Category Archives: Love

A Note to Self

The more I want to escape from writing, the more these incoherent thoughts and words keep coming back to me.

Most of us struggle with the way we deal with emotions. We roar, upheaval, hide , deny, and finally seem comfortable wearing a mask. We remove the mask, wanting to bear it all, yet, almost immediately wear another for the fear of being judged.

Invariably, we are back to the drawing board, trying to make sense , trying to cope, trying to put all the pieces together.

What I’ve noticed is leaving–(things, people, memories) as is, is fair, to us and to them.

Take people for example, you always want them to be a better version of themselves for you to be happy. To satisfy your needs. You try so hard to change them into what you envision them to be. I do that too. It’s a lost cause. People will be who they are, and you trying to tamper with their persona, is only going to cause unwanted pain.

Let it be. We weren’t meant to be perfect, or preach perfection. We are all flawed. Beautifully flawed. Else, what would separate us from each other, right?

I am a mother of a toddler. You can only imagine the amount of “reinventing” I have to do keep up. I used to be bitter, I was very hard on myself, and always felt angry, depressed and at wit’s end when I was amidst treating parenting like a doctrine we all needed to follow.

I threw that book. Left the mess. I wasn’t running the rat race for the “best parent” award. I told myself that having a messy house is better than having a messy mind. I stumble, I ache, I am covered in dirt but I am happier than I used to be.

I keep telling myself there is no right way to do this. Neither there is a set routine. Follow what your intuition tells you, and keep all the negativity in that closet. Visit it, yes, but don’t make it your wardrobe.

When things get messy, or unmanageable, leave. Let it be. Take a walk, hum a tune. Free your mind. It’s never easy, but if you don’t leave, how would you know that you want to come back?

If you aren’t already aware, we are a species that are constantly evolving, not just in the genetic sense, but also as a whole. The basic building blocks remain the same , however everything else keeps realigning and changing.

I left home, a decade ago for a different town to complete my studies. Then to a different country for work, and now live in a different country. I left work, to spend time with the little one, and now, I work and I am concious of my time with her, as it is so limited. The point I am trying to make here, is the constant state of leaving, and coming back. After a while, you realize that it is almost consistent, and probably mean the same thing.

Instead of treating this as displacement, try to create a home within you that is strong enough to shelter all the storms that life brings in. Be easy on yourself, smile a lot, do what you love, be with people who make you happy, love unconditionally , and let things be.

20140727-191156-69116031.jpg

Advertisements

Death

I cannot articulate my feelings about death. Whenever possible, I try to avoid talking about this topic altogether; because I am in denial.

I heard about a friend’s death a few days back. Another colleague passed away this week. A relative passed away this morning. I didn’t prod on to find out how it happened, as it’s hard enough to accept that they now are just mere memories.

I’m caught off guard when people tell me about the death of their loved ones, acquaintances, death of a random stranger. I start putting a story together in my head, of who they might have been, about their life , about the insurmountable grief their loved ones are going through. It leaves me feeling helpless and empty.

Death brings back some very painful memories. It’s taken me a really long time to get here and I’m hoping that writing about it will strengthen me.

I remember the time when my parents lost their second born. My baby brother. I’ve written more about it here.
I was too young to realize what was happening, but I knew death had a lasting effect. It couldn’t be undone, and the grief was sickening.

I vividly remember the time when my paternal grandmother passed away.

The lights were on pretty early one morning. I could hear amma hurrying across the hallway, entering my room to wake me up. “Wake up Shruthi, we have to leave to Bangalore, Ajji isn’t well”. It was my grandmother. It had been a few weeks since she was unwell. While still trying to process the information given to me, I reluctantly moved from my bed to start getting ready.

It was a few months after the Babri Masjid riots. I was in Bangalore then, and had seen my grandmother slowly getting weaker. Since there were a lot of riots around the area, and the schools remain closed I stayed back, as a lot of events started to unfold.

My dad left to work in the gulf during the same time. The gulf war had just ended and my father had a new employer in Kuwait willing to hire him, and he had to make a decision immediately. He left within days, and, my grandmother, suddenly was very very unwell.

