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AtoZ Challenge 2019
AtoZ Challenge 2019

AtoZ Challenge 2019 – Theme Reveal

posted by Anupriya March 18, 2019 22 Comments

AtoZ Challenge 2019 is around the corner and at this juncture I am reminded of my first attempt at AtoZ Challenge in 2018 with 26 short fiction stories about Parenting and the gamut of relationships and emotions it engulfs. I had participated in the month long blogging challenge with Blogchatter and as is their proposition, I submitted the set of these stories as an ebook, which was published during the Blogchatter eBook Carnival.

As a blogger who’s been around for three years now, I have participated in numerous blogging challenges, but one can easily mark AtoZ Challeng as the Daddy of all Blogging Challenges, for no other challenge makes you test your commitment and grit as this one. But once you get the hang of it and complete it successfully once, you are bound to come back to it again the following year. AtoZ Challenge 2019…. here I come! Continue Reading

AtoZ Challenge 2018MotherhoodWork and Life

Killing Time – #AtoZChallenge

posted by Anupriya April 12, 2018 2 Comments

Varsha went about her home chores in a mechanical manner. Since the birth of her younger daughter, she had left her job to be a stay at home mom. Every day she packed off her elder son to school and then prepared breakfast and lunch for her husband. Once he left, she turned her attention towards her 20 month old daughter, Labdhi.

Varsha had managed to continue with her job after her first child, Niru was born. Varsha and Prateek had agree to have a nanny for Niru so that she could pursue her career. Life seemed to be going smooth for the small family. But arrival of Labdhi, changed the ball game altogether. The couple was unanimously of the view that it wasn’t possible to raise two kids by depending solely on a nanny. Niru too was growing up to be an extremely aggressive child. As a natural course of action, Varsha decided to leave her job. When she started being at home, she realized that raising kids was an extremely exhaustive and a full time job. She had never spent such undivided time with her elder son, and now as she did it, she realized why and where they were going wrong with Niru’s upbringing. As a child he needed an emotional anchor, which the nanny failed to be.

Also a lot of her time went in taking care of the house. Even though Varsha hardly got any time from her duties as a home-maker and a mother, she missed her work. On most days when she had no time to even sit back and enjoy a cup of tea. It was a task relay throughout the day. Even on those days, Varsha wondered if she was doing justice to all the hard work that she had put in to become a Chartered Accountant. For 28 years of her life, she had held her education and her work as of utmost importance to her. And now all of a sudden, her life seemed to have taken a summersault and her priorities had changed. What amazed her was that even her parents, who had always pushed her to perform well professionally, now thought that her prime responsibility was the upbringing of her kids. Continue Reading

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

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

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.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

AtoZ Challenge 2018Kids & Women LifeStylePregnancy

Hormonal Havoc – AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 9, 2018 0 comments

Amrita woke up all groggy unable to open her eyes itched due to extreme dryness. Ugghh! I shouldn’t be reading up so late into the night. But she knew that she had no other option. The 6 month old baby in her womb seemed to be hyper active at night and his kicks make it impossible for her to sleep.

‘Gud Morning, sweetheart!’ she heard her husband’s rumbled voice and turned to sit up resting her back against the headrest of the bed. The bump was making it difficult for her to sit without support with every passing day. She smiled lazily at Raghav as he placed the tea tray on the bed and leaned in to give her a quick peck on her cheek.

Amrita, missed the warmth of his proximity almost immediately. Ever since Amrita had conceived and found it difficult to keep up with her routine of morning house chores, Raghav had made it a point to chip in for help. Although there was domestic help, he preferred to bring in tea every morning for his wife and himself.

‘Well! That way I can spend some time with you in the morning, before I rush into the day.’ He often winked whenever Amrita pointed out to him that he needn’t have taken the pains.

But lately Amrita had started feeling that this act that initially felt compassionate had now become very mechanical. Raghav seemed to be distracted most of the time and preoccupied with his mobile phone. Amrita’s heart tugged inside her as she sipped her tea in silence, observing Raghav smiling into his phone. But she pepped herself up, Raghav had promised to take her out for shopping in the evening. She would pick him up from his office and they would proceed for shopping.

———–

That evening Amrita had a tough time getting ready for her outing. She struggled with her cloths, most of which did not fit her any more. She had brought herself a couple of dresses last month, but to her dismay she had already grown out for them. Yet, she managed to fit herself into a maroon A-line knee length dress. Amrita checked herself in the mirror and shrunk her nose in slight disappointment. She looked like a baby elephant. No wonder Raghav found little joy in looking at her these days.  But Amrita slapped her head mentally. He is taking you out for shopping today. Isn’t he? Ask him for dinner later.

