Perfect Timing

A few good men is one of my favorite movies, I like it for its courtroom drama, for the whole dramatic background music, for Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, for Demi Moore, and for all the memories I have of watching this movie with my brother. I have realized over time that it is the memories associated with movies that make them special. I have seen absurd movies with my cousins or friends and I can remember having my best time at those movies.

Anyhow, last night this movie was coming on television and I decided to watch it. I finished all my errands and couched on the bed to watch. My daughter was busy with her toys or her grandparents, she realized that her mumma was busy and like my sweet little angel that she is, she let me be. And the movie progressed, the drama unfolding, Code red, Fendrick, Jessep, Downey, Dawson, Kaffe, everyone trying to prove their point. I was totally engrossed in the movie. And the climax came, as Kaffe called in for Col. Jessep to the courtroom, call it a co-incidence my daughter opened the door to my room and entered. I looked at her for a second, and got back to my movie. As Jessep approached his seat, my daughter approached me. That’s when Captain Ross called for Jessep’s rights, and my daughter made me aware of her rights. “Mummy, I Pooped”, she said. I looked at her disbelievingly. And that’s when Kaffe said “Is it funny, Sir”. And I thought this could not be happening, not now, not to me. I urged her to finish the pooping errand and I would clean her up. She insisted that she has already finished and needed to be cleaned.

I tried to convince her to wait for two more minutes, I mean what harm could come out of it. I could not concentrate on the movie a bit, my daughter started shouting on top of her lungs, and there Kaffe was shouting, “Could they ignore your order”. Here my own daughter was ignoring my order. And the stench from the poop spread in the room. There was no more I could wait. And that’s when Jessep said “Ever put your life in another man’s hands and asked him to put his life in yours?” I nodded and thought, I just did. I rushed her to the washroom in an attempt to wash her quickly so I could still catch the end of the movie. I could hear Kaffe and Jessep shouting in the washroom as I cleaned my daughter put her on the changing board to change her clothes.

By the time I got free and carried my daughter back to the bedroom, Jessep was being arrested for ordering a code red. I wanted to order a code red to the toddler in my arms but alas, I smiled at her as she said “Mummy, cat poem’. I took her to my bed, switched off the television as Dawson and Downey discussed their future, hummed the cat poem to my daughter and slept.

So last night I made some new memories with the movie, earlier when we were younger my brother used to be Jessep and me Kaffe, and all along the movie we would mute it and say the dialogues. I remembered those days, recounted what happened today and just smiled. Life does change after being a mother.

The Bewilderment That is Life

The alarm creaks in the morning; she wakes up startled and drags herself out of the bed. The sun has still not come, and the whole family is still sleeping. She looks at her husband snoring away, she checks her clock to see if she can afford another five minutes of sleep. But the clock glares at her telling her, “Another minute and you will be late”. She laboriously walks to the washroom, then to her toddler’s room to check on her and finally to the kitchen, as the whole family sleeps. Her maids come in and she busies herself to prepare the breakfast and dinner. By the time all is done, she has only 15 minutes to take a shower and get ready for work. She is glad that her toddler is still sleeping. She hurriedly takes a shower, gets dressed, puts on little make up and rushes back to the kitchen. Her husband is leaving for office, if she does not remind him, he would forget his lunch or breakfast, or almonds, or his glass of milk. She grabs the keys to her car and rushes to office.

As she spends her day in the banal activities of the office, she realizes she has forgotten to have her cup of coffee today. She orders one and sips it. The hot coffee instantly relaxes the muscles of her body. She longs to lie down, and just sleep. But just then a call for a meeting comes in. She gulps in the rest of the coffee and moves to the conference room. The day ends uneventfully as she rushes home. Something in her longs to see her toddler. As she reaches home, voices from the regular television soaps blare out of her in-laws room. She finds her toddler sleeping in her room. She resigns to her bedroom to get some rest. The maid comes in telling her that she is leaving for the day. She grabs a book to read, the one which she has been trying to finish for a good two months now. She reads two lines and can see her toddler rubbing her eyes and entering her room. She places a bookmark; the bookmark has been on the same page for two weeks now. She hugs her toddler who insists to sleep in her arms. She sleeps as she tries to adjust her body according to her toddler’s liking.

