April 28, 2011

About old thoughts.

I read somewhere that mostly our minds just go in circles spending a majority of its time focusing on already repeated thoughts and images. And those of you who know me know that this is indeed true for my mind. I have expressed the same few thoughts in several different ways and have probably come up with a few novel thoughts along the way. Few and far between. And of the thoughts that I often revisit, there is this one thought that often manifests itself into my mental space in the form of an image.

That of an old couple. What is wrong with this image, you ask. It shows that k and I would live to grow old and live to grow old together. All is well.

Now add a few accouterments to this image -- like a heavy grocery bag, snow fall and a walking stick (if you tend to be dramatic like me). Now, the color of the image changes significantly -- it's gone from pleasant pastel shades to a sort of undefined grey (if you are with my mental process still).

And this is the image that I keep circling back to in my head, every now and then. And the thought that goes with that image is that, I don't want to be that person. No really, I have no issues growing old (I believe, I have aged pretty well so far and plan to continue on the good beginning). My issue is with the loneliness and helplessness that I associate with that image (No doubt you pictured a happily chatting couple maybe pulling a grocery cart instead of carrying the heavy bag but stay with my image, will you? Makes my story telling a bit easier). So, my problem with this story is that I don't want to be the protagonist (Yes, k can be the protagonist when he makes up a story and when he puts that in a blog of his own!) here -- that old woman with aging hands, struggling to carry the grocery bag, hating the winter that she hasn't acclimatized to (in the past umm...40 years) and wishing she were in a warm, familiar place instead guessed it, Madras (Oh! You didn't? Ok, catch up with my archives and then come back here for story time!)

Yes, I agree there are several glaring loopholes with my grey image -- grocery shopping will all be done online by that time (as k was kind enough to point out), we might be enjoying the snowfall inside the house in front of a fireplace and possibly with family/kids instead of standing in front of Kroger. All that good stuff. But, that's not my image. Mine is that of husband and wife who often say, "We thought about moving back to India, we just never did. And then, the kids got old. And then, it was too late." I don't want to say that when I am 70.

So, what's stopping me now? For one, the lack of a concrete vision and plan. What do we do after we move to India? Where do we work? Where do we live? For better or worse, my dad is responsible for instilling a constant need to plan and map pros and cons and I continue to do that, all the time. So, why haven't I mapped this out? I guess life gets in the way. Initially, you are a student (FOB, if you will) caught in the excitement of America, then you focus on getting that job with that big company and then it's marriage, house, kids. All big stuff. Good stuff. But then, this old thought swirls in front of you, reminds you of what you have forgotten in the moment (which might be a good thing after all) and exits. It keeps this up until you finally decide to focus on it and do something about it. So, what have I done about it? Thought thoughts :) Thinking is a good thing, isn't it?

And then there's the whole people business. Even on regular days, I like to know that people besides me exist in the background. And since I work from home most of the time, this means, I really like having a nanny at home and the fact that maami comes home to cook twice a week. I miss the general bustle of conversation that is ever present if you live in India. I guess it's something as simple as just hearing people around me. Hardly a reason to wrap up and go. But go figure my mind!

Anyway, more thoughts about this later. For now, I do entertain the mental image and think of ways I can fix it. Who knows? Maybe even if we were in India, the image would probably not change -- our kids would probably have come to the US anyway...but I still can't imagine us living in India without people. And someone "people" seems to be the missing ingredient in my flawed picture anyway. Will update if the mental picture decides to change to that of a healthy old couple walking briskly along the Florida beaches, a vast expanse of blue for company and a golden retriever running behind faithfully ;) Somehow, my mind is not up to conjuring that image as often as it does the other grey image :)

April 19, 2011

Sunshine for mama.

So, I have reached out to my laptop to write something several times in the past week and each time online distraction got the better of me and I ended up website hopping/tweet hopping/status hopping and not getting down to writing anything at all. But today, I have some inspiration to hold me in place -- I have a new friend (all of 8 years old). And she has drawn these delightful little characters for me to pen a story for her. So, here goes!

