Today is my Gran’s Birthday. She turns 87 today! I’ve written about her recently and mentioned her fragile present condition. She’s doing OK and hanging in there – but just about. And my wish on her Birthday for her and perhaps selfishly for us too – the women who are closest to her, who came through her and who LOVE her from the depths of their souls – is for Dignity & Grace when the end should come. Its with mixed feelings that I write this – it’s not an easy wish to make on her Birthday.
But how LUCKY am I to have been raised by a woman of her principles and gumption? She is as I’ve mentioned in several earlier posts – a consummate warrior and survivor – and happily for me – she’s raised me to be that way too. And although I will never be as accomplished and strong as she is – I know she’s proud of me. And that to me is the only thing that matters.
Sorry if this is overly sentimental…writing about her always makes me feel this way!
I know, I know…I thought I wouldn’t have time to write but guess what…I do and so you have to suffer me again 😉
Today is an auspicious Day for us Hindus – it’s our New Year – Gudi Padva 🙂 A Day of new beginnings and fresh starts and all that jazz 😉 But it’s also a rather special for us as a family, since Hubby is celebrating a milestone Birthday today! I won’t say which (although there are those who know :P), coz well, don’t want to upset him on his special day…he’s not quite as thick-skinned as I am 😉
Lets just say – it’s a big deal and I’m really happy and proud to be by his side! Hubby is a self-made man like my Dad, which is perhaps what attracted me to him in the first place all of those years ago 🙂 He’s a workaholic; a dynamic, passionate man who is devoted to his family and fiercely protective of it. I have yet to see him come across a problem he can’t solve or a situation he cannot handle. He can be abrasive and rash and he is a man of few words in most company, but he’s a good, solid man of integrity, a fun, loving husband and an excellent father and really, what more is there to say?!
So on this special day, I dedicate this Haiku to my Better Half – the man who stole my heart two decades ago and can still make it melt with the warmth of his smile 🙂 Cheers to our Magical Journey – may it never end!
My son turns 5 today on the 5th of April and it’s the 5th day of NaPoWriMo!! Almost a week done and I haven’t quit yet…a miracle in itself 😛 I thought of sticking with the haiku theme I’ve chosen, even wrote one, and then I came across the poem I had written some time ago for this very day! Of course I had to find it after I’d already done the hard work of writing another haiku 😛 Still, since today is a Happy Day and all – no complaning 😉
So here it is – my Ode to the “The Boy who Makes Me Smile!”
THIS IS HOW I LOVE YOU!
This is how I love you…
With a primal love,
Raw, naked and drenching
Like a waterfall
That drowns me in its waters
And brings me dreamless sleep.
This is how I love you my sweet.
With a mellow love,
Soft, gentle and rich
Like the smoothness of silk
That blankets my soul
In a cocoon of joy.
This is how I love you my sweet.
With a riotous love
Boisterous, mirthful and gay
Like the whimsy of bubbles
That shower me with constant joy.
This is how I love you my sweet.
And I know you love me too.
Happy Birthday Darling & God Bless 🙂
A HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who have sent him love and blessings, from Mother & Son 🙂
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.
So, having just wrapped up one Mr. G’s Birthday – 10 days of noisy festivities, we arrive at another Mr. G’s Birthday – equally revered if not as noisy 😉
Gandhi is very much a world figure – an icon of non-violence, and the Father of my country, India. A Mahatma – ‘mahaan’ = great, ‘atma’ = soul. I’m not a huge fan…but of late, I understand better and am also better at not passing judgment 😛 Here is an old post I wrote 2 years ago on his Birthday – untagged and certainly not much read 😉
Not much has changed about the way I feel…except that I find my tone 2 years ago more strident than I would like! More than ever today I find, Gandhi – his ideals, his philosophy, his example vanishing from modern-day India. We pay him the mandatory lip-service – politicians & citizens alike, as we as we go about our brazen ways, doing exactly as we please, adhering to no one’s principle’s except our own. And I don’t see things changing in my lifetime…If Gandhi’s watching, I think he’ll be desolate at the state of his country. I know I am…and although there is always hope, at times it’s as tenuous as gossamer – translucent and invisible, unless tested by the weight of a burden. Perhaps that’s what I’m going through – a test of my faith in my country, its people and in myself. It’s a tough road and yet here I still am…one foot in front of the other.
