BLESSING IN DISGUISE

I got discharged from the hospital last Friday. A week of running around by the whole family with me lying in the hospital bed gasping for breath was a traumatic experience. All of us needed rest. My mom and mom-in-law were on toes all through the week and they deserved to go back home and relax.

So two days after I was discharged, my mom said she was taking Aarnav (my 3 yr old son) with her. The idea was to give me some rest. Obviously, I rejected the idea upfront. The mom in me was not able to approve the distancing of my child, depriving him of mother’s love, making him sleep without those cuddles and kisses and overall other mom duties. However, this decision was forced on me by the whole family. Much against my wishes I had to give in. I waved my son goodbye with a heavy heart and tried to console myself by thinking at least he didn’t cry. It’s a different story that he didn’t know he was supposed to stay without his mom for a week.

The first day was difficult. I missed him terribly. I cried. But I fully trusted my mom’s judgement and believed in the idea that he will be fine without me.

Cut to today:
It’s been 5 days and my little munchkin is happy at nana-nani’s house. He is getting that extra pampering, is not bound by any rules and is having a gala time. He is the apple of their eyes. My mom shares his pictures and videos because I terribly miss him but more because she wants to instil that confidence in me that Aarnav is now ready to take baby steps to come out of my wings and prepare to fly. 

The exact same thing that I was cribbing about as to why a decision is enforced on me is something that I am utterly grateful for today. These 5 days not only gave me much needed rest, but it also ensured full concentration at my office work, no additional breaks for baby duties and thus wrapping up work on time. It also gave me some “ME TIME” which I don’t seem to have got in a long time now. More importantly, it showed me that Aarnav is slowly becoming independent, that my baby is growing up. I do feel the mom guilt but there is very little that can be done for it. Guilt and motherhood go hand in hand I suppose.

Anyway, the bottom line is – Lot of times we question the happening of certain things in life. We hate those times. We feel betrayed, shattered or even breakdown. But that happening could be a blessing in disguise. If we are able to manage the breakdown and negative emotions we may experience the blessing in coming time for which we would be ungratefully grateful.

WHEN MY SON EXPLORED MY MOBILE

Kids of this generation are techno savvy. They use electronic gadgets comfortably since quite and early age and my son is no exception to this.

He discovered the YouTube world when he was an year old. And slowly he learnt to scroll the screen up and down, swipe to left and right. The next progression was choosing the song of his choice, mostly driven by how attractive the coverpage is. Whether I like it or not, I was okay with it.

One fine day, he was fiddling with my phone while watching YouTube. I took the phone after the screen time allotted to my son was over. I wanted to check WhatsApp messages. Just when I was ignoring the forward messages, one message caught my attention. It was from my driver. I read

“Madam, why have you sent me your picture?”

It didn’t take too long for me to decipher what must have happened. My son accidentally managed to share my picture to the driver while he was enjoying his play with my phone. And why driver, because his was the most recent chat as I had asked for confirmation of pickup scheduled for the next morning.

I didn’t know what to reply. The driver must have received “blue ticks” which means he will know that I have seen his message. I was so so so so embarrassed. I got a thought that the earth should crack open and eat me up but …!

I messaged the driver apologising and telling him that it was my son who did that and that he should delete the pic. The driver cordially said it’s alright.

There was an awkward silence the next morning when he came for the pickup. I broke the ice and apologized again. Again he said it’s alright very calmly.

Fortunately, I never met the same driver again. I dont know if his shift was changed or he was assigned a different route. And I just hope I never have to message him again for the pickup!

I still feel very awkward thinking what he must have felt about me sharing the picture , but it is what it is, and I had told him the truth 😁

Kids I tell you! They will land you in a soup more often than you can imagine.

IT DOESN’T TAKE TOO MUCH TO CHEER UP!

Past 7 months of pandemic have been really rough for all. We have been surrounded by gloom, demise news and too much work load. How can one cheer up in such cases?


Well, I couldn’t. I thought I was braving the situation well but a point came when I realised that I am not able to handle this anymore. The monotonous routine of too much of household chores, ever piling and very demanding office work and a hyperactive toddler was all getting more and more difficult to handle with every passing day. I knew I had reached the limit when I couldn’t control my anger and tears at petty things. I was reaching the breaking point.


