Category Archives: My Musings

Rusted Chains Calling Out

You Say When I Bleed.

Don’t touch us. Your presence – An incarnation of Lakshmi one day and Durga the next. The harbinger of ill fate today.

Don’t step into our kitchens. Your food – Brimming with heavenly deliciousness each day. Poison to our hearts today.

Don’t enter our temples. Your prayers – The anchor for our lives every day. The murk in our sacred waters today.

Don’t come to our last rites. Your love – Spreading the sunshine of happiness. A curse to eternal damnation today.

 

I Bled.

I bled and I touched. You called my presence your lucky charm.

I bled and I cooked. You applauded me and licked your fingers clean.

I bled and I prayed. You praised my piousness.

I bled and I loved. You reveled in my affection.

I bled and I hid it. You lived. You liked. You found nothing wrong.

 

Tell Me Then.

My womb – revered when carrying a baby, yet unclean when preparing for one. WHY?

My mind – a disciple of reasoning, still looking for answers from you who think I’m wrong. WHEN?

My world – uncontaminated and healthy, notwithstanding my breaking the rusted chains of blind customs. HOW?

 

I wait with an open heart and listen with an eager mind, dear world.

Explain to me your ways and I shall comply.

Convince my mind and I shall not defy.

But if you fail,

Accept I have proven you wrong all my life, and send a promise my way.

A promise – to let go of what we cannot answer.

A promise – to ask a Why before we follow.

A promise – to keep alive in us, the essence of our past but not the past itself!

When My Sister Gave Birth & I Became A Parent!!

I am the youngest in our family of four. With a gap of nearly 7 years between siblings, there’s often a lot of pampering involved and I was no different. I grew up practically with 2 mothers, my mother-mother & my sister-mother. And while I had a great childhood, by the time I grew up, I realized I had become used to being the child of the house. And that meant I had absolutely no idea how to be a grown up with other children!!! As the years passed by, I would often see girls my age croon to babies and play comfortably with them while I looked at them as if they were aliens. I preferred puppies to babies and didn’t think that would ever change. My natural instincts were nowhere close to maternal…something which I thought many girls of my age already had. Sometimes I thought maybe my hormones had forgotten to kick in…you know, maybe the switch that goes off in girls at some age and makes them want babies just refused to flip or something!!

Whatever the reason, I just couldn’t imagine ever loving a snot-dripping, potty-expelling, vomit-issuing creature ever in my life. And that may have been true too!!

But something changed… My sister got pregnant.

The pregnancy:

All of a sudden, my life was all about the pregnancy milestones.

The first ultrasound image when I just couldn’t focus my eyes well enough to see anything at all! The day when the heart beat could be heard..Endless googling for pregnancy tips… The test when the baby was declared free of anomalies and we cried in relief… The first video where the baby steadfastly refused to remove her(we were pretty sure it would be a girl!!) hands off her face till my sister ate some ice cream… Shopping bigger and bigger clothes for my sister as she outgrew everything every 15 days.. Shopping for teeny tiny clothes of size 0… Waiting patiently with my hand and eyes glued on her tummy urging the baby to kick…Oh, those were some busy 9 months! My phone bills consistently went up as we spent hours figuring out baby boy & girl names. Lists were made for things to be packed in a bag in case of sudden labour. My sister googled for delivery videos so that she would be mentally prepared and I listened to her describe the details, both of us crying in fear!

The photoshoot:

I photobombed the pre-delivery shoot as well, standing between the would-be-parents in most photos, as excited as them, and they indulged me with love as usual. Blown ups of me kissing the baby bump were ordered for and I returned with a big smile. Soon we were excitedly counting the days down and I increasingly worried for my sister as the D-day approached.

