Monthly Archives: August 2009

Words

There is a picture of my mother I love. The one where you can see the clouds and sea reflected in the startling clear of her eyes. Her worried eyes which for once forgot their lot in life and luxuriated in a simple moment.

I know my father didn’t take that picture. It’s not because he’s not gifted. Pappa simply doesn’t like to look too deeply into people’s eyes for fear of seeing something rude or revealing. Especially not my mother’s eyes.

We don’t talk about her lover because we don’t have to. Its as if he never existed, except that he still does. The pain has woven itself into all the conversations we have as a family. Not in the obvious, acrimonious ways you might be imagining reading this. In this family you won’t see shards of insults flying at supersonic speeds across the dining table. There are no bloodstains on these sheets.

We worship at the altar of Keeping It InThe Family and have sworn to haemorrhage internally till we die. We even spit on it.

Words have a special place in a family where everyone writes for a living. Or you would think. Yet here, in our rooms, these melancholy alphabets struggle to string themselves into coherent sequences. They writhe in embarrassment at having had to be uttered and wish themselves dead on arrival. They have lost the struggle to construct meaning or feeling and lie there, disjointed and broken. They were littering the floor, so we’ve swept them away now.

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Laundry is Education

Have your coloured and white baskets empty and ready – if you separate your wash in an anal manner like I do, that is.

As you sort laundry hold up each item for your toddler.

“Whats this? Is this Pappa’s t-shirt?”

“Pappa’s t-shirt”, he faithfully repeats.

Rinse and repeat till you’re all sorted out and then curl each piece of clothing into a ball.

Let your toddler one-two-three-basket-it.

Scream “And Magic Johnson does it again!!!”. Do not forget your cheerleader jiggle.

Your toddler rockets to laundry heaven.

You have now ensnared your toddler and he will do your laundry for life – or at least a couple of weeks.

He will also be able to tell pants from pyjamas, socks from stockings and a black t-shirt from a red shirt.

Or Shit as he prefers to call it.

I didn’t say you could win them all.

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He Did It – The Rest and The End

Written on friday, but posting delayed..

Oh I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, “Woah, she doesn’t get tired of this guy? Because I know I’m yawning..”

I do. Like ALL THE TIME. Like you wouldn’t believe. I can walk around in a semi-permanent state of irritation. If you don’t believe me, ask my PMS. Go ahead.

He forgets things. Yes, would you believe it? A MAN WHO FORGETS THINGS. Bet you didn’t know they existed.

Well today he forgot about six things because on some days he is beyond simple instructions like, “Arvind needs raingear”, “Don’t forget the lunchbox”, “Call you mother about minding the kids on Monday” or “Make that appointment to discuss kitchens”.

Oh boy. He has blown it every which way today.

So today, I dig deep to find something good in him just to keep from going at him with a machete. So for all of you who have been reading the past couple of posts and imagining that we spend our available free time training my brown eyes to melt and drown in his blues, I’ll have to let you down with a thud.

No, we are more like that couple in aisle 3, you know – the diary aisle – making snarky comments about the other’s choice of soya milk or cottage cheese.

“Seriously, soya milk? Drink sewage.”

And you will agree that it can only go downhill from there.

So thank god for the odd moments when we can look back and not want to dismember our life partner. Seatbelts on for parts 3, 4, and 5 of the tag I have dragged out because employment is eating up my time. Damn you, employment. And in case, you thought we were done with blood, gore and entrails – wrong again! Now run away if you just ate.

#3a: The dude who sat on the edge of a hospital bathtub for over an hour while his wife lay there like Orca the Killer Whale, wincing as she met wall after wall of contractions. Like THWACK! woah, big one. And in that ridiculously uncomfortable position (obviously, I won THAT discomfort contest, but anyway), he managed to keep rubbing the small of my back and had the good sense to shutty uppy. My mother insists that he sat there for well over an hour and I’ve reminded her politely that I was the one fighting the 9 pounder.

#3b: For laughing when I got punch drunk on laughing gas and began apologizing to the the staff in the labour room for being a wuz. And for taking me seriously when I gasped, “Epidural. NOW!” For not killing the nurse who insisted on showing me my “beautiful nourishing placenta“, which basically looked like someone threw up on someone’s liver. Who the hell needs to see their placenta?

Its a placenta, not a Picasso.

#4: A week after I had Armaan – a dream C-section, no less – I developed post partum septicemia or sepsis as the shexy short form goes.

You don’t want to get it. If you can go to the drug store and they let you pick out an awesome infection, go for mumps, but don’t go for sepsis. It sucks in ways I can’t describe. Had it been 20 years ago, I would have kicked the bucket. Had I been admitted a day late, I would have probably kicked the bucket too, since my lungs had started to cave. I have never before or since experienced the kind of discomfort I experienced then, yet my first thought was, “I don’t have time for this. My baby is a week old.”

Forget breasfeeding now, the nurses said kindly.

