Death’s Bitter Harvest


What do you say to a man who lost his wife
His partner in trials tribulations and strife?
What do you say to his sons?
Their life hasn’t yet begun

I recall people I loved and lost
To death’s bitter harvest
His sons simply fidget and stare
At the man’s face lined with despair

They don’t know the ones I mourn
They don’t miss my brother
The gaping wound in my heart
So I get up and whisper

Time will heal
She is with God
Cancer has won
Her life is done

I turn away, anger hits me
I can’t voice my bitterness
But I know you hate these
Inane meaningless words

I know intimately the pain
I know and fathom the loss
I have lived and slept with them
You will learn to do so too

It’s mortality
Death’s bitter harvest

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

And then she died …. finally

Trying out my own writing prompt for my Writing Workshop Hop: experimenting with the close first person point of view.

I wrote this a long time ago, am submitting it again for Sandra’s Writing Workshop

Funny, I seem to remember the plastic chairs as red!  Oh no, they were red when my daughter was born.  I remember her, squalling angry red faced horror.  I hated her on sight.  Yeah ….. she grew up into a demanding shrew, married that gay kind of person.   Hate him too!  What she needed was a rogue to keep her in line!  Humph!

Yes, they have all come.  Elder son with his butch looking wife, younger son with his empty headed timid wife.  Elder son …. pompous  and never amounting to much.  Yeah, Himself had great hopes from him.  I could have told him this one thinks too much of himself.  Look at him now ……. hen pecked and bullied by his daughters!   Will never do any great stuff.  Younger son ……we loved him so much, but he was only good at sweet talking the ladies.  Now sells used cars.  Is it a profession?  It is cheating!  And his wife, hahahahaha, jumps if any one so much as looks at her.  But younger son married her … for her father’s money.  I know – he thinks I am too stupid to realize it.

I can sense the embarrassment!  They hover around me, exchange glances …. wonder if they should be talking to me, wonder if they are getting it right … wonder if I can hear them

I can sense the embarassment!  They wish they could cry or express grief, they whisper, shuffle, look out of the window

Ahhh I am experienced.  Have watched older ones leave.  Birth is brutal, painful and exciting …. a new person coming into this world.  Death ….. death is boring.  Smartest to be gone in the night in sleep.  Spare every one the wait.

Simply hand over the baton to the next generation.  My children, they clung to me when they were younger.  My smile brought them joy, frowns despair.  Now they sit on plastic chairs and glance furtively at their watches.  They wish I get on with it.  Oh I have lived too long.  They won’t cry!  They’ll get out tattered albums one day ……… does any one have albums any more?  They’ll laugh and comment “Oh look at me!  I had such a silly hair cut those days!”  No one will miss me ..

They’ll grieve – a bit.  I understand.  Been there done that!  We share the same genetics ……

There will be full attendance at the cremation ….. nahin toh log kya kahenge, (what will people say) they will be properly attired in white kurtas and pajamas.  There will be a chautha, a terhvan, rituals for the dead.

Then they’ll get my things out, throw my clothes into cartons for the poor people.  They’ll wonder about the amount of books I managed to collect.  They’ll fight over the jewelery, their spouses trying to control them, trying to cool them down, getting them to make up.  But these three …….. hehehehe, aging balding 6 year olds in a sibling fight.

Been there done that!  I understand ….. the same genetics.

Spoils will be divided, a last meal had together while they plan the latest car, the new furniture out of the proceeds!  Death leaves us richer – materially

I understand.

I wont make a scene.  Just go out for a cup of tea.  Dont hover over me.  I’ll do it.  I do care for you my dears

I’ll cross over without any fuss

Just leave

I’ll    …    just  …..    do ….  what I  …..   have  ….     to

Dealing with an unsupportive mother

After my last blog post, I received mails, and also some comments that touched upon the fact that the mother-daughter relationship can be an embittered one, and mine was not a unique case. To be honest, I have been crabby for the past few days, the emotions that I thought were buried and gone, resurfaced.