Perhaps there is indeed a light at the end of this tunnel – if not for me, then for future generations of Indians. That is my wish and I think it would be his too. So Happy Birthday G! And if you have any influence at all with the other Mr. G, ask him to give us humans the ability to do what is right no matter how difficult & Bless this country of ours, that you loved so well! _________________________________________xxxxxxxxx_________________________________
I’m not a huge Gandhi fan, never have been. To me, he’s always come across as a stubborn, egotistical, selfish man (his vow of celibacy being for me the ultimate example of selfishness), who was often weak when strength was required and had favourites among his followers, just like us lesser mortals! I dislike the way, every time Independence is mentioned, we keep hearing Gandhi rhetoric and non-violence as if he was the only reason, India is today a free nation. Can we truthfully claim, India’s Independence came through purely non-violent means?
What of all the hundreds of thousands of freedom-fighters that fought and sacrificed their lives, before him and by his side, anonymous and otherwise? Are Bhagat Singh, Azad and Bose and the countless others not as important? Were Nehru, Jinnah, Azad, Naidu and Patel not politicians of equal eminence in stature, strength and commitment? I believe they were. And yet, they are never given equal importance, rather always referred to as his followers, as if he were a saint and they his disciples! I get uncomfortable when human beings begin to deify one of their own! It upsets my rational self, I suppose! I think India would have gained Independence, with or without Gandhi and that’s why this whole ‘Mahatma’ worship bothers me, more often than not.
It’s not his fault of course. No, that dubious distinction belongs to us, the Indian people, and to our politicians, who have made Gandhi, big business! And that’s what he has been reduced to these days – Big Bucks! Think of all the money people make, printing posters and commissioning statues! All the mileage, politicians derive out of garlanding those very same pictures and statues! Hollywood made Gandhi and Bollywood went one better, with Gandhi, My Father and the now legend, Lage Raho, Munnabhai!
Gandhi, My Father, was very interesting. I thought it explored very realistically, the troubled relationship between the Mahatma and his oldest son. I was relieved to see that the Mahatma was human after all and made mistakes. Also that he then refused to accept them like all of us do. Rather reassuring that! Lage Raho Munnabhai was a hoot from start to finish! I enjoyed it thoroughly, not only because of a sterling cast and performances, but also for Gandhi’s characterization (Dilip Prabhavalkar was excellent!). He seemed ‘real’ and his ideals ‘attainable’. A 21st century Gandhi, a common man’s Gandhi! That, I understood, I identified, I rejoiced.
I do believe in non-violence though. Violence of every sort turns me off in a big way. I don’t see the point of it and I know for a fact, it solves not a thing! A look around the world is proof enough for me. Man is the only animal on Planet Earth that engages in violence, purely for sport! For pleasure! Frankly it’s beyond me – I have other ways of getting high and no they have nothing to do with drugs, sex or alcohol! Well – definitely not drugs! But it seems to me that though the man himself was non-violent and possibly never hurt a fly, his actions in combination with other events, certainly led to one of the most gruesomely, violent events in Indian history – the Partition.
I wonder, how and why a man so great, a Mahatma, has become irrelevant in society today. Yes, Gandhian ideology is still revered and being a Gandhi is certainly an achievement of sorts in India (beats me, as to why!), but seriously speaking – nobody gives a damn! Not the politicians who sing his praises and quote him at every rally, not the Indian people, for whom he was once ‘Mahatma’ and is now just another name in the history books and not me – though having said that, I did blog!
You’re a year older and I suppose wiser (at least that’s what us mortals reckon ;-)), although when you’ve been around since the very beginning (whatever or whenever that was!), a year is probably like the proverbial drop in the universal ocean huh?!
