Yes, I turn 33 today and I am very, very happy. My life is nowhere near what I thought it would be at 33 and I realise the futility of planning/imagining a life, creating a game plan and sticking to it, when its so much more fun to take what life gives you and roll with it. I could stayed single, worked hard, been a top anchor/producer and stuck with the plan (anyone remember Shahid Kapoor’s little plan stuck on the cupboard in Kaminey?) but this ended up being more fun.
For all those of you who wrote in asking if I am pregnant. Er… no! No, thank you. I’d love it if I had another one – I can even see his little face (yes, I know it will be a He if I have a third one) but no, no, my life is full, my hands are full, I am brimming with enthusiasm and with the Bean already four and a half years old I refuse to actively plan and drag a third kid in with such a massive age difference. Not fair.
So the big announcement is not really all that big. I feel silly now that I realise all of you are expecting me to have a baby (!). The news is, that I quit my job. Yayyy!! I remember telling you all on my 30th birthday that I had gone back to work. Rather fitting that three years down, I’m quitting – yet again! I’ve realised I’m not the sort to define life into two parts – home and work. There is so much in between that I want to do, ache to do, that I need the time for. A friend messaged me saying “Good thing you quit. You’re too strong and independent and opinionated to take orders from someone.” And I laughed, because that is not the truth. At least not in the work sphere. I am very aware that my priority is family and home and so I am happy to take orders, do my bit and come home. But I’ve been struggling with working from home after we moved to Gurgaon because there are days I don’t get out of my bedroom. I get the kids ready, send them to school and then keep working on my freelance stuff after the regular work. I sit here for hours and get a back ache and the boredom of it gets to me. I miss the benefits of a job – like meeting new people, getting away from the house and its chores for a while and coming home raring to see the kids. And I have all the disadvantages of doorbells ringing, people stopping in at odd hours and expecting me to be free, asking me why I am glued to the laptop and of course, half the salary!
It’s a pity really, because I love the Editor, love the team, love the work and would have happily gone to work if it wasn’t a good 40 kms and almost 1.5 hours away. And so it is that I reluctantly put in my papers. It’s a rather informal resignation because I’ve offered to work until they are able to find a replacement, since I am not really rushing off to another job. So I could be working for a week more or a month more, I’m not really sure, am just not willing to leave them in the lurch.
Those who wrote in wanting to know if I am writing a book – oh dear God, the pressure!! Haven’t we had this chat a million times already? I don’t have a book in mind, I don’t want a book. I have very high standards from any book I pick up to read and I see people churning out books by the dozen and I am shocked by the rubbish one finds. I don’t expect mine to be a literary benchmark and even though I’ve had a couple of offers I don’t want to grab the offer just to end up being yet another mediocre writer adding to the flotsam. So no, if you want to read me, you stick around here and read as and when I write.
Although ask me about multitasking and I could write a book on it. I have worked, raised my kids, blogged, run a terrific home if I say so myself, and in the process lost my mind, my hair and my knees. Over the last few months of working from home my hair looks a lot shinier and healthier, my skin is clearing up after the bout of adult acne and while my knees will never go back to perfect, I am feeling stronger and fitter. Which is why I’ve decided to take a complete break and sort out the last few remaining health issues.
What lies ahead? Well I’d love to tell you but a lot of it is in the planning stage right now and I am itching to get started. None of them are major earth moving plans (so don’t wonder too much), but they’re all about personal growth. The OA sat me down, held my hands so that I don’t fidget and asked me if I could spend the year learning to be still. The idea was a bit of a shocker to me. I got out of bed after my cesareans, refused my painkillers and took a cycle rickshaw to the heart of the city for some work. I don’t do ‘still’. And yet, being quiet, appreciating the peace and learning to just sit with a cup of coffee and enjoy a few minutes of peace is an art. It’s amusing because Cousin K was here and he asked me the same question to which I replied, I plan to spend a year, learning to be still. And he looked at me in horror – But why? Doesn’t everyone want to do more? I laughed. I guess at 20 there is a certain pride in being able to say that you fit X amount in to your day. At 33 though, I feel a little ashamed at knowing how to do that and not knowing how to do the opposite, that is, being calm and still.
The Brat will soon be attending a full day of school and only getting back at 4.30pm. The Bean still has two years more to go. The more I look at it practically, the more I realise that I am the sort of person who will not send them off to daycare or leave them home with only maids for extended periods of time. I am going to stay home with them and so I may as well use these two years to invest in myself. It makes no sense to just sit at home and type away for a small amount of money, just so that my byline doesn’t die out.
And so the next two years, until the Bean turns 7 and goes to full day school, is going to be my time spent on personal development. I am going to do all the things I didn’t do because I got married and had my kids so young. In the months ahead we might be moving house (again!) and oh, in ten days Baby Button will be in my arms. Yes, the SIL is fit and fine and Ma will be bringing her back to India in time for Durga Puja. I would have quit my job just to hold him, my third baby, in my arms! December promises to be busy again and I have big plans around that time. I want to soak up the winter sun and explore Gurgaon and make sure I know it as well as I knew Delhi. This is the only way to get to love a place.
For now, I’ve begun to cook (ye Gods and little fishes, am I turning into another person altogether?!) and have mastered a couple of things including a chocolate cake made solely of fresh cream and apple crumble. Nothing fancy, but it bothers me hugely to admit that there is something I can’t do or fail at. At one point I was hugely bothered by my inability to swim, but I spent all summer doing laps and am pleased to say, that I won’t drown if thrown in. What the chlorine water did to my skin, is another story.
