Life

Happy birthday, Mama

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Happy birthday to the most phenomenal woman in the world. Happy birthday to the best decision my father ever made. Happy birthday to strength. Happy birthday to fun. Happy birthday to intelligence. Happy birthday to hope. Happy birthday to warmth. Happy birthday to laughter. Happy birthday to hugs. Happy birthday to compassion and kindness. Happy birthday to my image and hopefully one day, likeness. Happy birthday to the softest hands that cook the best meals, relieve all pain and create magic with a paintbrush. Happy birthday to discipline. Happy birthday to guilt trips. Happy birthday to courage. Happy birthday to hard work and grit. Happy birthday to a force of nature. Happy birthday to my good luck charm. Happy birthday to my superhero. Happy birthday to my emotional crutch. Happy birthday to my loudest cheerleader. Happy birthday to unconditional acceptance.

Happy birthday to the light of our home and the music of our lives.

But most of all happy birthday to limitless love.

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India, Life

Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law

I find myself rooting for the LGBT community and hoping that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (somewhere in Berkshire a Khan giggles at the P in the IPC as he tucks into his kebabs and Pepsi on the rocks) is repealed. I do not know any gay people and I like facial hair too much to make the switch myself. My only celebrity crush was gay. I discovered Westlife (they who regularly massacred cover songs and couldn’t hold a note live) in Class 8 and fancied the shamrock off Mark Feehily. Years later I discovered he was gay. He’s the reason I have trust issues. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to hide one’s true self from the world. To live in a society where is it criminal to be yourself when being yourself is beyond one’s control. I know of a bunch of people who think homosexuality is unnatural. And say it out loud. Hateful, homophobic comments are spewed out on social media because and I quote verbatim ‘if God wanted homosexuals to thrive he would’ve created Adam and Steve and not Adam and Eve’. I am not the biggest fan of the Old Testament and I think most of us can agree that maybe it isn’t 100% factually correct. If its contents are a possibility, I will be shopping for chastity belts for when my mother turns 90 because I will be close to retirement myself and I just cannot deal with a baby brother at that age (you know like Sarah and Isaac). I digress. The Government at the Centre has magnanimously left the decision to the Supreme Court. Now if only they showed such largesse when letting people decide what they’d like to eat and allowed the same court to do its job and make lynching on suspicion of possessing beef a crime, we’d be the country that the PM proclaims we are- democratic, secular, constitution uploading. Certain yoga gurus also claim to have the cure for homosexuality. Surprising why he hasn’t tested it on himself. OK maybe he isn’t gay. But he’s got to be at least bi. Because no straight man will ever be that flexible. The phobia surrounding homosexuality is the reason so many people get married hoping that marriage will miraculously set them straight. Pun intended. Take for instance Keith Vaz, the British Asian connoisseur of teenage Polish boys.

Being gay is not a choice. Being camp is. That’s the only bit I don’t get about the more flamboyant gays, the OTT flamboyance. Yes, you’re gay. We get it. You’re here and you’re queer. You finger snap, you twerk, you judge the fashion challenged and you’re just overall catty because it seems that is the only way to grab eye balls. This just defeats the whole movement to drive home the point that being gay is perfectly normal. Which it is. As normal as preferring coffee over tea or mint chocolate chip over butterscotch. It’s just that a natural preference. Who one chooses to fall in love with or do the unmentionable with is no one else’s business if said people are consenting adults. There cannot be a law to determine who I choose to spend my life with. Love in any form between 2 consenting adults should be celebrated. If there is no law to stop marriages like Priyanka Gandhi’s and Robert Vadra’s (who from the display of male cleavage plays for both sides) then there should be no law against homosexuality either.

PS: I get why men are gay, us women can be nightmares so I’m not surprised that they’ve found comfort with their own kind. But I cannot imagine lesbians living together peacefully. The hormone levels in that house must be off the charts and the PMS will probably result in Section 144 being regularly imposed.

