How many more will it take?

Another mindless killing. Little children this time, between the ages of 5 and 7. They must have woken up in the morning, hugged, kissed and coaxed by their mammas and papas, fed wholesome breakfast, dressed warmly to fend off the cold and sent off to school just like any other regular day. Moms and dads waved goodbye and said, ‘Have a good day, sweetheart! Listen to your teachers and try your best!’

Did they realize that would be their final goodbye? No they didn’t. The thought of saying their final goodbyes didn’t enter their heads because they didn’t live in a war stricken country. They lived in an upscale, quiet, peaceful town of Newtown, Connecticut with a total population of 27000 people. People migrate here in America, legally and illegally, to pursue that American dream of leading a better life. And people here own the right to bear arms to defend themselves – the arms which end up taking the lives of innocent children, again and again and again. Those arms fall into the hands of people with mental health problems and they cease to be means of self-defense, they become deadly weapons that shed the blood of innocent, of babes, of little lives who had gone to school like any other regular day!

Our President is shocked, I have no doubt. He shed tears and I do believe those tears are genuine. He is, first and foremost, a parent. He feels the loss, he grieves. But will those tears bring forth any truly meaningful actions as he promised? Will he have the courage to tell the members of National Rifle association that “Enough already, too much blood has already been spilled because politicians, over the years, needed to appease you for those precious votes!” Will he do something right about bringing stringent laws about gun control which, it is obvious, this nation needs.

Sure guns don’t fire by themselves, people pull the trigger. But due to the easy availability, too many people have easy access to that deadly trigger! People who have mental issues, people who should have received psychiatric treatment instead of access to guns. The young man, Adam Lanza, who shot the children and adults took the guns of his mother, supposedly a substitute teacher of Sandy Hook Elementary (that fact hasn’t been ascertained), who had legally purchased the guns. She was a collector, you see. She paid the price of her hobby with her life and a score of children paid for it too. The children had just seen six or seven summers before their life was brutally ended.

I am shocked, angry, scared. As I made dinner for the children, wrapped them in my arms, kissed them goodnight last night, my heart cried for those parents in Connecticut who waved their final goodbyes to their little children on that fateful morning. Death can come anytime, I understand, but the sad thing is mindless deaths such as these can be prevented. I firmly believe, gun control measures are a solution to gun related crimes in this country. Are our elected officials going to take the right step this time, do you think? At the cost of angering major votebanks, will they bring in ban on assault weapons? Will they rise above politics and vote counts to protect and preserve life, which, by the way, is part of their job description? We need stringent gun control measures. Oh wait! Have I said that already? Pardon me for repeating myself, I am a little flustered right now. I feel if I harp on one point it will finally happen. Naive me!

Some fourth graders were rushed to a store-room closet by their teacher, while Lanza was carrying on his bloody carnage, and since there were papers and crayons available, the teacher set the youngsters to draw pictures while they waited for the police. I would love to see their artwork, what did the terrified little souls create that morning? Some six-year olds were confined in their classrooms by their teacher who explained to them that there was a bad man outside, and they will wait for the good men to come and rescue them. The teacher went to the children who were crying and told them to smile, they will be ok. The children said they wanted to do Christmas, they wanted to go their mommies.

Children die unnecessarily every day, all over the world. I read about their deaths and shudder. Bad, evil people hurt little children, I get more vigilant about keeping mine safe. Sean comes back from different refugee camps and share stories of suffering that tv channels and news papers do not tell us. We grieve for the suffering as a family, we look around and see the splendor surrounding us and hope people don’t forget to remember the people who are hurting all over the world. We try in our little, tiny, inadequate way to make some contribution towards healing a few. And then, we look at the bright, beautiful faces of our two children. We feel blessed to be able to live in a part of the world where we do not have to constantly worry about keeping them safe. Incidents like these shatter our delusion of safety. Safe, our children, are not. And safe, they will not be till guns can’t be bought easily as part of our constitutional right!

