Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Hormone Years

"Why don't you tell me what to wear and what not to?"
"I thought you didn't want me to tell you all that. I thought you said I had to stop imposing my opinion on you."
"Yes, but my friends' moms tell them what not to shows they care about their daughters.
" OK, so let me tell you right now, the skirt you are wearing is too short."
" Will you stop telling me what to wear all the time?"

"Can I colour my hair?"
"Whatever for? You have beautiful hair"
"But I want streaks. And I want curls."
"Your hair is naturally beautiful now. Wait till you become a little older to experiment with colours."
"You never want me to have any individual style. Why do you have to be such a tyrant?"
"It's just that you have such beautiful hair. Colours and curlers will ruin your hair."
"So can I get a Lady Gaga wig instead? Red?
"Lady who?"
"Never mind, you would not recognize her if she left a comment on your blog anyway."

"Do you have to pick me up from school? I am old enough to come on my own. And please wear something a little more glamorous when you come? You look boring in jeans and T-shirt."
" I thought I looked pretty good in jeans and tees."
"You look old."
" I am not old."
"Mom, you are practically vintage."

" Stop telling me to study all the time."
"Well, I can't, your boards are starting in exactly 3 weeks."
"Why do I have to do well in my exam?"
"So you can get into a good college/school."
" I think you are just trying to get rid of me by sending me to a good college. Who wants to live in this house indefinitely anyway?"

"Will you have a problem if I have a Muslim or a Christian boyfriend?"
"I will have a problem if you have a boyfriend, period."
"Come on mom, some of my friends have boyfriends."
"You are only 15, too young to have a boyfriend."
"So when I am old enough to have one, will you object if he is not a Hindu?"
"No, as long as he is good and treats you with respect, I will have no problem."
"God, will you stop being so nice? How am I supposed to have a dramatic fight with you on this one if you never object to a boyfriend?"

"I washed my school uniform."
"That's very good. I am so glad you are acting like a responsible person and sharing the chores."
"Yeah, well, the i-pod was in the pocket and it got washed too. And now it's no longer working."
"What? Your i-pod? You didn't check the pockets?
"Err, actually it was dad's, I had borrowed it from him for a day."
"You washed your dad's i-pod? Do you know how cross he would be?"
"Can't you ask him to look at the bright side? The uniform looks almost brand new now."

"Can I pierce my ears?"
"You already have pierced ears."
"Can I have couple more piercings?"
"Two more? May be we can talk about it after your exams."
"You know, you are not too bad for a mom. In fact, you are more tolerant than a lot of moms I know." 
"Well thank you."
"Some of my friends are always complaining about how domineering their mothers are. I told them my mom is not as bad."
" Uh..thank you I guess."
" You are really open to suggestions and you do let me have my own say."
"Oh baby, I'm so glad you finally saw that."
" Yeah, well, so can I have a tattoo? A scorpion on my lower back would look awesome."

I bow down before all those survivor moms who successfully negotiated teenage years. I only have 4 more years to go with this one. By that time, the second one would be 13. With plenty of wine, chocolates and Yoga, I'm sure I can go through that one too.
And those women who are currently mothering those cute angelic kids, kids who make you say "awwww let me take a picture of you cutie-pie, cootchie-coo,.." well, to those women let me say, I hate you with gusto.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Giving Away The Memories

On the 17th floor of my building, lives an old man.

He does not live alone. He stays with his two grown up sons. Their wives. Their kids. It is a big family. There should not be any reason to be lonely. Or feel empty. But I think he does. Every evening when he goes for a walk, I can see it in his eyes. He is lonely and sad. And this feeling has nothing to do with his large family.
He may have a lot of people in his life but the person who mattered the most, his wife, died a few months ago. And ever since, he has not been the same.

We all have different ways of coping with grief. Some cry. Some deal with it with dry eyes. Our ways may be different but we all feel this profound sadness. We all feel a deep emptiness that descends on us when we lose a loved one. This old man I know, does not keep his grief bottled up. He talks about her to people he meets in the elevator, in the park, in the grocery store. He tells us about the wonderful years he had with his wife. His helplessness towards the end of her illness. His relief when he realized she has passed away and was incapable of feeling any more pain. He talks a lot. And sympathetic neighbours, some strangers, some not, listen to this old man's ramble.

Few days back, he called me while I was walking in the park.
"Do you tie your hair?" When I said that I do indeed tie up my short hair occasionally, he handed me a shiny object.
"Keep this then, it will look good on you." I opened my palm to find a rather tacky looking hair clip And I knew. I knew instantly that he has begun the painful process of going through her stuff. Bits of items that were once precious to her. Hair clips. Bags. CDs. Stuff that he will  never use in his life, stuff that perhaps his daughters in law do not want,  he has started handing them over to utter strangers. These things are no longer useful to him. But he can not bear to throw them away.. So he gives them away, hoping some stranger will honour these silly items and somewhere, somehow, his wife's belongings and with them her memories, will live on.

I know I will never use this clip. It is neither pretty nor serviceable. Moreover, it does not even hold any sentimental value for me. What will I do with this? Perhaps I will give it away to my domestic help. Or I will give it to a street kid in need of a hair pin. No matter what I do, I know the lady will live in her husband's mind.

Just because you get rid of something does not mean you lose the memories.