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.

It’s a jungle out here

This year has not been nice to Mumma Comfy. What with her being sick and either eating unhealthy food or nothing at all at the start of the year, to worrying non-stop about sick Nani, to having a complete breakdown last month. No this year has not been nice to Mumma Comfy.

The tears and the sadness in turn set out a chain reaction of preterm contractions stressing her out even more. Emergency trips to labor and delivery, where Buzz didi would ask every few minutes, ‘Baby lenne aaye hein?’ Endless trips to the doctor’s office. Stress tests and amniotic fluid level tests and hematocrit levels tests.  The doctor asked her to reduce her stress levels. Did she succeed? To some degree. Were someone to ask me, if I wanted to be out just then? I would answer with a very strong, ‘Of course not!’ But then no one was asking me. Her weight was also not moving up but I can’t leave everything to her now can I? So I did my part and grew bigger, taking in all the nourishment I could and I grew strong every day. I also made sure to kick her real hard every now and then when I felt she needed to be told to take care of me.

But I have to give her that she did take care of me. She took her rests very seriously. Reduced her time at work by a lot, working from home instead. Nana moving his tickets to a couple of weeks early and being with her helped as well. And we got to the 37 weeks mark. Yay! I was full term. Which is when Mumma went in to her ‘let’s get work done’ mode. Things that needed to be bought were bought, which meant trips to the mall for me. Cleaning that needed to be done was done which meant increased number of random contractions for me. Food that she wanted to eat was cooked, which meant yummy food for me.

But I was greedy. I wanted to stay inside for a little bit longer. Mumma’s body was listening to my kicks and moves. We crossed over to 38 weeks. Mama rejoiced, placing all his bets on me arriving on his birthday. As if I would share my glory day with anyone else? The night of his birthday he sulked saying, there were 4 more hours to go and that Mumma should do something. Mumma laughed and went about making daal while Papa made rice. Dinner and dishes done, Mumma went to take a shower. She was on her way out when she felt some fluid coming out. She stopped in her tracks. Did her water just break? But it was just a trickle and it stopped after that. Was water breaking not this big dramatic ‘OH MY GOD’ moment which has the actress in the moves running around in frenzy? Nothing like that here. It was 11:00 at night as she picked up her laptop. Papa had to look up at that since Mumma just crashes and starts to count sheeps at this time every night. ‘What are you doing’, he asked. ‘Searching for some information’, she replied. A few clicks here and there and articles read, she called labor and delivery. ‘I think my water just broke’, she said, ‘but I am not very sure’. ‘It just might be lack of bladder control’, the nurse on the other end replied. Mumma looked around in horror and silently prayed, ‘please not THAT!’ The nurse asked her to do a few things, followed by lying down for a while and then to call in about an hours’ time either ways. An hour later Mumma called again with her findings and was asked to head to the hospital.

For two people who have been in a state of limbo for weeks on end, my parents were so not prepared to go to the hospital. There was running around to put the clothes in a bag, find the camera and its transfer cord, my take home clothes, my car seat (and guess what they forgot in the process? Their toothbrushes!). And the funniest thing is, Mumma who had been dealing with constant contractions for all these weeks was getting none now. So she moved around helping Papa without issues. The trip to the hospital at 1:00 at night was pain free unlike with Didi’s, as Mumma likes to tell. Labor room triage confirmed that the membrane indeed had ruptured and Mumma was 3 cm dilated which meant we finally got to see the delivery room at 3:00 A.M. The contractions were back but were not too painful. Mumma sat in peace reading her book, finished it (Yes yes the guy got the girl, if anyone is interested in knowing) and then went to sleep. Her doctor spoke to her after a while and said since things were moving so slowly maybe they should induce labor. What was everyone’s hurry, I would never know. 7:30 in the morning the contractions which were getting steadily more painful and closer together got really painful (I still have birthing rashes to show for them so I do know). Papa called Mama up to give him an update. Nana was called to get Buzz didi ready for daycare. Ballu uncle was called to ask him to drop didi off. Mama called back to say Mammi and the kids were flying the 11:00 A.M flight and would be with us at 2:00 in the afternoon. In the meantime Mumma was discussing the pros and corns of taking a pain killer for the time being to deal with painful contractions and then get epidural when she was closer to delivering or just taking epidural right away. Again given how long it took Didi to make an entry in to this world and how slowly her contractions were getting to the point where they got super painful it was expected that Mumma would have a long labor. At around 8:00 after all the discussion Mumma said, ‘Epidural now’. The anesthesiologist came in around 8:10 and the epidural catheter was put in. Mumma was in excruciating pain by then and was not too still I guess because the epidural only worked on the left side and Mumma was dealing with full on contraction pain on her right side. The anesthesiologist said sometimes it does take time and he would come back in 10 mins to check on Mumma and access the situation. The nurse checked on Mumma soon after which meant it was 8:20 and called out 8 cm dilation and zero station.

