January Lessons

See? You blink and the month’s gone! And this one has been, well, a ‘monster’ month in terms of events for me and mine.

It started out happily enough but things got pretty insane towards the end – two deaths in my family, one gruesome – a life cut short tragically; the other – from natural causes after a life well lived but still sudden and unexpected. Both these events taught me stuff – about myself, about my family and about life. Where do I begin?

Perhaps the most important lesson is “DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED. NOT PEOPLE. NOT LIFE.” It’s not new this one, but Life has a way of reinforcing it, as if to make sure you never forget. I try hard to live in the present and to respect myself and the people around me, and I’m getting better at not taking things for granted – it gets easier with time. Still, getting over a punch in the solar plexus is NOT easy and I wish there was an easier way to learn some lessons. This was way too hard and I’m not done getting over it yet.

A corollary to that first Mega lesson is the knowledge that ‘I WILL SURVIVE.’ And as an extension the lesson learnt being, ‘THE HUMAN SPIRIT IS MEANT TO SURVIVE.’ It is. Truly. We survive unmentionable horrors (a brief glance through World history & our own, should be convincing enough), and I don’t mean we just get through them. I mean we get through and over them and go on to lead fulfilling lives again. Maybe not the same ones as before; but changed yet equally if not more meaningful and cherished. Yes, I have had my faith affirmed in the fact that our basic instinct and function is Survival. All this is not to say that it’s easy. Au contraire, climbing Mount Everest is easier, in a manner of speaking, but with the support of a loving family the odds are very much in our favour. I’ve always found the internal self-conflicts to be most challenging. It’s very hard to make changes when no one’s watching, when the only person affected is you. Isn’t it strange how we can change so easily for others but find it so hard to do for ourselves? Perhaps it’s generations of societal conditioning at work.

Another important lesson, ‘NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP.’ I don’t. Often I rely on my friends more than my family – especially for non-judgmental, unbiased advice. I have been blessed in my friendships! I have a strong support group of the most amazing women, who love and comfort and nurture me when I’m hurting and without whom my life would be considerably diminished. I christen it as of now – My Circle of Love’! Thank you Girls. I love you ALL. You know who you are 🙂

How about this for a lesson? ‘LISTEN. OBSERVE. COMMUNICATE.’ Losing a family member viciously the way we did taught me that I need to be more attentive to my family – to their feelings and their thoughts. I need to be actively engaged with them and ‘Listen’ when they speak, so I can hear the sadness that’s hidden by rage and the despair lurking behind the scorn. I need to be alert for signs of stress and be willing to help without being judgmental. And if and when the time arises, I must be unafraid to step on toes and push through boundaries to get them the help they need, especially when they don’t want it. None of this is easy but it has to be done if incidents like the one we’ve just suffered are to be avoided in the future. And they HAVE to be. The alternative is unacceptable.

As I write I see that none of these are lessons I haven’t been taught before. None of them are new, but all of them are crucial. Perhaps the most important of all is ‘FAITH.’ And I don’t mean the religious kind either, although if that’s your rock then so be it. I mean Faith in a broader sense – a belief that things will get better, that a crisis will resolve, that tomorrow will be a better day. Faith in the self, and in the goodness of others. It’s not easy to do when the world around you is crumbling and nothing makes sense, but then again, nothing worth fighting for is ever easy huh? Unfair? You bet! And yet to live without Faith and Hope, is the bleakest sort of life, a sorry excuse for living.

So, as this rather tumultuous beginning to the year draws to a close, here is to Better Days. Happy Days. Peaceful Days – for you and for me 🙂 Coz Lord knows we’ve earned them!

And here is one of my favourite poems…it never fails to revive my flagging spirit & seems utterly appropriate in the light of all that has come to pass 🙂


Cheers to February! May it be Joyful!


I never thought I would be writing a post like this ever.  But just when you think you’ve seen all there is to see, Life throws you a curve ball that might as well have come on from another planet for all its suddenness. But I will be honest, this post is more for my own sanity than in memoriam…I just don’t know how else to deal with all these crazy emotions right now. So I’m doing the only thing I am half decent at – writing – and hoping that somehow it will prove therapeutic.

We lost a family member this week – unexpectedly, tragically & horrendously at the hands of another. I’m not getting into details about how and what and when, coz this isn’t about that. Nor the why, coz frankly all we have are theories none of which I want to discuss here. Suffice it to say that we have now lost two family members through a senseless, heinous act of violence. We, none of us, saw this coming, although in retrospect, we feel we should have done something, could have done something. Retrospect, I’m beginning to hate the word. Why does everything have to be so much clearer in retrospect when what we really need is clarity in the present? Why?

I heard about what had happened yesterday morning, and last night, after an endless day of phone calls and discussions, I found myself all keyed up, a nervous wreck, wide awake until at 3.30 am, when I forced myself to try and get some shut eye. We were never close, the two of us, but we were family and that means something. I close my eyes and I can see her face and feel her pain. Everything seems so unreal and bizarre; it’s hard to believe it ever really happened at all. How did things come to this? How did we let this happen? Did we let this happen? Was this our fault somehow? Why couldn’t we save her? And the other? Both. Why? Why? Why? Surely, surely there must have been some way we could have prevented this double tragedy? The questions just run in an endless loop in my head, and there are no answers. None that make any sense anyhow.