While my maternal grandmother watched me, my mom split her time between Bangalore and Mangalore doing all she could to support the family.

The car ride was very long, and as upbeat as I was about making conversation with Ajji for one last time, the memories came flooding. It was as if someone had shook me up from my childhood and asked me to grow up within a matter of a few hours. Nothing ever felt the same.

Once we reached, We were made aware that she isn’t with us anymore. I remember the call made to my father, to break the news to him. He wasn’t able to come say goodbye. We cried together. I can’t remember my dad being that helpless. I remember the endless trips to the train and bus stations to pick relatives up. The constant chatter about what a great soul she was, and how she was blessed with an easy death started getting to me. I remember seeing her body in the freezer and feeling so sick that I couldn’t breathe.

Ajji was the binding force in my dad’s huge family. She was a headmistress, a great teacher (went back to pursue her career after three kids in the 60’s) and remains one of the most influential people in my life even to this day. It’s taken me two decades to comprehend what I was feeling then, and hence writing it out.

Why Ajji? Why did you have to go? Who would listen to my endless chatter? Who would reprimand me for eating too many stuffed potato buns from the neighborhood bakery? Who would give me 50 paise to run to the milk booth just to see how the machine worked? Who would make me sing endlessly and say I was terrible? Who would trick me into learning Maths while playing? Why wasn’t anyone telling me what was going on? Why wasn’t she opening her eyes?

The cremation was done. The family moved away from the house they lived for over four decades, and I haven’t mustered the courage to pass by the house, to this day.

For the last few years, my maternal grandmother has been really sick and I’ve made a few trips to India to see her. Every time I fly back I fear that it might be the last time I will see her. She’s 96 (bless her) and has lived a long and fruitful life. Am I ready to let go yet? I probably never will be.

She has the kindest eyes, and the funniest Kannada vocabulary (I’ve also caught her cursing multiple times, heh). She never ceases to make me laugh whenever I’m with her and has a memory of an elephant. She always has something up her sleeve–Be it a piece of chocolate she had saved, or some advice. She cannot clearly see anymore as the eyes are weak, but recognizes my voice in an Instant, enquires about the entire family, with such precision. She’s a giver and has helped so many individuals all her life. Even though she’s weak she insists on being independent and does all her chores. My daughter was lucky to meet her during my last visit. The gamut of her knowledge and love is beyond words. Every little wrinkle on her face has a story to tell.

She has been really sick the last few weeks and every time the phone rings at odd hours I’m mentally preparing myself to hear the worst, and breathe easy when I hear she’s holding on.

We humans are so strong, yet so fragile. I guess the range of emotions we feel is what separates us from the rest of the species. Not to sound self righteous or anything, but having seen death so closely, makes me appreciate life. Don’t wait until a person is dead to declare what they mean to you and how much they have influenced your life. Do reach out to people you love, whenever possible, to tell them how special they are, and how much they mean to you. Hold people who matter close to your heart and do what you can to make them happy and feel appreciated, while they are still here.

They weren’t lying when they said Life was too short. It is Indeed.

20131208-141855.jpg

20131208-142613.jpg

20131208-142653.jpg

20131208-142736.jpg


When Mothers Judge

( This article first appeared on Masalamommas, an Online Magazine for Moms with a South Asian Connection. You can also read it here)

Squeals of laughter. We were at the park and my daughter was thoroughly enjoying her time there. It was quite crowded with a lot of other kids. I was then approached by a familiar face. It was one of the nannies who I see at the park regularly. She came straight up to me and said “Is your daughter potty trained?”, and I was about to say “Hello, it’s good to see you too.”

For a minute after fumbling to find the right words, I said “No, but I am trying”. She went on ranting about how Kid X she takes care of is already potty trained and is only a few weeks older than my child. I politely made some small talk and went to another play area.

I felt lost, a little embarrassed and also a little inadequate. Why do people always have the knack to make you feel that way? Why does no one compliment you on the fabulous job you’re doing raising your child, but given an opportunity will come up with so many reasons to make you feel insecure and doubt your abilities? I never knew it was a “Mom eat Mom” world out there.

