Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Appa

So the dreams are back.  The vivid ones where I recall every moment of the dream. Saturday night I had one such dream.  I am in a bus next to a window seat.  My good friend is next to me.  The bus enters an empty parking lot.  It is going pretty slow and I see my dad and mom standing there.  I scream 'Appa' and he looks up to see me in the bus.  I tell my friend 'See there.  My dad is standing there.'  She says 'yes I can see him.'

I reach out my hand through the window and he holds my hand tight.  I keep saying 'appa, appa' and he walks alongside the bus holding my hand really tight.  My mom has a happy face and is waving to me.  The bus then is about the leave the parking lot.  My dad gives me one last squeeze to my hand and lets go.  I keep looking at him till the bus turns around and I don't see him anymore. 

Even in that deep sleep state,  I could feel the squeeze and tightness in my palm.  Felt like he was right there with me.  It felt good to see his face so clear in the dream.  When I mentioned this to my mom, she was happy that she was next to him in the dream. 

I hope he visits me often and makes his presence felt.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Table Tennis

Our old house had a back yard.  Not too big but was big enough to house a well, a bathroom, a place for washing dishes, a stone for washing clothes and quite a little bit moving space.  It was partially covered with tiled roof and the remaining  was open with a wall separating two neighboring houses.  We had a big brass vessel which was used to soak clothes before washing.  This vessel got stolen one night and that triggered a house remodeling project.  We closed off the back yard fully and remodeled it to house a new kitchen.  In this remodeling process my dad wondered what to do with a teak wood door that could not be reused anywhere.  He decided to make a dining table out of it and thus we got our first and only dining table.

This dining table could seat 6 comfortably and can accommodate up to 8-9 if we squeezed in.  We never used the dining table if it was more than 8.  We moved it aside and sat down on the floor.  This table morphed into our table tennis table during hot summer afternoons.  We placed two tumblers on either side and kept a wood plank and this was our net in the middle.  We initially played with hard bound notebooks and then my mom took pity on us and got us cheap bats.  The boys from my neighborhood played well and I had to keep up with them.  Since it was my house, they were forced to give me turns too.  I started playing with them and enjoyed every moment of it.

After marriage never got a chance to play TT or ping pong as they call here.  We then bought our own TT table and played in the garage.  My husband does not like playing with me so I only got a chance when we had guests who needed a fourth partner.  I taught my son to play.  It was a long arduous process testing my patience but he learnt well.  We still don't play at home since the garage is full of other junk now and the table stands folded in a corner.

At my work place there is a game room which has a TT table.  I look wistfully when I see people play but never gathered courage to ask them to include me.  In my new team, I saw my project manager was playing with another person one day.  I went to him later and told him that I play TT too and if he would include me too.  He asked me the next day and we played for half hour.  I was so happy to play the game that was part of my childhood memories.  He said he knows two more people from our extended team who play and that we can play doubles sometime.  I have been playing for the past three months and every time I play, I go back to being the teenager who spent hours playing the game on our door turned dining table turned TT table.  I am thinking of joining classes to hone my skills.

I now have to clear out the garage and set up the table so that I can play with my son again and maybe get my girl interested in the game too.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Volleyball

While practicing for one of dance program, a co-dancer mentioned about a volleyball tournament and how they are looking for players.  I was excited to hear that and told her that I had played during school and college days.  I was not very good but loved to play any sport.  Here was another opportunity after almost 20 years to play the game.  I signed up for the tournament and we came as runner up.  We have been playing most weekends when the weather is good.

My boy also accompanied me during the initial practices and enjoyed playing the game.  He was much better than me in setting and placing that he used to coach others how to do it in his style.  The ladies loved having him around.  He never liked playing on my side since it always ended up with us fighting.  He always joined the opposite team to spite me when I missed his ball or drop.  We had so much fun going to the games.  In two years, he has grown out of that phase that now he feels awkward to come play with us.  The ladies miss him in the court, but he does not want to play with us anymore.  He says he is not challenged enough when he plays with us.

We have two state players in our team who coach us.  There is so much friendly banter and we have so much fun.  There are women who have never played the game and a few who have played in school.  Our fitness level sucks and we are working on that too. 

