The Grass and The Hospital Room

Play TimeThe yellow green grass pushes against my legs as I walk uphill on the winding road. The thin stalk of the grass is lush green, but the flowers it holds have turned into a dry yellow. There is nothing extraordinary about it but it still holds my attention as I pluck one out into my hands and swing it into the cold breeze. I continue walking swinging the grass stalk in my right hand. The stalk gently kisses the other stalks still grounded all along the road. The mountains rise beyond. The clouds play hide and seek among the rising mountains. The sun decides to join the game too and hides behind a thick grey cloud. All of sudden the world darkens a shade and the cold breeze becomes chilly. It is 7:00 PM on the 26th of May in Tuscanny, Italy.

The pain shoots upwards into my back. I find it difficult to stand but I know I need to continue walking. I hold on to the rails supporting the balcony of the hospital ward, waiting for the pain to go. I breathe slowly and deeply, counting till 10. I am nervous and scared. The pain eases. I release the rails, straighten my back and wipe the sweat from my forehead. I am walking again. One step, two step, three step. I concentrate on walking. Just keep moving, don’t think about whats next. Everything is going to be fine. It has to be fine. The next pain is sharper than the one before. I almost lose my balance as I try to get into a position to handle the pain. A strong arm instantly goes around my back taking the weight off my feet. I groan in pain and hold tightly onto the two arms now around me. This has to be over soon. I might not be able to last for too long. It is 7:00 PM on the 26th of May in Hyderabad, India.

The sun decides to stay hidden on its way down the mountains. I curl my arms around me, hugging my jacket trying to stay warm. My legs ache and my breathing is heavy. I am not sure if it is because of the cold air, the uphill climb or the beauty of the world around me. Reluctantly I turn away from the intoxicating view and decide to head home. It is 7:45 PM on the 26th of May in Tuscanny, Italy.

My legs are aching and I am too warm. I feel the need to relieve myself. I enter my room and head for the adjoining bathroom. As I sit down on the seat, there is a gush of water that flows down. It is much more than normal. My heart misses a beat. It is almost time now. My water just broke. It is 7:45 PM on the 26th of May in Hyderabad, India.

Same time, same day,  I am into the same routine of walking but the world has completely changed around me in a span of two years. Two years ago I was waiting to deliver Yog in the hospital room. Two years ago, I didn’t even know if it was Yog who was going to come into my life. Two years ago, I had no clue how beautiful life was going to be.

Two years later, on the eve of Yogs Birthday, I am holidaying in the mountains of Italy with family. The beauty of Italy is mesmerizing, but then, the beauty of Yogs smile, his deep eyes looking into mine and his hands around my neck are more enchanting than anything God could have ever created.

There are no fancy plans for Yogs second birthday. I am completely at a loss on ideas of how to Thank God for something so amazing. Nothing that I could ever do would be able to express my gratitude towards Him.  Every day that I spend with Yog is a day worth celebrating. So I am really not sure how to make this special day extra special for Yog. God has already given me so much that I sometimes feel guilty for asking for more. But since this is Yogs special day, I seek Gods grace for him. I pray that God gives me the wisdom not to try and mold Yog into what I want him to be, but instead let him bloom into what he was destined to be. He already has what he needs to be a successful individual. There is nothing more that I can ask for him.

Happy Second Birthday dearest Yog! Thank you for choosing me as your Mother!



Tooth Fairy Part III

I love Mummy Daddy

Among the many gifts that God has bestowed on Toyna, includes a set of rare white milk teeth. While all of us have had milk teeth when we were small, Toynas milk teeth are rare because they are so strong that none of them fall off on their own. They start shaking, shaking, shaking one fine day. We wait for weeks and sometimes months, and then finally go and get them extracted with the dentist to make room for the new tooth that is already on it’s way out.

She was petrified of the dentist the first couple of times. Then she slowly started taking the whole procedure in her stride. (Read Tooth Fairy Part I, and Tooth Fairy Part II related to these two phases.) But yesterday, she graduated to the next level of dentist phobia – she tried to become the dentist herself.

