Breaking Traditions

I am a very ritualistic (not religious, more like repetitive behavior with some meaning) person. I do things in certain way or order or during certain times of year; basically there is a method to my madness. It is special to me and it matters or so it was, until recently. That is what this post is about.

Growing up, an uncle of mine and his family used to send us holiday greetings with family pics on the card (it is not very common in India to do that, not back then at least). And like a planner I am (even as a 10 year old), I wanted to do that when I have a family. First few years into marriage, I used to make lists of people to send greetings to (non-picture ones). In a time when everything is digital, I believed in my vision enough to get actual cards (always from Smile Foundation), make handwritten notes and resorted to Indian Post/ courier to send them. I had wait; some will say they got, some wont, and thanks to our great postal system; some never received any. In my head, I wanted people to cherish it when they receive it and reciprocate that to me, but barring a few, it almost never happened. And, it lost its charm. I stopped after 4 years I think. Every new year I feel the urge to do it all again, but then I feel no one is missing it or anything, why bother!

I used to send emails every year, like a snapshot of what happened that year, and I just stopped, and no one realized. I saw this quote- If you love someone, set them free. It is a lot of B.S. No one ever comes back and it does not do well to your self-worth.
Basically I gave up doing a lot of things I used to do because I did not get anything back. Now, doing it for self and for our own happiness, I have a set of things for that, but after a point even that gets lonely. It is not selfish. I have a big problem with people wanting something to be called selfish. Everyone wants and everyone expects something; it is not wrong! I mean things that are supposed to be mutual, always needs more than one person in the equation. Or, you will end up with 4 different journals containing monologues after monologues, you will be caught smiling by a co-worker in a stairway laughing at your own joke (which later gets entered into a journal), or you will be talking to yourself while folding clothes.

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And, as to rituals, I have some new ones like binge watching, organizing the wardrobe every two weeks, cleaning up office desk every quarter. All things that sound like chores, but actually very productive and gives reasons to be happy.

One of my Christmas traditions is watching Hallmark romantic comedy movies (run-of-the-mills-and-boon) and I saw one this week about this woman going back to old Christmas traditions. It is all hunky dory; she suddenly miraculously finds happiness, writes a book on it, you know the drill.

I thought I should get inspired and do the same. Write about breaking traditions.

To new beginnings!!

P.S.

This is a light-hearted take on how things are in general, written in first person because I identify with it and not going through it. I am perfectly fine, never been more at peace with myself ever!

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Corner Table

Am I there, or not there?

Depends on what the need is

To lean on, give a boost or drive a wedge

Opportunistically dragged to the center foyer

Only to be shoved into oblivion as moment passes

Days pass by unnoticed, yet I will be standing my ground

Becoming a cornerstone is any day better than being in someone’s corner

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Voice from the next-door balcony

Every morning as I am getting ready for work and prepping my son for school, I hear her.

Sometimes she’s singing to her daughter. Mostly rhymes, but it must be on difficult days that she puts on the videos on phone. And, I hear an old lady chiding her for that.

Once or twice I heard her husband joining the ladies and they all laugh out loud. One day, she was very angry that the old lady wanted her to do some chores and not spend too much time feeding breakfast to the kid. And, what started as an argument, ended in tears.
Sometimes my son asks- what is that sound? And, I tell it’s mommy of a little baby. Then, when I have bad days where my little one throws a fit about not wanting to bath, I tell see the baby next door is all ready; I use the “wheels on bus” that they are playing to distract him.
Often, I feel there is a time when both our kids are taking a nap or so; I am in that room to run washing machine or fold clothes, and I can hear her catch up with some friend or cribbing to someone that I assume is her mom or sister. I don’t need to know what she’s speaking, the tone says it all.
And this has been going on for a while. I wonder if she can hear me hum a song or convince my son that water is warm in the bath or does she smile when she hears me play monster or when we count to ten for hide and seek.
Then, one day we were cycling just outside our buildings. She came down with her baby girl and we both said hi to each other. My son was too shy to say hi to them, and her daughter looked at us amusingly. We could have talked more, but the old lady appeared and they walked away.
To this day, we hear each other out in a way, without probably ever having to talk and I feel we know each other.

