In my part of the world, it’s tea time. Now I don’t know about you but my evening tea is very precious to me. This is the time when I sit back on the couch, put my legs up on the coffee table, slowly dip ginger snaps in the tea, flip pages of a magazine, watch TV and just sip my tea noiselessly.
My mother is leaving tomorrow. And that is all I can think about while I sit in the drawing room and stare with a blank look in my eyes at my mother’s figure moving deftly around the open kitchen frying some fish, adding saffron to the chicken and checking the salt in the daal. And she hums to herself. All the time.
I can’t hum. Not now, anyways. My heart feels heavier than a stone and my head feels empty every time I think of tomorrow afternoon. My mother is leaving tomorrow afternoon.
Ma baked a chocolate cake with a hint of coffee. She looked after the plants. Took care of my laundry and ironing. She ordered groceries. She made tea. She was there to watch TV with me, to go out in the evenings with me, to have dinner with me, to hug me every night and kiss me when I left for work every morning. She let me crash on the sofa with the TV on and woke me up only for meals.
She let me be.
And now. She is leaving. She is taking a big piece of me away with her this time. I don’t want to let go of her. But she has to go. She has to leave.
So she is leaving. She is leaving. She is leaving.
Mild winter breeze. Grey skies.
Traffic snarls. The eight minute wait at a traffic light.
The bells of cycle rickshaws. And the horns.
The CNG autos. The low floored buses.
The mouth watering rasogolla at the neighbourhood sweet shop.
The familiar smell of warm toast in the morning. The tinkle of a spoon against a tea cup. “You still prefer black?”
The endless fish curries. The waiting for biriyani. The mutton rolls.
The plans changed. Times not kept.
The doorbell ringing in the morning. “Didi, aajkey oi baari tey ki hoyechhey jano? ” (“Do you know what happened in the other house this morning?”)
The news bulletins on Jyoti Basu. The heated discussions on politics, ideals and beliefs.
The new literature festival. The book fair missed.
The walks around a park. The life that seems a little troubled. A friend’s shoulder. A patient hearing.
Evenings spent with relatives. Neighbor’s lives. Gossip. Smirks. Laughters again.
Shawls and sarees. Kashmir emporium. New Market.
Sitting by the side of a mighty river. Staring out into the open.
Dreams had. Deams lost.
Peace. Home. Hope.
Heartache. Soulmate. Best friend.
Filed under: mother, Nostalgia, Opinion and facts, The everyday stuff | Tagged: afternoon, Calcutta, conversation, food, freedom, friends, home, Kolkata, love, mother, vacation, winter | 15 Comments »
…Is over. It has gone by without too much hue and cry. No earth shattering events have happened in my life. And although I am a year older now I don’t think I have become any wiser. but there are things that I have learnt. Some things that I believed in have been reaffirmed. I know now that there are times when you feel like an alien in your country and that does not make you a snobbish foreign return chick. It is only human. I know it is possible to resign strictly on ethical reasons. It is possible to walk out on a job that earns you a fat pay check when your boss tries to grasp your hands at every given chance and tries to call you “Paro” at every given opportunity. It is possible to control your anger through deep breaths when he threatens to use his contacts to make sure you do not get a job at any decent possible.
Yes, all that is possible.
It is also possible to take a pay cut, increase the commute time and fall in love with your job. It is possible to find people who work for a cause they believe in and stand up for the same.
Yes. That’s possible too.
I know my mother can take every single burden off my shoulders. Very easily. Just by her sheer presence. I also know now how important it is to have parents-in-law who accept you completely for what you are. Sans the sindoor, the bangles, the saree/ salwar kameez, the cooking and house management skills.
I know all that now.
I have realized that marriage is a very simple thing. If you marry the right person for the right reasons.
Yes. It is true.
I also realize that I am still in Delhi because of the friends I have here. It is because of the crazy times I have with them, because I can fall back on them, I can laugh with them, laugh along when they laugh at me, sing and dance with them. It is because they have called me a friend in return and have stood by me through thick and thin. It is because I would live another day just to get one more day with them.
Yes. Friendship can be very strong.
And no. I do not have any new year resolutions. I have never had any. Except the one time when I promised to study very hard and clear all my papers for my terminals in the XI. I failed miserably in my resolution. Needless to say, I failed miserably in all my term papers as well. So. I hope I do not have to take any more atrocious science exams ever in my life again. No maths, no chemistry lab to worry about and feeling lost in physics practicals. Well, I still cal deal with feeling lost. But not the physics practicals. And barring those I think I can pretty much take on what the year has to offer.
How does this last day of the year look for you? Any thoughts?
And Happy New Year to you all. You have been such a support for me.
At the outset, my apologies. I have not been writing and I am sorry about that. My blog has many regular readers and for that I am grateful. Such long absence without any explanation is unfair. And thank you, for checking on my blog. It feels good not to be deserted in trying times.
