Category Archives: Essays

Trust

TRUST

 

Trust is a dwindling virtue these days, do you say my friends?

At a time where competition and greed run rampant we do each live like tiny islands isolated, carrying the burdensome baggage of loneliness, feeling we have to do what we need to on our own. A boss is overwhelmed because the duties he delegates do not bring in results fast enough, a mother is overwhelmed with the task of constantly monitoring her boys’ internet surfing, a young wife is overwhelmed with the idea of living up to the expectations of the people around her, a senior wonders if he will wither away alone, a teenage child would rather get advice from unreliable sources online than trust his parents or peers about his heartfelt turmoil, a husband would rather turn to alcohol than confide in his companion about his insecurities. So lost, so alone and so misunderstood we trust nobody, often not even ourselves.  It is an over populous world. Should not just our whispers be enough to cause a ripple effect and reach our voices to the other end? Yet we plague ourselves with the incessant need to stand on rooftops and scream out our worth and sadly find nobody listens, nobody understands us.

Maybe my friends, it’s because we are looking at the virtue of trust all wrong. What do we mean by saying we trust somebody? When a wife tells her husband she trusts him or a mother tells her son she trusts him she usually means that she knows what they do with their time when she is not around. When a boss tells his subordinates he trusts them he means they will deliver exactly what he expects of them. When a friend tells another she trusts her what she means is the matters they have discussed will not be a topic of conversation elsewhere. So you see in almost every scenario the trust we place in people is linked to our expectations of them. We conjure up images in our minds of what we think all the people in our lives should be like and if by chance they warp the picture we’ve created, well…then they have broken our trust and there is hurt and blame. Trust, as we see it, loosely translates to unmet expectations.

Instead my dear friends, how about we tweak our perspective a little? How about we fill ourselves with a little understanding that there is a gentle, powerful energy that permeates all our beings. An all knowing, ever loving dynamic force that resonates in all our hearts and knows what is best for each of us. Instead of sketching mental images of people yielding to our influence to build our basis of trust, sketch a picture of oneself placing our belief in this power within.

Then my friends, it will dawn on us that trust is a knowing that in the grandiose scheme of life, all is well, always. It is a knowing that there is never a perfect time, perfect place or perfect person. Everything is perfect as is. Trust is a knowing that our spouse, our kids, our friends and the all of the people in our world are souls on their own journey and truly cannot be controlled. That they each have their own destinies and purpose. It is a knowing that you cannot change anybody but yourself. Trust is surrender to the grace that will permeate our every pore if we let it.Trust is knowing you are enough yet never alone; we are always looked after, no matter what.

And the next time we tell somebody we trust them let us empower them with our love and faith in their ability to tune in to their own intuitive FMs and do what is right. Let us truly respect them by supporting their decisions even if it is not what we think it should be. Let us be little linked islands of hope, not tiny isolated islands of despair.

 

-vidya.

Inspired by a beautiful series of videos on relationships by BK Shivani. Truly eye opening.

5 Comments

Filed under Essays

The Bombay in Me

I dedicate this post to my dear friends and neighbors in LIC,  MIGS,  Parle college, C U Shah college of Pharmacy. Thank you for the many moments spent singing, dancing ,wining and dining. Cheers!!

