Celebrating Women · Poetry · Soiling Stereotypes · womanhood

My Six Yards Are My Cape!

Watch video: https://youtu.be/rFtFY7eNisY
 
My silver troops are marching on,
Gallantly in all their glory.
As I feel them in my crown,
Each strand seems like saying,
'Come, sit na,
I’ll tell you my story!'
 
The lines on my forehead,
The freckles on my cheeks,
That crease around my neck,
As I caress them all softly,
They embrace me in warm hug,
And say,
'Sit for a while,
And gossip with us!'
 
 Did I hear dark circles?
Oh yay!
That’s the 'rangoli' around my eyes!
Did I hear someone say wrinkles?
That's the supreme artist,
Baring his brush,
On the canvas of my life.  
With a spring in my step and open arms,
I welcome every symbol and sign,
That celebrates every milestone of my life!
 
When I look around,
What do I see?
Millennials,
The 'Generation Zee',
The world is raving about you all,
And I wonder,
Who will talk about us midlifers,
Especially, the mothers who gave birth,
To this awesome Gen-Next,
And are now raising them too?
 
So presenting the story of our lives,
Transcending through our roles,
As mothers, daughters, wives,
But trust me,
There is much much more to us,
Than just that too!
 
While the world addresses,
Global warming and erratic weathers,
I wonder who will ever talk,
About our fluctuating temperatures.
The upper zones can beat,
The most blazing deserts,
The down-unders are perpetually in sub zeroes.
Challenge is to keep up a pleasant shine,
Uphill task when gravity,
Has started working overtime!
 
 Grey hairs are popping up,
In the strangest of pockets,
Like that 1000 Rs note,
Remember?
That kept emerging,
Post demonetization,
Out of deserted wallets.

Did Someone say,
It’s my age to sit back for a while,
And count my blessings,
Or reassess my investments and profits?
C'mon, I do that everyday!
The real estate in my backyard is appreciating,
The chins have doubled,
Like the most promising mutual funds,
My jaw line has vanished,
Like Mallaya and Modi.
Aah!
Nirav I meant!
But I’m a diehard optimist,
Like my fellow countrymen.
I believe they'll all be back.
They'll all be back.
As will be my marginal curves,
And who knows even six pack abs!

At times, I’m stiff and literally so,
As if my bones,
Have been dipped in Revive,
And sun dried too.
Next morning,
I take charge of my body and mind,
And embark upon a century ride.
That’s the way “Fun Between the Legs”,
At my age I define!

My fellow mid-lifers,
Are acing marathons and triathlons.
An orgy of exercises,
I wickedly call them.
Ssh! You know what,
Age or agility?
Forget it!
Raising these millennial kids,
Has taught us,
Nothing is impossible,
It’s all up there in the mind!
 
At times I’m laughing out,
Impishly like a child,
Teasing my son,
About his heartbreaks and crushes.
I tell him ‘I just had one too’
‘Mother india’, he blurts out,
‘what the hell are you upto?’
I quickly add, “Oops did I say crushes"?
I meant my ‘hot flushes’"!

But you know?
Midlife is the second teenage,
Just that life has taught us,
How to smartly moderate,
Because hormones will be brats,
They will be up-to pranks ,
While ‘going’ and while ‘Coming’
And coming coming Coming,
Suddenly it sounds so over -rated,
As if not linked to Adhar,
It might soon get deactivated!
 
 
At times I’m struggling,
To cut out the cacophony, the din,
Of relations and responsibilities,
Of judgments and opinions.
Next moment,
I can make music and sonnets,
Out of the same noisy dissonance.
With all my demons,
I’ve made peace,
Instead I’m now flirting,
With all my dreams!
 
 
4 decades and a half,
Of seeing patriarchy at its peak.
Stereotypes being soiled,
Cobwebs crumbling.
Toughest were the ones,
Lurking inside our houses.
Still a long long way to go!
 So to the men around,
Dear darlings,
Fathers,sons,husbands,brothers,
And others and others and others.
Because 'giving’ is a habit,
We cannot give up on,
Doesn’t mean our rights and dignity,
We are offering you on a platter!
 
 
To love and to nurture,
Was never an option.
It was in our DNA,
That’s how we are wired!
I’m the rock by your shore,
If the waves are severe.
Anchor, if you feel fragile or lost.
But to guard my own self respect,
I know pretty well,
How to disconnect!

To the hilt I love to play,
A myriad of my roles,
But trust me I can rise above each,
To go on a blind date with my soul!
 
 Forever a feminist,
You Step on one legit right,
I’ll dust your doubts.
But I’m also sandwiched between eras,
A connector between Generations.
So I’ll strongly uphold,
What I believe in,
But sieve out my cynicism,
And pass on just the best.
So I’m not burning bras anymore,
For at my age,
I need them lots more!
 
