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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!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saraswati Pujo 2012

DaddyDearest's date of *sob* death, according to the Gregorian calendar is January 20th, 2010. That day also happened to be Saraswati Puja that year.

Now the Hindu almanac follows the lunar calendar system and all festivals, religious ceremonies and occasions are observed accordingly. Auspicious ceremonies and dates of ritual importance are all planned according to the lunar dates called 'tithi'.

So while DaddyDearest's 'D' anniversary will always be January 20th, according to the Hindu almanac, the tithi will always be Saraswati Puja.

Saraswati Puja will never be the same for me again. It's like I get to mourn him twice.

Last year, Saraswati Puja fell on February 8th and we held the first death anniversary rites for him. MaaJanoni and I didn't perform any puja for Maa Saraswati, since we wer so busy with the puja and yagna for DaddyDearest. The date also happened to coincide with my 10th wedding anniversary. Sigh...

So this year, I was actually celebrating Saraswati Puja for the first time since Baba passed away, viz, after two years.

I wasn't too well this year, so I got up late. It also happened to be my birthday the day before...

Anyway, I woke up and saw that my MIL and the SIL were already at work with the puja preps. I sat down with them and watched them decorate the puja thalis and the idol of the Goddess. I remembered I needed a garland for DaddyDearest's photograph. The MIM said he would get one for me.

Things seemeed normal enough. Had the boys take a bath and gear up in their ethnic wear. I bathed and dressed up in new togs given to me by the SIL the day before as a birthday present. As per tradition I made the boys put their school books in front of Maa Saraswati and called up MaaJanoni asking her to put the EO's guitar in front of the idol she had as I'd forgotten to bring it home with me. Out of force of habit as well as love for this tradition, I put some books and a pen in front of the Goddess too -- my Gitobithan (i.e. Tagore's book of songs), a notebook where I write poetry and my editor copy of 'Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul: On Friendship."

The flowers for DaddyDearest arrived and as I garlanded him I found my eyes watering, but to my immense surprise, I found that I didn't sob like I'd expected to and for some reason that just depressed me. Was I all cried out? Was I *shudder* used to his absence? Had I accepted the fact that the closest relationship that I would ever have with my father from now on would be with his photograph? Had my heart hardened?

While I pondered my lack of tears, the purohit arrived and the puja started.

When time came for the pushpaanjali, I helped distribute the flowers and showed the children how they should stand, holding the floral tributes in between their hands.. We started repeating the mantras as per the purohit's instructions but I already knew them by heart thanks to...thanks to...thanks to DaddyDearest and that's when they came -- the tears. They just started gushing out and I sobbed as quietly as I could so as not to distress the children and cast a pall of gloom on the rest of the family. Memories of the last two Saraswati Pujas came flooding to me as well as a very pictoresque memory of a piece of paper with myDaddyDearest's beautiful, almost Tagorean, Bengali handwriting. On that paper, along with a few other mantras, he had written the Saraswati vandana for me before I'd left for JNU. I could see that mantra in his handwriting so clearly in my mind.

It was a memory that had been tucked away in the corner of my mind and as I repeated those words that day, I couldn't help but see them float before my very eyes. And so my eyes spilled over, along with my heart, with memories remembered, words once oft-repeated on a daily basis and the face of a dearly departed.

The children of course caught on and they looked at me with such love, such tenderness and yes, even a kind of childish pity. When I finally sat down, my YO cradled my head to his chest and gently rocked me to-and-fro while kissing me repeatedly on top of my head.

I'll never forget this.

I'll never forget.


Thank God.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


My musical memories are many. Many, many, many. In fact, I associate different people and places with songs and melodies, not to mention occasions and events...