I felt that the time has come to write about this.

The human race has problems that no other species has on this planet. We need to wear clothes, learn how to balance ourselves on two legs to walk, and have the longest childhood. The last makes us astonishingly dependant on our parents. So we need our parent’s approval and desperately crave for it. After all for 20 years or more of our lives, we depend on them for our basic needs.

In an ideal world our mother would care, protect and nurture us, and defend us from hostile forces outside our homes. But then this is not the ideal world.

Here is a questionnaire I have copied verbatim from a book “Will I ever be good enough?” by Karyl McBride that helped me understand what I was going through and also achieve closure (to a certain extent)

Tick all the points that you feel are true of your relationship with your mother – the more you tick, the stronger the syndrome exists. Yes it is a syndrome called the “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”
and if my words ring true, your mother has it.

1. When you discuss your life issues with your mother, does she divert the discussion to talk about herself?
2. When you discuss your feelings with your mother, does she she try to top the feeling with her own?
3. Does your mother act jealous of you?
4. Does your mother lack empathy for your feelings?
5. Does your mother only support those things you do that reflect on her as a “good mother”?
6. Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your mother?
7. Have you consistently questioned whether or not your mother likes you or loves you?
8. Does your mother only do things for you when others can see?
9. When something happens in your life (accident, illness, divorce), does your mother react with how it will affect her rather than how you feel?
10. Is or was your mother overly conscious of what others think (neighbors, friends, family, co-workers)?
11. Does your mother deny her own feelings?
12. Does your mother blame things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her own feelings or actions?
13. Is or was your mother hurt easily and then carries a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem?
14. Do you feel you were a slave to your mother?
15. Do you feel you were responsible for your mother’s ailments or sickness (headaches, stress, illness)?
16. Did you have to take care of your mother’s physical needs as a child?
17. Do you feel unaccepted by your mother?
18. Do you feel your mother was critical of you?
19. Do you feel helpless in the presence of your mother?
20. Are you shamed often by your mother?
21. Do you feel your mother knows the real you?
22. Does your mother act like the world should revolve around her?
23. Do you find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother?
24. Does your mother appear phony to you?
25. Does your mother want to control your choices?
26. Does your mother swing from egotistical to depressed mood?
27. Did you feel you had to take care of your mother’s emotional needs as a child?
28. Do you feel manipulated in the presence of your mother?
29. Do you feel valued, by mother, for what you do rather than who you are?
30. Is your mother controlling, acting like a victim or martyr?
31. Does your mother make you act different from how you really feel?
32. Does your mother compete with you?
33. Does your mother always have to have things her way?

Now, there is nothing you can do to help your mother, who is a grown woman and your parent. There is a lot you can do to protect yourself

1. Put physical distance between the two of you. Move away, to another town or country. That way you are not subjected to negativity all the time. No one needs constant reminder of their weak points. Every one has had downs and every one has character flaws. We do not need another human being to go on harping about them.

2. Keep verbal interactions to the minimum. Do not discuss your life with her. That way, she does not have ammo to hurt you with. Remember, she will not be supportive in your misfortune and you are an adult. You do not need that support which she is either unwilling to extend to you or incapable of extending to you.

3. Do not share your successes with her. She will show the world that she is so proud of your good fortune and achievement, but when alone she will say something nasty. Say, you get a raise. Your mother will brag about it to the world. But once alone she will remind you of the time when you got dumped or were hard of money. Oh it will be couched with the admonishment “Don’t forget the hard times” but you know and she knows that she is resenting your success. If you get a raise, don’t mention it.

4. Keep your friends and your mother separate. Otherwise she will criticize you and discuss your shortcomings with them, all under the guise of being very concerned about you and your “not so bright” future.

5. This comes from point no. 4. Keep your socializing with her very minimum. Do not have joint kitty parties or the same mandir or collectively attend a relative’s wedding. You may be humiliated by her in these social settings. The wounds will resurface long after she is dead and gone.

