Wednesday 13 March 2019

Mummy always knows.

What is God's biggest blessing to mankind? Brains, a species superiority, the epochs of countless developments we have achieved?? No! It's one that has always been there right from the start - from Adam & Eve or the scientific evolution of homo sapiens. The ability to procreate. It is the biggest boon, the mightiest gift that classifies us as 'the living' and the chosen channel being a woman (not undermining the role played by man in any way). Being able to create, nurture and bring a new life into this world, is the very essence of being a woman. The joy of knowing that you're pregnant, the feeling of this tiny little person inside you giving company literally 24x7 is simply amazing. All the pains forgotten the second you look at your baby for the first time.

I loved becoming a mother and have two sons aged (nearly) 8 and 4.5 years old. Amidst this wonderful joy came the time when I had to go back to work after the time off on maternity. Having experienced this twice, I can say without hesitation that this was tough. There was a part of me that wanted to go back to work just to have a proper adult conversation instead of all the goo-goos, ga-gaas and the entire (almost gibberish!!) baby talk I did all through the day. There were many other reasons too - I had always been a working woman since my early twenties, I'm intelligent (allowing myself some rare self exultation here), I like to be out and about, I'd quite like to have a little identity of my own which was not defined by being a daughter, wife or mother and ofcourse we had our financial targets to take care of.

Yet, none of these progressive and practically pragmatic thoughts took away the tiny heart-breaks each morning when dropping my babies (I still call them babies, they'll always be my babies) at nursery. I would argue in my mind, that this was beneficial for their development as well, considering the lack of a social/family structure around us (we live in UK and all our immediate families are in India). But it was still emotionally demanding to be able to leave them. I then took a third break following our relocation from Glasgow to Reading because of my husband's job. There was so much happening in our life and we chose not to send our younger son to full time nursery since he was going to start school in a year. Now that both the boys are at school, I'm going back to work after almost 2 years.

I was excited when I got a call for my first face-to-face interview. It gave me a buzz to simply walk into their office, to be back in a corporate giant's realm. I was super happy even before the interview started. And I knew then that I had to try, not that I wouldn't have otherwise. That I have to get out of the comfort of my home. That I still have to work. I have to do it for myself. I have to be 'me' first. Only then will I be a happy mummy to my sons. I have a job offer in hand from one of the leading motor brands in the world. There is no longer any uncertainty - I am going back to work.

So what happens to the house, who will look after the boys, who's going to do the school runs, help them with their homeworks?? I felt the old mini-pangs resurfacing. The realistic me has got it all organised - after school clubs to allow time for my husband to pick them up, an open talk with my new employer about me still being able to drop the boys and I'd (most likely) have the other bits in the house covered too. Will it work out well? I believe yes. Will I be worrying about the tiny heart-breaks? Maybe.....or maybe not.

I'm not the only mother who has been through this. There are millions of others out there, who have to go back and work due to a multitude of underlying reasons dictated by each one's life's circumstances. Irrespective, it is a mother's heart inside - forever full of abounding emotions for her children. Though its only natural to feel those tugs, at times even guilt at 'not being there' all the time, to have those days when you blame yourself for deserting your sick child to go to work, still we all need to snap out of this sorry state very quickly - for the sake of these very children of ours. We have to work because we either want to or we have to. That being clear, its best to give it all we've got.

A working mother is in no way less than a mum who's a homemaker. She only adds to the effort that every parent makes to provide beyond their means for their children, so that the later get a better chance at life. This, she does at many a costs. If already working before having kids, how many of them have sacrificed promotions, taken a set back to their ambitions? Let's not forget those brave women who will do anything, any kind of job, just so they can feed their little mouths. At the end of the day, they are all mums who put aside their day's struggles in a blink, at the sight of that one smile upon returning home.

What will you say the next time you hear someone pointing at a working mother, questioning how well will she raise her children when she doesn't have time? Or if you have a friend who is a working mother doubting herself? I'd say just don't bother! Who's asking for your superfluous notions, when you clearly can't remember that every mum has already dealt with the real game-changer ie. giving birth. Her being in a paid profession or being a stay at home mum should never ever be a deciding criteria for her quality of parenting.

A mother works hard all the time. There cannot be a love more giving and unconditional than that of a mother for her child. She strives to bring the best to her children. So let her choose, for she's capable. Whichever road she treads, her children will be the core of her life. If on the way, she endeavors to carve a distinct facet to her existence, it will only add to her already expansive profile. I strongly believe that there is nothing better than having and/or being a mother who is happy, considers herself successful and knows that she always has the choice to follow her own dreams too.  

From one mother to every other one out there - three cheers to all of us!!! What you do,  how you do it, what the world thinks - none of it matters because nothing can take away a mum's magic for her children. To quote my elder son "Mumma always knows! " - believe it, go on and be yourself. 