She places the baby in her crib and goes to make preparations for dinner. Her husband comes back before dinner, busies himself on his phone and laptop. In between she initiates conversations with him, but gives up when he does not seem to have time to look up from his phone. She serves dinner and goes back to the mundane routine of making her child sleep. As she readies herself to sleep, she tells her husband that she feels tired. Her husband suggests keeping another maid as there is no point stressing and to let go of the toddler a bit. She ponders over it while lying on her bed. But she feels helpless; she finds it difficult to give control. It’s her obligation to take care of her family, her child, her house. She cannot fathom to be like her husband, not bothered, carefree, he has the luxury as he gets everything ready. She cannot possibly do this, no matter how much she wants to just lay back and relax. She goes to sleep.

Her husband informs her the next evening that there is this family wedding that they need to attend next Wednesday, she says it would be difficult for her to take leave from office. But her in-laws need to go too, he says. The family decides that all would go and would take her toddler too along. There is no pressure on her to attend the wedding, her husband understands. She spends sleepless nights in anticipation of the days that she will spend without her daughter. She frets about her food, her hygiene, her nap times, her clothes. She knows that her mother in law is better than her in raising her kid but nevertheless she frets.

And the day comes; all is packed as the family readies themselves to leave the city for three days for the wedding. Her toddler is sleeping when they are about to leave. She is glad, she would have cried a lot if she was awake. She stands in the balcony watching them go. As she bids goodbye, tears fill her eyes. Her husband assures that they will be back soon, and that she should take care of herself. She nods and hugs him.
As she sees the car leave, there is something in her wanting to explode, she cannot figure out what it is, it is too subtle and elusive to name. She does not understand what it is but she gasps and mutters “Free, Free”. She sees the three days ahead which belong only to her. She is suddenly drinking in a very elixir of life through the breeze that blows in the balcony. She realizes that in her subconscious she needed this, she needed a break.

And just like that, she calls her office to inform them of her three day sick leave.

The Silence after Diwali

It is that time of the year again that she longs and awaits all the yearlong. The preparations for Diwali at her house in the mountains had started weeks before the festival. The house cleaned umpteen times, every corner, all the bedrooms which wait for their occupants to come each year are cleaned, new bed sheets laid. She makes sure to remember that her son does not like loud colored bed sheets while her daughter loves bright colors. Her five grandchildren would come too; preparations are in full swing to get all the sweets ready that they would gorge. The preparations keep her busy for weeks, while her husband continues with their banal routine of taking a walk, meeting friends over coffee and cards, she prefers to stay back to make the preparations. At times the neighbors get tensed when she is not seen for days together. She smiles jovially when they inquire and replies that she awaits her family for Diwali, that she is keeping busy.

And they all reach a day before Diwali; she has been awake from four in the morning unable to sleep, unable to conceal her excitement. As the taxi stops and she hears sound of luggage being unloaded she cannot contain her excitement and runs for the door. There they are, all of them. They look tired from the journey. As the hug and meet she grasps hard to her grand-children, of course it has been a year. They enter and are served fresh juice that she has prepared. Suddenly the house is beaming with happiness and noise, with children running, and her son, daughter-in-law, daughter, son-in-law chatting with her husband; she excuses herself to the kitchen. There is still a lot that needs to be done, she starts preparing snacks and lunch for all.
The all retire to sleep, but she can hardly get any. She goes to the room where her grandchildren are playing; she talks to them hearing stories of their friends and schools. Time passes and its tea time, the family gathers again for delicacies she has prepared. Everyone praises her preparations. She is content as the family takes mouthful of the delicacies she has taken weeks to prepare. The day of Diwali comes and the whole day passes in the preparations. The night falls and the lights come up. After the puja the family gathers for cards and crackers. The noise of laughter and crackers fills the air and she thanks god in between her prayers, in between her happiness, in between the noise for days like these. The night ends and all leave for their rooms. She busies herself in cleaning the house. She knows she cannot sleep today, they leave tomorrow and this saddens her. She feels the clock would simply stop ticking right now. As she reclines to sleep she finds her husband snoring. She closes her eyes and sleep engulfs her.

