A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


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Of pigtails and Pig Tales :)

There are certain days, certain people, and certain occasions, for who/which this rambler goes sincerely crazy. Otherwise, she’s just… weird. Yep, this rambler is certified… and she’s also oxymoron 😛
Like in the current flavour of the month (hers-movie wise), where I am at, this movie Moana, she (Moana)  asks her Grandma:
Moana: Why are you acting weird?
Gramma Tala: I’m the village crazy lady. That’s my job.
Kind of sums me up, you’d agree 😀 I’ve watched that movie, most of it, at least three times a day, from 25th of this month. 😛 So I know! And when you do too, enough times, and have a faint personal knowledge, you shall most certainly nod your head in total agreement. In fact, you millennials would probably go… tots bro!
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Ammoomma Monkeying around 😛

Chalo. But this isn’t about the rambler, though she wouldn’t mind wearing pigtails all over again.
It’s about a wee lass, her grammie’s, her Ammumma’s “cutie pie”,  darling, “kujikutty”, her momma’s “chinnooomaaaa”, her Arjun’s delightful daughter. Naina. Duh. 😀
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Pigtails Poser!

That “cutie pie” in pigtails, she’s turning three today. Woah! I tell myself. Three! Wasn’t it just yesterday, around this time I was pretty much worried as hell, because Pratibha had to stay overnight in hospital because of a “false alarm”? When I was all ready to fly across here, on 9 April, because the baby was due only on 11 April? And a few hours into the day, about 9.30 in the morning, I receive a call (expecting Arjun to tell me that Pratibha is back at home!) saying “Amma, a girl!”  It beats me how I found the will (rules and regulations notwithstanding 😛 ) to stay on another week, almost, finish the required work at school, and then head to Nainuland, to hold her in my arms, on 5 April, 2014. Sigh. Sigh… *Wanders off into those memories*… ❤ ❤
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5 April, 2014!

Three years of unmitigated fun, ever’growing love, impossible amounts of laughter, all kinds there are, and the omnipresent, omniscient worry and anxiety, that comes when you have every spare inch of your thoughts filled with a prayer for the well being of this tiny, perfect (and you’d do battle with anyone who says otherwise 😛 ) girl who rules your heart. (Every other member of my family is going to go ballistic when they read this – a certain one for sure, but then the subject of this blog is equally all pervading in her influence, so that voice shall also be concomitant to the views expressed herein 😀 🙂 )
Awesomeness needs no captioning! 😛 …⇑⇑
Not to forget the never diminishing sense of wonder and amazement, the sheer pride that threatens to consume you 😛 when you speak endlessly (yes, grammies are like that, they can’t stop once they start !!!) about every tiny facet of this beautiful gorgeous girl! No matter that she giggles and bursts into a riot of laughter to tell you “You’re sho funny!!!” as you try and gracefully eat spaghetti, saying, Ammoomma eating wiggly worms (laughing uncontrollably…) Ammomma eating wiggly worms” She can call you any kind of names, and you’ll beam with joy that is bundle is actually saying those things! 😛
Sample this. A few friends visited on Sunday, and the conversation turned to children speaking. There were toddlers present, ranging from 1 – 3 years old, and we began to speak of how kids pick up language, English in particular. Nainu has never ceased to amaze us with her range and recollection and her apt usage of the words. Apparently, she was using the word “grumpy” (gwumpy, as she says) with understanding. And her mother was saying, “Arre, I didn’t even know there was a word called grumpy till I was in high school!” Yeah. That sums it up for many readers here as well, right?
So how did she manage this? Exposure to language (my pet soapbox topic 😛 ) She, I do believe, is the finest example I could give you on how you could pick up a language if you surround yourself with it, on your own 🙂 She listens to nursery rhymes, and watches a few films, repeatedly, when she isn’t engaged in role playing with her army of toys, cycling around the house in her tricycle, reading from the tiny books she has, and watching videos of her favourite… wait for it….PEPPA PIG AND HER FAMILY!!! The movies range from Nemo, Tangled, Frozen, and now MOANA! (Those who’ve been in my class will now understand why I would recommend movies, quite apart from their sheer entertainment value 😛 ) Also, Nainu has perhaps picked up the linguistically strong genes from her father too! 🙂
Just a couple of days ago, she  received a set of her Peppa Pig toys, the entire family, consisting of  (yes, I know them ALL!!) Peppa Pig, her brother Georgie Pig, Daddy Pig, Mamma Pig, Granpa Pig (who’s grumpy sometimes 😀 ) and Grandma Pig. She took down her Elsa doll, a toy that moves on wheels, singing away “Let it Go!” , placed Peppa’s family on the petal like protruding bits of the doll, at the base, twirled it, singing Let it Go!!, and toppled the whole family to the ground! She did let them go!
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Naina and her Peppa Pig Collection! The Little one in RED is Peppa Pig!

