Little red seeds

I got back from India about three weeks ago. I was there for twelve days. I traveled to five cities. I met so many people. People from as young as eight months to people in their eighties. These are people with whom my paths have crossed at some point in my life. People I have not seen in twenty two years, twenty years, eight years, six years. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, most importantly I felt loved, every moment I was there. These are my people, they have all played a part in where I am today.

It is common knowledge that when an Indian born living outside India, goes back to where they reside, depression sets in for a few weeks. I had heard of this, but this is the first time I experienced it. I went into depression, the real stuff, where I don’t have an appetite, I am sad, but not really sure why, I don’t have the drive to do anything. All I want to do is lay somewhere and look at something mindlessly. I tried to wake up from this slumber, but I just couldn’t shake it off. During this time Grey’s Anatomy came to my rescue. 18 seasons on Netflix, that’s what you call a treat. I was glued. Three days of winter storm, at the end of it, by lower back started hurting, because I was on the couch for hours, escaping my depression.

This morning when I woke up, I decided that I will not watch another episode, until I empty out the suitcase I brought back from India. It has been lying in my living room, open, with undergarments, unused sanitary pads exposed. I simply did not bother. I walked by that suitcase everyday, many times a day, yet it was like this thing, that if I went close to, would burst some bubble and I would gasp for air. Today, as I was talking to my mental health clock (she keeps me in check, almost everyday), I picked up some hangars from my closet and started pulling out the dresses one by one. Each one had a memory. I remembered when I wore them, with whom I was, the happiness I felt. It was draining. I found the photographs, that I had taken out of an album I found in my father’s house. The ones that didn’t have any meaning, my friend held on to those, the rest I found, today. I got that old plastic bag with the heap of one, two rupee notes, that I found in my father’s steel almirah, of forty something years. That almirah is like a person who lived with us, since when I remember. I finally ransacked his secret compartment while looking for property documents. He never let us open that compartment, because his valuables were stored there, lenses, cameras, his salary. I found so many old lens filters and gave them away to his friend. A very long time ago, when he came back from one of his official trips, he’d brought me a purple glitter pencil, where you remove the used lead and push it back at the top of the pencil, so a new lead emerges out at the writing tip. He never gave it to me. I found that pencil and took it. I found old coins, 1 paise, 2 paise, 3 paise, collector’s stuff…

As I took them out one by one from the suitcase, I found the kolhapuri sandals, that my friend and I bought on Commercial street, bargaining, a skill neither she nor I like or know anything about. We went into those shops, looking for oxidized jewelry, I found those as well. One by one, they all came out. Lying around the suitcase in hangars, piles, organized by where they will go, in my closet. At the bottom was a red Tommy Hilfiger pouch I received as a gift eighteen years ago. When my kiddo was one, when life was simple, when everything was happy. I opened the pouch and found those old coins, the oxidized jewelry, the fancy stuff I took from here, but never wore, and among them scattered were the little red seeds I had packed in a tissue.

My besties and I went to a resort for a day. A day where it was just three of us in some tiny corner of the world, talking about everything and anything. As we walked on the grounds of that resort, we saw a little red seed on the ground. I got excited. My friend looked up and said it was a tree of the little red seeds. She and I picked the seeds, one by one, like little children. She gave me a handful which I tuck away in my pocket.

It wasn’t the clothes that I was pulling out of that suitcase, it was the memories. The friend and her family who opened her house and her arms to me, my father’s friends from even before I was born, who made me feel that he lives on in our thoughts, the eight month infant, who looked at me with her big round eyes, like she knew me from another life, the aunt, who couldn’t say a word, but in the end, took my hand and kissed it, my little buddy whom I taught ‘see you later alligator, in a while crocodile’, my friend who tears up every time she seems me or lets me go an epitome of what affection is, the family, the love, the happiness, the warmth. I was pulling out each one of this from the suitcase.

As I always say, depression is real, depression is hard. There is no way around it, but through it. As my therapist says, one foot in front of the other, baby steps. The light will seep in through the crevices. It always has, it always will.


As the wind chimes sway

Making sweet sounds of harmony

We will dance to the night

In perfect rhythm

You and I

It’s a void without you

I feel you yet cannot see you

Happiness like I’ve never known

In the simple things

Lingers on

I reach out

And the wind chimes sway

Echoing in the silence.

