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Archive for the ‘feelings’ Category

You know how women are always told to ‘adjust’, especially after marriage? While it is true that both the husband and wife need to adjust, because the relationship is so new and evolving, putting the onus on the woman is just wrong. Today, I have two adjustment stories, one that led to a fantastically happy family, and another that led to a miserable relationship. The inspiration for this post is this post called 3 Adjustment Stories from Women’s Web.

The first story is of my parents. They fell in love when they were colleagues at their respective first jobs, and informed their parents about their intention to marry. As expected there was much opposition but seeing as the two were steadfast in their commitment to each other, both sets of parents relented. But trouble for my mom had only begun. Since she was not the one to choose the bride, my dad’s mother did not take very kindly to my mom from the beginning. My mom was routinely asked to wash the clothes of the whole family, chided for being not so conversant with work around the house(she was the youngest of 6 kids and was not used to so much house work, but then so was my dad), taunted for being an outsider etc. All this was in the absence of my father, who, in those days, used to go to work, then go to university in the evenings to get his MTech degree. Not wanting to trouble him with all this, my mom never spoke up. One fine Sunday my dad saw how my mom was being treated and felt very bad. He talked with my mom and told her that he will be by her side through all this and will make sure that his mother changes his ways. My mom, being the generous spirit that she is, said all she wanted was his support and she did not want his family to break apart and that ‘they will adjust’ as a couple. And they did. Whenever my mom was in a situation where my grandmother would have things to say to her, my dad would take all the brunt of the criticism. My mom left for work at 7:00am, but she was still expected to get up and cook breakfast and lunch before she left, all this after cleaning the house and taking a shower. My dad would get up with her every single day and help her in the kitchen, and took over the responsibility of most tasks around the house. He then would also take 100% responsibility of getting me and my sister ready for school and pack our lunches. Slowly my grandmother realized that she could not be a third wheel in the relationship, and all her efforts to ‘show’ my dad that this girl was not right for him were futile. In time she learnt her lesson and mellowed down. This is how they managed for 25 years and we learnt the importance of having a relationship that goes both ways in terms of trust and support. This, in my opinion, is an adjustment story that was a success, because our family was happy and there were good vibes all around. We love our grandmother, but her not treating my mom well will always tar our memories of her.

The second story is of one of my cousins. His parents arranged his marriage to his beautiful MBA girl, who used to work. After marriage she was asked to quit and stay home, and look after her in-laws. She agreed. She was made to do all the work around the house, taunted for being tardy(if she really was or not, I have no idea) all in the presence of her husband, who merely nodded along with his mamma. Then they had a baby girl and of course the inlaws and the husband ‘wanted’ a boy and she was forced to get pregnant again. All this while she kept complaining to her parents who always asked her to ‘adjust’ as did the husband, who said she is lucky to be married to him and she should stop whining and produce a male heir and it would make everyone happy. Another girl and all hell broke loose. We heard stories of her being beaten and abused. My father tried to intervene but was brushed off and chided for interfering in their internal matters. The poor girl kept adjusting to all this, thinking it was all a part and parcel of being married. The want to a son made her conceive again, and it was another girl. The last time I heard of her, she was telling my mom that she was in that relationship only because of the 3 little girls, and that separating at the first signs of a bad marriage would have done her a world of good. ‘Adjustment’ did not work for her, she says, because she is the unhappy one in the relationship, and she is afraid the daughters are also going to face the same fate.

So there you have it. Adjustment with a pinch of salt.

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Then and now

And by that I mean, myself, 10 years back, and now. A lot of things have changed, here are a few:

  • My heart is in a very comfortable place now. At 19 I was confused, angry, and hid my feelings from everyone, because I was scared of rejection.
  • I am so much more at ease with who I am. Growing up I was a very awkward and gawky girl. A misfit. Too tall, too broad, too manly for most girlfriends! There were times when I was told I looked like my mom’s sister, or people asked me if I had kids(when I was barely 20!) Now, I accept my physical attributes, and am happy with myself.
  • I used to be a rebel, still am, but with discretion. Any mention of anything even remotely resembling putting a woman down used to rile me up like crazy. I have put my foot in my mouth umpteen times, made enemies, and generally had people run away from me. Now I have learnt to hold my tongue and now argue where unnecessary.
  • Most of my friends from way back when remember me as the girl who wore clothes that were 2 sizes too big for her and who never ever paid attention to her looks. Until I was about 21 my mom shopped for me(she bought something called “free-size”), because I had no views or preferences on my clothing, and because I had better things to do, like read or meet friends. Part of the problem was that I felt guilty thinking about my appearance. I felt like I should not be superficial and shallow but pay more attention to the inner me. Now, I know better. I know that the outer my is only a shadow of my inner me, and being attentive to my outer me does not take anything away from the real me, only enhances it!
  • I have learnt that I love being independent. Being the master of my own time and fate.
  • The one thing I sorely miss is that feeling of being at home. The feeling that only comes when you are with mommy :-D, the feeling that only comes when you argue with your little sister about that hair straightener, or that shade of the dupatta!

