Category: Family

Little Dreams – India

The wedding date was set a year in advance and Buzz started making plans right then and there. For a child her age, a year is a long time coming which meant I kept telling her it would be a while. She waited and waited very patently at that but come September every day seemed never to pass. Anyone she met, it was all about the trip to India. Everyone in her school (students, teachers, parents, director of the school – everyone) knew the date we were leaving, the food she planned to eat, the clothes she hoped to wear.

“I can’t watch TV, right Mumma?” she looked at me with sad eyes as we sat down in our seats. I smiled and told her we would talk once the plane took off. So sure she was of the no TV rule that she kept saying “you will say no.” Seatbelts on, no kicking the seat in front, please don’t jump around, count to 100, listen to what the pilot is saying – I said it all to keep the two little bundles of energy in their place till we took off and then much to their delight I switched on the little TV screens in front of their seats. As I navigated, “Dora!” they screamed. Dora it was. Just before the show started, she looked at me with bright eyes and thanked me. I told her, we would take breaks, read a little, draw a little, sleep a little but she could watch shows and movies and those decisions were hers for the duration of the trip. —Delight at getting the freedom to pick her own screen time, never happened before!

“How will we go home? Do you know the way, Mumma?” she asked with concern. “Tau ji will come get us baby,” I told her. She was so uncertain, some faded memories, voices on the phone, hazy images over Skype. Would he really come? Would she like it if he came? But there he was and so was SP Didi. They opened their arms wide and she ran right in to them. The trip home was spent talking a mile a minute and endless kisses for SP Didi. Once home she walked in, looked around and remembered. With a smile, off she was to the room that was ours. Her excitement at familiar faces, familiar surroundings had us all in splits. —Joy of being engulfed in love, joy of being surrounded with family!

“We are going to see Nana,” “We love Nana,” “AK Mama is coming to get us, Yay!” “He calls me Makhhi, why?” “I can’t wait to ride the train!” Little voices kept repeating in a loop, till we got to railway station and they spotted AK Mama. She jumped in to Mama’s arms the minute the door of the car opened. Bugz, of course, had to copy which meant poor Mama had his hands full with two mini hurricanes. A week before we had left, he had send a message to me asking what I was getting for him. I had replied “2 jantu!” “You were not kidding,” he laughed at me, with the two of them hanging off of him. As we took our seats in the train, he got out two candies from his backpack and handed one to her. She looked at me, at my nod, took it, give him a hug, sat on his lap as she ate on. —Getting spoilt and how!

I was in the kitchen, trying to figure out what to make for breakfast when Mami ji rushed in. “Buzz kept looking at me as if she wanted to say something. I asked her what she wanted but she kept quite. I asked again and she very softly said ‘Parantha, paneer paranth.’ So move out of the kitchen, I have some paranthas to make.” Saying I would make them made no difference. “She asked Choti Nani so Choti Nani will make,” came the response. Mama ji who was forever busy on the phone making last minute arrangements for the wedding kept saying no when we asked him to make halwa for us. “Please Chote Nana,” she said softly. Chote Nana dropped everything was standing in the kitchen less than a minute later. “Nana, will you wake me up when you get up in the morning so that I can play with you?” and there he was every morning picking her up and playing with her. “Can we go to the park?” they would ask and there were at least 4 people ready to take them. —Everyone dancing to every demand big or small!

Shopping for wedding clothes was the hardest thing SIL and I did. The sheer amount of bling that was in the stores almost blinded us. The shift in fashion and how different it was from what we were looking for – for the kids, for ourselves made us despair. The idea of going shop to shop with four kids in tow had us worried but the kids figured out a game in no time. All the bling on the sarees, suits, lehngas are glued on and not stitched on which meant they fell off really easy and there was loads on the floor. ‘Jewels’ they called them and started collecting them. Four kids, 15 to 30 mins in a store meant the store floors were wiped clean by the time we left. —Games they come up with!

