From a Daughter

Dearest Ma

It was only when I held her in my arms today did I realize that I am a mother now. It hit me like a train and I felt uncertain, weak. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy that she’s finally here. It’s just that when I think of motherhood, my mind doesn’t paint the picture of a laughing baby, bathed in sunshine and being strolled in a suburban park by the mother and of course, the father. That’s odd for me. It was always just you and me against the world, Ma. I’m scared and I feel guilty because that’s exactly what you wouldn’t have wanted.

She opened her eyes once and then went back to sleep. I’m exhausted and a little glad that she isn’t churning up a storm just yet. There isn’t much to do in this big and, I think, unnecessarily white hospital room. They could have easily squeezed in some English roses by the window. I remember how you always said that flowers were the best décor. You would have been proud of the Hydrangeas in my backyard. It’s getting a little lonely now since I only have my one day old infant for company. Oh no, don’t worry, Ma, he is right outside, probably on the same floor. They needed him to take care of the bills and the paraphernalia. They told me he was here throughout labor, not quite knowing what to do though. He even got to hold her before I did. He has been here, with me, for a while now. I am beginning to let go of my fear. I want to hold on to it, to be honest. Another thing you wouldn’t have wanted me to do.

Does it make me a horrible mother if I say that I am already envying all the love she is going to get from her father? I particularly don’t like the idea of shoulder rides these fathers offer, you know. That might frighten her. I can’t tell because I know nothing of the view from up there. I’m not complaining. I would give up a hundred shoulder rides for an afternoon of marmalade-making with you and you know that. I’ve never quite been able to get that marriage of bitter and sweet right since you’ve been gone. I miss you, Ma.

You know, I’ve always been a patient girl but it’s been nearly an hour since he went out. I’m trying not to worry about it. I can see the vein on my hand where the IV catheter went in. I traced the purple veins until they disappeared beneath my skin. I hate the color purple. It used to be my favorite as a child until I grew up a little and the purple blotches on your arms started becoming less inconspicuous. I also figured it wasn’t always the cat behind the glass shards I would find on the floor many a morning. It was never the cat. Ma, I know they say marriages are made in heaven but I also know yours put you through hell.

She looks a lot like her father, you can see it in her eyes. You know how I was always told that I look like Daddy? It’s funny how he couldn’t recognize me as his daughter when Aunt Nadia took me to meet him against your wishes. In his defense, a decade is a long time. I did get to meet his wife and two year old, though. I know it was heart wrenching for you to give in to my silly whim but I was just a girl who wanted to see her father. I really loved daddy and I think he loved me too, once. I spent half my childhood believing you both loved each other and the other half loathing you for taking him away from me.

I’m sorry, Ma. I really want to believe that you knew this all along. I am grateful for all the extra hours you put up with at work and for showing up for every one of my performances and the PTA meetings at school. I never told you how proud I was of having a mother who could fix my bicycle as finely as she could fix me breakfast. You made sure we sailed smoothly against the currents of financial instability, apprehensive relatives and the Smart Alec men who thought they knew better than two women living without a man. I loved you deeply and I didn’t tell you that enough. I’m not going to make that mistake with anyone again, Ma.

He came in shortly after she woke up and started bawling. I’m always overcome by an inexplicable relief every time I see him walk in through the door. He’s always come back so far. Ma, I think this one’s here to stay. I’ll always hold on to my fear a little, just in case. I really wish she could meet her strong and lovely grandmother after whom she’s been named. He’s trying to rock her to sleep now and it seems to be working. For all I know, she might just really enjoy the shoulder-rides.
your daughter


His Singsong

If a man is only as good as his word,
then I want to marry a man with a jargon like yours.
I can’t help but notice,
at the beginning of every song you sing,
the way you leave your lips a little ajar
to draw in a whiff of air that you transform
into a vibrating vapour so ethereal,
it comes out adapting its scheme better than
the cigarette smoke to a chain-smoker
on a busy Tuesday afternoon.
I want to map the legato
of your honeyed sing-alongs
and use it to find my way
to the crevices of your heart
where you strum your old guitar from.
Why must you be able to
belt out a Marvin Gaye song
looking sixteen in a yellow polo-shirt
when I can only marvel
from where you last saw me in the throng?
They’re not wrong when they say
that words can kill
and darling, you’re an ammunition-house.
You hold words captive
by the divertimento of your rustle,
and send them to war
armed with the chime of your vocal-chords
against my army of the white-flag bearers.
I hope fate arranges for me to be in your vicinity
when the bells of the world reverberate
with the most accordant melody
and the crest of your baritone
moulds into a lump in your throat
taking your hum away.

Summer Folly Days

As a freshman last year, I pored over articles and blogs on, well, the freshman year in college. Curiosity got the better of me and I emerged a smart-aleck because obviously, I’d read all about college in ’21 Things You Mustn’t Say To A Senior’, ‘How To Secretly Be A Professor’s Pet 101′ and the likes. If you’re reading this and are going start college, DON’T do what I did.
Anyway, I’m an only child to Bihari parents who are a cross between Kajol’s parents in DDLJ and the old couple from Courage The Cowardly Dog so I’ve always turned to internet for advice (HAHA remember that day in 2002 when Ma asked you to not speak to strangers HAHA). So when I found myself a little lost this summer vacation, out came my laptop but to my genuine surprise, I didn’t find anything on how people cope with the long summer after the first year in college. Most of my friends from first year were busy interning at their fathers’ firms or you know, Instagram-ing and Snapchatt-ing mojitos against blue backgrounds. For me, this summer was mostly about figuring out the right marriage between the fan speed and the AC temperature.

What I was supposed to do:
1. Go out.
2. Do romantic things like walk barefoot on the grass and attempt (failed) cartwheels.
3. Write.
4. Pick up and work on a new skill, maybe.

What I did do this summer:
1. Sit in my room lit eerie blue by my laptop screen.
2. Cry.
3. Refresh 9Gag 16 times a day.
4. Discover that the fan on medium speed and AC on 24 work just fine.

I am from Calcutta and yes, it is a pretty laid back city. I can swear that the old world charm makes the minute hand go a little slower than it would in Delhi or Bombay. In college, you always have somewhere to go, someone to meet but coming back home has had a sluggish after-taste to it. When you find so much free time on your hand and you’re physically immobile, mostly because you’re as lazy as a sloth on a vacation, your mind tends to wander. It puts on its (over)thinking cap and goes places. That was the only sightseeing I did lately. So if you’ve found yourself in a similar pickle, don’t be surprised if you go from feeling like Rapunzel to sulking like Mother Gothel in 0.2 seconds. That’s what stagnancy coupled with unnecessary introspection can do to you.

I have to be back for my second year in less than two weeks and honestly, I’m looking forward to it. Not staying in bed till noon is going to take some getting used to but I think I will be more than happy to give that up. If your summer was as lousy as mine, do write to me and we’ll feel each other. Okay, no.

Now, where’s the AC remote?