Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New year shew year

What a start to the year it has been! And this better not be the trend. Pumpki had a bad case of cold and fever around mid December. Her appetite was gone and she was miserable. Thankfully since Chiyaa was around for the Christmas holidays she was a bit entertained. 

I had a redness in my right eye on Christmas Eve. There was no ache or pain so I ignored it. But 3 days shy of year end, the eye was very sensitive to light. I went to the local doctor and he was very concerned about the redness, the photo sensitivity and the size of the pupil which was smaller than the healthy eye. He referred me to the eye doctors and I had to rush to the main hospital. 

Hospitals here are in a state of their own. It was a long wait. Then there were some pretty intrusive checks on the eye. It was Pumpki 's birthday and here I was in a hospital. I felt like rushing home and cuddling her. But in  a way it seemed a bit like divine coincidence. Two years ago I was in the same hospital for her birth! And look here. Life has a strange way of coming around and surprising you!

The doctor was not able to diagnose the cause and ordered a host of blood tests. She consulted a senior and I could hear terms like scleritis, sarcoidosis, auto immune. And all the time I felt ' yayyyyy I know those terms. I have seen House :P' 

I was to come back for the reports and further checks a week later. In the interim I was on steroids and pain killers. 

The medicines seemed to work like a charm. We had a very enjoyable 29th and 30th. New year's eve was very good when we managed to find a play area where the kids went crazy. I could not have asked for a better end to the year.

But I definitely could have asked for a better start. I woke on 1st with a raging fever. I was feeling funny the night before and had promptly popped a paracetamol. The fever OMG. It sent shivers down my body and I could barely stand up. I felt very bad leaving the kids and taking a nap. But I had to get my strength up since a nearly full work week stretched ahead. 

I popped pills like crazy. The fever would go down only to come back again. Day 3 the occurrence of fever was over but my head hurt like crazy and my nose and throat was totally blocked. It is very easy to ignore the nose on a good day. When cold and flu come calling, boy we realise the importance of those two nostrils. Breathing through the mouth with the backs of the throat getting dry is not a pleasant feeling at all. The headaches were so bad I used to wake up and night with it. It was horrendous.

Day 6 and I definitely felt better. Someone else did not. This time it was Chiyaa. We have a travel to India in a week. So I promptly kept her off school. I allowed her to rest and recuperate at home before the condition aggravated. She still has a cold but she should hopefully be healthy in time for the travel. 

In other news, Pumpki started day care every alternate day. She cries when I drop her, she is crying when I pick her up. But she naps and she will hopefully settle down. For some things we have to wait for time to even things out. 

I have been to work once and intend to go tomorrow. It is not that cumbersome given that I am using private taxis. They cost money but they are convenient. Once in a while they are affordable but to get to a strict working pattern I need to think of sustainable means of transport. This trip to India is a watershed. We have  to take stock of things again once we are back. February is more like the January this year while January seems like..... well January. So this year we have two Januarys. :(

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Rounding up

The year ends today. What a year it has been! The same time last year I was having the jitters about going back to work after a years maternity break. I started nervously. A year is a long time. The 10 mins walk to the train station from home in the dark winter morning seemed terrifying to a nervous person like me.( I am nervous about many things.  Anti socials grabbing my handbag. Someone shoving me and running away. Missing the train. Getting on the wrong train.) But it all went swimmingly. Work kicked off and I was engaged in some really fruitful projects. I also managed to retain my job through a redundancy cycle. The year turned around a full circle. My four hour journey one way from Ipswich to Leeds turned to a 40 minutes as we ended up retuning to Leeds. 

We had landed in Leeds thanks to K's assignment. We left Leeds because of his change of project. We ended back in Leeds due to a voluntary decision to accept a job here. A job which came after a four months long struggle. Trust me struggling is not a cup of K's tea. He works hard but breaking the shackles of 13 years of employment for something new was definitely new, challenging and frustrating. He had ventured towards something he had never done. Coupled with it was a change of career path. It was very daunting and very unnerving. By God's grace we made through the phase and it was going to be Leeds all over again. 

