Archive for August, 2012
…the babies won’t be around.
No more excited tones of yay Uncle/Aunty is here. No more of their sound of laughter around the house. No more teaching the Raspberry to jump and getting amused at her attempts. No more melting after seeing that beautiful two dimpled smile that almost never leaves her face. No more playing scrabble, hula-hooping, coloring, or seeing them dance. No more hearing Strawberry’s plots of how to surprise Uncle as soon as he arrives. No more of her make up tales of why uncle is late. No more telling them not to run around or to be very careful.
Sigh. I am really sad. Oh well…
In other news, I have so much catching up to do, especially with my books. I haven’t read anything in maybe two weeks now. The last few books I finished were all so good that I am having a hard time finding something to match those standards to keep me hooked. After hearing raving reviews for the Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I’ve taken that off the bookshelf this morning. Let’s see how that goes. So, what are you currently reading? How is it so far?
Happy Weekend, folks.
With our eyes half open and our bodies not wanting to get out of bed, the partner and I spent some time debating who will wake up first this morning. And somewhere in the middle of the discussion we ended up dozing off for a bit longer and thus, a got up littler later than our normal weekday schedule. (Not that I wake up too early every morning, just that I ended up sleeping in for bit longer than the usual today). So, by the time I got ready and came down for breakfast the little ones were up and about, and that only left me wishing I could take the day off spend all the waking hours in their company.
As I was stepping down the last of the stairs, the partner was saying his goodbyes and leaving for work. I saw him off and went to the kitchen to get my breakfast ready. Little feet followed me and I was shown how she could do hula-hooping for a bit longer than her previous attempts. I pat her on the back and told her that she should practice as much as she could during the day so that I can videotape her performance in the evening. And the practice began right away.
I was washing and cutting berries to add to my breakfast when I saw the other little one looking up to me and flashing her sweet dimply smile. I scooped her up, showed her a raspberry and told her how she was as cute as that red berry. She smiled wider. I’m going to call you Raspberry from now on, I told her. I am not sure what she understood, but she was very generous to show off her two dimples again. I kissed her for as long as she let me and put her down so she can run around with her tiny blanket.
Why are you naming her Raspberry? She doesn’t even like berries! came the concerned big sister’s voice from the dining area. She doesn’t have to like it; it’s just that she looks as cute as one, don’t you think? I asked. Yes, agreed the proud sister. And I am going to name you Strawberry. You are as sweet as a strawberry, and also, it’s a little bigger than raspberry right? I uttered. Yeah and I even like strawberries, she said animatedly, showing how pleased she was with her new nickname.
Now that I have my the sweetest and cutest Strawberry and Raspberry around, I can eat them when I’m really really hungry, I revealed to them, my fake evil intentions. Hmmm, which one I should eat first? I wondered out loud. The Raspberry, of course, it’s more delicious, came the quick suggestion from the big sister, while the little one, the said Raspberry, was gleefully roaming around chewing her blanket, oblivious of the fact that her sister just signed her off to me.
They followed me around for the next 15 minutes that I spent at home. They gave me company as I had my breakfast. Strawberry sketched and colored sun, watermelon, banana and berries for me, and Raspberry made me her much celebrated squiggly lines art. While I discussed with Strawberry her level of excitement about starting kindergarten soon, the little Raspberry vied for my attention with her hmmmms and haaans and cooos and caaaas. We talked the game of scrabble we played last night and made big plans for the upcoming evening. Hugs and smiles and kisses were plentiful.
Aunty, can you come home and then go shopping in the evening so that I can join you? I was presented with an option worth pondering, as I fished for my keys in the bag. No, that wouldn’t work. It will be too late if we had to do that and the shops will close. So I’ll get the game, you wait at home, and we’ll play as soon as I get back, I responded. Ok, but without me how will you know what exactly I want you to buy? she asked in a disappointed tone. I’ll call you and make sure I am getting the right one, I told her. Still unsatisfied, but with no other option, she said Ok, I guess that’ll work. Come back soon, ok? I’ll be waiting. And once you’re back we can make a surprise for Uncle like we did yesterday and give him a call to ask him to return soon. We agreed upon the deal with a smile, a hug and a kiss.
