Obsessivemom

Obsessivemom

Friday, August 26, 2016

If we were having coffee .... 4

Picture courtesy: PIXABAY



If we were having coffee… 
I’d invite you home today because I’m feeling a tad down. That perfect cup of coffee served by a professional on a neat little tray is tempting for sure but today I need the comfort of home. I need to curl up my feet on the sofa for a long chat, no matter that the cup is not designer or that Marie biscuits don’t measure up to the brownies. Maybe I’d invite you to my kitchen and we could take turns at beating the coffee. That’s your favourite kind, I know, and mine too.

Once it is poured, sweet and frothy, we could settle down to our conversation.

I’d probably ask about your days and tell you about mine. It has been a long and exhausting fortnight, with the maid on leave, the kids on holiday and husband home too.

I’d tell you, a trifle guiltily, that much as I love them all, I cherish my alone time. I’d tell you how I savour the silence. The absolute quiet as I tap at my laptop. The single cup of tea on my side table. Or the mindless chatter of FM (that no one else seems to have the patience for) while I go about my chores. I miss all of that. I need it to get me through the craziness of the rest of the day.

I’d tell you about the twin’s academic pressure that seems to have suddenly multiplied many fold and hangs like a dark shadow on me, always. Somedays, I’d tell you, I cannot sleep from worrying about them.

Mercifully (?) the kids seem completely unaware of it but that makes me worry even more.

How can they not care? Is it okay for children to be so completely unconcerned? Are they too young? Am I expecting too much from them? I look at the mums around me. I see how they urge their kids on and I feel hopelessly inadequate. I am just not capable of pushing mine. Am I doing enough to help them? Or am I letting them slide into laziness by expecting too little? Am I taking away their chance at a better life by not egging them on?

It’s hard. This not knowing. Like walking blindfolded.

You don’t have an answer either. I know. But simply telling you how I feel lifts my spirits just a bit. You’d probably smile away my fears telling me I was over-thinking. ‘They’re just ten’, you’d laugh. And you’ve no idea how that would reassure me. Yes, they’re just ten. They’ve just started secondary school. They’ll settle, their grades aren’t bad.

We’d lift our now cold coffees and smile at how that always happens - how conversation takes over coffee. I feel sorry for having monopolised it all the way today. 

And yet long after you've gone and I'm getting on with my day, I remain grateful for your presence. I send out a tight mental hug for friends who let me voice my thoughts and fears no matter how unfound, how stupid they might be.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

#Women at work - The fruit seller

I see her busy at her shop right across the road from our apartment building. She has a small outlet stocked with fresh flower and fruit. Somedays I see her attending customers, somedays she is polishing the fruit with a piece of cloth or arranging them in meticulous piles.





I pass by her shop some half a dozen times a day and she never fails to give me a smile. She knows I love flowers as do the kids. She also knows I prefer gerberas and roses for my vases as against the ones she keeps - marigolds, Indian roses and jasmines which are used more often for religious rituals. And yet when I am buying fruit and she has a specially pretty rose she hands it over to me with a 'take this for the kids'.

And so H and N here's a lesson for you - Take pleasure and pride in whatever you do, no matter how small your job, how tiny your business. You don't need to have a lot of 'things' to be generous. All you need is a big heart.

When most shop keepers take a siesta break (a ritual in my city), she doesn't go home. She sits quietly enjoying her break. Her hands keep busy as she picks out flowers from a basket on her lap and threads out colourful garlands, readying for the evening rush.

Somedays she talks to me. A lot of it is in Marathi but I nod along even though I don't understand all of it. I ask her why she doesn't shut shop for the siesta. 
And she says, 
"My husband passed away recently. When he was alive, he was always pestering me. 'Why are you always at the shop? I need you here at home to serve me lunch. I need you to sit with me while I eat,' he'd say. 
I'd get annoyed and I'd tell him - the children are there to take care of you. How much can a woman do? I have the shop to look after.
But he would have none of it. We'd have arguments but I did go home each day." 

I nod along, the feminist in me not quite happy with the story.

She continues, a trifle wistfully,
'Now he is gone and no one asks me to come home. I have children, son, daughter-in-law but they don't know if I've eaten or not. I'm happiest here at my shop.'

I don't know what to say. The feminist is a trifle confused and chooses to stay silent.

And here's lesson number 2. This one is for me: Relationships are complicated. No one relationship is quite like another. It is easy to pass judgement, to give advice but different things work for different people.

I cannot end the post without wishing everyone a very happy Independence Day. And I'm glad I wrote about this lady today. Isn't she a symbol of Independent India? Of doing her own thing and being at peace with herself?

Despite so much that is not quite right with our country, we do have things to be proud of, things that set us apart, make us special.

Today, I shall focus on all that IS right with my country and it is that which I shall be celebrating.


HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Linking up with Parul for the #Women at Work bloghop. If you have a story about a working woman do share.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

A basket of tomatoes and some life lessons

Picture Credit: PIXABAY

The other day I was at the vegetable vendor's picking out well.. obviously - vegetables. As I moved to the tomatoes I was joined by a boy of about 14. He dug into the basket turning the tomatoes this way and that, picking out some then dropping them back, then picking out some more. Finally he asked me, ‘How do you know which is a good one?’

Deja vu struck.

While we were growing up we lived in a joint family. While my sister and I did our chores (my mum saw to it) most of the mundane outdoor tasks were handled by others in the family. It might have had to do with the fact that we lived in a crowded area and mum wasn't certain we could negotiate the roads safely on our own.

One day, perhaps the house help wasn't around or maybe because my mum decided it was high time I learnt to do this, she handed me a bag, some change and asked me to go buy vegetables.

I mean, seriously? Vegetables? The teen me was completely appalled. I could imagine going out and buying stationery or books or sweets or clothes. But vegetables? What a mundane, unfashionable, low brow task to be saddled with! My entire teen self quailed at the idea rejecting it outright.

I refused.

“If you can eat vegetables, you can go buy them too,” said my mum and I saw her face settle into that familiar determined look my sister and I disliked and dreaded. If you know even a little bit of my mum you will know she can really dig her heels in, specially  when it comes to, what she thinks of as, teaching us a lesson.

I didn’t stand a hair’s breadth chance. So there I was with the most embarrassing jhola (cloth bag) in one hand and the money in the other off to buy vegetables at Chantu ki dukan - that’s what the vegetable vendor was called! I bent my head, praying I wouldn't bump into anyone I knew, as I threaded my way through the crowded street.

I cannot recall what I bought. I just remember picking up a handful of something, mumbling out, ‘Half kg of this’, handing the money and walking home in a blaze of self-consciousness.

And here was this boy, how easily he asked for my help and how gladly I gave it! Standing side by side in a rather companionable silence we picked out tomatoes. I wish I had been more like him when I was his age.

So dear H and N, here's the lesson for the day:
People are more likely to offer help than laugh at us if only we cast aside our nervousness and ask for it. We might be laughed at for pretending to know something but the moment we voluntarily expose our vulnerability and  enlist someone’s assistance we create a bond putting them firmly on ‘our side’, so to say.

No matter where you are - at a new school, at the library or in the sports ground, don't be too shy or scared to enlist people's support, even if they are strangers. Ask for help and you shall get it in greater measure than you ever expected.

Have you ever been in a situation like this, where you've been to embarrassed to ask for help? Do share. I'd love to add your experience to mine when I talk to the kids.





Friday, July 29, 2016

Brothers and sisters and memories #CBF16

About a year back the twins had to make a family tree and while helping them I found my side of the family far outnumbering the Husband’s side - my five siblings to his two. It was only later that I realised I had included my cousins in my count of siblings. But then the Hindi language doesn’t really have an exact word for ‘cousin’ and that’s how it was with us.

We didn't live together but the summer holidays would see the six us of in our hometown. Since we lived with our grandparents our home became the place where some fifteen to twenty of us would gather for one whole month of crazy celebration.

It was an old house, not too large. We wonder now, how we fitted in. What's more we managed with a single washroom between the entire bunch of us. (We now have two washrooms and three people in the house, with the husband being away, and yet there’s constant squabbling).

Studies and work finally put an end to the tradition and almost a decade rolled by since we were together. We tried to meet up a few times but the magic half-a-dozen was never complete.

Then last month one of our cousins was in India for a couple of days and we decided to give it a serious shot. We realised how hard it is for six people to drop their responsibilities even for the space of a single weekend!

One had to postpone dropping off his daughter to boarding school, another one rushed back from a a holiday with his family, yet another one wrapped up a seminar she was organising.
The Husband flew down to look after the kids(and attend a PTM that had to crop up just that weekend), while I was away.

After much planning and coordination we were there, together, in my aunt’s house. Nothing seemed to have changed. Of course the figures were fuller and the hair was thinner but that was about it.


US: Then and now and that quote is one of my favourites

It was like we’d never been away. We sat around the dining table and talked. Then moved to the verandah and talked some more, then decided to take a siesta and ended up talking again. 

It was two days of catching up, piecing together memories, one filling in details the other one left out, debating who’s fault it was in ‘that’ incident, digging out long-forgotten nicknames, laughing over incorrigible pranks, reminiscing about the time we smuggled cigarettes, got caught and got the blasting of our lifetimes.

And there was food —- enough to feed a garrison.

Those two pictures, taken at the same place, years apart, will remain one of my most cherished memories. Nothing can beat the warmth and affection built over years of togetherness and I shall forever be grateful for that. The memory of this trip will last a long long time but we're not going to wait another decade to meet again. 


and also to 

Do click on the link and head on for a healthy dose of gratitude.


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