Month: December 2013

Missing

Dear Maa,

When you left us, I was 8 months pregnant. The one thing I was told over and over, by everyone around, was “She is in a better place now.” I get how uncomfortable people are in face of true grief, especially when it is not theirs. But I wanted to throw their words back at them. Things like move on, be strong, God’s will – they meant nothing to me and they did nothing for me. I think all I wanted was for them to all shut up and leave me alone, let me deal with my grief in my way. Then again that really was not much of an option. Premature stress induced contractions, Bugz suffering because of all this and I think I clamped down somewhere. The pain was there and the tears came but for most parts I pretended that you were still back home and all I needed to do was pick up the phone and talk to you.

Now a couple of years in to it, that illusion also does not work. Sometimes in my dreams I walk those corridors, I breath in that smell, I look in through the glass door, I hear the beeping of all those machines, I see you in that all white room and I get up with a start. Who knew grief cannot be kept bottled up, it does break loose? Who knew sounds and smells are real even when dreaming?

I look back to the old days and realize that I always saw Paa and you as a unit. The rules of the family were set before my time, the task division happened before I knew about it, our family’s day to day life went on smoothly without any hitch. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to realize which part was yours and which was Paa’s? Every time I go home, I see the hole. It is like one half of the jigsaw puzzle has been taken away. Paa tries to follow the same rhythm, the same rules but some things can never be the same again, can it?

Last time Bhaiya was here, we sat talking late in to the night. We remembered the good and the not so good (as we saw it growing up). We remembered, we laughed, we cried and I realized how similar the two of us are. On the surface, we are very different. You always laughed about how we were like chalk and cheese. I tell you today that deep down we have the same ideals, we hate the same things, we believe in the same rules, we can’t stand the same things. Bhaiya talked about his feelings during the last few weeks, how as a total non-believer there was this desperate wish that there was truly a higher power. I followed up with now I understand why people believe in God. And he just nodded. We finished each others sentences, we understood each other with minimal words. We are still non-believers, we do not send out calls to the higher being but we both understand the ones who believe a little bit better. If you were around, I am sure you would have smiled at that. Yes Maa! we are close and we are together.

Back in college, I was visiting Mama ji’s place. There were guests over and as I opened the door to enter, their driver stopped me to ask if I was your daughter. Apparently he drove you for your wedding and he recognized me since I looked exactly as you did the day of your wedding. I used to hear it all the time that I looked just like you. I would laugh and say but for three things, “I am shorter than you, I am a little darker than you and I have wavy hair.” I never really saw the similarities. I only saw myself when I looked in to a mirror but now I find myself searching for a glimpse of you. Every time I straighten my hair, I part it in the center so see if I look like you. The other day while looking for a new frame for my glasses, I came across a frame just like the one you used to wear. I put it on and peeked in to the mirror, turning this way and that. To my great distress, I never see you, not even in this form.

As humans we have this fear of death, the will to live, there is always something more to live for but I have come to realize that it is much harder for the ones who are left behind. I don’t know what, if anything, happens when the end comes but I do know that the missing never ends. I miss your pyaaz paranthas and missi roti; I miss your besan ladoos and gajak; I miss your voice and the expressions on your face; I miss your scolding and your tight hugs; I miss your listening ears and your straightforward advice; I miss your big heart and your quite ways of giving to others; I miss your fights with Paa and your genuine care for him; I miss your strong personality and your soft heart; I miss your easy tears and your never ending strength; I miss so so much.

I sometimes feel like I have been sentenced to a lifetime in chilly winds and all the warmth has been taken away. The big embrace where I could rest for a while and re-charge has been lost. Once someone asked me if I feel that my kids will be deprived of love since they did not have one set of grandmother. Back then I had replied with a lot of confidence, “No, my mom has a lot of love to give. She will ensure that my kids will have all the love they need and more.” Now my biggest fear is that my kids truly will be deprived of all that love. No grandmom – to spoil them rotten, to envelop them in hugs, to protect them from the wrath of mean parents. You always said, “Kids should have a few people to spoil them.” Now the biggest someone has gone missing.