How do we explain to our children these shoot outs in a place they consider the safest next to their homes – their schools? How do we tell them, we now worry about their safely when they are at school? We worry that any madman (woman) at any time can use them as target practice when s/he feels the world deserves retribution.

I am stunned, I can’t seem to get over this incident. This one hit home and this one hit hard. I look at the snippets of news where they show the parents crying and think that could be me, any day. This incident will fade away in news channels as America gears up for Christmas, I will laugh, joke and make merry with friends and family, exchange gifts and sing Christmas carols. Life will go on, I know. But I also know, Christmas lights are twinkling less brightly for me right now as I struggle to make sense of it all. For once, I am desperately looking for positivism and I can’t find any. Then I hear about the teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary. Amidst all this evil and carnage and anger and despondence, I bow to the teachers of that elementary school. Some threw themselves in front of the bullets so the children could get away. Some herded the children to safety and hunkered down till they all got rescued. Teachers, you are my heroes. You reinstate the faith in me when all seems lost and the evil gets so powerful that I struggle to breathe. Your actions bring in the fresh air. Goodness is not lost, can not be lost.

Finally, to the little ones who got the most precious gift of all – a second chance at life. Preserve it well darlings. Make something of it. Grow up big and strong, right the wrongs, spread the love, carry the fire, spread the warmth so that the likes of Adam Lanza get the help that they need and don’t ever feel the need to pick up guns to seek retribution.

Let us pray – for PEACE! And an end to easy accessibility of guns. Its time, its time!!!!


Mama thought for a year.

This blog happened because of my daughter’s unwavering faith in my ability to write. She started telling me I should write a book.

“Mom, you should really think about writing a book! I think you will be really good at it!” She said.

“I am not creative enough to write a book! Also I have no time to think!” This was my standard reply.

“Then write a blog. I am telling you, you will be good!” She insisted.

“What is a blog?” I asked. To be fair to her, Sahana did try to hide her surprise at my ignorance, she explained a blog post to me with utmost patience and didn’t roll her eyes once.

Ok, ok, I will think about it!”

The conversation generally ended there till she brought it up again. She did plant a seed in my head which started growing. But what would I write about, I thought. My life wasn’t exciting at all. A regular, everyday woman, trying to raise two little humans to the best of her ability. Not creative, not a terrific observer, not a philosopher, not a deep thinker by any means, what would I write about? I read some sites on how to write a blog. One said to write about something that I am passionate about. I wasn’t really passionate about anything. It was discouraging. Nothing in my life was worth writing about till Ryan said something really, really funny one day. I thought I could write about my children. They make me smile with their words and gestures, maybe some of the things they say will make others smile too. I decided to write a blog on their every day lives, their comments, their growing up. I meant it to be like an online journal of sorts, which I hoped, they will read when they grew up. And maybe share a laugh with me at the memory, since that is all I will be left with  once they fly the nest.

But I am lackadaisical in everything. So although the good intention of starting a blog was germinating in my head, it didn’t really grow shoots. The plan wasn’t implemented right away.

Then life threw a curve ball.

I got a phone call that turned my smooth, planned out life upside down. Someone very dear to me was diagnosed with the emperor of maladies. It is interesting how one clearly remembers the moment when one gets a devastating news out of the blue. I distinctly remember the glare of the white neon light when my phone rang and I answered. I was sitting at the children’s swim practice, talking to two other mothers when the call came. I remember hearing the sad, resigned tone of my loved one – and the news. My heart stopped beating for a split second and I distinctly remember the cold, gnawing, raw feeling of fear in my stomach. I mumbled ‘Excuse me’ to my company and walked out in the hall for better reception. I heard the news calmly while my head was exploding with ‘WHY?  WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? I THOUGHT I WAS INVINCIBLE? IS THIS A JOKE? IS THIS REALLY REALLY HAPPENING TO ME?” The reality of the situation didn’t sink in immediately, I was in a daze.

