Yesterday was the puja of my favorite Goddess, Ma Saraswati. When I went through the archives of my blog this morning, I realized I’ve always published a blog post on or after the day of Saraswati puja. It started the year my son was introduced to reading and writing (hathekhori). Now that he’s in class 1, I’ve no desire to make an exception.
Like every year, my father took up the responsibility of carrying out the puja at home. Since last year, my son has become his self-proclaimed assistant, and I’m reduced to a mere audience at home. The enthusiasm was a bit on the higher side this year since my husband could manage a day off from his hospital duties.
After fulfilling the rituals of worship, prayers, and pushpanajali, we couldn’t resist overeating the prasad called bhog in Bengali. From luchi, dum aloo, suji in the morning to khichdi, labra, beguni, and chutney in the afternoon, we ended up with an overdose of the delicious bhog.
His books, notebooks, pencils, and even the laptop were kept at the feet of the deity to seek the blessings of the Goddess of knowledge. Thus, the kid didn’t have to come up with another innovative excuse for not studying. It was a no-study or workday for all of us, and as a family, we relished this time for fun and bonding.
I hope and pray for the Goddess to bless the world with wisdom and knowledge so that we make the right choices for ourselves and the generations to come.
The year was 2011. I turned thirty on 29th May and was about to get married in three weeks. I had taken a week off in April for the engagement (ashirwaad, as we call in Bengali), and had applied for 2 weeks’ leave in June for the wedding. So, the birthday celebration was restricted to office colleagues and a couple of friends in Mysore. When I spoke to Ma that afternoon, she insisted that I buy a new set of clothes for my birthday. I laughed it off, saying that I was already getting an ensemble of clothes for my wedding. That was the end of the conversation, or so I thought.
On the day my husband and I left our hometown to begin a new chapter as husband and wife, Ma handed me a new salwar kameez set. During the peak rush of wedding preparations, Ma and Baba hadn’t forgotten my birthday gift. Little did I know that it was going to be my last birthday gift from her. In five months, her love and gifts became a memory for my survival.
In the last decade, I’ve restricted my birthday gifts to usually books, journals, pens, cakes, or items related to my writing journey. I never accepted a dress for my birthday. But this year, I made an exception. When Baba asked me to purchase something of my choice, I asked him to buy me a new dress. It took me a decade to get over the fact that Ma would never coax me to get a new dress for my birthday again. Besides, 1.5 years of the pandemic taught me that it is essential to savor every moment with those who mean the world and hold on to them as tightly as possible.
Amidst all the gifts, the kid gave me the most thoughtful one. While drafting the second novel, I wrote the plot, updates, and scenes in a journal simultaneously. By the time I sent the story to my literary agent, I reached the last page of the journal. While I got a few amazing notebooks/diaries as gifts, the child made his father search for an identical journal and pilot pen sets so that I feel happy and write a story for him next.
Tender moments and thoughtful gestures like these make me believe that we still have hope left in the world.
On 29th May, I celebrated my birthday with the three men in my life – my father, husband, and son. After a decade, I asked my father to buy me a new dress on my special day instead of my usual requests for books and journals. When Ma was around, she refused to listen to my resistance; birthdays always meant a new dress. After she passed away, I never found any joy in the ritual of a birthday dress as a gift. Eventually, Baba let it go.
But this year, I decided to celebrate for two reasons – I had finished writing my second novel, and I finally had the three special people in my life under one roof on the day. From cutting cakes to ordering food, we indulged in small moments of happiness. But we also shared these little joys with those who keep us going through their support – our cook, house-help, driver, security guard, and a few more helping hands. I’m going to cherish these memories for a very long time.
On the professional front, I completed numerous rounds of editing the book and sent the initial documents to my literary agent. We are working on the marketing plan and publisher details. But, I finally decided to take a break from the second novel (BTW, it has a new title; stay tuned for the announcement). The next item on the priority list was to get my first dose of vaccination. Getting a slot on the Cowin app seemed tougher than cracking UPSC exams.
Fortunately, my residential area organized a paid vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group in collaboration with Apollo hospitals. Thanks to an alert and aware husband, we managed to get a slot for me for 3rd June. From document verification to getting jabbed, it took me less than twenty minutes to complete the process. Except for the pain in my left arm that subsided after nearly two days, I didn’t have any side effects.
June is a month as precious as May since we will complete a decade of our married life on the 20th of this month. While it’s been more than twenty-two years of knowing each other as friends, best friends, and a couple before making it official, the past one-and-a-half years have taught us both to cherish every opportunity of hope and togetherness.
While I’ll resume the work related to the launch of the second novel very soon, I also intend to start writing for magazines, digital platforms, and other mediums going forward.
I hope you have taken the vaccine and got your friends and family vaccinated as well. Please help out your support staff who might find it difficult to use technology for booking a slot. And keep the mask on; we can’t afford to lose this battle.