Every weekend we look forward to playing and get sad if there is rain in forecast.  We get home made snacks to eat after our game.  We take turns and the messages that goes back and forth to plan is hilarious.  I don't participate much in those conversations but it is still a fun bunch to hang out with.  Our age group ranges from mothers with young kids to ones with kids in high school.  What I enjoy the most is how energetic I feel when I play the game I used to play when I was in school and getting an opportunity to play after all these years.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dance

Dancing always fascinated me when I was young.  Bharatnatyam in particular.  I wanted to join classes.  Like any middle class tambram family, my mom said 'it is an expensive art.  We cannot afford it.  Besides, you cannot dance after a certain age but you can sing at any age.'  She put me into music classes.  But dance still held its firm grip on me.  We were members at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club and there would be at least a couple of dance programs every month.  There was also the yearly dance festival that followed the music season in December.  My mom would go to music concerts while I would be interested only in the dance programs.  She wouldn't take me to many but she still was interested in watching the best performers during that time.

I would come back and mimic their steps.  I would watch those 30 mins programs that would come on DD and would want to try out the abhinayas.  In school and college, my friends would not take me for dance programs once they knew I have never performed before.  My mom would be embarrassed to know my interest in dance and not showing such inclination towards music.  I do love to sing, but I always wanted to dance.

After I got married and came to US, I would go to the local Tamil sangam programmes.  I would see people perform but never thought much about it.  Then college, work, kids happened and life moved on.  10 years later, I started volunteering at the Tamil school as an associate teacher.  The kids performed during annual day celebration and I would help my daughter with her steps and costume.  Couple of more years later, the adult volunteers decided to perform during Pongal celebration.  Couple of mothers asked me if I would be interested to perform.  I was pleasantly surprised that here is the opportunity I was waiting for my whole life.  A chance to dance.  I thought 'why not? Let me atleast try.'  So showed up for the first practice and it was ok.  The body was stiff, the grace was there in some movements but not in others.  It was pure fun.  Laughing and giggling, remembering the steps, deciding the costume, worried about wearing a saree and dancing, the whole experience made my heart lighter.

That performance was well received and I have performed every year at Tamil school after that.  The girls I performed with took me under their wings and we became a tight knit unit.  We ventured into performing at other programs too.  One of them found out about a Bollywood dance class offered for adults and showed interest to join.  I too went with her to see how it was.  It is a fusion of workout and dance.  We sweat a lot and laugh a lot too.  Good workout and great rapport.  Since the class is from 8-9pm, once a week, I am not worried about dinner or other activities.  It has been three weeks and I enjoy every minute of it.  My kids are excited to see me on stage too and have no complaints with me going for my own class.

I came to know recently that there are many adults who have started learning Bharatnatyam after coming here.  Same story as mine, parents did not send them and now they do it because they wanted to.  Some have completed arangetram.  If only I had known this earlier, maybe I would have done that too.  My daughter still tells me that if I can start now and I may complete it in 8-10 years.  I don't have that kind of patience now.

My mom still not too happy with my dance ventures.  She enquires if there are any such music classes and why I am not focusing more on singing.  Dance is what makes my heart light, dance is what keeps my confidence high, dance is what took me out of my mental agony four years back, dance is what gave me my friends that I have now who have stood by me, dancing makes me forget myself.  I may not be the best dancer, but dancing sure puts a huge smile on my face. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Toxic People

There are few people in my life who just erode my self esteem and confidence.  Every time I think of them or talk to them, they just pull me down.  I have removed a few from every day life but when such people happen to be close family, it is very difficult to cut off completely.  How to not remain unaffected is something I am still struggling to find a balance.

Even if I have not spoken or kept in touch with such a person for two years, all it takes is a phone call for them to spew venom again.  It takes days for me to get out of that episode.  My mind gets filled with garbage of the past incidents and how I could have reacted a different way or could have taken a strong stand against them.  Something I may never do but the instances and incidents play non stop in my mind.

I have regained my pride and self esteem only in the past couple of years and don't want to lose it again.  Even when I remain at a safe distance from the toxic people and have conditioned myself to not get affected, I am not there yet.  Yes, I am able to bounce back much quicker, but the few days before I bounce back is hell.  I am so filled with rage and self pity that I don't like myself much when I am in that state of mind.

When I pray, I sometimes struggle not knowing what to pray for.  My peace of mind or asking to keep such people away from my life or clearing the darkness in my mind quickly.  Whatever it is, I want to get back to normalcy soon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Change

Change is the only constant thing in life.  My life has been a roller coaster for the past 5 years and I yearn for some kind of normalcy at least for a certain period of time.  Things keep coming one after the other that there are times when I don't even get a breather between two events. 

