Tag Archives: love

Fight Club

Ever heard this one?

“Fighting is a sign of a healthy couple. Its good to fight – and make up.” *snigger snigger*

I am just going to flat out disagree with this one. And I will take it a step further and say, “Maybe for you. But it will never work for me.” And by making it personal and SUPER SUBJECTIVE, I am going to disallow your disagreement. Because I’m all Mein Führer like that.

35 years of living have allow me to admit that I am an Unadulterated Harmony Junkie. Don’t get me wrong, I am still a pain in the ass and if I am having a bad day, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will try and pick a fight with you, but really, ALL I REALLY WANT, as Alanis sung so angstily, is to be held and soothed and told, “There there. Its just a bad day. This too shall pass.”

And then I want you to shut up. Not diagnose me or patch me up.

Back to the fighting.

The first years of a relationship can be awesome and still be turbulent. And in the midst of all the gelling and the cooing and the “OMIGOD, YOU TOO??? Fries with MUSTARD?”, you may find yourself  flipping your lid, sleeping back to back and trying to find a way to carve your your space, your identity, something in the shape of you in the Newly Baptised Blob of Us. Pretty legit, that.

However, 5 or 10 years down the line, if constant bickering is still the best you can do for foreplay, then it might just be time to step back and look at how much you really enjoy this life together. Maybe it is just that I have seen some really happy couples and really – they do not fight that much or take cheap potshots at each other constantly. I have envied their quietude, their sunny outlook, their obvious pleasure in each other’s company.

I can already hear that “opposites attract” arguments for the passionate, volatile relationship. And again, good for you. Check’s in the mail. Having been there and done him and his best friend, I can only say that I never want THAT much valium in my life ever again.

For years, I equated the loving, stable relationship with the death of all that is exciting. For years, I did myself in, trying to reach some unattainable high, like a junkie who is sure that the next great hit is right around the corner. I shipwrecked myself repeatedly without much thought or respect.

The problem in mindlessly seeking the passionate, the volatile and the good fight is manifold in my eyes.

a) I like to connect with the people I really like and I love to get along. Nothing makes quite as happy as getting under someone’s skin and knowing that its warm there. There is snuggling, there are footrubs and backrubs, notes stuck on the mirror, spooning, good food and the world is your chocolate whore. Now, if you’re spending a good 50% of this time wanting to tell the other person to f%&$ off, I’m guessing you didn’t like your footrub. Or he didn’t shave his legs before spooning, the bastard.

b) Its not so much about whether you fight so much as HOW you fight. I have not really learnt the art of fighting right. I get impossibly aggressive, I yell, I say many things I shamefully regret a nanosecond later and I will feel like toilet paper that has been used multiple times for DAYS. I am so wound up before a good yell and so despondent afterwards, that I will literally take to my bed like any decent Victorian biddy. I will get NOTHING done, because my mind will auto-replay the Awfulness of Me.

At the theatre near you.

Step two is the classic over-compensation, the mad apologizing and the desperate need to get that backrub routine back on track.

Now this can be read as a sign of insecurity or fear of abandonment, but nope.

c) I am pretty secure that I am just happier being happy with someone. I am much happier saying, “This is going nowhere good. This is not a good time for me. Can we do this later?” I am happier diffusing a fight than I am fighting it. I am happy to be understood without having to yell and nag. It would be very difficult to be with a person you couldn’t hug spontaneously, because I NEVER want to sponto-hug a snappy person.

Funny, that.

Ultimately, we are talking about communication breakdown.

That is DRAMA. Not to be confused with passion.

It is a failure to try to understand the other’s reaction /overreaction. Often, even an attempt to pervert innocent remarks to slake your fight thirst. OVER SOMETHING COMPLETELY unrelated. Sometimes I have had an overwhelming urge to step out of my furious self and just say, “Why can’t you just tell him what this is REALLY about?”

I hate that. The feeling that this fight in not about “this” fight, but something deeper, darker, something you cannot let go, some awful, fundamental way in which you feel you have been betrayed. I hate the way past mistakes will always reclaim a fight, despite best intentions. How the you you were many years ago can still be on trial. How the desire to be right and win overpowers the desire to play nice.

