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

Related Posts:

Two photographs in an email.

On 19th Jan 2011.

On 19th Jan 2013.

Of Calvin, a dream, an old song, and a birthday…

What are little girls made of?

While walking a dog…

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New neighbourhood.

We have moved again.
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In October 2003 this little one had been made homeless after cutting of some trees near where we then lived in Bombay.

almost thirteen

She would have been 21 today and I miss her.

I have no words, just thanks to all who remembered Tejaswee today. This year is easier than the last one, so I am sure it does get better. My mother is with me and her constant attempts to cheer me (joking, talking about everything but what’s in her mind and mine) upset me and then I sat her down and read out from some of my earlier posts about there being no right or wrong way to grieve. I told her it was okay for me to not laugh or be able to focus on anything sometimes. I also assured her that I was much better but she really needed to accept that I was not and could not be the same daughter she had before her grand daughter died, but that did not mean I was always crying. I told her I actually laughed aloud when I read Tejaswee’s letter to J K Rowling, and how I will never forget the wonderful life we had, and the amazing memories we have now. I told her I didn’t need to forget Tejaswee.
She says she understands but everything she does conveys she wants everything to be ‘normal’. I tried to make her see that it didn’t harm me to acknowledge that I was thinking of  my daughter on the most special day of my life and hers (and every single other day).

My deepest gratitude to the blogosphere and the internet for keeping me sane during the toughest time in my life.

This portrait by Midhun Kumar made me feel I was not the only one remembering her today.

From this photograph by Divesh,

Thank You.

A Badge for ‘Tejaswee Rao Blogging Awards’ by Suranga.

I just got a mail that left me overwhelmed. This is what Suranga Date sent. I will say nothing else.

This badge will go to two best entries in each of these categories.

Click on the category to nominate a post, written anytime by anybody. 

1. Feminism is good for the society.

2. Female Foeticide.

3. Girl Child/Daughters

4. Child Abuse (and CSA)

5. Teenage Issues and Sex Education.

6. Street Sexual Harassment (Eve teasing?!)

7. ‘Aww’ -Inspiring parenting moments.

8. Sexual Violence.

9. How important is Getting Married and Staying Married for Indian women?

10. Joint Family and Indian Daughters in law

11. The Joru Ka Gulaam (The JKG)

12. Working Women

13. Homemakers/SAHM (Non-earning working women)

14. All women want to be mothers.

15. Parenting

16. Honor Killings

17. Divorce

18. Dowry

19. Domestic Violence

20. Books, Ads, TV Serials and Movies against gender stereotypes and bias.

21. Relationships Gyaan

22. Gender Stereotypes and SAGS

23. Senior Citizens

24. Animal Rights

25. Mythology, Traditions, Religion and how they interpret women’s place in society.

26. Social Crimes Against Women – Posts that cover social issues like widow burning, FGM, sex selection, Dowry, victim blaming, honor killing etc

27. Oppressive Customs

28. Inspiring Stories

29. Arranged Marriages.

30. Love Marriages (Choice Marriages)

31. Indian Family Values.

32. Sexist Language and Jokes, indicate a Sexist Mindset?

33. LGBT Issues. (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues)

34. The way a woman dresses…

35. A list of blogs (Web Sites) that deal with Gender issues, women’s empowerment, girl child  etc.

36. Women and Finances

37. What’s in a woman’s name?

38. Indian Culture and Moral Policing.

39. Contraception (The best thing to happen to women?)

Off to Pune for ‘Lavasa Women’s Drive’.

I won’t be able to moderate, read or respond to comments till Monday evening now.

Till then take a look at the most gorgeous cat in this world… more special, now, than ever before. My daughter brought him home, stinking, dirty and dehydrated, from a garbage dump in Aug 2004.

We had convinced her to let us leave him in SPCA, Lower Parel, but the cat was brought back home that same evening. She saved his life more than once (and many other animals’ too).

His name is Puppy (because he thinks he is our Mutt’s baby, he has never purred and always rushes to see who is at the door when the bell rings.) He is also called Sher Khan.

He finds birds fascinating…

He may not know he is a cat, but the birds do.

He is chattered out of the balcony when these birds spot him.

Strangely he is more fascinated with bird shadows than with the real birds. Here is staring at the wall because he saw some movement of a bird shadow…

Do dreams have meanings?

I dreamt of my daughter twice more after that first time on 3rd January, and just the way nightmares can feel real and cause real terror, these dreams left me feeling peaceful.

In the dream on the 12th morning, I asked her, “We had burnt your body, then how are you in that same body?” She just smiled very serenely, and I hugged her. I hugged her a lot.

I asked her, “Were you in pain when you were in the ICU?”

She said, “Yes. I was almost fainting.”

She said this very simply, still smiling very sweetly. So, yes it was painful, but it was over and she was fine now. Strangely it didn’t hurt me to hear her say she was in pain, and maybe I would have never believed she was in no pain. But still, how could it comfort me to hear her say she was in pain?

Maybe what was comforting was that she was fine now.

Then a small animal appeared, with a snake in it’s mouth and the snake managed to wriggle and  escape. In this dream I was aware that  she was going to go back, and realised she could ‘go back’ (or die) with a snake bite too. I didn’t want to be taken by surprise, so we went to  my room and locked the door from inside. We sat on a mudha and I held her on my lap like a small baby, hugging her tight. I was fine with her going back, so long as I would know when she left.

