of baby talk

When I was young, I tutored a young girl three or four years my junior. Over time, we drifted apart, and she became nothing but a dim memory of somebody I had once found very amiable.

I ran into her at the mall recently. I saw her first – I could’ve ignored her if I wanted; I had all the time I needed to make a U-turn.

Instead, I waved like a maniac and invited her to coffee.

In 20 minutes, I found myself sitting cross-legged on the Café Coffee Day couch, trying very (very) hard to look interested in the one-way conversation about her daughter. It didn’t help that my drink was disturbingly depressing. Each sip tasted worse than the one before.

Wow! How old is she now?

Thirteen and a half.

Years? My eyebrows shrunk to half their size as I strained to do the math.

You’ll never stop joking, will you? She threw a cushion at me, smiling. Months, baba!

I rolled my eyes at her inwardly for the rest of the evening. How does the world keep spinning with a shockingly ridiculous person who can’t discount that one odd month (and fifteen days) off her child’s age? Is it so hard to say “a year”?

I pretended to count on my fingertips (yeah, I’m mean when I want to be) and said – oh, just over a year, then. Is she walking already?

Bad move.

She proceeded to take me through a list of ALL the milestones her baby had achieved, and then talked at length about how she thought her baby was going to be an underperformer because she had started to talk so late.

Then she started to show me 876,297,097 pictures of Little Miss G on the inflatable chair. Little Miss G on the couch. Little Miss G eating. Little Miss G smiling. Little Miss G frowning. You get my drift.

I ran out of there a fast as I possibly could. Just when I heaved the proverbial sigh of relief, my phone buzzed.

Friend request.

From Little Miss G.

Fuck my life.

Do you know any such child-obssessed parents or someone who has created an entire FB profile for their baby? What are the other annoying things that people from your past do now? How many photos of your baby do you have on your phone? 

of evasive pleasures

Bringing up a child when both parents are working is comparable to a café that operates 24 x 7, with precise time management and division of labour. In our case, since Mister specializes in sincere, single-minded pursuits (mostly of superbikes), I end up doing double shifts. Of course, the family set up is super-supportive with mom and our old domestic help pitching in to manage the little dumpling while I crusade on other fronts. However, days of pursuing my own simple pleasures still stand far out, just beyond the horizon of anything that I can actively plan right now.

So, I DEFINITELY have been craving a break to do some of those things. Fortune winked and Mister, Z, and I snuck out to the hills for a leisurely (as leisurely it can be with a 9 month old 10 kilo can of monster energy!) vacation.

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And on this vacation, it finally happened.

We were both pining for it and had clandestinely packed our stuff from the ever-curious eyes and pawing hands of little Z. After we reached the hotel, the realization of the possibility began to weigh palpably on our nerves. We could finally do it! All we needed was some privacy and some us time.

Over months of diligent persistence, I had mastered the art of putting Z to bed with a night feed and cozy cradling. At the hotel, after he was asleep, there would be no doorbell rings, no urgent office calls, and definitely no sudden barging into our room by our dog or maids. We had even asked room service to serve us a late dinner, just a couple of hours after the usual time our son dozes off to wonderland.

So, as I slowly crooned to Z and he reciprocated by gentle suckling on one breast and the not-so-gentle pinching on the other, my gaze perambulated between the clock and his slowly drooping eyelids.

Anytime now, he would fall asleep and the window of opportunity would open up for Mister and I. The realization of that approaching moment made my heart race. Mister kept passing me salacious glances as he very insidiously unpacked the stuff that we had so far managed to shield from the little ninja.

As Z dozed off, I winked to Mister and both of us tiptoed to the other end of the King-sized bed. We were both excited and terrified at the thought of indulging ourselves after such a long time. With a wicked smile, Mister slid his hands up the cover and opened it to reveal what lay inside, and as he did so, I felt giggly with that familiar musty smell that tantalized my senses. I had to bite hard on my lower lip to contain myself. Mister single-mindedly and masterfully made his way to the sweet spot. Both our pupils dilated as he found it and I gasped as he flipped open on target with a swish. We now found ourselves straining to remember where we had left off on the last encounter. As our senses assimilated the object of desire and we sighed the gentle wave of subtle but enduring pleasure, my trembling fingers found their way inside another world for a pleasure of a different kind.

As I found what I was looking for and brought it to my lips, the long forgotten world of simple indulgences radiated resplendently in phantasmagorical colours. And we both knew it the moment it happened without so much as a word or even a gesture. As Mister flipped the page and I bit into the next bite of chocolate, we both remembered how fond we were of reading a book together over little epicurean accompaniments. Yes, for a parent, the right book and some chocolate can mean paradise on earth, even if it’s just for a little while.

So that’s what I’ve been up to the last few weeks months. Gosh, it’s been long, hasn’t it? How have you been? What’s new in your world?

 

I’m a dingbat.

Really.

I end up in completely avoidable situations such as going on dates when I don’t intend to, unwittingly put my bare bottom on display, and I have this nagging need to be vocal about my feelings when I’ve been drinking. In fact, I’m not even cut out for compassion. I try to be benevolent and do the right thing, but you know where that always leaves, me. In the middle of the road, clutching a thankless scarf.

Anyway. A few days ago, I stepped out of the house to buy stuff from a market that’s always infested with cars, scooters, bikes, and far too many people. I parked a little further away inside a hospital, to save myself the horror of having to wade through the said market.

