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, December 21, 2010

Bombai Se Aaye Hum're Doston...

Last weekend, two bloggers whom I admire and have long wanted to meet, came for a quickie visit to our fair/foul city -- Lady K and Ro. With offspring.

To say that I was excited would be an understatement! I only had the privilege of spending a few hours with them as they were on a rather tight schedule. I invited them and a few of our city bloggers with assorted spouse and spawn, namely the Sue, Dipali and Eve's Lungs over to my for dinner. I agonised over what to make and serve. Of course I had decided that everything would be authentic Bengali, but what, what, what? Then there was also the matter of giving my lovely guests a bit of Calcutta to take back home with them, but what, what, what??

The menu was finally sorted out, I decided to go with traditional fare made for special occasions:
  1. Steamed rice
  2. Salad with pomegranate
  3. Moong daal with peas and coconut shavings
  4. Dhokaar daalna (sort of like a badhi curry) --Veg, courtesy MaaJanoni
  5. Potoler dolmaa (stuffed parwal) -- Veg, courtesy the MIL
  6. Aalur dom -- Veg
  7. Bhetki paturi (fish fillets in thick mustard sauce, wrapped in banana leaves & steamed) -- Non-veg, moi
  8. Golda chingri malai curry (tiger prawns in coconut gravy) -- Non-veg, moi
  9. Koshaa mangsho (bhuna gosht) -- Non-veg, moi
  10. Mishti-doi cheesecake for dessert, moi
As for the gifts, I decided to play it safe and consulted good ol' Sunny about what Krish and Ayaan were into, since I wanted to give them things that they enjoyed. Lady K and I discussed it over SMSes too. She also sweetly asked me what I would like from Bombay. In all seriousness I asked her to bring Orange Ice Candy, babies et al. Alas, twas not to be; too big for suitcase said she. So I guess I shall have to make that trip to Bombay after all, as tuning into the Radio just ain't enough!

Unfortunately, since tis the season to be getting married, Evie couldn't attend, but I got to meet the wonderful Radha instead. The Sue came with the V and Bhablet, the SRE accompanied our lovely Dipali, K brought Jr K and Ro was with Ayaan and Tarana.

While the others have written much more interesting and well-worded posts about said weekend, I'm going to tell you what I learnt that Saturday evening.

  • To never take Lady K's 'fat posts' seriously again. I swear!! This woman is the epitome of sizzling, hot momma!! She's all curves and elegance and Dimple Kapadia hair! In short, she's gorgeous!!
  • That Ro has a height, nose, smile and daughter to kill for. Again...I swear! What a lovely, lovely lady!
  • That Super Brat Krish is actually a myth and in reality he is Boy-Gentleman Krish.
  • That Ayaan is one of the sweetest, most intelligent little boys I've had the pleasure and wonder of meeting in a long time.
  • That the Bhablet's eyes will be my undoing one of these days!
  • That the blogging gig? so rocks!! What a wonderful community!
I wish they could have been here longer, longer, longer...

*signs off and throws tantrum*

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Last year,

this day, was an ordinary enough day. The Bro was a-visiting and due back in the States a week later. The boys and I were staying with my parents and the MIM was over; we were going out for a movie. He wanted my parents and brother to join us. MaaJanoni decided to stay back with her sleeping grandchildren while the Bro, the MIM and I headed out for what would be the last ever movie we would ever see with DaddyDearest. Incidentally, the movie we went to see, was 'Paa'.
Yes. Last year, on this day, my beloved baba was still alive.

I love winter. I love winter in general, I love winter in New York, I especially love winter in Kolkata. That also means that I am a big fan of December.
This year, not so much.
This year, December brings back memories of DaddyDearest and his jaundice, DaddyDearest and his never-ending tests and scans, DaddyDearest and his first stint at the hospital, DaddyDearest and the tumor.
This year, December brings back memories of the January that followed last year's December.

There is a huge part of me that can't wait for this year to get over. That one month, and especially that one day in that one month, ruined 2010 for me forever. Yes, there have been many blessings and things to be grateful for as well. But first and foremost, 2010 will always be to me, the year I lost my father. My DaddyDearest. My beloved baba.

But here's the strange part. In a crazy, twisted and weird way, I don't want this December to end.
It's because I can still feel my dad's presence in my life, as if he's hovering over me, watching me, protecting me, loving me.
It's because I can say, "Last year, my dad was still alive."

Six weeks later, I won't be able to say that anymore. And my father will seem so far away. Really, really far away.

And I'm just not ready for that.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Their New Love

I sometimes wonder if I'm losing my touch, or my will.

I mean, I was the mom who knew all about Transformers -- the valiant Autobot side as well as the evil Decepticon side. I knew their histories, their back-stories, their names, and most important of all, I knew how to put them infernal things together! The MIM would give up after 65 seconds of concentrated effort and I soon became a pro at it. Even the Nephew would bring his pieces to me. And it wasn't just the Transformers; I knew all about Ben 10 and his alien avatars, different Hot Wheel attractions, the Chota Bheem gang, the Panga gang, etc.

But now with this new Beyblade obsession that has the boys of this household firmly in its grip, I couldn't be arsed. My eyes just seem to glaze over when the B-word is mentioned and I've even vetoed the boys from watching the corresponding cartoon on TV.

But, as I said above, the B-fever is raging in full blaze and hourly prayers are being made to Santa for said toys to be wrapped in cheerful paper and kept under the tree. The boys are intent on educating me yet.

Now while I know that Santa's definitely going to answer their prayers, I'm not so sure whether my brain has any space left for assimilating info about their newest and latest turn-on. After all, the Bakugan craze died a natural death along with all my crisp rupee-notes at the mall, spent on accumulating those insipid, unimpressive-looking-yet-freakishly-expensive, miserable excuses for toys.

Aah well. I make up for all this mindlessness at story time. Thankfully they both love listening to the good stuff! Long live the Panchatantra, the Hitopadesha, the Jataka tales, Aesop's fables, Enid Blyton and Mother Goose!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sex Ed 101

EO: Mamma, if a boy golden retriever marries a girl dalamayshun, then can they have babies?

M4 (anticipating question about mixed-breeds and hybrids) : Yes babu.

EO: Can the boy dog also have babies?

M4 (realising it was straying closer to sex ed territory): Errr, no...

EO: Then in Lady and the Tramp, how come Lady has babies who look like Tramp?

M4 (wondering how to explain genetics to a 7-yr-old): That's because Tramp is their father naa? Don't babies look like their parents?

Silence from the other side of the wall (he was in his room reading and contemplating while I was in the sitting room). No further questions. Satisfied with my answers, my son continues reading, while I heave a sigh of relief that the questions-that-could-have-been-but-weren't, did not crop up.

Safe...for now. But how much longer? *shudders at the mere possibility*

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Ever since I was a tween, I wanted to visit Shanti Niketan with my mother and her younger sister, Choto Mashi, my favourite aunt. The reason I love Tagore, Rabindrasangeet and Shanti Niketan so much is these two lovely women in my life. Why, I fell in love with Shanti Niketan before I ever even visited the place! And all thanks to their stories, their memories, their songs and reminiscences.

MaaJanoni was was there for just two years; she did her MA in Bangla Literature there. A phenomenal actress, MaaJanoni was well known for her histrionics and was very popular. She always was and still is one of the most gregarious people I've ever known. The Bro takes after her; I'm a wallflower just like DaddyDearest (was).

My gentle, sweet, introvert of a Chota Mashi studied there for five years; BA (Hons. Bangla) and like MaaJanoni, MA in Bangla literature. My Mashi was known for her vocal talents. Now I may be biased, but I think she is one of the best Rabindrasangeet singers I know!

During Basanto Utsab (i.e. Holi in other parts of India), all the students of the university used to get together and sing and dance. The campus would be aflame in gorgeous shades of yellow and all the girls would don floral ornaments. The tradition was started by Gurudev (Tagore) himself. A photographer's and tourists delight, the popularity for this festival has grown in leaps and bounds. One year, MaaJanoni and her friend were laughing and talking when a photographer came up to them, complimented my very lovely mother on her unusual flower-seed jewelry and requested their permission to take a snap -- they both obliged. By June that year, my mother was married and soon after, she was living in the US with her husband. In a letter from one of her cousins, the following year, the cousin had stated that he wasn't missing her at all since he saw her everyday. How? There she was, in the March section of the 1975 calendar! So that's explains where the photographer was from!

That picture still hangs in my parents' home today. Growing up, listening to these and other such stories, how could I not want to visit this place which held such an important place in my mom 's and aunt's hearts?

So it was always a dream for me to visit Shanti Niketan with them and to see 'their' Shanti Niketan. I wanted to see it all through their eyes.

And finally, two weeks ago, this little dream of mine came true!

I cannot even begin to describe the immense joy and pride I felt as I let MaaJanoni and Choto Mashi take us on a walk down their memory lane. I saw the stage where Mashi received her degree and my mom's degree on her behalf, during convocation. I walked about in their lovely outdoor classrooms. My sons walked upon the open-air stage where their grandmother had once performed.

I had goosebumps as MaaJanoni showed us the famous Shaalbithi, the tree-lined avenue, where Kobiguru would walk, always lost in his magnificent thoughts, hands clasped behind his back. To think that I was walking on the same path...*shivers delightedly*

We clicked so many snaps, they relieved so many memories, my sons ran about reveling in the greenery and fresh air, my cousin and I laughed to see our moms so happy...

It was one of the nicest days we had in a long, long time. Truly a day to remember.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Beautiful Love

Darling EO and YO,

Today I really lost it with the both of you. And over school-work.