Bombay- a city with many faces. The glitz of Bollywood, the putrid smells of Dharavi, the undying faith of the devotees at Siddhi Vinayak, the familial thread that ties the million commuters of its local trains, the distinct delish taste of its street food, the beaches that line its coast, the Victorian architecture of South Mumbai, the concrete jungles of its cosmopolitan suburbs and the biggest of them all its rich welcoming diversity. A beautiful, bustling metropolis by the sea known for its Bond like attitude of “never say never”. A city that never sleeps, whose gates are thronged by millions of dreamers who believe this city is the Mecca of their dreams. The city I grew up in, that nurtured the seeds of a childhood I would not trade for anything in the world.
Looking back, I realize I learnt so much from simply being around people from diverse backgrounds. For years I sat on the wooden benches of my school’s classrooms with friends who spoke different languages, ate a different cuisine and had different skin tones. We were all Indians, yes but the culture in each of our homes was very different. While learning our fundamentals of trigonometry, geography, science and grammar, we also learnt the biggest life lesson of all without it being actually taught: at heart we are all one. Every evening when I gathered together to play with my friends, it really didn’t matter to us how big another’s house was or which religion they practiced at home. The only thing that mattered was that they brought a sense of light heartedness to the game so we could all have fun. There was no place for whiners.
Every festival in Mumbai was celebrated with equal fervor. Whether you were from the south, west, east or north of India, you were welcome to the new year’s eve bonfire on the building grounds to burn the old man and in doing so you also burnt your differences. It didn’t matter on the day of Holi- the festival of colors either. If you dared to be out and about you would be smeared with color and stung with water balloons irrespective of your age, caste or creed. Together, every year we welcomed the beautiful idol of Ganesha in our community and participated in all the rituals and cultural performances irrespective of whether we were Hindus or not. We all bowed in front of the elephant headed God and prayed with equal faith that our desires be met. The fireworks at Diwali, the dancing during the nine nights of Navratri, the visit at Christmas to the nativity scene at a chapel close by all brought a shared sense of celebration to the neighborhood. I guess it is at that tender age we learnt by observing that He is one though His forms and the paths toward Him are many.
There was also a shared sense of pain and anguish when terrorist acts and riots killed many over the years. What hurt one family hurt another too. People worried not just for the people they loved but for their neighbors as well. Whether the fury of nature unleashed itself on the city or it was a bomb blast unleashed by the fury of man, violence and suffering never discriminated amongst people. Why then do we discriminate when we love? After all, at a deeper level we are all connected.
L.I.C colony, the place I grew up in, was nestled amongst an orchard of mango plantations. What a delight for the little kids in mango season when they would climb huge trees to get ahold of the mangoes only to be chased by the stern looking ‘mali’ with his stick. He never wasted his time to single out kids to find out if they were Malayalis, Sindhis, Goans or Gujaratis. If you were caught, you were punished. A lesson he could definitely teach a certain Mr. T.
What a fun filled childhood it was. I would often hang out at a friend’s or neighbor’s place the choice being made was dependent on the food that was cooked there. Bhajiyas at Srilatha’s , hot gheed rotis at Nupur’s, neer dosa at Shilpa’s, sindhi kadhi at Anju’s, chole at Vaishu’s, rasogullas at Sudeshna’s, Dhoklas at Shirley’s, Pau bhaji at Anisha’s, Maharashtrian thali at Supru’s, Bengali lunch at Tuli’s, Christmas cake at Sharon’s are all aromatic memories that delight me to this day. And of course as I grew the list of homes to visit just got longer.
Bless all the moms who fed our bodies and souls with yummy food. To my mother’s chagrin I often remarked how tasty the food at my neighbor’s house was. Sorry Amma… I now know that you make the world’s best idli sambhar but then the grass was greener on the other side. Of course, its’ payback time! History repeats itself as now my daughter chooses to say the same thing.
Since dance is such an integral part of my life, I could not be more grateful for the opportunity, exposure and diverse platforms I got to perform in. From Malayalee samaj annual days to intercollegiate youth festivals, street plays and musical theatre where we performed various dance styles from Bharat Natyam to folk, where we got to learn beautiful songs in various languages from ‘Dhitang Dhitang bole’ to ‘He chal turu turu’ and developed an appreciation for various styles and genres of dance and music.
Of course, my happy bubble burst temporarily when I got married and realized the complexities of being a “Tam-Brahm” daughter-in-law. Until then I guess the only tam-brahm thing I did was eat idli-dosa, learn Bharat Natyam and take an oil bath in the wee hours of Diwali morning. But by then the realization that ‘every culture is beautiful’ was firmly imprinted in my heart. And when your heart is in the right place then it is always open to learning so I did from my new family that was happy to teach. Though I do sometimes regret the fact that I still do not understand the beauty and depth of Tamil literature or the abyss of Carnatic music, it is ok because really the learning hasn’t ended. Though I am a Mumbai born confused Tamilian (MBCT) , kind of like a Jack of all trades ,master of none….I know growing up the way I did has fostered a very healthy respect for others so unlike myself and a spirit of tolerance that helps me maintain beautiful friendships and enrich my life. The more different someone is, the more I can learn from them. How wonderful is that!
And just now as I sit on the steps and listen to my munchkins talk about foods from kimchi, tamales streusels and falafels, music from Eurovision, K pop, Bollywood and languages from Scandinavian to Chinese, my heart does a little jig and salutes the spirit of Bombay in them.
The spirit of tolerance just on a more global scale.

