(6/6) The Parents

aditya-romansa-117344 (1).jpg

It’s a bright and sunny day. A car comes to a screeching halt outside their apartment. They look out to see what the fuss is about. They watch me get out. Head to toe in brands I once only dreamed of owning. But now I have the money. I am the Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi after all. I can afford the little things that bring me joy. Their anger fades knowing I’m okay. My father is still a little upset but he’ll come around. That’s how parents are, aren’t they?! They’re happy I got what I wanted because they know if I’d waited for them to give it to me, the timing wouldn’t have worked out the way it did. It was right to run away from them when I did…

I can’t tell you the number of times I laid on that bed I shared with my mom and my sister, dreaming about this over and over again. You see, I lack what my mother has in abundance – Patience – and what my father always tells me to keep within – Hope. So my solution was a world where I ran away. I’m old enough. I can do this. They’ll know it was the right thing to do. We children can be really stupid sometimes, you know?

My parents had an arranged marriage. They did what they were expected to do as human beings that live in my society. They created a home. Dad earned. Mom cooked. They had two daughters. Their life was pretty much every other life there ever was. Except, my dad didn’t work 9 to 5. He owned his dream company. “I was fascinated that I could talk to a machine and it would respond.” So he made it respond in different manners to keep users like you and me safe from the evils on the internet. Mom created a home for us to live in. She got us ready for school. Made us our favourite lunch on Sunday. Ensured we stayed away from junk food (I didn’t).

A lot happened in their lives before they got married and a lot happened after. Their personal problems turned my family dysfunctional and I grew up with an inability to trust and anxiety that hurt. I blamed them, of course. When I rebelled, when I made bad choices, when my life took a turn for the worst – I waited with the words, “This is all your fault.”

We don’t really yell at our Dad in this house like we yell at our Mom. There’s the fear of hurting him. So it was my relationship with my mother that became too complicated as I grew up. I wasn’t surprised.

I’ve always been the closest to him. Daddy’s little girl. He fed into my fantasies of expensive things like an American education, branded things, big houses. They owed me that much. They ruined my life by making me so complicated. It’s the least they can do. I mentioned how kids are stupid, right?!

So I got the American education. For six months. Six months in a world where I had to do for myself what my mother does for us everyday of her life and I came running back into her arms. The distance I’d created at 15 vanished the moment I knew I was home and she would be with me. But I was still angry.

Parents often forget the effect a fight or an argument between themselves can have on their children. You think we don’t hear you screaming shit in the middle of the night? We do. And then you go pretend everything’s fine in the morning and maybe it is, but we can’t tell the difference. And so we begin wondering and fearing. Your ten day split may be a speed bump in your marriage. To us, it’s ten days where a parent chose to live away from us. I wasn’t enough to make him stay. I wasn’t important enough to stop and second guess his decision to leave. He left.

You may forget the drama. But we don’t. I’ll never stop wondering if I’m going to wake up and be dumped. Because when a parent can leave, so can a stranger you met at work. I never stop second guessing my decisions. My insecurity began when I was 8-years-old. Today, it’s something I’ve accepted because I’ve lost the war against it.

I saw friends with functional families have so much hope and I didn’t. I didn’t know how to care. I don’t know how to turn on emotions. I also don’t know how to turn them off.

And it has created so much chaos. When I thought I’d lost everything I loved, I yelled at my father. I screamed. I spewed hateful words. It didn’t hit me that – I wasn’t the only one who lost something. So had he. And if he could fix it, if he thought there was a way he could give my dream back to me, he would have.

Today, when I’m writing this, I remember my father mention how he woke up one morning with tears because he’d dreamt a Tsunami where he couldn’t save me. The tears my mother cried when she thought she hadn’t given us enough time. But that depressed girl didn’t remember this version of them. She didn’t remember two parents who had given up so much to keep their two girls safe. I didn’t pause to think. I didn’t know how to. And I repeated to myself, It’s all your fault.

