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AtoZ Challenge 2018LifeStyleParentingWoman Empowerment

The Oppressed Wife – AtoZChallenge

posted by Anupriya April 17, 2018 0 comments

Smita came and took her seat with a thud. Three of her team members who occupied the cubicle with her turned around to look at a hassled Smita who was visibly upset. Gaurav, her junior tried to strike a conversation with her but gave up the idea looking at her furious eyes when she turned to look at him. The air had become so heavy that Yatin, their team lead from the other side of the partition peeped from above to see what the matter was and looked around and raised his eye brows asking if anyone knew any better. Some of the team mates caught him in action and shook their head. Yatin nodded lightly closing his eyes slowly and then opening them again, with an assuring grin. He got back to work with a thought that he’d have to invite Smita for lunch today with him and his wife Anagha. As he watched Smita go about her work in her vulnerable state, he pinged Anagha requesting her to make time to have lunch with Smita and him. He gave her a heads up when his wife agreed to meet them at the food court.

Smita agreed to having lunch with Yatin, quite reluctantly though. Yatin smiled mildly, realizing that one of the perks of being the boss was that your team members could not refuse you when you asked them to have lunch with them. Especially, when the boss had invited his wife too. As Yatin and Smita headed towards the food court, he turned to look at Smita who was still distracted. He had held his patience since morning and refrained from asking the young lady about her troubles. But now it was getting a little too much to contain the issue.

‘So? Had a tiff with Sharman?’ Yatin asked in an undertone. He did not want to be over heard. And also, he did not want to sound like a nose poker.

Smita knew that a probe was impending right from the moment Yatin had asked her out for lunch. She smiled wryly at her Boss’s question. She didn’t know if she could share the real issue with him. She ran a finger across her hair and shook her head while looking up at him.  They saw Anagha waiting for them at the corner table in the food court and as they joined her Anagha stood up to give Smita a light hug.

‘A little birdie came flying to tell me that someone’s ready to blast today.’ She smiled as she led Smita to join her at the table.

Anagha and Smita ran a mutual admiration club never having a mole of complain from each other. Infact they loved each other. Anagha loved Smita for the vibrant young lady that she was. She had seen Smita bloom from a determined fresher into a fierce professional in the last half a decade. And Smita was in awe of Anagha for the balanced Human Resources professional that she was. She delightful to talk to and found reasons to be nice to people. Smita had never met anyone as empathetic as Anagha. She turned to Yatin and silently mouthed a thanks to him realizing that Anagha was exactly what she needed.

‘So am I allowed to stay, or shall I buzz off from this ladies lunch table.’ Yatin asked cheerfully.  Anagha let out a hearty laugh while Smita blushed as she shook her head. A lot of tension from the morning seemed to have already evaporated.

As the trio opened up their lunch boxes and ordered fresh juice, Smita contemplated whether she should let go and talk about what was bothering her. One look at the couple in their late 30s and all her inhibitions went away. She decided to talk.

‘It’s my mother.’ She confessed.

‘What is she upto now? Trying to making you and Sharman go to the doc to get checked-up?’ Anagha knew how Smita’s mom had set them up for an appointment to see a gynecologist when she had come a fortnight back.  She had had a hearty laugh when Yatin had narrated what Smita had told him the next day.

‘No! That matter got settled when dad arrived last week. But ever since she has been sabotaging Dad for everything and anything he says or does.’ Smita exasperated.

‘If he wants a tea in the morning, she quips at him saying why he can’t fix himself up a simple green tea. If he doesn’t she blames him for confusing her by changing his routine everyday.  If he offers to help her in the kitchen, she is sarcastic enough to let him know that he never offered any help when she really needed it when we were young. And if he lets her be deciding not to disturb her, she taunts him for not changing an ounce in all these years.’  Smita threw her hands wide displaying her confusion at her mom’s behavior.

‘There is not a minute of peace at home these days.’ Smita had asked her parents to come and be with her for this month, because it was too cold up in the north and thought that the moderate weather would be good for them. Moreover her dad had enough leaves to expend before he retired later during the year.

‘She is like a live wire 24×7. Earlier Sharman and I thought that she was upset because we refused to concede to her demand to see the doctor. But later dad confirmed that that’s how she has shaped up as a silver haired old lady. Always complaining, nagging and ready to rip you off.’ Smita breathed deeply to calm herself as Anagha and Yatin gave her all their attention.

‘And that’s the reason you decided to become a live wire today at work.’ Yatin stated as a matter of fact as sipped his orange juice.

‘That’s ok you know. Smita, I am sure you have your own touch me not days.’ Anagha created quotes with both her hands in the air. Yatin smiled slyly as he inferred what Anagha meant to say, even as Smita shook her head vigorously.

‘You ladies and your PMS. I think soon I should start a propaganda popularizing CMS – Cranky Man Syndrome. It will give us poor men a reason to be able to behave weirdly for a couple of days every month.’ Yatin said followed by a silent chuckle.

‘No it’s no PMS or menopause. She was over that thing years ago. I don’t know what’s come over her. To come to think of it more rationally, I think she has been drifting in the direction ever since my marriage. Could it be something to do with me?’ she looked at Yatin and Anagha alternately in confusion, as if a realization had just dawned upon her.

Yatin deliberated Smita’s thoughts, as he scratched his French beard. No one could guess from Yatin’s looks that he was approaching his 40s. He was a fitness freak and took keen interest in matters that interested his young team members. It helped him gel in better with them. His team also looked upto him as a manager who really understood their issues and perspective. After moments of deep thought he let out a gurgling sound, ‘Tell me something Smita? Was your mother an oppressed lady throughout her youth? As in, I mean to ask, who was the dominating entity in your parent’s marriage? Your mother? Or your father?’

Smita did not have to think even for a second for the answer, ‘It was definitely my dad. He was a perfectionist in those days. He wanted things, exactly the way he wanted them. He would take nothing but a perfect ten from us in our tests. So yes, he definitely dominated all of us. I must confess that it was quite painful to live in constant pressure of being evaluated all the time.’ There was a couple of seconds of silence as everyone processed Smita’s words. Smita’s shoulders stooped a little as she felt the burden of a stressful childhood.

