One special Rakhi.

Today the siblings tied Rakhis on each other’s wrists (though Brat Three was looking at her gift while tying the red and gold thread). Then, when her brother asked for one more thread I was puzzled for a moment, “One more?”

“Tejaswee’s” He said.

I tied one Rakhi for each from Tejaswee.

This was taken on Raksha Bandhan, 2000

Rakhi 2000, Sangli Apartments

Four years ago I was still hoping, against all hopes, and praying on this day.

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It pays to be related to the right people on Holi :D

Holi Balloons

Overheard by an unarmed potential target 😀 

Kid One – Let’s throw a balloon at him?!!!

Kid Two – No, let him be, he’s Brat Three’s dad.

Brat Three is all set 🙂balloon attack 3

The kids being supplied ammunition from a balcony above.

Kids and balloon

Hoping you enjoy your Holi just the way you like to, and you don’t have to depend for your safety on being related to the friends of the assailants.

And whether or not you celebrate Holi, here’s something we must all cheer for and celebrate.

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Some action shots direct from a recent battle field!!

Wordless Wednesday

Flying…

Purple Heron, Dighal Wetlands, Haryana

purple heron landing, Purple Heron, Dighal Wetlands, Haryana

Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur

Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur - 22 Feb 2014

Tailorbird, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

Tailor bird landing, Delhi Bird Race, March 2, 2014, Sultanpur

Delhi BirdRace 2014, Basai Wetlands 😀

Need no wings

As we drove back from Bathinda on a foggy February morning…

Gallery

…as this fog lifted around 11 am Emerged the green fields… And enchanting yellow mustard blooms, We decided to stop and walk down this path… To find a field full of birds 🙂 All these birds…. … Field heron, Indian … Continue reading

On 19th Jan 2014.

In November 2010 when a parent said they lit a candle and cut a cake on their child’s birth anniversary each year, I was sure I could never do that.

But today, Brat Three cut this cake.

LoveYouTejaswee

And her brother insisted on this orange candle…

Orange Candle

* * *

Later this afternoon I wanted to rest but Brat Three woke me up, asking me to come and see something. “Can’t it wait Brat Three? I am trying to get some sleep!”

No protests, no attempts to convince, no ‘it will take only a moment’, just an uncharacteristic, almost meek, “Okay.”

Later when I got up she got this for me to see.

HappyBirthdayTejasweeRao“How did you think of making this card Brat Three?”

“Because it’s her birthday today.”

“But she can’t see it… how will she see this card Brat Three…”

“She will. She knows. She can see from there.”

 * * *

Earlier this morning Brat Three had to draw a ‘Family Tree’ for her home work and she asked if she should show three children in our family.

I wasn’t sure.

“Name the three children?”

“…then should I show two children?”

“Three is fine. There’s you, Brat Two and Tejaswee.”

Tejaswee2

* * *

And this photograph is from 19th Jan 2010. Tejaswee’s 19th birthday. The dogs came out every morning to say ‘bye bye to Tejaswee’ …barking to make her come back.

DSC_0006

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When we surprise ourselves.

Earlier this year I volunteered to be there for a mother who had lost her adult child, in case she needed someone to talk to. The intention was only to reach out to someone I was almost sure I could help. It turned out that her need for positivity in hopelessness (and I have known that need) required a constant repeating of healing, hopeful and helpful ideas. And positive thoughts help everybody, even those like us who sometimes use them as crutches and painkillers, even when some of these thoughts would not be seen as positive by some others. For me, here was someone who felt the same way about life, death, pain, hope and helplessness and someone who understood what we were living with. So ‘helping’ here was an excuse, I was actually helping myself.

I have, in the past, said to others and to myself, that it would take a lot to make someone like me really unhappy – that I could take a lot in my stride. Later, for a while I blamed these thoughts (along with a million other things) and wondered if such thoughts provoked bad luck.

But this weekend the kids and I went to a neighbourhood mall, finished some much required but mundane shopping, I managed to get a slight headache and then sat down for a late lunch, tired and relieved it was done, while the kids ordered. And then as I was irritated with myself for not ordering something else and as I still continued to eat something I wasn’t enjoying, I happened to look up at the two young people at the table, equally tired but happy. And an unexpected thought crept into my mind – didn’t even realise I actually thought that thought. How could I? The thought was – “This is contentment.”  But I did feel at peace at that moment and this is how I feel most of the time these days. How would Tejaswee feel if she could see us sitting there and if she could hear my thoughts? She would have been proud. We had achieved the unachievable … the inconceivable (to us).

