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 🙂

Epiphany

This morning I had a moment. You know – the kind of moment that arrives without warning, usually offering a calm oasis in the midst of chaos. The kind of moment that comes sometimes from recognizing the truth but mostly from just accepting it. Yup…an epiphany.

I had a rather thorny start to my day. Granny had a fall on her way to the loo early this morning at 4 am. I was completely unaware of the fact until I came down all bleary-eyed in the morning. Thankfully, nothing’s broken, just some nasty bruising. At her age (she’ll turn 85 in April) though, I’ll take bruises over a fracture anytime! Unfortunately in characteristic fashion, I had been rather short with her. It’s just like me that. My concern always seems to manifest masquerade as irritation, especially with those I love. I don’t why that is, except to blame it on some genetic character flaw beyond my control or maybe it’s a defensive mechanism to mask my fear of losing my loved ones. Whatever the reasons, suffice it to say, when it’s time for Ishaan to leave for school, I am not in a good place.

He is outside as always, playing cricket with our driver and Pushpa, utterly oblivious to all of Mom’s flaws for the moment 🙂 Oh that it would stay like that forever! Hubby calls out. It’s time to leave and there’s a flurry of Goodbyes to Pushpa, Grandpa and Grandma. It’s a familiar scene, repeated every Monday through Friday before he leaves. Just before he climbs into the car, I hug him and hold him close, tousle his hair and tickle him while he lays his head on my shoulder, in the crook of my neck (a perfect fit :)). He erupts with laughter and climbs onto Hubby in the car. The sun is shining and my boy is happy. His eye’s are sparkling and his tiny nose is all scrounged up, crinkled with joy 🙂 Suddenly I am in awe of this perfect moment when nothing else matters but the happiness that radiates from my son in great big tidal waves 🙂 I know, I know, it’s crazy…we’ve done this a million times before, but today, although I’m laughing with him and squishing my nose against the car window making funny faces, inside I’m still. Something is different.

Magic smile!

There’s a strange duality to the moment. I’m suddenly aware of its fragility. Of the power of laughter & the healing that comes with happiness. Somewhere deep within, a load feels lighter. There are a million good things in this World and a million bad, but there’s not too many things that can’t be made better by the sound of your child’s laughter 🙂 But the moment is also symbolic of the power my son has over me. Of how my happiness is now forever linked with his and my eyes get teary – whether from joy or sadness is hard to say. Probably both. It’s scary but I feel cleansed.

I stand still and watch the road after the car is long gone. He’s growing up so quickly…too quickly. And that’s when it struck me. It’s always like this between parents and children isn’t it. Children moving away, parents left behind, happy, concerned, and proud. Did I think it would be any different for me? This is how it’ll always be…him leaving, me watching him go…happy, concerned, fingers crossed, like mothers everywhere.

I take a deep breath and walk back inside.

Of Bridges…

Have been thinking of bridges a lot lately, to the point where I’ve begun to feel like one! Do you know the feeling? If you’re living with or have difficult family ties, then you might. Ever since we moved in with my parents, I’ve felt like one, particularly in regards to Hubby and them. Although as the situation changes, so do the people on either side. Sometimes, it’s my Granny and my Mom on opposite sides or Mom & Dad or Mom and Me, in which case, there’s an abyss in between! I didn’t realize this before, but it’s a hard life for a bridge!

