Thursday, 19 November 2015

Hidden Secrets

This is one of my earliest poems..at least the first one preserved in writing.

Hidden Secrets


I would like to watch
The days go by
Just ride on the sun
Up across the sky

The day won't end
No night will fall
But darkness prevails
In the hearts of all

I would like to swim
In the depths of the sea
The deepest secrets
Lay bare for me

No sea too deep
No ocean too wide
But how can I know
What your tears do hide

Thursday, 17 September 2015

No more tears!

I have received a few Johnson & Johnson gift sets for Appu with large bottles of shampoos, lotions etc. I do not use this brand for him but did not want the well meaning gifts to go waste. So on goes the stuff on me.



I was using the shampoo the other day..and my eyes started stinging. I did a double take..surely this can't be..isn't it 'no more tears' formula? Yes but my eyes stung and watered. I tried it again yesterday and there was the undoubted sting.

I have seen this being used on kids and they never complained. Aren't their eyes supposed to be more sensitive? Or maybe it goes to show the pathetic state of my eyes. 

Then an old voice inside me croons, "things that bring tears to an adult and a child are very different, literally and philosophically." 

Imagine getting our heads banged on the floor repeatedly or crawling on all fours for a long time. I would be in tears if I had to do any of that but my brave boy ventures on. But large crowds, unfamiliar noises, not being picked up by his dad the minute he comes home, these bring tears to his eyes.

I think he has it right, the things he cries for matter. Me? I cry for things that are make believe..imagined slights, hurtful words, workplace issues...

Well fed, well rested, well loved..that should be our mantra for 'no more tears'. The child is the teacher.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Musings on memory

Another one from my writings of yore.
________

Musings on memory

The mind is like a forest in autumn - rich with the memory of bygone days, lying scattered and mixed like leaves on the forest floor. Every step we take crunches some leaves and discovers new memories. They lie steeped in many hues and colours - bright green, deep red, faded yellow and black. Each unique in its own way.  Real yet like a dream. They form the steps of life's staircase extending to the clouds and beyond - half hidden, half formed, incomplete yet whole. Some memories are opaque - clear pictures in the mind, some translucent, hazy images slipping like sand through the fingers, others faded beyond recall, mere gaps in time.

Every memory is a valuable experience... loved, hated yet cherished like the familiar lines a face aged with wisdom. No jewels surpass them in wealth, nothing could replace them, the lessons they teach lay hidden in one's mind.

From the faltering steps of childhood to the faltering steps of old age, memories flow like a river, starting in a trickle, growing with every step and meeting a greater purpose. But the river which meets the sea does not lose its existence. Memories linger on to make us laugh, to make us cry, to make us what we are meant to be. For memories are life itself. It forms our identity, our very being. It is something that none can take from us by force, but which is shared in love.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Rhythm

The problems faced in motherhood are transient, what remains are the joys. When we are in the thick of things the troubles seem insurmountable but trust me, they pass.



A big problem problem I faced, was my son fussing at the breast. In the initial days, he was sweet and docile. No fuss, just long sessions. Then as he grew stronger the timing reduced.

With rise in demand, my body increased the production and the speed. Unable to handle the fast flow, my son did what he knew, cry!

Initially, I failed to understand the reason for his wails. He didn't fuss at the bottle. I thought he wanted a change of taste. A bit of reading up on the subject and I recognized the signs. I researched where to find a lactation consultant, began worrying about what would happen if he refused milk altogether..basically got worked up on all possible worst case scenarios.

Then my son found his rhythm. He adjusted to the speed, nursed comfortably and did not fuss anymore. No consultant, no switching to the bottle..nothing. I relaxed. All is well.

Now I start the next phase. I am gearing up to return to work. That means upping the bottle feed..formula, pumped milk, solids...but he had just settled in. Our tunes had matched.

Well that's life. Never a dull moment. The rhythm changes. Here we go again.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Sun....Son

My friend Ajay has written a wonderful poem titled A Lazy Yawn on his blog. It is an interesting address to the Sun. While reading his poem, I thought of how the Sun might reply. Here is how I see it.
____________

Sun...Son



Good morning Aj
A top of the morning to you
Your shiny pate and attitude
Tell me you consider it a boon
Lazing in the party of the moon.

Chronic bachelor?
Tales of my offsprings abound in your myths
Dare say some are true
Every time I think of rest
One of them springs on me in jest.