Something similar is happening right now.  Last four weeks has been so emotional for me.  And unfortunately this has nothing to do with my dad's demise.  If it was because of my grief, at least I would blame my emotional ride on that.  But there are issues that I am pulled into that I cannot come out of.  I don't want to come out of it because it involves people I love.  I have a feeling appa has put me in his place and is looking at me to see how I come out of this.  I seek his guidance all the time and think how he would resolve this.  I see a lot of appa in me as I go through my way of dealing with situation.  I can see I am unable to take sides.  I can only see what is right and what is wrong and not see who is right and who is wrong. 

I keep asking questions why I am put through this.  The 'Why Me' question has been a constant.  Unless I change the situation, there is no way it is going to change by itself.

Yesterday there was a change in workplace too.  I got swapped out with another worker from another team for project reasons.  It was initially difficult for me to understand but by the end of the day I knew it was the best decision for the project.  I started with my new team today and whatever little I have seen of the product, I am thrilled.  I can see myself growing in that space.  Maybe this is the best move for me.  I may not have initiated any of this, but I am ok to embrace the change.

This was not easy before.  I would get stuck on 'why me' for too long.  Now I am able to get over the 'why me' much quicker.  I keep asking 'why not'.  That calms me down.  In front of the bigger picture, these small changes don't hold importance as before.  Does this mean I have calmed down from inside that such changes don't ruffle me for too long.  If so, so be it.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Decisions

Decision making is a tricky art.  When growing up I was not aware of this integral part of life that in adult life I struggled to make decisions and be at peace with it.  I was looking for others to tell me what to do because it was easier to follow than to lead.  Growing up most of the decisions were taken by my parents and I felt it was the right thing for me.  Even in a couple of instances when I had doubts and voiced them, at the end of it, somehow I could not rebel enough to get my wish.

Even after marriage, I struggled to make decisions.  At least the major ones.  It took me a long time to understand the importance of knowing to make decisions and being ok with the results.  If the end result is favorable then you made the right decision, if it is not favorable it still teaches you a lesson of where you went wrong in the decision making process.  Taking the blame for wrong decisions is the key part.  Lot of people do not like to own the end result so shy away from decision making.  It is easier to blame others in case of failure. 

I am now comfortable making decisions.  Though I struggle if I don't understand the situation fully, but most of the time I am ok with making one.  Either you fail or you succeed.  I am ok with both.  But the comfort level I have with decision making makes me wonder if I am the same person I was not too long ago. 

I am letting my kids make decisions and learn from mistakes so that they are not afraid to make decisions in life.  I cannot be with them all the time nor do I want to make decisions for them all the time.  I want to be the guide not the authority.  Yes since they are young, we are responsible for their life but I am aware that I need to let go so that they will use their own wings to fly.

I know mothers who still want to control every decisions of their children even after marriage.  Neither the mother understands the importance of letting go nor does the children understand the need to live their life in their own terms.  The hardest part is for those people who are married into such family and struggle to make sense of such family dynamics.  I am pretty sure such politics exists in every family in different degrees.

Decision making is not hard.  You just need to be brave to face the consequences that comes out of it.  Be happy if the decision worked out right and know how to fix the issues if decision did not work out as expected. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Blame game

There are a few people in my life who blame other things/people/situations for their problems.  These people never focus on their issues but would rather go around talking/gossiping about other's problems.  Sometimes I feel such people focus on other's issues just to escape introspecting the issue on hand.  It is easy to talk or point fingers about other people issues.  When forced to confront with their own issues, these people try to blame others for their issues.  That becomes even more easier than to figure out the cause of issue. 

Unless a person changes because they want to bring about change, no one else can fix issues in one's life.  You may provide perspectives, but unless the person realizes and wants to bring about the change, it is very difficult to fix the problem.  It is almost like how counselors guide you through the process but will never make the decision for you.  You have to make the decision since you have to be convinced with the decision you made as you are the one who is going to live with it.

I am not sure if it is immaturity or ego that stops people from introspecting their lives.  What is causing stress?  What is the cause of their misery?  How to get out of that terrible mental state?  They never realize that blame game never gets them anywhere.  It is like the dog trying to catch its own tail.  You go running around in circles but with no solution.  Such people do not listen to others too easily.  They think the others are trying to put the blame on them and become very defensive when help is offered.  They make not only their own life miserable but also the people around them.  No one is happy at the end of the day.