I’m neither guilty nor apologetic,
About the choices I made,
Don’t call them my sacrifices
I’m no goddess,
I'm no sage.
But do not belittle my surging ahead either,
For up in my head,
I was always crystal clear,
When to zoom on,
When to pull my reigns.

And today at four decades and a half,
In the bliss of my haven,
My work,
My offspring,
I celebrate every war,
Every ceasefire,
Every balance that I have made.
I’m a super hero
My six yards are my cape!
Bridging communication gap · Generation Gaps · Mother-Son Spoken Word Piece · Parenting paradigms · Poetry

Banter Between Generations

Watch video: https://youtu.be/btd6lFflfx8


Mother
The balloons swayed slowly,
And gave me a defiant gaze.
The stony silence of my house,
Stifled tons of guilt.
The pitter-patter of September raindrops,
Unleashed sarcasm,
As if saying,
“Try being a good mother’
For today at least”

 

 Son
AAH! Was that my last birthday
MY 15th one?
My big day! A big milestone!
But then 10th standard and the boards,
Were bigger milestones.
Instead of gyrating to the Biebers and Beyonces,
Here I was, stuck neck-deep into the sciences!
 

 Mother
Yes! You had your science major the next morning
And here I was restlessly wondering
Was I right? Doesn’t look like!
Was I wrong? May be not!
Then, how do I then balance the science and math of it all!

 

 Son
How much was I hating you and the tutor,
Come'on I thought,
They should just say,
'Take a day off'.
Would I actually take?
Maybe not!

 
Mother
You don’t have to tell me,
Because I know,
At times, we’ve not been the best buddies.
And you’ve hated me more than your Social Studies
.
 

 Son
C'mon I know what’s coming next
That you know it better,
What goes inside my brain
Because you are my mother!

 
Mother
No no! Maybe not that,
Maybe because I hated mine as much.
Some three decades back.
I remember as such!
I hated the sciences,
She put me in a class,
Where the two hours,
Just won’t pass.
 I could yawn into my tutor’s face,
But shuddered being discussed as a case.
 I dreaded the queries,
Because
I had answers none.
All I dreamt was to faraway run.
To a place..
Where Integers won’t haunt.
And Binomial Theorems won’t taunt.  
You know? me and your Nani are now often giggling and wondering,
What then was our chemistry and bonding!
 

Son
You know Mom,
At times you make me wonder,
If you are one or bipolar?
One day you gang up with me,
Like a brat of a teenager.
And together we irritate,
That man who is my father.
 The next day you wake up like an autocratic dictator.
There are some issues with your ray optics,
For,
The hate the sight of my shoes.
The disorder of my room,
The smell of my hair.
Me and he then look at you with despair!
See you in that itchy and witchy mood,
He too decides to stop being that dude.
 Suddenly he too jumps into the spat.
In between,
I just casually check my Facebook and Snapchat.
That’s enough to disturb your sequence and series,
Permutations and combinations are all lost.
And then I get the loudest lecture,
On respect, cleanliness and what not!

 
MOTHER
Nay!
It was a lovely morning
That started with a motherly divinity.
I was waking you up with all love and affinity,
It was you who kept dozing off till infinity!

 
Son
Within minutes such argumentative Indians we became,
Is it our house or Republic Channel where we came?
Each one of us vying to be that Arnab,
You outshout me and Daddy like that Goswami,
But when Daddy shouts back, it’s like a double whammy.
In this gaseous state,
And disturbed chemical equilibrium,
And I wonder why all this hate?
After all I just got up half an hour late!

 
Mother
And then,
The volumes slowly go down,
Because my vocal chords frown.
We storm off to different rooms,
Nursing bruised egos.
I later lay the lunch and breakfast with a glunch.
And then I suddenly burst into peals of laughter,
Is it then you wonder,
If I'm one or bipolar?

 
Son
And then you blame it all on hormones!
Mine are lunging in riding on teenage,
Yours are limping out holding hands with midlife.
Daddy’s hormones are subject to his corporate life.
He thinks as he decides whom to side,
The son or the wife?

 
 
Mother
Sonny boy!
We know,
You have laid aside so much,
As you chase new dreams.
Opt for new academic streams.
At times I miss,
Your cycling races,
Your Rubik cube aces.
Your photography in the wilds.
And I do feel like telling you,
Let’s give it all up and have fun and wander.
Then I see your focus, your passion,
When I see your focus and passion,
Grow bit by bit in a concerted fashion.
From a naughty little pug,
Whose thoughts used to wonder,
To a lanky teenager taking gritty strides.
Juggling streams we never ever tried,
Our heart does brim over with love and pride!
 

