Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remembering my mother

My mother passed on many years ago. She left in the wee hours of 19th. August, while i was on way to see her. The combination of bad road, vehicle breakdown and our Mizo custom worked together to deny me the sight of her body. Perhaps because of this, i can never picture her as ‘dead’.

And she is very much alive in my mind. She lived just for 54 years, and had to bear much physical suffering and heartaches. My biggest regret is that i didn’t do more for her, didn’t try harder to ease her pains.

My mother has given me a heritage beyond evaluation. I still miss her acutely, but rejoice that she was there to bring me up.

Some old pics here: 1) Parents, kid sis & me (big girl)
2) My mum with my baby

Sunday, August 9, 2009

co commuter

every work-day morning
she’s there
in the eight thirty three local
ladies’ first class compartment

sometimes we sit side by side
chugging along together
but our lives never touch—
not even by a glance
or a flicker of a smile

she slumps down on a seat
eyes closed
wakes up just as we pull in
at dahisar station

we get down together
cross the subway
then she turns right
and i turn left
never acknowledging
each other’s existence.

what else?
this is mumbai yaar.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Working from home?

(Why i took up a job again)

Working from home sure got advantages, at least in theory. You can keep your own time. No hassle of dressing and going out. No worry about traffic snarls and jams. No boss breathing down your neck.

I had been working at home for years. Now the kids are grown i thought i’d start working from home. What’s the difference, you might ask. Well, a woman working at home is called a housewife or, ‘home maker’ by some folks who feel bad to call a spade a spade. In other words, when the home is your work, you’re working at home. But when you’re working from home, you could be a doctor, architect, whatever.

Having had enough of housewifery or homemakery, i dub myself Freelance Writer and start tapping on the keyboard whenever i can. Today, the family’s all gone out and i have the house and the PC all to myself. Great!

But soon as i sit down, there comes a loud cry from the washing machine. Someone had loaded laundry and left. The machine, (bought at a discount sale) often gives these distress calls when left alone with the washing. I rush to help.

Then the phone rings. “Mamma, i left a number on a piece of paper somewhere on the dining table. Please find it and call me,” said my daughter.

After doing that, i just manage to type a couple of sentences when the phone rings again. It’s my husband this time. “There’s a file called ‘corrections’. Find it and mail it to me. It may be on the desk top or in E drive or....” I search all over, among lots of folders and files. I find it at last and mail it.

Another call. It’s now my son’s turn. “What was the name of that Titan in Greek myth who gave fire to humans?”
“I don’t remember.”
“The gods punished him for it. They tied him to a rock and....”
“I need it for my debate. Please find the name and call me back.”

No question of I-search on a slow dialup connection with constant worry about phone bills. So i think hard, and remember we had a book of Greek myths somewhere. I try the bookcase where books are shoved in and piled up anyhow. Searching for a book in our bookshelf is like the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack. I proceed to turn the cabinet inside out. I find it after a long search and call up my son.

The doorbell rings now. The moment i open, a sales girl rattles off “Madam, beauty care instruments for ladies, for removing unwanted hair...” demonstrating a battery run razor.
“I don’t use such things”, i tell her.
“Just try it, madam; for shaving eyebrow.”
“My eyebrow doesn’t need shaving.”
“Or armpit.”
“I don’t want to shave my armpit, thank you.”
“Or you can give it as present to someone.”
After about twenty minutes of point counter point, i buy the razor i’m never going to use.

Just as she leaves, there comes a signal from the washing machine; washing done. I lug the clothes up the stairs to the terrace and hang them one by one. So many small pieces—socks, hankies, etc. It takes a long time.

The moment i sit down again, the doorbell clangs once more. A young man flashes his card saying “I’m from the gas agency, i’ve come to check...”
“No need. They’re all right.”
“Better check, madam, there’s danger of cylinder burst”, he insists.
He manages to scare me enough to let him step into my kitchen. He lights a match and holds it under the stove knobs, smells the pipe, peers at the regulator, and so on. Then he takes out a new tube, a cleaning kit and other knick-knacks and tries to sell them. But i had no money, having given all the cash at hand to the sale girl.

He leaves reluctantly. I go back to typing.
The phone. “How do you pronounce c-h-a-r-a-d-e?” my daughter asks. I tell her how i pronounce it.
“See the pronouncing dictionary. I’m arguing with my friends.”
Once more, i turn the bookcase inside out. I pull out Daniel Jones after a patient search, and call back my daughter.

I sit down before the comp again, now wondering what on earth i was trying to put down. I sit staring at the screen, but all ideas have flown away. And it’s getting late. Time to start cooking.

Working from home is not working out for me.