To write or not…

I am afraid to write. If I start, it will all come out. If I don’t, I will choke. For me to get better I need to pour it out.

While her husband is in the ICU, my sister in law is alone at home, covid positive herself, with two young kids, one of them is all confirmed positive, grieving the death of her father in law, my Mausa, maternal uncle. His body lies in another room, in a refrigerated coffin, arranged through my in laws and family members.

Tomorrow she will go to the cremation ground, fight for the space, the wood, and the ticket to cremate him. She will not be allowed to take her 12 yr old son with her. Her husband lies in ICU, and knows none of this. He does not know that while he battles for his life, his wife will be kindling the fire at his father’s pyre.

What has this world come to?!

My sister and brother-in-law wanted to go help. They cannot. There is a curfew.

Robbie Uncle, as we fondly called him, gave up the will to live. He was always the measured, quiet, stern, and the sharp one. I was always a little scared of him. But he had his ways of showing love. He loved his kids but was strict with them. And although reserved in nature, we could see him smile below his thick mustache. He enjoyed my father’s company. Who did not. And I heard them talk about shares and dividends. Despite the fact that my dad never talked about this stuff to anyone else we knew. The two of them had a unique relationship.

His daughter wails in Mumbai. Unable to come to see her Dad. She was dealt the same cards as me. He was very fond of her. She could commit murder and he would stand by her. She deserves every bit of that trust. Wise like her father.

My cousin who is in the ICU never quite got over his mother’s sudden demise. I don’t know how he will take this news. He doesn’t know. And he shouldn’t.

Will the kids who saw their grand father die in front of their eyes ever forget the scene? Will they forget how their mother was asked to open the deceased’s eyes, flash torch light in them, to confirm to the doctor over the video call that he was indeed gone. While the oxymeter reading showed 60, 45, and then 15 and then nothing.

You hear it happen to others families and you bless your heart and thank your stars. Today this is happening to my family. I was there when we brought my SIL home after the wedding. Little did she know she will be cremating her father in law one day.

I am angry. At the world. And more so at the government. Why did she have to make a false choice between sending her husband to the hospital or her father in law? Why were there no two beds available? Why was there no oxygen available? Why is the common man paying a price for someone else’s mistakes? Why am I not with my family today?

I’m numb. And I will be until justice is done. For now, I don’t know how I will go to work tomorrow. Pretending everything is fine. Being the one encouraging the troops. I have no energy to shell on this pretense. I am grieving for my country, and I want to be left alone.

Who are we?

Wrote two condolence notes in one evening. Now I know how to express my condolence over a slide and in text messages.

It’s come to this. It’s mayhem. Young, old, rich and poor are dying. There are more people dying than I have ever known. I don’t want to witness this in my lifetime again.

This world will establish a new relationship with death. Numbed by the loss around me. Everywhere there is grief and fear. Yet, in my part of the world, life is coming back to normal. We had dinner outside, keeping up with our Friday rituals from now 18 months ago. As we sat there I felt out of place, kept slipping into my head. Tara’s antics kept pulling me back.

Oh lord, someone stop this rampage. This is like war. The enemy is too strong. And we are not prepared. we?! W

Who is this we?! The same “we” that gave up on Delhi last year.

When it comes to my Delhi, we will always be in love. Our love hate relationship is new. I want to see my Delhi’s spirit come back. For heaven’s sake – can “we” see that spirit come back!

Acceptance

My mom and I try to humor each other, as she wraps up her quarantine, and stint with covid. This time we picked a sensitive topic. But it made us smile and giggle for sure. Just that post that conversation, I turned into a lump of guilt that is is hard to swallow.

My father was a people person. He could not see them in pain. And he used whatever resources he had, and he had none, to help those who needed it. He donated blood multiple times a year, because that is what he could give. He didn’t have money to give.

His benevolence and desire to help everyone was often a cause of concern in the house. My mother worried about how he would put others before self and lose track of time, while his family would wait for him to come home.

