Tag Archives: family

A view from the balcony

My living room clock shows 6.30 p.m. The day is winding down. Children, who have played outdoors all evening, are heading back to their homes. The birds have returned to their nests.

The world is still aglow, lit by the setting sun. There is a certain calm to this hour that you wouldn’t find at any other time during the day. People are getting back from work, a spring in their step; looking forward to an evening of being at home, in their own space, relaxing and unwinding from the stresses of yet another day. Pets greet their owners with absolute joy, children fling themselves at their dads and moms to be bearhugged and cuddled, or to be thrown up in the air and caught in a tumbling mass of giggles.

I go to my favourite spot – my balcony – and stop in amazement when I see this.

This building can be seen from our balcony. I am totally amazed by the fact that the molten sun is reflecting off only one of the numerous glass facades of the building.

There is something miraculous in this moment, a splash of vibrant orange against a backdrop of grey, a great moment in an otherwise ‘business as usual’ type of day.

From where I stand, the sun has already slipped out of sight. But I am lucky to have been a part of this moment of sheer golden bliss.

Another simple moment captured, and filed away.

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Grandma’s Chess Game

It is late in the afternoon. The curtains are billowing in the breeze. My mom winds up her chores and settles down on the couch with her afternoon mug of coffee.

She smiles in anticipation, as she awaits the arrival of her youngest grandson, my nephew.

Soon, the door bell rings. My five year old nephew walks in, hugs me and then runs to hug his grandma.

The aroma of love wafts around the house.

My nephew has brought a plastic bag. He pulls out a box from within, and then informs my mom,

“Grandma, today we are going to play chess. I have brought my chess board.”

My mom: Sure, sweetie.

Image courtesy – Canstock Photo.com

They clear the coffee table, and sit down on either side. My nephew arranges all the pieces carefully. As he arranges them, he quizzes his opponent to see if she can identify the various pieces, and identify which way they can move.

My mom passes the test.

My nephew: Grandma, I will take the white pieces and will start first.

Grandma: Sure.

The game progressss, my mom taking her time, my nephew, impatient. He knocks off a few pieces from the board and whoops in joy.

And then his queen is at the wrong place at the wrong time. My mom grabs the opportunity and knocks down his queen.

And then the rules of the game change, and how! My nephew cannot accept that his queen is not around.

He looks at his Grandma and says sweetly, “Let us go back a few moves ok? Let’s bring my queen back.”

My mom says, “No, that’s not fair.”

Nephew: No Grandma, it’s okay.

And this is how the game progresses. My shoulders shake in mirth. My mom’s pieces are watching the game from outside the board, while my nephew keeps bringing back his queen and his rooks, and other pieces. My mom indulges him.

The game finally comes to an end with a loud checkmate. My nephew announces grandly, “Grandma, I won.”

He then walks over to her and sits on her lap, reveling in all the love and the cuddly hugs. She asks him if he wants cookies.

And as my mom heads to the kitchen, my nephew carefully packs his chess pieces and puts them back into the bag!

I watch this truly special bond between grandma and grandson.

A love that lurks in black knights, pawns and rooks, who gave up their cause for the love of a grandma for her grandson.

The Indian Crow

The sun is not visible today, but it’s heat can still be felt. I stand on my balcony, looking at the traffic at the junction.

My attention is diverted by a streak of bright yellow that is flitting between the branches of a tree. I realize that it is a beautiful oriole, busily going about his day. I keep watching the oriole for a while. My attention is then drawn to the pigeons – sitting on ledges, swooping down, taking a breather. There are so many of them.

Then I begin to wonder. There is not a crow in sight. In fact, I haven’t seen one in the neighbourhood in a long, long time.

I keep seeing mynas, sparrows, parrots and hornbills, but never a crow.

And suddenly I feel nostalgic. Nostalgic for my childhood, where the crow formed an integral part of our lives.

Image courtesy – Wikipedia

Where the crow featured as the hero in many of the stories told to us by our grandmom and aunts – intelligent in some stories, foolish in some stories, thirsty and intelligent in some others. But the crow’s presence in our lives could never be ignored.