My parents as I’ve mentioned before are conservative and traditional. In Goan society that means, sons-in-law are like Gods, well maybe demigods! To be approached with caution and reverence that is often taken to extreme lengths. He is vigorously fed, endlessly pampered, always obeyed and never put in a spot! Most mother-in-law from my Mom’s generation rarely speak to their sons-in-law at all. I know for a fact that my Granny and my Dad never spoke to one another directly until a few years ago, and even then on rare occasions. Perhaps age has something to do with that! Mom is a ‘bridge’ herself, has been all these 44 years! All this means in my ménage de trios is a lack of direct communication between my parents and Hubby. As a result I function like a transmitter relaying information back and forth, feeling like a bridge that’s spanning the universe, connecting two entities that live on different planets nay galaxies 😛 Disregard that emoticon, I’m serious! So, my Mom asks me everything she needs to ask the Hubby and tells me everything she needs to tell him, which is almost exclusively food-related! “Will he be home for lunch, for dinner? Breakfast is ready! Does he need more tea? Has he eaten the new cake? I’ My Granny joins in (coz the more the merrier, eh?!), “Tell him to eat it while it’s hot!”, breakfast she means. This at the top of her voice, which he can hear perfectly.

Other stuff, the important stuff like what’s happening with his work and the like are NEVER broached with him EVER!! I’m asked these questions instead, to which I give vague, ambiguous answers, not out of a desire to hide but from a lack of knowledge! I know, I know! Some of you may raise a pretty eyebrow in disbelief, but it’s the solemn truth! Perhaps all you dutiful, lovingly involved spouses know exactly what’s up in Hubby’s work-life, I don’t. Never have, never will. It’s not out of negligence just disinterest (which is not as horrid as it sounds, so no hate mail please :P). I know the broad outlines of what’s happening of course and we discuss plans of action and the big picture together, but the minutiae bore me to death and I ignore them! Yes I know God is in the details, but mine is understanding and kind 🙂 besides which Hubby is the demon for detail 😉 To be fair, I do this with everything and everybody including myself! Unless it’s to do with something that I’m passionate about, which at the moment would be writing, books and a few other things, I don’t pay much attention. It works perfectly, coz we’re both the kind of people who work best when left to ourselves, but enjoy discussing progress or failure as the case may be, at regular intervals. Also, Hubby is rarely at home and what with Ishaan and everything else vying for our attention, it’s hard to get time alone or concentrate when we do! We’re very often so tired, we hit the bed already asleep, especially Hubby, for whom a late night is 10 pm 😉 (I’m being kind, sometimes it’s 9 pm :P). So, when Mom asks about his work, you can see how that might be difficult for me! It’s just another one of those little things that remind me how different their marriage is from mine.

When times are good, I still manage to hold my own and am an efficient conductor of this strange orchestra. When we hit a rough patch, is when things tend to slip out of control. I guess what I’m saying is that all this to-ing and fro-ing between individuals and trying to maintain a balance of sorts, wears me out and exhausts me and them. When we’re exhausted we get irritable and that makes everything worse. That’s what made me think appreciatively of bridges. I think they deserve much more credit than we give them – human & inanimate! Where would we be without either? Forever connected yet aloof; leading towards on end and away from the other; watching & recording history and on occasion making an important contribution, playing a vital role; bearing the burden of countless footsteps; they seem to symbolize my state in Life now. Yet I must always have and continue to be one, like we all are, connecting and dividing people by our thought, and actions and sometimes by our very existence.

This is something I wrote over the last couple of days. It’s been a while since a poem came to me.

The Bridge

Connector, divider, spanner of rivers,

A gateway, an entrance, a runway to tears.

A link in a chain, A cog in a wheel,

A path – weighted down by a million clicking heels.

London Bridge…My Favorite!

One foot here, another there,

Body suspended, trapped in mid-air.

Bringer of beginnings, journey’s end,

Traveler’s terror, voyager’s friend.

Frozen motion, standing still,

My existence is testament to human will.

The Brooklyn Bridge…a close second!

Built of timber, from sticks & stones,

From thoughts, from hope, from human bones.

From ideas and spirit, from wishes and sighs,

Comes the ethereal rainbow, in your sky.

In myth and in legend, are my stories told,

My foundations harbor secrets untold.

I’m famous, unknown, symbolic, enshrined,

Spanning centuries, hearts and minds.

Forces of nature, and human assault,

Victory, defeat, bested them all.

