Grateful and Guilty

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Dear Twilight,

You might be a little surprised at hearing from me. Even worst, you might find my letter as part of a pile and not even glance at it with interest, for you it may be just another adulatory missive.

But, at the risk of sounding similar to many, many others, let me confess that I found you addictive. Just picking up the book was considered foolish in my circle, you see, I am surrounded by the so called ‘sensible’ age group. Even though we are still on the right side of forty, all of us have graduated to reading serious fiction and informative nonfiction. My book club regularly discusses Booker prize winning authors or Nobel Laureates. Or the newest regional pick. We don’t read teenage romance/fantasy/vampire tales.

Frankly, I am not much taken by vampires or monsters as such and have not even shown any interest in the Twilight series movies. I did not understand what all the fascination with vampires was about. I thought it all pretty outdated. So, I just picked this book from the local library the day I could not settle on anything. Anyhow, all that is past now.

The first few pages and I was hooked. Reading you was like a breath of fresh air. It smelt of youth-innocent and pure. It talked of possibilities, of people flying over at the last moment to save you from a car crash. There are gorgeous looking students in school; some of them vampires. There is passion, without the cheap undertones of the physical kind. Oh yes, girls do go weak in knees and handsome hunks are around to rescue them at every step. It was the thrill of a dated Mills and Boons romance wedded to the myth of Vampires. Even when they are vampires, they are inherently good, which is what makes them so endearing. I loved the witty repartees, the well threshed out locales ( forests, clearing in the meadows…).

I think, all through my heart missed as many beats as Bella’s did. Edward, the vampire is absolutely endearing. I simply cannot wait to read more and more… I am aware there are sequels to you but I shall be forever grateful to you and your author Stephanie Meyer for introducing me to this wonderful world of yours.

Besotted,
Writenlive

This letter was written in response to the Daily Prompt.

Sometimes I clutch my head…

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Let Parenting be a Joy

Sometimes, even a couple of kids at home can be a handful. They may be doing their own thing and still drive you up the wall. Fighting amongst themselves, playing musical toys with only one key being pushed insistently, making a grand mess with blocks, soft toys and other assorted entertaining contraptions that you bought in a moment of indulgence ( or sometimes, to assuage your guilt) starts your brain ticking away at a dangerous speed.

Parenting can be such a great challenge even when you love your kids, want to spend quality time (and also quantity) with them and help them become responsible and emotionally mature adults. There are times when our human failings become all too apparent even though deep in our hearts we want to be just good parents.

I am not an expert in academic terms but still I act as one because I am a long time parent ( and this long time seems very, very long in my memory) and I learn every day by being in the battlefield. I keep observing what works and what does not. You learn every moment, with every child because all children are different and you are a learner forever.

A couple of things I would still like to share, that in my opinion work well across ages and temperaments.

Be Attentive.
Cast away your worries and day-to-day stresses every once in a while and be attentive to your child. To his/her needs, whims, moods. Let us start with young children. Mood tantrums, fussy eating, destructive behaviour? Pay attention to what are the underlying reasons. If you take out a little time and do things as your child wants done, the child would become reassured over a period of time of your love and care. Your instructions and suggestions would be better received.

Lead.
This could be expressed in many other ways. As in, “Set an Example”. The important thing is to acknowledge that you are the parent at most times, a friend and a co-conspirator only for very little time. You need to decide about acceptable behaviour, limits and the values to be inculcated. Sure, you need to do the same things to set an example but most of the times and especially in formative years, children need to be guided gently, again and again. If they slip up, the course correction needs to be on your side as well as theirs.

Yes, I know this actually sounds harder than running a marathon but that is how it is as all parents would testify. As for would be parents, this post would get ignored and tossed in the bin (if it is possible to toss an electronic device) with a shrug.

Landscape

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Hills

This is a landscape I love, for I gaze at it many times during the day. I take my morning coffee overlooking this scene, read the paper, looking up to drink in the scene and simply spend a few moments with nature.

Swarm

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A swarm of schoolchildren

Here is a swarm of schoolchildren coming out from school, discussing the exam they had just taken.

I took many pictures and in some the crowd was considerably larger to qualify as a swarm but the background was better in this one.

Assignment for Photography 101: Swarm

Salad Days

“My salad days. When I was green in judgement: cold in blood.” Said Cleopatra, the words put in her mouth by the bard Shakespeare.

In language, the phrase denotes a time of youthfulness, inexperience and innocence, enthusiasm or even idealism.