Babies were fooled into swallowing uninterestimg vegetables and yummy rasam rice, when a crow swooped into their yards. Babies were mesmerised by this bird, whose caws in the gentle afternoon breeze sounded like lullabies.

When we were growing up, most Indian women would put out some cooked rice for the crows, on their window ledges or terraces, before serving food to the family.

The crows were so used to this that they would show up at the prescribed window ledge or terrace at the appointed hour. And, if for some reason there was a delay in the arrival of their food, the crows would caw loudly, causing the woman of the house to hurry up!

My aunt had names for the crows that visited her window ledge, and would talk to them everyday, and affectionately chide them if they cawed too loudly.

Such was the role that crows played in our childhood. The crow was truly one of our childhood heroes.

Extreme love

My children have just started their summer vacation. We are on day two of the holidays; still finding it difficult to make the transition from packed days to days where there are no deadlines to meet or targets to pursue. Time flows, like a lazy river, stopping here and there to rejuvenate, picking up speed at times but largely content with flowing along without any purpose.

In a week, we will pack up and travel to visit my mom and my husband’s parents. The children will spend many more lazy days talking, reading, eating, playing and sleeping.

Something transforms in the children and their grandparents when they meet. There is a syndrome both sides exhibit, which I choose to call ‘Extreme Love’. 

Picture courtesy – ClipartAll

Where the grandparents can’t love enough and the children can’t have enough of this love. Where the grandmoms cook all the kids’ favourite dishes, ever-smiling. Where every question asked by the children is patiently answered. Where the children are allowed to experiment with flour and batter and make a mess and leave the mess without cleaning up. Where they are not nagged, where they receive hugs that sustain for many minutes, where they can be sure that whatever they say will be heard with unwavering attention. 

Where each achievement of theirs is dwelt upon and appreciated. Where holding the grandfather’s hand to walk down the road for an evening walk is a great treat, as they come back loaded with goodies.  Where they are tucked in to bed with many stories, repeated stories. Where they spend time teaching their grandparents to use new technology and smartphones. Where they are loved ‘extremely’, an all empowering love that can boost a child’s self-esteem, that can teach a child about unconditional love and acceptance. 

This love between our children and their grandparents is to be cherished. There is no other love like this.

I was lucky to have received such love from my grandma and am happy that my kids are receiving the same from their grandparents.

What time is coffee time?

My love affair with coffee did not start until my final year of high school. In our home, it was ok to drink coffee occasionally, but I remember smelling the coffee cup sometimes in my early teens, and grimacing in disgust.

I do not remember when or  how I came to love coffee. But I know that there was no looking back.  After that, any time was coffee time.  Strangely, coffee has also become an indicator of how healthy I am feeling on any particular day.  If I wake up in the morning and do not crave coffee, I know for a fact that I am coming down with something. 

Picture courtesy – Clipart Panda

I can wax eloquent about coffee,  but just thought I would jot down a few of my favourite coffee moments.

Coffee time is when I get back home after a long, tiring day of work.

Coffee time is ‘me-time’ in the quiet hours of the morning when I look within.

Coffee time is when it’s raining non stop and I sit on the couch and dream of everything and nothing.

Coffee time is also those hurried sips between chores on a chaotic morning.

Coffee time is catching up with friends on a lazy afternoon.

Coffee time is sharing some quality time with my spouse.

Coffee time is that ‘salivating time’ of anticipation when my filter starts percolating and the heady smell of coffee reaches my nostrils.

Coffee time is when my head is pounding and I know that only coffee will work that magic.

Coffee time is also trying to convince my son to smell coffee and become a member of the coffee club (right now he grimaces)….I am still working on him. 

Coffee time is family reunion time, after a wedding or engagement, when we gather for what we popularly call in the South – sweet, kaaram (spicy snack) and kaapi (coffee).

Coffee time is during picnics with friends, sipping from disposable glasses having lots of fun.

Coffee time is marathon catch-up sessions with my sisters..that stretch late into the night.

Coffee time is catching up with my mom, when I visit her.

Coffee time is …pure bliss.

Lipsticks and little girls

It was a sweltering day, many years ago, when we had the naming ceremony for my baby girl, who was only 3 weeks old.  My mom’s home was teeming with aunts, uncles, cousins and little nieces and nephews, all of whom had come to bless and welcome our little bundle of joy.

