Monday, May 27, 2013

Do I Miss You?

Dear sibling who wasn't to be,

A conversation with a friend the other day got me thinking about you, or rather the lack of you. And now as I sit bundled up in bed, fighting a nasty bout of the flu, I let my mind wander and I wonder what it would have been like with you in my life? 

The idea of you was very appealing to me when I was a little girl. All my friends had siblings and the lack of you was very “obvious” then. Parents of my friends who knew I was an only, would look at me, shake their heads and go “Oh ho”, as if I had a dreadful illness or something.

I was that child who NEVER shared her food and snapped when someone touched her toys, all because you weren't there to teach me how to share. I was also that child who’d go and cling to my mother like a leech if I saw her carry someone else’s baby. “Put the baby down”, I would wail to her embarrassment. I was afraid she’s leave me for that child. If you were around, maybe I would never have done that.

I strongly believe that it is truly wonderful to be an only child, primarily because how complete I am in myself. I am an independent little unit ,which is something I quite like. Your absence was made up by an assortment of wonderful pets one after the other (and what if you had an allergy to cats or dogs, then I would never have had pets and that would have been awful). But…there’s always a “but”. There are awkward moments when we’re in a group and friends swap stories about their siblings, or share picture of themselves with their brothers and sisters and I smile because I don’t have anything similar to share. Or at times I shrug and nod during these “sibling talk” sessions, because I don’t have anything appropriate to say.

As a little girl I asked my parents why I didn't have a brother or sister, everyone else had one. It seemed like something everyone had to have. In response to my questions on your absence, my parents would look at each other and mumbled something I never quite understood. I was a child, I had a short memory and your absence was forgotten for a while.

Your absence taught me how to amuse myself. I would sit on the floor in front of my mother’s dressing table with all my toys and talk to my image in the mirror, imagining it was another child. That could have been “our” mother and “our” toys you know; I can scarcely imagine that now! Was it you I imagined my image to be, or was it some other random child, I don’t know? The lack of you meant I didn't need anyone around to entertain me or keep me busy. Yes, I had an imaginary friend who I’d pretend to talk to and play with, but that was that.  I was happy in my own company, playing with my toys and making up stories in my head as I went along.

 I wonder what it would have been like to share my playtime with you. Would you have been bossy and aggressive? Would you have been rough with my toys I was so careful with? Would you have pulled my dolls’ hair or broken my Fisherprice kitchen stove set, which had knobs that turned on and off? Would you have always wanted to play with the toys I wanted to play with? These are things I will never know.

Even if you were to have been around, I would have liked you to be a girl and be younger than me, or even a twin would have been fine. In fact I can imagine how much fun it would have been if we had been identical twins! There was no way I was going to be younger and be bossed around by you- no, no, that just wouldn't have felt right. Had you been a boy, I can’t imagine what that would have been like. Would you have been an aggressive and loud and sweaty boy who insisted on being outdoors most of the time and come home thirsty and red faced from the sun, or would you have been a quiet little chap, with curly hair like mine, who would sit on his little wicker chair, reading his books and minding his own business?

The absence of you in my life gave me so much more my friends with siblings never had. Your absence gave me my parent’s undivided attention. If I were to be superficial, your absence gave me foreign vacations with my parents every summer, it gave me the best clothes and shoes and toys and the best of everything my parents thought they should give me. I would go through my things as a child and know they were all “foreign” and that would make me happy. Maybe if you were around then that wouldn't have been the case. Maybe then “our” mother would have bought “us” pencil cases from a local stationery shop in the neighbourhood, but your absence meant I got to choose my own Mickey Mouse pencil case when my parents took me to Disney Land.

But most of all, the lack of you gave me the best memories with my parents. Our “family” photo in the living room looked perfect with the three of us in it smiling at the camera; that photo frame had no room for a fourth. Your absence in my life was becoming less obvious. And as I grew older, I’m sorry, but I completely forgot about you.  Your absence became completely irrelevant to me.

There are things I suppose I miss without you being around. Like the fact that I will never be able to look at someone roughly my own age and know that we both share the same parents, the same DNA and the same last name. I will never know what it would be to share a room with someone. I will never know how it would have felt to complain to you about “our” parents, on days when I’d get a telling off from them. Would you have been sympathetic, or would you have mocked me? And today as I lie in bed, flue-ed out and feeling completely miserable, would you have come by to my place with a box of chocolates and made me a hot cup of coffee and chatted about this and that? Or would you have just sent me a cold and distant text message saying “Feel better soon”, or something equally lame. I will never know.

Apart from the material convenience your absence gave me, it also gave me an immense confidence and sense of independence I’m very proud of. I make friends easily and am easy to get along with. I don’t need “company” all the time love my alone time and get cranky when “other people” try and step into my territory (I take “my side” of the bed very seriously).

I will never know you and I try and imagine what our relationship might have been like. We may have been those super competitive siblings, always trying to outdo the other. Sibling rivalry they call it, I believe. But then we may have also shared one of those “love-hate” relationships, where we would have always been hot and cold with each other. But then again you could have turned out to be a complete jerk who I would have hated. Or who knows, you may have been a wonderful person, who I loved and who I loved loving.

