The blurb ob by blob...

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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Of Bijoya Blessings and Wishes

Yesterday was Bijoy Dashami. I'm still waiting for the MIM to return from the bisarjan (immersion). It was a good day...

Every year, without fail, I feel slightly sad on this day.
Sad that the five days that bring us together as a community, are over. We can now go back to forgetting about our neighbour's existence.

Sad that five days of dressing up morning and evening in new clothes, accessorizing and making the effort to look good, are over. From tomorrow I can wear my potato sacks and look all dull, colourless and lack-lustre.

Sad to see the Woman who dwells deep inside my heart and to Whom I constantly turn to with my cribs and rants and raves, Has to Go, Taking all Her Beauty, Grandeur and Splendidness with Her. From tomorrow, I have to go back to talking to the memory of this year's ravishing Images of Her in my head.

But, in all Her Benevolence, She Leaves behind an abundance of blessings. And hope.

For yesterday, after the sindoor khela, I stood there looking at Her Beautiful Face and then came home to find one of Her blessings waiting for me. And I decided to count all my blessings...

  • My EO and YO. They are precious, innocent and beautiful. They are my biggest blessings. I sat back amused and watched the EO fiddle with his hair after coming back home from a friend's house. They had been experimenting with gel and it was the EO's first time. It seemed a blessing to just be able to watch from a distance and then to be called in to share the moment. I watched with even more amusement as the YO followed his dada around, wanting to be like him, with the gel and spiked hair (more like after-bath-uncomed-wet-hair) and everything. Motherhood is full of moments like these and yes, motherhood is a blessing.
  • My MIM. I don't say it enough, but the man adores me. He infuriates me to the point of insanity, true, but yes, he still does love me in huge, big, truck-load amounts. And that is a blessing too.
  • My parents. They are healthy and safe and near me and I can't be grateful enough. Their health is a blessing.
  • My brother. He lives soooo far away and we are hardly in touch. But I know he's on my side, he's my rock and he's still my biggest fan. Siblings are always a blessing.
  • My friends. They are there to prop me up, hold me and love me for who I am. I don't have many, but the ones I have are absolute keepers. Friendship is a blessing.
  • My MIL. She's gentle, kind and sweet. And the best thing of all, is that I can talk to her like a friend. You don't get many in her mould, I can promise you that. She is a blessing.
  • My FIL. A man I have a difficult and very tempestuous relationship with. We fight, we argue; he makes me cry, sulk and brood in my room, but...he's also a huge fan of my work. He's immensely proud of me and boasts to his friends about me whenever he gets the chance. We have our differences, She soooo knows we do!, but sometimes we do get along...famously! And that's a blessing.
  • My blog buddies. I've said this before and I know I'll probably say it again, but the comfort that I get from you all has been like a life-line to me. Your words, your comments, your understanding of my feelings and experiences, have often been a string and steady stream of light in a very dark, dank and musty cave. You are all a blessing.

Shubho Bijoya to you all. May your lives always be full of blessings...blessings that count, blessing that matter and blessings that make you happy. Peace, joy, good health and love be with you and yours.

So what was the blessing that triggered this off? I got my author copy of "Chicken Soup for the Indian Teenager's Soul" yesterday and I just couldn't help but be gobsmacked at the date it chose to arrive. When I tore open the packet, I felt truly, truly blessed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Out of the Chocolate-smeared Mouth of my Babe

Now before you read any further, you need to remember that I am a chocoholic. A HUGE one, physically and poetically speaking. My inner goddess is a chocoholic and can be satiated with any humble offering. My inner diva is a chocoholic too and for her, only creamy, milky Lindt will do. My inner junkie is also a chocoholic and for her, almond clusters and chocolaty butterscotch bits are what help her channelise her flower power.

So, now that I've explained the different types of chocoholic that make up this me, let us proceed...

