Category: Letter

Taller..Bigger..Stronger

Dear Buzz,

You are our happy, kind, friendly little girl and that is why it sort of came as a shock to us when we saw the shy, uncommunicative side of yours. The first time we really noticed it was during our trip to London, where you would not talk to any of the friends we were meeting. Your Paa and I have been watching closely since. You are your regular friendly self – laughing, talking, running around – around other kids, but around adults, even those you know well, you become shy. You don’t even make eye contact, when directly spoken to. And this includes all your friends’ parents, all the teachers in your school.

But before we can worry, you turn around and are super active at in your class. You compete to answer any question asked. Ms. M says your hand is always up, that she can always count on your participation. Sometimes you are so active that you have to be reminded to give others a chance.

Then again the minute you start to perform, this confident side of yours comes forward. Be it dance, plays, gymnastics, singing – you love it all. Your class was singing a song for your Year End Performance, last school year. You practiced your song constantly while at home. One day you came home, all excited. “I get to stand in the middle!” you told us. You did stand in the middle and you smiled as you sang. We couldn’t have been prouder.

When asked what you like to the do the most, you can never pick. And that is the truth. There is so much you love to do, but even though you don’t realize it, I think your favorite thing to do is read. Every morning, while it is still dark outside, you sneak in to our room to check the time. You pointedly tell me that our LED watch is easy to see the time in. You quickly calculate how much time you have before the rest of us wake up and then run downstairs to start reading for the day. Magic Tree House, A to Z Mysteries, Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, Ready Freddy, Capital Mysteries and so many more. You read and make sure you tell me the parts that you found really funny.

The other thing you absolutely love doing is art. Currently drawing airplanes is your passion, which of course takes me back to your fascination with them as a baby. But other than that, you are constantly trying your hand at drawing things you see around you. Be it the dinosaur on the table mat, the bird outside, the bear Bugz refuses to let go of, our family, our house. I can always count on you to make a birthday card for any of your friends’ birthday and they are not scribbles. They are well  thought out, detailed cards.

Non activity wise the one thing that makes you crack up the most is measuring your height against me. Everyday you quietly come, give me a hug and then measure yourself, laugh and run off. I tell you, your height does not chance everyday and still you do it. Still you find it funny and I realize in complete shock that you indeed grew over an inch in the past few months. For someone who is on the tall side (me I mean), you come up to my chest now and I can only look on in surprise. Most people think you are at least a couple of years older than you actually are. You feel very proud when you correct them and they seem so surprised.

And with growing taller comes added bonus for me. I can always count on you to help me with my chores. If I would let you, you would not only stand next to me as I cook, but do half the work as well. You fetch, measure, pour ingredient for me and if I tell you not to pick up something because if is heavy, you get offended. To prove me wrong, you carry Bugz who is heavier than anything I have in my kitchen and run around the house. Point noted sweetheart! I am learning to trust you when you say you can do something.

The one thing I am struggling most with is giving you your independence. I have to let go and trust that you will be safe, away from my eyes. I started slow. In the restaurants that we frequent most often, I started letting you go to the restroom on your own, while I stayed back on our table. I used to get jumpy, and watch the door like a hawk, but am getting better at it. Bugz, of course, has to follow. Which means all thanks to you, I am training her and myself at the same time. Letting go of both of you at the same time. Letting you ride in your friend’s car, leaving you for play dates, leaving you in a section of the library while I run behind Bugz – Baby steps and together, you and I, we will make it.

As things change and you grow, more they stay the same. You are the same Buzz that we love like crazy, only taller..bigger..stronger and our wish for you stays the same. Stay happy, stay healthy, stay you.

Loads of love,
-Maa

Leaving with my favorite picture made by you.

London-Blog

 

Chat Chat Chatter

Dear Bugz,

The phone rang today and before I could say “Hello”, you had it in your hands and were talking away. I was only invited to the conversation to help explain, what you were saying, to the other person on the line. Excitedly you talked and I looked on with a smile.

Everyday during pickup there is some new story about your talks from one or the other teacher at school. You stop in the middle of the road to talk to a stranger. You chat up people in the pool, while they are trying to swim. You talk about school, your teachers, your friends, your ladybug backpack, the books you like, how Didi and you landed up in the same swim class, your plans to ski during the winter, your new car seat, gummy bears, ice-cream, letter sounds, songs – the list is endless.

Your Didi is the shy one, who does not even say hello to people she knows, so it has been a slow realization for your Paa and me that you are the exact opposite. We are not used to having to watch what our child says to people and then to have to look horrified and apologize to some stranger at the gym, just because you called out to him, “You silly guy, why are you not wearing a shirt?” is definitely an experience. While we are still learning the pitfalls of a talkative child, we can only be thankful for your still baby voice which makes understanding what you say a little difficult for people who are not used to hearing you talk.