My dad always used to say 'look at the dirt on your butt before looking at others.'  He was crass that way while making a point.  It took me a while to understand that each of us are responsible for our own misery or happiness.  Situations and people may present different hues in our lives, but what we choose to do with them is only under our control.  Cutting out toxic people or situations is sometimes necessary for our mental peace.  It becomes a difficult choice but needs to be done.  Handling situations to help others see the issues requires tact which may sometimes backfire. 

If people can work through their issues without their ego interfering then a lot of good can come out the situation.  Arguments will become less noisy and more meaningful as issues are sorted out. 

Too many thoughts going across the mind hence this terrible post.  No coherence at all but this has to come out of my system for my own sanity.

Friday, April 7, 2017

I can do it

When we were young, my dad used to cut our nails every Sunday.  It was like a ritual for him to gather us kids around to trim our nails.  I used to bite my nails till I was about 8 or 9 and used to get reprimanded by my dad every week since he would not find any nails on my fingers.  I used to get a speech about how biting nails with teeth is not allowed in our house and that it is such a bad and yucky habit.

One night when I was 10, after I got into bed, which was a pai and thalagani because it was super hot in summer and minimum was always preferred, I felt something making its way up my ankle and leg.  I shook my leg once and still felt something crawling up.  I screamed and jumped out of my position and switched on the light to find out what was crawling up my leg.  I was thinking more in the lines of cockroach or ant.  What I found instead was a long big yellow and black centipede wriggling away from my pai.  My mom quickly got a broom to sweep it away and threw it out of the house.  I was trembling the whole time thinking of its size.  My  mom came back and told me that it was because of my nail biting habit (echai pannarathu) that we are getting all these critters in the house.  After that day, I never bit my nails nor do I echai pannify.  I will wash my hands immediately even if I have to do so.  I still have a vivid memory of that black and yellow centipede. End of digression.

When I went to meet appa in January, I saw that his nails were little longer than he usually allows them to grow.  I offered to cut his nails.  I have done it for my grandpa and my father-in-law.  So I thought he would also let me do it for him.  He looked at his nails and said 'I can do it myself.  I don't need you to do it for me'.  Saying so, he got up and went to his office room where he usually kept his nail cutter and cut his nails.  He came back to show me his nails and said 'I am capable of doing my own things. I will ask you when I am unable to do it myself.'

He wanted to do everything by himself and probably asked only my mom for certain things.  What was under his control, he wanted to keep it in control and not give it up easily.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bookmarks

My dad read law books and law journals all the time.  The only other books he read were Reader's Digest or an occasional Illustrated Weekly.  He took care of his books well and expected the same from the people around him.  He never liked us folding the corners of pages or inverting the book while taking a break.  He said that the book spine gets weak if you invert an open book.  He made book marks at home and used them for all his books.  He cut wedding invitation card's decorative edges and made them into book marks.  He encouraged us to use book marks and distributed them to others too. 

My mom was mentioning this yesterday when she found a bunch of book marks while clearing out his desk.  She was telling me how such small things make her remember him for the perfectionist that he was.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Who will cry when you die

I have read this book.  I have always wondered the kind of impact people leave in others life.  Are people happy that you are dead or do they mourn for your death.

My dad was a lawyer who practiced till he was 79 and had to quit because of his knee pain and not because of he was ready to quit.  The last two years he regretted not being able to work because of his knees and how he would rather be at court.  How many people are fortunate to have a career like that.  He completed 50 years of legal practice and had scores of clients.  We never knew his life outside our house.  He has never discussed  with us his cases or whether he won a case or how his day at court went.

He worked in a leading law firm for 30 years before he started his own practice at home.  The typist from that law firm came home to meet us.  She was crying so much that we had to console her.  The things she shared us made us realize the impact my dad had on her life and career.  She was from a poor family of five girls.  She had studied in tamil medium school and joined as a typist in this law firm.  She had confided in my dad that she does not know English well and may make mistakes while typing.  My dad, in his own signature way, had told her 'why are you worried.  I will train you and take care of you.'  She told us that he taught her how to type legal writ petitions, counter petitions, stay orders, and rambled off other numbers that we had no clue of. How he never dictated stuff but always wrote what needed to be typed.  There was no need for rough draft.  Everything was fair copy.  That was how good he was with these documents.  She said 'what I am today is only because of sir.  Avar illana naan inniki onnume illa.'  Even if he gave me 10Rs on Jan 1st, I got money for the rest of the year.  He had asked her if she wanted sewing machine or table fan since Usha was one of his clients and he could get it for a cheaper rate for her.