Imposter

Going through a writer’s block is something, but being stuck on a word for say months, that is something else altogether.

Had to just get it out and move on!!

***

What if there is something you can say or stand-up for

But, it is easy to walk the fine line between truth and lie

Stay silent, go on and do whatever you like

It avoids a conflict, but the intent has always been the same

What does that make you?

***

What if you want to talk now, but then wait for that perfect moment?

Put it across as if it just crossed your mind, but then it was always in your head

Is that manipulation or deliberate consideration of events?

***

What if you have things you want to say aloud?

But words fail you, and it loses its way between head and throat?

Peace prevails, but just on the outside

And inside everything is crumbling down!

What does that make you?

***

What if you always wonder if this is the real me

Because being “politically correct” is what is expected

You fit in and fit in so much, that you lose track of your originality

What if you are just a watered down version of yourself?

What if you struggle with your own convictions?

What if you don’t remember what it was to be yourself?

What does that make you?

imposter

A Place to Go

People leave, and sometimes it is forever

And, there is no going back ever

I lost someone dear

But, I also lost a place to go

To do the things that I used to

And be that person when I am with them

That is gone forever too

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And, I realize all we have is memories

To fall back on, in times such as this

Then, I cannot help but wonder

About those memories that were never made

Because, we did not tell things to each other

Those words could have been my place to go

If only it was spoken in time.

Power Cut!

The other day after a major gap, we had a legit power failure. It brought back so many memories from my childhood.
Back in the day, there used to be scheduled power shutdown for half an hour or so. I used to long for that because we could spend time as a family. We used to sit together in the steps leading to the house, cold in the air and smell of flowers from the nearby tree. And, how we used to play the guessing game where my mom will hum a song and we have to find which one. I was terrible at humming.
The silence, but for this sound from the gas lamp we had, and the candle flame that I will try to touch in a heroic way. And, making shadow animals when elders are not around as they never encouraged those; some cultural reason they cited which I don’t remember anymore.

The word “load shedding” that was part of my vocabulary, long back before my degree in electrical engineering (not that I know any better). So many things from the past flashed before my eyes.
So, while I thought we could have a nice power cut time, my 2 year old was worried about the shadows, and noises from the apartment on top of ours. We called a call center to ask what is wrong, then spent sometime agonising on whether the operator was right about when the power will be back, which did eventually and life went back to the grind.
The sad thing about nostalgia is that however great it was, it’s hard for others to get it.
May be he will one day have a story about when the Wifi went out or something.

Second Chances

I am envious of people who have these friendship gangs that they belong to, you know this supportive group that they can always fall back on and have fun with. I never had one.

Well, to be honest, I almost thought I had it one or two times, only to realise it was not so. I have invested in so many relationships which did not get anywhere. Sometimes it does hurt when people who we pour our heart to, does not tell us things. We just figure out randomly, and cannot help but wonder why did they not share it with us. Worse is when we want to share something, but there is no response. May be we are not important enough and we just let go. And, that’s what I did too, so much so that there was a radio silence for a while. Noone to call or text or share something with.
Then, one day I got a message that one of my classmates passed away. She was young, just married, had so much to look forward to in life. But, that was not meant to be. In college, for two years we had spent a lot of time together. But, afterwards, we just grew apart, for no particular reason. Just that we did not find a reason to reach out and connect with each other. So, more shocking than her death was that for about 5 years we never spoke a word to each other, making me wonder if I can even mourn her as a friend.
A good thing that happened in the aftermath was that another good friend of mine reached out to me after a hiatus. So, we used to speak a lot and suddenly there was no word from her. I felt dejected and let go thinking there must be something wrong. But, I never asked. Anyway she told me she was caring for her sick father and coping with his loss. I felt really bad that in her time of crisis, I chose to focus on my petty issues than probably be there for her.

So, I realised someone else could be doing the same to me just as I was unknowingly. If you are a friend or family of mine reading this, or is someone having a similar issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out. There is nothing that cannot be fixed.

Give more second chances. Let go of things. Move on.

Because you don’t want to regret it later and it’s never too late to turn things around.