The Nursery is Dark

Thanks to Gentle Whisperer’s suggestion I went through my posts from 2008 and have dug up the first ‘The Nursery is Dark’ post.

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The Nursery is Dark

… said a friend driving by our home and looking up. Where are the kids?

The kids have gone with my parents. To spend a week or so with them in our hometown. My parents have been asking for a while to take them. And I’ve been tired, bogged down with work and trying to spend time with them and a dozen other problems. So in a moment of weakness I said yes. The OA is only too happy to get rid of them and spend some alone time and also some happy-couple-time.

But me? I know it’s only a matter of time before I go and do what I did the last time the Brat went to visit my parents and the time before that – go bury my head in his cupboard, smell the baby-bratty smell in his little washed and ironed teeshirts and cry.

But this time they’ve taken away my Bean. My baby Bean. I don’t know if I want to cry or not. It feels quite foolish considering I have sent them willingly. Well willingly only because the parents want them and the OA thinks that between work and home I don’t get a break and because the Bean cries through nights, the Brat has been sick and we haven’t had a good night’s sleep since Noah’s Ark set sail. I know the OA wants some time off to do his own thing  – adult things without worrying about it being baby-friendly or not. And the biggest reason – because the babies get what we can’t give them here – space and pets and freedom. They come back happier and healthier.

How lucky you are, say friends with little kids – you can leave your kids and go for a holiday. Well yes, we’re lucky to have my young parents with a huge house and lots of help and family around. But we are forced to leave the kids simply because we don’t get a break through the rest of the year. We take the kids everywhere with us, we aren’t in the habit of dragging an ayah per kid along to every place. They’re usually strapped on to us or in a stroller or their car seats. We have no near and dear ones in Delhi who we can safely leave the kids with and go to work or for a movie. Our phones are switched on to silent mode even during important meetings so that if the kids wake up or cry, the maid calls and we rush back. And since that is such a hassle, we usually ensure that one of us is home if the other is out. There are no really good daycares where we can leave them and know that they are safe. So yes, more than anyone else, we need to take this break from the kids, the responsibility and the stress and exhaustion.

The original idea had been to go away for a few days, but we’ve changed our minds. We’ll just be hanging around at home and catching up on much needed sleep. Maybe hitting a pub or a disco if I can fit my fat butt into anything slinky. Let’s see.

But I was cranky all of yesterday. I didn’t realise it. I was yelling at the OA and snapping at people and giving the Brat time-outs in the crib like it’s going out of fashion. It was when I was out on the balcony collecting the dry clothes that my brother turned up and put an arm around me. He didn’t need to even ask what happened. There’s something about having your childhood mate, the one person who has always been around, look at you with kindness. I fell into his arms and blubbered like a baby – I don’t want to give my babies to Mamma.

There. It was out. And he soothed me and asked why I had agreed in the first place. ‘Because I know they love taking the kids back, I know the kids enjoy it and I know the OA craves the break… but I? I don’t even like to leave them to go back to a fulltime job. So crazy about my two little pests am I…’

Mad Sibling goes back into the house.

Ten minutes later I walk in with the folded laundry and my mother demands – You don’t want to send the kids with us? Then why didn’t you say so?

MM looks around in confusion. Light dawns. She hunts for the Mad Sibling, realises he is in the toilet and is just about held back from breaking the door down and killing him.

I explain to the parents that it’s not about them. It’s me. I am just unable to let the children go so far away, without us. One is a year old and the other is not even three. I know they will be well taken care of, but I still hate the thought of not being available to them. And I know that the OA wants a holiday and some rest. I need it too. But I am willing to forego everything, just to have those two little baby faces look up at me with big smiles.

The Bean got really attached to my mother over the last few days and I hadn’t had any trouble putting them into the train and leaving. She’d been a little clingy earlier in the day but that is just her reaction to me. When I am not around, she is fine. Which is the case with both my kids. They love having us around, but they’re confident, happy little kids who go off with everyone now.

I got off the train and pressed my nose to the darkened glass, trying to catch a glimpse. They didn’t notice me. They were jumping around on the berths and laughing, my parents already the centre of their universe. I stared at the Bean. Willing her to look at me. I don’t know why. I should have been happy that she had settled in without a backward glance.

I stood out there – just watching the tableau. The two grandparents playing with the babies. All four happy faces. I knew they’d all be okay. I don’t know how long I stared, but I suddenly noticed my brother and the OA reflected in the glass. Standing patiently behind me. We left the station and drove home. The city sights flashing by the window as I stared out blindly.

The first time we left the Brat with my parents was to go to Goa. He was just short of a year old and I dropped him off and came back. He was fine and when they brought him back, he looked at me as though I was a stranger. It broke my heart. But atleast I knew he had been happy. By the second time I knew he would be fine and I didn’t want to send him, but I was desperately sick and had no help. With a working mother who had no time to come and help me with him, I just had to send him there. The third time he was a pro. He’s already been away 5 times for about a week each time and he’s not even three yet. He is quite a happy little chap, extending a hand of friendship, trusting and confident… and always ready for new experiences.

But the Bean? The Bean is all mine. The one I have cared for from the first day. The one no one else helped with. The one I single-handedly cared for with no parents or anyone around, straight out of hospital and surgery. The one I held close to myself, night after night, sure that I wouldn’t share her for a minute with anyone else. The Bean who I desperately wanted to be non-clingy yet now can’t believe that she actually has changed and become so easy going.

