Author: obsessivemom

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

An Attitude for Gratitude #GratitudeCircle

Technically April is the exam month but actually it’s March that’s the toughest one because anticipation is always worse/better than the real thing. Right? 

All of March we’re making timetables, failing to stick with them (because daily school assignments are still coming in), constantly remaking, readjusting and generally struggling to get through the portion.

However once exams kick off things fall into place.

Contrary to what the children believe, I’d much rather let them play all day than get them to study, I’d much rather they be outdoors than cooped up inside grumpy and grouchy, I’d much rather curl up with a book myself than drive them to theirs.

Not that they’d ever believe it but March really isn’t the easiest of months for any of us.

Couple that with plans of changing houses this year and you’ll know why things have been rather stormy. Like I’ve said before I’m not a great multitasker so managing the children’s exams as well as the nitty-gritties of getting the new house ready, proved a bit much.

So what’s there to be grateful for you might wonder. Lots actually, when one thinks about it.

The new house

It hasn’t been smooth sailing all month – what house can be made without a few upsets? Yet, almost always, rather miraculously, things have set themselves right by the end of each day. There was just one day that I lost sleep and that because I was reading a rather disturbing book, nothing at all to do with either the exams or the house. That’s some thing to be grateful for.

New found independence

I used to have these horrifying visions of sifting through college-level portions of unfamiliar subjects teaching twenty-something H and N. Mercifully that nightmare may just not come true. Thanks to my pre-occupation with the house I have had to leave them to manage their studies on their own and they didn’t disappoint entirely. Each year I see them become just a little bit more independent and that gives me heart.

And camaraderie

In another, rather significant development, they’ve also helped each other out, though those experiments haven’t always been successful. The other day I asked H to help N with something. To his credit the poor boy tried but she kept giggling and refusing to pay attention. I realised it was a bad move when I heard him threatening her with, ‘Tell me or I’ll punch you’ and ‘Tell me or I’ll cut off your hair’ with such vehemence that I had to abandon whatever I was doing and take right over.

Conversations

Exams might be a bit of a trial but I have to admit the one thing I like is that the we’re together more than we are otherwise. You see the contradiction? I want to curl up with my book and not bother about them and yet I love it when we spend time together even though a lot of it involves being driven up the wall.

The thing is exams are a break from the normal school-homework-play-sleep cycle. They’re home more often. We go for walks in the night after we wrap up for the day and we talk.. a lot, about everything under the sun. And I love that.

Acceptance

I’ve sort of made peace with the way they study. I understand that they aren’t anything like my sister and I used to be. I understand that they won’t be glued to their books like we used to be. I’ve come to be grateful for the fact that they aren’t stressed out of their minds. I am also learning to make peace with the idea that perhaps that will affect their scores, but I have to be okay with it.

It’s not an ideal situation but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m just grateful the children have been happy and healthy, the rest, I hope, shall follow.

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

Personal battles and teen hormones #SOL

N sits on the sofa in front of the television, her plate of food balanced on her knee, the remote in her hand.

‘May I watch TV?’ she asks.

Exams are two weeks away and the children have a Chemistry test the next day – that’s all I can think of as I take in her perfunctory query and her expectant gaze.

It’s hard, but ‘No,’ say I, ‘Eat your food at the dining table then get back to revision.’
Her face sets in a stubborn line and I realise it’s going to be one of ‘those’ days.
‘Why can’t I watch TV till I eat? I can’t study as I eat anyway.’
‘Because we talk while we eat and we catch up with papa,’ say I referring to our nightly Duo chats with the Husband. It’s a bit of a ritual that I’m reluctant to let go.

‘I don’t want to talk’, she replies.

H chips in bringing his best arguments.
‘Only for 15 minutes, till we eat and then we’ll get back, promise,’ he pleads.
‘No’, say I.
‘I won’t eat at the table. I’ll eat on the sofa,’ says N, not willing to give up with at least one small victory.
‘That’s fine by me’, say I picking my battles.

Ten minutes later, I’ve finished dinner. N sits with her plate full, dinner untouched.

I take up my book and walk away to my room.

