Monday, June 30, 2008

This one's for you, my love

I guess Yash Raj would never pay us a penny to make our love life into a movie. There is'nt any melodrama, any mush. There are no cute lines or fancy locales. There is no possibility of introducing lengthy, profound dialogues. As far as love stories go, ours was the simplest.

We met in college. We were both part of the college orchestra. He was 2 years my senior. I had a crush, he hid his very well. Both of us refused to talk about it till he had been placed through campus interviews and we did talk then only to awkwardly say, 'let's see, maybe...if everything works out in a couple of years' time' and left the rest unsaid. We were both too devoted to our families to be able to make a greater commitment than that at the said point of time.

To give our parents credit, they appreciated our restraint and gave us the go ahead. No questions asked. There were none to be asked, since we both belonged to the same religion, caste and sub-caste and were even related to each other in a very distant way. And we got married, 6 years ago, almost to the day.

And that's when the real love story began, and continues to this day. This is the man who knows all my deepest fears, my greatest sorrows. The man who opens the door to our apartment simply by recognising my footsteps on the corridor. The eternal giver. My rock who holds me patiently while I rant and rage at the world, my boss, my mother and mother-in-law and waits for the storm to pass. Who senses my tears falling quietly on the pillow and takes me in his arms even when he is sleeping. The man who knows when I am rambling on looking for advice and when I am grumbling only because I need somebody to listen and let me sort it out myself. The man who treats my family with respect and love even while they are driving me nuts.

The man I discuss EVERYTHING with, who always believes in me more than I believe in myself. I have seen him grow from a boy to a man. And what a man he has grown to be. My heart swells with pride at the way he has built our life, brick by brick, with love, understanding and empathy. And at the astounding amount of success he has met with at so young an age. And how he aspires for even more, just so that we can have the best.

And more than anything else, I love the father he is to my son. When kuttan looks at his father with total adoration in his eyes and I see it reflected in his father's eyes, I send out a little prayer of thanks to God Almighty. He, indeed, has made all my dreams come true and I could not possibly want for anything more.

I think my conversation with kuttan a couple of days ago sums it up aptly. So we were lying in bed and cuddling each other as Hubby was doing an assignment in the living room. 'Amma, Avya is my friend', he spoke up suddenly. 'Very good, Kanna.' 'But appa is your deepest friend and best friend, no?'. Yes, my love. My deepest and best friend. And the love of my life. A love that burns so bright that I'm consumed by it sometimes, and is so mellow that I bask in its warmth some other times. He's everything that I ever wanted.

As they say, we've only just started. The best is yet to come. Belated Happy anniversary darling.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A dream that may never be..

This is going to be a difficult post to write. I wondered for a long time whether I should even write it at all. But then, in the end I decided to go ahead because I wanted to sort out the thoughts inside my head and, obviously, I wanted to hear from you guys even though I already know what some of you think about this.

I am an only child as the regular (read 2 nos.) readers of this blog might know. And as Boo has pointed out in her latest post, I always thought our family of 3 was just perfect. I had loads of cousins and extended family staying in Coimbatore and even though we did'nt live under a single roof, we met up very often. I, however, was not very close with any of my cousins while I was growing up. I was always a bit of a precocious child, quiet and shy and was happiest when I was in the company of my books.

Amma and appa made for wonderful company but they were also quite happy to leave me alone in the company of my books and imagination quite often. I have never known the joy of playing long hours under the sun, getting into mischief with cousins and siblings during balmy afternoons while the rest of the household slept, of small adventures in the neighborhood. I always got all the action I wanted from my books. I lost myself in a world of mystery and intrigue, got hopelessly thrilled by the adventures of the Enid Blyton books and the action in the Nancy Drew series well. I started reading these books while other kids my age were still reading Amar Chithra Katha and Tinkle, I moved on to bigger things.

The strange thing about all this is I never felt anything was amiss while I was growing up. I was never the athletic rough and tumble kind anyways and it wasnt long after the last vestiges of childhood were gone and I was married and listened to hubby talk about his childhood did I wish that I had had a little more action-packed eventful childhood. That I had been a little more naughty, a little more bold and daring and had lived, at least for a while, a little dangerously.