I just spoke home. They reached an hour or two ago. The kids are playing in the dirt with the four dogs. I can see the picture in my mind’s eye. The huge 100 year old mango trees under which my grandmom played. Where my mum played hide and seek. Where the brother and I built a treehouse and got up early in the morning to watch birds. And now the fourth generation sits in the shade of those very same trees. Who knows, maybe my greatgrandmother still watches over the home and is happy to see my two little ones mucking around.

The Bean is screaming ‘bow bow’ in delight and licking the dogs back as they frolic with her. I can hear her in the background as I talk to my mother. I can imagine her chasing the squirrels as they scamper up trees. I can see the Brat leading her grandly by the hand to the two ponds to see the fishies. I can imagine them getting into the fireplaces and playing peekaboo. The old house must have come alive with the baby sounds after almost 20 years.

The Bean has apparently already walked into my uncle and aunt’s little nursery school and plonked herself on the benches to attend class, sitting in between children who are three times her age and twice her height. I ache to see that with my own eyes. Instead I sit here listening to maudlin music, the tears pouring down my cheeks, the ache growing as I miss them. Knowing fully well that for them I am out of sight and out of mind. Getting a taste of what life will be like after they go to college. I have a pile of work to do and a meeting in another hour. I should stop now and get going but somehow I won’t cut such an impressive figure with my tear stained cheeks.

You know how they tell you to get a job and not let your children fill up your life because you won’t be able to fill the void once they leave for college? Well I had planned for this trip of theirs and taken on extra meetings and interviews and stories in anticipation of the long days ahead. So my time is accounted for. I don’t have a spare minute. And yet, yet, nothing on earth can fill the void in my life. Don’t believe them when they tell you that having a job fills the empty nest. It’s not true. Babies leave a baby-shaped hole in your heart that no job or man or hobby on earth can fill.

I absently think that I must get up and go draw the curtains in the nursery because it is 10 am and the sun shines in on the kids making the room hot and unbearable. And then I realise that I don’t need to. I didn’t throw open the curtains and let the sunshine in this morning. The nursery is still dark.

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Edited to add: To add to it – my brother too left this morning and I hugged him at the top of the stairs and cried. And when he left, I sat down on the stairs – too unhappy to walk back into the emptiness of the home I love so much. And cried like an abandoned orphan. I’d resigned myself to seeing him only at Xmas this year, after he visited India last October for his wedding. This visit was a surprise and it’s completely destroyed the composure and left me miserable. I watched him and the SIL play with my children and I know I want to see his children grow up with mine. I want to see them not once a year but every week. Every month, if not everyday. Of what use is family if you meet like strangers once a year?

The engagement tag story

Noon tagged me for my engagement story and I am positive that everyone knows everything there is to know about the OA and my filmy affair. The running away, the tears, the fireworks… but never one to shy away from a tag I shall do it all over again.

I was in the midst of a break up with CB (college boyfriend) and the relationship just wouldn’t end.  Each time we sort of called it quits he would just turn up the next day smiling his huge smile and I’d sigh and figure that maybe there was something left to work on.

Now the OA was my shoulder to cry on through the breakup. In fact he just missed falling into the safe friends-zone (oh come on – the one Joey warns Chandler about?!)!! He patiently listened, didn’t advise or argue. He just bided his time dating other random women and acting like he wasn’t in the least bit interested in me. Or so I thought. He now says he was waiting for me to wake up and realise that he was the man of my dreams. So full of bullshit, isn’t he?!The rest of our office however couldn’t believe we were spending so much time together and still not an item.

The thing with CB finally ended and I was rather shattered. I don’t care what people say, I believe that even if you are the one to ultimately call it quits on a relationship, you are still rather devastated. You invest so much in a relationship and then suddenly one day you realise it isn’t working. You can either cling to it like a leech or have the sense to let it go while the memories are still good. Left single and sad and alone in the city, I hung out a lot more with the OA who was busy studying for his management entrances after office hours.

I was used to colleagues teasing me about the OA but after his impassioned avowal that he would never marry someone like me because I didn’t cook, I naively believed I was off the radar. I looked up to him since he was pretty senior in the food chain at office and was basically such a good guy. I don’t know when idol worship changed to love. It just happened.

The rides to and from office I would say, were where it all began and ended. Since I was the first he generously picked up each morning I’d sit in front while the rest slowly and sleepily piled in to the backseat along the way. We even discovered our very similar taste in music on those long rides.

Some days I’d get ready earlier than usual and so walk down to his place instead of waiting for the kind man to come and get me. Now he shared a flat with three other guys and with my Victorian upbringing I didn’t want to go in there alone. I was definitely not interested in catching some guy roaming around in his undies. So I would send him an SMS telling him that I was waiting at his door. He’d rush down, socks in hand and apologise. So I began to muster up the courage to go in because I hated having him rush down and then I’d sit on the edge of a chair in the living room and primly look away while he shoved his feet into sneakers and rushed around brushing his hair. (yeah okay, laugh all you want!) I think I realised the growing closeness when instead of the usual ‘I’m waiting downstairs’ message I began to send him just this – ‘Goodmorning  :)’ to indicate that I had arrived. He later on told me in a rare moment of mush that the moment he saw the smiley in the message he’d see my face smiling up at him. He has a good 9.5 inches on my 5’3″ so even after the metaphoric looking up ended I continue to look up to him.

Truth be told my mother told me he was interested in me, long before I figured it out. I’m a little slow like that. Practical and worldly wise, she didn’t understand why a young boy who could be getting in a lot more sleep was leaving for office half an hour earlier so that I could catch my shift, and coming out of his way to pick me up and hanging around after office in case I got late to give me a lift home so that I could avoid the dirty, crowded blueline buses.