The delivery:

And then my sister went into labour. My brother-in-law and I stood next to her, holding one hand each, teary eyed, telling her everything would get fine while not believing our own words looking at her pain. All through the delivery I stood outside, each of my sister’s screams piercing my heart, tears flowing down my cheeks, fervently praying that she had the strength to get through this and come back to me safe and sound. While the world thinks a baby’s coming is a beautiful thing, I still have chills when I think back to that day, they were really difficult hours.

It was she who was giving birth, yet I was experiencing more pain than I ever had.

When the screaming stopped, I waited with bated breath till my brother-in-law appeared with a smile on his teary face and said it was a boy and that the mother was fine. We entered the room and I saw my sister smiling at us, and that was when I dared to breathe again.

The first few days:

He was tiny. Like, really tiny. And for the first day, I refused to touch him. What if I dropped him? What if I couldn’t balance his neck properly? What if I hurt him by mistake? By night finally my sister told me I couldn’t avoid it forever. She had always been the one to instill confidence in me and this was no different. Finally, I took him into my arms, lifted him to my face and smelled him. And then I fell in love with him. I knew there could never be a smell as beautiful as his. There was no turning back then. He couldn’t latch properly for breastfeeding and I struggled with my sister to help him. Most of the times it is the mother who is with the daughter in such times. But in our case, it was me who stayed back with the new parents in the hospital to help with the baby. The elders laughed at this arrangement, but understood the emotions attached. The first night, there were 3 of us struggling to change his diaper, 3 adults fighting with each other on the right way to do it. The little brat kept us on our toes. The 3 days we were in the hospital we had to take turns sleeping and none of us managed to sleep more than 2 hours at a stretch. Little did we know that would be the norm thereafter!!

That first year:

By God’s grace, that was the year when my parents, me and my sister’s family all ended up in the same city. It was the most beautiful year of my life. My life changed that year. We lived from milestone to milestone. No jaundice, check. First vaccination, check. Eyes,ears tests, check. We cried on his first bath. We laughed as he enjoyed our massages. Sleep and rest were things to be dreamt of. I don’t think I have watched TV since that year, he didn’t let us and I just lost the habit thereafter. Somehow I was good at putting him to sleep. I would sit with him for hours on the rocking chair, crooning till my throat ached, not stopping till he fell asleep, scared to move an inch lest he woke up again. Handling snot, potty and vomit became my ‘baayn hath ka khel’! I would wake up in the middle of the night when he cried and when the parents were already too tired, and spend an hour again trying to soothe him. I do look like his mother at times and we used that trick to fool him so my sister could take rest. The first time he turned over on his own, the first time he lifted his head, the first time he smiled, the first time he started on foods other than milk, the first time he sat up, the first time he crawled, the first time he said “Dada” and “mamamama” and “phurrr”….my life that year revolved around his first steps in this new world.

And…somehow..surprisingly, he loved me back too.

He would stop crying when I took him, he would laugh the loudest when I played with him, he would come rushing to me whenever he was in the mood for masti…..and my heart would melt and I would fall in love with him even more each day, if that was even possible.

The Bidaai:

When he was 9 months old, I got married and had to move to a different city.

Telling him goodbye was the hardest thing I had ever had to do.

It was unimaginable not being woken up at night to his cries, not having his tiny hands pulling my hair, not listening to his gurgly bubbly laughter as I did monkey acts. I left my heart behind when I left, with the silent prayer that my baby doesn’t forget me, doesn’t forget the 9 months I spent with him pressed to my chest.

And now:

The bond we forged during those first 9 months has stayed on with my darling.

My angelic sister and wonderful brother-in-law make sure their son remembers how much his aunt loves him. From being a secondary-mother to being his friend who he asks to talk to over phone to demand for gifts, we have come a long way. Every time I skype with him even today, there is a desperate longing tugging at my heart to hold him close and smell his familiar smell. And though it isn’t always possible, I am happy to see him smile no matter how far away he may be. He is a big boy now, all of 3 years old, using big English words, acting grown up, asking us to leave him alone at times and I can’t help but think back of the day I was too scared to even pick him up in my arms!! 😊

And thus…

I still love puppies 😝 But today I know I do have a loving mommy in me who can handle human babies as well! And what’s amazing was the realization that it didn’t even have to be my child for me to love him wholeheartedly….

the switch had finally flipped! 😊

What we women are doing wrong even as we fight for Feminism!

