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Togetherness: A decade and a half later

Togetherness: A decade and a half later

Stretching to try and get the stiffness out of my neck, I peer at the wall clock that chimes 9.30 p.m. I should be winding up work, getting to sleep, maybe reading a book but I am working late.

Fingers tap almost mechanically on the keyboard and I pause for a second. He is standing by my table with a raised eyebrow in enquiry. ‘Making tea. Want some?’

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Important Life Lessons from my Mother

Important Life Lessons from my Mother

As I write this post, I am sitting in one of the best places on earth- my mother’s living room. Gy has ten days off from school due to the festival here in India and a part of me really wanted to get away from it all, after weeks of preparation for exams and other stress-related concerns.

It’s been a week since I got here and it’s positively magical how worry evaporates when I am with my parents. Even as I type this  out, my mom is quietly moving about, doing her work, getting things done and attending to her family. Every once in a while she calls me or Gy to help her out with something.

Soaking in the love and warmth of this wonderful person, I realise that there are some incredible lessons I can learn by merely watching her.

Welcome People with Love

The second she knew that we were coming over to stay with her, she swung into action, buying all the food items she knew were our favourites and also setting up the Navarathri golu in preparation for the festival. You’d be surprised at the energy she exudes when it comes to cooking for the family or doing things for the people she loves. (Hint: She loves everyone; something that doesn’t come that readily to me, I confess)

Listen with rapt attention

Whether the person is one year old or ninety-two, she can listen to them with complete attention. I’m amazed at the reserves of patience she must have. But, I think it goes deeper than that. She is truly a person who believes that every person deserves to be heard. So while I may get a tad irritable when it comes to people talking non-stop, (yes, Gy, this means you and yes, I do love you)she will hear them out without a trace of annoyance. No wonder my daughter listens readily to her than she ever does to me.

Feed people with love

Moms appear to come pre-programmed to ensure that every person is well fed. Again, I personally don’t fall into this category. Cooking is one thing I shy away from, mostly because I don’t enjoy it as much as, say, cleaning the house. But my mom? She will ensure that you are eating something every 30 minutes- fruits or green tea or nuts or snacks or. . . you get the picture. Aside: If I come back home a few kilos heavier, you all know it wasn’t in my control.

Life Lessons_Mom_Love_Shailaja

Speak softly and kindly

I can’t remember the last time she raised her voice, if at all. It makes me wonder how resilient and loving she is, simultaneously. I’m the kind who likes to say something once, repeat it thrice and progressively increase my tone in strictness until it’s obeyed. Suffice to say that works not at all. The only thing it effectively achieves is mutinous glares from my daughter and a sense of tension that hangs in the air between us. Surprisingly, I used to be very soft and very kind too. Maybe becoming a parent has changed me. Time to remind myself of the person I used to be.

Embrace life with excitement

My mom’s close to 60. You wouldn’t think it to look at her. She’s always looked young for her age (a fact that I’ve never really forgiven her for!) But you should see the excitement she expresses for every aspect of life- meeting people, making new dishes, jet setting across town to teach songs and bhajans to people (she’s a singer) or giggling with me and my sister over memories from our childhood, sometimes late into the night. I appear to have forgotten that in this mad rush of work and school and managing life.

Always be ready to learn

My mom calls me up every other day to ask me if I can teach her the newest feature in Whatsapp or how to download a voice recording app or even how to make a dish I learnt from my husband! That child like enthusiasm is something I find significantly lacking in most adults. We are all so bent on saying that we know everything. To admit we don’t know is probably more liberating than we realise. This is one thing I strive for on a daily basis, at least on my professional journey. For this, I credit my mother completely.

At the end of the day, I realise that my best parenting journal has been right by my side all these 38 years, teaching by instruction and action, love and compassion. And it doesn’t take too much effort to be kind, compassionate and loving.

You just have to be open to everything; like my mom.


Images courtesy Shutterstock: Mom and Love

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Father’s Day and what it means to me every day

Father’s Day and what it means to me every day

Today, June 19th 2016, is Father’s Day around the world. Just as I believe that every day is Mother’s Day, suffice to say the same applies for this one too. So why write a post on the blog then?

I know the generally wide extremes that celebrating a day like this evokes: the ones who gladly share their feelings about it and the ones who turn up their noses at the idea of expressing your love for your loved ones on social media. I’ve decided to toe the middle line and do it on my blog, because it’s my diary and one of the best ways I have of recording my emotions for quite possibly, the largest influence in my life.

A blog post isn’t enough to do justice to the man I call ‘Appu’. Yes, that’s what my sister and I call him. Why? Because, as a kid, I couldn’t say ‘Appa’ but Appu rolled off my tongue so naturally that my dad fell in love with it and forbade anyone from changing it. So, Appu it has been for all these years.