As I was stepping out of the hospital, I walked past a stinky old lady with one of her arms in a cast wearing garish, hanuman-like, orange clothes, her face full of pockmarks. Her daughter (?) was arguing with a rickshawallah.

Tees, she said as she wiped the sweat from her neck. Thirty rupees.

Typical, I thought to myself. They will argue endlessly with a poor rickshaw puller for what, ten bucks? Look at the old man, toiling in the sun all day long. How can anyone put a price tag on physical labor? If he wants more, pay him more or move along!

I waddled like a buffalo, deliberately taking pains to walk slower than normal in an attempt to prolong my alone time – it’s hard to come by!

I bought what I had to, and stopped at multiple fruit stalls just to check if fruit cost less in this area than where I live and pissed off a lot of fruit vendors in the process – lena nahin tha to itna mol bhaav kyon kiya? If you didn’t want to buy, why did you haggle?

After about 20 minutes, I found myself back where I started – the old lady and her daughter (?) were still there. Bhaiya, chand saleema chaloge, she said. Will you take us to Chand Cinema? The compassionate mother in me reared her head. This was my chance to redeem myself, my good deed for the day. Their destination was enroute to mine.

Aapko Chand Cinema jaana hai? Main us taraf hi ja rahi hoon. I offered to drop them off at Chand Cinema on my way home.

They exchanged a look that was somewhere between can-this-woman-be-trusted or omg-I-can’t-believe-we’re-so-lucky. They agreed.

I dumped all my stuff on Z’s car seat in the back, and helped the old lady in. Her daughter (?) joined me in the front.

I asked how long they had been standing there, and the old lady told me the story of their life. She had slipped and fallen in the bathroom, and her daughter (aha!) brought her here because it was a bigger hospital than the one in their locality. Now they were trying to go back but no auto or rickshawallah was willing to go that far unless they paid a premium. She thought she’d have to walk back, but then I came to their rescue, which was a surprise, because aajkal to sab bahut khudgarz hote hain, koi madad kare bhi to uska bharosa karna mushkil lagta hai. Everyone’s so selfish these days, it’s hard to really trust anyone.

The old lady gave me a lot of free advice – you shouldn’t trust anyone immediately. Who knows what people are up to? Hum to ladies hain, koi aadmi bhi ho sakta tha. We’re women (and therefore it’s ok for you to help us), but it could’ve been a man (and men are untrustworthy in general). She shut up only when her daughter turned to frown at her. I was really really (really) thankful when that happened.

Anyway. I dropped them off at chand saleema. The old woman thanked me a hundred times for being such a good human being, and I tried my best to remain humble.

I drove home feeling really good about myself – the (miniscule) sliver of guilt that I had had when I left home was gone. I parked the car and got out with a swagger, kinda feeling like I was Katrina Kaif in #KalaChashma. (That song has been stuck in my head for a month.)

I was so engrossed I walked a few steps toward my building, then realized I had forgotten all about my stuff.

Only, when I opened the door, there was nothing to pick up.

Yup. I’m a dingbat.

Have you been through anything like this? Have you spent hours on the phone trying to block stolen cards and been pissed about it? When was the last time you stole anything?

To the Linguistically and Cognitively Challenged Douchebag from Yesterday

I can understand that for someone stuck mentally in the 1990s, general namecalling would be the go-to mechanism when stuck in an argument that they cannot win. This is, however, 2016, and you’re expected to act your physical age, or at least pretend to be on board with the whole being an adult thing even if you don’t actually understand it.

Here’s a simple flowchart that you can refer to when you’re in an argument with someone who has, unlike you, aged mentally.

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You’re welcome. Metaphorically speaking, of course – lest you assume I’m telling you it’s ok to return here. It’s not.

Did you see the troll at work yesterday? Are all of them this deranged, or did I win a special lottery? What’s your troll story?

of death

The phone rang just as I was about to step out. I almost didn’t answer, but the I saw his name flash. D never calls me.

How are you? He asked, not caring how I really was. His voice was vacuous, as though the smile that filled it was gone from his life.

I’m good. What’s happening? I said, unable to dismiss the sense of foreboding.

I thought I should let you know that mom’s no more.

I felt as I do when I expect there to be one more step on the stairwell, but instead my foot crashes against the cold, hard ground sooner than I expected. Of course I expected to hear this eventually; just not so soon.

I proceeded, over the next few hours, to try not to think about her. I had a dance class to be at.

Mister asked for my hand. One, two, cha cha cha. Three, four, cha cha cha.

You’re not really here, are you?

Just feeling bad for D and his dad.

The class crawled to an end. Mister held my hand tightly as we walked out.

Are you okay, baby?

Yes. No. I’m not sure. I know how it feels when a loved one dies. But right now, I’ve got nothing. I don’t know how I should feel when someone I didn’t like very much dies. Am I supposed to keep thinking of her as someone I didn’t like very much, or should I be thinking back to the good times and scrounge for good memories with her?

I don’t know.

Later that night, I caught myself thinking about all the things I hated about her.

Everything I did was wrong.

No no, don’t slice bhindi lengthwise. Cut it into round pieces instead.

What kind of bharta is this? The onions are undercooked. It tastes sweet!

She always thought I was capable of cheating on D.

With skirts that short and a propensity to work late, it’s no surprise that you keep getting promoted, she had said to me when I got home late one night after work.

Why? Have you found someone else, she wanted to know the day D announced he wanted to split. It didn’t matter that I was as shocked as she was.

Mister broke that train of thought with his question. Maybe you should skip the chautha ceremony tomorrow and go meet his dad at home next week?

No. I’m going.