The phone call ended. I remember walking  back and sitting down with a numb feeling. I remember trying to come to terms with the dreaded C word. The word ‘cancer’ played in my head, again and again. The word ‘cancer’ has such a definitive ring to it – a strong word, a harsh word, a dangerous word. A word that can appear in your life all of a sudden and can potentially turn your life upside down, can actually rip it apart. I gathered the children after their practice, bundled them in the car and headed home, ‘cancer’ still playing in my head. I remember each minute of that evening, down to the minute detail.

Then the research started. I read up as much as I could  focusing on how worse it could have been but wasn’t. I started counting  on my fingers what were the positives – the early detection, the survival rate, the necessary treatment. I clung to the positives and held on to them for dear life. I couldn’t turn off my thoughts at night and during one of those sleepless nights, I stumbled on to I needed something fluffy and light and cheerful. I needed balance. I needed the innocence of my children to balance the sadness and harsh reality that I was living. I wrote my first post.

Here we go.

My first step in the blogging world. See if it works. Wow! It did! Hmmmmm! What now? What do I write about? While researching how to write a blog, I read one should blog about something that one is passionate about! Where do my passions lie? That’s a tough one. Once upon a time, I was passionate about a few things, acting, traveling, writing. Then I fell in love, got married, had children. And my passions went hibernating. But this blog is not about self pity! Oh jeez, I lost myself after the kids came. No siree! Loved every minute. Well, you know what I mean. Didn’t really love, love every minute!! That’s stretching it. Didn’t really love the sleepless nights, the temper tantrums, the dirty diapers in the middle of the night etc etc etc. But did love the dimpled cheeks and the chubby thighs. Loved the different stages of growing up and the innocent questions, loved the cuddles and the belly laughs.

Oh dear! This always happens. I frequently get carried away when I start talking about the kiddos. Oh well! This blog, like many other mommy blogs, is probably going to be about the different things my children do to make me laugh. I don’t know why anybody would want to read them or be interested in them. They would be my online journal kind of a thing.

Time to sign off. Warmth of my bed beckons. As long as I can publish this I am set. First time and all.

As I read this post I relived the emotions that were going through me – despondence, anger, depression, fear. I see none of that in this. It is a bubbly, cheerful, happy post – a perfect veneer for my troubled soul. I needed it desperately. The dates of my early blogs show that I probably wrote something each day – as a release, as an attempt to crawl back to happy, cancer free times of my life, as a desperate attempt to hold on to normalcy.

After some tumultuous months of treatment, my loved one was declared cancer free. But I owed it to whatmamathinks for keeping me anchored during that troubled time along with the constant support of some dear friends.

I kept on writing after that. Who knew I had so many stories to tell. I looked forward to writing – in my very ordinary way, about my very ordinary life. And some of you read the musings. Some of you were kind enough to like them and leave comments on them. I thank each and every one of you who visit this blog from time to time and indulge me by reading what I write. I am someone who writes just for the sake of writing, I will never publish, never explain myself beyond what I have written. These are some snippets of my life, my memories, my thoughts, my insight into issues that are important to me.

I often think I will write something deep and thoughtful, something philosophical, something really radical. But that is not who I am; I am not a thinker, I am a mere observer, I can only narrate what has happened, I can infer some. I can learn some and write about what I have learned. I know I can’t change the world with my writing, but if I can bring a smile to your lips with any of my posts, I am happy.

Hug them tighter…

There were probably more than ten thousand people on Dashwashamedh Ghat in Varanasi that evening to watch the evening puja. And my two-year old daughter decided to assert her new-found independence amongst that mass of humanity. She rebelled in Sean’s arms, scrambled down and started walking away to explore the chaos around her on her own two feet and in her own terms. She looked back at us and dared us to challenge her stand – the days of molly coddling me are over, parents! Deal with it.

For the uninitiated, Dashwashamedh Ghat is the most important ghat on the bank of the holy river Ganga, in the city of Varanasi in India. Varanasi is one place where ancient India has been preserved in its essence and ambiance. The old city seems to be warped in time, continuing the ancient heritage with the rituals, the lighting and floating of the diyas, the chants, the priests, the faith. To me, Varanasi, especially the old city, still retains the aura of the India that we read about in history books. The mystics, the sadhus, the beliefs, the believers – Varanasi is the confluence of all these. And Dashwashamedh Ghat happens to be the most famous of the ghats on the banks of the river Ganges where one can see the mass of humanity proclaiming their faith – seeking and hopefully finding too.

