Second Innings (Child); Let Me Decide!!

I wake up to a blaring beeping alarm clock, with closed eyes and despondency I extend my hand to the alarm clock and unwillingly get out of my bed. What follows is a monotonous routine of getting my little munchkin ready for school amid other household things before leaving for work. The day ends with the same routine of hushing and rushing until my munchkin goes to sleep. But things have changed a lot from where they started, I mean my daughter is a bit grown up now which allows me time to do things I want to do. I have settled and accepted this new routine and yes my munchkin is adapting well to my lifestyle. So I am in a happy space right now!! I enjoy being with her, showing her the world as I see it, understanding the way she sees the world. Finally I have nights of sleep without hindrance, I can read a book, can plan outings and do many other things, I have fitted back into the dresses I wanted to wear, which I thought I probably would never be able to do.

Alas this happy content family bubble bursts every once in a while when we attend family functions or when my MIL meets her friends. All this is always followed by sulky looks on my MILs face and repeated rounds of discussions at home. If I count a slice of blueberry cheese cake every time someone asks me ‘when’ I am having a second child, ‘IF’ I am having a second child, ‘WHY’ am I not having a second child,  TRUST me I would be able to open a factory of cheese cake, (That would be good thoughJ). From aunties at weddings, relatives at home, and even at times random friends of my MIL inquiring about the day of arrival of my second child. I am stupefied by the kind of concern they have in their voice when they are lecturing me about having the second child. I must say that some of the unsolicited advice are sane but sometimes the conversation gets way ahead from declaring me unfit for pregnancy, recommending treatments, even doctors who might be able help me out in the situation they think is disturbing me. They imagine in their own fantasy world that having another child is the main sole purpose of my life now and that I am thinking about it night and day!

And if in between the conversation you quip to these aunties that you are not planning a second child you are happy with one, congratulations you have been able to give them a heart attack (which I am sure their daughter in law will thank you for!!). Time suddenly stops, the earth shakes and you wish the earth had opened up to gulp you in before you spoke out what you were thinking, ALOUD. This response does not go well with them and then you have glaring relatives who have taken it up to them to make sure that you get pregnant (pun intended!!). They cannot imagine that their theory of you being infertile is incorrect that you have chosen not to have a second child. . Suddenly the whole universe is judging you on the decision of not having a sibling for your only child. It astounds me that all this interrogation is confined only to me, nobody ever asks my husband if we are planning the other one. His stand remains unchallenged, and even if someone asks him about the arrival of the second baby he conveniently puts the ‘Baby Venture’ on me. I feel like thrashing him there and then. Whatever happened to the ‘We are not having a second baby decision’.

Their audacity to ask and question me is unnerving at times, my husband and I have decided that a second child is not on our cards right now, both financially and emotionally. But the questioning and explaining has always put me into a dilemma, it is tough to stick to your guns which you are sure is right with suggestions pouring in from all directions. I have realized that the idea of a perfect family for me and others can be different, my aspirations and needs from my life are different. Having one child works for my little family, I have now known after the first baby that for me my space is very important, to let go of all the freedom, career, aspirations, and ambitions again is tough. Because whatever said and done it is the life of a woman that changes dramatically after having a child. Let us just say extending the family is not a simple decision, everyone has their own set of problems. I don’t think I am ready for another baby it is not me at the moment, later in life maybe. All said and done either don’t ask me the question or be ready for my response and accept it. Just that having a second child is a very personal thing.

 