I told her she had a dirty mind and didn’t understand platonic relationships. She told me she’d lived long enough to know a man in love. I ignored her. Now I eat my words. Mother. You are always right. Well, mostly right, if not always. Throw these words in my face and I will ban you from my blog.

So anyway, mother visited me, caught the OA as he dropped me off, offered him a cup of tea and left, satisfied that even if I did end up falling in love with him, he was a decent guy. She went home and told my dad that she could see it in his eyes but that I was too blind. And of course there was nothing she could do to keep me away from him, because as far as I was concerned she was being an orthodox old lady and there was really no reason to ‘keep me away’ from him. I stubbornly (so whats new?) kept meeting him and ignoring her because she was just an old fuddy duddy, see?

And so it went on. The OA wisely waiting. Me blithely ignorant. Or was I? I am still not too sure. All I know is that I saw him almost every waking minute and it just seemed right. He took a few days off from work and that is when it all began. The frantic SMSes. Willing the phone to ring or beep. Sending messages that you know you wouldn’t send a friend but still not sending anything that could be read as too flirtatious. How many times a day will you message a friend saying – ‘What you up to?’ I mean would you really care to know what a friend, even a best friend is up to, ten times a day, every single day?!!! How about – ‘Had dinner?’ Err… who cares?

A friend who took the ride to office with us called me aside and warned me – ‘I notice the look on his face in the rear view mirror. He’s nuts about you so if you’re going to break his heart, this might be a good time to tell him you’re not interested.’ Break his heart? What did I have to do with his heart? What the hell was wrong with the world and why were they all ganging up against me. Yes, I’ve always had a persecution complex!

Finery and liquor can do a lot to push a relationship to it’s culmination (I’m a teetotaller!). An office party happened and as usual he was picking up and driving a whole bunch of us there. The party was rocking but suddenly it struck me that this man I was spending most of my day with looked really hot when he cleaned up! That he danced like a dream and made interesting conversation. And that when the music came to an end, I didn’t want to stop dancing with him. Yes, you could call me slow. Why on earth was I insisting on setting him up with my best friend when I was single and ready to mingle? And my sales pitch to my friend – he’s cute and terrific husband material! So why was I selling when I didn’t mind buying?!!

I tore myself away and went and sat in a corner to sort my head out. Was I really interested or was it just the atmosphere and the fact that about 200 other people had been throwing us together? My phone beeped and the screen lit up..’What are you doing in that corner when you should be dancing with me?’

I looked across the lawn and he was standing with a bunch of colleagues and listlessly sipping his drink. I replied…

And so we kept at it. I don’t know if anyone noticed that we were sending messages for an hour. But it made me self conscious. When you’re in love, or when you do something you shouldn’t be doing, you do end up rather self conscious. You think everyone knows what you are up to. And to my mind the whole office knew and was probably reading our messages as they floated across the lawn with the music and the conversation. Finally he sent me a last one…’Let’s get out of here..’

But we couldn’t. We had to give 3 people a lift home. All looked rather disgruntled that we were leaving just as the party was warming up. But nobody wanted to fend for themselves in the wee hours of the morning so they knocked back their drinks and joined us.

We dropped two of them home and only my flatmate and I remained. The tension in the car was thick enough to cut with a knife. I wondered what lay ahead. I didn’t want to get my hopes up and see them dashed, neither did I want to make a fool of myself. And what exactly was he planning to say to my flatmate? How were going to get out of that?

But I needn’t have worried. My husband is a simple man and even then he had a simple solution. Turning to my flatmate he said he wanted to get out of the office party because it’s hard to enjoy a party when you’re concerned about getting drunk and making a fool of yourself. That he wanted to go to a real party now… ‘Want to join us? I’m taking MM to dance with me. She works too hard.’

Flatmate who was no fool and could see the sparks flying, mumbled an excuse and left. And there I was..alone with the OA in the car. Now I’d been alone with him a thousand times before. But it was never like this. I sat there in the darkness of the parked car and knew that the next answer would make a huge difference to my life.

‘Wanna go dancing?’ he smiled gently and now that I look back I can remember the distinct lack of enthusiasm in the voice.
No, I mumbled, wondering again if I’d misunderstood what were simply friendly or maybe mildly flirtatious messages.
I was dressed to the nines and my stilettos were killing me and I knew I couldn’t have danced if I wanted to, so I told him I could barely stand.

‘Coffee then? Drive?’
Sure… I replied hesitantly. What if I were found raped and dead the next morning, huh? I am nothing if not suspicious!

And so he drove and we chatted. And at some point he asked me to marry him. I kid you not. I have no recollection of what he said or how he said it. Simply because I was rehearsing my acceptance speech in my head. And perhaps because on the other hand I was also not expecting this to be the big night. I thought he’d perhaps confess undying love. Who in this day and age proposes marriage without dating for at least a while???!!! My honorable husband obviously.

‘Huh? What?I beg your pardon?’, I jerked upright in my seat.
I’d just heard him say… ‘…. when we’re married…’
Us? Married? Did I just miss my own proposal? Obviously. So full of yourself MM, that you miss your own proposal because you have other things going on in your head…
Apparently I’d just been proposed to. And then the womanly wiles kicked in and I made him sweat. Made him say it all over again. And again. And again. ‘You mean you’re in love with me? So why can’t you say it that way? Will it kill you to say the word ‘love’?’
From the way he changed gears I had a feeling I would be killed if I didn’t stop trifling with him!
‘Well if I’m talking marriage, obviously I am in love with you, right?’…
The age old thrust and parry of mating rituals.
‘Yes, but can’t you ask me properly? What makes you think I feel the same way? Have I said I want to marry you?’
He turned and looked me in the eye with a confidence that gave me my answer.

