Tuesday, June 27, 2006

blogging away!

I had no idea about how interesting blogging would be. Some days back I wrote a small piece about the traditional aattukkal, the manual wet grinder that has now been replaced by the electrified version. My husband refused to buy the electrical grinder saying that idlies and dosais prepared by the manual grinder were superior in quality. I slogged for 26 years before he finally relented and bought one. The article was a leg pulling exercise and I had mercilessly teased my husband in it knowing fully well that being a man of few words he would not bother to defend himself. I put it on my school blog for my school- mates to read and enjoy. But wait a sec. I was not prepared for the outcome.

A good many of them reminisced on the uses of ‘aattangal, ammikkal,ural ulakkai yendirams’ and other traditional hand /manual methods of cooking. Some rued the fact that their children had not even seen one let alone use it. While a few vouched for the quality of food stuff prepared by the traditional method others congratulated my husband for standing up for a just cause and defended his opinion in the matter and asked me to give him a handshake on their behalf. One class - mate mentioned a community festival being celebrated in Kerala called AATTUKKALLU PONGAL where spices and condiments were powdered in the ‘aattukkal’. Someone claimed that their ancestral home still had one and their mother still used it occasionally. All this was fine by me but I had only one objection. All these ‘supporters’ of a ‘worthy’ cause were gentlemen who had not put in 26 years of faithful service! The ladies who read it were naturally appreciative of me. Any way the whole thing was interesting and I enjoyed myself thoroughly

Monday, June 26, 2006

A saved marriage


It was an evening in October. I was returning from the market along with my husband and my two-year-old son when I remembered that I had promised to get chocolates for my daughters who had stayed at home. When I mentioned this to my husband he was in no mood to go back to the market and suggested that we could buy it later. When I insisted he snapped at me asking me to get a monthly allowance from my mother for such “luxury items”. I was appalled! My children were not my mother’s responsibility! How could he be so mean! Some how I could not digest his words and I felt that I had made a mistake in opting for marriage. I blamed my mother, my fate, luck and whatever I could think of, as being responsible for my plight.

Those were early years of our marriage. My husband was supporting a family of seven people including three children, an aging father and an unemployed older brother on his middle class income. He was by nature economical though to be fair to him he never compromised on quality. Our children went to good schools, they were well dressed and though they were not treated to dinner at fancy restaurants they had their share of good wholesome home made delicacies. As a young girl in my mid twenties I longed to be able to spend at will, have an occasional outing and wanted an end to this “hand to mouth” existence. To my young mind it appeared that other women of my age seemed to be having a good time while I played the “martyr”.

On returning home I tried to draw my husband into an argument but he maintained an annoying silence. I went to bed without having dinner half expecting my better half to apologize. He took no notice. Our cold war continued for the next few days. After the initial burst of temper I spent some time in reviewing the situation. I realized that my husband was after all doing his best. He spent very little on himself and tried his best to see to the needs of the entire family. He went to his workplace on a bicycle while most of his colleagues had two-wheelers. The children were not his responsibility but ours! I decided to do something about it and started giving private tuitions to supplement our income. I later got a job for myself and since then there has been no looking back. I now feel glad that I took a step in the right direction and played a supportive role in my husband’s life rather than nagging, complaining and making life miserable for all of us

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Generation Gap

It was a hot afternoon in April and Preeta had just returned from work. She switched off the ignition of her scooty when a voice from above called out to her.
“Mummy, I am here!”
She looked up shielding her eyes from the scorching sun. Perched up on a slender branch of the neem tree with an old bedspread serving, as a hammock was her ten-year-old son Ravi.
“What are you doing up there Ravi?” she asked, “Get down at once.”
“Grandpa plans to break my legs the minute I get down,” Said Ravi “he really said so! You can ask him if you want to”
“And why would he do it? What did YOU do?” she demanded.
“Absolutely nothing mummy” Ravi tried to defend himself as best as he could. “He wanted to hit me with his walking stick. I managed to get hold of it before him, so I threw it over the rooftop to be on the safe side.”
Her daughters were summoned but they refused to take sides. Preeta wondered if she detected a subtle smile on their otherwise serious face. As if they were enjoying the war of words between their grandfather and brother. Preeta walked in and sat down on the sofa with a glass of cold water. This was an everyday affair. ‘Would these children ever grow up’ she wondered.

