Goodbye Aai…

Six years ago I lost a soul-mate – my brother, gone too soon, leaving my heart forever fractured.  And yet here I am again, the fracture now deepened into a canyon of grief…the only relief coming from the river of memories flowing within.

I lost my Granny two weeks ago. My Mom lost her mother and the world lost a beautiful, courageous, gifted soul. She had been ill – she struggled with health issues all her life really but these last 2 years were particularly hard, fate particularly cruel. You would never have known though…she smiled through every hardship!

I was with her when it happened…holding her hand, watching her ragged breathing stop, one hand on her faint pulse until that too faded away. It was surreal. She was gone and I remember walking out of the room to tell Mom…calmly, matter-of-factly even, that she had passed. We had been preparing ourselves you see, as well as the living can prepare for impeding death. Even wishing for it, for her, because we couldn’t bear to watch her suffer and because the woman we knew and loved so very dearly had left much earlier, leaving only a hollow, fragile shell. Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.

I feel like I haven’t yet begun to grieve. It’s feels weird. I keep waiting for the acute searing pangs of pain that assaulted me when my brother passed but they don’t come. Instead there’s a continuous, dull, aching pain that weighs me down, a persistent malaise that heightens the all-pervading, ever present emptiness. She’s gone and once again the World still turns. Diminished. Weird. Expected. Understood. I cried me a river six years ago but now my eyes are dry…but sadder. I wonder whether that’s what happens over time as we lose the people we love – they settle in the amplified sadness of our eyes.

She raised me. I was her first grandchild, her only granddaughter and the apple of her eye. I like to think so anyway. If I had to describe her in a word it would be ‘Amazon’. She was a warrior for as long as I can remember, even until the end. When she was young, circumstances necessitated a fighting spirit and I like to think that having found the warrior within, she embraced her wholeheartedly. She was like that Aai – All or Nothing. And for all the challenges she faced I never once heard her express disappointment or regret. She just faced every trial with an inherent grace and dignity that left us all in awe.

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I wish I had her strength. I wish I were half as brave as she was. I wish I could tell her one more time how much she means to me, how lucky I am to have been loved by her, how deeply I love her and how profoundly I miss her. I wish she were still here – unbroken, whole, wise. I wish, I wish, I wish…but mostly I wish her Happy wherever she is – and I strongly suspect that she’s with my brother and her siblings having a rocking party somewhere, enjoying herself while looking down on us in benevolence!

Another Angel in my Sky!

I Love You Aai ❤

Always & Forever…

To the boy who lives…

My favorite picture of the two of us - taken the day before my wedding.
My favorite picture of the two of us – taken the day before my wedding.

The night you were born was unremarkable – a night like any other I suppose inasmuch as two nights are alike. I was asleep at Ghatkopar and although your arrival was eagerly awaited I had only a vague notion of ‘when’. I was only 12 after all and such things as babies belonged in another universe.

I remember Tai waking me up to tell me I had a sibling as clearly as if it were yesterday. She said I had a sister and in the dark I couldn’t see her twinkling eyes and her soft smile. She knew I had my heart set on a brother and nothing else would do! I remember rubbing sleepy eyes and saying that was impossible! It must be a brother, she must be mistaken! I remember her gentle laughter as she agreed, saying yes indeed she must be in the face of such confidence, and it was! It was you – come to turn my life upside down and my heart inside out with your own unique brand of love, friendship and compassion.

In those early years, at times I loved you so intensely it hurt and at others I was indifferent to your very existence, too wrapped up in my own adolescence, stormy as it was! But you know that already – you were there after all and bore the brunt of my temper often enough. I could apologise I suppose but there wouldn’t be much point now would there and besides, you know how much I hate saying Sorry 😉

And so the years passed and with them came the trials and triumphs unique to every life’s rhythm. We persevered and overcame while drawing heavily on your seemingly limitless stores of courage and patience in the face of Herculean odds. How did you do it? It was a mystery to me then and remains one today. Your gentle heroism is what I hold within my soul. It is what allows me to breathe on days when all I want is to curl up and die. It is what keeps me smiling while my heart breaks. It is what renews faith and brings me hope when all seems lost. You are the Light at the end of my tunnel. Always were. Always will be.

Another night 4 years ago. Another phone call. And again Life turned upside down, heart turned inside out. Gut-wrenching grief and a paralysing helplessness. An unwillingness to live and laugh in a world that no longer had you in it. And You – as always, my beacon. Willing me to breathe, to persevere, to live. Sending me a little boy to bring me back to the land of the living. A beautiful piece of you that clutched my finger and my heart with that same ferocious devotion that once was uniquely ours. My very own miracle. How did you do it? A beautiful mystery 🙂

And so I smile and open my heart again to the vagaries of unconditional love. I try hard to be more like you were – gentle, compassionate, patient. More often than not I fall flat on my face, but at least now, I stand up and try again. You gave me that along with everything else. I read these words and truth be told – there are no words to say what you are to me, how much I miss you and how much I love you. No words. But that’s alright, coz I know and you know. And that is all that matters.