EO, your grades were appalling and even though I have said to myself over and over again that I would never let grades, marks and percentages be benchmarks in how I judged you, I was crazy let-down by the test marks you came home with. What really got me furious was that you knew made careless spelling mistakes and couldn't finish.

YO, you just, you just...gosh, I don't even know where to begin!

After a lot of screaming and crying (oh yes, I cried too, big bucketfuls of tears I wept!) I went out of your room to calm down and to get us some chocolate --yes, yes, me too.

As I left the room, I banged the door shut but something made me stop and look through the crack. EO, you were sitting at the table doing your homework, YO, you were sitting on the carpet clutching your classwork in your hands. What I saw next, made my knees give way...

EO, you turned around on your swivel chair, YO you looked up at your big brother; next, you held out your hands to each other, clasped them tightly for a few seconds in silent solidarity...and then quickly looked away for fear that the harridan would storm into your lives yet again and wreck havoc with her insane fury.

Your wordless comfort to each other shattered my heart into a million little pieces. Yes, it shamed me into feeling like something worthy of being flushed down the toilet, but it also comforted me in a strange way.

That one little gesture just reaffirmed, all over again, that the YO was the best possible thing that I could do for you, EO. I gave you to each other and even though you are as different as Jupiter is from Neptune, you are both bonded to each other forever. By blood, of course, but as you grow older, also by shared experiences and moments. I want you both to love each other because you just do and not because you have to, and often, because you are so different from each other, I worry about your own love growing.

But there are moments like these to reassure me that maybe I worry needlessly.

Like last week at your friend's birthday party in McDonald's, EO. You boys were playing a rather fast and furious game of musical chairs, with the YO being somewhere towards the bottom of the age chain. The first time the music stopped, EO, you managed to sit down and with one hand you 'saved' a seat for your cousin and with your other, you grabbed the YO, pulled him to you and made him sit along with you on your chair. Ok, technically I knew that wasn't allowed, but I just had to let it pass, because I though it was the sweetest thing. The music began and the next round started...this time, you managed to save the YO but not your cousin. By round four, just as you managed to pull the YO onto your lap, a much bigger, taller and very obviously stronger classmate of yours called you out on what you were doing. You tried to shout him down, but when he tried to drag your brother off the chair, you lost it! You put an arm around the YO's shoulders and wagged your finger vigourously under your friend's nose, screaming, "Don't you dare touch him! Don't you dare touch my younger brother!" You, YO, had your arms around your brother's waist and had snuggled your head into his chest all the while. EO, you were amazing.

My darling boy, you could have easily been beaten into EO-jam by this much bigger boy, but that thought didn't enter your mind at all as you donned your mantle of a big brother looking out for his younger sibling.

Of course, in the interest of fairness, I did have to pull you, YO, out of the game and you were both upset with me about it.


I guess if nothing else, you'll both bond over the how-Mamma-was-so-horrible-to-us-and-that's-why-we're-so-screwed-up stories when you're in your teens.

Just remember, even when you're both hating me, I gave you each other.

And also, that I love you both more than you can even begin to imagine.

Forever and always yours,

Monday, November 1, 2010

Teacher, teacher

The EO is big on corrections and pointing out mistakes...of course he isn't very good when it comes to doing his classwork corrections back at home unless repeated warnings, pleadings and finally dire threats are issued! Sigh! Boys!

Anyway, you all know what a bookworm the boy is turning out to be. No? Well here's how much --
  • 98% of the time, he would rather read a book of his choice than go play outside. We have had quite a few battle royales during many an evening where he has tearfully begged me to allow him to stay cosied up with a book upstairs rather than run around with his brother and cousin. Believe me, nobody understands his passion for the written word more than me, but sometimes I have to channel my inner bitch-mom and snatch said book out of his hands and force him to go downstairs and get some fresh air. It's for his own good! I swear! air...strong legs -- yes, yes, my son will thank me later on. He will, right? Right?!?
  • Bed-time is always, ALWAYS preceded by Story Time. If I am going out, I have to read to them first; if I am out, then dad has to do it. Story Time is truly our time. We bond, we laugh, we snuggle and cuddle and giggle and wriggle! I make funny voices and faces and get all dramatic and try to make the story come alive for them. If nothing else, I hope my boys will always remember me fondly for our Story Time together. I hope the memories of our special time will be strong enough for them to forgive me for whatever it is that I will do to earn their ire in the Adolescent Years (shudder!!)
    Anyways, back to stories, book, reading and the EO. One story is never enough at bed-time. Two, three, four...nope, simply not enough. He would ideally like me to read to him till the birds are ready to take on the early worm. Well, on school nights, I usually read out two stories to of each boy's choosing. Then, after the good-nights have been said, the cheeks been kissed, the noses been rubbed, the ears nipped at and the tummies tickled, it's lights out and doors closed. However, after I leave the room, I can hear voices coming from the room and I catch a sliver of light from under the door. Yup, it's the EO who's convinced the night ayah that he needs to go potty...all so that he can spend some more precious minutes with a book.
So, back to the EO and his penchant for correcting mistakes, which can be pretty embarrassing if he decides to correct a grown-up in front of other grown-ups!!

We were off to lunch at Cafe The with dipali of 'of this and that', The Sue of 'Sunny Days' and Eve of 'Eve's Lungs'. I carried his latest fave along, "The Puffin Book of Classic Indian Myths." Now he's reading a story in the car and he suddenly asks me, "Mamma, what is the English for Maa Durga's trishul?"
"Trident", I replied.
Then he shakes his head and gets all serious. "Mamma, there's a mistake in this book. I think so the people who wrote this did not know the correct word for trishul and so, in the Ganesha story, they wrote that Shiva took out his sword and cut off Ganesha's head. That is not right, naa Mamma?"

Awww! Not only is he a book-worm, but he knows his mythology as well! He soooooo is MY son! Take that MIM!


And today, after school, when we were coming back home, he said that his teacher had written something incorrectly on the board. They had finished a chapter and were given a fill-in-the-blanks exercise and she had written:
'She live in a -blank-'
So the EO tells me, "Actually Mamma, that's incorrect, naa? It should have been, 'She LIVES in a -blank-', right naa, Mamma?"

Sigh! And this from the boy who sometimes say 'mistaked' and 'tooked'!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Poetry and my boys...

  • The boys were looking at the night sky and suddenly the YO turns to me and says, "Mamma, d'jyu know, the moon ijj majik."
    I'm like, "Huh?!?"
    And the MIM helpfully explains, "He saw a cloud passing over the moon."
    Excitedly I turn to my little boy and say, "Lovely, my baby! Yes, the moon disappeared behind the clouds...majic!!"
    Sombrely and sincerely my EO pipes up, "The moon is playing hide-and-seek with the clouds."

  • While coming back in the evening a few days ago, I showed my boys the setting sun. It was gorgeous, as if burning with colour. The EO put it best..."like a golden ball of flames."

    Yup, my poetry loving soul is loving it!

Monday, October 25, 2010


...was a 'kaalaa teekaa' day.
I want to savour it...

K-Sen. Praise. Personal invite. Birpurush.
Munni mashi. Nov 2nd...first. Bi-weekly.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday YO!!

My darling little YO,

You're four years old today! Do you know what that means, my sweet? It means your toddler days are now behind you. It means officially you are a big boy! It means that I am now a mamma of two big boys -- in other words, I am now an old lady and can proceed towards vanaprastham!

Ok, ok, my wrinkled skin, wheezing lungs and creaking joints aside, let's look at you my little dynamo.

Dynamo. That word describes you perfectly. You're a power-packed, high-energy, bundle of zip, zap and zoom. You are always up for a game or two...especially if those games involve running, jumping and yelling out loud.

And, fearless -- that's another word for you. Nothing seems to faze you; you run at a crazy speed, you do somersaults, you climb up and stand on the window sill and pretend you're Superman, and you love jumping from the steps which gives your dad quite a scare -- so you do it when he's not around! You've gotten quite good at it too, with all the practice that you've been sneaking in! You go about it pretty wisely too -- you started off by skipping the last step, which quickly became the last two, then three and now four. Last seen, you were trying for five. I like the way you go about it; smartly and not like a fool rushing in. You set your sights on the step, practice jumping from it over and over and over again, until you are absolutely confident and then once you are sure that you have thoroughly mastered it, you then set your heights higher. Those are two very important lessons you've taught yourself -- take things one at a time and practice makes perfect and I really hope you're like this about everything you choose to do in your life.

You know you're seriously skinny, right! In fact I call you my little shrimp, my chingri maach. Your father is very, very worried...but then what else is new, right? Ok, I am too, a bit, so will you please eat already?!?

You are so loving it actually takes my breath away. When you were younger, you were actually stingy with your hugs and kisses...the few you chose to dispense were usually meant for your father. And now, you are so, soooooo generous with your 'huggeejj and kisheejj' that you dole them out to one and all...even grannies, aunties and didis you've known for just a few hours. And your kisheejj! Oh, but they're the softest, gentlest, sweetest things on this Earth and they just make me greatly greedy for more! I can never have enough of them and your "I laab jyu's!" And luckily you're ever ready with a supply whenever I demand it. If I step out of the house even for five minutes, you throw your arms wide open and come running to me yelling, "Mammmaaaa...huggeeeeejjjjjj and kisheeeeeejjjjj bye-bye!!" It's the same when your brother leaves for school and your dad leaves for office.

I love the way you play. You're open to all kinds of games. When you're with your cousin sister, the two of you are busy playing House, Doctor, School and all sorts of other role-playing games. But of course once the big boys are home you're ready to be a super hero or Chota Bheem and of course fight with the EO over who gets to be Krishna. Often your games to save the world end up destroying the living room but your laughter makes my universe spin!

