Spacemom Spiff

The new session has started in school for the kiddo. So today was orientation PTM. Teachers were going to unveil what grand plans of education and assessment they have in store for our children.
When I walked into the classroom full of other parents stuck in the baby seats and the class teacher droning on, I was as usual, inexorably drawn towards the windows.

My eye muscles have a magnetic fascination for whatever is outside classroom windows. The whirring fan overhead on a hot summer day, the teacher narrating enthralling anecdotes like “Comprehension passage means your child has to comprehend”, I am lulled into dreams of daffodils and dragons.
The tree swaying in the breeze outside is hardly a tree, it’s a supermassive gas cloud birthing stars. And I am Spaceman Spiff swerving to escape the tentacles of the nebulous space squid.

The teacher called out my kiddos name and I was dragged back to rickety reality. I am so motherly, I advise my kiddo to listen carefully to what the teacher is telling the other parents, and to remember everything and do it all. Then I’m back to space, zoned out, drugged by classroom ether.

Draped this recently repeated ajrakh Chanderi today. Forgot to click a pic in the morning but daughter has captured my happy lost look very well in the evening.

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Cheerful Chilly

I have been doing something delightful this afternoon. I bought chilli, 3 kg. 2 kg plain and one kg Kashmiri.
Like Smita Patil, I am sitting surrounded by chilly, sneezing now and then, grinding and storing away.

Chilly is an important part of Gujarati cuisine and I am very fond of it. The spouse turns up his nose at everything red, he is right of centre.
This lovely spice rescues much of the stuff I mess up cooking in the kitchen. The other spices do rather poorly in my eyes, mostly because I can’t recognise my nutmeg from my asafoetida.

The spouse being away, I can indulge in this romance with the spices, without him wheezing about, complaining. In both the families that were supposed to teach me cooking but didn’t, my parents and in-laws, red dry chilly was seen as unhealthy. Neither of them used it except to ward off evil spirits.
I never tried that use of my red friends, why would I want to ward myself off?

Since I’ve been told it’s unhealthy, I have taken to it like fish to water. Also, I observed that large populations of Gujarat and Rajasthan are thriving on chilly rich diets. Now my children are so fond of it too. We three have gone through 2 kg last year and this year we bought even more quantity.

Edgar Allan Poe in my Garden

There is a bird nest in my garden. I imagine the chap making it all pretty for the lady. Then he will invite her for a look-see.
She takes a walk, suggests some improvements and then it’s a “Yes!”.
The wedding is solemnized before all the grasshoppers and butterflies. The feast is nectar, fruit and some guests eat each other. The sparrow couple feast on the earthworm guests.

Among the plants, I love the creepers best.
The sturdy Bougainvillea takes over all the territory, makes everything pink and shelters innumerable creatures. There is mystery, insanity, danger and chaos in Bougainvilleas. Much that I can relate with.
I think they give us a House of Usher look. Edgar Allan Poe’s story The Fall of The House of Usher was among my favourite stories written by him.
I also adored his talking crows, and his use of words like ‘nevermore’. Some authors write stories that are Rorschach’s inkblots, where we can project the darkness of our hearts.

These days we are recycling the water that the RO system throws up. Also reusing the waste water from washing. Ushaben sometimes picks up cowdung from the road and brings it in for use as fertilizer. The first time I saw a heap in one corner of the garden with a maggot village inside it, I got the heebie-jeebies. Now we are regularly using home made fertilizer.

When Feminists Love

I was on duty collecting money for the Second Year Resident’s wedding gift. I was First Year Resident.
My father called to tell me that a fellow would be visiting me in the department for “seeing” me. Arranged marriage proposal.

His father had advertised and my father had responded. I was only told when they decided that the useless stuff are perfectly matched, but the boy ought to see the girl before the deal is sealed. The ‘boy’ was a 28 year old man and the ‘girl’ was a 25 year old woman. We like to infantilize our offspring so we can control them.

So old boy turned up. I asked him to wait in the canteen. When I walked in, I immediately took out a register to note every paisa collected for Manish’s wedding. It was worrying me that we might be able to gift him only a wine bottle. Prospective groom was not worried, he said wine is perfectly fine as a wedding gift. It seemed odd to me that he thought so, considering that all wining is done strictly in secret at most Delhi weddings.
All I noticed about future husband was that he walked with a stoop, didn’t make much eye contact and that he seemed most unimpressed with what he saw in me.

