On my father’s birthday

papascope.jpgHow do you celebrate a someone-very-special’s birthday who is no more? My father turned 68 a few weeks ago. He died in May last year.  I can’t recall a time celebrating his birthday with him when he was around. He took it as just another day. At the most, we wished him happy birthday, and that too mostly on the phone as his job involved a lot of traveling or even living in other cities for long periods.

So his birthdays were very quiet – just like him. Now that he is not with us, we find it difficult to be quiet on his birthdays (or is it birth anniversary? The ever-so-helpful Quora had all kinds of interesting answers! Off the records, I love Quora!).

So this is how we individually celebrated our dear father’s birthday:

Brother

My ever-so-workaholic brother took a day off from work. He visited the gurudwara (temple) with my sister-in-law. On this day, he is sombre and more retrospective than he is on the other days. He is extremely emotional and on this very day his emotions can run absolutely loose if not taken care of. He is just quiet.

Mother

My mother, who misses him dearly every single day, misses him even more on this day. Tears roll down on my father’s birthday every minute. And why not? She was married to him for nearly forty years, never mind the fact that it was a flawed marriage with lots of more downs than ups. Like my brother, she goes to the gurudwara and donates  lot of food – mostly the kind of food that my father liked to eat.

It is very strange that both my mother and brother are trying to set a ritual on my father’s birthday but I feel the best way to remember him, especially on his birthday, would be by doing things he liked or by not doing things he disliked.

  • He didn’t like going to gurudwaras. Not that he was an atheist or agnostic, his pocket was once picked in a very busy and popular gurudwara of Delhi. That really ticked him off. Also, if there was one person who believed in work being worship, it was him! He rather work than visit temples or follow rituals.
  • He didn’t eat much. I had never seen him being tempted by any food. He ate his three meals but always meagerly.
  • He loved his drinks, especially after his dinner. Three pegs of his favourite whisky and he was the happiest person ever. And always satisfied. I remember having great table talks with him. Usually he carried his nightcap to his bedroom where he pondered for sometime before sleeping.

Unlike my family (and in no way am I condemning them – rather I respect the fact that they are trying to carve something new!), I did what he liked and didn’t what he disliked. After a not-so-very-busy day at work, I opened a bottle of Breezer (I am not a whisky person) at home after dinner and raised a toast to him. Happy birthday, pa! 🙂

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(The picture above is of my father looking through the telescope after reaching the top of the Twin Towers in Petronas, Malaysia, a few years ago.)

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Calvino, Drabble, Happy, I & more

It has been two months since I typed my personal blog. Not that dilemmas surrounding me have vanished or I have become immune to them but for a handful of reasons/excuses:

  1. My numb state of mind: So numb that I gave up on my only hobby i.e. reading. Though it could be to do with the fact that I picked up a few wrong books in my quest to read new genres and authors. After having googled for the quirkiest books ever written I picked up Italo Calvino’s “If on a winter’s night a traveler’ and I just couldn’t read it beyond the second chapter!
  2. Drabbling: After having patched up with my writer-editor friend (yet again!) I was introduced to ‘drabble’. Drabble is writing a short story of exact 100 words. Easier said than done. I have written 5 out of 50 drabbles till now of which the last 3 were considered by my esteemed writer-editor friend to be below the mark! I hope to improve every day though I am not happy with this drabbling business. Cutting down a story (as if making a story is easy!) to 100 words is not creative. There is no way you can try to fit in as much as you would like to tell in sharp 100 words. You miss out on the essence of the story. And with all that heavy-duty pruning, most of the story ends up being in your own head.
  3. Is this blog ‘worth’ it?: After writing for a year, I am asked (yet again by my editor-writer friend) what have I gained? I could have replied with a list of abstract/intangible/philosophical merits like discipline, acute awareness of my surrounding, honing of my skill etc etc but I knew what he was driving at. Did I gain more followers, more ‘likes’? Honestly, only a handful readers read what I write but that’s exactly what the intention was. I have been genuinely satisfied. This blog was always meant for me and my friends who enjoy reading. Of course I always feel good when a stranger reads and likes my blog. But to get even a 100 plus ‘likes’ of my writing would mean I take a thorough professional route and get an agent or a celebrity connection!

So I am back to blogging (and I hope to retrospect and write here on a weekly basis).