Oh, and this has to be recorded for posterity...when you grow up, you want to be Noddy!! How adorable are you? little pixie prince, my adorable imp, do you have any idea how much you've changed my life? You've filled it with energy, life-affirming laughter and precious, priceless laughter.

I am so, so, so blessed to be your Mamma.

Love you forever and ever and ever!

Your Mamma

Monday, October 11, 2010

By The Water Cooler

Presenting...(drum-roll please...)

Parul Sharma's new book, "By The Water Cooler"!!

Ok, you all know the delightful blogger of the delightful blog formerly known as "Bringing Up Adi", but which has now been rechristened as the delightful "Radio Parul". I love her and her blog because she's witty, pretty, funny, loves star-gazing and writing about it, has an Adi, a Ragini, writes the most beautiful letters on the planet and because she's utterly delightful!

We all read and loved her first book, "Bringing up Vasu -- That First Year" and have been waiting ever since for book two. Well thankfully, the wait is about to end because it's coming, it's coming, her second offering will arrive shortly in just a few days! (*Tries to launch herself in a click-heels dance*)

Set out the wandering minstrels and harken unto all who shall hear, that the lovely Ms. Sharma has also organised a contest! And we all love those, don't we? I certainly do and because I do, I am putting in my entry right here, right now!

Contest Entry:
I started my career in the FMCG sector. I was the Branch Sales and Training Executive for the international cosmetics brand 'AVON -- The Company for Women', in Bangalore.
During my 18 month stint in the company, I saw two other branches being set up in South India, one in Madras and the other in Hyderabad. I got very pally with the two girls in my position in those cities.
One morning, we get a call from the Hyderabadi BSTE. She's in tears. She was working late at the office, when the phone rang. She picked up the phone and cheerily answered, "Hello, this is AVON, how may I help you?"
The male voice at the other end said, "Aaah yes. This is AVON right? The Company for Women?"
"That's right," our effervescent BSTE replied. "What can I do for you, sir?"
The voice continued, "I just wanted to know how much you charge for your women..."
Our dear BSTE banged the phone down, locked up the office in a jiffy and high-tailed it home! By the time she finished narrating her tale, we were sharing in her tears too...tears of laughter!

So end's my little true story. Got funnier stuff to regale the blog-world with. Well then, you know where to go. Click here for contest details. Put it up on your blogs...PLEASE. And tell everyone you know about it. And most of all, get ready to buy the book!!!

It promises to be more than just delightful. It promises to be hilarious!! And we can all do with more laughter in our lives, right? Right!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy 7th Bithday, my precious EO

Dearest EO,

Seven years, baby. You turned seven-years-old yesterday. Where did the time fly, my darling, beautiful boy? I still remember our first day at home as a mommy-and-sonny-boy couple, when I sit with you in the chair, cradling you in my arms and crying big, fat tears as I stared in wonder at your sleeping face. Your father walked into the room just then and alarmed at seeing the tears (fearing post-natal depression, I suspect), worriedly asked me, "What's wrong?" I remember looking up at him and smiling. I said, "Nothing. I'm just so happy."

And that's the way it's been, ever since. I've been crazy happy about the thought, fact and reality of you being my son.

Seven years old. You are truly a big boy now. I can't say it enough, but you really are my soul's song and my heart's delight. And oh the myriad ways in which you delight me, my darling boy!

  • You've inherited my love for books. You can spend hours reading and it fills me with such peace and pleasure to see your nose buried between the pages of something that's got you hooked hard. And I'm not just talking comic books and Noddy stories. No, you're in it for real! I had invested in a set of Children's Encyclopaedia called "I Wonder Why" when you were just a year old. Yes, one thing that I was adamant about was the fact that my kids would have a well-stocked library, so I started building it up, bit by bit, even before you were born!! Anyway, back to "I Wonder Why" -- you are fascinated by them! You actually sit and read them, paying great attention to the words, pictures and captions. One of your favourite books is this huge tome on animals that your mamu and baba bought for you this year from the book fair. You can while away an entire afternoon just with that one book. You love going to book stores; you even start to read something that's caught your eye standing right where you are! You love reading so much that if you're entwined in the fabric of a story so completely, you HATE going downstairs to play in the evenings...and even though I sympathise (being like that myself when I was your age) I insist you go out and get your evening quota of fresh air and running around. A couple of months ago, you sat down with the children's section of The Telegraph and finished it in one go. You get excited whenever I get you the latest edition of The Magic Pot. And what brought a lump to my through was when you sat down with an edition of Mother&Baby magazine and read my column from start to finish and after you were done, you looked up at me and smiled. Sigh!! And that's why, even though many people would probably be horrified and aghast, I knew your father and I were doing the right thing in gifting you a treasury of Disney Tales (from your brother) and a big, huge, encyclopaedic atlas (from us), this year for your birthday. And yup! True to form, you LOVE them!! (Of course, your father wants to give you something 'fun' as well, but I'm good, 'cause you're so happy with what you've got.)
  • Music is your other great love and it's not surprising considering the genes you've inherited...from both sides! You have a good ear, a wide range of likes and loves, a sweet voice and are quick to pick up the words to a song that grabs your senses. It thrills me no end to hear you sing and then to have your kaka and baba react with surprise, "He knows the words to this song?" Recent cases in point; we were driving back from Shanti Niketan and you were sitting on your kaka's lap and when "Shot Through the Heart" started playing he exclaimed in surprise and delight, "He knows the words to a Jon Bon Jovi?" You continued to astound and delight him by singing the words of the chorus to popular numbers from Three Idiots, Queen, Micheal Jackson and Abba. And then, last Sunday, at the dining table, while waiting for lunch to be served, you suddenly started singing the 2010 FIFA anthem by K''re father couldn't be more surprised and delighted; I couldn't help my heart swelling. Even before you turned five, your Junior Music Class teacher from CSM told me to enrol you for instrument classes. I'm sorry it took me this long, but better late than never. Your loving Dida has given you a guitar for your birthday and classes start tomorrow. It's the start of a whole new chapter in your life, darling!
  • You love acting and are very comfortable on stage, just like me. Durga Pujo 2010 promises to be interesting. I'm holding my breath and walking on eggshells...
  • You have a fascinating imagination and are creative with language. You say things that take us completely by surprise and have your father and me looking at you in wonder! Your sense of humour also borders on the sarcastic...kinda a la Bing! (When you grow up, you will know what that means, because you're my son and there's no way you can't not know!)
  • I love watching you get big-brotherly with the YO; how sweetly you looked after him and comforted him at that big b'day party in Sat C, when I had stepped out to take your cousin to the loo and he started crying because he couldn't find me; how instinctively you try to shield him from my anger when he's done something naughty and scolding-worthy. Yes, you are a good big brother and may this bond and love only grow stronger with every passing day.
  • I absolutely LOVE the fact that you love my cooking. You love it to such an extent that you actually do a happy dance yelling "Yaaayyy!!" when you see me sweating over a stove in the kitchen!
  • Sometimes, when I go to pick you up from school and you see me from a distance, you come running towards me at full speed to envelop me in a giant hug. You don't care who's watching, you just do what you have to do. I revel in that and I enjoy every moment and nano-second of it, because who knows when the taunts of "mama's boy" may start and then those public displays of love, emotion and affection, just may come to a grinding halt. Hug away, darling, hug away. I'm you're giant, squishy pillow to hug and hold.

And while you can still throw a tantrum to rival the best of a two-year-old's, I've seen you learn to toughen up a bit and learn to defend yourself...and for that I'm glad. Yes, you're still given to tears (sigh!), but you're trying to bring that under control too. And while I encourage your sensitivity and your sweetness, I need you to be able to give it back to those who do you wrong. The world is full of mean kids and bullies -- you've seen that for yourself -- you cannot let them see you crying. It's sad. And heartbreaking for me too, to think of you developing a think skin, but it's for your own good, so that those mean words, cruel jibes and ugly insults can bounce off your back and not make a dent. All I ask is that you leave a flap open for our words and energies of everlasting love, support, encouragement and comfort to find their way into your heart.

Maybe I'm worrying unnecessarily, because your guileless laughter and endearing innocence still fills our world everyday. They have the power to turn me into liquid pools of mommy love. You can't sleep unless I've read to you; you love it when I sing to/for you; you throw yourself into me, often knocking me off my feet to give me bone-crushingly tight hugs; you love to remind me a couple of times a day that you love me most; you ask me again and again who I love most; you sometimes ask me when your dadu will come back; you still ask to sleep in our bed; you love and fight with your brother and cousin, over the chance to 'be' the hero of whatever latest movie or cartoon you've seen; and, one of the most telling, compelling and beautiful proofs of all, is that after the party yesterday, when I was putting you to bed and you were wondering which new goody you could sleep with, I suggested that you sleep with the present the night didi (ayah) gave you and you immediately agreed.

So, my beautiful, precious son, last night you slept with a stuffed Ganesha toy, made in the image of the God/Hero of the "My Friend Ganesha" movies. You made a hard-working woman who loves you, very happy and made your mother's bones, yet again, turn to oatmeal and her heart to slush.

I love you, my big baby. I love, love, love you...biggest, widest and heaviest.

Happy Birthday!

Forever your Mamma

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's Time for the Happy Happies to Begin

On 4th September, my first baby crossed a milestone. He left his twenties behind and entered the big 3-0.
No. I'm not talking about the EO.
I'm talking about my 'Baby' Bro.

Now while the bad rhyming was completely unintentional -- but once I realised that it was happening, I just went with it -- the sentiment is 100% big sisterly and true.

My baby brother; my source of wide-eyed wonder and delight; my first, biggest fan; my comfort thirty years old. The mere thought of it just boggles the mind.