‘In retrospect, I think it was ok for my dad to be difficult on us, because he wanted to ensure a secure future for us. He was constantly pushing us to be competitive. I am not sure if I would have performed equally well if this pressure was not there. But my mom took a real hit from his all round the clock stern attitude. She was always on her tenterhooks about what might upset her dad.’ Smita was talking softly. Yatin and Anagha had to really pay attention amidst the noisy food court to follow her words.

And then Yatin threw himself back on his chair, propping his crossed hands behind his head, ‘A very dear friend of mine once told me that all those husbands who have subject their wives to decades of oppression must really pull up their belts once they hit their sixties. I did not understand his words then. But I think I now get what he was getting at.’ Yatin was grinning, while the two ladies looked on at him in confusion.

‘Even we havn’t got much of your rambling Yatin. Please explain?’ Anagha tilted her face in annoyance at the web of words that Yatin had built up.

Yatin leaned forward and propped his hands on the table infront of him.

‘As you said, your mother has felt oppressed for years at your dad’s behest. And as a middle class dedicated lady of the house she took in all that attitude from your dad, because she wanted to maintain decorum in the house. A lot of it was due to your sake. I mean you and your sister’s sake. And now that you both are married and doing well for yourself, she feels that she has done her job well and now needs a break from life. And one result of letting herself unwind is this quipping nature. She just does not feel the need to put up with your dad cordially any more. You could say, it’s a kind of revenge she is taking on your dad and the world for making her life difficult all these years.’ Yatin looked on from Smita to Anagha to assess if they got his point. Smita was nodding slightly in contemplation, while Anagha shook her head refusing to comprehend what her husband was saying.

‘And what would you say about wives like me who are always hell bent upon making their husband hen-pecked all the time’ Anagha smirked at her all knowing husband as Smita and Yatin laughed out loud.

Yatin had an answer to this too, ‘Oh! All this gyan I just gave was for the previous generation of our parents. As far as husbands like me are concerned, we need to always remain on an alert. Because if we even try to oppress our tigress wives they may chose to leave any moment. And without any male chauvinistic qualms I admit that I need my wife way more than she needs me.’

And the trio dispersed on this humored but deep-rooted note.

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LifeStyleParenting

Parenthood Was Supposed To Bring Us Closer As A Couple

posted by Anupriya April 12, 2018 8 Comments

I belong to that generation which grew up in the newness of a gamut of cable TV channels offering a further gamut of programs to be watched for all age groups. Though our parents tried to the best of their abilities to monitor our TV viewing habits, there always were enough gaps (and huge ones I must say) which exposed us to a lot that wasn’t appropriate for us to watch (this I realise now only after becoming a parent myself).

Nevertheless, I reminisce about those years now with both fondness and ridicule because exposure to the high family drama and continuous colloquy between the characters led me to shape a good amount of opinions and I started perceiving matters accordingly.
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AtoZ Challenge 2018MotherhoodParentingWoman Empowerment

Jealous Mother-in-Law

posted by Anupriya April 11, 2018 4 Comments

Smita was at the end of her wits as she took a cab from the airport to her in-laws place. She was visiting her in-laws for a family wedding sans Sharman and was slightly uncomfortable at the idea of staying with her mother-in-law without her husband being around to play the medium. But on second thoughts she was also curious to know how her mom-in-law would treat her in her son’s absence.

In the past, Sharman’s mom had not been very welcoming of her son marrying a girl from outside their community. But she conceded to Sharman’s will and to the fact that Smita was in every way suitable for her son. Smita was equally qualified as her son, earned almost an equal salary in the same organization and not to forget, they made a presentable couple. Smita knew, that the old lady though was not so shallow, so as to give so much importance to looks, but she couldn’t help observing how her son and his lady love complemented each other in every aspect. She guessed that it irked her even more that her son was find such a nice girl on his own.

But Smita had found it very strange how a mother was always clinging to her son in her daughter-in-law’s presence as if to mark her territory or claim what was hers.  Smita often found it very outlandish how her mother-in-law had become so insecure once another lady became a part of her son’s life. She just could not get the logic behind the insecurity when they played two exclusive roles in a man’s life. With all these thoughts swarming her mind, Smita whooshed out a blow of air and got down the cab, bracing herself for what lay ahead of her.

‘Smita, mera bachcha how are you?’ Mrs. Patil held her daughter-in-laws head and laid a peck on her forehead, while Smita bowed down in respect, before entering the house.

Over the next two days the lady duo spent a lot of time in frenzy preparing for the oncoming wedding. They sat amidst a pool of shopping bags as they opened each and every package, unfolded the dress and placed it on their shoulder to admire the beauty of it on their bodice. Shortly Mrs. Patil became busy with re-packing their shopping and giving out instructions to the cook to prepare dishes that Smita liked. Smita observed her mother-in-law, intrigued by an absolutely different facet of her personality. In the last two days Mrs. Patil had been extremely sweet to her and gone out of her way to please Smita. She was also confused by her behavior.

Last time when Smita was at her in-laws with Sharman, she had found herself continuously on the edge. Sharman’s mom was continuously summoning her son to lend her a hand for some house chore or be all ears as she went around ranting about what other members in the family were upto. Smita was exasperated at the way her privacy was being intruded. There was absolutely no space for the couple in the house. It was always about ‘Sharman, your father wants you to do this’, or ‘Sharman, please help me putting this in the store’, or ‘Sharman, let’s go out to your favorite dinner place today’.

When Mrs. Patil was not calling out on her son, she would be busy talking to Smita,

‘You know what Smita? Sharman never went anywhere without me.’

Or

‘Smita, you must know that everyone in the family considers Sharman to be the ideal son that every mother dreams of’

Or

‘Smita, Sharman knows my taste and preferences like the back of his hand.’