————

Amrita called up Raghav once she reached the parking lot of his office building. It had been 15 minutes already and she was expecting Raghav to join her any moment. Another 10 minutes and Amrita got a little irritated. What’s taking him so long? Amrita sighed impatiently as she looked on towards the entry way into the parking lot.

And then she spotted him. Raghav walked in his steps and shoulder matching the shoulder of a tall, lean and fair structure of a lady. Amrita squinted and cocked her head forward to see if the lady was someone she knew. But then she shook her head because she had never met any of Raghav’s colleagues’ as attractive as this lady. Ahhh! She must be Tina. The new team lead that Raghav was talking about the other day. But he didn’t tell me that she was almost a diva. Amrita guessed this lady’s height to be around 5feet 10 inches and she admitted to herself that with a slim figure and sharp features as hers, the girl standing next to her husband was indeed very attractive.

As Raghav and the other lady walked into the parking, Amrita expected Raghav to call her so that he could introduce her to his colleague. That is what he had always done in the past. But not today. As Amrita looked on, she saw that Raghav and the lady took a turn to and headed towards their right. Amrita had to open the window and put her head out to see track them on their path.

She saw that Raghav opened the door of this lady while laughing continuously at something the lady must have said. Amrita’s blood boiled at the intimate way the lady clad in a figure hugging skirt and business suit put her hand on her husband’s shoulder. The view of her husband having such a hearty laugh with some girl other than her sent a chill down her spine. She looked down at herself and thought that her efforts to look good had all gone down the drain. With her baby bump and the subsequent swollen body she looked nothing like the lady her husband was talking to right now.

Amrita was lost in her reverie, when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

‘Hey Mads! Sorry to have kept you waiting dear.’ Raghav said casually as he settled into his seat besides Amrita and signaled to the driver to move.

Amrita let out a forced smile, ‘What took you so long?’ she tried to sound as nonchalant as was possible for an emotionally vulnerable pregnant woman who had just seen another lady sharing a platonically intimate moment with her husband.

Raghav raised his eye-brows at the strange connotation of his wives voice, yet he did not decipher much from it,

‘Oh! I was discussing the details of our quarterly team party with Tina. She seems to have a couple of party places from where we could get a handsome discount.’

‘Oh so it was a very official conversation that you were having?’ Raghav felt strange at the knotty tone of his wife.

‘Hey baby, what happened you look very wound up? All okay? If you aren’t feeling well we can go out some other day.’ Raghav placed a hand on Amrita’s hair and patted her slightly.

‘Yes, ofcourse we must head back home. Why would you want to spend your evening with a cow like me? Ask the driver to turn towards home.’ Raghav was taken aback by Amrita’s gruff voice.

‘Ammu, will you be fine sitting on the front seat?’ Amrita looked up in confusion at Raghav’s query. Raghav then asked his driver to get down the car and go home.

Once Raghav took control of the steering, he looked at Amrita from the corner of his eyes,

‘Ammu, baby do you want to eat ice cream?’ Raghav knew his pregnant wife craved for ice cream 24 hours 7 days since she had conceived. He couldn’t help but chuckle slowly at the dilemma that Amrita’s face expressed.

‘I want to have ice cream. But you wanted to go out with that Tina to check out party places.’ Amrita was a mess in her head. She knew what was happening to her, but was too proud to admit.

Raghav knew he was walking on a double edged sword with his hormonally hyperactive pregnant wife. But he had to make her feel better. He pulled into the parking lot of the Ganges promenade and quickly walked over to the other side and extended his hand for his wife to come out.

As they walked towards the street food stalls, Amrita entwined her fingers tightly between Raghav’s. After they had had paani puri and ice-cream they came to sit on one of the river facing benches, their hands still entwined.

‘Do you feel better?’ Raghav asked with a glint in his eyes.

‘You think I am one mad woman. Isn’t it? But let me tell you I am not. I saw how intimately you had put your hand on her shoulder.’ Amrita gave a hurtful glance towards Raghav, while he alternated his eyes between her face and the serenely flowing waters of the river infront of them.

‘’Hmmm. Tina really is very hot, isn’t she?’ Raghav pursed his lips, his eyes towards the river. Amrita’s heart sunk to her abdomen, her eyes flared wide. She pulled her hand away from Raghav, but he held his grip tightly on her.

‘Raghav. Leave me.’ It was a command, ‘Obviously why would you be interested in a pregnant cow like me? But let me tell you, if you don’t leave my hand, I will strangle your neck with my free hand, right here.’ , tears stung at the back of her eyes.

Raghav was done holding his lips pursed tight to avoid laughing. He couldn’t hold any more and broke into a snide chuckle. He blew a fist lightly into his wife’s cheek and took both her hands in his own.

‘And now that I have both your hands locked with me, what will you do, my sweetheart.’ Raghav was grinning.

