Thursday, March 27, 2008

This morning !

Was reading a while ago about Poppin and I smiled to myself about my own morning today ! I was intently reading Mail Today with a stark naked Carla Bruni picture in it. Ruhi was busy making caricatures in her sketch book when suddenly, without a warning she jumped and came over to my side of the bed and started rubbing white crayon over the picture like a maniac.

Me : “what’s your problem?”
Ruhi : “She is naked”
Me : ” So ? Don’t I watch you naked ?”
Ruhi : ” But I am a little girl”
Me : ” So?”
Ruhi with a Moral Police kinda look : ” Not nice to look at naked 'Badi ladki'”

Goes back to fiercely rubbing crayon over Carla Bruni.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

About wanting a boy and having a girl!

I have been forever wanting to write about the fact that I never really wanted Ruhi when I conceived her. I wanted to record it so that I would forever and ever be compelled to rub my nose against the ground for being so wrong in my stubborn desires when life had already created a plot and a screenplay for me as usual. 

I finally got down to it for Roop's brilliant initiative unwantedgirlchild

Here goes...

I got married very late and with almost a decade of a difference between my husband's age and mine, he was very eager to start a family immediately.

I of course couldn't care less and wanted to enjoy every bit of my new found freedom that one simple act of walking out of my father's house had brought into my life. Right from chopping off my hair to late nights to traveling the world to wearing whatever or nothing at all, I was loving it all. And then suddenly one fine Sunday afternoon in the year 2001, I discovered the party was over and that I was pregnant.

I felt none of the celebrated euphoria of discovering impending motherhood. Instead I was confused, panic stricken and unhappy. Specially when from size 8 I started graduating upwards to monstrous proportions. The only thing that brightened up my days was the thought of a little boy with whom I would play football in the park, go chasing crows and squirrels and do all those wicked things that little boys do. I just could not imagine bringing up a baby girl. Pink and pretty things, dolls and preening was just not my kind of thing.

In my final months of pregnancy, the doc pointed to a dark bundle on my ultrasound and said that was the baby scratching its bum. I was elated ! Its got to be a boy who goes scratching his privates and I pictured a rowdy crop of hair and a tiny pug nose as they pushed down the spinal injection before I was ready to be cut open. When I woke up my husband was peering over my face with an expression of such delight that I have no words to explain till date. He had a plump, pink baby in his arms and he whispered 'Its a girl". I felt a pall descend and I felt anger, frustration, disbelief. I had lived each day of the last few months with that pug nosed boy who looks like mowgli. It took me days to come to terms with the fact that it was a daughter I was going to bring up.

My husband was shocked by my reaction. He understood it as a 'typical' reaction where most women in India desire to bear sons. He was ashamed that I unabashedly admitted to all and sundry that I was disappointed to have a daughter. Six years down the line I am madly in love with my daughter and my world revolves around her. Three years ago when my son was born I  I already knew it was a boy ( my doctor told me happily but discretely in my fifth month of pregnancy and its very easy to know as I found out).

I had a small hope in my heart that it would be a second girl. My daughter has brought such love, kindness, honesty and goodness in my life that I cannot imagine a life without her. I used to fantasize of having two girls in our house and how full my life would of company as we discover the pleasures of their growing up into womanhood.

In retrospect, I often think about my initial reaction before Ruhi was born and I wonder why I did not want a girl. Was it just because I hated cute pink stuff and girly wiles ? Or was it because I had grown up frustrated by my ill luck of having been born a girl ? Because I could never do the stuff my brothers did ? Because of the "Don'ts" I lived with for my being born a girl ? No late nights, no outstation trips, no competitive exams, no MPhil if its another city or hostel, no short skirts, no open hair, no boys, no make up, no hockey, no cricket.......I could fill up the entire universe with them.

Because when I dreamt of a happy childhood I could only imagine little boys. 

Perhaps that is why I struggle and strive to give my daughter the best any girl can receive in terms of opportunity and exposure. Another story though that she loves Pink Frilly dresses and make up ! But I know it for sure that she loves being a girl unlike her mother who always forever wanted to be born a boy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Salutes !

I am quite a joke among my friends for being on every possible social and business network on the internet. Friends my generation are cautious of the internet and use it when they have to. I am on the other hand an internet addict, from cooking to childcare to literature to yoga, I treat the internet as if I am hanging on to it for my life. If I don't have internet for a day, I get withdrawal symptoms ! 

As is obvious I get a lot of friends requests from people I have never even met, on Facebook, Orkut, name it. I used to happily add everybody and have only recently started filtering friends requests. After many years of being an internet Hippie, I am now trying to be sober. 

I added one such 'friend' on facebook (he seemed the important Advertising sorts and who knows, may be I did know him in my past advertising avtaar !). I am glad I took a chance since I was pleasantly surprised to be 'found' in his friends list by a girl I used to work with many years ago! 

I had in fact been looking for her. She used to be this new kid on the block, came from a small town, was fresh and innocent, very pretty and something about her made everyone want to play daddy to her. 

