Birthday Party

Have you ever had the privilege of attending a 4 year old’s birthday party? I have. MANY TIMES. Magic shows, clowns, bouncy castle, face painting, pottery corner(no, no, I mean pottery with clay, not pot), popcorn machines, cotton candy machines, balloons, screaming, squealing, shouting, and of course cake. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Well, it is. I don’t remember a single instance when I haven’t dealt with an itchy, tired, irritated child after coming home from the party. It just so happens, just like with many children I am sure, that mine can’t handle sugar. There’s the sugar high, then there’s the itchiness, then there’s the sugar low, then there’s the running around and pretend-play and the final crash and burn. By this time, it’s midnight and any plans of watching an episode of Downton Abbey while munching popcorn go out the window. Instead, a Valium or swigs of vodka are needed.

What happens when the party is in your backyard? You’re going to have a whole bunch of sugar-raged monsters, you’re going to need a whole bottle of vodka and it’s still going to be a circus after all. Why do we need these birthday parties? The parents are always seen running like a volcano is about to erupt, with plastic smiles and the uproariously fake “Hahaha”, the birthday boy/girl is always left in the lurch, pouting, crying and whining because other children are in his/her backyard playing with his/her things, the meticulous cake is always smashed to an unrecognizable mass and the other parents are always heard bitc**** about how they would’ve done so much better. (Just for record, I don’t indulge in the bitch****, I just eat).

Then there’s the gift-giving gambit. It has to be bought in advance, carefully wrapped and shouldn’t be a re-gift or exceed the value of the relationship of your child with theirs. I still don’t understand what is an appropriate value. So I pretty much give away goodie baskets with whatever I can lay my hands on. It usually looks like a very last-minute, futile effort, compared to the gargantuan colorfully wrapped boxes that people bring, but I’m happy the hosts are polite enough to not smirk. Then there’s the party-favours that the children go wild over. A Made-in-China Rubik’s cube, a Made-in-China Kaleidoscope, a Made-in-China smiley ball or if it’s a big-ticket party, there’s something worthwhile like a huge case of Hot Wheels. Add to that the sugar-rush and the bedtime is moved to midnight. Oh what a joyous occasion! 

Each year has to be better than the previous year, not just that; each child’s party has to be better than the others’. If he’s got a clown, she’s to have a princess castle; if he’s got pony rides. he’s got to have a magician, if she’s giving away trips to Disneyland, he’s got to give away helicopters, it only gets bigger and bigger. Meanwhile, the bankrupt parents dread as soon as there is a colourful invite proclaiming their child is INVITED TO A BIRTHDAY PARTY!! There’s different themes children want nowadays. Some want princes and princesses, some want dragons and dinosaurs, some want witches and wizards and some very creative ones want pink and blue hair-do rainbow parties. Extravagance? I think not; we are only watering the child’s creativity! 

My child, finally, has got the hang of birthday parties. He’s asked for a cake entirely made of cherries, everyone sings for him and claps and gives him one car (Hot Wheels) each. He is not going to give the cherry cake to anyone who doesn’t sing. Car is not mandatory. And he wants to give away money as party favours. Because money buys cars and you can give to the doctor as well. And everyone has to wear red, because that’s his favourite colour at the moment. He doesn’t want any face-painters, because it itches after. He doesn’t want any magicians, because they pull his nose while conjuring a coin from there, he doesn’t want a bouncy castle, he knows kids throw up while bouncing, he doesn’t want a pool-party, because he knows not everyone can swim. He doesn’t want to celebrate in a restaurant because “How will the children get there?”. Obviously, my genes didn’t do a lot of passing on. 🙂

Without going into the philosophical bend of things, I’m going to keep it simple. Birthday parties are fun, no, really, they are. Even for the hosts. I like them for the food. I wish I could just sit next to the food-laden tables and eat, without being frowned upon. I hear as the children get older, they want to spend their birthdays alone, with their friends, or boyfriends and girlfriends. As parents, are we to fund those too? I hope not. Who knows what kind of party favours and party drinks they’d enjoy in the future. By the looks of things, it could very well be a marijuana+kale+spinach punch, a chia+wild beet+avocado chip and red ants+horseradish+truffle dip. Oxygen Bars, Flying Limousines, partying with the Martians. The world changes, and we change with it. Birthday parties are no longer what they used to be, said our old folks, we say the same and the children would say the same. In the words of a wise man, 

 

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.
– Bob Dylan, who else!
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While listening to Buckley Sr..

