Beauties in 40’s

Come, sit down, she said, her beautifully eloquent eyes kohled neatly. She looked short and young in her dress, with her hair open. I had called up this 40 something woman,an bubbling enthusiastic friend of mine, out of the blue, while passing by her home. She insisted that I drop by and I did.

As we talked I saw my friend who is ambitious and driven enough to do her bachelors and then masters in psychology in her late 30’s expressed her fears about her children’s future. She also attends swimming classes and works regularly on her vocabulary and public speaking while continuously trying to maintain the inner equilibrium with rigorous yoga and meditation.Will my children make it? The world around is difficult, highly competitive,are my kids too laid back to make the cut?

I couldn’t answer that, instead we focused on her new venture of story telling. As an animated and expressive person, she is indeed best suited for story telling. I am sure her sessions like her own self are lively and interesting.

What is it about these 40+ women,( including myself), that is making them restless, is it a sense of time lost, is it a fear of not making it, is it the desire for self-fulfillment, is it about self-worth or the need for validation?

One common cribbing we share is ‘hello, I was busy taking care of the child/children and lo! the time just flew by and I am 40 and useless now!’

As if to make good for the lost time, we, each one of us have our own bucket list. A friend of mine, though momentarily down and feeling low due to dengue, we call each other ‘dengis!’, an imaginary sisterhood of all women affected by dengue, is aspiring to go to Harvard university.

A good lady friend of mine with her children graduating is aiming to do her doctoral studies.

Another friend of mine is inspired by her dream of the grand world tour and a trip to Seychelles where she will sashay in bikini, I am told!

Some body wants to just quit work and play with the doggie at home.

Yet another friend of mine is dreaming of a companion of her kind.

The ladies in 40’s now are the sandwiched generation, you see, they saw their moms toeing the papa’s line as if it was the supreme command, sacrificing self for the sake of the family. Then they see their younger siblings living all the care to the world, having more fun while growing up and their kids who give two pennies worth to their ‘so-called wisdom.’

I guess then it is this feeling of ‘wish I had known this, I would have done it differently’, I am talking of living! sort of thing that makes us, women in 40s a restless lot.

You will often find us, the women in forties, talking yearningly about missed opportunities due to self-inflicted wisdom or the lack of it, compounded by the ‘I told you so’ of the older generation.

So it goes, the vagaries of human, read, womanly fantasies, dreams or desires. But it is so true and so beautiful. With new awareness about ageism and sexism, it does not look difficult to achieve what you want even in your 40s.

I am reminded of how in an earlier time 40+ was the beginning of vanvas and clearly it is not so now. Thank the universe for that!

Did some one say, 40 is the new 20. Perhaps it is! What say!

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Rest, not rust, dear Ulysses

In an attempt to find stillness in me

I reduced actions to bare minimum

realizing immediately how a huge fatigue

decided to settle upon me

perhaps years of action upon on action

had accumulated in me the need for inertia

the state of rest

when the feet clamped down to some imaginary rod

felt leaden and fought with a mind that actively plotted actions

when hands tied down by a huge need for silence

refused to budge when the brain screamed, act, move, act

I lay down feeling for the first time in years

the feel of my body against the bed in rest

and conniving with the mosquito who brought me a fever called dengue

I lay travelling back in time on my bed

and wondered when the time had rushed so fast as to push me this far

but to rest, dear Ulysses is not yet to rust

though I shall like you follow knowledge like a sinking star

and drink life to the lees

and strive to seek, to gain and not to yield

yet today I stay back with my own Telemachus

with my own Penelope(?) and rest, but not rust, no, not yet!

 

 

 

 

Old not grown up, not yet!

‘My father had told me not to do this’,  said the old woman in a rather harsh tone to her young daughter-in-law, ‘that I should never lift my grand children. So, sorry I can’t hold that child while you are cooking for us!’

The young girl looked at the old woman in rising disgust. Was this an excuse or is this being cooked up fresh? There is no way for her to know.

Every time the young girl sought help to hold something, to get something, to pay for something, the other woman made it categorically clear that she was not supposed to do it as her long dead father who was a former collector had clearly advised her not to do.

While the older woman had no restrictions what so ever on receiving any thing, she was very clear on what not to do for others, be it her own daughters-in-law or her sons or her grand children.

In fact, the old lady would never ever call up her children on her own. ‘It is their duty to call and inquire after me, why should I call them,spending my money?’

What added to the girl’s discomfort was that her so-called husband was also a chip of the old block. Could you drop me at the office?,she asked one day. No, I cannot, he said clear with no room for ambiguity. Could you get the medicine for the child?, no I cannot, you please go and get it.

This was how their married life started and it continued. But things it a rough patch when the gentleman decided to quit work and stay at home and when the mother and son expected the ‘bahu’ to run the house, earn the income, pay the fees, pay the rent, buy the monthly ration, deal with the irritating maid, fetch the vegetables and what not!

