Let me be ME

Archive for October, 2017

Ghar wali Diwali: A town to B town

“You all have to come home for this Diwali“, ordered mom and you very well know that you can’t mess with mom. So, like very obedient lamb we three brothers and sister adhered to her order.

We generally go for a family holiday during Diwali break and been practicing this for almost three years in a row now. We carry our diya and light it up in the hotel room as a symbolic representation for Diwali.

But this time we made no holiday plans and our flights landed at Bhopal (a city in Madhya Pradesh where my parents live). Just a day after the Diwali break of school, we were ready with our bags and all excited to go home for Diwali.

I was going home for Diwali after thirteen years!

We were the first family to arrive and a day after eldest brother and his family from Delhi were also home.

My boys always get overexcited once they are at their nana’s house, the reason being – “nana, has such a huge house mamma, it’s like a resort.” Space crunched Mumbaikar knows the true value of space and a bungalow seems like a resort. I truly empathize with my boys here.

The resort cum bungalow now had eight adults and six children all in the range from thirteen to five years old, with my niece as the only eldest girl followed by five boys. No brownie points for guessing how noisy, chaotic, WWE favored, football lovers, over energetic and an utter mess it would be for the next couple of days.

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Each day was something different. Dhanteras, choti Diwali and then finally Diwali. We made paper lanterns to decorate the house, Rangoli to decorate the porch in order to impress goddess Lakshmi (most sought-after of all god fraternity). The best part was that my entire gang of hyperactive kids participated in the activity. We sat together, shared our colors, encouraged each other for doing good and it was such a positive environment.

Then came Diwali eve.

We in north India do elaborate Diwali puja and mom looks forward to making it grand. As we all got dressed up for Diwali my boys were quite dazed by all the rituals around. They had almost forgotten the nuances around Diwali puja . Drawbacks of holidaying during Diwali break.

It was a wonderful Diwali eve followed by token phuljhari and sumptuous dinner.

Next day we all went to watch “Golmal Again.” Ok, I agree it was a horrible decision but you see being a parent is not easy and we have to kill our happiness several times for our children and we nicely did it again. Kids loved the movie as well as the popcorns, fighting and quarreling over that last bite as famished, never-seen-food type children. I discounted all this because more than the movie I enjoyed the atmosphere of the movie hall.

It was then I realized the difference between A class and B class city. Sharing my observation.

As we entered the movie although it was INOX it appeared as if it’s a higher version of a small, not so well maintained local theater. Truly, I wasn’t too pleased with the first look. But I was happy to sit next to Som (my husband) all through the movie after a very long time because my boys ganged with their cousins. The movie started and went on without tickling me at all. I wasn’t surprised that all the children of the family were laughing their heart out moreover mimicking each other.

I wasn’t interested in neither to watch nor laugh on the dialogues of the so-called family –blockbuster-rib tickling-movie. Som and I were happy sitting holding hands and talking with each other (which we rarely do otherwise). Moments later, both of us unanimously said, “What a wonderful environment to watch a movie”.

The crowd in the hall was thoroughly enjoying the movie, bursting out in bouts of laughter which I found not even worth smiling. An aged person sitting right behind me seemed paid by Rohit Shetty(Director of the movie) to laugh at each dialogue. The crowd was cheering, getting into loud laughter and eatables were continuously pouring in.

When the movie finished and as we moved out of the hall, I observed that most of the people came in large groups like full family with grandparents and grandchildren as well. They all were happy with the movie and were giggling over the most stupid dialogues I had ever heard.

I came to watch the movie while they came to enjoy.

I came back home and pondered over on why I found the environment of the movie hall so attractive and compared this to movie hall in A grade city.

Movie halls in Mumbai are plush, spacious, best sound effects, best in customer service, a variety of food and very attractive. But I have rarely seen people bursting out in fits of laughter even at funniest dialogues. We are too sophisticated you see. I have not seen big groups coming for a movie. Going solo is very common. I have not even seen or heard people in the hall clapping. (leave aside me because I do this in most of the movies and my husband kind of disowns me for that very moment)

The metros have their own charm to stay but we are largely disconnected with each other giving the reason of hectic work schedule, long distance to commute, busy lives and only a weekend to rest. We run very short on time. Our daily life is mechanical and clocked.