The first thing I did when I came to know is call my Mom of course. Who else would I call? I had to break the news to her, and she was stunned and shocked and we said the inane things people say to each other on such occasions – empty platitudes to comfort ourselves, to trick our minds into believing the world is still a sane place. But try as you might there are some things that defy rational thought. They are inexplicable and secretly I think we would prefer them to stay that way – coz if we can actually rationalize them, isn’t that the scariest thing? What does that say about who we are? Am I rambling? Of course I am. Forgive me…it’s just…it is what it is and I’m just exhausted from all this thinking.

I’m not sure what I’m feeling at the moment…there’s a toxic cocktail of emotions – grief, rage, frustration, despair, an immense sadness and exhaustion that I feel deep within my bones – and all of it weighing down on me, crushing my spirit. There’s a restlessness that makes me want to pick up the phone and talk to Mom mingled with the need to forget the whole thing ever happened. There’s so much confusion in my head – I don’t know what I believe any more. I understand that this too will pass. I have my own little family to look after and eventually the acuteness will give way to a dull, ever-present ache. But this will never go away. Ever. And the fact that it happened at all has changed something within me that I can’t quite define. Perhaps I will trust less – in people and in my judjment of them, be more watchful, if I’m lucky I’ll stop before the paranoia sets in…but things will never again be quite the same. I never imagined in my most horrific nightmares that my family would have to go through such trying times. The media circus, the brutal nature of the crime, and ultimately the utter waste of two lives ruined for no good reason – this is not a good time for my family.

We need prayers. We need calm. We need some semblance of normal. We need for all of this to go away so we can get a good night’s sleep. All I can think of to say to the one who is gone – Rest in Peace. May you find happiness now wherever you are and know that you will be remembered always in our hearts.

Here is something I wrote last night when I couldn’t sleep…

griefDarkness falls,

The sun eclipsed,

The moon in shadow,

Dreams lie doomed,

On the stone cold floor.

How quiet she lies,

Unheard, unsung,

Voice forever silenced,

On the stone cold floor.

Lifeless she lies,

No  breath, just death,

Still and icy,

Heart  lies bleeding

On the stone cold floor.

Crushed to the bone,

Deathly still,

Spirit rising immortal,

From the stone cold floor.

Rest in peace now Gentle one,

Freedom awaits…

Beyond the stone cold floor.

The ‘Extra’ Day

It’s here and I would have missed it, which sheds some light on my sieve-like memory, as if more were needed! What am I talking about? The 29th of February of course, that ‘extra’ day that comes around every four years, because Time behaves the way it does or maybe because our human understanding of Time’s behaviour is the way it is…which is to say limited and vague. How I wish the ‘Doctor’ were here with his tortuous explanations! Don’t ask me for scientific details, I don’t know and can’t say I’m particularly interested, preferring instead to wake up pleasantly surprised or sour-faced (depending on what Life has on offer at the moment), for an extra day, pretending it’s some sort of miracle!

What would I do with an extra day? Plenty, if I weren’t half as lazy as I am 😛 Isn’t that what we’re constantly clamouring for – more Time? Time to do all the things that live eternally on our to-do lists, time to relax and do nothing, time to breathe deeply and do something important, time to laze, time to sleep, to eat, to dance, to pick up the kids, to have one more cuppa, to pretend that time is indeed eternal, time to make more time! And yet when it comes around I find myself singularly unprepared to take any sort of advantage (Can you tell, Wolf Hall is having its peculiar effect on me?!). As it is, it’s a day like any other, and will I’m sure be whiled away like any other, to be regretted only when it’s too late to matter and all that remains is to wait another 4 years.

I’ve always wondered what people with ‘Leap’ birthdays and anniversaries must feel or do, if indeed anything. As I see it, they could save money by celebrating just once in four years, although that would mean forfeiting gifts too! I don’t know anybody born or married on the 29th…actually I might…but I’ve forgotten! What would you do? I can’t make up my mind where I would have celebrated my ‘uniqueness’ or pined for ‘ordinariness’…both have their merits! There’s nothing special about the day as it is, except that I woke up to a heavy mist through which the shrouded sun aped the moon and somehow promised magic! Or maybe that’s just my imagination running wild as usual 😛 Is it better to believe in Magic and be disappointed, or not believe and save yourself from despair? The eternal question! Is it better to have an ‘extra’ day and not do anything significant with it or not have it at all? Would it really make a difference if we decided that Time had changed behaviour and there was no 29th Feb any more? Would we miss it? What do you think? Wouldn’t it be fun, if instead of obeying rules, the Earth just went spinning off into the Universe on a journey for a new Sun?! Lord knows we will need one in a few billion years from now!

But enough with the philosophy (blame it on Wolf Hall and Cromwell :P)! I’m going to have my own ‘Leap’ year of sorts. I’ll be leaping from Goa to Bombay soon. Why that reminds me of, “From the frying pan into the fire…” I’m sure I cannot say! But it’s not only the physical ‘jump’ that worries me, it’s the fact that I’ll have control of my own household again after 2 years of being a guest of sorts in my parents home and all that that entails – deciding menus, cleaning, cooking, supervising servants (God Help Me!), supervising Ishaan (I can feel God shudder ;-)), adjusting to small spaces, rented furniture, the new school, missing my friends, missing the garden, missing the fresh air, missing misty sunrises…missing…Oh I know it’s a choice we’ve made and it was a conscious one. Doesn’t make it any easier or pleasant! I know two years down the line, all going well, I’ll have a different story to tell, but for now, the uncertainty is killing. Also, it’s a leap year so who’s to say what Time will do or won’t?! Sometimes things left undone and words left unsaid come back to haunt. So here’s to (as my friend M so wisely put it), ‘Looking before Leaping’, but fingers & toes crossed for a safe landing 😉 Sounds like a plan? Well it’s the best one I have!