Amrita let out a sigh and stooped her shoulders, ‘God, I am a hormonal wreck. You really must consider dating that pretty hag.’ She placed her head on his shoulder. He raised his head to make way for her to settle her head into the hollow of his neck as his one arm went around her shoulder.

‘You know what? I agree, maybe you’re right. But I don’t find her attractive enough.’ Raghav caressed the baby bump with his other hand, ‘I find this jealous lady with a baby bump carrying the key to the biggest joy of my life way more appealing.’ He said placing a peck on Amrita’s forehead.

‘And she happens to be my wife too. Isn’t that a bonus?’ Amrita hugged him tighter and prayed to god, for her hormones to become less havoc wrecking as soon as possible.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

AtoZ Challenge 2018Pregnancy

Gender Predictions by Folklore – AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 7, 2018 1 Comment

Amrita put Nik to sleep and settled on the sofa with her mobile phone. There was this latest messaging mobile app that was creating waves in the social networking space. This internet based messaging app had made coming together so much easier.  Not only had family members and office colleagues come to use this app as a common platform for collective communication, but also had brought long lost friends back in touch. One such group that Amrita was really fond of was the one with her friends from her engineering college. They shared a special bond as they were just 5 girls in a class of 40. The girl power they had displayed in college was evident from the graduation results where all five girls stood among the top ten in the class with the most coveted jobs in their kitty. It had been 15 years since they graduated and went on to pursue their careers and passions and today only 2 of them including Amrita were in India. The other three had moved on to various parts of the globe in The States, Singapore and Australia. One thing common in all of them now was that they were all mothers now. From discussing their assignments and practical viva-voce to discussing their babies’ sleeping routines, they had come a long way in life.

The group was especially excited now because now they were on a second-time-mum-to-be spree. Bhavya had already had her second son 6 months back and now Amrita was in-line. Vanita was the most chirpy of them all and was most excited about Amrita’s pregnancy. But her message today sent Amrita in splits.

Vanita: Hey it’s your sixth month already! So what does the online gender predictor say?

Bhavya: This gender predictor is trash. It said that I was going to have a girl. L

Preeti: It’s ok yaar! You already have a son. So atleast no one’s pestering you.

Everyone recalled the time when Vanita was to conceive with her first baby and her mother-in-law was going beserk giving her advices on how she could ensure that the conceived baby be a boy.

Amrita: Yes no one’s pestering me. But I really do want to have a girl.

Sweta: Why? To turn her into another feminist everyone will be scared of?

Everyone responded with a trail of LOL emojis. They all relived the time, when Amrita was the flag-bearer of feminism in college and would leave no opportunity to show down the boys of the class.

Vanita: Arre yaar! Do not digress from the topic. Amrita, what does the gender predictor say?

Amrita: Different apps are giving a different gender prediction.

Bhavya: See I told you!

Preeti: Leave aside the online gender predictors. What do the living ones say?

Bhavya and Sweta responded with ogling emojis.

Amrita: My mom says it’s a boy while my mom-in-law says it’ll be a girl.

Bhavya: They are just shooting in the dark. They have no clue about the reason of their own predictions.

Everyone sent a straight face emoji in response to Bhavya’s dogmatic view towards the entire gender prediction business.

Vanita: Well! Looking at my bump, my mom-in-law did predict that I was going to have a girl. She was right.

Preeti: My mom, put two folded chits of paper into a glass full of water and let it float for a couple of seconds.  The slip that remained floating on the surface was the prediction. In my case it said ‘a boy’

She needn’t have concluded any further. Everyone in the group knew her son was now two years of age.

Amrita: Well my mom-in-law is a little more scientific in approach. She believes that if I have conceived before the new moon it’ll be a girl.

Sweta: Have you?

Amrita: What? Conceived before new moon? I’m not sure. My LMP was 10 days before the new moon. Who knows when did I actually conceive?

Bhavya: So confusion prevails in your life.

Amrita: A mid-wife came asking for work after my delivery. She observed me get up from the chair and walk towards the kitchen, and made a declaration that I was going to have a boy.

Bhavya: These mid-wives I’m telling you have a very strong sixth sense. She is bound to be right.

Sweta: But what was her logic? I’m sure Vanita, you must have asked her that.

Amrita: Yes I did! She said that I lifted my left foot first to walk when I got up from the chair.

Everyone was LOLing through emojis once again. Only Vanita reacted with an emoji that declared that only her palm for available for conversation now.

Bhavya: Hey! Are there any other gender predictors in tow or can I sign off now. I need to feed my little one before Prabhav comes back from school.

Everyone bid their byes and got on with their daily chores and jobs. Amrita was so perplexed by the discussion that she decided to search it up on the internet sometime later. And as with other intents, she forgot about it given her scattered brain during the last trimester.