Today, after all these years, I wonder if some of my timidity may have been due to lack of company as a child. And it brings to fore uncomfortable questions for me. Do I want to deprive kuttan of a sibling's company the way I was? Is another baby right for us?

When I got married, I never had a single doubt that I would have 2 or more kids. The more the merrier, I thought. Then came the c-section, the nightmarish post-partum recovery period and the intensely frustrating period of the first year of kuttan's life when I quit my job and realised I did'nt enjoy it as much as I thought I would. After a couple of disastrous attempts to get back on the career wagon, I finally succeeded in doing so by the fag end of 2006. Things, touch wood, have been reasonably stable since then.

It seems to be my nature to rock the boat when things are fine because suddenly the desire for another child slowly seemed to be forming in my mind. The famous baby shower with so many moms expecting their second babies strengthened my conviction that it is the right thing to do. When I finally found a moment of peace and quiet that is required to discuss matters of grave importance such as these, I enlisted the of my partner-in-crime. He succinctly said, 'no'.

Simple and straightforward describes husband best. He definitely did not mince words. He reminded me in painfully embarrassing detail about all the times when I had whined and cried about having to stay home. He played his trump card when he cunningly asked me, 'Do you really want to give up your career after having fought for it so hard? And if you don't, can you bear to leave 2 kids instead of one in the daycare day after day? How much time can you spend with them?'. I was defeated hands down. I let things lie low for a while before deciding to take it up on a war footing again. But no matter how much I begged and pleaded, this usually sweet-natured, easy-going man seemed strong-as-steel on this one.

I don't blame him. I think I might have put him off babies forever with all the whining and crying I did. We got married when the husband was barely 25 and had a baby by the time he was 28. He had given up doing all the fun things for 2 years and now he was READY to get back his life..he deserved it. And in many ways, he is right. But that's not why I am still hesitating about this. My reasons are quite, quite different from his.

My first and most important reason is lack of support. Amma has been diabetic for 12 years now. Every year, I see her systems getting weaker and weaker as she battles with this insiduous disease. It took all the energy she had for her to see me through my first delivery. I do not think she has it in her to see me through a second one and I am worried about the effect it could have on her health. The MIL is faring no better in the health department either which basically means we will be left with 2 kids to take care of, all on our own, and the prospect is daunting, to say the least.

My career is another thing that I have to think of. 2 kids definitely means quitting my job. Double the expenses and half the income. But the most important thing is this - it takes two to make a baby and I want both the people to want it just as badly. The husband is an ambitious man. He wants the best in the world for kuttan and me and I love him for it. How can I not? He has taken up the MBA course for this very reason and he will need the flexibilty to experiment and take a risk or two when he is done with it. How can I weigh him down with a baby at that crucial point in his life?

I am not saying that we will never ever have another baby. Life is funny that way. Just when you think you have it all figured out God smiles to himself and alters all your plans. But it is unlikely that it may happen anytime soon.

And still, whenever I see a tiny baby, whenever I hug kuttan and wistfully see the baby frame disappearing and a gangly boyish frame taking its place, when I go to a toy store and see the cutest possible cribs and smallest possible booties that I am sure no human feet can ever fit into, whenever I see the tiniest pattu pavadais and I bury may face into sweet smelling babies of other people, I have to admit, the heart does skip a beat and I desperately wish things could have been different.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chennai means....

frolicking endlessly on hot summer days in the inflatable pool in thatha's backyard...

Playing silly games with cousins in the morning without even having to brush your teeth....

Playing gully cricket with a very patient, indulgent much-older cousin anna holding a bat that is bigger than me.

For amma, Chennai meant shopping. Her own personal shopper in the form of appa's cousin, a self-confessed shopaholic who is recognised by her face and is called personally by the proprietors themselves whenever fresh stocks are in.

Chennai means pattu mamis and jasmine flowers and Saravana Bhavan. It means jostling crowds at Ranganathan Street and brightly lit stores at Panagal Park. It means the beautiful, ancient temples of Mylapore and Triplicane. It means little girls running around in pattu pavadais. It means sun rising at the crack of dawns and mamis from every household drawing HUGE rangolis in front of their homes. It means warm, balmy evenings in Besant nagar beach while you sit looking at the endless sea munching on hot corn. It means posh hotels and Kaiyendhi bhavans. It means the ultra hip generation and the kacheri going ultra-traditional youngsters.