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A Very Happy Birthday to Me

I am sitting in a hotel room amid hills and greenery, secluded from the rest of the world. I have been here for two days now. There is absolutely nothing to do around here, and I mean nothing, there is not even a television in the rooms, which meant I devoted all my time lazing around gazing up at the mountains or reading and it has been wonderful!!
I am visiting to celebrate my birthday, this is the last of my twenties, it seems like a large chunk of my life is behind me now (I did not want to say its over!). Do I feel any different, lets just say NO!! I don’t know how to look at life from here on, obviously nothing changes, life would pretty much be the same but still I have a lingering thought at the back of my head of all the things that are still pending in my bucket list which needs to completed before another decade passes by! 
Anyway this post is not for what my expectations the next decade of my life are, but on insights that I have made in these two days that I was alone, away from all the hustle bustle. I purposely removed my birthday notifications from all the social sites, somehow I just did not want people to know that its my birthday, perhaps I don’t like to attend to all the swarm of calls and messages that are sent your way when you have your bday posted everywhere, OR perhaps I just wanted to see who remembers my birthday!! And apparently not many remember it. This should make me sad, but it does not, I am somehow pass that stage in life where being wished, being remembered, being the centre of attraction (this is what being older does to you) made a difference to me. I was happy being alone, only a bunch of very close people including my family and some close friends remembered wished me. And strangely enough it felt relieving, more than anything it was relieving because I would not have to feel guilty when I forget their birthdays.  
It has been a small little holiday with my husband and my little daughter in peace where we had a lot of family bonding time, I figured that it was the stress of everyday life, of managing home and work that makes me cranky and leads to arguments because here in these two days we had the time of our lives, we talked a lot, laughed a lot, played a lot, slept a lot, sang a lot, danced in our room, we did all the stuff families do as families and it felt nice. We sat basking in the sun for long hours, swimming and drinking. I realised that moments like these are important, these memories that we are making right now are what we will cherish in years to come.  

All my birthdays earlier, included either partying with friends till the wee hours of the morning or having family dinners, but this time around I decided to celebrate the birthday with myself, the way I want it, and it felt nice. I feel happy and content. Not that I would not like to celebrate it with the family, happiness increases when shared but at times its good to enjoy certain moments of your life in solitude. We get only one life to live, so lets make the best of it, is what I believe in.  
Cheers to another coming decade of fulfilment and accomplishments and a very very happy birthday to myself, it was indeed a happy one!! 

When Child Becomes the Parent !!

A young branch takes on all the bends that one gives it: Author Unknown

Motherhood has had plenty of pleasant changes in me over time. From being more tolerant, to being more organized, being less self-centered, being more mature (if I may say so), to saving more and wasting less. There are tons of changes that motherhood has brought in me. And I feel proud, of myself in some little way. When my little munchkin was born, I was not very sure of how I would raise her up. I had this plan in my mind of a perfect life for her but the nomadic lifestyle that I was used to, I was not sure if I would be able to accomplish that. But things changed, I would not say I have been able to achieve all that I wanted to, but So far So good and I am happy with my progress.

I have enumerated many times how life changes after having a baby, but gradually as the infant phase goes away and the toddler stage sets in I have realized that all is well. It does take time and perseverance, but in the end all is good. And one of the things that my daughter has been able to do is to metamorphose us for better. My daughter has been successful in bringing out the flaws in us so that we can realize them and change. She brings out the flaws in us by either emulating them so we comprehend that she picked up this unpleasant habit from us or many times very bluntly telling us to our face that she is not very fond of this habit of ours. And surprisingly enough, we change. It impacts us in an improbable way.

From simple habits of not picking up things from the floor, being lazy and not cleaning the spilled water on floor, to not switching off the television before dozing off to not stacking the shoes in the shoe rack, to not putting out the towel to dry in the sun (Most of these habits are of my husband’s). My girl makes sure that the house is spotless all through the day. The simple fact that she is looking up to us to learn and live has made us responsible for our actions. It’s good to have this house mother in form of my daughter always around to change in us things we were most reluctant to change.

So over the three years that we have had our daughter we have become cleaner, methodical, accountable, we love more, respect more, care more, and listen more. So in the process of teaching all the good traits, we are imbibing the best from her.

Big Hug and Thank You to my little Munchkin!!

The Cow Story !!!!

In the wee hours of the morning, I was out for my morning stroll when I saw a group of men holding flags of all hues of red and marching in one direction and singing slogans that I was finding hard to understand, but they were musical and lyrical for all I know, and on continuous repetition seemed melodious. I had nothing interesting to do in the morning so I decided to follow these men. To my horror after a few minutes they got hold of a boy and started hitting him, like really hard, he was pleading and crying, shouting and wailing but these men did not stop. They were hitting him even when he fainted and eventually walked over him to continue with their march and shouting. All I could hear and understand was that they were hitting him apparently because he ate their mother. Cannibalism, I thought, these humans can be weird at times.

