Saturday, May 10, 2014

Jasoda Ben

Jasoda Ben, a Gujrati woman in her early fifties with a loud and hoarse voice, mostly dressed up in trousers and some Indian style tops, under which she will wear her work clothes, so that she won’t lose much time to change for her work. She will mostly enter my home with cell phone in her ears and a black bag on her shoulders.
She is the cleaning lady that me and most of my neighborhood friends would call every now and then. She is our handy woman, she will do anything and everything at dollar twelve to dollar twenty per hour charges, depending on how you treat her and your home. If you are not patient enough to tackle her or if you keep your home filthy, she will punish you by charging her maximum, if you are none of the above you will be treated as her premium customer with dollar twelve per hour charges. From babysitting to toilet cleaning, cooking to laundry she will do everything with precision and speed.
But all her service also came with some hidden hassles; being a perfectionist in her job she will also enter the cluttered forbidden zones of your home and she will never forget to preach you on how to keep every nook and corner of your own home organized. And if there is anything lying at some corner unused, and anything here absolutely means anything, she will have no shame to ask for it.
So, her customers had divided opinions, some disliked her for her interference and demands and other needy ones will bear all her nuisance to get a clean home. I was a special category, who was just interested to write stories on cleaning ladies. I called her alternative Fridays in preparation of weekend get-togethers.
She would talk a lot in Gujrati Hindi mix, which was really challenging to understand. She would talk about other girls and their messy homes, about her daughter in law, which was no different than the rest of the daughter in laws; yeah you guessed it right, the worst woman of the world! She would talk about her husband in India who left her, about some court case on her son and a lot of other things. I hardly paid any attention to her talks, as my mantra was to nod on everything that she says without actually listening and to get the damn work done.
Last Friday when she knocked the door with her loud talks on her cell phone, I also heard a soft murmur with that, she came in with a little boy that day, a cute chubby cheeks boy, who looked almost four years old. She introduced him as her grandson. I was not happy to see this extra distraction during my paid hours, but I could not be rude to that little boy with innocent eyes.
After her usual Kem chho’s and maza ma’s greetings, she settled the kid on my couch and started her work, “in her work clothes”, she never wore very clean clothes but she had clear distinction between her work clothes and her formals. She was a professional.
The kid was sitting quietly on my couch, smiling all the time, he looked disciplined and quiet, unlike my son. I explained Jasoda Ben about her To-Dos and went back to my work. While working, I suddenly felt as if my son came back from school, the kid was playing with the same toys that my son plays with and he was making the same sounds. I took a sneak peek to see what the kid was doing, I found him involved in trains and trucks, just like my son. Jasoda Ben kept shouting on him but unlike her usual rough tone, she sounded very mild and loving to this little boy.
The little kid was doing everything like my son. Jasoda Ben, while doing her usual chores, when she was done talking about all the girls in the neighborhood and cursing her daughter in law, started telling me about that little kid. That kids parents, Jasoda Ben’s son and daughter in law had divorced and her son was fighting a court case for this kid. Up till here it was a common NRI story, to which I was nodding my head as usual without much interest.
Like all of you, even I thought that the divorced husband and wife must be fighting for the custody of this handsome kid. But there was a big twist in this little boy’s fate; being an illiterate, just like her, in legal terms, what I understood from her Hindi Gujrati mix was like this; his parents were fighting for the opposite, none of them wanted to take the child’s custody and the court hearing was almost at its last stage to send the kid to Salvation. In case you are lucky enough to not understand the meaning of Salvation, I have it goggled for you; it is a state division that serves the kids of low-income parents. It’s almost like an orphanage in our terms.
The kid by now was napping by himself on my couch, cuddled inside my son's blanket and a sword by his side; he looked like the most adorable thing in this world. I wanted to hug him tight and tell him that I loved him as much as I love my son. But Jasoda Ben’s story was not yet finished, as if what she told was not enough, I had some more to bear that Friday.
She told me that she is fighting for the custody now; she cannot let her only grandson go into Salvation. She, the maid who worked at twelve dollars per hour, with hardly some ten to twenty work hours a week, is fighting to prove that she does not fall into low-income category and she is eligible to take the custody of this kid. Whatever things that she picks from our houses, she sells it to her poor neighbors to earn some extra bucks to support herself and her grandson.
The definition of Jasoda Ben inside my brain neurons was completely changed in these three hours. The irritating, loud, interfering and demanding Jasoda Ben looked like an angel, an angel with a broom, an angel with a heart and an angel with the spirit to fight for this little boy.
She went home with a lot of unused toys, shoes, clothes and apart from extra bucks she earned a lot of respect that Friday.
And behind her, she left a clean home and a very heavy heart, that Friday.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mum's the word ... world !