It was bad enough that her seventy-year-old father in law had to manage the house in her absence, her children for their part gave him a tough time. He settled their quarrels without sounding partial, read out stories when they felt bored, helped them with their homework and gave them mental sums and dictations. He had taught them the use of the dictionary, encouraged them to read books and newspaper.

“Preeta,” called out her father in law, “This boy is incorrigible. Send him to a boarding school at once.”
“I’ll do it appa.” She replied “I’ll send him off after his final exams”
“ I’ll be glad to get away,” said Ravi “ At least I will not have him hounding me all the time.”
“Get down Ravi” Preeta called out. “If you stay up there it won’t be your grandpa who’d break your leg”
“Ask him to give me the newspaper,” said Ravi as he climbed down from the tree, “ he has been reading it since morning as if he plans to answer a test on current affairs. I want to go through the sports column.”

Preeta sighed. So the usual quarrel for the day’s newspaper had been the reason behind appa’s urge to break Ravi’s bones. She had never been successful in resolving their dispute over the newspaper. It was coveted property and belonged to the person who managed to get hold of it first. Her father in law was worse than a child when it came to the newspaper. He always wished to be the first one to read it and usually managed to do it on schooldays. But it was different on Saturdays and holidays. The children waited like hawks and settled scores with their grandpa by not only getting hold of the newspaper first but also by reading it at leisure and annoying him with furtive glances to measure the degree of their success in testing his patience. The three of them together formed a formidable opposition whenever it suited them.

“Did you finish your homework?” Preeta was glad to find a reason to postpone her role as an arbitrator. “I’ll ask him to give it to you once you finish your assigned homework.”

Preeta wondered if sending Ravi to a boarding school would solve the problem. Her father in law was getting on in age. After the death of his wife his world seemed to revolve around the children. She had been able to work in a local college only because he willingly shared the responsibility of looking after the children. They would run to him for every little thing starting from the sharpening of their pencils to the preparation for an elocution contest. On the flip side was the constant bickering over trivial issues. He would never give them a new pencil unless he made sure that the old one could no longer be used and make them account for lost erasers and sharpeners. She wondered if the old man was being over worked and deserved some rest. She thought of seeking her husband’s opinion in the matter that evening.

She brought the subject up when her husband returned from work. They spoke at length about the benefit of sending the child to a boarding school.

“Appa deserves to rest,” she concluded. “And the children need to grow out of his shadow.”

“Moreover hostel life will make Ravi responsible and ensure all round development.” Added her husband. “With him away the girls will be more subdued and easy to discipline.”

“ Who is being sent away to the hostel may I know?” enquired a voice from behind. They turned around to see the children accompanied by their grandfather re – aligned to form a new opposition party. They conveniently resorted to floor crossing like seasoned politicians. Appa continued in a genuinely distressed tone.

“Did I express any desire to be allowed to rest? Who has given you the impression that I am tired of looking after them? Just get rid of the idea of sending Ravi to a boarding school. I will never allow it. What would I do if he went away?”

“But appa he keeps troubling you all the time” protested Preeta.

“Not more than what his father did at his age. Can he not take liberties with me? The matter is settled. No more discussions on the matter. Is that clear?” Turning to the children he added with a twinkle in his eye. “I’m done with the news paper for the day. I’ll give it to the person who completes his or her homework first!”

“But grandpa you promised to tell us the story of the forgotten mermaid.” The children had forgotten the tiff with their grandfather were once again as thick as thieves.
Preeta was left wondering if the concept of a generation gap existed only on paper!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

My very first post

My children tell me owning a blog is the surest sign that one is still young at heart :)