Finally, I want to make a tag of this. What has changed in you in the last 10 years, the “You: Then and Now” tag. If you are reading this post, then consider yourself tagged!

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More heartbreak

I was just talking to my friend about this news link she sent me about the Srilankan maid who was operated upon to remove nails that her Saudi Arabian employers had hammered into her. And we got talking about what gives people the right to behave in such an inhuman manner with other human beings. This triggered an old memory.

There used to be this family who lived in a house diagonally behind ours, and we shared a wall corner. The family consisted of father, mother, a daughter and a younger son and there was a weak, frail old person too, the grandfather. We used to call him dadaji. Dadaji was a couple of years older to my own Tata and they both were good friends, going on walks together and going to the temple with flowers ‘picked’ from all neighbors’ plants ;-). We kids also got along quite well. So everyone got along well, but there was an unspoken tension between us two families. The reason for which I understood when I went to their place one day, and saw that dadaji lived in the space under the stairs, outside the actual house. And his ‘room’ had an aluminium plate, an old glass for water, and a thin mattress. A small bag held his possessions. He was provided 3 meals a day in his plate, and he had to eat them in his ‘room’ and wash his plate afterwards. He was not allowed to play too much with his grandkids. My parents and grandparents knew about this, and hence they were always cold to dadaji’s son and bahu.

Dadaji often came over to our place to have tea, and sometimes to eat too. One day, since dadaji was not feeling very good, I and my sister were asked to walk him home. We did so and waited at the gate so dadaji could safely walk into his ‘room’. No sooner did he step into the premises, the bahu walked out of the house and started yelling at him. I don’t exactly remember what she said but the essence was about why he ate at other people’s houses and tell them she doesn’t feed him well. I remember the tears in dadaji’s eyes. He mumbled an apology and closed his eyes.

I never ever spoke to aunty after that. We had two grandparents at home and I could not imagine any one of us yelling at them for having eaten at a friend’s place. That was the last we saw of him. 2 days later we found out that dadaji had passed away the same day the incident happened, and they only found he was dead the next morning when he did not wake up. For a whole evening the old man’s body lay there, and no one knew. Because none of them actually spent any time with him.

Why did I think about this? Because if human beings are capable of behaving in such a disgusting manner with their own relations, imagine what they can do to strangers.

I still remember dadaji’s smiling face, his old, bent body, his bald head and his flimsy clothes. He was a very nice person, who, I am sure, went to heaven, unlike his son and bahu, who are going where the bad ones go!

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Someone tell me already!

Is the end of the world near? Did I miss the memo?

We had record cold temperatures and snow levels this winter, as late as January end. Then, come July, we had record heat, now it is raining like the end of the world. Pakistan is getting submerged, the rains in northern India are not stopping, China has the same fate. There are storms every other in the US. Soon it will be time for wild fires on the west coast. Young, vivacious little kids are dying of horrible diseases, tell me, really, is the world going to end soon?

There is so much bad in the world that it seems like the world would just crumble over itself, trying to support all the sin. You turn on the news and all you get is sensationalism. An 18 year old mother dumped her new-born in trash, where the baby suffocated to death. Now the girl is undergoing trial, and looks stoic. How do you not see this and cry? How do you keep the faith anymore? The world is indeed going to end.

There should be a sign, something that should let us all know that our time is up, so we can go ahead and do whatever it is that we wanted to do before we die. I for one, would quit working, stop caring about that savings account, and go on a world tour, And not complain about taxes, after all they won’t be permanent anymore!

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Warning – This is a long and very emotional post. Please feel free to skip reading it. Sometimes some things need to be written down before you can get over them.

A couple of months back I completed the very first year of my life without grandparents. And it sucks. My last surviving grandparent, my paternal grandmother passed away last year, and life has been weird without wrinkly old people to tell you that they love you on phone.

I will not say life has stopped, on the contrary it has gone ahead full steam, but there is a gaping hole. The next time I go back home I know I will not find my ajji sitting with her feet up on the white chair, with her big nose ring, her sparking bangles and her crumpled and soft cotton saree. I have already gotten over the fact that I will not see my tata sitting on his cane chair near the gate, looking at people and vehicles on the road, waiting for my mom to come home from work and make him a hot cup of tea. Or that he will go out for a walk early in the morning and pluck flowers from the neighbor’s plants!

Both my ajji and tata were a constant presence in our lives. Me and my sister were their favorites among all other grandchildren. That was perhaps because they lived with us. My tata used to walk me back from school every single day. He used to wait for me at the school gate and initially, until class 2 or so, he used to put my bag on his shoulder, carry my bottle on another shoulder AND pick me up and walk about 5 km home. Later, as I got heavier, he used to just carry my bag and water bottle(!) and hold my hand while I walked along. Slowly I got him used to just walking along, and I carried my own bag and bottle. I remember the day I asked him if I could come home by myself, he looked sad. She is going to come home by herself, is what he told my ajji. He did stop waiting at the school gate, but he would walk to the end of the street near home and wait for me there. Whenever I took a detour with friends to chase dragonflies or to steal berries from people’s gardens it took me a little later than usual to show up, and I would find him walking towards the school.