We had coffee at a 24 hour coffee shop and just sat and grinned foolishly at each other. I was finally at peace. I knew this was what was meant to be. There were no edges. Everything felt like it fitted. I can still see us in my mind’s eye. I in my black trousers, blue silk top and he in his beige trousers and black shirt ( He gave that shirt away to the guard recently and couldn’t figure out why that upset me so!). But for the life of me I cannot remember a single word of the conversation we had.

Sometimes the most significant moments in life catch you off guard. You imagine that when you are proposed to, violins will play in the background. That you will remember the scene and the words exactly. But that’s not how it happens. All I can remember is the dark highway stretching ahead, the glow of the instrument panel in the car and the strong hand that hesitated a moment before reaching out for mine.

I swore that I’d make him go down on his knees but we went through so much hell after wards that the whole knee thing seemed so trite and pale. When a man leaves his family and everything else that matters just to be with you, solitaires, poetry, roses, champagne and romantic dinners are just what Hallmark uses to sell cards. I never did get a proper proposal. I don’t think I care for anything more.

We had a huge engagement party in my hometown. He missed the train even then and came sleeping in the luggage rack of a passenger train but that is a story for another day. The engagement ring was beautiful. A square cut diamond with pink diamonds on either side. And since nothing conventional stays with me, it broke. A train door slammed shut on my hand and the ring saved my finger from breaking. But was squashed and damaged beyond repair. I didn’t get it repaired and I don’t remember the engagement date either. It’s either the 21st or 22nd of December. I must ask him.

Happy Father’s Day Dad….19.06.2006

MONDAY, JUNE 19, 2006

Happy Father’s Day Dad….

Yesterday was Father’s Day and almost the entire world remembered it but me. I mean it came to me in bits but those were the bits when I was busy doing something and while I don’t really believe in celebrating ‘days’ (it’s not really an Indian thing but it’s caught on like wildfire) I figured there is no harm in calling dad and telling him I love him.
I called on the way to a friend’s place to dinner and he was thrilled about a dinner he had made – stuffed chicken breasts with mushroom and cheese…. he was stitching the stuffed chicken when I called and then again when I called he was done with eating it too. I had to cut him off again because we had reached our destination…. I felt terrible later that it was way past midnight and too late to call him back. So dad – here’s something small to tell you how much I care ( yeah I seem to be doing a lot of this lately!)My earliest memories of dad are having a bath. He’d get the mad brother and me in to the tub and we’d have a whale of a time splashing around and making a noise. Mum would try to get us out after an hour of horsing around when the water was absolutely cold, but we’d splash her out of the bathroom.Later I remember picnics, trout fishing, campfires and sitting around the fireplace with him playing the guitar, singing hymns and choruses…. An absent minded father he had no clue how old we were or which grade we were studying in. And when it was time to go to college there was no one more surprised than him because he didn’t even notice that it was time.

He was the one that sat me down, opened up a bottle of Glenlivet and told me to have a drink because I was going to college, I deserved it and most importantly, he didn’t want some guy in college getting me drunk! He let me have a shot at his cigarettes but I spluttered and wet up the tip and refused to be a better pupil. He also taught me to whistle at boys with two fingers in my mouth…

When I brought home my first boyfriend he teased me for hours and sat on the couch and slouched and fidgeted just like him – things a 15 year old me had not noticed! And then supported me when I broke up with him because he joined the navy.

With the second boyfriend he decided he liked this quiet guy who played the guitar with so much soul and appreciated music from the good old days too… And stood by me when I broke up with him because we were at different places in our lives.

We were perhaps the only family in our small town that was open about my love life and in hindsight I realise what it took for them to be open about it and stand by me. To the extent of joking and telling people that I changed my boyfriends more often than I changed my clothes. Yes – I had two boyfriends by the time I hit 22! Big deal! Woo hoo! I now realise that was his way of dealing with it – joking about something that made him a little uncomfortable. But he taught me to hold my head high no matter what I chose to do with my personal life. And while I didn’t need to flaunt what I was doing, I didn’t need to be embarassed and hide it either.

And when I finally met the man of my dreams, he was a little taken aback. He was the first to realise that I was rather subdued and not my usual noisy self ( what can I say, I was smitten!) Taking my mum aside he told her he didn’t want me marrying a man who had broken my spirit! Oh! of course I got over the honeymoon period and I was back to my noisy self within a couple of weeks so that put him at ease…

I yelled at him and threw a tantrum ten minutes before my wedding because I wanted him to wear Indian clothes and not a suit, I take his trip mercilessly for being a momma’s boy, I fought with him because I wanted to retain my maiden name and he wanted me to take my husband’s (yeah, how weird can you get?!), I played up hell because he refused to listen to what any doctor said during my pregnancy and made my life miserable… I could go on….

But you see a pattern emerging, don’t you? I am the only one in the family who yells right back at him, thinks like him, is passionate about causes like him, flares up violently but forgets immediately, like him…. and I guess that is because I am the spitting image of him.

So on Father’s Day.. Thanks dad… for everything…

 

TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2006

In response to the Father’s Day wish….

So my dad read my post and since he isn’t very tech savvy, he wrote something for me. He has no clue what a blog is and so you must bear with me. This post will tell you why I am the mush pot I am and why I adore him.  Please note, we are from small town India and blogging isn’t really common there – specially not with his generation. They are lucky if they can figure out the music system remote control!

A Blog to the Blog or whatever you call it.

