New Beginnings

So, 2016 has been reviled enough for me not to add to it. However, I must note that it was a spectacularly shitty year health-wise.

I kicked it off with a particularly nasty bout of shingles, the remnants of which still haunt me every now and then with twinges and sporadic itching.My dad’s dementia grew worse, my mom was at the end of her tether, and then the Grim Reaper harvested his soul without so much as a by your leave. My sisters had horrible mysterious afflictions that saw them in and out of hospitals. One of them is still in so much pain that she, the strong one who can bear everything, actually breaks down and cries.

The final straw was my daughter, my darling D, who came down with severe abdominal pain. She is pretty strong, my D, and bore the numerous pricks for IV and blood samples and bodily intrusions and what not, with magnificent equanimity. But then, one terrible evening, she writhed in unbelievable agony, screaming for over an hour, and we stood by helpless even as she begged us to “do something”, while the doctors buzzed around. Those horrible moments are burnt into my memory. It’s most probably abdominal migraine (yeah, everyone reacts with “Never heard of it!”), and she’s back, albeit weakly, on her feet. But the holiday season and all her (and our) plans have been pretty much ruined.

So, if there’s one wish I could make for 2017, which is, as several people have opined, a rather arbitrary division of time, it would be for good health. 2017 has so far not showed any signs of respecting my wishes, but it’s early days. It’s just getting warmed up hopefully, and as the days go by, here’s hoping that good health shines down on us.

And you, of course. Good Health and Happiness to you too!

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It’s October already!

So many things have happened since I last came here.

This year will be forever marked. My father died in my arms. It feels so final to write that, but that’s how final it is. He will never be back in our lives again. I try to relive the moments again and again, but they slip away, like dreams you cannot remember, like dreams that dissolve in the bright liquid sunlight of the day.

I wish it had been like in the movies. I wish we had known, that we were ready, we were gathered around, serious and somber, waiting for that final moment. We didn’t know, we weren’t ready, we were running in and out, tired and frantic, trying to get him ready for the hospital from where we had brought him home just a couple of days before.

I was right there, and I didn’t know it. If I could change one thing, I would change that. I would sit by his side, stroking his wizened hand, and put on his favorite song. I did do all that, in fact I did just that in the morning. Just not during his last moments. A rolling eye, a single tear, and I did not put two and two together – I was never good at math.

So he’s gone now, and life goes on: merrily, pitiless, single-minded. I don’t think too far ahead nowadays, I take one day at a time. I am grateful I have such wonderful people in my life. My family – the strongest one could ever ask for. My friends – always willing, always helping, always there to share both laughter and tears. The entire universe – always going ahead, never looking back.

It’s hard to believe I’ve reached a half-century on this third rock from the sun. I barely knew the uphill struggle – it’s all faint memories. I trust the downhill slide will be just as smooth. There are so many things on the horizon, yet they don’t disturb me.

One day at a time. That’s the only thing given. And I’m ok with it. Years will go rolling by, and when the time comes, gathering moss will have its own charm.

So It’s July

Almost the end of it. I’m glad to see it go. I keep forgetting and then when it comes around every year, I remember.

I kind of hate July.

It’s hard for me to hate stuff, for I’ve never been one for strong feelings, but July gives me a sick feeling in the stomach. Only because it’s been a month where too many folks I’ve known have passed away.

This year was no exception. When the wind wailed and howled for days without end, I began to feel the familiar dread. Irrational, I admit. But then, someone I know, an elderly gentleman who was the epitome of old-world elegance and courtesy, passed away. That day, the wind fell silent and the sun broke through the clouds. As if a rampaging rakshasa had been appeased. Irrational, I know.

Apart from that, the health front for all family members, including yours truly, suddenly took a nosedive. We hobbled out of that entire mess, clutching on for our dear lives in a manner of speaking. I came down with a case of shingles, and am still on painkillers for the nightmarish pain and irritation (or postherpetic neuralgia if you want to get fancy) that follows.

The only silver lining to this awful month has been that I’ve really caught up on my reading. I’ve finished 65 books (9 ahead of schedule according to Goodreads). I’ll update the list of books soon. I’ve read a bunch of rather amazing YA stuff, and a whole lot of books that depressed me, which, believe me, isn’t a wise move when you’re already feeling low. 🙂

That, and the way family and friends have rallied around. Always a blessing, always.

Passing through

Old people have the reputation of being stuck in their ways and of being judgmental.