33 years to the day – and nothing’s changed. It’s still you – holding my heart in yours, killing me softly with your song. Always is. Always will be.

I ❤ You, B.

Happy Birthday!

A Letter to my Son…

My Darling C,

You’re 5 today! A mini-milestone on this happy journey of Life. Five is a good age – for you and for me 😉 you’re old enough to take those first wobbly steps towards independence and young enough to still let me hold your hand! And how I adore that walking hand-in-hand! It makes me feel loved and useful and special in a way nothing else can! And we are name-buddies too! We are both named for Happiness and to me that’s the most miraculous thing – a sign that ‘this was meant to be!’ 🙂 I’ll tell you more about why someday.

You’re not going to understand most of this letter until much later, when you’re older and hopefully wiser, but I’m really writing it now, for me. I won’t fill it with any advice other than to say, “Play hard, Laugh often and Mind your manners!” If you can do that now, you’ll have an easier time of it when you’re older and the going gets tough, as it inevitably will. Laughter will always help even if you’re just pretending! It’s a cleanser and healer and often you’ll feel better even when you don’t want to 😛 Besides we have a tradition of laughter in our family…our guffaws are legendary!! Don’t let me down now 😉

So often during these 5 years, I’ve wanted to time-freeze you! Keep you from growing up and cling tenaciously to your innocence for a while longer. Oh! I know, it’s a fool’s dream…but tell that to my Mommy heart 😉 I remember wanting to stay the ‘same’ myself too! I didn’t want to turn into a mother who cannot see, think or live beyond her children. It may work for some, but not for me. I was so afraid of losing my ‘self’ that I was blinded to the possibility that you would just ‘enhance’ that ‘self’ – give it layers and depth and meaning without disturbing its core essence. And for that I thank you and bow to the wisdom of this ancient Universe that has made it so 🙂 Yes! you’ve altered my life irrevocably but I’m still ‘me’ – just a better version 😉 Oh I know you’re going to think I’m a loon speaking gibberish and you’re right but someday you will understand – both the gibberish and the immense importance of indulging your loony side 😉

Raising you has been a life-altering experience! After B, you’re the only one in this whole entire universe who holds the key to my heart. I wish you could have known him…the two of you would have been inseparable, although I think you already are! Ever so often i see him shining through your eyes and i know then i am doubly blessed to have loved you both! You make me laugh and cry and tear my hair out in frustration 😉 You brought the joy of play back into my life at the bleakest of times and I’ve never looked back since. Your smile is more effective than any nuclear missile – use it wisely 😉 As for your tantrums – well since you’ve learnt them from me, how can I possibly complain? 😛

I’m so very proud of you and of the fact that I am your Mom. I’m enjoying every moment of our journey together and I can only hope you are too! You are many things to me my darling – my joy, my hope, my love, my faith, my gratitude, my teacher, but most of all you are my blessing from the Universe and I want you to know that I love you with all my heart – always and forever.

For Caivu's 5th Birthday1

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY DARLING & GOD BLESS!!

❤❤❤❤❤ Love forever after, Mamma.❤❤❤❤❤ 

Back to School!

I cannot believe this is my 3rd post of the Day!! It’s a MIRACLE!!

I’ve just got back from spending the afternoon with my son’s Kindergarten class! Today was his first day in Senior KG and I’m happy to report that both of us had a blast 😀 This despite the fact that my derriere is aching from sitting hunched in tiny rigid made-for-4-yr-old-butt chairs 😉 and notwithstanding the general brouhaha that occurs in a room full of 15  hyperactive, enthusiastic 5-yr-olds!!

I continue to be impressed with the teachers in the Podar Jumbo Kids Plus IB section. There are three teachers to attend to 15 children – a main teacher and two assistants, without whom I cannot imagine how they would manage to keep order 😛 These children are a handful – curious, impatient, fidgety and unique –  each in their own way. Getting them to concentrate on a single activity for 5 minutes at a time is in my opinion worthy of a Nobel prize 😉 The teachers at Podar do so with aplomb and have my utmost respect! Take a Bow Ladies 🙂

It was fascinating to see how far the education system has come since way back when I was a kindergartner myself! The children played, sang songs, modeled clay and watched stories all in the space of 4 hours, during which they also wrote their names on the board, drew objects that started with the first letter of each of their names and counted numbers! The learning is skillfully woven into fun activities so that the children scarcely regard it as a serious study process. Instead they imbibe knowledge true to the little sponges they are, by instinct and osmosis. I was pretty impressed with all the kids and happy to see that my boy – shy as he is in public, can hold his own in the classroom 🙂 It was an eye-opener and a wonderful experience and we Moms would be very happy to do it again some time 😛

Senior KG 1st day

I’m looking forward to another rewarding school year 🙂

Women: Burden or Backbone – A Personal Reflection

This is my entry for The Indusladies 4th Annual International Women’s Day Blog Contest.

