Author: sukanyabora

My Old Man

Last night was funky.

Agitated I was. Supremely.

Because I couldn’t find a recent picture of my father. The ones I have in my collection were clicked feverishly while he was hooked up to a bazillion IV’s last winter. Brought back memories of the time when we almost lost him.

It is his eighty eight birthday today. Last few years, birthdays of my parents,  have been tough for me. Distance, aging, serious health issues are some of the triggers. The last time I had the pleasure of being with him on his birthday was three years ago. There was no big celebration. Just family. We sat around the fire pit, and reminisced with much chatter and laughter.

Of course, Chivas as the loyal companion always adds much color to the evening.

I call him at the crack of dawn to wish him. I am having my morning cuppa of tea, he announces, remnants of sleep still lingering in his voice.

What are your plans for today? I ask my usual question.

He replies with his usual response. Get ready for Uruka meji, go to the bazaar to buy some firewood for the evening feast around the fire.

The celebration is now understated, the level of excitement has come down a couple of notches. But the essence of it all, remains the same.

My eyes unexpectedly well up. Maybe the agony of not finding a recent pic of his heightened my emotional sensibilities. Maybe because I simply miss him terribly. Maybe because he is older, the precariousness of his age overwhelms me. As if its using a deafening blowhorn to inform me of its lurking, inevitable  presence.

Soon I am frantically texting my nieces, my sister in law and my brother to send me pictures of him and my mother, of the birthday boy celebrating. I need them pics OK, barking orders at my kin.

They didn’t disappoint, especially my younger niece. By the end of the day, Whatsapp was filled with several shots of the newly minted eighty-eight year old birthday boy. My favorite of all is a pic of him feeding my mum a slice of cake. For several years now, with my mother’s numerous health complications, she has become his raison d’ etre, his biggest priority to continue on, be the best “care taker” to her.

He IS the best. Certainly best everything to this daughter who wishes every day that they weren’t separated by million miles.

Closing Out the Year

Plenty reminders as we closed out the year:

  • of our good fortune and blessings
  • of food being the greatest and most effective connector of people.
  • of time spent with loved ones is time well spent.
  • of the power of uninhibited laughter. Yes, I peed in the process, had to immediately rush to the loo but it was cathartic, fun, freeing. (erm, the laughing silly!)
  • of the privilege of being parents to two reasonable, rather mature kids.

A year that started out shaky ended solidly. The first few months of the year were trying both personally and professionally.  Gradually all the pieces fell into place. Luck and many other factors came together for a stronger, resilient finish.

Personally it was year of much reflection, much unlearning and relearning. There were numerous, priceless moments of conscious, deliberate self-talk and contemplation.

It was also a year of meticulous giving. Of thoughtful generosity. Mainly for the kids. To set a tone for them. They helped, engaged and hopefully became more attuned to the ‘goodness’ of it all.

I was determined that we kept the last few days of 2015 stress free. I am happy to say that we managed. With much help from family and friends. They came and joined us in good cheer and spirits, making the final hours of a rather eventful year memorable.

New year’s day was predictably tough. The house, once again fell silent after lingering goodbyes. Sheets were being pulled out for wash. Bathroom counters wiped clean. Tell tale signs of the past days of cheerful gatherings got swept into the dustpan. Wrapping paper, empty gift boxes, beer cans and wine bottles found their way into the recycle bin. The kids sad, their faces long enough to touch the floor. The gloom after much merry making was palpable.

The kitchen was temporarily closed. This non-cook needed a break. Take out arrived- the food not stellar enough to pull us out of the dreariness until moi cracked open a fortune cookie and was presented with this hard-to-ignore gem.

It didn’t do much for the rest of the family. But it perked me up instantly. It was all I needed to come out of the forlorness. Another quick and easy reminder that it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

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Time I Gloat about My Good Fortune

In this day and age where terrorism, violence, random crimes seem to be the norm, it feels awkward to talk about the good fortunes in my life.

But I will.

I am a lucky girl. Mr. Luck has been my fateful and faithful companion all along. Don’t quite understand why and will perhaps never know. But I am incredibly blessed. I feel awesomely fortunate.