The latest front lower tooth had been shaking for about two months now. Given a very busy schedule at work, I have been postponing the dentist visit from one day to another. Every day, Toyna used to check to see if the teeth was going to fall on its own. Every day she would poke and push it a little, but to no avail. Yesterday night, she got so frustrated with the shaking tooth that she decided it was time for some serious action. She stood in front of the mirror and pulled and pulled at her tooth for one straight hour. She pulled lightly first, but as the tooth remained fixed, she started increasing the force bit by bit. Slowly blood started oozing out. I thought she would be scared on seeing the blood but on the contrary she got excited about it. She took it to mean that she was making progress.

She got some cotton balls to dab the blood and continued pulling. In between, she would stop and exclaim, “Mama! It is paining, that means that the tooth is loosing up! I will make sure this thing doesn’t stay in my mouth one more day!!” After a while as she would change the cotton soaked with blood, she would say, “Only Ganga is flowing, but why doesn’t this mountain move!”

I have been witness to many tooth extractions in the past to know that what Toyna was attempting to do was perfectly safe for her. However, what I was not prepared for was her perseverance and her capacity to bear pain in order to achieve her objective. The oozing blood did not scare her. The pain as the root refused to budge did not deter her. She had one single goal and that was to finish this task at hand. As she got tired of standing in front of the mirror, she went to her study and pulled a chair for her to sit and continue pulling.

I sat on my desk with my laptop, two feet away from her, pretending not to be focused on what she was doing. But honestly, all my attention was on this little girl, who had somehow grown so big to be able to inflict this pain on herself. I did not encourage her, or try and stop her. I just wanted to see how far she would go.

Soon it was 11 PM and the tooth, although barely holding on, was still there. Toynas body was tired. Her eyes were wet with frustration, but she had not yet decided to give up. I stepped in at this time and suggested that we take a break for today. We can ask the dentist to help us close whatever little was left of the tooth. She reluctantly agreed and I wrapped her up for bed.

As I came back to sit on the table, my eyes fell on the red cotton lying on my table. This was the second time in life that I realized that Toyna is capable of moving forward in spite of immense physical pain, just based on her sheer determination. I pray that she continues to tap into this strength as she moves ahead in life. She is a fighter and given this strength she is bound to win.

And since I might not always be around to remind her of her strengths, I choose to write these blogs. I hope that she uses these someday to remember her Mom and understand why her Mom was really really proud of her.

P.S. We did get tooth extracted today. As per the doctor it was already almost out. He had to just bend it a little and it came out.

Read more about the first instance of her fighter spirit.

Thinking of buying a new Papa

Pavan Shilpa Toyna Yog

My phone rings as we sit down for dinner. I had kept it for charging about 100 yards away from the dining table. Toyna runs to grab it before I can even get up from my chair. She quickly hands it over to me, worried that it will get cut before we can answer it. As I open the cover to see who the caller is, she looks straight in my eyes and asks, “Papa?”

I am leaving for work, I pick up my laptop bag and handbag; wish everyone good bye and step out the door to wear my shoes. Yog runs forward through the open door calling out to me, “Mama…. Papa.” With that, he extends his hand towards me to hand me something that I had forgotten to pick up – my phone.

So you see, we don’t call my phone just a phone in my house. We call it “Papa”. Here is the story of how my phone got its new name.

Given the continuous travel that Pavan has to go through, the children are used to seeing their Dad more often on the phone than in person. Each time that I get a call at home, I have to answer two inquisitive souls whether it is their Dad on the line and whether they can talk first. For them the phone is the only connection to someone they love so dearly. Toyna still understands that it is a phone and is used by Papa to connect with us. But for the two year old Yog, it is not a phone. It is the physical body of Papa with his soul residing inside that metal body. So he literally calls the phone Papa.

