Sunday, June 28, 2009

Heal My World

This entire week has been traumatic.

Last Tuesday my baby came down with a viral attack.

Generally she is up and active by eight in the morning, but that day, she appeared a bit slow. I thought she would be better in a couple of hours and left her alone. But as the day progressed, she grew more and more sluggish. I was getting worried and called up my husband. He just dismissed my worry and told me to wait till he came home. By the time he came, I was a complete wreck. I generally do not fall apart at such situations but this was different. I felt so helpless.

My husband, after looking her over, decided to wait till morning. He just told me to cheer up and I felt angry. How like an insensitive man. Here I was, sick with worry and he was telling me to have fun. I felt bitterness rise up my throat.

The whole night I was restless. I kept getting up to check on my baby. I would gently caress my fingers over her body. Try to figure out if she was getting better. But she was unresponsive as ever and seemed dead to the world. I knew this was something serious.

Next morning, my husband and I knew it was time to call in the experts. Bundling up, he gently lifted her and put her in the car. I wanted to come too but what could I do there except wait? My husband decided that I would be better off in the house. The old bitterness rose again and stayed in my throat this time.

It seemed nothing I could do would take away my anxiety. I went about doing my daily chores feeling listless. Then my husband called home with the shocker. Her memory had failed completely. Sensing my grief, he gently said " Don't worry, they are doing their best... she will get better and will be back home before you know it." At last some understanding. But I was too numb with emotions to appreciate his concern. Anger. Sorrow. Anxiety. Frustration. All seemed to boil inside. Why me? And why now when I had so many plans for her?

The next few days seemed to blend into each other. Apart from the daily progress reports from them, we could do nothing. Apparently it was a bad virus. I was devastated. I took such a good care of her. Never exposed her to any potential threats, then how could this happen?

I was also pained by the behaviour of everyone in the house. Nobody seemed as affected as me. I was the only one slowly dying inside.

Then the unthinkable happened. Michael Jackson died. And my husband came home with guests. He decided I needed some cheering. What could be better than some elaborate breakfast and and lunch? So here I was, making poori- sabzi and serving them early morning, when the doctors were tearing apart Michael's body and my baby was slowly being given a new lease of life.

Finally, this morning, I decided enough was enough. I had to leave my home. If I had waited even a few more hours to write, surely a dam would have burst inside me. So I am now here, at a cyber-cafe venting my feelings. My family is peacefully sleeping at home. After all what do they care if the PC is not at home? They do not blog after all.

My husband has promised me that my baby will come back soon. I have been told that she is getting formatted. She will get a new configuration. She is also getting some brand new software.
So till the time she is home I guess I will have to use this seedy cafe. I hope you all will be more understanding than my family. Please feel free to fill up my comment box with your get well messages. I desperately need some sympathy to heal my world.

And Rest In Peace Michael. You will be sorely missed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Come Soon, Monsoon

Before you guys cringe at my tacky header, let me clarify that this awesome line is not my creation.

Yesterday, when I went to the school to pick up my daughter, I heard some 6 year olds chanting this masterpiece.

Come soon monsoon,

We are tired of watching cartoon,

When you come we'll play in the rain,

The summer heat is such a pain.

As I have not heard this before, I am assuming some budding young poet or poetess has recently penned these lines. Nature has been such an inspiration to us writers over the years. Think Wordsworth.

I can't help agreeing with this new young talent though. Everyday, I am doing the Lagaan act in Mumbai. Any sign of a passing cloud, I am rushing to the window. Is it raining yet? Just when the Ghanan ghanan ghana ghir aayee badra starts playing in my mind, the clouds disappear. Bummer. Apparently cyclone Aila has sucked out all the moisture and the rains are stranded somewhere.

The heat has been unbearable in the meanwhile. The kids look drained when they are back from school. The thick, 'protector of all virtues' uniforms do not help either. Their brand new umbrellas are yet to come out of their original packs. To add to their woes, I have started keeping them indoors till late evenings. So they grumble about the loss of playing time. What's more, the water supply is playing truant. As I refuse to let them bathe in muddy brown tanker supplied water, the poor kids have no option but to wait till late at night when fresh water comes, to wash off the accumulated grime and sweat. Yuck.

