Monday, May 25, 2009

A little love story...

She believed in soul mates
Monali sighed as she read the final lines of the novel she was reading. She had lost count of how many times she had read ‘Pride and Prejudice’. But each time she read it, she thought about soul mates. She looked around while putting the book back into her ‘jhola’. 30 minutes more in the bus home from office. The bus she was traveling in was filled to the brim, with hardly any space to stand. Perfume, mingled with the sweat wafted about her, but she didn’t mind. She had managed to get the coveted window seat. “Today is my lucky day” Smiled Monali, as she looked out of the window. In a bus, where even a tiny place to stand was precious, the window seat was nothing less then a treasure. This one and a half hour journey from office to home, in this unbelievable overcrowded bus, was her daily routine. Years of traveling in the local buses of Delhi had hardened her.
But this wasn’t Delhi, she remembered, and sighed again. Monali looked out towards the blinking lights on Kolkata’s smog filled streets and thought how similar these two places were, yet so different. She suddenly longed for the famous Delhi brashness; to hear Delhi’s punjabaiya Hindi, for home!
Her mind drifted back to the book she had just finished. And the rest of the world faded into oblivion. For the moment she was Elizabeth and he, Mr Darcy, she thought dreamily about Anubhav, her husband. “Only difference is that my Mr. Darcy isn’t quite so rich” Monali thought ruefully. She thought about her first Mills and Boon book. How long ago was it? 15-16 years? She, like so many girls her age had found romance in those pages and had formed the image of the perfect prince charming.
The magic of the book she had just finished was wearing off, and she was back in reality. As a 16 year old, Monali would have refused to accept that at 29 she would still be struggling, hanging on for dear life in an overcrowded bus. Her future was about prince charming, and a comfortable life, a life that was better than the daily financial struggles she lived through…..
Monali was a dreamer, had always been, but she was brave enough to face the reality and stand by her decisions. Marrying Anubhav was her choice. Marrying a man who earned half of what she did had drawn murmurs of disapproval from her otherwise liberal family. But Anubhav was an amazing human being – honest, loving, free-thinking, and he had the potential to make it big….Monali believed in him, and her belief and happiness was all her family asked for.
Yet, there were times when she wondered what it would have been like if she had agreed to an arranged marriage with that super rich commercial pilot? Or that business magnate who had taken a fancy to her at some family wedding?
“Not again” Monali thought guiltily as she touched her mangalsutra. “I love Anubhav” she told herself forcefully, and found she could believe her words still.
Life wasn’t a bed of roses, far from it. Monali did get tired of being the primary provider of the family even after four years of marriage, while Anubhav pursued his dream of becoming a musician. Paying the EMIs for a house that wasn’t even in her name, looking after the financial needs of Anubhav’s extended family did drain her out at times!
Was love enough? Was she being selfish in wanting a better life? Perhaps an easier life where it wasn’t a tough decision reaching for the simple things she wanted from life – being able to buy her favourite book or music, going for that vacation. She wasn’t materialistic. But was it too much to hope for a day when she could go to sleep without wondering what will happen if lost her job? She didn’t mind working; she had worked hard to reach the position in her career that could be termed successful. If she were single, her job as the assistant manager in a marketing firm would have given her a life of luxury. She loved the challenges of her work, the money it gave her. But she didn’t even have the freedom to spend the money at her will. The money was needed at home, to pay all those bills…..
Monali was rudely awakened from her reverie by the shrill laughter of a child. She turned to look at her new companion, a little toddler looking adoringly at his proud mother. Monali smiled at the child, drawing instant smile from the baby. She touched his fingers, feeling tears burning behind her eyes. She abruptly turned to her refuge, her window. How she longed for a child. Her emotions, her body longed to hold her child, Anubhav’s and her in her arms…But how could she? Anubhav wasn’t settled yet, even after 4 years of marriage…Monali couldn’t afford to leave her job to look after the baby, and Anubhav had made it clear that if they have a child, one of them will have to be a stay at home parent. Expecting an Indian man to be a stay at home dad was taking it too far, although Anubhav did suggest it a few times….. “No regrets”. Monali was getting angry with herself now; her negative thoughts were becoming too persistent. This wasn’t her. She was never like this; she was the fighter, the dreamer. Did the dreamer in her, just like the footsteps of her childhood, slowly disappear behind the misty haze of city life? She looked around to search for the innocent smile, the wide-eyed gaze, and all she could find was cynicism. Did she lose the child in her? Monali shivered at the thought. “Did I finally become one of them?? One of the adults I smirked at as a 13-year-old?”
A sudden tap on her shoulder jerked her out of her trance. The familiar face of the conductor loomed large as he said “madam aapnar stop”. Monali hurriedly picked her jhola, threaded her way out of the crowded bus. It was drizzling out side and there was a slight chill in the air, her favourite weather. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and felt the first raindrops on her face. Monali looked deep inside her soul, and there she was, the little Monali she wanted back into her life. Little Monali smiled and said “I was never away; I am the one who feels the bliss when raindrops touches your face, when the smell of the wet earth wafts in! I am the one who closes my eyes and feels like I am in heaven, you can never shut me out, try as hard as you want” Monali opened her eyes and smiled! The smile of self-discovery! The smile broadened into a silent laugh as she watched Anubhav waiting for her in his age-eaten bike, drenched to the bone. The raindrops were rejuvenating her soul. Yes, she believed in soul mates. Hers was standing right in front of her. Together they will make it. Together they will make all their dreams come true…..

