And unto us a child is born…..

I had lost my literary voice for a while. My mojo as it were was in hiding. Hadn’t been able to put words to paper in over 4months. But now it seems to be coming back. The loss of one of my most avid readers had affected me in more ways than I had ever envisaged.

Although daily life progressed, the deep sense of loss and shock lingered beneath the surface constantly.

Meanwhile on the other hand, events we were working towards achieving, my husband and I, were also finally coming to bear fruit.

Life was hurtling towards a new chapter a new phase at such speed that we had no choice but to be carried along on the surf of its powerful waves.
Looking back I was pulled between wanting to continue to lament the loss so fresh in my mind and also feeling the urge to anticipate with excitement our possible upcoming gains.

Years ago the ice breaker in the conversation between my now hubby and I, the shared common ideal among many others for us that nudged our friendship into committed love was the mutual desire to adopt a child. We had always intended to do so and it was always part of the bigger picture in our minds.

Life progressed, landmark occasions were celebrated, a child was blessed upon us, we traveled, we relocated, we grew older. All this with us yet to achieve that initial dream we had shared.

We wondered if we had left it till too late, we were faced with several odds, the so called experts warned us not to get our hopes up too high. All the same we thought nothing to lose and everything to gain so let’s give it our best shot. And so we did.

I said to the Lord “if you take me down this path give me the strength to face whatever you have intended for me”.

Just like that then miracles occurred, the universe conspired to make things happen just so that we happened to be at the right place, at the right time. Unexpectedly we were offered a child, whom we accepted with glee.

Our families supported us with restrained caution but with positive support too. They feared for us, if we would be left disappointed, they feared of possible emotional repercussions. It all seemed too far-fetched and unbelievable. We went ahead anyway.

All that while I now realize, that I had only opened my mind to the entire process of adoption. My heart was yet to be opened. I had not yet anticipated the emotional roller coaster ride we were set to embark upon. No forum or website can prepare you for the onslaught of the entire range of emotions you shall go through.

In the sea of legal documentation and processes to be filed, rules to be adhered to we swam upstream simply following the instructions given to us and thought increasingly to ourselves ‘wow this may actually happen for us after all’.

All through this our baby kept growing kept achieving landmarks happy in his ignorant bliss of the mountain we were scaling to get to him.

Then the day dawned. Anticlimactic to say the least! Not sure what we expected, but our heads were so full of so many feelings that I think we were by then beyond comprehensible thought processes. In our minds we naively expected a cute baby to crawl into our arms and curl up feeling our love automatically. Realistically we were well warned by all concerned to be prepared for both the emotional and physical demands this child will be making upon us.

Cute he certainly was, curl into our arms he certainly did not. We had uprooted him from all that was safe and familiar to him. He wept for his familiarity. But our love he did feel and he clung to us inherently sensing it.

That day as we made the journey home, images of the children watching us leave with one of their own all of them round eyed and watching us wondrously flashed through my mind. Watching the little bundle sleep trustingly in my arms, a veritable stranger for all matters to him, my heart opened to the true profundity of it all only then.

My heart swelled with love, with pride, with a sheer admiration at all the forces for having made this day a reality. Something we had only dreamt of. I felt fiercely protective (infact I still do of both my kids) and hated on sight anyone who had anything but the best to say about my baby.

Now one month later I am calmer. We can now say he has settled effectively into his new life, new routine and new family. We have been successfully accepted by him. This was essential. He is happy, he is mischievous, he is loving, he is smart, he is active, he is the epicenter of our lives now.

Still relatively in the fledgling stages of my relationship with my son, I admit I am the insecure one between the two of us! Each smile from him each show of affection soars me high, every dismissal from him holds intense importance to me. I am immediately plunged into insecure worries if perhaps I am not doing the right thing, will he never love me as his true mother. Unfounded what ifs and what not scenarios.

This is what I meant by the roller coaster ride of emotions …from fierce protectiveness, to heart melting love to worry to fear to intense possessiveness. We are experiencing it all.

But predominantly among it all, the emotion that rises up often to the surface with the maximum force is that of absolute gratitude. Not just your ordinary run of the mill “thank you” gratitude, but instead the miraculous kind that brings you to your knees and forces you to acknowledge the marvels of a higher power.

I don’t know what we did to deserve this blessing, I don’t know how we were chosen to be the recipients of such a divine reward but we were and we did. It’s as simple as that.

Twice over at that too.

So as Julie Andrews famously sang I can only assume that ‘somewhere in my youth or childhood there must have been a moment of truth.’For there can be no other explanation for this child that although not our creation has been born unto us by His design.