Happy Leap Day People!

Here’s to success in your ‘Leaps’ 🙂


On New Year’s Day, Hubby and I completed 2 decades of marriage! Yup…we’re that ancient 😉 Dinosaurs practically 😛 And yet, when I look back, I can’t imagine it’s been that long! I realized that I’ve known him for 23 years, the same amount of time I knew my parents for before we got hitched! It just seems incredible, wonderful and weird all at once, if you get my meaning! My single days are so far behind me, they seem like a mirage…and now with Ishaan in the mix, they might almost be a distant dream 🙂 A pleasant dream, but distant nonetheless 😉

It’s been one hell of a ride! We met in Medical School and courted for three years before we married. We had, or rather I had a 4-day long, Big Fat Indian Wedding 🙂 Even if I do say so myself, it was quite an event in those days 🙂 One of the first Goan weddings that lasted for more than a few hours on a hot, stuffy afternoon 😛 A lot of people have since come up to me and my parents and shared how much they enjoyed it and remember the food and festivities to this day! It was a chaotic happy time, with the house overflowing with family and friends. A time of eating, drinking, songs and parties 🙂 It was a double celebration since my parents completed 25 years that same year, a couple of days after the wedding! I had ‘henna’ on my hands for the first time in my life and actually suffered a reaction to its fragrance! Or maybe it was just nerves 🙂 Go figure 😉 I remember spending the night before the wedding curled up next to my brother (he was 12), and other girlfriends, and him whispering in my ear, suddenly sober, “This is the last night you’re going to be sleeping at home.” And me staring into the dark, tightening my arms around him, not knowing what to say as the reality of separation began to sink in. It wasn’t like we were going to leave Goa. We would be just a 15-minute drive away, but in so many ways…worlds apart.

The first few years were ‘turbulent’ at best and that’s all I’m going to say about that 😉 We both had a lot of learning to do. Stuff you don’t get to know unless you live with each other and sometimes not even then. We were both young, temperamental and stubborn and neither of us would shy away from a good old-fashioned fight! We had points to prove and no-one was going to stop us! Over the years, we completed our doctoral studies and eventually moved to Bombay when Hubby took a job with P & G. It was the beginning of a new chapter. We had more money now (gone were those penny-pinching student days ;-)), and nicer houses to live in and for the first time in our lives we were able to indulge our shared passion of traveling! This was crucial to the ‘health of our marriage’, coz it is one of our very very few shared passions 🙂 I wonder sometimes that we were attracted to each other at all…we have practically NOTHING in common! Ask Hubby if you don’t believe me, he’ll be the first one to agree 😛

I like to think we’ve mellowed over the years 🙂 Well certainly some days more than others 😉 We still fight (I see nothing wrong with the occasional good old-fashioned clearing of air & minds!), but they’re nothing as serious as they used to once be and less than half as hurtful. We agree on many more things now and have grown closer through major life experiences, like every other marriage. Moving houses, deaths of people we’ve loved, changing jobs, Ishaan and becoming parents…we’ve been through it all and together we’ve survived. I don’t say this very often and hardly ever in public (it’s just not who I am), but Hubby is the Rock that my Life is built on. Oh I know, we shouldn’t be dependent on another person for our happiness and I’m not the sentimental sort…but hey, if the cap fits! That’s not to say that I’ve ceased to be an independent, intelligent woman, entirely capable of taking care of myself, rather that I enjoy being taken care of by the Man I love and who loves me more, especially on those days that I find it hard to love myself 🙂

I’ve been supremely lucky! (I have a way of being. Trust me, it’s a Saggitarian thing ;-)) I found the Man I love twenty years ago, and he loved me back! And twenty years of Life later, we still feel the same way 🙂 It’s taken blood and sweat and tears but it’s been worth it. I look back and wonder what I would change and honestly…I can’t say that I would change much at all, coz we wouldn’t be who we are today without having been through what we did. And I like who we are today 🙂 Very much 🙂

As I look ahead, I wonder what the next decades will bring. More challenges I have no doubt, some pain (unavoidable) and much happiness (hopefully). Bring it On I say! Together, We’ll Find our Way 🙂

Here’s our song 🙂 Way back from when we could still have rambling, relaxed telephone conversations about…you guessed it…Nothing!! 😉 Hubby’s favorite 😛

Boy! That takes me back! Onwards to 25!!

