Messages to my dear friend, Monica, as we share our experiences of being a mother, the things we learn from our little girls, everyday and the lessons we learn from life itself.
A Blog-dialogue across continents, countries and oceans of time and space...
(We last met in 2000 A.D, in India.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

AAl Izz Well...!!

Dear Monica,

Hope all's well at your end, or should I say 'all iz well' at your end! I was just getting ready to iron my uniform (work-shift tonight), having put the children to bed already, and couldn't resist a little dekko if you'd posted anything on your blog yet! Well, its late evening now and I'm re-reading your blog-posts from yesterday, smiling to myself, and 'google'-ing Nigella's kitchen videos!

One of my favourite films to watch with the kids is 3 Idiots...! They love the simplicity of its message, its songs, Aamir and his two friends singing Aal IzzWell... I like Aamir's character and his love for learning for its own sake. "Success के पीछे मत भागो, perfection के पीछे जाओ, success झक मार के पीछे आएगी!!"  its dialogue etc etc... There are a number of times when we three used to call ourselves the three idiots, and laugh and sing together, loudly, "AAL IZZ WELL"... tramping around inside the house when there was only the three of us together, alone at home! Actually, it was Dad and me who loved this phrase, and the idea that it can 'fool the mind to calm down'.... made me start thinking...

Dad and I are always saying AAL IZ WELL to each other!! My Dad, as you will no doubt remember, is such a fun-loving, easy-going person, that he's my father and also my best friend too! If I need a 'pick-me-up' in life, I look at him and instantly smile! Just listening to his voice when I call him, saying "Hi Ruch!!" ...the love, the joy, the surprise, when he says it makes my spirits soar!! He's been through so much, has coped with so many setbacks in his lifetime and yet still retains that joy for life and getting happiness from small tiny things... When I lost my mummy in 1995 he became both, a father and mother, changing my perception and rapport with him so much for the better.... Where I used to be scared of him, and resentful of his criticisms, we gradually began to talk and share our likes and dislikes and I respected him not just out of fear or love, but adoration, sheer admiration and pride..

It must have been so hard for him; at an age when most people look forward to some solitary time as a couple with their wife once again, having discharged the duties of bringing up little kids to be self-sufficient, confident and secure. To most people with grown-up kids, after life-time of working and relentless juggling of responsibilities, comes a time for pause. not so, for my Dad... Not only did he have three kids on the cusp of adulthood, but he had also lost his lifetime companion and wife...Then as we sisters finished our degrees, we worked for a bit, got married, and followed our husbands to far away continents.... He's lived alone (after Ba passed away in 2003) for nearly a decade, and yet, he's as joyous as a child, as loving as a parent can ever be.... We share mails, FB posts and songs, texts, the odd phone-call and memories, and he's my biggest motivator, telling me to take up writing, working, loving what I do, even if I'm just cooking with the kids or for them...!. I miss him every moment, and yet, also feel as if he's right here with me, you know??!! A bit like the way I feel about my mother.....as if they both are watching me, helping me, guiding me when I struggle, fall or flounder...

This experience of life is so different for everybody, and yet a lot similar, isn't it!? Reading about you and Raina, how you remind yourself not to worry about pace and the time things take... to go-with-the-flow, and let her enjoy the moment, and actually live the moment with her is a really great thing....You're so right, its a great learning opportunity for me too...Sometimes I feel that in this so-called advanced, fast-paced country, where kids have nursery school at the age of three, we lose the plot and spontaneity goes out the window....Rather than letting the kids just be kids and watching and enjoying their liveliness, curiosity and exploration of their world, we take them away from the most important people in their lives till that point- their parents, and put them into nursery schools, play-schemes and force middle-class parents like Raj and me to leave them with Grandma (who is firm but kind, fair and looks after hem, but is a lot more disciplined than I am, I admit) or Childminders and work for a chance to secure a future for our kids... Not only do we lose out on a chance to learn from our child, but also miss the best moments of their lives...Raj feels it all the more, because of his work schedule and I feel it too- so we try to make Sundays special, with nothing fixed, except that I cook something for when everyone gets hungry...!! Since Mum (my MIL) went to India, we've been a bit relaxed about cooking, Raj often tells me to take it easy after a night shift, and says we should get a takeaway or order a chinese meal.

After we were married, Raj and I stayed at his village overnight for a ritual at Mataji's temple. The next evening as we were walking towards the hills after sunset, talking about our aims and goals for the future, our passions; his for Shotokan Karate and Astronomy, and mine for photography,books and music...we looked at the open sky, lit only with the stars above and marvelled at the universe!! Where does that sense of awe for the whole of creation go when we're at 'home'??!!Surely, the purpose of life is not to complicate , but to simplify...!!???

