Ambal’s Work Life

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On Him Growing Up

Days turn into nights,
nights turn into days.

They come and they go,
Rather predictably and cyclically.

School years starts turn into school years ends,
School years ends turn into school years starts.

They come and they go,
Rather predictably and cyclically.

Winter turns into Spring,
Spring turns into Summer,
Summer turns into Fall,
Fall turns into Winter.

They come and they go,
Rather predictably and cyclically.

In the midst of all that predictably and cyclicalness,
I stand in utter awe of how nature and nurture are turning this wonder of a baby into a fine-&-refined young man.

And, how grateful I am to know and to feel,
that I am a very minuscule part of this grandiose life as it unfolds, right in front of my eyes.

Life…..so predictable and so cyclical…..
yet, not so predictable and not so cyclical,
blooms, grows and takes form in unpredictable and uncyclical ways.

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On How Love Manifests in Hidden Places

Love manifests in a zillion ways in zillion places.

As the firm voice that says “Don’t do it..or else”.

As the pat on your shoulder that says “Atta girl (or boy)”

As the peck of teary kiss that says “Good bye…be back with me soon”.

As the glance of a friend or a lover that only you know and understand.

Let me give you an example of how love manifests under my roof in the least of places.

I hope with this story, I will urge you to notice the love that unfolds in unforeseen places and circumstances.

The times I grew up in, taught me that one never really wastes any resources or dumps stuff away. One makes the most of what one has.

I have had the same kitchen mittens for over a decade. They had worn out and when I pulled something out of the oven, I winced due to the heat.

The boys immediately rushed to my aid.

One got a towel dipped in cold water to wrap around my hand.

One got an ice pack and put it on my hand.

One yelled – “How many times I have asked you to throw those worn mittens out?”

A few months ago, Kumar got a sturdy pair of mittens from Costco and gave me a firm look and even firmer words. “Look. I am dead serious. You are going to start using these mittens when you stick your hand in the oven. I threw away the old ones. They are gone.”

I gave him a sheepish “Yes Sir” look.

I asked him in my sweetest voice possible – “Those mittens. Remember? Those were the ones we picked out long ago. Did you really throw them away?”

He said -“Quit it. I am not going to fall for that melt your heart look. Those old mittens are gone. Start using the new ones.”

Fast forward a few months. I have been using the new mittens and getting used to them.

Yesterday evening, as we started preparing for Thanksgiving get togethers for the upcoming week, I reminded Kumar to take stock that we had enough disposable supplies (plates, spoons, cups etc). He didn’t.. despite my nagging. Disposable supplies are typically stacked away in a tall cupboard that are difficult for me to reach (remember – I have a 5 foot lean and mean form). I had to go find the step stool from the garage, place it underneath the cupboard and lean over the refrigerator to take stock of supplies.

Guess what I found?

Guess where Kumar had put away my old mittens – out of sight…and out of my height 😉

That is right…on top of the refrigerator…below the tall cupboard.

What transpired next…I’ll leave it up to your imagination.

Like I said earlier, love manifests in very simple….yet beautiful ways…like buying you new kitchen mittens and putting away (not throwing them out) your old ones beyond your reach.

Our view of love has been colored by what we are led to believe is love by popular media.

Don’t over romanticize love…because, love is hiding in plain sight…right before you….or, in my case, right above me.

Love.

May you find love.

May you give love.

May you get love.

May you revel in love.

May you be love.

To love…my friends.

 

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On Puddles

It is a cold, wet, dark, rainy and gorgeous day here in Austin.

As I took my morning walk today, I noticed that Austin’s greenery was soaked in beautiful rain.

I am still stepping (rather, carefully) in all the watery puddles with my sandals on.

Are you?

Adi asked – “Amma, what if this is all the rain and beautiful greenery is a giant simulation?”

I asked him to rewatch Matrix and Inception.

“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”
― Bill Watterson

“Childhood is that state which ends the moment a puddle is first viewed as an obstacle instead of an opportunity.” – Kathy Williams

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On Balanced Feminism

This week was completely nuts.
Kumar was travelling for work. As luck would have it, I started having a scratchy throat last weekend that escalated to a terrible cold this week.
Don’t ask me how I got through this week. I don’t want to tell you that horror story.

Instead, I want to focus on my “balanced” feminism story.

I am 5 foot. I can’t reach the top of the pantry shelves or cabinets.
It doesn’t really matter.
The boys are always around to help me with that.

Despite my 5 foot lean and mean body, I am a powerful force to reckon with.
But, I don’t bother using that force on a bottle that won’t open easily when I am trying to cook in a hurry.
I don’t have to.
The boys are always around to help me with that.

Now, with that context, despite my feverish tendencies due to the cold, since I have responsbility to hold down the fort (when Kumar is away) and feed the boys, I started blending tomato and ginger to make some channa korma on Wed evening.
Then, I tried to open the lil blender.
It didn’t.
I used all the force in my feverish body to open the dang lil blender.
It still didn’t.

I just lost it.
I don’t know it was my fever or whether I was hallunciating because of my temperature…but tears started rolling down my eyes.
I felt tremendous sadness that none of the boys (Daddy, Kums, Shakthi or Ari) were around that evening to help me.
I truly missed their strength and presence at that moment.

Now, that brings me back to my “balanced” feminism observations.

I do believe women and men are equal.
But, I don’t have to prove that by trying to open a nearly un-openable pasta sauce bottle.
I leverage the strength of one of the boys who are ever willing to be their chivalrous selves and open the bottle for nothing in return but a peck on the cheek and my endearing words – “Thanks da Rascal. What would I do without you?”

Fast forward to today evening.
The boys got me some hot soup to help my cold feel better.
All is well that ends well.

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On Showing the Way

Appa would tell me that kids grow up on us. And, as they grow up on us they take on more responsibilities.

As I was in gutters changing diapers, cleaning potty, fixing seat belts, carrying the boys around, feeding them, doing they laundry, chasing them to get homework done….I couldn’t believe what Appa said. It all just seemed like a maze of kid raising and tending.

Finally, I have gotten to a phase where I am beginning to believe what Appa said.

Arya has learnt how to navigate the world as I am driving or even as we are walking through a new city.

For those of y’all in the ditches with kid tending…do know that the current phase too shall pass. The kids will grow up and show you the way and make your heart beam with pride.

Hang in there and enjoy the one way ride.

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