The idea of movement back to Leeds made me realise how wonderful Ipswich was! It was the perfect honeymoon. Our house was in a picturesque locale. The school was fantastic. I cannot vouch enough for the amazing swimming and karate classes Chiyaa went to. Pumpki 's would be daycare was conveniently located within the premises of Chiyaa 's school. I had a state of the art- the best I have seen in my years in UK - gym within 10 mins walk. I hugely enjoyed some real endorphin inducing gym sessions. And I came across some very very good people. I connected, forged friendships, enjoyed to the hilt our quaint stay in Ipswich. The rain hater in me loved it even more because East Anglia is one of the driest regions of the UK. What I enjoyed the most was WORKING from HOME. I loved it loved it loved it. I loved the lack of distraction of interacting with people. I loved the seclusion. I loved the lack of decision of 'what do I wear today'. I loved my 'office corner' and working away in oblivion and coming to Leeds once a month to let people know that I existed. Now that we have moved back the facet that rattles me most is the hidden demand by my supervisor to come in to work more frequently. I am hating the idea of day after tomorrow when I have to entertain the idea of going into work more often. It borderline depresses me. But we got to do what we got to do. I hope the routine will kick in sooner rather than later. 

Working from home came with added benefit of perfect balance for a working mom. I thoroughly enjoyed being a mom this year. Yeah you heard me right. My kids are growing. And being someone who looks forward to the future rather than sighing with nostalgia ( yeah I do that too once in a while), I enjoyed the independence of my kids. Now we are able to enjoy activities together rather than worrying about logistics. Travels are getting easier. Even a small  activity like going to the pool which would otherwise be back breaking is becoming an enjoyable experience. The kids are bonding wonderfully too. They fight savagely over the same toys. They console each other when one gets upset. They crawl onto my lap and snuggle like puppies. I love every bit of it. 

In the extended family there was a much awaited wedding. And after 10 years next year there will be another wedding in our family as my sister will tie the knot. The year will start with a bang. I am nervously excited about what will pan out. I hope we will have summery summers, crisp autumns and bright winters. I hope the sine wave of our lives over the next year is manageable crests and troughs. I hope the new year comes with enough good and bad and enough humility and strength to cope through either.

Here is wishing each and every one a very happy new year!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Perhaps this is called settling down

Leeds has not been treating us well. Chiyaa started her first day in school with amazing promise. When I picked her up, she said ‘I had a brilliant day at school. I was not shy at all.’ I was so proud of her! It would all be fine. She was ok the first couple of days after which she started getting reluctant to go to school. This was a far cry from how she was in ipswich where the mention of school used to brighten her up. In fact she used to get annoyed when the weekend came. We were very sad to see this facet of hers. We hoped it would settle down with time. It in fact got worse. She started to cry when we dropped her off. As a change K started dropping her instead of me. He is a fun dad while I tend to get a bit emotional. Though I don’t show it we wondered if the vibes might be rubbing on. She did not cry with daddy around, but she lacked friends. She did not have peers to run a mock with. She did not have classmates to go crazy with. As I used to prod, she said she had her meals alone and played by herself during the lunch breaks. She mentioned playing with an older student sometimes. I felt sorry for my child. I felt sad for my child. But then my mom and sister gave me strength. We had changed a lot of schools as kids since mom and dad had transferrable jobs. We might have felt sad during the changes, but it didn’t scar us. In fact we are more adaptive to changes cos of those experiences. Yeah it does feel sad to see ones offspring go through pain, but this pain would make her stronger. 