She said how he was always punctual, coming to office, going to the court, or meeting clients.  She said he had the most clients in the office.  How he wished her every morning as soon as he entered the office.  When her dad passed away, my dad had requested the law firm to pitch in to perform the last rites.  He also gave money and she said that her dad's last rites would not have happened if not for my dad.  We had no clue about this till she shared this with us.  He lived by his motto 'what the right hand gives even the left hand should not know.'

He had recommended her to other lawyers in his firm and at the court so that she got more work.  She recollected how well she was treated during sadhbhishekam and how my dad enquired personally on that day whether she had lunch.  'Antha mathiri oru manushana parkave mudiyathu.  Sir than enakku deivam mathiri.  Oru photo kudungo, I will keep it in my pooja room.'

Another typist from the court also had similar things to say about appa.  How appa gave money when her son joined college and when his marriage got fixed.  All these folks were invited for his sadhabhishekam and were given sarees. 

It was so heartrending to hear all these anecdotes about appa.  It is not enough to treat your clients well.  It is important to treat your staff with respect and affection.  We could see where these people held my dad in their heart.  My brother and I had tears when she was recalling all these instances but at the same time felt so much pride too.

We knew our dad was generous to the fault.  He raised us that way too.  He would say 'the more you give, the more you get.'  Never hold things for yourself if it can be of help to others.  His teachings on generosity deserves a separate post.

Who will cry when I die...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

To write again about appa

I went home thinking I will experience the full extent of the grief of losing my dad.  It was rather strange going home without my dad in his room.  The ceremonies were kind of brutal.  I broke down quite a bit when the priest explained the proceedings.  My dad never liked anyone eating their rice rolled into balls.  Even on a rare occasion when we did that, he would chide us not to eat like that.  The 12 day ceremonies involved rolling rice into balls and I did not like to give my dad those rice balls.

My dad liked to eat good food but was a stickler to the quantity he ate.  He always preached eating half stomach.  During the 10th day ceremony, there were multiple items cooked and served on the same banana leaf and the belief is that that the soul will be fed up of eating so much food that it will depart.  What was going through my mind was that my dad would hate seeing so much food served for him.  On a rare occasion, if my mom offered to serve him one more serving than his usual quantity, he would say to my mom 'I cannot eat for your satisfaction.  I can only eat for my satisfaction.'  I was thinking, my dad would just get up and leave than to even attempt to eat all this food.  He was very particular about the way he led his life.  No one dare mess with him.

The helper who was with my dad the last 17 days visited and told me few instances of his conversation with my dad during those 17 days.  He told me that dad cooperated with him the initial few days when he still had strength in his body.  As he got weaker and weaker, my dad had told him once, 'you should never be dependent on others'.  The helper said that dad had a quick temper.  I told him, may be he was helpless so it came out as anger.  Another instance my dad had told the helper 'unkitta vanthu ippadi mattinduttene.'  The helper was a professional who has seen such people.  My mom had only good words about the helper, how patient he was with appa.  My dad maybe knew that he may not gain back the energy to get back to doing stuff by himself.  He had always been independent in his life that he never wanted to be dependent on anyone for anything.  Appa always got what he wanted.  Maybe his end too the way he wanted and when he wanted.

So many memories, so many daily instances when we recall what appa would have said or done.  He is in our conversations like always. Like he is in the bedroom sleeping.  Like he is in his office room reading the newspaper. 

I can write so many posts on him and I want to write all those in the coming days. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Day 9 - Kids

I had planned to take the kids to India this summer to spend time with my parents.  When I came back from my trip after sadhabhishekam, my girl asked me how thatha was doing.  I told her that he is getting weaker and have a feeling that he may not make it till summer.  She dismissed me saying that nothing like that will happen and once she is in India she will take care of thatha so well that he will be back to his normal self.

I showed the kids the sugarcane juice video on Sunday and they were surprised that thatha looked so different from the photos from January.  They couldn't understand how he became so weak. When I woke her up Monday morning with the sad news, she immediately had tears in her eyes.  She held me in a tight hug and told me "atleast paati is healthy.  Lets hold on to her."  My son just had a stunned look and did not know what to say.  He asked me if I had told Nattu and I said yes.  He asked what was her reaction.  I told him about the hug and comment about paati.  He then walked over to me and hugged me tight and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

I have to build on their memories of their thatha with stories about him so that they do remember him fondly when they recall him.  He was not like typical grandpa loving and caring.  He teased them and enjoyed when they got irritated.  He loved my daughter's non-stop banter and the way she cleaned the house with broom three times a day.  My interaction with my dad is what my kids enjoyed the most.  My dad, being a lawyer, loved to argue about any topic.  My discussions with him kept the kids entertained and they admired the way I was on par with him.  I may never win the argument but I was always encouraged to talk my mind.  While growing up, my dad always told my mother "it is better to discuss things openly with kids.  This gives them the courage to come and discuss issues bothering their mind. If we don't, they will do things behind our back."

