Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Big Move

I came to Bangalore as a newly married, all excited and eager to start a new life together with my husband. Those initial days, I yearned to go back to Trivandrum to settle down. Each chance I got, I took the next bus/flight to Trivandrum, even if it was for a day. Trivandrum was home. Bangalore was a temporary place, our place for work, where we were residing just for the time being. 

Then things changed. After the little boy was born, we shifted from the city centre to what you could call 'outskirts' as per Bangalore standards. We shifted our home to almost one corner of Bangalore, far away from the traffic. It was here that my life changed. I found friends right when I thought I wouldn't be making any new friends. To prove me wrong, life gifted me friends in abundance. Friends who held my hand and accompanied me to doctors when my little boy fell sick every single month, friends who brought me food when I was lazy to cook, friends with whom I went for household shopping, friends who checked on me if I was back home safe when the husband was not in town, friends who dropped and picked my little boy when I had to attend meetings. Friends who pampered and spoilt me. Friends around whom my life revolved. Friends who became family.

In the last 4 years Bangalore became home to me, without me realising, thanks to these friends who became my support system. I was at my happiest. I rediscovered the beauty of friendship, perhaps after my school days. I felt connected with my inner self. My perspectives and outlook changed for the better. I found a job that I love with all my heart. I felt settled. Which is why, perhaps, when the little boy said bye to his teachers and friends on the last day of his previous academic year along with a "I am not coming back here, I am going to study in Trivandrum", all of us had a hearty laugh. We shrugged it off as a joke. But again, life threw the biggest surprise at me. The husband got an opportunity to come back to Trivandrum and he grabbed it without a second thought.

As the two boys jumped with joy and excitement, I struggled with my emotions. On one hand, all of a  sudden Bangalore felt home and this meant leaving home and friends and on the other, I was going back to my family. Weirdly, I felt more upset than happy, and to top it, I felt guilty for feeling upset when I was 'supposed' to be feeling elated to be shifting to near my parents'. I snapped at everyone around me, I cribbed, I fought for random, silly reasons, and I cried for absolutely no reason. I got weird looks when I didn't show any excitement for the move and when I replied "but I had a support system in Bangalore too' to people telling me how now I would have a support system. 

Nobody understood that Bangalore made me fall in love with it, despite its shortcomings. Nobody knew that Bangalore gave me a life where I had people who knew me for the person I am and not for who I was related to. Nobody realised I had found my tribe in Bangalore. My tribe! ❤

I left Bangalore on the 29th of July, 2018. It took every energy in my body to not cry when I hugged my friends tight and said right from my heart, "see you soon". It broke my heart when the little kiddos hugged and kissed each other and promised to come to Trivandrum to visit us. It took all my will to take one final look at the house I called my home and walk out knowing that I might not step into this beautiful space of mine ever again. And then, as I left my favourite place and, along with the little boy, said 'bye-bye Bangalore' I broke down and cried. 

Despite living in two other cities other than Trivandrum, it was only Bangalore that gifted me a sense of belonging, a beautiful life that I had only dreamt of until I experienced it. A happiness that arise out of being home. I felt loved. The only place that left me with a sense of loss while leaving. 

From being Atheetha, now I would be going back to being known as Raghu's daughter most times. From leading an invisible life where nobody knew me or my family, I would be going back to a life where everybody knew everybody.  It is going to be difficult for me. Very difficult. But more than my luggage, I've brought back lots of love, warmth and well-wishes with me. And I know when the going gets tough, I have a bunch of people to reach out to, hear me out and even run off to for a short break. Like I proudly told my family, if earlier I had one home in Bangalore, now when I go for a visit I have many! ❤

Never ever in my wildest dreams did I dream of leaving Bangalore too soon. Yet, it happened. Now, it's time for the next phase in my life. You better be good to me, Trivandrum! 

Monday, June 11, 2018

As The Summer Holidays Come To An End....

I have vivid memories of my school summer holidays. As soon as the exams get over and the school closes for holidays, we would pack ourselves off to a close relatives house or we would have cousins visiting us. I still remember fondly the innumerable stay overs that we've had during those days. The days would seem short as we would play, fight, share stories and just while away time. Those memories hold a special place in my heart and thinking of it still brings a faint smile, no matter what!

Years passed, as college and work came by, summer holidays became a part of the distant past. It became a cherished memory that I could never get back. And then, the little boy started school and summer holidays are again back in my life.