Once upon a time, there lived two puppies named Happy and Glad. They were neighbors and the best of friends. Every morning, as soon as the sun woke them up, they would rush to each other to play and sing and dance until their mamas called them home for lunch. One day, Happy woke up as usual and rushed to kiss his mama goodbye to go and play with Glad. But, when he went into his mama's room, she was sitting very quietly in her room and she had her eyes closed. Happy grew very concerned, "Are you not feeling well, mama?", he asked. She smiled and said, "It's the change in weather. See outside..." and when Happy looked, huge raindrops fell and the sun was nowhere in sight. Just then, Glad and his mama walked into the room. Glad's mama got some warm soup and treats for Happy's mama. The two puppies stood worriedly in a corner as they watched their mothers. Soon, Happy's mama was sipping on her hot soup and Glad's mama said, "Why don't you both go and play in your room? Soon, the sun will be out and Happy's mama will be all better!" And so, the two puppies trotted back into Happy's room to discuss the events of the day.

"Do you think mama will be better soon?", Happy asked. He looked outside the window and said, "The rain makes me so sad. I wish the sun would come out and mama would feel better again."

Glad wanted to make his best friend feel better. Suddenly, he had an idea! "I know how we can make your mama better! Let's bring her some sunshine!"

"What a great idea!" agreed Happy.

"But how? It's raining so heavily outside!"

Glad said, "My mama and I got an umbrella to walk to your house. Let's take that and go looking for some sunshine!"

Happy agreed. He was happy that he could do something to make his mama feel better. So, the two puppies carried the umbrella and went looking for sunshine. Outside, it was drizzling but the sun was nowhere in sight.

Just then, they saw Friendly, the pig rushing to his pen.

"What are you two doing in the rain?" Friendly asked.

"Oh! We are looking for some sunshine. Do you know where we can find it?" asked Happy.

"Hmm...I didn't see any since morning. Why don't you both stay warm and dry inside and we can all go looking for some when the rain stops?" said Friendly huddling close to Happy and Glad under the umbrella.

"Oh! But, my mama is sick because of all the rain and we need the sun to make her better!" cried Happy.

"Oh! Don't be so sad, little Happy. Let me think. Who can help us find some sunshine? I know! Let's ask Wise, the bunny!"

So, the three friends went looking for Wise, the bunny. By then, the rain had almost stopped and the skies were looking more blue than grey.

Wise, the bunny was outside his house collecting some tools to do some gardening. When he saw the three friends, he said, "Happy, Glad and Friendly! How nice to see you! I would call you all in for a cup of tea but I am all set to work in my garden! Care to join me?"

Friendly said, "Oh! We are looking for some sun to take back to Happy's mom. She fell sick because she got wet in the rain and she needs some sun to feel better!"

Wise scratched his head. How could he tell poor Happy that he could not take the sun to his mom? So, he thought of an idea. He picked up a wooden pot that he had set aside to plant some flowers and said, "Let me help you in your quest! Come with me!" And so, Happy, Glad and Friendly followed Wise as he led them to a pool nearby.

Wise pulled Happy near him and pointed to the water in the pool, "What do you see there?"

Happy looked confused, "Water?", he ventured.

"Look carefully, what do you see?"

And so, the three friends peered into the water. And Lo and Behold! There it was, the sun!

"The sun!" They exclaimed together.

"Yes, the sun", agreed Wise, "Now watch carefully, I am going to coax the sun to travel with you to your house!" Saying that, Wise dipped his pot into the water and pointed to the sun's reflection, "Now, I am going to close this pot so the sun is safe inside. Give this to your mama with my regards!"

The three friends thanked Wise and skipped back home. When they reached home, the two moms were happily chatting away in the porch. "Mama, mama!" Happy called out excitedly, "We bought some sun for you so you feel all better!" Saying that, he handed the pot to her.

Happy's mom laughed and winked at Glad's mom. "You did! That must explain why I feel all better now! I'll keep the sun safe with me! Now run along and play while the sun is still out!"

And so, that's what Happy, Glad and Friendly did. They played till it became dark and the sun set but they knew their special sun was all safe and sound with Happy's mama!

© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.