The dictionary meaning of Yin and Yang stands as two complementary forces that come into play to balance and create something bigger and better. When I began writing this school admission series, I had mentioned the protagonist as my 3.6 yr old son Tuneer along with Sr. T and me as the supporting cast. Through the last twenty-four posts, I have written about our experiences and emotions related to this phase. Today’s post is dedicated to those who bring equilibrium to Tuneer’s life filling it with joy, love, affection and protect him from those who might be the reasons for stress and undue pressure (yeah me!). Introducing his lifelines –
1. Babai aka his father –
I have an exclusive post dedicated to this man and his adorable equation with the kid. Yet I need to reiterate the fact that the boy had the maximum escapade from my scoldings because of his father. According to him, there’s nothing that the boy could do wrong. It didn’t matter if the boy refused to answer any question, showed no interest in picking up English or denied his knowledge about my name. His standard reply to any exasperated statement of mine went as “But he’s such a sweet boy”. The apple of his eye is getting so sweet every day (read naughty) that I’ve started fearing for our enhanced blood sugar level (read stress).
2. Dadai aka his paternal grandfather –
Until Tuneer was born, I had always been a favorite of my father-in-law. He was more supportive of my decisions than those that were taken by his son. Equations changed between us the day he became a grandfather. His unconditional support towards his only grandson exceeds all limits. He refuses to listen to anything against the ‘innocent’ child. He was the toughest to convince about the interview preparation. As per him, any school that considered English speaking skills to be a selection criterion for nursery admissions deserves to be trashed by every single parent. According to him the fact that Tuneer could answer his name and recite a rhyme should have convinced every interviewer about his intelligence level. No amount of argument could convince him otherwise.
If I had to define 2018 in a single sentence, I would say that it was a year of solopreneurship and mindful breaks. My writing found a new direction through my blog and book. And I discovered the beauty of listening to the needs of my mind and soul and nurturing them well through multiple breaks. 2019 is going to be my year of ‘A little more’ since I have consciously refrained from making any new resolutions this year. Instead, I’m going to focus on doing a little more of those things that have become an integral part of my existence – writing, spending time with my family and staying happy by choice.
I wish you all a very happy and vibrant New Year. May 2019 be the year of bringing out the best in ‘you’.
I have enjoyed getting into this throwback mode and pulling out the best moments of 2018. In the last post of both the recap series and this year, I talk about December – the month of joy and holidays and bring forth my goals for 2019. The previous posts related to this series is available here.
In this month, I was delighted to have made it to the list of top twenty writers in the categories of Travel Writing and Humor at the Orange Flower Awards conducted by Women’s Web. To be shortlisted among 1600 writers was nothing short of a dream come true moment for me. While I might not have won the award this year, it gave me the right kind of boost and motivation to stay focused and work harder.
This was also the month when the Indiblogger #TheBlindList contest winners were announced and I was pleasantly surprised to find my name and post in the list of winners.
‘Hey Fatso, how much do you eat every day?’
‘Fatso, if you dance, the stage will break down’
‘So fatty, do you purchase two tickets while taking a flight because I am sure you don’t fit into a single seat?’
‘Why is your son so thin? Do you eat away all the food in the house?”
Ah, aren’t these the usual taunts that every girl on the heavier side of the weighing scale has heard at least once in life? Our society has set such ridiculous standards in terms of what gets labeled as beautiful and what goes washed down as ugly that women have been pressurized to follow the norms to perfection since eternity. If one is on the left side of the scale measuring the perfect hourglass figure and the right kind of fair skin, one is believed to be too thin and too dark. However, if one is on the right side of this perfect scale, she is marked as too fat and too pale skinned. To add fuel to the fire, there are corporate houses whose money-making strategy seem to revolve around making young girls believe that the biggest achievement in their lives is to be fair and beautiful or have a skin without acne, pimple, and marks. And some celebrities validate such irrational expectations by being part of such endorsements. There are exceptions though like the handful of celebrities who refuse to be associated with such products or organizations like Naturals Salon who emphasize the true beauty of a woman and also help them become financially independent through employment.
I have always wanted to write about my experiences related to body shaming. After all, it is never a smooth ride for a fat girl in our society. From my experiences, I have understood that most of the times, the general perception is to be judged based on how one looks. So I might have earned two post-graduate degrees or have a proven track record of leadership skills, but people will still be more interested in or concerned about my growing waistline. Strangely as a toddler, being chubby was considered to be cute. Unfortunately, it also gave people the liberty to pull my cheeks because who believes in taking consent from a child or even her parents! As I grew up, the words kept changing from plump to healthy and then overweight, fat, fatty and obese.
It’s a great feeling to get back into this recap mode sharing throwback memories from 2018. After January, February and March, April and May, we move on to the middle of the year as I cherish memories from June and shudder at the thought of July this year.
June marked my entry into fiction writing as I participated in the Write Tribe Festival of Words for the first time. I discovered my love for writing short stories and flash fiction and my blogging journey took off in a new direction.
The most special aspect of May has always been the fact that it is my birthday month. To date, I feel excited as a child whenever my family or friends organize a surprise party or I am showered with surprise gifts. This May, I was on a short trip to my hometown Berhampore. Celebrating my birthday with my father and marital family together on 29th May made this birthday a little more special.