Thursday, March 22, 2012

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month [CSAAM] April 2012

Remember April 2011 on Twitter, Facebook and blogs? We talked about Child Sexual Abuse – the hows, the wheres and the whens. We were overwhelmed by the response it generated, humbled by the weight of the personal stories of despair and courage.

It’s that time of the year again and we’re going ahead with Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month – April 2012.

Do you have a story to tell?  Tips to share? A video, a link, an ebook? As a parent, as an adult, as a child? As before, we honour all requests for anonymity.

Bring your experience and your expertise to this awareness initiative via

  1. Blog posts with the logo (you can copy the image above), linkback to our blog, with the words “CSAAM April 2012” in the title
  2. Twitter posts or links to @CSAawareness, tagged “#CSAAM”
  3. FB notes linking to our Facebook page
  4. Emails to
  5. Or just simply show support by displaying the Picsquare badge on your site/page/profile.

This year, we hope to increase our focus and reach with our new CSAAM App and our sensitisation workshops. You’ll find both in our blog come April 2012.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I wake up in the morning and I ask myself

is the meltdown over?

Some mornings I wake up fine.

Today I napped after the maid left and I woke up frantic with panic and worry and hate.

This is not me. This is somebody I am trying to lead out of this maze she's stuck in but I'm holding on to the thought that this is not me, that the calm, sensible me is still in control, still at the helm, still in charge... still looking after me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2 in the morning

I'm up once more. I have been staying up nights for a while. Talking. Reading. Watching TV. Mostly just sitting around, my thoughts in a loop. Dreaming of other days, other worlds.

Some have changed and some remain. Love's not new but it's unutterably sweet when a little son falls asleep in my arms. And I tell myself, I'm lucky in this at least, it must suffice.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Like I said, I have my good days and I have my bad but the one thing that one can pretty much bet money upon is that the bad is followed by the good. At my sulkiest I will burst out laughing at a funny piece of writing or make a joke despite my mood.

This is a good thing, of course, this eternal optimism, because even though I know quite well to the contrary, I continue to have a glimmer of hope that perhaps my will will prevail (it hasn't, in any major decision), that I will not have to take the first step (I always have to take the first step), that things will inexplicably fix themselves given enough time and distance.

There are times, quite a lot of them, when my very optimism exasperates me. I would like to hold on to a grudge, for example. I rarely if ever do. What has happened on a handful of occasions is that one day I wake up having achieved emotional distance (as happened with my brother, with my mother-in-law, with B) and after that their actions matter little if at all. But I don't hold a grudge against them and I rarely bitch about them once I reach this stage. I'm matter of fact, factual and quite honest about why I'm not interested in them any longer. I think they call this closure although I could of course be wrong. Maybe they call this giving up or coming to your senses or finally accepting that some relationships are just not meant to be.

But I think it would be nice to sulk for days or hold a grudge for years (to my consternation I frequently forget why I stopped talking to So-and-so). I would like to wallow in my grief for extended periods of time. I would like to rave and rant and have a real session of existentialist angst.

Instead, I forget I'm upset and catch myself laughing. You'd think this is a good thing but sometimes (just sometimes) it's bloody annoying.

The Talk

A while ago in February I was working in the kitchen and Rahul was dancing around the house (he doesn't walk) when he danced up to talk to me. One thing led to another and the next I knew, he was asking me how babies were made.

I've only been a mother five years. You'd think his curiosity could wait. This big school business and hanging out with his seniors is no joke.

I was not completely unprepared though because he had already sprung this on his favourite aunt (my Cousin J) back in Delhi last December. She, the weasel, had opted out by telling him he would know when he was older.

So I took a deep breath and told him how it happens. I told him that first the father and the mother get married (well, hah) and then they decide to have a baby (hah!) and so the father takes the baby who is really, really tiny, even smaller than the small red seeds he collects on the Moore Avenue roof, and the father puts this tiny baby into the mother's 'tummy' (ahem) and the mother keeps the baby safe there until it is a little bigger and can stay outside, when the doctors help her bring it out.

To further questions I answered

1. Yes, the mother can bring it out by herself but it helps to have doctors nearby.

2. The father gets the baby from a special place and when he grows up he'll know where to get them too.

3. Yes, he stayed in my 'tummy' and I have some photos of that which he can see when I next come across them.

4. Babies get fed by a little pipe that connects their belly buttons to their mothers so that what the mothers eat go through the pipe to the baby's tummy. Yes, that's what belly buttons are for. Yes, his too. (He was thrilled with this piece of information having been fascinated by his belly button for years.)

He seemed content with this much information and I was heaving a sigh of relief until it struck me that he is absolutely bound to share this with his classmates whose parents' may find this TMI. Then I remembered that none of his classmates' parents know us or our phone numbers and heaved another sigh of relief.

The boy has got over a great deal of his inborn aversion and contempt for 'gerls' but he is somewhat jealous of a potential wife (I once mentioned that we would all love his wife since she would be his wife and therefore special to us all -- it made him hysterical with jealousy). So, as of now, he has decided that he wants babies when he is quite grown up (perhaps 90 years old, like he believes I am) but he is going to put that baby in his own tummy so he can do without the services of a wife, thank you very much.