Life

The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too

I’ve been watching a spate of romcoms lately. Why? Boredom. Getting silly in my old age. Finally hitting puberty. All of the above. I romanticize things, never people. I have never been in love. I have never been able to look at a man and feel any strong positive emotion toward him. The negative ones run aplenty though. At best I feel a lessening of the indifference and low to mild attraction. I don’t quite know what love even means. I am desperately fond of the mother. She is the only irreplaceable thing in my life. The father follows a close second. Aside from them everyone else’s presence is not vital for survival.  Which is why I do not understand people giving up lucrative jobs, making sweeping lifestyle changes and even committing suicide because a relationship never worked out. So a boyfriend ditched you. Big whoop. There are 7.6 billion people in the world. At least 1 million of those will be obscenely attractive men (statistics not wishful thinking). Gigantic sea. Innumerable fish. Someone better will come along. So to get depressed and seek medical intervention to get over a boyfriend/fiancée is just giving one man the importance that he in all probability is unworthy of. I know all too well the tendency to get consumed by a relationship. Even the crappiest of them. Most of us have this inherent desire to make it work at all costs. Even if the cost is one’s own happiness. Not all of us even recognize abuse in relationships. Because in our minds abuse is always physical. We do not count the erosion of self-confidence, the belittling of pride, the dismissal of intelligence and the condescension that makes all reactions even those that are warranted and legitimate get called overreactions, as abuse. Some of us blame ourselves for the partner acting up- I triggered the outburst, I caused him to insult, my behavior brings out the worst in him. Because we think that maybe if we let go of our egos and pride the one time, we’ll get our happily ever after. The one time turns into many and soon we are left with no ego and no pride. Thankfully some of us have mothers and friends who are all too willing to slap the subservience out of you, tell you you’re worth so much more and keep you the heck away from such fringe elements. I think every relationship is a power struggle. A lot of men say they love intelligent women with minds of their own. In theory. In reality- challenge accepted. Who doesn’t want to be the man who tames the shrew? Could there be any greater testament to a man’s manliness than making a fierce, strong minded woman toe the line.

Theoretically I would love me a Stuart Weitzman, historically I choose me some Paragon. I will be out eyeing a pair of fabulous Jimmy Choo’s but I settle for the Bata. Why? Because Jimmy Choo is high maintenance. What if I can’t handle those shoes? What if my feet aren’t worthy of them? What if they don’t last? So what do I do? Buy Bata. Justification- what Bata lacks in looks it makes up for in reliability and it is cheap. The only thing I get out of that is the cheap. I have regretted each time that I’ve bought a pair of Bata’s (literally and figuratively). For the more financially inclined, it is like making up my mind to invest in JP Morgan, yet choosing Shekhawati Poly Yarn instead. Both embarrassing to own and massively stupid to invest in. In my head I love the idea of meeting someone non repulsive, having this cerebral connection with him, and then living in non-annoying harmony forever after. Someone who will finally make me take a second to get over him given my ability to switch off all feelings with the blink of an eyelid. Actually scratch that, finally someone that I won’t want to get over. Someone who knows that body odour is not a measure of testosterone; that food can be ingested silently, being disagreed with is not emasculating and that alcoholism is not a desirable personality trait. And someone so marvelous that one can overlook Facebook posts from 2009 had him talking like ‘V hv got to meet up bruhh. Lolzz’. Admittedly, it hurt even to type that.

Are all men pigs? Thankfully not. There are some glorious ones out there that are worth holding out for, someone who deserves the best of you and will celebrate the entire force of all that is you. Do not let some nincompoop take that away from him by leaving you a weaker, diluted version of yourself.

Life

No man is poor who has a Godly mother

Those of you who read this blog know that I am a big fan of the mother. Everyday her strength of character amazes me. I always had a huge amount of respect for my mother. But what I’ve seen her do in the last few months with her tireless perseverance in getting my father back on his feet has me in awe of her. It does her great disservice when people say that she does it because she is a dutiful wife. It implies that she has to. Out of a sense of obligation. She does not do it because of those vows she’s taken. If she can completely disregard the vow to obey the man (so God help him if he asks her to) then clearly it isn’t because she is duty bound. She does it out of love. But more so she does it out of compassion and her desire to see him lead the life he was meant to.  Growing up I never quite understood my mother’s quiet dignity. I couldn’t understand how someone could be both fierce and gentle in equal measure. I never understood why she harped on me having my emotions under control at all times. Control your emotions, she told me, don’t let them control you. My mother always used to and still abhors any public display of emotion. Whether it is extreme excitement or worse still anger. I was always told that no matter what the situation, if something needs to be said it can be said in the privacy of our home, without spectators, without an audience.