Have to keep talking about my dad to my kids...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Day 8 - Dream Analysis

Remember my post about weird dreams I had last week.  I was discussing this with a friend at work and she gave me some insights on those.  She is from Trinidad and in her culture they are encouraged to remember dreams and discuss it over breakfast.  When I mentioned about the tooth falling out, she said it means that there is impending death in the family according to her culture. 

The ceiling falling down dream, she did  not know much about it but asked me to search on Google.  The first link that I opened said interpreted the dream as 'death of the man of the family.'  My dad is the man of the family for me.  I was quite disturbed by the findings but didn't know if it will come true since these were just dreams.

I think I kind of prepared myself because I never get such dreams.  I was wondering if something was subconsciously preparing me.  I was also amused that how my dreams have become westernized. I have never heard of such interpretations while growing up.  Maybe I never had these dreams for me to discuss about the meaning of it at any given time.

I read through my previous posts and cringed at quite a few places with regards to my grammar and sentence formation.  I am not proof reading any of these posts since these are my raw emotions pouring out.  I don't want to polish it before presenting as these are just for myself.  If I ever want to come back later and read them. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Day 7 - His last day

So Appa had been weak and fragile ever since he came back from hospital.  My brother never expected him to pass away yesterday because appa was fine and responding well in the morning.  My brother brushed his teeth and fed him his tea in the morning.  As he was giving the last sip, my brother commented like how we do to kids while giving their last morsel of food, 'Nammathu chamathu kutti yaaaaru...Neethan'.  My dad after finishing the last sip replied 'Nammathu chamathu kutti 'my brother's name'.  My brother said that he was all aware of what was spoken so never thought he looked like he was ready to say goodbye.

In the afternoon, the eye doctor had come to check on my dad regarding excess mucous coming out of his tear glad at night.  He prescribed some eye drops and left.  Then my dad went to take his nap.  My mom went to get his next feed ready.  When the male nurse returned from his lunch and touched my dad he felt that my dad was cold.  He called my mom and asked her if she checked on him.  She then called the doctor.  The doctor checked the pulse and said that it was very feeble and at a point where it cannot be revived.  His life slowly ebbed away. 

I am thankful that I got to see him in January when we performed sadhabhishekam for my dad and mom.  He was fine then.  Though weak he was still walking around with his walker taking care of his own chores.  It has been only 35 days and I am here booking my tickets again to go back home.  The image I have of my dad from January is so different from the ones I got over the past one month.  The deterioration has been drastic and I am not able to find any reason for it.  Maybe he had nothing else to hold on to and was ready to go.  This one month was his way of preparing us for his final journey.  I am happy that he did not suffer much and his end was quick.

It will be different this time when I go home and not see him in his room.  Have to see...

Monday, March 6, 2017

Day 6 - And...

my Appa never woke up from his afternoon nap today. His end was peaceful just like my paati. 

I kind of felt about this but my brother said he never expected it to be today.  He said that once the antibiotics effect wore off, Appa would improve gradually back to normalcy.

It hasn't kicked in yet for me.  Have to see..

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Day 5 - Sugarcane Juice

My dad simply loved sugarcane juice. While growing up we never ate out much. Eating out was only at weddings or family functions.  Restaurants were very rare. Maybe when we travelled. Even then idlis and curd rice were duly packed.

There used to be a trade fair put up at island grounds every year. We visited it every year and that was one of the times my dad accompanied us. He would indulge us with cotton candy or roasted corn. The highlight was always sugarcane juice. He would relish every sip of it. The pure joy on his face is forever etched in my mind.

When he visited me here, I got him sugarcane juice at the farmers market and that made him super happy to know that he can get it here too. Every time we went to the farmers market, he would start the shopping only after his fix of cane juice.

Now that he is able to drink only liquids and super weak, I wanted him to have his favorite drink. Asked my brother to get it from local shop and give it.  He was able to do it today and sent me a video of my dad having it. He was having such a hard time holding his head steady and taking sips from the tumbler. But when asked how it was he showed super sign with his fingers. Don't know if he knew he was drinking cane juice but I was happy to that my wish got fulfilled.

