What’s in it for me?

What’s In It for Me? … another post at Parentous where I talk about my kids when they were teenagers

 

Who but a teenager would think that if he hid his report card the parent would not find out?

And they believe in magic. It is not surprising to me that Harry Potter and Twilight did so well. Who but a teenager would think that if he hid his report card the parent would not find out? And who but a teenager would actually believe changing 30 into 80 on his class test paper (it’s just two deft strokes of the pen) would work?

 

Read the rest here

 

 

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When Parents Grow Old

Nothing prepares kids for the time their parents grow old; nothing is as devastating as that. They react to it as though the parent has betrayed them. My personal take on the subject is rather like Anthony Powell’s who said “Growing old’s like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.”

My kids groan and talk down to me, they have more information and they do not hesitate or mince words when they tell me that.
It is very strange, growing old is inevitable, but the reactions are so strong against it. One has to accept it, and I do, for most part. My hinges and joints need oiling, I need my pills, my brain is chock full of old incidents and concepts, which growing information and technology has made redundant, and I can get repetitive. My kids groan and talk down to me, they have more information and they do not hesitate or mince words when they tell me that.

Read the rest here

From Delhi to Chandigarh, for the book launch

Nothing in our lives happens without drama, not even a simple trip to Patiala.  I think Peter wrote his principle “Anything that has to go wrong, shall and will go wrong” by observing families like us.

We love each other to bits, and would actually blow each other into bits and love each and every bit fiercely and with equal intensity.  That is us …

The trip to Patiala happened thanks to the extremely young and dynamic publisher, Mr. Kunal Marathe of Authors Empire.  He assured me when he took my manuscript that he would be a publisher with a difference.  He would go out of his way to treat his authors well.  My initial reaction was “Yeah right!”

I mean, this is India, and publishers are doing us, the underpaid imaginative breed called authors a huge favour by printing our books right?  All authors know that!

And then he did the unthinkable.  He announced that he was LAUNCHING my book with huge fanfare.  It was unexpected, this is my third book out in the market and never has such an offer of a book launch been made to me.  I mean, which publisher has offered to launch my book?  For free?  And made all the arrangements for a book launch?

And I refused.

Yeah that’s me, perverse, impulsive and without a grain of common sense in my brain.  The reason for refusing was that I was to go for a vacation to Kufri with other bloggers like Hitchy, Monika, Shail and so many others.  I am a blogger at heart, I love the immediacy of blogging.  I can say stuff and get reactions immediately.  I love interacting with other bloggers on Facebook.  I love being politically incorrect, and stating what I feel.  That is what blogging is to me – and the blog world has opened its heart out to me in all these years.  And one writes and gets comments immediately.  And of course I love bloggers meets.

So I said NO.  Hitchy you may please take a bow and feel flattered 😛

Ishaan my first born and often my worst critic pointed out that I was being insane.  He’s a fine one to talk, the header of his blog says he loves weird aliens.  But he dinned sense into my head.  So I ate humble pie and rang up Mr. Kunal Marathe and said  that I have cancelled my vacation to be part of the launch.  Mercifully Mr. Kunal Marathe thinks I am old and therefore wise and gives me respect.  So he kept his opinions about my initial reaction to himself.

And then second born Kartik decided to act up.  He declared that he could not get chutti.  I bravely resisted the urge to put him across my knees and spank him.  I wanted to but he is 5’10” and still growing and I am 5’1″ in my socks, so I regretfully shelved the idea.  The thought did cross my mind …

Vaise he can take chuttis for parties, for after party recuperation, for other things.  But not for my book launch.  Ahem.  I let it slide, reminding myself that they were grown sons and had lives of their own.  See – I am not alwayj thinking of myself only!

Then he condescended to tell me that he would take a half day so I had to book the journey in the evening.  So I booked us by Kalka Shatabdi.

On given day I get up bright eyed and bushy tailed to find junior has taken chutti.  Ahem!