Little hands waved me goodbye. And I opened the door to rush out to work, because one more minute there amidst all that fondness for my company, I would’ve called in sick.
Key in one hand, and grocery bag and my laptop bag in another, I walk the driveway towards the front door after a long day at work. As I pass the living room window I see a little being standing there, looking out and waving shyly. I smile at her and walk a little faster. Just when I put the key through the hole, I hear some shuffling inside and I realize that she’s rushing towards the door. I open it a little, carefully, in case she’s standing too close. I see a pair of expressive eyes; she’s there, at the entrance to the living room, leaning against the wall, only her white dress visible in the dark room.
Her smile welcomes me home. Hi, I say to her. Hi, she responds. I am starting school from tomorrow, she says, enthused. Congratulations, I tell her and drop whatever I am holding to give her a hug and plant a kiss on her forehead. Why are you all alone here in the dark? I ask her. Everyone else is napping. I couldn’t sleep, and I had nothing else to do. I was getting bored, she says, dialing down her excited tone. Let’s go see what we can find for you to do, I tell her and she follows me with a hop in her steps.
We put the groceries in place and I tell her I’ll be down with her in a bit as soon as I freshen up. She follows me still and stops as I start to climb the stairs. Aunty, may I come upstairs with you and see if I can find anything in that room? she asks me. Of course, I tell her and wait for her to join me. As I wash up and change, she plays around with the hula-hoop. And as soon as I step out all fresh, we set out to find something for her to do.
DVDs, she asks. None, I say. Games, she points. Not suitable for you, I reject. TV, she lights up. Haven’t you already watched it for a while today? I retort. After going back and forth like this for a while, we decide we will find her a notebook and some pencils so she can practice writing or just draw. We find a few crayons, grab a notebook and go back to the living room to start her art venture. She sketches fruits and vegetables and colors them appropriately while I mull around about what book to read next. And as soon as I find one, I settle next to her and we are lost in our own worlds, yet sharing the tranquility that surrounds.
I hear murmurs. I silently lean back and notice that two tiny hands, slowly and carefully, aid the little one up the stairs. After she pulls herself up, she looks around to make note of who is where and as soon as she spots me, she goes running to the kitchen into her mother’s arms. A lot of cajoling, bribing and persuading later, she comes to the living room, settles next to her sister and gets hold of a crayon. She looks around not knowing where to write. I hand her a paper and she starts scribbling. She’s proud of her creation; she smiles at its wonder and goes around showing everyone her craft. It’s my turn now. Just as I expect her to skip it conveniently, she startles me. She walks over, I hold my hand out, and she places the paper on it while flashing a smile so beautiful that I melt million times over. Grasping the rarity of the moment, I scoop her up and hold her tight until she squeals to be let go.
The three of us continue our activities – reading, drawing, scribbling, racing down the stairs, coloring, hula-hooping, watching out the window – while we wait for the partner to return. As I hear the sound of the motorbike pulling into the driveway, I tell them that Uncle’s home. No he’s not, the elder one replies, while she scans outside and tries to spot him. I ask her to look out the side window and so she does. As soon as she sees him approaching the door, she announces that she’s going to hide so he can find her upon arrival. And the door opens. There I am saying hello to him and telling him that someone’s hiding for him to find her, the little one runs screaming into the kitchen, having been scared by the man in the helmet. Her mother coaxes her into good mood; it’s then followed by cooking, having dinner, relaxing and finishing up the remaining chores.
And like that the evening whizzes by in no time and diffuses into a peaceful night.
Ah, that got your attention, didn’t it?
The partner and I were listening to the radio, as usual, on our way back home last evening. There was some mention of how people are more likely to open up about their sex lives than they are about their salaries. And the partner was prompt to note it and said –
Nobody ever discusses their sex life with me.
I couldn’t be quiet, so I jumped in quickly and added –
Yeah I know. No one ever discusses it with me either.
I was expecting a what-are-we-missing discussion to follow, only to be shocked. The partner, without missing a beat, came back with –
Well, no one would discuss their sex life with you. You are creepy.
I was shocked, did I mention? I took a couple of seconds and reacted with a high pitched –
WHAT?!?!?? Why would you say something like that? Why do you think I am creepy?
