“Have some more of this,” I urge with a loving smile as I scoop out a bit more of the vendakkai (lady’s finger aka bhindi or okra) curry from the casserole and serve my daughter. She sulks, pouts and gives me a basilisk-like stare but I remain unmoved. This wasn’t the first time we were at cross-purposes over matters relating to food. Read the rest of my article in the Open Page of the Hindu here.
Posted in Essays, Writing
Tagged Bhindi, daughters, family, humor, humour, Math, Mathematics, Maths, Okra, Open Page, The Hindu, vegetable, Vendakkai
When someone breaks your heart, or when your beloved pet dies, or when your child leaves home for college (like mine did), how do you let go?
Click here to read my speech on letting go.
The things we think about, brood on, dwell on, and exult over influence our life in a thousand ways. When we can actually choose the direction of our thoughts instead of just letting them run along the grooves of conditioned thinking, we become the masters of our own lives. Eknath Easwaran
In the still of the night the beast comes alive. It persists, annoys and tears my insides till it wakes me up from my deep slumber. Then the battle between woman and beast begins with the latter winning each time. The hacking sounds that follow has my husband turning towards me in consternation. There’s a pained look on his face as he watches me cough incessantly. The mug of warm water and lozenges lying on the bedside table near me are also a mute witness to my suffering. I look around the dark room and hear the faint whispers of the night. The momentary silence between the coughing bouts are comforting.
For more than a week now I’d been laid up with a viral infection. Sore throat, fever, cold and cough appeared in rapid succession like unwelcome guests at a party. The good news was that the first three moved onto fresher pastures before the first course of the dinner was over. The bad news was that the last one continued to linger even after the desert.
“Rest your vocal chords!” The doctor’s advice kept ringing in my ears. Easier said than done. Even if I did want to talk, I simply couldn’t. That’s when I began to appreciate the sounds around me.The pigeons cooing in my balcony while leaving their mark on the floor as they flew away. The shrieks of my neighbor’s little Jedis playing with their toy light sabers outside my apartment door in the common area. The guffaws of old men from the laughter club waking up the entire building at the crack of dawn as they huddled on the lawns outside. I also began to savor the quiet that appeared at odd intervals. Silence. Silence was an old friend of mine.
I grew up in a home which was mostly quiet. My father was a taciturn man while my mother was a busy housewife who didn’t have the time to chat. I was happy to be left alone in my world of books and music. Years later when I got married into a large family, I was surrounded by women who had a compulsive need to talk and an equally perverse desire to make me listen to them. I had an irrational desire to speak my mind at times but often the words were stuck in my throat. Silence. Now the same friend became a pesky thing that I wanted to shove out the door.
“You’ve started speaking a lot more!” My aged uncle remarked when he met me after twenty years. I was pondering aloud on the happy partnership between silence and meditation to him when he made the observation. Was I more talkative than before? I wondered. Yet my daughters refrained from answering that question when I asked them. Their feeble answer was a tad regretful. “We can never shout out Earth-calling-mom!”
It needed a temporary illness to make me recall my old friend. Silence. A friend that I had somehow forgotten along the way.
I used to scoff at William Wordsworth’s lines ….”child is the father of man” when I read his poems in my youth. Truer words were never spoken!
As my daughters make the transition from teenage to adulthood, they constantly amaze me with their insights. Whether its dreaming big, or letting go, I get these little nuggets of life lessons from them.
If you have ever felt the empty-nest syndrome do share your experiences. I’m still having a hard time coping with it. Click here to find out why.
Click here to read my post on how I learnt to hold onto my dreams and not just stand on the sidelines.
"Amma, amma" – the plaintive cries of my daughter Ragini jolted me as I was preparing dinner. Alarmed, I dropped everything and dashed to the bedroom. My little girl had removed all my saris from the wadrobe and got entangled in one of them. I felt torn between amusement and anger and when she looked up and gave me a "I don’t know how this happened" look. I removed the offending garment from her and picked her up in my arms. My baby girl was growing up so quickly and getting naughtier by the day. Often my patience wore thin and I was tempted to tear my hair (whatever was left of it). How can a two-year-old be exasperating, endearing, tiring and inspiring at the same time?
Ragini’s frail appearance is quite deceptive. Her loud voice carries across our street much to my consternation but her doting papa only sees a prodigy in the making. "The next MS Subbalakshmi, mark my words", he insists! But father’s joy can also be a source of embarassment. On a recent visit to a hospital the quiet of the reception area was shattered by Ragini’s shrill cry, "Appa, you’re wearing Amma’s shirt!"
Despite her father and my constant attention, Ragini’s soft endearments are served for her favourite person – ourmaid. When the latter walks in through the door every morning the little imp is waiting for her with the broom and a huge smile on her face. This is Ragini’s moment of joy while I seethe with jealousy.
Keeping up with the little dynamo is quite exhausting. When she falls asleep at noon, the whole house heaves acollective sigh. I can feel the walls humming quietly. It is the lull before the next storm. I try to regain myenergy in the hiatus and so does Ragini – it is a contest of wills!
Ragini’s grandparents after their first few visits got smarter. "We would love to have Ragini visit us but sheshould not be separated from you even for a day", is their constant refrain. Visions of some peace and quiet at home by unleashing Hurricane Ragini on them continues to remain wishful thinking!
Early one morning, as I was having my cup of tea, I tried to fathom why my daughter was driving her parents up the wall. I recalled what my sister-in-law had mentioned to us. When she had quizzed the peadiatrician about her daughter’s mischievous ways, the doctor replied without batting an eyelid, "Madam, that is acquired behaviour!" Ouch, did that hurt. The doctor’s words struck a chord in me as I remembered my mother mentioned how I would run her ragged. It brought home a scary truth – looking at Ragini was seeing myself in the mirror!
This article appeared in the Deccan Herald a while back.
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