Upon reflecting back, I despise myself, for overcommitting. I wish the phone was just a black box, like it used to be. I wish there were no cobwebs of the internet that existed on the phone. I wish the computer was only for computing. I wish calling people was difficult. I wish, I wait, I wonder..

This morning, Matchbox 20’s “If you’re gone”, kept on doing the rounds in my head, like an old record. I quickly got the contraption out that plays music out loud, not just in your head. This included a phone, a Bluetooth connection, a Bluetooth speaker and of course Wi Fi. I wondered what Wi Fi was short for. Hail Google! Wireless Fidelity?! I’m sure I don’t have the right answer. I’m not much for the electronic, electrical or any frim-fram devices or things. So I left it at that. My dyspepsia piqued, when Rob Thomas’ silky enunciations were interrupted numerous times by the hyena-meets-Skrillex ringtones of the phone, that were amplified by the little amplification device. I tried silencing the many demons on the telephone, but in vain. They kept hounding me. I finally gave in and cast a spell to exorcise them, at least till the time Rob Thomas convinced me to come back.

After a few peaceful moments, the electronic postman chimed, bringing mundane tidings. I had won a gargantuan sum of money in an unknown part of the world. And it was confirmed and reconfirmed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, no less. For a fleeting minute, I dreamt of what I would do with the money. Build a cottage in the snowy woods, hire help to help me live off-grid, buy a snow-mobile, maybe even buy the entirety of the woods, be the protector of the huskies and the penguins. I understand, geographically and virtually, the plans make no sense, but money talks, doesn’t it? I only had to get back to the electronic mail and let them know my details and such. Even to my undoubting mind, this seemed quite peculiar. So I left it at that.

After a while, someone knocked on the door. I had moved on to Tim Buckley by now. Who else could it be, but Amazon?! They had sent me that golden jar of honey I so loved. I put away the jar and safely saved the corrugated box for an impending diorama. What happens with those in the end, I wondered. There must be so many by the end of a school year. Anyway, I remember clearing cobwebs from mine after decades and finally throwing them away muttering all the while, “Stupid, stupid, tremendously stupid!”

I looked at both the Buckleys and realized how similar the father and son looked. How strange to share a face, and music flowing through the veins, but not knowing the person at all? My mind hopelessly wandered to musicians. And painters. The entire multitude of them fought with demons, and the pain brought about beautiful work. Not to mention writers. What demons? I don’t know. They are there. I know some demons. And I fight with them, sometimes using humour, sometimes using a bottle. Speaking of fighting with demons, why is Eminem so angry, all the time? I can understand anger pouring in one album, maybe two, but in the subsequent ones, shouldn’t he resort to anger management? I don’t know much about him or his music, mostly because he always sounds so angry. I like Adele. She first sang about meeting a dude, then breaking up, then meeting again. She progressed at a normal pace. So, getting back to Tim and Jeff, such pretty faces and such lovely voices, am I right?

I realise now that I’m coffee-drunk typing and should probably stop before I’m banned from the computer-world. My neighbour’s dog peed on my radish-patch yesterday. Thought I’d write about that. But oh well. I like the dog anyway. I’m friends with him. I’m friends with a lot of dogs, both dogs and human-dawgs. And now it is time to turn off the music, because as one can tell, it takes me to strange hinterlands and there is no flight back home!

The Story of Y

Last evening, Y flipped. Stuck somewhere between elated and morose, Y didn’t know what to do. Y did what she did best, popped a couple of pills and washed them down with a bottle of wine. After that, not much was remembered, except that there was toast with a chocolate spread. Miraculously, Y woke up without a headache, only in need of lot of fluids. A walk through the early morning fog helped immensely, and the proverbial mist was lifted. A friend had uttered, very casually, a few reassuring words, which made Y smile, albeit pensively. Those simple words fortified her faith in herself, made her look around and smell the coffee. Y thanked the friend.

Now Y was left wondering. Why? The rocking chair basking in the mid-morning sun seemed to hold all the answers. Y was afraid of the chair. Y was unusually preoccupied with something that had left her occupation a long time ago; a pair of eyes watching her. But did they, ever? The human psyche is a strange self, thought Y. Hallucinations and inventions, all spring from the psyche. Nothing big had emerged from Y’s psyche, except spurts of creativity, that were splattered across the canvass, so far apart, it was hard for anyone to piece it together. Getting back to the big question, Y’s preoccupied mind now wandered into the realms of the other-world, that defined by Area 51 and ghosts and telepathy. Suddenly, the shrill cry of the phone woke Y up from her reverie. There lay all the answers; all she had to do was talk on the phone. But did she? She decided not to. You see, Y had decided, against all odds, it was better to leave the psyche wondering rather than facing the truth. Y was not scared of the truth, she simply did not want to know anymore. Knowing never did anyone any good. Endless cups of coffee coupled with an endless stream of Muzak, gave Y the assurance that each day would be brighter than the previous, especially now that spring was slowly setting in. Y’s sense of humour returned back to the bones, as the drugs started to wear off.