After much thinking as to how I should go about writing this post, I decided to design a tag for myself. This tag, I have concluded, would allow me to organize my thoughts into neat little paragraphs in a question answer fashion which would also make it reader friendly. Because, there is quite a bit I want to write.
So here goes-
Where have you been?
Here. Right here. Shuttling between Delhi and Gurgaon. I haven’t taken any break, haven’t gone on a vacation. And this is really not a “come back” post because I never really “went away”.
Have you missed the blog?
Terribly. I have thought about writing every single day every hour of every day.
If you were not blogging what were you upto?
I have recently switched jobs. The travel time is a killer, work is stressful and deadlines now rule my life. But I love it, I love every moment of it. This is what I have been wanting to do for so long. And it is so worth the wait, the insane daily commute and the over bearing deadlines!
Did you forget it was Pujo in between? No nostalgia this time?
I did not forget it was Pujo. Definitely, definitely did not. I whined in plenty about not being in Calcutta, about missing my friends, about missing pandal addas, about not being able to see my city decked up and happy.
But, but. My mother arrived as Saptami evening as did R. And with them around my first Pujo in Gurgaon went much better that I had expected it to be. We did the Shondhi Pujo anjali, the Nabami anjali and went pandal hopping on Ashtami night. We also gorged on biriyani, fish fry, fish and mutton chops. I wore my crisp new sarees and felt a tiny part of the Pujo madness that takes over Calcutta this time of the year.
This was my sixth Pujo away from you. For the last five years I hadn’t heard the dhaak and I hadn’t offered anjali. This year my yearning soul found solace. I heard the dhaak on Ashtami night during Shandhi Pujo. As I offered pushpanjali that night and on Nabami morning, I stood in the familiar smell of incense sticks, amidst the organized chaos, passed around the baskets of flowers, accepted shantir jol and prosaad and murmured the Sanskrit slokas with everyone around. I cried out of sheer joy and happiness.
Then. Nothing much happened. Ma is here for a while and I have given up on getting any chinta of any sort. I have left everything to her. I still do some regular things but just her presence makes everything so much easier!
R is away. In another country. He will be back on Sunday but will be leaving right the next day for another city. But that’s alright. I have sent him a list of things I want and as long as he is getting those for me, he will be spared.
Is anything bothering you?
Yes. A couple of things.
This morning I notice on the first page of TOI that Karan Johar has had to apologise to Raj Thackrey for referring to “Mumbai” as “Bombay” in his new movie Wake up Sid. Apparently the sentiments of Marathi people (Marathi manoos, as they are referred to now) have been gravely hurt.
Gravely hurt, my foot.
I have been in Maharashtra for five years of my life. I have called Pune my second home. I yearn to go back to that city and get a little bit of my college life back. I have also spent a lot of time in Bombay. And I love that city for everything it is and everything it is not. Maharashtra is as dear to me as it is to anyone else in this country.
But no. Raj Thackrey in a national interview the other day proclaimed that it is fine for people from other states to “visit” Maharashtra but why should they stay on in HIS Maharashtra. Also note that he was giving the interview on national television (CNN IBN, with Rajdeep Sardesai) in Marathi. It is fine if you want to give an interview in Marathi if you have difficulty with other languages. But, Raj Thackrey, the revered one, said that even though Hindi IS the national language (and Sardesai was speaking in Hindi and he is a Maharshtrian) it is not HIS language and he would communicate only in Marathi because it is HIS language. And other people of the nation (his own nation which I think he forgot) should make an attempt to understand what he is saying. He did not hesitate in using English though, in the interview.
Tell me, how does it matter? When terror struck Bombay (and yes, I love saying Bombay as opposed to Mumbai) every single Indian all over the world stood united. Every single person prayed, everyone stayed glued to the television and I’ll be damned if anyone said “Oh! That’s a problem with Maharashtra”.
Just when you think, that emancipation is coming, the all emancipated Raj Thackrey takes a one eighty degree turn and takes you back to the time when kings and emperors were busy aggressively defending their kingdoms.
The other day I read an interview of Chitrangada Singh in the front page of Delhi Times, wherein she said that she just does not understand how her good friend Shiney Ahuja and other people who have not been convicted of a crime are being kept in jail when they have not been proven to be guilty of their crimes.
I am hoping that Chitrangada Singh, who did Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, is more intelligent than that.
Going by her logic, Kasab (I don’t need to explain who he is) should also be freed. Nothing has been proved against him. He is an accused. That’s all.
Sigh! I am going to pass this as a blonde moment of Chitrangada Singh. I am sure she will do better.
The Delhi heat is killing me. It is the end of September and the sun still rages in sky with no hint of mellowing down. So dear Lord, I am ready for the winters now. I want to sip a cup of hot chocolate with pakoras and wrap myself up in a quilt from head to toe and watch a good movie.
So you haven’t written at all?
