Thursday, 25 December 2008

Yearning for.....

'Christmas Bells'

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’


Thursday, 18 December 2008

Howdy y'all????

Naina came back from her Christmas party at School, very thrilled. She got an Animal Farm from her class teacher, as a Christmas present. As she set it up on the table she was asking me the name of animals she was not able to figure out. The familiar ones I readily answered & there was this 1 animal I was trying to decide whether it looked like a Fox or a Wolf, when she suggested that it could be a Kaiody….

I was like "It could be a ....what????”

“A Ky-o-ty” stressed the syllables Naina.

I was puzzled & looked at the animal more closely and then it flashed………Oh she means a Coyote & close behind flashed another thought..........where in the world did she learn the word Coyote let alone pronounce the word correctly, at 5 yrs of age.

If I can recall correctly, I myself heard this word for the 1st time sometime when I was 12-13 yrs old & for another 4-5 yrs went around pronouncing it as “Koe-yotae”.

I looked at her awed & rushed into speech trying to impress her with my American accent “You know, I think you gaad it right….….it sure looks like a ky-odi from this side ah taaown."

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Unwanted Third

This happened almost 2 years back. I was on my way back home from work & almost reached my door when my next-door neighbour opened her door & beckoned me in. I was tired & was about to tell I’ll meet her later when I caught sight of her tensed expression. I walked in thru her door without hesitating.

Maria & I had been neighbours for around 5 yrs then. Like me, she was also working & had 2 girls. We were good neighbours though not friends as such. That day for some reason she decided to confide in me. She had just found out that she was pregnant for the 3rd time. And it was not planned.

She looked shattered. Her youngest was just going to be 2 years old. She didn’t want another child. There was no question of keeping it. The financial situation didn’t allow it. She couldn’t manage another child. She’ll have to go to India to get the job done because UAE didn’t believe in abortions. Technically it wasn’t an abortion was it because there was another 4-5 weeks to go before the heart started beating. She asked me whether I knew anybody who was coming back from India so as to ask them to bring the required medication to terminate it in the early stages itself. She just kept talking frenetically discussing various options without really expecting an answer.

I stood there feeling terribly sorry for her. I couldn’t really get angry with her or blame her at that point. I understood her viewpoint very well. They were living in a shared accommodation[where 2 or more families shared apartments because that was the only way they could afford to live in Dubai]. Unlike us, both their salaries were needed for their household to run. As it is, bringing up 2 children in Dubai was no joke. Simply put, they had no spare time, space or money for another child.

Two days later I met her at the bus-stop when I went to drop the kids. She told me in hushed tones that her husband & their respectively families were totally against the termination idea cause it went against the religious faith. And they kept telling her that it was God’s Will & it would be a BOY this time. Boy or Girl, I don’t want another one, she said fiercely.

Everyday I would find her climbing up & down the stairs for the flimsiest of reasons, she deliberately carried her children & other heavy weights, ate a lot of dates & don’t ask what else in the hope that it would terminate by itself. And I don’t think she went to the doctor even for the 1st 3-4 months. How are we going to manage she would worry always.

I tried to calm her down but I doubt whatever I said even registered in her mind. Seeing her situation for what it was, my reassurances sounded hollow even to my own ears.

She looked more wretched than ever as the months passed & her body filled out. She apathetically accepted the pregnancy & though she never told me directly I could make out that she hoped it would be a boy atleast. I was thinking inside that she should go on her knees and pray for a ‘normal’ child considering the early battering she had submitted her unborn baby to.

The nine months passed slowly. And it was another girl. A tiny little scrap, underweight, with neither her siblings’ fair complexion nor any other admirable feature to speak of. The older children were thrilled whereas the parents hiding their disappointment accepted it stoically.

And months passed. Initially I made 2-3 visits to see them, but after Maria rejoined work, we saw each other less frequently.

Then one day the kids & I went across to their flat to visit. The kids immediately went off to their corner to play leaving the mother, child & me alone. The baby now around 6-7 months old was playing in her mother’s lap. She was looking healthier & upon seeing me her face lit up with a beautiful smile transforming the face. I smiled & held out my arms. She came readily & sat placidly in my lap. Seeing my surprised & pleased expression, Maria told me with pride that the child was quiet, friendly & very accommodating. She woke up just once at night, had her feed & went back to sleep. Comparing this child & the difficult times she had with the elder two, she & I lightheartedly traded horror stories about the kids.

And suddenly she just burst out “Godddd, Nancy when I think of what all I tried to do initially, I just feel terrible. I’ve been on my knees many a time asking the Lord to forgive me.”

“You know what, we have found a 2 bedroom flat within our budget & are planning to vacate this flat in 2 months time. I actually thought things were going to get difficult after her birth but somehow for the 1st time in life, everything seems to be falling into place. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that it was meant to be.” she said in wonder.

