Remembering Words of Wisdom

Lately, I have been missing my grandma on and off. When she was alive, I never thought I would miss her. Now this is my paternal grandmother I’m talking about and she lived to be a 98! I had a good yet different relationship with her all through my 25 years of life. Nowadays when I see an old woman walking by, I think of my grandma or bamma as we called her.

Bamma was a self-made, self-taught woman from that generation. She was married to my grandfather at the age of 13 and since then, had been a great housewife, a great mother and a definitely an amazing grandmother. When people in general and my friends talk about food cooked by their grandmother, I have memories of none. Either we were too busy, or she was old already. I mean, at times I wonder and crave for that warmth that comes from a grandmother through food. Of course, it’s not like I haven’t tasted any, but very few. I never regretted it when she was alive, but somehow I miss that now. My maternal grandmother also passed away when I was pretty young so there are no food memories from both sides!

But what bamma always preached to us about was being self-sufficient, self-dependent and a self-taught person. Regardless of gender, she would preach about that to all her grandchildren. So why do I recall her preaching now? Because I understand what she meant, much better now. V and I moved out of our home town Nagpur a month back to live in Pune. And you know what? I have been loving it ever since. I take immense pride in the fact that we have no help around the house and every chore is done by the both of us only. Instead of dividing responsibilities, we go with the flow. We cook for ourselves and friends, we do the dishes on our own, we wash our clothes daily and we clean the house by ourselves. And I love this independence more than anything. We’re dependent on ourselves when it comes to chores. And almost everyday I think of bamma. She always, always appreciated people doing things on their own. She took greater pride in that.

One of the things you realise when you grow up is that all those conversations and pieces of advice from elders hold a very important place in your life. If you think coming from that generation bamma was a very meek old lady, you’re wrong. She is one of the egoistic women I’ve come across in my life and egoistic in a good way. I like that and wonder whether I am even a pinch of that. I never saw her praying in the house, though she would keep chanting His name. She stood by what she said, stubbornly. She didn’t require help in all her life, except for the last few months.

She would’ve appreciated men from this generation who help out their wives. She was a perfect blend of orthodox and modernism for me. And here I am, just a small fraction of her blood, remembering her in the simplest of things.

A Treasure Box

Childhood is what one goes back to more often than not. That’s how stories are formed right? Memories. Memories are all you have to stick on to, to get back to ‘those days’, live them all over again. And we, at least I, never get tired of them. Now that I am married, I realise how my childhood was shaped is so important in living life the way I want to. It also makes me realise the importance of my relationship with my elder sister. And how we have come from almost hating each other to being the best friends that we are now… This feeling was reassured when while reading Shobha De’s Speedpost, she happened to mention in one of the letters to her children about her relationship with her sisters.

For me, my relationship with my 3 years elder to me sister was a taken-for-granted one. When she was in her teens, I hated being around her for all the teen-drama that she would put up (only to be faced with them later :P). I am pretty sure I left no stone unturned in being a pesky little typical younger sibling. Our fights were ugly and nasty, thankfully only resorting to verbal ones! I guess our mother was pretty happy about that. For most younger siblings, elder siblings (without their immediate knowledge) are their personal guide to ‘what not to do’ and ‘what to do’; in general and in life. I have learnt quite a lot of things from my sister about handling my parents. Most importantly, I have learnt how life can be so unruly and so big. Big in the sense of making decisions. My sister is a perfect example of a Libran – she balances out everything very tactfully. But now that I come to think of it, I never wanted to be like her in academics. Yes, again, as any other younger sister, I would be enthralled by her wardrobe, her stationery – you know, her stuff in general. I would want to borrow things from her and be denied of it, simply because those are the perks of being an elder sibling.

The biggest academic decision I made in life was because of my sister! I knew becoming a doctor involved 9-10 years of education and that was completely out of the options! I did not want to get into engineering because I had seen my sister study so much, that too in every six months! I simply opted for a lesser chosen path, while my peers rushed towards others. And thank God I did! I love the way it all turned out to be!

So when my sister finished her degree and was all set to lead an independent life in her favourite city, I didn’t quite realise what I would be missing. We hardly had time for each other during those years as we were busy in our own lives, while also disapproving of each other’s ways. I definitely missed her, but I can’t recall why. Yes, we had our own share of gossip, secrets when we were together; but it faded when she moved to a much busier phase of life in her college. She left to build a career when I just started out on my degree college… But the phone calls brought us closer somehow, and we also started writing to each other. A year after I finished my graduation, I moved to Bangalore in search of a career.

That changed the world for me. May be because we weren’t the same anymore. My sister gave me independence, she gave me a new world. She brought me up like an elder sister. She fought for me against my family, my mother. She let me take my decisions – even if it meant learning a lesson or two from it. That said, she also acted like a possessive elder one. She bought me expensive gifts on my birthday and I would be excited as a child! We fought, we argued, but at the end of the day – we had to come to each other. Away from our family, we enjoyed each other’s company so much! She made me travel, she took me along with her everywhere – unlike avoiding me when I was much younger. We shared secrets of an adult life, whiled away weekend nights like that! She became my version of the cool mother, the supercool sister and the elder possessive brother. My first job was also because my sister had a great network and was passed on an email about the requirement 🙂

But what did not change was the fact that I took her for granted. I would see my mother and her younger sister catch up when they would visit each other, and I would wonder how my relationship with my sister would be. Only when both of us got married, I realised what I had taken for granted. Not being in the same country was something I never thought of! Hell, I thought we would end up settling in the same city! But may be the world has its ways of making you value people more, and a slightly cruel one was this.