And he has also taken my car and gone to get himself dented and painted.  Wow!  I needed denting and painting myself, but had to grit teeth and make do with a home self done manicure and pedicure.  And various other things to make myself presentable.  After all, the publisher had told me that I was to meet the royalty.  Age shows you know … and you have to make the extra effort – no, not to look young, but just presentable.

He came back at 12 and I perked up … to no avail.  He took older son and left and both of them resurfaced just in time for lunch and general exit to railway station.

Merey Do Anmol Ratan

the two boys

See – I am not alwayj thinking of myself only!

We, like total Delhi snobs, citified and spoilt to the core, first stopped at Starbucks, picked up coffee and snacks.  After all we were leaving Delhi for two days!  And then landed up at the station – in time.  And tackled the massive flight of stairs.  Why oh why dont they have escalators?  I just managed that huge flight of stairs thanks to the caffeine in the Starbucks coffee and then passed out – literally passed out in the train.

No, boys,  I am not alwayj thinking of myself only!  I am old and need to be taken as such!

Yeh drama nahin hai

Whateva …

And we travelled to Chandigarh.

The sons did me proud.  Someone came and requested them to give up their seats because his wife was just going back home after a chemo session.  They got up immedately and gave up their seats – just like that.  I protested

Yup, that one time I waj thinking of myself only

I was washed out, my heart was pumping fit to burst (I need more cardio in my work out) and felt insecure.  They scolded me and shut me up.  Proud of the two of you idjuts.I regret not being able to talk to our fellow travellers, there was a story there – a story of courage, of ordinary heroism, of human spirit.  But I felt too tired to talk to them and get to know it.

And then what did the boys do?  They hung around me, sitting on the armrest of my chair and talking to each other.  They slowly made me feel better and more comfortable.

Just like that …

Until we reached Chandigarh

To know what happened next, read these posts …

Get Me to the Book Launch in time

The book launch of Chakra, Chronicles of the Witch Way

A Daughter Remembers

 

A father daughter relationship is close, so people say.  Most girls think their daddy can whup the world and fix everything.  My daddy couldn’t.  Or rather one could say it in another way – my daddy wouldn’t.  That was his style of parenting.

Papa

 

Papa was an engineer by profession, a government servant whose transfers took us all over the country.   My brother and I often got mistaken for army brats; we have so many miles packed under our belt.  But one could not categorize Papa as solely an engineer.  He was a closet diary writer, who belonged to an era where men did not display emotions and his rarely surfaced.  That he was fond of reading shayari, that he was emotional was something I found out after his death when I went through his files, found his diary and each and every letter penned by me and my brother to him in them.  Childish scribbles, home made cards, crayoned by both of us for him.

Papa and I

The only pic of Papa and me together at my wedding …..

He even had this beautiful gazal by Shiekh Ibrahim Zauk penned down along side my brother’s picture as a diary entry on the date of his death

laayii hayaat aaye, qazaa le chalii chale
apnii khushii na aaye, na apnii khushii chale

*ham saa bhi ab bisaat pe kam hogaa bad-qamaar
jo chaal hum chale voh boh’t hi burii chale

behtar to hai yahii ki na duniyaa se dil lage
par kyaa kareN jo kaam na be-dil-lagii chale

ho umr-e-Khizr bhii to ma’aluum vaqt-e-marg
hum kyaa rahe yahaaN, abhii aaye abhii chale

duniaa ne kis kaa raah-e-fanaa meN diyaa hai saath
tum bhii chale chalo yuuN hi jab tak chalii chale

Translation

The life brought me so I came; the death takes me away so I go
Neither I came on my own nor I go with my will

There may be a few gamblers as bad as I am
Whatever move I made it proved to be very bad

It’s better that one should not get hooked to the charms of the world
However, what one can do when nothing can be accomplished without getting involved

Who’s come to the rescue of someone who’s about to leave this world!
You too keep moving till you can move on

O Zauq! I’m leaving this garden with a pinning for fresh air
Why should I care now whether zephyr blows or not!