Whenever we have a hit a bad patch, with fighting /tundra treatment, I’ve felt like it shaved years off my life. I feel old, exhausted, restless, sleepless and all ways suddenly lead to evil CARBS. (And maybe its just me, but if you were equating the significant other in your life with an err.. body appendage, would you really be shocked when no choco-cupcakes are coming your way? No. This is why you are up at 2 a.m. making them yourself.)

Where does this myth come from that secure couples fight? (almost as mystical as the “couples who never disagree must be super happy” theory) I have never felt anything but horribly insecure, when we have been fighting. Not so much “Will he leave me?” as much as “Who am I? And when did I become this person? In this relationship?”

Misery in longevity. Why won’t more people aim for that, you wonder.

The years are going to take their toll. It will get tough before it gets easy. At several points, we will all hopefully springclean and de-clutter our emotional spheres. And when we do, we should probably be checking the box for really liking the person we’re spending our lives with. Liking the person we are when we are with them. Liking that we talk more and fight less. Understanding who they are and respecting their choices. Wanting to sit on a porch swing with them, swinging aimlessly, being perfectly boring, dreaming of places we will go (if only in your head), while that cup of coffee goes cold in your hands.

And he looks at you with ill-concealed affection as if to say, “Typical!”

We should all let ourselves want some of that.

18 Comments

Filed under Life Lessons

Knowing

Arvind loves this bedtime story. The one where I tell him about how privileged I was to cradle him in my stomach for 9 months. How I loved every minute of feeling him grow and move and stretch within me. How his father would lie with his head on my stomach touching him and talking to him every night  as we delighted in perceived elbows, feet, hands and head. All the kisses that rained on the stomach that bore him. The songs I used to sing to him, particularly Come Away With Me and Beautiful Boy.

It is his favourite love story.

Tonight, post narration, his thoughtful head on my shoulder, he says this:

“So you loved me more when I was in your tummy than you love me now?”

My boy. Not just cutting close to the bone, but straight to the heart.

Of course I say, “Of course not.” And then I stare in the darkness at that naked half-truth.

The romantic notion of a child was easy. Loving the idea of my son was simple. That blank canvas was my great comfort. The intimate physical and spiritual relationship in utero that you couldn’t screw up with words, wounding looks and irreverant thoughts. The idea, the potential, the possibility of the perfect connection. See why romantics are doomed?

And now. Separate physical entities with strong personalities. Both headstrong and stubborn. Both moody. Both sensitive and tough. Sometimes hard. Always articulate. Hurlings words that splinter. Whispering words that warm.

I never bargained for finding my twin soul in my son – a son who outwardly could not be more different.

Yet we are the same. When we collide, its the armageddon. When we are one, the joy lifts us to another plane altogether. The blessing and the curse of that rarest of connections – the mirror to yourself.

It is harder to love someone who is so much you. Especially when you have not arrived full circle with the concept of loving yourself – warts and all. Sometimes it is easier to lash out at you, my love, than to haul myself up for a good look in the mirror. Sometimes the anger directed at you is no more than my incomprehension of myself. My frustration with those pieces of me that I would have loved to spare you, only genetics obviously had a different plan.

All those years ago, nursing those lofty notions of motherly love, I never realised that loving you – really loving you in flesh and spirit – would require such a rearrangement of my inner self. I never realised then that knowing you and loving you would be the single most important pathway to learning to love myself.

Epilogue: I forgot everything today. I forgot gym shoes, I forgot new toothbrushes, I forgot snacks. I sat defeated on the sofa and apologized to my son for being a terrible mother who forgets things. Without looking up, without taking his eyes of his toy, he replies in an even voice, “No you’re not. You are a wonderful mother. The perfect mother.”

*gulp* Yes, I know an undeserving compliment when I hear it, but it sweetens life nonetheless.

28 Comments

Filed under Arvind

Oasis@Home The Arvind Way

Yesterday, in his tearing hurry to climb on the mantelpiece to – I don’t know – save the world? Arvind toppled a vase with my much-coveted, beautiful sunflowers. Yes, the ones in the header. Maybe I sensed their premature demise. Either way I’m glad I took my happy-making picture.

The vase toppled, I screamed, Arvind grovelled and begged for his life and after seeing the amazingly intact vase, I let it go. As I sadly bio-bagged the remains, Arvind came up behind me, hugged me and whispered, “Sorry” again.

