Saturday, August 26, 2023

Let them fly and see them soar


In your vacant room, the lights are always on   
But there is no one calling for food
And as the door is always ajar
I miss screaming, ‘open’ after knocking a couple of times  

The kitchen is boring
Food just fills the tummy
And as the refrigerator door waits forever to be opened
Everything inside is frozen, just like this lonely heart

Days are so dull without those pick and drop duties
Nights were always long, but this silence is unbearably eerie
And while the nest, as they say, is empty now
The heart is full of gratitude and fulfilment

I read somewhere that empty nest syndrome has three stages, grief, relief, and joy. A phase of grief is understandable, with the feeling of sadness or loneliness. I guess relief hits when we move on to develop a new pattern in life or start doing new things. And once the roller-coaster of gloom is over, there is joy.

I guess I am lucky to have moved into the third phase in no time, or so I feel. And that came from a strong realization that every relationship need not be a grip or a possession. Letting go and still feeling that magnetic pull is a surreal emotion to experience. Sitting miles apart and yet knowing when he smiles or when he is low, is an incredible skill I am growing.

Now I am no stone. There are moments when even I feel I may go down, but then a lazy weekend smiles and says, ‘sleep as much, for no one needs you to be up’, and I cannot deny. Plus, if I use this newfound time for self-care well, I may just become the next Miss Universe. But I guess the most satisfying part is just sitting still and letting memories scroll in slow motion and you pause and smile when the best of your moments together are playing.

Let them fly and see them soar.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

And just like that, he is 18

A week after Maulik was born, I realised postpartum depression was a reality. 'No one prepared me for this', I remember telling the doctor once. In the middle of those sleepless nights, I would look at him and ask myself, ‘Was this the right decision? Was I even ready for a baby?’. The next morning, I would feel guilty of my thoughts. ‘How can a mom not be excited about her baby? Is it normal? Am I normal?’ These thoughts would constantly trouble me as I was going through the motion – homecoming, rituals, guests, ceremonies – with itching stiches and an exhausted body.

I still remember that stormy night. It was his 40th day in our world, and we were tired and sleepy after a long day of rituals and chaos. But poor Maulik could not sleep. Every time there would be a roar in the sky, his tiny body would shiver, and he would wake up crying. I stuffed cotton buds in his ears, kept my hands on him, and held him close so that he does not feel scared. Suddenly, one more loud rumbling and he held my finger in his little hand. I didnt realise this tiny little thing had such strong grip. He kept clutching my finger, and my other hand was covering him, trying to keep him comfortable. The touch of his hand, that grip, the faint sound of his breath...suddenly I experienced such intense love oozing in me. My heart churned inside, and for the first time, I felt ecstatic. 'Oh wow, what a beautiful thing have I created', I proudly exclaimed. And from that moment on, I knew that this tiny creature is mine, and I must keep him safe, and give him everything I can.

As he turns 18 today, I wish that he makes his life a beautiful journey, touches amazing milestones and creates loving memories.

M, mom loves you.


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Status Change: Single Parent

We all want to live a healthy, long life. Hence, the discomfort around death is normal. However, somewhere I always feel that single parents are more worried about their death, with concerns related to their kid's well-being and future if they were to pass away. This surely leads to anxiety about the subject of death.

I feel that for most parents, when a partner dies or separates, the foremost thought is about bringing up the child alone. After I lost my partner 10 years ago on this date to an accident, I struggled with lack of confidence to parent a child alone. Also, the thought of making Maulik realise that our world was just me and him was so earth shattering.

Through the years, as I battled some health challenges, my obvious thought was, ‘can I afford to die’. I mean I want to watch him graduate, get married, and have babies. I want to be around to answer his questions about love, life, relationships, society and if he were to ask me, even boring things like banking, investments, taxes.

