Family

We are taught, right from the day we have some understanding of our surroundings, that family is your parents and your siblings. Then you have an extended family which is your aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins. For many years I believed this. Family to me was always father, mother, children. It was an etched-in-stone kind of definition.

The world as we know it as moved away from this definition. There are many women who choose to be single mothers, there are many men who choose to be single fathers. Then there is the gay community, where family is either father, father and children or mother, mother and children. Families now come in all shapes and sizes. Not every family fits into the age-old definition of father, mother and children.

I grew up in a middle class nuclear family. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents were people we interacted with during the summer vacation. My core was my father, mother, brother and paternal uncle who lived with us. This was my space in the universe. In this space, I was allowed to feel, I was allowed to talk, I was allowed to be me. If I said something out of disrespect, I was corrected. If I said something out of anger, I was given the space to calm down. If I did something wrong, I was told why it was wrong and I was given the opportunity to apologize. My family had a lot of friends and we called them family friends. These were people who lent a hand financially when my parents were struggling to pay my school fees or were short handed at the end of the month. They were there with us emotionally, by encouraging us to push a little higher and have some success in the print world. We participated whole heartedly in each others family events, marriages, death, birth, etc. I have seen more of my parents friends come to our house, have a meal of simple chapathi and curry or whatever was there, than my aunts and uncles.

My concept of family developed through these people. They were family to me, not just family friends, because they were there for us. They didn’t tell my parents that they were trying to do something impossible by trying to set up a print shop. They didn’t judge my parents and say why are you sending your children to the best and most expensive school when you know you cannot afford it. They didn’t comment on the clothes we wore, or the humble living quarters. They sat cross legged on the floor and ate what my mother served. Without asking they brought money and handed it over to my parents. I owe these people a lot and remember them fondly. Many of them have passed, but they were placed in our lives for a reason.

I am a movie buff. A few movies have left a lasting impact on me. One such movie is English Vinglish. After learning English, at the end of the movie, the protagonist defines what a family is, and those words have stuck with me. She says, ‘a family is not judgmental’. That’s precisely how I was raised. My family and everyone around my family, our support systems, never judged us. So that is my definition of a family. A group of people who do not judge you and with whom you can be you.

As I go through my divorce, I have been re-drafting my age-old family definition of father, mother, children. Now my family is mother and children. And that is okay, because for single moms, mom and children is family. My son recently asked me what is family. I told him from my experience this is what I have learnt – a group of people who don’t judge you and let you be you. He said, you took the words out of my mouth. I am glad, rather proud, that my child is not stuck to age old family definitions. That he understands, family is not judgmental.

first kiss..

“Do you remember dear?”

“What honey?”

“Our first kiss?”

“What made you think of that?”

“Those young ones we saw at the park today..”

“They were cute, weren’t they?”

“Yes, just like us, many many years ago. How long has it been now?”

“Let’s see, it was 1952, so fifty nine years ago.”

“We were so young..”

“Yes, you were sixteen and I was eighteen.”

“You looked so handsome..”

“The white blouse you wore was spotless, with lace around the neck.. “

“Oh you remember?”

“Yes my love, I do. Like yesterday.”

“I love you darling..”

“I love you too honey…”

My solitude

The darkness of the night
The quiet rustle of the leaves
The smell of chempakam fills the air
The pitter patter of raindrops
The solitude of my mind
The drifting thoughts
The rushing thought to break free
The serenity of the moment
The serenity that surrounds me
The serenity that fails to penetrate
My mind.. my thoughts.. my solitude..

The pounding in my head
The pain pulling the chords inside
The pull in different directions
The pain showing no signs of ebbing
The light shining bright in my face
The choice which i no longer possess
The sound of the cinema
The piercing of acoustics
The pain piercing deeper
My mind.. my thoughts.. my solitude

The morning spent in quiet waters
The sound of the wind echoes
The abysmal fauna around
The mesmerising depth of the green
The wind in my face
The myriad lives that dwell on
The wondrous creation
The nests built on no man’s land
The lonely trees mirrorring
My mind.. my thoughts.. my solitude..

The ride with you that never will be
The look on your face as we take in
The silence of the night
The feel of your arms as we lock in
The darkness covering our bareness
The whispers polluting the silence
The love in your eyes for me
The words that i can utter without thought
The thought of you lingers on
My mind.. my thoughts.. my solitude..

Love poems 1

I rock in my chair
In the balcony grilled
Netted
Imprisoning me in thought
The setting sun tries
Hard to reach me
Through the lightning
Through the thunder
The clouds block the rays
Like that feotal thought
That is developing within
Lightning thoughts
Thunderous thoughts
Blocking its birth
When the skies clear
And this rain stops
The rays will get to me
The thought will grow
The thought of love
There are wars to be won
There are hearts to conquer
Sans blood
Sans hate
And then i shall bask in the glory
Of everything bright
Of everything colourful
This nature recreated
Just for me.

Self-respect

I have wrestled with the concept of ‘self-respect’ for as long as I can remember. I am not sure why I didn’t have a grasp on what this meant in general or to me. The first time this word hit me was when someone in college asked me if I had no self-respect because I pursued a guy for many years. I did not understand what he meant. What was the problem in pursuing someone I really loved? As I moved into my thirties, I pretty much said ‘yes’ to everyone. I was so involved with raising my children, that such concepts had no place in my everyday. It was a wake-up to bedtime circus that went on for years and years.

This was the time when I was completely malleable. I poured like water from one container to the other taking its shape. Looking back, I’d say, a low point maybe as an individual, but extremely content as a mother. As I stepped into my forties, life began all over again and I realized self-respect is identifying your values or simply, where do you draw the line and staying within the line. I hope I am right, because such concepts of the mind are too complicated for me. I am a black and white person, no in between the lines, no looking beyond the words. People have taken advantage of this, but that is fine.

Finally, I have the pen in my hand and I am drawing the boundaries. It feels different, a little too late I guess, but better late than never, right?

A thousand stars

wrapped in your arms
where i can hide from everything
and my face knows only smiles
there my love i shall feel your heat
and you my breath
and under an umbrella of love
we shall hold on to each other..
our dreams ..
our desires and
our love
our breaths hitting each other
and us, breathing each other
close to my heart
close to your chest
i plant the kisses one by one
the waves coming in
one by one
hitting against our embrace
me lost in your arms
and mine in yours somewhere
we look up to the night sky
a thousand stars smiling upon us