Love grows with distance

It was a sunny Saturday morning, when I boarded a bus reaching airport.

There was time left for the arrival, yet I couldn’t stop myself hurry from the bus station to the airport plaza.

The Flight Information Display System changed the E77 flight status to “Landed” and there I was with a broad smile.

Two months ago, I was at the same airport, as I relocated for work. Finding a house, settling things down, travel & photography kept me occupied, despite bouts of yearnings to meet my daughter. I was a breastfeeding mom of a then 27-month-old toddler. There I was, trying to kill the guilt of abruptly ending the journey, without taking her consent.

I look at the display board again. It says, “Baggage on Belt”.

It is my husband and daughter that are joining me, after 2 months. The 2 long months meant that I had the space & time just for myself. It was the “me” time that my husband often insisted that I should treat myself to.

It was just me in an empty house, doing a routine at one’s own pace. I couldn’t make calls to my daughter as she did good until I spoke to her to remind that I existed. Things were just fine without the calls. I believed that she wouldn’t forget her mom, even if she is miles away. With distance, they say, love grows.

Clock appeared to tick slow, but it was still a good time of my life.

I could take a long shower, without a toddler knocking at the door. I could visit the nearest supermarket, without the fear of things being pushed & shoved.

I had the time to retrospect, introspect and take on peaceful long journeys, without worrying if the diaper bag was packed.

It felt like a therapy. It helped me heal my mind and appreciate my family even more.

The passengers start coming out, one after the other. I grabbed a yellowish orange rose for my kid and placed myself right behind the steel barricade. I reminisced how I was at same airport few years ago, to receive my then boyfriend who visited me when I was away for work. And here I am, waiting for him and our daughter. Time sure, flies!

Almost after a dozen people walked out, I kept peeping out of the barricade to spot them.

There she was, in a twin pony, cuddling her dad in a soft-structured carrier, as he pushed the seemingly heavy trolley ahead. His eyes sparkled, as he signaled me to stay silent until she found me. I saw her searching for me all through the airport. She turned towards me, as I said ‘ammu kutti’. And we reunited!

After a brief hug with her dad, I looked at her again.

With a feeble smile, she came into my arms and hugged me tight. No words uttered.

I saw her again after the cuddle, there was a broad smile on her face and a realization that we were together again. Her dad was right in time to click a priceless picture.

I wrapped her in the new jacket, held her hands and we started back to my house, ah no, our home!


A mother’s first day outside a daycare

At 8 months, 17 days, 10.5 hours, I drop her at the daycare. Earlier in the day, we called it a ‘test run’ for a few hours to understand how she manages. It was during the brief moment when she was carried away into the infant room, I realised it was also concerning how I would manage. 
It felt vicious to drop a baby off without being able to communicate that she will be picked up for sure. I wanted to reassure her that she will come back home to her parents.

Only means of communication that could connect with her was the much familiar kiss on the forehead and she smiled beamingly, not knowing the separation anxiety awaiting the both of us. 

Thanks to technology, I could watch her through the camera for almost as long as she was inside, until the receptionist had to insist I take a break. 
After a porridge meal, she looked all over the vast room, apparently searching for me. I could hear her cry, loud and clear, as if she is the only child in the room.

Another angel in a blue frock reached her. Neither of them could speak but it was incredible to watch them communicate. The other angel managed to distract her search for mom. 

This little moment in life is called humanity. A sense of trait instilled to all, at birth. To be nurtured for rest of life.

It is glaringly visible that she is sitting on someone, lifting her leg up and dropping it down. An action she performs only when at ease. Convincing as it seems, I step out for a break.

Half past noon, she must have had her lunch meal or so I presume. I go back to the entrance to pick her and felt a thud in me, to hear the cry again, albeit mild. A cry that stopped instantly on distantly grabbing a glimpse of me. 

‘She doesn’t know how to sleep and we are trying to help her’, assures the care taker. We discuss ways that could help before bidding good bye for the day. 

Little one came back to throw a smile. And so, returned my own smile. I check if there is lesser water and fewer diapers left in the bag.

As I drive her back home, I must admit that she managed the first day better than I did.

A common person’s perspectives on demonetizing

It was just another evening, as the mobile app popped out an alert. “Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes invalid from midnight: PM Narendra Modi”. Coming from a renowned app, it can not be fake, as much as it may seem at the onset.

As I google for more information, there are a few tweets trending in a few seconds. The responses dwindled from hailing versus horrendous call outs, although the hails were more.

The next alert popped out. “In order to curb black money, the higher denomination notes of 500, 1000 are void”. Ah, now we are talking! And that sets out a citizen to think of the many perspectives that could emerge, by and large, for a nation as diverse as ours.