His health has deteriorated so much since the last one month. I met him end of January and at that time he was able to carry on with his stuff by himself.  Within a month he has become so weak. I just don't want him to suffer. He lived a very active life and on his own terms. To see him weak and dependent on others makes me very queasy. My prayers for him continue.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Day 4 - Fruits

Appa always wanted us to eat fruits everyday. He would buy seasonal fruits from the fruit market and we always had the best of the season.  He never bargained, so the fruit vendor gave him the best pick. If at any time the vendor gave substandard quality, Appa never went back to the same person.

We were not that well off, but appa spent on fruits saying that he would rather spend on it than pay a doctor.  He would meticulously clean the pick of the day before dinner, cut it and portion it so that we had it after dinner. It was always his chore to prep the fruit before dinner.  Mangoes were his favorite. He took pleasure in slicing and dicing them. Removing the peel on some varieties and juicing and pulping others.  He always mixed mango with curd rice and relished it. We kids never understood the taste but that was his way of eating curd rice during mango season.

My cousins used to look forward to his visits during mango season because he got the best from fruit market and took pride on the pick.

One of the many traits of my appa that I follow is to have at least one fruit a day. I also do the same with my kids. There are at least three varieties of fruit I buy every week. I pack fruits for school and encourage the kids to choose fruits over junk for snacks.

Now that he is back from hospital, he is unable to eat solids. He is given fruit juices, tea, soup, rasam rice blended in mixer, kanji. I pray he gets better soon since his favorite mango season is right around the corner.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Day 3 - Dreams

My dad is out of the hospital and back home.  I am not going to write about him today.  Instead I am going to write about my dreams. 

I do not remember dreams very well the next day but I do have a few recurring ones.   It is always like I am late for exams, I don't remember anything I studied when I look at the question paper,  I am naked in front of friends or family, I fail my exams miserably that others tch tch at me.  Well these are dreams I am familiar with.  Though they do disturb me, I have made peace with them.

For the past three nights I have been having bizarre dreams.  First night in my dream I was walking with my kids and I trip and fall down.  When I get up I notice that one of my front two teeth is not there.  There is no blood or pain, it just came out and I now have a gaping hole where my front tooth should be.  I look for my tooth all around and find it.  I fix it in its place like it is some sort of plug in socket and find out that the tooth is half broken and the other half missing.  I search for the other half but cannot find it.  My kids say that I cannot just fix it in its place, it needs to be fixed with glue else it will come out again.  I take out my phone to look at myself in the selfie mode.  Such vivid picture of the dream.  Felt very uneasy.

The second night in my dream I had just finished cooking dinner.  I notice that the ceiling of the house is sagging down due to excessive water in the attic.  The house does not look like any of the houses I have lived in.  There is no time to pump the water out of the attic and the sagging of the ceiling is dangerously low that it might give in any moment.  I see my brother in the kitchen next to the backyard door and ask him to take the dinner dishes to the patio table (see even in the dream I want to make sure that the dinner doesn’t go waste and I am forced to cook again.  Sigh! Fixing food for family sure drains me).  There is no time for me to join him as the ceiling is sagging between me and the patio door.  I ask the kids to come with me and as we get out of the kitchen the ceiling gives in and collapses.  When I tried to make sense of the dream I couldn’t comprehend how the ceiling was weighing down with all that water like a balloon waiting to burst.  It was so flexible stretching beyond its limit.  Couldn’t figure out what the dream meant to tell me.
Yesterday night dream was even more graphic.  I am driving with my son in the passenger seat.  I see two men standing on the median of the road.  The median is a grass patch not the concrete partition.  One man is scanning the cars for their inmates and as soon as he sees me he walks slowly in front of the car.  I am slowing down for an intersection anyway when I see this man walking in front of me at which point I stop completely.  I see him take out his gun, which is pretty big, and he starts to shoot at me.  He shoots four times and somehow misses hitting us.  I panic and pull my son close to me.  Seeing that the first man ran out of ammunition, the second man draws out his gun which is covered by a fresh baby diaper (don’t know what that means).  I can see why he did that because only I can see the gun while others on the road cannot see the gun as they see only the diaper.  He starts to walk in front of my car to get a good shot at me.  That’s when I woke up with a chill running down my body. I see in my dream that as I was pulling my son closer to me, he was in front of me.  When I went back to sleep, I tried to fix this mistake by pushing him behind me.  Since both of us are wearing seat belts, he is not completely covered by me.  I ask him to get down the leg space beneath him so that the bonnet will cover him from the bullets.  What and all the mind can do to ensure safety of our kids even in a dream and here I am fixing my dream even after waking out of it.