So, I thought hard about my own salad days. When was it all? Youth, ages ago, for sure. But as they say, age is just a number and you are as old as you think. I decide to think and act young at all times. Change Facebook status frequently. Upload selfies…

Wait a minute! I am an idealist even now. I believe in equality across socioeconomic backgrounds. I believe in gender equality. I believe in education for all. I believe in…sufficient to say I still believe in lofty ideals and work towards doing my bit. The only difference from my twenties would be a better awareness of reality and of life’s problems.

Enthusiasm, yes! Four months back, I discovered WordPress and was absolutely struck by the ease of creating a platform online. It had been a decade since I had actively done anything related to hardware or software. I was surprised that I did not have to know HTML or write code to create a presence. Leaning how to put up a blog was a Great learning experience that has been an incredible high. Now that I feel settled down in WordPress, I am thirsting for newer challenges.

My inexperience in many many spheres of life make these my best salad days. ‘Green in judgement’, of course I am. I even get the weather talk wrong. Just this morning, I chatted idly with my jumper-knitting, shawl-wrapped neighbour (oldish, in other words, which I am not!) And remarked how the cold weather had been late in arriving this year. To which I was served with a sermon on a dry spell vs rains; the importance of having an early snow and how the local forecast had been calling it the severest winter in a decade.

Innocence! I am nothing if not innocent. Who else would put in a picture of a salad platter in a post for salad days!

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Salad Platter/CC BY-SA 3.0

Posted in response to the Daily Prompt.

Followers, followers everywhere…

Just a few days back, it seems (maybe a month and a half), I was jubilant at getting followers. I promised my friend a huge party when I got 10 followers.

I started my blog because I wanted to write; because I wanted to share. Sure, once you start, you find what things you are good at and what things are better left unwritten (for now). So, I had started because I wanted to write lots and lots of book reviews (only a very very few got done). And also because writing, just writing gives me an unparalleled level of pleasure (there, I have put in this lofty sounding phrase).

As WordPress says, most of us begin blogging just for the love of it. Getting followers is like icing on the cake. It is a different kind of high when we realize we have people who read us regularly. A question nags at the back of my mind.. Do they really? Do our followers really read us that regularly? Many of them really do care. They not only encourage us but also act as radars for our writing, directing us towards better pastures.

Others, I am not so sure of. I think some follow because they want you to follow them back. There is no word from them, either at the beginning or ever after that. Plain silence. Many want us to check them out; for they are sure they have a product or a service that can help us.

I am quite clear about the different categories of followers. All are welcome and I am grateful to every one of them for even stopping by and taking a look. Even if just once.

The only real surprise I got the other day was when I saw the name of my latest follower. Plutonium Spray Paint!! Now, how on earth… what did they think? I hope dear Spray Paint likes all the photo assignments I am doing for Photography 101.

Waiting for other inanimate things to follow me now. BMWs are welcome!

A pop of colour

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The red wisps are pieces of fabric, stuck in the jagged edges of a newly cut bush. The full blown bush stood at the side of the public stairs, cut out of rock and used by the locals as a quicker route to our neighborhood.

Older Me to Younger Me

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“Now, now, be careful,” I said, trying to sound mild. It still came out as a disapproving mom, whose every (or every other) sentence is an injunction to her children. “Don’t spill my coffee”, as if it mattered. The coffee was not hot enough and was a watered down version of the strong brew I liked at home.

She smiled sweetly, but not appeasingly, I noted. Ah, the confidence of youth. I was not much older myself; just a decade separating us but in wisdom, I had reams to tell her.

“I think you would appreciate the fact that we could meet over coffee, so as to talk about the things you could expect to happen in life over the next ten years.” The younger me took a small bite of the pasta daintily. Her table manners were good.

“See, the thing you have to guard against the most is your melancholia. Try to get your moodiness under control. Think in a stable manner. You are very logical, I know and reason does win hands down as opposed to emotional outbursts, yet take care that you do not overburden your thinking mechanism. Otherwise, you have a full blown depression coming along”, I said dramatically.

My younger self jerked up her head, a few wisps of hair waving about in her still black head. I fingered my greying mane surreptitiously. She was surprised; her eyes widened. She gulped down her fancy milk shake a little too quickly.

“Now that the worst thing about your future is out of the way we can talk about more cheerful things.” I felt relaxed and realised that I liked meeting a younger self of myself over coffee. Not only to impart some wisdom but to be reminded in flesh and blood what I had been like, ten years before.