I’ve graduated now. I’m going after everything I’ve ever dreamt about, for the second time. He’s given me my dream again. But I can never take back the words I said. I can apologize but I can’t change the hurt it caused. Someone told me recently, “You have to let go off of the guilt. Children act without thought sometimes. Your parents know.” But I can’t.

Because, back in an apartment with a view I’d missed so much, I remembered a conversation from 6 years ago. With a man I’d loved. He wanted to know why I kept repeating, “Promise you won’t leave me?” And so I explained. He did, too.

“So your parents made a mistake. They had a fight. Adults fight. They were trying to figure out life like you will, too. Parents don’t have to know everything. They’re not superhuman. You have to forgive them for whatever you think their fault was. You can’t blame your entire life on them. Your choices were, as you always say, a choice. You made them. You can stop making them. Look at them, Poornima, and see them for what they are – human beings”

And I cried. Like a baby. Because after 23 years of life, I’d understood what an asshole I’d been. Why do we always look at our parents as some sort of hero? Why do we never truly see how they’re just like you and me?

I’ll say it today – My parents aren’t the greatest of parents. They don’t always know how to express their love. They’ve made plenty of mistakes. But they’re some of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known. They gave up so much to ensure we had food on our plates and a comfortable lifestyle. When they struggled, we still lived like princesses. When they were out there fighting one battle after another, we complained like spoilt children.

No. They’re not the greatest. But I wouldn’t wish for anyone else. Because for everything I’ve done, no two people will continue to love me with as much intensity as they do. No parent will still sit me down and ask me what I want so they can ensure I have it the way they do.

And someday, I’ll muster the courage to go stand in front of them and truly apologize for all that I’ve put them through since I was a teenager. But today, I’ll stick to my Thank You.

Thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for allowing me to choose, even if you didn’t always approve. Thank You for working so hard to give me everything I ever wanted. I know these two words will never be enough, but…

THANK YOU.

Never running away from you,

Me.

The Monsters Behind Masks

blog1

If you’re reading this, it means I’ve used every last ounce of the courage I possess to press Publish..

Maybe it’s because I’m finally old enough to see it. Maybe it’s because, for the first time, I’m retracing my entire life. Recollecting the moments that forever changed who I am.

I saw a movie yesterday. The girl looked at the guy and said, “I was 7 when someone asked me if I wanted to be with my mom or my dad.” It shouldn’t have mattered to me. I shouldn’t have cried. But I couldn’t help myself. Because I was 8.

When I tell someone how insecure I’ve become as a person because of the way I was shoved in the middle of a struggle to save a marriage, they think I’m being too sensitive. I almost tell them they’re seeing it wrong. They’re looking at the 22-year-old analyzing that moment. But I wasn’t 22 when it happened ! I was a child ! But I never say it. I smile small and turn away so they can’t see I’m hiding tears.

There are moments in a relationship when I look at the guy and wonder what would happen if he could see inside my head. If he could see the way I see life. If he could read my thoughts. Would he run? Would he choose to never come back? Would he think I’m crazy?

There are moments when I wish someone could understand it. There are moments when I don’t understand why anyone should.

They say it’s amazing when you finally figure yourself out. When you learn what makes you, you. But what happens when the person you are is someone that’s holding on to all her darkest fears? With bruises turned permanent scars? With the need to be loved but never having the ability to believe it?

What happens when every little thing about you comes from a place you never want to go back to? When you realize your entire life changed because of the one moment you had no control over? When there is a constant battle between the guilt for allowing yourself to be drawn into a mess while arguing that you didn’t know what else to do?!

Do you stand up for the child you were or hate yourself for not knowing better?

As I think through all the relationships I’ve had, I’m beginning to decode patterns and it’s like a nightmare playing on repeat as I realize I’ve done the same thing over and over again, wrecking every chance I had at a happy ending. Every time I was so close to it, I let it stop me. I let myself be pulled back. The fear that I don’t understand. The fear that stopped me from ever moving forward, turning this tunnel into a never ending hole of doom.

I wonder what would happen if I could look at them and tell them how it feels like a lost childhood. How in the process of letting them have what they have right now, I drowned. How they’ve made me terrified of commitment. How I run when I feel too much while still craving it because I believe in leaving before I’m left. And how I’ll never stop believing that people leave.