Sunday 7 January 2018

The pain was yours too

A small memory full of emotions surfaced. I lay stroking my son's hair as he slumbered off for his night's sleep. The warmth of his little body, snuggled into mine, overflowed across my being. The tiniest of thoughts about being away from my two sons freaked me out. I cuddle him tighter and reach across the other side to stroke my younger son's cheek.

It was a random flash from the past. My parents walking away from me, my big cousin grabbing me and taking me in the opposite direction from them and buying my a Cadbury's Dairy Milk, my mind having processed that my parents are gone, that I wont see them, my tears choking me, my voice failing me, the helplessness, the failure to understand why. Then came the hugs and cuddles from my aunts, grandmother and cousins. "She's forgotten already", "she'll be fine", "she's just a small child", "she's okay" - all these and more were said because I had stopped crying. It was deciphered that I was all right since I had the chocolate. Nobody noticed I hadn't even bothered unwrapping it. I merely held on to it. I never ate it. I was in pain. Deeply hurt. I did not know why mummy and papa had left me.

Tonight was different. It was the same memory but bizarrely the pain was not mine. The ache was that of the mother who was walking away from her only child. The bolts that must have shot through her bosom at having to turn her back at her wailing little girl. The struggle she must have gone through between the urge to turn around, run back to her daughter and the need to keep walking straight ahead. Did she look back? Did she cry? I don't know.....I've never known.....never asked my mother. It had always been my memory with me being the sole proprietor of any associated agony. Not anymore.

It is thirty-four years later that it has occurred to me that I was not the only one subjected to torment that night. For the first time I walk by my mother's side instead of gloating in self-pity. I have to admit I feel a bit naive when I think about how long it has taken me to realize that I was not alone in that situation. And I certainly wouldn't have grasped it even now had I not become a mother.

This particular memory of mine is one of the stray ones as it stopped causing any distress ages ago. Yet it was anything but purposeless tonight. I am humbled by what unraveled in my mind. How often do we deem ourselves to be the only victims in life's many a thrown-at-us situations. We carry on sulking for the 'poor ME' for time everlasting.  It is the easiest thing to do. There's always someone else to blame for it or God's Will if we can't find a culprit in human form. We conveniently forget that there were others in it too. We frivolously refuse to acknowledge that others could have also suffered their fair share.

The realization and the subsequent admission to those involved, may not come naturally to all. But if they do happen, consider yourself fortunate because that will be a path to redemption from the grief you have harbored for God knows how long. Life is too short - there wont be enough room for all the happiness you wish for unless you throw out some of the unnecessary, unwanted misery.

Feel it happen when you reach out and say 'the pain was not just was yours too'.

Note: My parents were flying out of India. They had to leave me behind with extended family as was the norm in those days for couples with young children when immigrating to USA. My parents returned after 14 months and I know that the longing to be together was mutual. My mother refused to leave me behind ever again.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Dear Pa

You loved. You fought. You shared a lot of what you knew and thought. You taught me much in numerous ways. Your blood runs in my veins. You gave me the name the world knows me by. Life was bitter and sweet, but you played a big part in making me who I am.

You slept that night to never wake up. I've been grateful, for you went in peace. Life went on. Time never stopped. You must have moved on and so have I. I see you in my dreams. I wonder if you are a star in the sky. At times I feel your presence, as the helpful soul that nudges me to go on. I know all this sounds childish but then that's what I would always have been to you - a child, your child.

I know very well that birth and death are bound by time. Yet its moments brought upon by time, which make me wish that that night had never come and you were still around. When I walked down the aisle, I wished my hand was in your arm. When I first became a mother, I wanted to hear the joy in your voice. When I see my sons playing, my heart aches at them never knowing you. I long for your hug, for your pat on my back, for your kiss on my forehead because nothing mattered more than the 'well done' you've ever said.

'Trust in God & Do The Right' - you believed. This lifetime may not have allowed you a lot but nothing compares your honesty, integrity and intelligence. Destiny tossed you about for a very long time but it could never steal your kind heart and gentle soul.

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These ten years gone and for as many as I live, I will be a proud daughter. You were, you are and will always be greatly missed - Dear Pa!
With much love.

