Road Rage

This morning, unlike any other morning, I found myself stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jelly; not a jam, a traffic jelly. I don’t get out much, what with the NOx and the general laziness and the outside not having much to offer, so when I do get out, I get very anxious. Accompanied by a 4 year-old who already has political views, I set out for the journey, equipped with all the gear a mom needs; Hot Wheels, juice boxes, snack boxes, snot-rags, and a teddy bear that the 4 year-old has adopted as his son. He is already proving to be a better parent than me, giving the teddy bear fresh fruit instead of boxed juices and making him a “pretend” hot home-cooked meal and brushing his “pretend” teeth, twice a day. And he reads to him too, from a book; Unlike me, I just make up stories.

So, back to the traffic. I saw most people in agony. There was honking and arm-waving and finger blowing and name calling and a lot of F-bombs dropping. I sat back and enjoyed the traffic jelly. It was fun to watch, everyone was late for work, everyone wanted to get there faster than the others, and nobody looked like they actually wanted to get to work. What were they all trying to get to? Once everyone is at work, don’t they just keep checking the time to see if it’s 5 PM yet? I know I did that and a lot of people I worked with did that. So I am going out on a limb here and say that everyone does that. Those who don’t, either work from home or actually like what they do. (Hahaha.. like there’s any money in that!)

While I was feeding one of my OCD habit of reading the license plates of every car in my line-of-sight, I noticed those poor environmentalists, who were pedalling along on their bikes, helmet and knee-pads and biking shorts and the whole ensemble. Saving the environment, working out at the same time – good on them! I couldn’t help thinking how much impact their efforts would have in the long run. For every bike, there must have been twenty cars or more. That environmentalist was breathing in pure ob-NOx-ious fumes. Not to mention, those bikes look so fragile, a monstrosity of a car can knock them down by just being around. The green warriors are trying so hard, one plastic bag at a time, and most of us do nothing. I mean, we are even killing WHALES! And those mammals are huge, and yet we found a way to destroy them. People destroy everything. (And my rants start now…) Even my 4 year-old said, “Just look at this country!” He does not understand country and state and continent and division as such, he just picked it up from his father, but he was spot on with the timing. He, in fact, pacifies his raging father when the latter is driving and yelling, “These idiots need to learn how to drive!” by chiming in, “Please Daddy, the idiots also need to get home.” Some kick-ass parenting, huh?

So, to sum it up, I lost my train of thoughts now, and the sparks of brilliance that had illuminated my mind back in the traffic, are gone. So I leave you with this:

So if I stand in front of a speeding car
Would you tell me who you are, what you like?
What’s on your mind, if I’d get it right?
How I love that no one knows
And these secrets all that we’ve got so far
The demons in the dark, lie again
Play pretends like it never ends
This way no one has to know
Even the half smile would have slowed down the time
If I could call you half mine
Maybe this is the safest way to go
We’re singing
Heya heya heya heya
Heya, heya heya
This is the safest way to go nobody gets hurt
We’re singing
Heya heya heya heya
Heya, heya heya
You go back to him and then I’ll go back to her
So if I stand in front of a speeding car
Would you give your little heart?
Say the word?
Due to just me and you
This way everyone will know
‘Cause these secrets all that we’ve got so far
The demons in the dark, lie again
Play pretends like it never ends
This way no one has to know
Even the half smile would have slowed down the time
If I could call you half mine
Maybe this is the safest way to go
We’re singing
Heya heya heya heya
Heya, heya heya
This is the safest way to go nobody gets hurt
We’re singing
Heya heya heya heya
Heya, heya heya
You go back to him and then I’ll go back to her
So if I stand in front of a speeding car
Would you tell me who you are, what you like?
What’s on your mind, if I’d get it right?
How I love that no one knows
These secrets all that we’ve got so far
The demons in the dark, lie again
Play pretends like it never ends
How I love that no one knows
Advertise my secret
I don’t really need it
I know you can feel this
So advertise my secret
I don’t really need it
I know you can feel this
So advertise my
Advertise my secret
We’re singing
Heya heya heya heya
Heya, heya heya
This is the safest way to go nobody gets hurt
We’re singing
Heya heya heya heya
Heya, heya heya
You go back to him and then I’ll go back to her
If I stand in front of a speeding car
Don’t know who you are
Don’t know who you are
Heya heya heya heya
Heya, heya heya
You go back to him and then I’ll go back to her
Songwriters: Daniel Joseph Devane / Sorcha Durham / Paul Stephen Flannery / Evan William Hadnett / Patrick Gerald Sheehy
I don’t know why I added that, but I found the video to this song completely unrelated to the song. So makes sense. If someone out there can explain the relation of the song to the video, that’d be great. Thank You! And oh yes, one more thing, do not drink and drive, keep those two separate. You can drink water, juices, soda, things like that, but you’d have to make pit-stops to go to the bathroom. So, it’d be better to not drink anything and drive. You can always Uber!
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Shattered Routine