People all across India have a special fondness for rains. Come monsoon, we all shed our inhibitions and turn into peacocks. As a child, I remember dancing on our terrace , getting completely soaked . The lunch would consisit of khichdi and in the evening, if it still rained, we would all sit in a circle, have tea and pakodas. What bliss. In Kolkata, where I spent my summer vacations, the Kalboishakhi would cause a lot of cheer. The gusty wind signalled the onset of monsoons and we would all welcome the rains with glee.

Ayee brishti jhepe,

Dhaan debo mepe,

Dhaaner bhitor poka

Jamai babu boka.

( I am pretty bad at translations still I shall try. This is a popular Bengali limerick that invites the rain. Pour down fast and furious, rain. We will give you rice grains. The grains have insects and the brother-in-law is a fool ! See ,I told you I am bad at this. Please help me someone to authentically translate this.)

Delhi, a city where I grew up, rains often come as late as August. There, the monsoons,which last for may be around 15 days, are like the quintissential Punjabis. Passionate and loud. Accompanied by frightening lightnening and thunderstorms, the torrential rains would often uproot trees, cause waterlogging and bring cheers to thousands of children. The parched land would spring to life, there would be some peacocks dancing in the ridge area and the Punjabis would celebrate with spiked gol-gappas.

Baarish ayee chcham chcham

Lekar chchata nikle hum,

Pair phisalkar gir gaye hum,

Upar chchata neeche hum.

Mumbai rains are more sedate. There is a continuous, steady drizzle.The monotonous sound of rains falling sometimes act as lullabies and sometimes cause immense irritation, depending on how your day went. We initially love the respite it brings from summer heat but soon grow to resent it. The dug up roads can't handle the pressure. Water logging ruins many evening plans and housewives get increasingly angry about the wet clothes perpetually drying inside the house. The four months of continuous downpour finally starts to get on our over worked nerves and we start offering our fervent prayers to the rain gods to just leave us alone. After four months, the roads are hardly recognizable. Our houses permanently wear the aroma of mildew. Our leather shoes and bags are ruined beyond forever. And the kids have grown bored of paper boats and have started watching cartoon again.

Still, come June, next year, we will eagerly look at the sky and pray. We will still buy new umbrellas and loathe to throw away our old ones. We will pack away our cotton clothes and expensive shoes and take out our tacky, synthetic ones. We will keep a change of clothes in office just in case we need to stay the night there. And the latest, we will keep a hammer in the car so that just in case, there is a repeat of 26th July, we can escape from our cars by breaking down the windows.

As I am adding finishing touches to my post, I can hear the faint grrrr sound of thunder. It has become cloudy again. May be all of us should sit in front our computers with some coffee or tea and some pakodas. We can swap our favourite rain stories.

What do you think? Shall we?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pressure Points

My husband is 5 feet 9 inches and weighs almost 90 kgs.
I am almost 5 feet 5 inches and weigh 54 kgs.
My husband is what a lot of my Bengali relatives call "phat". My biased mother however calls him "pleasantly plump".
The same Bengali relatives think that I can give the size zero "Koreenaa Kaapooor" a serious run for her money. My mother thinks that I am too thin and need to put on some weight. Thank you mom, I love you too.

My husband is passionate about his sweets. From rabri to kheer, cakes to tiramisu, ice-creams to puddings, he loves them all equally. He also gorges on all fried stuff.
I hate sweets. Never liked them. Never eat them. I also dislike fried stuff. The same goes for oily food like parathas, puris and kachoris.

I generally try to go in for some serious work-outs. For the past year, yoga has become a daily fixation. I also go for walks. Before that, I was into gymming.
My husband's idea of a work-out is to jump into water and float for an hour. At the end of which he feels ravenous and gorges some more on fried stuff. If I raise my eyebrows, he compromises and eats a tripple layered cheese sandwich.

