Day 21- If we were having coffee..

I’d tell you that I’m not feeling too well today. I’m tired both physically and mentally. So I’d wonder if it would be ok to have tea instead since a good cup of karak chai is what can rejuvenate me, pep me up! I’m more of a tea guzzler than a coffee-lover you see.

I’d tell you that even though I had been meaning to read Go Set a Watchman, Scorpia’s post was what finally got me to borrow it from my library today.

I’d tell you that sometimes the need to prove yourself to people who make you feel accountable to them can take a toll on your peace of mind. Especially when you don’t owe them any explanation.

I’d tell you that when I feel buckled under pressure, all I need to see is an elated face of my child after she hears a simple “you were fantastic, Namnam!” from her music teacher to make me realize that not every achievement is measured by a rating or a certificate. A small word of appreciation, encouragement can make a world of difference. Every child is an achiever in his/her own right.

I’d tell you that the same uncle ji, a fellow volunteer  whom I met last week at the library was there today as well to help us out. And this time I remembered to tell him how I admired his zest for life. Oh how he blushed!

I’d tell you that I have made choley and parathas. So you’re most welcome to join us for dinner after you’ve finished your cuppa!

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Day 13- Not Before You

So, the other day I was getting ready to pick Namnam up from school.  Her school finishes at around 3. Even though I am just 5 minutes away from school, I leave more than half an hour early so I can claim a good parking spot in time and save myself from getting squished by other vehicles scampering for space. Its a mad rush otherwise!

Now on most of the days I wait till she is back from school, to have my lunch with her. But that day I was very hungry so I ate before leaving to pick her. When she was home she didn’t fret about having to eat her lunch alone because she knew I had eaten mine. And she was cool about it. Since I have done it a couple of times before, she was probably convinced that it was not such a big deal that her Amma had eaten lunch without waiting for her 😀

Every time I do this, my thoughts take me to my grandmother who would have been disappointed, if she were alive. She would have scolded me for my nonchalance! She was someone who always waited for her husband, her children and later on her grandchildren- that’s me and my brother- to get home from wherever we would be, till she served us our meals and then sat with us to have hers.  So there was always an underlying message where she subtly insisted on waiting for us whether we wanted to be waited for or no.

A lot of parents behave in this manner, I have observed,without realizing the undue pressure they may be putting on their children. While I know the intention is to convey that they care, but I find the gesture pretty constricting.

I remember a friend mentioning once how terrible she and her husband felt when they came home after a late night dinner only to eat again with their parents because they were waiting for them till late!! And they felt guilty to have made them wait, despite informing that they would be late.

Its like suffocating our kids with our impractical love, isn’t it?. By making them feel guilty with our claustrophobic show of love, we aren’t making them love us more, instead we may be driving them away from us.

I sometimes feel bad when I can’t keep up to the expectations I might have set in Namnam’s mind. Then I realize that by setting an impractical bar of expectation in my kid’s mind, I may be knowingly or unknowingly misleading her. She may get dejected if for some reason I am not in a position to keep up to that expectation.

So it’s best to establish a more practical understanding of each other where there’s no room for disappointment or undue pressure on either.

Dear Namnam,

Sorry, da.

There are so many things that I want to say sorry to you for. Many times I do say it to you, but a lot of times I forget. Actually the fact is that I forget because you make it so easy for me to forget.

Because YOU forget.

You forget that I was horrible to you. Then, you ever so easily put me back in your “my Amma is the best” space!

I’m not the best yet da. You deserve to be treated so much better by your Amma. But I sometimes get so caught up with things happening around me and even more, inside my mind that I go astray and cause mayhem while dealing with you.

So let me say it again. Sorry for the many things that I do or don’t do even, that eventually hurt you or disappoint you. You may just say, it’s ok, Amma and move on, like you always do. Because that’s the kind of person you are. A child still. Ever so forgiving. But that, in no way, means that I can get away, right.