After a while I hear the twins talking at the dining table as they finish eating.

Then, the door to my room opens slowly.

It’s N.

‘I’m sorry mama’, says she.
‘It’s okay’, I reply.
‘Are you angry’
‘No’
‘Can you smile please?’
I smile at her.
‘I’m sorry’, she reiterates. ‘I’m sorry I was rude and angry. It’s all these teenage hormones you know’.
I have to laugh out at that, at my little wise soon-to-be-teenager.

It’s a battle won – not against the kids, never that, it’s the battle against my temper that I’ve won.

The war is on.

*******

Trying my hand at Slice of Life writing.

Home

Home

Last November I went home on a short trip for my college reunion. It was the first time I was there without the children and it felt strange, too quiet. One morning I took my cup of tea to the swing on our terrace.

It was a cool morning and the sun felt good on my face. The tea was hot, with a hint of ginger, a little sweeter than necessary, just the way I liked it. Multihued bougainvillea bloomed cheerily in large planters at the far end of the terrace. The freshly watered plants gave off a delicious petrichor.

This wasn’t the house I grew up in. My parents shifted from our University home to this, their own bungalow, about a decade ago, when they both retired. And yet how easily I called it home. The children of course had known no other. This was their nani’s house. Each summer when we went to visit, they marked the room on the terrace  as their territory, forbidding anyone to go there in their absence. Such was the sense of belonging. But me? I moved out long ago. I don’t have many memories in this house, there’s no history.

How has this house, where I spend just a few days each year, come to mean ‘home’?

Perhaps it is because of the sounds of the city that seep in uninvited – the North Indian lilt in the call of the vegetable vendor on the road outside or the maids exchanging gossip and greetings in a familiar language before they rushed off to their chores.

Perhaps it is the flowers that bloom in profusion no matter where my parents live. From our first home in the old city where together they sifted mud and gravel, adding just the right amount of sand to coax out the largest roses, to the carpet grass in our second home that they lovingly tended spending long hours with gardeners discussing which seasonals should go where, to these gorgeous Bougainvillea here on the terrace, we’ve always had flowers.

Perhaps it is the odd pieces of furniture that have survived the moves, like this swing that I sit on, each creak familiar, each squeak telling a story, every languid move bringing with it a memory of long hours lounging on it mugging up for a Geology exam or solving Math equations.

Or perhaps it is simply the sense of space that ‘home’ has always had, the sense that I can never quite get in my flat, no matter how large it is. I go around opening doors and windows somedays when I get claustrophobic, in the vain attempt to make it feel larger. I get nowhere, perhaps because the feeling is only in my head.

Or perhaps it is the comforting presence of my parents as they sit talking, bickering vigorously about everything from why he shouldn’t travel so much to why she shouldn’t stay so long on Facebook.

Perhaps it is all of that.

Perhaps home is not a physical place after all but a feeling, a feeling that I belong.

 

A Bookish February #GratitudeCircle

A Bookish February #GratitudeCircle

February is one of those months that are nice in a very understated way. The new year has settled in, there are no great celebrations or festivals, no birthdays or anniversaries also for us, yet it’s short and sweet and just nice.

For me this has been a happy month full of books and reading, some successful kitchen experiments and lots of love from family, both real and virtual.

A celebration

Oops did I just say there are no celebrations? Well that wasn’t quite true. In fact we began the month with one because February 1st was World Read Aloud Day. I rounded up a handful of children from our apartment complex and organised a read-aloud session. We sat around a table, eating biscuits, reading out portions from favourite books and reciting poems. We followed it up with word games and the children went a little crazy, happy crazy, that is. The best kind of crazy, right?We had so much fun that I’ve promised myself that I’ll do it better next year with a little more planning.

Happiness between the pages

While on books and reading, this year I resolved to buy fewer books so I could make my way through my burgeoning unread collection at home. As the resolution fervour wore off and I was beginning to feel sorry for myself (even though I had no right to) the Universe stepped in and two brand new books arrived at my doorstep. They were from my dear blogger friend Soumya. She wrote me the sweetest message that absolutely made my day. A just-like-that gift really is the best kind of gift. And if it’s books it’s even better.