Having a child can be overwhelming, in every possible way. Especially if the child is your first born. You see, kids don’t come with a manual. You have to mostly trust your gut, take some advice when needed, and sometimes rely on the Internet for a huge chunk of information. I used the internet to google “How to bathe a three day old” because I didn’t have much help after my child was born.

You suddenly become the center of everyone’s attention. All sorts of advice start pouring in. Some out of genuine care and some unsolicited. Your life seems to be constantly under a microscope.

Once they grow up a little, a different sort of torture begins in the form of questions. “Does she sleep through the night yet?”, “Have you sleep trained her?”, “Does she eat by herself, yet?”, ” Discipline them sooner, they learn quickly”, “This clothing store is a must visit”, “Daycare is the best option”, “Are you feeding her well and on time? (this is particularly common with parents and in-laws)”Oh, poor you, not going back to work. You had such a great future ahead of you”, when I’m still there listening to all of it and trying not to let the pressure get to me. But it does, even now occasionally.

I ask myself to calm down, take a deep breath and relax.

Staying at home to take care of my baby was a collective decision, to maintain everyone’s sanity. The elders back home welcomed the move, however a lot of people (both friends and family) asked me to rethink this decision. Of course I didn’t know what was in store and it is a new challenge every day. But I opted for this because I had enough of juggling numbers and analyzing software requirements. I knew this wouldn’t be easy but it was an investment from our end towards our child’s future. Work will always be there and I will eventually get back when I deem the time is right, until then please don’t hold your breath.

Bringing up a child involves a lot of trial and error. What works with your child may not necessarily work with another. What works with one parent, may not necessarily work for another. So spare yourself all the unwanted pressure. Work at your pace. Sleeping through the night, potty training, feeding themselves, brushing, everything will happen, if you’re willing to slow down, take one step at a time and try not kill yourself in the process. We turned out fine, didn’t we? They will too. At their pace, don’t rush them. If you feel like you need advice, check with whom you feel comfortable, maybe your mother or the child’s pediatrician.

Along the way I’ve discovered these tips on battling the ‘critics’:

Watch your child from time to time. See how beautiful their mind is. Unadulterated, full of curiosity and energy. They are asking you to slow down and appreciate them for what they are. To let them be kids. They might be having a bad day. Or they don’t like the color of the dress they are wearing. Maybe their new shoes are hurting, or their diaper is feeling all weird. They are constantly needing your attention and trying to communicate to you in their own little way. They are helping to discover the inner child in you. Trust your intuition; seek help when you determine so. Reciprocate their feelings. Love unconditionally, it surely does get better.

So, the next time I’m confronted at the park, and someone asks me “Oh, is she potty trained”, I’m going to turn around and say “not yet, that is work is progress, but she knows the name of all the planets, does your child know that?” Hah. I’m only kidding. Be confident and don’t let them get to you.

IMG_1296_20120827_120853Shruthi


What is Love?

I am not a poet, nor a wordsmith. You may call me foolish for attempting to describe love. This post will always be work in progress, as I might need a lifetime to understand Love.

Love is,

Seeing the multitude of colors that the sunrise and sunset bring everyday, with awe, and taking a moment to surrender;

Holding hands with someone who makes you feel stable, grounded, and wanted;

Having the belief that you will rise again after a number of failures;

Going through the same set of mundane activities each day, with enthusiasm, in different ways;

Not giving up because they didn’t fit a certain criteria you had in mind;

The ability to express your emotions without fear of being judged, but also knowing when to be quiet;

Not being perfect;

Being yourself and not letting someone else’s feelings change who you are;

Being able to forgive, and also forget;

Showing a random act of kindness and bringing a smile;

Finding Joy and peace in others happiness;

Opening your heart to new possibilities despite your past experiences;

To pray for others and for yourself;

To heal and being able to heal;

Universal;

Unconditional;

The ability to Let go;

Hope

20121205-155652.jpg


%d bloggers like this: