01 August 2019

laughter is the best medicine

The twins' laughter is music to my soul. I want to bottle it up and just keep listening. The expressions on their faces as they crack up, the hitting their legs and then falling over, clutching their stomachs as they convulse in laughter; oh.my.gosh :)))

We started reading Roald Dahl's The BFG, and the twins are in love. This morning we came across the BFG speaking for the first time, and his poor grammar left them in giggles and smirks. Then we came across 'human beans', 'telly telly bunkum box' and 'radio squeaker', and that was it: the stomach clutching, hitting and rolls on the bed just wouldn't stop. I was cracking up watching them, and just thinking, alhumdolillah. For them, for their innocence and wonder, for their growing up. 

Laughing together is such a great thing. I keep telling H that we don't laugh together as much as we should. Apart from the endorphins that laughing brings, it is such a great feeling to share a joke together, and remember it later :)

26 July 2019

Out of sight

While discussing her teenage daughters, an old friend said this: 'I spent the first 10 years of their lives trying hard not to let them out of my sight. I spent the next 10 years trying to stay calm while they were out of my sight.'

I found this funny and poignant, seeing that I currently belong to the 'not let them out of my sight' category.

A few days later, a 22-year-old boy in my masjid died in a car accident. A group of friends were taking the car for a ride. A crazy ride, going at over twice the speed limit. While the rest of them had minor injuries, including the driver, this one boy died on the spot. I cannot begin to understand how his parents will rationalize and deal with this tragedy.

There was a lot of talk about safe driving and how those younger than 25 should not be allowed to drive. Speeding and reckless driving are a huge concern here, largely due to the lack of law enforcement.

To let your child out of your sight, is truly such a scary thing. It requires enormous faith. As the famous quote goes, being a parent 'is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body'. I have yet to let my boys sit in someone else's car without either me or H around. Of course, I know this will very soon have to change. As they get older, I will have to let them go. I will have to trust that they will make safe choices. I found myself wondering how I can ensure that they keep good company.

In the end however, life comes with no guarantees. I can only pray: Inshallah kheir!

15 July 2019

self esteem

On the best of days, my self esteem is moderate. Which means that on bad days, it is loooooowwww. I am too old for this surely. I always thought that low self esteem was something I would get over by the time I was married. Huh. Marriage and moving countries took my self esteem to much lower levels than ever before. 

Two things happened in the past two months that really buoyed my self esteem, and I just want to write them down, so I can come back and remember on bad days. (Although, to be honest, simply recalling these events does not help when I am feeling like a complete loser.)

One: When the twins were being examined prior to taking their Juz Amma imtihaan, both examiners were impressed that they had learnt from me, at home. Their indirect praise was truly a balm, as mostly I feel I am a pretty inadequate mom.

Two: On the basis of meeting the twins for the first time, the new madressah moallim asked me if I could help him teach the younger kids. While this totally cracked me up (he would not have asked if he had seen them do their usual masti in the masjid), it also made me feel like I was doing something right. Alhumdolillah.

Today being a bad day, I asked one of the boys if he thought I was smart. Sigh. I want to be a happy, confident person so that I can be a happy, confident parent. Inshallah.

the other americans

I finished Kate Atkinson's Big Sky, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have now started The Other Americans by Laila Lalami, which I am also thoroughly enjoying so far :) I am a sucker for novels that use different chapters to voice the perspectives of different characters, and Lalami is doing this particularly well. I was surprised to realize that Lalami was also the author of The Moor's Account, which I simply could not get into. The Other Americans is completely different, set in contemporary America. I am also a sucker for the immigrant experience, for many different reasons. One of the chapters was titled 'Maryam', and when I showed it to the twins, their amazement and joy was so nice to see :) Even at the ripe age of seven, they have so many firsts to still experience, and I am so thankful to witness these with them.

05 July 2019

different world

It's a small world. Or so we keep saying. We usually say it, ironically, when big coincidences or crazy connections are found. My world, however, really is very small. It encompasses, mostly, about a quarter of Kandivali, which is one of Mumbai's many many suburbs. My tiny apartment, the masjid, the twins' school and madressah; these make up my world. The people involved, also make up a very homogeneous and small number. Just to emphasize: not one of the people in this tiny world of mine, is non-Indian, or even single. So, small world.