I am honestly quite surprised with the bond that they share with Pavan. When the business changed direction and the travel increased so dramatically, I was quite resigned to the fact that the children would not be able to connect with their Dad as much as we had hoped for. Toyna has still spent a good amount of years with Pavan, but little Yog has hardly spent any time with his Dad. When he was too young, people used to joke whether he even recognizes his Dad or not. To be honest, I used to also worry that he might develop stranger anxiety around Pavan.  I am really relieved that all my fears were completely unfounded. Not only does Yog remember Pavan very well, he adores Pavan just like a two year old would adore his Dad.

I could give credit to the metal Papa for keeping us all connected, no matter the physical distance or I can thank the Papa made up of flesh and blood for somehow having the connection at the deepest level with his children. Sometimes I feel that it is unfair that I have to toil day and night, finish homework, meals, school projects and picnics to be able to build that kind of connection. On the other hand, Pavan doesn’t need to do any of that and still maintain that connection with his sweethearts.

Whatever it might be, I am not complaining about the arrangement. And yes, I am still looking for a new Papa. I cannot afford to have an inefficient Papa become the reason behind a poor connection with the childrens’ Papa.

My Children created their Mother

for you Mama

Here is the blunt truth – I was completely lost, till my children found me.

They say parents are the ones to guide, support, and nourish their children. I agree; I might have done all that for my children in the physical sense of the word. I have provided food, shelter, and clothes to them. But in return they have provided me a reason to laugh, a reason to believe, and a reason to live. Maybe, if I didn’t have them in my life, I would have made millions, traveled to the moon and back, and lived life as if there was no tomorrow. Since I have had them in my life, I have spent all my savings in tuition fees and classes; I have managed a 30 minute walk every alternate day and I plan for not only today and tomorrow but ten, twenty, thirty years from now. But the most important thing is that I have learnt to dream.  Now I dream for them. I dream for me.

No matter how battered my body or my soul is, they give me a reason to stand up again and keep moving forward. Even when I have given up on myself, they refuse to give up on me. They believe in me with such conviction that I have no choice but to believe in myself.

After I had my daughter 10 years ago, I didn’t think I would ever have a second child. I was a firm believer of a small, happy family. I never thought I could manage the responsibility of two kids and still have a life of my own. Six years down the line, I realized that the most important defining moment for my life was when my daughter was born. She had found the lost “me” in me. It was then that I realized I had the opportunity of doubling my fortunes by having another child. Once decided, I counted days, months, missed periods and miscarriages, waiting to receive the gift again. This time around, the gift turned out to be a boy. From the day that I have held him in abdomen, my arms and now by finger, I have seen the miracles unfolding around me. In  spite of the poo, the pee, the vomits and the sleepless night, life couldn’t have been more beautiful! Yes, I have days when I feel I can’t possibly go on. The exhaustion, both physical and mental can really pull me down. But then one look at both of them and I know I don’t have a choice but to keep moving on. They are counting on me to be strong. I could never possibly let them down.

I have two of them, my spouse, my parents and my friends to cherish and love in life. But for them, I am their world. From the smallest bruise to the biggest prize, nothing is complete without me being a part of it. From the minute I get home from work, they both are around me, trying to get my love and attention. Their drawings are for me. Their dance is for me. Their stories are all for me. Their love for me fills any void that could have ever existed in my life. I know it is bound to change over the years. But for now, I am exalting in the luxury of being the most important person in the lives of two most beautiful people in the world.

So you see, it is actually they who have defined me, made me the person that I am. I have much more to be thankful to them, than they to me. Their Mother is their creation and I am sure they are pretty proud of her. This Mother’s Day, I thank them for finding me when they did, else I would have probably had no reason to come back from the moon.

The Human Connection

New Baby

It was 3:30 in the afternoon. The traffic was thin. This was a real good sign as I had little patience to maneuver the traffic. I whizzed past on the sizzling, dry summer roads trying to cover as much distance in as little time as possible. As I left more and more cars behind, my mind started to go back into flashback mode.