D, of course, is the one person who understands it all. The sorrow, the missing, the fears. He holds me through the toughest of these times but the grief still feels very private, something I can’t seem to share with anyone else. I see the struggle in him, but I am thankful he lets me be when I really need the time alone.

Tomorrow morning we will all go to get Paa from the airport. The kids are beyond excited. Then late night Bhaiya, A and the kids will be here as well. The house will be full. It will ring with laughs, running feet, fights. There will be experimental cooking, good food, lots of eating. Trips will be planned, places visited, excitement all around. Among all of that, I will search for a shadow of you. Be with us Maa, please!

Missing you,
-Gudiya

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Just as we are – Bugz

I hear her cry and rush to her room. There she cries, in her crib, eyes shut tight, still caught in the world of her dreams. I try waking her; the dream’s hold is too strong. I trying soothing her; she pushes my hands away. I try talking to her; she screams on. I sit by her crib, alternating between doing this and that. Sometimes I massage her head, sometimes I hold her hand, sometimes I sing to her, sometimes I tell her she is safe with me – all till she lets me and then I switch to the next.

It is heartbreaking to see her cry like that. The helpless feeling of not being able to help. The first time this happened, after trying a bunch of things to soothe her, I tried picking her up and holding her. She fought so hard that she almost hurt herself in the process. Lesson learned. She needs to find her way out. I can help in little ways but she is the one who needs to wake up and stop crying. It is difficult to put in to words what I feel during those times.

Somewhere as minutes go by Buzz wakes up and sits next to me. And we double our efforts. We talk and we soothe. She finally opens her eyes but the crying goes on. But it gets easier from ten on. ‘Do you want to read a book?’ ‘Do you want to play outside?’ ‘Do you want to take a bath?’ ‘Do you want to jump on Mumma’s bed?’ ‘Do you want to go for a drive?’. Most questions are met with a ‘no’, as she cries on, till something catcher her fancy. The crying stop immediately, her smile comes on as bright as the sun after a storm and off she is chattering about something or the other.

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Between 7:15-7:30 in the morning is wake up time. Her body clock is set. The first thing she does as soon as she wakes up is calls out, ‘Didi’ and they start off with their game of throwing toys in and out of the crib. 10 mins in to the game, when she has had enough, she calls out ‘Mumma’, in increasing decibels, till Mumma shows up at the door of course.

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Every single thing around her is ‘Baby’. Her blanket is baby blanket, her roti is baby roti, her dress is baby dress, her shoes are baby shoes, her book is baby book. Not because it is actually for a baby but because they are baby in comparison to ours and more importantly Didi’s. And she loves it all for being different.

Only exception is her towel. ‘Me biiiiiigggg towel,’ she will tell anyone who listens.

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As she learns her colors – geeeen, buee, back, peeennkk, bubble, elloow, baaooon – she mixes them up just for fun. One day yellow became back and there was no going back. If asked to point to yellow or black, she will point to them correctly but point to yellow and ask her what color it is, ‘back’ she will say and give you her biggest smile.

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Music she loves! The radio is forever playing, in the hopes of hearing the absolute favorite ‘Tiger gana’ (Eye of the tiger by Katy Perry) but as various songs play out she screams ‘Mumma gana’, ‘Papa gana’, ‘Didi gana’, ‘Aunty gana’ – all based on songs we have told her we like or she has heard us humming.

And dare anyone so much as sings a note out of a song that is someone else’s gana, there is hell to pay. Ask me about the day I was dancing along ‘Timber’ and the beating I got for singing ‘Aunty gana’.

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In my secret mission to teach them a few of my favorite Hindi songs growing up, I sing out loud as I go about dressing them, feeding them, giving them a bath. Buzz has picked up most of the lyrics but not to be left behind, Bugz chimes in at all the important parts.