When my daughter rang up to wish me it was bad enough and I got through with a ” Oh is it ? and a brief “Thanks sweetheart”not knowing what else to say on such occasions as “Fathers’ Day”. Getting wished on birthdays, anniversaries and such things is okay and one gets used to it over the years. But Fathers Day?

A little later my son rang up to wish me and that really got me thinking. Were the kids ganging up to tell me politely after all these years that I had been a terrible father or had they suddenly realised my contribution to their growth? I choose to believe the former.

I mean getting wished by your daughter is one thing, because you expect daughters to be a little mushy on these silly days, but when your son also gets into the act you know they probably think that their old man is growing old and getting soft in the heart and even softer in the head.

Mothers Day is one thing but a Father’s Day sounds superfluous. Mothers are the ones who have spent precious hours patiently bringing up the painful brats and so the poor things probably deserve a special day in the year – but fathers?? Mind you I am not talking about the new breed of fathers – these guys are different and I’ve seen them rock the young ones to sleep faster than the mummies can.
Now fathers like me thought they were there to ensure that the food was on the table, the fees are paid and then spend any available time just having fun with them. Now this doesn’t amount to much – not enough to have a day named after them anyway.

The only other time the father thinks he has a part to play is probably when the daughter comes home with some guy she wants to marry. Grrrrr…. every guy looks like a potential psychopath with greedy paws. So you try to appraise the poor guy every which way you can and then decide he is better than you were at his age and let him off the hook.

I guess its not that bad with sons – with them you only hope they will do better than you did. So life goes on till you become a grandfather and then life takes on a different hue. You are suddenly everything you should have been as a father and that makes your kids look at you with a “where the hell was he all this time”?

So maybe they should scrap fathers day and make it Grandpa’s day instead. Any G’Pas around? Well a Happy Grandfathers day then.

Love
Dada

And we’re moving house again…

… so bear with me as we try our luck once again at themadmomma.in. Yes, we’re persistent if nothing else. Read this post and then head there to the other post waiting for you. 

FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 2006

Wait till you have grandchildren…

….is my mother’s favourite threat. And this, is her beloved grandson feeding her popcorn. They have also been known to eat a single biscuit from opposite ends till they meet in between – this has him dissolve into giggles and he lies on the bed shaking like a little bowl of unset jelly, gurgling helplessly – positively the best sound I have ever heard in my life. And all the while the grandmother shrieks with laughter along with him while her eyes well up with tears of joy.

I don’t know what it is about grandchildren that melts stern, forbidding adults. I remember my mom and uncle shaking in their shoes when my grandfather lectured them. All the while I would sit on his stomach and play with his ears, while my brother ran dizzy circles around his armchair displaying creative genius and singing, ‘Dadu the bum, drinks only rum.’ This used to amuse my grandparents hugely and looking back I can’t imagine why we were not smacked and put in the corner.
My son was born in my family home and I tried hard to exercise some control over his care. I religiously worshipped atwww.babyfit.com and www.babycentre.com everyday and I was quite clear on how I wanted to bring up my baby. This called for a daily battle of wits and then one day, when my baby was about 15 days old I went shopping with my mother to one of the most crowded, dirty and busy areas of our small town. We decided to leave the brat with his grandfather (henceforth referred to as G’pa). How much trouble can a 15-day old be, we reasoned. G’pa’s chest visibly puffed up with pride at this great responsibility as he took over his grandson who had been fed and diapered and was fast asleep.
We got back after two hours and as we neared the room, mother’s instinct kicked in and I rushed to my parents’ room. There was G’pa with only a towel around his waist, holding on to the brat enveloped in a huge fluffy towel, the AC and fan switched off, G’pa and G’son dripping with perspiration and my son looking very unhappy and whimpering. All this on a sweltering May afternoon in the plains of North India.Apparently his grandson brought up a little milk after we left and G’pa had no idea how to hold such a small baby over the sink and clean him. So he filled the bathtub and got in with his grandson and bathed him. Now my son had shown a great love for water even at that age and would howl his lungs out every time he finished his bath, but G’pa was not to know that. No sooner did he get out than the brat decided to voice his disapproval – so he howled loud and long. The brand new G’pa has no clue what was wrong and finally came to the conclusion that G’son has caught a cold. So there he was, standing in the heat and rocking my poor brat to sleep.

This is just one example. Our home is fully carpeted and once G’son began to crawl, there would be accidents all over the place during our visits (I only cloth nappied in case you’re wondering how that happened). I would be horrified and mortified and all the other ‘fieds’. But G’pa would calmly tell me to take G’son and wash his little bottom while he picked up the ‘accident’ and disposed of it and cleaned up the carpeting.

The G’pa and G’son are inseparable when they are in the same city and G’son goes to G’pa’s office, sits on his desk and holds court. The staff love it when I am in town because the moment they see trouble brewing one of them begs me to walk in to the office with him. And G’pa is completely distracted and absolutely besotted and all is calm on the western front once again.

He eats on their bed and G’pa feeds him messy chocolate and is hugged and kissed by that mucky little face. They get up early in the morning to sit in the garden and listen to the koels singing, they watch the fish in the pond, they go for a drive in the open top jeep and they play in the mud with the three dogs.