I handed her baby back to her & she hugged her close unconsciously. The baby looked at me & beamed. Blinking away the tears which threatened to cloud my vision, I blew her a kiss.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Cough, Cough, ahem...

The weather getting pretty cold, I’ve been coughing for a week now & my voice sounds like sandpaper being rubbed against the wall. Now my throat is aching big time. It has finally dawned on me that I’ll pretty much be coughing thru next week also if I didn’t visit a doctor soon

If it hasn’t clicked to you by now why I havent seen a doctor yet ….let me elaborate…I hate them all..Hospitals, Clinics, doctors, nurses, injections, stitches, THE WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!

It all started at the tender age of 7 when an evil looking doc holding a deadly looking injection advanced towards me while I sat in the dentists chair horribly cornered. He in a sudden movement stabbed the needle into my exposed gum[forcibily exposed by the nurse who had me in a death grip]. I jerked back in terror leaving half the needle in my gum & the other half in his hand. I still recall the shocked look on his face while he tried to assimilate how a routine jab went dreadfully awry. I’m willing to bet that for the next few months he would have hesitated everytime he leaned forward to inject another victim.

And before you ask, infact don’t ask………just don’t just ask how I went thru the deliveries. I have blanked them out of my mind. I vaguely remember being dragged into the hospital in the middle of the night, kicking & screaming…..cut….. next thing I know there’s a tiny bundled up red faced kiddo looking hopefully at me for breakfast.

As usual I have wandered off the topic……I was talking about how my throat & voice have suffered the torture of dry racking cough which leaves me tired & drained out. I hope I don’t sound too vain when I say that my voice is one claim to fame.

My voice is not the typically feminine type, a bit deep and coupled with the fact that I can talk & argue in the Queens Language fluently, fills me with an inflated sense of my own importance.

An Indian will recognize me as another Indian but will be hard pressed to make out which state I’m from. A Malayalee(from Kerala for Agnes information) brought up in Bangalore, I don’t have the typical Malayalee accent & sometimes amuse myself confusing others from my native place. I pursued English Literature upto the postgraduate level but that I feel didn’t help much except for the fact that I learnt the names of some poets & to write the same sentence in 10 different ways to make my essays look longer.

I worked till last month as an administrative staff in an Interior decoration Company. Whenever there was a crisis & if it could be handled by phone I was always the one my boss dropped it on.

*When the Client deferred on their payments I would demand to speak to their Manager.

*When we defaulted on our payments to the subcontractors I would apologize handsomely & would get a week’s breathing space to pay them.

*When there was a problem at the site the Client would especially ask for me by name & would pour their woes to me. Never mind the fact I cannot make out the difference between Bird Eye Maple & Sapeley Mapeley myself if it strolled past me(they are both different types of wood, for the totally ignorant)……I would be suitably indignant on their behalf & promise to look into the matter immediately.

With a westernised name like mine & a voice like……like somebody important, nobody ever asked me what my position in the Company was.

Just once or twice some people made the effort to meet me in person & boy you should have seen the bewildered expression on their faces. Totally letdown, they made valiant efforts to hide it. Obviously the ….ummm…..well-built physique didn’t quite match upto the remarkable voice & speech.

And just where is this one-sided monologue leading you might be tempted to ask & I hasten to let you know that I have no clue. I started this post with the intention of getting you to sympathize with my throat condition & urge me on my way to the doc.

Friday, 5 December 2008

A quick study

Ok I’ve changed my mind………..I want the Better-Half back from his official trip as soon as possible. 2 days alone with my kids & I am climbing the walls. We’ve clashed big time & we are still clashing. The only thing all 3 of us unanimously say a dozen times a day at different points in time is “Just wait till Papa comes back”.

I got up this morning & lovingly watched them sleep, never failing to be amazed at how big they’ve grown. It seems like just a year back they were itty-bitty babies in their baby-cot.

Ping!!! The elder one’s eyes open suddenly and catches me watching her. She lazily stretches her arms upwards, smiles lovingly at me & demands “What’s for breakfast????”

Sighhhh…..whatever happened to “Good Morning Mama!!!”

After breakfast I force-march them to their study table. Since they succumbed to a bout of flu they missed 1 week of school & so it was important they catch up with the portions.

“Ok after 1 page of multiplication, you’ll give us 1 hour rest & we’ll watch TV” negotiates Nikita.

Not to be outdone by elder sister the younger one adds “After my 1 page cursive writing “U & V” u must give us the Chocolates you have hidden in the blue tin on the top most shelf of the white cupboard.”

I stare disbelievingly at her “How did you know…..?????”

“We know everything Mama” butts in Nikita impatiently.

I refused to rise to the challenge, instead concentrated on their books & gave them both some work to do.

I slowly edge towards the laptop anticipating atleast 20 minutes of free time to check my messages.

Within 10 minutes Nikita has got terrible neck pain which refuses to go away & Naina insists that her ‘tiny’ fingers cannot take the strain anymore.