I knew I had to do the damage control because If I remained upset for a long time, my family was going to suffer, my child would see my wrath, my husband would not feel loved and my MIL would miss my usual chit chatting self. Yes, if you are unhappy, your ENTIRE family suffers. The food you cook doesn’t come out tasty, how much ever you dress up, you don’t feel beautiful and how much ever you sleep, you always feel tired.


So what did I do? I packed my bags and headed straight to my mom’s place. 15 days spent with my mom made a big difference. Aarnav got to meet his other set of grand parents, I got to meet my parents after a very long time! The change in air, the change in environment and the change in routine made wonders.
My mom dished out one of my favourites every single day! My dad got so many new toys for Aarnav. Late night talks with mom which we had long forgotten about ever since I got married, no household chores – I was only a helping hand to the mom. It felt nice to be able to lean on my mom for support because I was tired being a support to my family all these months. Being devoid of any responsibilities and expectations for good15 days helped me cheer up. It transformed me to a happy human being that usually I am. 


It took nothing out of the box to cheer up myself. Good company, lessened responsibilities and good food did the trick. And if you see, these three things will do the trick most of the time. 
Lot of times, we expect a lot – from others as well as from ourself! We must learn to cut the slack. Take time off. Relish good food. Binge eat sometimes. Give in to your cravings once in a while. Hug your kids tight. Cuddle them while sleeping. Steal a kiss from your spouse, watch the sunset together. Chat over a coffee. These are the most sasta and tikau (tried and tested) remedies for a cheerful mood.


I understand, it may not always be possible. We cant fit every single thing in our routine and if you make a routine out of this, it won’t be fun any more! Just know that when you want to do this, go ahead and do it.
Be happy and cheerful!

WE ARE IN IT TOGETHER!

They say you respect your parents more when you become one yourself. How true is it. I would trade anything in this world to be like my parents and raise Aarnav (my 2 yrs old boy) just the way my parents raised me. But alas, that’s not how it’s going to be.

Just like how computers changed to laptops and iPads, landlines changed to smartphones, schooling changed to online schooling in just a matter of few years, parenting needs an upgrade too.

Honestly, I do not have a parenting plan for Aarnav. We live in a dynamic world and every day is different than the other. Parents in this age need to be on toes. 24/7. But if you ask me what is my parenting goal, I have an answer to it. My parenting goal is that, I want to raise Aarnav in such a way that he is comfortable to talk to me about anything under the sun. Just anything. And I want to build that trust in him that no matter what, we are in it together. That doesn’t mean that I shall coverup when he makes mistakes, it simply means that my behavior towards him should be such that he finds me approachable even when he wants to confess his mistakes.  Easy? Not at all…!!

The parent in me is naive, I cannot comment on what and how other parents are doing right now. But all I know is that, I want to raise Aarnav the way I mentioned above. This naive parent in me often worries about how I would handle a situation when hormones of my son would start tricking on him, whether he would love me as much as he does now, whether he will share things with me? And I dont have any solutions to this fear. But broadly, I do know what I must do to have it my way. Parenting in today’s age is tricky. You can’t be controlling but you are accountable!

There are some basic directions I have given myself to be a good parent. Only time will tell how a good parent I turn out to be but I trust this may work! Trying to share a few directions here

1. Values: The foundation of the character that we want to build is values. Above everything,  I emote to Aarnav the values like Respect and Gratitude. Respecting everyone around, be it peers or Elders is what makes you empathetic and if you grow to be empathetic you will never ever want to hurt anyone. Neither physically nor verbally. At the same time, being grateful for what you have is also very very important because it brings along other values like, being appreciative and humble and keeps negatives like jealousy at bay.

2. Being approachable: I think this is the golden direction! We as parents must make our children feel loved and trusted that they feel confident that they can come to us and talk about anything and everything. Just anything, like their first crush, their first date, their desires. Now this is more actionable for parents rather than the children I would say because the onus of giving them that comfort lies on to us. This is one of the biggest responsibilities of the parents I would say! Because it’s not easy to do what it takes to be good in the books of your child and still manage to do the right and just thing! The key here is communication. “Me time v/s We time” like Charlie mentioned in his post but mind you kids of this generation need their own space. Its tricky as a parent to make a place for ourself without invading their space.