The next morning when she wakes up everyone is ready to leave. They have a train to catch. She offers to make breakfast but they insist they would get late. She sees them loading their baggage in the taxi, hugs and bids them goodbye fighting back tears in her eyes. They promise to come back for next Diwali, earlier if they can. She nods and smiles.

She goes back to the house when they leave and suddenly the silence seems deafening. The whole chaos around Diwali is over, she goes to the window where she can look at people going to the market, there are few who look tired and lost. The streets are empty; the hustle of Diwali, the urgency of Diwali has dwindled, the market street is empty. Children are trying to find crackers from the garbage bin, sweepers trying to clean the mess created from last night cracker menace, there are no cars on the roads, most of the people are carrying luggage to the station as they need to resume work.

She returns to the kitchen to prepare tea, as she puts up the kettle to boil, she goes to the table set the cups and there she finds a note, “Thank you ma for a wonderful Diwali, coming back next year for more”. She lets a sigh and waits for Diwali next year.

The Joy of Being NewlyWed

As the train shrieked to a halt at a station, she entered the third class AC compartment. She was followed by a swarm of women and men, girls and boys who had so many luggage bags and cartons, that they shook the entire compartment to place all the baggage in place. She sat down near the window with an old lady with tears in her eyes, the old woman was instructing her to embrace her new life with love and respect. The newly wed bride was looking down at her bangles which were colorful and bright. Her head was covered by her saree which her mother, which I presume the lady sitting next to her was, kept adjusting for her. Her body weight was not very capable of taking the weight of her saree it seemed. She sat on the berth opposite to mine, adjusting the end of her saree.

As she was absorbing in all the priceless information to married life that her mother was pouring her, a man, but a boy like man entered the compartment, he immediately had that new groom, the new son-in –law aura to his persona. The bustling in the compartment stopped as everyone started making space for him. The girl flinched and recoiled. The train blared for departure and the family members rose up to leave. The mother hugged the bride who started crying inconsolably. The groom sat in the corner, too engrossed in the newspaper he had brought along. He seemed unperturbed to the whole family drama being unfolded. Then a boy not more than 15 years of age came forward to hug the girl. She cried a little more as the family started to move out of the compartment. And the train left. I could see the whole family huddled on the platform bidding their goodbyes! And slowly the train caught up speed and the platform was left far behind.

She sat there glancing outside the window without batting an eyelid. I looked at her and she appeared lost, it seemed that tears had welled up in her eyes, but she hastily wiped them off by the nook of her saree. She sat there unmoved glancing outside the window for a good one hour while her husband busied himself completely in the newspaper and then his phone. The chai wala came chanting “Chai, Garam Chai” in his monotonous baritone. The groom ordered one and asked his bride if she wanted any, she refused. It’s the first time that she had raised her head directly and I got a glimpse of her. She was fair, with a bright red lip color, wide red bindi and red vermillion filling her centrally parted hair. She looked young, perhaps 20. As her husband sipped his tea she again got back to watching the scene outside the window.

I got back to the book I was reading before seeing the newlywed couple and put earphones in my ears. I saw the groom approaching the girl and try to hold her hand. She flinched, but she made no effort to free her hand from his grasp but she was visibly discomforted. Her husband caressed her cheek. I saw that she was not willing to be touched, but from the look of her husband he seemed to be believe that he had the right. I coughed to make them uncomfortable on purpose; there was a certain urge in me to free the girl. He moved back a bit and started fidgeting with his phone.