She speaks quite clearly, my wee lass does. She speaks in English too! Which constantly surprises us, because no one has ever even tried to get her to sample the words and sentences. But she tries, on her own, right or wrong, and is quite oblivious to the joy, and the freak out sessions we have (duh. I have… 😀 ) when I hear her! Once in the car, she asks, Where we going? Once she’s had enough of the outing – Leshsh go home!  At play time, in her grandparents home, her Naani’s home, she asked her cousin to  come out, with a Lets go and build sand castles!  in the sand pit they had outside their home! I mean, Woah Woah Woah, not yet three and she says, sand castles?
The mystery was solved as to her acquisition of that when I was introduced to her Peppa Pig, finally, when I visited her last month. That’s a delightful family of yes, Pigs 🙂 Them brainy brainy creatures, cute as buttons 🙂 Complete with excellent, proper English, in an English accent. 🙂 These are kids (Peppa and Georgie)  who question, are curious, and equally naughty! She loves them so much, that when she was asked about her Birthday and what she wanted, she said Peppa Pig – and now she is the proud owner of a set of them figures, a couple of mugs, a backpack, thanks to Nammu Aunty, and a set of 6 small books! The happy birthday party theme? Duh! 😛
(Random off topic diversion – there had been a link, I shared on Facebook, speaking of how Peppa Pig shows create disobedient children, and cause … of all the things… autism! Cripes! How do people even write such things! Thank you Neethu and Rehan for telling me about it too!)
I hope the title is clearer now. I’m a fan of the entire clan Peppa Pig’s too! I love how stereotypes are broken there, how each of those films she loves has so much to inspire, about following one’s heart, of being cheerful, of having a loving family! It matters so very much what children read and watch, so much! And at this point I cannot not tell you how proud I am of her parents, Arjun and Pratibha, for keeping her grounded, and giving her her head in so many matters, letting her decide too, tiny tiny decisions… 🙂 A shoutout to another amazing person in her life, her Class Teacher from her Yellow Class, in Play School! Sheetal, you are a wonderful wonderful, empathetic teacher, who reaches out and helps foster that spirit of confidence in the tiny tots in your care. I know for certain that you shall ever remain her most favourite teacher in a long long long time. (Psst. I’ll tell you a secret – I’m jealous of how she so utterly  loves you, and even runs to you and hugs you, endlessly 😛 But I’m also glad that her impression of teachers will always be positive, thanks to you! The other teachers in her life have a huge image to aspire to, definitely! 🙂 🙂 )
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Naina and her Sheetal Aunty  – How a Teacher-Student relationship goes beyond … 🙂

 

Yes, I’m waxing poetic here, I know, but that is how this grandmother is. Absolutely, completely, uncompromisingly nutty… about her grandottie!
At almost 1400 words, I still haven’t told you ALL about her. An epic sized book wouldn’t suffice, as any Grandparent would tell you, when it comes to their precious bundles of joy! But yes, let’s leave some for the days and years to come, shall we?
(I heard that Phew!! Thank God, we’re nearing the end of the tunnel kind of sigh of elation  😛 😛 )
Naina. That’s who this is all about. My darling, My Sweetie Pie Naina. My Kunjikutty. Her birthday is today 🙂
Happy Birthday, my darling Nainu! May warm marshmallowy moments, and soft sweet and chocolatey (she loves chocolate 😛 ) dreams fill your realms and keep you sweet. May the craziness and naughtiness you have lead you on to be bright and independent. May the stories you hear and the stories you weave continue to enthrall and delight (she’s quite the story teller, and loves loves loves to have you read to her!  Or read from her own collection of books ❤ )! May the colours (and boy oh boy!! you do know almost ALL of them) fill your life with rainbows of feelings, each one precious and each one a journey to your own self. May you be blessed with good health, and this same sunny disposition! And may you continue to enchant us all and keep us loved and loving ❤ ❤
Psst… Thank you to her lovely parents too! Arjun and Pratibha, who’ve consistently given me parenting lessons, all my grandma wisecracks notwithstanding 😛 , for their patience and encouragement, and letting her have her head, or reigning in her over enthusiastic explorations, when occasion warrants it 🙂 May you continue to do your job just as wonderfully…! Blessed be!
Sigh. Sigh. I love you Nainu! Happy birthday sweeti pie!
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28 March, 2017
Birthday Blogs for Naina ❤
2015 (LINK)
2016 (LINK)
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Mommy Dearest…

