A weekend in the life of a stay at home mom

Today is a weekend. Hurray! I get up in the morning, brimming with positive energy. Today's going to be the day, I promise myself. Today, finally, I'll be able to clean and organise kitchen, tackle the overflowing laundry, wash and iron clothes, clear the dust that's piling up on all the appliances, and make something healthy and tasty for my daughter. This is my to-do list for the weekend. Oh! I forgot to add: clean the store room. You might think why a stay-at-home needs a weekend to clean. That's a different story altogether. Trust me, weekdays pass by in a blur!

I start with the kitchen. Lately, I've been spending a lot of time here. It's better to keep it organised. I look around me. Hmm.. There's a lot of work to do. Then I see the laptop on the table. It's been a long time since I spent an hour browsing on internet. So, I leave the kitchen, thinking that I have a whole day ahead of me. I open Facebook and time just flies by. By the time I close it, it's 8 AM already. And right one cue, I hear my daughter wailing for me. Why can't she sleep for one extra hour on weekends? I hurry towards her and feed her. Done! I think of switching on the laptop again, but remember breakfast. Making a healthy breakfast is on my to-do list, anyway. I scour the kitchen for the ingredients. While my husband takes care of my daughter, I prepare the breakfast, taking more time than usual, since it is supposed to be new and tasty. 10 AM. Triumphantly, I place her new breakfast before her and start eating my own share of breakfast. She eyes my plate eagerly, looks at her own plate, and in a second, dumps it on the floor and starts crying for my food. What did she just do? My whole effort is lying on the floor. However, I have no choice. I feed her from my plate and she eats it happily.

It's 11 AM. I think of starting the cleaning activity I had planned earlier, and start with the kitchen. While I start scrubbing the kitchen surface, my daughter starts wailing again. She hates being unclean. It's her bath time. I exasperatedly throw the towel and pick her up for a bath when my husband good-naturedly offers to bathe her himself. I thank him and resume scrubbing the surface. There are shelves to be dusted, cleaned and organised. I think of finishing organising before cooking lunch when I hear my daughter wailing again. My husband is looking at me confused. But, I understand. It's her nap time and she wants me to sing her lullaby. I bounce her, rock her, sing her lullaby and by the time she is sleeping, it's already 12 PM. Oh no! She'll get up in an hour or two for lunch. I finish cleaning in a hurry without bothering to go anywhere near shelves and start cooking lunch. By the time I'm finished, it's 1 PM, and I 'm completely exhausted.

Now the ritual begins. I feed her. We feed ourselves. And then we play with her. By 3 PM both of us are exhausted. We look at her with a hope that she'll take a nap, thereby allowing us to take a nap. It's a weekend. We deserve a nap at least. But no, she is full of energy. She plays and plays until we wilt. It's 4:30 PM by the time sleeps and we quickly grab the opportunity to take a nap ourselves. I sleepily think of cleaning the home when I get up. All of us get up after a refreshing nap, and it’s 6 PM.

Oh no, it's already dark outside. Surprisingly, we're hungry. Why god? What happened to all the food we ate in the afternoon? Why should we eat food so many times in a day? There’s no way I could work when I’m hungry. My husband suggests having snacks before starting work. And it's good to get some outside air in the evening. So, the three of us go for a stroll to the nearby snack corner. We eat snacks, have fun and come back. It's 7:30 PM. Time for dinner.

She's not allowed to eat outside. So while we had snacks, she didn't have anything.I prepare dinner for her and then feed her. It's 8 30. I’m exhausted. You might be surprised. I myself told you that we ate snacks in the evening. But you don’t know that feeding her dinner is an exercise in itself which involves running after her. So, don’t judge me. I feel exhausted by the time she finishes. I collapse into the easy chair, remembering what I promised myself in the morning. I can't let another weekend be wasted like this.  My husband, understanding my inner turmoil, reassures me that there will be lot of time to clean after she sleeps. ‘She'll anyway not allow us to work in peace,’ he tells me. We play with her, have a little supper, and try to put her in bed by 10 PM. She jumps around, scatters all her toys, and by the time she sleeps it's 11 30 PM. Inadvertently, we too sleep beside her.

Things I planned to do:

1. Clean and organise kitchen
2. Tackle the laundry
3. Wash and iron clothes
4. Clear the dust that's piling up on all appliances
5. Make something healthy and tasty for my daughter
6. Clean the store room

Things done:

1. Cleaned kitchen a little and made new breakfast for my daughter.

I resolve to complete the rest of the list tomorrow.