They needn’t have worried too much. Because I couldn’t even remember I had breasts then. Body? What body? Where’s the air? I have no air. Can I have some air pretty please? Yes, that was pretty much where I was at. And just in case I was still moaning about the cup being half empty and all, just to be sure, Toxic Shock Syndrome also kicked in.

Yes, that is what the tampons warn you about. And it ain’t pretty either. Its a warning for a reason. It made me burst into a milky body rash before making all my skin peel. Skin is made of layers apparently. I learnt that the hard way when I shed it layer for layer like a snake.

So, there I am at the hospital getting assistance to breathe and trying to kick some intense bacterial ass, not to mention looking pretty damn gross. Yummy Mummy So Very Not.

And the dude? He went home to our two children and did it all alone. From making formula, making sure Armaan was fed, dry and well, showering with a week old baby in his arms because he thought that body contact was the most important thing when I temporarily disappeared from this little baby’s life – and making sure Arvind was cuddled, loved, cared for and surrounded by enough family so as not to panic about what was happening to his mother.

To this day, I don’t know how he did it, because he won’t go on about it.

No, that would be me. In his place, I would have sent in a formal application for martyrdom and – PUSHED that whole damn project through till that halo around my head glinted gold goddamit.

Every morning at 9 a.m., he would wheel a comatose Armaan into my room with a happy “Hey Hottie!” and give me the kind of kiss you would only give A Seriously Sick, Hot Wife. (humour me, people! His eyes closed, so it could have been Cameron Diaz in his head too. Ho hum.)

This is good to hear if like me a) you are prone to vanity and b) at that precise moment in time look like an all-body chemical peel gone disastrously wrong. He bought me every trashy magazine he could find and held Armaan so that i could sniff his head and his baby cheeks without holding him.

He also had the courtesy to wet himself quietly laughing at my stunned, disbelieving expression when The Only Extremely Hot Doctor In The Whole Hospital M.D. got to see me peeling and yucky and (horrors!!) even got to cop a feel under my dress where even I wouldn’t want to go. He was laughing the moment God ceased to exist.

We’ve never laughed so much. Or spent so much time feeling so utterly grateful.(except for the gawjus doctor bit).

# 5: For asking genuinely about my family every day. For giving me his family. For never putting me in a position when I had to choose between “his family” and “mine”. For making it possible – this impossibly large, loud, twisted and complicated family of “ours” spanning two continents.

Edited to Add: The Viking, who can never be arsed to read what I write, actually did so yesterday. And he reminded me of two things:

1. The night I got admitted to hospital, he and Armaan spent the night in the gynaec ward. Next to a woman who smelt old and had had a hysterectomy. Don’t even ask. He thinks that deserves a mention – and a purple heart. He will also have it said that he scored major capable-dad-of-newborn brownie points with the cute young nurses. Pity he was married and all.

2. And how I did I return his loving care? Last month, while we were in India, he had Lasik done. He woke me up in the morning to wash his lashes (done carefully and gently with a cotton bud and water) and drip-drop some eyedrops. Groggy after a late night of intense gossip, I ended up almost giving him the wrong drops. He pointed this out in his reasonable manner and I yelled, ” Well, I’m not a bloody nurse, ok?”

Ach. Thats me. All about the grace. I live to support the theory that even bitches can land decent guys. That, and more than one nurturer per family is just abnormal:-)

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Happiness is..

….watching a gardener on the university grounds doing a jiggly dance as he goes about his days work.

…. and the silly smiles on all the faces that walked past him. (Ok, there were a couple of them who looked around alarmed as if they might be on Candid Camera. Nothing like the uptight Norwegian!)

Its really takes so little. So little to put a spin on what you do and make it fun, for yourself and others.

Made me want to run up to him, give him a big hug and say, “Today’s happiness! There you are!”

Yes, am a total muckhead like that.

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Infectious Enthusiasm Or A Head And Some Ass In The Clouds – Part Two

In case I never told you, we are buying a holiday home in the Tuscan Hills. The Viking has made Google weep for mercy with his exhaustive research. And before I can utter the words, ” But we’re like BROKE, yo!”..

He has found possibilities for a beautiful home nestled in the greenest green of the backwaters. But darn it..

This puts a cramp on the Trans-siberian railway journey we intend to take.

And we are given to understand that getting to Macchu Picchu will require a handful of bills too.

And the Antartic expedition? Non gratis, that too.

No, he says, forget that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to own a caravan and travel around the world? Stopping everytime we see an enchanting back alley? Sampling the local produce? Getting a feel of the place, the people?

My love, I think, there’s no way I will look like THAT girl, you know the Asian girl who paired up with THAT German tourist in socks and sandals, shining a brighter shade of deep, sunburnt red. (Besides, socks with sandals is met with Taliban justice in our home. Nothing else is remotely fair.)

Oh, you’ll think differently in another couple of years, he says happily.

Now check out this kitchen. Let’s renovate. A combi steam oven is THE thing.

Google has another rough day wincing in pain as we put her through the paces.