Still, a Birthday’s a Birthday and yours just gets us all in a tizzy! We scamper around trying to get everything we need to welcome you into our homes in just the ‘right’ way; ordering sweets (cakes (if any) are strictly egg less I assure you :P), buying fireworks (what’s a little pollution in honor of a God?!), and veggies that most Goans will eat reluctantly for as long as you stay! I know of quite a few that are thankful you’re only here for a short visit 😉 I’ve always meant to ask you…would you like to try fish some day? I mean, it seems entirely unfair to keep the one thing we love above all else from you 😉 And I know that you love your chicken in Bali 🙂 I’ve always wondered about the fuss surrounding your arrival. I mean, you may be coming into our homes once a year but aren’t you always resident in our hearts? Wouldn’t we better off making ourselves worthier of your presence in our lives rather than our houses? But then what do I know? I’m a rebel of sorts, with my radical ideas and crazy notions 😛 Mom certainly thinks so!
Moving on (I’m already on the verge of being excommunicated coz of my perceived irreverence ;-))…there is the question of the gift. I guess most of us trust that your favorite sweet the ‘modak’, which we offer you this day will be enough. Coz seriously, what do you give the One that has everything? Although I wonder about that. I mean look at your kids!! You’ve got some serious heartache there! Me, I offer you a renewal of my faith and devotion, both given in a very private, discreet way, which is how I would like to keep it 🙂 A lot of people do love to deck you up in jewels and things these days though…it’s become quite the fashion. You do look rather stunning in all your finery I must admit 🙂 So that’s the gifts done and there’s not much else to it is there?
Just a few things I’ve always wanted to ask you, and some that I just wanted to get off my chest…you don’t mind do you? Nah!! Didn’t think you would 🙂
Does your mouse get the day off today? You know, it being your Birthday and all? I certainly hope so 🙂 By the way, we found one today, a mouse in the house I mean, and we let him go, coz we didn’t want to hurt him on your Birthday, but we did shoo him away. I’m afraid I cannot be tolerant of mice even for you!
Do you ever look at us mortals and wonder, ‘What on Earth was I thinking???!!’
Do you enjoy all the noise and smoke from the fireworks or would you prefer a quieter celebration? Be honest now!
Would you truly throw a fit if we offered you the good old ‘fish curry-rice’ combo? Everyone seems to think so, but I’ve always wondered 😛
Would you ever consider giving our self-appointed, know-it-all, middle-men, a whack on the head? Especially when they go into a ritualistic-frenzy that would be the envy of any self-respecting coven?! If I said ‘Pretty Please’ perhaps? 😛
But my main purpose in writing you this letter, was just to let you know, you’re my favorite God! Always have been, ever since I can remember. You’re just so cute and charismatic! Also, you’re smart! That helps 🙂 And my brother was named for you and he was pretty special! Another point in your favor!
And so here’s my Birthday wish for you. I wish you the very same thing I wish my loved ones…Happiness and Love always 🙂 Oh and when you see B, tell him I miss him and I love him…now more than ever. Oh and while I have your attention, would you please just make it so I can find the time and the inclination to get back to writing? Please! Pretty Please!!!
Today is the Birthday of a beloved family member and the one person closest to my heart on the Planet! My Mom’s sister, my aunt and most importantly my soul-sister 🙂 Perhaps it has to do with her being an Aquarian and my moon-sign being Aquarius, so that this special relationship was foretold in the stars 😉 But lets leave the stars out of it for the moment, the cosmic ones I mean! My aunt (I call her ‘Didi’, which means elder sister in Hindi), is unique, a star in her own right 🙂
The operative word in our relationship from as far back as I can remember has always been ‘Fun’!! When we get together or even on the phone, we just can’t seem to stop laughing 😀 to the point where our Hubbies have been known to ask us if we had lost our minds 😛 No fellas! We are ‘like that only’ 😉 She has a loud, hearty, infectious laugh that erupts from her like lava from a volcano (rather like mine :P) and I mean that as the best sort of compliment! You cannot be in the same room and not feel the laughter creeping up on you and sweeping you off your feet with its vigor! She’s funny and witty and can take as good as she gives.