Son 
You know Ma!
At times the road seems long and bumpy,
Its easy to give up all and criticize,
The system, the duress and the strife.
 There are some stars definitely in my eyes.
Also a life of adventure and leisure.
Of wandering the wilds and capturing the nature.
Yes, I want to do all,
But without any pressure.
Maybe one thing will lead me to the other,
Or maybe the other is more worthwhile.
C'mon!
I’ll figure it out and reach there in style!

 

Mother
Something is getting built up for you,
Certainly somewhere,
Is a strong feeling and faith inside.
We might have raved, ranted and corrected you.
But remember there was always love,
And we trusted you!

 
SON
Come on Mother India!
Now don’t get emo and senti.
I'm not PDAing.
That I love you both too,
Because its just too embarrassing!
Poetry · womanhood · Women and Careers · Women and Sabbaticals

A mother, a girl, a woman

Watch video: https://youtu.be/OOGD5NDtDpA

 Thirty Nine!
Nay! That’s not my age.
And that possibly cannot be my weight.
Yes, it was this girl’s.
And today I start her story,
Back from some three and a half decades.


As thin as a straw,
She could get lost in a crowd of one,
But she stood out always.
As a daughter who wanted to be right,
As a student so meticulous and bright.
You know, literature was her first love,
But back then it was like an unemployed boyfriend.
Keynes looked like the perfect suitor,
SO ECONOMICS it was,
The subject she chose to pursue and master.


As they say,
An arranged marriage of sorts.
Where you find love on the way.
Aah yes! Love also she found,
When she got married later in the day!
From Geeky Economics professor,
To a strong and poised administrator,
Perfectly logical outcomes,
Of what all she had mastered.
Nothing was kept waiting,
Meticulous you see.
Somewhere on the flight,
She got an egg clicked right.
And bore a boy- an absolute absolute delight.


Isn’t this all perfect and so impeccably right.
Then what was it that nibbled her inside,
A strange strong emptiness,
Or something like Diminishing marginal Happiness.
So one fine sunny morning,
She hung her boots.
Thereon-
Leisurely mornings made way’
Into the arms of warm afternoons,
Blissful evenings went ‘making out’ with her favorite authors.
But nothing could beat the joy,
Of seeing her chubby boy,
Zoom up to be a lanky teenager,
Fearless, witty and never shy.


Imagine the other day I met her,
After two and a half decades.
And the first thing I asked her,
Lady! you left all of your economics?
All that you had mastered?
She giggled like a school girl!
She smiled and said.
‘Nay! I now use it to study my own trends and statistics!
Way beyond 39 she was,
She said ‘Look”
“My marginal curves have made way for parabolas,
My asset classes are roaring.”
I’m a flourishing economy,
On the side-swings and soaring.
I asked her “Aren’t you bothered by these dis-economies
of scale?”
“Not a wee bit”, she said
“Having seen the scarcity of being utterly frail!”
“69 is my new favorite and I’m loving it” she said.
See ..I too got it wrong again!
She was just talking about her gross gains!
I still wanted to pester,
“What else do you do?” I asked her.
“I flirt” she said. With such guts.
Good heavens I thought,
This once upon a sane woman has certainly gone nuts!
“I flirt with words O girl,
“I’m now a writer, a blogger’
Known for my quirky thoughts,
While writing and enacting,
I discovered,
Humor was my real G Spot”.


Then she got stopped and sighed.
“Life has come a full circle”, she said.
“Today I see my son,
Eyes laden with dreams,
Chasing new academic streams,
Like his mother was decades back.”
“And I do ponder.
If ever he decides to step back,
Pace down his stride,
Or explore some new beautiful side.
Will I let the mother in me override?
Will I dish out thumb rules?
To make him just abide.
Or will I then be the friend by his side!”
No points for guessing who the girl is on this ride!

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@ndgurmeharwonttweet: trolled into silence

gurmehar-kaur

Just a few months back, I accidentally clicked on a silent video. A young girl’s restrained silence seethed through the innards of my heart. Every placard she held up reflected some pain, some anguish. A daughter of a martyred father holding up a placard saying she had less, if any, memories of the father and more of how it is to grow up without one. As you are about to be engulfed by emotions of overwhelming sympathy and pity, she picks up a placard that says, ‘Pakistan did not kill my father; War did.’

I don’t question it at that time, neither does the nation then. In fact, I draw strength and swell with pride at the bigger message she was attempting to convey. I had felt like saluting the mother who raised her in a way that she is neither spewing venom nor nursing deep-rooted bitterness. In fact, she was trying to erase it!

Here, she is today. The same girl, taking a stand as a student. She is at the receiving end of a humongous magnitude of ridicule, threat, mockery and perhaps whatever it would take to silence her. Here they are, the wisest of the wise, the most celebrated and followed ones demeaning not just her present stand but linking it ruthlessly  to one placard she raised out of a series of those she held up months back.