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30 days

20Sep2015 – 20Oct2015
30 days

Last month on this day I woke up feeling listless. I had just got back after an all too short but enjoyable weekend back home. I wished I didn’t have to go to work that day, I wished it wasn’t just quite so hot outside that day, I wished I had found the proverbial pot of gold so then I could retire to a life of luxury.

However as the day progressed I wished that this day had never happened entirely. I wished I had super powers to turn back the clock and stop it for eternity.

Fate had destined otherwise for all of us that day. During an otherwise normal day as the world went about its routine, the universe conspired to very unexpectedly steal away the very head of our tightly knit little family. My Dad who only the day before had bid me goodbye, had waved me off to the airport with promises of visiting me soon had been cruelly and harshly snatched away from us.

We were unprepared for this blow. We were left in utter shock, going through the subsequent motions under automaton, steeled to the events, to the gravity of the situation and to the depth of our loss.

My beautiful Mother as is her nature handled this episode in her life too with poise, dignity and grace. My Father would have been so proud of her.

Now one month later as I contemplate over the past thirty days of our lives, I realise that time has flown by so quickly and yet it hasn’t either. Although day has turned to night and the dates on the calendar have proceeded, in my heart that dull ache that began that fateful day remains unhealed.

Some of the common pieces of advice we have received over the past few weeks have been “time will heal”, “be strong”, “keep your mind occupied” etc.. Let me tell you as it stands none of this works. While I don’t grudge the sentiments behind these counsels, I struggle still with being able to apply them into my life successfully.

Time does not heal anything. It merely teaches us to survive and function despite the pain and bury it deeper. But the emotion remains bubbling beneath the surface.

Be strong …..I am yet to decipher. What are the strength gauging parameters? How do I know that I am strong enough? Am I meant to be silent and never mention the elephant in the room or am I to keep talking about it to all and sundry about it all?

I had read in the not so distant past Sheryl Sandberg’s blog post written  by her after the official mourning period for her late husband had passed. One of the references she made was to the fact that many people avoided her since they just did not know how to behave around her. I don’t think I quite empathised with what she wrote about until very recently. I have received everything from awkward humour to muffled apologies to genuine concern. Then I have also been fortunate to have a close inner circle offer my family just their prayers and silent support.

To be honest, I truly apologise if someone has been made to feel uncomfortable around me of late, whatever anyone says or whatever the social niceties offered all of it has no relevance and is of no consequence since nothing will bring him back.

My mum’s loss is the greatest of them all. She lost her life partner, her closest friend and her confidante. For better or worse they had spent all their adult lives together so her loss to me is unfathomable.

I have not lived with my parents (barring the annual trips home) for nearly 15 years now. While logic dictates that death is inevitable and an unavoidable harsh reality of life. However losing a parent is like losing my childhood. Suddenly I feel very grown up. I feel older, world weary and an inexplicable sense of loss not just for the person gone but for an entire part of my life gone. This may sound very selfish that I should feel a sense of such personal loss, but the truth is I do.

Home under his roof was the one place I could still go to and receive unconditional support. Where I knew that whatever my faults, together they would find a way to spin it all making me come out smelling of roses! Even as a grown woman every time I went home, Dad would give me some money and ask me to go buy myself something nice! Going home will never be the same without him now.

Each blog post I made was equivalent to a multi book deal from Penguin in my Dad’s eyes. We discussed politics, shared our affinity for childish humour and we talked aviation so often.

My Dad was as unconventional as they come. He lived life on his own terms, he believed in seizing the day and could be as stubborn as a mule at times! He had style, his moustache was his pride, he was classy.

Growing up as a young girl in the late 70s and early 80s in a traditional South Indian family I never knew of the rules or strict boundaries that some of my friends had enforced upon them. We were brought up liberally with a firm hand but with plenty freedom. It never occurred to us to abuse this freedom since we were given plenty.

My Dad was an insanely intelligent engineer. Add that to a strong not afraid of manual labour mentality and that was an unstoppable mix. We never hired interior decorators, we never bought furniture, and we never hired painters. Everything was home-made, from the beds to the dining table to the art deco central wall in the living room. He applied these engineering skills and even stitched us kids matching outfits. When Mum fell ill, when all ‘experts’ had more or less given up on her, he never did. He built her a gym at home, he become her strength, took care of us little ones, he became her physiotherapist, he pulled us all through as a family over those dark days.