Baar baar dekho, hazar baar dekho…

Taali ho, taali ho, taali ho – she screams

Hawa ke saath saath, ghatta ke sung sung..
..
O saathi chaaaaaallllll – she sings

Lakdi ke kaathi, kaathi pe ghooda..
..
tabak tabak – she shouts

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Onion, or pyaaz as she calls it, is her food love. She will eat most anything till she gets a bite of pyaaz after it. Dahi will do in lue of pyaaz but you better not push your luck too far.

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Her favorite book is “It’s not easy being a bunny”. As  P. J. Funnybunny goes about living with bear, bird, moose and so on, she is forever smiling and talking along.

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She got in to my closet while I was not looking and pulled out my bag. (I like to call it my India bag because that is the one I take with me on my trip back home)

She knows she is not supposed to take things out of my closet but the temptation is too much. She sees me looking and runs out full throttle and only stops when she gets downstairs. Busy in my morning chores and knowing there is nothing of any importance in that bag, I let her be.

When I go downstairs after a few minutes, she is sitting on the sofa, opening and closing zips. I look again and she sees me looking, holding on to the bag tight. Without saying anything, I look away and get to my work. Every time I look at her, she is looking right back at me, clutching the bag to herself.

The bag is only dumped aside when she realizes 1. there is nothing in it and 2. and more importantly I am not going to take it away from her.

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There was a time before Bugz, that I would not let Buzz touch my hair. My out of control hair was off limits. Come Bugz, stop has no meaning. So does ‘no’. As I sit to relax in the evening, she runs up to my bathroom and brings two combs down. Hands one to Didi, the other one is hers. She takes off my clip and then starts mission pull mom’s hair..err.. Mumma’s hair cut.

No, stop, ouch, running away – are no use.

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I was complaining to D about the number of gray hair I now have. D replied back with, I could always color my hair but what could he do about his hair loss.

Unknown to us, in the middle of a serious conversation Bugz brought one of her crayons and starting coloring my hair. So what if it was red in color?

D was thankful I did not talk about gluing some hair on his scalp.

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Her absolute favorite thing to do these days is to give Didi a hug and then she holds on tight and does not let go. Didi who has had enough of these hugs, tries to run away. A chase is given, Didi is caught (since Didi is not up to full speed yet, given the ankle), hug is given and full weight put in to it. To make things worse Didi can’t take Bugz full weight and so the game continues.

Again saying no or stop is futile.

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It was Didi’s performance yesterday night and Bugz was beyond excited. She waited for Didi impatiently through all the rest and was out of her seat to run to Didi as Didi walked on to the stage with her class. The threat of ‘someone would take away her seat if she did not sit’ was the only thing that made her sit else Didi’s class would have had an extra member dancing with them. And there is not one doubt about that.

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And that brings us to the close of all things Bugz in the year 2013

Just as we are – Buzz

This couple, friends of our, came to visit us when Buzz was but a week old. As they sighed over the baby, the guy looked at me and said, ‘Don’t stress too much over them meeting milestones. Don’t stress too much over where other kids are and where she is. They all catch up. At one point they all master the skills that need to be mastered and they are more or less at the same place.’

That, to me, was the best parenting advice I ever received. I tried following it, somewhat successfully, with Buzz and now with Bugz. I slip ever so often, but then I remind myself to step back. They are kids, they can’t be forced, should not be forced, in to doing things they don’t like just because other kids are doing them.

But and this is big but – I am a parent, an Indian parent at that. Education and competition in school is in my DNA.

Buzz goes to this school which she loves and I love. They have a good mix of letting kids explore on their own and teaching. Buzz thrives there. Last year her teachers would ask me, what I did at home to help Buzz learn. I would shrug and say, ‘nothing’. She picked everything she needed to at school, I heard no complains from her teachers, so I let home be her time, to do what she liked. If she did not know her months in a year in the correct order, I was OK with that. I knew she would pick it up at some point.

Summer school came. While kids got enrolled in reading classes and abacus outside of school, I let her play. I figured she goes to this great school, the focus would be on reading and Math skills anyways, why not let her enjoy her summer?