The bigger shame is that many of us targeting her with acerbic vendetta are parents of young children. If not parents, we have certainly passed through this most vulnerable age. It is at this age that youngsters idolize, form perspectives and even question status quos. In doing that are being laid foundations of right, wrong and characters. In nipping and pinning them, are being laid foundations of them growing up as hollow, soulless characters.

My, barely 15 year-old has a volley of questions as he picks up the paper in the free mornings or watches us glued to some T.V. news. Going back in time, I remember growing up in a state undergoing a turmoil during such impressionable years as Gurmehar’s. I read books, made notes on editorials, scribbled vents, wrote poetry to give way to my perspectives. I clearly remember the urge to take stand or so to say, to figure out things. With age and developments, I might have amended my thoughts a dozen times. That’s the way you grow your mind and self. Perhaps, I was luckier that back then, social media wasn’t a free-for-all, trying to father/mother every youngster with a whip of trolls. It is heart-wrenching how social media is being used to lace things and rip a young girl in the most caustic tones, first accusing her of feeding of her father’s martyrdom, then begetting him shame and finally vilifying her for lacking courage and withdrawing from the campaign.

To those trolling Gurmehar, I wonder what course she should have followed that could have given them solace. That she could never rise above her personal tragedy to have an opinion ever? Why did the fact that she could have one and voice it too, rub the mockers at such wrong places that they her questioning her life choices, her upbringing and even coming down to rudimentary crassness of telling her that she owes her admission to country’s most prestigious college through a quota her father’s sacrifice made her eligible for.

Counter placard or tweets could be great ideas  to send across your message but to those with huge fan base (the cricketers and the celebrities), you have unleashed a fury by each one of your followers interpreting it in their own sweet way and getting so venomous. It is these interpretations that are doing all the damage. When she condemned ‘WAR’ she didn’t mean to invite us to dissect  that word and give it a 100 new meaning and contexts. She wasn’t even trying to deliver a discourse our inflated egos couldn’t take. She was perhaps trying to give a positive message rising above her personal loss midst the age-old bitterness between countries that changed the course of her life. Doesn’t a yearning for peace, a hate for campus vandalism come naturally to most of us?

Give the girl her due in not being cynical enough to conclude that she can only be a pawn and not have an opinion without a hidden agenda. In doing that, we are undermining the wisdom and sensibility of an entire generation that brings along some hope. A generation having a ‘least bothered’ approach to issues around them could also not be a good idea for a nation.

To Gurmehar, to Zaira Wasim and to others – Go dream and express! For in your expression is that flickering ray of light at the end of this dark tunnel of construed motives and interpretations.

For heaven’s sake, lets let a soldier rest in peace and derive some solace from his grave that the girl he left at two is a lady with a head at twenty and perhaps trying to uphold his legacy and make him proud- albeit in a different way!

For me Gurmehar, you are the girl I would want to be at 20 if I am ever again and perhaps a daughter I would have been proud to have!

May the force be with you and guide you in your future choices. ‘Caution but not cower’ could be a learning you could take from this hate trail. It certainly has come ‘too harsh’ a way…

#Gurmehar

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Size and its matters ;-)

From a famished 39 to a staggering 69, Voila! I have seen the best and worst of both the worlds by now! Read here

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Date thy soul…shun all guilt!

11666251_988449601188452_1826812287384261232_n-2

A decade and a half back, I stepped into a new world nimble feet with beautiful dreams and was welcomed warmly by a gush of lovely people and wonderful relations. It was like a perfect treasure dished out for me. Some of it, from my world as a little girl and some from the new one that welcomed me as a woman.

Vivacious and as excited as an eager child wanting to top the class all the time, I embraced everything that was coming my way. At times head over heals in love with the new ones and at times savoring to the hilt, the ones I grew up with. Lapping it all up, I was loving the journey to the hilt.

Gradually, while experiencing the roller coaster phases, a little something started to gnaw on the insides of the heart. Ruthlessly ignored and shrugged off, it was. For, it was too tiny to be paid heed to, midst the colorful myriad of higher roles that blinded me all the time. Years kept rolling by and the little stranger inside kept knocking occasionally. Also nibbling away some more of me, till I could feel a mysterious lacuna and a strange restlessness reflecting in spurts of irritations. A strange confusion that everything was fine and still there was something eluding it all. To add to the confusion, a guilt as to why the hollowness when people and situations were more or less the same.

Midst delving in the highs and lows of this quagmire of sorts, one fine day, the woman inside sought a date with all the roles I was playing…mother, daughter, wife and on and on and on. The date that turned out to be much more exciting than any blind date I would have ever fantasized in my teenage. A date with all my different roles, along with making friends with the soul inside, to unravel and peel off some dusty layers. A heart to heart tet-e-tet, with the soul opening up and dropping some subtle hints at some self created paradigms that were encaging the self. In the process, moving it away from some of the getaways that had nurtured it so well.