“Nana, I want a beautiful dress for the wedding, just like that dholi taro song. Will you ask Mumma to buy something like that for me?” Nana promised that she would have something similar, which meant everything we bought for them had to be approved by Nana. Added to it was the fact that there was nothing I was liking. Which meant I gave up and decided I would rather she wore cotton than the bling and took her to Fab India. She wanted a lehnga and there were a couple in her size. She liked one, I liked it too, paid and bought. All excited I came home but the lehnga failed Choti Nani’s and Nana’s sniff test. Too simple for a wedding, it was deemed. “I can’t find anything else,” I wailed. Paa made a few calls and figured out that there was one store that might have something for the kids. Not exactly to my taste but much better than anything else we had seem so under all the eyes watching me I said yes. She loved it. It twirled and swirled, what was not to love. —Gold and blue lehnga!

“Mehndi mehndi,” she had been dreaming for a year. “Can you draw a design on my hand?” ever so often she would come holding a pen. The day of mehndi came and she was giddy. We had a lot of little things to take care so we left early morning with the promise to come back in time for the mehndi in the evening. Between blouse fittings, bangle shopping, shoe shopping for the kids, shirt for AK Mama, jutti for PD Mama aka the groom, the day got away from us. As we were about to head back home, two evenings to the wedding, PD Mama remembered he had to get a pagdi and the kalgi that goes with it. What? Everything came to halt. We ran like crazy to find the shops. It was already dark and she knew the mehndi people were already home. Her little heart broke, convinced that they would leave before we got home. Promises and assurances made no difference. Even bribe of an ice-cream worked only for 10 or so minutes. Longest hour and half for her, for sure. We came home and she ran in crying, “Choti Nani did they leave?” and halted as she saw all the people singing and the mehndi wala sitting there. A quick change of clothes and she sat as she waited for her turn, all while other kids ran and played. Me telling her that I would call her when it was her turn made no difference. —The only child who did not wash her hands before going to bed that night!

“Papa is not going to come. I am sure he is not going to come.” Everyone was home, someone came by every hour but Papa was not there. It was the day of the sangeet, it was time for the late nap, after which we would get dressed and leave for sangeet and Papa was not there. “Papa will be here when you get up from your nap,” was met with “Are you sure? For real?” Well guess who woke her from her nap? And guess what she did when she saw his face? Held on tight and did not let go. Dressed in her Fab India lehnga and the bindi and chuddi that she had asked for but had thought I had forgotten, she bounced off the walls till the rest of us got dressed. Beautiful dress, music, dancing, food, ice-cream, Papa. —Life is good!

“Can we get dressed for the wedding?” “Why is it in the evening?” “Why can’t we dress up early?” “Why do we need to take a nap?” and we finally got dressed in the evening. The mehndi was perfect, the bangles jingled, the bindi matched, the lehnga twirled. As we got nearer to the wedding venue there was a horse drawn cart and all the kids got to sit in it to give PD Mama company. There was something called the band, there was dancing, there was a long wait to get inside the venue as Mama’s friends danced, there was candy cane, there was kulfi, and then the little bundle came to a halt .. there came SK Mami and she was beautiful. Pause and gape. OK there was paneer, there was ice-cream. Eat, dance, get pictures clicked and she fell asleep before the pheras started. But woke up in time to welcome Mami home. —Little dreams she dreamt of for a year, they all came true in one short trip!

My Dil goes hmmm

Chalte chale jindagi..
kabhi yoin he mud jati hei.
Jaate jaate..
koyi nayi si raah dikhla jati hei.

I walk around these days with a sense of joy. The day to day life remains but I don’t feel weighed down by it. Don’t know what changed, was it the family, is it the growing kids? I don’t know, but with change of the year, I have stepped in to a new part of my life. I feel light, I feel buoyant, I feel happy.