And how, in that moment, when everything I wanted was right there, I couldn’t nod my head yes. I couldn’t walk into the light. I paused. I struggled. I lost.

But maybe that’s just the way life is, isn’t it? Each with a struggle of their own. Not many win. Most of us lose our battles. We give in to whatever it is that consumes us. We let it win. We learn to live with that loss. We learn to put on a mask and hide behind the person the world would like to see. The one that’ll blend in. The one that won’t draw questions.

Someone asked me recently if there was a reason behind the playfulness he sees in me. He felt like the light reaching out. An opportunity to walk out of the dark. All I had to do was trust him with the truth. And I wanted to tell him. This is my mask. This is the way I relive my childhood while still running away from it. This is the person I became when I sat on a couch at my aunt’s house, grinning broadly while crying inside. This is me blending in.

So I smiled at him and said, “No. I’m just a little immature. Nothing else.”

Because I’m Happy

Happiness. That’s the ultimate goal. We all want to be happy. The moment we throw our heads back and laugh without a care for the world. When we cry with joy and sigh with contentment. When everything feels calm. When life feels serene. Sounds so perfect, doesn’t it?

So what does that for you? What makes you happy?

My mother’s friend was planning on sending her son to university in a foreign country. Unfortunate for them, the plan was cancelled last minute and he got stuck here. During a fight about the whole situation, he said “I cannot live here. This place does not make me happy. I need to go there to be happy.”

Do you remember a time in your life when you were so happy that it was undescribable? When nothing you will ever say could sum up what you felt at that very moment? Was it the place? Was it the people? Was it you?

I remember, when I was a kid, my grandmother and I used to play cricket with a plastic bat and ball in the living room. There were only two rules. When I held the bat, everything was a winning hit. When she held the bat, she lost in the first play. I was so happy. It was a tiny house with a living room the size of my current bathroom. We didn’t have a lot of money and we didn’t have a lot of things. It was the happiest time of my life.

I feel like, as we grow up, we begin to feel more miserable by the day. What we feel no longer depends on the people who love us or the moments we have. Our happiness starts being defined by the person sitting next to us. She has an iPad. He has a Ferrari. They have a Phd. His family is bigger. They are more in love than we are. I don’t have those things. My life isn’t like theirs. I have nothing. I don’t feel enough. My house is smaller. My car is older. And I won’t be happy until I get that particular iPhone with the slow motion capture or that fancy car with those amazing speakers. I won’t be happy until I am loved as much as he is.

“You wrecked my happiness by not giving me enough !”

That is not right. I do not agree with the concept that I will only be happy when I have what someone else does too. That I can only be happy when I’m loved like someone else is. It’s not how it works.

I’ve had some very unhappy moments. But they came from within, not from the outside. When I’m upset, I can’t blame the next person for it. I will always have more than someone else and if I don’t know how to use the opportunities presented to me, that’s my fault. There is always someone looking at us and thinking “I want what they have so I can be happy.” Instead of gloating in that feeling, wouldn’t it be nice to set an example ?!

And often, people get the feeling of happy and lonely mixed up. They presume that if you’re lonely, you’re depressed. But that’s not true. You can be so utterly happy and yet feel unbelievably lonely because you don’t have someone to share that happiness with.

We don’t need that man, that woman, that mansion, his car, her earrings, their life – because you can have it all and feel absolutely miserable. You can be sitting on top of the world and be the most unhappiest person on the planet. Take a look at a poverty stricken area in your neighborhood. I will assure you there are more people laughing there than in that of a fancy gated community. They are not happy from the money. They are not happy from the fancy phones or cars that they cannot have. They are happy from within.

Any moment of joy you will ever feel has to come from you. Because I can give you the best of the best but know that with time, something better will come along and you will be exactly where you were all over again.

