Saturday, 29 June 2013

Motherhood and the art of letting go

The hope of holding on vs. the fear of letting go. What is the right balance in motherhood?

For the first one year, as you feed your child each morsel of food and watch her take her first tottering steps holding on to your hand as an anchor, you feel pain and love as you probably have never felt before. Your world expands, your heart contracts, each time the two small hands unerringly turn to you in her sleep, each time she smiles her toothless smile at you, each time you soothe away her irrational fears, each time you read her favourite bed-time story and she falls asleep, curled up in your lap. You hold on to each fragment of memory, even as they pass by in a blur.

Then comes the day when she steps out, alone, for the first time, to her playschool or her daycare, leaving home and you. She cries, probably only for few days but you cry longer.  You agonize about each cough, each cold, each bruise, each bullied hurt, each imagined hurt, each moment of her life away from you, in her own, growing world.

Time flies.
Her world expands. The sandpit, the playground, the books, the toys, the friends, the teachers.
She finds them all.
You are still there but no longer needed every step of the way.
You watch her grow.
Your heart fills up with pride.
Yes, sometimes also with unbearable pain, when the first sign of rebellion strikes and tantrums replace the sunny smile, when the door slams in your face, when angry words and silence meet your futile attempts at disciplining the unreasonable demands.

But you know this too shall pass.
“You are my best friend”, Mummy she laughs when you cook her favourite food or take her on a holiday.
Your eyes fill up with tears, tears you hide quickly, tears you dare not show. You smile.

And you know that very soon that day will come.
Each year, you will have to let go a little bit more.
Each year, she will grow older and be more independent, a little bit more.

Till the day she leaves home and starts her own life, ready to face the world with the knowledge and courage that you have given her.

You hope you will be ready to let go then. And you hope that at 17, just as at 7, she will still consider you her best friend and share with you her darkest thoughts, her deepest fears, her wildest dreams. That by letting go, you will forge forever the unbreakable tie of love and friendship, love that has no expectations, no boundaries and no end.

You let go.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A day in the life of a Writer-in-Waiting

The beginning:

Imagine, its the weekend after a long zombie-like week at work. You have to, simply have to write this weekend.
Writer-in-waiting that you are, you are therefore, hard at work, this weekend, dreaming up your masterpiece that only you seem to be waiting for while the rest of the world seems to be blissfully happy to move on in tune with the latest breaking news.

But you ignore the world. You sit at your desk and and even ignore the most pressing chores staring you in the face; 
a) a sink full of dirty dishes
b) a floor that needs mopping
c) a child that needs a haircut
d) a social call that you cannot avoid

And then, just then, when you drown out everything except the noises in your own aching head, writers' block chooses precisely that unerring moment to strike.

The climax, captured in a limerick:

Sitting by the window, 
watching the world go by,
I sip my cup of tea and idly swat a fly;
I read a new book; I hear a sad song,
But time stands still, the day stretches long,
O its the writer's block again, sigh, sigh, sigh!

And then you turn to Dr.Google. Who throws up an infographic even on this topic:

The end:

And then you go back to washing the dishes. After all, didn't Agatha Christie once famously say "The best time to plan a book is while you are washing the dishes."

Monday, 10 June 2013

Shopaholic of another kind

I stand still at the entrance.

There, I get the itch again. My eyes roam lovingly over them and my hands itch to touch them. My eyes open wider, spying a latest collection I was always trying to get my hands on.

I brace myself. Should I or shouldn't I? I trace my steps back. But the temptation is far too great. I go back to the shelf. I give in. Adrenalin and joy rush through as I pick up the book that I desperately wanted.

Yes, I know now.

I am a shopaholic with an incurable addiction that I have finally admitted to myself. It's not an addiction for clothes, or shoes or watches or bags or gadgets but an unending and constant addiction for books.
Take me to a bookstore and I lose count of hours as I browse through books and look for new ones to add to my already overflowing collection. Cupboard space, I can happily sacrifice, bookshelf space, you dare not ask for.

Maybe I am part of a dying breed. In the age of Kindle Readers, iPads and free downloads, who reads books, you might ask. I do love technology and the changes that it entails, but still, I cannot get away from the sheer physical pleasure of turning the pages of a much loved book. I read when I need to be alone and I read to know that I am not alone.

And I do still buy books. And I hoard books with a collectors' delight. I can spend hours staring at my bookshelf, dusting the old covers and planning which new ones I can add to my collection.

When I travel to new places, and I do travel quite a lot, planning the books I will take with me becomes a more important task than the clothes to be packed. And of course, the trip includes a mandatory visit to one of the bookshops in that city to see if I can spot some new and interesting titles and author names. To the utter disgust of my long-suffering friends, I have completely useless hobbies such as remembering names of bookshops in the places I visited from Manila to Boston as I bring back more new books from my travels than chocolates and curios when I return home.

I research the latest released books and read the new book reviews as avidly as an Apple (the company, in case anybody thought of the fruit here), addict would keep track of the latest version of must-have Apple products.

Flipkart and now Amazon can count on my undying loyalty even as I wonder how the eCommerce industry in India fails to take off despite my single-handed efforts to boost it. As for the friendly neighborhood lending library, 'Justbooks', they might just revisit their 'avid reader membership program' (which allows for 4 books to be borrowed at a time for any number of times in a year) if they start making losses from more members such as me who literally devour books and force them to replenish their stock at alarmingly short intervals.

Book can be a refuge for me when I want to drown out noises I do not want to hear. And I often shamelessly use books as a weapon to avoid meeting unwanted people or having unwanted conversations. Some of the books I read are so heavy (yes I have even finished the most daunting ones such as "War and Peace" and "A Suitable Boy", such is my affection for books) that they might even double up as potential murder weapons if someone so much as dares to approach me when I am lost in my solitary tryst with my book whether at home, office canteen, restaurant, airport or while I am waiting in any sort of queue whatsoever. Short of opening up a book at a party or at an official meeting, which too I confess, I have often felt very close to doing, I guess I have read books at every conceivable place and time.

There is no cure for my addiction but more books.

I rest my case. I will be a bookaholic for life. Time to return to my book, one among many that I bought today.

And for anyone else who might share my addiction, I would like to add:

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it"
-Oscar Wilde

Of books and looks

There are those who use Beauty as a weapon,
Cold and steel,
Aimed not to please but your weakness to reveal.

And then there are those who use Words as a weapon
Searing and sharp,
Aimed not to heal but your mind and senses to warp.

They don't need other weapons,
Weapons that kill,

Their victims lie bloodless in a pool of their own shame,
As they move on, relentless, in their hunt for new game.

Imagine the meeting if the twain were to meet,

Would beauty rule the day and words simply fail?
Or would words slay the beauty and quietly prevail?

Or would they turn their weapons onto themselves?
Blind in the faith of their own power,
Would they destroy themselves instead of facing each other?