Ripples of my Reflections

I think, therefore I write

Page 2 of 65

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 🙂

Stop giving us what we already have

Before thinking about providing salaries to women who manage the household, before debating if this is a right idea or is it putting a price on things done out of love, before arguing about whether this is a pride or an insult, how about we do a few basic things?

Before talking about money, status, and pride, let’s talk respect, compassion, sharing the load, treating them lovingly. Let’s stop the empowerment rage for one second and let’s talk why the necessity for empowerment was born. Let’s stop the oppression (not just for women). Let’s stop the patriarchy that is conditioned into each cell of this society. Let’s stop forwarding the distasteful jokes about marriage and how women spoil men’s life after marriage. Stop kidding yourselves.

Women don’t need protectors. Women don’t need someone else to justify their work. They need one thing – just letting them be. Treat them fair. Respect them for who they are. Women who need someone else to voice their concern won’t exist today if they were not fed years of implicit and explicit patriarchy.

For every brand that uses women’s day as a campaign premise,
For every politician who uses women empowerment just for the vote bank,
For every single person who thinks the marriage/husband-wife jokes on WhatsApp are funny,
For every brand that makes a sexist ad for cheap popularity,
Stop creating the problem and you wouldn’t have to search for the solution. Stop doing what you do and you wouldn’t need to empower women. Women are empowered, more than you’d think, more than you’d know, more than you could ever imagine. Just stop being a jerk and start being unconditionally unbiased.

Until later 🙂

A parent’s anguish

My almost-3-yr-old has been extremely cooperative and understanding of the situation considering her age, what with us being holed indoors. I try to be positive but as days turned into months which could now turn into years, there are times when worry eats me. The worry is mostly for my family, with an at risk husband and a toddler whose life seems to have been turned upside down. She does not know it but I do. And on bad days, the knowledge of what should have been and the memories of what were, breaks my heart.

My heart breaks into countless pieces,
When I see you holed inside these 4 walls,
You are peeping out the window,
Achingly looking at the playground,
That was your second home until a few months ago.
You don’t understand what changed and why,
All you know is that there is something out there,
Some call it corona, some call it the virus,
You get that it is something scary,
Something you don’t want to catch,
And that’s why you can’t go out.
Even the few occasions you stepped out for a walk,
With your Amma and Appa, you wore a mask,
You wore it with enthusiasm, the new cool thing for you,
You thought you were part of a grown up ritual and exulted,
Little did you know of my anguish at that sight,
Of you having to wear a mask to stay healthy and probably to stay alive.
At your age, you hardly remember a world before and after,
For you, what you see is what you get.
Hold on tight, my baby, for hope is the only thing keeping us going,
Hold on tight, to us, your parents who seem to be the world for you now,
To the vague memories of going out to that restaurant or mall,
To those memories of your birthday celebrations that just escaped the clutches of this pandemic,
To those dreams of going to your first school and playing with new friends,
Just hold on tight, let’s hope, this too shall pass.
Just so that I don’t break,
Let me believe in miracles, and
That the world will be yours again to explore.

Until later 🙁

A worthless gift

Something I wrote in a bleh state of mind, thinking about children of today who are to be the keepers of this world tomorrow.

Oh my precious little one, my hope was still bright
When you stepped into this world
Today, I am not so sure if I was right.

The world I gave you doesn’t seem so ideal
Most days, it does not show any promise of getting better
Nor does it promise you anything that’s real

The rational part of me says, this is not your battle to fight,
Do what you can to your best and teach as much
But I cringe, wondering if you even got your birthright.

Clear air, water and a place to live is all you need
Even those are hard to come by and,
Nature’s already looking for ways to trim the weed.

I really hope you get a chance to
Love what you have, and
Live how you want,
Cherish your life as you rest.

But hope is all I got,
For I am also one part of all this havoc,
Nothing else can I say except that I am sorry,
For giving you the world in this state.

Until later 🙁

Recreating memories

By this post, you would know that my interest in cooking is fairly recent. It still is a chore for me on most days but I manage to get by knowing that I can cook up a delicious meal, when needed. Anyway, as I made my way through different dishes from amma’s culinary repertoire, trying one at a time, I realized that the newly discovered interest has a backstory after all. One that’s so obvious that I am surprised that I missed it.

I miss my mom and her cooking.

Though this has happened when I first moved out from home to my hostel, then dealing with various cuisines of PG food (ugh!) throughout my spinster life and so on. I have missed amma’s cooking earlier too but that was different. This time, with each of us locked in different cities in the pandemic, it’s been a while since mom got a chance to pamper me and my daughter I got a dose of her pampering. It’s amazing how she never gets bored with cooking and always has the energy to cook up something delicious.

Anyway, this week as I tried my hand at making Vaazhaipoo urundai (A type of falafel made from banana flower), Vaazhaithandu adai (A patty with banana stem – a variant of the first dish), paruppu dosai (My favorite dish with coconut chutney, always ready when I visit home from hostel), Mushroom curry fry, Masala dosa and many more of mom’s signature dishes, the aromas wafting through my kitchen reminded me of my childhood memories, particularly around food that I enjoyed the most as I grew up. I could just close my eyes and see amma working her way around in that dingy kitchen of the monumental house that I grew up in.

Amma in the kitchen was the norm for us. I was a pathetic daughter who didn’t help around much, I did an odd chore here or there but that was it. Yes, I do feel bad that I didn’t do more for her. I would ask her why she keeps at it and how she is not bored day after day, doing the same chore and she would reply, “You enjoy the food, right?” I couldn’t imagine the level of selflessness it took to have that attitude, even if it is for one’s own daughter.

For more than 30 years, she has never tired of the kitchen and cooking. Every time I cook something, my mind automatically compares it with amma’s. The comfort of childhood memories with amma combined with the comfort of food just makes my heart fill with content to the brim. That’s probably what made the experience better for me with time – else I was unhappy that I had to work to develop the interest unlike amma for whom it just came naturally.

Of course, there is a benefactor to all this – my daughter. She is happy that she is getting a variety of dishes as opposed to the mundane routine of rice and sambhar. I don’t think I’ll ever get over amma’s cooking, no matter how old I get. I hope my daughter retains some of these memories as nostalgia when she’s all grown up. I am surprised that she, unlike me, shows an interest in cooking and household chores at such an young age. She loves sitting in the kitchen and watching me cook. And narrating the recipe to her as I cook does make the chore less boring. Sometimes, I put on music and we do a bit of dancing jumping around as well.

So if my daughter looks back at one of these evenings and thinks of it as fondly as I think of my mom in the kitchen, I’d consider it my greatest reward.

Until later 🙂

P.S: Maybe, I should start posting some recipes. Lemme think about it.

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