Grown Ups


Every visit back home adds another knot to the fine braid linking memories, relationships and feelings. This time, my home was the neatest train wreck – furniture scattered and walls hacked off for the last “Great Renovation”. After that, it all depends on my sister and I – not quite a comforting thought!  

I was playing the good daughter over the long weekend and attempted to be indispensable to my Mom (or so I’d like to believe) by giving her a much-needed break. We were like Batman and Robin you know.. smoothly tackling the renovations along with the cleaning, washing, laundry and gardening. Dad was being… err.. Fox? Temporary handicap has made him a one-arm soldier which has fueled his motivating wisecracks 😀

This visit added a jewel to the braid…

See, I am extremely lucky to have always been considered an “adult” by my parents with varying levels of responsibility and wisdom in spite of the apparent insanity.. And it feels so good that they completely trust my thoughts, my decisions and my actions – while drilling in that independence. I was never just a sounding board and my opinions were considered every time. The degree of this underwent changes as I grew up, even though I myself never realized it. But this time even as I kept wearing the young girl hat, my parents pointed out how the times, perspectives and depths of our conversations has intensified and evolved. They were shocked proud when they saw how well my kitchen shenanigans came along – according to Dad, that is a sure sign of being a grown-up.

So yay! Finally made it 😀

My “man to man” talks with Dad which includes politics, economics and finances are now natural. And with Mom… Well, that’s multi-dimensional! We welcome everything under the sun, the moon and the stars – her work, social issues, family issues, and now wedding bells *hides under blanket* And this visit was something else… For example, the renovations brought up many discussions on the antiques decorating our house. For the first time I seriously ran through some of my ideas for my future home and even bagged a few of my favourite items. Mom couldn’t stop smiling as my enthusiasm reminded her of how she been exactly the same! We totally fawned over the vertical garden for our balcony and almost brain-washed Dad into it 😀 Those few hours with grandma and mom over afternoon tea (chocolate milk for me) were so typically feminine with generation gaps rendered irrelevant amidst naughty laughter and rude jokes!

During every visit, my parents get presented with someone who isn’t just their little girl but also an individual not entirely incapable thanks to their gentle guidance. Sure she still demands pocket money and pats, but we even get those moments of being in sync as grown ups. Cheers! (I am probably a big entertainment as well, as they witness me stumbling through blocks my life as they once did – and how I handle it.)

At times, the apple doesn’t really fall that far from the tree. And I couldn’t be happier 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all, fathers included! ❤


Not Just a Mother

My sister (L), Mom and Toothy Me (R)
My sister (L), Mom and Toothy Me (R)

My earliest memory of my mom is climbing into her lap to have chocolate milk. Sitting in her lap was mandatory to gulp it down! Her smell was home with traces of Pears soap. It stays the best sniff my nose has ever taken!

She is a dental surgeon and has built an extremely ethical brand for herself. She loves travelling and participates in treks including the mighty Everest Base Camp. Along with the majestic sights of Himalayas, she also took in the adversities faced by the locals lost in the mountains. Her pricking conscious drove her into building the legacy she inherited from her father –

“You can serve the nation through your profession.”

In 2000, she partnered with a non-profit to conduct free dental camps in the dense North East India – where help hovered at a non-existent level. Armed with medicine bags, makeshift equipment and a steely resolve she started a life-changing journey, approximately 2000 miles from home. Red tape, extreme weather, minimal transport, zero network, language barriers and patients caught in a time rip were few of the problems she faced. Yet those people, touched that a doctor actually cared to visit, went all out to support this 100 pound female.

Fourteen years, seven states and thousands of patients later, she has set up five clinics where doctors come all year around. She also published a book where she breathes life into her experiences and received numerous national awards for her work and book.

Yet, it took me years to truly comprehend the gravity of her work and the outstanding contribution she is making. Because, she was still MOM! I was too naïve to understand that my mom is also a woman – an exceptional woman carving her identity.

She was there for our exams, shopping trips, family functions, weekend getaways, spring cleaning! From gently waking us for school to waiting up for lunch, she was there and she was there in her element. She did about a thousand and one jobs a day and effortlessly loved, laughed, comforted and supported without even a sigh of exhaustion. The night before her book launch, she was asking for my food wishlist to carry back to hostel. She found the time to make my favourite sweets and get me a new dress. All before one of the most profound events of her life!

Until she was on the stage and I heard prominent dignitaries speaking about her, she was MOM! That evening, resplendent in flashlights, she became Dr. Pratibha Athavale.

Woman. Doctor. Humanitarian.

How did I fail so miserably in understanding the woman I love so fiercely? Yes, I was proud of her; I could wax eloquent to show off her work and that she is my mom. But the essence of the woman within her, of the caregiver inside her got woefully sidelined.

Now as she takes the spotlight I am happy that I feel and recognize the heart and soul of her work. I connect with her at a level beyond belief. We converse as two women. But the best part? In all her speeches – first and foremost she is still being Mom, seeking us out in the vast audience to share her happiness and appreciation.

Mum! 🙂 You are on fire…

Photo Challenge #27 “Milking the Moon”

Image: Christian Schloe
Image: Christian Schloe

This tale is of a time when the oceans were unnamed, the Gods still walked on earth and the trees were a right talkative bunch. In the misty mountains lived a little girl, Aylin with her mother, Amaris. Amaris was no ordinary woman – she was the daughter of the sun and the moon, beautiful and immortal. Alas, she made a mistake of falling in love with a mortal and abandoned all laws of her kind. Enraged, her father condemned her to spend her days on Earth. Her mother, the moon, couldn’t bear to see her suffering and visited one pale night. She handed Amaris a golden chalice and said, “This elixir will ease your agony. You must replenish it every night, at the ledge of the mountain.

Every night, Aylin went listening to the songs of birds, whispers of sleepy trees and muttering of crickets. The elixir bloomed into the chalice at midnight and she skipped back bursting with stories. On full moon nights, always she would race thinking there will be more to collect and strolled on nights when the moon was bow-like, thinking there will be less. Yet, there was never any difference. Mystified, she often wondered out loud to the trees but received no answer.

Now, there were rumors of an eclipse – a time when the wrath of the Gods singed and the moon concealed herself. Aylin took restless steps to the ledge, her hands clasped tight as moonlight muted and the heavy night air was filled with creaks and rasps. As she placed the chalice on the ledge, a bright glow engulfed her. A luminous goddess adorned in silks and stardust held out a welcoming hand to the dazed child. With a smile that mirrored her mother’s, she filled the golden chalice with the promised elixir.

They said you wouldn’t be here tonight!” Aylin whispered

My dear child, when have I not been here? At my brightest, more people seek the promises of a beam. As I rescind the next night, few come. But even at my faintest, I will always bless those who need it.”

“But…You get smaller. You even disappear!”

“A part of me is cloaked but never detached. Aylin, even if you cannot see someone it does not mean they are not with you. They hold you close in their heart. Love is magical. It cannot be seen or heard or touched. It can only be felt. Make that love a part of your soul. You will be beautiful inside and outside, my child”

An attempt to write a story for children inspired by the beautiful prompt at mindlovemisery’s menagerie. This is also a thank you to those who were always there, inspite of the time, speed and distance issues! 🙂