Saturday, February 21, 2009

Marching Hearts...

last week it was my daughter's annual sports day at school. The entire primary section had been practising march past and drill formations in the desert heat for the entire previous month. Teachers had been writing in the school diaries for snack and elektral water reinforcements, caps and towels to keep the heat at bay were being sent by parents everyday. Toshali kept on reminding me that the children had to be in school on the sports day by 2:00 pm sharp and the parents need to take their seats by 3:00pm at the latest.We did manage to reach somewhere between the appointed and the easygoing time. After ignoring the scathing look from my daughter I walked over to the ground and managed a seat at the far end of the pavallion. The ground looked ready for the kids, the positions neatly marked the captains politely helping parents find seats, the announcers cheerful and effervescent, all in all a well spirited day it seemed was about to begin.

I had a few moments on hand and very easily, I was transported to my school days, to our practises, the races, the disqualifications, the marches, the white ironed uniforms, the presidents and the prefects so smart in there official cloaks and badges, the school flag the trophies all floated past my eyes and it took the arrival of the chief guest to bring me out of my reverie.

I sat erect and attentive, watching the unfolding of the day's proceedings it was time for the march past, without consent, without notice once again,the march past of my school days appeared in my vision.. each step matching with the other, each arm raised to the perfect angle, not a single beat missing, the flags down and the heads turned in salutation to the Chief Guest, each movement planned to perfect precision.Back again to my daughter's school, I saw children marching by to the band, I could feel immediatly the lack of discipline.. my anger rose as I remembered the hours of practice, I could see the varying length of socks and hemlines, the slouches here and there, the mismatch in steps, the kids were mostly searching for their parents in the crowd and the look of determination that was a trademark in my days on the faces of the parading kids was totally absent. This were just some kids walking by.. almost as if in a park.. I felt disapointed to say the least.. just at that point my eyes went to a little boy in the group who walked with a limp, dragging one foot behind the other, then again on searching I saw a girl with a deformity in her arm. My eyes searched and in each group I found a kid who was different, who was glad to be a part of this ritual, who was proud to belong and who was smiling the widest.

Yes!! I shook myself out of my dreams and watched in respect as the school kids took one and all of their mates through the school march. This school was not disqualifying the kids whose steps didn't match, this school was trying to march to a common step.. I asked myself is it that important to have a perfect set up for anything in life?let alone a simple march past? I remembered the sorrow of dis qualifications, the ridicule of not being able to match steps to the beat, I saw again the smiling and joyful faces of each child with mismatched steps... yes, I realised its not always important to be perfect.. there is much more to life than that!!

Thank you Indian School Muscat.. for opening my eyes to the smile of each child on that hot afternoon of your annual sports day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Time after Time....

"Love is not Love,that alterations find.." says a famous poet, agreed to an extent..but what is love then? Is it the heady feeling described in the Mills and Boons novels that I so eagerly read in my teenage years? or is it the song and dance routine of the bollywood flicks? Worse still, is it the 'baring it all and plunging on to the next horizontal space available' syndrome of the hollywood flicks?? What is love?

It is february again and the world is going mushy and romantic. The stores are dressing up their windows with red teddies and white hearts, teenagers are eagerly awaiting that special call for the dinner date on V-day and the hospitality industry is cashing in on it big time. I am sure some producer will release a mushy love story that weekend with a chocolate faced hero and a 'cute as a button heroine' to melt the crowds. Roses, cards and perfumes will be sold in thousands, chocolates will be gifted, egos will be satisfied for a day and the day like all other days will end. Is this love then?

Love has always escaped definition, we know what love is not..but we are yet to pin down what love is.. or maybe.. that is what love is - a fleeting tempest - like the flickering candle, the passing wave, the dancing moon that hides behind the clouds the moment you gasp at its beauty, the fabled golden dear that tantalizes but cannot be captured.. the unknown dewy flower that beckons but when plucked fades off in our hands. The love that sets our hearts aflame by its freshness and romance, that makes us gaze yonder for hours and write poetry, or makes the most practical guy wait for hours at end for a glimpse of his beloved is definitely short lived. In a years time or less a routine develops and the heart does'nt come to the mouth each time you see your love at the end of the road, neither does it soar as high on getting a text message.. does that mean love is out of the window? When the gifts start to dwindle and the dates focus on the menu more than the attire.. is it the end of love? Maybe its the end of the romantic love and the candyfloss associated with it.. maybe its time to move on to discover the aftermath of the tempest! To relax in still waters, to wake up to the smell of familiar surroundings and the calm of an everlasting bond. Here the definition of love changes again from poetry to prose.. flowers though still appreciated might not top the list of priorities.. maybe a call is not made just to say 'I LOVE YOU!' maybe its not said at all anymore...But there is love, no doubt, in the unnoticed gesture that covers your feet with a blanket while you sleep, that ensures that the tank is full when you plan on taking the car out, that gives you your freedom to bitch about the increasing absence of love in today's life. Love might be less frequently visible in cards but the bills are paid and no questions asked. Love after its tumbling and gushing stream like stage has entered the laze of a river that feeds and nurtures, prods and protects, between the gentle reminder of the stream and the vastness of the upcoming ocean lies the most stable though tad boring phase of love.