My husband travels most of the week. Last month, he was home for may be just about 7 days. He takes those' god-awful 'early morning flights. Comes back late night. If he lands early, he reports to office straight from the airport. In a month, he travels almost all over India. If he has some left over time, his boss sends him abroad.
I am a stay at home mom. My travels are restricted to schools, banks, local super markets and my friends' houses. Once a year I travel to some exotic place with my husband for our annual holiday.

My husband is the COO of a reasonably big sized company. There is always a crisis situation somewhere. He has to deal with global recession, transport strikes, credit crunch, corrupt government officials and staff mutiny on a daily basis. I only have to deal with home works and exams, absconding maids, moody drivers and innumerable guests.

Both of us refrain from drinking. Occassionally, with his friends though, my husband drinks beer. I stick to a glass of red wine.

So 2 days back, when we both went to the doctor's for a physical, what do you think we found?

My husband was disgustingly healty. No blood pressure, no bad cholesterol and a happy, healthy heart.
Yours truly had a sky-rocketing BP, abnormally high pulse rate and slightly high cholesterol. My over anxious doctor put me through a series of further tests. The same doctor told my beaming husband ,"Congratulations, please continue to lead this healthy lifestyle".

So my husband has taken the kids to the local ice-cream parlour to celebrate the verdict. And here I am , blogging my woes.

ARRGHHHH. Life is soooo unfair.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A baby of her own

After 15 years of trying, my cousin Raktima finally got her baby.

Her uncluttered, orderly house these days sport a new look. It looks untidy and messy.Walk a bit and you will stumble across a teddy. Explore further and you will surely find a bassinet in the living area. The pillows have been thrown on the floor. There are some really cute toys strewn everywhere. Considering how finicky she was about her designer home, I can only marvel at this transformation.

She has been married for 16 years. The last 15 years went in trying for a baby. She quit her job to be a full time trying -to -be- a -mother..There have been monitoring temperatures and maintaining charts. There have been 4 doctors in 4 different cities. There have been various drugs that saw her weight balloning to 74 kgs from her normal 55kgs. There have been routine pokes and invasive procedures. There has been a surgery.There have been the rather humiliating experience of revealing extermely intimate details of her life to all those in her family who considered themselves feritlity experts. Then there was the exorbitant cost of the treatment. Plus she also went through the mandatory pilgrimages. Why leave everything to science. God also performs miracles.

So her god finally performed a miracle and fulfilled her greatest desire. She became a mother last June. Beaming grandparents, exhuberant friends and well wishing cousins all lined up in her home to welcome the new baby. She was a scrawny,hairless bundle. Her tight fist held on to my cousin's finger. Even sleeping her face would at times turn to her mother as if seeking reassurance. When her aunt tried to take away the baby from the mother, she protested loudly. None of us were in any doubt about her spunk. The baby made her presence felt from day one. The entire household revolved around her schedule and she knew it. Her every whimper would bring her doting parents to her side and she made full advantage of it.

Nothing really has changed since last June. The baby is spunky still. The parents are doting as ever. They just look exhausted all the time. After a really exhausting cleaning ,feeding and cleaning again spree, I asked my cousin whether all this was worth it. The numerous visits to the doctor. The traumatic treatments. The severe depressoin. All that money spent. She could have taken the short cut long back... got a baby home from an adoption centre.

My cousin disagreed. The last 15 years strengthened her desire to be a mom. Motherhood was not easy. And if she could handle this pain, she could handle anything. Because she went through all this, she realised how precious each child was. And because of that realisation, she could so whole heartedly embrace this precious new baby.

Raktima is not the biological mother of her baby. After 15 years of trying, she defied nature and became a mother. She adopted a tiny little girl. She opened her heart and welcomed this miracle into her big family, waiting so long for a child. She showered her love and care, her patience and her devotion and transformed this once scrawny, underfed little girl into a healthy, happy one year old. This was not a short cut to motherhood. This was an obstacle course that finally led her to joy.

After 15 years of trying, my cousin Raktima finally gave up depression and adopted happiness.