Category: You

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!

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

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.

Yaad

Jindagi.. sawal..
askh.. khamoshiyan..
Dil ke gehraayioin mein..
tuta sa eak sapna.

Swayam ka wajood..
janna tha jis see..
Dhundhti hein aankehn..
wahi wo apna.

Pyaar ke boochaar..
milli thi jis see..
Chuta hei haath..
likha na ab milna.

Dil.. jaan..
waqt.. loriyaan..
Beetate din mein..
yaadoin ka silsila.

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.

************************************************

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.