I still don’t get what these dreams mean.  I am pretty sure my mom would ask me to chant Hanuman slokam before bed to keep the dursoppanams away if I told her about these weird dreams.
Could the last one be due to the recent happenings in this country? Is it the after effect of reading too many WhatsApp forwards reiterating the different treatment towards other ethnicity?  Well, have to wait for tonight and I am truly afraid to fall asleep.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Day 2 - One job at a time...


My dad was not a huge fan of multi-tasking.  He was a perfectionist and wanted things to be done neat and clean.  He always encouraged us to do our best and took pride when we achieved his standard of perfection.  When we did too many things at the same time or did a half-hearted job because we were rushing to get to the next task, he always said ‘one job at a time and that done well.’  I have heard this so many times while growing up that I find myself repeating it with my own kids when they rush through things. 
 
Once when I was multitasking in the kitchen and burnt a dish that I was cooking and was fretting over it, the kids chimed in ‘one job at a time and that done well.’  I couldn’t help but smile at the lesson passed on.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Day 1 - My bike saga


It is a new month and I had this idea of posting something everyday.  I am going to try.  I am going to write snippets about my dad.  He is in the hospital right now.  A lot of incidents about him come to my mind and I want to record them here.

Appa always wanted me to be independent.  He never saw me any different from my brothers and treated us all the same.  My mom does not know to ride a cycle and he wanted me to learn to ride a bike when I was 5 years old.  In those days we don’t just go and buy a bicycle.  It is expensive and we were not that well off.  We used to get bicycles for rent. It used to be 1 rupee for one hour. He rented a small one and ran behind me in our small narrow lane.  Remember, those bikes had no training wheel.  He would be behind me all the time holding the bike till I got my balance.  I would get distracted and would get reprimanded when I saw left or right and not straight.  I learnt to ride in a straight line in two days.  After that he taught me to make turns.  He would stand in one end of the street and my brother on the other side.  I would go straight in between and they would help me with the turns.  Finally I mastered that too.  Then my appa taught me how to start the cycle by myself.  Finally, once I mastered riding by myself, my dad got a hand me down bike from one of his friends.  It was so old and rickety but I was so happy that I had a bike of my own.

I used to go to school in a rickshaw.  The rickshaw wala used to pick up few more kids on the way to school.  One of the kids picked up after me was always late.  Sometimes she would wake up only after we reach her house.  This delayed us getting to school on time most of the days.  I used to get late slip for no fault of mine.  I complained to my parents.  They spoke to the rickshaw wala but things did not improve.

One day, when I was in third grade, I told my parents I would rather walk to school than to go late.  My school was a good 1.5km from my house.  Walking would take about 20 mins. There was a busy intersection that need to be crossed to go to my school.  My dad told me that I can go by bike to school.  My mom was surprised by his decision and told him that I was too young to drive by myself all the way to school.  But my dad said, ‘she will manage.  Don’t worry.’  I was super thrilled.  I biked to school from then on.  I got down at the busy intersection.  Crossed the road and then got on the bike again. 

Appa always told me that when you are driving on the road, think that the rest of the people on the road are blind, deaf and are idiots.  You have to be careful when you drive.  Never try to blame the other person for your poor driving.  I always followed that advice and even today think about it while driving.

When I was 16, Appa got me the driving license for non-geared two wheelers and bought me a second hand TVS-50.  I was able to take my mom everywhere in that.  My mom was super proud that I could do what she could never muster courage to do.  I tried teaching my mom but she was super scared that she would hurt herself if she fell down.  My appa taught me how to clean the spark plug and how to maintain the moped.

When I got Sonu and Nattu their first bikes, it had training wheels.  They could ride by themselves and I was happy seeing them bike.  When Sonu turned five, I removed one of the training wheels and ask him to ride.  He was not happy and was having a hard time to balance.  I took off the other training wheel and ran behind him like how my dad did when he taught me.  Sonu was not happy to do all the work but I wanted to do what my dad did to me.  Sonu learnt to balance within a couple of days and then I worked on his turns.  It was so nostalgic doing to my son what my dad did to me.  When Nattu turned five I repeated the same with her too. 
My kids remember how I taught them to ride the bike and I am happy that I have made memories that they will carry with them just like how I still carry mine.