A SNOWFLAKE’S TALE – PART VII

Renuka was still teasing Arijit about the morning’s incident. Arijit was also taking it sportingly.

He said, “You know, one good thing happened in this whole melee Sia smiled a bit for the first time since she came here.

That’s great!” said Mrs Shaw.

Looks like she is finally adjusting here. You know the kids had started calling her ‘The Weird One’. She used to sit in a corner and talk to her imaginary Mom.

She talks only to Aarav. Yesterday she asked Aarav whether he too is playing hide and seek with his Mom. A strange question don’t you think?

Give her some time dear. She will be fine. She has such a cute innocent face I feel an emotional connection with her already.” Reassured Arijt.

In the night, when Sia was lying on the bed she was talking to her mom and telling her about what happened with her the whole day. “Rohan is such a baby. He is scared of lizards. He turned the whole house topsy turvy today when he saw a lizard. Every body was running around and Mr Shaw was also running. Do you think Mr Shaw is also scared of lizards? Tell me Mom? Tell me, are grownups also scared?

Mumma is everyone here playing Hide and Seek? I don’t want to play this anymore. I want you back. I don’t want the gift. But please Mumma come and stay here with me. You will like Mrs. Shaw, she is a nice lady. You can help her in her work.” Sia was missing her mom terribly. She craved for the bed time stories, the games and the food her mom made for her. People here in the orphanage were very nice to her, there were toys to play and food to eat. But still it felt incomplete. She fell asleep as she was conversing to herself.

Meanwhile Meera was still trying to comprehend what was happening to her. Things were moving a bit too fast for her to cope. She was taken into a medical room and blood samples were taken and lot of tests were done. She didn’t have the energy to protest. She was given food and then sent to a room. The bed was comfortable. It was only after she lay down on the bed, that her mind started whirring with multiple questions. “Did they really want her to rent out her womb? But Why will I do that?” Panic was setting in. “What will happen to Sia? How can I stay here? No, I need to get to my daughter as quickly as I can.” She tried to run but the door was locked. She was a prisoner here. Horror stuck Meera as she realised that she had jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

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KEEP LEARNING

Another year coming to an end. 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes or 31536000 seconds coming to an end. I am not the kind of person who will look back and try to introspect on the year gone by. I usually look ahead with excitement towards the coming year.

But this year has been different. There has been a lot which was different this year and it has taught me a lot of things. So today I feel qualified to write this article. There are two major lessons I learnt this year. Actually, it’s not some new age gyan I stumbled upon. We all know these things, we just tend to conveniently neglect it or forget it.  

Be Grateful: One lesson I learnt in the year gone by is not to take things for granted. Be happy and thankful for what you have. However boring or straightforward your life may seem, there are many blessings in your life. Value them and be grateful for them. You never know when they will go away and then we will realise their importance in our life.

Be ready to Evolve: Or in other words don’t be complacent. I made that mistake. After marriage, kids and family life happened I got myself so involved in these things that I didn’t work on myself.  Keep evolving. Keep learning. Try to improve your qualifications or maybe just learn a new skill or hone an old hobby. Basically, keep adding to your personality. You never know when these skills come in handy.

Life will always throw a googly at you at the most unexpected time it helps to be grateful for what you have and be prepared for what is going to come.

ORGANIZED WORKING HOMEMAKER

I was a working professional earlier but 10 years ago due to personal reasons I quit and became a full-time homemaker. Last year I tried doing some work from home assignments but it didn’t work out satisfactorily. Now after a huge gap of 10 years I started working at a school.

And I tell you my confidence in myself was very low. All sorts of apprehensions were there in my mind both on the work front and the home front. And my biggest worry was “How will I manage both together? Both the fronts being equally demanding.”

Let me share whatever little I learnt.