Hope this works for you. I learnt the hard way.

Anitcipatory Retirement Blues

What can I say, here I was, walking the air nicely like the cartoon network character I talk about when I came upon this post and plummetted downwards AAAIIIIIIEEEEEEE.  I am totally freaked out – am reminded of ex’s caustic remark when I was home for a long period on maternity leave.  He told me ever so sweetly “Get yourself a job – any job.  Dammit I’ll pay your employer salary to keep you busy”.  All I did was clean his cupboard and give away all his old clothes.  Oh yeah, I also fumigated the entire house, cleaned the kitchen etc etc.  The thing is – I’ve got to keep busy.  I can not sit and do nothing at a stretch.  It makes me bitchy and temperamental.  I also like earning money (who doesnt heh!) and being independent. 

I think that this so-called retirement concept is total bullshit.  A mother never retires and neither does a housewife – and they do more laborious stuff than a normal office worker.  Even actors dont retire, they become Moms and Dads and such like stuff.  So why should we? 

In our culture, age is respected.  Greying hair and daughter in laws/grandchildren give us the aura of wisdom (never mind if we colour our hair and go ahead and blog about boobs and wrestling heh!) I feel that we should be given a chance to work until we are ready to call quits.  Of course I have no retirement plans or funds (I never plan) though I have a vague idea of packing bags and baggage and moving to Punjab or Kasauli or someplace cheaper and more friendly than the NCR.

I have seen how the elderly live in the NCR.  Its a lonely life and its boring.  Get up early, go for a walk, bring milk for the family.  Then go to the temple, spend time there, come back with vegetables from the vendor.  Then sit and read the newspaper, watch television, while away time.  Then its lunch.  After lunch, take a nap, wake up and spend time with grandchildren (if the grandchild is in the mood to spend time with you), then evening walk in the park, come back home.  More television and then sleep.  I guess it would kill me, if retirement did not.  I think life in a smaller town or a village would be better – where life is slow and people are more approachable.

I am not even talking about money – I have this belief that if you are educated, you can look after your own needs.  No one ever could make enough to fulfill the greeds any way – so why get into that.  It is things like the fear of being redundant, being irrelevant and lonely that are scaring me.  For many years, I have been at the helm, both at office and at home and this is a feeling that is new to me.

I would welcome inputs from others reading this blog …… what does one do when your employer thinks that you are old and do not have to work, and your family has grown up and does not need you?  How is one to cope with being sidelined after being on centrestage for such a long time?

For Dony, on Raksha Bandhan

He was exactly 361 days younger than me. He was the apple of my mother’s eye. He was the SON in our typically Punjabi family, the heir, the prince. He was the person on whom I practiced my skills of bossing over hapless males. When we were little kids, he was the one who would follow me around, and get blamed for most of the breakages in the house. I being a girl would not be suspected. He would pull the dog’s tail, but would also share his meal with the pet. He would sit for long hours on the steps of our home, telling fantastically wild tales to the dog, and the dog would look at him adoringly and swallow each one of them hook line and sinker. He also blinded my dolls and pulled out their eyelashes. Oh no, I did not mind it, I hated dolls and loved books. Once he threw my Enid Blyton into the pond, and I knocked him over and sat on him beating him up.

When we grew up, he hated all the boys who would befriend me, and would mimic them mercilessly. He grew stronger and larger, and it became harder to beat the hell out of him. He was the only one in my family who could carry a tune. He had an awesome sense of humour and a ready answer for anything. He was also someone who attracted trouble and accidents. That never seemed to quench his spirit. When he met with an accident and we weren’t sure that his eye would be okay, he put a patch over the eye, picked up a bottle of Old Monk and limped on his fractured foot and said he was the Pirate from Treasure Island. He would encourage us to make jokes about his being accident prone. He was my very handsome younger brother.