Pumpki on the other hand was having troubles of her own. She had been signed up to attend a certain daycare. But I saw another right next to Chiyaa’s school. I declined the place in the previous daycare and went forth for the new one. I thought it would go smoothly from then on. As usual there were a couple of settling in sessions. I knew she would cry. I knew she would be upset. Our experience with Chiyaa had prepared us for the worst. There would be a couple of instances where she would spend time in the nursery to get to know the staff. Then she would have to start off. Like Chiyaa had. She would have trouble getting used, but prior experience made us feel she would cope. The surprise came from the daycare. After a couple of sessions, they said since she was not ‘settled’ and they would continue with settling sessions. Meaning she would come intermittently and try to settle in. Err... I had no choice. But the troublesome part was they were calling me every time she cried a bit uncontrollably. And my dear Pumpki can cry real loudly. Secondly I was paying for the sessions. I never asked for the sessions. Why would I pay for them when it was me who was coming and comforting her every time she got upset? I compared notes and none of my friends had seen such a bizarre set up.  The sessions were also so few and far between that it was going to do no good to anyone. We chose to fail fast. I got in touch with the previous nursery that K had booked. They too had the same long drawn settling in sessions. But.... the good points were:- they took the child away and did not call parents back and I did not pay for them. 

But the visitations were to be over 4 weeks! Managing a toddler with work for 4 weeks is pretty onerous. Anyone who has worked from home can vouch for it. I took a week’s emergency leave.  Amma came as a saving grace in this. She volunteered to come over. It was like manna from heaven, without that support, surviving through the on and off nursery arrangement would have been a night mare. 

I used to feel very distraught initially. I used to feel ill at ease and suffocated by all the changes. Everything made me miss Ipswich. We were so settled there, but one thing after another in Leeds made me crave for that comfort which was Ipswich. It used to make us think that we unnecessarily spoiled the apple cart. I remembered the last days in Ipswich when I was talking to one of Chiyaa’s classmate’s mom. She mentioned that moving houses was the next stressful thing after having a baby ! Wow! That must be true. She also mentioned that it takes around 6 months to settle down. As I was going through the flurry, I thought of her words. And I felt, there was no need for me to rush around. I think I had to let it go and let time take it’s course. Things have a way of evening out don’t they?

Monday, November 20, 2017

The first day is the hardest

It's been a week. Feels like yesterday literally. The same murky weather. The same desolate feeling. 

Mummy started at 0430 last Monday . There were a lot of tears. I tried to sleep after she left. But I used to sleep with her and Pumpki since we moved to Leeds. And the bed seemed weird without her.  It smelled of mummy but she wasn't the. 

Routine kicked in once we all woke up. But it was so lifeless. Mummy had left an unfinished cup of tea. What wouldnt I do to have her back. It was all monotonous. I went through the rigors of the day. I got the kids ready and K went to work. I was on leave for 3 days. It would take time to recover after such a supporting pillar was removed. After dropping Chiyaa, I reached home and removed Pumpki 's coat. She thought I was undressing her to give her a bath. And she said 'take bath. Tubi'. Mummy had always given her a bath. So she was looking for mummy. I couldn't control and burst out crying. 

Every single thing reminded me if her. She was an active part of every aspect of my life. When I opened the phone, the screen was on the last book she was reading from my phone.  It was 11 o clock and I missed her admonishing tone asking me ' it's 11 when are you going to eat?'. I took Pumpki to her nursery and I missed her beside me. After I dropped Pumpki I missed our conversations as I shopped for some treats for the kids during pick up. She had  helped me move house, shop and set up the house. She was the bedrock through a very tough part of my life and I missed her immensely. 

When Chiyaa came home from school she screamed something about what happened in school. I asked who was she telling and she casually said ' tubi'. I could not control my tears at the innocence of the child. I told her that tubi had gone back to India. She took it bravely. 

Mummy was half way at Doha by then. She tried video calling us but the reception was not good. In six more hours she would be with her other daughter. I could not help but feel excited on her behalf. 

The next day at 10 when I saw her online after a day, I felt sane again. Mummy's presence, her vibe, her positivity, her peace - what would I do without this great support in my life. Days without her are tough. Not in the physical sense. I miss her calming effect. I miss her unconditional care. As she was departing from my home she said ' I hope your kids grow up soon, becomes independent and don't need anyone.' Such selfless love. I wonder if I have seen it any one. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Whatever s on my mind

There are just so many thoughts swirling in my mind. The first is the dialogue from the movie airlift where Akshay Kumar says which loosely translates to 'one reaches out for mother when hurt'. My mom is a bit of a super mom. She knows when I might have trouble and comes to shield me. Yes just like that. How she happens to be around my most difficult times, I have no clue. 