However, as I grow older myself, I’ve learnt a few things:

  1. Humans are resilient. They change all the time, in ways they never would have imagined possible. I am not saying they will be happy with the changes, but they do adapt wonderfully to practically any situation. This has made me tranquil about life in general. I know that if something were to drastically change, I would adapt to it too. Why worry?
  2. There’s no point in being judgmental about people. Folks do the things they do because they feel that’s the best thing they can do given the circumstances. Even if you take a person who is considered abnormal (what is normal anyway?), he/she will be behaving in accordance with certain rules they have come up with internally, because that is what works for them. Each of us is living in our own personal universe, and everything makes sense in that universe – or rather, we impose our own sense of right and wrong in this personal universe. Every story has infinite sides to it. So our judgments are reflections of our own personal universe rather than of other people.

As I grow older, I realize more and more everyday the wisdom of great teachings. Letting go is easier. I focus on the doing and in the now rather than on the future. ‘This too shall pass’ has never been truer. Friends jokingly call me Buddha, Zen and Yoda. I guess I’m slowly beginning to earn these nicknames.

Like a cloud passing overhead which may or may not be noticed, which disappears without a trace, I too shall move through this world and evaporate one day. Till then, I’ll go where the wind takes me.

So Much Can Happen

So much can happen in less than a month!

It’s been so crazily hectic over the last few weeks that I am so glad to have had a lazy Sunday at last.

One of the nicest things that happened was that finally we got around to opening a children’s library in our apartment complex. There are three of us in this venture. One is a hot-shot editor with a leading publishing house who’s edited a veritable who’s who list of Indian authors. The other is a polyglot, ex-teacher of kids with special needs in the US, amazingly talented with kids. And then, somehow in this exotic mix, is me! 🙂

It is indeed my good fortune to have joined hands with this talented duo, and what a ball we had setting up the whole thing, right from the piles and piles of books to late-night cataloging, dorky selfies, many cups of tea, and hysterical fits of laughing till tears ran down our cheeks! Now we can boast of a lovely library with 900+ books for the children of our apartment complex. It is beyond wonderful, honestly!

Then, we decided to throw a surprise birthday party for a really good friend. The challenge was to keep it a surprise, for she is the master of surprises herself, and it was an almost impossible task to pull off. But rally together we did, and it ended up being one of the most memorable parties ever! The look on her face was priceless.

And then, I’ve joined a writing program that is on every weekend, and which comes with its own set of deadlines and challenges. Apart from this, I am also part of a writer’s group that submits and critiques stories every month. So, needless to say, this was yet another thing on my to-do list.

Work suddenly peaked and I was spending nights working, and having groggy mornings.

My health decided to act up and so did D’s. D’s exams too loomed large over the horizon. I am better now, D’s mysterious ailment is disappearing too, and hopefully, the exams will get over before we know it.

All in all, an absolutely crazy month, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. What’s more fun than a packed day doing all the things you love?

Here We Go Again

I honestly don’t know what sort of year 2015 has been. I don’t remember most of it. That’s what time is like for me now – just a blur. Things happen and keep happening, and I feel like a dry leaf swirling around and swept onward by the current of life.

There were plenty of friends around, mostly old, some new. Plenty of laughs and good cheer. World grew more strident around. D turned all grown up almost overnight. Grew a little wiser and honed my homegrown gems of wisdom. Read a lot. Wrote more than expected.Work was more or less steady. No major hiccups health-wise.

What more can one ask for in life? Sometimes I am seized by a peculiar desire – I want to go away somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere difficult  – I want to miss my current life. I already know just how valuable it is, and yet I want to miss it so much that I really know its value. That is a very strange thing to desire. Yes, I confuse myself sometimes.

A New Year holds little glamour. In a funny way, as you grow older, every day is precious, and so special days aren’t so special any more. Still, there’s no reason not to celebrate, not to feel hope and promise of a better, newer tomorrow.

So Happy New Year, folks! May the new year bring you everything you dreamed of, everything you wanted, and everything you really need.

Mad-ia

Just saw this tweet by Rajdeep Sardesai:

Guess Guardian and BBC are also ‘paid’, bikau, news traders and presstitutes!

I think Rajdeep needs to read Frederick Forsyth’s autobiography – The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue.

In it, Forsyth eviscerates the BBC completely. Its “Africa policy” was so despicable that I have lost respect for BBC. I had such respect for this agency. I remember how we used to see BBC first to get the “right” news, rather than watch Doordarshan with its biased coverage. But gradually, the bias in BBC too was becoming quite visible. Reading the book was a revelation. It makes you lose all trust in the media, which is a real pity. Why has the media become so untrustworthy?

Forsyth says:

The calling of a true news and current affairs organization is to hold the Establishment of any country to account but never to join it.

I guess this is what we expect from the media, but there are not many takers for this definition unfortunately, are there? 😦