As the train moved between the mountains time passed, the groom excused himself for the washroom. She just nodded and kept straining out of the window. Something in her piqued my curiosity. After all she was a newlywed, why did she lack all the charm and happiness around it. I was just going to start the conversation with a ‘Hi’, when her husband barged in with another man laughing and clapping his hands. As they entered he introduced him as a childhood friend, and said that he was accompanying him in his compartment for some time. The friend offered the bride to come along but the groom answered in negation for her. She sat there nodding her head and said she was comfortable here. As he left the bride went back to stare out of the window. I was perplexed by this time and finally muttered a ‘HI’, to which she looked at me confused. I asked where she was travelling, I was being intrusive I guess as she still had not responded to my HI. She did not respond to this either and I decided to go back to my book offended and hurt. Its then when she spoke, “We are going to Mumbai, my husband has a job there”. I told her that Mumbai was a great place, I visit there often for work, and she would like it there. I told her that I was originally from Delhi and that going to Mumbai is always memorable because that place is different and very accepting. She kept listening to me watching outside the window in between. I stopped talking realizing that I had been talking for quite some time now. After a while she said, “You like going to Mumbai because you always have a chance to come back to Delhi, the place which is home to you”. I was baffled by this response, I wanted to ask some more but she added on her own preventing me feeling encroaching. She said that her husband four months into their courtship after engagement and one month before marriage had announced to her that she would not be coming back to her place ever. If any of her relatives wanted to visit her they had to travel to Mumbai. He wanted nothing to do with the place anymore, where apparently he was born too but now he felt the place was too tawdry. I gasped at her, as she moved her stare from outside to me and smiled with tears in her eyes. I asked her why had not she reasoned with him as this was not a practical thing to do. She said that theirs was an arrange marriage and reasoning with him would have meant calling for trouble. She had not told anyone in the family except her brother who was too young to do anything. She had decided to live with it. I could not say anymore, her tale had explained her sadness; she was leaving behind the city she grew up in, the family she grew up with someone who had decided to start the relationship on his terms. I could not muster the courage to talk to her anymore; I opened the book and started reading again.

She was still looking out of the window when he came back again with a tray of food. She did not want to eat but he forced her to. As the train screeched to a halt again at a station, a young couple entered the compartment, they sounded happy and gay. They sat next to me and I could see that girl would not stop talking. She instructed her husband to keep the luggage in a specific way, her bags on the upper berth, take out the chargers from the bag and the husband abided. As they sat down they said their hellos to all sitting in the compartment and I responded amicably. Just then the girl pointed out, “Darling, you realize that this summer we have to go to my parents’ place to stay as you promised, you know they miss me a lot, right”. And the boy answered in affirmation. I looked back at the bride sitting across me, she gave me the look as to say look at the irony. Just then the all talkative couple left to see the outside view from the door of the train at the behest of the girl. And the groom sitting uttered “What a henpecked husband”. I flinched in disgust and anguish.

The Life That I Live, The Life That I Want

Ever had this thought, ever been ungrateful for the life you have. I know it sounds weird and absurd, the moral police will just jump in to say “There are so many who do not even have the privilege of the life you have”. But this does not pacify me a bit, I don’t know probably I am just plain selfish and mean. I am all up for charities and social work but I keep myself first and then think of others. Does that make me a bad person. The silly part is that the answer to this question does not make a difference to me, I really don’t think it makes a difference to me. It astounds me at times to think that I am so self-centered but I guess that’s just the way I am.

I was raised as being the perfect child of the family that I was absolutely not, till today after even being a mother of a beautiful girl I am caught in the tangles of a family life and personal life. I am not conditioned that way, is it so bad to want something for yourself. I am not anti-family, if that is what I am sounding like, I know and believe family is the most important thing, before even money. But I cant make everyone happy, because in the process of doing so I am loosing myself. Even today I am obliged to listen to my parents and work according to their wishes because I don’t want to annoy them, after all they have raised me, I am what I am today because of them. But there is this bleak line between growing up and still being a child where you can find me.

I grew very ambitiously and was in the habit of looking at people higher than where I was, I aspired to have a life like theirs, whereas my family suggested to look at those below us and appreciate what I have. I could not do that, I appreciate what I have, but what could be wrong to want something better and more.

At times its hard to figure out what I want, but one thing I am pretty sure of, that I am not a very big fan of the shoes I am currently in, I want more out of life, much much more. Perhaps, someday I will sit down and wonder and want the simple pleasures of life and regret my outlandish demands. But right now I am happy and adamant for what I want and for some absurd reason all this seems right. When the day comes, if and when I regret it, I will take it in my stride but right now, Just let me be the stubborn little pain in the ass I am….