  • Compartmentalize:

This is the first thing I learnt when I started working again. My work life and personal life are two compartments in my head. When I am at work I leave all my worries about home in the other compartment. And at home, I don’t worry about my school work, students etc because I think if you have to give your hundred per cent to something then all your thoughts should be centred on that. This has come naturally to me. As in school we teachers are away from our phones most of the time, its only after the students leave that we can use our phones so the distraction is not there. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule like if someone in the family is not well at home then you need to check on that person from time to time. Or vice versa, being a pre-primary teacher there is a lot of craft work to be done and at times I need to bring craft work home to complete. But still, I try that they remain the exceptions and not become a practice.

  • Plan Ahead:

This I tell you is the most important rule. And most difficult for me to implement. I have always been a last minute person. I could never make timetables and plans and if I made I wouldn’t be able to stick to them. But I realised the importance of this when I joined the school. Here we have weekly plans for all subject and all topics are divided so that we are able to cover them through the week. I realised how easy life becomes when you plan the whole week. Life is sorted, everyday morning we just need to check the work for the day and move ahead. Every time need not worry about the big picture. I am trying to implement this kind of planning at home also. If the menu etc is set for the week then groceries can be bought at one go during the weekend and last minute rushing to the supermarket can be avoided. Saves a lot of time and headaches. This project of mine is still work in progress but I have met a few homemakers who plan menus etc in advance and it really works for them.

  • Build a support system

If you are a working professional and have children at home you need a support system. I have two teenaged kids ideally they should have been pretty independent by now. But maybe me being at home has made them quiet dependent on me. Now I am working on making them responsible for their own work as I am not always around to help them. I am blessed to have my parents-in-laws staying with me who help in making my house run like clockwork even in my absence. Your husband, other members of your family, your friends and your maid they are all part of your support system. Build a strong connection with them. A strong support system is very necessary for a worry-free work life.

I am sure all the other working mothers would be able to add a lot more to my list I am still learning and discovering new rules of being a working homemaker. It is tough at times but still at the end of the day makes me feel satisfied that I am known by my name also not only as mother of so and so or wife of so and so.

HELLO MR WORM

Earworm… Sounds like a pretty disgusting word. At least to me. As I have confessed in one of my previous articles I have a phobia of all things that crawl – snake, worms etc. So the first time I read this word I didn’t like it. So why am I writing about it? The reason is that when I googled the meaning of this word I realised that I deal with this earworm almost every day.

Google says earworm means a catchy song or tune that runs continually through someone’s mind. Phrases used to describe an earworm include “musical imagery repetition“, “involuntary musical imagery“, and “stuck song syndrome“.

Well, I don’t agree with this one at all. I think there is an actual worm inside me which makes itself comfortable somewhere behind my ear and keeps singing tunelessly all the time. I am going to call him Mr Worm henceforth.

So Mr. Worm loves singing. He doesn’t have much taste in music though, he can sing almost anything. Like there are days when Mr worm develops a liking for some advertisement jingle that I heard on TV. So here I am sitting in my yoga pose trying to concentrate and Mr. Worm goes “Washing Powder Nirma… Nirma… doodh si safedi Nirma se aaye.. ….” over and over again. It’s hard to shut him up or ignore him when he is really in the mood. So there goes my meditation time trying to fight Mr. Worm.

And to top it all my mouth at times decides to sing along with Mr. Worm. So my maid looks at me weirdly when suddenly I start singing one line of a song over and over again. Because I know just one line of the song and my mouth and Mr worm are singing in chorus.

The other day, my whole family is sitting together in one room kids are doing their homework, my hubby is busy with his first love (his laptop, that’s another story we will discuss some other day). And I am checking out the latest happenings in the world through WhatsApp. Suddenly Mr Worm develops a liking for a raunchy vulgar song which I had heard in the market that day. So off goes Mr Worm “Beedi jalayle Nazar se piya jigar ma badi aag hai..” Before I realise my mouth has joined the chorus. Three pairs of eyes look at me at once. My kids are laughing and wondering how does Mumma know this song. And my hubby’s stern eyes trying to ask me why am I singing such songs in the presence of kids. I somehow stop my mouth by Mr worm keeps going on and on, which thankfully only I can hear.

