Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Does every mother have a choice?

Last evening was a bad one. No idea why so much gloominess is packed in this one year for me but definitely I am tired of this now.

Saurabh surprised me by coming back home from work at least an hour earlier than his usual time. I was so excited to see him that I got down (we live on the 1st floor) to our gate to receive him. As soon as I step out of the gate, I hear someone wailing inside my next door neighbors house. Instinctively, instead of going towards Saurabh,  I turn to the house from where the voice is slowly increasing. To my shock I see our old maid -Laxmi-running out with her 2 year old son in her arms. Behind her is my neighbor frantically collecting his car keys and locking his house door. I rush to Laxmi to ask what happened just when I see the small baby bleeding profusely from his head. The blood dripping to the ground, his shirt soaked in red. Laxmi (she must be barely 22 or 23 years old) is crying while trying to somehow stop the overflowing liquid. I have not seen such a terrible sight so close and I try and hide my helplessness behind words of encouragement that her son will be fine.

In the meantime Saurabh too makes his way closer to us and then it hits me, how alone Laxmi is midst strangers with a severely injured baby clutched in her arms. As the neighbor pulls out his car, she looks at me and says- "Aap chalo mere saath". I do not think twice and we both get into the back seat. In my faint glimpse of Saurabh on the road, I remember him stuffing my phone in my hand. 

The neighbor (matching Vettel's caliber)  rushes us to the nearest hospital's emergency ward and then begins the ordeal with hassled doctors who finally (after half an hour) shout on us saying: "This is not a joke. We are bogged down with Dengue emergencies Madam. First aid has been provided to you. Now please rush the child some where else". Do we have a choice? No!

Now we are on our way to a private nursing home but Laxmi has not stopped crying. I take the baby from her who gives me his first smile of the evening. As the neighbor scouts for a parking space, I rush the baby to the clinic's emergency room and to my utter relief 5 senior doctors immediately spring into action. They take the injured baby from our hands and disappear into the minor OT before assuring us in a calm, relaxed tone  that if the child has not vomited or fainted after the fall, he is perfectly alright and some stitches will do the trick. 

The wait outside the OT, where the father of my kids has joined me now is excruciating. I decide not to break down in front of Saurabh because he needs to be assured that I am strong. But I am not. I am not a strong mother. From the inside, I was shattered. In every word of comfort that I spoke to Laxmi, was sheer pretense as I knew that if I was in her shoes, I would have myself required some medical attention. Within 10 minutes Harsh was sewed up and I can only imagine what Laxmi must have felt, but when I saw him in the Doctor's arms, stretching his hands to his mother, I choked in my throat. 

Harsh accompanies Laxmi to all the houses when she is working. My neighbor has often told her not to bring him along as when she gets busy with her cleaning and washing, Harsh climbs up and down the stairs or touches sharp objects without supervision. Last evening too as she got busy with the utensils, Harsh climbed a chair, lost his balance, fell and hurt his head on the kitchen slab. When I asked her last night why she brings such a small kid with her when she cannot clearly take care of him she said softly: "I have no one to take care of him at home when I am out earning".

These words of her reminded me of my own situation. I too did not have anyone to take care of my kids back home if I worked outside. Hence I decided to quit rat race and stayed home raising them. Difference is that while we could afford cutting our household income by half, Laxmi cannot. She had to and has to pay the price of this decision......this situation of hers :(

Monday, 29 October 2012

And we all have the "Kabhi aao" relatives

There are always 2 specific kind of relatives. And the best part is that we all have them. First are of course the ones we want to meet (TYPE 1). Others are those who dont want to meet us!(TYPE 2)

2012 turned out to be a particularly bad year for our family as we lost 2 close relatives. Their loss made the entire family get together for prayer meetings etc. Even though the over riding emotion was grief, being the observer I am, I couldn't help but notice a sort of commonality in the general interaction between people who are 'related' somehow.

Ever noticed that at weddings, funerals or other family functions there are some people who while leaving for home will say to you- "Kabhi Aao......Ghar". While "kabhi aao" is said with the head moving up and down and in a firm tone (sounding like a question), "Ghar" is said so faintly that I am assuming they say Ghar and not something else which probably means- dont come!

Be assured that here, I am not complaining or pointing fingers at anyone because if I have relatives, I am also someone's relative! Right? So I am talking about each one of us. We all have a set of people who we know are our family but there is no reason, excitement or intention to actually meet them any longer than what weddings. funerals and family functions allow. We are all courteous to remind them that "Well....since God made us a family, he automatically opened the doors of our houses to each other"- But neither do I  take it seriously, nor should you bother to do so. 

You are still wondering who these people are in your life? I dont know if I can help you fully but there are some characteristics which I have noticed in my set and may be if you apply these to your own situation, you will recognize them instantly. 