No, I am not plagiarizing a beautiful title, of a well known Hollywood actress’ biography (Joan Crawford’s by her adopted daughter). Rather, hot on the heels of Mothers’ Day, is yet another special one for me. Mine grows another year younger, and it’s about time I acknowledged that one 🙂 🙂

My SB said to me the other day, amma, you know we’ve been together the last almost 22 years, and it’s going to be difficult na, when I go? I mean, you’ve known me only a part of your life, but I’ve known you all my life! 😆 Understatement, isn’t it? Of course he was just rehashing an old cliché!! But that is the point I’m trying to make. All our lives, we know one person the mostest, I think, our mother, sometimes, more than our father. In India at least :D! And so it is with Mom. Yes, I call her Mummy, Mom, Maaaaa… somehow never got around to calling her Amma, though my kids call me that. On my insistence! My paternal grandma, at her insistence, was called Amma by my brothers and I. That is another story for another rainy-no-muse day :)!

Mom has been the strongest pillar of our family. Not just us, but even hers, I sometimes think. She takes after her own mother, who I have already described in “A Woman Extraordinaire”, with a zest for life, and an unconditional and uninhibited go-for-it attitude to life. She, like me, is the ham  of a club sandwich, the 5th of 10 children her parents had. 11 if you were to count the oldest, a half brother. Life was tough as they grew, she and her siblings; lots of ancestral property managed by the Kaarnavar, or the eldest Maternal Uncle, the head of the family, entirely matriarchal… a childhood of getting, not much at all, just enough to live, dreaming of things, rushing about doing a 100 jobs around the place, along with the others. Going to school, walking over 3 miles up, then down again; taking turns to carry the large tiffin carrier; being denied further studies after her 10th, which only she and her youngest sister passed, because she had been seen, approved and was to be married off!! Tough times. Times that could, I have felt, crushed one with a weaker spirit.

So almost 50 years ago, she got married, a charming 17 year old, to a handsome tall dashing young navy man. My Dad. Though there are times we, both mom n I, rave and rant about men, I have always felt she was lucky, way luckier than her sisters, cousins, relatives, heck, even me :P! But then, I am biased am I not? She got married to my .. MY dad :D! Tougher times ahead, unfortunately! Being the wife of an only son has its problems. A possessive mother in law, who, though never abusive or hurtful, was possessive enough to make things difficult! But, yet again, she was lucky in that she was able to join Dad and travel with him on his various postings. And then of course, she had us 🙂 🙂 🙂 Lucky her! Lol!

With just a year between my EB and me, it was difficult for her to manage us, especially with Dad off sailing for long periods. But manage she did, and beautifully. For, in an alien city, Mumbai, with alien language and customs, she took to it all like a duck to water, and sailed through with flying colours. In Delhi too, the same happened.

She has  taken us to heights, and been with us through all our lows, been firm, yet loosened the bonds and apron strings when required, and kept us grounded and level headed through everything. Just everything. Be it the double fractures my EB had, the sickly chap my YB was, the rebel I became through my adolescence… right through it all, like a rock, she was there, always there. Never preachy, though she had and still has a booming voice when she gets mad 😉 😉 Dad was also there, but he was the strong and silent type back then 🙂 Now he is just the opposite, ever since his grandchildren got him to open up 🙂 🙂

You see, she grows younger as I have already said. She gels instantly with persons of all ages. It takes just a few seconds to get anyone talking, with her listening and drawing them out. She never holds back, be it advice sometimes, knocking common sense sometimes, listening, encouraging, consoling. There are very very few people I have come across who can reach out the way she has. In fact even my kids’ gang of friends are her friends; she never holds back; nothing, absolutely nothing!