Once again, I lament the geographical distance; that he is so far away from me/us. For twelve years now, he's been celebrating his birthday away from family, which means he's missed, or rather we've missed, quite a few milestone birthdays of his...18th, 20th and now, 30th. There's something rather heart-breakingly sad about watching an adored and once-upon-a-time-totally-doted-upon younger sibling, grow up and become a man, far away from you.

And what a terrible 30th year this is...minus one of our parents.

We all know that this time is an eventuality in our lives, but there's such a heaven-and-hell difference in the abstract concept and the actual reality of it.

But knowing the kind of person that Daddy Dearest was, I'm sure he spent the 4th popping open a bottle of champagne, pouring out a few pegs for his new Friends, and smiling down gently upon his one and only son.

Happy birthday, baby Bro. A sucky year for all of us, my pet. Next year, may you get the happiness that you so richly deserve.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fights...Funny Fights

Sunday morning. When I tend to relax the otherwise strict TV rules I have for my kids. My boys, thanks to my mythology loving genes which have passed on to them, love watching Amar Chitra Katha, Tales of Krishna and Balaram, and Chota Bheem (ok, so the last one bears no reference to the hero of Pandava fame). Oh alright, they love watching TV and going out for movie dates in general, but they DO love their mythology...especially the EO.

The Nephew joins them. Suddenly I hear him and my EO arguing. And it's one helluva verbal duel. I'm working on my comp in the bedroom and because there is no physical violence involved with the usual karate, judo and guerrilla warfare tactics, I refrain from butting in, wanting them to sort it out themselves. Statements such as, "But you're my big brother!", "Just let me finish my sentence!" and "I don't like you anymore!" have been exchanged. The argument reaches its crescendo and I hear the door banging shut -- the Nephew, fed up, decides to walk away. But, the EO isn't done saying his piece so he runs after him. I can tell that a certain level of hysteria has been reached and I shout out for him to come to me. I was right. There are tears of rage pouring out of his eyes, his cheeks are flushed and he's shaking. I ask him to calm down and tell me what happened. In a hysterical, high-pitched voice, the EO, still shaking, starts off with, "WXYZ is so dumb! He's as dumb as a fish! When he grows up he's going to become foolish!" I tell him to calm down and tell me what happened...a simple argument where the EO is trying to guess the ending to the story and the Nephew doesn't want to hear of it. He's still in a rage after this narration, so I tell him to listen to some music. He shakes his head and says he wants to finish his movie instead.

So I let him, thinking that it'll help him cool off. But no. My EO still has some rage to expend and who better that his little brother to take it out on? So I hear him admonishing my little shrimp to throw WXYZ dada into the dustbin! Not content with that ruling, he then forbids him from going downstairs to even see and play with WXYZ dada.

And my shrimp decides to do exactly that! He scampers out of the room and I hear the EO yelling after him in frustration.

Sigh! Don't you just love peaceful Sunday mornings?

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Letter to my Blog

Dear Blog,

1) You probably think I'm treating you like Lady Tremaine treated Cinderella. Yes, I googled her name, because I still have a responsibility to my readers...

...those who are left, anyhow :-(

2) You probably think I am taking out my DaddyDearest's death, on you.

3) You probably think I don't have anything to say or record anymore.

4) You probably think I don't love you anymore.

Well, to all that, let me assure you that nothing(s) could be further from the truth.

No, you're not some thingummy that I got forcibly stuck with. I created you because I wanted to. I'm sorry about the neglect. With Baba gone, I seem to have lost a huge sense of drive and motivation. I am guilty of being lazy at the best of times; couple that sin with the meh-blah feeling of pointlessness, then my world will suffer. I'm sorry it had to be you.

I seem to have driven all my faithful readers away...which hurts, and it's all my fault. I hope one day I can rise again from my ashes. I will resurrect you then and hopefully all our old friends will be back, and some new ones too!

I just wish I knew when that day was.

All I can say to you, dear Blog, is, keep singing "I Will Survive"; just that one line, over and over to yourself again and again. Let that one line be our anthem.

Love always,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sweet Sunday Somethings

Of course the Universe will take a big bite out of my giant a**. Of course it will. With pointy, razor-sharp fangs, no less.

Just when I write my last post, something like this happens...

It's a lovely, monsoon morning. The type where the world looks like a faded water-colour and the poet in your soul feels restless. It's a Sunday morning too, so that means the house is over-flowing with the male presence. The MIM decides it's time to rock 'n' roll with the boys and puts on loud music in the bedroom. He mixes it up with the boys' favourites and his. So while our sons go beserk to "Aal Iz Well", they also learn to apprciate the fine nuances of a Guns 'n' Roses composition. The number in question? Well, as the MIM explains to his heirs, "This song is called 'Sweet Child of Mine'...'Mishti Bachcha Aamaar'." I guffaw while sitting in the other room, but of course there's music coursing through my veins by now and I am supporting Axl Rose's vocals with my back-up act, all the while, nose buried deep in a book. After the song, I suddenly hear the sweet voice of that 'sweet child of mine' trying to sing the his own tune. I laugh. I call the EO to me and sing it to him so that he can pick up the correct tune. He loves it, throws himself into my arms, sits on my lap and buries his face into my neck as I sing "Oh-oh, sweet child of mine" over and over again. After I finish, he looks up at me and says, "I'm a happysaur!"

Thankfully, my little boy still hasn't outgrown his love for dinosaurs. Thankfully, he still likes to make up stories and words and images, giving vent to his creative, imaginative side. Thankfully, he loves the music his parents love and is inculcating a distinct taste of his eclectic mixture of Rabindrasangeet, Biddha Bar, Bollywood, Disney and Rock.

And most of all, thankfully, my little boy is a little boy yet...definitely 'sweet child of mine.'

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boys Will Be Boys

Every now and then, I am struck, rather slapped in the face, by the realisation that the EO is in an ALL BOYS school and there is every chance that he is going to turn into a pig, a monster, an ass or maybe a combination all three. Then there's also the small matter of genetics...I have forbidden the MIM and BIL-ly Boy from telling my sons, their tales of derring-do, asinine idiocy and assitude (my word...meaning 'attitude of an ass'). Now those boys (the MIM and BIL-ly Boy) have stories that would curl your hair and leave your jaw on the floor.

The horror of watching my imaginative, story-telling, rose-cheeked son with sparkly eyes and a voracious appetite for books and stories, turn into a foul-mouthed brat sometimes has me staggering about the house, one hand clutching my poor heart and the other stuck to my forehead, going "Naaahhhhhiiiiiiiiii!"

Think I'm being melodramatic?

Well, here's a fine example of a snippet of a conversation that happened in the car yesterday after I'd picked him, the Nephew and Car-Pool Boy up from school. The three of them are having an animated conversation about this naughty boy and that teacher's pest, when suddenly the EO excitedly turns to me, eyes shining with laughter as he remember's something he wants to share with me, "Mamma, you know, today XYZ was drawing a sexy-sexy girl in his note-book..."

I gasp and interrupt him right there, how does a six-year-old know the existance of 'sexy-sexy'? Does he even know what it means?!?!? So I ask him, "A sexy-sexy girl? What's that?"

The EO explains, "You know, a hawawali girl."

At that instant I laughed in my mind. There was something innocent about the way he said it. I knew he meant "Hawaian" but I still decided to press further, "A hawawali girl? And what's that?"

"An island girl."

Yup, the boy had his concept right and it was oddly sweet too, his understanding of it and ensuing explanations...but yes, I still worry. He knows the word 'sexy'; a boy in his class draws 'hawawali girls'; the boy who draws it also knows that it's inappropriate and that he will get a 'jhapad' from his mothers so he erases it and draws Goku instead. (Goku, for those not in the know, is a character from the boy-testosterone filled cartoon series called "Dragonball Z").

I know they grow-up. I know boys will be boys who will eventually be dogs, pigs and any number of other creatures from the animal kingdom...but can't they be litte boys, baby boys and sweet innocent boys for a while longer?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 23rd: Griho Prabesh

Over the last one-and-a-half years, the MIM and I have been building a dream, vacation home in the idyllic town of Shanti Niketan. Yes, of Rabindranath Tagore fame.

Two days ago, on Friday, 23rd July, 2010, we finally had our Griho Prabesh. It was a dream come true for many there.
For my mother, who did her MA from Bishwa Bharati University in Shanti Niketan. Even after she and my father were married and had moved to the States, a huge part of her remained behind in Shanti Niketan. She always knew that she was going to come back to India. She had even started making queries about purchasing land and building her dream home there, way back in 1974.
For the MIM's late tamma, or dadi. She was Rabindranath Tagore's student. In fact, he had composed his well-known song, 'Godhuli Logone Meghey' especially for her. She was the first to be conferred the title of 'Geetashree', the female equivalent of 'Pandit' or 'Ustad'; lesser known than it's Hindustani counterpart of 'Vidhushi'. She always wanted her own place in Shanti Niketan. Her daughter and son (my FIL) watched proudly, as the Grande Olde Dames wishes were fulfilled via her grandson (the MIM).
For the MIM and me. He wanted a holiday home. I wanted a place that I had a deeply profound, almost spiritual connection too. And thanks to my intense love of Rabindrasangeet, that place was Shanti Niketan.

However, for me, the ceremony was incomplete.

No, no. Everything took place and the pujo was beautiful. But BIL-ly Boy, SIL, the Nephew and the Niece couldn't be there thanks to the viral. The Bro, because he's busy earning a living in the States.

And most of all, because my DaddyDearest wasn't there.

At least not physically.

But he was there with me in spirit. I felt him traveling with us in the car as we drove down from Calcutta to Shanti Niketan, as I carried his photograph with me. I saw his face in the clouds as I looked out the window, at the sun-dappled tree-tops. I remembered him standing next to me, proudly and happily when we had gone for the Bhoomi Pujo, last year in February.

