Category Archives: More About Me

Missed connections

PHOTO PROMPT © Melanie Greenwood

Prologue: May -1996

I unzipped the suitcase holding my entire life’s belongings and stuffed some into my carry-on shoulder bag. The airport check-in counter lady eyed the scale, nodded when the desired weight was reached, and handed a boarding-pass.

I bent to pick up the shoulder bag – it didn’t budge.

That moment, weighed down by the unknown future,  I discovered a strength I didn’t know I possessed.  I hauled that heavy bag and ran alone to make a connecting flight – to lay the foundations of a home that didn’t exist.

— end —

(This week I went over 100 words and so breaking it up into two parts if you choose to read further)

Sequel  : Feb 2015

“I wish Dad was here. He would know what to do if we miss the connecting flight”, my little one said. He eyed me (his mother) warily  not fully trusting my ability to take him home – the history of my solo journeys forgotten.

That moment I discovered I had chosen- without choosing –  to forget my strengths – to miss many connecting flights on journeys never taken.

With a flick of a wrist I slung my bag over my shoulders and ran behind my children to catch the connecting flight -lost dreams weighing heavily on my shoulders.

–end —

This two part – about 100 word each auto-biographical story –  was written in response to a 100 word photo challenge  posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields each week. PHOTO PROMPT © Melanie Greenwood

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes on the same photo prompt:

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She doesn’t have a ‘she’

“She doesn’t have a father”, my husband responded when asked about our family back home in India pointing to me.

Not : “Her father passed away years ago”

Not: ” Her father is no more”

Not: “She lost her father ..years ago”

Grammatically , “She doesn’t have a father”- implies a wide spectrum of possibilities
– that the father is unknown…
– the father abdicated his paternal responsibilities…
– I’m a divine child – the next Jesus ..female at that…
– that I was cloned from a single cell in a test tube…

None of the above fit the circumstances of my paternity though…so I wondered about his interesting choice of words.  Grammar faux pas? or a subliminal dismissal of the most important man in my life?  I gave him the benefit of doubt and dismissed those words as a grammar faux pas.

The words do not leave my brain though..pushing aside all other thoughts to whatever dark corners thoughts can be pushed…those words are echoing across the empty hallways of neurons.. bouncing on every raw nerve. So I had to write this post to exorcise those words out of mind….and set the record straight in case someone still thinks : “She doesn’t have a father”

I had a father, who was alive, until I was 25 years old. A father who was married to my mother years before I was conceived. A father , who made a beautiful nest of a home with my mother,  caring for his children,  worrying about our future, joking with us, working hard to provide for us and loving us with a gentle ferocity that I still feel very acutely to this day. Above all that he was a good human being with a lot of empathy for people.

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Above: Our nest. Dad on the far right.
Taken about 10 years before dad's death

Then he died at the young age of 52. His failed organs and body was burned …the ashes that were once his body were dissolved in the ocean. His body is no more. That fact does not negate a 25 year solid paternal relationship that serves as an anchor in my own parenting journey.

I just want everyone to know:
– I had an amazing and meaningful relationship with my father while he was alive on this earth. He was always there for me in every way.
– I have a very spiritual relationship with him now, that cannot be described in mere words. In essence: I have a father!
– I am very fortunate to have him as my father.
– I am proud of my father
– I don’t need anyone’s sympathy. I’ll take empathy any day.
– I will not tolerate people who treat me as an inferior just  because their father’s body is still eating and shitting or functioned until old age and my father’s body did not.  This last point is for those people who expect me  to feel “inferior” because I have no patriarch  to ‘protect’ me.
————

I spent a lot of quality time with my father and we had several meaningful conversations over the 25 years. I have witnessed first-hand how he handled his life’s lows and challenges. There were times I questioned his actions and he patiently explained his rationale ….his perspective. I got to know him as a human …his values, his motivations, his fears and his deepest hurts. At the time of his death, we had no unresolved issues between us. He knew how much I loved him and I knew how much he loved me….or so I thought until I had my own children and I keep discovering how much more he had loved my brother and me.

I was angry at first , towards whatever greater power there is, for taking him away from me. But over the years finding out more about the world ..the type of fathers there are out there …and the various degrees of dysfunction possible in a  father-child relationship , I have come to realize how lucky I am and I’m grateful for the time I had with him on earth.

I am not ashamed of my father’s frail health because he didn’t cause it. He did the best with what was given to him at birth. My father did not abuse his body with alcohol, smoking or drugs or even excessive food. He continued to work even after his kidney transplant and stopped only when his company forced him to take voluntary retirement. He was still looking to be productive and set up  a small business refusing to accept my monetary support.

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Above: Pictures of important moments in my dad's career.

More than his failing organs, not being useful and productive and feeling like a burden was what killed him in the end. That’s  who my father was and always wanted to be: an eternal provider – only wanting to give, give and give to his children and never ever be in a position to take-  A rare farmer who believed that he has no right to eat the fruits of a tree he lovingly planted, watered and nurtured.

So , all, I have a father, whose soul is expansive enough to be there for us beyond death and my father will remain not just as my last name but his life and love will always be the prologue to all my life’s chapters …until …someone says ,pointing at me,  “She doesn’t have a ‘she’  “* .

Note:

*- “She doesn’t have a ‘she'” is my bad grammar equivalent to “She doesn’t have a father”  ..it’s meant to mean  “She no longer exists”

To be or not to be …anonymous?

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This post is my “Writing 101′ course Day one assignment: take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write. And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

When I started to read this assignment it was so easy. A piece of delicious cake. How difficult is it to just write or type for twenty minutes, everything that comes to your mind? That too without thinking about what you have to write, without thinking about what will people think….is it the right thing to write…will I offend anyone…will it reveal too much of myself….not to think about grammar..or spell check or the tense….or whether it rhymes….It’s too easy..until you get to the ‘twist’ that says ‘publish this stream-of-consciousness’. This is when it’s gets infinitely difficult. I decide to skip this assignment…flunk on day one..or take the easy way out and ‘ignore the twist’…the escape hatch in the assignment that seemed to be designed just for me.

All my ‘write whatever comes to my mind’ episodes in the past have been torn into pieces and discarded. The scratch of pen on paper has sometimes been a therapy session between me and me and following patient confidentiality rules been always locked up.I think that I will do this assignment on a piece of paper as usual and  tear it or lock it up ..when a ‘why ‘ props up out of nowhere…asking “why not share”? Because I just can’t sprout what comes to my mind…and share it publicly. Because I’m just not myself…I’m a daughter, a mother, a wife, a sister, a ‘..in-law’ and I have these multiple persona that I have to play with each role and each have their own script dictated by  tradition/culture/the personalities of the people involved.

I realize that this is my impediment as a writer. When i read the blogs of those women who have chosen to be anonymous I can feel the candor….the ‘thoughts to words translation’ ,their ‘stream-of-consciousness’ presented without filters of the multiple persona that they too are sure to wear in their lives…I see them write without the right brain idea toned down by the left brain reason…without the anger controlled…without the grief tamed…without the humour laundered…..and I long for that anonymity…to be purely me … when i write. While I could write /create a blog anonymously , I keep myself from taking the easy way out….because there is nothing to be ashamed of being me…there should only be one me…what you see , what you hear and what you read. That’s where lies true freedom, growth….and i have stuck to this ..even if it’s me most often breaking the social etiquette and disagreeing openly on a topic while others make non-committal noises with their throat and exercise their neck in a way that shows neither consent or dissent ..and be politically correct…never revealing their strong feelings one way or the other…I have always wondered what these folks would say if the self-imposed etiquette was not there…..hey anonymity is also an option….may be its a way of having the cake and eating it too…but what’s the point of anonymity…all these buts…it’s meant to be a write your ‘stream-of-consiciousness’ and I have never seen a stream that has not meandered…

I read somewhere that a writer reveals a part of themselves in their writing and given enough material a reader can piece together the puzzle of the writer’s psyche. Maybe that’s true….maybe it also shows their understanding of other’s psyche too.

Anyway…. i decide to write about the hornet’s nest of feelings that this assignment stirred…knowing that it will be quite allright a topic to publish..if i decide to publish ,that is, in the time it takes to save this draft. I may not have decided even when my finger lingers on the publish button….you see the biggest battle is always with yourself…’you’ the biggest roadblock in your own path….will i win this battle?..