When she knew I was going to be alone, in a few months time, there was no, why don’t you come down here, or shall we come there… just a reminder to be stronger, and have real expectations 🙂 And while we still agree to disagree on a lot of issues, the bonds are stronger than ever. She guides, unhesitatingly, and silently. Waits. Never nags, or asks. It’s cool, either way. She gives us space. Our own, and asks we never trample on hers :D!!

Linda Goodman, in her Sun Signs, speaks of the Taurean Woman as someone who walks tall. That’s her, my mother. She’s barely above 5 feet, but towers in ways we never could. To her indomitable spirit, and endless enthusiasm, not to forget her sheer gregarious spirit, here’s a toast! For health, peace of mind (she says that is fairy tale :D), for smiles each day, and less pain, esp around the knee 🙂 :)… (she’s going to blow a fuse when I show her this one, but it will be worth it! )Since she has already approved the Vishu and Thrissur Pooram posts, I think I might strike lucky with a third I share with her 🙂 🙂

Mummy, you’re the best. That is why even we are 🙂 Happy Birthday! May you grow even more years younger, each passing day 🙂 🙂 And may we be blessed to have your grace with us, always 🙂

The slide above has been prepared by my sister in law 🙂 Thanks Trips and Vinu, for saying is so beautifully for all of us 🙂 🙂

(Click on pic to enlarge, to read the beautiful words they have written 🙂 )

11 May, 2010, for 15 May, 2010


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A Woman Extraordinaire!

Indomitable.
Unputdownable.
Firebrand.

Now these words might make a virago out of my grandmother [my maternal grandmother], but no, it isn’t quite like that! Let me explain a little, with a brief sketch first of all :

The second born, of four children, in a matriarchal family, early twentieth century, she studied upto the fourth standard, got married at around twelve years, almost thirteen, she said, to a widower with a young son, had eleven babies, one of whom, the youngest to be precise, did not survive beyond a few days, she lived a life that I have found extraordinary! My earliest memories of her are of a graceful, tall, slim woman, filled with energy, always bustling about the house, not necessarily working in the kitchen though.. 🙂 She loved talking, and gossiping and telling us, and anyone who cared to listen stories.. and my, oh my! those were stories!!!

It was Corinne Rodrigues’ post on her grandmother, Recalling a Woman of Substance – Part I, that made me want to write this. A niggling idea then germinated, more than a month ago, and has not let me be, all these weeks, and now finally, a few days after her third death anniversary, I offer this – to my Muthashi [grandmother, in Malayalam]. I can visualize her enjoyment at having something dedicated to her, and her criticism of it as well!!

Let me go back to those three words at the top of this post. Nothing, absolutely nothing, I had found out, could crush her spirit, not the number of children she had, five boys and five girls and the step-son she brought up as her own [all her children are still hale and hearty this day :)], not the misery of the partition of family property (that was terribly acrimonious) she had to go through, isolated from her siblings, who shunned her though they stayed next door, not the squabbles among her children, from time to time, especially her sons, or the rude behaviour of some of her grandchildren – Nothing. It was as if there was something in her that simply refused to acknowledge this, and she survived another day (and taught a few lessons by way of example! Not by accepting injustice, if any, but by not letting it get to her!!) In fact, as my mother always reminds me, at each of those times in her life, she was the inspiration to all around her!

Living in the nattumpuram, the interior, the countryside, so to speak, did little to limit to knowledge of the happenings around the world, and Kerala! She was a voracious reader, from newspapers, to all the serialized stories in the Mangalam and Manorama weeklies. (Malayalees can perhaps connect to these :D!! The stories are sort of pulp fiction, lots of romances, betrayals, and stuff!!) And Radio Plays, so looked forward to, even by us, migratory birds who visited her a month each year! Even after the advent of television in our village in the mid eighties, the radio plays were firm favourites for her! No one was to talk, to shout, nothing… she’d sit, with us, all around, her head tilted towards the radio, in rapt attention! A sharp smack greeted anyone who dared to distract her!

