Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trouble in paradise.....chapter 1.

“Oh my God, what’s wrong with you, Anuj ? Who do think I am? A machine? A computer? I am sick of running around like this. I am sick of trying to balance my work and home. I am sick of getting up early cooking for you guys, getting kids ready for school, rushing to office and handling all the stress there, helping kids with their studies , cooking and serving you guys again… oh, the list is endless, and forget about appreciating what I do, you have the heart to keep nitpicking?”

Throwing the bundle of clothes in her hand on the bed, Anjali stormed out of the room. Anuj was still trying to fathom what just hit him, when he heard her bang the main door and walk outside.

‘What is with these women nowadays? Why do they have to make a big deal out of everything? I only asked her why my clothes are still not ironed. What’s wrong with that?’

He walked out wearily like an injured soldier who has had no chance of defending himself at the enemy camp. As he walked into the kitchen to have a sip of water, his eyes popped out of their sockets as he read what she had written in bold words on the kitchen door,

(p.s. everything)
(p.s. I am on a holiday, don’t call me for anything)

‘Is that woman crazy? How can she just go away somewhere? Let me guess…where could she go? Office? Hmmm.. I’ll check out on my way to office.’

“Hello Mr. Anuj, you need not have come to inform personally, Anjali called me and told me she is sick and will be on leave for a week. Take care of her. And tell to get well soon because we’ll miss her here.”

“Thanks Mr. Bhattacharya. I’ll tell her .

‘Creepy boss, why is he going to miss my wife? I’ll have to tell Anjali to be wary of this guy.’

As soon he reached office, he walked to the cafeteria, and ordered some breakfast.

“Hey, fought with your wife old buddy?”

He saw Shashank his closest friend since college looking down at him and giving him an ‘I know it all’ look.

“Is it on the front page of the newspaper today? Or did Anju call you too? Has she put a notice on my cabin door?” said Anuj with sarcasm spilt over his words.

“Whoa, someone’s in a pretty foul mood today. What happened?”

Nothing really Shashi. Just the regular stuff that marriages are made of. Fights, fights and more fights. Your Bhabhi got angry because I asked her why my clothes are not ironed and she left home and went to ‘god knows where’.

“What? So go find her buddy ,check on her workplace.”

“ I did, madam had the decency to tell her boss she is on leave for a week.”

“Check out her Mom’s  place.”

“There’s no need to do that. She’ll regret her decision and come back by evening. I know Anjali and her silly ideas.”

“Oh, man, how could you not be bothered? What if she did something stupid, you know, like hurt herself…?”

“I know she won’t, she’s too gutsy for that.”

Anuj was busy preparing the minutes for the client meeting the next day, when he received a call from the crèche.

“Mr. Anuj, can you please come and pick up your kids, it’s already past closing time. We called your wife but her phone’s switched off.”

“Oh I see. I’ll be there in 30 min. Sorry for the inconvenience”

Anuj decided to complete his work at home and rushed to pick up his 7 year old twin boys Adiyta and Arjun.

“Dad where’s Mom? Why didn’t she come to pick us up?”

“Dad, I am hungreeeeeee.”

“Aditya, Arjun, Mom will be back soon and as soon as we get home, I’ll get you guys something to eat, ok?”

Anuj prepared noodles, the only thing he knew how to cook and called out to the kids.

“Noodle time champs….come on and raid the table…”

“Dad can we go out and play?”

Anuj was happy to have the kids out of his space so that he could concentrate on his work.

“Sure. Be careful, ok?”

It was almost 8 pm and there was no sign of Anjali. Now he began to feel a little worried. He decided to call her parents.

“Hello Ma, is Anju there?”

“Yes, beta, What’s up between you guys, She won’t tell me anything and she doesn’t want to go back.” (‘ah, the rat has its usual hiding place…!’ he smiled)

“Can I talk to her?”