I’ll say it now and I’ll say it always. Life is shitty. It’s miserable for the most part. There’s always the lack of something or someone. If we want to start picking on all the things that are wrong, we will spend the rest of our lives feeling so irrepairably miserable and depressed. There’s never a moment in your life when something is not right. Find that. Hold on to that little positive thought. And choose to smile. Be happy. Not because it’s what’s expected. Not because you’ve got something someone else doesn’t. Not because you’re loved like no one else is.

Be happy because you can be.

P.A.I.N

0001-17545461

Pain. That’s probably one of the most dreaded words on the planet. Pain. The sound of it makes me cringe. It’s emotional. It’s physical. It can numb you from head to toe and take away your ability to think or act rationally. Pain – that’s the word. But what is it really?

The doctors often say, “Rate the pain you’re feeling from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest.” I have never said 10. Because I know nothing I will ever feel is 10. There’s always something worse right around the corner. It’s like education. The older you get, the worse it becomes. But you also understand that everything in the past was just a preparation for the present. And the present is preparing you for the future.

Because pain is evergrowing.

Like the moment you watch your perfect family crumble and fall. Your world stops and you think the worst has happened, only to realize that it is a permanent fall and can never be rebuilt.

Like feeling hope for the first time in years when someone promises not to walk away and watching that hope crash as you sit on your bed, clutching your phone and sobbing silently.

Like giving up on a dream. Giving up on your five year plan for no fault of yours.

Like heartbreak. You think you’ve figured it out after the first time. You understand what it is. You can handle it. And then the second one happens and it’s ten times more than what you could have ever imagined.

Like the very second after you’ve said “I love you” for the first time and the person on the other end pauses. Your hope sinks with every tick on the clock and yet you feel so unprepared for the “Hmm” that you think you heard in a hallucination but was reality.

Like that little eight year old girl sitting on a couch while her aunt called her “a brave kid” and she grinned – a fake grin – to cover up the stab she felt deep inside her. The need to be anywhere but there. To wake up from the nightmare. To have someone tell her that this is not her life, this is not her childhood.

Pain. When you’re four, you think the scratch on your feet is horrible. Then you get bruised and it leaves a scar. Eventually it becomes ligament tears. And then broken bones. One fine day, you’re struggling to get out of bed because every part of your body hurts. Everything feels painful. But it doesn’t mean the world is over. You don’t give up on school because your classes got harder. Like you don’t stop living because the pain got worse. You go on. You learn to put one foot in front of the other and walk it off.

Because sometimes, pain is good.

Pain lets you appreciate happiness. It teaches you the value of those small moments in life. It helps you learn the concept of empathy. It brings people with similar battles together. It gives you wisdom. It makes you stronger. And when looked at right – Pain gives purpose to life. Maybe pain was created, not to sink us, but to let us help others who are going through the same thing. Maybe pain was meant to irk a positivity that I have failed to see for a very long time now. It’s the only thing you can do about pain without creating a more traumatic experience for the people who love you. Maybe that’s why the word exists to explain that emotion.

Maybe PAIN is just an abbreviation of – Positive. Attitude. Is. Necessary.

Maybe that’s why, like positivity, pain cannot be killed. Pain cannot be willed away. Pain cannot be destroyed. Pain cannot be ignored.

“Pain Demands To Be Felt”

– John Green

Inspired by the comment by Ceolittle :

“I was feeling down today kinda lost what the real meaning of life is all about through all the pain”

Memories Made vs. Selfies Snapped

Recently, my family and I went out for dinner with one of my cousins who was visiting. We had so much fun and we were laughing like a bunch of idiots when for a second there I wanted to pick out my phone and take a selfie of us to remember this moment. But then I stopped and I am so glad I did.

Selfies are a rage. The word was temporarily termed as a “mental disorder” by a few websites. Everywhere you go, everything you do, it’s “Selfie time !” My sister’s biggest regret is that her phone does not have a front facing camera. The need to look perfect for every occasion has gone up by a million. Kids that used to say “Ugh ! Family gatherings ! Boorinnnggg,” now eagerly dress up because “We can take lots of selfies!” 

I am just as self-obsessed as the next girl, so I am not going to point fingers and act like I’m any different. But on that particular day, I learnt something. It might not change me permanently, but it did make a dent in how I reacted at circumstances like that.