Today, I came home to a clean house (thankyouthankyou lovely Thai cleaning lady who ALWAYS goes above and beyond and makes my day. Today she lit some agarbatti (incense sticks) on her way out so that the house smelt delicious when I walked through the door. I. Must. Never. Let. Her. Go.)

I also came home to this on our coffee table.

Autumn Delight

Autumn Delight

Arvind went on a nature walk today with his class and in a great a-ha! moment figured out that he could find the raw material to compensate for yesterday’s loss.

Dear son, you leave your mother hopelessly bleary-eyed when I see the thought, the delicate execution that has gone into your “autumn project” as you call it.

Oasis@Home title today goes to the thoughtful child who made his Ma’s day.

28 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Thoughtful Giving

On Monday evening, Arvind and I had an arts and crafts date. We were going to paint porcelain and make special presents for two people who have meant a lot to him over the past three years. Anita, his school therapist, and V, the physical therapist who came once a week to supervise his overall progress and take him for pool training.

Arvind was born with a brachial plexus injury (the most severe grade of avulsion) which, in his case, meant that he had an entirely paralysed left arm at birth. (Awful story that I don’t have the stomach to narrate.) It has taken two major, dollar-chomping operations (free medical care. socialism. remember?) and a tremendous amount of loving, patient and innovative training by Anita and V to give him a functional arm. By innovative, I mean just downright clever. It takes cunning to make a 3 or 4 year old like working out everyday. These two spectacular women have also taken the weight almost entirely off our guilt-free shoulders, allowing us to be just his goofball parents instead of parents and part-time therapists.

So back to Monday night. We are at our dining table, making initial sketches before we transfer our ideas onto the porcelain. Arvind comes up with some good ideas and we get started. Ten minutes into it, he is borrrreeed and begins to muck around.

“This pen is too slippery on the cup. Oops. Slipped. Harhar. That flower looks like a NOSE. Or a big bum.”

More hilarity follows and all the while, I sit there with my jaws clenched in irritation, bone-tired after a long day with office work and housework.

Predictably, I snap. And I come down on him like a ton of bricks. “Fine. We’re done here now! If this is how you want to do it, we might as well not do it. I can’t be arsed to waste my time. Go to bed!”

I begin gathering up the pens and after glaring at me balefully for two minutes, Arvind’s eyes fill with tears and he runs down to his room.

“C’mon, ” says the Viking, taking time out from surfing iphone waves, “Do you have to be so hard on him? He’s just six. So he fooled around a bit,so what? Its his present. Let him do what he wants with it. Its not like it has to be artistically perfect. Its a kiddie gift for crying out loud.”

By this point, I’m not far from tears myself.

“Its not because its not perfect,” I say, “Its because it’s a gift to people who have given him a lot of love and I want this gift from him to mean something to him and them. I don’t want it to be something that has been done in a goofy, half-hearted way. Thats just no way to repay them for all that they have done for him. I just want him to put his concentration and effort into making this as nice as he can. I want his appreciation of them to come through in it. Nothing to do with my standards of good art.”

I don’t like thoughtless gifts. Or thoughtless work for that matter.

If it doesn’t matter that much, then for heavens sake, cease and desist.

Its not really perfectionism, because as much as I would like that, its not there and I can’t beat myself with the stick of constant improvement. But it is all about knowing that you poured yourself into acknowledging someone. That you thought about them enough to come up with something that would move them. That you made it personal.

I go down to Arvind and he is huddled on the bed improving his sketches. He looks up briefly just to let me know that he is still upset and goes on drawing.

I apologise for snapping at him and ask him if he’d allow me to explain. One of the lovely things about him so far – he will give you a fair, but tough hearing.

So I explain. And I remind him about how much they have cared for him over the years. I remind him how weak his arm was before Anita made it strong, push-up able and Superman-like. I remind him of how often she has held him when he was very sad some days. How she always a chocolate biscuit in her bag that appears magically when he most needs it. How much fun they have had and how much they laugh when they work out/play/shoot hoops together.

He is eerily still in my arms till he turns his face towards me, utterly crestfallen.

“I wish Anita could come with me to the big school.” he says.