Granny tells me and Didi agrees that she was a ‘first-class brat’, growing up! Especially when contrasted with my Mom who the entire family had christened ‘Ms. Goody Two-Shoes’, coz she NEVER did anything wrong and was consequently rather a pale, colorless character when compared to my boisterous, scallywag aunt!! Didi by her own admission was a ‘handful’ and more, still is 😉 Granny says she used to be very worried about how Didi would turn out, and hoped that she could just get her married safely and pass on the responsibility of her care over to some poor, hapless man 😉 She needn’t have worried. Didi proved quite capable of looking after herself and anyone else she had to! She’s a gutsy woman. Strong, sensitive, opinionated and unafraid.
The ever present ‘twinkle in her eye’, even as a child!
Didi has and continues to be a path-breaker. She had a love marriage, one of, if not the first one in our family, when the very notion was taboo. She was as I have mentioned a tomboy and getting into scrapes was second nature. She quit studying after 10th grade, coz academics was just not her cup of tea!! Bravo Didi!! At her wit’s end, my Granny decided to enroll her into singing classes, coz she had a great singing voice and hoping that would keep her out of trouble. She should have known better 😉 Or at least that’s what my Granny said for a long time after everything that followed! Here’s what I mean. Didi seemed to take to singing class in a way that pleasantly surprised the family and finally brought relief to my poor Granny’s frazzled nerves. (Ding Dong!! Warning bells anyone?!) And although this new-found devotion was partly due to the singing, much of it was due to the fact that she had met my uncle-to-be on the way to and from the class! Showing her smarts even then, Didi confided at first in her Granny, my Gran’s mother-in-law, hoping to enlist her support before facing up to her mother. Decades later, I followed in her footsteps, confiding in my Granny, and seeking her support before facing my Mom, when came the time to tell her about Hubby & I! Although my Granny finds it amusing now after 4 decades of a solid marriage, she wasn’t in the least amused then! She threw a fit when she heard and I won’t be surprised if Didi got a spanking (although I’ve never asked!). My uncle belongs to another community, (thankfully of Brahmins or it would have been disaster), and Granny was in no mood to listen or understand. For all she knew, her daughter was off gallivanting the streets of Bombay, with some loser she’d picked up off the streets!! It was her worst nightmare come true! It was a while before uncles intervened, calm prevailed, and a meeting arranged with the prospective groom and his family. They were married the same year that Mom & Dad were, and while there were misgivings on both sides (due largely to the rather large age-difference between my aunt and uncle in addition to cultural differences between the families), and a long struggle for Didi to be accepted into my uncle’s family, love prevailed! Doesn’t it always 🙂 In a rather sweet exchange, my uncle, who at the time was a chain smoker, agreed to quit smoking if Didi agreed to become vegetarian (his family is vegetarian). I think that particular deal worked out in Didi’s favor…after many years, she got my uncle to taste fish and chicken and her nephews have been converted into hard-core fish-eaters; but he’s never smoked another cigarette ever!