It was about 14 years ago that we received the news that my eldest sister was expecting. I was young, single, and into my first job in those days. The excitement to welcome a new born in to the family just drove my mom and me crazy. We shopped, stitched and embroidered clothes for the expected baby over months. I held him in my arms and cared for him with all the love I was capable of. In my heart I always believed that I could never love any child more than this lovely, round, boy.

After that year, with God grace, we have had five more children in our immediate family; two of them being my own. And to my  own surprise, I realized I love each one the same as I did the first one, so many years ago. When news broke out that my Sister-in-law was expecting another child, we were definitely thrilled. But in terms of excitement to prepare for the new baby, there was not much. Many days, I felt guilty for not planning, preparing or shopping for the latest addition to the family. But then two kids, office and other responsibilities managed to soon drown the guilt.

Since the last few days, we have been expecting to hear the good news of the baby. It finally arrived at 2:53 PM today. As soon as I received the news, I could barely sit still, leave alone drive a car. I wanted to climb the highest building; stand on top of the roof and shout on top of my voice, “Ït’s a Boy! It’s a Boy!! Did all of you hear, “It’s a Boy!?!”

Come to think of it, the excitement was not so much to do with whether it was a boy or a girl. The excitement was just about the new addition to the family. I knew, from this moment on, life would never be the same. The driver in front of me could not sense my urgency, so I had to give him a sharp honk, and push forward into the afternoon. It is then that I am realized, that no matter how poor I had done on preparation for this latest angel; he was undoubtedly bound to get the same, if not more, love that all his previous siblings. I realized that no matter how many nieces and nephews you already have, your heart has place to hold one more, special one for sure.

I think, most importantly, I realized that I have never felt this happy on any promotion, project, business deal, ever in my life. I would never ever shout on roof tops if I bought a new house, or a car or a diamond necklace. But that little infant, in his new born crib, had this power to make his aunt go absolutely wild. Now that is the power of the human connection. That is why we exist. And that is what makes life worth living.

Cheema Tutu

ButterfliesYog has been a late bloomer in terms of speech. This in no way means that he was not able to express himself till now. His deep black eyes can speak volumes, just by holding your gaze for a split second. In addition, he is blessed with two  super active hands. Using the combination of his eyes and hands, he has been managing quite well thus far.

While most kids his age are now making sentences and expressing themselves well, Yog is discovering two letter words now. We have waited close to two years to converse with him using words, so each word that he speaks sounds like Beethoven to our ears. His all time favorites are “Ee Amma, Ee Akka” (This is Amma, This is Akka). Then he has “Amma Da” (Amma come), broom broom, bow wow, in his vocabulary too. He recently got hurt and didn’t want anyone to touch him. That started, “No Touch!”.

Today, when we stepped out to play on the street in the evening, Yog spotted an ant busily going back to its home. He was fascinated by the ant, and bent down low to watch it for a while. He then tried to catch it in his pincer grasp but his baby fingers could not manipulate the ant. Thinking what to do next, he stood up quickly and stamped the ant with his shoe. Toyna and me were both watching him intently till now, gasped at his action. We never thought Yog was capable of such cruelty. We shook our heads in disapproval and tried to tell him that it was not good to hurt anyone. He realized he had done something wrong and lifted his foot to check out on the poor ant. The ant by now had been crushed into a small ball resembling a tiny spider. Yog was upset on seeing this. He reached out and held my hand. With his other hand, he pointed at the dead ant and said, “Cheema Tutu” (“Ant broke”). In spite of the gravity of the situation, Toyna and me burst out laughing. I had to hug Yog and console him for a while. As we went back home, he kept shaking his head from side to side and repeating, “Cheema Tutu”.

As his vocabulary expands each day, I am sure the whole house is in for many more laughter sessions. I guess, the more we had to wait for him to speak, the more we will enjoy the little conversations that he makes using his words.

P.S. – Cheema means Ant in the Telugu language. Tutu means Broke in baby language (because it is difficult to say “Toot Gaya” in full scale Hindi). Yes, Yog uses all Hindi, Telugu and English in his conversation. So if you wish to speak to him, any time soon, you need to know all three languages. 🙂