Calling Mom…

Today, I spoke to my mom properly after ages. My Grandmother passed away recently, and my Mother was busy with the millions of minute yet vital things that usually follow a death. And with visitors, and condolence calls from people, she hardly had time to talk two words to me each time I called. And by each time, I mean every day. Yeah, I’m in my thirties and I speak to my Mother every day. It might be a bit weird, but it is as much a part of my routine as brushing my teeth or my morning cuppa. I have my breakfast, give Peanut his and then I pick up the phone and call her, and proceed to tell her pretty much everything I did the day before, and all my plans for the day. Sometimes it’s a toddler crisis or something else; but I talk to her and instantly feel better and I can sail through the rest of my day.

But since my Grandmother’s death and in the weeks I couldn’t talk to my mom, I realised something- talking to her had become a huge part of my life. And it got me wondering what I would do when she was no longer around for me to talk to. And that honestly made my heart grow cold. I simply cannot imagine her not being around for me to talk her ear off about things as silly as cooking, to as serious as my future plans. I was also having a tough couple of weeks here- there were some issues in the apartment we are living in, and getting them fixed was taking too long. There were alarms going off at all times of the day and night, and it was freaking Peanut out so much that the sight of the maintenance man was enough to send him into a crying frenzy. And since it’s only been a couple of months since we moved to another country, the Peanut is still getting used to a different daily routine. It’s not as easy for us to get out and about where we stay now, and since I don’t yet have my driver’s license, the Peanut finds himself cooped up at home most weekdays and that drives him crazy. Which effectively drives me crazy trying to find ways to keep him occupied. ¬†Stressful to say the least.

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Usually I crib to my mom and she sets me at ease. Just hearing her voice and bantering about nothing in general is enough to make me feel better. But the past few weeks with her out of the picture it was awful. TS was and is bogged down with work and I didn’t want to bother him. One of my best friends is going nuts at home with a toddler and a newborn. Another one just moved houses. Suffice to say, I didn’t have anyone on whom to dump my woes. But then, I don’t think anyone can calm you down like your mother.

Talking to my parents is something that has been a part of my day since I can remember. From nightly sessions around the dinner table where we talked about our days, to long phone calls while my time away at college, its been a ritual that me and the sister still maintain to this day. I remember times during mine and the sister’s college when we would trudge our weary way back to our hostel rooms at 2 am in the morning after classes and Mom would be waiting at the other end for our call. She couldn’t sleep without talking to us. Employment and marriage didn’t change this routine for us. And it stays to this day.

Sometimes I think maybe I depend on her a little too much. That maybe in an age when she should be relaxing and enjoying life, I’m burdening her with my innumerable issues and troubles. Then again, research suggests that nothing busts stress like talking to your mom. Nothing can be more calming than the voice you’ve been hearing since before you were born I guess. And in an age where children are being taught to be independent and on their own probably from the cradle, its nice to have such a connection with your parents. And being a mother myself now, I can only hope the Peanut will grow up to be like me. That he’ll want to talk to me everyday; and not treat calls to his mother like a chore he has to cross of his list every week. Fingers crossed. Till then, let me pick up the phone and talk to my mom about this. ūüôā

Image Courtesy: Google Images 

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Boredom

Today has not been a good day for me. For one, I woke up late. Which in turn, meant my plans to cook a nice spread for lunch went down the drain. I was still determined not to order in, and so proceeded to whip up some easy dishes for lunch, whereupon I managed to slice two of my fingers open. After mentally cursing myself and bandaging them up, I got back to cooking. TS was heading out and he asked me a couple of times if he needed to stay back, or order something for me and the Peanut. But I was determined to cook, and that was what I was going to do. Yeah, I can be extremely bull headed at times; and for the weirdest of reasons.