Book Review: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

This is the most emotionally draining book I’ve ever read. It’s bleak, horrible and full of doom and gloom. And yet the book was so wonderfully written that I have no doubt the characters will stay with me forever.

The book is set in the period of India I have never known, the Emergency in 1975. After reading the book, I came to know the horrors experienced by the people during Emergency. Some scenes described in the novel were so appalling that I wanted to believe the author was exaggerating the circumstances. But who knows? I wasn’t born to witness the horror, and thank god for that. India hasn’t changed much from that period, though. The same story would have been valid even now, but the historical backdrop added interest to the tale. The blatant corruption, the poverty, the caste system, the atrocities on women, and the reservations still exist, making me hate my own country if I think too deeply about it. No wonder a lot of people are seeking their fortunes elsewhere.

Well, coming to the plot, it’s mainly about four characters: Om and his uncle Ishvar, who come to Bombay from a village in search of jobs; Dina Dalal, a widow; and Maneck, who comes from a place of mountains to do a diploma course in air conditioning. Dina, in a desperate attempt to retain her independence from her bother, hires Om and Ishvar to do tailoring for a company. She brings work from the company and pays them commission for doing the work. Maneck, disgusted at the ragging and politics in his university, leaves his hostel to stay as a paying guest in Dina’s house. During the first half of the book, we come to know the backgrounds of all the four protagonists. The later part of the book mainly describes how the Emergency affects their lives and tears them apart when, at last, they learn finding happiness in the city living together as a family.

I won’t dwell further on the plot in case I reveal the story and the ending. The page turning point of the book is the attention to detail. The author describes every small detail of the era that we feel like we are watching a movie in a theatre. In the first part of the story, the author describes the agony lower castes used to face in the caste system. Later on he describes the lives of people living in slums, beggars, people who work in irrigation projects, tailors, and several other unlucky people who were born poor in this country. It set my heart racing and my stomach churning reading about the difficulties they face everyday. This is that kind of book that makes your difficulties look trivial when compared to the difficulties faced by millions of Indians below poverty line. It’s the mostly the magic of his writing that makes the characters come alive. Not only Om and Ishvar but also other small characters like the Beggarmaster, the Monkey Man, Zenobia, Ruby, Nuzzwan. Now-a-days vivid descriptions almost became old style; the plot is mainly based on dialogue. His poetic writing style is a welcome change. There was no humour in the story. Even if was there, it was dark humour, which makes you cry more than laugh.

I have complaints, though: there were too many coincidences in the story. The plot looked contrived as though the author was too pessimistic to let anything good happen in the lives of his characters. Whenever there seemed to be a danger of something good happening in their lives, tragedy, worse than what had already happened, would wreck their lives. There was not one, not a single character, whose life ended on a happy note in the story. Why on earth would somebody write a book like this, which is full of pessimism and despair? I don’t want to sound bitter, but it looked as though he were writing for the foreign audience, who can only appreciate the picture of India as a hopeless and underdeveloped country. No, I am not a fan of the movie Slumdog Millionaire (I always felt that Lagaan was a far better movie) and am not a fan of this book either. And because of books like this, foreigners are treating slums like Dharavi as tourist places. It saddened me that in many reviews foreigners are actually treating this book as some guide to learn about India. I accept the fact that India is poor, there are people living in slums, and may be many of the incidents written in this book actually happened. But, I still maintain that he could have counterbalanced it with some happy picture of the country, at least to do justice to the title. But no, there’s no fine balance. It’s a sad, sad book. The only positive message he seemed to give was, we need to plod on in our lives, no matter how many horrors we face. I can give it only 4/5 even though it is a wonderful book.

Never tell lies

My dad told me, never tell lies,
You’ll become a liar in people’s eyes,
Speaking truth makes you a winner,
And lying makes you a sinner.

One day his boss came,
Wearing socks that smelled like a drain,
What’s that awful smell, I asked,
And earned a reproving glance from dad.

I should have given up on truth at once,
But did the mistake of giving it another chance,
The next day at school my teacher asked,
Why I always get such low marks.

I answered her sincerely,
That my mom does my homework daily,
For which I earned detention,
And hung my head in humiliation.

That night I spent a long time pondering,
Whether it was possible to shun lying,
I remembered the day dad called in sick,
And we all went for a picnic.

Then I understood that it was no fault of mine,
Even elders break rules all the time,
‘Never tell lies’ was just another ideal,
Following it always was an ordeal.