What I loved so much about her was her absolute uninhibited joy when she went to the cinema! She was perhaps the oldest “hooter” or “Catcaller”, lol, theatres would ever have seen. A legend of sorts in our small place! We had a couple of rustic theatres, which later became brick and cement “real” cinema halls. Her children were most times embarrassed, but she cared two hoots (two long ones, at that :)), when the action scenes came around! For us, her grandchildren, it was HUGE entertainment, going to the movies with her. The number who went, piled into a couple of cars, literally piled would be anything upwards of ten…:) – my grandparents, parents, three of us, my brothers and me, other uncles, aunts, cousins, servants and the neighbours!! Even now, when I go for a movie I miss her presence and the enjoyment!

She had magic in her hands! We call it kaipunyam in Malayalam, the gift within of being able to cook divinely, and make anything one’s hands touch taste delicious! She could turn a bit of salt, tamarind, a couple red chillies, fried, and a couple of shallots, [cheriya ulli –small onions, the size of maybe marbles], into her pièce de résistance called, Ulli Puli (literally translated as Onion tamarind, or sour onion !). My mouth waters, even now, this very moment, as I write about it. My mother, and her youngest sister, of her children, I have found, have inherited this from her, but they come nowhere close to her 🙂

My greatest gift from her, is her tutoring me in the letters of my mother tongue. Having been born and brought up outside of Kerala, there was little chance of my learning it formally, in school. But when I was in the fifth standard, I remember, the urge to learn what appeared heiroglyphics took root, and she guided me through those, during my summer vacation. Not having much practice in later years, or having felt the inclination, I neglected this area, and recently, after having settled in Kerala, a close friend here, and another blogger, Praveen, has made me want to again get back to those basics and perhaps, with renewed vigour, maybe even express myself here, in Malayalam 🙂 If and when that happens, it’s a dedication to my Muthashi!!!

She had wanted to chronicle her experiences in life, as a sort of diary, her memoirs, sort of… But that remained an unfulfilled wish. She truly knew enough gossip, happenings, family relationships [uncle’s mother-in-law’s sister’s nephew’s grandson’s wife… sort of thing] really well, that it never ceased to amaze me, how she’d map out with such clarity and define who was who, and how important he/she was!!! We’d always say that she had enough material to fuel a mega serial, the saga of her life and times!!!

The one special thing about her, was that ability she had to tell stories. Indeed all Grandmothers, I think, come with that ability, lol.. but her’s was a different sort! When we came to her for the vacations, we’d always insist on sleeping with her at night… so we’d spread the mattresses, and mats [the unlucky ones got those… :D] all over the front room, called ummaram, in that ancestral house, and she would tell us the goosebumps variety of stories of people called odiyans, who would take revenge, or be hired by others to do the same, by turning themselves into a dog with a limp or a huge black buffalo. She’d tell us hair-raising tales about how her father and grandfather had actually seen them and how an uncle had been lured out of the home at night [the time when they operate], but throwing gravel on the tiled roof, and when he went out to see who it was, something happened, and he never returned alive! Oh my! those were stories!!! And we’d huddle together, shiver, and simply love it! In actual fact, she would have closed her eyes and most often gone off to sleep, but it was as if she was on auto pilot, and narrative would go on… that was her special ability!!! Even now, when I think of it, a thrill fills me; these are stories my mother has told her grandchildren, and I sit along a listen with them, and at 20+ both my children still enjoy it just as much and go brrrr… especially in the nights!!!

I somehow think there must have been my grandmother in my heart when I wrote this poem, a long time ago, for it kind of sums her up quite well! It’s called Indomitable.

This has been one looonnnggggg post; something which even I did not think would take so much space! But then, it’s like that when I talk about my grandmother. In a few words, perhaps I’d summarize her this way too:

Through thick and thin
Ups and downs
Always smiles and never frowns
Muthashi, precious kin!

A spirit unputdownable
Ever and always affable
In life and always

A charmer
A go-getter
A sunny-side-up-er [:D]
That, dear friends, is HER!!!!

Miss you Muthashi, I really do!!!

[11 November, 2008 to 22 November, 2008]