Fortunately for Google, the Viking has now moved on to renovating our garden and assessing the correct stone type for re-inforcement walls.

Linda Goodman , listen up.

You said NO WORD about the dizzying exhaustion of being married to a Gemini man.

Y’know, Mr. New Day New Idea. The boundless enthusiasm and childlike optimism. The “Wheeee!” of living.

Or did I miss the statutory warning on his butt when we doing the unspeakable? The one that said HARDCORE REALISTS AND DEPRESSIVE PESSIMISTS BEWARE. THIS MIGHT MAKE YOU HAPPY AND THEN HOW WILL YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF? ANSWER ME THAT, GODDAMIT!

I’ll bet you I did. I’ll bet you he said something about the magic of the northern lights and oops…

I’m living with a dreamer. Embracing it as one would an embarrassing facial tic in a loved one. Strapping up and getting ready to be flung through the air to implausible places.

So who wants to come along?;-)

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He Did It – Part One

MiM tagged me to write the 5 best things the Viking has done for me.

Also known as What Have You Done For Me (Not) Lately. Like most men, he wanted me write at least one point about him being a sexual powerhouse, the motion in the the ocean of lurrve and all – but seriously. What kind of gal does he take me for? This will stay a chaste zone save for all the swearing thanksverymuch.

That man in the corner of my sofa? Yup, that would be the Viking, moaning that he doesn’t want to be portrayed as a super nice Tom Hanks type who never gets to see any action in any scene – save for some tongueless kissing courtesy Meg Ryan.

Anyway, starting at #1.

18 January 2003: The Viking and I wheel our one day old baby into a paediatrician’s office. He walks in, barely looking at us, barely seeing how drawn we look, how achy we both are. I can barely feel my legs after a horrendous tear and the kind of episiotomy that made me feel like I’d been hand-sown with gunny.

He picks up my sleeping son’s left arm, holds it for a few sceonds and then drops it.

It drops like lead. Like its nothing at all. Like its dead.

“We don’t have to worry that he’ll be a discus thrower,” he says in flat monotone as he scribbles in his chart.

I think I hear a crack and I don’t know if it was my heart, or my brain exploding. Oh wait.

My brain was screaming, “Who are you? Motherfucker M.D?” Thats right. How silly of me to forget.

But my body, utterly debilitated by “natural” childbirth, by this tide of ferocious, almost incomprehensible love for this little hurt baby, just gave.

And the hand resting gently on my back suddenly became a strong pair of arms just coming out of the pitch black of the room and to scoop me and my misery into a tight embrace.

He’s going to be fine, just fine, our boy is the most beautiful baby in the world and he’ll be just fine, I keep hearing a calm voice intone through the ragged sobs that are gagging me.

Those arms and that calm voice kept me pieced together through those days and months of darkness – of dealing with my anger that wouldn’t give. My anger at my body that had let my baby down. My anger at a so-called God. The entire medical fraternity who were dickheads. Or motherfuckers. (As you can guess, I had a real thang for that word. I think it cured me. And as it turns out I was spot on regarding my instincts about their incompetence. He was finally operated at the Royal Grace in London by a Swedish specialist.)

Those hands, those arms again when I rose to my full piddly height and screamed at a three orthopedic specialists, “This is our son. Our baby. Not your fucking guinea pig.” Steadying me, calming me.

Those arms that held me and reminded me day after day that our son needed no-one’s pity. Only one arm? We would teach him to live with that and live well. Whatever happened, we would believe in him. We had to be his strength. Limitations wouldn’t define him, this gentle man said, just as his limitations hadn’t stopped him. See, the Viking is severely dyslexic. Like couldn’t-talk-till-he-was-5-dyslexic. They never thought he would finish school, leave alone ace an engineering and a management degree.

My tears, my sadness were an affront to the human spirit, he kept saying. All one had to do was to check out something like the special olympics to know that no-one could predict what a person was capable of. But if we didn’t believe it, then who would teach him to believe in himself? We had to believe.

Tough lesson for the Faithless woman who thought Grace was in a dungheap.

So there. Number One on What Have You Done For Me (Not) Lately.

He was a mountain of faith in our little boy, in me, when I was No Faith and All Fight. Fortunately there was more in him where that came from;-)

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No

I’m out of words right now. Depression is sucking them words right out of me, the way I was helping myself to tender chicken marrow a couple of weeks ago. Too much illness since we came back, too much cabin fever and one very difficult post that has been gestating way too long, refusing to see the light of day.

Only, everytime I hear this song, all my troubled thoughts come scrambling to the surface and gasp for air, for clarity and order. I still can’t offer them that comfort because something about this song undoes me and won’t let me think enough. Not yet. Now right now.

Its a song by Shakira and if I know anything, its that the English language cannot do justice to Shakira’s voice or her spirit. English reduces her a wide-hipped bimbo and strips her voice of its sensuality, passion and pain. So here is Shakira, as she should be heard, in espanol, with English subtitles.

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