Wo gunjati hansi.
wo chote chote pal..
Wo gungunati baatein..
wo khushiyaan har pal

The kids had a blast together. Potty jokes where at their funniest. A bear, with cotton coming out of the back seams, was named Poo bear. Pooka is the new name for errrmmm.. fart. Every toy was made to sit on the pot, sounds made, eeewww shrieked and giggles plenty. Couple of hour long trips went arguing over which part of the pot was whose.

Then there was the first time on skies. The falling, the getting up, the being together in it all. And the best part about the whole ski class – hot chocolate. Cold, snow, bulky clothes – every thing was endured without a complain because there was that special cup of steaming hot coco at the end. There was standing on Paa’s skis, holding on to the poles, pretending to do all the work while Paa propelled then around Bunny slopes.

There was playing with Nana/Dada (which ever kid called him by whatever name), there was confusion over how he could be Nana and Dada at the same time, there was demands for books to be read, there was mastiyaan his style, there was getting away with asking for candy because he did not know the rules, there was snuggling in the blanket with him, there was calling dibs over who gets to sleep in the bed next to his. Indulgence has its own fun, after all.

Laakoin sawal..
sawaloin mein uljhe se jawaab.
Pakdo, chode, dhoondo..
sang mein peerote raho khawaab.

Buzz and her questions get more complicated every day. “Why is the rainbow shy?”, she asks. “How can you build a column under water without water running it over?”, comes next. “Why does the sky change color?” “So does water?” “What is reflection?” “Why do flowers not grow in winter?” “Why do Cherry Blossoms come for such a short time?” “Why is Mango seed so big while watermelon’s so small?” “Where are the strawberry seeds?” “Why can’t a car fly?” “Why does bad man hurt someone when he knows hurting is bad?” “Why do we have to sleep? It is so boring.” “Why are you not going to work today? We need money to go to India.” “My friend said, doctor cuts Mommy’s stomach to get the baby out. Why does the doctor want to hurt Mommy?” “Did the doctor cut your stomach to get me out?” “How did I get inside your stomach, Mumma?”

They never end. And I get better at creative answering every single day. It is a constant balance of telling the truth, but just enough that she would actually understand.

Heartbreaking as it is, homework is part of our daily life now. It comes every Monday and is due the next week. My little baby can read small small books on her own. ‘Jack and Jill and big dog Bill went up the hill’, she reads to me and my heart breaks in to small little pieces. I love reading books to the two of them. Soon that will be gone, I cry. And just when I am at the doorstep of despair, she snuggles up in my lap, hands me a book and says, “Read to me Mumma.”

She comes stands next to me and puts her hand on her head and then a little above my stomach. “I am this tall, Mumma. When I am 7, I will come up to your shoulders and then by 10 I will be taller than you.” I hug her tight and tell, not quite by 10 but by 13 for sure. It is all so amusing, she laughs and I laugh right alongside her.

“Can I sit in your lap, Mumma?”, she asks.
“Always!”, she parrots right along with me.
Hugs, kisses, I Love yous – my world is full of them. They come and they come all the time and I gather them all up, holding them close. And as we sit, holding on tight, she weaves her dreams about the future – her house right next doors to ours, how she will drive me around and cook for me, our sharing of clothes. College, work, her little dreams, so fun to hear, so very precious.

Chanchal gudiya..
uthti, baithti, naachti, gaati.
Chamkti aankein..
meeloin lambi baatein, sada khilkhilati.

Bugz, my little one, finally has a perfect name. Pataka, I call her and she gleefully smiles and says, “Me pataka.” Forever moving, never in one place, not predictable, anything can set her off – that is her, Pataka. Almost at the end of the day, when I am tired, she loves to sit on my lap, but sitting for her means sitting and getting off every 30 seconds. 10 mins in to it, I feel like I have been through the spin cycle of my washing machine. I hold her, I let her go, I pull her up, I help her down, I give her a blanket, I take off the blanket, I read to her, I give her milk, I keep them aside, I start over.

