You are looking very handsome these days….


I have been giving Sean compliments for the last 4 days. Maybe I am noticing more, maybe the 10 day long break he took did wonders, maybe the sun hits him the right way illuminating the green in his eyes and highlighting his gorgeous smile, I don’t know why but he looks exceptionally handsome. So I told him that. There may have been some surprise in my voice when I told him, “You look very handsome.” He looked a little abashed and happy 😊.

Last night Sahana noticed it too. She exclaimed, “Dad, you look so fit. You look very handsome.” I found an ally!

“Doesn’t he? I have been telling him that. He looks very handsome these days.”

I gave both of them an arsenal.

“These days? He looks handsome these days? You did not think he was handsome before? Dad did you hear your wife?”

Sean jumped in, acting all aggrieved.

I tried to defend myself saying he was always handsome but he had started looking haggard with his intermittent fasting routine and too much exercise. Now he has just the right amount of weight and sleep. He looks fresh.

But I was not allowed to finish my sentence. They jumped on the word “haggard”.

“Wow, mom, you are digging yourself into a deeper hole. Haggard? You are calling your husband haggard? Dad how does that make you feel?”

Sean acted all hurt and said he did not want to talk about it. The more I wanted to defend myself, the more my words were twisted.

There is a mischief making demi God in Hindu mythology called Narad. He causes mischief and initiates quarrel among people. Sahana was Narad incarnate. The three of us laughed. I am documenting simple, every day joyful moments whenever I can.

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.

My mother..


Recently a friend commented that he has renewed respect for his mother after singlehandedly cooking and taking care of his sick family members. He wondered how his mother did all this alone every single day. I don’t remember my mother in that role at all. She stayed far away from the kitchen. She declared loudly that she does not like to cook and only cooks when there is an absolute need. In 70’s Kolkata, that declaration was completely antithetical to the image of an ideal woman and a mother. Did she care though? Nope.

Instead of being a bringer of food, she nourished me with books. She ensured I was fed of course, but she also always made sure I had plenty of books to read. I used to get sick every month with some kind of fever as a child. Although I felt unwell, I did not mind the fever too much because every time I got sick, Ma bought new books to perk me up. They were not classics or anything deep, thought provoking or educational. They were Amar Chitra Kathas or comics of my favorite super heroes but I still remember the joy I felt in my fever ravaged mind as I saw the packet of books in her hands.

My favorite memory of Ma is us sharing the same pillow reading our respective books in summer afternoons during summer vacation.

Once school’s session ended and we got a few days off till next grade, she insisted I read a story book during the time assigned for homework just to stay in the habit of sitting down to work. I loved that ‘work.’ Interestingly, I got a job where reading is actually part of my work.

I remember her reading poems of Rabindranath Tagore to me starting with Shishu and then moving on to Sanchoyita. She guided me into the treasure trove of Bengali literature as she was a voracious consumer of all those treasures.

I remember her teaching me kindness.

I remember regurgitating all my school stories as a little girl while I ate my after school snack and she listening patiently.

My favorite thing about her is her laugh. She has this rumbling, all encompassing laughter which starts in her face and travels through her whole body and being.

She is very gullible. She believes easily and then laughs if she realizes she fell for some trick or pranks by her grand kids.

My Ma is not the one who worked all day to make me food or clean the house or arrange my table. She did work all the time to be my cheerleader, my fellow bibliophile, my confidante, my teacher, sometimes my counselor and also a strict disciplinarian.

She is fighting Covid in a hospital in Kolkata along with my father. I am very far away and can not be with either of them.

If you are reading this blog, do send some healing wishes to the universe for these people that you do not know but who could benefit from good, positive energy.

Happy mother’s day.

The gender of our ghost.


“I am convinced there is a ghost in our house!” Sahana proclaimed as one of our musical Christmas knick knacks on the coffee table started playing Christmas music without any assistance on our part.

We were having dinner. We all stopped chewing and looked at each other. How, on earth did that happen? After a few moments of silence, Sahana also said, “Well, I do believe there are ghosts and one lives in this house. I have felt a presence. And she likes me the least. She has smacked pies out of my hand!”

Ryan, who keeps a baseball bat with him (or a kitchen knife sometimes, much to my chagrin) when he is alone, silently looked at her for a few seconds. He said he too is a believer, his voice filled with awe and a little fear.

Then he looked up at the air on top of my head and pleaded with the ghost, “Well, you are welcome to stay. Just don’t cause us any harm.”

I said I also don’t NOT believe in ghost. There is a possibility that spirits linger but I advised the ghost to remember that only weak seek revenge, strong forgive and smart ignore so either be a strong ghost or a smart ghost but please don’t be a weak ghost and seek revenge on us.

That statement elicited a chorus of “MOM, DO NOT SAY SUCH THINGS TO THE GHOST!!! She might be provoked to harm us. What are you doing?” This outburst was followed by Ryan looking at the air on top my head again and saying, “Please forgive her. She does not know what she says. Hey Sahana, do you know if our parents killed anyone in this house when we were little?”

I happened to address the ghost as “it” which was not acceptable to my children. “Don’t dehumanize her, mom. You will make her angry!” Sahana exclaimed.

“But this ghost is not human. It is former human!” I justified.

“You called her it again”. Stop doing that. She will get offended!”

“So what pronoun should I use? And how do you know it is a she?”

“Ugh, don’t use it!! Use they/them. Keep it non binary. That is the best option. But DO NOT dehumanize the ghost by calling them ‘it’. They may seek revenge.”

“Well, then they will be a weak ghost.” I shrugged.

“MOM!!! Don’t provoke them! What are you doing?”