They tell me to let go

I hold on

To us

To hope

Stretching to see

If you can hear the wind chimes…

One day

One day my love

You will return to me

And whisper love in my ears

My hands will sit comfortable in yours

And your arms around me

We will hear the rain in the depth of the night

As our warmth wraps us

One day my love

My heart will dance again

And know only happiness…

Parenting.. from a work in progress

Recently somebody asked me, ‘what did you do that your kids are so open with you’? That got me thinking. My quick answer was to be honest with them. As it is children put parents on a pedestal, so it is important for them to know that we are normal people with real emotions like them, we cry, we are angry, we are happy, we are sad. So here goes from a work in progress –

Respect – use every opportunity to show them and tell them about respecting everyone around is the most important (according to me) trait, any human should possess. When my children had issues with their grandparents, I told them, you may not like what they are doing and that is ok, but you cannot disrespect them. When they spoke lightly about a Janitor, it was an opportunity to explain, that people do different jobs to earn a living. A Janitor is doing their job, and no job is big or small, a job is a job done to earn money. It cannot be done overnight, it is keeping our eyes wide open to an opportunity where we can show and tell about respecting others. Also teaching them that respect does not mean you agree to everything another person says. It is respecting their opinion, and respecting your own as well.

Food – Not letting them waste food is another important thing we can teach them. Doesn’t mean punishing them and forcing them to shove everything on their plate into their mouths. Encouraging them to take smaller portions and refill if you need to. If they are trying something, give them one spoon, let them taste it. If they don’t like it, do not force them. They are an individual and you need to respect their likes and dislikes. My younger one barely ate vegetables when he was young. Changing this was a herculean task, but started by giving him one spoon of vegetables every meal, and being consistent with that, helped turn the situation around. Even today I offer one spoon of a new curry to taste. Wasting food is never an option.

Menstruation – As they turn around 11, provide them with sex education at home. Teach them what menstruation is, not on a youtube video, but sit them down and explain to them how a woman’s body works. And then normalize menstruation at home. When I am on my period, my children know. If I am cramping, I am on the couch the entire day. I tell them, I am on my period, and it hurts. They offer to bring me Tylenol, or ask if there is anything I need. When I go to the store and have to buy pads, like everything else, they move the packet from the cart to billing or self check out. Menstruation is something women go through as part of their life, and doesn’t matter if you have a daughter or son or whatever gender they identify with, it is important that it is a normal occurrence. My mother did not explain to me what menstruation was, or what was happening to my body. It was a hush hush conversation, something I wasn’t allowed to talk about with male folk. It was something to hide, which through my knowledge of the world, have learnt that it should not be.

Gender identity – Let me be honest, I was not open to genders other than male and female until a few years ago. When the world started adding letter to LGB…, it was an eye opener. Took me some reading and understanding that it is how an individual feels and it is ok. There is nothing I can do about it. Can anyone change that I feel female? No! One thing that this evolving world is teaching me is to adapt. And there is no other way to it. Adapt to what is happening around you. Every individual has a right to make their choices, irrespective of age. When a two year old refuses to drink milk, you have to accept it.

Mental Health – I understood the importance of mental health and therapy after being in therapy for 6-8 months. The change it was making to my general wellbeing was immense. As parents, it is not only our responsibility to mend wounds on their body, but equally or more important to tend to their soul. The basic question is, is your child happy. Not jumping with joy, but is their general demeanor contentment. Everything may not be perfect and probably it will never be, but they can be happy about where they are in the moment. If that is not happening, talk to them, understand what they are going through. You cannot fix everything, you have to understand that as a parent, although popular belief is parents can fix everything, that is not at all true. Get help, provide them the resources to nurture a healthy mind.

Porn and Sex – This is very important, explaining the difference between porn and being intimate with another human. Porn is a recorded video of people directed by a person. Physical intimacy is something deeper and real sex is not porn. It is essential to tell young adults who are going to have sex for the first time, to not expect porn. It is question everyone should ask their partners, how addicted to porn are they? Talking openly about sex with your children, will open doors for them to come to you when they have a question or are in a problem. Normalize birth control, use of contraceptives, and definitely normalize sex. It is not this sacred, biiiiig thing that is taboo or secretive or whatever my generation was taught. It is a natural thing.

Body – I learnt this the hard way. Because I always felt inadequate about my height, weight and skin color, I thought for the quite some time that my children had to look perfect. What is perfect you ask? Fair, tall, not overweight. Until I realized a few years ago, its ok. I cannot push them to the gym, or for physical activity. They need to want to go too. Color, height, weight, are parameters that can change any time. Maybe not height, after you’ve crossed your growing years, but weight is the most ridiculous number one can track. What is important is that your children are healthy, they are eating right, sleeping right and happy.

My biggest lesson in parenting has been that my children are individuals. Seeing them, respecting them, giving them the space to grow and learn on their own, is the best thing I can do for them as a parent.

So thats my parenting hack, like I tell my children, its is the first time I am a mother to an 18 year old. I have never been a mother to a 19 year old, so when I get there, I will learn. I don’t know a lot of things and that is absolutely ok. A true work-in-progress mom!