‘Me’ and ‘this’ are her favorite words. ‘Me’ for herself and ‘this’ for everyone else. Extra emphasis means saying these words twice. “Me me give dudhu.” “This this keep here.” The ‘r’ and ‘l’ sounds are coming to her but she still bungles them up, but ‘m’ and ‘n’ get interchanged all the time. Which is to say, ‘name’ becomes ‘mane’ in no time. Everyone names she screams out loud, but ask her Mumma’s name and she gives a shy smile and says “Me Mumma.”

My favorite thing to ask her is if something is ‘achha’ or ‘ganda’ (good or bad).
Didi?
Didi achha!
Didi thoda (little) achha, jyaada (a lot) achha?
Didi jada achha!
Bugz?
Me achha!
thoda accha, jyaada achha?
Me no jada achha, me thoda accha

Always without a fail and then when I look at her in mock horror, she giggles, literal he he he giggles and screams, “Me jada achha!”

Whatever Didi does, she has to do. Whatever Didi wants, she wants. Every toy is snatched, every action is copied, much to Didi’s dismay. When Didi sits with her homework, Bugz sits to draw circles in her book. She watches like a hawk as I get Didi ready after her bath and the minute Didi gets up she comes running to sit in my lap. If Didi wears her stockings, she has to wear hers. Party shoes are soon to follow and showed off to any and everyone. If Didi gets her hair in two ponytails, dare you not make two choti for her. Didi gives two kisses to Mumma, she will give double that amount. Not that Mumma is complaining at all!

Loud, assertive, lover of music, crazy about dancing, stickler for schedule, stubborn, affectionate, quick to anger, utterly adorable with kissable cheeks – that is her.

“This Didi me ka”, she tells us and we all agree without any argument. Who has the energy to argue, I ask?

They came, we had fun, they left

One particularly depressing day, I picked up my phone and called them. The minute they answered, I went on a rant, “It is summer, the kids are out of school, why can’t you come over, even if it for a few days”. The two of them totally shocked, calmed me down and asked me what was up. Like a petulant child, I kept repeating, “Just come”.

Plans were made, tickets were booked and days counted. Sheets were washed, beds were made and towels in place. The day of, Buzz asked me why there were not here yet. I explained that she had to go to sleep and she would wake up to them in the house. The innocence that she is wanted to go to bed at 7:00 itself. D left just as I was putting the kids to bed and then the wait started again. It took forever for the clock to strike 10:07 and the garage door finally opened and I rushed down to fall in their arms and hold on tight.

Laughs, talks, dinner and it was time to catch some sleep. Somewhere in the middle of the night Bugz got up and started screaming, “Mumma” and would not stop. Groggily I walked in to her room, to see her pointing to *her* sleeping and saying “Kon?” (who). Soon *her* and Buzz where up too and giggling excitedly. Love, sweet words, angry words, big eyes – all were used to finally get all three of them back to sleep.

6:00 in the morning saw the same story repeated and I gave up on any further sleep. Bugz was re-introduced to big didi. And then with the rest of the family as they woke up.

Once Bugz got to know them, big didi became Didi2 while Buzz stayed Didi. Mama was Papa. “Whose papa Bugz?”, came back with a prompt “Didi2”. Similarly Mami became Mumma and the adults were thoroughly confused every time she called out, “Mumma/Papa”, which means there was increasingly frustrated Bugz pulling at someone’s shirt. Bhaiya had to make do with finger points and “enh”, poor little baby.

There was showing off of the cousins at school, trips to various parks, amazing food, picnics, splashing around in the lakes, ferry rides and long drives. There was teasing, fights, tears, time outs and making up.

There was a night of sitting and remembering, sharing of worries, re-living the horrible months, missing Maa like crazy, tears, holding on, re-assurances, opening of private feelings, reminiscing childhood days, laughs, promises, care – all soaked in so much love.

