Take it over, kid.


Once upon a time I was a super human. I kept all important dates of school, practice schedules, concert schedules, swim meet schedules in my head – for both kids. Before Google calendar, I wrote all the dates down on our wall calendar in our kitchen for easy access for all. However, easy access for my family meant asking mom/wife.

“When is Ryan’s baseball practice and Sahana’s softball game?” Sean would ask. And crazily enough, I would know the dates.

My kids never went to the same school. When Ryan entered kindergarten, Sahana started middle school. So I got bombarded with emails from 2 schools. And I read each one of them meticulously. I knew the dates of PTA meetings and string concerts, and first grade author’s tea. While I did not attend PTA meetings, I did my share of classroom volunteering when needed. Anyway, bottom line is that once upon a time I was my family’s walking Google calendar. I knew it all in my head.

As Sahana got older, she started taking more responsibilities for her own schedule. Gradually, all her schedule information started sliding off from my brain as she started keeping track. She arranged for her own rides to school concerts, and when she started driving, drove herself to places where she needed to be. My brain then focused on Ryan’s schedule and I did him a disservice by constantly supplying him with dates of his events. Even when he went to high school he depended on me to know the important school dates and swim meet dates. And the control freak that I am, I continued to keep all those in my head. Till I realized I don’t need to anymore. I can clear that space in my memory by giving him the reins of his own activities. So when he asked about dates of his meets, I calmly told him to look it up by logging on to the website.

“Just tell me, it is easier!”

“I have to look it up too. So you do it since it is your meet.” That was a white lie, but it worked. Ryan started looking up on his own. Slowly and I mean, very slowly, he started getting responsible for his own activities.

The husband, on the other hand, was more difficult to train.

“When is…?”

“I am not sure, I forwarded you the email. Look it up” – became my standard response.

I still get the emails from Ryan’s school, which I still read but I do not keep the dates in my head for the most part. I jot down important parent’s meetings in our Google calendar but the rest I simply forward to Ryan. Recently, I saw a text exchange between father and son, which happened while I was still sleeping.

Ryan: “When is my SAT prep class?”

Sean: “I am not sure. I don’t remember getting that email. Mom will know. Let her wake up.”

Me, after waking up: “I forwarded both of you that email. Check your mail.”

They did. The information was there. It was so fun to simply write “check your email”. It is such a relief to not be as responsible anymore. From a super human, I have become just a human with memory space cleared for what I want to store in it.

I love being a parent. And I love seeing the slow transformation of my children taking over the control of their lives. There is a slight pang in my heart, I will not deny, at the fact that they are grown up. However, the dominant feeling is satisfaction and yes, relief.

I am old…


“Sahana, I am getting old!” I proclaimed this morning before heading out to work.

She was deeply contemplating which music to play on her Spotify. But she heard me and reflexively replied, “No you are not.”

“Yes I am!”

“NO, you are not! Why do you say that?” She did look up from her screen – interested now in knowing.

“I pulled a muscle near my elbow brushing my hair. That happens to aging folks. As we get old we have trouble drying hair, get pulled muscle while brushing hair.” I provided fool proof example of my advancing years and utterly weak elbow muscles.

“Pffft….that is not a sign of aging. You simply have so much hair that brushing them gave your arm a muscle pull. This is an example of abundance of your hair not advancing age.”

Bam! She turned the ailment to compliment. One needs to learn from her how to convert criticism to compliment. We both laughed out loud. And I want to remember this moment so here it goes in my blog post.

Sibling relationship and food


Since Sahana started working, she buys some of the groceries. And not often, but sometimes those groceries include salt and barbeque chips or takis or hot flaming cheetos. She is a generous kid, who buys enough for herself and her brother. She keeps her brother’s packet of junk food out and promptly hides her own packet. The brother storms in from his boarding school over the weekend, opens the refrigerator door, devours whatever he finds to his taste and then complains, “There is nothing in this house to eat.” He finishes his packet of junk food and hunts in the hidden corners of the house for more. He has often gotten into trouble for eating his sister’s portion and once or twice there have been aggressive exchange of words. Expletives have been used and their mother has shouted at both of them.

Last night, Ryan came home mid week for a doctor’s appointment. Sahana and I had purchased our choice of chips – one packet each, to enjoy while the eating fiend was away at dorms. Ryan located our packets right away and helped himself to a generous portion from mine. He tried one or two from his sister’s too but he (fortunately) did not enjoy the flavor. He then hid both the packets of chips in a cabinet and asked me to tell Sahana that he came and took the packets with him to dorm. I was also asked to report to him her reactions. He was laughing his head off imagining how angry she would be when she came back from work to discover her packet of chips had disappeared. He cautioned me though, “Mom, if you see her balling her fists in rage, tell her I hid the chips. I don’t want her hurting my mother. Hee hee hee.”