The Ramblings of Mr. Fluey…

So here’s some of what I’ve pondered, learnt and wondered about the World and myself during the time I’ve been away…But let me warn you first, the trusty Brain is all ‘Fluey’ right now so NONE of this may make any sense. Yes I know, not much of anything makes sense these days anyway…well not to me it doesn’t, or maybe that’s just the depression talking! See I told you…’FLUEY’! Just think of these as the ramblings of ole Mr. Fluey! He’s beginning to grow on me, the sneak 😛

It’s that time of year again. The Monsoon is firmly entrenched in Goa, clothing her in resplendent green. Unfortunately so are the mosquitoes. And the flies. There is NO escape. This is also the time for the annual Flu marathon. You would be hard-pressed to find a household that does not participate! You know the drill…the vague malaise, a hint of itch in the throat, the heavy head that signals its arrival; followed by the incessant sneezing, the running nose, that makes you wonder where that waterfall in your head otherwise lives, and the cough – hacking, phlegmy and lingering. Oh how the blessed thing lingers & lingers and lingers! And to add to all the physical discomfort, how about a little low-grade depression thrown in to spice things up?! I mean what’s a marathon if not a grueling test of endurance? And more obstacles only demand and prove endurance right? In case you were wondering…just being rhetorical here. It’s a favorite past-time of Mr. Fluey’s!

But what’s a marathon with a lone participant eh? The more the merrier – in Health and apparently in Disease! So we have everyone in the family affected, together or serially making for a wonderful month-long tournament of illness. There, so now you know what I’ve doing while I’ve been away for the most part. I think I’m just about to cross the finish line, although who’s to say? The Flu is nothing if not treacherous! But it can be illuminating too…occasionally. Because you have all the time in the world to think. Provided of course you choose to think about the ‘real’ stuff, you know, not the frivolous stuff that I so often let Mr. Fluey ponder upon 😛 Let me give you an example. Did you know that from a certain angle, the curve of a dog’s tail is easily and very convincingly mistaken for a black swan’s head? You didn’t know that? Just ask Mr. Fluey!

And here’s a few other things Mr. Fluey has been thinking these past few weeks.

When the inside of your car is comfortable, the outside really doesn’t matter 🙂

Never stop the cold fluids during the Flu! Especially when that fluid is a chilled Thums Up!

You’re never too sick to Dream 🙂

Enjoy the depression while it lasts. Reality is worse.

Thoughts are nothing without action and language means little without speech.

Frivolity is a fun nay essential requisite for Happiness 🙂

Most parents equate respect with obedience. I respectfully disagree.

When you have to cough…don’t bother to fight it.

The sneeze is a mighty weapon! Use it well 😉

Watching a bird build its nest is miraculously uplifting 🙂 and humbling 🙂

Photography is eminently therapeutic but supremely addictive. Beware!

Music has its moments but sometimes only Silence will do.

Prayers come at the strangest hours, uncalled for and not always spiritual, but calming even when unanswered.

Love conquers much but you have to let it.

Snoring is just another form of breathing. Get used to it.

Rage is not always a bad thing.

Terror and terrorists will sadly outlive you and me 😦

Good movies are essential for sanity!

There’s always someone feeling worse than you are! Usually your spouse 😛

When all else fails…trust the BOOZE!!

A body deprived of sleep is like a soul deprived of salvation. Did I really type that? Jeepers…Mr. Fluey is getting away from me…must be the sleep-deprivation…

Mr. Fluey says Good Night…

Just to take the edge off all the tripe above…here’s something to make you feel good…No Words 😉

Parenting Dad…Happy Father’s Day to Us!

I didn’t realize yesterday was Father’s Day until Facebook let me know! Honestly, what did we do before Facebook? 😛 Not that it made much of a difference once I did know. Have never been one for celebrating ‘Days’. For one it can get expensive 😛 Before you label me an ingrate however, let me assure you that I love my Dad dearly, probably more so now than ever, as the time we have together becomes more finite.

I’ve always been Daddy’s girl 🙂 Mom tells stories of how he doted on me as a child, doing everything he could, even carrying me long distances even when I was 5!! That fact assumes true significance when you know that I was always a ‘healthy’ child 😉 My favorite story is the one in which I’m hurt by broken milk bottles and Dad is telling everyone off 😉 Hearing Mom & Grandma describe it, I imagine the blood gushing from my hands (although the exact details are hazy!), and a river of red all over the kitchen floor where it happened; Mom & Gran having hysterics; and Dad gathering me up in his arms, yelling at them while trying to comfort me and run downstairs to the doctor all at the same time. I like to imagine myself as cool as a cucumber amidst all this chaos! Yeah, yeah…I like to feel important now and again folks, even if it was more than…well, however many decades ago 😉

But I have memories of my own too 🙂 I remember very clearly running up the stairs just after I had got my 10th Grade results. Here in India, 10th Grade is a big deal. It’s the last year of school, after which there’s a public examination (in every State), and one enters college. I had done really well and was among the top 50 students in Goa! I remember feeling nervously proud running up those stairs…wanting desperately to make Dad proud and afraid that I might have still managed to fail him somehow. You know the feeling! I needn’t have worried, as I flung open the terrace door and blurted out my news, the look on his face was everything I’d dreamt of and more 🙂 I remember him hugging me (probably coz we’re not at all a touchy, feely family!) and saying “Well Done!” or ‘Congratulations” or some such. It’s not important what he said. Sometimes I think it’s not even important how he felt. I think the most important feeling that day was how making him proud made me feel! Validated, worthy, proud and loved 🙂 It’s a feeling I’ll cherish forever, one that warms my heart to this day 🙂

Needless to say, I don’t remember Dad ever ticking me off or denying me anything I wanted throughout my childhood within reason. It’s a wonder I didn’t grow up thinking I was the center of the universe coz I certainly was the center of his! Or did I 😉 You guys can be the judges of that! There was one occasion though that I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday, when I threw a tantrum (I was very big on tantrums! They may be best described as flamboyant if you get my meaning! Much to my Mom’s satisfaction, Ishaan is now paying me back with my own coin so to speak :P), and stamped on his newly polished leather shoes! I got a well-deserved whack for my troubles! Dad was very particular about his appearance. He had a large wardrobe of suits and was always spiffily attired! Debonair is the word that comes to mind 🙂

Dad & I...I was 6.

