I think, therefore I write

Category: LIFE HAPPENS (Page 1 of 24)

Surreal

Aditi is already 3.5 years old. Where did the time go? I feel like I was just holding her in my arms, trying to squeeze my little finger into her closed fist.

It’s been more than a year since the pandemic started. It feels much much longer that we are living with shut doors, masked faces, and a handwashing or sanitizing habit that we will never forget for eons to come.

I am on a team meeting with my colleague. I suppose he has a 2 screen setup. He looks out at me from me screen directly, while I look at the side view of his face. Such a thing would have caused a real mayhem with my parents, who have not taken to technology kindly. But virtual meetings, toggling video, mute/unmute have become muscle memory now for us.

Aditi already knows how to handle her online classes. The only surprise for me is her level of interest in it. It was a pleasant shock to see her more interested in the online classes than her parents. She knows how to mute and unmute as needed, switch on and off her video for breaks, and leave the zoom meeting after the class is over. 2 months into it and she technically doesn’t need me for the logistics!!

My 1 year old niece knows me as her aunt whose face appears on her dad’s phone every Saturday. She still smiles at me with so much joy as if she has known me in person for a long time. She doesn’t give up trying to catch me or give something to me through the phone either.

A friend’s birthday came up and everyone in the WhatsApp group realized it’s been 14 long years since the day when we took the picture that is our WhatsApp group icon. 14 years and the occasional pings on the group and some isolated meets here and there.

The iconic skywalk that was synonymous of our college’s fame is being removed now and I couldn’t imagine the place without it. Then I realized that it’s been 11 years since I passed out and I haven’t stepped foot in my alma matter yet! I am appalled.

So many surrealist experiences, so little time to process them!

Until later 🙂

Hope

Hope – a funny thing, enables you to go on when things are at their worst. But also disappoints when you keep clinging on to it but things don’t go your way for a long time. I have often pondered if holding on to hope is worth all the hype. However, the option is to just give up and then.. there is nothing else to do. Perhaps, that’s why I always choose hope in any situation, however hard it is.

This year started out fine and the first half of the year actually had me hoping for better things and a brighter life than 2020. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The tide turned for the worse in May 2021 and the following months were some of the darkest ones I had to endure in life. My husband’s health issues and us being alone in Bangalore with a toddler amidst the pandemic were enough to send our roller coaster out of control and things started spiraling quickly.

With humungous effort and strength, I had to make a few hard decisions. I wouldn’t say that everything is resolved now. If I am honest, I can only say that things are going on. That’s about it. Every day passes by in a haze of habitual activities without any real conviction.

At first glance, I can only look at the negatives:

*Hubby’s health is still a worry.

*Relationship with in-laws at its worst. There was not much to work with and it’s become clear that that bridge is burnt for a long while now.

*My daughter is in a phase where she needs a lot of attention and I doubt if I am giving all the love and attention that she deserves.

*There’s no clarity about when we will be able to return to our place in Bangalore and think about a normal routine.

*I am not sure what to decide about retaining our babysitter without availing her services or to relieve her so that she can make other plans for her stable income.

*I haven’t cooked properly in 2 months. I was finally getting to enjoy cooking but at my mom’s place, things are a lot difficult for me to cook. I don’t want to mess my mom’s kitchen quoting my ways. But it just isn’t comfortable to take interest and cook here. So I just let my mom cook and help her with the other chores.

*My grandmother lives with us here and it is getting more difficult for us to take care of her, with her health and memory issues. She is getting worse with her episodes and it is taking a toll on my mother, who is a primary care-giver for her.

Basically, my usual life is put on pause and the resume button is nowhere near to sight. It might seem like a trivial thing to crib about but for someone who is handling as much as I do, for as long as I have, I don’t think it is trivial.

Despite all this, I try to force my mind back to the present every day. As soon as I wake up, I try to tell myself that it is a new day. It has the possibility to bring a positive change. I tell myself that I can think of something, anything that can improve my mood for the day and get excited about it. I practice mindfulness meditation for a while, do my chores, get immersed in office work (something that distracts me positively from all my other worries), spend as much time as possible with my daughter so that her joy and innocence rubs on me as well. I tell myself that if it is rock bottom, the only way from here is up. If it is not, well, it is bound to hit rock bottom soon and then the only way from there is up. All this shows that I still have hope, even if it is the last smidgen that I managed to scrape for the day.