So I have made peace… sort of. It’s difficult not to resent and feel angry with whatever/whoever had the power to have an almost 23 year old sitting with us in that crowded, stuffy mall on this weekend afternoon, but I am trying to learn to think that she is not really not-there ever, and that she was watching and feeling the same peace I felt. Maybe I felt the same peace she was feeling …because she was feeling it. Maybe I was at peace because she was at peace.

And I am continuing to understand that this peace (still won’t use ‘happy’ to describe how I feel) has been achieved by training the mind to keep twenty years of memories (capable of inflicting terrible pain) locked in a precious, partly cherished, partly dreaded corner.

Maybe this is what coping with grief or any trauma is all about (for some people atleast) – being able to control what we remember and what we choose not to think of. And it’s an ongoing, endless process, but not really a conscious effort. Also, it was not really in my control to do this – it just happened over a period of time.

I also noticed that without really thinking about it, I resisted situations that might bring forth painful memories. I did not attend any weddings or celebrations until early this month. And I wasn’t sure if it would be painful – and this is what I find strange. How can we not know how we would feel? Turned out we didn’t just attend this wedding, we actually enjoyed ourselves.

I had not been able to listen to happy, lively music for three years (without breaking down that is) and had been fine with never again dancing or listening to certain (or any) kind of music. I remember saying there were many who had not been through what we had, but who didn’t care for dancing or music anyway, and they lived fine, so my not being able to bear music wasn’t so bad. But then Brat Three joined us. I remember the first time I sang and generally clowned around with her on ‘Lakdi ki kaathi’ and realised only afterwards, with shock, that I was perfectly fine doing that – no tears, no break down. How did that happen?

Then there was a Diwali Mela in our complex and we took Brat Three there, and she heard music and saw people dancing and with just a little encouragement she had joined them and started dancing with them. Soon some teenagers pulled her to join their group, I was amazed at how much she was enjoying, and although I was crying, it wasn’t too brightly lit and even if somebody noticed, I didn’t care. I was happy but I was also in pain, I wanted to scream. And yet, I was actually overjoyed. I am not able to understand why drum beats and music did this to me… Maybe because we were dancing even 19 days before Tejaswee was born, and we still have photographs with the hamper we won. We were dancing again when she was a baby, then a toddler and then we were on the floor with two toddlers, then two kids and then two teenagers…

Early this month I felt I could attend a wedding in the family, maybe borrow an odd sari from my mom because Brat Three would definitely enjoy everything an Indian wedding entails. That’s how little we know our own minds sometimes (though we know it better than anybody else does). I knew I could attend, I never dreamt I would be able to dance – which is what actually happened. And no tears, no break downs. It’s a mile stone in our grief journey. Did it help that it was a cousin, very dear to Tejaswee who was getting married and that there was Brat Three in a white lehenga hopping away to glory and that the husband was looking overjoyed – disbelieving almost. I think, I could see a reflection of what I was feeling on his face.

I shared all of this with the dear friend who needs to hear positive thoughts and who asks the same question every day, often more than once a day, in many different words, each time like she has never thought of asking it before.

Here’s what she asks:

“I have been meaning to ask you something…  I didn’t even want to get up this morning… do you really feel better now after three years…?”

“I was thinking I must ask you something today, … I was wondering… does this pain become bearable after a while… you will know so I thought I must ask you.”

“You have dealt with it, so you will be able to tell me, does it hurt like this all your life? What’s the point of living if it is so painful to live every moment?”

“This is very wrong you know, what kind of creator created such a world where there is so much pain? We would not have had any children if we knew it was so painful to lose them… Do you really think… does it really become bearable with time?”