-Vidya.

Thank you to my beautiful friends in Pune and Charlotte who helped me continue my journey of learning and fun. I feel as Bengali as you all in Probasi and as Marathi as some of you in the Marathi mandal and of course eighteen years of marriage have taught me to be as Tamilian as can be.

1 Comment

Filed under Essays

Legacy- A Tribute

I dedicate this post to my brother, Mukund and his wife Latha, my mother’s siblings -Dr. Mohan, Viji, Chandra and Naga and their families- my cohorts on the journey where we witnessed a beautiful legacy unfold.

The past few years have been difficult for my family as we’ve watched my mother battle a series of illnesses. She has undergone a double angioplasty, fought pneumonia, been under the knife twice-first for a mastectomy and the second time for the removal of a goiter and very recently had been hospitalized for a stroke. Terrifying for any person to face such grave situations in a short span of time yet remarkable as she is, she has emerged each time stronger in spirit, greater faith in the Almighty. As a helpless bystander I have often questioned Him “Why her?” Why test the spirit of a person so lovely, so dear time and time again? He has only replied by bestowing His grace upon our family. Even though her path has been thorny and fiery, it’s almost as if He has enveloped her and us in His wings to shield us from the thorns and fire.

Each time the onset has been sudden, diagnosis serious, prognosis grim yet the outcome miraculous. One day she complained of a little breathlessness while walking my daughter to school and by the next day she was in the ER undergoing an angioplasty with 99% blockage in her arteries. It happened so fast that the whole thing is a blur in my mind. I do remember though that the team of doctors who attended to her was fantastic and that has been the case every time. A true blessing. With the cancer, a very tiny bump on the skin that she intuitively got checked out resulted in a biopsy a day later which revealed a very aggressive kind of cancer that could ravage her body in a matter of days. Within a week of her discovery of the bump she had undergone a mastectomy.  Each time she was wheeled into the OR the doctors have told us to be prepared for the worst yet each time the doctor or surgeon who attended to her has remarked on how smooth the surgeries have been and how lucky she has been to have been brought in at the right moment. Last week she was at a function and suddenly collapsed. Luckily there was a doctor present at the function who immediately advised dad and my brother to rush her to the ER and since she was treated within the golden hour of the stroke, the damage was reversible. A few years ago Mom was travelling when she had the pneumonia but she was fortunate to have her dear sister and a wonderful niece, a doctor, by her side who worked tirelessly to nurse her back to health. Somewhere in the midst of all this she had to undergo an unnerving four-hour surgery to remove a goiter and in another instance be hospitalized when painkillers administered to her after a freak fall, wreaked havoc on her body.

So much for a person to go through- I tire just thinking about it yet I can safely say this feisty woman’s joyful spirit has only blossomed. Her recovery has always been speedy and to the amazement of everyone around she has easily bounced back to her cheerful self. It is true that her unwavering faith in the Supreme has helped her tide through the turbulences. At every step He too has reciprocated by having sent his angels who have worked their miracles through the hands of the surgeon and all her near ones have sensed this grace that has made sure that the tornado at the doorstep safely alters course.

Yet my brother and I know, it is not just Faith that has bestowed the fighting spirit in her. A big part of her healing has been the love my Dad and she share as also the strong bond that exists between her and her siblings. My aunts and uncle have been our pillars of strength. Like the iron beams that hold up the structure of a house, they have helped us hold our positivity throughout.

Dad’s quiet, stoic presence beside my mom has been the balm that soothes her pain. He has accompanied her on every twist, every turn, every sudden jerk and every loop of the scary ride by gently holding her hand and not letting go. Soft spoken and always a man of few words my dad has never really showered my mom or us with bountiful displays of affection. He never brought home flowers or bought her diamonds. We just knew he loved her deeply. After all love is just a vibration that all our hearts sense. No grandiose exaggerated display of affection will touch your heart if it isn’t authentic. In Dad’s case, just his gentle presence was enough because his genuine love gave us the moral support we all so much need. Dad never tires when he has to help or take care of others. As far as I can remember I know his only prayer to the Lord has been the St. Francis hymn “Make me a channel of your peace” and that being his purpose he does cherish every opportunity to be of service to people.