After this sad start to the day I decided to walk around the park where I could find some happy cheerful children and feel happy for the day. I was crossing the road when I saw four men forcing themselves on a girl, she was screeching and pulling herself away, but they were strong men I think. I wanted to shout and call for help, I started moving hysterically in distress but people around went about their business without noticing what was happening. Just then the same group of men with the flags and shouting crossed me, many saw and ignored what was happening and preferred to walk away. I looked at them in disbelief, I was unable to understand what was so important for them other than the lewd behavior happening to the girl that they decided to ignore it and go ahead with their business of shouting and marching. Humans, I tell you need to learn to respect your women.

The next day I woke up late and it was while I was strolling on the streets that I found that a newspaper that read the news, “Man brutally beaten up for suspicion of him having consumed beef”. It was then then I could put the picture together. I was appalled to realize that they almost killed a person for mere suspicion and even if the suspicion was correct they decided to take matters in their hands since cow is their mother and someone had tried to hurt her. I did not know how to feel at that moment, whether to feel secured or ashamed.

We met for our weekly meeting at the roundabout near the street that evening, obviously the topic for discussion was the prevalent beef ban. Cars were screeching horns all around us, we were discussing and trying to bring a rationale to the whole situation. Some of us were happy about this development, others were being pragmatic and thinking if this is reasonable, whether violence in the name of this is befitting. We were still discussing it when a car just banged against one of our babies who was standing a bit away from us. The baby fell, the car turned and took off in the opposite direction as fast as possible. The baby lay there in pain for a good half an hour, we were trying to get help, wailing and crying at the top of our lungs but many cars and people came and went without stopping.

It was a long day I decided to go back to my home, it was a long way and I spent most of it thinking, I met my friends on way, everyone was upset with us, hens, fish, pig, goat, everyone, they said we are being partial why only cows, why no objection is made to their killing, Don’t they have a life, aren’t they the creatures of god. I tried to reason with them that it is probably due to the Hindu mythology where cows are treated as mothers and the whole logic behind it.. But they were not ready to buy my logic, they were visibly upset. I decided to give them sometime till the matter cooled down and walked again towards my home.

Did I tell you that I stay just near the pavement, I mean I don’t live there since most of my time is spent traveling but in the night I go there to sleep. I have many of my family members there and we prefer sleeping together in a circle every night. I was hungry and asked one of us if we had something to eat, it mooed me towards a heap, I went there to look what was left in for me. I saw green leaves, peas, fruit leftovers, and chapattis wrapped in plastics sheets, I mean do these humans really think we cows are capable of opening the plastic and having the chapatti? It is insane, but at that moment I was too hungry to think of plastic and ate the chapattis with the plastic.

I could not sleep that night, I think the plastic did its wonders in my stomach, it was also cold outside. It is tough sleeping by the roadside in a cold weather with the cars passing by with loud horns every minute but this is how we live. If only before the ban, vandalism and violence they could think of providing better care for their cow mothers. I thought of the girl too who I had seen being violated, I just thought of what she might have felt, a cow was more important than her. This is a country where rape convicts might be convicted over years or many would even remain scot-free and people are killed for cows. I thought of my fellow animal friends, how they must feeling, obviously their anger is justified. Lastly I just want to say that lets respect LIFE as it is, all are important and all have their choices. Let’s respect that and live with that, don’t we have better or worse problems.

Learning from the United States of America

I have recently come back from my trip to the United States of America… Yes the United States of America. Why do I emphasise on it so much.. Because somehow around our part of the world it is considered a big deal. And trust you me, I am not kidding. I mean you tell any of your relatives or friends that you are travelling to the states and they would be like ”really, lucky you”. This is how we feel about the states. Not many would admit it but yes this is the truth.

Anyway I was there for vacation cum work and visited New York and Texas. It was fun and there are many things that I learnt. When you travel the world you get exposed to new cultures and lifestyles, some good some bad. And there is nothing wrong in imbibing the good part of their lifestyles. I find no shame in admitting that we might still be lacking in many things but there is always scope for improvement and learning and hence this post.