I have recently started teaching in Pre-Primary classes (another skill I am trying to pick up). Mr Worm I am sure is very delighted. So many new jingles have been added to his playlist.

Imagine this scenario I am cooking and Mr Worm is merrily singing “Row row row a boat gently down the stream… Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream..” Its nice an peppy for first few times but then it starts to be a pain.

Then there is another one of his favourites “Wheels on the bus go round and round .. round and round..” So its Sunday morning I am cleaning and the wheels are going round and round. Then I am watering the plants and he is still going on “Horn on the bus goes beep beep beep..” Again I am in the kitchen making breakfast and “People on the bus go up and down up and down“. Its afternoon and he is not tired yet “Babies on the bus go waah waah waah..” I keep telling Mr. Worm to shut up. Haven’t I heard it enough already in the school why are you torturing me again. But he only says “Driver on the bus says Move on back, Move on back, Move on the back..” Eventually, it ends up with me having a slight headache.

But don’t worry I am smart I have found a way to tame the dragon, in this case, Mr. Worm. I have realised that he takes over when I am not really into the work I am doing especially when I am working without applying much thought to it like an Autopilot Mode in an aeroplane. So first thing is don’t let your mind be idle for long. And even when Mr worm starts singing make a conscious effort to change your thoughts to something else which is interesting or start a work where you really have to concentrate. And Mr Worm won’t get a chance to hog the stage.

Bye bye, Mr Worm you are fun at times but I won’t let you take complete control from now on. Friends this works for negative thoughts also. Once we realise that our thoughts are spiralling down into the negative abyss take control and consciously change the channel. Take up some work that you enjoy and one which takes complete control of your brain like reading a novel or making a complicated dish in the kitchen etc.

Hope it helps. Do share your experiences with Mr. Worm.

I AM RAISING TEENAGERS… WHAT’S YOUR SUPER POWER??

Parenting is not an easy task.  I think most of the parents will agree with me. If you start taking it seriously and think, there is a huge load of responsibility on your head. Right from worrying about whether he is eating right, sleeping enough, growth is at par with his peers, studies enough, plays enough, his marks, his position in class, his manners, whether he is doing enough extracurricular activities, what is he watching on internet, what kind of company he has, etc etc. Believe me during the last 10-15 years I have stressed on and worried about all of these things and more.

But one thing which worries me above all is whether I am raising good human beings or not. Whether I am passing on the right values to my kids or not.

The kids these days have a lot more exposure than what we had during our times. There are hundreds of distractions – TV, Computer, Mobile, Internet, Social Media. They are gathering information from many sources and not all of them are good. So it becomes very imperative for the family especially the mother to inculcate values in the child. These family values stick in the mind of the kids and shield them and guide them even when parents are not around. I just hope to God that I am able to give them this protection.

I have been acquainted with the mothers of almost all the friends of my kids. And all of them represent a different kind of parenting. Some are strict, some are not so strict, some believe in being friends with their children and others believe in smothering them with their love.

I myself have always tried to find a balance on how much to control and how much freedom to give. My kiddos are teenagers now. They are slowly finding their wings and are always probing for more freedom. Staying in a joint family there is a huge generation gap between the thought process of the grandparents and the grandchildren. If the children go out with their friends the grandparents worry about their safety, if they spend too much time on the internet they object, if the child is eating too much junk they point out the ill effects of this kind of food. And the kids think Dadi and  Dadu are being a spoilsport. So I get the role of a referee who allows a little bit of everything and at the same time ensures that the children don’t go overboard and also ensure that the children learn to listen and don’t disrespect their grandparents. Believe me, it’s not an easy task to keep them all happy.