Recently I read somewhere, siblings are soul-mates for life. They indeed are. I miss my sister on so many occasions, and I only wish that we should’ve been in the same country so that we could rush to each other, knowing that she is in reach. I could visit her, just like my mother did to meet her siblings. Forming memories… Now that both of us are married, there is so much new happening in life every day. As we take on a new phase of life there’s so much more to share – a wonderful feeling. And technology has found a way to make it all seem okay by allowing us to video chat once in a while. On those dreaded video chats we joke about being in the same country and threatening our husbands about abandoning them when in a bad mood, because we would have the sibling to run to. Where I could just pick up the phone and call my sister without thinking twice, I now have to wait a whole twelve hours to check if we can talk.

The only feeling that remains is missing my sister, along with the bright bright hope of being in the same country, sooner. All I could give her as a material gift when she got married was a hand-stitched table cloth. But emotionally, we both know what a treasure box of memories we have taken to our new lives in the form of memories, the key to which lies deep in our hearts.

Those chai sessions, those crazy weekends when an hour without chai would be sacrilege, have vanished. That cup of chai was much tastier and delectable, because there was life to share on those lovely cloudy days of Bangalore, in that small doll house of ours…

Our childhood picture!

Sister to sister!

 

A Change Of Heart

A few months back, my father-in-law underwent a heart surgery. That probably explains the title of this post…

In a year of my marriage, a lot of things have happened and this was one of them. As it always is, it was so unexpected! An adorable father who has always followed a strict routine in exercise, food and work – this came as a big surprise to us. But what the heart surgery lead to was lots of family time and sharing of lives.

From day one, as clichéd as it sounds, me and my father-in-law got along really well. Talking, laughing and sharing experiences is how we both spend time with each other. His childhood experiences, his work experience, my husband’s childhood – we have so much to talk about. We also have same complaints about certain ways of members in the house! 😀

Being the man of the house and quite a strict father, everyone is very careful with their words. But as they say, things change when a daughter comes in, which so happened. He would listen to all my requests and scolding, without any hesitation. If he needed a strict voice around, it would be mine! That period of recovery brought a new father-daughter relationship much closer. Amongst all of 5 members of the house, I and my father-in-law are winners in being talkative. It brought such a relief to my mother-in-law as she does not talk much. My only duty during his recovery period was to keep him busy all day with talks. Voila! Mission completely possible!

When I got married, I have to admit, the one thing I was looking for was my equation with my father-in-law. I have missed having my father around for ten years now, and I came with an expectation that my father-in-law will provide me with all the love that I have missed, and will require for the years ahead. It’s just pure happiness that I got to have such an adorable father-in-law who makes my faith in a father stronger.

From pampering me without making it too obvious, to making it obvious; from relaxing certain rules of the house for me to forming new ones along with me; from discussing everything he wants to talk about to listening to my views – he’s been one of the best add ons with this marriage…

His surgery gave him time off from work and stress. Looking on the brighter side, it brought him a new heart and lots of family time that he had missed while working hard for his family. It gave me so much time to bond with him, a great feeling.

As I have a habit of finding something good in everything, and now that I think of it, a change of heart brought a lot of good changes to our lives – as a family.

An Edible Affair!

Red Velvet Cake

When I got married, I was looking forward to the break lying ahead of me. Three years of working in mad schedule (and with equally crazy clients) had made this break a welcome venture. I was firm on taking a break for one year and indulge in all things housewife-ish! More than anything else, I was excited to cook meals as both the mister and I have a very good focus towards food. We are pretty clear about that area in our lives!

In the happiness of setting up a home partially (since we already had most of the stuff!), my husband and I decided to buy a new-age oven. Days of research went by and we finally got one. Both I and my husband are huge, mind you huge, fans of desserts! Cakes are my special weakness and I love cookies too. I fall under the technically-challenged category and we both were quite sure I would need some help. But, never underestimate the power of a housewife – should be a quote. I baked my first cake ever in 25 years of my life without a single glitch! And that was Valentine’s Day, our first after the wedding…

That same Valentine’s Day, I realized my love for baking – the whole process, the judgement of all the ingredients, the anxiety of whether I am doing everything right… And finally when I put the cake batter in the oven, trust me my heart beat as it does for a person who knows it is love at first sight! Thank God, for that first cake came out so well that my love for it blossomed.

Like most of us go through that fear of rejection, so did I. I had the constant fear that this stint will be a short-lived one, but that love came right back at me every time. My fear gradually vanished and our love affair turned into a reliable one. I had this guilt-trip in the middle of all this chaos when I eyed into what unhealthy ingredients are going into my cakes (I became health-conscious, you know). So, I found my way around overcoming the guilt of committing this sin and continued baking (read eating). It was exactly how a love-affair is – the compromises, the sacrifices.

As I continue to bake, yes only cakes for now, I still am excited when I start on a new one. I keep trying new things in cakes and am, thankfully, successful. I am the official baker of the family and everyone turns to me for advice. It feels nice to be in this place – an affair going absolutely gorgeous! Guess who gets happy every time the oven beeps and our tummies are all ears!