of walls

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way. Maybe he was just joking!”

“No, he wasn’t making a joke. I could tell. Besides, words have meanings. Words matter. He should’ve choosen them wisely”, I said, pausing for breath, and continued.

“I know you’re fond of him, but wanting to believe the best about people doesn’t make it true.” A grimace flashed across his face and gave away what he was thinking.Wanting to believe the worst doesn’t make that true either. But he didn’t say it.

This is who he is. He believes in people. He’s not hiply cynical; he’s not comfortable making snide remarks about others. He’d rather believe that people are innately good, and he’s ok being disappointed once in a while. It’s why I love him.

But for now, he needs to say something.

“Say something.”

Nothing.

“Say something, baba!” I’m pretty sure I sounded annoyed.

“You think I’m irritating, don’t you?”

“Yes, but that’s not the point. You’re too fucking trusting and people take advantage of who you are.”

“Okay, I won’t do it again!”

“We both know you will.”

“All the more reason this debate is pointless, right?

So we stopped there. I’ve used up all the time I had budgeted today for banging my head against a wall.

 

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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?

 

Eight

Childhood was so perfect! Sometimes I wish I could be eight again, she said. More freedom.

Freedom from what? I asked, curious.

Freedom from having to think twice about everything I say or do, of course, she giggled. You know how it is with in laws – they find reasons to get offended. I would fight back, but my husband does not tolerate that kind of stuff. Plus I can’t wear what I want anymore – can’t just step out to go meet a friend when I feel like it.

I understood.

R came from the ideal family – doting parents, independent children, enough money to keep squabbles at bay. I was jealous of the way her parents spoke to her, always lovingly and with concern. She married her college sweetheart and has the most well-behaved children but the most boring life.

Me, I come from a far-less-than-ideal family that liked to pretend otherwise. My parents hated each other’s guts, and ours. We were the reason why they had to stay together – this was my mother’s ultimate sacrifice, and we were painfully aware of the burden our existence was for her. But if you were to look at our photographs from back then, you’d see only oblivious children with glazed, glassy eyeballs. You’d have no idea how fucked up we really were. I grew up to become a socially awkward person with the decision-making ability of a saucepan.

 

And now, in my thirties, I am finally discovering what it is like to think and feel like an eight year old – a luxury I didn’t have in 1990. (Because when I was eight, I was battling agony, indignation, confusion, self-loathing, betrayal; and a few years later, even arousal.)

I am filled to the brim with love and contentment. I am truly happy for the first time in my life. Not because I have a family that loves me – but because I am finally able to understand and love myself.

Maybe my childhood is only just beginning. Maybe I was meant to live my life in reverse.

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What about you? Are you happier now that you are an adult? Do you miss your carefree childhood? Did you have a carefree childhood?

 

of safety blankets

I lay on our bed last night, wide awake, worrying that I didn’t know what to do with the blog. I haven’t been feeling like writing lately, because I never have the time.

But as I stared at the ceiling in the dark, I became aware of how his arms and legs are always wrapped around me like a blanket as we sleep – a blanket that I couldn’t, wouldn’t ever want to imagine having to sleep without. If I pull away, he’ll ask if I’m okay, and fall back into sleep without waiting for an answer. In a few moments, he’ll realize I’m not glued to him, so he’ll find me and tuck me back into his chest. You may see this as corny but I can’t tell you how exhilarating it is to feel safe and loved and protected, especially if it’s something you have not experienced before.

And then it hit me. It’s not like I don’t have the time. I just don’t want to do anything without him. Every waking moment is somehow about us, about him and me and our love. I barely survived his trip to Bangalore. I had to wear his unwashed t-shirts, go to sleep in his dirty shorts, stalk his Facebook profile for hours to be able to live. I can’t live like this is all I could manage to say to him every time we spoke before breaking into hysterical sobs.

And now that I am expected to travel for work for a month, I don’t want to is all I can think about. Because when he’s not there, I feel like I’m drowning, like the world will consume me and there will be nothing when he gets back.

Ironically, that’s exactly how I feel when he is around. I feel like he’s consuming me and there’s nothing left for the world. I feel irreverent for so casually sidelining all the other blessings in my life.

This is how I was with my first husband, and it bothers me.

Could it be that I am always looking to be in a relationship that draws me in and keeps me safe? Do I need to pull away a little bit to be able to see things clearly?

I don’t know. Do you?

of the summer of ’89 (Part 1)

I can’t remember which month it was, but let’s say that it was June. I was outside on the streets in Sarojini Nagar, playing with little boys and girls my age. I’d say they were my friends, but they most probably weren’t because I didn’t have any. (Except for Gautam, who stopped talking to me after I broke his tooth.)

Anyway. I was outside playing with other children in the colony when he arrived with his ice-cream cart. I stood transfixed as the ball went rolling past me and the children screamed. Kya kar rahi hai? Ball pakad pagal! What the fuck are you doing? Get the ball, you moron!

Teri wajah se haare hain hum aaj rang in my ears as the other team did a victory dance. We lost because of you. The crowd dispersed. Kal se hum ni khelre iske saath. We’re not playing with her anymore.

I didn’t care. I just stood there, looking at Nitu didi as she unwrapped her ice-cream, revealing a Mango Duet (the most glorious treat I’ve ever had) and threw the wrapper carelessly on the road.

I licked my parched lips. She saw, and my already sunburned face felt like it was on fire.

Khayegi? Want some?

I nodded.

She split one of the duet sticks and handed me a singlet.

I went home happy, unperturbed about the other children not wanting to play with me. I was greeted by my mother at the door. She looked angry. Beta, agar ice cream khani thi to humein bola kyon nahin? If you wanted an ice cream, why didn’t you just say so?

I wanted to say something but the shame rising through my oesophagus choked me until lava-hot tears sluiced out. Though she never said it out loud, I felt like I was pure evil and had somehow let her down.

I shot a look at my father. He looked like he disapproved too. Aage se kisi se kuch nahin maangna, he said. I had just learned my first life lesson. Don’t ever ask anyone for anything.


Do you remember your first life lesson? Where were you in 1989? Have you ever had the Mango Duet?