This post has been published on womensweb.in. You can find the piece at the following link :  http://www.womensweb.in/2017/02/fight-for-feminism-what-we-are-doing-wrong/

I was in a theatre a few months back when a documentary caught my eye, and has been disturbing me ever since. It was supposedly an attempt to make one understand the plight of women.So, It depicted how women toil in the kitchen and serve the husband who is already waiting at the dinner table, yet secretly, they dream of sitting at the table while the husband toils in the kitchen and serves her the food. And I thought, wouldn’t it have passed a more correct message if it showed that the man entered the kitchen too, worked alongside his wife and they both shared a happy meal together?

It struck me then, THIS is what’s wrong with the popular concept of feminism. THIS is what people think the women of today want….to give up all work, sit down as royals, and give men a taste of what it feels like to be a woman. The ad must have been seen by a hundred others apart from me and it feels sad to know that all of them went back with a twisted concept of feminism ingrained in their minds. I’m sure the intention of the ad had been to further the cause of women empowerment. But sadly, this isn’t the kind of empowerment women should or would want.

Feminism has ALWAYS been about equality, not about turning the tables on men and sitting back and enjoying watching them struggle and saying “See this is what we go through”.

This event set me thinking….Did all the women in the theatre inwardly cringe at the ad as I had done? Or had it been just me? With these thoughts in mind, I took to analysing how much the women of today actually understood feminism. As I discussed more with people around me,

I realised, that while women tend to remember the ‘women’s rights’ aspect of feminism, the core principle of ‘equality’ is often forgotten!

For example, on the one hand women shout out slogans for equality and feminism and on the other hand they don’t want to let go of all the ‘benefits’ or ‘considerations’ they receive as a woman in today’s society, leaving the men fuming and calling us hypocrites. I thus also realised, that most of the women in the audience that day in the theatre, would have thought that the ad was justified…that the wife deserved the right to sit back and enjoy the meal being served, while the husband who was now in her place drew no sympathy!!

Thus my conclusion: Change begins at home, and if we want the men to understand feminism better, we women must take the onus of living the philosophy of feminism in our everyday lives! Here is a small list, some pointers if you may, of the things I have observed women do, in fact unknowingly several times, that is not aligned with the concept of Feminism:

  1. Let me go ahead, I am a woman!

Many a time I have seen women break queues and move ahead using the excuse of being delicate creatures who can’t bear standing in the hot sun. I understand women sometimes have issues that entitle them for some slack. But why otherwise? Don’t use this age old concept of “ladies first” to weasel your way out of a situation while men struggle it out honestly.

  1. I shall let you have the honour of paying!

This is especially true of working women. If you want men to not treat you as “women” at the workplace, carry the same thought outside as well. Earning as much a man, but expecting him to pay each time you go out is completely unfair. With the demand for equal pay, comes the responsibility of equal expense.

  1. My husband has no right to demand I work!

I have been appalled several times that women take offence when their husbands ask them to work and help with the financial situation. Many well educated women, even in this day and age, consider the post-marriage period of their lives as an ‘option’ to stay at home if they so wish. In fact, what’s even more blasphemous is women themselves consider a man who ‘cannot earn enough to support her’ as ‘inadequate’. This is so sad. When in today’s world, we expect men to take care of the home & children as an equal partner, then what is wrong of a man to expect his wife to help him financially?