“So do I,” I say. “But she can’t. Thats why this is important. So how about you make the most kickass present ever to show her what you think of her?”

He stayed up till half past 9 that night, talking idly to me, squinting and sticking his tongue out in concentration as he thoughtfully created a gift. I loved the result, imperfect as the lines were, only because he had grasped the spirit of the process.

Was I too harsh on him? Most probably, I was. Maybe I could have gotten to point B without a minor explosion at point A. Still, life isn’t perfect and aren’t there things we should fight to instil in our children? Like putting effort and soul into one’s work – hobby or otherwise?

I know that I am willing to struggle to teach them that cost does not necessarily equate with value. If there is no thought, no effort behind it, its just bling – but it won’t make me sing:-)

When are we demanding and when are we doing the right thing by kids? I won’t even demand a college education from mine. They can be carpenters or mechanics or whatever makes their day. But I know that I will be disappointed if I see them living without spirit, without a sincere effort. Whatever you do, make it count, will be all I really expect.

Naive? Whats your take on this? And while you think, check out some tableware:-)

Cup and saucer

Cup and saucer

Another angle to satisfy my obsessive nature at 2.a.m

Another angle to satisfy my obsessive nature at 2.a.m

Kawfee Kupp - my favourite

Kawfee Kupp - my favourite

p.s. Porcelain is from Ikea. Painting is done with special pens. Check out your nearest hobby shop. Let the paint dry for 24 hours and then bake in the oven for 35 minutes at 150 degrees celsius – and voila! You’re dishwasher-friendly:-)

24 Comments

Filed under Life Lessons

Awesome? Who? Me?

Way back in May, June the Stupendous tagged me as awesome and asked me jot down 7 reasons I was awesome.

Now June is a self-made, funny gal and a confident professional and I’m – well – I spend my evenings at home thumbing my Rosary of Masochistic Imaginings and Behaviours.

So I’m all – “But June, I suck. I don’t just think I suck. I know I do. I can’t do this tag.”

At which June left the L.O.S.E.R. sign on my doorstep and foxtrotted away in the way only very cool people do.

But its been a good week. And miraculously, I’ve come up with 7 things. I was sure that I would have to start faking after 3, but I surprise myself. Maybe singing The Greatest Love of All does help. Who knew? (Just kidding. What do you take me for? Now stop singing it!)

1. I am awesome because I am a natural clown. I make my family laugh. At me and with me. Nothing is ever so awful that I can’t poke fun at myself. However bad a mood Arvind decides to be in, I can make him laugh by making up ridiculous songs on the spot and having farting contests with my invisible friend. If all fails, I will become Bruce Lee and he splinters into pieces laughing at me. I can create a stand-up act out of my worst moments and I’m proud of that.

2. I am awesome because I can never be cynical about love. Nor do I ever plan to be jaded or tired or too old for it. I am not a person who will settle for as good as it gets, when I know it can be better. Hell, I deserve a great love story, all the corniness that goes with it and all the work that goes into it. If  I’m any shade of  awesome it’s because of the people who love me, who fight for me when I don’t fight for myself and who never let me forget that they’re there for me.

3. I am awesome because I have lived my life in four countries and made a home in my heart for each of them. I’ve taken huge risks with each move. Each time I’ve jumped impulsively into the unknown, fought change, embraced change and gone on to thrive. I’ve studied hard, worked hard, partied hard and found work in all the three countries I’ve lived in as an adult. I’m proud of my adaptability, how I  freely allow people and places access to me and I struggle to understand the mourning over a fixed identity. I don’t have roots because I love my wings.

4. I am awesome because I am strong. I’m fortunate that life, with all its knocks (so far), has led me towards strength. I’m not hard, not brittle, but learning to be strong, supple and bendy of soul. I can handle the obstacle race and I can grapple with resistance. I mentally prepare for the curve balls life will throw my way and I’m always ready to test my mileage on this highway. I can be a stubborn and determined cow. Give me a 5% percent chance and I’ll fight it.

5. I am awesome because I speak four languages without a trace of accent. And by the time I am sixty, I will speak at least 8. I have an unusual ear for languages and dialects and pick them up almost by osmosis. I often get asked why I have an “English accent” and I have learnt to reply that its a gift. (even though I partly grew up there) I love languages and I never get tired of testing out phonetics. I have a wandering English accent and I will effortlessly clue into the dialect of the country/region I’m in. I can handle the varying dialects of all five languages. It gives me a huge kick that I can perform Ibsen in English and Norsk. (Not that anyone has asked me to. Oh please! Why won’t you ask me?!!Grrr.)