We all love our children a lot and trust them but then we can’t be blind to their faults also. I have an acquaintance  who loves her kids so much that she can’t hear any negative comments about her children. My son came and told me once that he heard her child bragging that he had picked up a chocolate from the super market and walked out without paying and no one caught him. This coming from a 10 year old was shocking. But I still didn’t have the courage to go up to the mother and tell her about this as I was sure she would not agree and fight with me and call my child a liar for spreading such rumours about her son. I sat my son down and explained how wrong this was and what could be the consequences. But that mother missed out on giving a major life lesson to her child. So love your child and trust him but don’t be blind, keep a reality check. Kids learn emotional manipulation at a very early age be aware when you are being manipulated. When I was assigned this topic, Chiradeep had shared a video of an exactly opposite scenario. Sharing it here.

 

My major worry about my children is that they should learn to respect the other gender. As they don’t have any sister they are not actually growing up with a girl to sensitise them towards their requirements. I keep insisting that even if the girls in their class are friends they need to respect girls. They simply can’t make fun of them or tease them. My boys, on the other hand, think that the whole world around them including their teachers and parents are biased towards the girl child and that girls get special treatment everywhere. So we keep having never-ending arguments on this topic. I just hope to God that I am able to inculcate this value in them and they know how to treat a girl with respect by the time they are old enough to understand the differences.

On the same note, there is another fight I keep having in the household. Being a typical Punjabi house there are fixed ideas of what is the work of a girl and a boy. Even though my husband doesn’t cook much I have been trying to get my boys involved in cooking and other household work. And I can proudly say that my younger one likes it so much now that he plans to take up “Cookery” as his optional subject in school next year. People find it weird. I have heard comments like “Why not Computers why cookery?” I just say let him do what he likes.

I am sure you also must have come up with a different set of challenges in your parenting tenure. I would love to hear about it in the comments section. We all learn from each other’s experiences.

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – XIII

He was always a tough act to follow. Everyone knew me as younger bro of the superhero. He could move mountains and fly in the air. I had no special qualities. I had no value of my own. People wanted to make me their friend only get close to him. No one loved me… Even Ma and Pa… He was the apple of their eye. I was there only as the audience to applaud when he scored. The sidekick, the extra man. I just hated him… I really HATED him” shouted Prateek, he crumbled down on to his knees and cried piteously. There was pin drop silence all around everyone was stunned. Suddenly the director came to his senses and cried “Cut”. Everyone applauded. The shot was taken but Prateek was still crying. Khushboo patted on his back. And Prateek realized where he was. He got up and moved to his vanity van. 

What a shot Sirji. It was so real. Even the director forgot to call out Cut. This movie is going to be a super duper hit” the assistant director was going gaga over his acting. Khushboo was also sitting in there looking intently at Prateek’s face there was a riot of emotions on his face which he was trying to suppress. She could gauge that the scene had hit a raw nerve within. And made a mental note of talking to him later about it. 

Prateek had always been a difficult person to talk to. He had a dark brooding air about him. Even though he was only a few films old in this industry he was considered a very promising actor. Especially for the serious kind of roles. Khushboo wondered if anyone knew anything about his personal life.

Oblivious to all the hullabaloo around him Prateek got up to leave. His thoughts went back to the fateful day when their happy family turned upside down. Saransh was just one and a half years elder to him. All his life Prateek had tried to come out of the shadow of the perfect elder bro Saransh. Where ever he went Saaransh had been there before. They went to the same school. All his teachers remembered him as the younger brother of Saransh and unknowingly kept comparing him to his elder brother. Saransh was better at studies, he played tennis better. He was more popular with friends. Heck, he even danced better than Prateek. “I was good at nothing and he was good at everything.” This feeling of unworthiness was brewing inside Prateek and made him extra competitive with Saransh.

On that fateful day, Saransh was so happy. Looking at him smiling and so eager to get the pat on the back from mom and dad. A fierce anger began to rise inside Prateek. He wanted to wipe off that smug look from his face. He wanted to hurt him. And he did.