None of these yet all I am, or am I just Me?

Entwined, enmeshed, at once aloof,

Like that was meant to be.

Watching, waiting, standing tall

Connecting shores until I fall.

– Harsha

And I’ll leave you with my favorite ‘Bridge’ song. I love this live version by Art 🙂

Weekend coming up, People! Smile 🙂

Toddlers & Teens

The same breed…just at different times in life!

The thought came to me last night, after an exhausting day with Ishaan, who put me through the wringer with his worst, clingy, whiny behavior in a long time and the memory of a conversation I had with a friend about her teenager just a few days ago.

Ishaan’s generally a happy child and when he gets this way, it’s safe to assume that he’s not feeling bright. The last time he was like this, it was teething-time and he had the ‘loosies‘. This time it was constipation and colic and other than wait for the medicines to take effect, massage his little tummy when he would let me, and cuddle & carry him continuously, there was nothing else to be done. When he finally recovered yesterday afternoon, he was instantly more cheery and by the evening, was back to his normal mischievous self, (albeit with sunken, rimmed eyes from 24-hours of non-stop whining :(), to the relief of us all.

It’s at times like these that I feel inadequate (A strong word. ‘Not up to it.’ seems kinder to self.), as a mother and pediatrician. There’s not much I can do in either role, except love, reassure and hope and then love, reassure and hope some more! Watching your child when they are ill, is heart-rending and yet educative, if you can stay sane enough to learn. It’s tough though, and I’m a pediatrician, trained to work with sick children!

Seeing him this way (difficult and whiny), brought back several conversations I’ve had over the years with friends and parents of teenagers, who are having trouble dealing with ‘the change’. It seems like toddlers and teens have a lot more in common than I first imagined! I made a list…short and not very sweet, which I include here. It’s by no means comprehensive nor written in stone…so do feel free to add, subtract, and otherwise share your thoughts.

Found just what I was looking for on Google! Amazing!


  1. Stubbornness – helps them both get their way, although I think Toddlers here have the definite edge, ‘coz, well, try reasoning with a two-year-old with limited vocabulary, who doesn’t want to eat his veggies! But perhaps I’m biased as a toddler mom and parents of teens have an equally hard time getting them to swallow their spinach!
  2. Communication issues – Toddlers ‘coz their language is still developing and teens ‘coz they’ve developed an entirely different language 😉
  3. A tendency to tantrums, sulking and all manner of drama that’s downright scary!
  4. An inability to stand still for more than a minute and in Ishaan’s case – a few seconds!
  5. Following naturally from #4 – an inability to listen to most everything, unless it’s something they want to hear. Also the ability to twist anything and everything into something they want to hear.
  6. A strange yet firm resistance to all logic other than their own! Seen in abundance particularly in smart-alecky teens, of which I used to an esteemed member 🙂
  7. Toddlers are master manipulators as are Teens. Emotional blackmailers par excellence!
  8. An inability to understand ‘NO’
  9. Both revel in defying authority – any parent will testify to the fact that the surest way of getting your toddler or teen to ‘Do’ something is to ‘forbid’ it! Works like a charm!
  10. A curious affinity for trouble (A corollary to #7) – Both seem to have a penchant for getting into scrapes and tight spots with little regard for danger to self and others and little thought to consequences.

All right…this list is scarier than I thought! Will stop now before I lose all perspective and concentrate on happy thoughts…or I have a better idea…it’s close to midnight, my particular toddler is asleep…and that’s where I’m headed…comfy bed…happy thoughts…sweet dreams…smiling toddler…Nighty night…yawn…

p.s. for some reason I can’t get the numbers to turn blue…and it’s bothering me more than it should…guess I really am tuckered out…

The next day…Day 2

So, here we are on Day 2 and this time I have reinforcements in the form of Mom – she of the veteran parenting class and nerves of steel…not quite (she’s now been ‘Grannified’ which means her heart’s softer than butter where her Ishaan is concerned :P), but still, her presence calms me down.