 

He was not very social, he preferred to have a few select friends with whom he would open out.  They would exchange Urdu couplets and talk about life in old Delhi.

 

aye Zauq! kisii hamdam-e-deriina ka milnaa

behtar hai mulaaqaat-e-Masiiha-o-Khizr se

[hamdam-e-deriina: old friend, Khizr : Man of God]

His style of parenting was benign neglect, a style of parenting which I have inherited.  As long as the kids are happy, fed and healthy, they need to breathe and live their lives on their own.  All they need a guide, someone who can give them reality checks and keep the moral compass from spinning out of whack.  Thanks Papa for teaching me this through example.

Ma said he was distant.  May be he was.  He had absolutely nothing to do with us until we grew to a decent age like six or so.  Till then he watched us from afar.  Once we could speak whole sentences and argue, he warmed up to us. He was a big fan of Socrates and drove us nuts by using his style of “dialogues” with us.  When our friends and fellow students got absolutes from their fathers, mine threw us googlies.

Each and every question of ours was answered by a question.

“Krishna saved the Pandavas.  He was God!” I remember telling him completely awed by the Krishna tale.

“Rubbish, how do you know?”

“Erm … that is what Mahabharata says.”

“Do you know he was just taking care of family business, the Pandavas were his cousins?”

(Mind you I was barely eight and much into Amar Chitra Katha.  This was not in the comic.  So we had to actually go to the library and get books to prove or disprove the theory.  Google, how I wish you existed then.)

It is excellent training for a scholar or a thinker … but how I wished at that time that I was given absolutes – made life so much simpler.  But that was not Papa’s style.

During the course of our growing up, we learnt a fair amount of curse words … Punjabi, Hindi and English ones were too common, and we would be spanked if Ma heard us using them.  We learnt how to curse fluently in Khasi, Naga, Manipuri, Mizo etc.  Ma never caught on to them.  Papa did (after all he worked with the labour on those huge government Hydel projects) but he let it pass.  The one word he did not permit, in any language, was Paagal or Mad.  To him it was the worst abuse.  “To be born a man, a thinker, is a gift.  The worst thing that can happen to a human being is to lose the thinking process.”

I often got into trouble.  I am absent minded, a rebel and act and speak without thinking it through.  Papa would not protect me from the consequences of my own stupidities.  “Every person has the right to make mistakes provided he/she pays for it,” he said. If I complained that my fellow mischief makers’ parents came to defend them he would say:

” ek hi ullu kaphi hai, barbaad gulistaan karne ko;
har shaakh pe ullu baitha hai, anzaam-e-gulistaan kya hoga !! “

Today when I see rich kids, spoilt and irresponsible, who have this undue sense of self importance, and a pride which is completely undeserved and un-earned, I recall those incidents with fondness.  Yes Papa, you were right.

And we clashed.  I wanted a scooter, Papa insisted that I first learn how to change tyres and clean spark plugs!  In my view that was cheating.  A father is supposed to arrange driving lessons and buy the damn scooter, not give mechanic lessons!

But most of our clashes were intellectual – he despised my fascination for Mills & Boons romances while I was a giddy teen.  “I gave you better taste” he would say.  Yes I read “Of Human Bondage” when I was ten, loved the classics and knew Shakespearean sonnets and the Gita.  But teens are for Mills and Boons.  He never forbade me … it was against his ethics.  He would just tell me not to read rubbish for it pollutes the mind.

He never stopped me from getting married to the man I did.  All he said was

Bewaqufon ki kamin nahin ai ‘ Ghalib ‘Ek dhoodon hazaar milte hain..

I later found out that he had a talk with my husband and insisted that I finish my post graduation, and my husband agreed.  That was his style of parenting.  He wanted his kids to live their lives but the safety net was there … not obvious but it was there.  He would never cramp our style, which was not his way.

