The years are creeping up and the first indicator is the fact that I didn’t even care to get this post ready in time and am three days late! But I’m cheating and backdating it!
If you’re wondering how I celebrated, it was good fun. My parents showed up to surprise me – revenge for us surprising them on the 9th of September which was their 35th anniversary. It has now reached a stage where we start to worry if no surprises pop up every couple of months. They brought me a beautiful white chikankari, kalidaar kurta and I can’t wait to wear it and feel all Anarkali-ish. My Salim took me out to dinner on the 24th to bring in the birthday and the 25th, to see it out. Dad felt his beloved daughter deserved more than a kurta and some shoes so he bought me an old handpainted book shelf I’d been eyeing for a while. I feel rather grown up, collecting my own vintage, antique bits of mismatched furniture. The Salim in my life also asked me what I’d like for my birthday and I unwisely only asked for red velvet cupcakes. Which he bought me in dozens from Cakeaway (forgetting altogether that we knew the nice guy who runs it and frantically corresponding only via email) and decorated the dining table with at midnight, surrounded by an odd collection of candles collected from around the house. I wish I’d asked for a Ferrari! The picture below was taken just before we stepped out for dinner.
It’s been a strange year. I’ve built some relationships I didn’t think I would and have seen cracks in some that I had not expected. And I’ve taken them in my stride surprisingly calmly. What is important is that in each tough situation I’ve spoken my mind, held nothing back and now am building each relationship on my own terms. I’ve never believed this possible, but it is and I’m feeling a strange sense of exhilaration as it happens, weirdly peaceful too. Yes, even you readers can see a newer, calmer me.
The last year has taught me that you’re never out of the job market no matter how long you stay off fulltime work. Maybe what I’ve learnt this year is to let go of fear. To remember that I obviously have something special to offer if I’m still getting the odd company pick up the phone and call an old retired has-been and ask her if she’d like to come back to work. I may not make pots of money but at least I’m not knocking on doors with my resume as I’d feared. I’ve regretfully turned them down.
The Bean still comes home too early for me to leave her alone and I’m not comfortable with her going to daycare, yet. Maybe another year for her? But the few extra hours I spend with her show up brilliantly and every time she uses a big word, everytime she uses a kind word or every time she does something just essentially Bean-ish, I feel a shiver of satisfaction run through me and I can’t wait to see the explosion she will grow up to be. It’s going to be totally worth it.
But more than that, I’ve been getting my physiotherapy done and I don’t see myself being fully fit for another year. The OA has been watching me dither and is amused. At other times, not so much. He’d like to set off on his own journey of self discovery but he can’t while I am freelancing. And he knows how much pain I’ve been in so he is monitoring me with an eagle eye – am I wearing heels under that saree? Did the physiotherapist come today? Why did you bunk a session? And he’s very keen that I spend the year focusing on health and not on rushing off to make money.
I find it easier to be a work from home mother although over the last year I’ve worked even less than I ever have before. I find myself tired and fatigued and am wondering what new mineral or vitamin I might be lacking in. On the other hand, I spend hours outdoors, I make crafts with the kids and am frantically backpaddling. A far cry from the days when the Brat was two months old, strapped into a carrier on my chest and being bundled around in Madras autos while I conducted interviews for magazines. I now feel that work can wait, my children can’t. And as times goes by, I feel less and less apologetic when people ask what I do at home. I don’t bother to correct them and tell them that I work from home. Instead, I love messing with their heads and saying that I spend the day sleeping, watching daytime TV and going to the spa. The OA shakes his head ruefully and pretends he doesn’t know me.
My relationship with my parents has undergone a change too. I’m far less harsh with them. Frank, yes, but more tender. I’ve recently seen them begin to grey slightly and what on the OA is stylish, on them, brings out the worrier and mother hen in me.
I’ve also got for more comfortable with my body this year. Begun to wear more dresses, crazy pajamas and a lot more sarees instead of the ubiquitous salwar kameez. My streak of conservation and recycling is growing and I find myself more annoyed by people who do something ridiculously token like attending a tree planting or turning the lights off for earth hour, while doing nothing concrete and consistent otherwise. Yep, getting more and more protective of both, my birth mother as well as earth mother.
At the beginning of this post I decided to read last year’s birthday post and see if I’ve kept any of my resolutions. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have! First, the biggest of my resolutions – I’ve learnt to be still. This one is an achievement because I do have a bit of a hyperactive nature and fighting it has not been easy. I still find my hands itching to stitch on a button as I watch TV, my eyes itching for a book as I sit in the park and let the kids play, but I have forced myself to unwind, to stop seeing multitasking as an accomplishment and recognise it for the overworking of body and mind that it is. The mind is at rest and so much else has fallen into place.
Two – The OA called to say he had invited a few people over for dinner and I of course had a nervous breakdown for three minutes. And then I did manage to organise a good menu, clean up the house, arrange potted plants, snacks, shift furniture to another room (Sometimes I’m idiotic) and get rid of all the muck created by two carpenters I had working. Clean up smashed glass (don’t ask) and get the Tata Sky guys to rewire a room and clean up after them. My knees were shot to pieces and by the time the guests came I was fading on the carpet, but I was proud of myself. We all have our personal goals and I’m getting there on mine.
Three – Didn’t join any club for pool membership this year, but we went to Corbett over the Independence day weekend and I did a lot of good swimming. Given a proper 2-3 month session, I think I’ll be decent.
Four – The house. I’m afraid I’ll jinx it but I’m even more afraid of becoming one of those superstitious people I hate. So here it is, I love this place. It’s just the right size, I love the garden, I love walking barefoot in the grass and watering my plants, I love my fishpond, I love the terrace in winter and it makes me want to roll out papads and churn out chilli pickle. I love the way we wave goodbye to people from our front door and don’t have to take the lift back up. I love how I can sit in my bedroom, hear the beep beep of the car locking and know that my husband is home. I love how the kids around the neighbourhood drop in to play and sit around my table having milk and cupcakes. I love how I’ve planted my massive plants into the ground and given them a hope. I love how I’ve added to the greenery and have creepers growing on to the house from 3 different sides. Even if we have to move out of here sometime, I’ll have had beautiful experience, it has changed me for life, and nothing can take that away from me.
Five – I no longer qualify as a teetotaller. Don’t get excited. I’ve not exactly turned into a lush either, but I have the odd Sangria when we’re out for dinner and might accept a Breezer when we’re entertaining at home. Invariably I don’t finish it, but hey, it’s a start!
Six – I planned to wean off the net and I’ve done a fairly good job of staying offline and reading. I know you guys are complaining but I’m very much at peace. I don’t take phone calls anymore either and most friends are going nuts but I’d rather meet them than have a phone chat. End of matter.
Seven – I am now volunteering left, right and centre. This is a big deal for a journalist who works for a byline. I don’t get any credit for what I do and what is more, I’m working myself into a place where I’ll soon be doing only free work and have no time left to earn money. And no will to leave those volunteer jobs and get a paying one because I’ve invested emotion in them.
All in all it’s been a good year and I’m feeling age creep up on me in the pleasantest way. I can’t complain. Goodnight folks!