Wednesday, January 23, 2019

13 Years of Vicky & Sue

That's what my Instagram Story said yesterday. It was a nice selfie of V and me at Beni's first ever Sports Day. (Which we had forgotten about and would have totally missed had we not received an SMS reminder the afternoon before, oops.)

Vicky said it felt like a long time and he was right but to me it feels ridiculously short considering I feel like I've been married forever. That sounds vaguely unflattering, now that I come to think of it. Yet, after all this time, marriage feels rather prosaic.

13 years of putting laundry back into the bin because Vicky will throw it half outside. Of cleaning bathrooms after him and his sons have used them. 13 exhausting years of household chores and management. 13 years of having him 'help' me because he will not own his share of of his own household. Of watching him grow older and not being upset about it any more. Of watching him change and adapt to new people and places and do it all rather better than I'd expected. We've had some truly terrible fights in all these years, until I gave up last year. That's not to say we won't fight again but I don't think I'll ever have any serious expectations of him again. (But this is me, changing chameleon me, so who knows?) 13 long years of always having to apologise first because my Scorpio dragon doesn't do apologies either in word or in spirit.

13 years of watching him treat marriage and fatherhood as parts of his life that can be set aside when he wishes to. I don't even resent it any more. If anything, I try to emulate it from time to time so I can ditch the guilt and give myself my sorely needed times out. 13 anniversaries that we mostly celebrated with half-hearted effort because we were fighting or broke or -- as he will not stop reminding me -- because I was in Bali.

13 years of watching my family deal with him. He's gone from being the new son-in-law to the 'old' one that everybody is used to and often forgets to treat with that nonsensical jamai aador. My brother opened up to him once; he's never opened up to me in his life and I don't expect him ever to.

13 years of watching him being him. Watching him learn to be first Rahul and then Beni's father -- they need different fathers and he's learning to switch. Watching him. Wanting him to be different and then being aghast that he changed. Losing the friend I fell in love with and slowly finding him again. I do wonder about the years still ahead of us but mostly, these days, I live the days we have right now, being present with him, one day at a time. For now, that's enough.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Bhablet Returns

Albeit for brief flashes only, but this Babu will take what she gets.

Twice in the last one week Rahul teased me like he hasn't in years and I almost cried with happiness because I'm sentimental like that but even more because these two flashes showed me how much progress he's made from the sad and stressed out kid he was this time last year.

I hadn't even realised he had stopped teasing me.

Once I refused him something and he saucily told me, 'So you don't love me, huh?' and just now, because I told him to study for his ongoing class tests he whined, 'I won't love you any more'.

Such absolutely commonplace interactions, just little nothings I once held so cheap because they were so common. I didn't even notice that he'd stopped teasing me because he really felt so unloved and uncared for.

Anyway, that's all I have time for now because I've to go rescue my bed from Beni the Lego pirate. Laters!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Movement and Stasis

I have been concerned about my health lately, and I decided I needed to move a lot more. I live in a place with many stairs and it's hard on my knees so I've minimised all the ups-and-downs but also unwittingly minimised all my tos-and-fros and then basically spent most of my waking hours sitting in bed doing stuff. I'm paying for it now. At 36, to my shame and horror, I'm unable to cycle half a kilometre without wishing to drop dead. I can swim comfortably but could do much better there too, if you ask me.

So that's the stasis, and I have begun working on it. Teeny baby steps, occasional steps back BUT I'm working on it.

Funnily enough, there was a lot of a different kind of movement in 2018 and I want to record it while I still remember it! We started the year outside Bangalore, in Vizag, and ended it outside Bangalore, in Calcutta. Which I think was perfect.

Also in January I cancelled a trip to Siliguri and went instead to Bali for a whirlwind few days. I didn't go around much but I was in a lovely resort and it was the first time I travelled internationally by myself and I'm still amazed at how lousy I was at it lol. I travelled without forex, without an international calling card and lost my favourite shawl, a part of my own wedding outfit, somewhere in Bangkok airport. I spent hours in airports and read entire books, got a massage, spent time with Soumya, hung out at a nice cafe and oh, caught up on Hwayugi lol. I figured out the intricacies of free WiFi all by myself. And I travelled to a destination NRI wedding with under 5 kg luggage including my purse and phone. Yeah, I amaze myself. I did look like everybody's poor relation but one can't have everything and I was too pleased with myself for making it to Bali in one piece to care too much.