Over the years I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that no matter what I grew up thinking, my Dad is not God. He has his faults and like in all of us, age does nothing to temper them. I’ve also had to come to terms with how much I am like him! It makes me at once very proud and very scared. I’ve inherited his looks, his love for beautiful things; his interest in photography; his generous spirit of giving; his keen intellect and curious nature; his laughter and love of a good joke; his stubbornness; his ego; his love for debate; his mercurial temper and his love for a good drink and junk food 🙂 He’s given me all this and so much more, it’s hard to know where he ends and I begin. And now, when he’s old and tired and spent, I find the roles reversed. I find myself parenting the man who taught me everything I know. I lend him my hands and shoulders for support. I help him find words, find meaning and often himself. I watched like an anxious parent when he took his first unaided steps after the surgery and I still watch him to this day, ready to catch him if he should fall. I buy him the junk food that he once bought me 🙂 and smooth his brow when he’s worried and confused, willing away his troubles, wanting to bear his burdens as he once bore mine. How did it come to this? Perhaps this is the circle of Life…parents’ father children and eventually children father parents.

So on this Father’s Day, I want to say THANK YOU & I LOVE YOU to the BEST Dad I could have had 🙂 and I know that if I can be even a fraction of what he’s been and continues to be to me, we’re going to be Ok.

Love you Daddy! Always will 🙂

Freedom & a Dragonfly Symphony!

Today is the day! Liberation Day! Today, after 2 months, I’m FREE 🙂

Ishaan’s started school!! He’s Happy & I’m Ecstatic, as well you may imagine! I love my son, no really, I do! But, and I know you’re with me on this readers, two months at home entertaining a toddler, while coping with my Dad’s illness, was no picnic in the park! In fact, I venture to say, a more trying and effective form of torture has not been invented! Don’t quote me on this though 😉 😛 Don’t get all serious people, just trying to reclaim my sense of humor, that’s been MIA these last couple of weeks.

After what seemed liked a lifetime (I know, I know, it was only two months!), the morning stretched in front of me, long, promising, delicious 🙂 And to think I might have had to wait for another day! Yup! Imagine that! Sacrilege! There was a Goa ‘Bandh’ today (more on that in my next post), which basically meant no public transport and a general shutdown of private enterprise including schools. Government offices were running but probably on skeletal staff. Ishaan’s school however assured me that they were open and that it was business as usual for them, and since school is only a 10-minute drive away, we decided to give it a go. It was pouring this morning (like it has been these last few days), and as I cuddled Ishaan, I must confess to feeling both relief at having my mornings back and guilt at that relief 😛 This double-edged sword of a ‘Mommy-heart’ is just so…whatever!

Ishaan was happy to be back in school! He’s been asking to go ever so often during the holidays that I dared to hope, he meant it! Turns out he did 🙂 He kicked off his shoes, and marched fearlessly into class only to slip on a damp patch of floor & land on his tush! That was enough to start the waterworks, especially since Hubby was around! But he calmed down soon enough and was swept away in his teacher’s embrace as she cooed happily in his ear! God Bless all Teachers 🙂 So with Ishaan happy at school, I spent a lazy morning tackling stuff around the house. Things that I had let slide over time. One large garbage bag of thrash and one angry outburst from Dad later, it was time for a break.

Out in the garden, the rains had taken a break too. As I walked around, I noticed a new Water Lily bloom 🙂 A vision of beauty on a slender stalk that grows in muddy water…Nature is full of miracles. The sight of that flower was such Joy 🙂 It made me feel like everything was going to turn out fine. 

My Zen fix for the day!

I took a lot of shots experimenting with my white balance settings and as I made my way back to the house, I found myself serendipitously in the midst of what can only be described as a symphony of dragonflies 🙂 They whizzed and darted around the garden to some mysterious rhythm, inaudible to us mere mortals, stopping occasionally mid-air, occasionally on a leaf or a flower, those translucent wings beating a million times a minute!! Such grace, such precision, such beauty, such freedom! In that moment I wanted to be a dragonfly. I wanted what they had. An escape to Freedom and the joy of dance! I noticed soon that some were in a mating frenzy! Perhaps that explained all the energy and joie-de-vivre 😛

This took me by surprise! Didn't intend to catch them 'in flagrante'!

It’s been so long since I’ve had a moment like this, I’d almost forgotten what it felt like. The joy of it, the peace of it, the serenity of it. I did take some shots but mostly I just sat quietly and watched, and let them heal me in the way only Nature and her wonders can 🙂

A thing of beauty 🙂

It’s been a wonderful start to my week and I wish the same for you 🙂

Here’s to Dragonflies, Symphonies and the joyful Freedom they bring!