Childhood memories overflow with snapshots of DaddyDearest singing The Bro and me to sleep.
Then of course there's MaaJanoni and her lovely voice humming while cooking, or singing while simply staring at the rain outside the window while a powercut provides the perfect backdrop to her soulful renditions of Rabindrasangeet.
There's me studying for my ICSE late at night and into the wee hours of the morning;DaddyDearest's collection of Hindustani instrumental music surrounding me with peace and calm.
My happiest moments in school during my plus 2 revolve around the choir and inter-house music competitions.
My phool shojja.
Bedtime with the EO and YO.
Even my time with DaddyDearest in the hospital.

There are songs, melodies and lyrics that define these moments and so much more in my life.

Whenever I have found myself to be drowning in extreme excesses of emotion, I have noticed that Music has been my constant partner. Whether the depths of pain or the pinnacles of joy, the right notes have always cocooned me perfectly and like a feather I have floated through different worlds and sensations.

It is through Music that I know that I am truly alive.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Years...

My DaddyDearest,

Two years. Two years today.

You know, just a few days ago, a question popped into my head. I don't remember exactly what, but I'm sure it was something about music, or when you were a little boy, or when we were in America...they usually are. Yes, these questions suddenly pop into my head and when they do, my first thought, the absolute first thought that comes immediately, instantaneously, instinctively into my mind is, "Baba-ke call korey jiggesh kortey hobey." And then of course, it just as soon pours a bucket of ice cold water onto my head while simultaneously giving me a giant kick on my butt.

You see Baba, I still have questions that need to be answered. About you. About me. About our family. About us.

I still have things to share with you. About music. About food. About books and music. About your grandsons.

It's still so hard. So very, very hard. I still can't think about you without my heart hurting. I still can't talk about those twenty days in January without crying. I still can't listen to the music you loved and the singers you worshiped without sobbing loud, long and hard. Often, when I sing your grandsons the lullabies that you'd sing for The Bro and me, my voice cracks and I can't go on.

I still forget sometimes that you're not there anymore.

This afternoon, after MaaJanoni dropped me off on the street corner and I started walking towards home, I nearly froze in my tracks. I wasn't wearing my glasses, but I thought for second I saw you. I stopped and stared. The man walked closer...he wore glasses, had more salt than pepper hair and a nice big bald spot, wasn't too tall, not at all fat, shuffled along slowly, and walked with his hands clasped behind his back and a slight stoop. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me and I started walking towards him in trance, almost expecting him to stop and say something. He wasn't as fair as you and wore his hair slightly longer than you, but as I finally focused on his face, I noticed that he wore a look of intense concentration just like yours. I almost said something to him just so that I could hear his voice and to see if he would have said something similar to what you would have said. Of course, me being me, I didn't say anything (I sooooo am your daughter), just gave him a half-smile instead. He looked back at me and continued walking...even his expression was similar to yours! I stood at the entrance to our house and kept staring at his back as he walked away. While there was a part of me that was disappointed that he didn't say anything, the other part of me couldn't get over his gait and just stood there drinking it all in.

You see, Baba? What I've become? A mad, crazy girl who expects random, old men to burst into words that you once spoke. A distraught, depressed daughter whose heart starts to beat rapidly because she's just seen a man old enough to be her father, walk her father's walk.

Really DaddyDearest, was it so necessary for you to go? Khub ki dorkaar chhilo?

I love you and always will. I miss you and I forever will. I'm broken and always will be.

Your devoted daughter

Thursday, January 19, 2012


"Hope in reality, is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man." Friedrich Nietzsche

Two years ago today, my father was having a bowel angioplasty.

Just twenty days before that, on Dec 31st, 2009, he had been through an ampulectomy to remove a tumour blocking his bile duct. While there were a few bumps and scares in the OT, the operation was successful and my DaddyDearest was recovering beautifully.

And then, suddenly, a week later, things started going terribly, horribly, frighteningly wrong. From a sudden heart attack to bouts on the ventilator to midnight calls from the hospital asking us to arrange for blood to spells on the ventilator to late night MRIs to an untraceable hemorrhage in the stomach to a lung infection contracted from the ventilator to shifts from one ICU to another...the two weeks that followed were a veritable journey through the different circles of hell.