Aj the dad
Like you, I dream of a sunless day
My head buried below the pillow
But no use, for here she comes - Aditi
My mom...what a pity!

Arise, awake, she cries
Go do your duty, you fool!
The world lies in wait for you
If that does not give you wings
Look at the sweet trouble he springs.

Ha ha Aj, Ishaan's awake
I see your tiny tot
My wish, your yawn, hold no avail
Your sleepy days are numbered
Gone are the days when you slumbered.



Monday, 27 July 2015

The kit - hospital essentials for delivery

What all do I need to take with me to the hospital for the delivery? This was something that I had dwelt on and kept ready by around the 35th week. There really is no predicting when the baby decides to come. It is always better to be over prepared in this case. This is my take on what you should pack..



For the mommy

Clothes - many hospitals require you to wear hospital gear till you are discharged. Still a couple of sets wouldn't hurt. Make sure they are cotton, comfortable and opens at the front for ease of feeding.  Carry a sweater as the room temperature may be slightly cool.

Undergarments - nursing bras and panties. Here again comfort is the mantra. I found disposable panties very useful for the first week or so. Take panties that have inner elastic i.e the elastic band is within the cloth and not exposed.

Sanitary napkins - carry a large pack or two of soft maternity napkins. Carefree seems to have these. Take the xl size. The normal napkins will feel a bit rough to use for the first few weeks.

Nursing shawl - a normal shawl or a nursing shawl to cover up while feeding. With visitors coming you will need this.

Toiletries - toothbrush, paste, soap, face wash, washing soap, creams, oil, shampoo, comb, hair bands and clips etc.

Hand wash/sanitizer - carry a small pack. Very useful for visitors. They will want to pick the baby.

Towels - two bath towels and two hand towels.

Utensils - a flask, eater bottle, couple of glasses, plates, bowls and spoons. Hospital food is usually provided for the patient but some of it I am sure you would like to share/give away to your attender.

Bedding - a heavier blanket in case the room feels cold, pillow and blankets for the attender. Somehow most hospitals rank low on a proper attender's bed.

Footwear - comfortable bedroom and bathroom slippers.

Electronics - camera, phone, chargers. With all the clicks and posts to be done, let us not forget this.

This is just for the mommy. Any person accompanying her would need their own clothes and stuff. Be sure that is ready too.


For the baby

Clothes - around 4 pairs of cotton clothes. Cap, socks and mittens. They do scratch themselves quite a bit. I know many consider it bad luck to buy clothes beforehand for a baby, if so ensure someone is on standby to run and get some.

Quilt/wrap - 2 or 3 wraps to swaddle the baby. A couple of bedsheets/quilts for the crib.

Towels - bath and face towels. At least 5 face towels. I assure you they throw up more milk than they initially drank. I actually asked myself if he was drinking something on the side ;)

Diapers - disposable ones for the hospital. Loads of them. A large pack in newborn size would do. I used pampers active baby new born..

Changing sheet - two quick dry changing sheets.

Wet wipes/ cotton roll - for cleaning during nappy changing. I preferred cotton dipped in warm water as shown to me by the nurses.

Toiletries - baby soap, shampoo. Baby oil and lotion are not necessities with most doctors not recommending their use.

Diaper rash cream - very, very important. I used Himalaya with great results.

Feeding essentials - usually you are the feeding essential. However in some cases a top feed becomes necessary for the first few days. My hospital gave the milk powder, measuring cup and shankh or vessel in which milk is given to newborns. You can opt for a bottle too.

My hospital provided many of the essentials. Do check with your hospital what they provide.


Friday, 24 July 2015

Rise and Fall

A part of my earlier writings. A personification of the Sun's journey. It is rhyming and is very sing song in its metre. I can picture myself teaching this to Arjun someday.


Rise and Fall



Rise he did from slumber deep
For long had he been asleep
Orange his robes but red it gleams
Washed anew in golden streams.

Flowers did bloom in his way
That was enough to make his day
Now perched up ever so high
Eternal life seemed so nigh.

He stretched and smiled a smile so bright
For everything seemed just so right
Every sight did gladden his heart
No wonder he found it so hard to part.

His health by now did decline
He knew it was time to recline
To be up and about for another day
Goodbye was what he had to say.

Red now in parting sorrow
Hoping for a better tomorrow
He sunk in to the depths from where he came
Knowing every day will be the same.