Turns out that there is a list of exceptional places that would continue to accept the denominations for a couple of days, in order to avoid events of major public inconvenience. However proactively considered, there may be a few initial disturbances for the unorganised sector as in vegetable vendors, hawkers and maids who transact in cash. It calls out for an eminent need to go cash free at the grassroot.

On an anxious note, it raises a few questions. 

Could this movement prove to be a check mate to any of the corrupt educational institutions, jewellery shops, real estate builders and any party of significance per se that deny bills and demand to be paid in cash? 

What about the big players who would probably not have them in cash within the country? 

Are banks and post offices equipped to handle this change?

What is with the new 2000Rs note the images of which are spreading viral and why is a higher denomination being introduced again? 

What about the foreign tourists who are carrying Indian rupees and were here to spend it?

With all the questions open, even if a minimal percentage of unaccounted money holders were to fall under the radar, that could still be reassuring for the common public that are earnest in paying taxes.

After a lot of thought, I finally remembered to check the safe and found just a few of those notes, mostly belonging to my infant’s piggy bank. 
As a common citizen, I do not know all of the intended objectives and if they will be achieved, but it is quite impressing to know that a leader exists, that has the courage to communicate a message that would evoke a plethora of responses in a diverse nation. And the assertiveness to make decisions is a trait, I adore!

 First month without a paycheck

It was a number that was inherent of corporate introductions. I, for one, could not comprehend the purpose of uttering the number. Wouldn’t ‘a few years’ sound more courteous than an actual figure? As one grows in age, one adds more years to work, but the count does not say anything about how the person performed, if she enjoyed it or what she aspires for. That has remained my belief on the number of years of work experience.

Strangely today, I wake up to discreetly count the years since the first pay cheque. It turned out to be the first month without a pay cheque.

With the  advent of Whatsapp and other mobile apps, SMS has considerably lost its charm. Except on the last day of a month, as the bank sends an SMS on the credit.

More than the amount of monthly compensation, the idea of being rewarded for a job well done was exhilarating. It gave the kind of zeal to plan holidays (yes, travel is so dear!), garner gifts, consider investments and fend on shopping.

Maternity leave is incredibly exciting with moments that will remain etched. As a mother, it feels great to have the time to recover from child birth and the joy of a new born has no bounds! It is a most certainly a phase in life that is priceless, not denying that all other phases are as well.

As an individual however, it may seem invariably intriguing. A day’s work was a means to travel, meet, learn. It was not the figures on the pay cheque that counted more than the self proclaimed celebration of a personal identity, beyond the surpassed social, family identities. 

As thoughts ponder, one comes to think of the enticing crafts, personal interests, freelance, investment banking and the myriad options in one’s own space, all the same capable of procuring a decent pay cheque during one’s parental break . If only we are trained to go to ‘my’ office instead of ‘the’ office, wouldn’t mothers be more equipped?!

More doors than windows

It was a rainy day on a relatively cold winter. The pendulum clock struck 9. A packed lunch box and a school bag laid in front, as I looked through a window of my house, that had two doors and six windows. My neighbour who was usually early to school was back home. Yes, it turned out a holiday as she communicated across the window.
Two decades later, the house now has six doors and five windows. I looked out of the window. A few metres away is a neighbour’s window with a curtain, spelling fancy in English shades of grey. Other windows in the house are facing walls, considering privacy. 

On a stormy day with no electricity, it turned out to be a day sans telecommunication. No pop up notifications flashed on mobile nor breaking news on the television. Searching vehemently for the missing wrist watch, it dawned upon that there was not a wall-clock in the house. 

With no idea of the passing time, I cuddled snugly onto bed and waited to wake up to a restored electricity supply, still not bothering enough on seeing another human soul.

Technology has brought the world closer, with a potential to make the farthest seem nearer. What fate does it then bring up on the objects that are nearer? 

The much merrier meeting up of families and friends squirm under the advent of mail alerts and sale notifications. Befriending a stranger seems distant with the constant sighting of mobile phones that neither received a call nor a message. 

When those questions on route navigations, recipes, sports, gardening et al crop up, the virtual world comes to rescue, providing all the information on a platter. All the same, it silently discards the real time discussions and very human experiences of learning, living and loving. 

So, when was the last time you looked out of a window, concentrating only on the big, beautiful world outside? 

A daughter’s joyous birth & a mother’s agonising rebirth

It was the 3rd of June.

A regular maternity check up for 38 weeks at the gynaecologist resulted in immediate admission owing to high blood pressure & above average uterine contractions.

Yes, I turned out to be an eclampsia patient who wasn’t apparently diagnosed earlier. My regular doctor wasn’t available and it was about 7 hours since another doctor arrived to decide on my labour. Saviour as she turned out, she wasted no time post her arrival.