It came positive on Nov 27th 2008, that day of chilly November morning when I got to know about you inside me, I felt nothing to be honest, just a sense of tranquility and a feel of wholeness to touch this milestone of womanhood. And aha … a sense of delight to be finally able to announce it to the nagging ones back home … the ones from my side doubting his sperms and the ones from his side doubting my ovaries. And … ahem ahem thanks to our clever planning it was our anniversary day as well … and which by the way was a well thought-out plan considering the September school cut off dates too, if you know what I mean.

But, I was far from being a Mom
And then started the journey of carrying you inside me, I loved all the attention and pampering that I was getting at home, at work place, over the phone, on the bus rides, shops, streets, everywhere everyone was giving me a little extra something and I shamelessly accepted all possible advantages of this new bulging beautiful me. Oh Ra you won’t understand a bit of this pain … A sincere sympathy to all those who actually go through this but for me it was all … wicked grins!

(ignore ignore … not all fingers are alike and not all pregnancies … I pray for you day and night … just a few more months of wait)

A Mom to be, utterly unaware of the unseen
I got you in my hands on July 16th 2009… the well thought-out plan was finally taking shape by God’s grace, and I felt scared, I was not sure if I was ready to handle you, the delicate, fragile, tiny you. Now that the honeymoon period was officially over, I was all apprehensive about you. From the induction times fairy tale like journey I was about to enter the real concrete world with you in my hands. And I was all shaky and wobbly.
But, I don’t think I became a Maa then
Your first day at home with me, the first night, the first touch, the very first look, everything was so out of the ordinary, like never before. I was getting used to you, I was doing mistakes but I was trying hard to discover that feeling of Mom within me. The feeling of being Maa kept evolving, day by day, week by week, month by month … and year by year … the feelings felt like getting larger. I kept chasing the targets and you kept moving ahead of me, by the time I mastered on your baby food tantrums you graduated to solids, by the time I mastered on the science of shapes, sizes and smells of your lovely potty, you were already diagnosing it yourself … getting curvier myself with the learning curves of being Mom, the Mom within me kept grooming.

The lessons learned were never enough .
the Mom within me was still not complete .
There were plenty of awww moments …And there were equally plenty not-so-hot sides of this job; if you frowned let me remind you about  
  • The most unexpected peekaboos into the privacy of my bathroom (I know I mentioned about it pretty often, but you see I consider it the most serious offence, top in my list again and again)
  • The real big tantrums that you created in ToysRUs!
  • All the lost episodes of my favorite serials when you enjoyed your Dora Diego and swiper no swiping!
  • The moments when you spoke that cruel truth about how bad or fat I looked in that dress.
  • The odd questions that you asked in movie theatre, yeah in English and in whispers that everyone around could hear.
  • The date nights that I never had after you happened…
  • The stupid silences after I bragged about your smartness.
  • All that nose peeking in front of my flashy friends.
  • The funny faces on video chats with my sisters and Maa and Mom when I expected you to spit out Pythagoras theorems or may be the Einstein’s theory of Relativity.
  • The frustrations that I face while teaching you silliest of the silly things and the dreams that I saw about Harvards, Princetons and Yales.

And the list would keep on swelling, from silly cute complains to serious grave concerns, it would keep on intensifying, the one who is rolling the toy cars today would very soon be asking for the real keys of my BMW, life happens too fast but I wish the Mom within me to keep on sprouting.

