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, 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.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

For the Love of Language

(This post was written for the Tulika blogathon.)

Let me first start by saying that I consider Bengali, or Bangla, to be my mother-tongue. Even though I think in English.

But the above is totally a result of my environment. Born in the States, I was exposed to two languages; English outside the house and Bangla, inside. My mother, so that I would be in touch with my mother-tongue and also so that I could write letters to my grandparents in Bangla, began to teach me the script at home...during weekends and holidays.

And then, during my pre-teen years, we moved to India. And not to West Bengal, but down south. Bangalore, to be exact. And I was exposed to two new languages...French and Hindi. Funnily enough, I never needed to learn Kannada. And so, Ma stopped teaching me how to read and write in Bangla. But, now I wanted to desperately that I could write letters to my Baba who was still working abroad.

Here's the thing, I can't help but wonder if my personality is a huge part of why I love Bangla so much... Can that have anything to do with your love for a language? Your willingness to learn it? After all, lookit my brother and me...

We were brough up in the same environment, but I am the totally arty type, whereas my brother is the sporty type. I love Bangla culture, music and movies. I feel bereft that my literate Bangla isn't so fluent, because a vast and rich source of literature is closed to me...and for a book-worm like moi, that's a huge loss. My conversational Bangla is pretty darned good, if I do say so myself; my brother's is passable, at best. But having said that, I can't exactly enter into a political debate in my mother-tongue either. Why? Because, as I said right in the beginning, I think in English.

English has been my primary language throughout my growing up years. I read books round the clock in it. I sang songs in it. I conversed in it, dreamed in it, fought in it, wrote poetry in it.

And yet, at home, the environment was typically Bengali and I enbraced that too. So much so, that I knew I wanted to marry a Bengali boy...and I did.

And look at me now. An American-Bangalorean-Bengali living in Kolkata and bring up two boys, aged six and three.

My Elder One has been learning Bangla for two years now. He is fluent in his mother-tongue, as well as English, because I spoke to him in both right from the moment we met, and Hindi, as a result of his environment. Now the younger one, well, up until a year ago, it was primarily Bangla for him since he was with an ayah a lot. And it used to worry me, whether he would ever be up to speed in English...and I balmed myself. But I needn't have worried. The English and Hindi have kicked in and he's as fluent in both as any three-year-old can possibly be.

Despite knowing how to read and write Bangla, I prefer my mother teaching the EO Bangla and helping him with his homework. After all, she knows the rules of grammer; she can answer the why's and the why-not's; demonstrate the how-to's and correct the how-not-to's with confidence and without thinking twice. Trying to teach my son Bangla only brought my turmoil and confusion to my mind about the why's and the how-come's.

For example, do we really need three letters to denote 'sh' in our language? We don't have a 's' sound, which is why most Bengalis wear "shoks on their feet". We don't have a 'z', and therefore we watch the 'newjj' and read 'newjjpapers', sometimes while sitting in the 'joo'. Many letters are redundant, and grammer is turning into a joke.

However, I really want my boys to learn the language. Just in case one of them turns out to be a book-lover like me, I would love for him to be able to pick up a Tagorean classic or a Sunil Gangopadhyay masterpiece or a Satyajit Ray "Feluda" mystery or an anthology of Jibanananda Das poetry or even a "Handa-Bhonda" comic.

The list is endless. And it's there. And I want my sons to know that and take advantage of it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So what do you do...

...when your six-year-old EO keeps asking you to play music videos of Queen and MJ on youtube? And when, while watching a Queen video, he informs you that the name of the guitarist is Brian May? And then, one fine day, while playing a video game and he 'loses a life', he musically laments, "another one bites the dust"?

...when your three-year-old, cricket-crazy YO, keeps shouting "Good shot!" along with a huge grin, each time he manages to connect bat to ball, thwack it hard and miss the TV set? When suddenly, he holds the bat differently, starts to air-guitar and sings, "We Are the Champions"? (just the one line...)

...when said little fellow marches purposefully to his cupboard to pick out his own clothes (standing on tip-toe) and picks out a combination that works? And when he takes the t-shirt from your hands and says, "Aami nije kobbo!" (I'll do it myself!)

Choose the right answer:
a) you sniff-sniff and cry buckets.
b) you prepare for vanaprastham.
c) you drink Strawberry Daiquiris or Cosmopolitans all day wrong.
d) you pay heed to the whispers of your uterus.

Anybody who knows the right answer will get a box of liqueur chocolates.

I'll need lots of convincing, though...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thoughts for Women's Day

A few days ago, Sagarika tagged me to write down my thoughts for International Women's Day. According to her post, "Gender Across Borders is hosting a new event this year called "Blog for International Women's Day". It commemorates the United Nation's 2010 theme, "Equal rights, equal opportunity: Progress for all!"

I don't know how much my ramblings are going to tie in with the theme, but these thoughts have been swirling about in my head for a while now.

After DaddyDearest passed away, the issues that I have with certain aspects of my religion and of Indian societal norm, just came thundering to the fore, leaving me full of simmering rage and a sense of disquiet. I won't go into the specifics and the who-said-what's, but why is a married daughter's relationship with her parents so insignificant? Why are our rights and rituals so few? Why is our mourning period so short? Are we not allowed to grieve?

And what really gets my goat is that "it's all over", I have to start thinking about my "real family" and take care of them. My MaaJanoni, who has just lost her husband, who abhors being alone, has to learn to fend for herself; after all, her daughter "can't just throw everything aside and go running to her" whenever she needs her.