It’s funny, but somehow putting my desire to quit into words, has set me free. I’ve been cleaning up the house like a hurricane and in the last week or so one can see the changes. From moving the escritoire into my bedroom to changing up the garden, the curtains – I suddenly feel more at home. I have hated this house for some strange reason (maybe because I felt that I was forced into this move by parenthood and not by choice) and have been after the OA to move out of here, but after putting my heart into, it feels more like a home and I am willing to stay here a while more.
In other news, the Brat and Bean and OA have their renewed passports but mine is yet to come. The cops called us to the police station for the verification instead of coming to our place to do the check. I am amazed by how this country functions and how easy it is to fake an address. We’ve stuck to our guns and not paid them off and it worked. Now to await mine after which we can begin the house hunt.
We’ve been looking to buy a ready to move in flat now and are unable to come to a decision. I refuse to buy a house without a garden and the ready ones in the heart of Gurgaon are prohibitively expensive and also require a certain amount of black payment. The ones that are yet in the construction stage are too far from the kids’ school and we don’t want them to have to travel so much. The OA and I are determined not to pay any black inspite of people telling us we’re being foolish. Apparently having principles is considered foolish these days. It’s amazing how people who otherwise claim to be the model of honesty, justify bribes and payments in black. So much for joining Anna Hazare’s processions and demanding a corruption free country. Why not start with your home, literally? Thankfully we’re in no hurry and will wait until everything falls into place. If not, we keep waiting!
Finally, for those who want to know why I am weaning off the net, no, it’s not the trolls driving me away. Hah! if that had to happen, it would have happened when that unscrupulous woman came to my home, ate at my table, dandled my kids on her knee and then went back and made fun of me on a blog. Treachery, sometimes I really do believe thy name is woman! I began to blog when the Brat was born and I needed an outlet -but the friends I made online have turned into real life friends and half of them don’t blog anymore. I miss that community feeling and the last post really left a bad taste in my mouth, simply because the newspapers picked it up. It’s like having your dirty linen washed in public. This is no longer a warm, happy place where moms meet for coffee. The nice aunties who knitted for each other’s babies are outnumbered by the mean, sneaky little readers who watch us live our lives, beady-eyed and avid for gossip. Waiting for us to slip up so that they can jump up viciously and attack. More and more I realise there are things in the kids’ life that I don’t wish to share with them and the world at large and that defeats the purpose of this blog. I also find myself spread too thin – I get a lot of mail from all of you and I try really hard to respond but I fall behind and then begin to feel really guilty. But in all this I realise that my first responsibility to is to my home and kids and so I’m going to just ease out of whatever is not essential. I’m not shutting down altogether, I’m just reducing my time here.
People like me are known as jhakki in Hindi. We get obsessive about something and then milk it and lose interest. I realise I am done- that burning urge to get up and share my life with the WWW is over. Most days I don’t even want to check the comments. Life outside keeps me wildly busy. Parenting has evolved and the kids take a lot more of quality time and less of quantity, so that we’re finally reaping the benefits of having them early. We still have endless energy left to socialise and all the time on earth to use it now.
A friend who is now expecting her first baby called up and asked us to join her for popcorn and a movie on Saturday night. The OA and I laughed and said we’re done with quiet nights at home. We did those alone, for so long, when we were younger – at 25 none of our friends were interested in a quite evening with wine and a movie. Weekends are now party time and party we will. I was the only mother in our friends’ circle, a group in which most were not even married. But over the last year we’ve begun to go back to our old interests. Borrow a friend’s bike and whiz off for a ride, we’ve already done 5 holidays and road trips this year, and we’re back to concerts, gigs and rockshows most weeks too. Weeknights too tend to be late but we’re up at the crack of dawn to send the kids to school and that will soon tire us out, I suspect!
Two weeks ago we caught Avial playing in Gurgaon. We happened to catch up with BEV and A there, also done with the business of putting the kids to bed and ready to join the living. Avial was good although it was a little annoying that the vocalist saw fit only to talk in Malayalam and not even say Hi to the audience in English. He was after all, playing in the NCR – why alienate an audience that loves you, appreciates you and has paid good money to see you. If there is one thing you learn from the real rockers, it is, to reach out to your audience and connect. Dischordian, the night before that, was a blast – by the end of the night they did some old CCR numbers and even a request from me which of course made my day. The vocalist and I were in college together and it is such a joy to see talented people get their due. We love their music and the Bean who had breakfast sitting happily in his lap, playing with his fingers, now insists that we put on Uncle Gary’s songs when we’re in the car. Barring a few with inappropriate lyrics for kids, I am happy to oblige! They recognise his voice and even if I trick them with the odd Metallica number followed by Counting Crows and then U2, they unerringly guess which one is his, looking up with, “Isn’t that Uncle Gary’s voice?”
In this last year the one lesson I learnt was that it is possible to be invested in a person you’ve never met. As my SIL laboured, I stayed up praying, I cried the moment the phone call came and I now count the days to his India trip. One little 3 kg bundle born 1000s of miles away gave me my highest moment this year. Reaffirming everything I believed about love, the miracle of birth and bonds that you can’t define. Strange isn’t it, that just by coming along, he gave his aunt her happiest moment of the year, maybe many years?
So wish me luck as I turn 33, quit my job (yet again), househunt, eagerly await my nephew’s arrival, and then plan the next two years of investing in myself.
PS: For those who didn’t know, the title of this post comes from here. A song I have always loved.