And I remembered the last pujo I sat for. For him. On 23rd January, 2010. Exactly six months ago.

The man worked his magic with dates once again, just so that he could be with me, somehow.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day, 2010

This Sunday was Father’s Day. June 20th, 2010.

Father’s Day.

This Sunday also marked five months of my Baba’s passing. Exactly five months. To the day.

At first, I thought it was a cruel, cosmic joke. Maybe the heavens really enjoyed seeing me weep till my heart was dry, wait for it to replenish and then weep again and again and again till my eyes were swollen shut.

Friends sent me warmth, kindness, words of love and wisdom. It helped...greatly.

When the rage of tears finally abated and I sat wearily by myself, curled into a ball in the bean-bag, looking at the green trees framed against a cloudy, grey sky, I let myself feel again.

From the time he went to the hospital and continuing, Baba has woven some kind of magic with and around certain calendar dates. There are messages intricately linked with those dates. I keep telling myself that it is his gift to me, to us, but mostly me, to tell me that he’s fine, he’s ok and he’s still here with me.

I have always believed that when it is a person’s time to go, he will go. The date and time have already been pre-ordained and there’s nothing that we can physically do about it. We may rant and rave and scream till our hearts, lungs and vocal chords burst at the unfairness and injustice of it all, but that can never change anything. No matter how untimely the passing may seem, it was time.

And it was my father’s time. I know that, I believe that, I just can’t accept that. Logically knowing and understandingly accepting are two different things altogether.

And I also believe that when a person dies, they go to an infinitely better place; the best place. I don’t believe too much in rebirth, but I do believe in heaven. Actually, let me rephrase that. I don’t believe that the rebirth is instantaneous. I believe s/he goes to heaven for a year, to be able to look after his/her family and also to be able to indulge in all his/her favourite past-times till it’s time for the soul to enter a new body. And that’s where my father is right now. In heaven...healed, healthy and whole; drinking his favourite tea, listening to endless sessions of classical music and finally learning the truth about his idol, the man my father literally worshipped while he was alive, Netaji Subash Chandra Bose.

It’s we who are left behind who are consumed with guilt, grief and endless questions that will never be answered.

Did my father have any regrets? Did he know at any point in time that he was not going to make it? Did he ever feel pain? Was there ever a point when he just couldn’t stand it anymore?

And of course the all important, burning one – did he know, did he have even the slightest idea just how much I loved him? With all my heart?

I have the answer to that one and it’s all linked to the dates on the calendar.

December 31st, 2009. The day I came home from the hospital to find my contributor’s copy of “Chicken Soup for the Indian Armed Forces Soul” waiting for me. Also, the date of my father’s operation. There was a point when his heart started fluctuating on the table, but he didn’t die. I now think it’s because he didn’t want me to associate New Year’s Eve with his passing. He knew me well, my father. He knew that if he left on this day, I would never celebrate another New Year’s Eve with family and friends again. And that’s why he held on till...

January 20th, 2010. Saraswati Puja. If there were two things my father held above all else, it was education and music. He himself had three degrees but he was never fully satisfied with them. He was in awe of anyone who studied ‘difficult’ subjects and who did PhD’s. And music! Oh music was his all-consuming obsession. It actually seemed appropriate for him to pass away on Her day.
It’s funny; no matter how faithful we are to God in our day to day life; no matter what our religious convictions and beliefs; even non-beliefs, for that matter; we all become our most religious selves when we see our loved ones suffering. Those last few days, when my father developed one complication after another and when we could see him shrinking before our very eyes, I think I called out to every God and Goddess in our pantheon. I made innumerable mannats and promises to All of Them...except Maa Saraswati. I don’t know why I didn’t call out to Her. And even though She called one of Her most dedicated devotees to Her side on Her special day, a day dedicated to Her in worship, prayer and song; I bear Her no grudge. I am not angry with Her. It’s as if She didn’t let me down; instead it was Her way of telling me, “I’ll look after him from now on.” As for the Others, I am still not on ‘speaking’ or rather praying terms with Them. Yet.

January 23rd, 2010. Netaji Subash Chandra’s birth anniversary. Also the fourth day after my father’s passing or the ‘chautha’, the day when a married daughter conducts a puja for her parent’s departed soul. Yes, on the day of his idol’s birth anniversary, I gave jol (paani/water) to my father’s soul.

January 30th, 2010. Maghi Purnimaa. A day so auspicious in the Hindu calendar that many homes and temples all over the country were having Satya Narayan pujas and havans. There was a havan in my parent’s home too, that morning. The one where my ‘baby’ brother gave jol to our father’s soul. After all, it was the 11th day after my father passed away; the day Bengali Brahmin families conduct pujas for their dear departed.

The significance of these dates have not escaped us. Everyone around us also told us what a good and pure soul my father had, for its journey to take place on such holy and highly significant dates.

I agree.

But I still didn’t need my father to pass away to know what a good soul he was.

And it hasn’t stopped there.

Since my father passed away, he’s been sending me all sorts of signs that he’s still with me. I think he knows how much I loved him; warts, faults and all, and he’s trying to tell me he loves me back. And his blessings, somehow or the other, always seem to find me on the 20th of the month.

“Chicken Soup for the Indian Romantic Soul” had already hit the bookstores, weeks in advance. I hadn’t received my contributor copies, until...that’s right, February 20th, 2010.

In the meanwhile, I got a lovely offer...a dream come true; to compile and edit two of “Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul’s” forthcoming titles. A few phone-calls, many e-mails and some contract signing later, I got my cheques on...April 20th, 2010.

Which brings me back to Father’s Day, 2010. It fell on June 20th. Exactly five months after my beloved, beloved Baba passed away. And now I know it wasn’t the fates mocking me. It was my father hugging me and calling my name to tell me that he’s still here; he’s still around, looking out for me and after me.

And I know he will. For the next few months at least. I know he will be hovering over us making sure we are ok and fine and whole again. Until it’s time for him to live once more.

In fact, I even know the date my father’s spirit will leave his final kiss on my forehead before he parts for good, leaving his memories and blessings behind.

It will be next year. Not on January 20th, 2011. I know my father well enough now, to believe that it will have to be a special, significant date.

It will be during next year’s Saraswati Puja; a day of worship and blessings. A day that will be forever and inexorably linked with my father from now on.

And according to the lunar calendar, next year's Saraswati Puja falls on February 8th, 2011.

Also my 10th wedding anniversary.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All For the Flag

This morning, I witnessed something beautiful. It was a moment from last night's Brazil vs. Korea FIFA 2010 match. The MIM told me about it and I immediately youtubed it.

I watched dewy-eyed as Korean striker, Jong Tae-se fought and failed to hold back his tears at the start of the match when the band played the Korean national anthem. I don't think anyone who saw that could possibly remain unmoved.

His emotional downpour during the anthem immediately became one of my favourite moments of FIFA 2010. I don't know if anything will be able to top that...

Yes, yes...I am woman, hear me roar, see me weep...

But all said and done, it was a heart-touching moment on so many levels. To see such raw emotion on display, and from someone who is 'supposed to be' all alpha-male, is always a powerful yet humbling experience. Not to mention over-whelming. This man must have dreamt about this moment ever since he was in school playing in the dusty fields with his friends. He must have skinned his knees a gazillion times, maybe even broken his nose and a few bones some countless times. Dirty shirts and socks that made his mom scream in frustration; inter-school and local club tournaments where he may have sometimes soared and triumphed or tripped and crashed; kicking that ball an inch closer to his dream with every match.

And then, on June 15th, 2010, there he was. Right in the middle of his dream. Except, it was all true. It was a reality. We were in the midst of that dream coming true for him and to see him embrace it in the way he did, was almost to be a part of it; on the fringes in a voyeuristic way perhaps, but part of it we were, helplessly entwined.

The other thing that always gets me choked up is seeing such an overt display of national pride. It's no secret that I love my India, even though on paper I do not belong to Her. But I am a part of Her. And She is a huge part of me.

That's why, when anyone shows Her or Her symbols, raiment and accessories the slightest bit of disrespect, my blood begins to boil.

Like to the National Anthem, for example.

I have to say, right at the beginning, that I don't approve of the national anthem being played in theatres. It's a beautiful song and the piece that is played is inspired. But the theatre is not the place for it. I must say I appreciate the thought that went behind it, but I still feel that the cinema hall is an inappropriate place to stir up nationalistic pride. You have people trying to shush crying babies and excited kids, juggling trays of ice-laden cold drinks, hot coffee and tubs overflowing with popcorn. You can forgive them for being distracted, but the anthem is the anthem. And to be honest, once the first bars of the anthem start, these tired and stressed out parents will grab their kids, stand where they are, clutch onto dangerously wobbly and over-loaded trays and desperately wish for the next few minutes to speed on by. But they show respect. What is going on in their minds is a different conversation altogether.

But it gets distressing and upsetting to pick out a verbal duel with the set of nonchalant 'cool' dudes who sit there smirking away, munching their popcorn while others stand around them and sing.

I've always tried to remain true to my beliefs. Hypocrisy turns me off. So I've taught the EO all about respecting the national anthem; not just his own, but any and every, single one in this world. It's about respect. It's about peace and brotherhood. It's about what's right.

Before going to Singapore for our holiday, I took the boys to see "Shrek 4." There were four people sitting down when the anthem started playing, a scruffy, unwashed, hippie, blond, back-packing couple and a pair whose facial features led me to believe that they belonged to the North East.

My six-year-old son, having learnt to respect the National Anthem and Flag without question; having picked up the Sense-of-Outrage gene from me; and even before I could deliver my looks to kill and swoop down on the unworthies, started to head towards the sitters saying "Excuse me!"

I grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt collar and he turned to look at me, bewilderment and confusion writ large in his eyes, "But Mamma, they're sitting for the nashnul anthum!" I reassured him that I was going to tell them, he was just a little boy after all and they probably would not appreciate it.

I first turned to the foreigners. "Excuse me", I said coldly, "but would you mind standing please? This is our national anthem playing." They looked at me, took two seconds to decide whether to stand or not, and finally did.

I next turned my attention to the pair from the Seven Sisters (I dislike the term 'chinks'). I looked at them and said, puzzled, "Excuse me?" And they looked back at me. I said, "It's the national anthem." The look they gave me was a challenging one that said, "So?" And I said, exasperatedly, "So please stand." They had these wry smiles on their faces that were hard to define. I almost thought that maybe they weren't going to stand after all, but a few seconds, they did.

I went back to join my sons and my mother. I sang along loudly but my mind was swirling with uneasy thoughts. The blond guy looked back at me a couple of times and I was rather perplexed with their attitude. I would totally stand for their country's anthem, why couldn't they stand for ours? And didn't they get a clue that a country's national anthem was playing when the notice flashed in huge letters across the screen and everyone around them stood up?

And as for my North-East sisters, maybe they were making a political statement. Did I goad them into doing something that they did not believe in?

That day I was really confused by my actions.

But in my son's eyes, I had done the right thing. I walked the talk.

And I had also preserved the honour and integrity of my country's anthem.

Or had I?

I had tears in my eyes that day as I stood up singing our country's anthem in a darkened theatre hall.

But they were not of the same weight and value as Jong Tae-se's.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just Because

Yes, I am writing. Yes, I am travelling. Yes, I am singing, reading, watching movies and eating chocolates. Yes, I did Jaipur and Singapore and had a blast doing them too.

Yes, I am breathing.

And yes. I am still crying myself to sleep every night.

And I guess that's why, we sometimes need to do things, 'just because'.

I went to see "Sex and the City -2" yesterday and on me were two of the three la-di-dah, branded, designer names I own. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am more boho chicca than haute couture diva. But yesterday, I carried my new, white Espirit bag (courtesy SIL) and wore my fabulous, new Guess shoes (courtesy recent trip to Singapore) to last evening's show of "Sex and the City - 2".

Just because.

P.S. Movie review : Good time-pass. Horrible clothes. A nice evening out with the girls.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 6th, 2010

...would have been my parents 37th anniversary. mother is now minus a husband. I can't think of anything lonelier or sadder.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Of Fancy Elephants and Schmancy Superheroes

Today is the last day of summer camp. There's a fancy dress party. It was announced a week ago and straight off the bat my EO said he wanted to go as Krishna. I groaned thinking of all the costumes that are lying in crumpled heaps at the bottom of the cupboard and tried to get him to change his mind. But he was adamant. Krishna is his favourite God, after all! Yes, his and the YO's as well, which is why even the YO joined the chorus and demanded to be Krishna as well!

Well, this Mamma wasn't going to give up. She was going to fight on behalf of all those unused, unhappy costumes lying listlessly in the dark cool of the cupboard spaces. There were various remnants of various Superheroes and bits and pieces of jungle and farmyard animals scattered all over the place.

Winning over the YO was easy. She picked up an elephant costume that once belonged to his elder brother which he wore for a school concert when he was the YO's age! It couldn't have been more perfect and luckily, my little one agreed!

Now the EO was a tough customer. I tried tempting him with the stock pile at home. I reminded him how much he loved being a prince, but he shot that idea down saying the prince costume was too small now. I sighed, thinking that he did have a point as the concert was over two years ago, but then again, that doesn't really stop him wearing it at home. I then asked him if he wanted to be a superhero. Bad move. He immediately responded with "YESSSSSSSSS!!! I want to be Iron Man! With his special armour and helmet and this thing and that thing (clasping his wrists where the hand plates or whatever they are, are meant to be) and everything!!"

Well. I led myself into that one. I'm totally to blame!

I agonised over what I was going to do, until, quite literally, lightening struck!

My boys were pretending to be superheroes and attempting to save the planet (read, destroying my living room!). The EO was wearing his prince cape, since that still fits, duh! And the YO was using a scarf as his cape. They were both wearing the eye masks that they had made in camp.

Suddenly, the sky became overcast and we could hear deep rumbles coming from within the clouds' bellies. With a matter of minutes, there was a fantastic thunderstorm, with heavy winds, flashes of lightening and the works. I revelled in it while my boys did the scaredy-cat act...pretend, of course! We huddled together and watched the lightening when it happened...I was struck by a bolt from the deep grey-blue...figuratively speaking!

I turned to my EO, all excited and said, "Why don't we make you into a new superhero?" Doubt streaked across his face but he gave me his attention. "You can wear this blue cape, this blue eye mask with blue jeans and a blue T-shirt. You can be Blue Thunderstorm! You can control the winds with your eyes and make tornadoes which can lift the bad guys off their feet, swirl them around till they're dizzy and then drop them right inside jail! And from your hands, you can zap out lightening bolts! How do you like it, Blue Thunderstorm?"

"No!" my six-year-old said, and my face fell. "I'll be Blue Lightening-Storm!"

I was beyond delighted and seeing my first-born's eyes sparkle with excitement, thrilled me even more.

I played out the idea in my head over the next two days and loved it more and more.

So this morning, I got up early and went into my boys' room. I sat down with blue art paper, a pencil, ruler, scissors and silver/gold gift-wrapping paper. My boys hopped around me in excitement. My EO squealed with delight, "Oh Mamma, really you're so creative!" I should've hugged him, instead I got all shy and said, "It's part of my job, you know. Not just my writing job, but my job of being a mother." The EO looked at me soulfully. Either he was thinking that some great secret had just been shared with him, or he was thinking that his Mamma had gone loco!

Then, I quickly wrote down a poem for my EO to memorise and taught my YO what to say, as I made three silver lightening bolts and a single golden one for the EO's accessories. I made a head band and two wrist-bands, and adorned each with a silver bolt. The golden one, I stuck on to his silver belt.

Our little boys all dressed up and ready, the MIM and I had our camera phones at the ready. We recorded them saying their lines to us, before we sent them off to camp. First the YO gushingly said, "I am jungel animol. I have a beeg earjj and twunk. I am en elefent!"

We cheered and roared our approval.

Next, the EO. And this is what he said:
"I am a secret superhero;
My name is Blue Lightening-Storm.
I can ride up on the clouds
In my super hero form.
I have lightening in my hands
And tornadoes in my eyes,
And using my special powers,
I always catch the bad guys!"

I had tears in my eyes as I looked at my creations.

And I'm obviously not talking about some silly bits of glittery-paper lightening bolts.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bum Bum Baaje

A couple of weeks ago, one rather early Sunday morning, I suddenly found myself surrounded by four little monkeys -- my EO, YO, the Nephew and the Niece.

I was still asleep when I felt a weight on my back. It was the Nephew. He was having a rather genial conversation with the EO from his comfortable perch, while the YO plastered my cheek with wet slobbery kisses, with the Niece saying, "Aee! Tumi tomaar mamma key lipsh-ey kishhie korchho!" (Hey! You're kissing your mum on the lips!) The YO glares back at her and says, "Naa! Lipsh-ey! Dekho!" (No! Not on the lips, see!) and proceeds to demonstrate.

Quite enjoying the attention and also curious to see what lay in store, I pretended to be fast asleep. Suddenly, snatches of the elder boys' conversation drifted towards me. The Nephew is heard asking my EO, "EO, why does your mum have such a big bum?" And before the EO can answer, he chooses to answer his question himself, "Oh I know! I know! It's because she's big and big people have big bums, that's why!"

As I smirked to myself I suddenly felt not one, not two, but FOUR PAIRS of hands playing my 'big bum' like a tabla. Yes, my bum is just that big...big enough to accommodate four pairs of hands to beat out a tune as funny and delightful as their giggles and squeals of delight.

And no, the treadmill is not going to be my new best friend. How else will my children play the tabla?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Calling All Bloggers!

A very close friend of mine needs people to write. And she's not talking about professional writers...she's talking about folks like you and me. But if you are a professional writer or an author-type-person...well, that's fine because she needs you too!

She'd compiling two books for Westland Publishers - "Chicken Soup for the Indian Friend's Soul" and "Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul: Celebrating Brothers and Sisters."

She asked me to put this up on my blog and to spread the word. Please write...we're all bloggers and it's what we do, right? And we mostly blog about our lives, right? So it should be a piece of cake!

And pass the word along to your bloggy friends, un-bloggy friends, family and colleagues. And tell them to spread the word too!

Her mail id is in the info in this link. She wants lots and lots of stories, so go on, indulge her!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Poila Boishakh 1417

April 15th was Poila Boishakh. Bengali New Year.

The night-before, I was feeling depressed. The next day, I was going to go through another one of the dubious first' first Poila Boishakh without my DaddyDearest.

But I do wish everyone a Shubho Naboborsho. Forgive the delay. May you and yours have a year full of love, laughter, good health and make precious memories.

I made one on that day itself...

Both my boys are huge Krishna bhakts. I think all little boys are. They identify with his naughtiness and impish escapades.

Now, as is the trend in these parts, whenever the boys in this house watch a movie or hear a story that they like, they argue amongst themselve as to who is going to 'be' the hero of the piece. The most brutal fight my two sons have going between them most days is who gets to be Krishna. The fights involve a lot of kicking and screaming and the end result is someone often ends up in a bundle of tears...not me, I'm usually reduced to a mass of electrocuted, frazzled nerves by the end of their matches. This is one fight that The Nephew stays far away from. He has wisely chosen to 'be' Balaram, or rather, the EO 'suggested' that he be so since he is after all the eldest, and he sweetly complied.