Monday 24 April 2017

The Fall

He started climbing without knowing why. His curiosity made him step farther out. His fear of falling made him hang on to the thin branch. The height elevates him. He sees the mad traffic rushing past but it's still calm up there. It’s the same speed at which he has been driving life every day. Those driving by do not notice him, like he never noticed this tree. The road below buzzes with the humdrum of daily life. It runs in the middle of the serene beauty of autumn. Autumn in all its glorious colours - ready to fall - to stop for the winters and then make way for freshness to spring back again. He straightens up, breathes in, his eyes spanning the horizons. He doesn't hear the buzz anymore. He's let go of the branch for he doesn’t need to hang on to it. He feels free. This is the much required pit stop in the crazy formula one that life has become today. He closes his eyes and inhales deeply. He holds it for as long as he can. When he breathes it out, it makes him feel strangely lighter. The unknown had just left him. He was aware of himself, the tree, the edge of the branch that he now stood on. There was no fear. He was certain he was going to take the plunge. With a smile, he lets himself fall…..   The fall tests the roots. The leaves die but the root remains alive. It preserves all that is vital to sustain life. It never surfaces, yet helps bring back that which the na├»ve eye deems as life. Life continually bears leaves of incidents, some of which grow into a multitude of colours while others simply dry out and drop off. Irrespective, each plays its part.
He's falling. His heart beats louder, thumping against his chest. Inside him. His roots. He realises that is the core. It bears the leaves of every emotion, every feeling. Leaves that rise and fall, fall and rise. He falls to the ground and springs back to his feet. He starts walking towards the road. The din is becoming prominent. But this time he is confident, it wont be able to drown him. He will drive life at whatever speeds it brings on. He knows where to come back to when he needs to feel his roots again, to revive his core, to nurture life. Do you?

Saturday 25 February 2017

Glasgow Diaries

My heart was pounding in competition with the British Airways' rickety plane's engine. I didn't know which one was louder and more annoying. Going through immigration at Heathrow had been charming. From the unrelenting questions fired by the officer at the desk who then proceeded to send me to get an X-ray done at the airport's out of function machine (it had been so for the entire month!), I walked to the kind lady officer at the X-ray desk, who spotted my hassled face and said "are you alright, sweetheart?" when I was still a few steps away. I was struggling to hold back my tears as I told her that I was going to miss the connecting flight to Glasgow. She swiftly did the needful and assured me everything would be fine. The tall male officer who had stood next to her booth, then offered to walk me through to the connecting gate. I breathed in relief as I slumped myself in the waiting area. From unnecessary evil to generosity I would always remember - I had seen it within two and a half hours - my first international flight, my first taste of a foreign land.

I thanked God for the umpteenth time just as the wobbly plane turned at a sickening angle. I nearly swore at the pilot under my breath when my eyes caught the landscape below. They were like the ones I had only seen on TV or drawn in the art class. Slanting rooftops, green hills, a river, scattered clouds and a bright blue sky. It was mesmerizing! Glasgow. It looked peaceful yet alive. I felt something warm welcoming me. I nervously wondered what hues would it add to my canvas. I had flown thousands of miles to be here. Certainly, there had to be a purpose set higher above those blue skies.

I was going to join the love of my life. As much as I trusted him, I could not help the churning in my stomach. I armored myself mentally in preparation for the next immigration officer. To my sweet surprise, the lady was so friendly that it took a minute to sink in that it was all done and I was already walking towards the luggage belt. My eyes were working overtime by now trying to spot my precious suitcase and scanning the passage for him. Suitcase arrived, I hauled it to the ground and felt that familiar presence behind me. I turned and flew into his big arms. The embrace tightened, I rested my head on his shoulder. I had arrived.

Nine years since, I remember those feelings which have proved to be more than true. Glasgow has been as warm and welcoming and has embraced me equally as that hug from my man at the airport. I have met that friendly officer at the airport again and again in all the lovely folk I have come across here. We started our married life here, built our home together, our two sons were born here, made a few friends who I know will always be there - Glasgow has splashed in some of the most brilliant and everlasting shades in my life.

Glasgow Diaries will be me reliving many of these unfading memories, where this wonderful city and it's amazing people have formed a powerful connection with me - one that I am definite will always remain.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

The Annual Declaration of Love

Should I call him? It’s well past midnight already.
When he answers in a sleepy voice, I will say “Happy Valentine’s Day darling!”. He will say the same to me. I will then ask “You were fast asleep (as if I had expected him to be at some mad teenage party, ha!). I just wanted to wish you. Listen, you sleep now and we will talk in the morning. Good night love”. Hang up. Do this to the man who has to be up early in the morning, will then have a crazy schedule at work. Really??? Na, no, nope. How is tonight any different from the other times when he is away and I miss him except for this being the start of 14th February. I can’t find a reason. If he was here, then what? He would still go to work as normal. Perhaps come home with a bouquet of over-priced Red Roses (including a flimsy heart-on-a-stick or a silly foil balloon with swollen red lips), if he was lucky enough to find one by the time he finished work. Most likely we would order in a take-away for dinner, have some wine, put the kids to bed as usual, have some us-time and sleep. But then we do it whenever we want to all through the year without really marking the dates on the calendar. I much prefer the unexpected bunch of Lilies, Chrysanthemums, Carnations or Roses (at normal prices) that he brings in along with the grocery shopping.