History is abundant in strong women role models. Women have pioneered & served in every walk of life and excelled in them – Government, Literature, Entrepreneurship, Education, and many others. Close to home, we have Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, Kiran Bedi, and youth icons like Saina Nehwal and Sania Mirza; all trailblazers in their chosen paths! And while I salute these women and their contributions, my own role models are closer to home and no less revolutionary! They are my intimate soul mates – women who have known and influenced me since birth – My Mom, My Aunt but most importantly my Grandmother, my ‘Nani’, whom I call ‘Aai’ – quintessential ‘Mother’, proud matriarch – her delicate femininity camouflaging her steely resolve.

She’s a consummate survivor. At 86 – she’s survived an abusive marriage, raised two strong & independent daughters, battled a host of health problems, and coped with several tragedies including the  loss of a beloved grandson. Through it all she has been a rock of support for my Mom, who is fighting her own battles – the loss of a child and a husband cruelly afflicted by Parkinson’s disease. Their stories and suffering are not perhaps unique, indeed India has millions of women who have been abused and discarded by society and who continue to suffer, but for me – they are special because they are also my life stories. My Granny ended her bad marriage and moved back to Bombay, with two little girls, her self-respect, a backbone of steel and little else. With her family’s support, she survived and more importantly beat the odds triumphantly! She was a seamstress extraordinaire and saved money by tailoring clothes for the children under her care. She didn’t have a paying job but she was certainly no burden on her family.

Indusladies Contest Collage

Women like Aai are the foundations on which our societies are built and nurtured. Their love and sacrifice form the backbone on which we lesser mortals build our utopias. They nurture and educate, in an attempt to better a World that often treats them unjustly, judges them harshly and diminishes their self-worth. How easily we dismiss their contributions! How casually we sweep away their pain! The world would be a much better place if women were celebrated everyday as they deserve to be – not with grand gestures but with quiet sincerity and consistent regard.

I dedicate this poem to my Granny, who is my backbone and when required – I am hers!

 LIFESTORY

 Today, I met a woman,

Her head was bowed in grace,

Quiet eyes and gentle sighs,

Solitude lined her face.

❤ 

I watched her faith move mountains,

Her back straight and proud,

Her long and restless fingers,

Often caressed my brow.

❤ 

Marriages and children,

Family and friends,

Shadows on her gentle face,

Alone in the end.

❤ 

Years of wisdom wrapped in love,

Journeying the seas,

Courage on the wings of doves,

Her spirit forever free.

 Harsha

A Letter to Mom & Dad…

Dearest Mom & Dad,

Today, you complete 46 years of marriage 🙂 To me, that’s as close to eternity as I’m likely to get! 46 years of living and loving, of compromise and sacrifice, of joy and tragedy, of holding on and letting go…there’s not much you haven’t weathered and I’ve watched you for 44 of those…observing and trying to learn. It’s been a privilege, although some times…torture! Well, it’s like that sometimes between parents and children isn’t it? It certainly is with me.

My First Birthday - 1969!
My First Birthday – 1969!

You are phenomenal people, in the way parents are to their children – mysterious, confounding, inspirational, loving… confounding – did I mention that?! There are times when I find your logic elusive or infantile, when I find your reluctance to ask for and accept help frustrating, when I wish I could shake you physically into being more engaged with Life…but none of that changes the simple fact that I love you both to pieces and would do anything…but anything for you. I know I get overbearing and crazy at times, and haven’t always been an easy daughter, but it stems from love and the need to make Life easier for you. It’s hard for me to watch you struggle when I feel there’s an easier alternative. I guess I just have to try harder to respect your independence & your decisions even though they may not make sense to me at the time. After all, you have lived longer and have more experience than I have! I promise to try harder to understand you and not step on your toes so often! I hope you’ll do the same 😉

Somewhere in me, lives the desire, to be compassionate & forgiving like you, Mom and wise & generous like you, Dad, and I constantly feel the need to do you proud through my words and actions. You’ve set the bar high and I wonder whether I’ll ever measure up. Oh I know you love me regardless, I know! Still, if I can live up to your impeccable standards, and be half as good a parent to Ishaan as you are to me, I would consider myself blessed and worthy of being your daughter. And today, of all days, I want to Thank you for being the BEST parents for me, coz without you…I wouldn’t even be here!

So here’s to you both…May Life always Keep you together – Safe, Strong & Happy 🙂

Love always, P.