Monday, April 22, 2019

Ta-ta Dreams.

So my 4-year-old, Reya has been showing a lot of interest in the local currency. Denominations, using coins instead of  notes, basic addition and subtraction, helping with paying at the store- she’s been really enjoying the concept of Money.

We also use a reward system, wherein she can earn tokens for completing her chores or helping around the house. This is her “allowance” to access new books/fun activities at the end of the month. I’ve found it to to be a simple system, because she understands that everything has value and so she looks forward to earning fun stuff with no pressure. 

Still with me? Ok.
Now being the planner I am, I thought our natural, next step was a piggy bank. Hey, she likes money and this would be an interesting way for her to understand the basics of earning, saving and spending. I rushed to Amazon, found a kid friendly piggy Bank/money safe and ordered it, hoping to raise the next Narayana Murthy - a responsible, mindful spender.

Prime 2-day Delivery.
The Money safe arrived, pink and snazzy. She checked it out, amazed at the many features and the springy buttons. I told her it was voice activated (it wasn’t 😁) and she spent the next 10 minutes commanding it (piggy bank, please open now”); while I laughed and laughed behind a book. 

After all the giggling was done, she asked me if she could have money. Now I’d set aside some petty cash for this purpose, so I sat her down and explained that this was real money. Once there was sufficient cash, she had two choices. Either use it to buy items or save for a rainy day. She nodded, her large eyes shining with the weight of this new power, and we agreed on a passcode (the safe came with a combination lock on the door). Soon a little pink hand reached out to push the first deposit into the safe. 

Criiiiiiikchak. A satisfyingly crispy sound as the note went in. She clapped, delighted and instantly punched in her passcode to check if the money had indeed gone inside. This repeated a few (hundred) times, while I stood there aging slowly. She chirruped at it and hugged it and even offered impromptu demos to anyone in a ten-foot radius (usually the puppy). 

Satisfied, I walked away, patting myself on a job well done. This was so helpful! Soon, she’d save money and understand responsibility and….well, let’s just say, I let myself dream a little.

Then, all hell broke loose.

An unholy scream come from the general direction of the playroom. 

I rushed, expecting to see blood, or worse, a mess.

“What, what Reya? Are you ok?” 


“Yes, love? Why did you scream so loudly?”

“We’re hungry Amma!”

“We? Who’s we?”

“Puppy, Peach and me. All three of us are hungry.”

I looked around and did a quick headcount. No matter which way I added, the answer was two. 2 people - one Reya and one Puppy. 

“Amma, look! Peach’s tummy is so empty.”

So I asked the obvious question.

“Peach? Who’s Peach?” 

“Amma, oh silly Amma. Peach is my Piggy Bank.”

Ohhh. All right. Ok. Let me fix you a snack.”

“No! I’m Peach’s mommy, so I have to make her a snack. You can be my helper.”

“Well...umm. Sure.”

20 tedious minutes in the kitchen and the “three” girls (Reya, Puppy and Peach 🤦🏻‍♀️) sat eating cheese and fruits. Fine. Fine. 

The next thing I hear? 

“Amma, Peach has a dirty diaper, and she needs it cleaned.” 

And “Peach is so sleepy, can she take a nap, on my lap? Blanket Amma! She needs a blanket!” 

I opened my mouth a few times to protest the sheer absurdity of this line of thinking. But you know little girls. My daughter, is a force of nature, especially when her imagination has free rein. So there may be starving kids in Africa, but God Forbid “Peach” gets her sippy cup of Juice one second later.

Now call me judgmental, but my feelings towards Peach were souring by the minute.And from the glazed look in Puppy’s eyes, I could sense she agreed with me. 

I furtively checked Amazon return policies, while Reya kept coming up with new activities for the piggy-bank-that-was-somehow-her-baby-God-help-me. 

Peach is bored. Can we play hide-and-seek?” 

“Peach wants candy. I’ll help her eat it.” (How convenient.)

By mid-evening, I’d heard the most ludicrous one.

“Amma, I think she’d like her nails colored.” (How? How do you put nail polish on a piggy bank? Seriously, how? And why?)

I sighed, as she got out her makeup kit. Puppy took one look at the colorful, funny smelling polish bottles and bolted from the room. Traitor! 

A little squeaky voice piped up.
“Amma would you like to put nail polish on Peach? If you do a good job, I will put some for your toes too!”

With that, the last of the light left my eyes, and I gave in to the madness.


J R D Tata. Martha Stewart. Dhirubhai Ambani. Warren Buffett. They swam against the tide and dominated the world. I’m sure they had supportive mothers, who did everything in their power to raise financial moguls. I’ve always admired those women behind the scenes.

But hours later, as I sat singing a lullaby to a plastic money safe (probably made in China), I wondered if it might be wiser to raise a Rocket Scientist. Or a Starbucks Barista. 

The night is long, and I’m starting to lose sensation in my feet. Oh well, enough talking. The stupid Piggy Bank might wake up. 

Pray for me. Or better, send help! 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Angel Wings and Stranger things

As the needle hit my skin, I had an unpleasant thought.

Does it really matter? Whether you live or die?
People move on, don’t they? Sure, they’ll cry and mourn you. Some will even change their profile pictures for a few days. 
“We miss you!” 
“You were taken too soon!”
“What a tragic end to such a beautiful soul!”

A blur of green around me, as I rested my head on the bed. I could sense my toes flexing. before they suddenly went limp. A gentle woodenness crept up my body, pleasant and heavy. 

(Dr.Raman, are you doing fine?)

I tried to move my limbs, or perhaps I dreamed I did. Someone put a cold palm on my brow. 
I drooled a little, then tried to sit up, but the cold palm patted my forehead.
(Good job, Dr.Raman. We’re almost there.)

Suddenly memories came gushing back, faster than I could keep up. The pain, the doctor’s assurance, the need for surgery. 
Oh God, I was in the Operating Suite. The sedative was already creeping into my blood.Making me remember all sorts of inane things while forgetting important ones. 

What was the surgery for? 

Why is there a white light?

Wait, what’s my name?

I looked up at the nurse, who was checking my vitals. A little crescent-shaped scar on her neck. 
Was that a birthmark? Was she proud of it? 
Why is my mind wandering?  
Also, what IS my name?

The Anesthesiologist grunted in my general direction. Nurse Crescent Scar nodded and got busy.

(We’re starting the Anesthetic, Dr.Raman. You’re doing great.)

I wanted to yell, “Stop calling me Dr. Raman and tell my what my damn name is!”

I did no such thing. Seconds later, I was conked out, slack jawed and drooling again.


I woke up to soft tinkling on a Harp, before going right back to sleep. The next time I awoke, Beethoven’s Fur Elise had replaced the harp. Something fluffy floated above my head, soft like an Angel’s Wings.

Was this heaven? 

A beautiful lady shimmered at my side. Delicate features on porcelain skin, I reached out and cupped her face. She didn’t blanch or push my hand away. Of course not. Angels are far more forgiving.

“You’re-so-pretty”, I breathed out.

She smiled and said in a surprisingly deep voice.

“Thank you! My name is Leslie and I’ll be helping you today.”

A wondrous sense of peace filled every bit of me. Wow, so far Heaven was really looking good!

“Les-lie?” I sounded out the word. “Leslie. How lovely. Hey, Leslie? Do people miss me? Are they still crying?”
She shook her dark head and turned away. Perhaps Angels didn’t care for human emotions and all that heavy duty stuff?

My throat itched, and I felt an urgent need to laugh. But I didn’t want to look like a total idiot, so instead I asked.
“Leslie, I’m thirsty? Can I drink some wine? I mean you allow wine right?”

Leslie giggled, sounding like a truck engine. What was up with her voice?
“Wine? Oh, we can do much better than that.”

“Thank you Leslie. Thank you. I think I love you.”

She flashed her shiny teeth and came back with a rainbow ice treat.

I fell asleep before the Ice treat touched my lips.


When I woke up, Leslie was fussing around near my feet, putting fuzzy socks on my cold toes. Her wings swooshed gently behind her. 

 “Leslie?” I croaked 

“Oops, didn’t realize you were awake! How do you feel?”

I grimaced. A little point of pain was pulsating in my belly. Wait, was that how I had died? 

“Some pain. But that will go away, right?”

“Of course! Let me give you something for that.”

“Hey Leslie. The pain is manageable. Just tell me something. Have people moved on? Have they forgotten me?”

She pulled a blanket over my tummy and looked at me with some concern.

“Leslie? Is God coming?”

A little smile touched her mouth.

She leaned in and whispered,

“God has already been in to see you. He said you’re doing just fine. And guess what? No one has forgotten you. So wake up already.”

In response, I fell asleep grinning like an idiot.


“Dr.Raman. Dr. Raman. Hello! How are you doing?”

“Huh, what?”

“Wake up sleepyhead.”

I yawned and saw a busy recovery suite. Nurses and residents walking around, checking between screens and staring at clipboards. A dark-skinned nurse was checking my eyes.

“Wh-Wh-What’s going on?”

“I am nurse Rita.Do you remember where you are?”

“Did I just have surgery? In Good Shepard Hospital?”

“Wonderful, and what’s your name?” 

I thought hard. Couldn’t remember. So I repeated her words back.

“I’m Dr. Raman,”.


“Hey Rita?” 