Writing pieces of poetry, my musings, painting endlessly for hours and through nights, reading voraciously or working passionately on a job that enriched the self and fed my self esteem. When, where and why they were pushed aside one after the other to make way for other things? There weren’t any answers.

Reassured and heartened by bits of directions I got on my first date, I gathered courage and eventually got addicted to these lovely dates with that inner child. It wasn’t my soul but a newfound friend. A friend, holding my hand and walking me through a whole new world and eventually guiding me to tend to my own self with a little more love and care.

Higher roles and responsibilities at home and work brought along hoards of people and many expectations overtly or covertly. At times the excitement to fulfil each and every expectation is like that of a competitive child who wants to top the class all the time. Through it all, making us push our boundaries and limits and in the process exposing our self to the vagaries of relations and situations. Totally oblivious that the soul is reaching a breaking point where it declares it won’t take anymore and starts sending us signals in the form of irritabilities and rebellions, which further add to the chaos and a vicious circle starts. It is the same people you love, adore or idolize that become the trouble makers. There is no love lost, yet the frequencies go haywire, wavelengths loose track and crossfires take over.

It is here that the self needs a break to get healed and be on track again. It is impossible to adjust all relations at the top of your priority list all the time. If you try too much, you are likely to trip and fall. Life is all about juggling roles and relations like a trained jugular. Keep some at the top, some at the periphery, some to the bosom and savor them like sweet and tangy cocktails. You might even want to take break from some that cause bad hangovers. Dig into the wells of those relations that bring in immense fulfillment and keep drawing energy to be able to smile at those at the peripheries too. The bad hangover ones too might just be back.

We women, take our roles as anchors and soul mates too seriously without caring for our own threads. We love being agony aunts and refuse to hear out our own souls seeking answers. Love thyself as much as you love people around you. Nothing takes away our trophies more than our own benchmarks.

Care as much to pay heed to your own occasional restlessness as your child or hubby’s. The soul might be a neglected child seeking your attention by throwing a tantrum in the form of an outburst. Let no guilt ever take you away from any of your passions.

Its been some years now since the threads were gathered. The love affair with the soul continues and so does the dating. I have indulged and plunged into every hobby and work that aroused my interest and kept me sorted. Left some to try out new ones without an iota of guilt. Disengaged for intervals from those who expect too much or become hard to handle. In the whole process learning that situations and people come around ultimately but a scarred soul takes much longer a time.

The biggest learning in this ongoing odyssey being that we have one life to live and to give. Love yourself to be able to radiate an extra ounce of warmth and happiness. See it do wonders to yourself and those around you.

#WomanInMe feels no guilt anymore 🙂

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What a Devil of a mom you were…Mama!

imageYour odyssey as a mother could get a real wacky start, if you are a girl who has grown up on set stereotypes. Stereotypes that are so theatrically heralded by our Hindi movies and daily soaps.

From the day we decided we were ready for a baby, I started fantasizing myself ‘passing out’ dramatically in the middle of something. Wishing earnestly, that the ‘whose who’ would be around to summon the doctor. In a very filmy way, the doctor would then announce the good news to my ‘not so shy’ hubby. How I would go red, blushing and choking with emotions and have the remainder audience ‘ooh aah-ing’ at the breaking news.

Alas, when it actually happened, there wasn’t an iota of the drama I was dying for. What changed colors was just a damn strip and a very ‘matter-of-fact’ doctor. Much to my displeasure, she made it sound like the most routine thing while listing out all the do’s and don’ts.

The morning after and all the mornings in the rest of the 9 months were anything but ‘sick’. Every night, I would sleep imagining that the next morning I would wake up to a whole lot of melodrama. Me, running to the loo, throwing up and a hassled hubby and family running around and me lapping up all the attention. Months passed and much to my disbelief, not a single day when I woke up to the ‘morning sickness’ that was meant to be the major sign that authenticated a pregnancy as per the Hindi movies and soaps. So much so, that despite the pot of a belly that I was carrying ahead of me at 5 months, I always had doubts whether I was actually ‘carrying’.

To top it, my doctor never ever found anything alarming and would always laugh away my concern about the baby being normal.

Contrary to any sickness, every night I would stealthily head towards the fridge and gobble down liters of milk. So much were the hunger pangs and milk cravings. No wonder, by the end of those nine months, I almost resembled a dinosaur. From a delicate 40 plus, I was hovering around 80. And there wasn’t anything utterly feminine or angelic about this mother-to-be’s frame. Nothing came even close to the aura around a pregnant woman that was so repeatedly mentioned in the plethora of books on pregnancy and motherhood that I had licked up in the preceding months.