January 18th was a terrible, horrible day with Baba on a frightening looking ventilator. His body, which had pared down to nothing but scars and bones, looked as if it was being slowly devoured by an alien, blood-sucking, octopus. Just before leaving the ICU at the end of visiting hours, I leaned over to him and said, as I had been saying everyday since his admission to the hospital, "My Daddy strongest." My weak, frail and pain-ridden father, who's eyes had remained closed the entire time we'd been there, lifted his right hand with super-human effort, looked straight into my eyes and gave me a thumbs-up. I think my heart broke just then. That one gesture filled me with infinite Pain...but also a fluttery, frail, gossamer Hope.

That night as well as the next day turned out to be full of infinite possibilities and Hope. The doctors decided to perform a bowel angio the next day to make a last ditch effort to trace and repair the tear in his stomach cavity...something that had refused to come to surface even after two emergency MRIs. 19th afternoon, while my mum, uncles and I were half-heartedly deciding what to have for lunch, I get an SMS on my phone -- the procedure had been successful! The doctors had located the tear and sutured it. My father's vitals were stable and he was recovering well. I think we all let out a whoop of joy and victory in the food court at Mani Square. We all let out our collective breaths which we'd been holding since day-break and finally recognised our hunger and gave in to it, talking animatedly amongst ourselves and yes, even laughing a bit.

That night, I felt so light and free. My father was going to be okay. He was going to be absolutely fine. He was going to come home soon. After all, not only had the tear been fixed, but his latest lung X-ray showed that he was responding to the medicines for the infection he had contracted from the ventilator.

The MIM tried to tell me to contain myself, but I snapped at him, telling him to let me be since I hadn't felt like that in a while.

Two years ago today, I was so many different kinds of hopeful.

The night of January 19th 2010, I was relaxed and chatty and full of positivity. I was all the colours of the rainbow. I was every song I had ever heard, I was a storehouse of unchained melodies. Oh yes, I had charged, full throttle, across the Land of Hope and was heading at full speed to the Continent of Hallelujah!

It was the wrong Hallelujah.

My beloved DaddyDearest died the next morning. He had a heart attack and there was a blockage somewhere in the heart. In an amazing display of irony and what-the-bloody-fuck, the injection that the doctors could give to clear the blockage would also burst open the suture from the angio performed fourteen hours ago.

I am wary of Hope. I don't let it excite me. I don't put an egg in its basket. I don't let it tinge me with stray blushes of pink. I don't let it tap dance within the range of my vision. I don't allow myself to be seduced by its siren song. No, no. Not anymore. Not ever again.

Hope is one helluva mind-f*****.

Friday, January 13, 2012

About My YO

I am so busy marveling at the similar interests that my EO and I share and going into rapturous ecstasy over his linguistic skills, that at times, I am guilty of over-looking my little one's growing oratory prowess.

Of course, being around the EO and The Nephew has made the YO quite the little chatterbox; he's not afraid to speak his mind, voices his opinions and puts into words just what he's thinking. He tries to copy their manner of talking and likes to use phrases and expressions that the elder boys throw about with such flippant ease. Their play-time together and pretend games have helped his imagination soar and he is also quite a charming and expressive story-teller in his own right. Their company has also accounted for his rather impressive vocabulary...replete with some of the wrong things too, unfortunately, but that is one of the hazards of little siblings hanging around elder ones...sigh...

However, I shall forget for a moment that in a voice loud, proud and clear as mountain water, he spelled out 'a very bad word' to my absolute horror and chagrin. I immediately asked him to spell 'school' and of course the look he gave me was as blank as my Class 9 Maths answer sheet.

But as I said, this is not about that. This is about the time when he was riding his scooty around the house, pretending to be a cool cat stuntman and then came to tell me that he almost banged into the two settees in the living room...