More so, because about two decades ago, my life was on a trajectory that screamed gloom, failure, uselessness. Just another warm body with an unremarkable past, a future hinging on lofty, unrealistic, nebulous, unmet-able dreams and goals.

I have indeed come a long way. Characterized with loss, failure, rashness, and rejections but peppered with humility, a ‘holelodda’ reflection and finally acceptance. Acceptance of my flaws, mistakes and ego.

Acceptance that I am just a teeny-weeny speck in the larger scheme of things. I am powerless in the face of certain things. That it is critical I focus, put my energy into those things that are within my control. That I am ultimately responsible for  what I make of this life I am gifted with.

That what I put out to the Universe is what I get back.

That I am a work in progress. I will choose to be, diligently so, until I die.

I am in a happy place. My flaws, I still carry. However I have become better in taming them. In catching myself before I screw up. Or when I do goof up (quite often actually), I push myself to reflect, to question, to dig deeper. It is funny how 9 out of 10 times I  am made to realize that I played a part, that I contributed to the problem at hand. Humility is a remarkable leveler.

I am in a meaningful place. A place where I believe I am adding value not just to mine but to others as well. I am conscious of not wasting resources, be it time, money, talent, opportunities. I am consciously learning, growing. I am conscious of how my actions and behaviors impact others. I am conscious. Period.

In all of this,  I am working my butt off. Some days may seem awfully interminable. Other days I may miss my child’s  important school function or event. But I end them with meaning, worth. I hit the sack, tired, exhausted, but fulfilled.

My latest mantra is, if I don’t now, when will I?, one that a supportive oversubscribed, 24/7 “on chaperoning call” husband/father and understanding kids have accepted wholeheartedly. I call them and everything else on my abounding plate, my life’s good fortunes.

And yes, it feels awkward to gloat about all of this but I need to. For it deepens my sense of gratitude. It underscores how lucky I am. It reminds me that life after all, turned out OK and some more.

Birthdays, Breast Buds and Inclusivity

Birthday fever has begun.

The third grader enters her ninth year in approximately two weeks. Decorations are up, goody bags are ready, menu cards (not sure why we need them but will run with them nevertheless) for invited guests have been hand printed on different colored paper. The gift list gets updated, items closely reviewed and edited every now and then each day. As if a legal contract is being put in place.

The excitement meter is burning up. For her. The rest of the familia, however, is just too caught up to think about this approaching milestone.

You guys don’t care much about my birthday, do you? she alleges the other evening, her forehead carrying a big frown.

I pretend I am deaf. Her brother, however retorts with a ‘yep’. Without batting an eyelid, without looking up from his iPad.

The frown now becomes more evident as the chin elongates rapidly with frustration. I look at her and I am reminded of Munch’s, The Scream. She stomps out, up the stairs, into her room. Soon I hear scrinch scrinch, sound of paper decoration being unrolled and taped to the walls.

Her frustration is fleeting. It is her birthday and she has no time to waste. The drama can wait.

I am turning nine…and…then I will turn ten next year, she says the other day.

She may as well easily pass off as a ten-year old with her recent growth spurt. She gained height, her feet have grown some inches that prompted us on an unexpected shoe shopping spree. Some other things have grown too.

I now have breasts, she declares, examining her buds. Does that mean I will have my period? she bombards me with this not so pleasant question. A milestone that I am not ready for. At all.

You may sweetie,  I tell her. A response that takes a lot of me to muster. More articles I read about how young girls are reaching puberty sooner than ever, I fret. I cry inside.

No amount of talking, reading about period with her will prepare us for this dreaded development. Nothing will get her ready for the changes when they strike. It’s the same as pushing out a baby.  Every thing you learn gets unlearned as you begin to anxiously maneuver through the first months of child rearing. All that prep work-.whoosh, go into a black hole, not to be retrieved until one slowly begins to get comfortable with the enormous changes that come along.

It is an inevitability one cannot avoid, unfortunately. Until then, I will pretend to be an ostrich and go about my merry way. I am also aware that years from now when I read this post, I will say, golly, I wrote about THIS? I fretted over a period? There will be bigger issues to tackle, higher walls to climb and vaster oceans to cross. This will seem like a tiny dent in the overall scheme of things.