Believe it or not, but this morning, I was the absolute picture of will-power and self-control. I'm sitting there with a huge, chunky slice of Double Chocolate Truffle Cake from the MIM's birthday. I'm sitting there and feeding every last bit to my boys and not having a single crumb myself. That's a victory folks. A HUGE one! ;p

Anyways, to put some more fun into the whole business of cake-eating (as if it wasn't fun enough!), I start to sing to my boys as I spoon in each mouthful; "Yummy, yummy, my tummy...It's so funny! Good!" -- to the tune of ABBA's "Money, money, money." (Yeah, I'm lame like that, but at least my boys think I'm a hoot!)

The YO is really kicked with this song, so he starts his Noddy head-dance and singing to his own made-up tune, "Yaammee, yaamee, yaamee, in taamee, taamee...faanee, faanee."

And he's looking so cute and scrumptious and adorable, with those twinkling, impish eyes, that chocolaty smile and with that head moving crazily and dizzily, that I just put my face in front of his and said, "Yummy, yummy, yummy! Yes! You are my yummy, my delicious, my sweetie-peety-pie!"

He cocks his head to one said, looks at me and says, "Aami cake?" (Am I cake?)
I laugh and say, "Yes, my sweetheart! You are my cake!"
He laughs back and sings, "Aar tumi chocolate!" (And you are chocolate!)

Awwwww! He called me chocolate! That's like a direct, one-way ticket straight to the core of my heart!

My cup of cocoa overfloweth!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Main Kya Karoo Yaah...

Happy birthday, MIM, you old man you!

And your double-chin notwithstanding, you've still got one helluva sexy glint in your eyes...or is that your eyesight failing you?

Sigh...the perils of old age; when massages that were once part of a romantic seduction scheme are now a means to soothe aching bones and joints.

Hugs and kisses baby!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sometimes, when you're down and out...

...the magic mix of music, chocolate and a chick-flick is all it takes to get the cool breeze to tickle your eye-lashes again.

My week-end recommendations:
Music --
1) ABBA (Thank You for the Music, Slipping Through My Fingers, I Have a Dream)
2) Bryan Adams (Cloud No. 9, Heaven, Summer of '69, Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?)
3) Bob Marley (Buffalo Soldier, Is This Love)
...all played on a really high volume.

Chick-Flick --
1) Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
2) Confessions of a Shopaholic

Chocolate --
1) What? Are you kidding me? ANY!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Poetry; Out of the Mouths of my Babes

So the EO is sitting next to me patiently as I am arm -deep in a pile of Transformers (the spoils of the birthday), trying to assemble them and keep my cool at the same time. The procedure is delicate, complex and nerve-wracking, which explains why I feel like a neuro-surgeon operating on the spinal cord of a neonate.

My EO, overwhelmed, suddenly exclaims, "Mamma, I love you like December!"

My jaws dropped and I was stupefied! My son was waxing eloquent! My son was being poetic! Yes, I was truly stupefied. ANd stupid.

Instead of enjoying the sheer spontaneity and beauty of the line, I asked him to explain what he meant. So he sweetly and innocently tried to make his dense, poetry-less Mamma understand.

EO: What is the first month of the year?
Stupid Woman, a.k.a. M4: January.
EO: And the last?
M4: December.
EO: So I love you like that. Like from January to December.

I actually though he meant, December because of the holidays, the Christmas parties, the snuggles, Santa Claus and every fun thing that the month stands for.

I loved his explanation just fine. :D
And then there's my little YO.

It's Wednesday evening. Big brother has gone to karate class, so the YO has his Mamma all to himself. They're playing and laughing and tickling when suddenly the YO stops and looks deep into his Mamma's eyes. Something 's caught his attention and he's fascinated.

The following is their conversation, and if this is not poetry, then what is?

