Monday, May 30, 2011

Versatility & Motherhood

The two could be synonymous, you know. Or you could, like my dad, suggest that "Mother is the necessity for inventions."

Kiran awarded me a fun blogger's prize some weeks ago, the Versatile Blogger award, meant for folks like me who can never settle on a blogging niche, I imagine.

To honour the award I have to list out a few random facts about myself. Here goes:
1. Class X: Highest Board marks were in Maths (my XII Maths marks nearly made me repeat the year)
2. Class XII: School Vice Captain
3. UG 1: Wrote an impassioned defence of Mills & Boons for a tutorial (marks went as percentages into my degree)

I am tossing it on to
Y because I still don't see how somebody who gave birth to twins just the other day while juggling another young kid and a job also found time to write a book. Lady, that's versatile!


Itchy who says she doesn't do anything particularly extraordinary -- but she does. On top of her immense workload at office and home she has recently begun reviewing books on a freelance basis.

Kiran also tagged me to write on 'What Mommyhood Taught Me'. This is where I am on shakier ground. What have four years of mothering taught me?

a) That parents, uncles and aunts never really loved me. They only put up with me for the grandchild that would appear on the scene one day.

b) That skinny little arms hugging one does indeed take away a lot of the pain.

c) That Vicky and I can work together as a team which is comforting given that he and I have so little in common apart from mutual exasperation and awesome sex.

d) That I am not a patient person. Nor am I gentle, nor unconditionally loving.

e) That the sheer act of giving birth automatically gives me membership to an esoteric club of other mothers who nod along while I curse the child without ever taking me or the cursing seriously, who will know what I mean when I say I am tired after a couple of sleepless nights (it's not the same as it was when I stayed up working or partying or just because), who will recite lists of medications and home remedies and recipes when my own brains have sputtered to a stop, who will expect me to do as much for them and as matter-of-factly as they do for me... I could go on but either you are a member and don't need this explained or you are not and will not really understand the relief that fellow members bring.

Tagging fellow members:

Restless Quill
M2KNP who I still call Anaathaa in my head :) Welcome back, woman.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Discussing Death

In a Babycentre mailer this morning I received this link on discussing death with preschoolers. I thought I would write about it because it's been surfacing in our lives in recent months.

The thing about the boy is, there is so much going on in that little head that we have no idea about. Sometimes Ma and Mejopishi and Vicky mention how he confides in them about his fears and missing people he loves.

In March or April this year he was running my mother ragged while on a visit to her. Eventually she begged him to cut her some slack because she was growing old and couldn't keep up. To her surprise, instead of cracking up at the idea of "Didi" being old, he became very serious and asked if that meant she too would soon become a star in the sky. He explained that he had had a grandfather who died and became a star in the sky and if Didi too left him then how would he manage with her so far away?

My mother took it very seriously and explained that she wasn't that old and she would actually be around for many years yet. She reassured him and cuddled him and the moment passed. She told me about it later and it shook me.

Death defined the end of an era for me, for all of us cousins. My paternal grandfather died when I was nine and with him ended a lifetime of love and security as only he could provide. That is partly why I was so devastated for Rahul when Baba died. I knew what had gone even while I was glad that my father-in-law himself was out of his pain.

I watched Rahul stop asking about his 'Thakur', stop even stopping by his photographs, slowly relegate him to the past. I wondered if he had forgotten him but I suspected some sense of that bond remained. We have and do talk about him to Rahul, Vicky especially, and tell him stories to keep what we can alive.

The hardest thing was explaining to him what had happened to his grandfather. I remembered explaining death to two baby cousins when their grandfather (my great-uncle) died. These two little girls were wandering around a big house and wondering what had happened. I took them to the balcony and showed them the stars over the lake in front of the house and said that he had gone away to become a star. That, funnily enough, seemed to be something they could grasp. Of course, I told their mother what I had said so she could deal with further questions. My aunt is the relaxed sort who luckily did not take offence at my explanation. I gave Rahul the same explanation when his grandfather died. It was not something he referred to much in the two years since then but he has obviously thought a great deal about it.

Aunty D lost her father last month. My mother and I spent the day with her, I returning home in the evening while Ma stayed back. Vicky, Rahul and I picked Ma up in the evening to take her out to dinner (she was, unsurprisingly, exhausted). After we had dropped her home and were going home ourselves, Rahul suddenly asked us if Aunty D's father had become a star in the sky too. This was a few weeks after his chat with my mother so I braced myself. Sure enough, he started on my mother dying and leaving him behind. I had tears in my own eyes, it had been a difficult day, but I told him that she wasn't going to die for ever and ever and when she eventually did, she'd see him everywhere instead of only being around when she was in town. She could talk to him all the time from within and he would have her with him always. I don't know how much that comforted him but he seemed to consider the matter and seemed satisfied with the explanation.

