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Showing posts from January, 2010


I am very cold right now.  I haven't posted for a few days.  I think my inspiration is frozen.  My fingers certainly are. I posted every day in the aftermath of my bereavement and even when the funeral ceremonies were going on.  And once they were over, it was as if I fell asleep for a few days.  The schools opened late after the Christmas/new year period.  After being opened for a week, they are closed again.  Now, in addition to dry cold, we have thick fog.  Very dangerous. My husband is just getting over the matter of his father's death.  He had quite a  difficult time over the last month.  Spending time with his father in the hospital.  Coping with the work involved in a death.  Meeting all his relatives after a long time.  Last weekend, he got very tense, and it was obvious he was suffering a lot mentally.  In a way, I was glad that he went back to work.  I thought that maybe a return to the normal routine was when he needed. Yesterday, he had his Sunday off, and for

Empty House

All but two of the relatives have gone back now.  The house is our own again.  I can hear our voices echoing around.  It seems hard to believe that in this very house two days before there were several hundred people here to attend a religious ceremony.  But it is true. In fact, we had relatives visiting non-stop for the past three weeks.  People coming and going every single day.  My father-in-law's two widowed sisters have remained here and all the other relatives have gone away.  It is nice for my mother-in-law to have the company of her two sisters-in-law.  They have always been close to her, never more than now.  My mother-in-law cried a lot yesterday when her younger daughter, Rashmi,  left here.  I could see Rashmi becoming distressed.  I had to reassure her.  "Don't worry!" I said.  "I'm here.  I'll take care of your mother for you!"  To tell the truth, I get very emotional when my mother and I have to say goodbye, whenever we get together.


The last ceremony of mourning for my father-in-law was held in our house yesterday.  Relatives had been pouring in from everywhere for days.  When I had finally got my four kids ready, and myself too, I couldn't believe my eyes when I came out of my room.  I don't think that there were too many faces missing from either side of the clan, my father-in-law's side and mother-in-law's side too.  A trainload arrived in the morning and  a trainload departed in the evening as well.  There were cousins from all over north India.  We are a family rooted in Uttar Pradesh and we were joined by family members from Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and even far away Shillong in Meghalaya. The ceremony took place in the house.  There were a lot of priests in and there was a fire ceremony with a lot of chanting.  Quite similar to my marriage ceremony, but with a different aim.  People came in from the neighbourhood and all over the city to remember my father-in-law


I had been dreading Monday morning  - I was so not ready to send my children back to school and our house is flooded with relatives and family members who have gathered to perform the final funeral ceremonies of my father-in-law.  I was feeling that in one way it was a blessing that the children were on their winter holidays when this was all going on; but on Monday morning my luck was about to run out.  Well, thanks to the cold snap, the schools were closed for two further days.  It is so difficult to wash clothes and even get hot water for a bath with the crowds around, that was a relief for me.  It seems now that the schools will remain closed for the children up to the 8th Class until Friday.  Great!  My eldest is in 8th. I have decided that on balance, that I don't like my husband's new shaven look after all.  I miss his beard. It is true that he resembles some of my relatives, and I liked that.  However, he looks far too grim these days to have a shaven face.  He is s

The Tenth Day.

The tenth day  after a death  is more significant in my husband's community than I had realised.  My rakhi brother Ramana had mentioned the tenth day when we were chatting, and I said no, in our community it is the thirteenth.  But Ramana is an Indian and I am not.  He knows much more about this culture than I do. Sure enough, this morning my husband, his brothers and my nephew, basically every male who participated in the cremation had to shave all the hair off their heads.  Well, strictly speaking, only the eldest brother who lit the pyre had to shave completely.  He is bald now, and all facial hair has disappeared.  It is hard to notice the difference as he has covered his hair against the cold. Yash my husband has had his beard and moustache shaved off and his hair cut very short.  As he didn't light the funeral pyre, he wasn't obliged to go bald.  Just as well.  I haven't seen him without his moustache in over twenty years.  He usually grows a beard in winter a

The Thirteenth Day Approaches....

My father-in-law passed away on 1st January.  So on the 13th January, thirteen days after, we are having the Rasam Pagri ceremony which will officially end the period of mourning.  I wear old clothes every day and no 'suhaag symbols' i.e. no bindi, sindoor or glass bangles.  I feel very dull and the weather doesn't help. Our house has been overrun with hordes of relatives over the last fortnight, and the next few days will be the same.  Actually, it is very disturbing to have strangers in  your space in the long term.  I'm beginning to feel stressed out and so do the children. This evening my husband brought all the children in the house - ours and visiting relatives' also - out for a short outing.  He could see how fed up they are.  It gave me a bit of time to myself, which was nice. It's only a few more days.  That's what I keep on telling myself.

Where are my Chappals?