When I was born, she had been married for just under a year and lived in the port town of Kandla in Gujarat, where my uncle worked in the Indian Customs. I love the story she tells about our first meeting…a cousin and I were born two months apart and, as babies looked quite similar (as babies often do), except that my cousin was and still is much fairer than I am! She hadn’t seen either of us, and when she arrived all eager to meet her darling niece, they brought my cousin, all bundled up to her instead, and said it was me. We were both chubby babies, but Didi claims she knew instantly there was something up and that she was being had! She held my cousin but wasn’t quite convinced and her uncertainty must have shown on her face, coz when I was finally brought out…we took to each other like ducks to water 🙂 So you see, she recognized me right away for who I was and knew me instinctively. And over the years nothing’s changed 🙂
My earliest memories of her, are of her singing songs to me…songs she invented stringing together all kinds of endearments she’d invented for me! She still sings them to me today over the phone and I am unashamed to admit I adore them 🙂 She adores children and doesn’t have her own and that could have embittered her, led to depression and darkness. Instead, she loved me and my brother and her two nephews as her own and I mean ‘as’ and not ‘like’. There’s a difference you know. She filled our worlds with joy and jokes and laughter and song and when we were older she became our first best friend. She remains that 🙂 I can talk to her about anything and everything and although we do not always agree, I can always count on her for a fair hearing and good solid advice. She is never judgmental and often puts things in perspective, especially with my Mom, about whom she is fiercely protective! When my Dad and Mom were going through a rough patch after my brother’s Duchene diagnosis, I wrote her a letter. I was terrified that they were going to split up, and I said as much in the letter. I don’t know what I was thinking or what I expected when I wrote that letter, but I remember feeling that it was the right thing to do. And it was! A few days later, much to my joy and surprise, I received not a reply but Didi herself on our doorstep! On receiving the letter, in true Didi fashion, she had convinced my Uncle to drive down from Bombay to understand the situation and set things right. My parents, completely unaware of the letter, were shocked to say the least! I think her arrival made them realize the effect their constant bickering and arguing was having on us kids, like nothing else would have. Just one of the countless examples in which Didi has touched my life and made it better. Always made it better 🙂
She is my idea of an emancipated woman and here is why. For as long as I have known her, she has truly followed her heart and preserved her individuality. It hasn’t been easy (it rarely is), but, and I know she agrees, it’s been worth the effort and the pain. When she turned fifty, she began to write poetry. She writes in Marathi and has the wonderful knack of combing simplicity of verse with profoundness of thought. I like to think, her journey into the world of verse, led to a kind of renaissance in her life. She has often confided in me that writing keeps her going when things get tough. Over the years, things have been tough…sometimes financially, sometimes health-wise, but each crisis has been handled with dignity, humor and quiet resolve. For all her strength she is never far from tears both of joy and pain! I remember her crying for joy when she first met Ishaan and holding me tight and crying with me when my brother passed away. I remember her tears of joy, when I surprised her on her 60th Birthday, flying down from Singapore and appearing on her doorstep in the middle of the celebrations! I had worked hard to convince her that I couldn’t make it although she insisted later that she couldn’t quite believe it! As if I would missed a milestone like that!
It is difficult to put into words all that she means to me, certainly a single post will serve to do nothing more than scratch the surface. She taught me the art of picking out the perfect sari. She has an eye for the unusual & is unafraid of going for bold & brilliant colors 🙂 We had a ball shopping for my trousseau! She also has a knack for finding treasures on a budget. She’s a great one for budgets, Didi is! It’s a standing joke between the two of us of how she would gift me either tops of a ‘salwar kameez’ without their bottoms & vice versa, in an attempt to save on tailoring charges, expecting me to have something in my wardrobe that would fit the bill 😛 Still does! She’s always well turned out and has her own unique sense of style. She loves lipstick…deep red preferably and wouldn’t be caught dead without her lips painted and her cheeks rouged with the same shade! It’s been like that ever since I can remember. She has a wicked memory and her story-telling skills are legendary! She always remembers the stuff everyone would rather forget and is never afraid to share it, especially if she put a funny spin on it! She loves fiercely, is a loyal friend, a devoted wife, and is one of the most generous people I know.
This then is the woman, I honor today, on her Birthday! Over the years she’s seen me through every milestone, good and bad. Her spirit is my guide and mentor and her presence in my Life – vital and uplifting. We are very similar the two of us…we both take life more seriously than we let on, we laugh our guts out every chance we get, we live to write and we love our families with crazy abandon. We’re both a bit nuts and loving it! I like to think we share a motto too…Live & Let Live! I’ve already had a long conversation with her this morning and will probably have another before the day is done! My only regret is that we don’t meet as often as we like but perhaps therein lies the secret to our harmony? I don’t know, and I don’t particularly want to analyze either. It works, is all that matters. And so here’s to Didi, an aunt, a kindred spirit and a soul-sister!!
“May your light shine ever so brightly, May the colors never fade,
May the spirit stay forever sprightly, And may it never rain on your parade!”