Appu, how shall I even begin to talk about everything you mean to me? A list may help, perhaps, but know that it isn’t exhaustive at all.  How about a series of short anecdotes? I know you love stories so let’s give this a whirl.

Remember that time I had that terrible abscess on my back which required surgery and that night the painkiller wore off and I couldn’t sleep, crying as I did through the excruciating agony? You sat by my bed singing bhajans for two hours. Who else would have done that for me?

What about the time I waited anxiously for my A-level results and was devastated to learn that I’d ‘failed’ in a subject? I’d already completed a year of college by then and was terrified of not being able to continue. You convinced me that if that was meant to be, it wouldn’t matter and you’d be my side as I explored other options.

I’ll never forget the expression on your face when I had to sit on your lap for the kanyadhaanam ceremony during my wedding. You were worried if you could take my weight (thanks a lot!) but you managed to smile through it all (painfully obvious as it was.)

If I learnt about prayer and love from Amma, I learnt about questioning everything with compassion from you. Venturing into the spiritual journey became immensely simpler just by watching you. How you introduced me to the works of great writers and thinkers (Krishnamurti, Wodehouse, Neale Donald Walsch and so many more) is something I will always treasure.

We talk about everything under the sun and I do mean everything! I’ve always admired the completely calm way in which you addressed things which may have been considered taboo for a dad to discuss with his daughters but you haven’t shied away from them. Not once. That openness, that ability to always speak the truth, come what may, bonds us together more than you know.

Then, we have all our inside family jokes, just the four of us, that the world wouldn’t understand and that secrecy of chuckling together every time we meet is so precious that I cannot put it down in writing.

We have our standing joke of ‘Let me tell you two things’. It’s always two, isn’t it? Never one and never three; just two. But those two things are enough to make me ponder and reflect on everything we speak about.

During my depression phase, I remember you sitting me down one day, when I had a wave of self-pity wash over me and in the gentlest of tones you said, ‘I know this is hard and you feel you don’t deserve this. Remember though, that this will make you stronger, much stronger than you consider yourself right now. And you will learn that every stumbling block in life takes you further on your spiritual path.’ 

Appu, your love is one of the most amazing things Sindu and I have had the fortune to experience and I am grateful every single day for the forces that destined you’d be our dad. I pray for a healthy, happy life for you today and every day.

Happy Father’s Day!

*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

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Five more minutes

Five more minutes

It was already twenty minutes past her bedtime as I peeked into her room to kiss her good night. Settled in the comfort of her bed, covered by the thick and warm blankets that came all the way up to her chin, she lay there, sleepy but eager to talk. As usual.

Seeing me at the door, she let out a squeal, ‘Amma! Can you come and sit for a while? I want to tell you about my day!’

Tired me hesitated and then said, ‘Darling, can’t it wait till tomorrow?’

Pouting, she replied, ‘But then it won’t be about today.’

Sighing I stood undecided in the doorway. ‘Tell you what. Let me make my bed and finish a few chores. I’ll be back after that.’

Gy settled back down and said, ‘Sure. If I am still awake, you have to promise to come and sit with me for 5 minutes. Deal?’


As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I’d given an irrevocable promise. It’s kind of an unwritten rule between us, this bond between mother and daughter, that we wouldn’t break a deal.

Finishing my chores took me ten minutes. Glancing at the clock, I figured she might be asleep but a promise is a promise. Stealthily pushing the door ajar, I checked to see if she was awake and almost as if she knew it would be me, she sat up straight and stretched out her arms.

‘You came!’

Her beaming smile was all it took for me to know that I’d made the right decision. The next five minutes passed in a bit of a blur as she speedily recounted every minute detail from her day. From the new teacher who was a darling to the Sir who was jumpy and irritable, she left no detail untold. Everything was laid out for me to hear as I sat and massaged her feet after a long day.

Sitting there, watching her face light up even as she fought back sleep, I realised, this is heaven, right here, in the palm of my hand. As the five minutes drew to a close, she pulled me in for a hug that lasted longer than I’d expected and a kiss that I can still feel on my cheek as I type this out for you all to read.

Who else in the whole wide world loved me as much as she did? Without condition, without expectation, without any form of return, except perhaps love, this child shared her day with me.

The next time a child asks for five more minutes, make the time. It could be for a game, a chance to talk or maybe just sit and hug in silence. It’s just five minutes but the benefits of that bond last well beyond that time limit.

Isn’t that the best five minutes I can ask for? Every single day? If it means lesser time doing other things and more time spent with her growing up, I’m going to choose these five minutes. Every time.


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