You can never be part of my life now, it’s too late for you to make an appearance and I love being an only child. Your absence means I’m very content and complete with myself. This may sound selfish to some people, but then being an only child wasn't a decision I made.

Do I miss you, I really don’t know? 

(This post was written some time back when I was ill, hence the references to the flu.) 

Note: This post was inspired by a similar post here

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Loafing Around the Village

Grassy Patch in the Hauz Khas Monument

I have had a fairly fulfilling weekend, considering the last two weekends before this one were spent terribly ill in bed. Saturday was spent house hunting in Gurgaon where the husband and I are planning on moving soon. We just about managed to meet two brokers who showed us two houses, the first out of which was pretty meh, the second one was rather nice, but way out of our budget .We were supposed to go see a third house as well, but then the broker informed us that the house owners were Jain and wanted only “vegetable” tenants. Since we are not “vegetable” we politely declined (we’re looking for a 2 BHK for rent in Gurgaon, if you happen to know of anything, please drop me a line).

View of the Hauz Khas Tank 

 On Sunday we were supposed to drop someone to the airport after which the husband and I impulsively drove to Hauz Khas Village. It was horribly hot and my hair was damp from all the sweating and I was convinced I would melt (yes, I am dramatic like that), but then I was grateful that I was finally out of the house on a weekend and not ill and holed up in bed.

Dzukou Menu

 I had been craving some good Naga food for a long time and we decided to have a late lunch at Dzukou. Dzukou is a tiny little Naga place right located a steep climb up on the fourth floor, but the view, oh the view was lovely! We sat on their terrace strewn with low lying wicker chairs and tables and covered with a bamboo awning, looking over the Hauz Khas tank (which isn’t much of a sight by itself, but at least you can see an uninterrupted sky dotted with clouds). A few beers and a belly full of beef salad, raja mircha chutney, smoked pork curry and rice later we ambled through the village and found ourselves at the Yodakin bookstore, which I have only recently discovered and love.

I love the fact that Yodakin is tucked away (we had to knock on the door to be let in) and stocks a few books, but books worth browsing for hours. Yodakin doesn’t stock the usual popular fiction and business and management books, but stocks independently published titles, along with its own Yoda Press books.

Would You Like Some Bread With That Book?

 I picked up a copy of the Motherland magazine and a book I’d been on the lookout for, called Would You Like Some Bread With That Book? Published by Yoda Press, this slim book is a collection of fourteen heart-warming and hilarious essays by Veena Venugopal on her love for books and reading. The copy I picked up was dog eared and well thumbed through and I was about to put it back on the shelf and pick up another copy when I changed my mind. Though not a second hand book, I liked the fact that someone else had read this book before me. I imagined this certain someone sitting and browsing through this book in the book store  maybe even losing themselves in it and reading it in one complete sitting, laughing and nodding their head in agreement as they read through. Books tell you so many stories, more than just the ones printed between their covers.

I had a chance to have a chat with the guy managing the store who told me that Yodakin will be moving to another part of the village shortly, thanks to the steep rents in the area and they need funds to move. So next time you’re in the area drop by to Yodakin and buy a couple of books, you’ll love the lovely and snug grandma’s attic like ambience. I promise.

Image Credit: The husband and his iPhone 4S

Saturday, May 11, 2013

That Summer of Grief

Reading Manto, there are times I want to close the book and cry, just cry noisy, remorseful tears for what happened after a line was drawn on a map in the summer of 1947. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

On Being Ill and Ruminating

It has been a week and I have been ill and it has been awful. It started last weekend with a viral infection from hell; high fever, a streaming cold and a hacking cough and a weakness so intense, it kept gnawing at my bones. All I was capable of doing then was just lying in bed on my back and staring at the ceiling and thinking…just thinking.

I barely got over the viral and still had a cold when the stomach flu got me. Which is odd, considering I haven’t eaten out in the longest time. So yesterday afternoon was spent nursing an upset stomach, waves of nausea and bouts of vomiting- which. just. wouldn't. stop. For this past week my bed side table has been littered with strips of pills, Tiger Balm, vaporub, and inhalers and has left me feeling rather meh!

I’m better now, but all this illness has left me feeling completely drained and has made me realize a few things, I otherwise wouldn't give much though to; of how we take our good health for granted and here are the few little things I've been missing in this past week of illness :

·       Not leaving the house unless it’s to go to work.
·       No post work/late night coffee with friends.
·       Not feeling hungry- that intense “you body needs food” kind of hunger.
·       Not enjoying a meal, like I usually do.
·       Not feeling like doing ANYTHING (not even reading!), unless it involves lying in bed and staring at the ceiling.
·       Having wild fantasies of being able to breathe through my nose. All this breathing through my mouth has turned my mouth into a stiff piece of cardboard.
·       Wanting to do nothing but sleep, just sleep. With the lights off, the AC on, a light quilt on me and my phone on silent.

This is me right now and it’s awful and I want to get better, I really do.

This will be all from me for now; I really must get myself another glass of nimbu pani. Sigh!