I can relate to each thought – have asked the same questions with the same disbelief, and almost always, each time I laugh, there is astonishment, and a quickly suppressed question, “How can I laugh? Tejaswee has died and I can laugh?” There is almost a rebellious desire to never laugh, to show the creator there is no forgiveness from this mother for creating so much pain. Denying these thoughts would be dishonest and does not help validate similar thoughts felt by other parents. But when I talk to this dear friend I make an effort to end these rants with a positive thought, “Maybe I can forgive fate/Creator/whatever, maybe it was predestined, maybe there was no way it could not have happened, maybe there is forgiveness being sought because there is so much hope in the love and the joy that we feel for Brat Three…  and I am sure if we are determined to fight pain and find joy again, we can try to seek happiness and support in whichever ways we are comforted…” 

This post is a thank you note to this mother for all the positivity she brings into my thoughts.

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What makes Brat Three happy – II

This October we initiated a much planned and discussed remodelling of our kitchen. Plumbing, woodwork, tiling – the works.

On one of the days, there was rubble on the living room floor and the gas stove and the microwave had been placed on the dining table, but the awesome Delhi winters had just begun and we decided to make pao bhaaji together, in the little free space available on the dining table. Brat Three eagerly peeled three garlic cloves and washed six tomatoes, and offered endless suggestions.

As we finally sat down to demolish hot, butter soaked paos Brat Three declared she was very happy and this was the kind of meals she loved 😀 

“You like meals with all this mess around?” Did it take a sackful of broken tiles to make Brat Three happy?

Ofcourse, what she was loving was more than just the cooking together and the eating together.

What does make Brat Three happy?

She had been practising for a dance for the Annual Function in her school. The daily rehearsals at home, typically included what everybody else was doing, what they were saying and forgetting to say. One such time I started recording, she noticed the mobile and started acting silly. I warned her I was going to continue recording. Making faces at the camera, she danced on one foot, danced on the sofa, danced with her back to the camera (on one foot), and then sang and danced to Bum Bum Bole from ‘Tare zameen par’ – with her back to the camera. 🙄 Then finally she turned to face the camera, coming closer, crossing her eyes, blinking and winking (etc etc). All recorded.

Brat Three: “You recorded all of it?”

IHM: “Come and watch.”

And it was funny. Maybe not as funny to everybody else, but it had me in splits. We watched and laughed a lot and then she wanted to watch it again. Brat Three seemed to be looking at my face all the time she was laughing.

Brat Three: “Play it again!”

IHM: “Again?? Okay.”

Some more laughter.

Brat Three: “One more time.” So I patiently played it again, but Brat Three was watching my face instead of the video.

IHM: “What happened?”

Brat Three:”Laugh. Laugh again!”

IHM“I have already seen it, so it is not as funny as the first time… you want to watch it again? We should watch it sometime later, then it will be more fun.”

Brat Three:”No. Play it again and laugh. Let’s watch it again and then you laugh again.”

IHM:”I am not laughing aloud, but I am still enjoying it. You want to watch it…?”

But she didn’t want to just watch the video again, she wanted the laughter. Just the laughter. And she sensed that she was the reason for that laughter. 

I told her I was very happy we were a family. And immediately she wanted to hear, once again, the story of how she brought back music and laughter in our lives, with her spirited, determined, vivacious presence.  And what makes Brat Three happy is, I think, (amongst a million other things) happy faces around her – specially when she is at the source of all that joy. Maybe that is what acceptance is all about?

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Brat Three came back from the park looking angry and determined. She asked for my phone to call a friend who lives in the next building. I attempted to find what happened.

“Maybe I can help you?”

“No. I just want to talk to S.”

Well, it was just another nine year old she wanted to speak to. So I dialled the number on my mobile and gave her the phone, she took the phone, still looking upset, and walked into her own room and pushed the door shut. What would you do? I was puzzled by her reluctance to share what was bothering her but I also felt she had a right to a conversation with a friend who is the same age (and who I knew reasonably well).

And I could hear the conversation anyway.

“S. why did you tell me not to talk to F? Why should I stop talking to F? I am both’s friend. You can’t tell me not to talk to F or J or D, okay? I will talk to whoever I want to talk. Why did you say you will not call me to your birthday if I talk to F?”

There was some response, I couldn’t hear clearly although the phone was on speaker.

“If you will not call me for your birthday then I will also not call you for MY birthday party. Okay? I am not getting angry, I am explaining to you nicely. I am your friend and F is also my friend, I am both’s friend.”

There was some response, which she seemed to find satisfactory, because the tone changed, “Then I will also call you for my birthday and I will call F also and J and D.”

