Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bye 'Bai'!

***I hear something buzzing. I slap my ears thinking it’s a fly. The buzzing continues, in an irritating pattern. I flutter my eyes open, revolting against the harsh sunlight piercing through the cotton curtains. I hear the buzzing again and look around for the damned fly...I can’t find it, because there’s no fly in the is my alarm that’s going off. A glance at the time and I spring up on my feet, ready for the morning rush. By the time it’s 10, everything is done. Breakfast, lunch and dinner-- all cooked. Dishes done and neatly arranged. Floors swept. Bed made. Every little thing sitting prettily where it’s supposed to be.***

No, I don’t have a domestic help to clean the mess we create. It’s just me and him. No, we don’t have a bai, not because we can’t afford to have one, but because we don’t want to have one.

Before my wedding, I never really had the chance to handle household work. When I got married, I had thrown myself a challenge -- to try and manage every little thing without external help. I wanted to test myself, whether I would be able to pull it off. Plus, I really didn’t want to get used to any luxury. Life comes with no warranty card -- what we can afford today, isn’t necessarily something that we could afford in the future too. I wanted to prepare myself to lead a life with no luxury and prepare myself, I have. Tomorrow, when I get busy, I can hire a help. But even without one, I will be able to handle the work and that is perhaps because I have acclimatised myself to it.

This makes for more responsible for everything in the house. Not just that, doing household chores myself has helped me be involved with our little paradise all the more. Moreover, when I take care of the house myself, I put extra efforts to ensure maximum results. This, no bai can do..

Today, the morning rush isn’t really something that I despise. Morning hours can be the most depressing, frustrating and challenging part of the day. There are things to be done, and done quickly at that. Time seems to have had its share of Red Bull and the hands of the clock seem to be in different time zones at different points in time. In short, you need to pack a lot in very less time.

I have been able to pull this off only because of the unimaginable support that I get from my best half. Harish and I, we try and engage in household chores together, whenever we can. We pat each other’s back for a chore well done. It boosts our confidence. It helps us bond better as a couple, at a totally different level altogether. And when I am feeling low and overworked, I always have a smiling Harish to say, “Go, take rest. The work will be done in a jiffy!”

Not having a help has benefitted me immensely. Not only have I picked up these life-saving skills, I have also saved us some money, which we put to better use. Today, with Harish’s support, I am confident that I’ll run the show, even if I am loaded with other work. For me, my home is my priority, and till the time I can, I will take care of every little task myself.

And the biggest advantage of not having a help is not having to hear, “Itna paisa mein, itnaich milenga!’

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friends in need...friends indeed!

***My phone rings. I tuck a lock of loose hair behind my ears, and take the call. His voice is broken… “Call me from the landline, please,” he says, sounding meek. I do as I am told. As I hear his phone ringing, I experience some sort of a forewarning. “Hey,” he says, disillusioned. “Hey, all ok?” I ask him instinctively. “Accident…” he says, his voice trailing away. “Rakesh scratch…” he adds.

My stomach is tying itself into several knots...the bile is steadily rising in my throat. I can hear my heart ramming against my insides. I feel like screaming, but my voice, fortunately, behaves itself. “Are you ok?” I ask him, calmly. “Yeah, I’m not hurt,” he clarifies, easing the knots in my tummy a bit. “Anyone else hurt?” I ask again, and he says, “I don’t really know.” I rush to the office, wanting to be by his side. On my way, I’m thinking about Rakesh, the brand new car’s owner. The knots tighten, the bile erupts like a volcano.***

It was a bad day, no doubt, but it could’ve been far worse; far worse at multiple levels. What if Harish wasn’t driving a car, what if he was on his bike? I think and feel numb. What if one of those guys had died? What if the car belonged to someone else, not Rakesh, who was more than supportive. Fortunately, none of these things happened.

We slept peacefully. Probably the best sleep we got in days. We slept with smiles on our faces, with the relief of having beautiful people around. When I was worried about Rakesh’s new car, people around me consoled, saying the insurance will take care of everything. We slept smiling, because Rakesh was more worried about Harish than his car. We slept smiling, because we had a wealth of having a wonderful extended family. People who care, people who love, people who will shield us from any crisis that befalls us. We slept smiling, because a dear friend came all the way from Warangal, four hours from Hyderabad, just to spend an hour with us, having to go back and take a class, early in the morning.

Financially, we might not have reached there. But we are wealthy...we have earned some of the sweetest, most genuine friends, who are there to stand by us, through thick and thin. And at the end of the day, our friends are all that matters. Today, tomorrow, and for life, it is only this wealth that we would want to earn. Everything else, is just too fickle; everything else is just temporary.