My brother and I

My brother and me as kids

My brother died when he was 21 and I was 22 years old.  I was devastated.  My marriage was in shambles, I hated it.  I had a small son to bring up and my sibling, my companion, my best friend was dead.  I was angry with my brother, with life and with everything.  In my selfish anger, I failed to notice or even comprehend what Papa must have been going through.  He did not cry.  Whatever mourning he had to do was in private, behind closed doors.  He just kept on with the rituals and the hoards of relatives that landed up at home.  On the chautha (the fourth day of death ritual) he took me aside and said, “I have been waiting for you to grow up.  Now we’re out of time.  You have to take over.  There is no choice in the matter anymore.”

What?  Me, take over?   My in-laws had nothing good to say about me.  I was viewed as incompetent, good-for-nothing.  My husband never stood by me.  My mother had always thought I was useless.  What did my father want?  He expected me to do the impossible, become the support.

I panicked, all my low self esteem issues came forth.  Papa again used his beloved poets to get his point across

‘Girte hain sheh-sawar hi maidain-e-jung mein, Woh tifl kya gire, jo ghutno ke bal chalein’

Life has this wonderful way of changing once you are ready for it. And I had Papa believing in me.  It became a game changer – not immediately, but slowly.  I developed a backbone, I grew confident, got out of a restrictive marriage which was doing nothing for my self esteem and actually became the karta-dharta of my own family.

ab to ghabraa ke ye kahte haiN ki mar jaayenge

mar ke bhii chain na paaya to kidhar jaayenge

 

Papa would often drop in at home, and we grew slowly into friends.  It was an intellectual kind of friendship.  He was not the hugging back slapping kind of person any way.  Hmmm – come to think of it, neither am I.  My sons got the male role model they needed in their Naanu.

When he died I was broken – but surprisingly, not much.  It was his gift to me – the backbone, the self confidence to live on.  Another one of his favorite verses …

“In dinon garche Daccan main hain badi qadr-e-sukhan
Kaun jaaye Zauq par Dilli ki galiyan chchod kar”

To me he lives.  Whenever I hear Urdu couplets, whenever I see my sons, strong, confident, with the courage to not follow the herd, when I realize that I actually became a writer and blogger at the age people think of growing old and dying, when I look back on life, I think of him, I thank him.

Thanks Papa for being the man you were.  I love you.

 

 

Motherhood and Grown Up Sons

When I was not yet twenty, I brought my first-born son home. I sat the whole night watching him sleep, get up, stretch, yawn, poop and pee, simply fascinated. I was in love, and how! No one, nothing mattered. It was just me and the little man! I decided that everything could wait, life could wait, I could wait until he turned into an adult and then parenting would be over.

Parenting Grown-Up Kids - Parent-Adult Son Relationship - mom and kids

 

Oh, how wrong that was!

Now first-born is almost 30, the second one is right now on his very first tour in his very first job. The train is about 7 hours late and I am sitting at work agonizing about his safety, praying that his first tour is wildly successful and that he nails the work he has gone for. I also pray that he gets a good hotel room and can sleep well at night.

The life of a mother with grown up kids.

Read the rest here

Circle of Life

Oh I simply love the songs of Lion King, remember Circle of Life?  Can anyone who has seen the movie ever forget Simba’s huge eyes as he takes in the world, along with the background score by Elton John?

Sigh …. It reduces me to mush!

Cut to the present.  Circle of Life in the Phoenix Household … Well it turns everyone into anything but mush.

However nice and sweet the parent (autocrat) is, just the parental role has the dumb and hapless subjects (children) … well you can call them prisoners/minions and whatever else you may want to name them, chaffing against authority.  Just being parent, you tread on their corns.

And how.

I was anything but the nice and sweet parent.  I am bossy, snooty and anything but reasonable, unless I get my way.  So there!  Boys, I do admit it, but if you rub it in, I’ll screw your happiness.  I still hold some aces, remember that!

 CASE 1

The first thing one got as a New Year gift this year was Accu Check.  For the healthy young readers (Oh how I envy you) it is a home diabetes test kit.  One has to puncture a finger, and put a drop of blood on the test strip and it crunches out a number for you.  That all important number tells you how many sins you can commit with impunity in your diet for the day.