The most cliché learning from the states that I carried back home and which I am sure everyone knows is that this country is organised.. Much much ahead of us. Be it their roads, malls, public places, restaurants or even washrooms everything happens systematically. The system efficacy is tremendous and palpable..It’s good since you don’t have to fret about anything, being organised saves time and also relieves you of unnecessary tensions. I was a first time traveller but did not feel troubled as everything was on my platter if I planned it. However, there could be some glitches to it, I wanted to have French fries without the sprinkling of salt at a very popular chain of burgers but I could not because apparently cashier taking my order could not find the key for it. If you know what I mean ;).

Moving further the other thing that really caught my attention was the respect for time. Americans really believe in reaching and starting work on time. Even if their partying late at night you would find them at work dot on time. Something we can definitely learn. They believe in starting their day early so they can finish it early too. You need appointments for everything you cannot barge into anyone’s house or office without prior intimation. This is very unlike India where we can expect guests prior intimation at odd hours and this is considered normal. But, (yeah there always have to be a but) a colleague of mine told me that in the states privacy is such a big thing that sometimes even grandchild has to ask their grandparents the suitable time for his visit. I mean who could have thought of this in India.

They give you the time, can spend hours explaining you if you need help, but you have to await your turn. I mean back home we don’t follow the queue religiously, we are always in a hurry hence breaking queues comes naturally to us. Standing in the queues there I pondered, what made me stand in queues patiently here wherein I would have grown impatient back in my country in the same situation. It’s then that I realised this feeling of social responsibility comes from the environment around where you see everyone around appreciating their social responsibility.

Next on the list was the outlook of the elderly.. I mean you could feel that no one grows old there. The elderly were as active as the young generation. They were eager to learn, well adept with technology much better than even I am, like seriously. They travel alone, I saw old couples like really old couples going on vacations, just the two of them. They had the the latest technology in hand, were in constant touch with the world on the move and were cutely romantic. It was like no one grows old here, everyone has the urge to learn more, explore more, and love more.

 

I love my country a lot and I mean it when I say it, I have no plans whatsoever to shift base to any other country. It’s the most unfathomable thought in my head. My country is beautiful and I truly believe that we are a bunch of very intelligent and diverse people who can achieve anything we want. My recent trip proved to me that both the countries raised their kids with the same set of values but over growing up somewhere in my land we loose the hang of it. We as children are organised and systematic, remember how we formed queues for our school bus or morning assemblies but as we grow divergence occurs and indiscipline sets in.

Sure America must have its own personal problems, there are a lot of problems in that country but here I have no intentions to compare the two countries , there are perhaps many things that even America can learn from us, but currently I am only interested in making my country a better one. We don’t have to emulate them we can just be happy taking or learning from the things they are better than us at.

Everyone has the Right to Dignity

On a crisp Sunday morning (the days that I absolutely love), I was sitting in my balcony with a cup of coffee and a book. I was immersed in the book, was living the life of the characters, enough to take me away from my weekday life when I heard some noises from inside. I thought the television had been switched on and ignored it but gradually the volume increased. Intrigued and irritated, I got up from the very comfortable seat I was in and went inside. The scene that unfolded was not something new. My father in law and my house help were having a very heated argument. I looked on waiting for an opportunity to intervene and stop the drama, I was hearing all nasty things that my father in law was telling her, she herself is not a saint but she was replying in a manner which was much more sophisticated than him. He was not abusing her but commanding her to do her job in a very ruthless manner. At least in my world I consider it ruthless.
So one night I was out for dinner, we went to this pick up your sandwich and leave kind of a place, we entered, ordered, and were waiting for our order to given, when this man barged in and started shouting at the top of his lungs that his sandwich had a sauce that he had not ordered. The cashier tried reasoning with him, human errors happen, that he would replace the sandwich and compensate too. But this man was not ready to listen anything, he was shouting and being abusive in between. One of the things he said was that he could get the shops closed and make everyone loose their jobs and bring them on road. I mean it was just an extra sauce in the sandwich.