At the stroke of one,

Park bench and sun,

Zorbing together,

With other musicians.

I’d dislike the change,

It must rearrange.

In the cool blue,

You and I will play,

Until we prune up,

And plump away.

I love your chatter,

I love your hair.

I will shed a tear,

Even when you’re not in despair.

Prose to poetry- trying…

Kindergarten teachers,

You are the ones,

That FBI and Interpol should recruit,

For interrogating criminal minds!

You deal with snotty monsters,

With the innocuous rants;

All fifteen of them loaded,

With sugar-coated bombs.

You kiss the boo-boos away,

You hug them when they throw up,

You sing to them, and read to them,

Like a mom and dad would dream of.

You make them dance,

You make them prance;

At your voice, they form a queue,

At your command, they are a view!

These four-year olds are tough,

As tough as they can be.

And therefore I say,

You should handle the guilty. 

You wield a power unfathomable,

That no parent ever can.

For loving and hardening at the same time,

Seems very very tough.

Those charged guilty,

Of unimaginable crimes,

Aren’t they the same as,

A child acting up as a prime?

The child is innocent,

The grown-up is not,

But you, as a teacher,

Can notice the point!

 

** A BIG SHOUTOUT to all the TEACHERS.. You people are doing the most noble work in the world! (Started out as a prose and ended up with this, four beers down.. LOL)

 

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. 🙂

 

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!

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.

Conversations with a boy

As I was walking alongside a young boy of 4, who happens to be my offspring, he remembered the canopied lane that he had walked down before, dressed as a human-carrot, about three months ago. Says he, “Momma, we’ve been here before, haven’t we?”. I smiled at the thought of having that question posed to me after eons. Before I could answer, he quipped excitedly, “We came here on Halloween!” I grinned and said, “Yes, we did, and I am happy you remember that. But why do you remember that?” Says he, like any other child would, “Because I got so many candies.” Being one-of-those-parents who restrict sugar, I argued, “I didn’t let you eat any of the candies though.”

Now, the conversation took a turn. He said, “Momma, can we again have Halloween?” I laughed at this notion and asked, “Why?”. What he said made me laugh and proud at the same time. He said, “Because Momma, do you remember, we gave all the candies to the other kids who couldn’t get any because they didn’t have money to dress up and also because I want to dress up as Captain America.”  What a paradox he had unleashed! He wanted to give away his loot to the charity, and at the same time wanted to dress up as one of momma’s favourite superheroes to gather more candies, only to give them all away.

I went on to explain, trying to keep my burgeoning feelings at bay, that Halloween comes once a year. And then he again questioned, “Why?” Why, indeed! He reasoned, “I go to school everyday, not once a year. And school is fun. Halloween is also fun. Why can’t we have Halloween more often?” I have to admit, I agreed with him. But having been given the job of playing the bad cop, I reasoned, “Because if we have something very often, we would not enjoy it as much.” He simply said, “I would.”

I rest my case. Being right on so many levels, I had no will to squabble over the impracticality of the arrangement he proposed. I decided to instead humour him with a piece of candy, albeit the organic, fruity, home-made lousy kind, and changed the conversation to Captain America’s Vibranium shield, which, to my utter trepidation, he referred to as “wheel”. Oh life!