Fine, you little Oliver Twists! Don’t appreciate my garden post. See if I care.
The reason I’ve been AWOL is a family wedding. The OA’s cousin got married and I was surprised to realise that I was old enough to host the baarat. For my home to be a shaadi ghar. The excitement has been building up for months and when it finally arrived I didn’t know what hit me. I am in the midst of many work projects, I have no proper house help (again! so whats new?!) and I have two little children who I had to manage along with their sleep schedules and yet find a way to host so many people and enjoy the wedding.
I found myself getting up 6.30 am to get the OA’s 93 year old grandmother her bed tea and only going to bed after putting to bed assorted relatives who needed either hot water or milk with ghee before they called it a night. Mornings meant stepping over mattresses on the floor, a rush for the toilets, chaos as I sorted out the vegetarians from the non-vegetarians offering either aloo parathas or bacon and eggs for breakfast. It’s amazing how even adults (in this case people in their 50s) need to be shooed out and bundled into cars so as to not miss ceremonies. I stopped to wonder when I went from the little girl who would scoot down to the bottom of the bed and refuse to get up each morning to the harried hostess. I guess it is time for our generation to step up and take the mantle. We can’t just show up and party – we have to organise it.
There was the usual wedding chaos, trains coming in late, flights missed, ailments, missing gifts, feelings hurt and misunderstandings. Sometimes the room was too small for us as well as certain family members who can’t stand the sight of me and would look like thunderclouds if they saw the OA hug his children or smile at me. But I met so many people who were affectionate, witty and interesting that I’ve lost my ace card during domestic spats – “What do you know? You don’t have a single decent family member!” And I couldn’t be happier to be proved wrong. Some new friendships have been built, some old dislikes have been cemented, but I’ve seen my husband in his own environment and its a joy I can’t describe. I’m sorry I didn’t witness it before. We’re all such different people when we’re with family.
The kids were in their element. Such an adoring audience to listen to their tall tales and read to them. They did get freaked out at everyone speaking a language they didn’t understand and came to ask me – “Whats happening Mama? I don’t understand what they are saying!” The OA and I missed the beginning of almost every party, exhausted as we were with getting people out of the house, cleaning up the mess, rolling up and stacking away bedding, doing the dishes, getting our own kids ready and finally piling into the car and getting there. I had every intention of going to a parlour (for the first time!) and getting my hair done. Yet I somehow ended up getting there each evening with my freshly shampooed hair hanging lankly around my shoulders, minus the mallipoo I had planned on a low bun.
The Brat surprised us by unerringly hitting the dancefloor each time and actually displaying a left and a right foot. The OA and I had to lift our jaws off the floor. There were a lot of rough edges but it left us both pleasantly surprised. I think I’d done a post on the old blog where I’d mourned the fact that two music lovers like us had ended up with a child with two left feet and the inability to carry a tune even in a basket. I got some flak on that post for being so low – but hey, the reason you read this blog is because I am honest. And I was nothing but honest when I spoke of how disappointed I was at my son’s lack of inclination towards music. Anyhow. He’s making up for it and how!
I’ve had my share of trouble with the OA’s family but my favourite people are his grandmothers. Having lived to be the age they are, they cut through the crap and get to the point. Warm, gentle, wise, funny and stoic they are everything one admires in that generation. We had long chats, they told me the family history and what they didn’t tell me I read between the lines and understood, getting to know better this husband of mine and the family I married in to. Understanding better the various reactions and sympathising more with certain members. Grateful to be loved by the two old ladies I bent backwards, helping them slip their toes into slippers, tucking the blankets under their chins, warming their hands, and sometimes just soaking up and storing away the feeling of what it is to be a grandchild. Even at 32.
I also feel that kids who don’t grow up with elderly family members around are not very sensitive towards them. For instance my children had no interest in the two older ladies while I walked around feeling like I was privileged to host them – that their presence in my home would bless it. The children were not rude, but they had little to say to these two frail old ladies who they could barely communicate with. They were too old to run around and too old to read to them. I spent a lot of time just holding their fragile hands and thanking God for giving me another shot at having a grandparent. The OA and I often had to leave parties early because the two old ladies needed to go home and sleep and I don’t think we resented it one bit, so lovely were the two of them.
I think I got my annual dose of joy from the image of the Brat holding his 93 year old great grandmother’s hand and walking her to the car. It was late night, he was sleepy, she was tired and he had no idea of how to moderate his pace to match her old slow footsteps, swinging her into walls and furniture as he walked. And yet, it was such a beautiful sight to see the future hold the past by the hand and lead it home.The present? The present is rather content right now, smiling over a cup of hot chocolate.