“Anjali, Anuj`s on line, talk to him beta.” he could hear her mom calling out to her. And then after a few seconds, he heard the click of the phone.

“Dad I am hungry.”  H e looked up and saw Aditya and Arjun covered in mud and looking like they had just wrestled with a bunch of pigs in a swamp.

“Holy god, where have you two been?”

He had completely forgotten about the kids!

(‘hungry again? I just gave them some noodles! What do I make for dinner now ?’ )

“Champs, let`s go out for some pizza….what say?”

“Hurray!!! Dad you are the best.”

He gave them a quick shower and took them out for dinner.By the time they returned, the kids were fast asleep in the car.

 (‘peace at last. Let me complete my work.’)

Anuj got up at 7 in the morning and realized, the kids were still in bed. He woke them up and by the time he could get them ready for school, the school van arrived and honked crazily. He told the driver off and decided to drop the kids to school himself.

“Dad, breakfast, I am hungry. What did you pack for lunch? Dad, remember you have to pack two lunch boxes…for each of us. I want sandwiches for short break and aalu ka paratha for the long break. ” Aditya was dictating.

‘oh, there they go again. Why are these kids perennially hungry?’

“Dad, I want poori and sabji for the long break and….where’s mom?”

“Kids, Mom is over at Granny`s place. There`s no time to prepare anything now, You`ll have to make do with bread and jam for both your lunches. What do you eat for breakfast?”

“Milk, Chocos and egg.”  

While the kids had their breakfast, Anuj finished packing the lunch and hurried to get ready for office. By the time they reached school, they were late and he had to send a letter for late attendance. He was late to office too and he had just a few minutes before his client meet. He had just finished his meeting, when he got a call from his kids school.

“Mr. Anuj, please pick up your kids from school. They will be waiting near gate no.3 .”

He had completely forgotten to call up the van driver and tell him to pick them up after school. It was 3pm, too early to leave office. He asked his boss for a break and rushed to pick the kids and drop them at the crèche. The class teacher was waiting for him and complained that the kids had not done their homework the previous day. As this was the first instance she had chosen not to punish the kids. He apologized and ferried the kids to the crèche. There he realized he had forgotten to pack the change over clothes for the kids and they would have to remain wearing the school uniform till he came to pick them up again at 6pm.

“Mrs. D`souza, please buy some proper lunch for the kids, they have eaten only bread and jam all day” , he requested the caretaker giving her a Rs.100 note.

“Don’t be late today, Mr. Anuj.”  Mrs. D`souza shouted out as he was running back to his car.

When they reached home, Anuj decided to help the kids out with their homework first and then try to cook something.

“Dad, can we go out to play”

“ No, homework first.”

(‘why is dad becoming like mom?’)

“Aditya, did you say something?”

“No Dad.”

All Anuj could manage to cook was some soggy rice and the kids reluctantly ate it with curds.

After the kids went to bed he sat down to complete his work that was pending as he had left office early. He picked up the phone to call Anjali, but his ego came in the way and he dropped the thought. He kept a 6 am alarm just before he dozed off to a sound sleep.

( to be cont..)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Down memory lane.....


                     Ah! Those were the days of  pure unadulterated fun. The days before TV became a household necessity. When just a few neighbours had the privilege of owning a colour TV and would happily accommodate the less privileged ones in the homes for the favorite shows. When at exactly 5.30pm on Sundays we would hear “washing powder nirma..washing powder nirma…dudh ki safedi….” on our neighbours TV and realize its time  for the Sunday movie on Doordarshan and rush to finish our chores and run to their house just in time for the movie to begin and watch it over animated talks and cups of steaming hot coffee. When the whole family would wait for “chayageet” on Wednesdays on Doordarshan with no difference of opinion over which program to watch. When siblings did not have to fight over whether they should watch “pokemon” or “tom and jerry” and then decide to watch what each wants on two different TV`s in two different rooms.

