Saturday, March 14, 2015

One Step At A Time, Time After Time!

We celebrated my sister’s thirteenth birthday yesterday, 13th of March; first celebration without our mother around. Mom had been overly enthusiastic about celebrating Pari’s birthday this time, to hark the onset of her teenage life. However, here is the twist: Her birthday was on the 27th of February and she had her final examinations then. Thus, keeping in mind the celebration that Mum wanted and an excuse to bring a smile on Pari’s face, I organised this celebration treat for her school friends right after the day her exams got over.

We went to Taste of China, though it was a random choice out of the possible options available at Connaught Place, it happened to be one of the places where my mother happened to have had a rather hearty dinner on our family date to the venue. The manager somehow recognised me when I’d met him a day prior to the treat, and I informed him about my mother’s demise to which he promised to be there with me throughout the party tomorrow.

And truly, I am grateful to Mr.Anthony for his kindness. I couldn’t have pulled through this party without his aid. My heart swelled with a thousand thoughts climaxing time and again within my mind. From managing phone calls of Pari’s friends to asking the maid to clean up on convincing Granny to join us as Dad had an important meeting and couldn’t join us.

The other part of me … my heart felt slightly guilty of organising a celebration so shortly after Mum passed away. Ideally, we must go through a period of abstinence from all things fun, be on a remorseful journey, healing our wounds.
However, I hate to see my sister upset. Mom had so many plans for her. She was so excited about this party. I could not let this moment go by. The tug of war continued in my heart as I dialed numbers and conversed with the parents of children who were to come for the treat. I had my apprehensions. No, I like kids. That’s not the point.
The point is, when you are suffering, when you are hungry of love and warmth yourself, how do you radiate warmth? Is a transformation from being a victim of circumstances to a survivor, possible? What if I ruin it for my sister? What if I am actually anti-social now (I  have fought with and distanced most of the people I  know at this moment)? How then will I manage to host a party for teenagers who’d be all pumped up and full of life?

Thoughts haunted me, threatening to consume me in its façade!

Only then my sister hugged me from behind. I was startled back to reality as she faced me and there she was! Wearing a new dress that we’d bought for the occasion, she was the prettiest sight I’ve laid my eyes on, for quite some time! Pari was gleaming and that smile radiated and shone like it were my North Star.

There are these moments in life when you realise, we need to smile through our tears instead of stopping them from flowing. It is okay to let go and it is okay to make mistakes, as long as we are okay being through the process of healing.
We reached Taste of China about fifteen minutes late and Nani was already hissing with embarrassment because we were behind schedule! What bowled my stumps was the fact that the children were already there and Mr.Anthony was playing host to them while we arrived! I cannot remember the last time I’ve flushed so badly! However, the children ran to us and hugged Paarijat and then hugged me. Who can stay grim around children?

I smiled though teary eyed. Children are amazing; it is unfathomable how they don’t judge you even if you are being stupid or unreasonable! One smile from them can make your day! We went on to huddle around a table and ordered for our food.
Soon after, I got a call from Pallavi, my school friend. Interestingly… we are from the same school these kids study in. She’s an incredibly amazing home baker and she curated a magnificent cake for my sister!

At one instant, your world reverberates from “I’m all alone” to “Wow! So many angels around me!”

I think what I learned from yesterday, apart from smiling again was that sometimes in life, we must reach out and take that leap of faith. Yes, we may fall, that fear comes along with the package! However, when we’re already at rock bottom, how deeper can we really fall more?

Just like some songs.. Some songs make you melancholic, some help you cry, and those very songs hold our hand and swoon along with us. And then angels around us make sure we’re smiling and a gentle tug at our chin comes with a whisper “Chin up, Girl!! Chin UP!

I wish to thank Housing for the prompt .

I wish to thank Housing for the prompt .

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

From HOUSE to HOME:The Journey without Her

There is something so welcoming about coming back to your home after a long tiring day at the office or a vacation. Going out seems fun and exciting, but coming back home is something that we long for. The comfort of those four walls is irreplaceable. However, coming back to that very house caused ache in my heart now. Every turn that we took on the roads of Delhi, inching closer to the house, my breath got choked within.

My hands seemed painfully heavy even though I had immersed the ashes of my late mother into the Holy Ganges at the Tulsi Ghat in Varanasi. It was perhaps the absence that stung more. There, the last turn and we were there at the entrance of the house.

I was asked to wait outside the gate for yet another ritual. As I stood, I looked at the black iron door that had begun to rust from the sides. The rustic redness of her lips appeared into my vision and the familiarity threatened to choke me again. She’d pestered me to make a name plate for the house and I’d procrastinated so much that eventually the matter was simply forgotten. The blank space on the door mocked me now.
The rituals were done with and finally, we entered.

I was greeted by the wall in our drawing room, yellow and bright smeared by a huge collage of my parent’s recent trip to Holland. The 49yr old lady seemed blossoming. Who would believe that she wasn’t alive? I’d never see her smile and giggle like a child, or touch her baby cheeks.

Tears stung my eyes.

I went to her room and closed the door behind me. My family understood the message clearly and did not interfere. And there it was, “her space”. I saw it and only then believed it. Until then, I always thought that a house becomes home willingly. That you could befriend a house and any space could be your space.
But then, there are some spaces that are exclusive. That smell of you, reflect your tastes, introduce you to the world and make others realise of your absence when you’re not there.

I keep going back to her space. Looking at that space makes me happy and sad both. Happy because it reminded me of her, her hugs, her smile, the way she’d half-lie, half-sit… the manner in which she’d call out my name from there.. Sad because all of it would never be real again but only become fragments of memories we’d made.

However, I am grateful. Grateful for this space, this house which she turned into a home. For her husband, her kids. To keep her alive among us, to live laugh and cry together. With her and without her.