When he was 23 years old, the joke turned sour. That accident was his last one. They brought his body back, lifeless. My elder son kept nudging him and asking him to wake up. It was the first time I was faced with death, and was devastated. There would be more in the coming years – but this was the first, and it was something I took personally. I was angry with Death and with God. It took me a long time to recover. I think my mother never did. My father went from being a participant in the game of life to a spectator.

I have never talked about this, never written about it … but there is something about blogging – it makes one open up. So this Raksha Bandhan, I hope and pray for you, my sweet younger brother because I am sure that you are reincarnated somewhere. Where-ever you are – may you have the happy and long life that you were cheated of in the time you lived with us.

The tyranny of being a Mother In Law

Sunny Days: Survival Guide for Daughters-in-Law

While blog hopping I came across this heartfelt post of a very young daughter in law which really resonated within me. I married the only child of a super possessive mother and that was one major hurdle to our happily ever after …. but this is not what this post is about. Ex is happy elsewhere – thank goodness and I am happy being mother and single. I never got suckered into becoming wife again. In my youth I would have probably not been so adjusting and have written something like this lady has

Mamma of Twins: The Missing Counsel

Now I am looking at relationships from a different perspective – I am a mother in law. DIL is a delight, fun to be with. I like what women have become these days – confident, witty and with the ability to be straightforward. She is new to the idea of being DIL and as a mother in law, I think I suck big time!!! Even the internet does not have answers for How to be a Mother-in-law. Go ahead – google for it and you will know. You even have anonymous groups called “I Hate my Mother in Law” for godsakes!!!!

So here is a survival guide for mother in laws – totally based on my experience

  1. Every girl is cautioned that Mother in Law is not a mother, the same applies both ways you know, daughter in laws are not daughters.
  2. Do not ever try to guide your daughter in law in the same manner as you guide your children, she will interpret it as criticism of her taste/her intellectual ability/her capability and you are left thinking WTF, I never meant that!!!!
  3. Remember always that she left her home and family to come live in your home. Its tough and lonely. It will take time for her to adapt to your ways. Remember your days, when you did not even have the option of speaking your mind out.
  4. Do not expect your son to take sides with either you or with her. Remember how useless your hubby was when you complained about his mother???? Men avoid “Women’s fights” like the plague and deal with it by surfing the net or having a beer with male friends watching sports, hoping that the issue disappears.
  5. Keep your individuality and allow her to retain hers. You are way to old to change anyway. She is what she is, and your son loves her the way she is. So if you try to bully/dominate her, it will make both your son and her hate you. Your son might forgive you later, she never will.
  6. If your son and daughter in law are fighting, do not take sides. They will make up and your role will make you the villian. Why, they will perhaps blame you as the instigator of the fight.
  7. When you are mad with her – for any reason, apply the DAUGHTER TEST. Just take time out to think how you would react if your daughter were doing the same thing. Chances are that you would take a more lenient view to the issue in question.
  8. Do not expect her to dress a certain way or to eat certain stuff just because it is traditional. Traditions are values which is pretty solid stuff – not the outer covering. Your son has been raised by you and has imbibed your values. The girl of his choice will have similar values.
  9. As and when they decide to live away from you, let them go with a smile. I would also add, ask them to make out a list of the stuff they need – you know basics to start their own home. There is plenty lying in your own home that you dont need – like dishes, cookers, chesters. You can ask them to take these things with them. They will do for them as starters and they will be grateful too.  And you have less stuff to maintain.
  10. You have handed over your son to his wife.  She is his first priority – not you.  So chill okay.  If he spends more time with her, dont sulk.  If they do want to go out with you or spend time with you, they would come and be with you.  Its their zamana, not yours.  Plus at this age, you would not survive their pace, their food, their loud music.  Notice I said “their” They are a team now, you are the bystander.  Accept it.
  11. Lastly and most importantly ….. Be nice to the girl your son brings home – remember that she is the one who will be around when you are old and frail. Also she is the mother of the grandchildren you hope to pamper.