In February Ro, Mon and I went to Jaipur, which was a lot of fun. We ate and shopped, and ate and shopped. I bought the airiest silk-cotton bandhni-leheriya saree and a lot of fabric one of which I made into a dress to coordinate with the girls who also got the same fabric. We stayed with Ro's mum, which made for a truly laidback weekend.

In April we drove to Sakleshpur with M'pishi and A'kaku (at my uncle's invitation) and stayed in a fairly forested area. There was an episode of Rahul and frogs but I refuse to get into it. It was a pleasant getaway, a nice change of temperature too. It was also our first ever family weekend getaway from Bangalore, make of that what you will!

May was harsh what with school holidays and stress so my parents sent us tickets to visit them in Vizag and I was on that flight before you could ask, "But what about the boys?" (Obviously, the boys came with me. It was not me my parents wanted to see.) A week of being cossetted and not having to cook or do housework was exactly what I needed. Thank god for mothers! Also fathers, but especially mothers.

June saw me hop to Calcutta for a one-day visit. My father's first book, Memories of Madhupur, was launched at the Press Club of India and obviously I couldn't miss it. Shuki came to the launch with her poor foot all bandaged up, and Dana spent an entire evening babying me and spoiling me like nobody's business. I went back to Bangalore feeling considerably restored.

I was in Coorg when July began, another weekend getaway with Ro and Mon. We were at Megha's Mitra Homestay in Coorg, for a weekend specially curated to showcase traditional local food and culture. She even organised a Coorg-style saree-wearing session one day, in which her mother joined in and showed us the drape. Every meal was home-cooked and hands-down delicious. I still occasionally think of her black masala sardine and the pandi curry two ways, but there was a lot of other stuff to learn about, including the purple payasam with a local leaf which is picked only during the monsoon for its medicinal value and a delicate little fern that Ro crossed paddy fields to pick.

July ended with the arrival of my mother-in-law for her annual visit. Unfortunately, we were unable to do half the things we wanted to with her because mid-way through her visit my aunt had a nasty fall. So, since my mother-in-law was around to hold the fort (and Vicky worked from home) I went off to Kathmandu for the week. That would be the second time I travelled alone outside the country, if you're counting. My aunt was in a lot of pain but luckily the fall was not as bad as we had feared. She had a good set-up with her daily help and driver so once things fell a little into place I had time to sit quietly and admire the spectacular view from their flat. Kathmandu in July is rather beautiful. It wasn't meant to be a holiday but the time away was good for me just the same.

My cousin Buro visited us in August, just in time for rakhi. After many years I tied a rakhi on a brother! Rahul and Beni remembered him from his previous visit the year before (when he'd helped us decide which car to buy by turning up his expert nose at pretty much everything we were looking at and reluctantly conceding that the car we ultimately chose was somewhat acceptable). The boys led him a merry dance and I was really happy to have him around. Soon after he left, his mother, my Mashi arrived for a few days and that was brilliant! She was strict with me when I was a kid but she knows my tastes to a tee and is the best sort of gift-giver! Beni commandeered her time whenever he was home but we also got time to sort threads for crochet and have long chats, yay.

A fortnight after that, in September, my parents arrived for a visit. It was all quite hectic and my mother wasn't keeping well but it having people around in the house felt good. Earlier I remember wanting my own space but this year I'd been lonely so much, I really didn't want to be home alone with just my own thoughts.

We didn't go anywhere after they left in early October, nor did we go anywhere that I can remember in November. In December though we drove to Mysore for the weekend with Smitadi. We stayed at the Race Club and I met my school friend from Hyderabad, Purnima, after almost 25 years! Mysore was beautiful and calming. At another time I would maybe have found it boring but in this frame of mind I fell in love with its laidback people and layout. I hope we can go back for another visit soon.

For the Christmas-New Year holidays we went to Calcutta, our first trip back as a family since we left! We spent an entire afternoon floating around New Market and lunched at Jimmy's. We met friends and some family, filled up extra bags with all the stuff we seemed to mysteriously acquire in those ten days. For a few days before the year changed, we went to Darjeeling. To our unbelievable luck, it actually snowed while we were there. The boys were thrilled, and so was I, because the three of us had never seen snow or indeed snowfall before. Just before we left, we met my youngest aunt and her daughter and her fiancé. It was a very packed trip and left me with a full heart.

So yeah, that's the movement and I think that was quite a lot. Now here's hoping 2019 lives up to such promising precedent!