  1. No late shifts please, I’m a woman!

Well if you can’t share the burden at work, don’t expect to be treated equally. Yes, I agree that women are responsible for their own safety. But today’s jobs provide ample number of flexibilities that women can enjoy so that their work isn’t affected. So instead of saying a no, how about asking them for options. For example, can I do the night shift from home? Or… Can I be assigned a shift such that I can go back home early morning when there’s daylight? Or…can someone trustworthy from the team drop me back? Yes, we women are weaker in physical strength when compared to men, and we always need to be cautious. But don’t use it as an excuse all the time. The men in your team work equally hard, probably have wives and families they need to get back to or spend weekends with. Share their burden whenever possible.

  1. A man must know his manners!

Men at my work place don’t hold doors for me. My chair is not held while I make myself comfortable. Nor do I hear “after you”. One may argue..”these are manners”. Yes, but from which era? An era which deemed women were “ladies” to be “taken care of”, who were to be “guarded and protected” by the chivalrous men!! No, I don’t say that men who do it are wrong. If a man thinks he wants to do it for me, that’s sweet. But let’s not dismiss men who do not do it as “ungentlemanly” (Yes, I have seen this happening). As I mentioned above, if you scream for equality in all spheres then don’t demand “courtesies” as your birth right as a woman.

  1. A Man must be Manly!

This, in my opinion, is the worst of them all. Women, even today, even while demanding a change in the definition of ‘being a woman’, refuse to change their definition of ‘being a man’. If a lady’s husband works at home while she’s out working, the poor guy is mocked. If a man goes to a parlour, that defies our views of the right things a man should do. Men who cook lunch-dabbas in the morning for themselves and the wives are sniggered at….by women!! If a woman can ask for the right to live by her choice, why isn’t the same to be granted to a man?!

Ramchandra Guha had written an article a few days back of 11 courageous women who had sent Gandhi a letter way back in 1939. In the letter, these women explained to him as to why he was wrong in making the statement that “The modern girl dresses..to attract attention”. I read that article and realised how many men & women generation after generation have been fighting for our cause…fighting to get us the rights, privileges, honour we have always seen only men enjoy. And today, we are so close to achieving that. But what I fear is that in the process of making sure we get our rights, are we committing the same injustices that our gender has been facing all along?

Are we women too becoming insensitive to the opposite gender…a quality we have always associated with a Patriarchal society?

Are we women forgetting that the true meaning of Feminism lies in equality? Feminism isn’t about taking a patriarchal society and turning it inside out into a matriarchal one! It’s about creating a beautiful world of equality for all lives, whether of men or women!

We women have a huge task ahead of us….of convincing the society of the need for Feminism for its own betterment. But while we gear up to shove the boulder, let’s not ignore the pebbles. And as we fight and struggle with the society, let’s step back for a moment, stop ourselves and analyse if WE women are TRULY following the SPIRIT OF EQUALITY in our daily lives? To usher in a new era, let us first rid ourselves of the stereotypes in our own minds. Small changes at our end can change the outlook of people around us, can make them respect us for what we ask and not mock us for what we get!

How my relationship taught me to be single!

This post has been published on mycity4kids with 12000+ views, you can find the piece at https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/live-love-think-askwhy/article/how-my-relationship-taught-me-to-be-single .

Come Valentines Day and everyone around me is talking of togetherness and being grateful for it. I on the other hand have something very different to be grateful for. I am grateful that my relationship made me rediscover the ‘ME’ that was getting lost in the chaos of ‘WE’. Confused? Read on to know my story 😊

Like most girl friends/wives, I too was once intent on spending all possible free time with my then boyfriend and now husband. My life revolved around going for movies with him, eating out with him, and all those moments when we weren’t physically together were spent on the phone with him. Of course, as is always the case in the glorious beginning of any relationship, he too enjoyed it. But this beautiful phase? It has a shelf life..an expiry date. And when that day came, I didn’t know how to get my head around it. Nothing drastic changed ofcourse, but sometimes he would be too tired from work to meet up, or maybe he didn’t want to watch the movie that I had been looking forward to for months, or that he felt I should go by myself to do some shopping as he wouldn’t know what to do…I guess the regular stuff we hear all guys say. Afterall, slowly, when the novelty of fresh love wears off, you are shuffled up and down in the priority list. And that’s when I realized that for each NO from his side, I told myself a NO too. If he didn’t want to come shopping, I cancelled the plan altogether. If he didn’t want to watch some movie, I ditched it and watched the movie that he wanted to. This would have gone on and on….But I got lucky. I got unhappy.