Mum's the word, still for me, jab bhi kabhi … Papa mujhe still role down the tears off my tear ducts, buckets full, I am still the same selfish shameless kid to my Mom that Aarny is to me, but I wish this daughter mom son relation to keep on passing, generation to generation, no gaps expected here.

I am not sure if it was all these Mothers day ads that inspired me write this article or it’s hormonal … but whatever it is, I am happy that I wrote it, in my favorite font, comic sans.
Let me wish my dearest and greatest (Mom of all the Moms) Maa and Mummy … a very happy Mothers day, only way I can return whatever you gave me (yeah the scolding’s and the punishments included) is to be your Mom after my reincarnation … but I doubt if you two would like to be sisters … hehe .


Friday, February 15, 2013

एक टुकड़ा धुप
कुछ नरम मुलायम सी यादे,
फिर समेट लायी हूँ मै
कुछ hazy vague से इरादे !

फिर वोही देस परदेस का confusion
और कुछेक महीनो का introspection,
दो suitcases में लो आ गया फिर से
Where do I belong का tension !

इधर New York की ऊँची ईमारते
उधर Mummy Papa की ढलती उमर,
कुछ और अभी मै Dollars कमाऊ
की चलो अब बहुत हुआ ... घर लौट जाऊ!

इधर है चमकती पिघलती बर्फ
उधर है खिलती दमकती धुप,
इस देस की हो जाऊ
की चलो अब बहुत हुआ ... घर लौट जाऊ!

इधर भी है इक दुनिया मेरी
कुछ बिखरी कुछ आधी अधूरी,
उधर भी है इक आस मेरी
कुछ धुंधली पड़ती सी सांस मेरी,
इस चमक में छुप जाऊ
की चलो अब बहुत हुआ ... घर लौट जाऊ!

ये इधर उधर का चक्कर
बस अब दिमाग से हटाऊ,
फिर से इक बार अपने code में घुस जाऊ
एक और लो हो गयी poetry...अब शांत हो जाऊ,
जो चल रहा है उसे वैसे ही चलाऊ
(FB के likes देख कर खुश हो जाऊ ...)

की चलो अब बहुत हुआ ... घर लौट जाऊ?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tick tick tick ... !

Papa this letter goes to you …
For all the things that you intended to do ,
On this vacation and the last one

And the last to last one … !

The things that could not be done
For the reasons one or another,
Big things like a trip to Puri
And small stuff like visit to Choori!

Things like attending that Terahi together
And things like meeting uncle Dheerender,
You wanted to teach about maintaining NSCs
But who had time for these little things!

I spent all my time in shopping and sleeping
Once again I just did a lot of eating,
Mummy wanted to pack some mirchi ka achaar
But I preferred that dazzling white salwaar!

Mummy I miss that Achaar like never before
I am hating my white salwaar … I swear,
I wish I had some more methi mathri to devour
After this last Gujhiya why my dil mangey some more!

You had luxuries planned for me this chutti
You wanted me to get maalish from Chaiti,
I didn’t had time for this lavishness
My heart now aches more than my backbones!

It was just okay if Aarny missed on one meal
I wouldn’t have this regret for a year to deal,
It was just okay Rajib if we couldn’t finalize on that land
We would have much more time for them in our hand!

Still you never complain about spending less time together
You only regret what you couldn’t do for your daughter,
Oh what an awful old bitiya I am
I have just no words to defend …

Oh what an awful awful bitiya I am,
I blame on myself like I did last year,
I wish I will have enough time before my chances disappear!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Two years back ... !

Ra asked me few days back if I would like to go somewhere on Memorial Day long weekend … and the top few things that came in my mind were like Bronx kids zoo … kids jumpnasium … kid-junction … kid-ntic … kid-A … kid-B… and all up to kid-Z … Are you kidding me … do I have a life or not?

I would shrug my shoulders if someone asked me about schedule two years back … just get up dress up and go to work … no worries about lunch or dinner until the eat outs are open … and no worries about coming back home … just two years back.