I received hundreds of tips on being a mother, and hundred ‘must-know’ things about child rearing, and a dozen versions of who my baby resembled in the family. It was a normal, Indian family celebration.

I was a little tired by the afternoon, and when my mom caught my eye and realized that I was tired, she signalled for me to go in and take a quick nap. I slipped away, unnoticed.

I went and lay down, my eyes closing involuntarily. While still asleep, I heard something. I opened my eyes and realized that one of my nieces was in the room, before the dresser mirror.

I could see her reflection in the mirror, as she made faces at herself, and then tried on one of the lipsticks. Gently opening the tube, she used her finger to apply a dark maroon lipstick on her lips. I could imagine how good and beautiful she felt. After sometime, she quietely slipped out of the room.

Image courtesy – Shutterstock

I laughed, fully awake by then. I remembered how, as a little girl, my favourite game was to play ‘teacher’. The role demanded that I have long hair, and that I wear lipstick.

The hair problem was easily resolved. I found a piece of black cloth from my mom’s sewing kit and tied it around my hair, allowing the black cloth hair to fall over my shoulders to  the front. My students ‘had’ to see my long hair.

The lipstick posed a problem. My mom did not use lipstick, neither did my aunt. But my teachers at school wore lipstick, so I needed to wear lipstick to look authentic. Then I hit upon the idea of using the red liquid that Indian women use to wear bindis (the dots on the forehead). This was available in abundance, so during the afternoons when my gran, aunt and mom napped, I applied generous amounts of red on my lips and taught and educated many children every afternoon.

Lipsticks and makeup were forgotten till high school and university, when my mom gifted me my own lipstick for my birthday. I still remember its shade, copper brown. I still wonder how my mom knew what would look good on me! I used that tube till there was nothing left. 

After that first tube, lipsticks became a part of my life, and over the years I have tried many shades, and have settled on a few that suit me well.

A few years ago, when my son had his school concert, the little girls in his class were all dressed up like pretty dolls and fairies. However, a few girls had their lips in a weird kind of pout. On asking their moms, I found out that the girls had worn lipstick for the first time, and that they did not want for it to go away. I remember how much I laughed that day.

Now, my daughter grimaces when I talk about makeup or lipstick or accessories. She is ‘at home’ in her jeans and tees.

I smile as I look into the future, when my daughter will want to try on lipsticks and makeup. She just doesn’t know it yet!

A Mother’s Love

There are two sides to motherhood. On one side is when you are a child and receive the love of a mother; on the other side is when you are a mother and give your love to your child(ren). And you realize the value of the former only when you experience the latter.

I still remember that my mom was the nerve centre of our family. Her smiling countenance, her commitment to giving her best to every single member of the family, her superlative cooking skills, her ability to take on her children’s problems and lighten the burden for them, her unshakeable faith in her children and the belief that they were the very best.

From home mechanic to recycling expert to instant gourmet meal producer, my mom wore so many hats with ease and changed them in a jiffy. 

I don’t remember her ever being really sick. Even if she was a bit under the weather, she ploughed on, ever cheerful. However, there was this one time when she had slipped and hurt her knee really badly, and was out of action for a week. I remember how my siblings and I moped. We felt that the lights were dimmed in our house, the thread that strung us all together and got us going was not there. So, we spent time in her room, reading our books or sitting with her, wishing to hear her voice chiding us or her ‘mom looks’ that could freeze us in our tracks. Even those were better than having her unwell.

I did not realize all that I had learnt from my mom till I became one, and knew that being a mom means to GIVE; to give unconditionally, every single day.

             Image Courtesy – http://www.Cliparting.com

To love so much that you hurt. To want the very best for your children. To care too much, but to also learn to let go..and let your children soar and fly.

And retain every single memory of the wonderful years that have flown past, and the days that are flying past even as I type this. Rainy afternoons with hot samosas and movies, cycling trips with the family, stick figure drawings on the refrigerators, playing referee to sibling wars, cuddles and hugs, laughter and smiles, and lots and lots of love.

 A mother’s love.