Day 3 of returning home from the hospital.  (Kid#1 is in Dubai.)  (Kid#2 is sitting on the bed watching me trying to puncture myself.)  I suffer no martyr complexes; I do not like injuring myself – even if the cause is as noble as my own health.

Kid#2 : Let me do it

Me : You don’t need to test your damn blood.

Kid#2 : What? Why should I?

Me : (Surprised) Exactly.  So why do you want to do it?

Kid#2 : (Rolls eyes) To you.

Ah, okay.  I hand him the darn kit and show him the finger.

Kid#2 : Stop being rude!

He punctures me and smears a whole lot of blood on the strip.  The machine goes ballistic and crunches out Er: 6 or some such thing.

Kid#2 : Oops we have to do it again.

Me : (Naively) Okay

It was four more stabs to three more fingers later that I realized I was victim here.  The old parent was being subjected to torture.  He was using the damn kit to settle some scores!  Damn, I should have learnt my lesson after he took my damn blackberry away two summers earlier!  Circle of Life  

 CASE 2

Kid#2 : What’s for dinner?

Me : I think I should avoid dinner.  Some soup would be great.

Kid#1 : Minchow?  We have Minchow soup.

Me : Ah I love Minchow.  Its tangy.

Kid#2 : Ma can’t have it.

Me: Why?

He mutters something suspiciously like “Because you like it,” as he flees the room.  Yeah yeah, I guess I must have stopped you from gorging on too much cake or eating chocolate before bed sometime in the past.  Circle of Life.

CASE 3 (Yesterday)

Kid#1 : There is nothing tasty to eat at home.

Me : So go out, get something good and don’t bring it home.  It is too tempting.

Kid#1 : (Ignoring that) I am going to bake something.

Me : (Keeping quiet.  If I protest, it will aggravate him to the extent of dishing out a five course meal which I can’t eat.) Mmm, Hmmm

I switch on Anthony Borden.  If I have to suffer, I may as well suffer well.  I try to ignore the sound of batter being mixed, the oven pinging, though the smell of chocolate brownie baking reduces me to a puddle of drool on the floor.

Kid#1 : I love the smell of baking that fills up the house

Me : (wishing that the Crucio curse could be inflicted on people in the muggle world.) Don’t you think the brownie is burning?

(It wasn’t, but I HAD to give back some …

I got a miniscule portion of the cake, which was promptly taken to their rooms in the first floor.  I was left on the ground floor inhaling the smell of freshly baked brownie.

Circle of Life

 

Bah!

 

 

 

 

 

Of Mother in Laws and their moral crusadors

I have been blogging for over six years, and have met a lot of bloggers both in the virtual space as well as on terra firma – face to face.  People know me and my family well.  For the newbies my family consists of Elder Son, the author and his pint sized wife known as DIL on my blog, Younger son who is right now making waves in the virtual world because of well … lets leave it at that, and of course our various pets.

What most people also know is that I am too self absorbed.  And I resent any one who tries to manipulate or control me.  So,  I refuse to do the same to others.  I have better things to do.

Given below, in italics is a comment I got on a blogpost on Shail Mohan’s blog The incident narrated on the blog was something I have witnessed myself.  It cut too close to home for me.  Naturally I commented – and this person freaked.  Shial did not put it up, so the commentor left this comment on an entirely unrelated post of mine, the one with the quote from The Social Network …

In the spirit of Freedom of Expression I have copy pasted it here, with my reactions in bold

Hey,

Coming straight from shail’s; you love receiving comments & I would be happy to oblige.

I want to make sure that you don’t miss out on my answer to your comment at that nest dweller’s space.

First things first, I am not a MIL but I can realise the pain of a mother(s). Incident(s) of such nature don’t apply to me.

Oh really, then why are you haunting blogs and trying to advocate a lost cause?

And, I would like to add that my so-called vehemence is in strong contrast to the CALM that characterises such MILs.

Like me?  Happy to oblige.  My DIL would be laughing her guts out.  The darling terrorises all of us!

