To live and to reminisce

There’s always that one point in time, when nostalgia overpowers the present.

There’s always a day, when you can kick back and reminisce about the days/years gone by.

But there should never come a time, when past is all you live in and think about.

You’re very fortunate if you’ve had a past you love to reminisce about.

But count your blessings and move on to live in today,

So that you can make many more memories to reminisce about tomorrow.

Affording Vanity

vanity

Jamie looked in the mirror for the tenth time – checked her necktie, her belt, turned around and checked her shirt, she wanted it to be neatly tucked, with just a small pleat falling over her belt. Then she turned back and practiced her smile as she wanted it to be just perfect, neither too forth coming nor too reserved. Finally, satisfied with her appearance, she went to work.

Day by day, the same routine followed. Jamie would get up and meticulously get dressed. She’d take great pains to look perfect, with a neatly ironed dress, elegantly coiffured hair, radiant make-up and of course, the perfectly practiced smile.

For a career receptionist with no other means to support herself, Jamie needed to check her necktie to see if she was modest and presentable. She needed to check her belt regularly to see if the scuffs were covered and she needed to tuck her shirt in perfectly so that the hole in the back wasn’t visible.

You see, vanity is only for those who can afford it.

Burning the candle called “Nostalgia”

US

My first memory as a living being is a very very faint one, in fact, it’s more like a feeling than a memory – I think I vaguely remember holding my younger sister for the first time. I was a little over 1.5 years old and I have this feeling that when I held her for the first time, I was immensely happy and even more curious, waiting for the sleeping bundle to open her eyes.

For each phase of my growing up, in my mind, I have created these huge memory chests and whenever I’m homesick or low, I open these chests one by one and ensconce myself in this blanket of memories that I’ve woven with love and fun.

One of the biggest and my most favorite chest is the early childhood one. Growing up with a sister who is in the same age group as me was always full of fun games and petty fights. We two were always in a world of our own, always fighting but still inseparable. In school also, though we were one class apart, we did everything together, all my friends were her friends and her friends were mine. All our teachers also knew that we were sisters. In short, we two were a package deal.

I don’t think there’s a single corner in our house where we wouldn’t have played. We’d dance around in the puja room or there was telephone there so the fake telephone call game. Then at times, we’d jump around in the kitchen or squish in the tiny window seat there and just talk nonsense or go to the attic and make up some games. Most evenings we’d just run around on the terrace chasing each other or playing thikri-dav or riding our tricycle (riding was more like me bullying my sister – I was taller than her, so if she wanted to ride, I’d just lift up the tricycle and never let her ride).

Just like all kids, despite our numerous toys and games, we’d want to play with the stuff growns up use. So our mom use to deliberately leave her talcum powder on the dressing table (everything else was under lock and key). We’d use her old duppattas and put powder and play fashion-show, fashion-show. Or we’d create our own houses from those duppattas and play neighbor-neighbor.

On rainy days we’d simply sit at the window making up hero-heroine chase stories with raindrops or sing the rainy day song “aav re varsad” at the top of our voices till mumma came in and shushed us J

There is a lot more in this treasure trove of memories and every time that I’ve taken this trip down memory lane, I’ve come back to present day desperately missing those simpler times.

That being said, nostalgia is like a candle that we should burn only when there’s darkness. If we keep re-living those days in the hope of capturing them again then we are just setting ourselves up for a huge disappointment. It’s a candle’s fate to burn out some day and when that day comes, you will find yourself lost in darkness where you won’t have enough family or friends to help pull you out because while you were busy living in yesterday, everyone present today was busy going ahead.

And that’s why, while I still try to capture the past when I meet my sister, I have learnt to have fun on my own too. When I’m by myself in the house, I dance like crazy on some random songs (sometimes even without any music). Or when I’m at the gym, I think of silly silly things that I can do with my sister or my husband (most of the women in my gym think I’m crazy because most of the time I’m starring in the mirror and smiling at myself). Most weekends, my husband and I, we play silly games and laugh like children over small small things. Sometimes, I call over all the kids in my neighborhood and we play cards or color/color or all sorts of kiddie games.