3. Accept the change: We must accept the change the generation brings in. Like I am prepared for the time when I may need to allow Aarnav to use his personal smartphone while he is still schooling. This is a sober example. Let’s face it guys, there are many other changes that we need to accept like, hitting puberty earlier, normalising relationships, the desire for independence. It is very important that we dont let these changes overwhelm us and get upset with our children for the choices they make.

Like Kalpana said at the beginning of this week, parenting doesnt come with an instruction manual, it’s a tough job. I would like to add that It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about the choice and effect relationship. It’s about what we and our children choose that leads us to the effect. And it’s not the job of only parents or only children. We are in it together!

In the end, all that we must focus on as parents is eternal love for children, raising them to be a gentle and loving human being, raising them to respect all the genders equally and teaching them to make the right choices. How we do it is up to us really!

I would like to conclude this topic by a reminder to myself (and other parents too) to be with my child in thick and thin, each and every time he needs me, sometimes directly and some times indirectly, sometimes in face and sometimes anonymously.

The following quote summarizes my write up and my parenting goal:

“I can’t promise to fix all your problems, but I promise that you will not have to face them alone. – A loving parent.”

 

MEMORY GAME – VII

That meeting with Shraddha ji two months ago was difficult but necessary. Amidst lot of denial, tears, fear, guilt and ambiguity Shraddha ji had somehow managed to show the right direction to Neha once again. She proved to be the North star for Neha one more time. Neha had promised her with a very heavy heart that she will not let her mind race back to Rishi and that she would do justice to Dr Tripathi, her family and their love for her. Deep within she knew it was the right thing to do but it was easier said than done.

She had taken time but eventually she had put herself together and stood up once again. Everyday bit by bit she was transforming back to being chirpy and joyful. The whole family was noticing this change. Dr Tripathi was happy to see his Neha back. Neha was happy too!

She had stepped out of the house for the first time in two months. Her son wanted to visit the park and she had readily agreed. So off went the mom and son duo! She was happily listening to the chatter of the little man about how he was going climb the slide and sway on the swing and run around the park. Just when they reached the park, the commotion caught her attention. She asked a passer by if he knew what it was about and he said some guy had passed out. She quickly called up Dr Tripathi to have an ambulance sent to the park and also appoint an assistant to handle the case.

She briskly walked towards the crowd and held her little boy tightly by his hand.

“Please.. everyone please move aside. Make way. Please do not crowd. I have called for an ambulance. My husband is a doctor and I will take him to the hospital.”

As crowd started dispersing, Neha was shocked to see who that guy was. Her face lost colour.

“Rishhhiìii…” a shriek escaped Neha’s mouth and in a fraction of a second she drowned into the sea of emotions. Exactly the same emotions she had felt when she had seen him in Dr Tripathi’s office. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She was lost. She wanted to hug Rishi and tell him that he was going to be fine. She couldn’t lose him, not again!

At that very moment, her little boy started howling. He was afraid of the crowd and all that was happening around. His loud cry brought Neha back to senses. She cursed herself for what she was thinking a few moments ago. How could she? She had promised Shraddha ji that she wouldn’t do anything like this ever. And most importantly, she would not trade her loving son and caring husband for anything in the world, or that’s what she told herself to believe in.

While Neha tried to calm down her son, an ambulance with a shrill siren raced towards them. Poor little boy got scared even more

“… dont cry baby… dont cry… mamma is with you sweety.. awww…… ” she held him close to her heart, patted his head gently and kissed his forehead. That was the moment of truth! She was sure that she didn’t love anyone more than him. Not even Rishi. Neha was now clear what she wanted from life.

The paramedics efficiently transferred Rishi to the ambulance and Neha accompanied them to the hospital. She could have gone home but she didn’t want to run away. She was going to be there and face it. Bring it on life!

Two days later when Rishi had gain consciousness fully, Neha went to the hospital to meet him. She knew that Dr Tripathi was away for a surgery at another hospital far away at the other end of the city. She had prepared Rishi’s favorite breakfast and got along with her. Her heart was racing. She was finally going to meet Rishi. She had contemplated this meeting a lot and was sure she wanted to do this. She needed a closure. Their relationship needed a closure.

 

She was standing outside his room. She took a deep breath, softly knocked on the door and stepped in.