YO: Mamma, tomaar eye-jhey 'YO' baby. (Mamma, you've got 'YO' baby in your eyes).
M4, smiling to herself: Heinh, baby. (Yes, my baby).
YO, coming closer to get a better look: Oi to, 'YO' baby. (There he is, 'YO' baby).
M4: Heinh, my baby.
YO: Tumi dekho. (You look).
M4: Aami dekhtey paarchhi to. (But I can see you).
YO: Naa, tumi dekho. (No, you look).
M4, goes all cross-eyed: Ei je, dekhchhi aamaar 'YO' baby ke. (There, I can see my 'YO' baby).
YO, satisfied: Tumi dekhchho? (screws up his face into an adorable epression) Eibaar aami dekhchhi, aamaar eye-jhey Mamma achhey. (You can see? Now I am looking at the Mamma in my eyes).

So many expressions ran through my head at the end of this conversation -- the eyes are the window to one's soul... the apple of one's eye... the eyes have it...

All I know is that this apple of my eye is an intrinsic part of my soul, and at this perfect moment in time, in his own, perfect, child-like way, he expressed the same sentiment about me.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, EO!!

My darling son,

Do you know what I’ll be doing right after I type this letter and press the ’publish’ button on BlogSpot? I’ll be cuddling up right next to you, keeping my promise to you.

You see, sometime in the afternoon, barely 12 hours ago, we were relaxing in your Dida’s house. We were talking about somebody’s, ahem-ahem, sixth birthday and that’s when you turned to me and said, “And for night-time mamma, please will you sleep in my bed?”

Oh my baby, how could I not?

How could I not want to look into your handsome, peaceful face as you dreamed dreams of the Divine and had your conversations with God?

How could I not want to peer at your sleeping form and gaze in wonder at this body that had become more than half my height, yet once lived inside of me, no bigger than a grape?

How could I not want to be squeezed awake by the tightest, happiest, warmest bear-hug ever given to me on the first day of your sixth year?

Happy sixth birthday my son, my boy, my pride and joy.

What a year it’s been for you.

I’ve seen you change schools for the third time in your young life and as before, you took my breath away. You didn’t throw tantrums. You adjusted on the first day itself. You made friends and found things to love about your school right from day one. Your new school has been more of an adjustment issue for me, than for you. You just embraced the change, recognised it as a part of your life from now onwards and soldiered on. You’re quite the little trooper and it never ceases to amaze me. Of course, you’d still be happier if there was no homework and if assessments didn’t exist, but then, so would I!

You started cricket class this year and you LOVE it! You look forward to it with glee and even though you need to take a million steps before you become a Sourav Ganguly, I am enjoying watching you enjoy yourself. Karate continues and you are an orange belt. I wish you had the same enthusiasm for it as you do for cricket, but at least you don't hate it. You go for it, because...well, because I make you, quite truthfully. Let's see, next year might see some changes in your co-curricular life.

You love travelling. At the beginning of this year, we took a family vacation to the Andamans. You are such a water baby, just like me! And you take delight in anything new and show your joy and enthusiasm with the pure, unbridled joy of a child that is so healing and soul-satisfying to watch. I’ll never forget your excitement on the glass-bottomed boat as we saw all those schools of rainbow fish, starfish and corals. And while on the subject of vacations, you went for your first international holiday. Although the trip was cut short due to a family emergency, we certainly made some happy memories which I shall cherish for a lifetime. How sweetly you chatted with your friend on the entire flight from Kolkata to Bangkok. How excited you were when you saw the hotel where we were staying. How thrilled you were when you saw that heavenly bathtub in the master bed-room. How deliriously happy you were when you saw the kids’ activity and playroom. How mesmerised you were by the show at Phuket Fantasea.

I’ve been reading to you almost ever since you were born in an effort to inculcate a love for books. Well, you certainly do love stories...and how! You’re ever ready for story-time, you love making up stories of your own, you follow the plots and dialogues of new movies with wide-eyed interest and always ask me the most astonishing and in-depth questions. It actually fills my heart with an unnameable pride to see you take a story book and pore over it, taking in each and every detail. I love how you take the story outside it’s life-span of those few pages and give the characters a new lease of life in your fantasy world, making up new adventures for them to face, new people for them to meet. What a lovely world you create, my son.