“There would be many rewards for your hard work”, I smiled, thinking I sounded like a mysterious fortune teller. “For one”, I plunged in, “you would be the entrepreneur you have always wanted to be and worked towards.” She looked SO taken-aback. I felt a surge of love for her. “In fact”, I continued, “you would be a serial entrepreneur. Lots of challenges, stretching myself, umm.. yourself every day and sleeping content at night.”

“Wow”, my younger self breathed. I felt positively happy. How I had wanted so much for someone to tell me at that point of time about how things would turn out.

“You know how much I loved pasta at your age”, I said, changing tacks. Her smile was lovely. “Yes, I know”, she said. “After all, you were me at this age. And you know, with all due respect, for you are much experienced, I must say..”, she hesitated. Then it came out in a torrent but with a lot of love and concern. “Stay true to your passions, take care of yourself, do not let yourself go. Cherish yourself.”

My eyes grew misty. Here she was, taking care of older me just when I thought I had to do all the caring for others-spouse, growing children, ageing parents, the community-because I had an obligation to give back to my society. Yes, I mattered, not only to the younger version of me, but to myself also. I glanced at our reflection in the coffee shop glass; opening to a street vista. Here we were, apart and alike. There were so many colours of us just the same but with different hues.

“I think I would like to taste the pasta you ordered”, I said. “Mmm”. “And now for the fun part. Life is a series of fun events and fun times. You would enjoy getting married, having kids, forging new friendships and unlikely relationships. You would have fun travelling all you wanted and some more and collect souvenirs from all the places you visit. The more delicate ones should be kept out of reach of the little ones”, I added thoughtfully.

The younger me laughed. And I joined in, in sheer relief. This was also fun, meeting across the chasm of time. “We must do coffee more often”, we chimed at almost the same time.

This piece about an older me meeting a ten years younger me over coffee was written in response to the Daily Prompt at the WordPress Daily Post.

Growing Old

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Old Growth Forest in California

Today, I sat in the sun and peeled carrots, chopped vegetables and cleaned some fenugreek leaves for lunch.

Yesterday, I made a trip to the local wool shop to buy knitting needles and some wool. An overwhelming urge to knit something had overtaken me.

I like sitting with my spouse and talking of nothing.

I admire people with greying hair. I turn around to catch another glimpse of elderly carrying themselves with dignity.

I like to ask people older than me of their life’s wisdom.

I want to write my memoir. I feel I have done what I wanted to and now it is time to record for my future generations.

I like my routine, my cup of coffee.

I like to eat meals at regular times.

I feel wellness programs are better than dieting.

Am I getting old?

My dear friend and I like to take walks in the neighbourhood. She sighs sometimes when she sees elderly couples sitting on benches, basking in the sun. “Ah! Our future!”, she says with much pleasure. I wonder sometimes and ask her what is it about old age that likes. She says, “An appreciation of companionship, of simple pleasures of life, feeling a sense of contentment at having fulfilled one’s duties and responsibilities, having lots of free time to finally pursue what one wants to…”. Her eyes glinting, she adds,”Peace”.

Motherhood

Many years ago, when I was in my mid twenties, I was asked by a friend if I thought Motherhood was highly over rated? I could not even reply to this one, although in the past we had shared an easy banter; a camaderie. I mumbled something and looked away, out of the window of the tiny white car she was driving.

I was confused, so I could not answer. I thought of it as a non-question. Could you choose motherhood? Wasn’t that something that happened or did not happen, as per God’s will? Did we, mere mortals have the right to interfere in nature’s scheme?

Later, when I married and it was time to have kids, we did. I never gave it a second thought. Sure, it was difficult, at first. The tiny ‘bundle of joy’, always crying, never sleeping, not gaining enough weight, requiring vaccinations, medications, countless visits to the paediatricians… most of the time; I felt helpless, even resentful. I was at a loss. How to take care of another life, so entirely dependent on me when I had not even figured out what I myself wanted out of life?

Things got worse before they got better. But the second time was easier. I knew the tribulations enough to even expect them, I was more prepared and I enjoyed the process a little better. Both children are now at a stage when I do not have to constantly tend to their physiological needs. Emotional needs, I know would continue throughout my lifetime

Coming back to my friend; I think of her often these days. She was trying to analyze something that for me was and always will be the wonder of creation. The other day, I was fed up and my mother called. I poured out my frustrations and ineptness and the pointlessness of it all, of meeting the endless demands. And she answered that I am actually participating in the creation and sustenance of life. That is what keeps me going. Indeed, it fills me with joy and a sense of purpose.

This post was written in response to Daily Prompt, a free writing exercise.