Friends if any rarely talk to each other leave aside meetings. Whatsapp is the only way to communicate that too if one has time will respond. Before a call, we need to ask, “Can I call.” Surprise visits are a total NO. Visiting and exchanging gifts plus savories with neighbors is not a common practice.

Children learn so much with each other which no summer camp can teach. Sharing things, settling their own quarrel, learning to eat on their own, trying new dishes without making a fuss, enjoying their childhood the way they should without being judged or checked, speaking in their comfortable language than being pressurized to speak only in English, wishing Namaste than Hello to guests, pooling in money to get a football for a game than each child getting his/her own football. Listening to all stories from grandparents and the best part to see when their mom is checked and scolded by Nani but she can’t answer back. Finally, they see someone who can do that to their mom!

People are not judged by the kind of clothes they wear or how fluently English is spoken but the manner in which they adjust in a family. Family culture and values are kept at a higher pedestal. Even Som commented that I get fully covered whenever I am in Bhopal. Shorts, sleeveless and hot pants don’t know their existence but it doesn’t bother me as long as I am comfortable in what I am wearing.

Shifting to a B town will be a tough task because of job prospects and various other reasons but celebrating festivals together is a must do. I have silently made a promise to come home for Diwali each year to live and cherish each relation deeply.

 

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The great big family

 

You are responsible for my poor grades , mom !

While I was in Europe for work last month both my sons had their exams. I was tensed and it was easily visible in all my actions. While the younger-one is sincere and sat with me to study before the exams but the elder one, who is in his pre-teens refused to agree on the need to study prior to the exams. I tried to explain but he wouldn’t budge from his argument. His logic being, “mom, you only say that you are not after grades then why are you pestering me to study?” well, it is wiser to stop the argument once you know that you have pre-teen on the other side.

I tried to put things in place like craft work needed at school, any projects  done, doctors list on the fridge, menu well explained to cook for all meals, emergency numbers of stationary –wala, grocery store etc. Mothers who travel can very well relate here.

Two days before the travel my younger son fell sick. Being asthmatic he had terrible wheezing attack. The sight of Abhi struggling to breathe was enough to make me panic . We saw the doctor and tried to put things in place. By this time, he had already missed his three exams. Elder one did not take this too well as to why he was supposed to go the school and appear for exams? There was no logic and explanation  given for this and like a very stern mother I ordered – You have to so you have to. There are times when you have to put your foot down on some absurdly irrational arguments.

My flight was at  10.30 pm and even at 6 pm I hadn’t even removed the suitcase from the loft. My mother-in –law was getting hyper and questioned continuously if I had made up my mind or not.I was in a very indecisive state. I never wanted to leave my –although- now- stable -son behind and I couldn’t say “no” to my team as well. I was too overwhelmed by the entire scene around me .

Finally, I sat with Abhi and asked him if I could go, if he would be fine, if he was ok with mamma not being around?

His reply was, “mamma although I want you around but I am much better now and dadu, dida (grandparents), aunty(maid) will be home so I’ll be taken care of . Also , doctor has asked not to go to the school until I am totally fine so, I think you can go”

I thanked my boy for this but knew the bottom line  – Doctor has asked not to go the school until I am fine.

Finally , the eldest boy ,Som my husband told that I could carry on and things are manageable .That confidence was enough for me .

At 7.45 pm I removed the suitcase from the loft , dumped the things in and I was at the airport at 9.30pm

Travel went on fine with lots of video calls , desperate calls , solve-my-fight calls , big brother-is-hitting me calls .

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Then came the day when the doctor allowed Abhi to go to the school and earth came shattering down because it was Hindi test . I got some 10 calls (irrespective of the time difference) that Hindi exam is the toughest thing on the planet and I am responsible for making it worse . With lot of tears and sobs we somehow managed to revise Hindi over video call . Thankyou Vodafone international roaming for the perfect network which I never get in my domestic travels . Phew !! we managed Hindi, although Abhi wasn’t too happy as he is a very meticulous student and wouldn’t take any shortcuts towards learning .