As if the nine months weren’t enough, the finale was a grand twister. It had nothing of the quintessential theatrical stuff I was so longing for. Yes, it had everything that laid to rest my cravings for drama forever. There wasn’t any ‘baby almost about to be dropped’ like situation. I wasn’t being wheeled just well within ‘cut-off-time’ into the hospital. Neither were my always prim-and-proper hubby and mother-in-law running around in their most disheveled state. That was so wicked of me but I had thought that at least on that D day, the world would see their unkempt look and I would be mighty amused. But, that was seemingly too far-fetched a fantasy, perhaps.

In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up my hubby with as much panic as I could at the mild hints of recurring pains. The cool and by now ‘even more well-read than the doctor’ hubby heard out a few symptoms and declared them as a false alarm. Thankfully, he sounded my mother-in-law before getting ready for office in the crispest of his white shirts and neckties. My dear mother-in-law too touched-up each of her streaks and of course the house and my bags too. They realized soon that the alarms weren’t false. My grand-mother-in-law did live up to some of my expectations by sending me off with a ritual of kisses and blessings, much to my relief.

Once I reached the nursing home, housed in one of the bungalows, they ejected out a lot of my emotions too along with the rest of the stuff via that enema and put me on a drip. It was here that the drama unveiled. And I certainly wasn’t craving for this drama all this while.

I was strapped to a device showing the pattern of my pains and contractions, as if I won’t be knowing otherwise. But then, it was actually for the doctors and the audience around. My hubby, in his crisp shirt and the necktie he forgot to remove, would hold my hand tightly at every reading showing the pain shooting up. My mother-in-law took turns too. The pains followed a peak valley syndrome.

The first few hours were fairly decent but after 4 hours, my shrieks and sighs went beyond decent decibel levels. So much so that my brother and brother-in-law who cared to drop by were embarrassed to death at the very gates of the nursing home. After 5 hours, though the baby was still far away, they shifted me to the insides of the labor room. More than any other reason, perhaps because it was sound proof. By that time my nurses and the doctor were almost shouting back at me. For, I was threatening them to wheel me into the OT for a caesarean or else I would die. Hats off to my sincere and strong willed doctor who decided not to budge even a bit despite my giving her every reason to almost strangulate me.

Inside the labor room, as the sight became too much for my cute hubby to handle, my mother-in-law came to his rescue. She tried to comfort me with the news that my mother too would be reaching anytime. Yes, my mom! She had lots to answer too. I had to ask her why she didn’t ever prepare me for any of this war-like-situation and talked only about the frills. She too managed to make it well in time, in a neatly tucked saree all set to impress her first grandchild.

My mother-in-law suggested my ‘hungry since morning’ hubby to grab a quick bite from ‘Hot Breads’ outlet nearby while she would be around me. For some seconds, how much I hated her and my hubby. Here I was, in the middle of a war since morning on an empty stomach and how could she even think of her son having a quick bite from my ‘most favorite’ eating spot? (How much I understand it now being a mother myself).

In the last two hours, of the gross ten hours before the baby decided that the mother had had enough, it was like the ‘workout’ of my life. At the end of which arrived a maroon colored, all swollen baby, not resembling any of the Johnson baby pictures that hung around the whole house for 9 months. Honestly, I felt he resembled the cute friendly neighborhood pug! (My son would kill me for this).

As I looked sideways at him being cleaned and being put on the weighing basket, while I was being stitched, I experienced a moment of that ultimate bliss which was no match to any of the scenes in Hindi movies or soaps. As the nurse brought him to me, I was numb and my emotions completely froze for moments. It was as if whatever was left inside my belly churned for those few seconds that I held him. I told the nurse to take him out to both sets of grandparents waiting to welcome their first grandchild. It was like having the world see my trophy.

With closed eyes and tears sliding down from the corners, as I savored every laughter and joyous shriek reaching my ears, I suddenly felt a warm familiar hand stroking my forehead. Standing there was the ‘newborn’ Papa all exhausted but so relieved. As I smiled and held his hand, I saw the button less sleeves of his ‘not anymore crisp’ shirt and a few red marks. An aftermath of holding his hand badly every time the pain shot up. Both of us laughed, eyes brimming but words completely failing. Few precious moments, that perhaps made up for all the day’s pain and also for any drama that was lacking in the preceding 9 months.

Looking back, I have inside felt so blessed at the smooth nine months and the smoother finale. But, we have laughed our lungs out umpteen times at my version and naive expectations of those nine months with family, friends and now with our son. He is a witty teenager now and keeps us in splits with his one-liners.

All he has to say to this is…

‘What a devil of a mom you were Mama!’ And I say ‘I still am one Sonny!’

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‘Faith’ful Miles!

An aged grandmother sitting in the courtyard glowing in the grandeur of her white clothes, milky hair, a loving gaze holding a Gutka(religious book having banis and verses)and reciting verses from the Banis (compiled verses) the whole day…

A father who appeared to be an atheist but would never miss chanting the mool mantra and a ‘Thir ghar baiso harjan pyarey’ while going through his morning chores in his high pitched voice.