The deed was done, though. I had provoked them. The Christmas music thing kept on playing at interval throughout the night as I gnashed my teeth at the ghost.

Next morning my husband said, “Jeez, that thing was playing at night. Let’s turn that off!” I did not find a turn off button on it, so I handed it over for him to try.

Sahana and Ryan are convinced it is our non binary ghost playing a prank. Another Christmas prank.

The music continues to play intermittently. Our non binary resident ghost continues with a prank of their own. Time to take the batteries out of that infernal Christmas toy! And if the music still continues, we will call an exorcist. Ghost, you have been warned…..

Summary of the first decade.


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As Sage greeted him with the usual doggy exuberance, Ryan bent down to give his nuzzling head a cuddle, he looked up from his dog, his eyes smiling:

‘Mom, I have the best life anyone could ever have!’

‘I am so happy you feel that way. Why do you say that, my love?’

‘Because I have a mother who loves me and focuses on my studies so that I learn. I have a father who loves me and helps me to be the best I can in sports. I have a sister who makes me strong by teaching me how to fight for myself. And I have a dog who teaches me to take care of him so when I have children I will know how to take care of them.’

The evening had been a dismal one for me, for various reasons.

Ryan, however, knew nothing of my turmoil and inner conflicts. And he will never know how his words magically transferred my sadness to one of hope and yes, joy. Words are powerful. They destroy but they can also restore faith – in life, in good, in innocence and in the unfettered joy of living.

Ryan tends to live his life in slow motion. He gets involved with everything that is going on around him and forgets his focus. He gets so wrapped up in the world in his head that I sometimes can not reach out to him. This frustrates me sometimes as chores need to get done, places need to be reached on time. When I cease for a moment to really look at the person that he is growing up to be, I see that he just carries with him a joy, and he chose that moment, unknowingly, Β to sprinkle his joy dust on me.

I see him say an encouraging word to his discouraged teammate. I see him saying an exuberant hello to a diffident little boy who did not want to come to swim practice and I witness the boy’s face light up with a smile at being greeted by a teammate. The little boy’s grateful mother tells me how relieved she was at Ryan’s loud, cheery hello as she walked in with her unhappy boy. I hear from his teacher that he is a ‘nice boy’, a ‘really, really good child’. And I know he is sprinkling joy dust as he goes along his path in life. He makes me happy and lightens up my soul along with his big sister.

May the splendor of his soul never dim, my wish for this gorgeous boy who turns ten today. Happy birthday, son. May you continue to love, continue to hope and continue to feel!

This is a woman’s store, get out…


Did any of you read the ‘You wouldn’t want to be’ series to your children? You should certainly look into it, it is a great resource and a fun way to learn history. Anyway, I am not here to discuss children’s books, I am here to tell a story that resurfaced in my mind after seeing my friend’s Facebook update. The particular series came to mind because if I ever wrote that series, I would name mine ‘You wouldn’t want to grow up dark, skinny and tall in mid eighties Kolkata’! I was just that and let me tell you, it wasn’t fun.

I tried make up, and ended up as a white apparition in order to lighten my skin. I tried jewelry, nothing looked right. It brought laughter and ridicule. Eventually, I stopped dabbling in the mystery of foundation, rouge, eye shadows, avoided jewelry and fancy clothes, or anything that would bring attention to looks. I found self deprecatory humor as an effective defense mechanism. I guffawed the loudest at being named ‘Big Ethel’ and nodded emphatically to show I enjoyed the joke as much as the jokers. Was it bullying? It, perhaps, was, but I didn’t recognize it then. There were plenty of tears, but they were shed silently, in the privacy of my bed.

But that is not the whole point of writing this blog. I grew up and matured enough to become comfortable in my skin. I didn’t try to change anything for anyone. I chose comfort over style and received enough compliments later on in life to blunt the pain of the few nightmarish years of teenage.

After I came to this country, I primarily wore Sean’s shirts and sweatshirts over jeans and wore ethnic clothes when the ocassion called for taking it a notch higher till I landed with a job as a guest coordinator in a hotel. I had a job and no clothes to wear to it. So my spouse and I went clothes shopping – in my usual attire of oversized shirt, jeans, running shoes and a hat.

We went into an expensive looking store which held rows and rows of black pants, shiny white, blue, grey (there were not a riot of colors in those days) shirts under the glittering store light. As we entered diffidently, a very nicely dressed older woman came up:

‘Hi there, may I help you find something today?’ She asked brightly.

‘Yes, we are looking for some business casual clothes for me!’ I responded.

‘Oh, this is a woman’s store. You won’t find anything here!’ She politely smiled at me.

I still don’t know why we turned around with a puzzled, baffled expression on our faces and walked out of the store. I know why I walked out. I probably didn’t understand her accent and I simply followed Sean. But I don’t understand why my loving husband didn’t stand his ground and say ‘She IS a woman, find some clothes for her! NOW!’

But Sean just walked out and we looked at each other and then started laughing. I said, ‘I should take umbrage at not being recognized as a woman, but this is way too funny. Maybe I should ditch the hat and wear my hair long, since my curves don’t quite send the message I am a woman?’

Sean laughed because he found the expression on my face very comical!

At a party, I told the story to a girl friend, I was kicked out of a ‘woman’s store’ for a mistaken gender identity, I said. She asked the name of the store and the mall, then she laughed too and said, ‘It wasn’t a mistaken gender identity, you silly goose! A woman’s store, in this country means women who wear plus sizes. She saw your size and knew that store wasn’t right for you!’

So that is the politically correct term for women who wear plus sizes – women. They are the real women. So what are we? The skinny ones? Chopped liver? Discrimination, I say πŸ˜€ !

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