As young girls we were taught how to wire a plug, change a bulb as well sand paper a plank of wood. There was nothing that a girl cannot do or should not do. We were gifted driving lessons for our 18th birthdays as they occurred, we were encouraged to be socially active, he forced us to try new cuisines, he even poured us a glass of wine, taught us social graces and he raised the bar in terms of what to expect in a life partner.

I have never seen a man embrace retirement with such aplomb. He bought books, took up hobbies, renewed his passion for photography, expanded his mind, built things, taught children carpentry, kept his mind active at all times. He was generous to a fault and a sap for a sob story. He wasn’t meant to live a life of frugality and fortunately the Lord gave him enough strength to earn sufficiently to meet his needs.

For such a persona it seemed befitting then that he breathed his last at the one place he loved the most – the airport and that he went within seconds, with no warning with no time to contemplate with no warning, with no pain for him.

Only we were left to deal with the suddenness of it all.

A very insightful friend of mine last night as I struggled to control my anger at everyone from the forces above to those around me said to me “You have to let go. You must say goodbye. Your anger, your grief, your need to cling onto your disbelief is holding him back from his journey onwards. Let go”. Somehow this unexpected statement came at a time I needed to hear it the most possibly and it is with this in mind that I intend from today to squash my irrational anger and to cherish his memories, to be grateful for the time I had with him, to be thankful that I was blessed to be born as his daughter.

Go in peace Acha*…..you will never be forgotten. We shall treasure you in our hearts forever.

*Acha – Dad

I am very angry with YOU

I am very angry with YOU.
But I am thankful too.

You took him away without any warning. We couldn’t even say goodbye.
He suffered not an iota.

How could YOU snatch him away so?
Had you given us the choice we would have never let him go.

He was not ready to say goodbye.
He went smiling, waving prophetically.

We had just had such a wonderful time all of us together, YOU ruined it all with one cruel blow.
He was surrounded by family and had enjoyed good times in his final days.

I am very angry with YOU.
But I am thankful too.

We still had so many plans that included him.
He went assuming he was going to fulfil all those plans.

YOU dealt him a tough hand in life
YOU gave him the strength to deal with all your challenges.

I am very angry with YOU.
But I am thankful too.

YOU made the road hilly and uneven
YOU gave him an equally strong partner to traverse this bumpy path with.

He always feared he would become incontinent or his mental powers would be diminished with age
YOU took him away before those stages if any.

I am very angry with YOU.
But I am thankful too.

We still needed him,
Who better now, to be our advocate in YOUR court?

He lived life on his own terms
He brought us up to be strong individuals
He was my hero
He was my biggest champion
He was my first crush
He was funny, he was witty
He was handsome, he was courteous,
He was unconventional, He was intelligent,
He was a gentleman, he was a chivalrous,
He was far from perfect but in my eyes he could do no wrong,
He was and shall always remain my wonderful DAD

I am very angry with YOU.
But I am thankful too.

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UNFORGETTABLE

There are some moments in life which remain with you forever. I am not merely referring to those bigger defining landmark occasions of your life. I am also referring to those defining smaller occasions which may seem like inconsequential moments of your day at the time but when you look back on it, the memory of that moment will always stay embedded in your mind for various reasons. Events that open and introduce your mind to a new facet/ new thoughts.

Some of mine have been –

First day at the junior school. As a young girl who had just moved from the little leagues to the bigger campus of a larger school, I got lost on the very first day within the huge school premises. I somehow recollect perfectly the feeling of utter terror not knowing which way to go and standing there in the school yard (ours was a very large open campus) looking for some guidance. Which rest assured came soon in the form of a teacher. But those few seconds remain etched.

My high school results. This is a huge landmark in any student’s life in India. The entire final year at high school is riddled with worry and stress for not just the student but the parents too! A lot rides upon the grades secured in this final year. I had a particularly tough time with ill health and months of missed classes etc back then. With the support of my Mother I managed to survive the year somehow. That moment when my results were announced the feeling of sheer relief to know that I had made it through, remains unforgettable to me!

One cold evening my Dad thought it would be nice if he would pull back the covers and warm up my bed for me, so that I could have the luxury of slipping into a warm toasty bed, he had set it up perfectly. I walked in and shamefully uttered “what did you do…why did you mess my bed so”? He quietly set it all back neatly for me. I hated myself for that.

The day one of my ex colleagues was rushing home early stating “it’s my brother’s birthday today”. I resented her for leaving early especially when we had so much to do that day. Until she casually mentioned “we cut a cake and light a candle for him every year on his birthday. He’s been missing since he was seven”.

Olfactory memory but the smell of pipe tobacco still brings back lovely evenings at home where my Dad smoked his pipe and the four of us listened to music or played scrabble. We weren’t exactly the Waltons but we had our finer moments too.