Somehow, this reminds me of the time when he proudly told me that he was going to grow up and be me. If you ask me, my son could do a lot worse.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Portrait of the Boy as a Four Year-Old

Last March I commissioned a painting from Sreetama, a friend of mine from college days. She lives in Gurgaon now, with her husband and dog, and is painting some lovely canvases. I wanted a portrait of Rahul as he was then, wearing his red crocs, not quite 4, intensely imaginative, dividing all his time between Delhi, Vizag and Calcutta and intensely in love with pirate ships, deer, trains and aeroplanes. It took us a few sketches to whittle down what would be in the picture and what we would have to leave out and the cost went up some but Vicky and I agreed that the end result was worth everything.

I met Sreetama in Gurgaon last May and brought the painting home and there it's patiently waited for a frame and a wall. Our new place is short on wall space since we have a great many windows, but eventually we decided to put the painting right above Rahul's head, over his bed. It's the first thing to greet you as you look into his room --

-- and it makes Rahul's first 'own' room that much more special.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Shooting with Soldiers

We went to Shillong in September 2010, right, and Baba (my dad) and Vicky both got themselves bows and arrows and while they were at it, 17' long fishing rods as well. They found all that in Barabazaar and went a little nuts. Vicky even went through an arrow-making phase a month later when he ordered bamboo from Assam and sourced tiny scissors for arrowheads. Unfortunately though, apart from one or two shooting sessions at home (to the detriment of one wall) and once, at a friend's house, neither Baba nor his son-in-law found space to really shoot to their hearts' content in all this time.

This January we went to Vizag for a week. One afternoon we decided to go for a drive to a hill which has  a Buddhist site on it and is usually quite deserted (apart from the odd lovers trysting behind bushes.) The men decided to take along the bows and arrows as well as Baba's shotgun, air rifle and air pistol. (Imagine Rahul's intense excitement. On an earlier trip to Vizag I had helped restore his faith in humanity by being able to shoot, even if I'm only a 'gerl'.)

The hill turned out to be more populated than we'd hoped and we drove around a bit looking for a quiet spot. When we were right at the top we stopped and found a little lane leading into a bit of a clearing which seemed viable for shooting since we would be able to see anybody approaching us. Not that we could see anybody except for some labourers in a half-constructed building in the distance.

We set up our targets and started firing. Within a very few minutes some armed guards (with an assortment of guns including an AK47) had walked up to us asking what we thought we were doing. Those people in that building weren't labourers, they were a newly set up army guard!

I was mentally thanking god we had decided not to fire the shotgun. Things seemed to teeter on the edge of trouble until one of them noticed Vicky on the side stacking up his arrows. That sparked their interest, that and the presence of Rahul and I, all the more since I was the one firing the air rifle when they reached us. What with one thing and another they spent the next one hour firing the air rifle and pistol and some hardy souls even tried the archery. More soldiers joined them, and a commanding officer, until there were I think about 8-10 of them discussing guns with my father and taking archery tips from Vicky. Around the time we were winding up I finally got the air rifle back and managed a few decent shots. That set them on their mettle -- this 'girl' doing what only one of them had managed so far -- and we had another round of intense competition.

It was a fun afternoon, with them teasing Rahul and discussing us in Telugu (which they didn't know I could follow) but I can tell you, I exhaled long and loud when they finally left!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Many 'Me's

Every day, every single day, something I do or think or notice makes a part of me shrug or sigh or laugh or wonder at how I've gone back to being the straightlaced kid that first came to Cal twelve years ago. I have explored other worlds, enjoyed myself exploring, and am now back in this mould -- by choice.

Other times, in those same days, the other sides of me get uppermost, some fretting at this life I lead, some wistful about parallel lives long abandoned, work I never did, texts I never studied, people I was supposed to meet and never somehow did. Sometimes a part of me scolds, trying to pull me out of this almost complacent inertia that is my life today, telling me that I am young and worlds await my conquering.

I have a request, odd as it sounds. I find blogging very difficult these days since so many of my regular readers are now friends and aquaintances with whom I interact off-blog too. So yes, this request is for you. If my posts are unhappy or disturb you, please let it pass. Do not mail me or call me or ask me what it means, if I'm OK. I'm not OK, not even remotely close to being OK and I haven't the faintest idea when I will be OK. But if you ask I shall find myself answering you brightly that yes, I'm fine, really, don't worry, that post was just a mood, it has passed. That will be another me, a public me, put on show, and you don't like it any more than I do.

This mood has not passed, is not passing and I am struggling with it most days. When I'm fine I'm sure it'll show. Till then, I cannot answer your questions honestly. And I may just, for a while, switch off comments on certain posts. Thank you for your discretion.

Acting my age

I just yelled at Vicky so he walked off to 'his' room and went to sleep. (It's what he does.)

Then I yelled at Rahul and smacked him and ordered him to stay in there with his father on pain of further smacking.

This claustrophobia is killing me.