TS heaved a dramatic sigh and walked out, leaving me to my own devices and the Peanut. On weekdays, I manage to cook easy meals; and I usually reserve my cooking for the evenings when TS is also home, so I don’t have to handle Peanut all by myself. If at all I cook in the mornings, its something easy like a¬†peas pulao or some vegetable fry that I can manage when the Peanut is splashing away in the tub or playing with his toys. Worst case scenario, I put him in front of the TV or the iPad. But since the past week, I’m on a mission to reduce our reliance on gadgets to keep Peanut occupied, so I was determined not to put him in front of the TV today. Suffice to say, the ensuing three hours were crazy. I was interrupted every ten minutes with some request or the other- Pick up my toy for me. I need water. I am hungry. I need to pee. I want to see what you’re doing. I want a bowl and a spoon to play. I need to pee. Watch me throw the toys all over the living room floor. And now the couch cushions as well. I’ve gotten garlic from the pantry. You can fish the garlic pods from under the couch tomorrow maybe. I need to pee. Watch me spill water on the couch. Oops,¬†accident on the carpet.¬†

My head was reeling and I was this close to whacking him to keep him from bugging me. I finally had to give in, and plop him in front of the iPad. And through the red haze of my anger, I realised something. I realised I myself was extremely dependent on gadgets. I read on my iPad and the first thing I do in the morning is check my phone. Plus, most of my friends being in different time zones, I’m always on the phone checking and replying to messages. I have thought many a time that I would restrict gadget time to just a few hours a day, but I haven’t been able to manage that. And I realised Peanut was dependant on them too.

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(Image Courtesy: Google Images)

Having just moved to a new city and living in an apartment, Peanut gets to go out very little. And he’s bored at home. I have to depend on gadgets to keep him occupied. But that got me thinking. is being bored so bad? After all I grew up without any of these gadgets. Even my TV time was severely restricted. And if I complained I was bored, I was made to help out at home, or find means to entertain myself. The Peanut does help out at home. I’ve made sure of that from the time he was about two, but when he’s bored, I almost always resort to gadgets. Before Peanut was born I had made up my mind that he wouldn’t be one of those kids who always had their head in some gadget. And till a certain time, I managed that. While I was with my parents, Peanut was never interested in gadgets. But then, I was at home. We had space for him to run around outside. There was birds and bees and butterflies and flowers. We would go to the temple and temple festivals. We would take him to my mother’s and father’s ancestral homes where there was enough and more space for him to run around and play.

Once I was back with TS, the amount of time I got to spend with Peanut dwindled. I was taking care of everything at home and I had no help. We were stuck in a high rise apartment. Peanut got to go out everyday, but he got tired of the slide and the see saw at the play area pretty quickly. Meal times became crazy for me. While back home he would have his lunch watching the neighbourhood cats and dogs and the crows, there was nothing now to hold his attention except the traffic on the road and that got old pretty quickly. After bouts of screaming and tantrums and wheedling, I had to give in and put him in front of the iPad. And so the tradition of eating in front of the gadget started. From then on, it got worse. If he was out and we were eating at a restaurant, he wanted the iPad. If we were out shopping, and he threw a tantrum, only my phone or the iPad would calm him down. If we were out on a long drive, he got bored after a while and demanded a gadget. After a while, it got so bad and so routine, that I would just give it to him before the tantrum started. And unconsciously I was teaching him that being bored was not acceptable. Something had to fill the void all the time. Giving him a gadget was easier for me as well. I didn’t have to try hard to keep him occupied. I didn’t have to think up stories and games and ideas. I didn’t have to clean up messes. I didn’t have to endure glares from people when he threw a tantrum in public. And it also gave me time to do things that I wanted to do- like watch a movie, or read a book, or talk to my friends.