I stumbled, for a while, but eventually regained my footing. Part of the solo parenting journey was to learn to dismiss what everyone says, get out of self pity, and friendzone the kid. Along the way, I laid down my guard and learned to ask for help. And when I did that, I realised that the world was a much bigger place. My immediate family, for example, has been a finger distance away, always ready to guide, support and offer love and care. My brother, who has always been a father figure to M, my sis in law who has been M’s bestest buddy. Not to mention my mom who is always there like an umbrella. There are many friends who've been there to make me feel stronger and taller. Can't thank them enough. 

With this realisation that I am not alone, it became okay to believe that I can be hit by a shooting meteor and die any moment. Death will not announce. And while everything around started looking safe, and I was secure in my knowledge that I was doing everything in my power not to die, I realised it was time to get my affairs in order...just in case. Create financial cushion, do well with savings and investments, choose a legal guardian, have all the important documents well sorted, prepare a will, are things that can bring a measure of comfort. I am on top of this list already.

I also realised that once you've established a guardian, it is important to inform him or her of your expectations for your kids, including the hopes you have for them and the values you hold dear. I remember mumbling on the hospital bed once, ‘If I die, don’t send M to a hostel, he has always hated that idea.’ I have also made plans for his wedding and spoken about them. (okay that is silly, I admit).

So my advice to all single parents would be to take the time to document your wishes along with a fool proof will. And hey, did I forget mentioning life insurance policies so that when you die, you make the child rich at least. But on a serious note, what is most important is to keep faith. The universe has a way of leading us to do the right things for our kids. The path of faith may seem steep, but it always leads us to something good and secure.

Friday, March 31, 2023

How soon can we forget?

 We recently marked the anniversary of thaali banging, aka Covid in full swing. 

For most people around me, the pandemic is a long-forgotten phase. They are back in swing, in full revenge mode. Revenge shopping, travel, marriages and what not. But somewhere, I feel that in so many ways, my life can never be normal after corona. There is not a day, a memory from those days does not hit me. I stumble upon random numbers of oxygen suppliers, hospitals etc. Those nights we had spent arranging hospital beds and medical supplies for patients can never be forgotten. And the memories of those calls saying it was too late to help will always hurt. 

Most of these incidents felt very personal, but two of them I cannot forget, ever. 

V's father was breathing from an Oxygen cylinder. That evening, his supply was running out. V went to nearby hospitals,but could not find help. V's father was gasping for breath, he could not even find oxygen cylinder anywhere. He called my co-volunteer, Pranjal, who swung into action and convinced a Sardarji to open his store and provide Oxygen cans.
We were all under severe stress, V was in panic. When I asked Sardarji about money, he said, 'take the oxygen cans right now, save the man first'. I quickly booked an Uber, and requested the driver to rush to V's house with the cans. Pranjal was on call with V, trying to calm down V...his dad's breath was getting heavier.

V's dad stopped breathing. He was dead. Pranjal alerted the local cops so that someone could be there to take care of the body and be there for young V. He has seen his dad dying infront of him, wanting to breathe...terrible shock for a young boy.

That night, I froze, almost went into shock. The pain that V must have gone through & my guilt for not being able to help him on time comes back every night.

And there's another story of a 16 year old Misbah.

Masbah's parents were in the hospital and he was struggling for oxygen cylinders and funds to manage the hospital expenses. The little boy was going through the worst struggle. Every time he would call me, he would be anxious, almost crying, and begging me for help. The fact that he could not move out of the hospital to pick up supplies was also a problem. Finding someone to arrange and deliver oxygen cylinder was a luxury in that time. But the universe around us helped. Somone from north Delhi agreed to book an uber and deliver oxygen which we arranged from the other side of the city. But help reched his parents on time. In the following days, many people came forward to help him. Both his parents recovered, and he was very happy the last time we spoke.

There are many untold stories of grief and of human beings standing for each other. Of politicians being politicians, but people becoming angels. If not anything, I hope the memories of the period keep us kinder, more empathetic and less greedy. If the pandemic did not teach us that, nothing would.

Let them fly and see them soar

   In your vacant room, the lights are always on    But there is no one calling for food And as the door is always ajar I miss screaming, ‘o...