Saturday, March 22, 2014

Of opened chests and unseen emails...

There was a time not-so-long ago
when an old man would die
loved ones would cry
neighbours would sigh
and time would pass by...
And after days or weeks
as thought appropriate
the house would have a visitor -
a lawyer, friend or associate
who would sit surrounded
by wide open eyes and hopeful hearts
wondering how the dead man's possessions
would be divided into parts.
And when all of it was said and done,
stuff would be moved, stuff would be sold
Some curious soul would find and open
a locked wooden chest covered in mould.
Lo and behold, diaries & letters,
moth-eaten photos with unknown faces,
cards sent on christmas and birthdays
and postcards from faraway places.
The family would sit together
excited, curious or even aghast
letters read, diaries violated,
all's fair in piecing together a dead man's past.
Summertime flings. War-time lovers
Philosophizing pals and holidaying friends
Reflections on life, Confessions in ink
Breaking Ties and Making amends.
And there in full glory,
through faded photos and musty paper
bits and pieces of many a caper
the dead man would come alive
as a devil-may-care fifteen year old
Or a strapping young lad at twenty-five.

And now I wonder
when I die
as a grumpy old lady at ninety
or a little younger at seventy-five,
People will cry
People will sigh
Time will pass by
Months will fly.
No lawyer will visit
With a letter in hand
No chests will be opened
No diaries will be scanned.
A couple of hard disks will be found
and even some DVDs lying around
But wading through TBs of photos and videos
would seem a choice unsound.
Maybe a Find would be done
on exciting, curious strings
'biggest mistake of my life'
'crazy night' or 'college flings'.
And when it would yield no results
memories would be overwritten
or renegaded to the back of a drawer
to be unreadably time-bitten.
Maybe a curious soul will search on my name
and find bytes of me shared over time
photos, reviews, statuses and thoughts
or blog poems that badly rhyme.
But undiscovered will they lie -
the drafts in my blog
the emails in my Inbox
the notes to self and recipes
stowed away in Google Docs.
None will find the emails
A friend and I wrote to each other
seeking meaning from the world
and solace from one another
Unseen will lie my chats and emails
about the beautiful places I travelled to
So when I am dead and gone
My experiences will be gone too.
None will see the story I wrote
about the child and his paper boat
or the one about the funny ghost
For I felt they were too naive to post
And there they will lie till eternity
or till the digital world would last
Unseen, unfound, all alone
the little 1s and 0s of a dead woman's past.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Wisdom in Diapers
5 life-lessons I learnt from my 1-year-old son

Last month my son turned one. When I take him out for a stroll or go visiting, I always get asked ‘oh he is one already….so does he walk, talk, do random-thing-that-babies-are-supposed-to-do? What all has he learnt?’ As I was sitting and going through his photos last evening, wondering how fast time has flown (and how stubbornly the pregnancy fat has stayed put), I realized that this little bundle of baby fat, itching-to-bite milk teeth and bum-in-diapers has taught me so much more about life than I have taught him.

I know I will never get asked ‘oh he is one already…..what all has he taught you?’ So here’s the answer to that non-existent question.

1. As a child I never shied away from asking for anything (whether a second helping of cake at a birthday party or some more comic books from my parents). But over time, society, age (sob!) and a constructed sense of etiquette taught me that asking is rude/indecent/greedy and a whole set of other adjectives. But Little Fellow has just been around for a year, doesn’t know what society is and cannot even spell or say etiquette. So he asks. When in want or need, he asks!

Propped in his pram, he goes for a stroll everyday. Everyday he passes by groups of old ‘grandpas’ and ‘grandmas’ sitting on the benches. He doesn’t even know them, but he grins at them, calls out to them in his baby-speak, wiggles his little finger to beckon them over and then with outstretched hands demands that they free him from the clutches of the pram and walk around with him in their arms. Every single day some grandpa or grandma obliges and achy-wobbly knees apart, carries him around. (while I go about wheeling an empty pram!)

My lesson: Ask and you may get, don’t ask and you will never get! So just go ahead and ask for it!

2. Little fellow has just learnt how to walk. He walks around the house, his legs spread slightly apart, wobbling like on a slightly tipsy Friday night. It was quite entertaining to watch him go through the entire process of learning how to walk. First, he would just try to lift his upper body from a sitting position. Then came the standing up phase. He would stand, he would lose balance, he would fall, he would get up again..and again…and again. It didn’t take him long to figure out that sticking out the bum is a good way to avoid falling on your face or hitting your head. It was his ‘safe landing’ trick. Even now when he is walking, at the slightest hint of losing balance, he sticks out his bum as far as he can…and then comfortably lands on it.

My lesson: Try and try till you succeed; but as you keep trying, also learn how to fail safe and land on your bum.

3. My husband and I both have a full-time job. So it is my parents who take care of Little Fellow at home. Ever since the first synapses in his brain kicked in, he started forming a map in his head of each one of us and what we can do for him. So anytime he is hungry or sleepy, he walks over straight to mom and starts tugging at her clothes. If he wants to be taken out for a stroll, dad it is. My husband is his go-to-guy when he wants to play. And I am the cuddly-wuddly bit (sigh!). Little Fellow also has a little equation worked out in his head for visitors. Women = hold you, kiss you, put you on the lap and sit on the sofa yapping away all evening. Men = hold you, throw you up in the air and catch you, take you around, let you play with keys….you get the drift. So when we have guests, he immediately locates the man in the group and goes to him.

My lesson: People are awesome to have around. Understand what they are there in your life for. Play to their strengths and your interests.

4. ‘Rules are meant to be broken’ is something that I have both heard and said oft enough. An old-school professor of mine once said during an examination ‘ copy if you must, but be smart enough not to get caught doing it’. My professor would have been super proud of my son.
He seems to have grown a new-found love for all little specks of dust, dirt, food or just about anything else that he finds on the floor. As he crawls or walks around, anything that stands out on the off-white tiles goes straight into his mouth. After doing the ‘baby please…pretty please’ nice mom thingie (with no success at all), I resorted to good old mommy’s-big-eyes-and-serious-face act. So now he knows its a rule. No eating stuff from the floor. Now comes the best part. When he finds something AND he knows I am looking, he comes over and obediently hands over the little speck to me. BUT, if I am not looking (and he checks that from the corner of his eye), it goes straight into his mouth.

My lesson: If you are breaking rules, you better be super-smart about it!

5. When he does something entirely unacceptable (like trying to put his finger, or my phone, into my cup of hot tea), I raise my voice a bit and do a pretend shouting, hoping that it will dissuade him from doing it ever again. How he responds to it is really interesting. Step #1: He shouts back at me in an equally loud voice. If I still have my big-eye-serious-look on, Step #2: He starts grinning and laughing, testing if I will budge (which, sadly for me, works many times) If not, Step #3: He comes over, hugs me and plants a big slobbery wet kiss on my cheek. (a surefire success). And if after all of this, I am still hell-bent on being a no-nonsense-mom, Step #5: He starts bawling. He shuffles around these steps depending on my mood and the intensity of what he just did. Usually by Step 2 or 3, I am a molten mom.

My lesson: There is no ‘one’ way to deal with a situation. Be creative in how you approach problems. Try anything and everything!