A mother  who never stuck to any daily rituals but ensured an Ardaas and Karah Parshad on Gurupurabs, our birthdays, and other special days.
These were some early introductions to the religion I was born into. Nothing was overtly taught, told or hammered. It was a way of life followed in the most casual manner. For a naïve little child, occasional visits to Gurudwaras meant tugging on to the mother or ‘choti bhua’s’ chunni or dupatta and pretending to be knowing and humming along the Anand Sahib and Chaupai Sahib. The primary motive as fathomed was to thank that Supreme lord ‘Waheguru’ for all the blessings and perhaps secretly ask for more too.

Teenage and beyond, as I dug deep into the Sakhis and Sikh history, some out of curiosity and some as part of a curriculum, it was like waking up amazed at the wonders of the religion I was born into. The heart would gush with pride at the thought that the torchbearers of my religion were so forward looking centuries back that they incorporated Banis of 15 Bhagats (Muslims and Hindus), 17 ordinary Bhatts (Chamars and Marasees, those belonging to lower castes) and of ordinary Sikhs. In doing so, an example was set that anything that’s meaningful and can inspire mankind should be imbibed without putting it through the religious and social fire of caste, creed or profession!

Nothing brings you closer to the tenets of your faith than visiting the historical Gurudwaras and trying to relate to the Sakhis and importance around each one of them. Each time that I’ve visited the Golden Temple, it has been nothing short of a divine experience. I have bowed out of reverence at the magnificent gates of Darshani Deori and my eyes have welled up remembering the Sakhis of faith and gratitude around the Dukhbhanjani Beri. The head holds itself high thinking of the fact that Guru Arjan Dev Ji got the foundation stone of the Golden Temple laid by Mian-Mir- a muslim Sufi saint.

As I experienced the most beautiful Aartis of my life at Hazoor Sahib midst the display of Shashtra (Gurus’ weapons), the heart and soul gushed with immense pride. Words fail when you see with your eyes what belonged to the Guru who wrote

Chun kar az hameh heelate dar guzasht halal ast burdan bi – shamsher dast’

meaning when all has been tried, yet justice is not in sight; It is then right to pick up the sword. It is then right to fight. (quote from Zafarnama)

When I count my blessings, one that comes on the top is having started my married life in the city that was the birthplace of the founder of Khalsa Panth, our Dasvi Patshai (tenth Guru), Shri. Guru Gobind Singh ji. The Guru, whose life and teachings have had a lasting impression on the Sikh ideology. A leader, warrior, poet, philosopher and one of the finest and generous human beings that history witnessed.

As you pass by the byelanes of the Old Patna city to reach the sanctum Sanctorum, almost on the banks of Ganga, what stays with you for life as an enriching experience is the darshan of the Gurus’ sandals and many other relics. Midst this divinity, the soulful rendition of;

‘Tahi Parkash Hamara Bhayo,
Patna Shehar Bikhey Bhav Layo.’

These chants donot just fill up the nooks and corners of Sri Harmandar Sahib but your soul as well.

Every visit to Keshgarh Sahib leaves you with goose bumps and no Sikh can escape getting transformed back in history and relive for sometime the magic moments when Guru Gobind Singh ji addressed a huge congregation which saw Five men from humble backgrounds volunteer themselves for that supreme sacrifice and were later baptized and christened as ‘Panj Pyaaras’(Five beloveds).

The ceremony did not just signify the birth of Khalsa Panth (1699 AD) but heralded the equality of all before the Supreme Lord. A Khatri (shopkeeper), Jat (farmer), Chhimba (calico printer), Ghumar (water carrier) and a Nai (barber) became the first Singhs of the Khalsa Panth! Hereon the Sikhs were bestowed with the unique identity and directed to sport the 5 Ks as part of their attire.

No wonder why, one of the most enriching journeys of my life has been the one I travelled with my faith. Also the one, that I love to look back upon as it brings along warm emotions that are as beautiful as the journey of seeing ones’ child grow out of your arms, to become a pillar one could lean on, and a well from which one could keep drawing strength from.

Whilst braving the roughest of storms or riding high on the wave of blessings or even while going through the mundane routines, when verses from the ‘Banis’ keep visiting you or your feet nudge you to walk towards a Gurudwara, at times you wonder what surreal energy eggs you and binds you to that Lord. The answer comes in one humble word and that is ‘Faith.’

Faith that follows no rulebooks but begets you the strength and courage, helping you to go beyond your mindset while keeping you grounded by not forgetting to be thankful. It also transcends borders, barriers and any bindings.

The heart is humbled in parts and brims with pride in others at having got the privilege of putting in a few strokes from my modest odyssey as an ode to the religion I would want to be part of in each life!

