I feel bad at times to talk about my family. There are many who aren’t able to string together at least one thing they might like about their family. I have so much to be grateful for when I think of mine. So, to those who might think that I’m trying to ‘rub it in’ or whatever, that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m just sharing my surprise and respect upon discovering just how much my family has my back.
Tonight was a bit of a low. There were tears, there was anger and there was disbelief. Instead of digging into the nearest batch of food I could find (a bad habit), I found myself enveloped in bear hugs. I guess that’s why the pain was so much more bearable – there was love all around me and an outpouring of understanding and warmth. Truly in the grip of big bear hugs!!!!
I cannot begin to thank my family enough for their support and understanding. How they so steadfastly believe in me and uphold me constantly in their prayers. It makes you wonder what you’ve done to deserve it or if you believe in reincarnations, who or what were you in your past life that you’re born into this life with a beautiful family? It has also been such a revelation of God’s blessings too because whatever happened, it happened here – in the safety, comfort and love of home and family. I could not have asked for anything better.
It will take me some time to recover. I feel a little broken in more ways than one. But I also know through He that strengthens me, I have learnt and I will come through it. I also want to thank God right here on this blog and on the net (regardless of whether you believe in God or not) for blessing me with this beautiful family who fill my life with headaches, worries, stress along with laughter, joy, amusement and true, true love – the way love ought to be. Thank you.
NOTE: I had actually written this a while back when I had flunked my mid-semester language exams. I was down and out and feeling like a big failure, stressing over how to do this MPhil AND also sit for civil service exams. I had reached a point where I felt heavy and a little worn out, from the weight of expectations from my family AND from myself, feeling that the future rides on this and this alone. So that’s the background for this post and in conclusion I have discovered that once you’ve gone and hit the bottom, there’s no where to go but up. Yes, yes, I can hear the chorus of people going ‘Go DIE you eternal optimist!’ Lol! Just felt this had even more relevance with the Civil Service Mains going on right now.
‘Failure’ seems to be the flavour of the day. I have not felt this despondent in a very LONG time and that has definitely added to the discomfort. It was one small exam but what a huge impact it has left on me. For the first time in my life, I knew….I knew no matter how much I wished and hoped, no matter how much I prayed, that I was going to gloriously, absolutely, without-a-doubt FAIL today’s mid-semester exam. The worst feeling in the world is knowing you’re going to fail not because you’re incapable but because you did not do nearly enough to be prepared and ready. I have no idea how many people have found themselves in this situation but I can assure you – IT SUCKS!
It completely and utterly sucks to sit in a room and stare blankly at a piece of paper, squinting at it, flipping the pages, wishing that a lightning bolt of knowledge would zap you right then and there and VOILA! You understand EVERYTHING! Well, sadly, this is not the movies…yes, yes, it’s that old cliche – this is real life. So there was no lightning bolt of knowledge, no sudden revelation of latent mutant powers, no sudden jump in time and space to a parallel dimension where you find you’re the central character of some grand adventure and the fate of the world lies in your hands!!!!!! *cue mortal kombat/james earl jones dramatic voice-over* Ahem…nope. Na-da, zilch, zero, nothing. For the next agonizing two and a half hours I sat, completely dumbfounded, becoming gradually numb and more numb. Then at the end of those two and a half hours, I gave up. There’s a fine line between ‘slim chance’ and ‘not a chance in hell’. I was clearly in the second category and finally accepted the fact that for today, there was nothing more I could do. So I got up, gave in my very sad, sad answer sheet and just walked off kind of listless and a little lost.
I walked out of the department building feeling sleepy, brain dead and defeated. There was noise all around me but for some reason I just couldn’t really ‘hear’ stuff. It truly felt surreal. In moments like these, it is always good to have that emergency back-up that you’ve long cherished that you know always does the trick! For me, no matter how listless, loss or defeated I do feel, I never seem to forget to eat! Lol. So there was some form of comfort available to me as I mentally scanned, sorted and selected the various eateries open to me in and around my location. Finally settled on heading home and stopping on the way by John’s Bakery for some pastries to gulf down and drown my sorrows in!