Is this what the experts would recommend? I don't know. But I do believe in rebirth and have always been comforted by the idea of my grandfather being around somewhere, able to see me, being proud of me.

Being a parent isn't easy. Being a parent and a child simultaneously seems even harder.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thoughts while I'm not blogging

In other words, I'm not here, I'm not here, as the Roman soldier told the Gauls.

1. I left Cal still staggering under the weight of the mighty Left Front and returned two weeks later to photographs of Mamata Banerjee and three-petalled flowers everywhere.

2. This heat is actually leaving me incapacitated. I've been back less than 48 hours I admit but I'm finding it extremely difficult to function. And there is so much to do!

3. I actually find myself rootless in Cal without the boys (they are in Delhi). Without them I could be anywhere else as easily as I am here. Now there's a thought.

4. Have you read this review? Oh my sainted aunt.

More later, as I get used to the stickiness. Till then, I can always chomp down some worms, I suppose.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brimful of Asha

A girl has dreams. One of mine was a boyfriend who would sing for me. Sing of his love for me shamelessly, publicly. Write stories about the girl he thought I was and poems of the woman he saw. I did date Beq who wrote beautiful poetry and made the most stirring music but he scorned dedications and was content to remain poetically vague every time I dared hope I was the subject. Very disappointing the whole business was, but I tell myself, at least he was honest about it!

Vicky sang songs to me, for me. Songs from an era that nobody else I knew had ever been interested in. Songs that were light and lilting. He sent me lines from those songs as messages to my phone and quoted them in letters to me. When we set up home together he filled our little flat with jazz on Sunday mornings.

There are days when I feel a little sorry for myself because nobody did write me that epoch-making poem or world-changing song but then I remember all the songs my men did sing to me, from my father’s tuneless rhymes tothe innuendo-laden love song that my first love sang as he dared me to do something about the attraction sizzling between us; from the one song that Beq did finally admit he may have perhaps sung for me to the many that Vicky so happily hummed around me; from the rubbish Rahul and I make up to the ones that he and I dance to: and it’s hard not to feel the love.

I've been in Delhi for nearly a fortnight and Vicky's joining us in a few hours and excuse me while I feel all fluttery-happy. Isn't our man the lucky one!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mantra for Survival

What makes you mine or I yours? Do I make the mistake you do, of refusing to look beyond the words to acknowledge the actions that may conceivably display caring and maybe occasionally a little affection? Or was it stupid of me to infuse your little actions with more than you meant by them? Why should it hurt more than everything else that it was true, that I was not being melodramatic when I stated that you never considered me family?

There are so many questions I never ask and perhaps more that I am never asked and all for what? I’m not the one living alone, unsure of whom to lean on. I have so much. It really shouldn’t hurt.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Walk into the pain...

The hardest part of being a performer -- for me -- is stepping into the skin of the person or thing I am supposed to be. While I have no qualms using my own experiences to help me feel what my character is supposed to feel, I do have major problems going on to the next step, i.e. leaving Sunayana Roy behind. Sunayana Roy has her head firm on her shoulders and has worked out most of her problems into neat little pigeonholes. The ones she hasn't been able to lock up she has learnt to live with, but that is not what theatre is all about.

I just watched Black Swan with Cousin J (I'm in Delhi right now) and I suddenly had a moment of epiphany. I realised what is holding me back from fully embracing the role of Payal in My Mother Said I Never Should/Ma Bolchhe Korish Na: I'm just too scared to walk into the great, big hole of hurt that is Payal. I've been too scared to let that pain wash over me because it's not something I can snap into and out of in the 1-2 hour rehearsal time.

I guess, though, now it is showtime.

Friday, May 06, 2011

I've worn my dad's old shirts

... but I don't know what I think of a dad returning the compliment!

What about you? Would you be OK with your dad/mum wearing your shirts and trousers (or socks or jackets or whatever)? Obviously this is only something to think about if the parent who's borrowing is from the other gender. Ma and I exchange sarees and accessories all the time.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Drinking with Family

A new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that teens who drink under their parents' supervision — the occasional sip at dinner or during holidays — are more likely to become problem drinkers a few years later than those whose parents, like mine, adopted a zero-tolerance policy.

You can read more here.

All I am going to say is, what crap.