At the last one, Smita had not missed the dichotomy in her tone which implied that ‘he has always had my preferences in mind, except for in your case’

Smita had felt stifled at how Mrs. Patil’s tried to absorb her son’s each and every waking minute and lay her claim on it. At one point of time, Smita had been so pissed that she had considered discussing this with Sharman, but given how much he was actually attached to his mother, she thought it better to keep mum. But the lady with whom Smita had spent the last two days was in a different avatar altogether. She was nothing like the ever fumbling, badly in need of her son mommy. Smita figured that though she definitely was a control freak, but a considerate one. She did not even once try to dominate Smita during their shopping together and instead asked for her opinion in everything. She infact was even a pleasant company. Smita was glad that she had deferred her judgment and not mentioned her reservations about Sharman’s mom to him. That night she went to bed a happy person. Also because Sharman was to arrive next day.

Little did she know that Sharman will bring along with him, the same abrasion that Smita had initially feared from her mother in law.

Next afternoon when Sharman arrived, Smita was about to run upto him to the door to receive him. Mrs. Patil, instead hurried her way past her to open the door and pull her son into her embrace. She did not leave Sharman for the next 30 minutes, as she brought him his favorite kokam sharbat, his favorite sweets and continued to talk to him about the family, the impending wedding and everything else under the roof and sun. Smita took a deep sigh and turned to retire to her room and wait for her husband inside. It was atleast another hour before Sharman showed up and called out on Smita.

Smita by then was a live wire due to pent up anger and for fear of spewing any venomous words at her husband, she just shut her eyes close and acted as if she were fast asleep. When she woke up they had no time to catch-up as Mrs. Patil  was hyperventilating on how they were going to be late for the ceremony and kept banging the door to their room, urging them to get ready quickly.

Smita had lost all enthusiasm to participate in ceremony and wanted to be left alone. She was upset about the turn around in her mother-in-laws attitude and also by her husband’s nonchalance.

Smita’s agony continued at the ceremony too. Mrs. Patil kept pulling on Sharman for every little thing, leaving Smita to the mercy of being entertained by Sharman’s cousins.

A little later into the party, when the music started playing, everyone called out for Sharman and Smita to join the dance floor. There already were many members of the family, young and old dancing to the latest bollywood hits. As Sharman took Smita’s hand and took her to the dance floor, as if on impulse Smita’s head turned to search for Mrs. Patil. Mrs. Patil’s sad yet smiling eyes, her pursed lips and a straight face tugged at Smita’s heart. She felt the weight of her piercing eyes, and she almost flinched and pulled herself out of the dance floor. She went in her mother-in-laws direction and held her by her shoulders.

‘Mom, why don’t you join us?’

Mrs. Patil turned to look at Smita in disbelief and gave way to a smile whose warmth touched Smita’s heart. The mother and couple trio held hands together and had the best dance of their life.

That night they returned home very late and retired to their rooms almost immediately. But Smita lay awake for a long time, thinking about her mother-in-law. She had a monologue with herself –

She surely loves her son way too much. But then she has single handedly brought Sharman since was 15 years. Dad, was always traveling due to his job until 3 years back when he retired. It is only logical that she is very close to her son.

But what is the need for her to be so intrusive all the time. Because she really wants to spend time with her son? May be. He has been her sole purpose to life for the longest time.

Is she jealous of me?I don’t know. But how do I figure?

Smita did not have to wait too much for the answers. Next morning, Smita woke up early and climbed up to the terrace to breathe some fresh morning air. As she ascended to the wide corner of the roof top, she saw her mother-in-law standing along the support wall with a cup of tea in her hand. As if on intuition, she turned around to see Smita who was contemplating to stay or go back to her room. Once spotted she dropped the idea of going back and with a slight smile, she went to stand by her mom-in-law’s side watching over the playground where young boys were playing cricket before going to school.

‘I can see that Sharman is very happy with you.’ These words from Mrs. Patil stunned Smita. She turned to look at her mom-in-law and tried to gauge her emotions.

‘You know what, there were times when I felt very lonely and helpless due to your dad’s absence from the household. At that time, even at the tender age of 10 years Sharman was my pillar of support. I know teenagers can be so difficult to handle, but not Sharman. Not even once in so many years, he has complained about things that I could not do for him, because I was a pseudo single mother with a chronicle ailment.’

Smita knew that Mrs. Patil suffered from asthama and bronchitis. Sharman had told her how he could never leave his mom and go for any college trips because he needed to be with his mom.

‘I had always thought that I will get Sharman married to someone of my choice, to whom I will be able to dictate how important my son was for me.’ Mrs. Patil continued, ‘Also I wanted to mold the girl to be dancing to my tunes since the beginning.’ Smita looked on without blinking at the old lady who was on the verge of tears.

‘When Sharman chose you out of his will, I was dumbfounded and spent countless nights worrying about the fact that I may get distanced from my son.’ Mrs. Patil sobbed, ‘Every time I saw Sharman walk past me to meet you or talk to you, I felt a knot in my heart.’ Her emotions gave way to her long withheld tears.

‘But last night when you held my hand and took me to the dance floor, I realized I was so wrong about you.’ Mrs. Patil took a deep breath and turned to look at Smita. Smita saw a glint of happiness in the old lady’s eyes.

‘I am glad that I raised my son well enough to desire you, deserve you and claim you to be his.’ She placed a palm on her cheek, ‘Still I must warn you that at times my menopausal hormones may lead me to act weirdly and do funny things to stake my claim on my son. But you must know that I love you like I love Sharman. Only that you do not have the years behind you.’ Smita let out a glad sigh as Mrs. PAtil giggled at what she had just said.

Smita felt alleviated of a burden off her chest.

‘I promise you I will catch up on the years very soon. And then you will love me more.’, she engulfed her mother-in-law in a bear hug before adding.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

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AtoZ Challenge 2018Kid HumorParenting

Of Houses and Inheritances – AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 10, 2018 1 Comment

It was one of those rare nights when Amrita had a humongous task of putting Nik to bed all by her own and alone. Reason? She was at her parents’ place in Chandigarh where Raghav was to join them a week later.