Happy Monday, People 🙂

House of Glass

I wrote this on the 30th of May but as always, couldn’t find time to post it. It’s a tough time right now for all of us. As always, writing is therapeutic. Almost the only thing that is, apart from Ishaan. So here goes…

Monday, 30th May…

We brought Dad home from the hospital, 10 days ago. Although there’s a lot to be said about being in a familiar environment, it continues to be a tough time for us all. The best way I can describe it at the moment is like ‘living in a glass house’. Treacherous they are, these walls – invisible, sly, and unexpected.  You know what I mean. I know I do. Too many times I’ve ruined a graceful exit by hitting my forehead painfully on a glass door that I never saw coming! That’s just how it is living with a patient of dementia. You think everything’s going well, until ‘WHAM’, you walk straight into a wall and everything – your goals, your hopes, and your spirit, lie shattered in a million pieces.

My Dad’s physical recovery has thankfully been on track (knocking firmly on wood here), and he can walk now with the help of a walker and sometimes even without which is a beautiful thing 🙂 But, (and there’s going to be a lot of buts with dementia patients), his renewed mobility, no matter how encouraging and freeing, is a double-edged sword. It makes him confident of being independent, while reality still remains disappointingly different. So although he can get to the ‘loo’, he may not always remember what happens next. Yup…right on cue…that ‘glass wall’. It’s heart-breaking to watch. It enrages me, to see a vibrant, active, intelligent and productive man reduced to a hollow shell. Rage, hopelessness, frustration…we go through them a million times every day. And what makes it so sad is that we know it will only get worse. All I hope for now is that we have more good days than bad days. That’s not too much to ask for right?

Wednesday, June 1st

When I wrote on Monday, I was in a dark place and my words reflect that. It’s not in my nature to stay pessimistic for long, but these days trying to stay positive is increasingly, a challenge of Herculean proportions. A lot of the stress stems from the fact that it’s not just my Dad that’s the patient. My Mom is just as bad. Her fear and concern for Dad (although both valid), have paralyzed her to the point where she cannot seem to make the simplest of decisions. As a result, my Dad, when he’s lucid, gets irritated and angry and yells at her for the silliest of things, and you guessed it, yours truly has the unwanted, unenviable role of mediator. Life was fast beginning to resemble a war-zone in our ‘House of Glass’. Glass walls mean no privacy  NONE. Instead what you get is an agonizing free for all, where nothing is hidden but everything revealed in the clear  light of day. I didn’t realize how quickly Life’s ‘warm sunshine’ can transform into a ‘harsh spotlight’ – a magnifier of faults and a diminisher of virtues. Oh that it would be vice versa.

Since the Monday however, things seem to have taken a turn for the better. I say this warily, coz I’m all too familiar with the unexpectedly sudden twists that are routine in dementia. Dad’s lucidity seems vastly improved. When I say vastly, I don’t mean he’s back to normal. Au contraire, he continues to have difficulty remembering the time of day or year, what month we’re in, what day it is and on occasion our names. He can’t find the right words for some of the stuff he does remember, and his clarity of thought is affected, making it hard for him to sustain a meaningful conversation for a decent period of time. This, in a man who’s joy in life was to debate with me and my brother. C’est la vie. And yet, his demeanor seems calmer, the angry outbursts less frequent, and the disorientation markedly diminished. Perhaps it’s the stars, perhaps our prayers are finally being heard and answered. Whatever the reason…I’m grateful. And although H hasn’t been much for Happiness these days, it’s still for Hope.

And so this is me, trying to stay positive and holding on to Hope however slender. Because although living in a house of glass is like walking through Life with you skeleton exposed, occasionally, there’s a prism – and unlooked-for, a rainbow appears, brief but real. And for a few fleeting magical moments, it lights up this transparent universe, and for a time, we breathe.

Breathe people. Here’s to more rainbows.

A Tree Story

We just lost another prized ‘Breadfruit‘ to garden thieves!! This is the second time in as many months & I’m so pissed off right now…I advise you to maintain a safe distance from your screens, lest the rage finds a way to travel across space & time and strangle you 😛

But seriously, thievery of any kind just gets my blood boiling. It violates personal space and leaves a stoic bitterness. It’s scary too – to know someone has been where they shouldn’t have, where they had no right to be. Intrusion is never a good thing. It’s worse when I know there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not like I have a hope catching whoever did it, and the only thing I can do, is ask the boy who waters our garden, whether he has any ideas. I suspect him, but I can’t accuse without proof can I? The feelings of helplessness do nothing to soothe the rage. Also of course, I happen to love breadfruit and so it’s personal on so many levels! Perhaps you think this is a lot of fuss over a few fruit…maybe you’re right. But I think not. It’s just one of so many things that seem determined to turn Life into an obstacle course right now. Also for reasons, I can’t really explain, I love our Tree 🙂 It’s like Family. You love them out of habit 😉

The Tree has a long, beloved history. In its first avatar, it came to us 31 years ago (It’s as old as this house is!), from my Dad’s native village, as a young sapling in a plastic bag. It was duly planted and revered and in 4-5 years, started giving us sweetly, spongy breadfruit, which we fried and cooked into vegetable curries. With time, our Tree became the beloved of many! Certainly, our entire family swore by the sweetness and flavor of the fruit, that we carried to them on our regular visits to Bombay, particularly during the ‘Elephant God’ Festival, which is peak season. Our now flourishing tree, was famous, for the quality and size of its fruit 🙂 Now, to be honest, as a kid, I had as much love for vegetables as the next kid…that is to say None! Things have changed now of course, and my love for the veggies has grown in proportion to my nausea of fish 😛 In those days, I never understood all the fuss about ‘some stupid vegetable’, which was large, round, heavy and a nightmare to carry in checked in baggage cause it looked like a giant green grenade on the security monitor! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to unpack for the security guys so they could make sure I wasn’t some terrorist on my way to plant a bomb somewhere. Honestly! Did the fact, that on seeing the fruit, they generally then burst into appreciative Oohs & Aahs help – uh, NO! But that was then.