Why is it that in our villages and far-to-reach places with no electricity, no TV no mobile networks et all, our minds calm down and we find every person so warm-hearted, with genuine smiles and cheerful attitudes?? They may not have the riches or comforts, technology or education of people who live outside, in town cities and abroad, but their lives are uncomplicated and truly joyous. They celebrate life, ALL of it... That is why they open their hearts and arms to people when they visit, and leave a lasting impression! Last year, Diggi and his wife visited Leh, India, and the pictures they took made me realise that the lovely people there are every bit as wonderful as the place itself!  When we visited our ancestral village in Gujarat, near Jamnagar in 2002, Dad, myself, Ba and my Faiba and cousins felt a bond with the place...I felt as if the road itself was taking me towards my destiny, my past, my future... All those generations had coalesced into that one special event in my life- visiting Bhalsan (Dad's ancestral village) for Diwali... I can never forget that...!

When I surf the net looking up a topic or finding a place, for example, I find that the search engine slows down... The speed of acquiring and processing data is inversely proportional to the amount of requests pending, the number of window tabs open and the frequency with which I tap the 'return' key... Similarly, there comes a point in human endeavour, when we need to step back, take stock, discard what is not important and focus on the good and right in our world, our life and ourselves. This purging of unnecessary thoughts, emotions, words and actions is extremely important to me as a person. It is who I am, at the end of the day...

Maybe this is why I am immensely satisfied in my role in life, no matter what anyone else's opinion may be. I may have 'wasted' my design education, to the untrained eye, but to me, it has made me what I am today, it has given me the sensibilities, the common-touch, the concept of being simple and straightforward in life. so that, I can do what I need to do, in my situation. I'm happy with me. My job gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and I feel like I've won an award when a patient says to me, "I will remember you for the rest of my life," and I know that I will too, and I'll pray that they get better soon.... Nurses on our ward and in our Hospital are so dedicated, with round-the-clock shifts and attention to patients' needs that I feel great to be part of the team! Doctors (it is my perception, only) here in the UK are like the president of India; just meant to review a patient or, for prescribing a particular drug, IV Infusion, Blood Test, Scan,X-Ray etc which the Nurses have probably told them a few days ago to do... makes me wonder, how many people's lives we'd save if Doctors actually LISTENED to the Nurses' concern fora patient.... and acted on it asap...

But, I'm deviating from the subject.... (Sorry, Dear Mon, I'm doing it a lot lately!)
When it comes to bringing up the kids, the daily joys and difficulties, the daily battles about school-time, dinner-time, play-time, TV-time, Bathy-time, and Sleepy-time do wear me out, sometimes... knowing that each day, they are growing up a little more...and will one day, inevitably, grow into adults. It is my responsibility to make sure they have a good role model in me, so I try to keep my stress or pressures from affecting them.... When it gets too much, we unwind with me taking them to the park, for a swim or giving them a bath with lots of bubbles to splash around in, for twenty minutes or more. Watching them have a good time and their awe and infectious thrill of innocence gives me peace and joy like nothing else can... with them, even going shopping, getting on and off a bus, buying tickets, getting on an escalator etc is so much fun, its unbelievable!! Kids really should be in-charge! As you mentioned in your blog, Raina always asks WHY and not HOW...! Often, Shivangi asks me why why and more such questions, and leaves me flummoxed and looking for the answer myself! Sometimes her questions are hilarious, sometimes they are serious, but its always a question whose answer leaves me wiser..

Tonight, I gave them a bath then a glass of milk and after that we went upstairs and I tucked them in and we prayed together. Tonight they were both so sad that I was working at night, that I stayed with them until 8 p.m, and we listened to a CD I got from India with Keya Di. It has Sai Baba's Students reciting Vedic Shlokas and chants... Rani told me, after a few minutes of silently listening, that she could imagine men singing it and God was listening to them. When I asked them how it made them feel, they both said, they felt calm.... Memo to myself: Continue to ALWAYS be home for the kids' bedtime, as far as possible, until they are teenagers or beyond! That way, they will have something constant and 'fixed' that they can associate with me, their mother... Like Raj and the kids have their own special games, names, toys and treats...!! Your description of you watching and helping Raina slowly explore the slide and gain confidence was marvellous, Monu! It brought tears to my eyes, to see you both in the pictures, so near in my heart and thoughts, yet so far away... I wish that the future brings us together and we can share some lovely moments again, and watch our daughters interact and play as we sit back and laugh!!

On that happy note, then, I close this post!
Always keep on smiling!! You're teaching me a lot just by sharing your life and day-to-day joys of motherhood with me!! Thankyou, my dear friend!!
(written on the 12thof March,2012 at 2031hrs)