Chennai means loads and loads of family and extended family milling around the house all day.

And finally as we pulled into the parking lot of our Bangalore apartment, it meant throwing a king-sized tantrum with a full war-cry of 'Chennai polam!'. 'I want go Chennai.'

So do I, baby. So do I.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Off to Chennai

Off to Chennai tomorrow afternoon for 4 days to visit the in-laws. Will be back on Tuesday night. I am looking forward to no cooking, lots of relatives, loads of kids and mountains of shopping. In small doses, they are all welcome...

By the way, did you know that Chennai is my favorite shopping destination?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Battle of wills!

I made the mistake of going to kuttan's school cum daycare on Friday to pick him up. As kuttan saw me he came rushing towards me with great anticipation. I had had a long day and a longer week and was quite looking forward to lazing around on the weekend.

Just as kuttan and I started to leave, his teacher stopped me. Does he know how to write BM, she asked me. Gulp! The moment I was dreading and anticipating had arrived. No, I told her timidly. 'Well, I just thought I would get him started slowly, if that's ok with you', she told me. Well, how could I say it was not?

So gathering the last vestiges of my energy, I came out with great gusto, 'Of course! I was planning to do it myself but just thought it'll be better if you go first!'. 'He has already started writing number 1. We wrote a page of it today', she told me.

And then proceeded to show me the square math note book and the four-line english note-book where I was supposed to start with 'simple things' like numeric one and standing lines and sleeping lines. 'Are you going to give him homework', asked I, visions of my Sister-In-law chasing hubby's nephew with a notebook and a pencil and being repeatedly called by the school because the child simply refused to write flashing before my eyes.

Well, let's start off slow, she said. I cheered mentally. Just have him complete 1 page of homework over the weekend, if you can. ONE PAGE!! 'Well, its completely voluntary and you need to do it only if you are interested', she offered helpfully. And then pointed out the heaps of notebooks submitted by all the other parents. Voluntary, my foot!

So we went home and I gave kuttan this HUGE build up about how much fun it is going to be and so on and so forth. The notebooks and the pencil and the rubber and the sharpener were purchased in short order and looked upon with great anticipation by His Highness. After placing them in front of ummachi(God), and looking into His eyes and saying, 'Ummachi, let me study well, ok?', we were ready to go.

We sat down on the floor and carefully grasped the pencil. I gently held his hand and made him write inside the square. 'There you go. Great job!', I told him. 'Now just repeat this for a page and we're done'. This is not as bad as I expected, I told myself. Maybe it's only the SIL kid who is averse to writing. And it did seem that way when kuttan filled an entire page neatly with 1s.

Come Monday. We learnt standing lines today amma, he told me cheerfully in the car. Great. Let's practice, I told him. We went home and the snacks and other essentials were dealt with. 'Shall we start?', I asked him. 'No amma, I want to drive the car', he said. 'Do your homework and then go out to play.'

Time stopped still. I had just crossed another milestone as a parent and had joined millions of hapless mothers as they said the exact same words to their kids across the country, probably across the world just by speaking that one sentence. Fat moms, thin moms, young moms, old moms all saying the same words in many different tongues. There were probably thousands of them saying it that very minute. How many irritating times had I heard my own mother say them? Sometimes threatening, sometimes cajoling, always persuading, bargaining. Life has indeed come a full circle.

Kuttan gave me a scorching glare but settled down to write nevertheless. Today our mission was to write a page full of standing lines. He wrote approximately three-fourth. Of the line, not the page. 'I'm bored, I have finished my homework. I am going to drive my car.' Quietly kept the pencil down and crossed his arms and glared at me. I glared back. Hubby intervened. 'Let him go, you dont want to put him off homework forever, do you? I'll get him to do it later.'

The page still remains blank and I am sure we will have another page to finish today. This battle of wills has just begun. I am looking forward to, oh not much, just about another eighteen odd years of it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I am tired. The last 2 weeks have been crazy. In many, many ways and on many, many levels. Kuttan came back from Coimbatore after a two week vacation with his Sachumma and Gopa thatha. He has had his annual vacation while I am still waiting for mine. Before kuttan went away, I had resolved to finish a lot of things that are pending on the work front. With him safely away at grandma's place, I could afford to stay back as late as possible in the office.