4 months later we were married. 14 years later we are still married. The fellow became the love of my life, an accident of fate.
We threaten to kill each other every other day. If he switches on the downlights I threaten to report him for attempted murder. Downlights really burn my soul. If I put a little extra chilly in his food, he says I’m trying to appropriate insurance money.
Yesterday was his birthday for which he didn’t even show up. The kids and I, we celebrated by eating Golgappe. When he turned up at around midnight, I showed him my notes from a book I am studying and I declared that I am an ecofeminist now (learnt the word only yesterday). We now have to celebrate everything in the most natural way. So we did.

Peace

My posts are mostly about my very ‘happening’ life in small town India. Hum do, hamare do (we two, we have made two more) occupies centre stage, and a very conservative, occasionally compassionate society surrounds us.

Most of my travel experiences are via books. So I travel back and forth in time and space. If anything has enriched my life, it has been the ruthless pruning of toxic relationships. It has made space for much beauty and laughter.

My gardening friend has now inspired my daughter. The little one takes a round of the garden each day, brings in some flowers, removes a few dead leaves and photographs flowers and insects.
We gave up on attempting to learn foreign languages or robotics or even learning the keyboard that we own. She likes collecting pencil sharpener waste. So that’s what we are doing these days.

She loves to dance, so we are religiously doing the Kathak classes. I am sometimes confused. It was something I had wanted to learn but couldn’t. Am I imposing it on her? Would she rather do something else? I ask her after every class if she enjoyed it. It’s me who needs the reassurance that I’m not being a helicopter mother. I value my freedom so much, i believe it’s the most precious gift I can give my daughter.

Peace is myself reading, while she paints and my boy on his swing. Peace is the daughter singing with her father. Peace is sunshine filtering through my trees. Peace is such a treasure, more so because it has been hard earned. What demons I have fought and still fight for this moment of gratitude!

Draped in plain solid colour khesh comfort, enjoying the day of Shiva’s wedding by reading in peace. The new blouse is made by someone (a neighbour) who almost died just about 2 months ago. She attempted suicide and was in the ICU battling for about 10 days. Thankfully she made a full recovery. Now every evening she visits with her children and we sit her children while she makes a few dreams come true. She is enrolled in college now. Peace is seeing her alive and laughing. A living miracle of modern medicine. Telling this brief story of her near miss and recovery with her permission today. We are all survivors.

Existence

I have written many posts on how tired I am. In fact, I probably write on the same topic every Monday. Like there are two kinds of days, tired and very tired.

Today is- very tired. Despite my not having done anything much, except exist. I was thinking of all the life processes keeping me alive, all the Krebs cycles going endlessly on, in all my cells. To what end? Only so we can get to Friday.

I informed the spouse that I may not be able to drop the kid to school today. Folks have an annoying way of asking for reasons. So I had to tell him it’s because it’s Monday and I am tired. He launched into a lecture on healthy eating and exercise and all such evils.

Anyway, education is important, so I lugged the kid to school and came back more exhausted than ever.
Things started looking up once I complained all about my tiredness to Parul and she promised to visit me.
Tannins in tea crossed the blood brain barrier and started pressing doorbells. Managed to go to work and do my bit for the country. Make money, pay taxes…and so on.

I believe I owe no optimism to this world, certainly not on a Monday. Draped this cheerful as my spirits Kala cotton bhujodi and tried to smile weakly for the camera, despite the pain of existence.

The Partner

When we got married, the spouse didn’t know that I don’t dance. He apparently loved to dance, as I came to know after we were done married. There was no way to reverse the situation, it was going to be either divorce or a danceless marriage.

You can see us both sulking on our honeymoon pics. We were at this place where there was a party going on. The hosts encouraged all of us newly weds to dance. I had, by this time, started sleeping with this stranger but I was mortified to be expected to dance with him.

It is on my bucket list to dance with him someday. I am such a stiff, rigid, extremely body conscious, hypervigilant person. Nothing makes me forget the surroundings. People say that one should dance like no one’s watching. I haven’t been able to figure that out. I am always watching myself.

Some years ago, we tried Garba, our traditional Gujarati folk dance. While spouse thoroughly enjoys himself, I start coughing and wheezing like a loud dying donkey because I have exercise induced bronchospasm. Spouse says it’s better to have an alive me than a dead dancing me.

I wear these Karnataka khadis on Sunday because people keep dropping in and I have to be dressed nicely. This chap dropped in after cancelling our anniversary weekend plans. I’m mad at him.