She was here when we shifted from Leeds to Ipswich and she is here on our return. She takes care of so much that I don't even notice. It is only when she won't be here 11 days later that I will see the difference when I take care of the kitchen, when I feed the Pumpki, when I engage Chiyaa, when I take ownership of so many small small tasks which none the less add up. 

Mummy takes the brunt out of many things. She makes changes bearable. I would have been borderline depressed without her with the movement, the house in total disarray, the shorter days and the overwhelming amount of work. She goes about without a complaint through the messy and disorganised house. She even sleeps with the little one so that I can have a better sleep at night. I just can't start to be thankful to her. 

The farewell to Ipswich with her was amazing too. The last week was half term break for Chiyaa. So we used to walk to and from her karate classes. The weather was perfect, slight dusk with a hint of winter, the company was perfect and the feeling was perfect. We were savouring the last few days with Ipswich. 

Packing was as usual a nightmare. I worked from home most of this year. So most of my clothes were unused. They literally made a trip from Leeds in a box to hang in the wardrobe and go back to Leeds back in a box. If I knew this would be the state I would have never unpacked :) 

In our frenzy with two kids and work and what not, we had grossly over estimated how much stuff we needed for a week of stay in Ipswich. So there was a huge amount of grocery, toys, clothes and knick knacks. Since we were coming to Leeds in the car space was a constraint. We went berserk dumping things, keeping things, and as usual playing the blame game. We had to give away quite a lot of eatables and grocery which would have helped us immensely in Leeds. But at least they got utilised by our friends there. The most precious thing we left behind was the electronic brushes of the whole family :( 

It's been over a week. I am still not settled. I had taken four days off work, but the house is still upside down. We are yet to fine tune the pick ups and drops from schools and daycare, the extra curricular activities for kids and a thousand and one things that make up our routine. Ipswich seems such a quiet peaceful haven from the distance. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Last day in first school

This was one last day I was dreading. Chiyaa 's last day in school. Chiyaa was counting down. While we waited every day for the school gates to open and the kids played around I could see her telling  her friends how many days she had left. I might be the shy one, but she is the open one. Thanks to her, most of her classmates knew she was finishing school. 

On the first day of her school, last year I had asked her if she made any friends. And she had said that she made one friend. She thought her name was Kashauna. Her name turned out to be Keshawna, but Chiyaa had got the pronunciation right. Over the days they would greet each other with elaborate hugs. Many a times group hugs which included Keshawna 's brother. If one of the pair was in a bad mood, the other could cheer her up easily.  She did turn out to be Chiyaa 's first school best friend. 

The last day of school, I felt very emotional. It was a dark, stormy day. It was as if the elements of nature did not like what was happening. While we were waiting for the gates to open, one of her classmates came and asked if it was her last day. She did yes. And he in all his naivety asked why was she going away? I told it was because her dad had found another job in another place. And I could feel myself chocking up. The return route was jam packed with traffic. The distance which takes me 5 mins took me 40 minutes that day. As I idled the car, I felt as if again some power wanted me to spend as much time in the place as possible. There would be no chance that I would ever be travelling this road again in my life. I would love it if the chance came. But I doubt it will ever happen. I reminisced the initial days - walking up to pick up Chiyaa with Pumpki in the pram, my good fortune at being on maternity break during the first 4 months of school when I could actively participate in the school affairs, the period of dropping her after the bout of chicken pox which was quite a restart for Chiyaa, the later parts when we started taking the bus to return home, and finally me driving her home after I secured my license. How things have moved on in less than a year. 