The first day post their arrival was very eventful. Smita was up on a mission to shop for her little sister’s wedding. Smita had insisted that she travel from Mumbai to be a part of her shopping, because she just didn’t trust her parents to agree with the latest fashion trends and the seemingly exorbitant prices of designer dresses. Amrita had objected to Smita’s skepticism, but then was rudely reminded by her younger sister that she had married some 6 years back and had hardly been an active participant for her own wedding shopping. Amrita had been working in a different city and hardly had any time to go shopping. Moreover, before her wedding, she had been one of those rare girls, who did not see the point in fretting over wedding shopping. Though now Amrita did realize that it was extremely naïve of her to think likewise. Even today she shuddered at the memory of the ladies from her in-laws side, opening up her baggage to have a look at the collection of clothes that her parents had gifted her. She had even fumbled in utter dismay, when one of the older ladies had asked her, ‘How many sets of clothes have you brought along?’

But Amrita was wiser now. And she was not going to let anyone ruin her little sister’s wedding shopping. But that’s not the story her. It had been a tiring day and Amrita realised that Nik had felt ignored the entire day. During their shopping spree, he intermittently kept throwing the ‘I want to go home’ tantrum.

Once back home, Nik realised that he had not come back to his own home; he was rather back in his Nanu’s home. Amrita observed that Nik was deep in thought, but a couple of probes did not bring him to talk his mind. Amrita did not push further and got on with her chores.

As night fell, Amrita changed Nik into his night suit and tried to calm him to sleep. She realized that Nik was still distracted. So Amrita instead of continuing the lullaby, asked him if he wanted to share what he was thinking with his Mumma.

Nik – Mumma? yeh kya humara ghar hai? (Is this our house?)

Me – Haan Beta, yeh humara ghar hai. (Yes dear, it is.)

Nick – Par yeh toh Nanu ka ghar hai? (This is Nanu’s house , isn’t it?)

Me – (in a sleepy and desparate attempt to put an end to his curiosity and questions) Haan beta Nanu ka ghar bhi humara ghar hai aur Dadaji ka ghar bhi humara ghar hai. (Yes dear Nanu’s house is also our house and Dadu’s house is also our house.)

Nick – Yeh toh Bahut achchi baat hai. Dono ghar humare ghar hain(It seems to be a good idead that both the houses our indeed ours.)

Amrita replied in affirmative without giving much thought to the conversation. The rest of the trip went off smoothly while they shopped for Smita and her parents. Raghav joined them a week later and got his task list for the wedding ticked off.

A couple of weeks after they had returned from Chandigarh, while Amrita was busy in the kitchen preparing dinner for Nik, she overheard her son’s conversation with his grandmother.

Nik: Dadi, you know what, I have two houses.

Nik’s grandmother raised her eyebrows and asked him to explain.

Nik: Look, grandfather’s house is my house. And Nanu’s house is also my house. So I have two houses.

My mother-in-law probably took his observation in good spirit and carried on with the conversation.

‘But that’s true with everyone. Everybody has two grandfathers and thus has two houses.’

Nik took a moment’s pause. He was probably gathering his thoughts. What he said next sent Amrita running towards the grandmother-grandson duo in a haste while she wished that a hole come on my way and she be swallowed by it.

‘No it’s different you know. In this house I have my cousin Kriti, so it’s a shared house. But in Chandigarh, I am the only one. So I am the sole person who has that house.

Amrita stood wondering how her almost 3 year had actually perceived the entire scenario and come up with his inferences and conclusions, when no one else had ever discussed similar things in his presence. She thought how awfully perceptive kids are and failed to understand how they process data to form their own little world of information.

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AtoZ Challenge 2018MotherhoodParenting

An Embarrassed Parent ? AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 5, 2018 0 comments

Amrita shoved Nik into the back seat of the car and herself got into the passenger seat in the front. She reclined the seat some more to make space for her bump that was still a good 6 weeks from the due date. Sensing the hassle that Amrita was in, Raghav turned the AC regulator to increase the cooling and pulled out a bottle of water from his door-side pocket holding it in Amrita’s direction. As he turned on the ignition, he caught a glimpse of his son who was sitting all glum and tight lipped.

‘Thanks for this lift. Though I was about to book a cab.’ Amrita said with a sense of relieve after gulping down some water.

‘Oh! I was out for a meeting with a client and thought of just checking with you. It so happened that the timing matched and I reached here just in time to pick you up for a ride. But where are your shopping bags? You said you were out at the food mart to buy stuff for the home?’ Raghav enquired as he drove cautiously through the evening traffic that was bustling in an urgency of the masses to return to their home.

‘I booked for their home delivery service. It’ll reach home by tomorrow.’ As Amrita said this she turned in her seat to glare at her son and looked ahead again, resting her head on the head-rest of the seat.

Sensing some tension between the mother-son duo, Raghav tried to remain cheerful through the remaining of the journey back home. On the way, he stopped over at the new food joint that claimed to serve the best waffles in town. This break seemed to lighten Amrita’s mood and helped turn Nik a bit more cheerful, though everytime he looked at Amrita he was visibly grudging.  Raghav took note of this and decided to take it up later with Amrita.

Later that night, once Nik had been put to sleep and the couple were preparing to retire to bed themselves, Raghav broached up the topic,

‘So happened at the food mart today? You looked completely hassled and Nik too was out of his elements. I could clearly make out that something had transpired between you two.’ Raghav said, raising his hand and resting his head on it.

Amrita tried to find her extra cushions to support her bulging tummy and lied down facing Raghav.

‘Tell me one thing! Why do these people at the retail marts place all kinds of chocolates and mints and candies, just near their payment counters?’ Amrita was exasperated.