6. I am an awesome friend. I will sit with you till four in the morning and co-psychoanalyse your ex. I will drive you the doctor if you call me in the middle of the night. I will look after your kids at short notice. I will cook for you when you’re sick. And drive over with it and make sure you eat and load your dishwasher before I leave. I will factor in time difference, call you and be there for you if you needed me. I will always tell it like it is. And when the time is right, I will tell you to get a grip, get a move on, get over it/him/her. I will deal you uncomfortable truths and I will expect the same of you. Often, in critique lies great loyalty. I don’t need to be surrounded by yes-men. I want friends who will keep me from driving into a ditch because thats what I’d do for you. I’m good with tough love.

7. I have a photographic memory for stuff. I’m pretty sure I know the entire lyrics to at least a thousand songs. And half of them are songs I don’t even like. If I hear it a couple of times on the radio, its stuck like glue. The same goes for capital cities, flags, bhajans, poems and pages from textbooks. If I hear a date of birth once, its there for life. I could tell you the last paragraph on page 122 if you let me skim it a couple of times. I’m practically a circus freak. And otherwise dumb since my hard drive is filled with utterly useless, unemployable information:-)

8. And this is the extra I couldn’t resist – the one I’ll brag about to my grandchildren. I’m awesome because I’ve had a total stranger in an Australian pub do a striptease for me!!!:-) It was a night of “high spirits” in Harvey Bay with the Viking and a handful of fellow backpackers, and before I knew it, said stranger had gone from general compliments to cranking up You Can Leave Your Hat On and climbing on my table to dance striptease down to the err.. bare essentials. He was hardly a Chippendale, but it was gutsy and fun and mortifying.

Eleven years later it still cracks us up.

I hereby tag the following awesome 8 people:

1. Era

2. Wordjunkie

3. Nat

4. Cecilie

5. Asaan

6. Maid in Malaysia

7. Mad Momma

8. Richa

Get cracking, you guys!

29 Comments

Filed under Self

The Years Are Short

Here’s one for the seriously dry-eyed.

The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

Now go. Love that Sunday and live it!

5 Comments

Filed under Happiness

Where is that camera anyway?

The toddler moves like a pint-size tornado across our living room, leaving it strewn with umm..interesting debris. Blinded by what he perceives to be his success, he ups the pace of his game only to lose his already precarious balance and go crashing into the sofa, flying curls and all.

He sits down with a thud, shell-shocked for a moment. His eyes brim with tears and his lower lip quivers dangerously. Before his sorrow is complete, the older brother (who is always watching) swoops down from his chair and gathers him up in his arms, murmuring in a gentle voice, “It’s okay. Your Ayya is here. You’re okay.”

He carries his little brother to his chair, seats him on his lap, and proceeds to kiss him roundly on both cheeks before nuzzling his curls.

“Fikk Armaan vondt? Did Armaan get hurt?” he enquires almost rhetorically, while continuing to cuddle him and rub his back. The toddler looks adoringly at his protector, his saviour, before throwing both his stubby little arms around his brother’s neck for a hug that takes the wind from his sails. “Amind, Amind,Ayya..” he murmurs stroking/pinching his brother’s cheeks and clenching his jaws as the affection overwhelms him. As he lays his head gently against his brothers chest, his tiny little body relaxes and his contentment is complete. If only for a New York minute.

Our boys. Our throat-lump worthy little ones. Loud and pushy one minute, inexplicably gentle and affectionate the next.

In another couple of minutes, they will be back to pulling hair and pushing each other around. But for now I can echo Maria, who sang so soulfully to Colonel Von Trapp:

“Nothing comes from nothing

Nothing ever could.

So somewhere in my youth or childhood,

I must have done something good.”

In the absence of pictorial evidence of aforementioned moment, I offer you some Sibling Lauw ( you have to be from Kerala, or know keralites well, to get that!)

dsc_54871

dsc_5492

dsc_5493

21 Comments

Filed under Happiness