Y looked at the time, sensed her cold limbs and decided to nip, tuck and move on with the day. Let bygones be bygones, Y said. Unabashedly, Y closed her eyes, lay her tired head back and waited for the “sweet sleep” to take over. Wallowing was an addiction, and Y was all but consumed. Y thought of all the moments that had made her smile and slept with a smile on her face.

Pregnancy is a magical time, my a**!

I was just turning 30, and for long, I had decided I’d go wild on my 30th. The wildest my pocket could afford was Thailand. I was exhilarated, to walk on the same sands that Leonardo DiCaprio did, to get in trouble the same way Bradley Cooper did and to visit the Roger Moored limestone cliff. Yes, I was going to Thailand to celebrate my 30th. Instead, I got a home-pregnancy test which proclaimed I was pregnant. And with those two pink lines showing up, I regurgitated. I suddenly started feeling tired and restless and oh-so-hormonal. I cried and cried and called up my husband, who, knowing me, said, “Do not panic, we will talk about it.” TALK ABOUT IT!? Did he mean, Thailand, or the pregnancy? At that thought, I again projectile-vomited the breakfast and probably dinner from the previous night. There ended my fantasy trip to Thailand.

When my husband returned home, he had already gotten me things I detested whole-heartedly- fruit, protein bars, protein biscuits, a rainbow of vegetables, dairy of all sorts – he already wanted a plump chump. I could tell he was excited and I wasn’t. How can one be excited when one has been retching all day like a cat swallowed a hairball? All I could keep in my mouth were ice cubes. So, we talked in between me gagging and gasping for air, and him instructing me to eat well, exercise and all the things those books say to do. In my mind, I saw red. The first appointment with the OB-GYN was an eye-opener. I was supposed to swallow a sea of pills, not the fun kind either. She prodded and poked and said, “You’re good to go.” I was momentarily happy. I thought she meant Thailand. Woefully, I know she meant the baby. We cut a small cake at home on my birthday, me crying, husband trying to cheer me up, then me throwing up the small piece of cake which had morphed into a yellow and green and amoebic jelly-like goo. So I was back to sucking ice-cubes.

I woke up in the mornings, and first thing I did was throw up at least half a dozen times. Because the smell of the tooth-paste didn’t agree with me, I again threw up. Chocolate milk (YES, CHOCOLATE MILK!) didn’t agree with me, coffee didn’t agree with me, tea didn’t agree with me. So I sucked on ice cubes. I didn’t bond with the slowly growing foetus like soon-to-be-mothers do, not in the first trimester, not in the second, not in the third, not when the baby was out. You see, all this while, I was throwing up, up and away. I would be pretending to work whilst being comfortably parked on my specially-designed-for-pregnant-women chair, and all of a sudden, I’d be retching, yelling, “Gangway! Gangway!” to get to the bathroom. I think I spent more time in the bathroom while being pregnant than any other place.

I’d been diagnosed with a very rare condition of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. My file at the OB-GYN was the bulkiest of all of her patients put together. In the car, out of the car, at the doctor’s, in the park, at work, on the road, in a mall, in a restaurant, just about to hit the toilet, there was not a place I didn’t throw up. I lost weight. People actually asked me when I was five months pregnant, “Are you really pregnant? It’s not showing!” LOL.. Oh how I wanted to hit a chair in their faces. Foods that I once liked, made me recoil in horror. To add to this madness, I also developed Trypophobia. So even flowers and such made me gag. I was a walking, talking, vomit-machine. I’d stopped feeling embarrassed about my condition, must be the mama-bear instinct kicking in. If people frowned while I was retching on the side of the road, the vomit and my hair, swaying together in the wind, I’d just yell at them, “Do you want me to throw up on you?”

The whole phase of shopping for the baby was a blur. My husband was the excited one, so he did it all- the crib and the washcloths and the diapers and the bottles, sterilisers, the swaddling techniques, the nursery, everything. I just ordered a teddy-bear online because I’d heard kids like teddy-bears.(Mine didn’t care for it). I was quietly tucking away the vomit-inducing protein bars to the ants and dogs and whatever creatures I could find and claiming at the end of the day I ate them all. All I could eat was ice cream and ice cubes- that made me realize that my baby would turn out pretty cool, the mother eating all these cold things.