Then Shantala from Shanaya Tales hosted a giveaway and I won it and Becoming by Michelle Obama came home. This was one book I was really looking forward to reading. I’m half way through it and I’m loving it.

The other happiness was the discovery of a book cafe close home. It’s the most delightful little place with stacks of books that one can read over a cup of elaichi chai or a bowl of maggi. I’m looking forward to spending some happy hours there.

In the kitchen

I did a fair bit of cooking thanks to Rachna’s blog. It has become my go-to place for recipes. I tried Gajar ka halwa and it turned out so well that I made it again and then again. I have now locked it up safely in my list of ‘Fool proof recipes I can successfully replicate’ along with a small handful of others. Then I tried stir-fry broccoli which also turned out to be a no-brainer.

Happy kids

The children have been in a happier space this month. H’s allergies, which he has been struggling with for over a year, seemed to have taken a break. He has been sleeping better after ages. He hasn’t ever been too sound a sleeper but it reached crazy proportions over the last year. Nothing seemed to work. He has no access to gadgets during weekdays, not even television. On the odd day that we do watch TV, it’s not much. And yet he has difficulty falling asleep and wakes up a number of times at night. We tried to get him to read before he sleeps, tried massaging his feet, tried warm milk and jaiphal – everything that anyone suggested – but it wasn’t much use. I’ve been toying with the idea of consulting a homeopath. Maybe after the exams I’ll do that.

Yup, exams are round the corner and we’re gearing up for them. The maid has announced a week’s leave, N has a new idea for a novel and plans for the after exam-party are underway. Yeah, that’s how we gear up.

Come on along March.

 

Linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle.

The magic of four bamboo sticks and a blue plastic sheet #ProjectWhy

The magic of four bamboo sticks and a blue plastic sheet #ProjectWhy

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers 

As a parent I often worry that I’m raising a generation of entitled children who assume the best things are all theirs by right. That’s rather strange for a country like India, considering almost every day we see children who don’t get even a single square meal.

And yet we don’t really ‘see’ them, do we?

To be fair, we do empathise and most of us are lending a hand in various ways. Often, however, one has the will to help yet is at a loss to figure out how. How do we identify a genuine charity? How do we ensure we are supporting the right people? How do we know the aid we’re giving is going to the right people?

Pressures of the daily grind coupled with those doubts push away thoughts of helping out. We go about our daily chores with mental masks blocking out those innocent, dirt-streaked faces craving the basic necessities of life. Unknowingly, we pass on the same indifference to our children.

Then, every once in a while we stumble upon a piece, a conversation, a story that brings it all into focus. Reading Damyanti’s piece here did just that.

This is the story of how a miracle was wrought by four bamboo sticks, a blue plastic sheet and a bagful of good intentions. A garbage dump was converted into a school for children living in slums around the Okhla Industrial Area. Two women Sophiya and Pushpa took up the task of educating them.

This was 2004.

More children came in every day and now the school has 12 teachers, catering to 300 children in classes up to XII. The school also boasts a computer centre.

If that isn’t a miracle what is?

The centre is full of stories of courage where people have gone beyond themselves to help usher in this  change. For instance there’s Mithu who lost both his legs to Polio but hasn’t let that get in his way. Do spare a minute to watch this video.

You can read more about the project here. 

In March 2019, the centre’s funding comes to an end and it is in danger of closing down. If you, like me, are moved by this story, if you feel strongly that each child deserves education, if you want to do your bit to keep this miracle alive, do lend a hand. Drop by the Project Why page on Facebook and consider making a donation.

Also, talk to your children. Tell them about Project Why, about children who’d give the world to be in their shoes. If possible identify a similar school in your vicinity and plan a visit. Help them look beyond themselves. They will benefit almost as much as the children they’re trying to help, perhaps more.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

Freedom

Freedom

Sofia sat crouched at the edge of the cliff, muscles tense, senses alert. A wave of vertigo threatened to drown her and she averted her gaze from the valley below. She forced herself to breathe deeply willing herself to relax, muscle by one tiny muscle. You can do this, she said, slowly, gingerly, stretching out […]