So here I am, trying to end this post on a positive note, trying to make space for gratitude in a life that seems to be full of things devoid of the same thing. Here goes my gratitude list for the month of August:

*Glad to have met my childhood friend and her kid after 7 long years. We just did not have enough time to catch up.

*Glad that I don’t have to brave Bangalore’s unpredictable weather and be afraid every time someone at home sneezes or coughs.

*Glad that my daughter, oblivious to the problems of being an adult, is enjoying herself at her grandparents’ place. She is enjoying virtual school more than I expected, enjoying time with my parents for a longer time than it usually would be, and getting to taste all of my mom’s delicacies.

*Glad that I was able to go out and dine at a couple of my favorite haunts recently. It made me feel like the world is normal for a brief time.

*Glad for the help that I got during a tough time. It might not be unconditional. It might not be ideal but it is there.

With that gratitude list, I am going to carry hope as a beacon for as long as I can and go in search of my life’s pieces. I hope to make sense of the pieces eventually and put them back together.

Until later 🙂

Parenting lessons #1

I must admit, I am a skeptical and a cynical person for the most part. Although, I outwardly appear strong and positive to many, most of the times, I am worrying about something or the other inside. I struggle with keeping negative thoughts at bay and hence I go into a constant loop of overthinking, worrying, and fear. Given this predisposition, you could imagine the level of anxiety, stress, and fear my mind can generate as this horrible pandemic rages on. The only way I seem to be able to cope is to live in denial for the most part while taking all the necessary precautions anyway. I spend my daytime doing all the chores, cribbing and crying over how difficult it is. I spend my nights thinking about my privilege of being able to work and earn from home, having the family safe so far, and having my essential needs met.

As I oscillate between being the ingrate and being extremely grateful for everything I have, our toddler has taken to different coping methods of being cooped inside with no one to play with, her parents always claiming that they have some or the other work to do. I worry about her, her social skills, the impact of this situation on her, her future, and so on. It may seem like overkill but what did I tell you? I am a worrier. If I worry about general stuff, my life, or my husband 50 times a day, I worry about our daughter 100 times a day.

Anyway, today I gave my daughter a fishing game to keep her engaged while I was working. The game goes through the typical workflow of catching a fish with a fishing rod. She claimed that the fish needed water to live and only then she can catch the fish from the water. No matter what I said, she was not convinced that it is just play and she can pretend that there is water. So I gave her a box with water and asked her to put the fish inside it and then play fishing. She was okay with that for a while. Then she wanted to feed the fish. Again the same routine of convincing her that it is not really required as she was going to catch the fish anyway and her denial continued. Finally I gave in just so that I can get back to work, I gave her bits of paper and asked her to use it as pretend food for the fish.

She was finally playing happily when I noticed that she was not catching the fish at all. When I probed her with a few questions, I realized that she was happier pretending that the fish are happily swimming in the water, feeding on what she is giving them than actually catching them and putting them out of the water, thereby costing their lives. She actually reasoned with me that she does not want to catch the poor fish because they would become sad and that they cannot live. (Yeah, she still hasn’t grasped the concept of life-death fully well but to a fair extent).

This whole thing just goes to show how much positivity and hope kids have in spite of being in a bad situation. I know that their innocence and loving nature is what gives them the ability to see the good in everything. Something as simple as the glee when they get a cookie makes them forget everything else. I long for that. I am tired of being an adult, worrying all the time. I wish I could be like a kid, just being who I am, now. I have heard that the way to do this is being mindful of the present and realizing the power of now, but that is definitely easier said than done.

Until later 🙂

P.S: I did an intentional twist with the title. It is not a lesson in parenting, it is a lesson learnt as a parent.

Too good to be true

I have always believed that when something is too good to be true, it probably is. That’s the reason I approach seasonal offers, giveaways, and the like with a sense of wariness. However, I fell long and hard in one experience. I had hired a domestic help when I moved to our new home back in 2015.

It was my first experience as an employer and I didn’t know the nuances of being the boss for a domestic help. I decided to just be compassionate and honest with my expectations. It seemed to be working fine and despite my neighbors having issues with the same maid, I didn’t have much to complain other than the occasional issue of her taking off on many days without informing. I took it in my stride and just warned her to inform me when she takes off. I have almost never cut her pay, have given her an advance on her payment whenever she needed it for her family, even loaned her a significant amount when she claimed that her son had met with an accident and she needed money for hospital expenses. I never gave her extra work, was sympathetic when she was ill etc. Overall, we had a very cordial employer-employee relationship.