Someone I know was talking to me about weddings recently. She said “We have to get married early in life. Late marriage isn’t always the best choice.” I agreed. Some times, some people get used to being alone so much, that the later they get married, the more difficult it becomes for them to re-adjust to living with someone. This person is quite independent. So I presumed that’s what she meant and I admired that she had noticed that about herself. Until, less than a minute later, she said, “Yeah. The older you get the more old your face looks. It won’t look good in photographs.” 

*Abruptly screeching to a stop sound in my brains*

Wait, what ?! Have we really gotten to that now? That you would get married early not because it’s better for the relationship but because it’s better for the photos? I even asked her this and she just nodded. 

When I stopped myself from picking up my phone to click a selfie with my cousin, the jokes continued and the night ended up being one of the best times we’ve ever spent. Had I picked up that phone, the topic would’ve changed and become all about “Oh wait. I have to fix my hair” or “I’m smiling weird. Let’s take one more.” 

When I thought about it, almost all my memories over the past year have been “OMG, so we tried to take selfies, it was so funny. It was the best time ever !!” It makes me feel extremely lame. It was sad enough when I realized that none of my friends from school, that I now call “best friends,” would’ve stayed so close to me without social media. And now, I have been sucked into a world of needing approval from a third person by posting the “perfect selfie” for “as many likes as possible.” 

Some day, I’m going to exchange that phone or this computer. I’m going to want to move the data from it. How am I going to make space for 20 selfies a day over the past three years in addition to an extra 100 on every special occasion and still have enough space for important data and other new things that I might add in the future?!

Surely we all have more things to worry about than “I look like crap today selfies” and if you don’t have anything to worry about, I advise you to turn on the news and worry about things like Gaza & Palestine or the missing flights. 

Make memories by having fun in a no-technology kind of way. Go out and reminisce about childhood memories. How many of us have whined about wanting to go back in time and be a kid again? Maybe it’s time to realize that the reason we had so much fun was because it was board games, cards, video games (I realize that IS technology but it was just different) or spending time outdoors with hide and go seek, hopscotch and statue. And no, you’re never too old for games like that. Giggle, throw your head back and laugh until there’s no sound and just tears.

Because here’s the life lesson I’ve learnt this month..

Sometimes, the best memories are made not in pictures, but in your heart. 

 

Letting go..

Do you ever have a problem with this? Be it a friend, a crush, a boyfriend, an ex, a family member, a pet or even an object? Do you ever sit in a corner and think of a million reasons that convince you to walk away but hold on to the one thing that makes you stay? Do you ever mentally curse yourself for not having the ability to just say “goodbye” and mean it?

Welcome to my world.

It sounds so simple when people say it. “Let go.” All I can think of replying to them is, “Trust me, if I could I would. But I can’t.” Then my best friend asked me “Why not?”

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it ? Why not ?!

Why can the father not let go of his 21-year-old daughter? Why can the mother not let go of her toddler’s hand on the first day of pre-school? Why can you not let go of that little dog/cat you’ve had for ten years now? Why can she not let go of the guy who broke her heart? Why can you not let go of your favorite doll you’ve cuddled with since you were a child?

I don’t have answers for this. I don’t even have a  theory. I like knowing that I have an answer, any answer even if it’s not the right one. But I can’t find one for this question.

Now I have this guy. Or rather, had. Actually, scratch that. Let me rephrase that sentence. There was this guy I fell for. He was the most imperfect human being I have ever met. I can find a million things wrong with him, starting with, he made me cry once a week. I know, what was I thinking?! But somehow I couldn’t let go. I’d tell myself, and him, every other week – “I can’t do this anymore. I have to let go. This is killing me. We can’t talk. We can’t be friends.” He eventually stopped caring about it because he knows, the very next morning, I’d call him and tell him I was being stupid. That we should, of course, keep talking. That I’m totally fine. I wasn’t. I still am not. I actually said the exact same thing to him for the hundredth time last night. I’m struggling now.  All I want to do is to pick up the phone and call him. But why?!