I’m not expecting miracles…I know things will probably worsen a lot more before they begin to get better…and yet still, I hope! We go down to school and again the crying begins as I hand him over to his teacher with a quick hug and kiss. Then Mom settles (barely!) into the chair and I try to find a place where I can be omnipresent but inconspicuous…channel all my Mommy stores of sixth sense & intuition! We hear him crying from the depths of the school and then suddenly everything goes quiet…instantly the silence becomes ominous and not peaceful, as I begin to imagine breath-holding spells and other medical emergencies! But I don’t let my worry show, ‘coz Mom is already worried enough for a thousand of us! She looks at me and mouths “Poor baby!He’s so small, too small! He’s barely begun to speak! We were never in a rush to send children to school in our time! They went when they were good and ready, when they were 5!” At that moment, I agree with everything she’s saying and I tell her, but to convince myself and her that I’m doing the right thing here, I tell her that times are changing and that he would probably cry just as hard if not harder, if he were 5. He would probably have had long arguments about why school was totally redundant…don’t underestimate 5-yr-olds! She nods. She knows what I know, heck she knows a whole lot more! It’s just her butter-heart acting up!

While we’re wondering what’s happening inside, the Directress of the school, visiting from Delhi, comes outside and does her bit to soothe us. She assures us that Ishaan is doing fine, and that crying is totally normal and in control. She tells us how she explains to anxious mothers that when they cried as adults (she used the word great hulks!), while leaving their Mom’s house after marriage to a man they loved and chose and wanted to live with (well most of us), then it was silly to expect that a child, who leaves home and the comfort & security of Mom’s arms, against his will, would do so without a good howl! Indeed it is! Beyond silly! I never thought of it quite like that before! Her analogy is amusing and makes us smile for a while, before drowning out in the next wave of crying.

And so we sit outside, comforting each other with all manner of platitudes, while our hearts are elsewhere, listening for the sounds of his anguish, glancing ever so often at our watches, counting seconds, minutes. I realize my Mom is suffering twice over, for Ishaan and for me too, watching me go through ‘separation anxiety’. There are periods of silence though and a teacher comes out twice, once to let us know that he enjoyed playing in the sandbox and then to tell us he’s naming animals on a chart 🙂 We make it through the hour, all three of us and although it was hard, it was just a little less harder than yesterday.

On the way home, he’s back to his chirpy self, but I imagine I can see the change…a seriousness in his eyes, subtle as it is.

He’s growing up…one tiny step at a time…

Ishaan starts Playschool!

All set for school!

He went. He saw. He cried.

I watched. I wondered. I cried too…a little. Unseen, silent tears.

That would be the short version! And yet it was one of the longest hours I’ve ever spent, as I’m sure has he!

The night before, I was pretty with it, trying to soothe my nerves doing the little things – laying out his uniform, getting the toddler bag ready, setting out his blue crocs, all the while mumbling muted prayers to the Almighty, to get us through the day without a major mishap. This whole shebang is spanking new to us both and once again I doff my hat off to mothers everywhere! You Rock!

This morning was smooth (Perhaps that should have served as warning? I’m a naive mother, with much to learn…sigh), Ishaan was up at 7 am, breakfasted on fruit and a sandwich, played cricket while hubby and I did the same. We dressed and so did he and I took the regulation picture – the one in uniform, like every kid has in their album, duly titled ‘First Day of School’. He had no idea what school was but he was happy to be driving somewhere in the morning.