The nurse was still logging all this information but honestly I had enough. I wanted to stay inside but no one was ready to let me be. And I can’t stay in a place where I am not welcome, now can I? So I took things in my own hand. Mumma screamed, ‘I have to push, I just have to push’. The nurse was in shock. ‘You can’t push just yet; you are nowhere close to being fully dilated. I checked you 2 mins back’, said she. ‘I don’t know or care’, Mumma grunted, ‘I have to push’. The nurse came over and she could see my head. ‘OH MY GOD! Don’t push just yet. Let me get the equipment ready. Let me at least call the doctor’. Papa calls her the octopus nurse as she did 10 things at the same time, running in and out of the room, getting things ready, checking on Mumma and me, asking Mumma not to push or use little pushes. ‘I have to, I have to’, Mumma kept saying while Papa tried to soothe her and the nurse ran around. Another nurse came in to help set up things and then the doctor came. The doctor had one glove on, was working on putting the other one. The nurse was putting on the doctor’s gown when Mumma gave up and pushed. Once, twice, thrice and yipe yay I came out crying at 8:30 A.M. And just for all the pain and stress Mumma had put me through, I peed all over her. Ain’t I smart?

Buzz didi came to see me and was shocked that I was actually here. She kept looking from Mumma’s belly to me and refused to say anything. She has come around now though and calls for me the first thing in the morning and as soon as she comes from the day care.

Mumma held me and had a long crying session, which for once Papa let her, all the while holding on to her.

I hated the hospital because they kept poking and prodding me. I have five heel pokes and one in my thigh to show for it. I was so happy to come home.

Mammi, Didi and Bhaiya are here and the house is full of war cries and fights and laughs.

Nana is busy dotting on all four of his grandkids and gets no break at all.

Papa is busy taking care of Buzz didi and errands inside and outside the house. And me of course as and when needed.

Mumma watches my diapers obsessively and talks about pee and poop color. She was heard happily telling anyone who would listen that my poop was mustardy yellow now. Whatever that means!

She also calls me a joker at my nursing time drama. hmph!

And she thinks my cries sound like a peacock call. grrrr!

Emails and wishes are pouring in along with surprise ‘What we did not even know!’ from friends of Mumma and Papa who are not from town.

I am the center of the world in the Comfy household and I don’t mind it one bit. I do my part of sleeping at all the wrong times, waking up in the middle of the nights, demanding milk when Mumma is the most tired and generally being myself.

Welcome me to your jungle people and hope to see you all around.
-Bugz, the ‘she’ bunny
(Mumma thinks I look like a monkey, but optimistically calls me a bunny)

Ray of sunshine

Dear Buzz,

You are too little to know what a trouper you have been and how much you have helped us all through everything else that has been going on. Or maybe because you are so little and are blissfully unaware that you stay true to yourself and make us all smile through the tears.

Your enthusiasm for air-pains carried us through the horrors of horrendous routing, missed connections, added connections to the itinerary and multiple days of traveling. You figured out quickly that the food cart always had orange juice. You would patiently wait for the air-hostess to come to our seat and then promptly ask for orange juice before either your Paa or I could get a word out. Which caused everyone around to break in to smiles. You were forever looking out the window pointing out to the wings and engine and the clouds and land below and then say ‘air-pain uper, shooom’. Through spoilt milk and food you were not interested in, through confined seating and limited activities, through irregular timings and frequent waking up from your sleep, you kept going, not really ever complaining or causing too much trouble for us. And still are as fascinated with air-pain as you were before we did the 7 planes travel in less than a two week timeframe.