You misunderstood, I can ignore your mistake since you also wrongly identified me as a MIL.

I am only referring to THOSE DILs who misbehave with their husbands’ parents/siblings for no rhyme or reason.
I NEVER made a generic statement about all the DILs the way you constantly make about all the MILs.

I am a MIL, non generic one.  My DIL is the only girl in the house, and I truly appreciate the feminine power she brings into our home.  I do not make generic comments.

Had a DIL/her supporter been in my place heaping accussations against her MIL, you might have rushed to her rescue as far as you could get on the virtual blogspace and offered your compassion without an iota of doubt on her story

(where’s the need to acertain the real cause and find out the facts because each & every DIL on this earth are always right and tears streaming down their cheeks are obviously genuine & precious pearls; they can never be reptilian in nature)

Isn’t a DIL a human being like the MIL? What makes you assume that she is an angel brought down on earth from heaven and is not capable of tormenting anyone?

Or every DIL can turn evil only when she has been provoked by someone?

You wanted that the SMART son should leave his mother even when she is the one has been wronged?

Have you ever counselled a MAN & guided him to LEAVE his WIFE & walk out of marriage when she is the one who tortures his parents/siblings & then call him SMART?

Honestly, if someone in real life had raged and ranted like you do here, I would personally ask every member of his/her family to take the person and put him/her into therapy.  So much negativity? Tch Tch!

Or is it always the other way around for you?

ANSWER OR ATLEAST PONDER OVER IT.

Hey, don’t say that such one-sided torture by the DIL doesn’t exist.

Do you have a heart?

Can you understand the intense love that a mother can have for her son.

The love certainly doesn’t entitle the mother to misbehave with anyone but why would she, when she loves her son dearly.

My comment was based on the real life experiences of such mothers who adored their sons intensely and embraced their DILs with open arms only to realize that their DILs saw them as as their bitter foes for no fault of theirs.

These DILs (hope you understand when I say ‘these’; I am not talking about DILs; I am referring to those DILs whose sole purpose in life is wreck the relationship the husband has with his parents for no rhyme or reason) deserve extreme sympathy and should always have the husbands on their side up in arms against their own parents.

Now, what will you say?

As a single parent, I am deeply in love with my sons DIL and humanity in general.  I love people.  So I am all heart.  I love humanity in its wholeness, bad and good.  They are so interesting.  May be I will model a character in my next book on you.  You are lovely and unique.  I will enjoy it.

Will you hold yourself accountable if such mothers die (or a life worse than death) of a broken heart if their son deserts them and this isn’t emotional blackmail.

Yes, those mothers are forgiving no matter how heartless and blind that son is to her apathy.

You will live with your two sons and yet you inspire others to leave their mothers/parents. How can you blind to such the pain of a mother as in this case?

You got me here, I must say!  My heart bleeds.  Of course I routinely tell my sons to go and live somewhere else so that I can party day in and day out, may be even back pack through the world.  But they refuse to oblige.

You know what her life would be without her son and then why should she suffer since she is the one who has been wronged by her DIL & the biggest criminal of all, her very own son?

You don’t check the tiffins of your DIL? Who does that? Only people living in hand-to-mouth condition for they don’t have enough resources to fend for themselves and thus insist on equal distribution of resources among all.

I reject this sweet theory of yours.  Women who want to be the power that decides what you eat, how much you eat and where you go and what you spend are control freaks drunk on their power, and why should anyone get to decide for another human?  What is this? Terror tactics?

You think that makes you a good DIL? What a lowly expectation from a good MIL?

Let me say that the love of these MILs for their DILs in question far exceeds your love for your DIL and still it has been met with ingratitude/misconduct/jealousy from the DIL.

Low blow!  Esha, this person thinks you are ungrateful and jealous!  What of, I can’t say.  You can have this space to claw this person’s eyes out, if you so wish!

How can you wish ill upon others and that too an innocent mother; she will die of grief if the smart son moves out for no fault of hers.