I also saw you try and desperately fit into the Age of Boyhood this year, shedding the last remnants of Toddlerdom behind. I saw you try and struggle with your emotions and try to keep them under check. I saw you fight tears and put on a brave face. I saw you stand at the fringes of games wanting very much to be a part of it all, but too hurt by unkind words and actions to swallow your pride and give in.

But there’s one area, where you haven’t been successful in becoming that Big Boy that you are so ready and anxious to be. And that is in the area of hugs, cuddles and ‘ador’. You love being the baby then and aren’t afraid to show it. Mamma’s lap is still the best place to read a book or watch TV from. Mamma’s arms are still the heavenliest place for a sound sleep. Baba’s tight embraces are still assurances that you are his ‘hirer tukro’. His bear hugs remind you that nowhere else in this world will you feel safer and more cocooned.

Oh my gentle son with eyes that say everything his heart wants to but can’t, do you have even the slightest idea what you’ve done to me? You’ve turned me into a mom. You’ve helped me become the best version of myself that I can possibly be. You are one of my greatest teachers. You are one of my greatest partners in fun. You are one of my life’s purest forms of bliss, love and joy. You are also my greatest prayer to God; for each time I see those eyes sparkle with the brightness of the North Star and that bone-melting smile, accompanied by that giggle that plays on my heart-strings, stretch across your beloved face, I can't thank God enough for giving you to me.

And I’m so grateful you’re mine.

Happy birthday, my EO. I want you to know that you’re smart, funny, caring and sensitive, and you are so full of surprises. Continue being just the way you are. And one day, in the not too distant future, you’ll turn into a gem of a man.

But for now, you are a gem of a boy.

And I’m so grateful that you’re my precious, priceless gem.

With eternal love and blessings,
Your Mamma

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And a Crappy Teacher's Day to You, B****

Saturday, September 5th, was Teacher's Day. The EO's school celebrated it on the 3rd, Thursday and as a gift to the children of KG and Class 1, declared Friday a holiday for them.

Thursday, I was also called into school by the EO's Bangla teacher. The meeting was not a happy one. Let's just say that she has "been in the teaching line for 28 years!!!", which probably entitles her to be cold and scary. It's also why she probably has that huge boulder on her shoulder about being right and therefore closed to the possibilities of logic and systematic approach to teaching. She spoke to me and two other moms and we realised that it was absolutely futile to say anything. She paces herself against the above-average students and doesn't really give a tiny rodent's behind about the weak ones! She then gave her assessments for each of our sons. She said my son's handwriting is pathetic...I agreed. She said he's always chatting thus never finishing his work on which I added he's easily distracted as well as slow. She said he needed to work which I nodded my head since I was biting down on my tongue to not say what I really felt.

Two hours later, I got a call from school, informing me that the EO had a high fever. Went and picked my flushed son up and the poor boy missed out on the celebrations.

Over the weekend, I sat down with him and we made a lovely card for his teacher. The MIM told us to make one for the Bangla teacher as well. I knew it would be an exercise in futility, having met her and been charmed (NOT!) by her personality. But the MIM was insistent and so, more for his sake than anyone else's, I agreed. And so, we made another card and I even made the EO sign his name in Bangla.

So what happens when my son gives the cards to his teachers? The class teacher smilingly accepts and says, "Thank you baby!"

The vernacular lady says, "Teacher's Day tho shesh. ( over)", and then she gives it back. SHE GIVES IT BACK, PEOPLE!!!!

Where does she get off crushing a little boy's feelings like that? Where do these people get their degrees from? How can they even be allowed near little children? Send them to look after the inmates of a correctional institute instead!

I felt so terrible for my sensitive little boy, the one who gets easily hurt and crushed, and I shuddered to think what her cruel gesture must have done to his precious, loving heart. But when I looked down at his face, he was smiling and the sun was radiating in his beautiful face and I realised that that was not the end of it. "So what did you do?"