Growing up, my brother and I did give my parents countless sleepless nights like all children do but Daddy never yelled or never used power the way most parents do by saying “Because I am your father and because I said so.” He won me over with his loving kindness. Daddy earned my everlasting respect by not demanding it.

They say when we are still souls in heaven, we choose our parents and our closest family to teach us valuable life lessons when we incarnate on this planet as earthly beings. Looking back, I cannot help but wonder what a wise choice I made. Because my mother and my father, my uncles and aunts-my angels on earth, have by living the lives the way they have, taught me the profound truth that Grace abounds where there is Faith and Love, that love has the power to make ordinary lives extraordinary. This is the legacy they have given us and one that I want to pass on to my cubs. For if I haven’t taught my cubs to live in love and faith then I haven’t taught them at all. After all no inheritance of material value can outweigh the lessons on how to live life to the fullest.

 

-Vidya.

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Essays

The Fire of Passion

 

I sat on a wooden bench outside the tiny classroom in the music school, my solemn despair amplified by the sad tune my daughter and her teacher played on their violins. Ah! That was the beauty of the violin. The sounds that arose from the confluence its strings, the bow and a musician’s touch certainly had a way of tugging at my heart strings. Tears filled my eyes as it dawned on me that this was going to be her last class. A couple of weeks earlier my child had decided to stop taking lessons. She just didn’t enjoy it anymore she said.

For years we had been regulars to this school. Every week rain or shine we would be there for her class-an eager child learning to navigate the world of music and an even more eager mom proud to watch her progress. How gratifying it had been to see the transformation from shrill notes to pure melody in the same time that she had blossomed from a little girl into a teen.

I was sad. Why did she have to quit? That too when she had come this far and in her junior year. How would the fact that she had stopped playing the violin reflect on her college applications? There were a few colleges that offered a great education in her dream career but most of them were so selective in their admissions. Recent college campus visits to their information sessions had made me realize that there was truly no algorithm to guarantee an admission. The only thing they all emphasized was they would admit students whom they thought stood out in a crowd. Didn’t that mean their resumes had to be crowded with achievements? Wouldn’t her resume look a little less embellished if she gave up the violin?

Earlier today I had shown my other child, my son, a list of summer camps ranging from STEM to rock climbing, camps that promised to stimulate him physically and mentally and teach him skills that would give him an edge over his peers. I was disappointed when he turned down all of them and instead picked a fun one that in my opinion did not really boost him on the learning curve. My little one was the happiest kid on the block but was that enough in an age of child geniuses? Every day there were stories of exemplary young kids who had achieved greatness-  six-seven year olds who played three instruments with ease, kids who were barely in their teens playing professional sports, middle school children who published books, high schoolers who invented apps. that made a difference in the world. It was an intense and competitive environment out there. Were my husband and I doing enough as parents to create a strong launch pad for our kids? Did we fall short in the “push” department? Maybe we were too laidback and relaxed in our approach.

Years ago at my son’s karate class I had taken a heartfelt decision to never force my kids into doing activities they didn’t enjoy. It had come to me one day while I was observing the little ninjas in pristine white kiap while learning a new kick-punch combination. There was one little boy who seemed to outshine the others every time. His kicks were exquisite, his punches strong. While most of the other kids struggled to maintain their balance after a jump kick, this child moved swift and steady. Yet after every move he made, the child would look longingly at his father, who sat across the room, for approval. Each time the dad would signal him to kick a tad bit higher or punch a tad bit stronger. That broke my heart. Of what use is talent if one needs another’s validation to enjoy it? It was such a strong display of martial art yet it was not for himself the child performed. It was to please his father. That just seemed so wrong. That’s when I decided if the kids chose to do an activity they would because they enjoyed it. Of course, since it was their own decision they would also have to take responsibility to make sure they made it to the classes on time and did their bit to practice at home.

It had all worked out well until now. As the time to send them off to college drew near, I found myself feeling anxious, ill equipped. It seemed like my ‘just stay happy and healthy’ mantra had failed to sharpen the killer instinct my kids needed to survive in a shark tank. Also as I sat on that wooden bench I could not help but wonder if all those evenings spent at the music school, all those trips to the music auditions, rehearsals and orchestra concerts had been a waste if they hadn’t added to anything substantial on her resume. Was it unfair on my part to have greater expectations of her? After all, when she chose to play the violin she must have dreamt of making it count too?