Raghav raised his chin in contemplation, ‘That’s because they want to cash in on that one trait of their visitors which will make them pick up things on impulsive while they wait for their turn at the cash counters.’ With a big nod of his head he turned to look at Amrita, ‘You get it, right?’

Amrita landed a blow with her fist on Raghav’s shoulder, ‘Thanks for reminding. But no thanks. Remember, I too passed out from the same MBA batch along with you. I know all this marketing strategy shit. But my problem is, it’s just so unfair to the parents.’ Amrita was so agitated that she wanted to sit upright, but it had taken her so much effort to adjust herself in a comfortable lying position that she dropped the idea,

‘Today Nik created such a scene at the mart. He wanted that useless candy pack that contains a peanut size chocolate and a mini toy. I refused to buy him that over priced thing and he threw a tantrum. Oh God! Everyone was looking at us.’ Raghav saw the horror that Amrita had felt at the mart, in her tone and her wide eyes.

‘Some were looking at Nik, thinking what a brat he was. And there were others who gave him a sympathetic look and saw me with contempt. As if telling me ‘why don’t to buy it for him? It’s just 40 bucks’. I mean it was a terror to pay the bill and walk out in a haste, pulling on a howling 5 year old’s hands.’

Raghav wore a smug expression as he adjusted his pillow to turn sideways.

‘Amrita, do you remember the KYC seminar we attended at Nik’s school around 3-4 months back?’

‘KYC? Oh yes, the Know Your Child workshop. But what’s that got to do with all that happened at….’ Amrita bit her tongue before she could complete her sentence and looked apologetically at Raghav.

Raghav shrugged and rolled his eyes, ‘So much for attending a 2 hour workshop with one of the best child psychologists in the country. No cheer up and go to sleep.’  Raghav straightened his back and turned the other way signaling that he was switching off his battery.

Amrita lay wide awake thinking about what Raghav had just reminded her.

Mr. Ramanath Murthy, the chief secy of the SSI group of schools. It was in one of the city branch of the same group where Nik studied. Mr. Murthy was a renowned child psychologist, counselor and educator. Every year he conducted a workshop by the name ‘Know Your Child’ where he helped the parents identify issues they faced at home while dealing with their kids and discussed the same in detail. He had a unique style of analyzing the problems raised by parents and provided unbeatable anecdotes that brought out an unfathomable perspective to the entire thing.

In the last workshop that Amrita and Raghav had attended together, this very issue about kids throwing tantrums in malls and shopping marts was broached up by a parent. Amrita still remembered the entire conversation verbatim

Parent: I really get embarrassed when my son throws a tantrum in the middle of a shopping complex. I do not want to give in to his demands and neither do I want to create a scene on the spot.

Mr. Murthy: How many parents face the same problem?

Almost 80% of the parents present raised their hands.

Mr. Murthy: That means it really is not the child’s problem. It is a behavioral characteristic.

Loud murmurs

Another Parent: But it really is very embarrassing!

Mr. Murthy: Let me tell you a story. As a young professional I had to travel a lot. In those days most travelling happened by train. Invariably there would be toddlers in one of the compartments in the boogie and they created immense raucous to keep light sleepers like me awake all night. I have to confess that I would swear under my breadth to those parents who could not manage their kids.

Around 10 years later when I was taking my first flight with my 2 year old daughter, I had the worst nightmare of my life. My toddler was a restless bag of springs, and just would not stop running around and wail if we tried to constrict her. I still remember the “embarrassment” I felt for having to travel with such uncontrollable child. There was this old gentleman who had been watching me getting hassled over my daughter. He walked upto me and gave me a benign smile. What he said next with a wink, has stuck with me till date. He said that,

‘You have an adorable daughter. She will give you enough memories to recall when you will be an old man like me. Do not fret over the mess that she seems to be creating. People who have had kids, completely empathize with you. And the younger lot will understand, when the time comes for them to travel with their tods, like you are today. It just doesn’t matter. Look at her and savor her valor.’

With a pat on my shoulder he went back to join his family.

With all the worry creases eliminated, Amrita took a deep breath and went off to sleep.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

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AtoZ Challenge 2018MotherhoodParenting

Death – AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 4, 2018 6 Comments

Amrita put Nik in the car and took the driver seat herself.

‘Don’t fidget with the seat belt Nik. If you don’t put it on, Police uncle will come and take us to the jail.’ Amrita screeched at her son and then sighed at the futility of her own words. At 4 years, Nik really did not understand the gravity of ‘Police uncle’ and ‘Jail’. She turned the car keys to ignite the engine and raced off across the street to drop Nik to his skating classes.

Amrita was 8 months pregnant now and was struggling while driving. Her bump did not allow her to sit upright to have a clear view of the front bonnet of the car. She had to recline in her seat a little more than she was comfortable with as a driver. It was just that years of driving on the road had refined her traffic judgment and she was able to ply safely on the road. Besides, she loved driving.

She was disturbed by Nik’s squeal and abruptly applied the break, cautious enough to not ram her bump into the steering.

‘What happened baby?’Amrita plied the car on the left before coming to halt.

‘Mamma! There was a cat infront of the car. I feared it might get hurt.’ Nik’s innocent concern left Amrita smiling.

‘Oh! I am sure it’s ok. These street cats and dogs have a way of remaining safe on the road. They are experts at that.’ Amrita turned on the car to resume her drive.

And then a fear engulfed her. Had the cat died, what would she tell Nik? Nik did not yet know what words like ‘dead’ and ‘death’ meant, or atlest she thought so.

As Amrita dropped Nik to his activity class, more lines of worry appeared on her forehead. How was she going to manage the situation in her house next week?

Raghav’s first cousin Mita had passed away of lung cancer at a rather young age of 40 years, leaving behind her husband and two sons aged 12 years and 3 years. The entire family had been devastated. They all found it difficult to cope with their favorite cousin. Though Amrita empathized with the loss that Mita’s husband Deven had suffered her heart went out more for the kids. Especially for young Vansh. He had hardly spent any time with his mom since his birth. Mita’s cancer had been detected right after his birth and had since been struggling with the harsh treatment that the disease called for. Little Vansh was only aware of a person called mom in the house who was mostly ill and hardly had any opportunity to experience the joys of childhood with his mother. And now Mita was gone, forever.