How does one prepare an almost 2 and 1/2 year-old for school & separation? Especially one who has just begun stringing together three words into a sentence? How do I explain that it’s a place where he’ll meet other children and adults called teachers, who will play with him and teach him things and hopefully love him well? How do I tell him, that from now on, he’s beginning a new journey, one that will take him away from home for a while every day but will hopefully be as rewarding as it is exciting? How do I let him know that when he’s howling his lungs out inside, my heart is breaking & I’m crying too, just on the inside, so he can’t see, trying to stay strong for him on the outside? How do I assure him that after a week (Hope springs eternal in this naive mother’s heart!), he’ll forget these tears and be like all the other kids, happily playing, learning, settled? How do I convince him that all of this is for his betterment? How? How? How? I don’t know how and so I just hug him tight and kiss him and silently praying, let him go…

And he does go too, holding a teacher’s hand he disappears into the large schoolroom. I wait outside as she’s instructed ready to rush to the rescue when needed, fingers and toes firmly crossed. He’s whimpered a bit when hubby left, but now seems to be holding it together although a bit confused. He’s never been around so many children before. He wants the teacher to carry him all the time but she gently dissuades him and he seems ok, just sticks to her like glue. I exhale and think we might just make it through…Hah! The phone rings and a cousin wants details of an employment agency in Bombay. Her maid just gave notice! I’m on the phone for 5 minutes, when I hear the unmistakable sound of his crying. He’s caught a glimpse of me through the window and that’s when everything starts going downhill…

After that, although I go inside and hold him, wipe his tears and his runny nose, sit down with him and try to get him interested in an activity, there’s no stopping the boy. There are a pair of turtle statues in the garden outside and he wants to go near them, he wants to be anywhere except where he is, he wants to be held constantly, but I’m firm. Where do mother’s find the resolve to stay firm with their children? I have no clue but I’m sure glad they do! I hold his hand and walk him around the room, still crying but trying so hard to be brave, and point out the colorful artwork on the wall (I am embarrassed, and angry that I am. I confess!). He tries his best to identify some of the pictures, a tiger, a fish, a clown. A few of the children stare at us but they remain remarkably undisturbed, not particularly interested in or affected by his continuous crying! I am impressed! If this is what school does, I’m all for it! They are wise these kids, in the quiet, assured manner that children are wise (they are!). They’re probably reliving their own initial misery and I imagine most of them looking at me with an expression of knowing pity! He quiets down every time a teacher appears to soothe him and call him darling and sweetie, but he clings to me like a koala!

It’s almost 10 am and the teacher says, I can leave now. Apparently, he’s had enough exposure to the new environment for Day 1! I agree! Him and me – both! He perks up, realizing with that intuition peculiar to children that the tide is now in his favor and Dad is on the way to rescue him! Suddenly bright, he waves Ta-ta to the teachers and jumps straight from my arms into hubby’s! While we’re leaving, a senior teacher advises me to avoid talking too much to him about school, staying firm but gentle and reassures me that he is by no means the worst child to have crossed their threshold! She makes me feel better 🙂

In the car, he’s absolutely normal although a little circumspect. He knows he’s behaved badly and Mom is a little cross. He knows me too well for his own good! All the way back home, he points out cows, goats, and dogs. The phone rings again and I ignore it. When we get home, Mom and Granny are waiting at the door, having heard the car approach. Mom especially has been miserable and out of sorts since we left, sick with worry! I tell all as Ishaan leaps from hubby’s arms into Mom’s bear hug (and he’s just barely been away the one hour!). Back in familiar territory, he is once again Prince of all he surveys, but he glances at me occasionally, he knows he’s not out of the woods, not quite. Then showered and juiced, I sit him down with two bowls and some almonds and ask him to transfer them from one to the other (an activity that met with much resistance, when his teacher tried to get him to do it in school), and he happily complies, his little face screwed up in concentration, for 40 minutes flat! I realize then that through all those tears, he’s still seen stuff and absorbed it! I smile and his face lights up 🙂 Children…mysterious souls 🙂

And so tomorrow…we do it all over again!

Wish me LUCK!!

p.s. Many thanks to the wonderful staff of The Ardee School for their wonderful encouragement, gentle manner and support. You truly made this nervy Mom’s day easier 🙂