I don’t mean to paint a picture of a filthy home! This is the home of two very houseproud people. The brass and silver shine and the vacuuming and plants require one dedicated person. Yet the grandson goes wild and both grandparents sit by smiling proudly and encouraging him.And this is not really an ode to the grandfather. The grandmother is as bad if not worse. She refuses to keep any social obligations if her grandson is in town. She has to be pushed out of the house and sent to office and she is back much too early. Her daily soaps are given a break and she is up and down and round and round the house with him. Her friends are welcome home only if they sit and adore her grandson and worship him.To his credit he doesn’t really get spoilt with all this attention but its more than I can handle. I mean I used to be the star attraction earlier. Now when I get down at the railway station, he is whisked out of my arms with out a glance being spared for me. The last time I watched them hurry off with grandson and luggage while I stood there feeling lost. Eventually, diva that I am, I threw a tantrum on the platform till they walked back and hugged and kissed me too. When they call, they barely get past civilities and want to know what new their grandson is up to. Which is not much considering they sometimes call thrice a day.
Where is this post going? I am not sure! I guess I am just surprised by what I see my son doing to my parents. Just like motherhood and fatherhood are special, being a grandparent is perhaps even more so. The old joke goes that God gives you grandchildren to make up for having given you children. Often I check my mother for spoiling my brat and she looks up at me with revenge writ large on her face and a “wait till you have grandchildren and your daughter gets in the way…”Sigh….ok.
And now off to themadmomma.in, all of you!

Oh bugger! Check out the bus! Bye bus! – 10.06.2006

SATURDAY, JUNE 10, 2006

Oh bugger! Check out the bus! Bye bus!

.. So it’s finally happened. My 13 month old said his first few words. At first I was convinced that I was just a fond mother reading too much into gibberish. Till he did it again and again. We live on the third floor and our balcony overlooks one of the busiest roads in Delhi.

When he was an infant I would put him out on the balcony with his toys on a blanket and let the winter sun strengthen his little limbs…. And I would sit by chopping my veggies or editing copy. As he grew older it was where he took his first steps at ten months ( grist for another post!) and any visitor would be dragged out to sit with him and look at the traffic go by.

My dad visited and I remember him saying, “This bugger is going to say car before he says Mamma or Dadda.” I laughed it off till a couple of days back a bus honked at the traffic signal and my son screamed ‘bus, bus!!’ and charged out to the balcony as fast as his short little legs could take him.

A few days later the maid dropped a couple of utensils in the kitchen and my son was stacking rings. Without missing a beat he says “oh buggeh!”.. I swear it. I guess he picked up his grandfather’s favourite phrase when no one was listening. Yes, yes, it’s only funny right now and hopefully he will forget it before repeating it in public.

I have always maintained that I have no vices other than swearing like a truck driver. It has always shocked those who meet me for the first time to see me virtuously turn down a cigarette and a drink, sitting with my legs decorously crossed at the ankle only to let fly the choicest abuse when something doesn’t go my way. I figured we had a while before we minded our Ps and Qs and forks and spoons, but I guess it is finally time for me to give up my only indulgence( uh huh, I am going to be completely repressed now.)

The last straw was following the maid to the door on her way out, waving to her and calling out “bye, byeeee.”

Yes, it is official. My 13 month old has outgrown his parents and now no longer needs us. He has learned all the words he needs to get him through life. I mean what more do you need if you can hail a bus, vent your frustration with an ‘oh bugger’ and wave bye to people.

My mother loves telling people how I learned to walk at nine months and was talking full sentences at almost a year -wipe that look of disbelief off your face please, its rude! Well we didn’t believe her, particularly the Other Adult till he was shown albums of a pre first birthday me running around smashing cups and tripping over a little house coat!!

We also had evidence of my talking from a lot of other witnesses. My mother had my brother within 14 months of me and I was taken to the hospital with all the other relatives to see my new baby brother. A favourite Grand Aunt of mine used to exclaim “oh mother save us!” very often. As luck would have it, I was dressed up in my favourite little blue dress and was walking up the stairs when I fell in to a little rain water drain (you can have your laughs, but I spoke at 9 months!)and said “oh mother save us!” The teasing is yet to end. People constantly bring it up as an example of how I started talking early and didn’t stop after that.

Apparently I was also not used to sharing the attention and when we brought the new baby home I was busy telling my father a story of the smart fox and the greedy crow in Tamil (the nari and the kaka). Dad was getting my story on tape when the little fellow howled and mum got up to check on him. Irritated at losing my audience I yelled out, “Shut up Tambi, no one calling.” And of course the value of that tape went up exponentially. It was played for years to come to show visitors what a chatterbox and little jealous cat I was. The tape still exists but fortunately we no longer have a tape recorder, only a CD player – so I am safe.

Enough about me – I spend the last 10 days wondering whether it was a fond mother’s imagination or if my son really says a few words. And he does. He waves ‘byeee’ to the mailman, milkman, maid, his father and anyone else who heads to the door. He drops all else to rush to the balcony and scream ‘bus’ when he hears it honk. And of course every time there is a bit of a to do he will look up seriously and say, ‘oh buggeh’…..

 

Let the record state – 07.06.2006

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 07, 2006

Let the record state

… that a few hours before giving birth to my son I was picking up the father of the child-to-be from the railway station. I had already been told that for various medical reasons I was going to have a C-section ( no need to go into reasons in this post) and it was only a question of fixing a date so that the other adult could make it. And so we chose a Thursday since that was the earliest he could get a flight. A full ten days before my due date to avoid any further complications.

The morning of the delivery dawned hot and sweaty. And I went to the station to collect the other adult with my mother. My MIL had already arrived and was having kittens watching me run up and down the stairs at my size ( I had gained 17 kilos despite being the most active preggie woman in the country) and the thought of venturing out on the morning of a major, albeit routine surgery was more than she could handle. Although I think she was rather touched at the devotion to her beloved son.