He shrugged, smiled and simply said, "I told her, 'Kintu aami tho kichhu diye ni'* and I put it back in her hand and sat down." *(But I didn't give you anything)

Bravo EO!! Well done! I would have expected you to burst into tears, because's your way. But hopefully, not anymore. You really are growing up, aren't you? May you always have the strength, attitude and personality to deal with unpleasant people and situations in this calm, smiley, sunshine-y, graceful way. This is my wish for you, my soon to be six-year-old.

Oh, and MIM? What does this incident teach you?!?! That Mamma's always, ALWAYS right!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Santoor Moment

I went for a superfantabulous Rabindra nritya-natya (Tagorean dance-drama) today. A friend of mine, rather well-known in Kolkata, was one of the PR agents and he organised the passes for Maa-Janoni and me.

Now my mom is a very open, warm, gregarious and friendly person. She attracts friends like I attract cellulite. She can talk to anyone and everyone and people tend to open up to her very easily. I am so the opposite of her that growing up I got and still do get, very often, "I can't believe you're her daughter!" Yup, shy, reserved, timid wallflower -- that's me. But then, I'm also Daddy's girl.

But I digress.

So, we're sitting in the auditorium. My Ma-Janoni in the meanwhile has managed to get chatty with her neighbour. My friend has just made a speech in perfect Bengali followed by excellent English. The two women start singing his praises and Ma-Janoni tells the woman that he's a friend of mine. Woman looks over at me, takes in my appearance from over the top of her spectacles, and then smiles.

Woman: Tomaar bondhu? (Your friend?)
Me: Hein. (Yes.)
Woman: Bhishon talented chheley. (Very talented young man.)
Me: Hein. (Yes.)
Woman: Khub bhaalo gaan korey. (He sings very well.)
Me: *Nods and makes a note to make him sing the next opportunity she gets*
Woman: Toh, kono future-ttuchure kichchu achchey? (Toh koi future-wuture ka chakkar hai?-- the 'with him' is implied.)
Me: *Totally albeit pleasantly zapped!!* Ki?!? Aamaar? Aamaar biyey hoyey gechchey aar duto chcheeley achchey. (What?!? Me? [the 'and him' is implied] I'm married with two sons!)
Woman: *Totally zapped and open-mouthed*

Hehehe! God bless oily skin! I cribbed throughout my adolescence, but it sure is coming to good use now!
(Aur bure nazar waale and jealous cats, tere chehere pe 100 pimples!!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Of Animal Stories and Lessons Learnt

A few weeks ago, eight wild Brazilian Marmoset monkeys were stolen from the Alipore Zoo. The good news is that they were rescued. The bad news is that the monkey-napper who had been nabbed by the police, did a Houdini. Not that it would require one to know expert escape tricks when your captor is SLEEPING!! Tcha! Shame! But then again, meh! What else is new? What's new is, that he was caught again!! Bravo!

Well, given the EO's love for stories, especially stories that have the familiar and comforting features of action, good guys, bad guys, an encounter, a comic twist, some animals and finally justice and a happy ending, I thought this would be a great story to tell him. So my parents and I told him what happened and he listened, wide-eyed and fascinated.

His questions ran thus:
1) Were they baby monkeys?
2) Were they brothers and sisters?
3) But what was their mamma doing when the bad mans came to stole them?
4) [directed at me] Aah! I know! I think so she was sleeping like sometimes how you are still sleeping when I am awaked, right naa?

When qtn nos. 1-3 happened, my heart melted with love. Such tender, little-boy concerns. Such a strong belief that Mamma, all Mammas, will save her young from all harm. You can't put one past the universal Mamma because she is the ultimate protector, the shield, the forcefield, the safe haven. I started wondering whether I did the right thing in telling him this story and whether I should have gone in for heavy-duty censoring with regards to this particular tale.

And then of course qtn. 4 happened and I felt guilty.