Now school is in full steam. Buzz gets her sight words, her decodable to read, her math facts to memorize. Homework is due every Monday where they are quizzed on all of the above and the competitive mom rears her ugly head. I sit with her every evening trying to get her to remember, trying to get her to read and my heart breaks a little everyday. I know, she is learning, it is important but I am taking away her time to play and I hate that. She is a kid and she gets distracted, a few things she finds hard and she does not want to do them, every once in a while she does not want to do any of that – and I push her. ‘A little bit more, I tell her.’ I understand that this is important but I wonder to myself, ‘so what if she does not remember it this week, she will remember it the week after and that is OK right?’ And yet, I push her. I get caught between teaching her not to give up and letting a child be.

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Buzz is starting to read little by little and she is enjoying it. As I read to her in the evening she tells me, ‘Go slow Mumma. I want to read the words I know before you.’

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She also loves reading to Bugz. ‘Bugz do you want Didi to read a book to you?’ she asks. She mostly knows the books by heart so she half reads and half tells the story from memory but it keeps the two of them very happy.

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‘Why do I have to read the decodable, Mumma?’ she asks. ‘So that you can start reading books like I do,’ I tell her.

‘But you only look at books, you don’t ready them.’

‘I do read books, have you not seen?’

‘No voice comes when you sit with the books, you only look at them.’

And I am lost on how to explain!!!

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Buzz is a super protective elder sister. No one can say anything to Bugz. And she will do just about anything to keep Bugz out of trouble.

‘Bugz, you are Didi’s best friends, right?’ she is heard asking several times a day.

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Buzz is very easy to cry. An emotional kid, she has a meltdown at everything – someone refusing to play with her, Bugz not sharing a toy with her, threats of timeouts, Papa not being in town, the fact that she is getting late for school. Honestly there is no rhyme or a rhythm to it.

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She is currently super excited about her birthday (which is months away).

I want cupcake for my birthday.
No I want ice-cream.
Can I wear my long dress to school?
I want to wear my Halloween costume.
Can I get juice on my birthday?
I want Nana to come for my birthday.
No, not on Skype Nana, I want you here!

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Planning in advance, Nana asked her what she wanted for her birthday

‘A candle’

Surprised, Nana asked her if she wanted anything else?

‘A balloon’

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Buzz is a very loving child. Hugs and kisses and ILoveYous we get by the dozen every day.

One a day a very worried D asked, ‘What will happen to her when she grows up?’

I told him to enjoy it all while it lasted, it will all dry up once she gets a little older.

‘That is what I am worried about, she will give to someone else,’ came the reply in a very sad voice.

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Every evening she runs to her old class and hugs her teacher Ms. W. Now it is well known in the entire school and people guide her to Ms, W if she is not in her class, without even asking.

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She loves to dress up. Shoes, dresses, hair clips – she is in to it all.

‘Ms. A/Ms. J, what will we wear for our winter performance?’ she would ask them while the other kids were not even interested in practicing the dance moves.

‘Can we please wear a dress for the performance? Something which has a lot of sparkles in it?’

‘What shoes do we have to wear with our dress?’

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One evening when we went to hug Ms. W, she was making ribbon bows for the girls in her class, for the winter performance.

Buzz’s face feel. ‘Can I have one,’ she asked. I told her that the bows were for the younger kids and I would make one for her.

She hounded me no end till I bought all the necessary things and made a few for her. Now she goes and shows the various types to Ms. W every time she gets to wear the hair-clips to school.

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She is looking forward to the P Mama’s wedding in India next year and has her demands ready.

Chotti Nani has to make paranthas for her every morning.
I need to buy a new long dress (lehnga) for her.
She want to apply mehndi on her hands since I had them for my wedding (she just came across my wedding pictures and has been asking about everything)

We haven’t gotten to the jewelry part of the program but I bet it is coming soon.

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She is greatly influenced by the kids in school.

‘I don’t want to wear jeans because only boys wear them.’
‘I like the color pink because it is every girls favorite color.’

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And that is a wrap for all things Buzz for the year 2013 🙂

All about me

What we have in abundance, we don’t value. It is the dearth of something that increases its value. ~Comfy

There was a time when tags and awards were plenty, to the point where I think a lot of us stopped even acknowledging them. A few years down the line, they make a comeback to my blog and I lap it up. errr.. yes very shallow like that!