So my YO was riding his scooty around the house, pretending to be a cool cat stuntman when he suddenly charged into my room, full of excitement to tell me about the near and neat miss. "...and you know Mamma, so I wuz riding my scooty so coolly and so fastly when I almosht had an accident and I almost banged so hard into doze two twin brudders sitting over there."

"Huh?", said I, my mind going into stupid mode.

"Doze two twin brudders", he repeated for his poor, old and rather slow mother, pointing in their direction and laughing at his own cleverness.

When realisation dawned, I couldn't help but be awestruck at my little shrimp's imagination.

Sigh...perhaps BOTH my boys will be writers after all!

The EO is an avid quizzer. Already. GK is one of his favourite subjects and he actually enjoys reading kiddie encyclopaedia and 'Tell Me Why" books. This is another common passion that binds us together.

It was therefore a tremendous thrill for me when the YO, at yesterday's inauguration ceremony of the Apeejay Lit Fest, won a book for a sudden pop quiz that the emcee decided to hold as we waited for the Chief Guest to arrive.

The YO's class had been invited to perform at the opening ceremony of this three-year-old lit fest. They did an adorable dance to this very catchy song on reading. This was after the Chief Guest, tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh -- a musician I just happen to adore -- rapped out a story and a poem, told a few stories using rhythm and tabla bols, played on his cheeks (no, not butt cheeks and yes, really, really hard) and generally enthralled the young audience and charmed the young audience members' mothers as well.

But yes, before dear old Bickram arrived and did his playing and rapping and enthralling and charming, the emcee decided to have a pop quiz. I know, I already said that

Anyhoo, she made it really fun and asked questions like, "All the king's horses and all the king's men, couldn't put WHO back together again?" and "Where did the old woman with so many children live?"

Now as this was rather impromptu, the emcee sometimes forgot that she was addressing a bunch of four and five year olds, and would begin a question by asking, "How many of you have read Hans Christian Anderson?" Naturally she was met with silence. The same happened when she asked, "Do any of you read Enid Blyton?"

Ooof! Woman! They're just about reading number names and spelling out colours and differentiating between January and July! (however, here's a clever tip to keep a bunch of high-energy, excitable, noisy bunch of kids quiet -- ask them difficult quiz questions!)

So, whenever she was met with these spells of silence and puzzled faces, she'd quickly rephrase the question. So the Hans Christian Anderson one became, "Which pretty girl from a famous story by HCA, had an evil step-mother and two mean step-sisters?" and the Enid Blyton q became, "What was Big Ear's good friend's name?"

Many of you might remember that the YO was, once upon a time, hooked on Noddy and even had a Noddy themed birthday party two years ago. So as soon as he heard the name "Big Ears", my little shrimp just jumped up, threw his hand out in front of him with full force and screamed, "NODDY!" Of course there were a few others who also gave the right answer, but luckily the emcee saw my little boy and called him out to collect his prize.

My son was beaming and so was I. He beamed even harder when his Mamma answered a question correctly which was passed on to us after the children couldn't answer it. And his beaming got even brighter when he noticed from where he was sitting, that Mamma's prize included a couple of packets of his most favourite thing to eat -- biscuits!

We came back home yesterday, a beaming mother-son duo.

Sigh...perhaps BOTH my boys will be quizzers after all!

And of course it was the EO who pounced upon his brother's prize and finished reading it in two minutes, but hey, it was my YO who won it after all, naa?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wishes for 2012

It's already Day 3 of a brand new year. 2012 is well and truly underway.

I wish you all the serenity of moonlit nights and the joy of chocolate souffle.
I wish you the peaceful moments of reflection, as quiet as the dawn and a cool calm to face those morning moments of madness.
I wish you beauty, I wish you love.
I wish you creativity.

Be bold. Be brave. Be beautiful. Be true.
Stay happy. Stay healthy. Stay hopeful. Stay you.