The first trimester ended, the doctor said, the sickness will stop now. The second trimester ended, the doctor said, the sickness will stop now. The third trimester ended, the doctor said, it’s not going to end, you’re a weird one. DUH!

So, all the joys of pregnancy were washed away with a gazillion toilet flushes. There was no glow on my face, just a very frowny sweat. I didn’t have to buy maternity pants. My old pants fit just fine. The baby kicked and kicked, like I was holding him hostage inside me. My abdomen was in constant pain and I didn’t sing or talk to the baby. I listened to a lot of Jack Johnson and now when I hear him, I throw up.

Finally, the water broke. There was thankfully no labour pain, I said, “Cut it open!” It was a little scary, being butt naked, epidural in the spine, a team of doctors, all poking and stretching and going squish-squish in my innards. Finally, the boy was out. A big blob, like from “Stranger Things”. I don’t know if it was the drugs or the “motherly love”, but when he was shown to me in that state, I kissed his feet.

I don’t remember the next few days much, except shouting a lot at my husband, eating like a pig and singing “Like a rolling stone” when I was alone with my son. I still didn’t feel a very strong bond, but there was something that made me wake up every now and then and check on him. People said strange things like, “He looks like his mother” or, “He looks like his father”. What a load of faeces! He looked like a pink blob with no hair.  Some even said he had my nose and my fingers. Again, I wanted to tear the curtains down and strangle them. I know they were just being polite, but sometimes, its nice to just leave a pound of cake for the new mother and say, “Enjoy!” All the 9 months of surviving on ice cubes and pills and an occasional pint of ice cream had made me monstrously hungry. So much so, that my husband resorted to formula-feeding (I know, I know, the breastfeeding lobbyists! That magic fountain didn’t work either.) I couldn’t unbury my face from the mountain of food. I wasn’t cut out to be a mother, honestly, but here I was. Singing Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” as a lullaby.

Over time, yes, we bonded, soon after the month (or two) long post-partum depression ended. At the age of 1 month, he knew mother was not to be disturbed when she was eating or while Downton Abbey was on. His father, on the other end, treated him like God. He was more a mother than I will ever be. My son and I bonded over strange things, like smelling fresh oranges, looking in the mirror while eating bananas, dancing in the shower while bursting bubbles, staring at fairy lights, spitting out watermelon seeds, jumping in puddles…

He’s 4 now and I’ve told him the story of my pregnancy many-a-times. He always has two questions:

  1. Why did you eat me?
  2. Why didn’t you throw up in the bathroom? 

And yes, I love him more than it shows. I have my ways of showing love, and he knows that. 🙂

 

Running

She was but a little girl. Of unknown dangers, she hadn’t learnt. Gleefully, enjoyably, she ran amok other little children. She did not know there was a monster lingering on. She did not even know monsters existed. She skipped and hopped, laughed with a shrill cry, that only little girls are capable of. Unbeknownst to her play, afternoon turned to evening and before she knew it, she had wandered off into the dusky boonies. She was left alone now, all the children had heeded to their mother’s call for supper, except her.

The cold wisp of the upcoming fall made her long for her coat. The blades of the grass were feeling wetter with each step now. She wondered what she was walking upon. Her judgement was telling her to turn back and find her way home. But curiosity trumped her psyche. Very soon, she was in need of galoshes; the squish and the squirm was too much for the little huaraches she had strapped on. Her yellow dress and her light brown hair were starting to bear the brunt of the muck surrounding her. She finally began to fear, she longed for home, she longed to be safe.

The monster lurking behind her all this while sensed that the little girl was ready to prey upon. At first, his red eyes gleamed with gluttony. His breath sharpened as he got ready to pounce. His heart, or whatever that organ was that thudded within his dirty chest, paced at a thundering rate. He did not make a sound, slithering like a snake. The trees sighed at his soft maniacal laughter. His eerie presence was sensed by the little girl. She turned back and screamed, screamed like only a scared little girl can. The wilderness came alive with her screams. Torches were lit, pitchforks sharpened, and men, women and dogs, ran towards the squishy puddle.