Amrita tried to keep stress at bay by avoiding thinking too much about Deven and the boys. But her worries ran deeper. An element of this tragedy was about to touch her own life. They had invited Deven and the boys to visit them so as to ebb out the awkwardness that Deven felt since Mita’s demise.  Next week Deven would be here with the boys and stay with them for 2 days. Amrita’s fear was what or how would Nik react to Mita’s absence.

No! Nik obviously was too young to be attached to Mita, but he was very likely to be curious by absence of Vansh’s mom.

How was she ever going to explain to her 4 year old that Vansh’s mother wasn’t with us for good! Her fears got confirmed later that week when Nik came up hopping to her,

‘Mom! Grandmother says that my cousin Vansh is coming to our home next week. Is it true?’ Amrita nodded kindly.

‘Will Vansh come with his mom and dad? Because I hear that he is even younger than I am.’ Something tugged at Amrita’s heart as she pondered for an appropriate reply.

‘Tell me mom! Which room will Vansh stay in with his mom and dad?’ Nik nudged further.

Amrita held Nik by his shoulders and engulfed him into a bear hug. She then made him sit by her side, her arms still around him,

‘Baby! It’s true that Vansh is coming to stay with us next week. But he is coming with his father and elder brother. Remember Gora bhaiya? You met him on our last visit to Jaipur? Vansh’s mamaa was not well, she is in the hospital for treatment. So she is not coming with them.’ Nik heard Amrita’s words with a lot of concentration and nodded as if on cue.

With a heavy heart, Amrita continued, ‘Baby! Vansh might miss his mother. So you must not ask him anything about her.’ Her hold tightened a bit around Nik’s shoulder. She was very skeptical about the effect of her words on a tender 4 year old mind. By now Nik was really distracted by the noises of kids playing right outside their home and nodded absent mindedly before running out to see big boys play gully cricket.

Next week when Deven arrived with the boys, Amrita and family welcome them with warm hearts. They tried to make their stay as normal as it could be for everyone. It was quite evident that everyone was missing that one person who had bound them in the past and now the common grief of her absence put them together. Amrita kept her fingers crossed for Nik to not make true her worst fears. He was extremely friendly towards Vansh, but never once did he check with anyone on where Vansh’s Mamma was.

Two days later when the guests left, Amrita took a sigh of relief. She dreaded the moment when she would have to tell her little boy about what death or dying meant. For now she had managed to keep the question from surfacing,  but she wondered for how long would it be before she would have to face the demons of parenting.  And as she feared, the moment came very soon.

‘Mamma! Vedansh bhaiya was very upset in the car pool today’ around a fortnight later, Nik spoke out as he returned from school and out his shoes back in the rack.

‘Why so?’ Amrita knew Vedansh was a companion in the car pool that Nik used to ply to and fro from the school. He was around 3 years elder to Nik.

‘He said that his pet dog had died.’ Nik said concern lurking in his eyes.

Amrita stopped short in her tracks, as she heard Nik’s words. She turned to look at Nik who was busy pulling out his tiffin box to keep it in the kitchen for washing.

‘Mamma! Vedansh Bhaiya said that his dog was very ill and could not eat or drink anything. He became so week that he had no energy to walk around. Last evening he did not wake up. They had to put him to permanent sleep in some other place, where he would not be disturbed.’ A tear rolled down Amrita’s eye as she heard a child account of what death meant. She felt all blood drain out from her system as Nik came to her and hugged her legs. In an impulse her hands went around her son’s head.

Such was life. That day Amrita realized for the first time that this world was warm and harsh both. Parents fear for their kids’ getting exposure to the harsh realities of life. We protect them as much as we can, yet there is no running away. Life finds its way towards kids. They come to understand everything, as and when the right time comes.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

AtoZ Challenge 2018Kids LearningMotherhoodParenting

Competition – AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 3, 2018 5 Comments

Amrita finished with her daily house chores and sat down with her liquor tea to have some time to herself before her elder son Nik, returned from school. She checked upon the time once again, worried why her mother-in-law wasn’t home yet. She had gone out grocery shopping 2 hours back and should have returned by now.

The bell rang, and Amrita cautiously rushed to open the door for her panting mom-in-law.

‘It took you a little longer than usual. Isn’t it?’ Amrita asked as Radhaji handed over the plastic bags to the domestic help. Amrita signaled to the help to bring her a glass of water and ushered Radhaji in the living room to relax.

‘I met Shilpa on my way and spent some time chit chatting.’ Radhaji told Smita as she gulped down the cold plain liquid that the domestic help had just brought her.

‘Oh! Shilpa. How is she? And how’s Somansh. He is going to school now, isn’t it? He’s just 6 months younger than our Nik.’ Amrita inquired. Mention of Shilpa piqued her interest as a long standing family friend. Her husband Raghav and Shilpa’s brother had been classmates at school and Shilpa had come to live in their neighborhood after her wedding.

Radhaji widened her eyes as she let her hair lose to detangle it and tie it back into a bun. ‘Somansh is now going to the good old school where his father went. She was all praises about the school. Somansh seems to be doing very well there.’

Amrita narrowed her eyes into a slit and grinned with her lips towards one side, ‘Doing good? How do you measure the performance of a 3 year old who has just started school.’

Radhaji clucked her tongue, ‘It’s not that. She was telling me that Somansh nows how to write all his alphabets and number up till 70. I mean, I was like already, our Nik knows nothing in comparison. Do you think it was a mistake to send him to this new age school. I sometimes wonder what they teach the children their.’

Amrita listened to Radhaji, all amused about the way she was making it sound all dramatic. She nodded her head unalarmingly, ‘Mom! There’s nothing to worry. Nik is just 4 years and they have started with numbers and alphabets in his school just a month back. And what’s the rush, eventually every child is expected to read and write only when they reach the age of 6 years.’