In my house everyone is the same.  We all wear slippers (chappals) going around, and we take them off when we sit down somewhere.  And whenever we get up, we can't find our own chappals and end up grabbing someone else's.  I hate doing that.  I usually search high and low until I find my own.  Usually one of my children is wearing mine. I keep different shoes for going out and I usually can't find them when I have to go out.  It takes half an hour on average to find the shoes.  If  I'm lucky. I'm not careless.  Can I help it if someone puts on my chappals and walks away wearing them when I'm not looking?  In this cold weather, going barefoot is very uncomfortable.  My children are always getting told off for not wearing their chappals.  They keep on forgetting where they've left them. Half of my life is probably spent looking for missing chappals and shoes.  Mine and the children's.

Visit from Afzal and Sameera

Afzal and Sameera called to see Yash and me yesterday.  Afzal was very sad that Yash's father has just died.  It is just a year since Afzal's father died and he is still grieving.  So we had coffee and talked to each other for a while about how sad we all felt.  Then Afzal and and Yash went out for a short walk and Sameera and I talked to each other for a while.  Soon it was time for them to leave.  As they were going, Sameera said something to Afzal like, "Come on, sir, let's go!"  Yash, my husband, picked up on this immediately and stopped dead.  "Excuse me!  Did you just call your husband sir?" he asked Sameera.  The lady laughed and so did her husband.  Actually, Afzal runs an English language coaching institute in our part of the city and is popularly known as 'Afzal Sir'.  Afzal explained that his wife called him by his first name at home, but that in public, she refers to him as sir, or 'Afzal Sir'.  Then he asked about me.  My hus

Distraction from Gloom..

My regular readers will know that a family member of mine died a few days ago.  So the mood in the house is one of sadness and gloom.  We get tearful from time to time.  Each one of us.  Not all at the same time but still.... I received an SMS today which made me laugh out loud.  It was an advertisement for something absolutely weird.  A vibrating belt!  A vibrating belt indeed.....'what the heck is that?' I thought.  Well apparently it is a slimming aid of some sort. It is being offered at some kind of discount rate the advertisement says... Well, if I decide to lose weight, now or at any other time, I wouldn't choose that method.  I've heard that there are women who go to gyms and run and walk on running machines.  Get into your car and go to the gym.  What a paradox.  And walk several miles.........on a machine!   It makes me laugh just to think about it.  When you can just go for a walk, why do that?  I know two  ladies who go to my church.  They live minutes aw

Everything is how you look at it......

Two people look at the same picture and see two  completely different things - two people look at the same situation, same........everything is how you look at it.  Two men looked out of prison bars, one saw mud the other stars....I never liked that saying but it more or less captures what I am trying to say. For some people a death is a tragedy.  For others it is a release.  For others it can even be both. Everyone sees things differently.  I suppose that this is how misunderstandings occur.......

Difficult Day

It's very, very cold.  A bleak January day.  We've just had a death in the family.  We're still in shock.  Some more than others. There was a lot of activity here for a couple of days.  It's gone very quiet now. Now it's beginning to sink in.  It feels awful. But we'll get over it.  In time....

Family Reunion

The Christmas/New Year period has traditionally been the time when our whole family would get together and spend time with each other.  But as the children have grown, studies have been the priority.  Everyone seems to have got busier in work too.  Hence these yearly gatherings had all but finished..... This year, everyone has come together again.  The death of my father-in-law has brought family members from as far away as Shillong, Bhopal and Delhi to Lucknow.  More are due to arrive soon from Jaipur.  That's about as diverse as you can get for a family rooted in the Gangetic plain. It's great to see everyone again.  But I remember years ago my Irish family used to say that it's a shame that we all just get together for weddings and funerals.  It's getting like that here too. One way or the other, it's nice to see everyone again.

Second Day......

Yesterday was the first day of the new year.  It was the last day in the life of my beloved father in law.  Although it didn't seem likely that this would happen, I was right there with him when he passed away, along with other members of the family. If I could say anything to him right now, I would love to tell him how happy I am that his soul is free.  I know he was ready for eternity.  I am so happy that he got what he had ardently wished for. But I will miss him.....

Just Because It's New Year's Day.....

Yes, just because it's New Year's Day, I feel I should post.  Something.  It's sad that at this time my father-in-law is lying in hospital, totally unaware of what's going on.  Most of the family have gathered from Delhi, Bhopal and Shillong, to be together at this time.  Papaji's youngest (and only surviving)brother is with him 24/7, as has his eldest son, who has not left his side since he reached Lucknow three days ago.  My husband and youngest brother-in-law are the same - in constant attendance.  I feel very much for my husband - he tends to suffer from depression, and this is of course very difficult for him as it would be for anyone.  He came home yesterday for a few hours, to eat, sleep and see me and the children. I've lost track of the time.  Papaji  lost consciousness on Tuesday morning and was taken by his sons to the local Christian hospital.  Many tests were done, and within 24 hours, the doctors recommended that he should be moved to another hos