There was a time when the EO would sleep in between the MIM and me.
Then his brother came into the world, got a cot and therefore the EO got his own bed.
So, instead of waking up between us, he would come snuggle in between us after having woken up in his own bed in his own room.
Of course, it never remained at snuggling. It also involved sitting on our chests, blowing raspberries on our tummies and planting wet, slobbery kisses on our faces. Not to mention singing into our ears.
While we loved it, the MIM and I are night-owls and go to sleep very late at night. I can still manage on a few hours of sleep, but the MIM can't. So, as soon as the EO would come into the bed and immediately after the first few cuddles, I'd carry him out, back into his room and lie down next to him on his bed and have the YO brought next to me too.
Then, what with school timings and getting up early in the morning and all that jazz, I started getting up earlier than him, so I'd go and lie down next to him and cuddle-and-tickle-and kiss him awake.
School timings have changed once again. Both my boys wake up at the same time. So I've asked my ayah to make them play with each other until I come out.

But he misses it. My very-very-VERY-soon-to-be-six-year-old son still misses sleeping with his Mamma. Once upon a time, the requests to sleep in our bed or at least have me in theirs would start non-stop from the moment the sun would set. Then it went down to a few times through the entire course of the night-time rituals. Then it became a single, solitary pleading. And now, it's gone down to every other night.

I thought maybe my son finally is becoming a big boy and then he goes and says something like "because she was sleeping". That's when I realised that the little-boy in him keeps quiet because the big-boy that he is struggling to become is trying to put on a brave face and adopt an air of maturity.

I should be grateful that my EO still wants me around. That most often, his moments of bliss are just of him sitting next to me and chattering non-stop even as I'm working on the comp and grunting in response.

It's all changing though. He loves being with his friends, hates coming home when he's having a good time with them, goes off happily to do fun things without me, has a world of his own which I know about but am an not a part of. At times I feel intensely proud to see him blossom into his own person and wear that streak of independence about him so casually, so non-chalantly. And at times, it hurts real bad when he'd rather be with his cousin or his friends than me. It hurts. Real. Bad.

But here's the thing.

And the thing is, he still wants to wake up and snuggle his head under my chin, breathe in my particular brand of Mommy-Love and sigh to himself that all is right with his little world.

I'm setting my alarm clock for an hour earlier in the mornings so that I can sneak into their room and lie down in between them until they wake up, Mondays to Fridays. I'm doing this for them. More so for the boy who will be celebrating his sixth birthday this month, but still believes in Santa Claus and in the myth that his Mamma is perfect.

But I'm doing this most of all for me.

Don't all animal stories come with a moral? Whoever though that this particular story would have a lesson for me.

Well, lesson learnt. Lesson learnt.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Uncle Sam and the EO

There are times when I think the EO is an American by osmosis. He's picked up quite a few Americanisms thanks to his beloved Mamu. Phrases like "Aww! Man!!", "Are you kidding me?", "Aww! Come on!!" and "Cool!" flow fast and furious from his lips. He can also happily set up camp in McDonald's and Pizza Hut.

So while we were away on Saturday, my parents decided to indulge their grandsons and took them out for a Happy Meal, which by the way is so aptly named. I mean, find me another meal or dish that so perfectly describes the state of being that you will be transported to upon consumption. 'Amrit' and 'ambrosia'? Don't think so. While 'Amrit' has a nice, village-belle from Punjab ring to it, 'Ambrosia' sounds like what you would name a porn star's boob.

Anyways. So on Saturday. thanks to doting grandparents, state of happiness was achieved.

Sunday, the MIM and I are driving back home with a car full of excited, jump, yelling-with-all-their-lung-power boys (our two brats, the Nephew and S1) when we drive past one of Calcutta's most famous landmarks/heritage sites/tourist attractions.

The EO, eager to show off his knowledge, jumps up and down on his seat, points out said famous-landmark and shouts, "Look! Look! Victorrrria McMorial!"

Looks like Ronald McDonald has gotten a good grip on my son. It'll be a steady diet of shukto-shaak-maachcher-jhol-bhaat and Rabindrasangeet for my boy for some time now.