This epiphany came to me when I was discussing feeling like a loser, because the girls that I hang out with in the masjid are all younger than me, and have their stuff together much better than me (most importantly, they cook well, and just seem much better adjusted as moms and adults). The conversation meandered down paths that led me to recall friends who are single, who are not Indian, who do not cook.. Which is when I realized that I was constantly comparing myself to a tiny group of people who grew up with a totally different mind set than I did, in a different culture and a different value system. 

I have spent a good part of my life being different. At school, I was the only one among my friends who enjoyed spending breaks reading in the library. At university, I was the only student from Hong Kong. Later on, I was the only veiled girl, the only practicing Muslim, the only person who reads fiction, and so on. Most of the time, this difference was largely fun, and a tiny bit irksome. Mostly because, my world used to be much larger. There were so many different people around, of all ages, races, and with such varied interests. I fit right in, I was just as cool as everyone else. 

With a much smaller world now, where everyone is the same nationality (this never happened to me in the first 30 years of my life; it's a huge deal), where most people get married in their 20s, have two kids by their 30s, where moms stay home while the kids are young, etc etc, I am floundering. 

I am different. And it is okay. Alhumdolillah for the Internet, which makes it so easy to connect with my friends outside this tiny world of mine.. who remind me that I used to be a part of another group, another culture, another world, where I was comfortable. 

This small world of mine does not make me unhappy; it has the twins and H. It has new friends and new experiences. I just need to stop worrying about not being like everyone else, because I am not. I never will be. I will just be me, and I will blossom.

04 July 2019

big sky

Jackson Brodie is back :)) After nine years! I have just started reading 'Big Sky', and am already loving it (of course). In particular, I am loving Brodie's caustic discussions in his head, mostly with his ex wife Julia.

I started reading Kate Atkinson while in high school, so reading her novels always brings back many memories and the whole ESF school-British teachers-British English ambience. 

I will savour this book and probably reread a couple of the older Brodie novels when I am done. It is only a quarter way into the novel that the (first?) crime appears, which just makes the novel that much easier to savour and enjoy. Atkinson does not write fast paced thrillers; her prose, humour and character development engage you to the extent that you could forget this is a mystery novel. Brodie reminds me a little of Cormoran Strike, and I do hope another Strike novel is coming soon. (I have to admit that Lethal White was not one of my favourites however..).

26 June 2019

one year hiatus

It has been nearly a year since I last blogged. Ten months, to be exact (well, give or take a few days). So much has happened in that time, and yet it does not feel like ten months could have past since I last blogged. Of course, I have occasionally gone months without writing, simply because I was too busy living (or so I tell myself; it could just be laziness :P). And yet, I have always tried to come back, largely because I want to record these days with the twins, this phase of life, I want to capture so many moments and memories, and keep them somewhere safe, to revisit later on.

Today's post is inspired by a friend who started blogging again, also after some time off. Going through her last few posts made me question my own lack of writing, of activism, since being in India. It is strange, but since moving here, I have continued my work with a human rights group based in HK, but have not taken much interest in the human rights scene here. Initially I was simply too overwhelmed, but then I slowly became immune.. there is no dearth of abuse and rights violations here.. add corruption and insane bureaucracy, and it is a wonder that anything good could possibly happen. The average middle class person is just trying to get on with their life, preoccupied with their daily concerns regarding their family and work. The majority of Indians seem hardly concerned with matters of policy and change. Or let me rephrase that: they are not concerned enough to either pay attention, or to do anything about it. I think that I, unfortunately, seem to fit into this category. This is very unlike me, the me that I was in HK.. India has corrupted me in many ways it would seem.

On the other hand, I have far less time and mental energy than I did when I was single and childless. Does that take away some of the sting and guilt? Yes, it really does. I will, however, try to participate a little more in community affairs, and model good social responsibility for the twins.

Speaking of less time, I am slightly out of work these days, and thus have more time on my hands than usual. It has been interesting and depressing searching for part time work. It has also made me start to think about different career paths.. teaching is more appealing now than ever before, although without any qualifications, it seems hard..