Why is it so difficult to let go? I had a chair when I was a kid. A yellow chair. A yellow plastic chair. It was my favorite place to sit for the first eight years of my life and then one fine day, it broke. I duct-taped it. Painted it black (didn’t really look good). I kept it that way for another 6 years before my mom forced me into throwing it away. I cried and cried for days. Made no sense because I hadn’t used it in 4 years. But I couldn’t let go. It was like kissing my childhood goodbye.

That’s why letting go is difficult. When you look at something or someone, it’s not just that person or just that particular thing. It’s not simply a broken chair. It’s a memory. It’s something that’s been a part of our lives and letting go feels like we’re not just saying goodbye to that object or person but to the memory that comes along with them. To that part of our life. It means accepting change.

And change, as we all know, might be inevitable but is possibly the most difficult thing to deal with.

Generation Gap

“Today, 2 year olds can unlock an iPhone, open and close their favorite apps all by themselves. When I was that age, I was eating dirt.” – This was my friend’s status message on Facebook recently. What an honest statement. 

When I was a kid, playing meant hop-scotch, dumb-charades, hide and go seek. Reading a story always meant lending a book from a local library. Summer vacation meant sleepovers – which automatically meant BOARD GAMES !! “Stupid” was a bad word, Tom & Jerry was entertainment, Ice cream felt like heaven and candy was the best thing ever ! 

Translating that into a modern day kid’s world – playing means Temple Run or Candy Crush or Angry Birds. Reading a story means getting a Kindle or just buying an e-book. Summer vacation sleepovers are pretty useless as every person is lost in their own world of technology. A third grader knows the f-word, apps on their parents’ tablet is entertainment and the latest smart phone is the best thing ever !

What happened? How did we go from “I can’t wait to go outdoors!” to “I can’t wait to get home!” ? When my dad got me my first mobile phone – a very very basic one – in 8th grade, my mum was convinced it was a big mistake as it was going to help me elope with some boy. Today, I rarely see a 8-year-old without a smart phone. 

When I was young, when I missed my cousin, I’d go visit him/her. Today, the kid just video conferences. 

 But why?! Why is the kid on the train so engrossed in that game on his tablet instead of looking around and noticing his environment. At the different people around him. Asking random naive questions that only kids can manage to ask?!

 It upsets me that someday in the future, a child will not know what it’s like to hold a printed book in their hand. The smell of it. Losing yourself in that world without having to worry about its battery draining out. That a child will never experience slipping and falling when trying to hop around on one foot. Guessing things that have absolutely no connection to what the person is acting out in a game of dumb-charades. Triumph of dragging all the money and cards to yourself when you win a game of Monopoly.  Giggling for no reason after lights-out during a sleepover. The pretend sword fights with your brothers. The forts you make in your bedroom. Those secret hiding spots in your town, around your house, around your school. Those hidden treasures buried behind the bush of your childhood home that you promise to someday return and find.

 This kid, that looked to be about 11, while waiting at my Dentist’s, walked up to me with his dad’s smartphone and asked me if I know how to play a game on his phone. I said I didn’t and that I’d never even heard of it. He smirked at me and said, “You old people miss out on so much.” I was offended. But then I later realized, he’s wrong. He couldn’t be more wrong. 

 Technology – that’s all you’re going to be using as an adult. Especially by the time the current and future generations grow up and start working. But there are certain things you can only do as a child. Certain acts where instead of calling you stupid, people smile at your innocence. Like believing that you’re going to be a fireman. Or trying to catch fireflies in a bottle and making wishes. Looking out the window of your parents’ car and freaking out about the moon chasing you. Today, I can honestly say, I had the best childhood I could’ve asked for. A childhood where having to put away my toys was the worst thing I could imagine. Especially, when playing with LEGO’s and I was asked to demolish my creation and put it in a box. That broke my heart every time.  A childhood where everything was an adventure. A childhood when fighting usually involved the window seat in the car, my turn on the swing or “I want more ice-cream!!” A childhood that has so many stories that I now sit and talk and laugh about with my family. A childhood that the future generation is missing out on..