Sahana came home from work and after she settled, I told her nonchalantly, “Oh, by the way, Ryan came home and took our packets of chips with him to the dorm. That boy is trouble.” As expected, Sahana got angry. “He has a eating problem. Do you realize that he has a problem?” She said a few more sentences about it, none of them complimentary to her brother. I could not keep the laughter bottled in anymore so I told her he hid her chips to get a reaction out of her. She laughed, “He is an idiot.”

I have not written about the kids for a while. This blog started as a record of my parenting journey. The journey continues and will continue as long as I live. There are exasperations, laughter, sullenness, successes, failures as we live our lives together. However, I have stopped writing about them now that they have grown up. I simply had to write down this anecdote to read later and remember this moment of laughter. Moments like these make life precious.

Goods in 2021


The beginning of 2021 was so full of hope. When I racked my brain for what was good in 2021 for me personally, that is what comes to mind first. Hope. We were so hopeful, naively hopeful. I remember saying to friends “After we get the vaccine, let’s plan on going to Kolkata together. “

Well that hope was shattered. I lost my parents and 3 other relatives to Covid in 2021. So try as I might, I can not find the goods this past year. There were goods – kindness was showered upon us, Sean and I took a couple of fantastic trips, Sahana graduated magna cum laude from college, Ryan kept his GPA up, improved his time in swimming, Sahana got jobs and planned for future, Ryan moved to dorms and had good school life, Sean continued his efforts to make a difference in people’s lives all over the world, donors in his organization donated money to help in Covid relief, my work friends held me up when I was afraid of drowning, books, as usual, became my anchor.

But all these goods could not balance the loss in my life. I am afraid to hope but I want to remain hopeful that the goods in 2022 will outweigh the bads. My best wishes to all of you out there who drop by my blog site. Stay blessed and healthy.

A joy


Yesterday, while out on an errand, I watched a little girl going ahead of her family. She could not have been more than 7 or 8. Her head was down and it seemed she was focused on the sidewalk below her feet. Her family walked leisurely behind her. But she was not walking though. She was skipping. She wore a white dress with rainbow colors at the bottom of it. Her shoes were white too. Her hair seemed wild, unruly and as happy as her motion was – bouncy. With each skip her hair bounced. And it all made a perfect picture of joy.

I watched her skip for as long as I could till I could see her no more. And on the first day of a new year, I thought of the joy she exuded – being with her family, somewhat ahead of them on a spring like December day, the last day of the year in fact, skipping instead of walking.

Happy 10th birthday, my library branch.


Ten years ago, on this day, I walked into our palatial library with my husband and 2 young children in tow. As we drove in, we were astonished to see police officers directing traffic. The grand opening of my branch attracted a huge crowd, about 7000 community members – large enough for the county to send police officers to manage flow of people and cars. I remember walking around in awe, looking at the space, the gleaming stacks and columns, the terrace, the collection. Each book seemed new, smelled new. I remember thinking working at a library such as this would be a dream come true.

The dream did come true for me as I was hired as a Part Time Customer Service Specialist only seven months after the grand opening of the building. Within a year, I switched departments and joined the Research and Instructor team but remained part time to take care of the children. After a couple of years, I got a Full Time position in the same department and I work there still.

I have written before and write often how life affirming working at a public library can be. We get to interact with a microcosm of humanity almost on a daily basis and we realize 98% of the people, our customers, are kind. But apart from the sense of purpose that I find at my job, my work place has proved to be my anchor when I realized I was slowly sinking to a deep, dark place after both my parents died. I was told to take as much time as I needed. But after a few days of baba’s death, I felt I was succumbing in the quicksand of grief and I needed something to emerge from those depths of suffocating sorrow. I went back to the library. I wanted to be by myself, but needed to be busy. My colleagues gave me that space but remained close enough for support. I remember shelving cart after cart when I first came back. Shelving carts of materials kept me moving, and gave my mind a sense of numbness that it sorely needed. Between the stacks with only books for company, I found some semblance of peace. Public libraries are assets in the community. It comes to the aid of many as they look for opportunities to move ahead in life. It came to my aid by providing me with a job, a group of caring colleagues who have become family and my public library job saved me when I needed saving.

So happy birthday, my library. May your journey to enrich people’s lives continue, may you continue to promote equity and inclusion, may you continue to be a safe place for all and a cornerstone for the community. I am blessed to be part of that journey for a while.

Will wear the mask in a minute..


Our library has a mask mandate and as a library worker, one of my jobs is to remind customers to either pull up their masks over their noses from their chin or actually wear a mask if they plan to peruse our collection, use our computers or use our study space. I am a non confrontational person and a hard core introvert on top of that. So every time I see someone without mask, I groan inwardly, take a deep breath before I begin my diffident journey to ask that person to mask up. I have come a long way in these 10 years to politely assert myself in such situations but I still dread it.