Anyway, on Thursday, I was lazily moping around the house. After I finally got my butt into the shower, I wore my bright, new bandhni, skirt from Jaipur; sky blue and sunny yellow with big silver chumkis all around. When I opened my bedroom door, my little YO came rushing in excitedly. Why? Because he had (or rather his ayah had) tied a tuft hair on the top of his head. He loves doing this whenever he gets the chance. Why? Because he is Krishna of course!

So, he rushes in excitedly to show me his Krishna-style and stops in his tracks, totally thunderstruck. He looks me up and down...totally in awe. He then asks me, "Tumi ki poyeychho?" (What are you wearing?) And of course he answers it himself, "Shkaartsh?" (Shirt?) He can't take his eyes off my and gives me his shy, imp grin.

What he does next, stuns me. He shyly takes my hand and says "Esho, esho" (Come, come) and leads me out into the sitting room, to show me off to his brothers, who are engrossed in TV. Then he tells them excitedly, "Dekho, dekho! Amaar mumma ki pohechhey, dekho!!" The EO and The Nephew give me a cursory once-over, smile and zne out again.

The YO, still with a goofy, shy, adorable expression on his face; still holding on to my hand; softly says something which I can't catch. I ask him to repeat it and he says just a little bit louder, for my ears only, "Tumi maiyaa aar aami Kanha." (You are {Yashoda} maiyaa and I am {Krishna} Kanha).

Tears sprang to my eyes at my little boy's sweetness and innocence. No wonder he was so dumbstruck when he saw me in a skirt that he immediately identified as typical of what Yashoda maiyaa would wear. And the coincidence that I should choose to wear exactly that, while he chose that precise moment to channel his inner Natkhat Kanha, was too overwhelming for him.

His joy and innocence just bubbled over that day and made me warm and tingly all over.

May the year bring on many such moments for us all.

And with that, I wish you a Shubho Naboborsho once again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Aar Ek Cup

We've all heard the story about the devout man whose faith in God was so strong that when his village was flooded, he turned down a raft, a boat and a helicopter by saying, "God will say me." When he drowned and went to heaven, he wailed, "God, I had dedicated my whole life to You, and yet, in my hour of need, why did You not save me?" God smiled sadly and said, "My dear child, I tried to save you three times, but you turned me away each time."

Just remember this tale when you get to the end of this little narrative of mine.

I you had ever spent a night in my parents' homes in Bangalore or Kolkata, and if you had ever slept in the bedrooms near the kitchen, then chances are, you would have been woken up in the morning by a rather terrible clanging and clashing. Not even a pillow over one's head was enough to drown out the quite-deafening sounds of the pestle and mortar being made to work by my father, a couple of hours after sunup. Every morning, without fail, my father would crush a combination of herbs, spices and ginger to brew with a spoonful of tea leaves for his early morning cuppa. This trusty concoction, he claimed, was his health tonic, and in my twenties, I got hooked on it too.

Tea. My father's absolute favouritest beverage in the world. And I don't use the term 'favouritest' lightly. Any time was tea time for my father and he could happily have ten or twelve cups of the brew throughout the day. Even though my silent, introvert of a father didn't say much when friends and family were over, he looked forward to them coming with great delight and an air of anticipation. We'd tease him saying that it was because he was guaranteed another cup of tea on their arrival.

My mother would often get exasperated with my father's frequent demands for "aar ek cup" through the day; not that her irritation bothered him...if it was tea he wanted, it was tea he would get. My father credited tea with many things. He claimed that tea was the reason behind his fair complexion and that drinking tea in the summertime kept the body cool. My mother would snort in disbelief, but maybe the man had something? After all, he was incredibly fair and also the most even-tempered man that I've ever known in my life; uncomplaining, humble and never, ever given to fits of rage. My mother? Well, beautiful, wheatish and passionate about everything and everyone in her life. Also, not a tea lover. So...

I love my aadaa-chaa, elaichi-chaa and flavoured teas as much as I love my cafe latte and hazelnut-flavoured cappuccino. But often I would ask for a cup of tea in my parents' home whenever I went to visit, just so that my father could have another cup. I wonder if he knew that?

I made my father his last ever cup of tea while he was still in the hospital; in the ICU. I had said my goodbyes for the day and visiting hours were almost over. A friend of my father-in-law's was with Baba while I waited in the lobby. He came down and said that my father was calling me. With just a few minutes to spare before the guards came around asking visitors to leave, I ran upstairs as fast as I could. My father was sitting propped up in bed, a flask of hot water, an empty cup and a tea bag kept on a tray in front of him. I asked him if he was feeling alright and whether he needed anything. He shook his head and just asked me to make him a cup of tea. Relieved and happy, I not only made him his tea, but I fed it to him as well, spoon by spoon; the security guard even gave me ten extra minutes to do so. Baba relished each and every drop and let out a sigh of contentment after we were done.

That night he was put on the ventilator. Three days later, he died.

I swore off tea forever. I couldn't even look at a cup without feeling the twin emotions of absolute anguish and irrational rage.

Well-meaning family and friends tried to get me to change my mind. I was stubborn in my refusal. My mother, however, understood.

The fourth day after a parent dies, according to Bengali-Hindu customs, a married daughter as well as her children, perform a puja for the departed parent in the daughter's marital home.

In accordance with these traditions, I woke up, had a bath, shampooed my hair, wore a new sari and fasted until the puja. Certain things are supposed to be given to the departed soul for his journey to the after-life...such as rice, fruits, vegetables and other things, like a bit of bhoomi (earth), an umbrella, some loose change, and five items that the person was fond of eating, amongst other things. Of course it may vary from one household to the next.

I saw all these items placed in front of my father's garlanded photograph. Yes, there was a packet of tea leaves there as well.

After the puja, whilst I was mingling with my family and friends who had gathered round me in my time of grief, I was given something to eat and drink. Famished, I wolfed down the food on my plate and drained the contents of my cup within minutes.

It was only after everyone was gone, while I was sitting with my sons, playing back the mornings' events in my mind that I realised what had been in the cup...tea!

I burst into tears. Not tears of grief at my father's memory or tears of remorse for a broken promise, but tears of awe and wonder.

It was my dad.

It was my dad's doing. He made me have that cup of tea. It had to be. No other explanation will do. How could he bear his beloved daughter giving up something that he loved so much? And that too, for him?

When I told my mother what happened, tears streamed down her face and she softly said, "He's fine. Your Baba is fine."

I am sure he is. And I am sure he is having "aar ek cup" while watching over us from wherever he is now.

It's three months today, Baba, since you've left. And even though I know you're fine, I'm not. But with you watching over me, I kow I will be. Eventually.

Raising a cup of tea, brimful with my tears, to you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Your Attention coming up

Let me go on record saying that I do not worship the Great Bong with daily visits to his blog and leave behind offerings of salubrious, sycophantic, witty or engaging comments.

No. I'm not a groupie.

But I am a fan. And an earnest, honest one at that.

And so, when I heard that The Bongness was writing a book, I was full of eagerness and anticipation. And then, when I heard that The Bongness himself was going to be in town for the book launch, I did what any earnest, honest fan would do...I took my ample butt over hour early.

So yes, this earnest, honest fan was sitting in row two, demurely waiting for an autograph -- not gushingly, cause that's what a groupie would do -- and waiting for His Bongness to address his sea of devotees, fans and family (lots of family, I might add; very sweet!)

The man is funny. And great. We all know that. That's why he's won so many Indiblogs, which, as we all know, is the Booker of Blogdom.

He's funny. Witty. And very genial. He's the guy you want to invite over to a home adda and make the centre of attraction; not that he needs anyone to make him the centre of attraction, he just is. He's a natural and comfortably, amiably so. You want him to regale you with all his stories, witticisms and hilarities. You want to bombard him with questions, but you don't for fear of interrupting his flow of talk and thereby, inadvertently missing out on any nuggets of humour and astute observations of this human condition called life -- and Bollywood, and politics and teenage, sexual awakenings in middle-class India.

After that most lively session at Crosswords, I came back and eagerly attacked his book, "May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss?" And my one-line review of it would be...hehehe-hahaha-hohoho-meh.

Ok, ok, now that all the stones and rotten eggs have been disposed of, may I come out from behind my laptop?

Look, I'm still a big fan and I always will be. He's a keen observer of randomness and a fantastic raconteur. I'm not saying I didn't like the book; I did, I did. Very much! Heck, I even loved it in parts and chortled out loud while in wide, open, unempty, public spaces.

Here's the thing; it was way too similar to his blog. In fact, it was kind of like a well-compiled, well-edited "Best of..." paper-back version of his blog. Not that he promised anything else, and not that I didn't know that, which is why I wasn't bitterly disappointed.

But here is where I would give more points to a Parul Sharma, author of "Bringing Up Vasu" and Sidin Vadukut, author of "Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Verghese". Yes, even Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan for her "You Are Here". All these authors are also writers of immensely popular and funny blogs. Yet, when it came to writing a book, that's exactly what they did. They didn't dip into their old faithfuls to rehash any of their published content. They stepped out of their comfort zones and rose to the challenge of telling a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end; complete with plot, drama, conflict and trademark styles of humour. Did traces of their blog surface every now and then? But of course! That would be impossible to steer clear of. But at the end of the day, the final product was entirely different from what their hoards of readers are used to.

So am I saying I am disappointed with Arnab? Not at all. Did I expect different? That would again be a 'no', simply because he didn't promise anything different. Do I still think he's great? Oh absolutely! He is the undisputed Great Bong. And finally, would I recommend his book to others? Highly.