In all the years I’ve been alive, I can count the times my mother has been vulnerable. Unlike my mother, my father does not have qualms about displaying vulnerability. The incessant inquiries about the progress of his recovery makes the man a bit emotional. Now I do not do emotional. At least not in public. And as stone hearted as this may sound, I do not appreciate overt displays of emotion (the mother’s hope that I get the emotions under control may have back fired a bit). Whining, crying and the addiction to sympathy does not help. My mother might get momentarily shaken by a spot of trouble, but in true style, she gets up, shrugs it off and does what needs to be done. Where she manages to get the emotional and mental strength from, no one will ever know.

A true test of someone’s personality is how they behave when they’re sick. That’s the real you. The most authentic, unadulterated, no poops are given you. In 2015 my mother got dengue. Because she doesn’t do anything by halves, it wasn’t the ordinary little owwie dengue that she got- it was dengue shock syndrome. She was in the ICU for 5 days, 2 of which had the doctors looking grim and not making any promises. With her organs going into shock, she drifted in and out of conscious. Yet with liver enzymes through the roof, a platelet count of less than 5000, hemorrhaging from the teeth, fluid in the abdomen and the worst case of pneumonia she was the most pleasant person Manipal’s ICU had ever seen. She thanked the nurses constantly, she apologized for the trouble she caused them, she smiled freely and willingly and her standard response to being asked how she was was that she was doing very well. She’s a liar but I was never more proud to be her daughter. She was as dignified in the ICU as she is out of it. Every day when I visited, I was told that there was no greater gift I could’ve got than my mother. Never a truer word has been spoken.

It is also from my mother than I have got a distaste for the melodramatic. Like her, I do not understand fuss. Like her, I do not like to say I’m busy even when the work has been so much that loo breaks are few and far between. Unfortunately for me one side of the family has a flair for the dramatic and the other is much ado about nothing and so it takes double the effort to fight the natural instinct to overreact. In time hopefully with constant trying I will get close to where my mother is in terms of a clear head and thought processes and overall sanity but the struggle is real and won’t be easy. Yet with all my mother’s inner strength, her fierceness and her power, not once has she chastised me for my many moments of weakness. Instead she displays a gentleness I have never seen in a woman as strong. A recognition of my insecurities and fears even though she cannot relate to nor understand them. I have never been rebuked for having vulnerabilities even though she displays none. Maybe the total and complete acceptance of everything I am that I have received from her has never given me reason to search elsewhere for it.

I am the way I am because of my mother’s influence in my life (the jury’s out on whether that’s a good thing though). My personality is a reflection of what I was shown and taught. But my mother had no one to show her. She had no one to teach her. The last of a gazillion kids, she barely knew her own mother and knew even less of her father. Everything that she is, is her own. The voice in her head is her own. Her personality is her own. Her strength is her own. Her convictions are her own. And that is the force that is my mother.

Life, Religion

Art thou in misery? Then I pray be comforted. Thy grief shall pass away. Art thou elated? Ah, be not too gay; Temper thy joy: this, too, shall pass away.

There are three things I absolutely detest- being pitied, condescension and unsolicited advice. I would much rather be despised for the person I am than be pitied. It is genetic because my mother suffers from this disease called pride too. Now that you know that this is going to be a bitter rant, read on at your own risk. In the last few months my father has been out of commission, he’s got osteopenia which has caused compression on his spine and has not been out of the house for a few months because it is excruciatingly painful. Sure life has changed a bit. We don’t go out to family dinners the way we used to. He doesn’t run around like he’s on a battery that does not run out of charge like he used to. But we still laugh, my mother still loves a good Zara sale for me, we still enjoy good food, he still listens to questionable country music each weekend, he still is completely, infuriatingly in control over everything in the house.  It has also changed some things for the better. He appreciates life more. He is calmer and the BP is now a very normal 120/70 as opposed to his default 160/90. He will appreciate our next vacation more because he has stopped fussing over the petty- is the hotel the perfect distance from every landmark? Is the hotel food cooked to perfection? Is the weather the perfect amount of sunny with wind? From a previous control freak, he has learned to let go a bit. The only issue is that he refuses to step outside of the house. Vanity thy name is my father. It will be a cold day in hell when he is seen in public with a back brace, knee support and a walker.