So I tickled her with the idea – “ what if Papa was around and seeing all this happen? He would have rushed to the streets to help the sick. Leaving us all worried about his health.” She laughed, “ yes, it would have been tough for him to stay at home and watch the news, and it would have added to my agony.” Both of us shyed away from saying the obvious. It’s good he is not seeing this. It would have been very hard for him to stay put.

And now my lump of guilt. When in a rough situation, I always ask myself – what would he have done. And although he and I are two very different people, I lead with his values and use my actions. I didn’t believe in how he put his values to work. But those values bind us.

Today, while I know what he would have done, I am still not sure what I can do. Kindness, empathy, check in on family, friend, co workers from past lives. I’m checking all those boxes but it is not enough. And I know I cannot do much sitting here except donate money. He had blood to give. Perhaps I can give my mind and my time. May be. But how do I put it to use? How do I channel my energy towards something that actually helps. I don’t know. I feel helpless and futile. That lump keeps growing. I cannot help it.

I seek energy from people. So when they are not happy, I also absorb their sorrows. It’s hard to absorb the sorrow without an outlet. And that’s where I am at. A worst place than I was a week ago when my family’s health was distracting me from the scene at large. As my mind opens up, it is absorbing a lot of pain and agony, and it’s making me sick. I don’t have an answer or a plan.

I am just an idealistic father’s foolish daughter trying to do good to the values he instilled in me. At loss of words and actions, waiting for an outlet that I can pour my blood and sweat into. And may be the outlet won’t come, and the agony will subside and I will accept that I cannot be like him.

To life!

Family is slowly recovering. No where close to all clear. But some improvements. And for now, I will take that with a smile and hands folded in gratitude.

Woke up and went to the NYT app. The images of the bodies wrapped in cloth, burning, is front and center. Put my phone away and thought of this

अधबुझी चिताओं का धुआँ 

सफ़ेद कपढ़े में लिपटी हज़ारों लाशें

किसका जनाज़ा है यह, इस मौत का सिला क्या है

कुछ चंद साँसों की आज क़ीमत क्या है

end states

This perf cycle I experienced zero anxiety. I knew that my efforts were visible and known, and I didn’t have to worry about the interpretation of my actions and intentions.

For a change I also didn’t worry about the mapping of my ladder to my accomplishments. A good number of conversations had built my confidence in building up the narrative that I believed in. A narrative that was a true representation of my efforts.

I could trust my team to tell me directly if something needed to be discussed. I didn’t have to worry about someone’s interpretation of their feedback.

It was an anxiety free perf and for that I am so grateful. I remember a saying – “you are not a tree. If something does not work out for you, you are free to move.” And so I did. I moved because my roots were not thriving and I needed nourishment that I found someplace else.

For that one has to be grateful to this company, that has a place for anyone. And if you land in a place that’s not for you, you can always find someplace else.

For me though, this is it. I doubt there is something better for me out there. Within Google, I’ve met my match. And it took me 6 years to find it. I guess we need to keep hustling for our desired end states. Unfortunately all end states are the same 😉

Ultimately we are all just inching towards our grave every day. Sombre but true.

Perhaps that’s life ?!

सूरज की गरम नरम किरणें धरती के अलग अलग कोने को जगा देती हैं। और फिर बादलों के साथ लुक्का छिपी खेलने में मस्त हो जाती है। मैं एक ऐसे कोने पे ख़ड़ी उन नटखट किरणों का इन्तज़ार कर रही हूँ!

धीरे धीरे एक आदत सी बन जाती है। एक चाहत सी उमढ़ आती है। इस गरमाइश में पिघलने की जैसे लत लग जाती है।

लेकिन यह धरती अनिश्चल है। यह रुक नहीं सकती।और इसलिए मेरी सूरज की गरम नरम किरणें हर मौसम में अपनी जगह बदल लेती हैं। मैं भी उनका साथ निभाती हूँ, और धरती की तरह मैं भी चलती जाती हूँ।

बस इस सब में सालों साल बीत जाते हैं। और हम इस चक्रव्यूह में सारा जीवन व्यस्त कर देते हैं।

फिर एक दिन, हम भी धरती में मिल जाते हैं। सूरज की किरणें हमको फिर भी ढूँढ लेती, और उस चाहत और आदत को क़ायम रखती हैं ।

Simple things

I had a very cluttered mind this morning. So I took out 30min between sending Tara to school and work to start to read a short story by Murakami. I read that story with the level of attention I’ve likely never given to anything in life .