I should have gone with my other fool-proof method in times like these – go for a movie. Change of scenery, a little mindless journey, comfortable seats, AC, popcorn and nothing but me and the mother of all home entertainment dreams – a giant screen, Dolby surround sound, plush, super plush seats and my own ‘vending’ machine nearby! Sadly, I had left my cell in the flat during the morning rush to sit the exam, so thought I better check in and see what my flatmate was up to. Landed up in a PCO and called my flatmate only to be greeted with the words, “I have bad news, BUT you’re really, really, LUCKY/” *stunned silence* I would rather take no news than bad news and ‘lucky’ together in one sentence! Turns out, that I would be coming back to a home in utter disarray: new mattress had been peed on, my new (expensive) dictionary had been chewed (thankfully only the corners), a very nice bra of mine had been chewed up, my Chinese speeches for translation work had been shredded AND there was crap next to my bed! So what. in all of this horrible commotion and destruction. was the ‘lucky’ part you might ask? Well, the envelope for my UPSC admit card had been completely ripped to shreds (!) BUT somehow (and this is truly a miracle) the admit card itself was completely in tact! Also, my friend’s train ticket which had been couriered to me for safekeeping had been in the pile of books and papers that had been attacked and YET, that too was completely untouched! She was already waiting at my building for her ticket and I just happily put on a great, big smile and willed that train ticket of hers to be one of the few ‘lucky’ items to have survived. Thankfully, it was…sighhhhhhhhhhhh….
So what have I done since the time I got back to my ‘war zone’ of a flat and was greeted by the destruction? I ate! Starting from sticky rice with butter, to various fizzy, aerated drinks, fried carbohydrate in the form of ‘pancakes’ (but ssshhhhhh, my flatmate doesn’t call hers that) etc. and there were so many value-added ‘junk’ to ease a troubled soul and mind. Then got to work cleaning up! As I kept cleaning and cleaning, started feeling some semblance of order being restored, not just in the flat but in my head as well. That wonderful haze of self-doubt and self-criticism began lifting slowly but surely. By the time, most of the cleaning was done, I had remembered something which gave me a lot of hope and put a smile on my face. It was a smile that said ‘Of course, why didn’t I think of that?‘ mixed with ‘It only happens in the movies but still a nice idea‘. I love movies, books and music. In all those three realms, everything and anything is possible and you can weave incredible stories and lives for yourselves. Sometimes, some of them can give you a great message to take with you. If you don’t agree with it, you can just take it or leave it. But sometimes, they managed to hit a chord that resonates deep within you.
In my exaggerated mood of failure, I remembered an animated movie I had watched many years ago called ‘Meet the Robinson’s’. The whole gist of the movie was that this family never congratulated you on your successes, nope. But when you failed stupendously, THAT was when they would congratulate you or each other….Congratulations on a magnificent failure!….For it is only from failures that some of the greatest successes come. Ah-hah! *light bulb moment*
So on that note I sign off. There are some lucky few out there who seem to have success written in the stars for them. I feel incredibly happy for them. But for the majority of people, it’s not going to be that simple or easy. Take heart and know that from some of the greatest failures have come the greatest successes. Many might not understand where you’re going or heading in life or if you’ll amount to anything but take heart. No matter on what scale or height, we are all here to make our mark somewhere, even if it’s in the smallest ways.
Though both my parents are not exactly ‘tech-savvy’ (in all fairness to my dad, he actually is in some aspects but mum TOTALLY isn’t….well, she did learn to sms/text and take photo’s on her cell, LOL) and they might not get to read this post unless one of us, siblings are there to go online and SHOW it to them. Nevertheless, it is an important day for the family so it definitely had to be blogged about.
Today marks their 28th anniversary. It’s going to sound utterly ‘mushy’ and all ‘sappy’ but give me a break! These are my parents guys! And I have wonderful parents who have raised us and taught us with love and truth, wisdom and patience. I remember my brother and I once had a conversation quite a few years back. We were talking about ‘Ma & Pa’ (that’s what they’ve eternally been called). We were both agreeing that we’ve got incredible parents and then my brother said something which has always stayed with me – he said that whatever is good in us as kids, it’s because of how Ma & Pa raised us and when he has children one day, he would like to raise them the same way. I don’t know since I’m not a parent yet but even as an older sister, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting than that as an anniversary gift to our parents.