Hope

Now that I am slowly settling in to my new home..and actually figuring out where all my thing are..I have fished out my small diary where my old writings were recorded.

This poem has a fun story behind it. It was the last year of my graduation. The annual fest was on. My friends and I were participating in many events..creative writing was one of them. Sid and I took part in that event. There were many topics from which we had to choose and write a poem or prose. Coincidentally, we both chose the same set of lines..more suited for prose than a poem.

We both were notoriously unromantic and I remember thinking it would definitely surprise my friend Lakshmi if I wrote a romantic poem. Sid, apparently, had the same thought.

What started as a romantic love poem in my head got converted to a poem about hope. I remember Sid's poem also changed and became about an old lady.

We just couldn't be romantic even if we tried.

My poem won the contest and I was all thrilled about it. That fest was very eventful for us. Vandan winning the solo singing competition, Sid and Lakshmi singing the duet. I winning the personality contest as well as the extempore. My memory, though, becomes blank when I think what my friend Kruti did. Those were some fun days. I really miss the gang, life has sent us to different states and continents, but when we get in touch it does feel as if we had just talked yesterday.
_______

Hope




I remember the day, my friend
When the wind scattered my dreams apart
Like withered leaves they shook and fell
With my life, my dreams they crumbled

I looked in the mirror and saw my shattered face
Then I saw you take my hand
And promise me an unforgettable journey

We went tip toeing along a path
Amongst the trees
Back towards the end of the garden
Stooping down
So as the branches wouldn't scrape our heads

There a whirlwind had subsided
Leaving my dreams behind
A hint a form remained
Rest to be filled by my heart

Friend, I had you all along
Forgive the ignorance if this child
You taught me to stand and face the gale
You taught me that the leaves will come back

In your hands forever will I be
For Hope, without you
The child in me is lost.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Zeus

This is a light hearted take on the amorous escapades of Zeus
___________



From his seat on Mount Olympus, Zeus watched his kingdom. Today his gaze was trained on the nymph Nysa. After a few days of pursuit she had fallen for his charm. "You still have it, old man!" thought Zeus as he surveyed his reflection on his thunderbolt. He looked around, "Hera is nowhere in sight. Talk about luck." He quietly started to make a move when a hand grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Don't even think about it!"

Ares, the god of war, his son. "Now where did he come from."

"I know what's going through your mind. Don't think that I have not noticed you cavorting with that nymph."

"Ares, please go bother someone else. This doesn't concern you."

"I have had enough of your Hercules, Persues and their likes to last me a lifetime..and I am immortal" thundered Ares.

"I couldn't stand another tv show or movie of one of your sons where I have to play the villain or even worse - the sidekick."

"The kid has a point" Zeus reluctantly admitted to himself.

"Which fool invented the television...a man cannot have a secret life anymore." If Hera came to know...Hell hath no greater fury than a woman scorned, but one scorned in primetime television...Zeus shuddered at the prospect. Nysa would have to wait.


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Thirst

Yesterday around midnight the rains lashed down. Lightning and thunder bore down on the earth, lighting up the night sky. I couldn't sleep. The night danced as my muse. Twin ideas sprang from the rain. Two poems - Hunger and Thirst - starting with the same lines. One is right below. You can find the other one here. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
_______________

THIRST



As the rain sets the night sky ablaze
I toss I turn
The distant rumblings remind me
Of earthly pursuits

With sleepy eyes I search for her
Ever watchful, she sees my every move
Knowing full my intent, she stirs
But sleep does not let her go
How can she sleep when I am awake

Waah...I cry
Hush my child..
My lips find her and I drink
Amma..my milk, my comfort, my love.

Hunger

Yesterday around midnight the rains lashed down. Lightning and thunder bore down on the earth, lighting up the night sky. I couldn't sleep. The night danced as my muse. Twin ideas sprang from the rain. Two poems - Hunger and Thirst - starting with the same lines. One is right below. You can find the other one here. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
_______________

HUNGER



As the rain sets the night sky ablaze
I toss, I turn
I long to walk in your embrace
To blink and look away as lightning strikes
To bury my head deep in your chest
To pretend I am afraid of the thunder
The rain is washing away the days till we meet again
It too cannot contain its impatience
The evasive sleep now fills my eyes
My body lies in fitful sleep
The soul still wanders in your arms.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Wait



The waits of motherhood
The wait to conceive, for those lines to appear
To see that heartbeat on the zig zagging screen
To deliver, to hear that tiny scream
The burp, the yawn, the no way to stay awake sleep
With these waits behind me
Now I wait for his first steps and words
To be exalted to Mom
I wait for a kiss and hug
The world in his tiny arms.



Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Orphan



I walked on the lush green grass
As memories danced in me
Of years gone by and lifes lived
Of tears and smiles, real and imagined.

I walked on the lush green grass
Awash with the echoes of my past
If time could walk back a while
If I could face them with a brave smile.

I walked on the lush green grass
Imagining with foolish hope
I would find out why they had gone            
I then would not feel like this leaf, lost and alone.

I walked on the lush green grass
Waking up as if from a dream
You came to me from prayers sown
You took seven steps and claimed me your own.

I walked on the lush green grass
And revisited our first kiss
The sweet notes of love shared
The reality of our souls bared.

I walked on the lush green grass
With you my love at my side
No worries as you hold my hand
No longer an orphan in this land.


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Signs

The secret language that babies and moms communicate in:



Don't even think about it - The cry which emanates when you finally decide to stop rocking the cradle and tip toe out of the room.

Yes! Now I want it - The sudden lunge for milk after an hour of attempts to feed him.

The party's over - The unexplained wails at the end of a long laughing session.

Nap time is about to get over - Short intermittent cries with wriggling...Pick me up or I will escalate.

Ask the milk lady to get ready - Loud smacking and licking of the hand...cradle cloth...anything that touches the mouth.

I am on top of the world - The triumphant look as he inspects the surroundings while we begin the endless pick me up and walk around routine.

I love you - The pause and smile, the glint in the eye, while drinking milk.(At least I hope that's what it means)


Just the beginning. Lots of codes to decipher...


(No connection whatsoever with any claim of baby languages)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Kurumbinte kurrupukkal (notes from the mischievous one)

Kurumbinte kurrupukkal
(notes from the mischievous one)
His thoughts...My words



This post will remain a work in progress. I will keep on adding to it. Most of it is in Malayalam. Have translated where possible.


Appi poyi happy aayi (bye bye potty I am happy)

Karmam cheyuka ninnude lakshyam....
karma bhalam tarum arjunanallo...           
(do your duty...reward will be given by Arjun)
Rock me...I will decide if I want to sleep.

Aaranda aaranda unnimama puratharanda..
Njananda njananda pushpa villa appuvanda.
(Sorry no apt translation)

Arjun Arjun yes papa,
doing susu, no papa,
doing potty, no papa,
open your diaper...ha ha ha

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Elephant's Trunk

Have you seen baby elephants? For some time after birth they have no control over their trunk. It just flops around here and there. It is so cute to just watch them, thoroughly perplexed as to the use of their overgrown nose. The trunk leads and they follow.


"A bit to the right,turn left and come right to my mouth...yes..no...stay.." Arjun seems to be pleading, ordering, threatening his hand turn by turn. Two hands dance in front of his eyes. Very tempting and teasing.

Efforts are on to tame his hands. When they successfully reach his mouth, they are tastier than the nectar of the Gods. The subsequent smacking noises can be heard across the house. Of course, these moments are short lived as the hands gain life of their own and run away to safety.

"If my hands don't work, anybody's would do...Or the pacifier can be my best buddy...hmmm these are temporary solutions."

What is the shortest distance between two points? Put one inside the other. So now his tongue and lips are his chew toy. They can't escape his mouth. Always on service.

Of course the hands have not been granted reprieve as yet. "Sooner or later they will submit to my will...Bwahahaha!

(Ok got a bit carried away at the end.)


Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Myths

I was lucky or unlucky (changed from time to time) to be looked after by two moms during my post delivery confinement.

My mom with the slightly modern outlook and logical way of thinking and my mom in law with her orthodox views and native intelligence. Deadly combination. Will try to give you an idea of what it meant.

Anju feed the baby after the bath and then let him nap. You can't feed before, the bath will hinder digestion.
Anju feed the baby before the bath, he will be too tired later.
I fed him when he cried...before or after.

We don't give green chillies in confinement diet....In our side red chillies are a no no. 
She can have idli but not dosa...Why the batter is the same.
We only give dried copra. Here it is fresh coconut...all in limited quantities.
And lots of ghee...one point where all agree.
Trust me the end result of this was an upset stomach.