This one is particularly indelible in my memory bank. One morning the local tabloids were filled with gory details of a brutal attack on a young couple who were killed in the name of religion by deluded members of one of their own extended family leaving behind their infant orphaned. I read the papers aghast and then went about my day. I had a meeting that morning, turned out the person I was meeting was the sister of one of the slain couple featured in the papers that morning. She was naturally innocent of any of the violence or brutality. But all the same I was aghast that she actually turned up for work despite the circumstances at home that were undoubtedly ongoing that day. But then she responded to my shameless queries about the infant stating “what about the baby …it’s not ours”. Misguided religious ideals and pride can blind one so much I realised only then.

The birth of my niece. The first born into the family I had never known anything could look as cute or as blindingly adorable as her.

The first time I met my husband….corny as it may sound. It wasn’t love at first sight, but undoubtedly there was something when we first met that possibly subconsciously opened the doors for further emotions.

The birth of my child……that moment when she finally arrived, I was close to passing out, but yet I remember the sensation of feeling the weight of the baby being placed upon my chest and with my eyes closed I felt and ran my hands over her little toes and fingers (don’t ask me why I did that I just did) before I finally heaved a sigh of relief.

Leaving a job that I had cherished for many years. Moving on is never easy especially when the future was left unplanned.

Receiving the death certificate as part of the documentation for an insurance claim from next of kin of a woman who had recently travelled abroad on holiday. She was only 38. Life can be so cruelly unpredictable, live today I thought to myself!

Do you have similar indelible moments in your memory bank? Do share…..would love to hear about them.

unforgettable

CHALK & CHEESE

Two things that are very different from each other.

We have countless phrases that refer to similarities in two people. Several phrases that perfectly compare and liken two people to each other succinctly …like two peas in a pod/ birds of a feather and my sister’s favourite “radishes of one field“( a literal translation from a Hindi proverb) to name a few! 🙂

However descriptive of the exact opposite personality trait in the verbal spectrum is the phrase as different as chalk and cheese.

For some reason this (well not some I know exactly when) this phrase came to my mind recently and got me thinking. I have of late been hearing of several couples facing hard times in their relationship purely due to just this.

The catalyst event to my thoughts was …..Driving home with the family one late evening, open roads, loud music in the car and no words spoken I reached my destination feeling very happy and content having enjoyed the drive very much. One look at my hubby’s face however made me realise that he hadn’t enjoyed the drive quite as much as I had. The loud music had got to him. He would have much rather preferred driving home in utter silence. For dinner we had Chinese, he would have preferred Indian. On weekends I love to go out, he would have preferred a day at home. When friends come home, I would like for all of us to have a raucous loud evening, laughing singing and dancing even. He would much rather skip the singing and dancing parts. For holidays I would love to visit new places explore destinations fill the holiday up with activities tours etc. every day. He would love to go to new places but then once there he would rather enjoy a leisurely holiday with definitely no pre-planned activities. Yet together we have managed either consciously or unconsciously to find middle ground. Together we enjoy our weekends – some his way some mine, together we enjoy our drives –some with music some in glorious silence, and together I would like to think that we offset each other finding middle ground finding happiness together. I am blessed to say that we manage to work around these differences keeping in mind the bigger picture of our lives together. I’m not saying we are perfect it is a work in progress but yes we do work at it.

But I know of several couples that fall perfectly within the parameters set by this phrase – as different as chalk and cheese and unfortunately don’t seem to be able to work it out.

Two people who couldn’t be more unsuited to each other, so different in their likes dislikes mannerisms tastes yet somehow circumstances have brought them together and led them to being bound together for eternity (well at least as of now) in holy matrimony! Sadly some of them find thereafter that overcoming these differences can be a challenging task which needs constant effort.

She loves music, loves to travel, discovering places meeting new people. He likes to spend the holidays with his folks!

Her idea of a perfect weekend would be one spent with the family, eating out, going out, spending time with friends, music perhaps even by the beach. He would like to be left alone to go fishing or go golfing! (Now I know many of guys reading are thinking well what’s wrong with that!)

She is polished, likes the finer things in life, looks to spend an evening at the opera, he would much rather be in front of the telly in his boxers nursing a cold beer!

He loves his red meat, she’s vegan and an animal rights activist.

She loves to shop he feels they need to save more!

Religion also plays an important role in many marriages.