On one of my market visits I heard a lady busy arguing with a rickshaw puller about the money he was charging, we all do that some time or the other. But suddenly she slapped the guy out of the blue and the poor old man did not know what to do, tears welled his eyes. And the woman was constantly abusing him, his condition and his roots. I mean come on, don’t give that extra rupee if you don’t want to, he is not going to snatch it from you.

There are many such instances at the back of my mind where we dehumanize a fellow human being for the simple reasons of them being poor, or working under or for us, or just because we think we own everything in the world or simply because we don’t respect other’s dignity. I understand that sometimes we need to be strict to make our point and we can’t comply with everything sent our way. But I always believe that being rude and abusive in such matters is not the solution. We can be stern but not necessarily rude. We should be atleast be respectful of other person’s dignity. It is the least we can do!

The Perfect FairyTale

Early morning I get a distressed call from my mother, there has been a family debacle which needs immediate attention, she says. I am like blurry eyed, half asleep it’s a Sunday for god’s sake. I ask her to calm down, tell her I will give her a call after an hour when I am in a condition to hear and understand. But alas, she digresses and starts complaining instead how I don’t have time, I am not concerned, we raised you, on and on.

I decide to give up and instead listen to the family drama which has unfolded. It seems my cousin wants to get married. Well that’s good news, right, she is well educated, single child, earning pretty well and the right age (25 years to be precise, which is like the marriageable age). So what is the problem I ask? “Problem, problem” she says, “it’s not a problem but the mothers of all problems, one the boy is not of the same caste as ours, secondly she has known him for hardly six months and lastly and most importantly the groom’s family wants her to quit her job post marriage”. I am aghast, I know my cousin, if I am ambitious multiply it but 10000, that’s what her ambition level is. So I ask, “is she ready for this?’, and the answer comes as a ‘Yes’. I conclude that YES this is a topic of utmost importance and decide to give my cousin a call.

I call her after sometime and she is smitten in love, the boy she says is wonderful, the chemistry is just hard to believe. She paints a mills and boons to me, but seven years into a marriage, trust me no mills and boons can wooooo me now. I try to reason with her if she wants quit working amid the lovey dovey story she is telling me. “Ahh who wants the job when you have all the love,” she quips. But she goes on, quitting was not her idea, but was one of the conditions from the groom’s family. The idea is that they are like really well off and don’t need to depend on the daughter in law’s income, ‘What will the world say”? I left a sigh, I did not know what to say, she was one of us who could never let anything come in between her career. I mean I am OK with the idea of leaving jobs for family, only if I want to and not out of compulsion or LOVE as she puts it. I realized that this was beyond reasoning with her and hence I gave up.

She would get married of course, I pray for the best for her. I am into the seventh year of my marriage, and I have realized we don’t remain the same person, the one we fell in love with changes, we ourselves change and so I think leaving or changing your identity for someone does not make sense. Independence, financial, emotional any kind I think in today’s time is very important. I know women who took a sabbatical or totally left their jobs to take care of their families which is perfectly fine if the couple decides it mutually. Relationships should be given paramount importance, but the relationships based on conditions, I don’t know how far they go. I believe a day comes when the loves fades a bit at least, things change and then you ponder on your decision which apparently gets late. So I am ok if my cousin has really thought this through completely, I hope she can see a picture beyond the love web that she has created around her.

The other day I was telling my daughter the snow white story at bedtime and I preferred ending it like this:

“As snow white is in deep sleep and all efforts by the seven dwarfs to wake her up fail, a prince crosses by on his horse. He stops to see what the fuss was all about and is smitten by the beauty of snow white, he bends down to kiss her (That’s like a bit inappropriate I think, right, anyway it is fairytale, I don’t have to use my brains here). She wakes up baffled. Their eyes lock and the prince proposes marriage to her, he tells he wants to make her the queen of the kingdom. She blushes and replies, “Not now my loving charming prince, let us know each other a bit more, let me take a job be independent and still if we think we should, we would.”

Ahhha that’s like a perfect fairy tale ending.