Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell, 2011

Goodbye, 2011. I shall never forget you. You have been the most eventful year of my life so far. Comparing you with a roller-coaster ride would be an understatement. More. Much more. Way more happened. After all, births and deaths do not happen on rides. A ride only lasts a few minutes, and the effects wear off after several more.

You began on a grim note. Bapi was unwell... slipping away every hour, every minute... Can anyone describe the feeling of seeing someone you love die slowly? Seeing the life ebb away... seeing the murderous cancer suck away the cheerfullness, the joy, the storewell of affection that Bapi was? Can anyone understanding how it feels to see some one who was fitter than most people half his age, suddenly grow older by 30 years in a span of 3 months, despite getting the best medical care possible, despite poring over thousands of internet pages in the hope of chancing upon a useful piece of information, despite conferring with numerous doctors, despite infinite tears, despite sleepless nights, despite... everything? ? Can anyone understand the pain of knowing that the time to say goodbye is here, when you cannot even say it, because you have to give the appearance of radiating hope?

No, I do not think so.

Death and the act of dying puts people at unease. It is something they would rather avoid. But social mores require them to be civil... and hence the 'appearance' of grief - which hurts even more. Crocodile tears... empty promises... decorative statements... Why can't people just be genuine?

The preceding months were spent trying to make every moment count, each little occassion was celebrated with undue gusto. Every opportunity to dine out, go on a drive or watch a movie, was grabbed with both hands. Life passes surprisingly fast when you do not want it to. And people talk of 'killing time'... ha!

 Bapi left within a week of your coming into being, 2011. And I was... transformed... changed... vaccuumed... lost... flung into a flurry of emotions I never knew existed.... right into the yawning gorge of despair and hopelessness.... seeing life as it really is perhaps - a meaningless rush of sound and fury... wanting to shut myself out and dissolve in nothingness...

Just two things dragged me out of that spiral of meaningless ennui - my husband, and the tiny life beating inside me. I was 6 months pregnant, and getting bigger each day. Yashvi was a good kid even then... she never gave me any trouble. Her tiny kicks and punches were getting stronger by the day. And then I could feel her body movements too. It's more than fascinating to know there is another human being inside you, separated just by a few layers of skin... Even then she used to sleep through the night, and wake up at around 6am, when she would start kicking happily - a habit that continues to date. She was the anti-depressant pill that we all needed. She was the occassion we all looked forward to. And sure enough, on 21 April, she arrived - lovely, beautiful, adorable - just perfect!

2011, the following months just flew by. Days dissolved into nights and vice versa, as my lil baby adjusted to the big bad world. Ma was a huge blessing as she turned into a super-grandma, typhooning (couldn't find a better word) around the house completing chores, managing my diet and putting Yashvi to sleep. Vijay emerged as the strong, dependent, doting dad I always suspected he would be. I mean, he could be the mom if he had the milk! Oh... I am so proud of him! And I discovered the mother in me through some hiccups, mixed emotions, feeling overwhelmed by all - joy, fascination and the duties of motherhood.

2011, I couldn't even have grasped that you were on your way out, watching Yashvi grow into the most adorable baby I've ever seen (Oh yes, I cannot not say that!!!) Soon it was November, and over a phonecall, my sister announced that she was getting married! Those who know, know that she deserves all the happiness in the world. Chirpy, pretty, caring, my sis would make an awesome wifey. And in December, your last leg, 2011, we had a wedding - small, meaningful, beautiful. We came full circle.

In all cultures including Hinduism, Birth, Marriage and Death are considered landmarks in the course of one's life. Is it easy to accommodate extreme grief and extreme joy together in one heart at one time? No... it is complicated. Was Time giving me a crash course in life's ways in 2011? Perhaps... as per Western Astrology, Saturn, the great task-master, is in the 12th house for all Scorpios until sometime in 2012. The 12th house is considered the house of mysteries, the closet in the mind... Did all these incidents tie up in some way to give me some sort of an insight into life and myself? Perhaps... Will I ever be able to elaborate. No, I don't think so. Even this attempt at verbalising the experiences of 2011 woefully falls short of the real thing. It is but a mere diffused reflection.

So, 2011, I wish you farewell, with mixed reactions. And I look ahead at you, 2012, with a much calmer, equanimous mindset. What life will bring, only life will tell. And I will live, until I die. Only that can I promise...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mommy-wise

What is it like to become a mother? Well, you don't just become a mom. You change. In every sense of the word. No, it's not as if you mutate into somebody else. You dive deep into yourself, find reserves of strength you never knew existed, discover creativity, realize your flexibility (both emotional and physical!) and... love!

This love is something else altogether. Nothing can equal the rush of joy on seeing your baby smile at you. Imagine, a tiny little soul, suddenly flung into this big, confusing world. And you, your heartbeat in fact, is the only familiar thing she knows. When she gazes at you, she is looking at the only thing that she can comprehend - a face that represents care, warmth, food, security and love. And the gaze contains implicit trust. So much so that it elicits your protective side. You WANT to hold her, to comfort her, to feed her. And love? That just happens. It happens like a great tide that slowly engulfs you, and you willingly, blissfully, want to drown in it!

Motherhood is somewhat similar to a trekking expedition. For me, a trek is rewarding if it goes through treacherous but beautiful countryside, full of adventurous twists and turns, and superb sights. The climb to Kedarnath was one such experience. I am sure those who have been to the Valley of Flowers of elsewhere in the Himalayas will echo my sentiments. The trek is difficult - 13 kilometers of steep climb in rarefied air, on a path not wider than 3 feet at places, strewn with loose and slippery pebbles, with a cliff towering on one side and a dizzying gorge on the other. In the distance, the white capped peaks of Himalayas move in and out of the line of sight alluringly. The azure sky providing the perfect contrast. There are spoilers too, in the form of all pervading mule dung and its heavy, musty odour. At that altitude, sunburns are common, despite the chilling winds - something that surprises most people. However, the destination is worth it. Once you reach the Kedarnath temple and take in its environs, the sanctity, pristine beauty, the silence (with the rush of the nascent Ganges drowning everything else), and the overwhelming effect of the towering mountains - all these make every minute of the trek, however painful, worth it.

Similarly, the journey to motherhood is anything but a breeze. From the moment you decide to have a family, to the time when you actually conceive, carry your child and deliver, it is the journey of a lifetime. I am not going to go into the nitty-gritties of each phase since that would require another blog altogether! But it would be enough to say that it involves a lot an lot of loving work.

Deciding to have a child is an implicit decision to be responsible for another life; to care; to love - all unconditionally.

And the payback, believe you me, is worth it. For most people, sometime between the frantic chaos of delivery and the next two months, the 'magical moment' appears - the time from which their little one starts binding you in the invisible webs of her charms. That could be the first time she gazes quizzically at you, her tiny brows furrowed. Or the time when she suckles contently at your breast. Or when you pick her up when she is crying. Despite the sleepless nights, unending diaper changes and infinite rocking to put the baby to sleep, you suddenly find yourself awash with a soft, warm kind of feeling. One that fills you up inside so well that there is no space for any any negative emotion left. From then onwards, it is a medley of delightful discoveries. The first smile. The first gurgle. The first indication of recognition. The list, thankfully, is endless!     

Life changing? Yeah. Challenging? Very. Draining? At times. But also incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. I continue to be fascinated by my little bundle of joy, and in turn, continue to discover myself. The journey, thankfully, has so far been just beautiful.