The other dream was on 13th Feb, it was longer, I asked more questions, she smiled very sweetly, gave more hugs and some of it is hazy now, but it resulted in me waking up with a smile and finding the camera and taking blurry pictures of an unexpected Kingfisher from our balcony.

In all the three dreams, I was aware that she was dead and was only visiting. In each I was prepared for her to leave again.

Was this my subconscious mind putting ideas in my head? Were these Lucid Dreams’? Did I ‘will’ these dreams?

Here’s what I feel: When the pain is so wrong and so senseless, there’s no harm in it being dealt with something that seems equally illogical.

And anyway I have no choice or control in either the dreams or the pain, then why not just be grateful for the comfort these dreams bring?

Another mother blogged about how dreaming of her daughter, five years after she died, helped her, here.

Setting goals, making plans, making some bits of life predictable.

Anniversary reactions can be traumatic. The added stress of feeling unwell can make grief tougher to deal with. Exercise is known to help fight stress, but only if one wants to fight stress.

Yesterday morning I had another positive conversation with a dear blogging friend. She warned it’s easy to sink into self pity, and reminded me how unhelpful and useless that could be. Sometimes we just need gentle reminders and I am sure this is how Support Groups work. She insisted she is not ‘helping’ and the support is mutual.

What happens to those who do not find such connection and support? I wish we had Support Groups in India, or we can begin to create one. Please do get in touch if you know somebody who needs support in coping with grief.

The conversation was like counseling and by end of it I reminded myself that (Quoting Starry) “There are many choices in the journey of recovery from loss.

So,

1. I found this picture of a Rangoli my daughter made two years ago. I tried to feel grateful for the beautiful memories we created and the precious time we spent together…

2. My sister had told me about this very motivating site. Answer some questions related to your lifestyle, eating habits and medical history and know your ‘Real Age’, and pick a plan suited to you. Yesterday, finally, I took out my Sketchers and walked to this video – most suitable for someone who hasn’t been active for a while.

It’s the workout you won’t quit. In fact, walking has the highest stick-to-it rate of any exercise.

Click to try if you have been wishing to start exercising.

3. I gave up sugar in tea sometime back but yesterday, inspired by this site, I bought Green Tea, deciding to move from caffeine to anti oxidants.

I also switched to fruit and yogurt for breakfast.

4. I have been living one day at a time, unsure what each morning brings (self pity, more pain, hope, positive thoughts…). Now, with the plan below, with a goal set for Jan 8th 2011, a small part of each day will stay positive and predictable.

Give us 2 months, and we’ll add years to your life and life to your years. Do two little things each week, and step by step, week by week, you’ll look and feel younger, stronger, and more vibrant. Click on Week 1 below to get started.

Take a look.

“The pain will never go, but you will smile again.”

Since I want to remember my daughter’s life and not her death, I try not to think about the time she was in the ICU. I try and remind myself that the last nineteen and half years were the best years of our lives and such precious memories should make us smile not cry. I also fear that if remembering her causes pain, one day we may not want to remember her.

And then a relationship so beautiful should give us the strength to face what we can’t change.

Last Tuesday, a dear, elderly relative was in the ICU and I felt I would atleast be able to go to the hospital, if not visit him inside the ICU. Just then I got a call from a blogging friend – (for the first time ever) Sangeeta Khanna. She said she knew the moment she heard my voice that I was feeling positive. She sounded so glad, her relief and the fact that she cared  was overwhelming and strengthening.  She said, “I am so happy you are going now, it’s better to confront our fears. You will be fine. Go to the ICU too. You will be fine. I know.”

Reminded me of another friends who had said ‘Just pick it up IHM!”

I did not go inside the ICU but I know I can. I have been avoiding all triggers and reading positive books and it does help… but I am also learning that I can confront some triggers.

I told her, “This week has been easy. I slept well, and one day I  woke up without this terrible weight in my chest…  I blogged. I read. I plan to learn to knit. On easy days, I make plans for what I’d do and think when the pain is intense and everything seems hopelessbecause there is no way to know how difficult tomorrow might turn out to be...

Tomorrow!? …we can’t even tell how we’d feel in an hour.” Sangeeta understood. She knew.

The not knowing is frightening.

All these days I have been wishing I could see a sign, some indication that my daughter is still there somewhere. On the 24th morning I made a cup of tea and spilled some and I picked a duster, and was wiping it. It was a pleasant October morning, and pleasant mornings had been saddening, because everything good seemed to rub in how the world goes on… but this morning I noticed the lovely morning without pain.

And then I noticed, suddenly, that I was humming. I was humming the first song from sm’s video. And I wondered if a stronger sign was needed. I remembered a beautiful email from a mother who had lost her daughter, just after losing her husband to cancer. She had said, “One day you will hear yourself laugh, you will be startled. But know that even if this moment disappeared like it never happened, there will be many more of such moments. The pain will never go, but you will smile again.” And I am sure I will find myself humming on many more such mornings.

I will also smile and remember her like I did on Saturday evening, when I told a friend about how much Tejaswee could talk even as a baby.

Wordless Wednesday

 

Edited to add:

Desi Girl said, “Aaj hum bichhade hein to kitane rangile ho gaye
Meri aankhein surkh tere haath peele ho gaye…

and

Hathon ki chand lakeerain…

Roughly translates to, “The lines on her hands”

Thank You sm…

Thank You for this video Sm.