I patiently massage Nikita’s neck & back & flex Naina’s fingers to ease the sudden unexpected strain.

After 10 minutes, the pain comes back.

My patience wearing thin, I sardonically ask them how is that the neck ache & finger pain doesn't make their appearance whenever they are playing their war-style games.

Nikita looks at me surprised “Thats because we are busy having fun then”.

Silenced for the moment, I take another track “If you don’t study, when you grow big you will be like Sindhu Aunty(the maid), working in other people’s houses, looking after their children, washing vessels, hanging clothes on the terrace & cooking food”.

Both look at me wide-eyed & silent. Feeling a little guilty, I quickly change the topic & continue teaching them.

I give them some more exercises to do & get back to wondering what my next blog post is going to be about.

After five minutes….

“Mama, if I don’t study well, can I also work like her????”

“Like who????” I ask absently.

“Like Sindhu Aunty. I love to play with small children.”

Alarmed I stare at my elder daughter who is very seriously asking the question & then at her sister hopefully watching me.

Ohmigosh….my progeny were actually considering a future as domestic help.

I carefully weighed my words. One wrong move could destroy my childrens’ future.

“Yes ofcourse you can work like Sindhu Aunty, if you don’t study. You will have to look after small children……change their pampers, wash their bum after they do potty & clean up the floor after they vomit.”

They look at me horror-struck…

And I cruelly drive the point home “Small children do potty atleast 6 times EVERYDAY”.

Just then the doorbell rang & I went to keep away the stuff the home delivery boy had brought.

When I returned from the kitchen, I saw my two little angels studiously scrawling into their notebooks.


Nancy grins wickedly!!!!!!!!!!!

And proceeds to write her next post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Feel at Home

Before I get on with this post…I want to apologise for the language I used in my last post. The fact that I was angry & shattered is no excuse. I can't swear that I'll never do it again but definitely promise to exercise more restraint.

It’s been more than a year since I started blogging & you have to tell me if you find this post any different from the others. You see, this is the first time I’m writing a post from home. Yesterday was my last day at work.

And I’m not comfortable at all. The chair is not comfortable(I’ve borrowed a chair from the dining table coz the kids have rendered the chair at the computer table completely useless), the computer table is not wide enough like my office table & the worst of it is that I’m using the laptop after a long time. At office I had lovely, cushy executive chair, my all encompassing table & a proper huge computer with a very flexible mouse.

And the best part was, if I placed lots of box files haphazardly on my table, looked suitably stressed out & hit the keys on the computer hard, nobody dared to bother me. Here at home, every 2 minutes a head stealthily peeps over my shoulder, reads loudly what I write & flits out of my way before I get my hands on the busybody(yeah both the kids are at home recuperating from a bout of flu).

I had already told my maid 2 months earlier about my plans to quit. I didn’t see the need to keep her once I was going to stay at home. After all I had managed the house alone before also. Anyways, even when she was around I used to do most of the cooking? Why should I waste money when I can do it all by myself.

I gave her an extra month’s salary coz somewhere I felt vaguely guilty that I was depriving her of a roof over her head. My previous maid had cried buckets before she left(she went back to India) but this one went off quite happily leaving me to wonder whether I was an employer she was glad to get rid of.

Anyways after dinner & prayer I floated off to sleep happily…

This morning I crashed back to earth…

My first realization........nobody was going to clean up before or after me….there were no clean, peeled veggies chopped, waiting for me to just cook them & horrors of horrors I had to wash up after I finish the cooking. The dishes actually piled up in the sink if I just left them. After half an hour I went back & peeked….yep they were still there, looking messier than ever.

I started questioned things & routines which I always took for granted. Did we really need to eat 3 times a day? Once a day was good enough, even two times didn’t seem so bad. And couldn’t we all eat in the same plate…well the Arabs do it, why cant we???

I dropped a bowl of curry on my spotless kitchen floor & my fingers immediately did a complicated wriggle in the air…….after 20 secs I realized it was Ctrl Z.
Nope it didn’t work.

The kids were not very happy with me either. Well, cant blame them….my TV viewing was eating into their TV time. They had to eat all the GREEN vegetables on their plate & were forcibly made to take a nap after lunch which again cut into their play time.

By the end of the day they were trying to convince me ….."Mama, why dont you just go back to work??? You can come back every evening, you know"

I have taken around 5 hours to put up a post which used to take me just 45-60 minutes earlier. And, like in the office I've been multi-tasking here too...My fingers are flying over the keyboard, my ears are attuned to the news on TV, there's one kid in the loo yelling for my assistance & I can smell something burning in the kitchen.

Ok, have to rush...........

p.s: There's bad news............the kids have hols for 12 WHOLE days starting tomorrow.

p.p.s: But the good news is...............the Better Half is going on a business trip tomorrow.

The kids & me, we are going to live on junk..........

Nancy gets up & leaves the room humming "Maggi, Maggi, Maggi.........."