I relied so much on HIM for my happiness that I ended up making myself sad. I was lucky my boyfriend didn’t relent. My tears and pleas of “I just want your company” couldn’t move him and he would cold-heartedly(that’s how it seemed to me then) say “Learn to be independent. Do things yourself” and I would just resent him all the more for it. And one day, when this resentment and anger and sorrow boiled over, I decided it was time I taught him a lesson. I dressed up in my best, went shopping all by myself to the biggest mall and splurged all I could…I was doing it to avenge my insult at the hands of an ungrateful boyfriend by showing him I COULD find happiness even without him.

And that’s when it struck me. I COULD FIND HAPPINESS EVEN WITHOUT HIM.

I felt relieved. I felt like I had broken free and enjoyed myself and my heart was soaring. I felt like there was no stopping me! Such a melodramatic reaction to something so minor, you would say.  But that was the day I discovered myself. And guess what, when I met him that evening, I was in a great mood, he was overjoyed that I had had a great time, I showed him all my purchases and he said I looked wonderful in all of them, and our time was spent with so much love, with no place for anger and resentment, that it was truly refreshing!

That was the day I realized, how wrong it was of me to burden someone else, even if he were my life partner, with the job of making my life happy. Why did I expect him to keep my happiness over his own all the time? If he wanted to watch cricket, why did I expect him to watch Friends with me because that’s what I wanted? If he wanted to take rest on a weekend, why did I force him to go out just because I wanted to? And in this whole process what was I achieving? Not only was I making him unhappy, more importantly, I was making myself unhappy too! Instead of enjoying whatever things we could do together, I was only bitter thinking of all those things I couldn’t do because he didn’t come along!

I also realized that if this went on, I would always look for a shoulder for support. If not my partner, my best friend, or maybe my siblings or even my children in the future…I would always expect the important people in my life to make me happy.

That was the day I turned my life around. I decided once and for all that I would take charge of my happiness.

Today, if my husband is busy at work and I badly want to get out, I go for a movie, order a full bucket of popcorn and my favourite drink and laugh my heart out. I must admit, I do cheat, in that I generally go for those movies alone that he anyway wouldn’t have watched. But that lets me have his company in other movies that he likes to watch too! On weekends, when he’s busy catching up with news and sports and other things on TV that I just don’t watch, I sit back with a book and read to my heart’s content! We both have friends we spend alone time with and at the same time we have common friends who we meet up with together. I spend hours on creative things I love to do…making something artistic or cooking…something I used to disregard earlier because that was ‘time away from HIM’.

And then when we are done doing things in our own space, we enjoy doing things together even more. The dinner together becomes much more interesting because we have stories to share of our lives apart.

The new found space we discovered in our relationship helped us make time for our own lives. I could now do things like going to a cake class or learning dance GUILT FREE knowing that he was having a good time too in whatever he was doing. The immense joy I feel in doing all these things I am passionate about percolates down to our relationship. A cheery happy wife is all my husband needs to be happy too 😊 And in this process, our love and respect for each other grew by leaps and bounds.

The day we stop burdening our relationships with expectations, each little thing becomes a pleasant surprise to be cherished!

That day when I set out to teach my boyfriend a lesson, the universe taught me one. That my happiness was in my hands and nobody else’s. That when I stop drawing happiness from those around me, and create my own, I will be at peace with myself. This knowledge has opened up gates of freedom I had never dared cross! And today, our relationship has the space to breathe openly and fearlessly, nurturing the seeds we had planted, of togetherness!