When I went to pick Chiyaa up, she who is usually  one of the first to come out was waiting. I had got some chocolates for the students and everyone was taking  time chosing a few. She was waiting for her class mates to take the sweets. The teachers thanked me profusely for getting the chocolates. Most kids came out and the first thing they were told  their parents was that it was Chiyaa 's last day at school. My heart melted. Chiyaa was holding a gift bag. Keshawna left a doll for  her. And she had received quite a few cards from friends. One mom stayed back to wish us  luck. I felt too touched.

I took a picture of Chiyaa next to the school entrance. She gave a vivacious smile. As we sat and buckled up in the car she said 'everyone got a letter but me. Because I won't come to school anymore right?' I said ' yes right. You won't come to this school anymore '. Then I asked her' are you feeling sad?' To which she very confidently replied 'why should I be sad?' I was so glad at her practical, resilient answer. Hope you stay that way girl! 

Evening we video chatted with Keshawna and her mom. Her mom said Keshawna  would be fine over the half term break but once she would come back to school, she would definitely miss Chiyaa. I imagined Keshawna looking for Chiyaa. In my mind, kids are occupied in class. But it's during the time before the gates open, during lunch and the playtime during lunch that they need the friend. They get comfort and security from that  friend. I hope Keshawna is not left alone. I hope my child is not alone in her new place. 

I felt I was leaving school. My heart felt wrenched. As if it wanted to remain here. As if it wanted nothing to change. I remember changing schools, many times. Once in fact when I was the same age as Chiyaa. For that matter when I sent Chiyaa 's picture to Papa, his reply was she reminded me of when I had left Central School. I don't remember exactly how I felt then. I don't think I felt sad. I hope Chiyaa is not sad. I hope she will get used to her new school, new friends, new teachers. I wish a lot of strength to my little fighter.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A dull and borderline depressing Diwali

Last year Diwali came and went without a fizz. And this year it seems a bit more lacklustre. 
First things first, our family is not together. K is already in Leeds. So I don't feel the enthusiasm to gear up for anything. Papa is also all by himself in bbsr. My sis has not been able to make the trip home this year and mummy is here. So he will have a lonesome  Diwali. 

Secondly K was here last weekend. In his enthusiasm to contribute towards the packing get he has packed the lights and the batteries. I do not have the patience to rummage through the boxes and find out which one might contain them. And what is Diwali without the brilliant lights? Last year in fact to have a more vibrant atmosphere I had bought a lot more lights. Alas they all lie packed up in a box. 

Thirdly I am dreading the changes that are on my way. Chiyaa 's change of school. Pumpki's start of day care. Mummy leaving for India within a few days of it will end up in me being in a strange set up with the cold dark months stretching ahead. 

To top it my college friend in Leeds will be ironically coming to Ipswich. We shared a good bond and it feels good to share with someone who has known you previously. But it's as if the Gods don't want us to be together. 

I have nothing to look forward to this year. Nothing that gives any sense of joy this Diwali. My natural optimistic self seems to have taken a beating. 

I am so sad at leaving Ipswich. I feel a tug of pain as I cancel payments for Chiyaa 's classes or slowly tell everyone that we are leaving. I am the shy sorts so rather than broadcasting I tell people of the topic comes up. I wish I could be open and tell everyone and say a good formal goodbye.  Today one of Chiyaa 's class mates joined her karate class and he said to his mum that Chiyaa is going to a different school. His mum wished us luck. But he remarked ' I am going to be so upset'. I felt too bad.  I will miss the long journeys to Leeds which initially seemed daunting but then became fun and an opportunity to devour books. I will miss the playarea just near our apartment which gave so many fun filled hours to the kids. I will miss the riverside, the shrieks of gulls which sound like human cries, the foot over bridge across the river. I will miss every bit of the place which I scoured quite a lot. 

The silver lining in this is a child's mind. Chiyaa and her attitude gives me hope. She is counting days to go to Leeds. She said she would be sad at leaving her friends. She is concerned that she will forget her friends. But she looks forward to going to Leeds, making new friends, and seeing the change. You make me proud kid. You give me hope. Hope that things will settle down. Hope that things don't be so bad. Hope that things will in fact get better. Hope that all will be well.  And hope is a good thing.

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