I don't exactly remember how we became friends but I used to really like her - she was talkative, funny and had a broad smile. I was a happy person myself and we got along. As we moved jobs, we lost touch. Off and on I'd get to hear of her but in the hum drum of life that was so fast and so full of people those days, we never kept in touch except an odd bumping into each other here and there. 

I added her to my facebook and a week later she called when I was in the Loo. Ruhi answered the phone and made some awkward conversation telling her that I would call back. I remembered the call but didn't call back. In my usual way I stuck a post-it reminder in my brain and forgot about it. 

A week later she called again - just now.

We spoke for a bit and filled in each other about the decade thats gone by since we were last in touch. Turns out that the sum of it all was that I got married to the guy I was hanging around with those days, I have a job and 2 regular kids and I get bored of my car every two years. 

And turns out that she battled out alone in a hostel through a bad relationship, physical abuse, fear and chucked it all and started life all over again in another city, met a guy on the net and married him, has a 5 year old son discovered 2 years ago with a rare genetic disorder that will slowly but surely kill him before adulthood. She looks after the kid and manages her job. There is no cure yet for this disorder.

She finds strength in bringing him up one day at a time without any agenda  and she started out alone but has now formed a support group of 30 other families who have kids with the same problem and she counsels them. She plans to register the group as an NGO soon.

While she narrated all that has happened to her in the last ten years she sounded as cheerful and happy as she used to, back then. She was full of plans. She spoke openly and honestly about herself and her crazy life on her own initiative. I hadn't even asked her one question...

I broke down after hearing her story but she was unfazed. Except for a tiny tremor in her voice she told me " don't worry everything is good for now, and I need strong friends'. 

And here I am with my petty, sometimes imaginary problems, holding on to myself with all my might. Often Thankless, for what I have. 

Friday, March 07, 2008

Miss Bones !

It was Ruhi's Fancy Dress competition today ! I got the Skeleton idea from the internet upon spotting a boy dressed up for halloween ! I did some quick research and wrote a rather funny rhyme about bones. I didn't know there are a good 206 of them in our body ! I dressed her up in black tights, black gloves and a black skinny jumper. The white chart paper  bones, ribs etc were stuck by double sided tape and staple pins on the bony little thing and pronto ! She looked the perfect 'Mr Bones".

She had memorized the rhyme really well and I was quite amused when yesterday I found her recording her audition on my phone on the sly, and playing it back to herself to hear how she sounded ! Last year she went as an Alarm Clock with two steel 'Katoris' stuck on her head and stood first !! A year before that I painted her as Nemo Fish and she stood third !! I was quite relaxed till she walked up on stage - walking again like a scared little deer - and my heart went thumping mad. She said her lines perfectly, albiet softly and she won the second prize.

I still cant figure how my shy, unsure little poppet gets the prize every year !!

@alarm clock at 5 years


@Nemo Fish at 4 years

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What the Doc said !

I wanted to stop pitying myself and fretting about the Kids and write today about having been married 8 years to a man I have known 18 years now ! Married to him several times during  a sultry month of March, 8 years ago starting with the court marriage today...but I got some unfinished business to do! 

'Getting there now' wanted to know what the Principal prescribed as the cure:

She said I need to:

Leave her alone to discover things herself - like unsupervised playing in the park - even at home since she feel the father is too protective and the children have become scared to experiment and so they seem so unsure. She could be right - my husband is overprotective with the Kids.

Choose a couple of families with small kids in the neighborhood and make friends with them so that Ruhi can be introduced to a social life outside school. Invite those kids over to play at our home and send Ruhi to visit those Kids on her own every once a while. Ruhi does have a small circle of friends in the Park and a couple of kids come home often. Ruhi invites them over but seldom likes to visit their houses. 

Take the Kids out for family outings, picnics. I do that every other weekend - the movies, mall even holidays but I started only recently and I go alone since my husband keeps very busy.

Reward Ruhi for 'confident' behaviour. Not a physical reward but a 'feel good' comment like GOOD JOB or YOU WERE GREAT TODAY etc

About the school's role - she said nothing. I didn't ask either. I was too busy blaming myself.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Thanks !

Its incredible how the internet makes it possible to receive strength and support from complete strangers and I wanted to thank all those who shared their thoughts about how to deal with my situation vis a vis the Kids. 

I didn't go to school to meet the Principal as invited on Monday.  I sat there procrastinating and then decided I would go the next day on Tuesday. As expected it was about Little Rayyan bursting into tears when the curtain went up. She had not noticed that I was sitting right in front of the stage, but even so...

And it was about Ruhi - usual things like her way of walking like a scared little deer, her soft nervous voice during school assembly whenever its her turn to recite on stage, her quiet presence among a class full of boisterous, loud friends. Her coming across as 'under-confident'.
She said it was only that she cares that she pushes me so hard...

We talked for the longest time and amongst many things right and wrong I felt there was something wise she said - that I got to forget everything and first of all deal with my 'guilt' about the kids. About the inadequacy that I feel all the time that I am not doing enough. The same feeling that makes me cry each time I talk or think about my Kids. I had been thinking I was perhaps depressed..

Like always, on my thoughtful way back I reluctantly agreed I was slowly leading myself to become a nervous wreck and I was leaving behind the happy person I used to be - like some skin I am shedding....all because I am guilty ?