I wish to thank Housing for the prompt .

Friday, March 6, 2015

Choose To Look Up- Above Expectations and Beyond Horizons


“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and 

play with it.” 

You must believe the aforesaid words especially when a genius comic artist such as Charlie Chaplin says them. To break away from the monotony of our lives, humour becomes our ‘friend in need’ and if you notice closely, we laugh at things we relate to boy falling off a ladder, someone getting wet just because he was standing under someone’s balcony, how a man gets slapped for his marriage proposal.. We enjoy these little bouts of humour we may have left unnoticed or these scenes that may have been tucked into some corner of our brain while we were busy “living”.

It takes quite a lot of introspection to really make sense of Mr.Chaplin’s words. But come to think of it, we actually go through a process of experiencing grief and loss to then moving on to ridicule it. Maybe it is the christening of the step to finally move on to another set of grief and glories.
I am perhaps going through a terrible phase of my life with the sudden demise of my mother in Jan this year. And even in this entire paraphernalia, I saw myself ridiculing my grief, my stunned silence. I joked at being like a “stone-hearted daughter who shed no tear” or how we went for a vacation and returned never to be the same “we” again!
To be honest, it is relieving to choose to laugh at your pain than to writhe along. Agonizing through it will always seem much easier, what I saw and continue to see hundreds of visitors, relatives, well-wishers do. How the process of “mourning” is so crucial to settling them back to their normal lives from the very next day. I know I won’t be this easily out of the shock but then I refuse to bow before it, allowing the monster to swallow me from my head first.

Sometimes I end up offending people when I tell them that they were lucky not to be around when mum passed away. I try telling them kindly, how it was irrelevant, whoever was present in those 5-10minutes of suffocation and struggle she went through. But they don’t understand. They seem to have no idea how it is to light your mother’s pyre, to touch her cold, lifeless, decomposing body. To know that this one moment will be your last when you get to touch her. Hugging her felt terrible, for the warmth was gone!

And the most difficult part?

To hold on to your twelve-year old sister but allowing her to see her dead mother. This would be her last memory of her.
I can go on talking about those four days of our “family trip” and how she was perfectly fine until those last 10minutes of her life but then who’d understand?
I choose to instead show people her pictures, how I managed to click her smiling.. I remind people of the pranks she’d play or the jokes she’d crack. Her favourite books, serials, lipsticks and perfumes.
I do sneak into her almirah sometimes. It smells of her. The other day I saw an teaser of this upcoming Bengali show where a guy from the army expressed how he’d miss his Ma’s smell the most and would go sleep in her lap the first thing after returning home. I feel like a dog, sniffing around the house, tracing her through her leftovers.

It is a joke me and my sister share. We pretend she’s gone to Kolkata like she had in September. We keep listening to her Whatsapp audio messages I’d taught her to record.
It is during such times that you feel like closing in. Restricting your life to those you cannot live without. I did that. But I didn’t stop there. I made sure I let go of the pretentious people I once addressed as “friends” and I observed people. Strangers, especially those dealing with the loss of loved ones. It somehow gave me strength and I heavily relied on Gandhiji’s treatise of when your loss seems to grave, try looking at someone who is ‘poorer than you’.

One such example would be this extraordinary woman:

Imagine the kind of determination it takes to come out of a loss and then dare to dream again, to live fully; to trust people and to believe in the goodness of Nature and God.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do 

that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 

I also know of this young fellow of my age who was suffering from Cancer, such that his limbs had started to melt with all the medications he was going through. I remember my mother staying in his hospital room for hours, meditating for him. She’d stay hungry and thirsty for hours and not blink an eye. And when he’d fall really ill, she’d have tears in her eyes and say, “I wish I could make him alright. He is so young and he deserves to live.”

Today, as miraculously as is my agnostic belief in an Almighty, that Guy is Cancer-free. He is resuming his studies and coming back to normalcy!
How does a logical person explain this? The truth is, there are no answers. And when we do not find answers, we have two paths; one, to either let go of everything and just mourn and die. And the other would be to laugh at these perplexing circumstances we are brought into every now and then!

I’m pretty sure everyone is aware of the recent controversy of BBC interviewing of the rapists of Jyoti Singh who is popularly addressed to as “Nirbhaya”. The Indian Government has banned the documentary. I thought initially that it was a good move to stop the maligning of my nation.
However, I watched the documentary and was stunned. I cried.
And, mind you, I did not cry at my mother’s funeral.

But I cried when I heard what the rapist had to say about the incident. And more disgustingly, the defence lawyers called women to be “flowers” that can be either trampled if kept in the street or revered if kept in a temple! We’re gems even precious than diamonds that need to be protected by men. And for crying out loud, all that Jyoti did was watch a movie(evening show!) with a male friend!
How can one stop mocking such people outright! 

While such documentaries bring out the stinging realities of our society and thus have been shunned down, we have people like Laxmi who did not give up even after the horrific acid attack on her. She has started her own NGO and runs various campaigns regarding crime against women through it.

Losing hope will always be an option, like the albatross around our neck. Opt to take problems in life, face on. Halt and spend some time with your grief and hope will bicker in.

You’ll Never Find A Rainbow If You Are Looking Down

When we talk of inspiration we gaze towards the horizon but then horizon is just another imaginary line. Look around, for we find stories of courage, determination, hope and experiences of life that mold us into better human beings. The next step of getting inspired is to inspire others. This my friend, is the circle of life.

I wish to thank Housing for a prompt named “Looking Up” which made me realise how often I’ve looked down at my feet, sore and withered in the biting cold. But what if, I choose today to gaze at the sky, smile at the sun and let the world know,

If you liked reading my post or you didn't..if you have two words of advice to give or take, do let me know so in the comments below!