While I ponder on that question…i ask what picture could possibly go with this blog post if I decide to publish and look out of the window and see the bright flowers that have sprouted in the grass, in the middle of the still half-brown lawn like an cool idea that springs up in the middle of an writing activity, unplanned , among the dead leaves from last autumn and I think it works well….and answers my question.

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Who I am and Why I’m here

 
This post is triggered by the “Blogging 101” course’s first assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.
Although I have stated some of my reasons to write in my first post , I thought this was a great opportunity to summarize the intent and establish the theme of this blog.
The some questions were posed to help get us started:
  • Who am I?
    • Answer: I am.
  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
    • Answer: Because I can.
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?
    • Answer: Have a meaningful conversation with society.
That’s it..No need to read further if you are someone who gets the meaning behind the cryptic and minimalistic answers.
The answer “I am” has a very profound meaning in various religious contexts. Yes, Religion will be a strong theme in my blogs. Why? Because religion impacts all aspects of our life: Internal and/or External. Our evolving concepts on religion will help define the future of the earth: either making it a better place or a war torn hell.
Why blog publicly? “Because I can” . And there is a significant percentage of women who can’t. Women have fought for and won several battles to get basic rights such as to vote, to own property , to have an education and to work. Yet gender equality is not fully within reach.  Gender inequality will be another topic that I would want to write about. Some people have defined me as a ‘feminist’ but I have some reservations about that word. One day I’ll post more on that subject.
From a very young age I heard about this “society” ,,,As in ,”What will society think of you?”. “Society will not accept you if you talk like this!” .So I have always been curious about who all make a society and how to communicate with this mass creature – of multiple eyes, ears and mouths- and initiate a meaningful dialogue. My hope is that through sharing thoughts and ideas through the medium of blogging I reach multiple ‘societies’ and finally get that conversation going.

Blog- Arambham (Arambham is a Tamil word for beginning)

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Today is Saraswati pooja. The day Hindus worship Saraswati , the goddess of knowledge, music, art and culture. It’s an auspicuous day where children, in India, are initiated into learning and write their first word.  The ritual is called “Vidya- Arambham” roughly translated to mean “beginning of knowledge”.   I pick this day dedicated to learning, sharing of knowledge and appreciation of fine arts to launch my blog. My “Blog- Arambham” day!

Words! Words have endured across millenniums as religious texts and classics, have taken us on time travels; Recreating realities or imagination , transporting us into the hearts and minds of those who lived way before us; and those who may live after us; a feat  that technology has only been able to achieve in Science fiction novels. To this massive swirl of words circling the universe, today, I add my own, hoping that they too will endure the passage of time and emerge meaningful and positive.

I have always wanted to write. At age 8 it was to write the next in the series of ‘ Noddy goes to School”. At 10 it was the next adventure of the “Famous Five” (inspired by Enid Blyton).  It was a dream with no urgency to act.  The urgency came, when I lost my 52 year young father before I got to know him as a person, someone other than ‘Daddy’. And later when I stood wondering , at a ferry terminal in New York city as the ashes from the world trade center swirled around me,  if I will see my 2 year old son again and if he will ever get to know me.

I urge people to write, if not to the world, at least to their loved ones; preferably handwritten. I’m glad I wrote, letters to my parents ,at one stage in my life; When I had just moved to the United states from India (in my early twenties) and phone calls to India where almost a dollar a minute. I missed them terribly, having lived with them all my life up to that point. So, I wrote how much I missed them, how much I loved them. I don’t remember all that I wrote, although the emotions that I was trying to convey are vivid in my mind. My father became terminally ill within a year of my moving and he passed away, when I was least expecting it. I didn’t get to talk to him much the last few months of his life and for many years carried the regret that I never got to tell him how much he meant to me and that I couldn’t be there with him. One day, going through old letters, I remembered my mother tellling me how my dad, in his final days, used to make her reread my letters; over and over again. It gave me some peace and closure to know that even though I was not able to be there physically with him, my words were there. While I’m not sure I was successful in translating all my feelings for him into words, I’m sure he felt those that I had not written in between those written lines. That realization turned my “want to write” to “need to write”.

As I pick that which is mightier than the sword, I pray there no casualties. I pray that only love inspires me. I pray that my words portray even the heinous of villains with empathy and understanding of the all ways we humans can fail.  I pray that my guardian angels continue to guide me in this new path.