Just then that little voice, my constant companion whom I often write about, spoke. “Ahem-  You know when she picked up the violin, she just wanted to learn a new skill. You were the one who reached Carnegie hall in your dreams. When your son picked up the tennis racquet all he ever wanted was to hit the ball across the net. You were the one that reached the Grand Slam. They are still young and have just begun their journey in a rowboat to explore the sea of life. The waters ahead are choppy. Instead of being the oars that steer them ahead, you hopped onto a speedboat and reached a destination- an island of imagination that was probably not even on their course. It’s a good thing you let them decide what they liked to do but remember you also have to let them decide how much they like it. They will be fine. You need to focus on your own passion instead.”

 

Guilty as charged, I thought sheepishly. In fact, ‘the voice’ had been kinda gentle today. She didn’t admonish me about the time I reached ‘Broadway’ when my child landed a fairly meaty role in his elementary school play or the time I teleported to the Olympics when my daughter took her first archery lesson. Or the time that I dragged the poor baby for voice lessons for almost a year- lessons she hated. (that was prior to the karate kid lightbulb moment.)

Fortunately, the kids didn’t take up the offer of being coached for acting or archery. They knew what they wanted. I didn’t. Or else there would have been multiple islands of imagination in the Pacific.

The voice was right. Instead of whining about the trips to the music school coming to an end, I should be glad that I now had more time to write. A passion I had discovered fairly recently and what richness it had brought to my life! When I sat down to write, it was as if nothing else mattered. It was my sacred space where the words just flowed from my heart to the screen. There was no one or nothing in between. At those moments it really didn’t matter if a loved one had dug their fangs in my neck or a dear friend’s arrow had pierced my heart or a war ensued outside my realm. I still cared deeply about the world, yes but in those moments it didn’t matter if the world cared back. It was pure joy!

That’s probably how an artist feels when he paints, a sculptor feels when he sculpts, a dancer feels for rhythm… probably what my husband feels when he tees off at the golf course and exactly what my daughter should have felt when she played the violin. If she didn’t, then mastery over the skill would take a lot more effort and would yield a lot less joy. I had to salute her for having figured this out. All was well.

I sat on that speedboat one last time to imagine what it would feel like to compare this joy I felt when I wrote to the joy of a parent whose child had just won the Nobel prize for physics. Sadly, I realized that the happiness a parent felt when their child had achieved something great would always be tainted with pride. It would never be unadulterated bliss. How selfish of me then to dream for my kids or charter their course in life! As a parent I just had to gently remind them to steer their boat to follow their heart’s course, not mine so that they could create sacredness of their own.

That realization felt like a big load off my shoulders. Why did parents worry so much? We didn’t have to tailor our lives to look good on an application or a job resume or prove our children’s worthiness to the world. We had live our lives just for the joy of being, enjoy moment. of togetherness. Yet ever so often, parents in an attempt to mould their creations to perfection ended up squishing them.

Well, I would certainly try not to. Forget summer camps, what I needed was a puppy! To teach me to be in the moment and live, laugh and love.

-Vidya.

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays

PATAKHA GUDDI- A tale of mothers and daughters

I dedicate this post to my beautiful friend Sheila. Your strength inspires me, dear friend.

 

PATAKHA  GUDDI.

 

I stood outside my teenage daughter’s room, livid. “BANG” Maya slammed the door shut on my face. Even though at that moment the only sensation every cell in my body felt was rage, my usually nimble feminine mind, a storehouse of juicy words that could accurately point, blame and sometimes hurt, froze. I was too confused, too tired to voice my anger. From inside the room I heard a barrage of accusations that implied  that I, her mother, was all out to ruin her life. I just stood there trying to comprehend what was going on. What was happening to us?  Of late, our cat fights were a regular occurrence -as steadfast as sunrise. Each time Maya made it quite clear that I was the prickly thorn in her otherwise rosy life.

Every time Maya came to me with demands that she deemed essential but to me seemed  ludicrous. Yesterday we fought because I refused to let her get her nose pierced. Why would anyone want a loved one to go through the pain of getting additional piercings? Weren’t regular visits to the dentist to get her braces painful enough?