Now , came another bummer . My elder son called up.He doesn’t talk much , because he only speaks through his WWE moves . Anyway after lot of persuasion he didn’t speak much but tears rolled down . I kept asking him but he refused to tell . Well, we mothers have extraordinary sixth sense and I knew the issue . I didn’t tell him anything but told him to be strong and will talk once back . He has crossed the stage of baby talks but as men never grow up and same applies to my 43 yr. , 12 yr. and 8 yr. old boys .All of them need cajoling and sweet mamma talks at times .

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I was home after 10 days . After a customary hug , boys directly jumped to the bag of gifts, which I discounted because I was home like that student who has not fished the homework of the strictest teacher and wondering how to face the situation .

Due to jet lag I slept almost the day and finally when I met them at dinner I had some very heart breaking disclosures :

Abhi ,

“You went leaving me behind even when I asked you not to go”

Me (silently ) my dear boy , you only asked me go and told me that you are better.

“You left me to study Hindi alone”

My (mouth shut) , Yes , I know . You never studied Hindi with me before the exam.

“You are responsible for my poor marks in Hindi”

Sid as ever , refrained from speaking anything . I then used my motherly magic and sweet talked him only to listen , “it is because of you I flunked in geography ”

I took all this with a pinch of salt and felling terribly guilty.

I was anyway swaying due to jet lag and with all the blame game on my head I thought a wonderful red wine will ease out the stress . As if my children read my mind and there they sputtered , “mom, you are on diet and you are into sports, you can’t have wine”

I just grinned as shutting mouth at this moment was very wise .

I was constantly reminded for next few days that I am ONLY person who did not do the duty of teaching , revising and persuading them to study for exams . I am the ONLY person who was responsible for their poor grades .

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It took me around two to three days to come out of my jet lag and flu state .

I got up that morning with a fresh smile , packed them off to school , went for my strenuous gym session , attended not so important calls and mails , heard my mother over a call on parenting and significance of mother in a child’s life .

Once done , I was ready to welcome my children from school. I felt like a wounded soldier who has to give his last shot before succumbing to his bullets .

Over the lunch “I am the only person responsible” issue again came up .

Now , it was my turn . I was pondering over what all my children said over last few days . Cried silently in the pillow , ran faster in the eve , did more crunches , lifted heavier weights to burn it out . But this should be communicated to them – Clear and stern .

I asked my boys to listen to me attentively without cutting me in between .

Here is my speech ,

My dear boys , first I am sorry as I was unable to fulfil your expectation . I am sorry that because of me you got poor marks . I am sorry that I left when you wanted me .

But , tell me something

Did you listen to me when I said that it is always better to study before the exams and not wait till the last moment ?

Did you revise and complete your lessons on time ?

Did you even think that as you have the job to study and go to school, your mother has a job too?

You had so many people around you to take care when you were unwell , who was with me when I was down with flu during my travel ?

Your ONLY work was to study for your test , while my work was to attend all your desperate calls , mange with the cook , follow up on your WhatsApp group as you would not even know what do in the school next day , revise the lessons with you over video call , mange my work and team .

It is very easy to blame your mother for your failure but did you even try to put in  best effort ?

I would like to make it very clear , that your mother has a job which she loves the way she loves you both . My work will make me travel but that doesn’t mean I am irresponsible . My work and commitments will increase over the coming years and we all have to accept it . Blaming me for your poor performance  is not accepted . I am deeply hurt by your words . I thought I have two very sensible, intelligent and cooperative boys but you proved me wrong . I would expect more understanding when I travel next even during your exams . Let’s work it out together boys .

Phew!!!! I said all this in one go. Perks of being a national rank holder in debates and elocutions you see .

There was a silence for few minutes . we looked into each other’s eyes for a while and with a deep breath my younger one said , “but mamma , you can’t travel when our exams are on”

I smiled slyly because I knew whatever I narrated above will be reaped again.  I’ll keep on giving this speech until they get it crystal clear.

If you are 21th century kid and then I am also 21th century mom, bring it on!

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