Horrified, the monster froze. He did not know if he should hide or run. He looked around himself, he looked at the disapproving trees. He saw the slowly marching torches towards him. He decided not to make a run for it, not this time, when he had come so close to being discovered. He stood his ground, all the while listening to the little girl scream. He made no attempts to silence her, he made no attempts to calm her. He just stood there, waiting for the discernment. He discovered a small knife in his pocket and whipped out the shiny blade out of his pocket as fast as he could. He laughed and told the still screaming little girl, “Ally, my little girl, I was looking for you!” He slit his wrists and let the blood gush out; the red mixed with the murky water in the puddle. The slit wrists resembled a fountain of red, a raging stream of red, leaking wildly. Ally now looked at the unconscious man closely, lying in the pool of blood and dirty water, and wondered, “He looks like the man from the pictures mum showed me.” She began wailing, confused and scared. Soon, she saw her mother approach in the distance, carrying her yellow galoshes. The galoshes she knew her father had brought her, not so long ago.

Evil eye on tie

The trousers, bespoke, cut to perfection,

Of little-known hand-spun yarn.

Lay in the sun, wringed and vivacious.

To create unique unidentified lines.

Of all the papyrus and linen used,

The wonders of this fabric abound.

 

From mysterious faraway places,

To the lands of dragons and agung.

To the discerning eye, a sigh of ecstasy,

To the indiscriminate, just a piece of rag.

Beau monde and au naturel, together,

Applauded and flagellated.

 

 

 

Rancour

After a good night’s sleep,

Jarred with a sweet banter

Awakened with caffeine,

The shingle from the roof

Came down tumbling.

Red fruit and green,

Adorned in a yellow bowl,

Uneaten, in spite of the hunger;

The wayward scion dawdled.

Slumbering in a sheathed shroud,

The big man lay insentient,

To the troubles of the throngs,

Because his spine was in pain,

He said, he did not care.

Meanwhile the greedy feline,

With a gluttonous greedy linger,

Dotted the silence in the abode,

With his menagerie of toys.

The day, yet to unravel.

All the séance and flotsam.

Was already ostracized,

By the clashing of the oblivious.

 

Rampage

The dependence on alcohol develops over time. The dependence on controlled substances develops over time. The dependence on someone develops over time. The dependence on routine develops over time. The dependence on dreams develops over time. Over time, everything develops and deconstructs.

The man was in need of a bottle of bourbon. And some pills. And someone to talk to. He had everyone around him, but he was as alone as he had ever been. The capricious child, the sleeping zombie, the zoo he call home, were not exhibiting the usual inviting vibes tonight. he was in need of port-keying to another dimension. Why was this urge to escape so strong? He could not, He would not, but the fact remains, there was an urge. He was not ashamed of it. He liked escaping, into a world where everything he imagined was possible. And he imagined so little. He asked to be happy, without being unhinged. He asked to see the snow, without wearing a jacket. He wanted to get away from people and places.

Him, his solitude, just stare out the window. Morose and engulfed by the shenanigans of the world, he poured himself a golden elixir. Within minutes of gulping it down, he was dancing with the wolves, yodelling with the werewolves, flying with vampires and flirting with the witches. Aah! That elixir had brought to life all the merry things he so wished for. He no longer was gloomy, if only a tad unsteady. He looked around the same room he was in before and realised that the crystal had found its way to the ground, much to the chagrin of the old lady he lived with. He did not care. He smiled a sinister, satisfied laugh and ran into the snow-field, where, weeks ago, he had dug a hole, about six feet deep, now blanketed with brown twigs and snow. He laughed maniacally at his own grave and jumped in. He stayed there and wondered if he should put a window there, so he could see through. He wondered if the snow tonight would freeze him solid. He laughed at the thought of that and began to pack snow into balls, throwing it in the air and catching it over his dirty brown hair. He did this till he was tired. He did this till a wold cried in the distance. He laughed and howled back. He decided it was time to go, and he started to sit up, climb up, but the stormy snow did not help. He tried, he gave up. He let the snow take over and took cover in the snow. He lay down with perfect contentment, smiling with a heavy heart. He asked the snow to tell the sun to give a light kiss to his wife and son in the morning. He asked the snow to not melt and stay there, even when the sun shone. He thanked the snow and lay there in peace.

Three days passed, the-zombiesque woman that he lived with remembered that someone was missing from their house. The dogs smelled him out. He was smiling, albeit a purple-blue smile, the dirty brown hair, slicked by the snow. The body, as rigid as can be. His eyes were open, much to the bewilderment of the locals. They hadn’t seen many bipolar bears on the other side of the rainbow. A funeral procession was held, much to the dislike of the deceased, where hymns and hyacinths were laid. He chuckled from within his dark coffin, “What are they chanting about? I was a bipolar, and they all though I was crazy.”