Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Seductress

Her lustful eyes wear glasses of woe,
Her hungry red lips adorned in the lightest hue,
She walks with a gait, slow and gentle,
Hiding her cunning in her quiet mumble.

A seductress - the kind he fails to fathom,
He worships her like the queen of his kingdom;
Oblivious to her tactics, he surrenders his all,
Believing she'll catch his every fall.

She decorates his halls with rags that shine;
From juicy slow poison, she makes him wine;
Dazed by the sparkle, he's struck with awe;
High on liquor, he dances till grabbed by death's jaw.

Ripened with age, she stoops her back
But holds her head high, her scheming mind intact;
"I do not need your gold," to his kids she says,
While scooping diamonds from his bays.

Back to Work!

After more than 6 months of maternity leave, it was time to return to work. Faced with a common dilemma of every new working mother, I braced myself to battle the odds. Being the daughter of a full-time working woman, I had enough inspiration to decide what to do. And yet, it wasn't easy.

'You must learn to love your job as much as you love your son, and sometimes more than him.' This was some crucial and probably controversial advice Maa gave me when I was contemplating going back to work.

Maa did not give up her job to raise me and my brother, yet we couldn't have asked for a better mother. There were times in my childhood when I wondered why she wasn't always there when I was home from school just like most of my friends' moms. I wondered why she often made the same dish for my lunchbox (for the record, she's an awesome cook; ask my childhood buddies!). Daily meals were simple and I wasn't given any special consideration in spite of being a picky eater. She always stressed on healthy habits, on education, and on being self-reliant, all of which irked me sometimes. We didn't have the prettiest or the neatest home, but we had numerous cupboards filled with books that she always encouraged me to read. My father played an important role in all of this by taking over many chores involving me and my brother. So that's another value she tried to instill in me - equality in marriage.

When I retrospect, I realize that most of the complaints I had about Maa are what inspire me today and keep me going. And it makes me proud that these minor 'compromises' that I made contributed, even though just a smidgen, towards making her what she is today - smart, confident, secure, and independent. At times, when I feel bad about not being with her now when she's growing old, I remind myself of how busy and happy she is with her life (and she makes sure my father is too!) . Sometimes I wish I was half as sorted as she is. Yes, she misses me and I miss her; yes, I will be there for her when she needs me. But for now, I find solace in the fact that she has someone who'll look after her when I'm not around - she herself. And that's who I want to be. That's who I want my son to see me as.

The biggest gifts my son can give me are his health and happiness. And the biggest gift I can give him is self-reliance even when I'm old, so that he can pursue his dreams without being guilty of not being there for me. The day this realization dawned upon me, I stopped having second thoughts about rejoining work. And I haven't looked back ever since! 

Betrayed

"There isn't a thing I won't tell you"
I made a promise that day
To someone who I thought I knew
Would never hurt me, come what may.

My soul was naked, I bared it all-
My darkest secrets, my rise and fall;
Not for a moment did I hesitate
To walk into a trap and take the bait.

Not your Best Friend

"But mom, I am only asking for some more cheese on my sandwich. It makes your yummy sandwich even yummier! Parth's mother lets him eat as much butter and cheese as he wants, and they don't even tell his dad about it. She allows him to stay outdoors after 6 pm. They also goshup when he doesn't feel like studying. He says his mom is his best friend."
"'Gossip', not 'goshup'. Do you know what it means? Dig into the dictionary and find out."
"Why can't you just tell me? Parth's mom would have!"
"Because I'm your mother, not your best friend."

A couple of minutes after rummaging through the pages of the dictionary, his face lit up.

"Mom, I found it, I found it! I know what it means. Yay!" 
"Great. So how do you feel? You learned a new word today!" 
"I feel good. But I still want my cheese."
"Sure. Once you make your bed."
"But Parth's mother..."
"Always makes his bed for him? Got it. Now hurry up before I change my mind!"

20 years later... 

"Mom, you've already met her a couple of times. Do you think she's the right one for me? " 
"What do you think? Dig into your heart and find out."
"Just like the meaning of 'goshup'?"
"You still remember?"
"Of course. It's just that...we're in India."
"So?"
"Well, the whole saas-bahu thing is a big deal. All my friends have gotten their wives 'approved' by their mothers."
"You're the one who's going to share the rest of your life with her."
"What about you and dad?"
"What about us?"
"I can't leave you alone. I mean, sooner or later, we will be living with you. What if you can't get along with her?"
"Your dad and I enjoy each other's company. Do you think we'd let you guys move in and ruin our privacy?"
"Oh, come on mom, I'm serious!"
"Fine. Even if the four of us have to live together at some point of time in our lives, as long as we respect each others' boundaries, we'll get alone just fine."
"But I want you and her to be best friends!"
"What's with you and forced friendships? It's the most spontaneous of bonds; it'll happen if it has to. Besides, I think she already has a best friend."
"Who is that?"
"You."
"Oh, so you and dad are conspiring to drive me away from home. But what if I want your special cheese sandwich? You can't email it to me!"
"Drama queen! You already know how to make that; I taught you."
"You didn't say you will teach her."
"Should I?"
"No. I'll make them for her."
"That's good to hear."
"Mom?"
"Yes?"
"I've been meaning to say something to you."
"What?"
"Thanks for not being my best friend, and for being the best mother in the world instead."

Nia

It was one of those kindergarten days when a classmate was distributing the customary birthday goodies. This time, the goodies comprised of candies in assorted flavors, and of course, each student was allowed only one. The entire class had their eyes fixed on the chocolate candies, and Nia was among the few who got one. She was on cloud nine, but she also felt bad for her classmates who didn't get the chocolate candies. One of them named Ruth offered to exchange a pineapple candy with hers and Nia felt too charitable to refuse. She regretted it almost immediately. She was crestfallen and complained about it to her friends. She decided to ask for it back and Ruth said no. Nia was so disappointed that she didn't want to keep the pineapple candy either, so she returned it to Ruth. And then, she went home to her parents, teary-eyed and thinking how it wasn't fair that she didn't get to keep even one candy.

Twenty years later, nothing has changed, except that it isn't kindergarten anymore. Her loving heart is the chocolate candy, her self-respect the pineapple candy, and life, her classroom. And Nia still thinks that it isn't fair.

Not Me

One step, two steps, three steps, four-
Steps I took till my feet were sore;
Leaving behind a chunk of innocence,
A dab of mischief, a slice of romance;
Some tears, some laughs, some anger, some glee,
Some things that made all, not some of me.

Phials

Phials of tears, angst and sorrow,
Phials she carried like there's no tomorrow;
Today, she walks among the dead
And hides one phial under each head,
Wishing no living would find her phials of folly
And live like her, lost in melancholy.