The Fruit that was stolen!

About 10 years ago, the Tree grew so large, that it bent under it’s own weight. One side was leaning right into the first floor balconies of the Hospital next door! Something had to be done in order to avoid a neighbourhood feud, and so the branches were trimmed extensively, while we figured out what to do next. I remember it being a huge deal. There was talk about how the Tree would have to be killed or would die if it was uprooted and planted anew, I don’t remember exactly which. I do remember Mom being upset and in depth discussions on what was to be done next. The thought of losing the Tree was unbearable to Mom and indeed to the rest of the family. It had served us so long, so well and was practically one of the family! As is so often the case, Nature provides her own solutions 🙂 Great ones too…better than any we can think up ourselves, most of the time! Unbeknownst to us, Mother Tree had birthed a young sapling, which we discovered next to one of our Coconut Palms! She was obviously looking after her own future & just in time too! We planted the new sapling, where it still stands today, its large geometric leafy canopy making pretty shadows beneath. I love it. I cannot explain why exactly – I just do! It’s like a member of our family really and in its turn, continues to pamper us with high quality, sweet, spongy fruit that still travels to family in Bombay, much to their delight. Only these days, it does so in the boot of our car! Yeah – I’ve had enough of being mistaken for a terrorist! Not a particularly healthy way to live 😉

Our Tree

So you see, when some, a%^&*&#, loser, creeps in to the our garden and picks off a succulent breadfruit that was hanging alluringly at hand-plucking distance, I take it very personally indeed! Thankfully there are more fruit, way up among the higher branches safe from thieving hands but also from our loving ones! I hope whoever it was, meets his just ‘fruits’ (I know! Bad corny! Couldn’t resist!), and at the least suffers a terrible stomach upset!

Meanwhile, I’ve just spent 10 minutes gazing at the Tree and softly reassuring her that ‘All will be Well’. She didn’t whisper back (Oh that She would!), but her leaves rustled serenely, trustingly and I think she knows, we’ll both be OK. Who’d have thunk it? But that’s Tree wisdom for you…don’t fight the inevitable, accept what you cannot change, make the best with what you have and trust in Nature. She knows best and takes care of her own. Good things endure 🙂 Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Plant a Tree, People 🙂

Mommy Moments…

I’ve had my share in the time that I’ve been away from the Blog, as you may well imagine! ‘Mommy Moments’…mostly happy, sometimes tinged with sadness, often uplifting and always memorable. Full-circle moments that encapsulate everything it means to be a ‘Mom’. Is it just me, or do they tend to be tearful…happy-sad tears, eloquent in a way that words aren’t ? Maybe it’s just me.

Ishaan had his first Annual Day at school. He goes to a Montessori and their ways are rather different from mainstream pre-schools here in Goa, refreshingly so in my opinion 🙂 They actually allow for individual growth and development (Yay!!), and although I had a problem initially with the homework, once I realized they were not insistent on perfection or even completion, but focused instead on figuring out the child’s areas & level of interest, I relaxed, and have now learned to enjoy the ride. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Ishaan now adores school and asks to go everyday 🙂 He surprises me this boy of mine. he does the most unexpected things. I ask him about his friends and classmates in school and all I get are vague looks and strange mumbles. I know a couple of children that he hangs out in class with from his teacher and I just assumed he doesn’t know the others. he is the smallest in his class and he doesn’t speak too fluently yet! Silly me! Well, after they had their end-of-term class photograph taken, he pointed out each child excitedly and told me their names! I was pretty impressed and not a little surprised, simply because he had never spoken of them before! And right away I see, he’s deep. He does things when he’s good and ready and not a moment before! Well, that can be a good thing I suppose, and yet not so good when I’m trying to get him to do stuff. As I see the tell-tale stubbornness of the ‘Ram’ emerge, I foresee a colorful time ahead for all of us 😉

Also he’s finally begun to do stuff from school at home – on a whim when we least expect it! I remember the first time he began to sing ‘How Much is that Doggie in the Window’, complete with “Bow-wows’ 🙂 (Remember that song?) – it took me a while to decipher what he was saying, but the tune was unmistakable! Who can forget that universal song of childhood?! And I thought to myself, ‘So, the boy can sing!’, and just like that, happy tears 🙂

And then the day, when out-of-the-blue, he counted numbers up to 20! We had been counting to 10 with him and then he just looked shyly at me and said “Eeleben, twelbe, thir-tin, six-tin, seben-tin, eigh-tin, nine-tin, twenty!” reaching a crescendo on 20, before looking up expectantly into our rather stunned faces! Needless to say, we were all of us, suitably impressed with my little Einstein 😉 Much hugging and kissing and noisy clapping ensued which must have gone to his tiny little head, coz it’s become a bedtime ritual of sorts, with him chanting numbers in his harum-scarum way to the imaginary music in his head, while we march upstairs to bed! My son the clown 🙂 and another ‘Mommy Moment’ 🙂 But I digress!