Rest as they say is history. After Saransh disappeared his parents were so distraught and spent all their waking hours searching for him, worrying about him. Palak took over the complete responsibility of the household. Dhara was still a child and Prateek was ignored by everyone. He knew that everyone blamed him for what had happened even though they didn’t say much. After a year of staying in this oppressive atmosphere, he took the first available opportunity out and came to Mumbai with a friend.

Yes, he was full of anger then. The guilt came later. After living on his own he realised the value of his family. He missed there love and concern. After his fair share of struggle, he got little recognition as an actor. For the first time he felt that he was good at something, he too had talent… And when he won a small award for his role in a short film he wanted to share his happiness with someone. Show his small trophy. Oh, how he yearned for a pat on his back by Ma. It was then he realised what Saransh wanted that day. Just a smile and a pat on his back. He was just wanting to share his happiness with his family. Prateek realised then how he had single-handedly destroyed his happy family.

Prateek wanted to say sorry to Saransh and make things better again but he could never muster the courage to face his parents or Saransh again. “What will I Say? How will I apologise for the huge blunder I have committed. My words won’t be enough to heal the hurt I have caused. It’s better that I stay away from them. Hope they just forget about me.

Next day morning when Raman came to Dr Lal’s home, he was pleasantly surprised. Dr Lal had a smile on his face. And Mrs Lal was talking excitedly. There was a festive air in the home that morning. As soon as he entered Sudha told him everything. Raman was happy and relieved. Palak and Dhara were coming home. Finally…

There was no news from Major Saransh’s unit. He called almost every day. “God! Please keep him safe. This family has found happiness after a very long time.” Raman’s thought wandered to his own parents. “Will they ever be so happy to see me?

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – IV

A shadow crossed Raman’s face. Even now remembering the past brought back the now familiar guilt and pain. He looked at the expectant face of Mrs Lal. She was looking forward to a nice chit-chat. This kind of tete-a-tete had become very uncommon in their life as they didn’t have many visitors these days.

Let’s just say “I was not there for my granny when. She needed me the most.” “What happened Raman?” Mrs Lal asked in a concerned voice. Raman went back into his past. “My parents were both successful lawyers. They were a part of a very big law firm. As they were usually busy with their careers. My childhood was spent mostly with my grandma. She was always there with me when I came back from school, when I won my first athletics trophy, when I was studying hard for my exams. I could share almost everything with her. I told her about my first crush in school. She would listen to all my stories and then gently tease me later on. We were actually friends.” Raman kept on talking oblivious to the look of sadness and understanding on the old couple’s face. It was almost as though he was talking to himself. “She was an excellent baker. Whenever I was feeling low she would make my favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies. That was my favourite smell.

Grandma was not feeling too good that day. Ma and Pa had to go out for an urgent meeting. They had specially told me to stay with Grandma as she was not feeling well.  Just as they left, my best friend called me they were giving a send-off party to one of our group mates. He was leaving for the US in a couple of days. They had planned an impromptu party for him. My teenage mind could not resist the temptation. I told granny I would be back in sometime. She too didn’t stop me. How I regret leaving her alone that day.

My parents and I got back at almost the same time. When we opened the door with my mom’s keys. Granny was lying on the floor. The phone just a few steps away from her. She had a massive fatal heart attack. She must have tried to reach the phone to call me. But I was not there with her. I was out there enjoying myself, while she must have suffered alone.” He could not continue. He looked away and wiped a tear.

Raman felt a little self-conscious. He was never comfortable talking about himself. He never spoke so much about himself. There was something very warm about this old couple and their house which made him open up.

Raman looked around, one of the walls in the living room caught his attention. The wall was covered with smiling family photos. He could recognize the younger versions of Dr. Lal and his wife. They made a very handsome couple. There were a lot of pictures of kids in their different stages of growth. He could count four different kids. One look at the wall. And you got an impression of a loving family with lots of fun, laughter and camaraderie around here. But the rest of the room had a different story to tell.

Dr Lal and Sudha Lal followed his gaze and exchanged a glance.