A few tell-me-tell-me-tell-me-NOWs and a few pointing-at-strangers-to-note-their-level-of-creepiness later, this is what he had to say –
I wanted to use the word ‘creepy’ in a sentence today. Nothing came up all day long where I could put it to use appropriately. So, when you presented me with this chance, how could I resist?
Hmmm… how does one react to that?
The partner has a habit of coming up with new nicknames for me every few days. He’ll call me by that for a while and move on to another as soon as he makes something up. The recent addition to the never ending list is Punchco. Do not ask me what it means. I don’t know and I am pretty sure he doesn’t either. It’s just something random, as it is more times than not. When he called me by that
word name last week, I asked him why he keeps giving me so many names, why he can’t stick to one or maybe only a few? His response, you ask? Here, this is what he said –
I am preparing myself for the future. What if years down the line I am diagnosed with some memory related disease and I forget your name? I am just making sure that I give you a many names starting now that when it comes down to the time when I lose my memory, I can just shout out any random word and you’ll assume I’m calling / talking to you, or maybe that I am giving you a new name, as usual. It’s all for your good.
Well played, love, well played.
Ever since I started living by my own, I haven’t had a lot of house guests. Back in Boston, since I shared the apartment with my roommate, I was way too wary about inviting anyone should it disturb her in any way. It’s only been either my mother or my sister who’d come for overnight stay a handful of times. And then a close friend’s parents and his sister visited me for a couple of days once. Other than that, I do not remember having people over.
Now that I have a place to call my own, the idea of inviting friends over sounded enticing. And, so, more than a month after we moved in, our first house guests arrived at our doorsteps. I’ve been very eagerly looking forward to this since it was initially planned. And that excitement only grew with time. By the morning yesterday, I couldn’t keep myself from picturing what the house would be like come evening. And when it finally happened, I ran out of the door onto the lawn, barefoot, not worrying about all the insects waiting to bite me, and welcomed them with a big smile.
One Two of the biggest reasons for my excitement, other than the fact that they are our first house guests, were the little guests. The eldest is 4 years old and the younger one is 18 months old. And they are both just so cute! I love being around kids; I think I’m more comfortable when I am around kids than when I am among grownups. I spent few hours last evening playing with them – running up and down the stairs, turning lights on and off, helping them fetch things and put it all back in place, learning how to skillfully solve jigsaw puzzles and what not. It was wonderful. They are going to be around for a few more days and I can’t wait to spend as much time as I can with the kids (along with maybe learning how to cook simple, delicious meals). Bliss!
I am very jealous of the partner when it comes to kids, though. While I put in a lot of work, do all the running behind and playing around to keep her entertained around me, all that the partner had to do was look at her and smile, and she runs to him, hands over all the
toys remote controls, coasters, one by one, thus creating a new game of which only they two are part of. And it’s not just her; I’ve noticed this many a times… something about him gives good vibes to babies / kids, I suppose. And they love being around him, without him putting in any effort. Sigh.
It’s now over a decade since my grandfather (paternal) passed away. Everyone has their own memories to share when it comes to remembering Thatha. I hear from Paatti stories about what a sharp, intelligent mind he had. I hear from Appa about how staunch a supporter he was of education. I hear from other family members tales of how hardworking he was – what all he went through to come up in life, to build a family and to provide for all their needs. I hear from my sisters / cousins about what a great grandfather he was.
And I… I have one memory, and it’s bittersweet.
Unlike my relationship with my grandmother, my bond with my grandfather was never strong. For reasons unknown to anyone in the family, my grandfather and I got off on the wrong foot. No one remembers why or how, but my grandfather and I hardly ever spoke to each other. We didn’t grow apart; this wasn’t something that happened gradually with time… it’s been that way for as long as I remember. We lived under the same roof for over a decade, yet, the only conversations I remember having with him from back then involves either me inviting him after dinner table was set, or him letting me know that someone was looking for me, or me acting as a messenger, relaying a piece of info to him from someone, at the most.
Growing up alongside him for years together only strengthened my resolve to keep my distance. And it made me reason with myself and dig out theories as to why I didn’t take the initiative to get to know him better. While my sisters and cousins would merrily gather around him to hear him tell a story on a Sunday afternoon, I would go about doing chores. While the children in the family would run to hug him when he returned home after a trip, I would stand there and stare. While everyone in the family showed both respect and fear for the patriarch, I was merely indifferent. So, like I said, our relationship was complicated… or was it simple and straightforward? Depends on how one looks at it, I suppose.