And what all happened in the last two months that I can recollect:

  1. Pop’s disease relapsed. We all are still trying to cope up and not give up in times like this. It is so easy to breakdown when in crisis but we get up every morning all fixed up to face another day. It is not possible putting yourself in the shoes of the patient as it is only him/her who is going through the suffering but I hope it all works out in the end and it would be just a nightmare that we would be woken up from. People and relatives who know him very well keep coming over to our place to meet him and for once I don’t mind uninvited guests. I see my father being happy at their sight. Happier than seeing me and my mum daily!

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2. Happy,our street dog, is back! Lovely, pretty, Happy returned after 2 weeks as mysteriously as she had vanished. (See my last blog: Remembering Happy/Julie/Goldy) If only she could speak and tell about her adventures. I realised that not only my daughter and I were happy with her reappearance but so many of our other neighbours too. They were calling up their loved ones too informing about Happy. It did take Happy a few days to get back to her routine. She looked little lost initially. She didn’t spend much time with her mate Perky. But all seems ok now.

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3. We have a trampoline. I am glad we purchased it on mum’s saying and she is setting a good example of practicing before preaching by using it daily. Hopefully my daughter and I will get inspired and follow her soon. We are too lazy to even jump on a springy surface! I always thought mum had an excuse for not resuming her half-an-hour walk ever since papa returned for good from the city where he was working but this seems like a great option too.

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4. Saying ‘Namaste’ – meet and greet the ‘Indian’ way: I re-learnt to fold my hands to greet people especially those who fold their hands too while greeting me. Our community park gardener, who must be an octogenarian (or even a nonagenarian) does that every time I pass by him in the park. He joins his hands and raises it to his head to greet ‘Ram Ram’ with a toothless smile. So one day as he did it while I jogged I thought of the last time when I had folded my hands to greet people. After all, it is in our culture to do so. I couldn’t recall. I don’t ever remember having taught my daughter (who is 11) to do this. Has she ever greeted anyone a ‘Namaste’ with her hands joined? I don’t think so.

And on this note, I better switch on to drabbling my 6th one, lest my temperamental writer-editor friend resumes behaving like a pansy! :p


pic courtesies: all except the last one clicked by me. last one is from: thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/indian-hand-greeting-posture-easy-to-edit-vector-illustration-namaste-floral-design-41901074.jpg

Hail Sisterhood!

sisterhood collage

When I look at my little niece and nephew sometimes on video-chats I know they are in for a fabulous childhood together. Something that they will realize later. I have the fondest of childhood memories with my brother who is a year younger than me. However, as years go by and life makes us take different paths, I see around me that siblings of same sex bond better as time goes by and they are able to transform this doting filial relationship to something much better – a lifelong friendship.

It could be a mere hypothesis and I don’t have the stats to support me but when I see such sets of siblings – same sex versus different I am more than certain. My cousins, two of my best friends and the best example at home – my mum support my hypothesis strongly! Mum’s younger sister, my darling aunt lives many miles away from us yet I see the two of them talking, confessing, gossiping, sharing just about everything with each other over the phone every day. Sometimes I see mum brooding over my aunt’s antics but she nevertheless jumps to take her call when it happens. And it is just not a sister thing! I have seen brothers too gelling stronger with each other.

A few months before, my cousin was over at our place with my same darling aunt. His uber-cool elder brother, who studies down South, had been cribbing to his mom to get him a posh laptop to which she had strictly put her foot down. Only a few months ago he had lost his expensive mobile phone. His quieter younger brother, while talking to me as we took a stroll to the shops nearby, said that he would ensure that his mum bought his brother that laptop. And he sure did! A few weeks later I saw the elder cousin flashing his laptop on Snapchat! And to come to think of it, these brothers were daily at loggerheads with each other as little boys and the elder one was an absolute bully!

As time flows and childhood gives way to adulthood you can relate better – physiologically and even psychologically with your own sex and if you have a same-sex sibling that’s a cherry on the cake!

As the world is shrinking everyday owing to the technological advancements happening at a rapid pace, communication with my brother is on a decline. We both have FaceTime on our Iphone but we barely talk and even when we do, it is mostly cursory. And if the talk does get long, it is simply because I end up talking (and enjoying) more with his cherubim-like kids and my sister-in-law than him!  No regrets here and I know we are there for each other. Just a thought really! 🙂

 

(collage on top: From Facebook archives  (L to R and Top to bottom): –  J, Ritz n I (2015), Bitty n I (2012 ) and Div, I and Shrab (2010??)