Every time we talk to family, they only want to talk to you. Well because you talk back. Your giggles, your laughs and your non-stop chatter keeps them entertained. You also have your pet phrases for everyone. There is “funny Nana!”, “when will you come here?” for S Mami, “Russo!” for Bua, “We will come for Christmas!” for Mama and Mami and the list goes on.

I look back at the time when as a year old, you hardly spoke a word. Your Paa was so worried for you and I would laugh as say, “Wait till she starts and then she won’t stop.” You have proved me right and how! Even when there are times when I put my hands up and ask you to stop, I wish you a world full of happy conversations. Stay happy, stay healthy, stay you – my dear little chatterbox.

Loads of love,
-Maa

Fairies

Dear Buzz,

For over a year now you have waited for this day. You have asked endless questions, you have watched your friends closely, you have read books about it and you have been impatient for your turn to come. Kids in your class started out with the phenomena more than a year back and that is when your questions started. Last year just before PD mama’s wedding, I joked and told you to hold on till after the wedding and you took my word for it, but the wedding happened and days and months ticked on after and nothing. You counted out your friends in class and the numbers kept dwindling till you were the only one left and that is when you started pushing.

Pushing hard on your teeth – if you could, you would get those teeth moving by sheer dint of your will. Your friends lost two, four – some even as high as twelve teeth, but the school year came to an end and you did not even have a wiggly tooth. You were so very disappointed.

Adding to it was all the visits Tooth Fairies were making to your friends’ place and your constant struggle with the question, “Are Tooth Fairies real?” You argued – all the doors and windows are locked at night; magic is not real; only birds have wings and even they can’t come in through closed windows. “How can Tooth Fairies be real?” you kept asking. But you wanted them to be real so bad, and that is where you were stuck. With your logic, you came up with simplest of solutions, “if I have a present under my pillow when my tooth falls, then they are real otherwise they are not.” How your Paa and I smiled at it all.

After quite a few complains of pain in your lower front tooth, for over a month, they finally did start to wiggle noticeably last week. The excitement level went up multiple folds in our household. The only time you talked tentatively about your teeth falling was when it came to the Tooth Fairy. Oh yes the present, I remember sweetheart, so on a recent trip to a store when I came across books, I bought two and told you I needed to hand them over to someone special. Not one more question you asked. You smiled and walked away.

Today when I came to pick you up in the evening, you smiled to show me what was missing, and then ran off to show me your precious tooth. Apparently eating cherries did the trick (along with freaking out your teachers, since they could not tell whether it was blood or cherry juice).  Then the chatter moved on to the gift. Bugz, super excited at sleep time peeped, “Tooth Fairy will come today, Didi!” You smiled big and whispered in my ears, “You are the Tooth Fairy Mumma, but Bugz is so little that she does not know.”

Yes sweetheart, Bugz is little but you are growing to be so big and sometimes I miss my little girl. But but I love the big girl you are becoming. Your next big milestone is here and we are super excited for you. We also know the second tooth is going to fall any day now, so enjoy your special time which has come after such a long wait. As always, stay healthy, stay happy, stay you!

Love,
-Maa

Responsible

Dear Buzz,

Every month I think back to the month past and I am amazed at how much you have grown. Your actions, your activities, your questions – they take me by surprise every single time.

A few weekends back Bugz woke up in the morning and woke you up as well. You two walked in to our room but it was still early so you turned to Bugz and said “Mumma needs to sleep, let’s go down.” Unable to sleep knowing the two of you were alone, I walked down 10 or so minutes later to find the two of you sitting on your chairs on the deck eating strawberries. You looked up and said “I washed them before putting them in bowls Mumma.” I was speechless. Since then you seem to relish being the one to give Bugz her morning snack on weekends. I stay in bed listening to your conversations and smile. “Bugz what do you want to eat today?” you ask. She replies and you surprise me every time. Last Sunday I came down to see you two eating bread. You had gotten the packet of bread out of the fridge,  pulled a chair to put two slices in the toaster, gotten two plates out, waited for the bread slices to get toasted, applied butter to both of them. I was speechless is an understatement.

Early in the summer your class was a mix of kids from different grades. The older kids could do the monkey bars, you could hang from one bar but could not traverse. You worked on it every chance you got and a month later you were hanging off them, well like a monkey. You have blisters on your palms but you count them with pride and keep on with your monkey bars. Any visit to the park come with only one pre-requisite, it should have monkey bars.