The lack of interest in mending the broken bond (or, should I say, in creating a bond where nothing existed before) was mutual. It wasn’t just me who was unconcerned; he took the same stance. His affection for my sisters had no bounds. And they reciprocated. Perhaps he had the same warm grandfatherly feelings for me as well, but it never showed… when it came to me, he only got involved when requested and let me be otherwise. With time, both of us adapted to live comfortably in the our own cocoons without needing the other’s company, learning how to well hide any emotions – be it anger or fondness – we may have felt for each other.
Years down the line, my father secured a job in a different city and we moved out. This only weakened what was left of the relationship. We grew farther apart. Some holidays were spent visiting the grandparents, and the excitement, for me, was only about meeting grandma, not grandpa. And it didn’t feel like I was missing much.
In the summer of 2000, we moved back to Madras and lived, temporarily, with the grandparents while my parents looked for a suitable residence near school. At this time, my grandfather’s health was deteriorating by the day. All his children and their families were around. Even with rising health issues, he managed to spend as much time as possible with his family. It was then that my affection for him surfaced a bit. I don’t really know if it was seeing a strong man like him bedridden or if something inside of me really changed, but grief overtook me the same way it did all others. And, hence, when the elders decided that it was better to let the children be elsewhere and not see their grandfather in that condition, I refused to go; and, left with no other option, my sisters and my cousin were sent away to spend a couple of days with my uncle and aunt, while I stayed back.
I can still remember that afternoon like it happened yesterday. I was in the terrace with my cousin when my uncle came rushing. He told us that the doctor was called as Thatha wasn’t responding all too well, and the doctor arrived only to give the news that Thatha’s organs were failing, one after the other. He doesn’t have much time, my uncle said, he wants to see you. I exchanged a gaze with my cousin and got ready to walk behind her to see what Thatha wanted her for. My uncle let out a cry – why are you staring at her? He wants to see you!, he said. And before I could totally grasp the fact that he was talking to me, I was rushed inside the house.
I sat by the bedside and waited for Thatha to open his eyes. My uncle leaned towards Thatha and whispered to him that I’d come. Thatha opened his eyes and put in all the efforts that he could to keep them open. He took my hand in his and with much difficulty spoke… I want to go for a walk; I want to go outside; will you please take me? he asked. I looked around and then at Thatha. I told him he wasn’t in a position to go out for now and that I would take him as soon as he got better. But this is as good as it’s going to get. It’s all downhill from here. And I have so much left to do. I have to get to the bank now. Let’s go, please, he pleaded again. I held his hand closer, gripped it tighter. The sight was nothing short of heartbreaking. How can the man as strong and as powerful as he be pleading to me? I controlled my tears as much as I could, but they refused to stay in. My eyes went blurry. I tried hard not to lose eye contact. I told him it was just a matter of time before he got better and I would take him right after the doctor gave me an ok. The next few minutes were spent with everyone around him trying to explain to him that everything can wait and that, right now, he needed to rest. But I want you to take me out. You’re the only one who I know will listen to me, he uttered and closed his eyes for one last time.
I cried. Those were the only few minutes of our lives that we spent in such closeness. To date, neither I nor anyone knows why Thatha asked to spend his last few minutes with me. When everyone – his children, his grandchildren (my elder cousins), his daughter-in-laws, his son-in-law, his doctor and most important of all, his wife – were all around him, why me? I don’t know and I never will. I’m just grateful that I got to spend that time with him. It’s those few precious moments that has given me a fond memory to last a lifetime and more.
Had he lived through his ailment and been around today, I don’t know where our relationship would stand. There are still things that I can’t look past or let go. And it is for that reason that I am unable to picture a perfect loving relationship with him. I might have taken steps to work out our differences. I might have opened up to him about what actions of his made me develop a cold front towards him. I might have given us a chance to reconcile. But none of that matters… All I have left is a memory, etched so deep in my mind, of the day I sat beside him, held his hands and, I hope, helped ease his pain a bit. And that thin ray of light brightens our relationship and aids in overlooking, if not forgetting and forgiving, the dark shadows that surround it.