They say opposites attract. But can these opposing tastes or views turn into foundations for discord? There are a myriad of other topics that can also crack the foundations of a strong marriage ranging from money to career ambitions to infidelity and then just basic smaller incompatibilities. Are any of them individually sufficient grounds for permanent partings? Could small differences one day gnaw away and grow into bases for larger battles?

It may seem trivial some of the opposing views. But it’s these very trivial issues that sow the seeds of intolerance or anger in a person’s mind. Then there’s no going back. It takes a tremendous amount of mental maturity, a reasonably big heart and a lot of patience for someone to see the situation without preconceived anger. To be able to view the pros and cons of a relationship without ones judgement being clouded by your personal pride or ego.

Sadly I have seen a few couples close to me being torn apart permanently due to these very reasons. Tiny issues which initially when the couple embark on life together were laughed off as endearing quirks or differences. But then as reality and life sets in they become three headed monsters eating away at the relationship.

Can one ‘fool proof’ against such eventualities? Do such guarantees even exist in a relationship? How do we help a couple find common grounds to stand and plant their roots together in? Is this something we need to warn more young couples about? Or leave them to find the way themselves? Is it all easier said than done? I wonder…

SOCIALLY (UN) ACCEPTABLE

So I recently read a post by a blogger/columnist I deeply enjoy reading and greatly admire (The Good Greatsby). He wrote about backhanded compliments. Hilarious post as always!

It got me thinking and reminded me of this little nugget of a post that I had begun penning a while back but never got to completing. So here goes..

Back handed compliments are one thing. Leaving you wondering was that a genuine compliment or a thinly veiled insult? Should I be reading more into those words or look for the good and take that statement positively? Believe me I have been left pondering on several occasions. “Oh my! That hair cut is soooo much better”…wait what? Does that mean I looked crap all this time? “That tastes almost as good as what Mum used to make”….hmm decent cooking but you’ll never be the real deal. “your child is so…energetic”…..what have you fed her and why is she so hyper?

Which brings me to my next ponderification (if the word exists). Have you ever been at the receiving end of a statement that is so tactless or just so rude that it’s almost laughable?

The thing about such statements or actions are that they leave you so gobsmacked at that point that you are literally either left speechless or by the time the intensity of it all sinks in its almost always too late to react!

I present to you a few examples I have accumulated by way of eavesdropping, shameless staring or personal experience…(hey I don’t claim to be perfect!)

  • What happened to you…..you used to look much better before!
    Ohhh this one’s a winner! This means you look like a dog’s dinner currently. Are you even allowed to say that or do that to a person’s self-esteem? And why then hadn’t you been sincerely complimenting that person a lot more before if you felt they looked that good back then?
  • Only one kid…why any problems? Also often said in similar vein as …”no kids….why any problems?”
    Hmm yeah sure would you like to know the results of my pap test and sonography too with that?
  • Maybe you should check your thyroid?
    Underlying meaning – You’ve gained so much weight of late that if there’s no medical explanation for it then that’s just sad!
  • You know I’ve stopped accepting Facebook requests these days. I have too many friends already in real life.
    I don’t even know how to respond to that one. I just felt it sounded entirely much too arrogant.
  • Politically incorrect references to a particular religious sects or cultural roots of a person.
    Eg: He’s such a Malabari! This is often used in my part of the world. Ahem…is this a good time to let you know I am one too?
  • How much do they pay you?
    Really now…..unless you plan on sharing some of my bills or making me a stupendous employment offer that’s just none of your business.
  • Ohhhhh he’s on a business trip is it? *wink*wink*
    Why would anyone want to sow that seed of doubt into any relationship even in jest is beyond me.
  • When are you due?
    No unless you are absolutely sure…like seen-pics-of-the-baby-sonogram sure don’t ask this to any woman. That’s just an evil Pandora’s Box of emotions there waiting to burst.
  • Where are you going?
    Unless you are driving me there or coming along with me or are my parent/spouse I fail to see why those words even left your mouth.
  • Other socially unacceptable behaviours that need special mention….sneezing into your hand then extending it in greeting, adjusting your package in public…really men do you have to? Digging your nose, clearing an itchy throat with loud guttural sounds, chewing food with your mouth open, worse still chewing food while on the phone…remember the person on the other end of this line can hear each bite stereophonically, awful ciggie or coffee breath…please pop a mint, sending a text or email consisting entirely of acronyms, taking the liberty without being given it to address someone with a short form of their name, using the office microwave to reheat your pungent fish lunch …pong in the office! Violent cases of restless leg, not making eye contact when talking to a person, the list could go on and on.

Have you encountered any or more than the above? Feel free to enlist your experiences or gobsmackers you’ve experienced in the comments box below.