Every word was pure joy. Each sentence was easy to imagine. I cleared my mind by reading and it was amazing. I’ve done that before, a number of times, by sheer accident.

But today I used the book like a tool from my toolbox of self care and it worked like a charm. Simple things.

Now I cleared my mind alright. But it got clogged again, Pretty quickly. But this time with work.

In the meanwhile Agam thinks drinking wine at lunch is a good idea. I had a shot of it and that was enough for me to question the idea 💡

On that note there is no dearth of silliness in our house. My reading a book at 8am, Agam drinking wine at noon, and Tara fitting in a small box

Sent the pic to my family that is healing slowly and steadily. I’m sure it brought a smile to their faces. Sending them more love and prayers and wishes from all our friends who have been asking about their well being every day.

Ramblings

Work is a good distraction. I can lose myself in it. I can create a distance between me and my alter mind. Me goes about doing it’s business. Alter mind gets rest from the constant noise it is currently dealing with. I’m practicing active and forceful positive thinking. Everything is alright. It will all be back to normal soon.

Also I am a little tired, and it’s just Monday. My brain has been slow and it gets festered easily. They say stress can do that.

On the home front 6/7 are down. The lab tests are getting more difficult to avail. But the fever is manageable and scratchy throat persists. Quarantine is still in effect, and everyone is spending time in their rooms. They are telling me that they are Ok.

I wonder how I will feel five years from now when I will come back and read this post. Who knows what reality we will be dealing with then.

An interesting conversation today. I enjoyed it and apparently so did the person on the other end. Who knows where this goes. But if it does end in a positive way, then there will be some difficult decisions to make. But we are far from that with at least 6 weeks between us. Why think so long. I am literally going from one WhatsApp message to next at this point.

Made some strawberry frozen yogurt this weekend. It’s quite a little treat at the end of the day. And relatively low effort in the ice cream maker from Cuisinart. Worth the splurge.

Breathe

As my whole family fights Covid back home, I sit here sleepless and restless. With nothing that I can possibly do, but shower my love on them when this is all over, and send them every bit of positive vibes I can in the meanwhile.

There is acceptance to be instilled in this weak and feeble heart, of a decision the brain took some 16 years ago. I must make this heart stronger. For it has much to endure. I promise I would have been the brave one if only I was geographically present with them today. But sitting here, waiting for the WhatsApp messages is a very fragile heart that has been quivering since Friday morning.

I am afraid to even call for what help is that phone call when there are three sets of quarantines to coordinate, and meals to be managed and medicines and tests to be procured. I will likely disturb than help. So I sit here, as the air around me becomes too heavy to breathe, laden with guilt, and helplessness.

I know they will sail through and come out of it stronger and immune. And we will be together soon – just as we were in the winter of 2019. Amen!

Worst fear

My worst fear has come true. The one thing that I worried most about all through this pandemic has happened. And I cannot do anything.

All I can do is hope for the best. Stay positive, and send all the positive energy and love to my Mom who is now in quarantine.

All I know. Is that I cannot do anything. And I don’t want to lose another parent. And that I am sorry that I cannot be there for her. These are the facts. And that’s all I know.

Life is a box of chocolates

Agam and I lived our childhood fantasies today. I ate noodles from the box and he ate ice cream from the pint. As kids when we watched Friends and imagined what life would be in the US – we imagined that. Eating out of boxes! Go figure!

Reason for this indulgence – well I had a back to back day and I also got a spot bonus recently and I felt like eating Indo-Chinese. And as for Agam, he loves ice cream and he eats way too much of it. Literally no one else in the house eats that. Tara and I are cool – we eat popsicles. Boring Daddy.

