I have always believed that writers are very troubled souls. It’s extreme trauma that urges a person to write, it’s a survival instinct. This is my first blog and it is extreme trauma that has pushed me over the edge…. enough to want to write….
For years the large house quietly tucked away in an exclusive locality in Secunderabad, was a place I looked forward to visiting every summer. Everything about it was perfect. The large rooms that stayed cool even as the temperatures soared outside, the garden around the house which was generally dry around the time I visited it, the cook who had aged with the house, cousins, uncles and aunts who also came visiting every summer. But what made it the stuff of an important chapter in a romanticized account of growing up, was my grandparents. My Grandparents were the regular kinds who pampered the whole bunch of us kids. They had little loose in over feeding us, indulging our every whim and tolerating the mess around them. I suppose that’s the good bit about grand parenting. You don’t have to worry yourself over the not so pleasant parts of a whole bunch of 4 to 10 years old trouping into your home. They probably even enjoyed the noise after ALL the peace and quiet.
But not everything’s peachy about a big old house. Take my word for it. Not if you’re actually living in it. No, no, am not talking about my month long holidays, I am talking about actually living in the house. Am not sure as to what exactly what I was thinking when I decided to take up a job in the city. I knew only too well that irrespective of how much I made every month, I’d be stuck living with my grand parents. How hard can it get staying with a couple of indulgent 70 year olds? The prospect didn’t seem bad at all, especially considering the little holes that my friends could afford to stay in as freshers straight out of University.
Memory- day 1 at Anbu Nilayam (that, by the way, is the name of the house….in Tamil it means the palace of love….jeez hail Murphy and his laws) It’s nine in the morning and I am dressed for the first day of my life as a working woman. I am seated in the dining hall for breakfast and the grand parents have wide expectant smiles on their faces. I am not feeling too good, must be the lack of sleep on the train.
Grand Mother: Kanna where is your office.
Me: It’s in tarnaka. Appa’s given me explicit instructions on how to get to the place so I can go on my own (obviously I had sensed what was coming)
Grand Father: It’s a new place, how can you just find your way, I’ll drop you, am not doing much anyway.
Me: (panic attack quite visible on my face) No thata, I think I can manage.
GM: (the termagant has decided, and there are no two ways to it): I’ll drop you on the way to school (she owns and runs a school). I can also meet your colleagues and check out the office. I should know all this.
Need I say more? What happened over the next one hour was annoyingly familiar. It was so similar to the Kindergarten kids getting dropped off at school, only this time it wasn’t so funny.
Memory- the day I returned home at 9pm:
There’s absolute silence in the house, except for the evening news on TV. I am told that there was a call from home. I pick up the phone and call my mother, trying to deal with the uneasy feeling rising in my stomach. I am told that my grandparents are ‘rather displeased’ about me returning home ‘after dark’. Negotiations are done, some whining is tried, frantic calls to the sister and friends are made. All of them are full of advice. “Get outa there if you want to keep your sanity.” “Stick it out kid, think of how much you’re saving.” “Give it more time, it’s not worth messing things up with folks at home.” And this one‘s of course from the parents “Everything is an experience, don’t expect everything to work your way all the time”, funny how they seem to say the same thing every time. Sure gets me wondering about the things that actually did work my way. Any case, the looser that I am I don’t confront them, I play it safe, as usual.
Memory- the day the cook didn’t show up.
Every morning I have my escape plan all charted out. The plan’s always simple and fools proof. Get out as soon as possible with the least amount of fuss, preferably without people actually seeing you. This is rather easy in my new place of work where I can get in for work as early as seven in the morning. But not everything seems all right this morning. I actually find my grand mother in the kitchen! All those stories about granny’s yummy food, am convinced they’re fake. My grandmother’s an awful cook and has insisted on keeping a cook even during the hardest of financial crisis. But the cook’s not shown up today and obviously, I need to pitch in. I discover that my grandmother’s idea of cooking for the day meant ensuring that every section of her four tier lunch box she carries for work has something exciting to offer. I sweat it out in the kitchen with knifes that should have been replaced a long time ago, a gas cylinder that runs out on this very day (hail Murphy again) and a mixer that sounds more like a plane taking off. I sure hope that all those people who found me grouchy on this day are reading this…
So I think you get the picture…I am always a little angered by people who flip when I tell them that staying with grandparents is not a good thing. They’re always telling me how lucky I am and as to how nice it is from my grandparents’ point of view…..hm…well they’ve obviously not been in my shoes…..But it’s not all bad, honestly. It’s not that I haven’t been amused and perhaps even happy at times. But that of course is muse for another day.