What this has unleashed however is a barrage of pity. Unbelievable quantities of pity for a man who for all other purposes has been given a clean chit of health by his doctors. Like my mother, I cringe when sympathized with. Maybe it’s the genetic hubris I have been endowed with. Unfortunately there is no stupidity tax and therefore when seen out alone I am often condoled with. Surely in 2018 Google no longer remains a novelty. Spinal compression due to osteoporosis is mobility limiting but does not call for the Viaticum. For the recluses that were my parents, their home has a steady stream of uninvited guests, people that they neither know very well nor care to know, each entering with eyes down cast, hands folded in respectful solidarity with the poorly and for the more dramatically inclined an assortment of tears to convey their deepest regrets at his supposed diminished quality of life. All this while he sits pretty and looks slightly bewildered at the strange attention. If the man doesn’t shave for one day, he gets asked if he’s in insurmountable pain. If he is quieter than usual, his hands and legs are touched by the sympathizers telling him that it is test of his faith and that it will bring him closer to God. I’d like to take a balanced approach to this and say that maybe it comes from a good place. But there is nothing worse than the pity they unleash. In my head this is but a minor setback to a man who otherwise keeps fantastic health. (Wood has been searched for and knocked on). Most people thrive on pity and sympathy. For me, there is nothing more humiliating than being pitied. Pity reduces the best of us to creatures who need to be on the receiving end of kindness because it is thought that that is the only ray of light in an otherwise bleak and hopeless situation. Pity is also a well-disguised sense of superiority. Pity is an act of charity. One which makes the pitier feel like the beneficent and the pitiee the beneficiary. It also puts the benevolent pitier in a position of power, in all probability one which they have not been in before and it is meant to confer upon the pitiee a sense of subordination and a reality check that whatever or whoever they were before ceases to matter because their present could be their future. It makes the pitier feel good about their lives – however tragic and I assume it provides the desperately needed pick me up to make them feel that their lives, at least fleetingly is comparatively better.

Then there is unsolicited advice from the busy bodies- read the Bible he’s told. If the Lord could cure everything just through the misinterpreted comprehension of the Bible, every fanatic would be in the prime of health. I am as devout as they come. I trust in God implicitly. I believe in his miracles. And that is why he created the genius that is my father’s doctor. Whether we go to church or not, whether we pray or not, we can only ever be judged by the life we’ve led and the deliberate actions we’ve taken. I do not believe God values reading of a book written by other mortals that often times portrays an unrecognizable, malevolent God over the goodness of a human being. With his back being out of order, someone decided for my mother that he should receive the Eucharist every Sunday. 13/10 reason why I dread Sundays. It combines my dislike for hysterical prayer, unsolicited advice and the clergy (I adore Pope Francis, but can’t say the same of the rest of the Holy Order). Of all the sacraments, anointing of the sick is the most depressing. For a man who is otherwise perfectly OK, I fail to understand why my parents haven’t pulled the plug on this nauseating Sunday ritual. It has been the cause of many a disagreement at home but given that I like Sr. ArogyaMary who ordinarily administers the sacrament it has made it bearable. She defies everything I thought nuns were- bitter, mean spirited and acrimonious. Until today. When we encountered an aged dementor type nun who sucked the youth, happiness and joy out of me with every minute of her discombobulated rambling. In between fits of giggles and a mother who couldn’t keep a straight face at my father being called a thing and the most off key singing that made me wish I was tone deaf, the parents were given an ultimatum- either Sr. Misery shows up every Sunday and I vacate the premises each weekend or like the less than devout Catholic my father is, he goes to church when he can and receives communion the way the Lord intended.

Sickness comes when one least expects it to. To the strongest of us. To the healthiest of us. To the best of us. Most times it is just bad luck. It isn’t karma. It isn’t the lack of faith. It isn’t anything. Thankfully most times it is also only temporary. But what I have learnt from this is that there is also a massive but sometimes an unrecognizable difference between genuine concern and unsolicited I told you so advice that most of us suffer chronically from. Those of us who are dealing with adversity must take solace in knowing that this too shall pass. Those of us throwing pity parties and being smug asses about another’s suffering must also realize that this too shall pass.