Sahana took off and immediately got lost. I shrieked, Sean sprinted towards the direction she headed, she hadn’t made too much progress since she had been picked up by a sadhu (holy man) and the two were chatting like long-lost friends.


The gentleman said a lot to Sean with a beaming smile, Sean returned the beaming smile but shrugged helplessly when it came to conversation. The man kept Sahana on his lap and continued to introduce her to his fellow sadhus. They all talked to her, laughed with her, let her touch their white matted beards, tug their matted hair and touch the beads around their necks, blessed her and gave her some fruit. Sean and I tagged along behind them, not taking our eyes off our precious daughter, yet the camaraderie between the little girl and those men were so evident, we didn’t have the heart to intrude. Finally, when all the talk was done, all the laughter was shared, the man handed Sahana back to us with a final blessing to the child.

Next day we went to a temple, where Sean was allowed to go in. It was crowded, the seekers were seeking blessings from the goddess, we were mere spectators of the ritual and of the celebration of the faith. Sahana let go of my finger and walked along to stand next to a blind man who was playing a harmonium and singing devotional songs. She listened intently for a while, with the air of a connoisseur, and then decided such music deserved some dancing. She started twirling and dancing in front of the blind man. People stopped to watch, the murmur stopped, the priests paused. There was this little baby girl in a white frock and a dark-skinned, blind old man in white kurta and pajama. The world belonged to them. The moment was surreal. A crowd formed around them. A man standing next to me said in a reverent whisper, “The goddess is in that child, you see. The goddess is dancing to the music. God manifests itself in children, and you see the proof. The child is one with the goddess now!”



We were in Ubud, Bali, when Sahana was about seven months old. We were walking along the beautiful city with Sahana in our arms when a matronly lady came running out of a house, smiling and chattering to us in her own language she took Sahana from our arms and started walking back to her house. Sean and I were so surprised at this sweet, smiling assault that we couldn’t react for a few seconds. We, then, ran after the lady quietly and entered her house. She was showing the baby to her family members and although we didn’t understand anything that was being said, we understood the universal language of love. We stood there basking in the reflected glory of baby Sahana till the family had their fill of her gummy smiles and belly laughs and handed her back to her expectant parents so we could continue our leisurely sojourn through the city. A lot was said to us in their language and some treats were given to us for the little one.

A very dear friend wrote a letter to Sahana right after she was born. Her first letter. In the letter, our friend said to her not to believe when people say the world is not a good place at all. The world is so beautiful and she will discover it for herself one day – the beauty of it all. I truly believe that is true. I think she is already on her way to discovering how beautiful our world is. How can she not when her life has been and is constantly touched and blessed by all the love that surrounds her?

Last year we went back to Kolkata, India during the summer. I asked my children to tell me what they liked the most about Kolkata and what they liked the least. The least liked aspect of Kolkata was the smell and the honking of the cars. The most liked aspect was the love that they felt everywhere they went. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, the autodriver who advised their mother, after seeing they were drenched in a summer rain, ‘Didi, make sure you go home and have the little ones take hot showers, so they don’t catch a cold” ; the bus driver, who held their hand so they could get down safely from the rickety public bus, the local sweet shop owner who always gave a special sweetmeat to the kiddos, as a special treat for going by his sweet shop.

My children have been touched by so much love in their lives that sometimes I wonder how could they not turn out well. They have felt the love in so many places, in so many ways, by so many people, in so many countries. How can they remain immune to the good will and love that surround them?

Hug your children a little tighter friends, so they feel the warmth. And they remember the warmth. So they can carry the warmth with them when they grow up and share it with those who are unloved and cast aside. Heaven knows, we need a lot of that love and warmth to obliterate the suffering and pain caused by cold hearts. The world needs more loving, hope the loved ones can provide.