Category: Parentous

Ties that bind

A note to my brother

My earliest memories of you include fighting over chalk, chocolates and crayons. Weekends and summer holidays (when you weren’t in Calcutta) were about whether we should play ghar-ghar or teacher-teacher. We fought over TV serials and very importantly, which episode of Ramayana or Mahabharata to watch that afternoon. We’ve fought like crazy, I’ve bullied you and you’ve made me cry often. But you are the closest I have to a sibling. In age. In temperament. Ma said it was because we share the same zodiac sign.

So I begin with an apology. I’m sorry for the times I didn’t show up, for the times I disappointed you, for the times you felt let down. I’m trying to make up.

Last year, when Ma told me in passing that we were considering a proposal for you, I had little to say in response. I merely nodded, in indifference. I was curious about the girl in question but I held on to my patience. When she became your fiancé, I called up Papa in the middle of a busy work-day and said I want to meet this girl. Before we could chalk out a plan, I was informed that you too had said a yes. That evening when I met you for dinner, you quietly called me into another room and said, “Didi, aapne to abhi tak photo bhi nahi dekhi hogi na. Yeh dekho!” And then you showed me the first glimpse of my Bhabhi on your cell phone.

I met your fiancé a day later when she was coaxing Dadima to eat something. And suddenly everything felt so right. The earnestness on her face, the euphoria on Dadima’s, it was perfect. It is how I’d always like to remember Dadima.

Over kiwi margaritas, strawberry milkshakes and pesto pasta, we became fast friends. And our childhood trio now included a new partner in crime…Continue reading.

*First published on Parentous.

Discarding The Baggage Of Familial Ties

A note of gratitude…

Dealing with the extended family is like treading on egg shells. What to say, what not to say, how to say, et al. I hate having to do it. It’s annoying and draining and exhausting, all at once. I dreaded it every single time, until the mother, in absolute desperation, shared a gem of wisdom with me. She said, “Forget that they are your relatives. Treat them as human beings. Individuals, or perhaps, strangers, who deserve your respect, politeness and kindness. Remain aloof from the conversation.” A simple thought; it made my life so much simpler.

Over the last few months, I’ve learnt that conversing or spending time with an individual without the baggage of familial ties is refreshing. I approach them as a friend or sometimes, as a stranger would. Carefully, avoiding being personal, sticking to the mundane. Keeping aside the many yesterdays of discontentment between us, to begin on a fresh note. I’ve learnt to steer the conversations towards them. Ask them their thoughts, how they feel, what they are doing; making them the centerpiece of our conversations. And most people I know seem to enjoy talking about themselves. And they do so unabashedly, occasionally forgetting me standing next to them. The few who do remember, also remember to keep their discourse short, making it more like a dialogue…Continue reading.

*First published on Parentous.

 

A Few Words About Shoes

About the best friend and some shoes

I attended the best friend’s wedding this past weekend. I was seeing her after a year and a half. I remember sitting with her on the rocks at a beach one evening at sunset, discussing her then boyfriend, now husband. Perhaps only the universe knew that the next time I’d meet her, with her soon-to-be in-laws at an airport. So metaphoric of our relationship.

She saw me before I did. Reached out for a hug before I knew it was her. And suddenly the months slipped away. Our many broken, incomplete, fragmented conversations faded into insignificance as I reciprocated her joy. We had become two giggly teenagers, all over again.

Yet something had changed. The casual baggy clothes and worn out Kolhapuri chappals had made way for to silk kurtas and strappy sandals. Trendy handbags had replaced our treasured jholas. I was wearing silver hoops, her fingers held a shiny rock.

Watching her sit daintily for her mehendi that evening reminded me of something I had written a while ago on friendship and shoes.
Continue reading.

*First published on Parentous.

Early Morning Rendezvous

A birthday wish for the father.

As far as I can remember I’ve never been a morning person, much to the mother’s dismay. But that is slowly changing. I’m beginning to discover the joys of an early start. Cooler mornings, fewer people on the road, lesser crowds at the station. But mostly, I look forward to a ten-minute ride to the station with the father.

It is a sort of detour for him, but he doesn’t complain. All he insists is that I be on time. It is the few moments of the day when I can have him all to myself. He will ask me about my work, we’ll exchange family gossip, I’ll complain about the mother.

The strongest memories I have of him are him behind the wheel. Ferrying us back home from the nani’s house, taking us out for our weekly dinner outing, dropping me off to boarding school. Cars are his weakness. His toys.

I’ve also had some of my best conversations with him, while he has been driving. Chatty banter, nuggets of advice and sometimes, a glimpse into his mind. He will talk about his father, a man I largely saw through his eyes; his voice, dripping with admiration, respect and adoration.

I had missed my grandfather’s funeral and often wondered how my father had responded to his death. Five years later, I’m yet to piece the whole picture but what little I know, I’ve gleaned from our conversations in the car. Like the time we discussed alcohol and he described my Babaji as a connoisseur. I suggested getting rid (read consume) of the extra bottles, he said that these were the few memories he had of him and wanted to preserve them…Continue reading.

*First published on Parentous.