I would never miss any movie, I watched movies in theatre, Netflix … I ate slept drank on movies just two years back.

It was just two years back when I would finish at least one book in a month … now my literature is limited to chugga chugga choo choo, yummy yukky … where’s my teddy type books … oh actually that’s not all of it … I read some other literature too … like the one I read last month “Battle hymn of Tiger Moms” … what … what else … I can’t even finish my Time on time what else am I thinking about?

I would take royal bubble baths with candles, nobody would bang on my door and even better nobody would come inside to play peekaboo … nobody was there to disturb my privacy just two years back.

I would watch TV peacefully, nobody would scream at me to put on Wa wa wubzy or Yo gabba gabba … just two years back.

I would never worry about candles, sharp corners … knifes or things like that … I would put the things wherever I wanted and wherever they looked elegant … my house was never a safety castle just two years back.

Just two years back I never knew how the lil hugs from two tiny lil hands felt like … I never knew how hard my heart can ache on a lil cry from my lil one.

I never knew I had so many tears in my tear ducts just two years back.

I never knew how hard it is to calm a crying baby in airplanes and in movie theatres.

I never knew I can make up so many interesting bed time stories and I even hold the ability to convert munni’s and sheelas to lullabies.

I never knew that someone can actually eat mashed banana with milk.

I never knew that it was monsters who knocked the door when we took our dinner … I never knew I can hide inside the closet … I never knew of anyone in the world who can have so much fun with the jhaadu or things like that.

I never knew what a growth chart meant and I never understood the pain of a Mom whose kid lies in the lowest 5th percentile.

I never knew its not just movie and Ra that can keep me awake whole night … I can even stay awake just watching and kissing and praying for my Aarny sleeping peacefully.

I never knew I can fight with my best friend if her kid misbehaved with mine. I never knew I hold the spirits similar to Rani Lakshmibai if someone dared to hurt my Aarny.

I never knew ambulances and fire trucks are so much fun!

I never knew how hard it is to learn ABCD … and how hard it is to hold a pea between fingers … I never knew how satisfying it is to be able to switch on off the lamps.

I never knew there exists a million ways to make my lil one laugh aloud … I never knew if someone can laugh when I just scream a ooo or aaaa or baaa or … I said it already I know a million ways believe it or not. But still I never knew sometimes it is just impossible to sooth my crying baby … and I never knew that those are the moments when I would ask Bhagwaan jee to take my life but to spare my Aarny from each and every pain in his life.

Just two years back I never knew what potty really smelt like … I never knew if someone is actually capable of having a potty with the green peas that looked exactly like it was before when that someone ate it.

I never knew that feeding my Aarny would be a much much bigger challenge than meeting the deadlines in my project.

I never knew I would stop thinking about the cost when it is for Aarny.

I never knew I would love someone like this … I never knew I would love being loved like this before … so selfishly … like love mom when she is dressing to go out … hate mom when its time for dinner … love mom when its time to sleep … hate mom when its time to go back home from playground … love mom when Babi screams … hate mom when mommy screams.

I never knew I would mean so much to someone … I never knew I would be so desired. I never knew someone would become so essential … I never knew what my Mom went through raising me … I never knew my life would change like this … I never knew I can be so much responsible … I never respected myself so much … I never felt so proud of myself … my life was never so beautiful before.

I was not a Mom just two years back.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A close-miss!

A warm sunny Saturday afternoon, friends’, family, me, Ra and my little Aarny too on Times Square and a live car bomb … We all but the bomb got lucky on Time Square last Saturday, May 1st.

Yeah they detected a car bomb, which they are calling amateurish but still it was a planted planned bomb explosive and it did threatened me and a lot others for sure. Investigation is on its full swing and we will get to know more about it very soon, but it was close … yeah it was this close. I wonder … about myself … me my family my Aarny we could have been … lets not say it … umhu nope not at all … Mom says that Saraswati Bhagwaan sits on everybody’s tongue once in a day and so we are not supposed to say anything bad, who knows she might come and sit on my keyboard too, it’s a techno era after all these days.