I hate myself, Namnam, absolutely hate myself when I take out my monster self on you. I yelled at you today. I yelled at you last night. And the day before. Each time, probably making you wonder if it’s something that I am beginning to enjoy as a hobby.

Now, sometimes you ask for that monster mom to be pulled out, we can’t deny that, can we! Like today? I did start off by being soft on you, all the while trying my best to keep my lava boiling inside my panicking-mind from bursting, when you had to be coaxed and prodded to dress up fast. But despite being aware that you were running late for school, you had to run back upstairs in the nick of time to get your book!! And the result? The lava burst and out came the monster-mom spitting fire!

Or what about last night? When you were well past your bed time but you still couldn’t help making that feeble attempt at staying awake for that extra minute by sneaking out of your bed on the pretext of getting some water to drink? I had no choice but to resort to a roar loud enough for you to crawl back in bed meekly.

Of course I instantly regretted roaring at you, when you kissed me goodnight with a tight hug as though nothing else but your love for me mattered.

So, sorry, kanna, for being hard on you. But sometimes, that’s the only way to get you back in track.

And then there are times when I wonder if I am a little too dismissive. When you pretend to be a baby and ask to be carried and cuddled like one. Or creep and crawl to the bathroom and ask that you be given a shower. I dismiss all of your pleas at times, tell you off and remind you of your “big girl” status. Much as I hate reminding myself that you are growing up, times like this when you remind me otherwise, make me wonder how strange and weird life is.

Sometimes, much I sense that I am unfair to you, I find myself pushing you to give your best, ignoring that you probably are giving your best afterall. I ignore still, just so that you can belong to the peer you represent. I’m really really sorry for that, Namnam. I genuinely am. Sometimes I get buckled under peer pressure of my own. And I realize very well that I need to take it easy and curb my anxieties.

So please forgive for being what may seem unjust.

You are my pride. And there’s not been a single day that I haven’t said this to myself. I have re-iterated it to you at every occasion. I must say it more often, I realize that. You are the best in your own right. Be the best in your own eyes, on your own terms. Thats all that matters.

With the hope that you will be as forgiving as you are..

Love always,

Amma.

So Where is Home for Me?

The cliched answer would be..home is where my heart is.

And I have my heart very much safe and alive in Delhi. So to me Delhi is home. India, to say it in a larger scheme of the term. Despite her misgivings. Despite her shortcomings. Despite the fact that I left my country about 13 years ago along with my husband in pursuit of a better life. Despite all that that is home for me because I was born and raised there, earned and learned a major chunk of who I am from there, and more importantly I am a citizen of my country.

Because.. all said and done, no matter how much I may have gained from here in the Middle East, how so ever much this region may have done and may be doing to make us feel accepted, it will never accept me as its own, as its citizen. That status, that honour, that privilege I will always from the country I was born in, and belong to.  And that makes a lot of difference in the way I perceive the definition of home. Which is why there’s still the hope and resolve to go back to her for good again one day.

Now in the last decade plus that I have been away, we have moved places many times, each time making the city we moved to, our own little home away from home. Its not as if we have ever felt unwelcome in any of the places the we have lived, we have perfectly been able to warm up to them and vice versa. Yet, there has been a conscious effort to keep the flame of our intention to go back, burning . We have never had a long term plan to live in this region ever. In fact when we left Delhi in 2002, to come to the Middle East, we had told ourselves that we will go back in 2 years. Its a different thing that its been 13 years here! Yet the region is a wee bit away from being a home in the truest sense. Its probably because the lever of the 25 years of my life in India is still heavier than the 13 years that I have been here. So the sense of belonging is still more towards my home country than the adapted one.

I do not know what life has in store for me and my family. Where we will be in the next 5 years, so to speak. I am not sure whether my views or my definition of home will undergo a change ever. What I do know is that I am immensely grateful for the way life has shaped up so far. And I hope I continue to be, wherever my family and I are.