They were standing face to face. Numb. Nobody spoke but eyes did. That was the forte of their relationship. They just knew what the other one wanted even before it was said. And it was true even now. Their chemistry was just the same in spite of all odds. The time lapse and memory game had not changed their understanding even a bit. Everything was just the same.

Finally Rishi spoke.

“Neha, I know you are trying to swim against the tide. But trust me, the shore on the other side of the sea is beautiful. Don’t stop Neha. Dont look back, keep going. It will be difficult, but it will take you to the right destination. I love you. I always will. And for that reason itself I will not pull you back. Don’t worry. Be assured that I will not spoil your life. Not even a bit. Even though I  can’t even think of spending my life with anyone but you, I set you free. And I set myself free. Free from all the strings that are attached. We must move on Neha!  Only I know how much I have prepared myself in the past 2 days for this talk. Life has given us a second chance Neha. We need to change a few things. Let’s say God has given me my memory back for a reason? And there could be no better reason than choosing what is best for you. Our love is sacred. We can’t malign it by cheating and breaking the trust placed in us. Our paths turn in opposite direction here onward. We will always love each other Neha but there is no need to prove our love to the world. We don’t need a formal relationship. Not at the cost of you losing the best husband, family and their love. Dont you also feel the same Neha?”

Neha didn’t know what to react. The lump in her throat had almost choked her. She wondered how this man could read her mind even today and how he can sacrifice anything in this world for her well being. Even though she had prepared herself for this, a part of her broke at this goodbye. It meant that she will not see Rishi again. Never ever, not at least in this life. Her heart sank. But it was needed that they part ways. Too much was at stake. She was obliged to too many people to do it. She had promised Shraddha ji that she will do it. Her husband deserved her undivided love and respect. Her son needed both his parents. Her family didn’t deserve the disgrace that will come along if she was to do otherwise. Yet, Rishi was a part of her too. She gently asked,

“What about you Rishi? Will you be able to live without me. I have my family at least, how will you cope?”

“Dont worry about me Neha. I will fix myself. God must have some plan for me. You should leave now Neha. My mom will be arriving here very soon. I am going to be discharged this afternoon.” Rishi turned his back to Neha and said sternly looking outside the window.

“Look at me Rishi. Look at me. We can do this in a better way. Come…. say a proper good bye. Hug me one last time” Neha said, crying and spreading her arms open. Rishi obliged.

She: “Promise me you will move on too.”

He: “I will. Promise”

She: “Promise me you won’t harm yourself.”

He: “Promise”

She: “Promise me you will pursue your career in history and become the best historian. “

He: “Promise. But I will do all this only if you promise to not check on me, ever again in life. Promise me that you will not try to find out my whereabouts. Promise me that you will be the best wife to Dr Tripathi. “

She: “Promise!”

They released the hug, wiped the tears and moved on. Hard as it may seem, they had chosen the right path. For them, love was not about being possessive or destroying lives for selfish desires. Love is all about understanding what is good for each other. Love is all about trusting each other. Love is all about respecting the boundaries. Love is a lot about sacrificing. Love is only about love, not about cheating, snatching or destroying.

Destiny had played brutal game with them but they played along well. The game isn’t over yet. They have now graduated to level two of Memory Game. The game of cherishing the memories and making new ones!

 

20 years later:

“Mom..mom… see this…” Neeraj was jumping with joy with a letter in his hand.

“What is it beta…?” Neha asked lovingly.

“Mom.. this is the letter of confirmation that the great historian Mr Sourab Das has accepted my application. He is going to be my PhD guide!”

Neha took the letter from Neersj and read it several times. She caressed the signature which said “Mr. Sourabh Das” and muttered “Thank you, thank you for everything ” A few tears escaped her eyes.

“What mom, you are crying!?” Exclaimed Neeraj

“Nothing beta. You won’t understand. Call them happy tears.”

 

 

 

Love is an integral part of life. Love is everywhere around us. But we need to nurture it. Do not contaminate it with negative emotions. Do not let it intimidate your thought process and decision making ability though. Love is always beautiful. Its up to us to not make it look ugly.

MEMORY GAME – I

“Hi Shikha, is the Dr busy?”

“No Ma’am, he is waiting for you.”

