It’s been a crazy, crazy week. My commute has shot up to 2 hours, carving a 4 hour chunk out of my day and throwing it in the garbage. I have a house full of cartons. No place to walk. No place to set down a glass of water. Gurgaon is hot, dusty, arid desert for as far as the eye can see. Which is probably why they plant palms all over the place. The curtains are up but they don’t shield us from the harsh sun beating down relentlessly. The kitchen is a mess. The tiles have some weird design that make them look permanently dirty and I sat on my haunches and scrubbed them with acid till my knees ached, my back groaned and my hands were raw, but to no avail. My iPhone speaker stopped working and so I had to talk to everyone on loudspeaker! Here’s the clincher. I get no signal in certain parts of the house so I am anyway unreachable most of the time and I’ve had to give out my home landline number to people against my better judgement.
The kids have loved the house, running up and down the stairs, swimming twice a day, playing on the swings and hiding in nooks and corners. I’ve had my heart in my mouth as they peer out of windows on the 14th floor and say they want to jump down. The Brat says he will open his glider wings and fly away. I am hastily putting latches on all of them. A storm two days ago lost us three SHUT windows. That should tell you something about the force with which it came.
And to top it all I still have to put in as much work as ever, with a fewer hours at my disposal, most spent in the commute. My parents were horrified to see me this time. Apparently I look haggard, am snapping more than usual at the OA and my eyes are puffy.
And so while I was at work, they took the kids for a swim, put up all my pictures, unpacked a dozen suitcases, hung up paintings, made me a dressing table, shifted two fans, fixed bamboo chik behind my curtains for added insulation and hung up the TV. I came home and almost burst into tears. I am always amazed by their energy, their generosity with their time and money and their ability to keep up with the times. Its not everyday you see a grandfather heft up a huge TV, go at a wall with the drill and figure out the wiring and put it on, unpack cartons of stuff and then take his grandchildren for a one hour swim on his back. Its not everyday that a grandmother runs up and down the steps of a duplex, bargains with vendors to get stuff fitted and sets up your phone lines before she cooks lunch for you.
Ma also got me her spare blackberry and here’s the icing on the cake. It got lost. The last straw, I hunted hysterically and then burst into tears. I think that told my parents how exhausted I was. I was scolded firmly, told to stop working myself into a lather and just breathe. And then, after filling our fridge with food, slipping some housewarming gift money into my hands and filling our home with their love and laughter, they left.
The Brat started getting cranky as evening neared and he realised it was time for them to leave. He’s spent almost a month with them and he kept crying that Kipper needed him. And for the first time since I left home for college, I cried to see them leave. I know. Juvenile. But its overwhelming to have 10,000 things to do and for the first time in years I felt like a child as I left my worries and cares in their hands for a while. I felt awful for having lost Ma’s phone, considering it was an expensive one and had a lot of her contacts on it.
I picked up a sobbing Brat and hugged him, the Bean climbed on to my knees behind him and I sat there hugging them and rocking them as my parents hugged this teary lump of humanity that was their flesh and blood. And then they left with the OA for the 1.5 hour drive to the station, shutting the door on three sobbing babies.
A little later I washed my face, put on some music and the kids and I began to dance. The Bean joined me but the Brat kept sitting down and saying.. “But I’m missing my G’pa..” Finally it was time to sleep and I let them sleep with me, this being early days in a new house and them having just been abandoned by their grandparents. The Bean cuddled up to me while the Brat shifted to a corner and put his head under a pillow. A while later I saw the pillow quiver unmistakably. I lifted it to see the Brat sobbing uncontrollably, moaning G’pa, G’pa… I took him in my arms and he fell asleep crying, his cheeks tear stained.
I couldn’t have asked for a better relationship between my parents and my children. Sometimes I physically feel the love that runs between the two generations, being the bridge that I am. It’s like electricity and sometimes I feel that even as a wire, I have no more use here. My work is done. And yet, when I see the children break down each time they’re separated, I am almost the villain of the piece. It makes me wish they cared less, just to stop the pain. But there’s a line from a song I’ve been tripping on recently – ‘ Yes, I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all… ‘ (Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now) PS: If you haven’t heard it, please do. I quite like it.
Speaking of which, the Bean’s current favourite is Soul Sister by Train. It’s damn cute to watch her running around the house singing at the top of her voice, “Hey Soul Sister, Aint that mister mister on the radio, stereo…” It’s either that or the other extreme – Tere Liye from Prince. Ugh.
I think its in the genes. The OA and I were driving some place and I was nagging. And when I finally ended my litany of complaints and asked him what he does for me, he gave me a wicked grin, took a deep breath, and just in time, began to sing along with this song that was playing on the radio , ‘Jannatein sajayi maine tere liye.. ‘ Complete with filmi expressions and hand movements. Totally ruined my nagging wife moment.
So yes. That’s pretty much where we are. A reading lamp on, the room cool after the hellish heat of the day, my computer functional, a phone lost, about 10 kms of various wires and cords tangled and lying on the floor, waiting to be sorted out.. and in the midst of it all, a mattress laid out and two little children fast asleep, dead to the world and free of care. And somehow even while I typed out this post and looked at them, I began to believe that we’re going to be alright. Things will work out. Until then, there’s always the music.