Friday, August 15, 2014

The Change in Me

When I was 18 and married to a man I believed I loved, I learned an important lesson in life- that nothing is perfect. And another- that you get used to imperfections. And another- that you can choose to be happy even when things don't pan out as you would like them to.

I saw my ideal of happiness die bit by bit everyday. And I saw myself adjusting my idea, and ideal, of happiness every day. I stayed in love, even when everything I considered loving to be had evaporated. I stayed happy, even when everything that would have made me remotely happy was taken away from me.

And through all this, I was not passive. I accepted everything that was happening with rigor. I accepted lack of love with honor. I accepted shame with courage. I accepted illness with dreaminess. I accepted heartbreak with a smile. I accepted failure with a mad drive to win. And I plowed on doggedly. Plowing on was my weapon. The fact that I was trapped- by my youth, by my lack of resources, by my lack of choices, by my illness, by my pride- was the very thing that set me free.

Now, at this stage in life, I don't accept imperfections. Not in myself, not in those I love. I demand high standards from myself, and from those I love. Today, I do not allow my ideal of happiness to be diluted. I do not stare in shock at horrors committed against my ideals, only to blink away their memory. I stay shocked and I act and I remember. I do not compromise on my principles. I do not allow any nonsense cloaked as "love" or "pride" to win any battle against my dignity.

Today, I am free of the trappings of youth. I  have more resources than I ever wished for. And I am at a stage where I don't have to defend my choices to anyone. Yes, I still have pride, but not the kind that holds me down. Guilt and shame are no longer close friends, just acquaintances. See, the very things that set me on a mad journey towards freedom and dreams 30 years ago have vanished. And not just the circumstances, but the person herself seems changed.

Today, when I am 48, mother of two children, having lived for the last 14 years on my own terms, having succeeded beyond expectations and failed horribly in a hundred different ways, I have learned another important lesson- that nothing is perfect, but that doesn't mean one should stop wanting it to be. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Just Another Human

Not a thing to be possessed
Nor, on the flip side, protected...
I am not a belonging.

Not to be ashamed of
Nor, on the flip side, be proud of...
Not to be judged.

Not to be held captive
Nor, on the flip side, be given freedom...
Not to be owned.

Not to be stared at
Nor, on the flip side, be ignored...
Not an object.

Not to be handed over
Nor, on the flip side, be kept...
Not a burden.

Not to be suspected
Nor be considered inconsequential...
Not a fool.

Not to be put on a pedestal
Nor, on the flip side, smashed to pieces...
Not a trophy.

Not an object, a fool, a burden, or a trophy
I am a woman
And like you, just 
another human. 


Today, my brother turns 50.

When I said to him "What a great day", he said "What's so special about that. It's just another birthday".

He is like that. Very practical and self effacing.

But it got me thinking. Although 50 is just a number, it is a powerful one. It's not really halfway into an average lifetime, because, tell me, how many of us can hope of living up to 100!

But something makes 50 powerful, more powerful than 49, or even 51.

50 is when my mom says Kashmir was different when she visited many years ago and I say how many years ago and she says 50 and I am like wow!

50 is like that. It gives us a sense of history. It's palpable. It is awe inspiring.

It is something lots of people care for, like statisticians and public health folks. Actually, I am sure that if dad were alive today, he would have cited statistics about how many people live up to 50.

Happy birthday Arun. 50 years ago, our mom gave birth to you. It was a special day, for you, and for us. Have a great day and a lovely life ahead. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pop Anatomy!

During the 12-hour drive back home from Srinagar, mom and Aloka played many games, one of then being the anatomy game. This is how it went. 

Mom- Aloka, how many kidneys do you have? 
Aloka (confidently)- Two! 
Mom (with pride)- Very good. And where are these kidneys?
Aloka pointing to the middle of her chest- Here!
(Pop goes the proud nani's bubble. After a lot of laughter, the game continues. )

Mom- Aloka how many lungs do you have?
Aloka- Two! Right lung and left lung.
Mom (again with pride)- Wow that's great!
Aloka- One for eating and one for drinking.
(Pop, pop! There goes the bubble again)

Mom- What is the gall bladder for?
Aloka- What's that?
Mom- It's an organ that produces juices that help the liver...
Aloka- Juices? Nani, what flavour are those juices? Cranberry? Orange?
(Pop, pop, pop! That was the end of the anatomy class!)