I really don't know how this post of mine transcends boundaries, but it definitely hits home where equality is concerned. Until the norms of patriarchy are overturned, we cannot be an equal society.

Most urban men these days think that marrying a non-virgin is a sign that they are not an MCP. Yet, these very same men expect you to put their family before yours, without returning the favour. Chauvinism lives on...

This Women's Day, my thought for equality is that all children, regardless of gender and marital status, be accorded equal relationship status with their parents. That they be given an equal opportunity to serve their parents as they wish to and not according to how society tells them to.

Friday, March 5, 2010

One would think...

that after the hell that I've already been through this year, that I was done for the time being. That I've had more than my fair share of hospitals.

One would think wrong.

Every evening, the EO, YO, the Nephew and the Niece go downstairs to play, accompanied by their very watchful ayahs and household help. Often friends send their kids over. Occasionally the SIL, FIL and I check up on them whenever decibel levels reach the third and forth floors of our building. Mostly there are screams of joy, but occasionally there are those of frustration and pain as well.

Now my YO has an extremely high threshold of pain. Whenever he falls and hurts himself or cuts himself or scrapes his knee, he just picks himself up, dusts himself down and joins the fray once again.

But not this Wednesday, 3rd March. In a rather stupid and aggressive game of cops and robbers, my little boy was pushed off his cycle. He landed with full force on the back of his head and the cycle came crashing down on his forehead.

He just lay there whimpering and in pain, asking over and over for me. When he came to me, he was still whimpering and just couldn't sit up. He was yawning continuously and kept saying that he wanted to go to sleep. I recognised the danger and called the MIM who was luckily in office and therefore just five minutes away from home. We started off for the hospital where the boys' paediatrician sits, in that evening traffic. When he started vomiting in the car, I lost it and said to hell with the hospital and we turned the car around to go to the emergency room of a hospital nearby (where both our sons were born actually). The Emergency doctor had a look at him and said that we required a paediatric neurologist and helpfully gave us the name and number of somebody he knew. In the meanwhile, the YO's paediatrician told us to move to another hospital, also thankfully really nearby and to get him checked out.

To cut a long story short, there were more episodes of vomiting, a CT scan, admission procedures to take care of, a channel being put into a frightened little boy's hand to administer the drip and subsequent injections and the most frightening four hours of my life.

We came back home this morning and I am beyond thrilled to say that my son is fine. According to the docs, it was "a massive concussion. The impact of the fall shook his brain." We still need to be careful and he still needs bed-rest for the next 48 hours (like that's gonna happen!), but he's his normal jumping-bean-self and for that I am truly, TRULY grateful.

But those four hours, when he was drowsy, couldn't lift his head and was vomiting...I spent in hell.

My YO is incredibly brave. He's my courageous little tiger cub and I am so very proud to be him Mamma. After those four initial hours, when his normal temperament started to surface, I saw no trace of pain, anger, frustration, no incessant whining and crying...yes, he did want his father and brother, and he did want to go home, but those moments did not leave me tearing out my hair in great, big handfuls. He was so easy to manage, a delight to be with and chatty with everybody.

But, I never want to go through that again.

Somebody, please say that I'm done for the year. I don't think I have an ounce of strength left in me...

Monday, March 1, 2010

One Wedding and A Funeral

My Baby Cousin got married less than a week ago. The wedding and all the ceremonies leading up to it were a combination of nerves, laughter, chaos, tears and fun.

Yes, I had fun, but, and I am ashamed to say this, not in the beginning. When my Mashi, Mesho and cousin sisters arrived from Delhi for the wedding, I was too full of angst and pain to let myself feel any fun. And then one day, I saw how much they were hurting too and for God's sake, it was my Baby Cousin's wedding. It was her day; her special day. These same people were ready to postpone the wedding indefinitely until we were ready to cope. My MaaJanoni, my brave, strong, greiving, hurting, family-loving mother said "Nothing doing! The wedding's happening and it's happening here!"

So yes, the wedding happened and it happened here in Kolkata. We were making the arrangements before DaddyDearest went in for surgery and after my family arrived, we continued with the preparations. There were many, many, oh-so-frickin-many moments when despair took over, but I grieved in private or with The Bro, away from the festivities.

Anyway, this is not what this post is about. It's about watching my Baby Cousin cry during her 'aashirwaad' ceremony after she was welcomed into the boy's family. The same girl who was so exxcited about finally getting married and who couldn't wait to start life as a married woman and who didn't sob during her 'bidaai', finally started crying as the car pulled away and then once again in the boy's home (The Bro, Baby Cousin's sis and I all accompanied her). Seeing her cry, her sister started sobbing and seeing the two of them weep, I started.

All this crying reminded me of my DaddyDearest's funeral, where, at one point, The Bro, MaaJanoni and I were doubled over in pain and crying as if our collective hearts were breaking.

Why all this crying? At the funeral as well as the wedding, besides the obvious reasons of sadness, albeit sadnesses of different kinds. Past regrets and moments we wished we could take back, swim in front of our eyes. Things we could have done differently, opportunities to say things left unsaid, moments of meanness and many what if's that seem to swarm our heads and cloud our eyes.


One thing that I know and which has been played out to me with such absolute force in these past five weeks, is that life goes on. Sad and Happy are a couple walking side by side, each having their moment to shine in the sun and when they shine, they can be pretty blinding.

This is something DaddyDearest believed in very strongly; and now he's making me live it.

It won't stop me missing him, though.