You were bored, confined inside the house owing to the severe heat and were still seen dancing to all the dinchak bollywood songs. The songs, colors, dancing seem to fascinate you no end. You invented your own game where the bed frame was a barn where imaginary cows, horses and pigs stayed. You played with them, moving them around, putting them to sleep and generally jumping around for hours. Your excitement at seeing a cow or a dog or a horse on the street had everyone excited about finding them for you. Your one outing for the day used to be to the hospital where you were only allowed to the door of the ICU. And you were seen running to the door every few minutes, putting your nose to the door, peeping in and saying ‘Nani theek ho jaao’. And the four little words melted all our hearts every single time.

Your Hindi English mixed language was a great source of amusement to everyone around. The time I picked up a cloth to clean up some mess and you heard me say, ‘mein saaf karti huin’ and you followed suit by picking up a cloth and saying, ‘I saafing’ in place of your standard, ‘I cleaning’ cracked us all up. Every time you said, ‘I suck’ in place of ‘I am stuck’ there were laughs and smiles all around.

I look back at the month that it has been and you stand out the one person who made a lot of us smile, who made us all forget even for a little while what was going on around us. I guess you did see me cry a couple of times and the sheer distress on your face had me wiping my tears away. But since then you have been extra generous with your hugs and cling to me much more. Your warmth helps when most other things don’t. My heart stops for a heartbeat every time you ask for Nani when we call home, I am extra impatient with your tantrums, I don’t do as much with you anymore, so I wanted to let you know that you give me reasons to smile, get angry, get upset, laugh, live every single day. You are my personal sunshine in the gray clouds that surrounds me. I am so blessed to have you.

Stay healthy, stay happy, stay you sweetheart. Always!

Love you loads,
-Maa

Family

The thing I remember most about the yearly trips to the native place was all the people we met. We covered the entire state with four main destination points. Paa’s village to see Dada ji, Dadi ji, Chacha, Chachi and all the cousins. Invariably both the Buas would come along with the kids as well. Then there was a visit to see Nani. A trip to badde Mama ji’s place and one to chote Mama ji’s place. Four corners of the small state meant we covered it all every summer vacation.

But these were not the only people we met. There were constant stops to have breakfast at someone’s house, tea at another, lunch someplace else, halt for dinner. All this with no formality. There were no four dishes for dinner along with puri and rice and desert to follow. These were unannounced drop in with whatever the family was having for dinner served to us as well. Which meant simple dal roti or khichadi or daliya. Mattresses lined up on the floor to sleep the night before starting out again. Every city we crossed, there was someone to meet.

I did not know who was who, what the connection was. I just knew them all as part of the family (whose side, Mom’s or dad’s, I never thought to ask). During the pesky teens I started taking umbrage to what someone said or how someone did something. But every time I brought it up with Maa she would calmly ask me

Is it really that big of a deal? Relationships take forever to build and a minute to break. Would you have us break a relationship over something this small?

The answer I always came up with was no.

College happened, marriage happened, moving away from the country happened, annual trips stopped, grudges became big in my mind and then got left behind with everything else that was going on in life. People were forgotten with the passage of time.

A few weeks back as Bhaiya and I stood helplessly wanting to give blood but rejected because of the blood type mismatch and having such a common blood group that the blood bank overflowed with it while Maa’s blood was of the rare kind so an exchange was not in the cards, I saw all these people I saw years and years back come forward. Seemingly on their own. One phone call to one person and the greater family connection came together. Unasked for, people came up and volunteered to get a blood match done. A pattern soon emerged and more and more people came forward. Mom’s mother’s eldest brother’s youngest son ready to drive out for an hour at a minutes notice. My 21 year old, totally irresponsible, all about having fun, cousin brother abstaining from drinking alcohol when out with friends and carrying a list of his friends and their phone numbers because they had the same blood type as Maa. And I think for the first time I really understood what family was all about.

As hard as it was, that constant hand on the head from someone or the other kept me going. As shattered as I was, the blanket of love covered me when I most needed it. As difficult as it was, they collectively pushed me out of the country and on a plane because that was the need of the hour. As heart breaking as it is for me to be away, I know Paa has that support system around him.

Today, I stand humbled, feeling an inch tall for all the petty grudges I carried with me. Saying thank you seems so inadequate for all they did and continue to do. As I call home, Mami ji picks up the phone and says,

Beta tu chinta mat karna, hum ab yahein raheinge. Papa theek hein..

and I break down, not out of grief for a change but for the care shown. For the love in that voice. For the biggest wealth my parents gathered over the years which flows over to us unasked, undeserved, never worked upon – support of the family.