The “goods” in week of May 3rd.


How can I write what was good this week when both my parents contacted Covid in Kolkata? My ma was put on a ventilator yesterday and then gave up the fight and my baba is still fighting it in the same hospital. Yet, there were ‘goods’ this week and I did not even have to think hard to find them.

We were fortunate to get 2 beds for my parents in the same hospital in a city which is being ravaged by this deadly virus and people can not get hospital beds or oxygen cylinders.

My friends, their husbands, some cousins, and a care giver from Tribeca Care, an elderly care service, are doing all they can to help since I am far away and are surrounding me with love and support. They made phone calls, found 2 beds in a hospital, organized ambulance care, talked to hospital administrators and got my parents admitted so they could get proper care.

Friends poured their love and good wishes on us from all over the world. Since I am a big believer in collective good will, I know a lot of good energy was released out in the universe which touched my parents.

I can not deny the mind numbing, troubled breathing kind of anxiety that I experience but quiet walks with Sean, nutritious meals prepared by Sahana and silent prayers by Ryan made me feel less alone.

Sean’s family messages us regularly to let us know they love us and are thinking of us.

My supervisor at work encouraged me to not think about that part of my life right now, but to simply focus on what was at hand. My coworkers showed their support in messages and emails.

I have not held back my tears and cried often this week. It is a cleansing experience. I wish I did not have reason to cry but I do. And the fact that I have allowed myself to cleanse through tears is good.

In times of trouble one finds out one is surrounded by a loving community, I think that is the ‘goods’ this week. In fact, that is the best.

Quinceanera


As I held the soft, warm bundle that were you, my heart just filled with this overwhelming, melting, oozy feeling that I have never ever felt before. A feeling of intense love for your tiny being, a feeling of complete bewilderment that your perfect body grew in my own, a fierce desire to protect you from all the evil in the world – a combination of all these and many more. Oh, and relief too, when the neo natal doc pronounced you healthy. Even now, when we laugh together over a shared joke, I look at your crinkled eyes, your wide smile and all of a sudden, think back to the moment when I held you for the first time. I can still feel that moment of wonder when I realized I am a mother to this tiny being in my arms. I remember I turned to every single person in the delivery room as I held you gingerly, and thanked them profusely. I thanked them for giving me you, a little pink bundle of perfection.

You are fifteen today. Almost a woman. Yet sometimes, when I enter your room to wake you up for school or swimming practice, I see in your sleeping face the baby that your daddy and I brought home. I move your hair and plant a kiss on your cheeks. You smile a little, in your sleep. Perhaps, even in your state of blessed unconsciousness, you feel my love?

You were born on a Thursday, the day of Goddess Lakshmi according to the Hindu mythology – the goddess of wealth. As we brought you home from the hospital, the landlady of our apartment in Delhi, stopped me to see your face as she thrust in your tiny hands an envelope full of money. She said, ‘Lakshmi has come to you on a Thursday!’ Your dad and I laughed.

Your dad boasted while you were still nestled within my body that he is an expert in babies, coming from a family of six siblings. I, being an only child, often expressed doubts about my abilities to keep a baby alive. I admitted I was clueless and all the books I read provided only theory. Your dad said, ‘Don’t worry, I know everything about changing diapers, bathing new borns. I will teach you!’ I, having never even seen or held a new born, believed him.

Then came the time to bathe you, for the first time. I handed you over to him and sat nervously watching. His hands were shaking and you were slippery. It was clear he did not know what to do with you, despite his bravado 🙂 . I almost died a thousand deaths in those few minutes in the fear that he will drop you. After five minutes, I could not bear the agony any longer, I took you back, ‘I can do this. I will do this!’ He handed you back and I cleaned you – fearlessly. As I look back, I realize motherhood came to me naturally. Taking care of you became my second nature, I did it with ease. Your daddy was of course, a huge help.

Your daddy and I decided to be with each other for many reasons, we discovered we completed each other in many ways. You, my dear girl, brought even more joy in our lives, than we thought was even possible. I have so many happy memories of the two of us sitting around you and watching you for hours, laughing over your facial gesture, gently sliding our finger into your closely fisted little fingers, tickling your tiny little toes and marveling over your belly laughs. I still can hear it!

We suffered from the agonies that all first time parents suffer from. We analyzed every cry, we tiptoed to your room when you were sleeping to make sure you breathed. We debated and read everything we could lay our hands on whether to lay you on your back, on your tummy or on your side when you slept. We asked innumerable questions to veteran parents and got patronizing and indulgent smiles. We proudly held you out for people to admire (you were really a very cute baby) and I frowned inwardly when people wanted to hold you. I antagonized a few family members by asking them to sanitize their hands before holding you. I really didn’t care what they thought. Your safety from germs was my primary concern.

You grew like a sunflower nourished by all the love not only from your parents, but your grand parents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, friends and teachers. People near and far loved you dearly and enriched your life with their happy presence. And you enriched theirs with your baby talk, toothless smiles, curly haired cuteness.