But it was a close-miss. Thank God for protecting each and every one of us that day at Times Square and NY bomb squad, NYPD … God bless!

Apart from this, life s on a rock n roll … with Aarny, with job and with the “in-laws”. Aarny has become expressive these days, he plays hide n seek with Maa, yeah that’s me btw, waves bye bye to my brother when I make him sleep, that’s his Chanda Mama btw and cries when I go to office that’s from where I am writing this post btw.

I am reading John Banville, the Sea. Going really slow for two reasons, reason # 1, playing with Aarny on the bed is much more fun than delving in to the Sea, sorry John. And reason # 2, I have to go really slow, the language and the book is not that straight, I have to read it like really slow to understand it, John sorry again, but I need to complete few more pages to start appreciating it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cry baby cry !

Vidaai, if you are not from India let me explain, Vidaai is the post marriage ceremony when the bride's family and friends bid her a teary farewell, and I mean a really teary farewell.

I am from a family where girls cry it out so hard that they even faint … I am not sure if they plan it that way to get an excuse to fall on their newly wed hubbys’ arms or they actually plan to stay back some more at Mom’s but whatever it is I have seen girls fainting on this Vidaai ceremony. And being one ladalee badi beti from this family my relatives had a lot of expectations from my Vidaai, it was supposed to be one grand Vidaai where everybody was supposed to cry … guess everybody except me!

I and my tear ducts, we have some kind of differences, my tear ducts never ever open up when me or somebody else expects to see it opening, my tear duct follows its own secretive rules which nobody but God or my tear duct only knows. It is not controlled by my brains or my heart … I swear, that’s the only organ of my body which is so truly autonomous. People around me cry buckets and my tear ducts declares a draught, I have that kind of non submissive tear ducts.

During my Vidaai I just kept the veil very low so that people around me assumed that I am crying inside and they accompanied me in that difficult situation. Everybody said nice things to me and everybody consoled me saying that it’s gonna be the same or may be even better and I need not worry, I just listened to them quietly with a wicked grin inside and pretended to dry my already dried out eyes with the tissues that my sis gave me, I was actually about to shed a drop of tear when my Mom came in to the scene from somewhere saying no cries, you will drop off your lenses, I don’t know how she kept following my eyes even from inside my veil, but she was there right when required … Mom … awww Mom I miss you. Mom was crying too and seeing her and listening to her only advice of taking care of my lenses made me cry a little and laugh some more … my sisters … stupid real sisters were both giggling, so even they did not helped me in my “shed some tear project”. And the car started rolling … I prayed thank God, thanks for protecting me from this embarrassment.

I know all the girls out there are condemning me, but what can I do, I am just narrating you the things right from my heart, you can not hate me for not crying, but if you do already here’s one more reason to hate me more, me and my friend S would laugh uncontrollably on mourning ceremonies of our school assembly, I do not know what made us laugh but we did, it was nothing related to the mourning ceremony and we truly sympathized and ask for forgiveness for this evil deed, but we could not control our laughs, I confess.

So back to my Vidaai ceremony, it was almost ending, the car started rolling and I felt as if I am missing something, what I did not know, so in the state of some kind of confusion we reached almost up to the gate of our marriage hall, and there I saw Papa standing alone and waving me a good bye with a smile on his face, I couldn’t see his eyes but I knew they were wet, and this time I needed no tantrums, my tear ducts opened up generously … and I saw my sisters from the rear view mirror, I knew they too were crying, though hiding from each other but they both were crying, I knew and I cried more … I cried … I did … but my only complain is NOBODY SAW ME CRYING, EXCEPT RA, WHO WAS NOT AT ALL SUPPOSED TO SEE ME CRY!

So this is how it is, why I remembered this episode is because my in-laws would be leaving soon and even they would expect me to cry when they leave and my tear ducts would again ditch me I know … can I just take a print out of this post and give them to read while bidding them adieu … may be they would forgive their no heart bahu!