Neha thanked Shikha and swiftly walked down the small aisle that led her to the office of her husband, Dr Rajan Tripathi. Clad in a chiffon saree, sindoor adorning her hair partition, delicate gold bangles in her hands, the anklet bells clicked softly as she walked. Neha was a gorgeous woman in her early thirties and a perfect life partner for Dr Tripathi.

While Dr Tripathi was very much like any other doctor – busy with patients and hospital all the time, Neha was very much like any other homemaker – perfectly managing all the needs of Dr Tripathi and taking good care of the entire household. She would pack a freshly cooked meal everyday and take it to Dr Tripathi herself because she was well aware of his love for piping hot and fresh meal. Also, it was this one hour in the day that was their “WE TIME”. No one was allowed to disturb them except extreme medical emergencies which was a rare occasion. Shikha had strict orders from Dr Tripathi that no phone calls should be transferred to him and no patients should be allowed to see him during the lunch time. Barring this one hour, Neha and Dr Tripathi barely got any time together, thanks to the profession of Dr Tripathi that kept him busy and the big family that kept Neha busy.

Life was beautiful. Love, prosperity, a supportive family and a cute little son. What else one could ask for? Neha thanked almighty every single day for sending Dr Tripathi in her life. The 6 year-old saga of a typical arranged marriage, the hesitation of starting a life with a stranger and healing a broken heart at the same time was long forgotten now. The present was just perfect.

“Hey Neha… come, come fast. I am very hungry. Have been waiting for you for so long. Gotta tell you something. Remember I had told you about one of my patients…?… He is getting a discharged today… ” Dr Tripathi said in one breath as soon as he saw Neha.

“Come on doctor, you talk only about your patients the whole day and I am sorry I do not remember who you are talking about because I don’t care!”, pat came the reply from Neha who was disappointed to hear about his patients even during the lunch time. And anyway, how did it matter because, as always, all that Dr Tripathi would talk about is how he operated a patient, how this happened, how that happened . . . blah blah blah!

“Oh Neha, you don’t know how happy I am today! I know you don’t want to listen but please listen any way! You remember, the other day I was telling you about the patient who revived from coma after 3 years? All his reports came out normal, we had kept him under observation for a week and now he is getting a discharge today. Isn’t that great? I am going to miss him, you know! 3 years… can you imagine, 3 years… every single day I would visit him even though my assistants would do the checkups, I would talk to him, pat his hand and ask for a hi-five! You know right, that the patients in coma have a functional brain and they can comprehend what we are talking to them? God knows, if he would remember my hi-five now!” Dr Tripathi was a little bit emotional unlike his usual self. There was something special about this patient.

This patient was referred to Dr Tripathi 3 years ago when he slipped into coma. His case was complicated. He had suffered an accident a few years back and had suffered a head injury. He recovered from that but three years ago he had a brain hemorrhage followed by a partial memory loss and as his condition worsened he had slipped into coma.

“Uff… enough of your patients stories. Have your food now…” uttered Neha bitterly to cut the thought process of Dr Tripathi. She quickly moved to the side table to set the lunch for him. As she got busy in arranging the spread for lunch, there was a soft knock on the door.

“Oh no, doctor! Don’t tell me you have invited any doctor for lunch. You should have told me before, I would have cooked a better menu and some sweet too!” Said Neha and frowned at Dr Tripathi.

“Relax Neha, this must be the same patient I was talking about. I had asked him to drop by before he leaves…. come in come in….”

Neha rolled her eyes and didn’t bother to turn around to greet the patient. She had already started disliking him for hijacking their lunch time.

“Thank you doctor. I gather it was you who treated me for all these years. Thank you so much! ” said a familiar voice. Neha was surprised to hear this strangely familiar voice. She tried hard to recollect where and when she had heard this voice before.

“Not at all. It was my duty. Take good care of yourself. Follow the schedule of medicines and some tests that I have prescribed to you and even though I would like to see you again, I hope you never need to see me, not at least as a doctor! Okay then, bye! Hope your family has come to pick you up. Will you be staying with them now?

There was a moment of silence.