The baby is wriggling too much....you should not drink so much water. If he spits up take a small drop of it and flick it in the air. Don't feed the baby immediately after your meal. Don't look at him while feeding...how! he is so cute. Don't drink water while feeding...yes even if you are dying of thirst.

Act like a patient. Stuff garlic and cotton in your ears, put on a scarf and sweater. Didn't happen.
Don't touch cold water or a bucket for that matter. Dry your hair completely...with my hair...all the best.
Heat up coals and take steam. All this while being fed food designed to increase body heat. I would have roasted like a chicken.
Did some of the stuff in the most diluted form and managed to scrape through.

Any excessive crying was blamed on the evil eye cast by someone. Daily some fruit, salt, rice etc was used to cast off the effects. I have to admit myth or not, my son cried inexplicably every time after a particular person visited.

The lucky part...the moms could consult each other when faced with a dilemma. They could manage the baby, the kitchen and the endless stream of guests. They split the endless washing of dirty diapers between them. I got a lot of care literally showered on me. None of us lost sleep as we 3 took turns during the night.  We all survived.

In midst of all this we laughed, shared jokes, anecdotes and discussed rituals practiced in the respective villages. We rejoiced when Arjun pooped on the other.

There maybe many women who would go through this post and say I am supposed to go through all these strict routines, pathyam and humor all the other beliefs. To each his own. I believe rest, easily digestible food, plenty of water and cleanliness are the necessities in this period. I think in midst of all the supposed care, we are not allowing women to enjoy uninhibited time with their baby. Some of the rules make sense, others need to be reviewed. Moderation moms!!

Friday, 3 April 2015

To do or not to do

Kai valarunno kaal valarunno..Is the hand and leg growing? This is supposed to be the curiosity and care with which we bring up kids. I, however, think what we look at most is something different.

Did he poop today? Is he doing enough susu...or is it too much. Is yellow normal? All this results in an inspection of his diaper a bit more than warranted.



To keep us from guessing Arjun managed to keep his daily routine not so routine. Varying from pooping multiple time in a day to pooping every third or fourth day, the possibilities are endless.

I remember my dad was worried his urine output was less in the initial days. Boy did he put those worries to rest. I never knew one could go through a week's stock of cloth diapers in less than a day.

Moral of the story - Arjun knows his business, do not mess with the mess.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Milky Woes

There were many days where Arjun would cry to be fed, cry when he was being fed, cry after he was fed..basically cry. I went through all the accusations from the moms and the self doubts & feelings of being inadequate.


You are holding him in a weird fashion...changed..still sometimes he cries..
Maybe milk is not enough..tried a top feed...accepted with glee at times and with disdain at others.

Turns out milk is not less..sometimes he just likes bahar ka biryani over ghar ki dal.
Understanding however is not acceptance. Each time I mixed a bottle, a little part of me still blamed myself.

When Arjun didn't want my milk he sure expressed it (read loud breath stopping wails). If I picked him up for a bottle feed he would cry and only stop when his ammammawould take him on her lap. I think he was afraid I would give him my milk and not the bottle. Talk about trust.

Most days though he was content with me. I think he just likes to mess with my mind.

Arjun Sahasranamam

Arjun, Appu, Putta, Chinnu, Kunju, Appu2, Potato, and how can I forget the Veerabhadreshwara, Vinayaka et al.

With a small nudge from the doc's forceps, he came into my life...well much before that...but you know what I mean. It didn't occur to me to ask the gender of my baby, I knew Arjun had arrived. The first of his sahasranama was decided many months ago.  As the nurse revealed the valiant albeit crying Arjun to his grandma he was christened again "Appu". Recognition, maybe,dawned on him as he stopped crying, acknowledged the name with a sharp look and promptly resumed his duty.

Within the next few hours he proceeded to make me understand who's the boss. I was his designated milk bottle at his beck and call. After a few days I was amused to notice that I and mom had begun to act as if we were experts on his behavior. Visitors were treated to nuggets of insight ....he always likes to sleep on his right side...he likes to be held upright...It seemed as if we knew him for ages and not 2 days. Of course he kept us in check..a few unexplained wails were enough to bring our soaring confidences to reality...ethe puthari aanu..this is new rice..unpredictable.