It definitely "deserves your attention, pliss."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

All Growed-up Now

Today the EO starts Class 2. Tomorrow, the YO starts Jr. KG.

SIGH!!!!!!! Where did my babies go?!?!?!?!?

While I'm busy shaking my fists at Father Time, I leave you with some EO and YO-speak.

1) The EO sees a bullock and very excitedly (having just gone for a bullock-cart ride the previous evening) points it out to the MIM and me. "Look, look! That's a bhrosh!" The MIM and I are thoroughly confused. We try to figure out what it is that he's saying and keep asking him in vaious ways to explain. Finally, the MIM asks him, "Do you mean 'mosh'?" (bangla for buffalo, but we figured maybe the EO had got his cud-chewing quadrupeds mixed up.) The EO violently shakes his head and for some reason is most irritated with his Mamma for not understanding. He then bursts out, "Ooofff! I think so you don't know Bangla!!" The MIM bursts into laughter and a truculent Mamma does the only thing she can think of to soothe her bruised ego; she pouts and says, "Hmpf! I'll ask MY mamma!"

2) We went for a short trip to Jaipur (the bullock-cart ride mentioned above was one of the momentous events that took place there, for reasons that will be detailed in another post). After coming back home, the four of us are lounging about on our bed. It's bed-time. In other words, it's time for them to shift their cute lil butts into their room and zoom off to la-la-land. Suddenly, the EO proclaims, "I wish we were back in Jaipur only. There it is so nice."
The MIM seems to understand where this is coming from, "Why? Because all four of us could sleep on the same bed?"
The EO nods his head vigourously and I grudgingly give the MIM marks for being so astute. The EO continues, "Why can't we all sleep together here in your bed?"
The MIM laughs and says, "You're right, we need to get a bigger bed."
Suddenly, the EO loudly exclaims, "OOOHHH! I know why we all can't sleep in this bed together..." And before I can put forth my theory, he carries on with his Eureka! moment by proclaiming, "it's because Mamma you've become fat!"
I was actually going for, "It's because you've both become so big my babies!", but the MIM seemed to love our elder son's explanation much better and started guffawing really loudly! Too loudly, I felt. And so did the EO, for he turned to his father and said, "Don't laugh so much Baba! You also have become even fat!"
Guess who couldn't stop guffawing after that!
MIM, darling, I say this because I love you, "Nyah-nyah-na-nyah-nyah!!"

3) So I'm taking a nice, leisurely bath. Suddenly there's violent banging on the door and a loud, "MAMMA!!!"
Said Mamma nearly chokes on shower water and slips on dropped soap. "Ki?!?!?!" (What?!?!?!) she shouts back, hands tremblingly reaching for the towel as she envisions all kinds of ghastly terrors waiting to meet her eyes.
The EO continues, "Mom, can you please call me Tom from now on?"
Mamma chokes again. "What?!? WHY?!?"
The EO: "Please Mamma, I want you to!"
Mamma, not at all pleased with the idea: "You want the same name as a cat?"
The EO: "Oh Mamma! It's not just for a cat, it's such a nice name! Any boy can also have it! Please Mamma, call me Tom!"
Mamma: "What if I call you 'xyz'? (his original pet-name, chosen so that it would match The Nephew's name, but it never really caught on).
The EO: "No. I like only Tom!"
Finally I got to the bottom of it; he was playing the video games that come with Tata Sky Plus and he wanted to type his name into a box and he couldn't figure out how to from a remote control. After all, the remote buttons ain't laptop keys!
Oooff! Logic, I tell you!

4) The YO looks to the EO for wisdom and knowledge in various subjects, especially music. Whatever songs happen to be the EO's current choice are by default the YO's faves too. So it's no wonder that my house is always reverbrating with high-pitched version of the "Three Idiots" soundtrack. However, I couldn't stop laughing when I heard my three-year-old YO singing, in all earnestness and seriousness, "...Gibb me anudder chence, I wanna gilow (grow) up onesh agen!"

Yup, they're growing up, my boys. Way toooooo fast, if you ask me!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


So I write my last post and immediately the Universe conspires to bite me in the butt. Or perchance my DaddyDearest sets out to prove me wrong...oh so terribly, terribly wrong I am.

1) My MaaJanoni teaches my EO Bangla. It just makes absolute sense. Now thanks to term break, the EO has happily forgotten all the knowledge he has painfully gained over the past one year. So, I sent him over to Maa's yesterday, for a refresher course. This morning when I went over, she told me how my precious son had picked up a hand-fan and started fanning the photograph of DaddyDearest's that we keep on his's very hot here after all, hain na.

2) I recently put up a photograph of DaddyDearest as my profile pic on FB. While I was checking the site today, my YO comes and plops himself down next to me. "Ki kochho tumi?" he sweetly asks. And then he sees my DaddyDearest's photograph and his eyes nearly pop out of his head. "Daduku!" he screams, smiling broadly. And then he turns to me, eyes full of sadness and says, "Daduku kobey aashbey? Aami okey miss korchhi!" (When is Daduku coming back? I'm missing him!)

3) This evening, while I'm working on the comp, the EO suddenly, while in the midst of play, bursts into my room and asks me, "Mamma, what kind of a prayer I can say so that Daduku will be able to hear me nicely?" Taken aback, I told him that all he needed to do was talk to him, the same way he would have talked to him had he still been sitting in his favourite chair. He understood and then stood up on my bed to open the latch to the balcony. "What are you doing?", I exclaimed, "It's night now."
"Oh" says my blessed son and goes instead to the windows and opens a pane. "I want to talk to Daduku." And then he looks heavenwards and starts talking to his Grandfather in earnest. "Daduku, tumi kobey aashbey? Aar koto deri? Aar tumi jokhon aashbey aami tomaakey jorey dhorbo aar chhaarbo na, chhaarbo naa, kono dino aar chhahrbo naa. Tumi aar jetey paarbey naa!" (When are you coming, Daduku? How much longer? And when you come back I will hold on tightly to you and never, never, EVER let you go. You will not be able to leave again.)

Now here's where it gets freaky...I was too shocked and touched to cry. But as my little boy was talking to his Grandfather, I got the most amazing fragrance of agarbattis (incense sticks) wafting into my room. I knew immediately that my beloved Baba had heard his little grandson's prayer and was hugging him tightly in return.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Remembering Their Grandfather

The MIM was six years old when he lost his maternal grandmother. The same age as my EO when DaddyDearest passed away. The EO is even younger; just three.

The MIM's memories of his Dida are very hazy; BIL-ly Boy's, who was four, even more so. That's why, I often worry how much my boys will remember their Daduku (what they call my DaddyDearest) as the years go by. It hurts me greatly to think, "Not much."

We've told the boys that their grandfather has become a star and that the sky is his new home now. They took it surprisingly well, but then they never really got the concept of forever. Once, the EO asked me if Daduku would come back when he was older. On the day of the 'Chautha', when I did a puja for my DaddyDearest, I asked the EO whether he would also like to participate. He immediately agreed and asked me what he should do and I said he had to say a little prayer and whatever he wanted to his grandfather. So he asks me very seriously, "I'll ask him to come back fast?" But how beautifully he played his part...repeating the purohit's mantras verbatim and precisely. He prayed for his grandfather with sincere devotion and took everyone's breath away. On the day of the 'Shraddh', the EO seriously sat through the beginning of the puja and made offerings to the fire. At one point in time, when he saw his beloved Mamu sobbing, it broke his little heart and my SIL had to quickly take him away from there.

But that was then...two weeks after Baba's passing. And now it's been a little over two months and they hardly refer to him at all. I sometimes wonder if he's already begun to fade a little bit from their memories. For me, not a day goes by when I don't think of him and my eyes well up. I cry every, single day and each time there's this horrible tightening in my chest that almost threatens to suffocate me when I sit up at night thinking about him.

Now, obviously, that kind of pain is mine. My MaaJanoni and the Bro are perhaps the only other two who feel this way. But yes, sometimes it amazed me when my two little boys stopped mentioning this man who was so much a part of their lives, altogether.

But I was wrong.

Little instances over the past few weeks have shown me that my DaddyDearest lives on in their memories yet. For how long, I don't know, but the fact that he does so for now, is good enough.

1) I remember sitting in my bed, crying one day, not too long ago. The boys were playing with their cousins and I thought I was alone so I could give in freely to my grief. Suddenly, the YO rushed in and jumped onto bed. I quickly brushed away my tears, because he hates to see me cry. But they're smart, these little ones and he caught me. He asked me why I was crying, and I told him I was missing my father. He immediately reassured me and told me to wait until nightfall and once the stars came out, I could see him there.

2) Normally, the EO absolutely love, love, LOVES going to MaaJanoni's house. In fact, he asks to be taken there and allowed to spend the night...or at least he used to. The other day, I told him to pack some of his favourite books because we'd be staying at his Manuku's place (what he calls my mum). Normally, this piece of news would have been greeted with a big whoop of delight. This time, he just buried his face deeper into the book he was reading. I gently asked him what was wrong and whether he didn't like going there anymore. He replied, "It was more better when Daduku was there." Aaah! So he missed him too! And we had a little chat about what he missed and it was mostly my dad cooking for them...his special omelets, french toast, sausages and of course, pizza! That little chat filled me with lots of warm memories and made me feel so much better.

3) The EO and YO were watching "Grandpa in my Pocket" on Ceebeebies and thanks to storyline, the EO was prompted to ask me, "Why was Jason worried about his Grandpa?", and as the EO is wont to do, he answered his question himself before I could, "Oh. Because he loves his Grandpa?" and then he looks at my DaddyDearest's photograph nearby and says, "Just like I love my Grandpa."

Always know this my sweethearts, your Grandpa loved you both too. Very, very much.