The sense of complete entitlement was such that the woman, the ‘bahu’ would run helter skelter trying to meet the ends, appease the lords at home and maintain the equilibrium of ‘I come from a happy family’ to the onlookers, the relatives, the parents and everybody else.

Not one used to such machinations, such manipulations, she took time to figure out what was happening to her, coz she was doing her ‘duties’ in good will, ‘all for the family’ and then it froze her heart when she realized that she was being used as the maid, the breadwinner and the comforter and the care-taker all rolled into one!

Imagine the shock that she was in!

This hurt will perhaps never heal, she told herself, but life is not just these stupid, selfish manipulators, the world is a kind place and there are greater beauties in life,so she turned to them, in her effort to remain sane and happy, so she did find joy and content outside home at work, among friends and most importantly in herself.

The journey was worth it. Some lessons are learnt the hard way.

 

 

 

My mother at 66! Dedicated to Shantedathi and Appuettan.

Before driving from my parent’s

home back to Bangalore

I saw my mother,

behind me , at the gate

shining like the morning sun

an epitome of energy and enthusiasm

her face younger by many years

waving at me

she the go-getter

she, no more crippled by the pain of not studying beyond 10th standard

she, no more bound by the worry of what will others say

she, known as the Shantedathi, who helps all

she, the daughter of an ayurvedic physician

she,who has a name for every grass!

and she, who can cook the best food on the planet.

I then look at those young grass wildly clambering for the sun on the roadside

and at her face in the front mirror

my pride and my solace, my no-excuse for lazing around

she, who lost a son and yet found a purpose in living

with her man now learning to be more proud of her

they make a happy picture

she and he, living life to the fullest in 60s and 70s

making it best for those around

ha! pride swells my chest

to call these finest examples of strength, grit and gumption as my own.

 

Pandeymonium- A breezy read

I read Pandeymonium at one sitting, well, almost!. That was because of the way it was written also may be because of my own fascination for the magical world of  Indian advertising. I was always intrigued by the child-like exuberance of Piyush Pandey and the stories of his success.

Piyush Pandey attributes the name of the book to the whatsapp group of his family which is called the same-pandeymonium and  his success to the infinite possibilities of his personal google, his immediate and extended family, his friends ,colleauges and relatives.

Pandeymonium is a testimony to the Indian ethos of large families, the many get togethers, celebrations, cricket and travel. The story of Piyush Pandey is a story of the many events and eventualities of his times, our times, the evolution of cricket to the status of more than a national game, the power of simplicity, the talent of keen observation and above all an undying interest in the commonest of the common Indian, whose life and living with his blessed sense of jugaad is nothing short of a miracle.

As one reads through the book one is made to realise again and again the value of family, of building enduring relationships, of friendships which last more than a life time, the power of simplicitic thinking, the love affair with a land of eccentricities and its even more eccentric people.

Piyush Pandey comes across as a large hearted, genuinely jovial and fun loving person, who is rooted in who he was to become what he became. He is not afraid to give compliments or give credit where it is is due and most importantly does not take himself too seriously, perhaps,that explains the child-like charm of his personality.

The book certainly lives up to his own maxim that it is simplicity that connects the best and is worth more than a read.

A little laughter please

A little laughter please

cried the woman in her

asking for a letting go

a release from the tight hold of living

or making a living

of standing up for too long

of having been the place holder for too many

A little free space please

cried the woman in her

seeking  a place to let her hair down

looking for an opportunity to just sit down and be herself

to forget, forgive and move on

A little company of light hearted banter

breaking the wall of officacies

over the barriers of expectations

of a little holding hands

of throwing heads back

of giggles and squiggles

of the need to break,break, break

to make,make, make.

Come, let’s ride the mustache.

It’s more than a mustache

it is a lot of self reliance

it is courage and conviction in who you are

it is in riding the horse to the wedding

it is in entering the temple walls

it is in demanding an equal life

it is not asking for too much

it is just my right to exist

to breathe the air you breathe

wear what you wear

and speak what you speak

it is a time that Gandhi dreamt of

it is a time of which he spoke

a time of which my grand mother dreamed

a time of which my father said will come

in these times of 3G and 4G and more

of increased connectivity

when you try to keep yourself above and away from my polluted self

I pity you man of the son of the great great grand father of ours

you who think yourself so different but are just the same as me

tomorrow I hope our children will talk together to school

tomorrow I hope our children will sit together at lunch

why your son may marry my daughter

and we shall be sons of a distant father of a different time

kauravas and pandavas of our mustached, turbaned times

oh, don’t yet fear us, not our rise, nor our aspirations

they are human too, just like you and doesnot see you as different from me

this is me, the new Indian, rising from the low, low-born, rising high,aiming high,walking the skies.

Come hold my hand, let’s rise together, lest you be left behind!