Back to the Annual Day then, where the kids gave an hour-long performance that showcased the things they had learnt during the school year. It was all very well organized I thought, except that it was open-air and extremely hot, but what’s a little heat & sweat for the children eh?! The week before, parents received emails and printouts of clear instructions on arrival, drop-off and pick-up times. I had been requested by a teacher to help in the award ceremony and was glad to help. They had picked four professions they were show-casing in the Concert – doctors, writers, economists & teachers and they wanted a parent from each field. Hubby of course missed his son’s first stage appearance. He was off holidaying on a business trip in Portugal so I took Mom who as you can imagine was only too happy to come!

We got to school and found seats on the steps of the open-air amphitheatre. The concert began with the lighting of the lamp, as do most events here on the sub-continent. I liked that they didn’t have any fancy guests, but the parent of their first student do the honors 🙂 The children put up a wonderful show. They displayed various skills they’d learnt, which when you think about it are still the basic R’s – Reading, wRiting & a‘Rithmetic! They made a book and read out of it, converted currencies (!!), did yoga, sang songs, separated foods into their nutrient food-groups and recited poetry. Ishaan was part of the Zoologist group! My son the explorer 😉 They put on a familiar tableau – Lifecycle of the Butterfly. There were about six kids, and the two youngest, (Ishaan was one), were given the job of getting on to stage (preferably without stumbling), picking up two large arrows and sitting on their mats with the arrows pointing the right way! It had been a long wait…and as I watched Ishaan finally cue up by the stage, I had to battle conflicting emotions. I was ‘Anxious Mom’, ‘Proud Mom’, ‘Happy Mom’, ‘Concerned Mom’ all rolled into one – a nouvelle feeling for me! One part of me was hoping he wouldn’t see me in case that upset him or made him so happy, he forgot his tiny part; while the other, stifled the urge to go up and squeeze the Life out of him! Aah…the travails of Mommyhood 😛 He did see me! He gave me that trademark shy smile that he has, when he’s trying to be a ‘big’ boy, but stayed in his place. Already I was a bundle of nerves with a lump in my throat, and he hadn’t even taken a step! An older boy helped him on to stage and led him to his place and I am very proud to say, he picked up his arrow and settled on his mat like a little angel throughout the performance which lasted about 5 minutes 🙂 Note to self: Get magic spell for making toddlers sit still from miracle-working teachers in school. When the tableau concluded with an older girl unfurling her silk cocoon to reveal a butterfly, my boy continued to sit in his place, until his teacher led him off gently, as the other children left, waving flags! Moral of the story: A man and his arrow are not easily parted 😉

The Man & his arrow!

He came back out a little later with all the children for the award ceremony. We four gave every child a medal – no firsts or seconds, no bests – just equals. I loved it 🙂 The ceremony concluded with the National Anthem, which is one of Ishaan’s favorite songs, along with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and De Ghumake, the Anthem for the recently concluded Cricket World Cup. He sings it ever so often at home, as an effective distraction, usually when he wants to shut out my yelling, which is pretty often 😛 He did not however sing a word of it that day on that stage! I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t just a teeny-weeny bit disappointed, not because he didn’t sing, but because I thought he loved it so much he wouldn’t be able to resist! Moral of the story: Mothers don’t know everything. They just like to think they do 😛

Medals & the Anthem!

It was a wonderful, happy morning for all concerned 🙂 And in typical Mom fashion, the show had hardly ended before I was off day-dreaming about next year, when Ishaan would hopefully play a more active role! Living in & for the future…that’s Me 😉 In the car, on the way home, Ishaan has already moved on to his favorite thing in the whole, entire world – Cricket! As he chatters on about Sachin (his favorite), and Sehwag & Dhoni & Harbhajan (all members of the Indian team that won the World Cup)  and I pretend to pay attention (Yes, I do pretend! Quite often in fact and I feel no guilt so sue me :P), my mind wanders to how quickly he’s growing up! Conflicted Mom’ takes over…I want to freeze time so he stays like this forever – innocent, trusting, protected and happy. No, no! I want him to grow up, so I’m done with the raising and start to enjoy the just being (like that will ever happen!), be a star in whatever he chooses to do and still stay innocent, trusting, protected and happy. I want only the light, never the shadows. Aah…I want the world for my boy. Can you blame me?! I know, I know! I’m delusional! It’s alright. Comes with ‘Mommy’ territory 😉 

Loud shouts of “Muuuuuuuuuuumy!” in my ear interrupt my reverie…he’s catching on. He knows when I’m not paying attention…”Muuuuuuuuuuuumy!”…”What?! I’m right here!”….He always keeps me grounded this boy, never lets me stray too far away from the business of being a Mom 😉 He’s smart like that and rock solid. My anchor 🙂 Howz that for a Moment, eh? 😀

That’s it for this post…but more Mommy Moments to come. A big one…the Birthday!

Have a Fun Sunday, People 🙂