What my brother said is so true. Family is not always easy and we do have our shares of up’s and down’s but we owe so much to the level-headedness of our parents and their faith which has kept us together and going for so long. My mother is an extraordinary woman (as all mothers tend to be). I grew up wanting to be like her; full of grace and elegance, firm yet never rude or bossy and always, always trying hard to be better. Though she’s soft-spoken and gentle, for some reason no one seemed to push her around and you could never imagine she was one to be pushed around so easily. It’s that quiet confidence, that ‘air of no-nonsense’, of knowing who she is and her value and worth that has been something I’ve always wanted for myself as well. She is the more expressive one and so we’ve all grown up having had long, long chats with our mum. She’s always been there with a word of warning to straighten up and work hard, followed by words of encouragement and love. Lol. She’s always been affectionate and warm and I cannot remember a time when we were not hugging her, or holding on to her or just following her wherever she went.
Have you ever had that experience when ‘the Mum’ is down that all hell seems to break loose?! Well, we have definitely been through that. It would happen anytime she was sick and in bed (which happened rarely and most of the time she seemed to jump right back out of bed). My father would feel a little overwhelmed and worried for her and the family and though none of us kids wanted to say it (because we would all try to act tough and independent), we also felt equally, if not more, bewildered and lost than our dad. The funny, if not saddest part was that our dad was also ‘bluffing’ like us! Telling us with no apparent worry or concern on his face that Ma was fine and she’d be up in no time and yet, quietly going to her side and praying for her to get well FAST. LOL!
Speaking of following around, we spent a good amount of time with her in the kitchen (sadly, her culinary skills have not passed down to all of us…I feel my two younger sisters might have it, am still trying). She’s an excellent cook! Man, she could cook up a storm and that too over different continents as she whipped out dishes from around the world! My mum often says that being a housewife is the toughest job in the world and I have to so totally agree o_0 (I cannot even begin to imagine doing even a tenth of what she does). She has said that she’s a master chef, a cleaner, a dhobi (clothes washer), a private chauffeur, a psychologist and psychiatrist, a seamstress, a gardener, a ‘social butterfly’, an interior designer, a grocer, an economist all rolled into one! I added economist because it’s usually the mothers and wives who have to handle the daily household expenditure and learn the most basic economics to keep the family going (something I learnt from my English teacher, Ms. Noreen Dunne). I also wanted to add UN peacekeeper and diplomat because we all know how important a mother’s role is in the family in maintaining peace which includes her role as a daughter-in-law and wife. When I look at it like that, our mum is right up there with the best of them! Lol.
She is our center of gravity and without her we would all be weak and floundering somewhere. But I and my siblings, would like her to know that it’s not just because of all the excellent things she does but because of who she is – her personality, her heart and her nature – that we, as her children, are profoundly blessed and grateful to have her as our mother. We want to thank God everyday for our mother and to tell her as often as we can that we love her immensely!
But our family isn’t complete without our father and we have quite a father to match our mum! Lol. My dad is a force of life and energy, even my mum says he’s charming and friendly and because of that people have always gravitated towards him. I can believe that. I’ve grown up noticing how people respond to our dad. I’ll admit, sometimes I would not get his jokes, his mannerisms or the ‘audacity’ he had to ask and do certain things. But as I get older, I realize it’s his fearlessness and his drive to succeed and make a better life for himself and his family that people recognize and respect. As a worker, he was hardworking, determined and persistent. As a boss, he was demanding of professionalism and perfection but always led by example and never forgot to remain ‘human’. He led by example. Two memories of his work ethics stand out. The first one was when I was quite young, maybe Class/Grade 5 or 6 and I had gone to his office after being picked up from school so that we could head home together. I happen to get there right when he was in the middle of scolding/shouting at one of his staff. I was a little miss-know-it-all and righteousness-be-thine-guide type of kid so naturally, I argued with my dad in front of his staff. *loud gasp* Shock, Horror! Yes, yes, I was that audacious too. Lol. We exchanged words, the staff member left the office and everything was quiet. Long silence. Till my dad decided to speak first (and this is one of his greatest, greatest traits). He calmly explained that the man he had scolded had not done the work assigned to him for well over a week and was slacking off despite having been given so many breaks. It was because of sheer laziness that the work was not getting done and that was unacceptable in my dad’s eyes, especially since he didn’t hound him for the work. I felt sheepish and stupid and apologized to my dad and we went home after that. The second memory was just something he told me about huge projects or work that needed to be done in the office. He had a work ethic that went something like, if the staff need to put in an all-nighter to get the work done, then no arguments everyone would do so. Including my father who would stay till the last man left for home. That was something pretty big for me to hear and I felt immense pride swelling up from that place where immense pride swells up from. Lol. I love my father very much but it was from those two incidents that I learnt to respect and value what he had to say and yes, even his ‘audacious’ requests.