Februaries will come and go..but love will be celebrated in every moment of togetherness, every gesture of care and every step taken towards a common goal. Love will shine through everyday humour as well as anxieties, it will take its course through illness and recession, it will hide and reinvent itself almost when we are about to give up on it, Love will see that it prevails through the phases and the years of our lives. Maybe love will teach us to enjoy and discover each of its phase as long as we can find where its hidden..we have cause to celebrate!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mothers and daughters

Love cannot be exerted..the effort shows!!! When I brought you into this world..there was an effort and it showed, when I woke nights to balm your aches, there was an effort and it showed, when I stood watching over your faltering steps and let you fall so that eventually you would learn to walk on your own..there was a tremendous effort not to grab hold of your hand and stop you from getting hurt, and even this effort showed. Were these acts not love then? or maybe you were not watching.

From a tiny girl to a precocious not as long a journey as it is from this precocious child to the teenage years. As I saw you change from the baby whose world revolved around me alone, to a young girl with many facets and friends, from a child who thought 'Mom knows it all' to a girl who felt shy that her mom was a housewife and wore 'not happening' clothes, the road was not easy but had to be taken anyways. Did the effort show? Yes it did..for this time you were watching. Every praise that I uttered seemed 'too little too late' and every rebuke turned into a vicious and deliberate dagger.Yah we had entered the rebellious teens.. you for the first time - eager, delirious, unprepared, uncaring. Me for the second - apprehensive, scared, judgemental and paranoid.

We passed this roller coaster ride and mellowed, I with a heave of relief and you with eyes full of dreams and plans for the future. Somewhere in that ride, we had managed a ceasefire and agreed to disagree on the most important issues of life. I had accepted my lack of' being with the times' and you had agreed to put on an air of acceptance with your prehistoric mom. All this while somehow your equation with your dad had never changed, very surprising but very true.. as always it was a hug and a kiss routine. No interference, no problems.. but moms and daughters.. well that's entirely a different equation. I could watch you fall and get up while you learnt to walk and pride myself at my patience, but every time you even came remotely near a bump on the freeway of life, I was right in front of you with all my signals blaring!!! I thought I was protecting you...I thought it was love..what did you see? maybe you saw an effort..

We fought endlessly on the kind of friends, lipsticks, shoes and hemlines, on appropriate behaviour, on career plans, time and again I felt unable to cope, to deal with my little girl who had transformed completely into somebody I had no clue about... Until finally one day I decided to look at my relation with my mom. It took a while but the answers were all there for me to see and wonder....I had raised hell as well for someone.. who was just trying to love me in a way that didn't probably suit me well enough! I realised all the things that I was doing or telling my daughter now were the exact things my mom told me.. even the tone was the same!! maybe the content changed but the issues were the same.. I remembered then how resentful I had felt of mom.. and I cud sympathise with my daughter, I also understood, though a bit late, what my mom would have felt in dealing with me, I sympathised with her too. Well where did all this sympathizing leave me? Probably with just a wee bit higher level of understanding... until the next issue threatened to bring down the roof on me and my daughter!

As a good Indian mom and housewife, I had always instilled in my kids the admiration and due respect for the sole earning member of the family - their dad! They loved and respected the hardworking and dynamic figure in the household who took on challenges head on, who worked hard and partied harder, who demanded the best and usually got it without as much as a tussle from his kids.. who even now came back from office to be greeted warmly by his wife and kids. Who never felt the tension in the house nor the misgivings of the late hours. A perfect parent, a role model!! For every inch that I fought to achieve with my daughter, he got with a smile at the mere mention of it. Here I ask what showed? his love or my envy?

Now my daughter is a mom herself and through sources I have come to know that she calls me her role model hahahahah - 'too little too late'? No, its pure joy that I me its love and love alone..can see no effort!! life definitely comes a full circle at some point and with every mom and daughter the circle however edgy does meet at the end!!