Anyway, this morning as I was shelving in the poetry section, a lady came up to me and said in a soft whisper, “There is a man sitting out there with no mask on.” I assured her I will talk to him right away. After taking some deep breaths and groaning inwardly, I walked over to the gentleman.

“Sir, I am going to have to ask you to put your mask on since there is a mask mandate in the library.”

“Oh, sure mam, sure! I am just drinking my coffee.” He pointed to his disposable coffee cup and then also showed me his mask.

I thanked him and told him to put his mask on as soon as possible. And walked away. I continued shelving in other sections and then walked back to where he was working to clean up shelves. He looked at me with the corner of his eye and lifted his cup to his mouth. He was still mask less after 15 minutes. And I had a sneaky feeling that his coffee cup was empty. He was simply using that as a prop to continue to remain mask less. I chuckled at his ingenuity. I had to walk up and tell him to mask up now and if he needed to sip he could pull his mask down to sip and put it back on again. He was not as pleasant as he was during our first interaction but he did put his mask back on.

As I made my way back to the kiosk, I noticed a young man who did not have his mask on. I breathed, groaned and talked to him about doing the right thing (Could you please put your mask on, sir?). He did right away. I walked away. The next time I went near him, he had taken it off and put it on the table by his laptop. I just stood there next to him for a few seconds, staring at him. He looked at me, slowly retrieved his mask and put it on his nose.

Near the kiosk, I saw a very elderly woman walking towards me in hesitant shuffle, without mask. “What did I do wrong this morning to deserve this?” I asked the universe as I approached the woman and said my refrain – pull your mask up for crying out loud! (I worded my request differently, of course). She slowly pulled a mask from her pocket and put it on without acknowledging me or my polite request at all.

Then my shift ended and I walked away from the desk. I entered my cubicle and shook my head at humanity.

Khushi’s Christmas gifts and happy haunting.


Khushi requested that I bring her a school bag when I go to Kolkata. Instead of waiting for that long, we ordered a school bag, a set of pencils with a cool (I think) looking pencil box and a water bottle for her from Amazon India. The packet has arrived at our apartment in Kolkata. However, I told Gouri and Breshpati (Khushi’s mom) to hide the gifts till Christmas and give them to her as a Christmas present.

Gouri planned further ahead. She asked Breshpati to keep the gifts next to her when she falls asleep on Christmas eve so she wakes up on Christmas day to a surprise. Supposedly, baba, Khushi’s adoptive grandfather, bought several gifts for her every Christmas and asked her mother to hide them and put them by her side on the night of Christmas eve. Gouri wants to continue that tradition that dadai started.

I listened to Gouri’s excited voice and felt so intensely sad about all of it. Not the gift giving, of course, but the fact baba is not here to give her the Christmas joy. Gouri plans to have someone write a note saying the gift is from didiya and dadai. I wondered if that will scare the little girl – receiving gifts from dead grandparents.

As I cried after the phone conversation, Sahana explained to me that the idea was brilliant and Khushi will not be scared. She will understand that this giving of gift is simply a show of love. Despite death and tragedy, love flows uninterrupted and that is the beauty of living. She said, if Khushi thinks didiya and dadai are haunting her, it is a kind of happy haunting. She won’t mind. 😀

“That made me so happy!”


I have written before that the words ‘thank you’ and ‘welcome’ were seldom used in our childhood. Now that I think about it, there are no literal translations of the word ‘welcome’ in Bengali. When we were gifted something, we used to say “I absolutely love this.” (bhishon bhalo laglo). And we smiled big. That was saying thank you. And when we were thanked in some way, we reciprocated gratitude by either smiling big in return or saying something like Spanish speaking people say – de nada. We said some variation of “oh that was nothing”.

I wished my Uncle and Aunt a happy marriage anniversary this morning. In response, my Uncle blessed us, “Tora khub bhalo thakish.” (All of you stay well). That was his ‘thank you’ for my wish – his blessing. And my Aunt said, “Khub khushi holam.” (That made me so happy). My wish made her so happy!

As I pulled books for customers this morning at work, I mulled over the sentiments. My good wishes made my Aunt happy. That response is so much more meaningful to me than ‘thank you’. It spoke to me and made me smile. I could visualize her face thousands of miles away, smiling at my words reading my wish on her special day. That brought a smile to my morning.

Baba too had trouble saying thank you to wishes. When I wished him a ‘happy birthday’ or ‘happy anniversary’ he got a little confused and wished me ‘same to you’ in response. And ma scolded him that he did not follow ettiquette – ‘Arreh, thank you bolo!’ (say thank you). But ‘same to you’ was funnier and his confusion was so endearing. We always laughed.