My father is also the generous one in the family and pretty understanding when it comes to crushes etc. My mum isn’t. She swings more to the conservative side :p The best example was when a girl liked my brother when they were in Class/Grade 5 or 6 and she stood outside our house gate with her friends, calling him out. LOL!!! That was one gutsy girl and I have to say that I admired her confidence. It was such a simple thing but it led to a mini-argument between my parents because of how they wanted to handle it. It went something like this:
Mum: How can they just come to a person’s gate like that? Don’t they feel even a little embarrassed and what about us as parents?! Didn’t they bother about how we would feel? Tell them to go home right now! Otherwise, I’ll go out there and give them a piece of my mind.
Dad: Who is this girl? we kids explaining that she’s the one with a crush on our brother… Oh! Really? She likes him? Here’s some money, quick! Take her down to the mall, buy her some flowers or chocolates or BOTH and have a good time!
LOL! Yah, Pa is pretty cool that way :p
He’s also the most understanding and forgiving. I remember when I was not allowed to board my flight because of overweight luggage. I had offered to pay half in Delhi and half at the counter when I got home. I offered my luggage as collateral and anything else on me but no dice. I was almost in tears from sheer anger at the airline staff and from guilt at how I was going to break this to my parents. Sure enough, they could not understand how in the world I could have underestimated the weight of my luggage and basically it was about how negligent I had been. I felt so bad and I knew I was at fault but I had a hard time swallowing my pride. As I sat in the auto, feeling miserable and alone my dad called me back and all he said was this – don’t worry about the money, don’t worry about missing your flight, life has it’s up’s and down’s and we have to learn the hard way….you’re like me, you’ll have your up’s and down’s and you’ll learn the hard way but don’t worry about it. I couldn’t believe it. Just like that, I was forgiven and more than that, my dad understood.
This wasn’t the first time he demonstrated so much compassion and understanding. When I was in college, I had been in an accident due to my stupidity and I still have the scar to remind me. It happened the day before his 60th birthday and I have never missed any of my family member’s birthdays so, naturally my father was expecting my call. But sadly, I was all bandaged up and completely passed out from painkillers, lying in some small, dark clinic regretting everything that had happened and being completely helpless to do anything about it. When my friends finally managed to get me my cellphone, I was faced with a really tough decision: to come clean and tell my parents what happened or just keep it hidden and tell them some other time. I came clean and told them. Naturally, it didn’t go down well and I got a lot of shocked disbelief and disappointment from them. My dad called up again after the first call didn’t go down so well. All he said was this – don’t worry, by God’s grace and His grace alone you’ve been saved and my daughter that could have died has lived. When we finally hung up, that’s when I cried…strangely, I hadn’t cried at all during the whole time I was in hospital (injections, stitches, cleaning, accusatory gazes, gossipy tongues). But when my father spoke to me like that, that’s when I broke down and sobbed quietly under my blanket. I asked God why I had lived as the guilt overwhelmed me and in that sobbing I kind of got my answer. First off, it seems it just wasn’t my time and secondly, I was spared because of my family. My father and mother saved me because they’ve always covered their children in prayer and I guess, God decided that He wasn’t quite done with me yet.
If our mother is our center of gravity then our father is our rock and head. Our center of gravity is so important to us for our balance and our rock keeps us firmly anchored down when all the ‘s*** hits the fan’ (pardon my French). But that’s the best way to describe it and describe them. I am coming to a newer and deeper understanding and appreciation for our Ma & Pa. It’s now that time of their lives when the children they so lovingly raised are starting to play a more active role in taking care of THEM. God bless you, Ma & Pa with so many more wonderful years ahead. May He see that your hearts truly love Him and belong to Him and may His blessings pour down on you. Thank you so much for being our parents and I hope as your children we make you happy and proud. Lots of love!!!!