Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Showers of Blessings -- I

This little baby inside me is 35 weeks old now. At this stage, Rahul was delivered by C-sec. This one though, will stay as long as it wants because both my doctor and I prefer it that way. While it's hopefully getting bigger and fatter and smarter and whatnoter, let me tell you about all my many, many baby showers.

The first one was the traditional shaadh Ma planned for me early this year. She settled on May 2, a most auspicious date I'm told, and in my seventh month, and at first we considered a big family shindig. A couple of incidents brought us back to earth very rapidly, reminding us that we exist in very political families and also that we're heartily sick of the politics. Then my friends went missing for various reasons and what with the auspicious hour ending firmly at 8.30 in the am, the shaadh happened with only my mother, me and Vicky.

I wore the beautiful Byloom saree Ma-Baba gifted me for the occasion and a new gold Krishna pendant my grandmother sent me from Pune. That's me looking freshly bathed and trying not to yawn, by the way, while eating payesh.

Apparently you also have to eat mishti doi with a fried fish tail. They may as well have asked me to eat the fish raw. This of a pregnant woman who can barely stand being in the kitchen surrounded by raw food, mind you. But let us look at more pleasant things. Below you have my mother and me looking all emo for a change.

Rahul had to go to school, this being a Friday morning, but he photobombed us anyway, via his dinosaur book on the chair behind me. I believe the book was propped up by Vicky, who took all these pictures, but Rahul was quite satisfied with his representative. He had not been happy at having to miss the fun.

And lastly, here's a close-up of some of the food. Since this was a breakfast shaadh the normal set menu was thrown to the winds. On my grandmother's advice Ma got a lot of savouries and fried goodies, which Vicky rounded off with pastries from Flurys. There were also mini pea parathas and prawn cutlets, apart from the mishti doi, payesh and fish. Of the stuff that you can see, there are two kinds of nimki (masala and plain), almonds and cashews, bhujiya and murukku, raw mango chutney, chocolate and lemon tarts, chocolate boat and pista square. And I was supposed to eat it all, though thankfully not necessarily all at once.

The cake plate, by the way, was a recent gift from Vicky. I've been wanting one for ages and then I saw Medha of Piece o' Cake makes the most beautiful hand-painted ones, so that's what he got me.

Later in the day Baba arrived in town, with strings and strings of pearls. I had suggested that my huge pearls were a little short and a daughter needed something down to her navel, especially a daughter who kept the grandchildren coming, and he fell for it.

Apart from all this, I was gifted a saree by Chhotopishithamma, money by Pishithamma and a set of Estee Lauder perfumes by Mejopishi & Anindyakaku. Basically, showered with gifts and love. I write all this down because I didn't have a shaadh when I was pregnant with Rahul and the lack of interest from my in-laws this time too hurt more than I care to admit. On the other hand, I did have all this.

Actually, I went on to get much more, but that's a story for another post.

Monday, June 16, 2014


A couple of days ago Rahul counted the money in his piggy bank and found he had Rs 290. This thrilled him so much that he danced around the room, kicking his heels up in joy on the bed and exclaiming how wonderful it was that he had "nearly Rs 300".

I made helpful suggestions about what he could do with the money (I have a birthday coming up) and he assured me that all birthday gifts would be taken care of, but that he mainly wanted to save this for his own birthday. He figured by September he would have the "whole Rs 300" and could buy something for himself, his highest ambition just now.

When I was eight I asked for and received a weekly allowance. I remember perfectly well what a thrill that was and how I used to throw money in my jar and not look until it was full and then count whatever had collected and promptly spend the lot. I still enjoy saving money and spending every last paisa (though now as a householder I try to put something in my long-term savings before commencing the big spending spree). What I didn't understand was his fascination with the figure 300. Why not aim for 400? Why was 200 too little, given this son of ours is still very naive about numbers and figures?

This morning, he finally made up his Rs 300 and promptly started dancing around the house once more. Again I asked him what he wanted to do with it and once again he reminded me that he wanted to spend it on himself for his birthday. Then I asked him why he liked the number 300 so much. He looked at me in perfect seriousness and said, "Don't you think a seven year old boy having Rs 300 is great?"

Well, yes, I do, and so I told my little Croesus.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Prodigal Son

Rahul left Calcutta early in May with my mother. He was to spend the rest of the month with my parents and brother in Vizag, the idea being that I would get a break from household work in the May heat and he would get some respite from my temper. (It was my idea, too.)

When he was younger he used to go off on visits without us all the time and though it was never easy we learnt to get used to living without him. He'd visit my parents for weeks at a stretch as a very little boy, and frequently spend long weekends with my aunt, uncle and cousin. Then, with school, and life, intervening, we spent I think the better part of two years without such independent socialising. We got used to going out in threesomes or not at all.

Near the end of 2013 and in early 2014 he spent some weekends with my uncle and aunt when they visited Calcutta and those weren't easy on any of us. He would come home unsettled and the house always seemed eerily empty without him. Vicky and I tended to go out to movies or meals to keep ourselves occupied. Especially in these months that I've been pregnant I have found it very difficult to let him (or Vicky) go off anywhere. It's the last few months we've had as a family of three and I've been clinging to it as I suppose only I can. Though it's a good thing they had those weekend visits because soon after, with very little warning, my uncle took up a job across the world and they have now moved.

May 2014 was hard on me. Once my mother and Rahul left, I missed them both desperately and spent a couple of days crying. I know it's partly the emotional upheaval caused by the pregnancy hormones but I really missed that boy of mine more than I had expected to. In forty-eight hours I was morose enough for Vicky to book us both for a surprise trip home. So, after another fortnight, we flew off to Vizag to surprise my parents -- and Rahul. To my delight, my high school friend Shanu got married the day we reached Vizag. I couldn't attend his wedding or the reception the next day because the hour-long drive out of town was actually beyond me, but I did finally get to meet his long-time girlfriend, now his wife, who is every bit as perfect for him as I'd always imagined her to be.

The week in Vizag was spent without doing anything much or meeting anybody else, and that was fine by me. The climate was kinder to me than Calcutta's had been but now that I'm in my eighth month, I find I can only do so much even on the best of days. We drove down to the beaches on a few evenings and walking on the sand helped me loosen muscles stiffened by months of overwhelming lethargy. There were a few wonderful storms that reminded me all over again of how much I love Vizag in the rains. During one of those we had gone to run errands, Vicky, Baba, Rahul and I. When the rain started we picked Ma up and went for a drive in the hills. Vicky, my father and I went out one morning and V bought me a beautiful gold chain. We had lunch at Food Ex. Munching on the chicken puff, listening to Michael Jackson, I closed my eyes and went back sixteen years effortlessly. We finished with really good ice creams next door.

Rahul has developed a Godzilla fascination this summer. He hasn't seen the new movie yet but he's seen plenty of the old ones and also an animated series that is even sillier than the movies. I sighed and tried to convince Niyogy Number 2 (in utero) that my interests are more, well, interesting.

Coming back to Calcutta last Friday wasn't easy. The weekend turned out to be rainy and miserable (strange how exhilarating the same rain was in Vizag!) and this morning I woke up angry and depressed. I got some chores done, choked down some breakfast and took a long nap so as to keep my mood to myself. And then, finally, at lunchtime, Rahul and Ma arrived. After lunch and a game of Coco Crazy Ma and he napped. And it was then, finally, as he slept, with his arm and leg around me, that I finally felt happy once more.

No doubt tomorrow I'll yell at him and get annoyed at the things he does, but for now, I'm happier than I can describe to have that boy of mine back home.