The same points were further stressed in the next few sentences and then a bye.

Brat Three came out and gave the phone to me, looking visibly relieved. “S is going to call me for his birthday and I will also call him for my birthday. I told him. I didn’t get angry, I explained to him nicely. I will not stop talking to F. I am both’s friend.”

🙂

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Brat Three loves to Paint.

My sister studied art and she remembers once the class was asked to paint ‘Women’. Some painted ‘inspiring women’, some used dull colours, some vibrant colours, some showed oppression of women and some showed endurance on the faces of women. One student’s canvas was a splash of colour and my sister claims the painting managed to convey ‘women’ the way no other painting did.

Now, keeping in mind that the purpose of all art is expression and that it also helps in coping (like any other passion or hobby) – Brat Three is provided paints, brushes, paper and a general idea of how these things are generally used and then she is free to use them as she pleases and paint what she chooses to. No instructions.

These days I am being ‘surprised’ with a flood of artwork. Each ‘surprise’ comes with,  “Guess what have I made? A fairy ka (or) flower ka cat ka girl?!!!!” A wrong guess or a ‘Pass’ results in a smug, suppressed smile.

So I keep my face expressionless when Brat Three is amazed at the likeness and exults  – “Looks same to same us – as if it’s a photograph!!”

But this series seems to have some ulterior motives 😀

1.

Brat Three 2“Mom can I watch TV?”

“No you cannot watch TV.”

2.

Brat Three 3“Mom do you don’t love me”

“Brat Three I do love you.”

3.

Once I dared, “But my hair is not so long Brat Three.” “It’s a painting mamma, paintings mein aise hee hota hai!”

Also, in many pictures we are given what we like, so black hair for me, golden for Brat Three.

Brat Three 4“Brat Three do you want to wache (watch) moove TV”

“Yes! mom but I like to wach TV”

Note: The outfits, hair colour and length, blue eyes and the foot wear I suspect has been influenced by the books she is reading and the movies she has been watching – that has to be another post.

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This is what makes Brat Three happy :)

1.

More than an year after buying running shoes and after having given up any hopes that it would ever happen, after having deleted the apps for running from my cellphone –  I have started jogging 😀

Didn’t expect it to happen. I had gone down to see why Brat Three was late from the park, she was playing what she called basket ball but which didn’t look like it, but she was having a lot of fun – so I decided on an impulse to attempt to run. And I loved it 😀  Brat Three loves it even more, she loves it that she can run way faster. (She finishes the same round of the park in 44 seconds, I take 1 minute 13 seconds).

So she runs ahead and hides in the hedges or bushes and jumps at me out of the darkness, with a loud ‘Ho’ and I get a fright almost each time, and that makes her day 🙄 And how many times can you do that before you are fed up? Brat Three can do it forever 🙂

When I happened to mention this to my mother, she, all but burst into tears – she said this is what makes her happy.

2.

Brat Three loves frocks. Frilly, lacy, preferably glittery, shiny, colorful pink frocks. The first time I spent some time showing her more comfortable options before we picked a pink frock (will share pictures). The morning after she wore it I entered her room to hear her singing, arms stretched out in a hug to the frock on a chair back. She sang, “Frock I love you”.

Here are some more recent pictures in a black frock that she also likes because it has lace, satin, ribbons and frills.

These pictures were taken on the way back from a birthday party…

Brat Three, Older child adoption, Adoption after death of an adult child, daughter
2.
Brat Three, Older child adoption, Adoption after death of an adult child, daughter
3.

“…Audacious smiles
laughter ringing clear-
warm hugs and
little sudden pecks on my cheeks!

A whirlwind of a girl;
now here, gone in a flash!…”

From Usha Pisharody’s For a Daughter I Wish I’d Had!!!
Brat Three, Older child adoption, Adoption after death of an adult child, daughter
4.
Brat Three, Older child adoption, Adoption after death of an adult child, daughter
5.
Brat Three, Older child adoption, Adoption after death of an adult child, daughter

6.
Brat Three, Older child adoption, Adoption after death of an adult child, daughter
7.

Brat Three, Older child adoption, Adoption after death of an adult child, daughter
8.

She wishes she was a bird or at least a Flutterby 😀
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Why this?