You learned how to ride a bike last year but that was on a small bike. This year we got you a big girl bike. It is high, your feet barely touch the ground while you are on it, you haven’t really mastered the getting on the bike yourself part but you love ridding, especially when one of us takes out our bike and ride with you. The other thing you love is when your Paa and I go for a run and you ride alongside us. Excited, confident, you keep talking while the out of breadth us try to keep up with you.

Your Paa had dreamt a dream from I don’t even know when. You fulfilled part of it last winter when you skied alongside him. The other part came true last month when you climbed. We bought you a harness, fixed a rope on top of a rock wall and you climbed while your Paa belayed you. He gave you a little pull to move you a tad bit higher when you were totally stuck but for the most part your climbed up on your own. When you got to the top of that rock wall I could not make up my mind who I should focus on, your hand waving from the top or your Paa’s face radiating with pride.

You are processing everything you see and hear and are adding further layers to them. Your questions are getting more and more complicated to have straightforward answers. You understand that a doctor helps get a baby out of mommy’s tummy but now you wonder how the baby gets there in the first place. You asked me where did the first first first man come from and I reply with the easiest thing that comes to my mind, “they came from monkeys.” “Really? Really Mumma!” you asked over and over again and I thought we were done. The next day you came back with “Where did the first, very first living thing come from?” That you made the man to monkey to first living thing connect held me in shock. The next thought was”, how do I explain this?” Darwin’s theory of evolution here we come! You wanted to know “Is God for real, Mommy?” Unsure about how to answer, I replied, “Some people believe God is real and some people believe he is not.” You thought about that for a minute and asked “What do you believe, Mumma?”

Last year during the school year, your teachers taught you the concept of responsibility. They kept repeating that doing and bringing your homework back to school was the responsibility of every kid and not the parents. They told you that you had to be the ones to remind the parents when something was needed at school. They insisted that you had to remember to carry your own things home. “I am responsible!” you tell us constantly. Yes you are sweetheart and so grown up. Your insistence in helping me as I cook, the pride with which you tell everyone that you are the tallest kid in your class, your taking care of Bugz, your big hugs, your ever present smiles – I love it all and wish that  continue to grow beautifully. Stay happy, stay healthy, stay you. Always!

Love,
-Maa

Baby no more

Dear Bugz,

When we were on our trip, we did not order a baby crib for you. We wanted to see how you would do with sleeping on a regular mattress. The first two nights you were unsure, always weary of change that you are. Your Didi, besides whom you were supposed to sleep, asked if you wanted to hold her hand as you slept. That calmed you down and for the next week that is how you fell asleep – holding Didi’s hand. Once we were back, you were so excited to see your crib but mean parent took it down the same night. You were so upset and only when you saw the new sheets atop your new mattress that you smiled. You still asked, “Why?” every time you saw your disassembled crib in the garage, till you realized the freedom of sleeping in a regular bed. Now we can hear you running around in your room way past bedtime.

You used to love your sippy-cup. You only got it during naptime and nini time but that was not something that you were willing to give up. We conveniently forgot to take them for our trip and in all the excitement you never really asked for it but that first night back you insisted on one. We had to do a complete search of all the places, till you were convinced they were not at home. Unhappy is a very mild word.

You were so excited to start school but then you had such a bad experience in the first couple of days in a play care, which has a two week stop gap between when S aunty left and we started our vacation, that the word ‘school’ caused you to panic. The first few days you started your actual school, were horrible. Your Paa and I watched our phones constantly, a nagging ache in our hearts. For the rest of the week, you cried at drop off but not after. Then this week, just second week in to your school, you jump in to your class, happy to see your teachers. You still don’t play with anyone, stay glued to Ms. H but not one tear and we can’t tell you how relived we are. We expected worse, has mentally prepared ourselves for much worse but you surprised us.

And then you have your little observations that make us burst out laughing. You try putting on your own clothes or shoes and get them wrong more times than right. You look up and gleefully tell us, ‘ulta pulta ho gaya!” You saw an recumbent bike the other day. Amazed you looked on, turned and told us, “nini kar ke cycle chala raha hei.” A lot of people come up to you to tell you that you are cute, mostly because of your mass of curly hair. Your Didi picked it up and call you cute ever so often. The other day as I was getting you ready after your swim and a shower, you looked at yourself in the mirror and exclaim, “Me kitna cute hai!” Yeah darling, as I laugh out, I agree you are so very cute.

Changes have come in fast for you -we got rid of your crib, we told you “Baby took your sippy-cup,” we started you in a new school and but for minor starting problems you have cruised through them all and through it all you have kept your spirit. Your loud laugh when you find something funny, your pout when you don’t like something, your scream when you are angry, your stubbornness to get your way, your way to get away with anything with Didi, your insistence that all my attention be yours – if anything you have turned the dial to extra high on all of these. You rule our world, make it go around and all we wish for you is that you continue to grow in to the child you are. Be happy, be healthy, be you sweetheart.