I don’t want to mix my Indian friends with my American friends, she decides. I don’t want anyone to feel left out. I want to be inclusive.

Inclusive is the buzz word now. One that gets thrown around quite rapidly and frequently. Along with buds and a possibly premature puberty, she is becoming deliciously intelligent. I mean, emotionally intelligent. Sometimes stuff comes out of her mouth that makes me want to put her on a pedestal and show her off to the entire world. My heart filled with gratification and deep, soaring love for this child of mine. At eight, she is already so considerate, kind and empathetic. For someone who is inclined to impose high standards, this isn’t my bias talking. I don’t know what we are doing as parents. Obviously we are doing some things right. We see the right in her and her demeanor.

This morning, as I drop her off at the grandparents, she pretends to walk straight in without kissing me goodbye. I make a long face. She immediately turns around, and with a naughty grin and sparkle in her eyes, she says, and you thought I was walking away without kissing you bye…never mama, NEVER!!!!!!!

I have always maintained that becoming a mom has been undeniably one of the most profound experiences for me. Each baby shifting something deep in me, each underscoring the power and the glory it carries. As I get ready to join my second born in her birthday planning ruckus, I take a quick moment to reflect, rejoice and be grateful of the priceless gift that is her.

We Arrived at Middle

Middle school “back to school” night was tiring. For me. The newly minted sixth grader skipped ahead of us, donning an air of familiarity and pride as he directed us through the crowded hallways to individual classroom presentations.

Middle school has been fun thus far. For him. He tells me he likes how it makes him independent. When probed further, I realize that independence and having a locker go hand in hand. Every story he narrates revolves around the said locker. Every detail he shares somehow finally ends at the locker. LockerLove, hence is new, alive and strong.

Middle school has been a transition. For his sister. She no longer has a bus mate to travel with. Or an older brother to watch out for her.

Middle school has been an adjustment. For me. From a full-time stay at home to a fully employed commuter, getting up earlier so I can pack a proper lunch and feed my boy a decent breakfast before he toddles off has been a challenge.

Middle school will be demanding with higher loads of homework, assignments, quizzes and tests. It will challenging as we grasp newer grading systems, online platforms and overall expectations.

Middle school will be about stronger partnerships with teachers and school officials, closer monitoring of the boy’s performance, keener observations for growth and success opportunities.

Middle school, finally, promises to be exciting, intensive, trying and revelatory. Of the boy and his capabilities. Of us and our ability to guide, advice, support, encourage and love.

Fifteenth

It’s our fifteenth wedding anniversary today.

The day started with getting irritated with the kids, giving them a piece of my mind, making my youngest cry.

Just like some many other days.

Fifteenth, tenth, seventh, nineteenth….

Does it really matter anymore?

To us, hubbs and me, it does.

On FB, with her wish, a friend suggested that I write a short story about our union. My response: a story won’t cut it, it will have to a long thesis. One that is presumably open-ended.

Come to think of it, fifteen does seem long. It feels like a lifetime. It is, in many aspects a lifetime. Cannot put a finger on any particular reason that made or makes us tick. Like most things and specifically relationships, it is a culmination of many factors. But I do believe that because we are opposites (I am crazy, he is sane), we fit. It works. It’s easier to make it work. We have definitely found a rhythm of sorts. A routine in a seemingly, occasionally chaotic terrain of emotional highs and lows.

I call our marriage, a union of codependence. And with kids, this notion of co dependence takes a whole new meaning. Reliability, consistency, constant communication regardless of how mundane and automatic it may seem sometimes, honesty, flexibility, integrity and respect are elements that we continue to grow with and learn from.

It helps to have a solid support system to navigate and stay happily married as well. And both are supremely fortunate to be blessed to have a slew of people who continue to unconditionally support, love, encourage, guide and pump us along the way.

Like most things, to make a relationship tick, one’s got to invest wholeheartedly. Both hubbs and I vowed to do exactly this fifteen years ago. Our relationship continues to be a work in progress. It also reminds us that we have come a long way.

As we take the time to dissect, reflect and look forward to the future, we will raise a toast to us. To celebrate what we have. To remember how incredibly proud we are of us.