We slept smiling, because that day, God helped us count our blessings, far more than we deserve.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Celebrating Silliness.

There we were, sharing a cozy little table, with heart balloons fluttering all around. There we were looking deep into each other’s eyes, lost in a soulful flute rendition of ‘Tu Hi Re’. There we were, absorbing the candle-lit bliss, the flame flickering and illuminating our faces. There we were, among other love-struck couples, on a date. There we were, celebrating Valentines Day…

But what were we celebrating? A practice that we emulated from the West? No. We were not celebrating ‘just’ love. We were celebrating love, that exists despite the differences. We were celebrating patching up after hundreds of fights. When ego didn’t stand a chance against our emotions, when fights couldn’t scar our affection, when differences became an occasion to rejoice...that’s when we fell in love, in the truest sense.

We didn’t need a special day to celebrate our bond; all we needed, was an excuse to take comfort in each other’s presence. All we needed, was an excuse to hold hands and relish a lip-smacking platter delightfully spread out for us. All we needed, was to feel special, to dress up and celebrate the joy of being together. All we needed, was to celebrate the little acts of silliness, the contagious smiles, each other’s presence.

It wouldn’t have mattered had we shared a table on a small roadside dhaba. It is the company that matters; the bond, the ease and the comfort that can turn any place as romantic as a candle-lit expensive dinner. But then, the ambience, the sweet melody of the flute strumming the strings of our hearts and being with our special someone….that probably made the difference.

I’d only seen it on the silver screen; the hero and the heroine whispering sweet nothings; the lady blushing at every pearl of praise coined at melting her heart; the hero, dressed to kill, trying every trick under the sun to steal his lady’s heart. I’d only seen it on the silver screen; couples madly in love; couples, who’s never put the wrong foot forward; couples, who’d been lovey-dovey all year round, singing songs and running around trees.

‘Perfect’ couples are a non-existent entity. Celebrating the little flaws, the imperfect features, the incorrect language, the embarrassing ordeals...that is what every single day is about. Celebrating loving each other for the flaws, that is what Valentines Day is about...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A very happy birthday, indeed!

The kitchen lights were on. The sick feeling in my gut returned, sending my mind into a daze. I clearly remembered having checked everything before I left… “Paro, you forgot about the lights again, didn’t you,” Harish asked me, raising an eyebrow accusingly. I tried recollecting things that I did before leaving for work. Balcony door was closed, the gas was switched off, the switches were all off, the taps were closed, the computer had been shut down -- yes, I had checked everything before I left. My mind was whirring with questions. Who was in there? Who had switched the lights on? Robbers?

I unlocked the door, and walked in gingerly. The lights had been turned off. I could feel the chills traveling down my spine like a monorail. Who had turned the lights off? Who was in there? Robbers?

I fumbled for the switchboard and nervously turned the cane light on. I saw two pair of ‘big-foot’ chappals. Instead of breaking into a sweat, I broke into a seepish smile. “Get the buggers out,” I said. No robbers in the house, just friends, two lovely ones.

The floor was peppered with yellow and red petals. The table had a board that wished me, before time. “Surprise”, yelled the robbers holed inside the house. Badey and chotey, hiding inside, after having executed a carefully conspired birthday surprise for me. Harish had excused himself from work, telling me that he had an important assignment to finish. This, the beautiful carpet of decoration that welcomed me -- this was his important assignment. This, after having taken me for a surprise dinner party.

The biggest surprise of the night smelt good, really good. It emerged from the kitchen, attracting me like a magnet, towards its seductive aroma. There it was, in a yellow bowl, looking sinfully gorgeous -- double ka meetha, made with fried bread soaked in the goodness of milk, drizzled with sugar syrup and garnished with nuts fried in a sea of ghee. Chote and badey had made it for me, cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes too!

The day started with yet another surprise -- loved ones taking time off their schedules to send in their wishes via videos. The birthday celebrations were closed with a beautiful surprise at work. Decorated classroom, beautiful, dark, moist cake and beautiful people to elevate the celebrations to a surreal level.

The celebrations had started a week back with a parcel full of love and goodies from home. I’m richer by three pairs of jhumkas, a necklace, a cloth hanger and tons of love. The baap of all surprises was a Jabong parcel delivered to me -- a parcel of love that came all the way from Pune. Vidya, you managed to bowl me over.

I love celebrating birthdays, particularly my own one...Yes, I like celebrating it, but what I love all the more is the fact that it tells me that people care for me, consider me important enough to spare some time, put in efforts, just to see me smile. All I want, for the rest of my birthdays to come, is for you, all of you, to make me feel wanted. All I want is the warmth. All I want, is for you all to walk by my side, and let me know that I’m not alone. That’s all I want.

PS: The gifts are welcome, too! :P