One day, I was 13, and was sitting in my class 8J classroom. The social studies teacher was talking about something, and my father knocked on the door and asked for me. I was so excited that I was getting to go home early, and I could play with my sister. But as soon as I went out I saw his eyes were moist. I was scared and confused and did not ask any questions for fear of hearing something bad. It was not until we got home that I came to know that my tata had suffered a heart attack. It was the first time I realized that my tata was getting old, and that there would be one day he would leave us forever. After that heart attack there were numerous times when he was hospitalized for one thing or another, but we knew that he would pull through. He was a strong man, and absolutely hated doctors and medicines and (of course) injections and would keep pestering my dad until he was sent back home. There was this one time when there was a sodium imbalance in his body, which led to him acting a little weird. He used to yell at us all, and cry. After being admitted to the hospital and being given heavy doses of medicine to restore the sodium balance, an evaluator was asked to evaluate him to see if he was balanced enough to resume normal life. The evaluator was asking him questions like who is the prime minister of India, what is the capital of India, how many children do you have etc. Tata was furious and he said I might be old but I am not mad. I am better now please send me back home! And he was back home and as active as ever. After so many hospital visits I was so firm in the belief that tata would never leave us, that I became complacent this one rainy season of 2003. I was working in Mumbai and it was a fine July morning. I knew he was in the hospital but my father told me he was speaking and eating well and would be sent back home in a few days. At the Mahindra and Mahindra bus stop I was waiting for my bus when my mobile rang. It was dad and as soon as I picked it up I heard him cry. I knew this was it and I stopped listening to what he was saying. It was raining hard and thankfully my tears were washed away and my grief was not out there for everyone to see. But one kind lady saw me sobbing and asked me if I needed help. I politely declined, got into an auto and took the first flight home to say goodbye to tata.

It has been 7 years since that day, and not a day passes by when I don’t think about how cool he was, and how awesome he was and how much I regret not having kids at 20 so they could also have the honor of having been raised by him. He was the second grandparent to pass away. My maternal grandfather passed away way back in 1998, and my memories of him are all the times he yelled at us kids to wake us up when we slept late into the day while the hot sun was beating down on us on the terrace. He also dabbled in homeopathy and had a sweet goli for every malady that struck us! He was the silent types who believed in showing only one emotion, anger. My maternal grandmother, ammamma on the other hand was a picture of patience and love. From the food she cooked to the stories she told, she was the best.  She passed away in 2006, a couple of months after I got married. I was happy in the knowledge that she blessed us and that at least I had another grandparent around. And see what happened now? Even my ajji left us last year, so now my kids will never get to see who taught me to sing Marathi songs, or to eat dahi, varan and bhat or my undying faith in Sachin, or calling Andhra Pradesh, Andhera Pradesh!

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I have come to like quite a few songs, thanks to the husband. Most of the songs we love have thoughtful lyrics. Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins is one of them. Listening to it always makes me very sad and heartbroken. I guess one look at the lyrics would tell you why. There are a lot of interpretations of this song. What do you think it is about?

Disarm you with a smile
And cut you like you want me to
Cut that little child
Inside of me and such a part of you
Ooh, the years burn

I used to be a little boy
So old in my shoes
And what i choose is my choice
What’s a boy supposed to do?
The killer in me is the killer in you
My love
I send this smile over to you

Disarm you with a smile
And leave you like they left me here
To wither in denial
The bitterness of one who’s left alone
Ooh, the years burn
Ooh, the years burn, burn, burn

I used to be a little boy
So old in my shoes
And what I choose is my voice
What’s a boy supposed to do?
The killer in me is the killer in you
My love
I send this smile over to you

The killer in me is the killer in you
Send this smile over to you
The killer in me is the killer in you
Send this smile over to you
The killer in me is the killer in you
Send this smile over to you

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My sister little turned 22 this 4th of July and a wave of emotions hits me. Time sure flies. Just the other day she was a lanky 10 year old girl who always wanted mom or me to be with her, here she is now, a charmig lady who would be flying off the nest soon to make her own life.

She is sure an independent person, but to me she will always be:

  • that little girl who wanted to be included in all the games we grownups played!
  • that little girl who got the name of chipkali from relatives because she never left my mom’s godi!
  • that little girl who latched on to latest trends in kiddy clothes and didnt let go of them until the new ones came along. Like the tights and t-shirt look of the early 90s to the tight, dori tie salwar kameez of the late 90s to the loose cotton kurti-jeans-kolhapuri look of today.
  • that little girl who fell sick and was rushed to the doctor, put on saline, and made us all cry.
  • that kid who played with other kids much smaller than her and everyone called her didi, and she bossed them around!
  • the baby who walked around in a chaddi and nothing else, eating sand whenever we didnt keep an eye on her.
  • that teenager who always used to be super excited about our new years’ eve celebrations that included watching TV, cutting a cake and having coke!
  • that little girl who still asks me what I think about each and everything she does.

I hope that you succeed in every venture you take up in this 22nd year of your life. The time we spent together will always be the best days of my life. The last few years have changed you. Living by yourself will change you even more. In spite of all that, I hope you remain our sweet little Chintu forever!

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