But these days, I’m making an effort to let that not be the case. I’m still dependant on gadgets for his mealtimes and such but I’m also making the effort to spend time with him. To tell him stories I made up, to show him stuff I cook or explain it to him, to do puzzles or read books together, to paint, to actually laugh and play with him when we are at the park and not check my phone then, to not capture everything we do on the phone, to play car games with him or sing along with him to nursery rhymes when we are out on long drives, to put on some music and dance with him, to just chase each other from room to room, to play hide and seek, to stop if I’m using a gadget to actually listen to him when part of my mind is irritated at the interruption. To think of something to do to fill the time when both of us are bored, and annoyed, and not to fall back on some gadget to keep us entertained. The Peanut is hardly three, so some days, things go my way and some days his tantrums and crying get so bad that I give in. But as he gets older, I hope to teach him that being bored is ok. That you needn’t be occupied with something or the other all the time. That sometimes, you can just watch the rain fall or the wind blow, or trace the path of a falling leaf, or watch the trees sway in the wind, or just lie down on the grass and stare at the blue sky, or talk about random things, or ask me a million why’s, to find shapes in the clouds, to count the stars, to try and see the girl in the moon. That sometimes its good for your mind to just be in the moment, and stay still, and take stock of things and maybe even be bored and not do anything at all. Someday…

When You Lose Someone…..

It has been months since I have opened this page. The last time I was here, I was a totally different person. Now, I’m changed. If you ask me how, I might not be able to give you a coherent answer. You might wonder what could possibly have happened to change someone so soon and so much. I have only one word- loss. Isn’t that what always puts things in perspective for us? Not that it gives you answers that are black and white, but still somehow things seem more clearer- like the fog has thinned a bit and you can make out faint shapes somewhere. In the past few months, I thought about writing what I am writing here a million times but each time, I felt that the time was not right. Each time, something held me back. This is one place where I can say whatever I want to say under the cloak of anonymity and not worry about the consequences. I have always liked the idea of putting something out here and hoping someone somewhere reads it and finds a connection to what I have written- however tenuous it might be. I have another space where I write but people know me there and I couldn’t possibly write there what I am sharing here. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t seem right. Anyway, I digress. I am here to explain my absence- not tell you why I write.

You see, I lost someone. Actually, I lost two people. One fine day I was pregnant with twins and on top of the world and the next I had to sit and listen as the doctor calmly explained to me that my babies had no heartbeat and that they were slowly dying inside me. I had been ecstatic when I got pregnant. I had been over the moon when the doctor told me I was carrying not one but two little ones inside of me. I had been so very careful- eating right, watching the way I walk, the way I sat, the way I slept. I had been careful to not get into crowded buses or trains. I had eaten stuff that I had previously found repugnant. I had taken my pre natal vitamins on time. TS had been extremely attentive and not let me do anything. I had done everything I could and yet after two and a half months of being pregnant, on the day of my ten week scan, my doctor told me that my babies weren’t growing as expected. One of them didn’t have a heartbeat and the other’s heartbeat was so faint it was almost impossible to detect. She said maybe my body wasn’t producing enough of the necessary hormones. She said we could wait for a few days and see. She asked me to stay off my feet for a few days. I didn’t care what I had to do. I only wanted my babies to be ok. She said there was almost no chance for one of them at least. I didn’t know what to say or think or even feel. Was I supposed to mourn for the baby I was sure to lose or pray for the one I might be lucky enough to hold in my arms?

As me and TS trudged home that day, we both were deathly quiet. A few days after that I went in for a detailed scan as per the doctor’s orders. And that was to be the worst day of my life. I was still holding on to the hope that one of them would make it. I had been positive, trying not to entertain the myriad of morbid thoughts that insisted on popping up in my mind. I stayed positive even as the technician prepped me for the scan. I stayed positive even when she started her exam. But the minute the words “I’m sorry” were out of her mouth, I knew it was all over. She told me my babies were both gone- no heartbeat, nothing. She said my body had already started preparing for a miscarriage. The signs were all there. She called it a hematoma. I could only think of it as death. I felt numb. I had to come out and look at TS’s hopeful face and tell him our babies were gone. I had to see him struggle with his emotions for a minute before he found his voice to console me. I could feel my blood run cold, feel my heart go numb. I had to sit and wait for one interminable hour for the reports. I had to sit in the cab on the ride to the doctor’s office, sit in her room and listen to her telling me it was all over, there was nothing more we could have done. I listened and nodded mutely as she told me we would wait for a couple of weeks and see if a natural miscarriage would happen. If it didn’t, we would have to schedule a procedure. I listened as she told me that it was not my fault, that there was nothing wrong with me or anything I did. She said it was my body’s way of ensuring that I had only a perfectly healthy baby. All I could do was sit and nod. I had to go home and break the news to my Mom who had come down to take care of her pregnant daughter. I had to see her masking her tears for my sake.