‘No! But I did not like it when I had to admit to Shilpa that our Nik was lagging behind in his skills and abilities. It was almost mortifying. You must make a visit to the school and talk this out with the teachers as to why are our kids not at par with kids in other schools.’

Amrita arched her brows and bit her lower lip. She couldn’t believe her ears. ‘What was it with their parents’ generation? They  seemed to be so tied down to my-kid-is-better-than-yours way of life.’ Amrita thought not daring to speak her mind, lest it may offend the old lady.

‘Mom! It’s OK. Seriously I am not too worried about Nik’s capabilities. I know for sure that we are raising him well and that the school he is going to is doing their job. He is developing all the required skills for his age. Please don’t get into such rat race kind of discussion on ‘my child knows this, how about yours’. It will do nobody any good.’ Smita folded the newspaper and got up to stack it on the shelf.

Radhaji puffed out a mouth full of air, ‘Leave aside this discussion. Go and have some rest. Once Nik comes home you will have no time to even breathe.’

Amrita nodded unenthusiastically, ‘I don’t know what’s up with this boy. I have to force him to his skating and dance classes every day. If I don’t drive him down to his classes, he just won’t go. How will I manage him once the baby arrives?’

Radhaji smiled empathetically. Raising the elder child with a younger one on the way always came with a mixed bag of emotions. There was joy of having a child and giving your elder child a sibling. But there were more anxieties about how to cope up with the elder child who seems to get into a war for attention from the parents. Smita sure had some difficult months ahead of her.

‘It’s OK. Nik is very young. He can re-join the skating classed once you are back in action after your delivery. Let him enjoy at home only till then.’

‘No Mom! It’s not done. There’s so much competition these days. Every child knows everything. And if we don’t start young, he will get caught in the rut of school and academics. He will never be able to develop any interests or passions. He ought to go for his extra-cirricular classes.’ Amrita sounded very determined.

Radhaji smiled at her daughter-in-law who stood with her hands on the small of her back. She observed that it was now just a matter of time. They may have to rush to the hospital anyday now. But she did not like the creases of worry on Amrita’s forehead. And for what reason? Because Nik hassled over going to his skating and dance classes!

‘Amrita! Aren’t you contradicting yourself here? Sometime back when I was fretting over what Nik was studying at school, it was you only who assured me that everything will fall in place with time. Then why are you now fussing in a similar about his willingness to go for his extra-curricular classes? You should be unfazed by competition and focus on the unique requirements of your kid.’

Radhaji’s words hit at Amrita. She realized that while she had internalized the fact that her son will come around academically, she was worried that he may lose the race of over-all development by not being very keen on his extra-curricular activities. Amrita then reminisced her childhood, where her parents had always been focused on the studies and often mulled that their middle-class roots did not allow them to think beyond academics. Extra-curricula’s and extra classes were for the affluent.

She was probably fighting her own demons when she pushed Nik to participate in activities other than academics. She was scared that her son may lose out on this very important avenue of learning and enjoying his life. Nik really was very young. She must give him time and nurture him to an age where he may be able to decide his own passions and have the courage to follow them. Her role was that of a facilitator, ad that she could do later too.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

AtoZ Challenge 2018MotherhoodParenting

Baby Blues – AtoZChallenge

posted by Anupriya April 2, 2018 0 comments

Smita reached office and hustled to the lobby in order to make a personal call. Initially she had planned to work from home for the entire week that her mother was scheduled to be in Hyderabad, but things had not gone as per plan. Neither Smita’s plan nor Mrs. Gunjal’s. After she and Sharman refused to go to the gynecologist with her, Mrs. Gunjal had taken to giving them both royal a cold shoulder. In the last two days, she only joined them for meals and then left to spend her time in the recreation centre of their residential complex.

‘It’s boring in your flat and there are other women my age with no grandchildren who also come there to spend some time.’, she had explained mournfully . Sharman had suppressed laughter at this statement of hers, while Smita had groaned in irritation. She decided that working from her office was a better option than to become a witness to her annoyed and unreasonable mom.

Amrita picked up the call almost instantly,

‘How are you babes? Hope the weather at your place is fine.’ Smita did not miss the sarcasm in her big sister’s voice. Obviously, Mrs. Gunjal had shared the reason for her visit to Hyderabad to her. Amrita had messaged Smita on the day of their mother’s arrival. The message read, ‘Tell me how it goes!’ followed by 5 winking emoticons.

‘Mom went ballistic.’ Smita declared, ‘She has decided to remain stoic while she is here and make us feel miserable for deciding to not have a child yet’ Irritation rising high in her voice. Amrita replied with a little giggling sound.

‘Take her out today evening for a nice dinner. She’ll come around.’ Amrita knew the way to her mom’s heart.

‘Hmm! I’ll ask Sharman to check out for a North Indian restaurant and be home early today.’ Smita said as she leaned on the railing, ‘How about you? How’s your health? You really were glowing the last time we spoke on the video call.’ Smita set aside all her worries and turned her attention to her sister.

‘Uffo! Silly girl, just don’t imagine things. The pregnancy glow does not show until the last trimester. And considering that…’ Amrita stopped abruptly, not sure if she should continue. Smita was quick to sense something amiss.

‘What happened di? Considering what?’

Amrita bit her tongue between the side of her jaws and contemplated if she should speak her heart out.

‘Di! Are you there? What is it? Please tell me…’ Smita was almost panicking.

‘Ugghhh! Nothing yaar. You know this child was not planned. Even though Raghav is quite enthusiastic about this kid, I am not. This child will mean the end of my career. I cannot continue to work with two kids towing my life.’

‘But Di! Think about Nik. Wouldn’t it do him good if he had a sibling? I mean, look at us, even if we have lived miles apart for almost a decade now, you and I know who to fall back on whenever there’s a crisis.’ Smita restrained from sounding paranoid, but she was really scared for her sister.