We all set off to the hospital – the rest of the family in their Sunday best and me in a raggedy nightie since I was merely the person delivering. Ma prayed all the way and had been praying for the last 20 days. And I was growing more irritated by the minute. Statistics show more danger to mother and child in natural birth than C-section and she was behaving like I was not only doing something terribly pathbreaking and dangerous, but also betraying entire womankind by doing something so unnatural in the process.

I had not been allowed to eat as is usual with surgery and to top it all, I was not even allowed to drink water. The heat was increasing. My belly was getting to be more annoying by the minute and the baby was kicking with increased might and regularity as if he or she knew it was time to get out.

My little cousins J&K sweetly sat by me placing a wet spoon on my dry lips every few minutes and once in a while cheating and letting a few drops of water trickle in when the grown ups were not looking. Yes, those were the last few hours that I was still officially not a grown up. The room was full of anxious family and I was getting nervous and impatient. Mum was looking more miserable by the minute and looked like she would burst into tears any moment.

That is when someone pointed out that it was 05.05.05 and a Thursday or the 5th day of the week. The child would be very lucky.

Nurses and doctors floated in and out and various shots were given without explanation. I think I shocked the family and the MIL when I lost my temper and finally yelled at a nurse who just walked in and started rubbing my already sore wrist to inject yet something else. Unused to a mere patient questioning her uniformed self she almost dropped the syringe. I refused to let her give me the shot without telling me what it was that the doctor has asked her to give me. Losing control over everything I was clutching at straws to assert myself!

In the midst of the chaos a junior doctor walked in to calm my fears. And then pointed to the prone form of the OA stretched out on the bench beside my bed. What is wrong with him, she asked. “Oh, 9 months of pregnancy have exhausted him,” I replied caustically. I finally learned what they mean by beating a hasty retreat. I don’t think she was willing to continue facing me in that mood.

A couple of women went into labour while I was waiting for my turn (I had been scheduled for 12 noon) and because of fetal distress were rushed in for C-sections. Finally I was to be taken in at 4.30 pm. The hunger, thirst, impatience, exhaustion and excitement were taking their toll on me. The other adult in the mean time was trying to rig the number 5 business and ensure that the baby was delivered on the stroke of 5, with my numerologically obsessed father egging him on. I of course couldn’t care less by that time. Get the baby out, I begged anyone who gave me a moment.

At 5pm I went in and all hell broke loose. I had been promised general anesthesia by my gyn who had checked that I was fit enough for it, instead of a spinal. Why the insistence? Well, because the gyn herself has admitted that spinal anesthesia often left you with a backache for life.But doctors preferred it to general because general meant monitoring a lot more and needed to be much quicker. Basically the easy way out for them. Whatever.

By then I was almost hysterical and was refusing to let them give me the shot in my spine. Anyway its not easy to roll up like a prawn when you are the size of a whale so that they can give you the shot in the correct location.

I think the doctors met their match in me that evening. I wriggled my toes in impatience and my legs refused to cave in and go numb under anesthesia.

On the outside the other adult was trying to sneakily find ways to be with me because he had already been refused admission. He made some rude sounds about the “village” I belonged to and began to form his own underhanded scheme.

Many years ago I had heard of banking cord stem cells and I knew that I wanted to do it somehow. Fortunately by the time I got pregnant it had come to India – we were one of the first 50 parents or so to avail of it and were in august company like Raveena Tandon and Karishma Kapoor! The Life Cell head office was in Chennai and as luck would have it, we were posted there at that time. The other adult picked up a refrigerated and specially packed kit from them and flew it in for the delivery.

So this was his wild scheme. We had already informed my gyn about our desire to bank the cord blood but the rest of my little town and the little hospital had never heard of any such thing. The junior doctors had been given certain peremptory orders by my Gyn and they had no clue why they were doing certain things. The prepping for the operation was not beginning because of this confusion of course and my gyn who was late and still with the last C-sec, was not there to explain. Nobody bothered to check with me.

So there I was, huge beached whale lying on the table, the lights above me taking on scary proportions, chaos abounding and my toes still wriggling. The OT door burst open and I saw the OA sneakily trying to follow the gyn in. I also saw him being shooed out in an undignified manner. He had decided to come along on the pretext of teaching them what to do with the kit. I give him full marks for trying. And a zero for believing it would work. Most people in my little town were shocked at the thought that he would want to be with me even for a natural birth, let alone try so hard to hold my hand through an operation dripping blood.

The rest is a blur. They made me smell something and pass out because I wouldn’t shut up. Or stop wriggling my toes.

Now I wish I had done some sort of drugs in college because I believe you should try it all, but I was a funk and I didn’t. Anyway, the next half an hour passed in a psychedelic daze and I saw the most bright and amazing visions – like the visualisations in Windows Media Player!

And then I regained consciousness and could feel them pressing down hard on my chest. Lots of hands touching me and pressure from every side. And disjointed voices saying that the baby was stuck. His head was too big and they had to cut some more. I could feel hands moving around my insides and when I opened my eyes, all I saw was black – they had taped a piece of cloth over my eyes and tied my arms down so that I didn’t accidentally touch one of the doctors. The overdose of restraint coupled with what I could hear them saying made me panic and I started crying and thrashing around. I think. Before I knew it, they made me inhale and I was out like a light again.

And then, filmy style – I heard a baby wail. I keep replaying the thrill in my head. It was worth all this nonsense. And I unsuccessfully tried looking through my blindfold, and then passed out again. When I regained consciousness, I was all stitched up and good to go. And the baby was nowhere to be seen.

Desperately I looked around and asked the nurses if it was a girl or a boy. A boy they answered. I don’t think they had ever been faced with such a reaction before. Still quite doped out, I broke down and cried hysterically,”I don’t want him, please give me a girl, exchange him with any of those who want a boy.”