Among the many vows I’ve taken in life and all new-year resolutions I’ve taken so far, I can proudly say that I’ve stuck to one of them – playing all kinds of games and laughing over silly things. I’d like to play more often but being a grown up (by my birth date I am one but one can debate its accuracy till kingdom come:)), I can’t just act like a kid all the time.

Riding the happy wave

Riding the happy waVE

I’ve read very often and been told as well that when you get married, you change over time. The initial newness and excitement carries you over the first few years in one happy wave but things change, people around you change and of course you also change. This change happens even faster in a love marriage because the process of discovering your partner, who he is and what he likes is already halfway done since you knew each other before marriage. I’ve known my husband for 9 years now – first friends, then in a relationship and then married. And of course, we have changed a little over time, with responsibilities and other pressures but one thing that hasn’t changed is the happy wave we’re in. Don’t get me wrong, like any normal graph, there are crests and troughs in ours too but the trend line is going upwards only. The reason, which I discovered unintentionally and innocuously, for this is very simple.

We had gone to see fast and furious 7. The theater wasn’t full but the rows around us were. As usual, I got all emotional and weepy when the last scene came and the movie was paying homage to Paul Walker. It was the scene at the beach when everyone’s serious and Vin Diesel is saying: “We don’t say good bye to family”. I am about to drop a few big fat tears when my husband quietly whispers in my ear, “We don’t say goodbye to family, we say AAVJO.”  I just burst out laughing and the whole crowd around me is irritated and appalled at this (apparently!) grown woman giggling like a child in the middle of a dead-serious moment. We both were still laughing about this as we walked out of the theater and the mall.

I’ll never forget that moment not just because of the epic dialogue from my husband but mainly because it made me realize that no matter what we go through or what we become in future, one thing will remain a constant, seeing me sad (whether its because of a movie or our fight or whatever) he will leave everything else and try and make me smile. And seeing him sad, I will do anything to bring a smile to his face (agreed, I don’t have a sense of humor like his, but will try, even if its just a cliched thing like showing him a funny video).

Our happy wave continues because, instead of remembering our differences everyday, we try to bring a smile to each other’s face. I hope this continues in future as well, no matter how we change or what we go through.

Fidelity and Fairness

fidel

I was reading the secret wish list by Preeti Shenoy and it got me thinking about this heavy topic: can I really put fidelity and fairness in the same weighing scale and judge if I’ve been dealt a fair hand? Can I justify the unfair treatment meted to me by being infidel?

First a bit about the book: It is about a stay-at-home mother and wife (Dikhsha), smothered by wishes of her family and husband. She’s never been given a chance to understand her desires and wants and build a life for herself. And the day she gets a chance (or rather she wrestles it out of her humdrum life and her meek inner self), a dam kind of breaks out and her entire life metamorphoses in a matter of few weeks. She goes out on her own, takes a dance class, makes new friends and re-connects with an old friend and her ex-boyfriend from school.

Reading the atrocities she faced not just from her husband but her own parents, does make one sympathetic to her and one of part of me wants to vindicate her for the infidelity she committed. But there is a part of me that just cannot excuse going out of a marriage and having a full blown affair. No matter how unfair the situation. Granted, I have never been oppressed in my entire life, not by my parents or my husband or anyone. Despite my multiple, and sometimes repeated, mistakes, my family has always given me the right to choose and live as I want. However, I strongly believe that we live in a world where no relationships are exclusive, I cannot avenge myself of the wrongs my husband has committed, by going out with another guy because in doing so I am not just punishing him but his family and my children – i.e. the people who’ve welcomed me into their lives and loved me unconditionally and they do not deserve such a treatment. What is morally wrong is wrong. I feel I should end an abusive and unsatisfying relationship before I make a new beginning, that is the only fair thing to do with all the parties involved.