Love,
-Maa

 

 

 

Little Hills

Dear Buzz,

In order for you to be happy, you need everyone to be happy with you. And that means your parents, your family, your teachers, your friends, people you met for the first time. Truly everyone! There is also the fact that you are good at a lot of things. You pick up things taught at school without a lot of struggle, you love arts and craft and have the patience to finish coloring a picture perfectly, you are coordinated and dance well, you have a good balance which helps you in sports. These two things combined means that it gets very difficult for you when you don’t do well at anything. Your first instinct is to avoid doing it, pretending that it does not interest you. Then the struggle starts to try and try a little more. As a grown up (and a biased mom), I still things you pick things, you thinks are difficult, easily. A few tries and it is not a challenge anymore.

Beginning of this school year, learning to read was your biggest struggle. You knew you letters, you knew the sound they made. But seeing it all together and you decided it was too hard. It has been slow work, trying to sound every letter and fit it all together, but you my smart one, memorize words you get stuck on and remember them so that you don’t have to sound them out. In a way that is how we are all read, our brain processes most written text that way, which makes your way a great way to go, but your Maa still makes you sound every word and makes you work through it. Super mean of her, I know, but you are doing great, even when you think you are not. I look at the progress you have made in the few short months and am amazed at how far you have come.

You love to learn. You wanted to learn how to read and write Hindi, so I taught you how to write your name. For about a month, you wrote it everywhere you possibly could. When your school offered Hindi class in their after school program, I asked you if you wanted to go? You were so excited to start that it was difficult to make you wait the week before class started. Every week you would come home talking about something you had learned. There was the k, kh, g and your funny pronunciation of them, there was Ravan and Diwali stories, there was practicing writing the letters. And you had fun doing it all. We worked together on ghoda and not goda, jhoola and not joola but as we laughed, you learned.

When you were a year and a half we had gone to a beach. You were so excited to see the water that you ran towards it. A big wave came charging and I picked you up in the nick of time, but it scared you off. Big pools of water were not for you. It took slow build up of confidence to get you inside a swimming pool but once you got over your fear, you were amazing. Now I see you mastering the backstroke, working hard on free style and just this weekend they progressed you to breast stroke. The smile on your face and you talked all about how you moved your legs was a sight to behold.

Having heard and watched videos of your Paa skiing and snowboarding, you could not wait to learn either. But having skis on is a totally different experience and the cold and snow does not help either. Once you got used to that, they started teaching you how to stop on a small small (almost un-noticeable) slope. The first time around, you were scared. I stood below, with a promise that I would not let you fall. You smiled and came down full speed, not even trying to stop. A couple of trips down the slope and you realized, you would stop without any effort on your part as you came to the flat section. No matter how many times your instructed asked you to break, you would not. You looked at me and said, ‘I like going fast, why should I break?’. I explained that only when you learned to stop will your instructors take you up on the chair lift. Indeed they did that to a few kids in your class, while you got left behind. Not happy with that, you practiced you stops, relentlessly.

This weekend, your ski class was off. The plan was for your Paa to see if you were ready for the chair lift and if so take you up one and come down an actual long slope. A couple of reasons and we decided that I would carry my ski along and not him. The two of us did three runs on bunny slopes and we thought you were ready. With a little bit of trepidation (OK a lot more than little), I took you up the slope on the chair lift. You laughed as we sat on the chair, hanging high over the ground, looking down at people. The getting off the lift used to be the scariest part for me, while I was learning how to ski, but you were a pro at it, in your first time. I told you, ‘skis straight, stand up and I will push you a little.’ You did it exactly as instructed, not even a wobble and you were off, skiing out. I went in front, you followed. Not only breaking when your speed became too much but also turning as I did. Any expectations I had, before we started the run, you blew beyond recognition. As we came down to stand in line again to get on the chair lift, you asked me, ‘can you tell Papa, I did well? I feel down twice, but that is OK right Mumma?’. I hugged you tights, ‘of course it is more than ok!’ 3 more runs, only one more fall, while Paa and Bugz, standing in the middle of the run, watching and you were ready to move on to the next challenge.

Your little hills, you concur with so much ease. Your highs so much bigger because of your little age. Our pride ever growing with each step of yours. My dearest one, my wish for you stays with you, through the hills and valleys. Stay healthy, stay happy, stay you.

Oh and as you grow up and laugh at my skiing skills, remember I was the first one to teach you how to come down a hill!

Loads of love,
-Maa

 

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