                      When we would wait to reach home after school and go out and complete yesterday`s game of “lagori” with our friends and our parents did not have to worry about watching if we were safe. When we did not need anything more than playgrounds to keep us occupied. When we could play in the rain and not worry about being scolded for the fear of falling sick. When carom boards, chess boards, ludo and snake and ladders did not gather cobwebs in some fancy cupboard but played everyday with siblings and friends. 

                     The days before there were more people in houses than electronic gadgets. When there was so much time for dads and mums to spend with their children. When they taught us virtues and good habits by telling us little stories thus shaping our thoughts and actions. When we felt listened to and important by our parents. When parents did not keep themselves so occupied with their mobiles and laptops that they could not even hear what their little one was trying to say.

                     The days when we had family get togethers and dinners and the talk would revolve around who was doing what in the family rather than meet on networking sites and discuss scams, fake swamijis, and all irrelevant details. When cousins would plan little events during family time, enact funny plays and sing songs, bringing out all latent talents out of the closet. When first, second and even third cousins would bond over planning and arguing who got which part to play and practicing the “script” with so much effort. When the whole family would plan picnics together, and hire a bus, carry home made food and all necessary staples for the outing, instead of just one family simply driving out to a mall in their fancy cars and eating all the junk that money can buy. When we carried badminton rackets, cricket sets and volley balls to play during our outings, not video games and i-pods. When we carried a radio instead and tuned in to listen to Amin Sayani`s deep throated voice and the latest movie songs.

                     When festivals meant, meeting families and friends, eating great food and relaxing. When Diwali meant getting up early, taking oil baths and wearing new clothes. It meant visiting all elders of the family and taking their blessings. The greatest joy was getting a princely Re.5 coin from grandma which she would have planned and kept ready for the entire army of little children who would visit her that day.
                     When entire families of our apartment would gather after Lakshmi puja during Diwali and burst crackers together. When during Holi, eating “gujiyas” and applying gulal was the most awaited event after the ladies in the apartment had finished praying and dancing around the bonfire lit to signify the burning of “holika” .
                     When Sankranti saw kite flying competitions on every terrace and the sky would be adorned with kites of every make and colour. When every lady of the house would greet her family and neighbours with til-gud and say “til gud ghya goad goad bola” meaning ,have this ladoo of sesame seeds and jaggery and always speak sweetly.
                     When Ganesha Chaturthi was far less commercial and much more fun. When dancing in the “sandall” while installing the Ganesha idol was fun and not disgraceful. When the entire society got together and sang “sukh karta dukh harta” with utmost devotion and the prasad “gopaalkaala” that was distributed was a mixture of offerings from all the houses.

                     When we could solve any problem by just discussing them with our friends while chatting on the terrace of the apartment. When no heartbreak seemed permanent, because friends would help heal the scar. Being scolded by parents did not signal the end of the road and 10year olds did not commit suicide even after being beaten by the parents, because we had friends to share our misery and give guidance.

                     When board exams of std.10 and 12 were treated as battles, where neighbours would come to our houses and wish us luck and give us gifts like a pen or a small chocolate bar , all aunties in the apartment would feed us dahi-sakkar as a good luck charm and inquire how we had written the exam after we came back. When we distributed sweets to everyone in the apartment after the results were announced, receiving advice on what we should do next. When we felt happy in others achievement and sad in their failures.

                    When neighbours could ask each other , “I am going to the market, do you need anything” and the favour would be returned without asking, in taking a sick child to the doctor or babysitting or rolling out papads.

                    These days seem like they were light years ago….I wonder what memories my children will have? What tales will they carry forward to tell their children? Will their cousins be some distant galaxies whom they might not even meet more than once in their entire lifetime? I am pondering over all these thoughts and just then I am shaken awake by an ensuing fight, and a request,

                      “Mamma, can I see the TV in your room, Chikku will not let me see “Mighty Raju” on POGO, he wants to see “mickey mouse”.”
(Pic cou

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