Another time  it was because I refused to let her get her hair coloured. How could I let those beautiful black tresses be colored blue or pink? Nuh-uh …ain’t happening. At least not right now. She could do all that she wanted when she was…Hmmmm…let me think…forty (or maybe never).Over the weekend it was because of the outfit she had picked to wear for my sister’s wedding. For God’s sake, why would anyone want to dress like Katniss at a wedding?

Today we fought because I had told Maya that I could not afford to buy her the ridiculously expensive skirt she had seen on an online fashion site. A few years ago I had given up my job to be a stay at home mom. In my heart I thought what my children would lack by way of materialistic grandeur or exotic vacations I could make up by being a nurturing and stoic presence in their lives. Things would be a lot less stressful as there would be more free time and flexibility to make beautiful memories in their impressionable and formative years. That was absolutely true until Maya turned 11.

My living doll’s transformation from a baby that lived in the world of Pooh to a dainty girl who encompassed every quality of a Disney princess to a moody preteen to a rebellious loud mouthed teen happened too fast.

When did goth replace pretty pink? When did the books lining her shelves change worlds from fairyland to dystopia? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I held her close as we read from a Magic treehouse book together? Wasn’t it just yesterday when she had refused to leave my hand on her first day of school? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I could walk into her room with doors wide open and scoop that bundle of love and exuberance in my arms?

The past 3 years had been turbulent. These days nothing I said or did was right in her eyes. Did she hate me? Already? And we hadn’t even gotten to the depth of discussion of the biggies – boys, driving, college,sex…. How on earth would I survive those?

As my hand furiously pounded on the closed door my heart hoped that I could once more walk into a world of flowers, butterflies and fairy dust. Instead all I heard were angry, loud shrieks that to my numbed mind sounded like ” I HATE YOU, MOM!!!!! GO AWAY”

Ouch. It felt like seemed like a thousand arrows had pierced my heart and struck bullseye.

Gloom descended on me like the cover of dense grey fog on a cold, wintry morning as I turned to walk away from her room down the stairs leading to the kitchen- a place where I had come to spend most of my time to feed growing bodies with ravenous appetites. Today I needed to devour something to uplift my spirit and nothing better for that than a luscious piece of chocolate cake. And coffee- foods for my soul. I turned on some music too.

As I set about baking the cake, I started to think about how my mother had raised her brood. Had we, as teenagers, ever made her feel as inadequate as I did right now? How I wish I could talk to her but she was miles away at the other end of the world, probably deep in slumber. How I missed being with her! Mom always knew what to say to soothe my nerves. So often, just by my tone of voice when I said “Hello” she knew how rough my day had been. Would Maya ever look up to me the way I looked up to mom?

A few days ago on one of those fun personality tests on Facebook I was asked to relate the various colors of the spectrum to the loved ones in my life. I had put mom’s name against the colour white. The answer went on to reveal that the love my mom and I shared was pure and untainted. That was the kind of bond I wanted to share with my daughter.

As the aroma of the cake wafted across the house,my thoughts drifted to my teenage days. I vividly recalled a few instances when along with my buddies we had ruffled a few feathers. Once mom had to face the embarrassing barrage of accusations from a neighbor, Mr. Chedda, when he found out that I was one calling him up every evening to order 12 frilly “chaddiyas”( that means underwear in Hindi). The absence of caller IDs made it easy for us to play such pranks. Or the time when on a dare I got caught in a local Hallmark store for trying to flick a birthday card. Or another time when with my cronies I spent all night making silly posters and sticking them all over the neighborhood just to spite people. What were we thinking?

I smiled to myself. The journey had been eventful. From those carefree teenage days to a young wide eyed girl with big dreams to a bride who just wanted to be accepted to a mother who for the first time had the realization that life was bigger than herself and finally to a woman in her forties who knew for sure that the only person she had to accept was herself. Even though at every major intersection in life mom had given me words of advice( she had always been right too) she had let me take my own decisions. The joy of learning and growing as a person only came when I had experienced it myself. And yes, not always had I listened. I had fumbled, faltered. Yet every fall had only made me stronger. Every time my heart told me to take a risk I had leaped into sometimes unchartered territory because deep within I had the faith that the unfaltering love of my parents, my safety net would cushion my fall.

