Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mothers and Daughters

Spoke to my mom today for 2hrs 20mins on international call. My Reliance calling card is probably depleted, but the very thought of her living alone in that huge cavernous house, unable to sleep, watching astrology shows in the middle of the night makes me want to cry! That I'd been able to fill some part of empty world is solace to me! When she's here she drives me crazy...when she's in Kolkata I pine for her...

A friend of mine took one of those silly quizzes on Facebook which predicts the time of her death. She's supposed to die in 2016 at the age of 44. Of course, I cracked a silly joke about wanting her entire saree collection when she pops it, etc! Many years ago an astrolger predicted some events in my life - typically I don't believe in all that mumbo-jumbo, but whatever this dude had predicted has come true so far. Unfortunately, he had mentioned that I'll lose my mother at the age of 40...that gives her only 3 more years!

Another friend of mine is in Kolkata now. She's been there since June. Her mother has been diagnosed with cancer. The moment she learnt about it, she picked up her kids and landed in Kolkata to be with her mom. I was also in Kolkata at that time and since our kids are friends too, we'd meet every now and then to let the children play together. Every time I saw aunty, it broke my heart - she was so full of life and so cheerful while her body was falling apart! I came back to Seattle after the vacation was over and my friend was supposed to come back towards the end of August along with her parents. She felt she could provide her mom with the best possible care here, in Seattle. Yesterday, when I called her home to find out how they were doing, her mother-in-law picked up the phone. She said that my friend has stayed back Kolkata and her boys have come back to start the school year. I immediately called my friend in her Kolkata number and found out that aunty has had a cardiac arrest right around the time I left and is in  coma since then. My friend can't leave her mother and her aging father alone - so she had to let her children go!

She's miserable and so are her boys. No amount of time spent on Skype can fill the void for either. I would know - I had to spend one whole miserable week not being able to touch my children. It was like someone had taken away my oxygen tank. Every night I'd watch them sleep peacefully while my fingers ached for a single precious touch!! But if I were in my friend's place I'd have done the exact same thing. Without doubt I'd have chosen my parents over my kids. But why does life throw us a curve like this? When daughters become mothers, it's such a hard choice to make...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Long Hiatus

I've been gone for a while...a year and a half to be precise. Not that I didn't have anything to write about - on the contrary there are quite a few unfinished posts languishing in my documents folder. Every now and then I'd get a nudge from a friend and I'd feel guilty about not writing. It's amazing that there are people out there who actually like to read the crap that I dole out from time to time!! It makes me feel wonderful, loved even!!

So what happened? Well, for starters, I added another human being to the burgeoning world population - a beautiful baby boy! He's a year old now - learnt to walk a few weeks back and exploring the world through his gorgeous dark eyes! I can barely remember a life without him in it. Sonny boy is now a responsible older brother, way wiser than his 8 years. Motherhood has taken precedence over everything else in life.

On top of that my mom decided to "help" me out by staying with me for 5 months or so. As much as I love my mom, I have to admit that she is the biggest baby out there - with her everything is a struggle. To go out or not to go out, to call people or not to call people, to cook this or cook that...the list is endless! And then there's her TV addiction! Like a good daughter I arranged for 14 desi channels for her viewing pleasure and I kid you not, the blasted TV used to be on for more than 12 hours a day, everyday!! She'd watch every infuriating serial, every reality show and expected me to sit with her and postmortem them too! Since the time she left, I can count the number of times I have turned the TV on and of course the 14 precious channels of desi TV were cancelled with immediate effect!

Apart from baby-sitting Ma, I was travelling too - with an infant in tow! There was a trip to San Diego with the usual bells and whistles of Lego Land, Sea World, etc and where I met up with my long lost friend after nearly two decades! We also landed up in Las Vegas over the Thanksgiving weekend and introduced Ma to the pleasures of gambling and boy, she had the time of her life at the slot machines! To celebrate 11 years of (almost) peaceful co-existence, our little family went for a cruise to the Caribbeans. It was amazing - we explored mangrove forest in Belize, climbed ancient pyramids of Altun Ha, got drunk on the white sand beach at Costa Maya, walked amidst the Mayan ruins at Tulum and in general had a great time.