RM and Rays gave me the ‘One lovely blog’ award and I take it up with a gracious smile, a nod and a polite thank you. (Older and wiser Comfy)

one-lovely-blog-award

The award also comes with stipulations. So here goes

Seven eight – lay them straight

  1. I dread kids birthday parties – Before D and I had kids, we would get invited to all these kid birthday parties and we would not know what to do with ourselves in bouncy houses and magic shows. Once Buzz was old enough (and not Bugz) to enjoy these parties, that part got easy but I realized how difficult it was to buy gifts for kids. They had everything. There was not really anything they needed. Buying gifts soon became a chore but the worse was yet to come. Now the goody bags scare me to death. Two girls automatically means junk jewelry galore but when Buzz got actual makeup, I saw the pits.
  2. I do not love Christmas – It is the season to be jolly and everyone is excited but it is normal life for me. I am not saying I hate it, I am saying I am indifferent to it. Christmas was not part of growing up years for me and in that sense I can’t relate to the festival. All the gift buying and giving is again something I don’t relate to. And why kids should believe in Santa, I don’t get either. First we put the concept of Santa in their head, then we protect that idea, then we console them when the truth comes out and then we bemoan that they found out!
  3. I love the post Christmas sales – The plus side of all Christmas shopping that is going on – the sales that start in January. I stock up on the kids jackets, warm clothes for D and myself, boots, hats – the works, for at least 1/4th the original price. I once got a jacket for Buzz for 4.99 (original price 34.99) which she wore for two seasons and now Bugz is wearing it. Year before last I got a coat for myself for 32.99 (original price 199.99). What is not to love? And no we will not think about profit margins.
  4. I wonder where my friends are – I have been a lousy friend these past few years. Between all the juggling I do with kids and home and work, I have stopped being a friend. I am barely there for anyone, I don’t call, I don’t write, I don’t comment of any of the social media sites, I am distracted even when I am talking to them. Something to work on for sure.
  5. I always have had one serious obsession – Over time I have realized there is always have one obsession at all times. There was painting at one point, trashy books another, blogging was an obsession a few years back, there have been a couple of TV shows over the years, there was doodling last couple of years. I got all out, they completely take over and then slowly they lose their sheen. Some fall away completely, some stay but not as obsessions but more as good friends. And how did I come to this realization? Because I feel the void of not having one these days. Come soon yaar! (who can tell me the reference of this sentence? Tell tell!)
  6. I need cooking lessons – I am sick of the food I make. These days, if left to myself, I just stand in the kitchen, undecided. I can’t pick one thing I want to cook. I take the easy way out after a point and ask Buzz but I wonder how long that will last. I really, truly need to learn a few new dishes at the very least.
  7. I don’t know what to do with my hair – I can’t keep my hair open. If I can even see my hair from the corner of my eyes, the temples of my head start to throb. I have always kept my hair tied because of this but in the last year and a half tying my hair has started giving me a head ache too. All this means I don’t know what to do with my hair. I continuously go from tying it up and leaving it open, with no real solution.
  8. I am irrevocably changed – Some things change us in very profound ways. Maa’s passing away has done that to me. I smile and I laugh but the inner me is not the same. I feel, true joy has left me or rather long term joy is no more. I question a lot of things, I did not even think about before. Faced with something like this makes you question your own mortality, I guess, and that is what I find myself doing all the time.

5 ways to say something

  • Sometimes kindness can be delivered in a clumsy way. But it’s far more sincere in its clumsiness than those distinguished men you read about in  books.  ~Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray
  • If you need something from somebody always give that person a way to hand it to you.  ~Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
  • It’s a funny thing… but people mostly have it backward. They think they live by what they want. But really, what guides them is what they’re afraid of. What they don’t want.  ~Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
  • It’s hard being left behind. (…) It’s hard to be the one who stays.  ~Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.  ~Lane Olinghouse

Everyone I know has taken up the tag. If you have not please feel free to pick it up. Enjoy