and it's already getting a little too dark to go out with the kids. Peanut opens the door for me and smiles, but Pickle and Papad start crying as soon as I come into view. I take my kids one by one and play with them and feed them, feeling bad for having left them crying in the morning and trying to pack in as much of their babyness as I can into this time with them. Some evenings I go out with one, two or three of them and visit my 95 year old grandfather who stays with my Bua in our complex. My grandfather is very unwell and insisting it's time to go. I exhort him to stick around and at least read my book which he agrees would be a pity to miss - I've given him about 50 pages and plan to try and drag it out. I visit Vani - who's also moved into the same complex - for a planned few minutes which becomes an actual half-hour minimum and before I know it, I'm late for dinner. I get home and eat with Vijay and then it's time to put Peanut to bed, Pickle-Papad already having been knocked out somewhere in the interim. And so the cycle starts all over again.

And occasionally, there's a little blogging.

It's a pretty good life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just So Much Going ON!

So Peanut is starting school tomorrow. Fingers crossed and all that. Have to drop her to the school, and praying that she settles in nicely.

A week or so back, we went for her 'graduation' ceremony. The playschool had put up a really nice show, with dancing, singing, a play - the works. The kids did a commendable job and it was really quite amazing for me to see Peanut dancing demurely to Swagatam, she and her little partner flawlessly performing the steps.

However, she looked a little bit lost while dancing although I was totally entranced. Vijay said 'She's looking for us...'. It was difficult for her to see us because we were sitting right in the back - Vijay, me, my mother and Vijay's dad. The teachers had announced specifically before the show started that we were not to wave out to and distract our children while they were performing.

Being one who tries to follow official instructions to the absolute T, I told Vijay that we should not wave to our daughter, it would perhaps throw her off and that we should listen to the authorities.

Peanut went off stage, still looking a little lost. She hadn't spotted us. I felt a little bad but figured maybe she would perk up in the next performance. This was a play in which she was acting as 'Sita', the friend of Mowgli, in the Hansel and Gretel play ( don't ask, okay?). Her line was 'Look Mowgli, we have company!' and she had practiced at home several times.

The play was on and Peanut came on stage, looking like a little doll in a blue lehenga. The time rolled around for her to say her line, and I waited with bated breath.

My daughter forgot her line.

The teacher narrating the story smoothly jumped in with her line, but I felt bad - not that she had missed her line, but how she might feel about it. I turned to talk to Vijay about it and did a double take when I noticed he was gone from the seat next to me.

I looked back at Peanut and noted a change in her demeanour. She had perked up and was doing a little wave to someone at the back of the audience. Sure enough, it was my tall, gangly husband - her tall, gangly Daddy - who was determined to have his way and make sure that she saw him. She was now smiling and he headed back to his seat and since she was watching him, she could now see the rest of us too. She was very happy, and it was time for the 'Chaddi pehen ke song' which Mowgli and his friends were to dance on, and boy, did Sita rock it on this number!

She swayed, jumped, wiggled her bum and did a wonderful job with more enthusiasm than I had ever seen at home. Vijay and I were clapping along, and she finally waltzed off the stage with full confidence.

I had to admit. The husband does a good job with his free-wheeling and instinctive parenting. Much better than the by-the-book approach sometimes that some people take a teeny-tiny bit too seriously at times.

That's why we make a great team.

P.S - I actually cried during the graduation. I couldn't believe she had grown up so much.
P.P.S - I asked at the office today how many people cried after India won the World cup. Four out of nine people put up their hands. Just out of curiosity ( am not a cricket fan at all) - did you?