Friday, May 22, 2009


Yup, that's how I feel. Down with a cold - bad bad cold.... and cough and sore throat..cannot eat anything, haven't slept for more than 4 hours these last few days..body aches..YUCKKKKKKK

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The big IF question

Two couples, same age, same physical condition. One gets married at the age of 27 and gets pregnant at the age of 28,only for the pregnancy to end in a miscarriage. Another 18 months go by, and finally the couple decides to move on and walk the adoption path. Miracle! They get a BFP the very next cycle!

The second couple gets married at the age of 29, in the month of February 2009, and bang in March they have their BFP! And guess what? They were not even trying!

The first couple is me and M, the second is my best friend Nidhi.

Yup, she is pregnant! I am very happy for her, I truly am. I know she is going through the worst phase of her life, after losing her mom to cancer.

And yes, I am definitely happier that I got my BFP before hers! I remember, posting a blog in November or December about my biggest fear being Nidhi getting pregnant before I did.

But I can’t help but wonder…What were we doing wrong? Is it some position we missed out on? Whats with these super fertile couples? How come two seemingly similar pair has such different experiences? I mean I still don’t understand how this works. How did WE get pregnant? We did nothing new, in fact we hardly even had sex! So is it really all about the big G-D will? I got NO CLUE!!

I wish I could figure out the mystery behind all this unexplained infertility phenomenon…

Also, does being in the IF universe mean we are more informed? I asked Nidhi about her ‘week’ and she says ‘don’t ask such technical questions’. Hmmmm….

Update: Almost 20 weeks, and baby Dan is moving around quite a bit! And he already likes Mallik more then me … How do I know? Well, this morning mallik just looked at my tummy and said come on, give her a kick, and within 5 minutes I felt like a dozen kicks…grrrr

I am feeling much better then before. Got a lot of energy, constantly doing stuff a round the house, eating nice…and getting big. I look pregnant!! But haven’t gained any weight…How is this happening, I got no clue…But that’s how things are today…

Mentally, am ok. Not feeling much, just going through my days…To end with, I want to share these beautiful lines i found in Khalil Gibran's Prophet. "On Children-"Give them your love but not your thoughts, they have their own thoughts. Strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you; life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. House their bodies but not their souls, their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams..."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Marriage made in heaven?

Whenever I tell people that my husband is Telugu and that we had an interregional marriage people (mostly unmarried women) go “OH! How sweet”…

I am a Bengali, who was born and brought up in Delhi, and am married to a born and brought up in Hyderabad Telugu. Thanks to the Internet, we met, fell in love and decided to get married. The fact that he belonged to a different culture and spoke an alien language was never an issue with me. I wasn’t much of a Bengali myself. Growing up, I was surrounded by Punjabi friends and was more at home with rajma chawal then maachh bhaat. My ex boss even began calling me ‘fake Bengali’. Can’t blame her really, after all I don’t fit into the typical Bengali women image at all. A typical Bengali is ‘supposed’ to love sweet (I don’t), Maachh (gave up non-vegetarian food at 19), and Bengali literature (My only exposure to Bengali literature were my school text books!)

So I considered myself to be the multi cultural woman, at home with all differing cultures, capable of adapting and adopting different ways of life…

The problems started when we started discussing the wedding logistics. They wanted the wedding to be in Hyderabad, I said Delhi, They agreed but only if the wedding was conducted in the typical Telugu tradition. I agreed. I was already learning the sine qua non of marriage – Compromising! The eight hour long marriage ceremony gave me a glimpse of the things to come. The muhurat was for 3 in the morning! And we were sitting in the mandap from 10pm! And it all ended at 6 am! I was later informed that the Pandit had actually taken liberty and cut short the wedding rituals!