The next few days were absolute hell. I couldn’t cry. My Mom and TS both hoped I would, but I couldn’t. I had to stop going to work. I would wake up everyday morning expecting the bleeding to start and there would be nothing. I had to fight down the thought that I was carrying my dead babies inside of me. I had to fight the urge to blame my traitorous body everyday. I had to fight the urge to go over every day that I was pregnant and wonder what I had done wrong. I had to fight the urge to look at the ultrasound images I had and wonder what my babies would have looked like. I watched mindless soaps from morning to evening. I tried to smile and entertain my Mom. I tried to stay happy for TS. I knew it wasn’t easy for any of them. But most of all, I had to try and make sense of the pain that was with me all the time. When my miscarriage actually began, I thought the pain would be the worst part of it. I was wrong. It was the tought that what my body was expelling was tiny little pieces of what would have been my babies that tore at my heart. Not that the pain wasn’t excruciating. I don’t know if labour is this bad, but I would call it labour without a baby at the end.

And if that was to be the end of it, I was wrong. My body cheated me yet again. It didn’t do a good job of the miscarriage either. I had to get a procedure done. By then, I was soo numb that I didn’t care what was coming my way next. I went in, got it done, and came out. And all the while I was at the hospital, I was surrounded by happy pregnant women and ecstatic new parents. I tried not to feel jealous but if I say I didn’t, I would be lying. I did. I wondered why I had to go through so much pain and so many others did not. I wondered why God had chosen me to be the recipient of so much agony and not anyone else. But after I was home, sanity set in. I realized there were millions around me who were going through the same. I realized there were people who watched their kids grow up happy and healthy for years and then in one cursed instant they were gone. I realized maybe my predicament wasn’t that bad, that maybe my pain wasn’t as deep as some others’ were. I didn’t have to watch my kids growing up, I had only just started dreaming about how life with them would be like. I didn’t know how they looked like. I had only started wondering if they would be little boys or little girls. I had only started wondering about baby names. I had only started to wonder what they would become once they grew up. And yet I didn’t know how to explain or make sense of my grief. I could not even begin to imagine how someone who had been through all this would feel about losing their kid. I still cannot.

In spite of all the sense I tried to make myself believe in, it was still hard getting over it. I couldn’t cry for weeks. I couldn’t look at a baby and not feel a sense of loss. I was blessed to have my family and TS with me, to get me through those dark days. They helped me through the blame and the self loathing and anger. TS was my rock, to say the least. He did not shed a single tear- not even when I accused him of not loving the babies as much as I did. He held me the night I cried and rocked me to sleep. That was the only night I cried. After that, it has been a battle to put it past me and move on. I had a bunch of great friends who held my hand through the whole process. I had friends who had kids but understood my need not to hear about them and always kept the conversation on other topics. I had friends who had been through the same and told me they understood. I also had friends who were insensitive- who in spite of knowing what I had been through kept telling me about their kids. I don’t hate them for it. I just hope they had shown a bit more consideration. And in the past few months, somehow the pain has become easier to carry around. TS ¬†and my family tell me I have changed. I know I have. I still don’t know if its for the best or worst. I try to look at the bright side of things and move on. I know this happens to millions of people around the world. But that doesn’t make my pain any less does it?

I am moving on- slowly. Now, I don’t feel bad. I don’t blame myself. I can look at the ultrasound images without my eyes misting over. I can look at kids and not wonder why God took mine away. I still wonder what my kids would have looked like. I still wonder if the names I had in mind would have suited them. I still battle with the negativity that clouds my heart sometimes. But I am moving forward. I know someday I’ll be able to wake up and not think about what is missing from ¬†my life, and even if I do, I will be able to do so without the faintest tinge of sorrow or regret. Until then, all I have left are a handful of lovely memories. the sound of a faint heartbeat and a few ultrasound images…