It was time to let Maya go. I think her rebellion stemmed from her realization she had her own identity that she was trying to express. That’s why she defied me everytime. That’s  why she found it annoying when people remarked at how alike we were. She didn’t hate me,she was just trying to find herself.  She wanted to fly and how unfair was it that I was trying to keep her close to me by nipping her wings, by doing every thing in my control to protect her from getting hurt. I had to let her go on that roller coaster of life to experience the highs and lows for herself. Not that I would let her do everything she wanted to now but I think in most cases we could find a middle ground. She could get her nose pierced when she was sixteen or her hair colored once a year. One day she would be very capable of making her own decisions. One fine day she would look into the mirror and love herself completely in spite of the bruises and scars that marked her journey. But first I had to give her the permission, the ticket to ride.

“Ting”  The cake was ready to come out of the oven. I felt good already. As I sat on the kitchen table ready to dig into a big chunk of divinity my daughter came into the kitchen. The chocolate cake had beckoned her. “This is so yum Mom” she said as she helped herself to the cake. Silly girl, had already forgotten all the nasty words she had spoken earlier. With her mouth full she eagerly started to narrate an incident that happened earlier in school. As I looked into Maya’s beautiful eyes I saw the reflection of the unsure naive girl I once was. From there the transition to the eyes I looked into the mirror every morning had been a fun filled one. I could just hope Maya’s journey would be as remarkable.

As we continued to chatter, the song PATAKHA GUDDI played in the background. What an apt title for any young girl! Maya would always be my doll, my GUDDI but until the time she learnt to unconditionally love and accept herself she would be akin to a “PATAKHA” (a fire cracker) continuing to emotionally explode. And all I had to do was just take a step back to watch her blossom into a beautiful woman she is destined to be.

-Vidya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Essays

The Facebook effect

I looked around the tiny quaint chapel. It seemed like the perfect venue for the music school’s spring recital. The high ceiling with a beautiful glass painting ,the gigantic columns that arched gracefully, the dim lights , the magnificent altar and the grand piano that stood on the platform in front of the altar added a touch of surreal ambience to the recital. It was almost as if the music to be played by the students was to be an offering to the Gods.
I brimmed with excitement that was laced with a touch of pride and yet as a mother only could,also experienced the butterflies that flitted in my children’s tummy. They were to perform a duet – an exquisite composition called ‘River flows in you’. Oh….how I loved that melodious piece . I eagerly looked forward to their performance even though the practice sessions at home had almost always ended in a quarrel. Maybe it was the aura of the chapel that had restored my faith in the children’s capabilities.
I quickly updated the status on my phone…” At Carmel Church waiting for my talented kids to perform.”
I switched the iphone to the vibrate mode and looked through its camera to make sure we could get a good angle and a clear view. After all ,I would have to post a video of the performance on Facebook for all my dear ones to see.
I was glad we had arrived a few minutes early. At least we had the time to choose our seats and soak in the serene atmosphere. I voiced my opinion on the excellent choice of venue to my husband. He mumbled in agreement while he keenly looked into his phone to check the latest scores of the Augusta National tournament. He was a little miffed that I had chosen to leave home just as Tiger Woods was teeing off. If only he paid as much attention to me as he did to TW’s swing- I thought and sighed. ” A birdie!” he quipped with a grin. I shook my head. ‘ Some things never change’ I thought And went back to looking at my phone and checked the time. I had two minutes more until the recital so clicked on the FB icon.15 notifications and 7 updates? Already ? My status update had already received 12 likes and 3 comments from around the world. Ooh, I felt loved and popular . I proceeded to the home page to check the news feed.
The first feed -a friend who had changed her profile picture. I was amazed .’Wow!!! Did she look hot! How could a mom of three young kids possibly find the time and energy to work out and stay in shape?’ I felt lousy about myself .
The self pity was quickly overcome with hope when I saw the next feed. Guess Facebook was reading my mind. Another friend had shared a blog post,”How to get rid of stubborn belly fat in 10 days!” I would definitely have to read that when I got home.
Next post – 215 pictures of a friend vacationing in Bali. I was awestruck. Another vacation? The crystal blue waters and sandy beaches looked mesmerizing but I didn’t have the time to look through the entire album. Honestly,I was a little envious too. In these financially trying times it was baffling that she could vacation at an exotic locale ever so often.
The next update….it was a post on the recent terror attacks accompanied by photographs of orphaned children .How could people hate and kill in the name of God? I felt utter disgust and rage for the perpetrators of terror and violence .
Next was a post on the recent plane crash- a deliberate attempt by the co- pilot? Sadness for the victims of these incidents filled my heart.
My husband nudged me gently to let me know the show had begun. I switched back to the video mode to record my kids perform and quickly realized that I no longer was brimming with excitement. Too many flitting emotions had made their way through my mind and heart in a matter of seconds. I mechanically turned on the red button and watched through the lens all the time making sure I was getting the best angle. It didn’t seem too clear. Maybe zooming in would help. I was still adjusting the zoom feature when the smartphone informed me that the storage capacity was exhausted. I was exasperated! I glanced at my husband and saw that he had put away his phone to listen intently with his eyes closed. Rather than prod him to start recording I chose to put away my phone too. And that’s when I experienced it….a soul stirring . The same feeling I got when I heard church bells ring.Up until now I had watched the performance from behind the lens for the benefit of my Facebook audience and it had diluted the experience.It was only when I put the phone away that I engaged my senses fully to immerse deeply into the experience. My daughter’s deft fingers caressing the piano ,my son’s intense expression as he held the bow, their notes reverberating through the chapel sounded heavenly ..all in all truly a memorable moving experience that was captured only by my heart not a gadget . How apt that they had chosen to play ‘River flows in you’ because that day the it truly did.