For me the definition of world is “the entangled web of relationships in my life that allows me to be happy, sad, and everything that I am and the relationships that have made me who I am today.” Now I take the same philosophy to the protagonist of the story, Diksha. She made a mistake of kissing a boy at the age of 16, which changed her entire life and relationships. She was oppressed from that moment onward and at the age of 35 when she realized how her life sucks, she just starts acting without thinking. In a way I can understand, if oppressed for 18 years, when your inner self unleashes herself, she changes every aspect of your life. However, I feel that the unfairness of her relationships with her husband and parents should not translate into infidelity, which will belatedly, but definitely and adversely, impact her child and sweet mother-in-law. I am sure she can explain to everyone her reasons for acting the way she did and over time they might understand her and forgive her but the hurt stays on.

Yes, she has a right to live her own life and make her own choices. Yes, I know, she’s been a doormat all her life and does not have the courage to stand up to her husband but that still does not give her the right to just go to her ex-bf’s hotel and resume the 18-year old relationship that they left midway. She needs to sit down, sort things in her head, take responsible actions rather than seek solace first and act later.

What kind of math is it: A, B and C have been unfair to me my whole life so the suppressed me takes it all out by being unfair to the innocent and unwitting participants in my life, D, E and F.

I have yet 40 more pages before I finish the book but the whole situation just made me pick up my laptop and write this out. If I review this piece a week later, I might find it too harsh and take it down but right now, I’m just thinking about how to deal with unfairness. How to deal with suppressed emotions, desires and wants? Doing what my heart wants and keeping me happy should be my ultimate aim (because if I’m happy then only I’ll able to keep the people in my life happy) but it should not come at the cost of other’s happiness in my life. I know I cannot keep everyone happy with whatever decisions I make, but that logic does not give me the right to act amorally and then exonerate myself thinking, “I’ve been dealt an unfair hand in life, and I am just righting the wrongs done to me.”

People who’ve read the book. Any thoughts?

Rather… Than!

Rather than

I’d rather smile at a child’s innocence than laugh at someone’s expense

I’d rather cry silently at a poor man’s plight than sob at my troubles, which I have most likely created myself and blown out of proportion in my head

I’d rather bow my head in front my parents whose sacrifices, wisdom and love I can see and emulate rather than blindly follow a pretentious baba whose claims I have just read or heard

I’d rather write two cliched but honest words than an essay on what I think people would like to hear and read

I’d rather give up something I want than acquire something that I know belongs to someone else

I’d rather show with actions how much I care than proclaim with words in front of the world (which makes this whole post redundant, so you might as well have skipped it 🙂 )

Home

home

Its been 12 years since I have left my parents’ house (5 of which I have been blissfully married) but in my mind my home has always been here. And its because my mom’s abundant love (in the form of hugs, kisses, cooking, shopping, etc.) and care are here and my dad’s resilient support and faith are here.

Coincidentally, my parents’ apartment building’s name is Paradise and it is indeed one, where I feel very peaceful because of two reasons – a) here I function on auto-pilot, I don’t have to plan anything or worry about what to do next. My mom’s established routine, the familiarity of her ways and the fact that I don’t have any responsibilities or any household decisions to make here, just lifts an invisible burden off my mind; b) it brings back so many memories of childhood that in its throes, I forget to worry about my work or other commitments.

Last week, my husband was here visiting my parents. One afternoon we were sitting inside my room and I just turned around and told him that my dad’s back from office and he surprisingly asked how I knew. I told him that I heard his keys jingle in the hallway. My husband teasingly said, “At times, when I speak to you standing right next to you, you fail to hear but this faint jingle, you heard!” And to that, I replied with a broad smile, “instinct that is born out of years practice, put in so many years and see how I read you darling!” 😉

During school days, I remember, me and my sister, we used to eagerly wait for that jingle and though we knew my parents had the keys, we used to run to open the door. And there were times when we were making a mess of the house, so we used to keenly watch out for the jingle so that we could run and fix things before getting caught 🙂

For me coming home is this happy cackle of extremely loud talking and even louder laughter filled with lots of reminiscing. And over the years, coming home involves a lot of long talks with mum – shopping with her, learning a bit of cooking from her, a bit of gossiping, and lot of heart-to-hearts.

As I head back to my other home (the one I strive to make like this one – full of love and warmth), I pack my bags with a heavy heart but also with the hope that someday when my parents come to my home, they will feel like they’ve come to “Paradise”.