An emergency c-section was performed and my daughter was born. The most wonderful moment of my life was to see her flesh and blood.

Sighing a sense of relief, it seemed all done and over now. Destiny however had it different the next morning, my stomach bloated with fluids like a 9 month pregnant woman. I couldn’t carry myself and gained several kgs in few hours. Doctors were clueless. Food and liquids were cut down, with just trips running through me.

I couldn’t get up to grab a look at my new born in the cradle and fed her lying on back, with the help of my sister during the day. At night, it was with the help of my husband and kind nurses.

On the third day, I pushed myself to get up and lift the baby for the first time. It was so precious because I couldn’t repeat the act. I couldn’t even use the bathroom and toilet with out my husband.

After 4 days, I was to be shifted to another hospital with better facilities. Being hurried on to an ambulance, in blurry vision I saw my sister in tears, husband grasping me tight, dad running and rest of family standing before me; my just born daughter left alone in maternity hospital.

The critical care unit in the hospital called the medical condition ‘ascites’, caused by protien leakage due to high BP pregnancy hormones. Needles were injected to remove fluids.

It was a nightmare as I was heavy on drugs and steroids. Using bedpans in critical care was the last thing I wanted in life. It was 9th of June as I clasped my husband and sister tight during the brief visiting time, as I felt it could be my last. I could feel my intestines and other parts by touching on the stomach. There were patients around me in the ward each with its own criticality. It scared me to death.

The only solace among all the happenings was shifting my new born to the safety of my sister’s house. I told myself that I have to come back for her.

On 11th of June, I had shed off 10 litres of fluids. It took another two days in the general ward before I was discharged.

Finally my family welcomed me and the baby home.
Ten days in two hospitals taught the values of life, family and friends in ways that will stay etched.

Today, I’m full of scars that remind me to stay strong, come what may.

Rainbows after a storm – Chennai floods

It has been ages since I wrote a column. Tonight it feels irresistible to pour out the myriad thoughts as my birth place is flooded.

Certain experiences outgrow one’s perspective on life. This, for sure, is one of them.

The last few days had little or no telecommunication – no calls, SMS, whatsapp & social media. A metropolitan city had turned into an island.

Listening to radio channels was the only source of news. Thanks to smartphone, there is no more radio on mobile. Thanks to our battered cars which provided us with charged up mobile and news on radio. People who lost contact with their families were trying to reach out. People who sought relief from strangers were trying to inform their whereabouts. And then there were others who were helping people help themselves by sharing helpline numbers. If the helplines could manage it was something that remains unclear, considering the feedback from people who were sending out distress signals.

The radio jockeys for sure did a thankless job, much appreciated. There were a whole bunch of people spreading optimism by being able to see that silver lining in the storm. And then there were a few complaining of no electricity and no groceries. Realisation & preparation for lack of supply is needed. Whining on it however felt irrelevant given the intensity of the situation.

And then there was television media. In the brief time that I had access to it, I watched a private channel flashing news of how it helped rescue people. A journalist was holding a microphone on one hand, facing the camera and on the other hand holding the victim’s hand. In a moment, thankfully, I lost the electricity supply. For the first time, I felt less regret on missing out to become a media person, once a childhood dream.

There were also rescue teams and the philanthropic public offering support, food and water. Is there ever going to be a way to return the gratitude? I’m afraid not.

Have your ever helped a stranger on road? I, for one, have never done any form of it in person. Spent my earnings in charity, yes. Today it dawned on me that there is no help like stepping out and lending a hand. Lending money dawned to be the cheapest deed of my life. Proudly, in this need of the hour, strangers have helped each other in ways one wouldn’t have imagined. Providing food, clothing & shelter to unknown rekindles the sense of humanity. For the first time in this city, it felt safe to keep the doors open.

It also brought about a sense of equality. Nature is the only factor on earth that treats everyone on the same footage. It was a nail on the head as the airport was flooded and unavailable for service, but it brought about a sense of equality of all social-economic classes.

I haven’t been able to reach my parents but a friend lent a hand to check out the status on that area. Today when I check out on Facebook, it turns that there were several people offering this help to friends and strangers who were not able to reach families. Although it feels terribly guilty to not be there in person for my parents, it feels good that someone somewhere is willing to help.

There have been several times one searches for a purpose of life. This calamity for sure brought about a sense of my purpose in life. Earning the month’s salary, buying the 3bhk house and ‘settling’ down in life is not even close to the definition of purpose.

Live and liven up!

Salute to everyone who had the courage to help! You are the treasures of mankind, helping people see the rainbow after a storm.