As I made my way to the station after the marriage, leaving behind everything I knew, loved and understood, my sister whispered in my ears “Best of luck”. I knew at that moment that my life had changed forever; the adventure had begun!In the train I sat surrounded by my new family, all chattering away, laughing at jokes I didn’t understand. I must have looked stupid sitting there staring at their faces, I must have been trying my hand at telepathy I guess…What were they saying?? I clung to my husband, not because I was home sick (that hadn’t set in yet) but because I could talk to him. He spoke my language!!!!

In Hyderabad, a constant stream of my husband’s relatives came to inspect the new bride. Well, they were not too happy of course. They had hoped for a nice traditional Telugu bride, and here I was: the shorthaired, salwar clad girl from Delhi. They came, smiled and asked me “do you know Telugu?” I replied with the only word I had managed to learn “Kuncham kuncham” (A little). That satisfied them for the time being. …

Meal times were a punishment. The food! It was rice in the afternoon, rice for dinner, and at times even for breakfast! I missed my daily dose of chapattis! If I had to eat them, I had to make them myself. Well I decided that is was easier to learn to appreciate rice (thanks to my Bengali genes I guess!)…I also learned the art of drifting into my world of daydreams, while my eyes wore the look of intense involvement in the conversation-taking place around me, of which I couldn’t decipher a word!

And how can I forget those never ending rituals, which were very much a part of my husband’s family, but were completely alien to me. Before marriage, the one event that was remotely religious to me was Durga Puja, and that too had lost its sheen over time… I was a spiritualist who did not believe in Idol worship, who was married into a family whose idea of a vacation was going for a pilgrimage!

3 years have passed, I still communicate with my grand mother in law in sign language! Although my knowledge of the language has improved, I prefer to let people learn hindi instead. I have actually learned how to make dosas and ear curd rice…

I still crave to hear Bangla. I call and speak to my mother for hours, some times just for the pleasure of hearing the beautiful language that’s my mother tongue.

Now everything ‘Bengali’ appeals to me. I have re-discovered Rabindranath Tagore, I enjoy the neo-Bengali rock music. The ‘shakha pola’ are my ultimate fashion accessories; I could even smell Durga Pujo in the air last October! I have discovered the Bengali in me. Now a simple Bengali phrase heard in the bus puts a big grin on my face, now my interests lingers on the Bengali channels for a little while longer then usual….

I miss the much-hated Delhi winter chill, sitting under the razai, eating moongfalis and indulging in some heated adda sessions.

I am adapting to Hyderabad too, and it almost feels like home now, but can it ever replace the city and culture I left behind? This feeling has nothing do with regionalism and everything to do with a sense of identity. Inter-regional marriages are ‘sweet’ all right, but they are also lots of hard work and understanding. I have realized that my individuality means a lot to mean and I have also learned to draw a line on how much I am willing to compromise. I don’t ask my husband to learn Bengali and he doesn’t ask me to learn Telugu. Both of us have our distinct eccentric identities, and I don’t think either of us has to give up on our beliefs to make this marriage work…. Oh btw, I have told everyone that my child will have a Bengali ‘mukher bhaat’ (the first time the child eats solid food)!!

PS: Dare I say it? I am scared. I am four months pregnant and scared.
People who know me will ask why? After all I have been trying to have this baby for almost 2 years, and now that I finally have this life growing inside me, why this dread? No, I am not talking about the dread of losing this baby (I live that fear every day. A day havent gone when I have allowed msyelf to feel some connection with the baby. I guess I am just trying to protect myself).
I am talking about the dread of what life will be after these nine months. How much will I change? Will I cease to be the person I am, I was? I will be called selfish, I will be branded a bad mom, but I refuse to let my feelings be held hostage to other’s views. Life as I know it will change. Although I plan to go back to work within six months of my baby’s birth, things won’t be the same.
Will Mallik and I share the same relation? Will we have the same easy going laid back life that we have now? Will I retain the childlike enthusiasm that helped me through life till now? That helps me see everything through the eyes of a child? Questions like these scare me.
Don’t misunderstand me. I do want to be a mom and have this baby but i do have this gnawing fear of losing myself. I want to ensure that I will have an existence beyond my baby. Selfish? Yes I am. I refuse to grow old, bitter because I didn’t take care of myself. I know it is possible to live your own life and be good parents. I intend to do just that. I have always told all my friends not to let their lives revolve around their kids. It is time to walk the talk. I am not just someone’s daughter, sister, friend, wife, and mother. I am also me, an individual, I am all these relations, yet I am much more, just like everyone else is. Some women are happy being just someone’s mom, or wife. I am not.