A son should always side with his wife even if she is wrong but he should never support/defend his parents even if they are wronged by his spouse. WOW

Don’t you know every journey comes full circle. Don’t break a mother’s heart and be afraid of her curses.

Oh I can live with the curses.  No problem

You live merrily with your 2 sons and you want other innocent people’s/mothers’ houses to turn barren.

I don’t want to stoop down to your level and say that you are solely responsible for your breakup (you called your hubby a mama’s boy; what’s wrong with that; were you looking to ‘mother’ your own husband) I won’t say any of that to you.

Of course I am responsible for the break up of my marriage!  So is every one else who was involved in the marriage. Big Deal!  And yes, wives don’t like husbands to be mama’s boys.  They want them to be men, not babies. What is so wrong in that?

Fine. Don’t pelt stones at people’s houses when you yourself reside in ones made from glass

Ouch!  Do you realize how impractical houses made of glass are?  Expensive too, and the heating and a/c bills will be killing.  So sadly, my home is made of brick mortar and stone.  Just saying ….

In reply I would invite the reader to read this award winning blog post of mine.  This is what I feel is the right way of dealing with being a mother in law, this is what I preach and practise.  Introspection is needed as well as radical change in behavior, to change the image of a mother in law.  Too much bad blood has been created.

THE IRONY OF BEING A MOTHER IN LAW

Edited to add :

The person in question is now sending more comments and also trying to attack me personally.  That is acceptable, but if you try and attack my sons and daughter in law, I will not permit it.  While I am all for freedom of expression, a primary requirement for human beings, I request the person to start a blog and exercise his/her freedom of expression there.  I do not entertain negative people, who are emotional vampires at best and pathetic insects at least.  Please start your own blog and vent.  It will help you.

My Victory Dance

Well I tried, and I tried and tried to be a saint, to not dance a victory dance over the ashes of painful memories

Naah Forget It!

This is my victory dance, and I am dancing it.

And if I step on toes, break a few bones, draw some blood, it does not matter. I have to have my dance.

I HAVE SURVIVED

To the person who told me that my sons would grow up to be losers, since they did not have a Dad –

You misjudged me and you misjudged my boys. I never said that your kids would not amount to much – but they have NOT! Why? They had a mom and dad! They should have been like Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan, since they did not have a broken home.

I did not tell you to STFU then, but you made me cry. You made me sit up nights staring at the boyish figures asleep in bed and wonder if what you said was right. To be afraid that may be what you said would come true.

Humph!

To the person who said “Ek din muh chupa kar royegi, koi aansu ponchne wala bhi nahin hoga” just because I listened to the boys and believed in their dreams instead of being negative about them. I am laughing, I am smiling, I am living with them in their dreams. And of the dreams that did not succeed – well we lived them too. I have not hidden my face and wept, I have never needed to.

Any crying and full on drama that happens at the Phoenix House happens openly. Oh we have wars – but no heartaches. Even at the peak of temper we know we love each other and belong to the same family.

To the person who thought I give my sons too much bhav and they would grow up spoilt and pampered. That these boys I adore would use me and throw me. Hey they are my sons, and they love me as much as I love them, so fuck you.

And to the various suitors/prospective husbands who thought, rather expected that I should

a) Give them my complete salary
b) Bring up their kids
c) Send my boys to hostels because their kids came first
d) Look after their parents and leave mine

All for the dubious advantage of having a husband – what for, I don’t know

Look me in the face and answer the question

Did you really think I was dumb?

And

Who’s the WO – MAN eh?

This victory dance is because now both my sons have graduated, got good degrees and have reached adulthood without being delinquents, commitment phobic men, drug addicts or alcoholics INSPITE OF ALL THE FUCKINGLY CREEPY PREDICTIONS MY SO CALLED FRIENDS AND WELL WISHERS DISHED OUT

Hidden in plain sight

You know I smell a conspiracy of the higher beings in charge of our well beings. Call them Gods call them what you will, but they’ve hidden the very things that matter to us and our happiness in plain sight. It is rather like the wise granny who sent us on treasure hunts all over the house, for the box of chocolates that she had hidden in the basket she kept next to her bedside with balls of wool she used for her knitting.