It is the first time I am experiencing waiting at the airport looking longingly at the escalators, at every face descending, trying to find a familiar face. Arrivals are always happy and this one was extremely extremely special. My son, let me say that again, my son was coming home after three months, first time since I left a piece of my heart miles away that August morning. It is the first time he has been away from home for 3 months. It is the first time he tried figuring out life on his own. It is the first time Kevin and I spent three months without him. It is the first time I was a mother waiting for my kid to come back home to me. There will be many more such occasions and that realization hit me as I stood there in anticipation. For a moment I was scared will I fail to recognize him? I laughed at myself. After what seemed like an eon, I saw that face, the smile. I pulled out my phone to capture the moment, he was telling something to an elderly lady next to him. Later he told me, she said, “she is filming you” and he responded, “yeah I haven’t been home in 3 months”. As he got off the escalator, I fell into his arms and cried. He let me cry. I was crying for all the losses while he was away. I was crying that I survived. I cried that my world was all right again.

As I waited there I remembered a rainy evening in KSRTC bus stand 27 years ago. As the red bus reached the bus depot and was turning to find its parking, I saw a familiar face, looking into each window of the bus, trying to find a familiar face, hoping, praying that her daughter made it safely to her arms. I was 17, I think, it was my debut solo bus trip from my mother’s home town to Bangalore. Earlier that morning, her brother had bought me the ticket, seated me on the bus and called my mother to tell her, that a piece of her heart was on her own in a public bus, making the 9 hour road trip. I remember the joy on my mother’s face when she saw me and asked me as soon as I got down, are you ok? I naive me thought “what could go wrong”.

As a piece of my heart made his debut solo flight, I asked “are you ok?”. He probably thought the same thing, what could go wrong.

Life has a funny way of coming full circle. I know this is the beginning of separation, like what my mother experienced, many moons ago. There will be many many more situations where him and his brother are away and I will wait at the bottom of the escalator searching for familiar faces. The duration of separation probably longer. As I said, it’s the first time I am experiencing this, so for now, let me savor this hug, just a little longer.. until it’s time for my baby bird to flap his wings and fly out again.

Let it go

One of the hardest emotions is to let go. I have written about this in 2016, a year after my mother passed. It has been over 7 years since she passed and with each day the emptiness is more clear, the pain a little less, the longing at a standstill, the despair numb. With everything we let go, we run our hearts through a machine, where it is stretched, folded, squished, broken, put together, sewn, to leave a scar that we carry for the rest of our life. Some threads take longer to fade. In the fear of going through this process, we can try to avoid engaging, and build walls around us, and pretend that they are impenetrable. We protect everything we have within those walls, yet some of those, we have no control over, rather all of them cannot be controlled. So they slip out through the crevices when it is their time to leave.

My father slipped out this year, so gently, with a week’s notice for me to prepare. It was not just my heart, but my body went into shock. I was drained of all emotions for a while. That was when the sewing was going on. There are just so many pieces, that each time the needle goes through a piece, the next piece goes missing. This one is going to take a long time to sew. In 2011 during a mental health coping session, the instructor asked the group to close our eyes and think of a person who radiates positive energy into us. When I closed my eyes, I saw only one face, my father’s. Since then I have held on to him for dear life. 11 years later, he decided to slip away. Losing that one constant in your life leaves you untethered, wandering in the sea, maybe you will sink, maybe you will make it back to the shore. The last moment as I held his hand and he stopped breathing, staring into space, my first words were, he’s gone. I had never seen death so close. My anchor has just sunk. I can relive that moment, if I close my eyes, but going to that dark place is so painful.

Letting go is not always about someone dying. My flesh and blood, left home to start college four states away. The distance between us is unimaginable to me. I was never and will never be irritate prepared enough for this current phase of my life where I get to hold him once in a while. It is painful, the heart is stretched again, and again it does its sewing business. That moment when I left the campus, got into the car, and drive away felt like someone was ripping my heart. It is not that moment that it was grieving, but the rest of the years when that being I’ve raised from a tiny being, who followed me everywhere has started on his own path. That is the moment I was truly glad that I have another child. As I think of the day when the senior sign will go up in my yard and then it will be the day to drop this one as well, my heart says to me, slow down, let me mend.

The most magical organ of our body, I believe, is our heart, which has the ability to mend no matter what. You only need to give it time. It will find the needle, the correct thread, find all the pieces and see them back one by one. Each pain takes time, but it always mends. You just need to trust it to do its work. They say time heals, it is my belief that that time is what the heart needs to mend. To push away the sadness, the despair and renew hope. After it mends you wake up to see how beautiful life is and it’s limitless possibilities. Each time you are broken and put back you are a new person, richer with experience of hurt and pain.

I love this sentence from the book Life of Pi..

“I SUPPOSE IN THE END, THE WHOLE OF LIFE BECOMES AN ACT OF LETTING GO. But what always hurts the most… is not taking a moment to say goodbye. Life of Pi

This could also mean that by the end of life, we have let go of everything, all our materialistic possessions, our ego, our prejudices, and this whole journey of life is a lesson in letting go and mending and becoming a little stronger emotionally, than we were yesterday.