Over a period of time, I noticed her dropping work from other houses and expected her to do the same with us as she had gotten a big contract of cleaning the corridors of the entire apartment. I understood that it would get her the salary she needed in one go, without having to go to 7-8 houses and build up her salary. It also meant intense effort for 2-3 hours of her day but after that she gets the entire day off. So I expected her to tell me that she cannot continue working for me and had resigned to the fact that I had to get another maid. I was also a bit sad because she was the best at what she did. She used to wash the vessels sparkling clean and she cleaned every corner of the house she could reach. While many of friends kept cribbing about the quality of work that their househelps did, I considered myself lucky to have found someone who cleaned the place better than I could. In any case, she never dropped the work at my place and I assumed that it was because she found it easy enough to complete along with the apartment cleaning work and also because I was never very strict with her in terms of leave and other issues.

I should have known better. What I didn’t know was that she was maintaining a very calm and low profile with me and probably took extra effort to keep me impressed (this is my guess, could be wrong) while she was skimming money from us. We had found ourselves second guessing that we had less money in our wallets but assumed that we had missed monitoring our expenses. This last month, we had started logging our expenses to the penny and when we found ourselves in the same position for more than 3 times in a row, we knew something was amiss. What followed was a cat and mouse game and eventually I gathered evidence, confronted, and fired her. When I spoke to my neighbors, I learnt that she had done similar things in other houses and got fired from there.

Now, I don’t know how long she has been stealing from me – was it recent or was I a fool all these years but I am glad that it came to an end. And now I understood that there are other things to look for other than the quality of the work. For the past week, I felt so enraged that I was such a fool to have trusted her. But there is no point in crying now when it was really my mistake to have done so. So in all aspects of life, when something is too good to be true, it is.

Until later 🙂

Little things that matter

After the year that was 2020, we didn’t have much plans or hope for 2021. We didn’t plan to break out of our shell anytime soon. But, having a toddler at home and the nanny on leave, Bangalore’s December drove us to different decisions and destinations. After a week’s failed attempt at handling things ourselves, we accepted defeat and ran to our hometown where our parents live.

Amidst the fear and initial shock of the outside world, we were forced to come to terms with the fact that we can only be cautious but cannot force anyone else to follow any form of social distancing or precautions. I agree that we were living on one extreme, not without reason though, and the majority of the world around us was on the other extreme. So this homecoming served as a balancer for us. After a fortnight there and visiting our families there, we came back to Bangalore but I still didn’t feel the pang as my mom came along with us. The plan was that she’d stay for a month. So altogether, we were out of our usual routine for a month and a half. Where did all that time go? Sigh!

After coming back to Bangalore, we were desensitized enough to venture out on our terms with necessary precautions. Our toddler started on the infamous terrible 3s this year and we realized that even if we wanted to, we could not keep her cooped up any longer. When back in Bangalore, she was in her territory and unveiled all of her super powers of throwing a tantrum and melting down, just because she can. On the upside, she had immensely enjoyed the trip – visiting her grandparents’ places, being the center of everyone’s attention, getting to know things outside of the 4 walls that we call home.

After a month that whizzed by, today, my mom left for her place, routine, and life. This time, I did take part in the chores unlike most other times of her visit, when I let down totally and chill. Still, she has such an impact that getting back to the grind hits hard. More than the chores, it is the feeling of being responsible and being a grown-up. Being the pivot of the family at all times. I don’t know how she does it. When she is around, irrespective of how much work I do, she is the pivot. Man, is this how she felt around her mother, whom she lost last year? She never explicitly conveyed the pain of losing her mother and just accepted the fact that her 97-year-old mother’s time to rest in peace had come. But I can understand how the realization, that you don’t have that one person who was your pivot, could be.

It is in the small things that we take for granted – switching off the lights when you forget, ensuring the breakfast is fresh and hot, making sure the bath water is just right for my daughter when she comes back from the playground, keeping my daughter’s attention so that I can cook or attend a office meeting in peace. And more that are so part of the routine, yet sometimes, I’d have to sacrifice and adjust if it is not right. You wouldn’t feel it when it is being taken care of, by someone. It hits you when you are the person who is responsible for each of these and more. I don’t know when I get to visit her place or she can plan to come to our place again . But I know it will be a while to get used to the longing in me and get going. I have a hard time being the grown-up. I do it because I have to but it does not come naturally to me. I often wonder why or how I am not as selfless or as responsible as my mom. I don’t know the answer but I do know this – I can be my own person, I can learn from my mom and I can strive to be the best for my daughter.

Until later 🙂

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