But in the 2 weeks that he was actually in Cbe, I had absolutely NO work. I spent the whole day reading blogs and surfing the net and watching the clock to see when I could get out of the darned office. Only to go home and find hubby vacantly staring at the TV. I would plonk next to him and start doing the same thing myself.

Then, the day after kuttan arrived, all hell broke loose. Everything that could go wrong at work did and we were suddenly transformed from being compeletely jobless to being BURIED under mountains of work. Amma was here for 3 days before she left to go back to Cbe. I spent maybe an hour with her on all 3 days put together. And felt abjectly miserable when she left.

Weekend came and brought no respite with it as hubby had to go away to his MBA classes. And then, amidst all the chaos, yesterday, I decided to take the afternoon off from work and go to a dear friend's housewarming ceremony. I took kuttan along in the afternoon and came back home after the function. As kuttan and I snuggled, I felt so much at peace with the world in general.

All the frenzy and stress and drama seemed a long, long way off. Like they belonged to a different world. Then, after almost a year and a half, I wished I could stay at home and be there for my son always. Be there for him when he comes back from school and feed him lunch. Be there to snuggle him as he takes his afternoon nap instead of allowing him to go off for his nap in his daycare on a small little cot with 30 other children. I know that some of the kids talk sometimes and when they do, the teachers there warn them and tell them not to talk. But my kuttan is such a light sleeper that even such a small exchange is bound to wake him up and he comes home in the evening, looking tired and cranky.

I wish I did not have to go around asking 3 different people in his daycare about the food he ate through the day and whether he pooped or pissed. Should'nt I be the one who knows these things better than anyone else? I wish I could spend lazy mornings with him without worrying about work or having to check the email.

The problem is that as far as jobs go, mine is not bad at all. My boss is friendly and understanding and allows me to work from home in emergencies. The hours are decent and the pay is good. And God knows we need the money. I have worked very, very hard to get to this stage and it has not been easy.

But, as I said, I am tired. Tired of juggling many different roles. Tired of all the expectations from all quarters. Tired of the constant feeling of guilt weighing me down. Tired of my own ambitions even. And there are days when I just want to ask the whole world to go to hell and just play the one role that is closest to my heart - that of being my son's mother. One of these days, I just might do that. Till then, the great juggling act continues.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Fleeting Kodak moments..

I have been insanely busy at work over the last two weeks and have not had time to respond to many of your comments. First of all, I apologise for that. I also see that a couple of people have tagged me. Rest assured, I will get to that after the current crisis at the workplace has been fended off. In the meantime, just wanted to do a small post.

The husband has started his MBA program and was away all weekend for the orientation course. That left me and kuttan at home to fend for ourselves. It has been a long, long time since I spent any length of time alone with Kuttan. This weekend was an eye-opener for me and I was amazed at the incredible human being this little man of mine has become.

Mom and son had the most amazing time over the weekend. On Sunday morning, we both sat on the sun-soaked verandah of our apartment and looked up at the trees and watched the birds flying in and out of branches. We spoke about important stuff like where birds sleep and why kuttan cannot sleep on the tree with the baby crows in their nests. I just love the fact that my kuttan, my baby is such a little trooper.

Whether it is giving his expert comment on mama trying on new capris in Forum (kevalama irukku It sucks!!) or sharing gyan while driving, he is such a sport and I love that about him. He was an adorable baby and then the terrible twos happened and I was floundering out of my depth. Now, I see that sunny personality coming back and am falling in love all over again.

The best moment, however, came on Saturday afternoon. I took him into our room for the nap and closed the drapes and lay next to him. While he was going to sleep, I lay next to him with a book. Then, suddenly, this sweet smell of wet earth touched my nostrils and the room became noticeably colder.

I looked down to see Kuttan looking at me. I closed the book and huddled under his quilt. Both of us lay there like that for sometime, hugging, giggling and cuddling. Basking in the warmth while he was laying sloppy, wet kisses all over my face. I want to remember the afternoon for ever. Put it in a little box and keep it with me always, to remember and cherish, while this baby of mine grows up and goes out into the big, big world.