A couple of months later, Amrita had a mixed reaction when the Obgyn in the OT told her that she had delivered a healthy baby boy. Even in that state of being under the effect of local anesthesia and later she tried raking her mind for the results of various gender predictions made by several people. But she realized it did not matter now. She had two boys to take care of now and slumped off to sleep thinking about how her life is going to change forever, yet again.

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

AtoZ Challenge 2018Kid HumorMotherhood

Free – Will of a Toddler – AtoZ Challenge

posted by Anupriya April 6, 2018 0 comments

Amrita had put Nik into a Montessori when he was 20 months. She personally thought that it was a little early, but everyone around seemed to be fussing over the fact that everyone starts going to playschool at 18 months. So she conceded. Nik was extremely enthusiastic about going to school. Amrita had deliberately chosen to put him in a play school that was closer to home and did not believe in hoarding kids for commercial gains. What she liked best about the place was that is was spacious, airy and had an ope play area with a grass lawn and swings in it. Nik absolutely loved his school. He was popular with his classmates and his teachers loved him. Everything was going well for the first six months. But one fine day Nik started throwing tantrums that he didn’t want to go the school. Amrita thought that Nik may be finding going to school very taxing after the 3-day break that he had to take due to his viral fever. But she to her plight even after a fortnight Nik continued with his reluctance to go to school and began to cry the moment she started getting him ready for school.

His behavior got Amrita worrying. Ever since the time Nik had started going to school, he had been be extremely excited at the prospect of meeting his friends and the outdoor play time at school. This turn of attitude was something that Amrita had not pre-empted and took her by surprise giving her enough reason to ponder upon what could have possibly gone wrong.

Toddlers are and extremely unpredictable species. One could be caught off-guard with toddler logic and not be able recuperate from it for a very long time. Amrita went through another week of turmoil while she tried to figure what was going on.

One of the days after Nick started throwing tantrums while getting dropped to school she tried to reason with him, “My child, one has to go to school to grow into a big boy. You will become a strong boy like papa if you go to school.” She continued with her pep talk with no real response from her son.

But it didn’t seemed to be working. Another morning she decided to change her approach. Amrita pulled him close to her and put Nik on her lap to make his comfortable and assured him that she wouldn’t force him to go to school. The following conversation followed–

  • Amrita: So we won’t go to school today. Are you ok with the idea?
  • Nik: Yes.
  • Amrita: Will you not miss your friends like Amreek, Tejas, Anushka (named a few more of his playmates) and playing with them?
  • Nik: I want to play with them.
  • Amrita: In that case you have to go to school dear.
  • Nik: Nooooo…
  • Amrita: Why? Does your Miss (the instructor) scold you?
  • Nik: (looked up into my eyes, very teary eyed himself) hmmm..

Now this came as a little surprise to Amrita. She was completely convinced that the instructors could be insistent but not rude with the kids. The Montessori was after all run by an extremely experienced lady who had been running it for more than 16 years and did not believe in hoarding in large number of kids to make profits. She was very clear with her belief in inducing only as many kids in her system, as many she could tend to personally.

  • Amrita: Why? Why did the Miss scold you?
  • Nik: No reply.

Amrita braced herself for some probing action.

  • Amrita: Did you bully another kid?
  • Nik: (shook his head in negative)
  • Amrita: Does she scold you when you play in the garden?
  • Nik: Nope.
  • Amrita: Do you not speak your rhymes when she asks you to? (getting a little impatient now)
  • Nik: Naah. I speak my rhymes nicely (still extremely grim faced)

Amrita held on for a minute. She thought about the other reasons that could instigate a stern behavior from an instructor? As Amrita thought over and over again, she recalled that Nik had not been having his lunch at the school. For the last one month the tiffin she packed for Nik had returned with signs of little or no consumption.

  • Amrita: Does Miss force you to finish your lunch box?
  • Nik: (still looking down) I will not have any lunch at school.

Bingo!

  • Amrita: You don’t want to have tiffin in school?
  • Nik: No.

Ok! This was a significant breakthrough in the enquiry.

  • Amrita: Okay then! That’s no big deal. Today you may tell your Miss that you told mamma that you won’t have your tiffin. Alright?

There was a relieved or even a winning smile on Nik’s face ! And that was it. Amrita concluded that Nik didn’t want to go to school because he didn’t like being coaxed into having his lunch. And all this drama for a little man’s free will !

One can’t beat the spirit of a 3 year old with logic. Amrita realized that she had to somehow work around Nik’s convictions without forcing anything onto Nik and make him feel heard and empowered.

P.S. : Amrita packed vanilla cake with coconut truffles for lunch that day. The box came back empty and clean !

I am participating in the challenge of April with #Blogchatter

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

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

Read my AtoZ Challenge posts here

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