  • Firstly of course they will ALWAYS say to you- "kabhi aao" especially when they are on their way out.
  • Funnily when they met you first that evening(or day) they will complain-"Arre tum aate hi nahi kabhi humse milne!". And they do so with so much conviction that you are almost embarrassed why they aren't part of your TYPE 1 category.
  • They will huddle up with their TYPE 1 relatives and from the corner of your eye you will see them clearly discussing you.
  • They will always ask your parents about what you are doing, when will you get married, whether you are working or unemployed- But they will never ask YOU directly.
  • They will always compare your physical looks to the last time they saw you. Since 'how you look' is the only legitimate conversation they can have with you, you are bound to play along.
  • At least once in your conversation, both of you will put one finger on your chin, look up in the sky while wondering- "Kahan mile the hum last time?"

Next time someone uses the code word- 'Kabhi aao' on me- my answer will definitely be- "Quickly give me your address". I will also take out my phone pretending I am serious about noting it down. Lets see if they prove me wrong :)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Some things are best as they have been :)

Along with my earlier confessed disorders like the celeb mania or the fancy TMJ (and my lack of talking as a result), there is one more thing I am compulsively passionate about. God knows why the hell but- Its my dream to stand on the Times Square in New York with my arms stretched, getting clicked in order to freeze the memory of having fulfilled this silly fantasy! You must know that Saurabh is under tremendous pressure to quickly turn this dream into reality as every time he asks me- "So what do you want from me?", I only say- "Take me to........"-and he knows where! He just doesn't know WHY!! Many friends and family who have been there (and done that) have come back and told me- "Kya khaas hai wahan? Its very normal. Its like the Piccadilly Square in London which you have seen!" . But a dream is a dream. I have eaten hazaar other Raj kachoris but the one which is served at Haldirams at Mathura Road in Delhi- Is unbeatable!

So what is the context of this dream sequence I elaborated above, you must be thinking? 

Last weekend when we caught 'English Vinglish',we couldn't help but sample the Manhattan razzmatazz and loved the American way of life. After criss-crossing through the New York high rises, while returning home, we were all hungry and the time matched the time of our neighbor hood halwai's time to fry samosas. Hence the decision was made to take our car as close as possible to the halwai's narrow street so that I can be dropped off and attack his freshly fried matar samosas which are so famous that I had to wait half an hour to fetch my meager 250 grams! How much ever Saurabh tried, he could not halt his car for more than 10 seconds because the street got clogged with rickshaw wallas, scooters and 'on shopping spree" aunties who banged on the car saying- " Kindly make way!" 

As I stood there, just above the huge kadhai in which the small Samosas were getting fried, I witnessed the frenzy of hungry people grabbing their lots and the excited look on their faces to see their "melting in the mouth" treats being made so fresh. The uncanny comparison of where I was just 30 minutes back- in the streets of New York, yet again promising myself that one day I shall too walk as fast as these busy looking Americans and fulfill my Times Square dream- brought a smile to my face. For now I was in a market where one could buy anything from a Ship to a needle, where matar samosas attract janta from far off distances, where no one bothers if the halwai uncle washed his hands before touching their samosas, where commotion and unruliness is the way of our lives- in fact it only adds to the experience of enjoying these fried savories!

The question then I asked myself while carrying the brown packet, that got stained of oil the minute I started walking was- What do I prefer? Did I not enjoy this process of having these super famous samosas? 

The answer was- Oh yes! I loved it! In fact I look forward to the madness that engulfs this market in the festive season. I love it when I have to haggle and struggle for small things that make my big festivals and I love it when all the shopkeepers recognize me or my Mom in law and on seeing us worried they shout through the 'unruly' crowd- "Paise baad main de dijiyega! Aap abhi bas samaan le jaiye!" :)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Handpicked for the Impossible!

Shit happens! It happens to everyone. But what when a particular kind of 'shit' happens to you where you are damn sure you have been targeted?  Its like if you have a sweet tooth and you are diagnosed with Diabetes. Or you love to get angry and you have High BP. Or you want to spend a fun weekend with your wife but your in laws come visiting. Very lame attempts at giving corollaries but I am hoping you got the point.

The point is that till today I thought I had only one such problem in my life. Just two days ago, however, I have been diagnosed with another fatality. The latter one has taken away my entire sense of being. It violates the basic rights of my existence. It so shamelessly challenges who I am- or like to be!! It almost seems to have answered the prayers of my husband (and my Mother in law), which is painfully disturbing!!

Ya so what are the two things in my life which are blatant examples of the stuff that JUST SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED to someone like me?