I did manage to write a story for Sa at the last moment. I missed the deadline but they have been very generous for publishing it. You can read it here.
I also have some reports of some seminars and conferences, which I am sure none of you are interested in. May God bless your souls.
Right now, I am in the car feeling feverish and going back home from work. On reaching home, I will throw my bag on the sofa and collapse right next to it. Mom is going to get me some tea and biscuits. She will then do lakshmi pujo at home. After which we will eat luchi, alu fulkopi and begun bhaja. Thereafter I shall take the hot water bag, stuff it under my lower back and catch up on some much needed sleep. That’s all.
One last question. Would you be disappearing often like this?
I don’t want to. And now that I have learnt to utilize my travel time effectively for reading and writing, I am hoping that there won’t be such a long absence again.
Anything else you want to say?
Yes. It feels good to be back. Thank you all for reading and asking me to write soon. It worked!
I think this tag has very efficiently summarized my activities over the last few weeks.
Also, anyone who has been absent from the blogosphere for too long and is having difficulty in putting down everything, please feel free to take this up and change it as per your requirements.
I am going to ramble today. Primarily because there are way too many things running through my mind. Both good and bad. So bear with me, dear readers while I proceed to write irrelevant and unrelated stuff.
1. Mom has this thing about making prawns. She makes this curry with potatoes. If there is a heaven I have just been there and back with very nice tasting memories.
2. I am very upset about what is happening in Australia. I have angry tears whenever I think about it. I am worried about my friend in Melbourne. I want to go with Ro and bash those people up.
3. I have fired my temporary cook because she had a problem with my daily help. Why? Sakila, my daily help, is a Muslim. Hence, Krishna, the “Hindu” cook has been fired. And I have very curtly told Krishna why she is being fired. Her expressions were noteworthy and I hope she never forgets the tone of my voice.
4. I consciously and aggressively supported Sri Lanka in their T-20 match against Australia. I am glad Australia lost and is out for good. And no, I am not a racist. I condone the attacks on the Australians as reported in the first page of TOI today. But it is inevitable, you know. Violence will only bring in more violence.
5. There is much elders can also learn from children. Only if they can deflate the egos a little bit. Only if they can bring themselves to make a phone call and ask how life is. Really. Everything would be left behind then. But, only if.
6. After I read Suchismita’s post today I thanked God and touched wood for the umpteenth time for giving me such wonderful in-laws. People who have accepted me exactly the way I am. They filled my house with laughter and happiness when they visited. And they deserve to be written about properly in another post. But for now, thank you God and touch wood once more.
And with that, I will stop my mindless musings for today. You have been so patient. Very kind of you to read this post and to read this far. I really want to write more sensibly about each of these things but my eyes have given up. And my fingers say they need a break from relentless typing.
Oh! Before I leave, if you are in Gurgaon and want to have classic Hyderabadi biriyani then try Viva Hyderabad. They are good. Light and aromatic and such fresh mutton. Its Rs.150/- for a plate and they deliver. You can reach them at 0124 – 4002400.
Good night. My back is already wagging a red flag as a sign of protest. Might just go a step further and call for a strike if I ignore the warnings any further. And I must buy a pair of comfortable shoes. Sigh!
One of my older posts. This thought had made me so restless that I did not get any sleep. Here goes.
It is a rather restless night. I have been tossing and turning on my bed as a million thoughts race through my mind and leave a lump in my throat.
I think about my mother. Strangely I also think of a life without her. It saddens me. Scares me to imagine that one day she won’t be there. One day she wouldn’t pick up the phone. She won’t spend 35 minutes engaged in a monologue describing accurately every hour of her day. Or sharing all her thoughts. The trivial details of her school. How there has been a small theft. Or how everyone got together and shared prawns and rice for lunch. Some teachers had refused to pay but in the end “they all agree, you know. They paid Rs. 10 each”. She wouldn’t tell me how well the girls are doing. How a girl has been winning debates even in the state level, a first time in the history of the school. How someone has participated in a national level bharatnatyam workshop. Again, a first.
I would miss her telling me what she has cooked and how everything has become so expensive. And why she cannot take cabs anymore. How Baba spoke to her today, how disappointed she has been with her life and how happy she is with me.
She wouldn’t tell me how bothered she is with the American economy and that it is very important for us to go back home….or to “Singapore, you can come home every weekend then. No?”. She wouldn’t share her anxiety over the bugs in my NY apartment, neither the leaking roof would bother her.
She wouldn’t urge me everyday to do my PhD. She wouldn’t keep my spirits high by giving me new recipes to try everyday.
Strangely, we both know the inevitable and accept it with a matured calmness. She has faith in me. As I have always had in her. It has helped both of us to have faith in ourselves.
Yes, one day she wouldn’t be there. And that’s why I spend more than half an hour listening to her voice. So that when the narration stops, the story would always remain. Safe and warm.