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Grandma, did you have to go?

How I loved resting my burdened head
In the harmless cocoon of your lap
You watched over me quietly as I slept
Just guarding the serenity of my nap
Oh grandma, did you have to go?

How you waited calmly on the porch
Not one reprimand, no phone call
No reminder that I was carelessly late
Yet, your anxious eyes would say it all
Oh grandma, did you have to go?

After evaluating my crumb-littered plate
You frowned that I wasn’t eating enough
I rubbed my belly and pleaded for mercy
You piled more helpings of sumptuous stuff
Oh grandma, did you have to go?

You had such a vast repertoire of stories
Picking one of those each night to tell me
Even if you retold one, it still felt new
Uniquely laced with wonder, terror, glee
Oh grandma, did you have to go?

Your weathered palms were most kind
I can’t even describe the way I would feel
Even if the world collapsed around me
Gentle palms would soothe and heal
Oh grandma, did you have to go?

Bereft of your beaming toothless smile
Feathery frame that I could twirl around
Deprived of the words to make my day
I want to be swallowed by the ground.
Oh grandma, did you have to go?

Yes, it must sound real selfish of me
Demanding that you stay here forever
When you probably had more kids to meet
Shower on them the light of your star
And yet grandma, did you have to go?

Grandma

Daddy Dearest

A father is not superman. He is mostly ordinary, with an average way of life, family, and the occasional bad habit or weakness. He is mortal, and so I will not wax eloquent about the qualities of the super-dad. No, he is most likely incapable of bashing up the baddies or saving lives when the scary villain turns up. Who is he, then?

Assuming you are among the blessed ones, ‘dad’ is the man who fell in love with your mother, and committed his heart to her for life. Dad is the one who dreamed of ‘starting a family’ with your beaming mother; he is the one who was perhaps required to think of how they would manage expenses with a kid or more around the corner. He must have bitten off his nails as your mother went into labour, with the entire household fussing over her. Well, to tell you the truth, folks probably fussed over her all nine months, assuming that the would-be dad was doing fine, no tension and no sweat for him.

Your dad was the one who held you as you slept, as your mother slept. He perhaps worried that you looked too fragile to be true! Handing you over to your mother, he must have gazed anxiously and attentively while the doctor went on and on about caring for you.

Your dad must have looked into places he never bothered about before, like schools and day-care centres, to help your mother decide where the kids will have it best. He is the man who may have kicked one or two bad habits, or promised to stop swearing around the house on his rough days because the kids should not be exposed to the bad world at their tender age. While your mother reigned over the household, acknowledged by all as the parent supreme, dad fumbled around to see how he could make life more comfortable for all of you. He was often the villain disciplinarian when your mother was the loving angel, or the parent who enjoyed fooling around a bit while your mother tried her best to officially instill good principles and mannerisms.

Your dad got you a bike, or took you walking if he couldn’t get you one. You probably held on to his little finger so tight because you did not want him to leave you, ever. Dad introduced you to the world in his own way. Perhaps taught you a few things unknowingly. Maybe you started scanning the newspaper just to see why he loved to read it right in the morning, and he patted your back when you read the headlines aloud with the emphasis only a child can offer to reading material. Perhaps he caused you to win the school race just by constantly telling you that you were capable of it alright. It could be that he did not know how to prepare you for a fancy dress contest, but he was right there, cheering you when you went on stage. The poor thing must have cringed to himself when he told you he could not make it to your big event sometimes because, of course, his boss HAD to get the report that very day. How bad it must have felt for him to break the news to the eager kid demanding his attention in the sweetest way possible!

Your dad is the one who may admonish you at home all the time, but will praise you to other parents. He may have seemed distant, choosing to peek into the little aspects of your daily life only when he saw an impending problem that needed action, or was informed of a ‘situation’ requiring intervention. He might not be the epitome of patience, but he sure did repeat things to you when you tugged at his sleeve wanting the explanation all over again. He carried you on his shoulders in the parade so you would have the best view, even when he had to wade through sweaty crowds. Dad is the one who told you off if your manner was whiny, or instructed you to be brave when you were at the doctor’s for getting those nasty stitches. He probably ran pillar to post to get things done for you. Who knows, he might have planned to go catch a game live with friends, but ended up babysitting you in his time off from work, and you took the chance to throw every possible tantrum.

Dad can be part-Hitler part-Santa part-Goofy, and you cannot figure him out half the time! You often wondered if you were important to him at all, judging him wrongly on his grunting or nodding or hmm-ing in conversations, when all the while, he considered you an integral part of his soul. Sometimes you might have been embarrassed about him making jokes that only he found funny, or giving your friends the lecture about their lives when they showed up at your door. Dad just feels good when he knows he is needed, and you most certainly did not assure him of that as you grew older. You probably dismissed him in that polite yet aloof manner when he wanted to talk to you. Do you remember how he sat and admired your toddler-level drawings for a whole hour as you narrated how the accomplishment came about?

Dad honestly does not expect he deserves your 100% commitment even if he demands it aloud; he probably hopes for 10. Could you give him 5 to see the smile on his face, or hear the familiar grunt of approval? Look beneath the bushy eyebrows and the aging jawline. You will find the proud eyes of a man who is but a little child within. All he needs is you to reassure him that he did not fail as a father, that those little shortcomings did not make him less of a dad. For while mothers are the angels heaven sent down, dads are also the fierce guardians of their flock. “My daddy may not be the strongest, but he is still my daddy dearest.”