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Keep Calm Maa… I’ve just turned 13!

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Every year just before your birthday, I compulsively go through a plethora of emotions. Year after year, reliving the moments when you arrived, rolling your eyes, looking dazed and amazed, while being bounced around by paternal and maternal elders.

My emotions have always been quite quirky; either too early or too late. Late they were, 13 years back too. They sneaked in hours after you arrived, perhaps when I had you, all to myself giving me a questioning look as if asking, ‘Lady – are you supposed to be my Mom?’ And then they unplugged and have been pouring out non stop till date. In these 13 years of being a mother, every year I’ve fondly written about your big and small milestones and how much I’ve myself grown with each of yours. This year as I pick up the pen, it refuses to pen about the little boy tugging on to me and urges me to be fairly honest.

Here I am, not writing about the baby in my lap , anymore. It is about my husband’s new buddy. Not sure when, but somewhere in this year you’ve taken a flight out of my lap flanking your father as you reach his shoulders. Arms in arms, I see both of you walking new paths, following new found passions and indulging in fearless adventures that I’m trying hard getting used to. Lest I forget, how you both gang up when I am at my nagging best. The rolling of those eyes and the exchange of some amused glances, that I so often pretend to have missed. When you mimic your father and urge me to chill in his tone, I cannot miss the father beaming sheepishly. No wonder, he has a new buddy and this mother has two brats to handle.

From the Papa who was not to be told a lot of secrets that Mama and baby shared, I can see two partners in crime making plans in hush-hush tones and holding on to announce them strategically when mommy’s mood is at her brightest. I hear conversations become whispers as I enter the room unannounced and can sense some mutual plotting that is underway.

From a hands-on and a hands-full mom, I am suddenly finding myself with some free space and time. Nevertheless, confused at times whether I should be enjoying this newfound space, sit back and smile at the baton being passed or sulk a little and throw some weight around. From tending to a child and a hubby, I am suddenly midst two young men in my life. One, a teenager and the other who has just got back to his teens again with his son. A big corner of my heart is relishing this new bonding to the hilt, while the other handles the little vacuum that raises its head once in a while.

From a timid child, who would sob in my lap at the slightest scratch for days and seek attention, to setting up challenges and enduring to overcome them, I know what exactly, walking out of my lap has done to this touchy and delicate baby of mine.This emotional mother, on numerous occasions struggles not to let flow what wells up proudly in the corners of her eyes. When I lose out on the logic you embed in your arguments and fumble for words, I see images of my self in you. Midst looking for images of my own self and your father in you, I have started feeling the lovely presence of a fine young man who has a mind, identity and choices of his own. Moments, when I know its time to let go bit by bit.

At the end of each day, as you insist that I tuck you in your bed with a nice peck, I suddenly realise that the baby is still around. He is just shooting up and lapping up the wonderful new experiences and emotions that teenage is dishing out. It’s too tempting to hover over but I got to sit back and enjoy watching him explore his beautiful new space.
On the flight through your teens. Seat belts fastened and seats upright!.
Happy 13 th!
From Ma

P.S. From my diary, on my son’s 13 th birthday. In case you found a connect, your comment shall warm my heart!

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The frills that tug on my Heartstrings…

Just a step out of my den and I would switch off my mains, be tempted to break into a jig, raise my arms and soar up an up like a bird who attains bliss beyond a height. And then that trance that took me through catching up with friends, gossiping with cousins and giving mom those pitch dark circles under the eyes by coaxing her to sit with me and faff and babble endlessly about every damn thing and person. Getting up only when the sun would put me to shame and feign on hubby’s call ‘Oh I was missing you so much!!!’ and giggle like a school girl on hanging up.

Was it all from some other lifetime?? For the excitement still remains, but as I step out of my den, there is lots nibbling me inside and lots more nudging me as if pulling me back into the house. The calls to cousins and pals make way for calls to milkman and handing over rituals to the maids. The urge to call up and ask the maid whether the plants are watered well and curtains drawn nicely is just too hard to resist.

I carry a lump as I step out every six months. I glance longingly and quite so foolishly at the walls. The house might not be perfectly done up as on other days but the last day I am doing it up as if trying to bond with the baby more out of sheer guilt for leaving it back for some time. In the last minute handing over, I often miss that questioning look on my, otherwise quite matter of fact hubby’s face as if saying ‘Am I somewhere in the queue??’ As soon as I’m done with the journey I do make a call to make up and say ‘I’m already missing you’ but fall prey to ending it with hope you switched off the geyser!’

As much as you want to run away as much as you love to hate them, you eventually fall head over heels in love with those very strings. They tug me on, they nudge me. At times they might even smother me but the fact is that I’ve somewhere got addicted to their embrace. I might say at times that I want to break free but inside I know I yearn for them to snuggle me. Such are these frills !