Category: Wo beete din

Red Saree

Salwar Kameez was your everyday wear. You wore them while cooking, when you dropped us to school, for festivals, even during weddings. Saree was something you wore very very rarely and hence something that was deemed very special in our minds.

I still remember coming home from school, as a first grader, to see you sitting on the dining table chair. You had your red saree on. My immediate question was, “Where did you go?” You laughed and said, “Nowhere.” “Then where are you going?”, I asked. Again you replied, “Nowhere.” My next question was obvious, at least in my head. “Why are you in a saree if you hadn’t been any place and are not going anywhere?”

I don’t remember what your answer was, even though I remember the house, its orientation, the exact chair you were sitting on. But most of all I remember your saree, red with off-white flowers. As a grown up, I now understand that for someone who wore a saree every day, it would be a regular daily wear type of saree, but in my head it was special. With your height, clear complexion and hazel eyes – you looked beautiful in it.

When you stopped wearing it, when others took its place, I don’t remember. What I will always remember is, my first, most vivid memory of you in a saree. Little details, long forgotten, randomly come to me now, and I gather them close to never forget. Some days are hard, sometimes exceedingly so. As much as I try to distract myself, today is one of those.

Four years in a count that never will end. Miss you so very much!

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Na gile..na shikhwe

Kuch gile, kuch shikhwe..
Kuch sawal, kuch ankahein baatein.
Sab ka pitara liye..
Chale ja rahe thy aage.
Sochate thy poochainge kabhi..
Har eak gam ka hisaab lainge kabhi.

Khushiyoin se bhara wo bachhpan..
Khilkhilati si wo hansi..
Ghar ke aangan mein jhilmilaati kiranein..
Pyaar mein goote lagaate, bheege bheege hum..
Chote se thy gile..chote se shikhwe..
Chote se sawal, choti ankahein baatein.

Na hein wo haath..
Na he dekhti hei wo nigaahein..
Na aankhoin ke aage wo chehra..
Bas khulti band hoti palkein.
Kahaan hei gile, kahaan shikhwe..
Kahaan gaye sawal, kahaan ankahein baatein.

Yaadoin ke chalte, choti badi baatein..
Hansti, roti, ruthati, banti kahaani.
Na mol, na bhaaw..
Na tarazoo mein koyi hisaab.
Na gile, na shikhwe..
Na sawal, na jawab.

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.

Lunch date, talk and looking back

Between two kids and two hectic work schedules D and I get little or no free time to spend together. Which means we work on making time, which in turn means leaving work in the middle of the day to have lunch together. Cell phones are kept aside, kids don’t need taking care of, time for just the two of us.

On our lunch date early this week we got talking about the importance of experiences vs. possessions (an article about the same here) and what it means. We debated about how everyone is different and for someone possessions and the joy it brings in indeed more important, while for others the experiences they have had is what brings the biggest smiles. We were giving examples to support our arguments when D asked me about our car. It is our possession but driving it is a great experience. Where do we bucket that? We came up with more of such examples and the line started to blur. Why do you need that big flat screen TV? Why do you buy that dress? Why that powerful laptop? Why that particular face wash? Better picture quality, looking good, faster processing, glowing skin. Possessions that enhance the everyday experiences.

Having made a complete mishmash of the original theory we moved on to looking purely at our experiences – vacations, skiing trips, hikes, camping trips, bungee jump, helicopter ride, concerts. At which point I went on a tangent and started telling D about how special the Eric Clapton concert we went to was for me. I have talked about this so many times that I was shocked when D asked me why it was special.

‘Why would you ask me why it is special? You know why it is?’, I told him.
‘No, I don’t. Tell me.’, he said.

And it hit me, I go around talking about that particular concert with everyone but never have said a word to the one person who made it special for me. Idiot, that is me.

I went ahead and told him all about it. Saw the smile that came on his face and stayed as we walked out. A perfect end to a lunch date, me thinks.

Dear July

You were always one of my most fav. month of the year. I used to count days till the calendar change happened and along with it came Maa Paa’s wedding anniversary. Cards were made and handed over. Movie and dinner date planned out with the family. A wonderful day right at the beginning of the month. I loved you so very much.

I have such fond memories of you but things have changed so drastically now. My feelings for you have changed so drastically now. I have dreaded your arrival like no other. Every single day has been painful to live past. I have smiled my smile and gone about my days like nothing is different, but you know it and I know it that things will never be the same. I break down on the inside every minute of the day as I re-live everything that happened this time last year. I feel helpless, I feel lost, I want to break down and cry and yet I put on my normal mask for the world to see.

The clock keeps ticking, the days keep going by and I get stuck on certain dates. Dates that I used to look forward to. Dates I would count down to. Dates that made me happy. Now I look at them and wonder what to do with them. Do I pick up the phone and call Paa? What do I tell him? Do I wish him? Do I ask him, how he is holding on? Do I cry as I talk? Do I act normal? Do I…?

My heart is heavy, my eyes brimming with tears, my words stuck, refusing to be voiced. I stand alone, without the protection of love I took for granted. Lost, without the hand that always guided me. Broken, without the care that was mine. So today, July, this is my outlet. I write it down here breaking all my rules.

Happy 56th Birthday, Maa.

Mending

I picked up something to mend the other day and as I threaded the needle I walked back to my first cross-stitch assignment in grade three that I made such a hash of that you took over and finished for me. Then during the summer vacation you taught me how to do it well, one stitch at a time. My first introduction to needle and thread and the thing called embroidery. I went on to make small little things after this (as part of school work year after year) and you took such pride in every single thing I made, always commenting on how neat every stitch was.

High on your words one summer holiday I found a book on cross-stitch and got over ambitious. I started out on the most difficult design there was on the book, a grand house with a beautiful flower filled garden. As I counted every cross of every flower and reproduced it, my enthusiasm started to fade. Somewhere down the long 2 month break I let it all go, but you never gave up on me. You picked up the half done work along with the book and kept it safe. I found them tucked in one corner of your cupboard a few years down the line and decided to finish it, all on my own. There was no pushing me to finish it, there was no nagging to start again. There was only keeping my half-finished work safe for me. I completed the house that year and you could not stop smiling.

I remembered the first time I showed you the knot I came up with whenever the thread needed to be switched. I remembered the hours and hours we spend on the saree that you embroidered and I helped you with. I remembered how you  never failed to point out that we both worked on it when you did most of the work. I remembered how you always told anyone who listened that my stitches were neater than yours and could be told apart if anyone looked at the saree closely. I remembered your joy every time you wore that saree.

And so I decided to not rush through the mending job but rather do it the right way. I took care of every stitch that I made. I made sure that every stitch would last and that no one would need to worry about the same for a long time to come. I took double the time I would have and this is when time is at a premium these days. But as I got done, I smiled a big smile because I know you would have had you seen my work. And for once I let myself marvel over the neatness of the stitches and gloat about how good I was.

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.