And last but not the least, was the 6 week trip to India over the summer. Gosh, that was the fastest 6 weeks ever!! Bonny baby turned one with great fanfare among friends and family. We did a short road trip through Orissa, covering Bhubaneshwar, Konark, Puri, Raghurajpur, Dhauli among other places. This was my second visit, the first one being over 30 years back. I have always avoided Puri, in fact turned my nose down because it's such popular vacation spot for middle-class Bengalis. And take my word for it, Bengali tourists are a noisy, annoying bunch!! But this time, may be because we landed in off-season, I found Puri to be extremely serene - our hotel was isolated, the beach was almost private and empty, even the early morning visit to Jagannath temple went smoothly. The Sun temple at Konark was just as I remembered it from three decades ago - no words or pictures can describe the beauty of these stones!!

This was also a trip which will be remembered for the sheer number of old friends that I met up with. I made a special trip to Bangalore to meet the sister of my soul - it was an emotional meeting, one of forgiving the past, one of redemption, one of introducing the new generation, one of starting afresh! The other day I came across a line " You cannot lose true friends - only misplace them for a while..." That is so true. I felt that this time meeting all these people. It was so refreshing to be allowed to be yourself - no image to project, no pretenses to keep up - just be yourself and be accepted for it!!

No trip to India is complete without a pilgrimage to Hyderabad - this time it was all about food. For three days I stuffed myself silly. The city has changed so much in the 3 years since I left. So many flyovers and malls and tall buildings - but the soul of the city remains the same. My last five days in India were spent in Bombay. Again it was spent in catching up with long-lost friends and eating like there won't be any tomorrow. Recently I've reverted back to eating fish - so needless to say that this trip was very, very fishy - specially in Kolkata where it was the prime Ilish season.

Over the last year and half blogging took a back-seat because Facebook happened to me. I could express my happiness, my anger, my annoyance, irritation, elation, frustration, optimism, pessimism, all in the status update and once it's out, it's out. No more festering emotions to erupt in a blog post, I suppose. And the emotions which I put a lid on and allow to boil are too private to write about - of course, my therapist will disagree. She has asked me time and again to get those feelings on paper and get them out of my system. May be some day I will, when I'm brave enough...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Chicken pox drama

I am down with chicken pox. It's really odd getting it at this age and the discomfort of having blisters in weirds parts of your body can be very, very annoying!! I mean, when you are young and don't have body issues you can be all whiny and demanding and ask your mom to scratch that certain part of your antamoy that you can't seem to reach. But now, at my age, all I can do is lock myself into solitary confinement, try to ignore all the itchy parts, watch dvds on laptop, read trashy romance novels and wallow in self-pity!
But what's most annoying is the way people are reacting to the news. The very first irritating question that I'm being asked is "How did you get it?" How the hell am I supposed to know how I got it!!!??? May be I was dancing naked in a vat of chicken-pox virus two weeks ago - yeah, that's how I got it!!
Then comes the next question - "Who's looking after the kids?" Hello? Who do you think is looking after the kids? Who can possibly look after the kids?? They haven't been packed off to an orphanage yet - their father is still alive!! Anyone who knows me knows that spouse is helluva lot better at parenting than I'll ever be. In fact, if I keeled over and dropped dead this very moment, my children probably won't even know that there has been a change!
The third and the deadliest question is "Do you want some food?" How do I even begin to answer that question? I have blisters in my mouth and zero apetite. I haven't stepped out of this room in five days. But when I see spouse and the babies, the certainly don't look like they are starving. No thank you, I don't want any food. Then there are those well-meaning friends who said they'll drop off food whether I wanted them or not, and guess what, they haven't. Good thing that I didn't planto feed my family on the promises of these generous donors!!
I know, they mean well and want to help out - and everyone's busy with this thing called life. I'd have been happy with just an email or a text message or a post on my wall in Facebook saying Get well soon.