I wish I could describe the stunned silence. This is small town UP where a boy child is worshipped and a the birth of a girl child is mourned. In rage they pushed me out of the OT and left me lying there all hooked up and stitched up, on a trolley in the corridor.

I lay there wondering how long I would have to suffer for my sins! Fortunately my friend came by looking for me when they realised it had been an hour since the child had arrived and there was no sign of me. Wheeled to my room I was taken aback by the crowd. I rolled in like a diva and spoke in tongues. Yup. I was doped out of my head and spoke to everyone in all 7 or so different languages I knew. But I still didn’t want to see my baby.

And then my mother insisted that I stop acting childish and open my eyes and look at my son. Small, pink and white, with bright beady eyes looking up at me. I wish I could say I fell in love with him immediately. I didn’t. I felt nothing. Not even when a room full of people urged me to feed him. I glared at them to get lost while I gave this breastfeeding business a shot. It was not fun.

The rest of the time in hospital was not fun either. The contractions that pulled at my stitches when I fed him, the injections, the drip, the catheter, the pain when the anesthesia wore off, the inability to sit up and lead a normal life, the inability to have a cold shower in the hot, dry, north Indian summer, the inability to change his nappies or even carry him for two entire days. Even after his birth I was not allowed to march up and down from my first floor room with him in my arms. And oh, they didn’t let me bathe for the 9 days that the stitches were in and finally my mum had a bed carried into the toilet (ah the joys of old rambling homes) and then lay me down there and bathed me top half and bottom half, excluding the stitches because even she could see that I was sweating and miserable in the May heat.

Mum swore her natural birth was less painful and if she’d been given an epidural life would have been different. Barely any labour and absolutely no recovery time. All those who think C-Sections are a style statement - you have another think coming, and I take offence. Pregnancy is not easy. Neither is childbirth. And I don’t think you are in a position to diss something you have never tried and hopefully never will.

Sometimes I looked down at the C-section scar and wish I had fought the doctor for more than cosmetic reasons. But scared first time moms cannot be blamed for caving into pressure. Check out this mother’s traumatic experience and the trauma of another mother who expresses her trauma through art.

It doesn’t matter anymore though. I have the most adorable son and I love him to pieces. Literally. Sometimes I squeeze him really hard and hope that will make him stay this size forever.

 

Sure could use a little good news – 05.06.2006

MONDAY, JUNE 05, 2006

 

You are tagged

20 years ago I . . .
1. was about to start grade 2
2. was dying for a Barbie doll
3. didn’t know what a computer looked like

10 years ago I . . .
1. was 10 days away from my first day of college
2. was wondering how I would survive college in Chennai ( fortunately I didn’t find out)
3. joined St Stephen’s and realised how uncool I was!!!

5 years ago I . . .
1. was 6 kilos lighter
2. could have been up at this hour and not been giddy with sleep
3. had a crush on the other adult and it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

3 years ago I . . .
1. was on my honeymoon right about now
2. learning that shaving and waxing don’t really matter
3. learning to bring home the bacon for a husband who was straight out of college and not yet working

1 year ago I . . .
1. was learning that my 1 month old baby didn’t care if I hadn’t painted my chipped nails
2. breastfeeding was a great way to lose weight
3. was more bothered about my stretchmarks than I am now

So far this year I . . .
1. have a few great freelance offers
2. am back in Delhi, a city I love
3. am the most comfortable I have ever been in my skin

Yesterday I . . .
1. started considering actively working towards weight loss
2. been thrilled because a friend in Bombay, M had a son early in the morning and another friend M has just discovered she is expecting! Baby boom time!
3. realised that I could not have married a more wonderful man (yuck…mushy but true… )

Today I . . .
1. have not done a shred of work
2. cuddled the brat while he was eating his breakfast and let him get porridge all over my dress
3. forced myself to eat bitter gourd for lunch in an attempt to set a good example.

Tomorrow I will . . .
1. hopefully go for a jog
2. start work with a new magazine
3. spend up all that I earned last month

In the next year I will . . .
1. probably be diaper-free
2. hopefully be preggie again
3. probably give up hope on a career at all

In the next minute I will tag . . .
1. Candy 2. Jedi 3. Dipta

 

—————————————————————-

Sure could use a little good news…

 

I used to love this Anne Murray song as a kid, called A Little Good News.

It makes me heartsick when I hear it now and sometimes makes me wish I had not brought a child into a world where we wake up every morning to a newspaper carrying bad news as the headline. I found a site some years ago called goodnewsindia. I check it out once in a while as an upper! Check it out some time when you feel that the country and the world are headed for disaster. They might be, but its nice to know that someone out there is chronicling what is right with the world. And here are the lyrics to the song I love.

A Little Good News

Anne Murray

I rolled out this morning
Kids had the mornin’ news show on
Bryant Gumbel was talkin’ ’bout the fighting in Lebanon
Some senator was squawkin’ ’bout the bad economy
It’s gonna get worse you see,
We need a change in policy
There’s a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
Just once how I’d like to see the headline say
“Not much to print today, can’t find nothin’ bad to say”, because

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger,
nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today

I’ll come home this evenin’
I’ll bet that the news will be the same
Somebody takes a hostage,
Somebody steals a plane
How I wanna hear the anchor man
Talk about a county fair
And how we cleaned up the air,
How everybody learned to care
Whoa, tell me

Nobody was assassinated in the whole Third World today
And in the streets of Ireland,
all the children had to do was play
And everybody loves everybody in the good old USA
We sure could use a little good news today

Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
Nobody fired a shot in anger,
Nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today

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