3 Comments

Filed under Essays

I am a SAHM..

I have been a stay at home Mom (SAHM) for 16 years now and of late had begun to question myself as to whether my being around the house had benefitted my children.On a recent trip to the bookstore while driving back 2 happy kids I proceeded with great naivety to pose my dilema to them. Did they think my being a SAHM had greatly enriched their childhood.? My preteen, always politically correc, son immediately quipped ” Absolutely mom” . Exactly the words my sagging ego needed to hear. I grinned and with bated breath waited for my teen to respond. She chose to look away. Being of the fairer sex herself she knew that I rarely asked for other people’s true opinions with the intention of knowing what they had to say. More often than not I wanted to hear what I wanted to hear. She knew if she erred in choosing her words the woman in the driver’s seat was certainly not divine enough to forgive and that error on her part would probably lead to the commencement of a long well rehearsed speech that began with “Really? after all the things I have done for you……”
Piercing silence ensued . At that minute it seemed as if the purpose of my whole life hinged on her response. While she played the waiting game I heard my bff, my inner voice, say “Look for the answer within . The child never asked you to be a stay at home mom. It was your heartfelt decision. ” Sharp ,crisp images flashed by in my mind. Moments I had spent with them,just being there ,watching them grow. Their first words,their first steps and our wonderful soaring journeys to the land of imagination every time we read the magical world of Winnie the Pooh or Thomas the tank engine. Memories so fresh they filled my heart with joy. It then dawned on me. I didn’t give up my career for them…I did it for me. Each moment that I had spent to play ball with them,read to them ,mould clay with them , craft with them or just swing in the park with them had taught me to look at the world with a new perspective which was pure,untainted and divine. I first had a taste of the boundless joy of being in the moment with my daughter . While everyone around was in the throes of fear post 9/11 ,my daughter sang about a world where all the raindrops were gumdrops and lemon drops. That immediately lifted my spirit .( Never before had I felt so much gratitude to a purple dinosaur for teaching her that song ). With twinkling eyes,boundless energy and a passion for curiosity my children taught me to romance life. They lived in a bubble and I chose to share that space with them .A space that taught me the all encompassing truth that life is now. I had the opportunity to learn what truly matters not once but twice. How blessed was I ! No job in the world could feed my soul the way they did. Why else would every cell in my body tingle with happiness in response to those memories when in my aging mind moments spent last week posing for a selfie seemed blurry?
My daughter’s silence told me that the kids bubbles had now shrunk. It was time for me to create my own bubble filled with my dreams and my passions. I still didn’t have an answer to whether I had greatly enriched my children’s lives but it didn’t matter because what I knew now with certainty was that my beautiful children had definitely helped raise a better adult.

– Vidya.

11 Comments

Filed under Essays