This year, as much as I was looking forward to the holidays, I also didn't have a clue as to how I would manage him along with work. I always had friends helping me out and being my back up plan when I was away for meetings or if I wasn't able to make it on time to pick up the little boy from school. I had a hectic work schedule for the first week of April, bang when the holidays started. But summer holidays meant everybody had their vacation plans on and even otherwise, I wouldn't be able to bother them on a daily basis. That said, I didn't want to put the little boy for a summer camp too. He needed a break from the daily routine. This was his time to enjoy whiling away time, doing absolute nothing if that's what he wanted to do and in general, chill.

It all started with my mom requesting to send Adhrith to my parents' along with my brother. The little boy was excited. And off he went to Trivandrum, a few days into his vacation of which one of the days was 'go to meetings with Amma' kind of a day. Since then, the last two months have been celebration time for him all throughout. Home and parents were forgotten. He spent days away from us with his grandparents and cousins, helping his 'Muthassi' (my grandmother) plant saplings and water plants, visiting the beach and zoo, and not having a single minute to spare to even talk to his parents. :P Each time he came back home teary eyed and upset, because he didn't want to come back and stay wherever he was 'forever and ever'. Those times he was home, he had friends over from the minute he woke up.

Now, as the holidays come to an end, I am sure that the little boy has filled up his memory bag with truckloads of fun and enjoyment from summers of '18. With new words and, at times, accents that he picked up from his cousins and friends, a lot of 'Ammaaa.. you know..' and getting pampered big time, this boy has grown up a lot - through experiences, being with extended family, realising his fears and facing it, realising the world outside and comparing it with ours. 

Activities were forgotten, schedules took a u-turn, and just about anything that defined a structure went for a toss. Yet the boy has learnt. A lot. Much more than any activity or text book could teach him. He has learnt and picked up things beyond his age. Things that is going to be a big influence in his journey of growing up. Things that he will not forget. Along with him, I learnt too. I've learnt to let go. To worry less. To sit back and soak in the happiness of a little boy enjoying his day the way he wants.

These two months kept bringing me back the memories I made growing up. I hope the little boy holds the ones that he made close to his heart forever too. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Musings Of A Work From Home Mom

I took a break from work when I was pregnant with my little boy. As much as I wanted to get back to work after he was born, the break extended to around two and a half years. I slowly started penning down our chronicles and publishing it and I got offers to write. Soon, I was working on a couple of things on my terms and time and I had the flexibility and a lot of time for myself. I worked only on hours when the little boy was away at school or asleep. The house was spic and span, neat and clean. The food was hot and ready by mealtimes. Then, almost a year and half back, I got an amazing opportunity to work for a social sector startup. It was in a field that I loved, a work from home opportunity and something that would bring me steady income monthly. There started my true life as a work from home mom.

In this last year and a half, life has been a juggle. It takes every nerve in my body to stay afloat, sometimes even sinking and then taking extra effort to get back. It is a sad reality that people take work from home very lightly. It's pretty much seen as a part time work for a bit of pocket money, while managing the house. This, sadly, is far from reality.

I start my day early in the morning and finish all the household chores before I have to drop the little boy to school and sit down for work. It's a whole day of work and I don't divert from work to get house things done. The only break that I take is lunch time, half of which goes to pick up the kiddo from school and getting him to sleep (only because I can work that time without feeling guilty of not spending time with him!). I again get back to work until evening, when the little boy prompts me that I have to wind up my work and take him to the park. Any time off from work is leave and is noted.

There's a lot of guilt. A constant guilt of not being there for your child inspite of being right there in front of him. The guilt of the house being messy all the time and not getting the time to clean up. The guilt of ordering food because you didn't get time in the morning to prepare or you got off a call late that it became too late to prepare food. The guilt of being impatient and rushing the little one. The guilt of giving screen time to your child so that you get additional time to finish up your work.

I get panic attacks when people do a surprise visit to my place (because, trust me, it is as messy as it can get!). There's a lot of "Oh, how lucky that you work from home. You can manage the house and still spend some time to work" that bugs me to the core yet I hold back from giving an apt reply. There's this constant struggle of managing child care if you have to go for meetings but you haven't enrolled for child care since most of the days you are home when the little one comes home.

A work from home job is a blessing. Of course it is in many ways! But it is definitely not a breeze. It is hard. But I am also grateful. Amidst the constant struggles and guilt, I've found joy and happiness from being able to be involved and doing some amazing work in an area that is very close to my heart. Yes, I do not get the time to finish many chores and I panic when I have surprise guests but I am willing to let it be for the greater good that a work from home job comes with. I am happy that I can pick up my little boy from school, I am happy that I can read stories for him when I take a break. I am happy to just be around. And most of all, everything just seems right and I know my little boy is proud of his Amma when he tells his dad, "You should ask Amma for money, she has lots of money" even though it is far from reality ;)