There were 5 rakhees made and tied to the utter confusion of 4 little munchkins. There were fights over colors and frustration about not knowing how to tie them. There were huge smiles on all four faces once the rakhee were in place. There were showing off of little wrists.

There were the hugs good bye and as they left, I walked around the house as a lost soul. A week since they left and the house still feels empty. There are art projects that the kids did to be collected and put away. There are socks and T-shirts and books to be found in obscure corners of the house, that I gather and keep aside for the next trip.

Bhaiya and A – I miss you so very much.
Kids – Can’t wait to hold you all over again.
December – Please come quick.

Hide and Seek

Sometime last month we went camping with friends and the kids got introduced to the game that marks all of our childhood – Hide and Seek. While the adults took care of setting up the tents and getting the meal ready, the kids hid behind trees and cars and were laughing all the time.

Yesterday after the evening meal was done and D and I had crashed on the couch, Buzz smiled and asked, “Can we play hide and seek, Mumma?”.

“Sure, go hide”, I told her and off she ran.

Too tired to get up (also knowing where Buzz was hiding) I send Bugz to find her. “Go Bugz, find Didi”, and off she was. We knew Buzz was spotted by Bugz’ lough laugh and Buzz’s shriek.

As the came to us with smiles on their faces, I told Bugz it was her turn to hide. Bugz turned around, ran and hid in the exact same place as Buzz. Buzz found her with no issues at all.

The two of them took turns a couple of times when D said, “my turn, now both of you find me.” I entertained the kids while D found a place to hide. The three of us laughed and giggled and then the kids were off finding Papa. I could hear calls of “Papa”, “Bugz go look there” and then loud laughs as Papa was found.

It was Papa’s turn to seek and the kids scrambled around to hide. Once D was done finding the kids, since all he needed to do was follow the giggles, Buzz asked “where is Mumma?”. Oh no! Mumma was hiding too and Papa had to now really work on his seeking skills.

We hid, we searched, we found. Every door, closet, corner in the house was searched. We laughed, clapped, jumped.

Simple childhood game, continues to give so much joy. Simple childhood game, still keeps us entertained. Simple childhood game, now has new additions to its players list.

Re-evaluate

Years later, when I look back to this time of my life, the one things that will stand out most in my memory is the sound of the kids crying.

There is stubborn Bugz, who wants everything her way and can cry endlessly to get her way. There is the over-sensitive Buzz, for whom even the slightest perceived slight is enough to burst in to tears. One starts and the other joins in. Highs and lows; sometimes in sync, sometimes cacophonic; crescendo reached?, who knows; climax not in sight.

Kids have the knack of getting you this close to your break point; shatter all your notions about yourself; make you abandon all your rules; bring you down to your knees; and kick you over the edge.

The kids are asleep. The hellish day that was, is done. My ears still ring with never ending cry fest. I sit and look at all I know about myself, all I thought about myself, all my views on parenting and I come back with a blank. Nothing I do seems right, not one thing seems to make it better. Anger, that I could not keep a handle on; something I would regret, I avoided by sheer will; so close, so close.

What/why/how/which/when, I wonder, as anger still simmers. Till I find the answers, I guess, an Ibuprofen for the pounding head will have to do.

Life and all it’s questions!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG-WDXk36TE%5D

Two worlds collide

Bugz loves to be held, cuddled and carried around – a total contrast to Buzz.

Bugz refuses to let anyone hold her hand as she walks – a total contrast to Buzz.

A couple of weeks back while D and I were taking care of early morning chores, before we left for work, we heard Bugz give out a happy laugh. We looked to see Buzz holding Bugz hand and the two of them walking around the living room. This has since become their morning schedule. They are seen walking hand in hand, laughing every now and then, as we get ready in the morning.

