One evening..

Naina had been standing at the bus stop for over an hour now. The sky had turned pink and red and blue and violet. The sun was slowly moving to yonder shores. She looked around nervously. First to the left. The stores were still open. A lady was standing at the counter of what looked like a medical store. When the lady looked at Naina, she looked away. To the right, across the street was an open playfield. Children were kicking around what looked like an old football. This was the edge of town. She had covered her head with a scarf and wore dark glasses so no one would recognize her. She looked left again, there was no one at the medical store. She knew that next to the medical store was a vegetable store. Last minute shoppers were buying vegetables before they headed home to make dinner. Her mother must have started looking for her now, she thought.

Nervously she looked at her watch. It was 6.45pm. She saw a bike approach. As it came closer she realized it was someone else. She thought when you are waiting for someone, everyone around starts to look like them. She had to take off her dark glasses soon. Nobody wore dark glasses in the night. She didn’t want to be traced so she had left her phone at home. As time passed her anxiety got the better of her. Many questions ran through her mind. An accident? Abandoned me? She clutched her bag a little closer to her and continued the rhythm of looking left and right. The boys had now retreated from the playfield. A biker passed her and slowed down staring at her. She turned around. Through the corner of her eye she saw that the bike slowly drove away.Something must have gone wrong she thought again. Tears started rolling down her cheeks. She wiped them off trying to tell herself to be brave.

She looked at her watch again. It was 7.45pm. Her feet were hurting. She wanted to sit down, but there was no place to sit. She thought she should go back home, pretend that nothing had happened. Suddenly she saw a vehicle approach her. It was not a bike, it was a car. The headlights were piercing through her eye. The car came to a stop in front of her. And then she saw him. At the same time someone tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around, took one look and screamed.

“Naina.. Naina.. Nainaaaa. ” she heard her mother’s voice.

Wait..

Waiting is a cruel game
there is hope
yet despair
it will happen says a voice in your head
but what if it doesn’t
then life lingers on hope
hope of a new dawn
of spring
i hold hope in my heart
waiting for you…

In or out?

I have heard of these experiences where friends distance yourself when you file for divorce. I didn’t quite understand it until I experienced this first hand. Its like a hard line that is splitting up a bunch of people into three categories. The open, the hidden and the forgotten.

The open ones are the ones who believe you, root for you and pray for your happiness. They genuinely care and make you believe that a divorce is a new beginning to your own life, not the end.

The hidden ones who support you and do everything the open ones do, but not in the public eye. They have their reasons and I am just glad for the support.

The forgotten.. wow! this is a class apart. People you spoke to almost everyday, take sides and leave you hanging. This is the most valuable lesson one learns during this process. It’s like someone said, you know who your friends are during difficult times. And boy, have I seen some fade away as quickly as receding waves.

Pretense is something I absolutely hate. Everything is either black or white, there are no grays. The forgotten ones try to put up a show and pretend they are onto something here. What they don’t realize is that the one going through the divorce is dealing with something much bigger, its life changing, that the pretense is easily called out and becomes a joke.

I can go on about these forgotten group of people, but I just want to count my blessings for open and hidden ones in my life. Grateful.. thankful.. blessed.

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.

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?

Imbalanced balance

Recently, I got some relationship advice from a friend and it reads like this, “Dont think we are all equal or equipped to love the same or feel the same”.

This statement opened a lot of doors for me and I have been pondering over this for a few days.

I often wonder how this friend of mine is almost always there at the right time and right place to tap me on my shoulder and say, “wait, you need a little something”.

Honestly, this is the best piece of relationship advice I have received. It’s so true. Think of it, you can love anyone to any extent and innately you expect the other person to do the same. Whoever it is, your spouse, children, siblings, friends… But their measure of love for you is almost never the same. The age old, I love you, I love you more is surprisingly true. Understanding and accepting this imbalance keeps the balance in relationships. There is never a I-did-this-for-you-so-you-do-this-for-me in any relationship. The moment a transaction is brought in, the relationship goes downhill.

The millennials I know and hear about have such transactional relationships. There may be more freedom and space and all that but is there depth? Some of the people I know are just about themselves and “today”. What happened yesterday is of no value hence no gratitude, what will happen tomorrow will be the best thing because I am building it. Call me old school but the foundation of any person starts with his or her parents. Some of them are so full of themselves that not-equipped-to-love-the-same are ancient mythology.

It is sad but true that you as an individual are wholly and entirely responsible for yourself and yourself only. Every person around you is a support system, but not responsible for you likewise you are not responsible for them.