‘Common Smita, both of us have friends who are only kids. And their life is good enough. It’s not that they are not happy being. And about Nik. He will have his cousins for sure.’

‘Di, you are the only one in my life right now who feels it’s ok if I and Sharman do not if to have a kid. And I can’t even tell you what a relief it is. Incase you do not wish to have this child, it’s your choice. I’ll stand by you no matter what.’ Smita was structuring her thought’s simultaneously as she spoke, ‘But I am all in favor of Nik having a sibling. I can’t even how my life would be without you.’

Amrita did not respond, but Smita knew from the noise of her flaring nostrils that she was still listening, ‘Di! When life is all hunky dory, it doesn’t matter if you are an only child. But it I during personal challenges and testing times especially those that involve the parents, that an individual becomes lonely in the absence of siblings. I only want to say that just because you fear that your career will get de-railed, do not decide on an abortion. You and Raghav jiju are financially sound even if you do not work and life is much more than a career.’ Smita was now walking back towards her cubicle.

‘Hmm! Maybe you are right. But I am still not sure.’ Amrita was in a rocking state of mid and did not wish to speak much. But Smita’s work’s had set her thinking, once again. She wished her sister better luck with their mom and disconnected the call.

That night, when Amrita retired to her room she was in a disheveled state of mind. Her conversation with her sister had rendered her vulnerable for the entire day and she had left Nik to his grandmother’s care after feeding him and excused herself to get some rest. As soon as Amrita hit the pillow, she snoozed with doubt still looming large in her mind.

When Raghav’s mobile went live at 4 am in the morning, Amrita instantly knew what the news was. Raghav’s best friend Sameer’s father had been in the intensive care unit for last 4 days and the doctors had given up on his multiple organ disorders. They had visited him at the hospital only last evening. Smita had been heart broken at how lonely Sameer had been. His wife was at home to take care of their 2 year old and other than a couple of friends, there was no one that Sameer could fall back on. All his relatives live far away in his native city. His parents also stayed in the same city untill last year when on his insistence they had shifted to live with their only son.

His call at this hour meant only one thing. His father had passed away. Raghav and Smita rushed to the hospital after leaving Nik to sleep in his grandparents room. As they walked into the corridor where they expected to meet Sameer, Smita was shaken by the silence in the hospital. Smita’s eyes widened and her heart went out to Sameer as they saw him sitting on the bench at the end of the corridor. He was sitting with his head lowered and covered by his palms.

Amrita suddenly woke up with a start. She felt sweat beads on her temples and it her a couple of seconds to start breathing normally. The sight of Sameer, all lonely and putting up a strong front to get through the formalities at the hospital after his father’s demise had haunted Amrita for days. Raghav had told her that Sameer was really shattered yet was not allowing himself to stand weak lest there would be no one would look after mother. She had often thought that if he had had a sibling, who would have stood by his side during these testing times, Sameer would have a shoulder to cry on and join hands while dealing with the loss. The sight of Sameer sitting alone in a dark corridor still haunted her.

As Amrita kept back the glass of water on the side stand, her conversation with her little sister came back to her in its full meaning. There were numerous people she had known who were only kids, yet she herself had never felt a pang of jealousy with them ever. While she knew for sure that the vice-versa wasn’t true. Her friends who were only kids, often regretted the fact that they had never enjoyed the bickering from a sibling, or had never known the feeling of having their back covered whenever they were up against their parent’s will.

In that moment, Amrita looked own and rubbed her hand on her belly. She realized that the life in her womb, was going to bring only joy and love in their lives and in Nik’s life. As her baby blues faded away, Amrita slumped back into her sleep. This time a peaceful one.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

AtoZ Challenge 2018LifeStyleParenting

Affording Parenthood – AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 1, 2018 7 Comments

Smita worked in a multinational company in the IT industry for last 5 years. Even though she was only a drop in the ocean of those who were a part of the Indian IT dream, she was extremely contended with her professional life. She loved her job which was both a reason and result of her long working hours. Even when at home she was constantly expecting a client call or manager status call, thus remained engaged with her job almost every waking moment. During weekends, she set out to achieve her creative goals. In 2 years of her marriage she had decorated her 2 BHK rented flat and re-decorated it with DIY stuff she made herself. Some of these stuff included night lamps, plant stands, bathroom mirror etc.

The responsibility of handling this super restless soul entirely rested on Sharman. Sharman was Smita’s boyfriend of 8 years turned husband of 2 years. Sharman often wondered from where Smita got her energy reserves replenished. He often blamed Smita’s workaholic attitude to the various health issues she faced. These allegations did not deter Smita from working full steam throughout the week. Instead she seemed to add more bullet points to her daily TO Do List all the time. The latest one was Yoga. “This will help in physical as well as mental wellness.” Smita argued, “Why don’t you too join me. It’ll be so much fun!” Sharman raised both in hands in submission and got back to reading his latest fiction pick.

Yes! That’s the modern power couple lifestyle that Smita and Sharman led. They worked hard throughout the week, partied harder on Friday nights through Saturday and relaxed to their hearts content the entire Sunday. But today was a slightly different kind of a Saturday. Sharman gave Smita a pensive look as they waited at the airport lobby to receive Smita’s Mom. Continue Reading

AtoZ Challenge 2018BloggingLifeStyleParenting

Parenting And A Slice Of Everything – #AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal with #BlogChatter

posted by Anupriya March 19, 2018 4 Comments

I had earlier written about how I came to know about the AtoZ Blogging Challenge almost 18 months back (Read here). Until last year I did not have it in me to take this ultimate blogging challenge, but this year with some preparation and aspiration to reap the benefits of this daily blogging challenge for my blog, I feel extremely confident and excited.

It won’t still be easy as I’ll be travelling through the first week of April meaning that I will have to schedule my posts much ahead. Given that I have already drafted the first 11 posts , I feel less jittery and hope that I will have not lost the mojo by the time I get back to writing 10th April onwards. Continue Reading