  1. I love to eat! One of the three crucial reason why Saurabh and I got married (the other two, I shall touch upon later) was that we love our food. Food has to be the center of why we earn, we live, we travel, we breathe so on and so forth. But the same food, for some strange reason after my pregnancies, has led to serious weight inflation sprees. Its so bad that if Saurabh insists that he and i should spend some 'quality time' in our balcony every morning inhaling "fresh air', I am unable to do so because even air shoots up my weight by a couple of significant grams! I drink water and hey my weighing machine starts talking. So for someone who loves to eat- weight gain is such a rude way of making her curb those desires. Its another thing that I DO NOT curb them but yes every second spent on top of the weighing scale and Saurabh peeping from behind my shoulder- kills me one bit each day!
  2. This first problem will seem like a molehill in front of the one you are about to read. For some weeks now I could hear a distinct 'click- click' in my mouth. Every morning I woke up, I would not be rubbing my eyes like all of you- I would be adjusting my lower jaw because it seemed stuck. Oh yes- STUCK. I moved along thinking- Hoga kuch, till the condition got severe and now not just mornings but whole day long, I had to bear the bloody click-click and a sense of "Jaw Freeze". So I go to a doctor and guess what?? I have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder- So fancy a name for a disease (Almost like lymphosarcoma of the intestine). Lets call it TMJ disorder where due to a manufacturing defect in my jaw, it has finally dislocated and if I open my mouth too wide (like for yawning), boom it gets stuck! Sounds so ewww, but along with it being irritating- its damn painful!! Ya so what is the cure you ask? Just imagine what it could be??? For everyone who knows me it will be impossible to believe that a Doctor had the audacity to suggest  this treatment- She said- "Talk less!!" 
What the hell? Talk less?? How on earth does Parul Tyagi do that?? I have 2 sons and now I am officially not allowed to shout on them! I cant fight with Saurabh as I cant 'raise' my voice! Ever since this diagnosis, my Mother in law has reminded me at least 4 times- "Arre chillao mat bachcho par. This is God's way of telling you not to!". I cant even laugh out loud in my signature tone because every time I do that, Saurabh says-" Haso mat. Just smile!". IMAGINE!!!

So I will reiterate- Shit has happened. Such an unfair one with me. But I will laugh, I will talk and I will yell at my kids- Because if I will not do these, I will die of something more disturbing than a silly Jaw dislocation :).

Oh yeah and I forgot to ask my doctor if I can eat Gol Gapaas!!!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Coming a full circle with a School Bus

The memories of the school bus slowing down at a place that looks comfortingly familiar, we standing one behind the other and moving towards the door to disembark are so fresh in my head- even today. After school, the bus journey to home is a crucial part in the memories that fill up our association with school life. Grabbing the window seat, opening the test papers to wonder where we lost out on marks, our ONLY bus friends, seniors bullying juniors,  the Conductor bhaiya who is trained to NEVER be friendly with his little travelers,  Driver bhaiya who is perennially sweating, by hearting every stop till our stop comes, throwing paper balls at those in front, emptying water bottles on those who have just gotten down and pass our window and so much more....I am dramatically emotional hence I still remember my last day in the school bus, when as I got down and it went past me, I stood on my stop holding Rahul's hand and waving it Bye. Rahul (that is why) is also an important character of everything I remember of my morning School Bus- I have carried his ID card, belt, comb, almanac, tiffin box, exam board in my bag because he woke up late and was too hassled to bother about them :).

12 years on, from the day my school bus deserted me forever, there is another School bus that is shaping my memories of a lifetime. Every single day at exact 1:07 pm, I pick up my car and drive down to V and N's bus stop to pick them. The distance is not worth a car journey but I pamper them in summer months because after a whole day at school, I don't want them to walk 2 considerably big lanes. Trust me- this daily routine of mine is one I am extremely proud of. Its bliss to see your babies come down the bus, brimming with joy and energy on seeing you. I hug them every day, offload their heavy (yes they are heavy) school bags from their tiny shoulders and ask with a renewed vigor each day- "How was school??". The question may be the same but the answers are different and that is exactly why I repeat it everyday. Our little car journey to home is enough for both of them to gobble out every minute detail that made that day special. 

As I wait on the stop, being the observer I am, I feel a little out of place because I do not apply lipstick or even comb my hair especially to make that trip. The other mothers are prim and proper, they talk non stop (about their husbands or holidays) and look every bit dressed for the occasion. It seems okay if the bus is delayed for a few minutes because that would mean more conversations! There are some maids and grandparents too who are treading this path more out of responsibility than will. I am the odd one out who is there to pick up 2 boys who the Conductor thinks are twins, who is always punching into her phone (to avoid eye contact with the manicured mothers just so that they do not indulge in small talk), or if the bus is taking way too much time- pacing back and forth on the pavement desperate to see the Yellow and Blue bus emerge.

I am lucky we are able to build these memories. These small things which may not matter in the long run when kids are big enough to come back on their own from the stop, but I have definitely paved way in these initial years of schooling- of a definite happiness of finding your mother waiting for you each and every day with a tight hug, a bond that we share because I am as bound in this routine as they are and a sense of fulfillment in myself because no phone call, no meeting, absolutely nothing else can come in the way of this duty of mine.