Sometimes I smell a conspiracy … it’s almost as though we are being tested. “So you thing you are smart eh? If you are so smart, then how come you are not happy? How come you don’t know what really matters? How hard is it?”

Animals seem to have grasped the secret. May be they beat us on the treasure hunt, found the hidden treasure and learnt the secret. They don’t care if their playmates are black, white, brown, orange, grey or whatever. Shape of eyes, noses, ears and paws don’t matter either. Neither do species at times. Love bonding and the meal right now …

Not a bad way to exist.

The unexpected

A great deal of humor comes from the unexpected. A frail old woman opens her mouth and you are shocked into a giggle because the voice that emerges is deep baritone and manly.

An upright dignified man stands up and lets loose a ripping fart.

The charm of the unexpected.

Twists in tales, riveting suspense etc also depend on the unexpected. So do memorable incidents from childhood, it makes a tale worth repeating

For me, that happened as a girl, its an experience that I will carry to my death bed. I have always been fascinated by spooky stuff, ouija boards/planchet and tarot cards are right up my alley. Possibly because the ayah and the cook in our home were nuts about spooky stories, and I knew more about bhoot, pret, pisaach, dayans etc (our version of witches vampires zombies etc) than my school lessons.

So one day I saved up a lot of money and went and bought an ouija board.

There was a party at night and the adults partied in the hall and the kids were in my bedroom. The adults told us “Oh go ahead, play some board games.”

Yes, you guessed right, we did play a board game .. we took out my ouija board. We switched off the light and sat down in front of the fireplace. The smell of coal and pine wood was overpowering and we all looked like demons lit by the orangeish light of the fire.

We placed a coin on the board right between the spaces marked YES & NO, tried to empty our minds, each of us with a finger resting lightly on the coin. We tried asking questions, but the coin would move a few millimeters and then stop, yes right between YES & NO. We wondered what to do. My cousin complained, “Even the ghosts dont want to play with us.”

Another one said, “I want to go to the bathroom.”

We all stopped him by saying, “If you go right now, the ghost may just overpower you on the way – you know possess you.”

So he shut up and sat. Then we concentrated on calling the spirit of Chanakya. The coin moved about an inch to the left. Gasping we quickly drew lots on who would ask the questions first.

One cousin wanted to know if he would live abroad. The coin came alive wavering between the two points stopping at YES.

Cheering madly we started asking all sorts of questions, including if our horrible principal, Sister Lydia wore a panty under that nun’s habit.

Yeah! I mean we’re family and our average age was around 11 to 14.

Shrug!

I remember that Dony (my brother) wanted to know if he would get selected for the school team.

Another cousin wanted to go to England. It was his life’s ambition ever since his older sister got married to a man there ..

Both got YES

Then I asked if I would go to medical school. My parents really wanted me to become a doctor. The coin wavered between YES and NO for a long time.

Then my cousin said impatiently, “I have to HAVE to take a dump. I can’t do this anymore!” and left.

The coin stopped moving once he left. That was unexpected and disappointing. The older cousin said, “I am going to bash him up, he’s been pushing the coin.”

That really hurt gullible me, who believed that the spirit of Chanakya had entered the coin.

Then there was another unexpected surprise. My mother and other ladies threw the door open, caught sight of the board and freaked out. One of the servants had come a few minutes back to serve us snacks and had seen what we were up to and ratted on us. The board was confiscated, punishments doled out to us and we never called spirits again.

The strange thing is

1. The cousin who wanted to go abroad has spent the last twelve years in Hong Kong

2. The cousin who wanted to go to UK is a British citizen and rarely comes back.

3. I was admitted into medical school, but could not handle blood and disease … so dropped out

May be Chanakya or some other spirit did come into the coin.

BTW the “have-to-take-a-dump” cousin still does not admit that he pushed the coin.