India has become an open mortuary. It’s sad, ghory and scary. I hope and wish health and wellness for all the people. If there is one wish I can ask for tonight – is to somehow survive this deadly wave. It is so disheartening to read the news and see the images. I don’t believe in miracles, but I do believe in positive vibes. And that’s all I can give.

Today I hosted a female author at our all-hands. The idea came to my mind during December vacations and it took that long to pan out. The topic was pertinent. And the speaker was quite amazing. I love candor. And she was all things candor. She reminded me of why I wanted to work at Google in the first place. She has quite a story of her own, and there are a few parallels in our stories. Just that I don’t intend to go as far as she went in her career. But I sure hope I someday write another book. Something more than just a collection of poems. Believe in yourself, Shivam. I bet the world needs more of you, and from you 😝

I am suppose to be studying for a self inflicted challenge and I am getting practically no time to do it. I don’t want to be a slob. So weekend is going to be a quiet one.

We were in a team meeting when I broke down behind the scene. I was listening to someone and I could feel their sense of grit and pain. I don’t know their story. But I know that feeling. That feeling of I am too young to have gone through all of that. It’s a very very haunting feeling. It also makes you impatient towards the idiocies of the people, and their behaviors. I know that feeling, and that frustration. And I don’t see it enough in people. And when I see it, I cannot un-see it. We get connected in a strange way. Just like I can connect in a strange way with people who know the emptiness of losing a parent. We are kins of sorts. We know something the others don’t. We value people in a way, others can’t.

I’m rambling and crying and I don’t know why. Perhaps my way of expressing my grief for Col Suharu’s wife who will be cremated today, in the absence of her husband who is Covid+ve. She lost her breathe to Covid yesterday. The news has jolted my in-laws who cherished her friendship for so many years. May her soul Rest In Peace.

Chill Pill

Joy is creating a WhatsApp group with my two adorable nieces. I literally just held them in my arms for the first time, and here we are creating WhatsApp groups for sharing gupshup. Time is flying… It’s is shocking how cool my nieces think I am. I bask in the glory of their admiration of my chill factor. It’s all relative. Of course their Mom is way more chill than me. But no kid will ever admit that. Moms are just fuzzy balls. I am sure Tara won’t think I am chill when she is their age.

Today morning when I went to drop off Tara, I witnessed the cutest thing. Her classmate Mark has recently joined in person school and today was his second day. Apparently the two of them have established a sweet friendship over zoom classes. Tara was thrilled that Mark was going to be coming to school. And it seems like Mark was equally thrilled. As I helped her with her bag and lunch box, I heard Mark yell at her from far, “good morning, Tara”. And Tara responded – “good morning, Mark.” And I waved at the two of them as they entered the classroom. For whatever reason I had tears in my eyes. Such pure and innocent smiles and eyes. I am so happy my little munchkin gets so much love from her friends and teachers. She deserves all the love in the world. And she is so good at giving back too.

Came back and sipped my coffee in the patio with the cacophony of birds entertaining me. Blissful morning. Procrastinated on my to-dos and attended a team fun event instead. Had a lot of fun and it helped me push off the headache from the vaccine. For some strange reason the first dose of Moderna led to a strong headache all night and this morning. Anyways – it’s all temporary pain for the long term gain 🙂

Between the chills and pills and aches and breaks, the day went by. Hmm..again procrastinating on my to-dos. It’s hard to come back after a week long chill pill vacation.

Haiku #25

Even a river /
finds its way around the rock /
love flows in a heart

I experienced a certain disappointment today. How odd that I have not felt that that in a while. You are disappointed when you expect. But for that I must’ve expected a human on the other side. Silly me!

Vaccine dose #1 done. Sitting and waiting for the 15 min window post vaccination. I don’t know if it was the boredom or the vaccine but I started to feel dizzy, and popped up a Haiku out of my foggy mind.