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When Buzz was a few weeks short of her first birthday, on a sunny day, we had gone to a lake nearby. While D and I collected things to carry with us, Maa and Paa held one of Buzz’s hand each and started walking. Little Buzz walking between her Nana and Nani and they protecting her from every bad (real or perceived) around. That picture of the three of them walking is one of my favorite pictures of baby Buzz.

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This past weekend I took both the kids grocery shopping with me. After parking the car and getting the kids out, I decided to see if I could make Bugz walk till the store rather than carry her. Buzz held Bugz hand on one side and me on the other. Surprise of surprise she did not pull her hand out of either of our grasps even once. We crossed the parking lot and just before the glass door opened I saw the image we made. For that split second I saw a world that is long gone, a world that is never coming back.

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The same evening D and I took the kids out to play. Again in the parking lot Buzz held Bugz hand on one side D on the other while I held Buzz’s other hand. The four of us walked together and suddenly a new image got added to my mental album. The image of us – the family.

Naming of names

I come from a family that believes in giving people they are close to names. Not normal names like yours and mine but names out of love. I was famously known to have 101 names, with everyone in the extended family calling me by a different name. I am sure no one ever really made a list out and counted them all, but there were so many that 101 seemed like a good number. And of course more the number of names means more you are loved.

The story goes that I was born with a head full of curly hair which was a first in the family. Owing to the novelty factor Maa loved playing with my hair, pulling them straight and watch them form little ringlets again. One day while doing the same she called me her ‘Laado kodo’ (I did tell you these names make almost no sense did I not?). Bhaiya who was playing next to us tugged at Maa’s hand and said with sad puppy eyes,

Keh lo, keh lo. Apni beti ko to ‘Laado Koti’ kehte ho. Mujhe to kuch bhi nahein kehte.*

Bhaiya in all his innocence while trying to call me with the exact same name that Maa called me by in fact gave me a brand new name. Maa immediately lay me down on the side and picked Bhaiya up but that is not the story I am telling. I am trying to prove that I was the most loved child in the family.

Now having been the recipient of so much love, how could I not pass it on? So soon after D and I got married he became the first victim ..err..recipient of my love filled imagination. After which I preceded to train him in the art of naming names. When Buzz was born both of us gave her our own set of names, to the point where she was heard telling her Nana,

Buzz mumma ka ‘x’ hei aur Papa ka ‘y’ hei.

OK so it was our big game to ask her,

Buzz kis ka ‘x’ hei?

while cheering her on when she got it right.

Nana not to be left behind calls her his ‘Laadu’ and Buzz promptly added it to her various names while telling people she was what to whom.

Cut to Bugz being born. Nana was talking to Bugz one day as he held her and happened to say,

Yeah kis ka Laadu hei? Nana ka.**

Buzz who was nearby was quick to question her Nana on the same, after all she was not ready to let go of HER name. Nana improvised under pressure to say that Bugz was his ‘chota Laadu’ while Buzz was his ‘bada Laadu’. Buzz was so pleased with being called ‘bada’ and Bugz ‘chota’ that she is heard saying,

Bada Laadu playgos (Legos) see khelta hei, chota Laadu to nahien khelta.***

or

Nana aapka infections (injection, the mark we all have on our left hand) hei, bade laadu ka to nahien hei. Chote Laadu ka bhi nahien hei.****

all through the day.

Then one day as she played with Bugz (err pulling on Bugz hand) she was heard calling Bugz ‘Kidoz’. And that is how while the parents still struggle to find the perfect name for Bugz, she has her first love filled name all thanks to badi didi. And I smile wide for I have successfully taught Buzz the importance of having and giving these names. She will ensure that the tradition moves forward never to be forgotten.  

*Say it, say it. You call your daughter ‘laado koti’ but don’t call me anything.
**Whose Laadu is this? Nana’s.
***Bada Laadu plays with playgos (Legos). Chota Laadu does not.
****Nana you have infection (injection mark). Bada Laadu does not have it. Chota Laadu also does not have it.