The patient cleared his throat said… “Well, I don’t know! I don’t remember my family. But the sister said that the lady who keeps visiting every day is my mother and she has come to pick me up. I am not sure if that’s the truth. But there is very little that I can do. That lady has all the legal documents and photographs that prove our relationship. By the way doctor, did Neha come to see me? I have been asking everyone about this since last one week and nobody seems to know…..

Finally, Neha could recollect whose voice was this. She turned around in a lightning speed . She couldn’t believe she was seeing him alive! Her world had come crashing down. She failed to understand why was she told that he had died in a road accident. For all seven years she believed him to be dead and here he was, standing in front of her in the form of flesh and blood. Was destiny playing a joke?

When she had thought that she had finally put her past behind and that life is just perfect, and here he was. And in what condition? Partial memory loss? He didn’t remember his family but he remembered her? Did he still love her? Did she still love him? The plate fell down from Neha’s hands and both the men at once came rushing to her…

HAD IT NOT BEEN SAME? – V

2 years later:

Rhea… Rhea… come fast I am dialing in. I can’t wait to talk to Mano and Satya” called out Murli from the bedroom.
Coming Murli, just 2 mins.” Responded Rhea from the kitchen.
All the confusion of same initials leading bitter sweet experiences eventually paved way to a great friendship between the two families. It was their weekly ritual to video call each other every Saturday.
A lot had happened in the two years that went by. Mano and Satya had played a role of catalyst in the life of Murli and changed it for good.
If it wasn’t for Satya to send Rhea to the right house and then check on Murli out of concern about what was the whole fight about, Murli would have never been hitched to Rhea. The casual but persistent leg pulling of why Rhea was looking for him and pairing them and constant teasers by Satya and Mano had finally made both of them fall in love. And now they were a newly married couple drowned in love. Rhea had filled Murli’s black and white life with beautiful colours and Murli gave her the much needed love. Rhea would always say that she shall always be indebted to Satya and Mano for thinking of this alliance. That’s how a life policy seller a life maker of this man called Murli.
In the mean time, an onsite project was assigned to Mano and hence they had to move to Germany for 3 years. Nevertheless, distance didn’t matter their friendship with Murli and Rhea. They would be in touch regularly and video call every week.
Hìiiiiiiiiiiiii…. ” shrieked Satya as soon as the video call started.
Hellloòooooo…” responded Rhea with equal enthusiasm and joy while both the M Swamys’ greeted each other with their usual “what’s up bro” kindda question.
You look very excited Satya! What’s the matter?” Murli asked
How can I not be excited Murli?? There is something that we want to share with you” Satya chuckled
Wait, let me guess… are you guys moving back to India?” Rhea chipped in.
Arre no… two more years for that ya… but there is something big happening before that.” Mano clarified.
What is it now tell fast, we can’t wait.” Said Rhea impatiently.
Well…. we are expecting a baby. We had our first ultrasound today and we heard the heartbeats.” Said Satya somewhat shyly.
Whatttttt, that’s the best news!!! Congratulations guys…wow! We are going to have a junior Swamy!” Exclaimed Rhea and Murli in unison.
But guys, we want a promise from you…” said Mano with a straight face.
Don’t worry bro, this stays between us. We won’t discuss it with anyone else. Tell me, what is it?” Murli assured and Satya and Rhea were listening intently.
Promise us guys… that when you have a baby, you won’t name him or her with the same initials as that of our baby!” Mano broke into laughter while saying this and so did all others.
Later in the night:
Murli, did you see how happy Satya was?”
Yes, of course Rhea. A baby does that to all isn’t it?
Right Murli, but this is different. Satya will be the best mother in the world. I remember she telling me about how difficult it was to grow up in an orphanage and not know about parents and not get a love from mother. That time she had mentioned that she will love her child a lot, give him or her the best of everything, everything that she never got but craved for.” Rhea recounted the episode a little emotionally.
Oh Murli, I forgot to tell you.” Rhea came out from the emotional episode and jumped to her senses. She quickly opened the drawer of the writing table and handed over a letter to Murli.
Murli, see this. I got this yesterday in our mailbox. Doesn’t look like a normal correspondence. Sorry, I forgot to give it to you yesterday.
Ah.. show me what is it” Murli took the letter from Rhea in a jiffy and tore the envelope carefully to pull out a sheet of paper.
The expression on Murli’s face changed as he progressed to read the letter. Clearly, there was something to worry about.