Has marriage killed the charm? Or been together too long? In these 15 years or more, we have grown together, build a life together. Him holding my hand when I sit next to him while watching television is no less important than him holding it at times of misery, because it only tells me one thing – he loves me. I believe this is going to be case for the future (don’t want to say till I die on such a lovely day), then why should I confine my expression of love for him to a single titled day. This stands equally true for every other relationship I have – my sons, my family & all my friends. Everyone who I love or care for, I love them all the time and they should know this 24/7 x 365 days.

Love is the purest form of Faith. A Faith that keeps your Hope alive. That Hope which gives you the courage to smile through the toughest times. Love, in all its myriad forms, is what keeps us going, is what gives life its essence. I love you, I miss you, been thinking about you – say it whenever you feel it and really mean. The warmth, the embrace, the smile it brings on will be more than cherished. Love is a beautiful ripple – create it, spread it, be part of it, celebrate it, in each moment you live, in each day that life gives you. The wider the ripple expands, the more it enfolds in its return to bring back to you.

So, while you’ll be mega busy today keeping up pace at clicking the little blue thumbs-up at all the pictures of red roses, cards, gifts, ready-for-dinner outfits followed by the check-ins at the restaurants and plates of food in order of the 3-4-whatever course meal, posted with general knowledge information shouting something to the effect of ‘look, look, what I got’ or ‘see, see, how much I am loved’ on FB, I hope you also find time through the rest of the year to give a peck on the cheek, to pass the bear hug, to pick up the phone and call, to text, to say it aloud, to hold a hand, to just be there for everybody that matters to you. And once you’ve been doing this, you will no longer feel the need to go bonkers at this annual celeb(decla)ration of love.

PS. Did I wake up at the stroke of midnight to wish the love of my life? Are you kidding? I was nearly kicked out of his bed by my 2-year-old ‘coz he doesn’t need mummy once he’s fallen asleep. 

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!!

Wednesday 8 February 2017

The Night Before the Day

I cannot sleep. My beautiful little boy starts school tomorrow. I can tell he was a bit nervous because he asked to sleep with me. “I want to hug mummy and sleep” he said as I made him comfy in me bed. He’s always a bit hard to put to sleep, so I wasn’t surprised when he asked me all those questions about bones in the human body. The topic was unusual so I asked “what made you ask me about bones?”. He replied “I just wanted to know”. I spoke to him about being good at school, his matter of fact response being “I’m always a good boy, you know that”. And then it dawned on him that I will only be dropping him at the school and not ‘staying’ with him! His alarm was obvious. But he quickly settled as he would still see some of his friends and mummy would be back to pick him up early. “What if I don’t know how to study and the teacher thinks I’m silly?” I cuddled him, stroking his cheek. “Teacher won’t ask you to study. You listen to her, do as she tells, be good and you will be fine. You will learn.” I reminded him of how the head teacher had remarked that he is a confident boy, when we had visited the school. He smiled and put my hand on his eyes. Held my other hand in his small hand, just as he did since when he was a baby. I gently massaged his eyebrows. My baby was asleep. My baby – who won’t be a baby anymore – its official. I hugged him. Kissed his cheek while he slept peacefully. I tried to sleep but couldn’t.

My heart is welling up. I look forward to tomorrow morning when I will see my son dressed in his school uniform for the first time. When I will go to drop him to school. I know he will be fine but I could not close my eyes. I wished hard for his father to be with us, knowing all too well how badly he wanted to be there as well but couldn’t due to his work. And then I remembered. I remembered having done this almost 26 years ago. I remembered being alone that day, holding a tiny hand, walking a little boy to school. Taking him to his classroom for the first time and then I sat him – at the very front tiny desk – his grip at my hand stronger than before. I remembered those two beautiful little eyes looking at me through tears ready to drop. I had stroked the tuft of curly hair, softly taken my hand out of his, held his face in my hands, kissed his forehead and said “you’ll be fine”. A tear had trickled but no more fell, for those eyes trusted me. The boy sitting next to him watched all this and then asked “what’s your name?”. When my brother answered, the boy said “that’s my name too!”. My baby brother laughed. He waved me good bye and I walked out – at peace. I did it with ease, with much pride and I did it alone.  

Now, I think I’m fortunate. I will do it again tomorrow. I will do it with my first born. I will do it as a Mother. I will hold his little hand, walk my little man into his first classroom. And say to him “You’ll be fine”. I hope that he sees the same faith, if not more, and takes his first step into a wider world with ease and confidence. He sleeps peacefully while I write this. I look at him. A deep sigh of peace, a thanks for the blessing that he is, a smile, a longing to lie next to his little warm body and cuddle him – I know I will sleep. I have to wake up for tomorrow, when I will live a proud moment, when I will create a beautiful memory – one that will always light up my heart in the years to come whenever I think of it. 
As felt on 15/08/2016 @02:04 hours