You made us parents for the first time. We learnt to be a parent by making mistakes with you. We learnt to create boundaries, we learnt when to give in, when to stand our grounds.

At fifteen, the worries remain for us. The reasons have changed. The overwhelming love that we feel for you for just being YOU remains, sometimes due to the conflicts that love is perhaps not as evident to you. But that first overwhelming intense love that we felt when we first held you follows you around faithfully. It will always follow you as long as we live. We do not sometimes, and may not see eye to eye always, but the love for you is permanent.

I want you to grow up and soar high with that knowledge. On your birthday, and for ever, do know please that you are intensely loved and lovingly cherished. I hope on your birthday, you will take a few moments to feel the love that surrounds you, make it a part of your essence and then when you go out to the world, spread the love on. We all know the world desperately needs it.

Happy birthday, my love, my dear, dear girl. Spread your wing, you will always have our love to fall back upon, if you so need, as your safety net.

I love men.


‘You know, I love men!’ I said this to my husband as we took a leisurely stroll on the eve of our anniversary. If I had said this on the eve of our first anniversary, my husband may have raised his eyebrows. But we have been married for seventeen years and time has made Sean immune to my eccentricities. He takes them all in his stride and puts up with it all, with a chuckle.

‘That’s wonderful! I am glad you love one half of the humanity. Is there a specific reason?’ He wanted to know. He was humoring me, I know. But I never let an opportunity to talk, pass. Honest confession, I am chatty.

Having made the generic statement – I love men, let me qualify. My love for men is not unconditional. For instance, I don’t love those men who feel empowered by hurting women, children and animals. But then, I don’t love women who do those things either. I do not claim to understand men completely. I sometimes find them condescending, specially towards women who talk about sports. Sometimes their denseness frustrates me. I don’t understand why it is so hard to admit ‘yes, I am cold’ in sub-zero temperature and what is the point of arguing with the GPS in the car about directions. It is a machine (with a woman’s voice) giving directions, for crying out loud! And I certainly don’t love the man, who flipped me the bird, when I refused to take a left hand turn and throw my car in front of aggressive, oncoming traffic, the other day!!! That guy needs anger management classes and safe driving lessons. After those, I may consider including him in this love fest.

Anyway, as I sat in one of Ryan’s baseball practices, I watched men, protected behind my shades. The men I watched were dads of Ryan’s teammates. They were teachers, corporate high-flyer, lawyers or physicians in their real lives. But as their cars pulled into the parking lot of the ball park and they donned their baseball gloves to throw with their sons, they seem to be stripped of their adult careers, adult responsibilities and became 8/9 year olds themselves. When their sons ran to their coaches, the dads started throwing amongst each other, without stopping to introduce themselves and without missing any of the continuity. As I sat on the bleachers and eavesdropped, I heard stories of high school sports and glory days of their yesteryear. information about each other were exchanged as the ball flew between them. A sort of friendship slowly emerged while the ball was being thrown and caught. This seamless integration with each other, I notice, when Ryan or boys of his age go to any social setting. No words are necessary to become a part of a team and start throwing a ball. The men have the same formula for integration, I observed. This quality is so natural and so endearing. They parted with a hearty handshake, a hard clap on each other’s back and with a ‘see ya at the game’ – their sons’ game over the weekend. Ryan becomes part of a team every season. So does his dad – he becomes a part of a team of dads, men who enjoy coaching, throwing the ball, practicing, helping the little boys in their baseball skills and perhaps, reliving their own Little League days. I have heard horror stories of parents taking their passion for their children’s games too far, but I haven’t witnessed any nastiness….yet!

The moms are different. We introduce ourselves, ‘Hi, I am _____, I am _______’s mom.’ That is our identity, at least on the ball park. The moms, generally, don’t talk about their highschool sports or their own athletic prowess. They talk about schedules, and the different sports their children play, the amount of homework they get, whether they are in the gifted/talented program. Moms bring dinners at the ball park so there is one less thing to do when they get home. They keep an eye on the siblings who are just tag along. The mommies organize the volunteer snack schedule, who will be the team mom during the game. They keep the children from climbing the fence, throwing gloves at each other, they make sure the boys stay hydrated. They arrange for carpools so they can take their other children to their respective practices. They pull their husbands away from the game and remind them when Joey needs to be picked up or where Samantha needs to be dropped off. The husband turns to his mates and winks, ‘I don’t know any of the schedules, I just do what the boss tells me to!’ That evokes communal mirth among the men and empathic nods and smiles.

Girls grow up faster than boys and very rarely revisit their childhood. The moms are busy holding it together. Men do. They can become little boys from time to time, as THEIR little boys/girls play baseball, football, lacrosse. Then as they drive out of the sports arena, reality sets in, and the men become dads again. Childhood waits…till the next practice or game.