FathersDay

I Once Slept in Heaven

I slept in heaven
And dreamed
Of us, lips locked
Romancing wild
Urgent whispers
Blazing passion
Unlike what
Any other duo
In love had ever
Known, or so
It seemed, until
It crept on me
Throwing me
Right off guard
Off balance
Upside down
I was hung, with
My whole world.

Not sure if I
Heard you right
That things end
Tonight, that
We are done
Tonight, that
I better get out
Of sight. Well,
Who was I kidding?
Dreams were but
A refuge, where
I escaped to,
Shutting you out
Yes, both of you
For ‘she’ exists.

Perfection was
How I defined ‘us’
The way everyone
Recognized ‘us’
In ignorant bliss
I sat in your lap
On my ‘throne’
While she ruled
Your bleeding heart
I had titles once
‘Darling, my dear
Oh cute little lover’
Boy, how I pranced,
Childish joys, and
Kept on bragging
My man, unaware
Of developments
All around me.

Fine print, damn
Always unread
Until the moment
They point it out
In this case, you.
You read it out.
I repeat after you
All the reasons
I am to blame
For you failing
On your promises.
‘You are paranoid,
You have trust issues,
You are emotional,
Vulnerable, lost.’
If I had no cause
For complaint, ever,
Pray tell me why
You have that
Look in your eye?!

I signed up for love
Crazy, pure love
Unashamed love
But just ‘our’ love
Not unexpected,
Outside love.
Not ‘her’, no.
I fell for you
Prayed for you
Lived for you
And now you
Want me to
Die too, for you.
Of course you
Won’t say it loud
But I can hear it
Clear alright, that
I wasn’t thrown out
Just brushed aside
Gently, slowly, as
I slept in heaven
And dreamed. Well,
I won’t, anymore.

Heart-hearts-26537377-497-367

After a Hard Day’s Work

No sweeter feeling than to be going home to loved ones after a hard day’s work…

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Story – The Jigsaw Puzzle

It was a bright day. As she looked out of her first floor apartment window, Meredith saw little children bounding across the grass. The park was buzzing with activity. Some kids were chasing each other, shouting and laughing. Some tiny tots claimed the swings and were begging to be pushed higher, and squealing in thrill once their wishes were granted.

Meredith turned away and looked at the clock. It was already half past ten, time to get dressed and head to work. She showered, half-heartedly humming a song that had wonderful lyrics she could not remember clearly. Breakfast – brunch, rather – was quick, a warm loaf of bread and orange juice. She would grab some coffee on her way. She wondered how many cups she consumed in a day. She could not remember that, either. Who cared, anyway, as long as she made it through the day?

Grabbing her bag and keys, she stepped out into the sunlight. And stopped in her tracks. On this bright, sunny day, when the kids were busy making merry, one little girl stood out. She was lying on her stomach, crayons scratching across a notebook. Her left hand covered one corner of a page, shielding it from the wind, and her brows were frowning in concentration. She looked up at the other children, looked back into her notebook, and drew.

Meredith didn’t understand why, but something about the child triggered her curiosity. She walked up to the girl, and peered into her book. It snapped shut. “I’m sorry dear, but it looked like you were drawing something very nice. Mind if I look?” “Umm, I guess not”, came the answer.

She was looking at an illustration of a girl on a swing, hair flying, pushed by a laughing woman. “That your mother, dear?” “Yes, but she isn’t here”. “Oh, where is she then?”  “‘Up there’, says dad”. Meredith swallowed. Her eyes closed momentarily, and she tried to block out a vision of her own little girl, found drowned in the pool that horrible afternoon. How many times had she looked up at the skies, thinking “She’s up there”?

She opened her eyes slowly to see the girl looking sweetly at her. “You look a lot like my mom; may I hold your hand and walk?”  “Of course, sweetheart, of course”.

They walked together for a few minutes around the park. The little girl, Mary, was sounding increasingly chirpy as she talked about herself and her school and her dreams and her dollhouse. Meredith smiled; the girl’s cheerful spirits had infected her to an extent by now.

“My dad sits by the lake, writing. He doesn’t smile a lot these days. He only buys me dolls and candy and talks softly to me. He too writes to mom I guess”. “Alright then, let’s go to him”.

Meredith gently pressed soft curls in place beneath the coloured hairband and walked with Mary. As they neared the lake, she saw the man sitting against a tree, writing furiously. She remembered someone else who had that habit. Oh, the memories of teenage crushes. She let herself recall the intense eyes and the notebooks he carried. How he never smiled, but wrote stuff that made the hardest soul melt. Sigh, those were the days, long forgotten as she graduated and allowed herself to be brainwashed into a carefully planned marriage by zealous parents. The man was a good catch, they said, but nobody warned her of consequent despair. Obviously the marriage failed. And here she was, grieving over an infant daughter, divorced from an indifferent husband, watching herself grow older and lonelier…

The man looked up. “Dad, see whom I brought along!” There was a moment of silence, broken only by her hammering heart as intense eyes pierced her soul. The hair was messed up, just the way it used to be. And the frown…She bit her lip and stepped forward, feeling that somewhere, somehow, a jigsaw puzzle was being completed.

Family

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