“I had a strange dream. Did my family cry when I died?”

She stared at me. Then burst out laughing.

“Haha, Dr. Raman, you do have a funny bone. Look, your surgeon, Dr. Lee is here.”

A serious-looking man in green scrubs walked over. He looked like the bearer of bad news. Was he going to speak in hushed tones? 

Instead he boomed, “Hello Pavi! How are you!” 

Pavi! PAVI RAMAN. That’s my name!! 

“I’m doing ok. Did the… did the… um… procedure go well?” 

He nodded, enthusiastically, proud as a peach.

“Amazingly well. We got it out.” 

I closed my eyes. Oh god. (Had it been a tumor? A dead organ? What had he taken out?)

I didn’t want to ask him. He was my husband’s friend and colleague. We often had barbecue lunches with his family. 
So I nodded brightly and waited for him to leave. 

After he left, I was wheeled to my room. The nurse fussed over me and smoothed my pillows. Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer. 

Taking a big breath (which hurt like crazy) I lifted the sheets and peeked under. And saw the damage. 

4 teeny tiny incisions on my tummy. Tightly sewn up and patched with sterile tape. And it all came back to me. The pain, the doctor’s assurance about the stones in my gall bladder. The surgeon, Dr. Lee insisting we remove it ASAP.

Essentially I was being melodramatic after a measly Laparoscopic surgery to take out a useless itty bitty organ. 

I hung my head and chuckled. 

Later, my husband and kids came to visit. I hugged and kissed them and refrained from asking if they’d cried. Friends and relatives texted me love and wishes. I thought about which one of them would have missed me the most. Then shaking my head, I bade my family goodnight.

As night approached, I laid back in bed, thinking about some of those weird dreams. Some people had large brains - perfect for cracking an atom open or inventing marvelous things. Some had the brains of artists - creative and free. 
My brain was a 16-year-old drama queen - useful only for cooking up bizarre dreams over a minor surgery.

A familiar voice floated into my room.

“Dr. Raman. Did you miss me?”

LESLIE! I knew that gruff voice anywhere. Wait, was Leslie real? 

Confused, I sat up in bed with a groan. 

A tall, broad-shouldered man in blue scrubs walked in. He had skin the color of coffee foam, and the biggest eyebrows I’d seen. His face was ugly, but breathtakingly so. 

“Now don’t strain yourself, Dr. Raman. You’re still raw from the procedure.” 

This was LESLIE? My beautiful, ethereal angel Leslie?

I remembered cupping his face. Telling him he was beautiful. Oh God, didn’t I tell him, I loved him? Well, Sh**!!

Now, I fancy myself something of an actress. So pulling my gown close, I huffed in a snooty voice.

“What’s your name, nurse?” 

“I’m Leslie. You woke up from the surgery and were giggling so I gave you a Rainbow Popsicle. You don’t remember me?”

I shook my head. 
(I think I love you Leslie. You’re so pretty Leslie. Oh god!)
I shook my head harder. 

“Sorry, I don’t recall anything.” 

He chuckled. Probably thinking how cuckoo I was. And honestly, I couldn’t disagree. 

“Anyway, press that little button if you need help with anything. Sweet dreams, Dr. Raman.”

He turned, and that’s when I saw his Angel Wings. Peeking out from under his scrubs, they were large, intricate and covered most of his neck and presumably his back. 
I thought back to how caring and compassionate he had been. The soothing voice, his gentle acceptance of all my weird rambling. I was disoriented and blabbering, and he offered me kindness and peace in return. 
At the very least, I owed him some gratitude.

I looked at the life-sized Tattoo of Angel Wings again. Of course. How had I missed it before?  

So, I swallowed. And whispered.


“Thank you. Thank you for everything.”

The big, ugly man smiled. Then whispered back. 
“You’re welcome, Dr. Raman. And God Bless you.”

As he flicked off the light switch and walked away, I could have sworn his tattoo glimmered. 

But hey, what do I know? 
I am just a Drama Queen.


Monday, April 8, 2019

Captain SuperPants

A weekday morning conversation between husband and me

Raghav: Hey, have you seen my phone?
Me: No, not really. Did you check the nightstand? Your desk?
R: Not there.
Me: Really? Ok,let me call you?
R: It’s on silent mode.
Me: 😒😒😒
R: You know what, try calling. Maybe it’ll vibrate and knock something over.

A pause.

Me: The magic in our marriage never ends, does it?
R: Oh just call me, already.

Five minutes of absolute silence later.

R: The battery must have died.
Me: How about you use the “Find my iPhone” feature?
R: I already did. Last known location is our House.
Me: Ok, let’s think about this. Where did you last see it?
R: *Clapping slowly* If I remembered that, wouldn’t I go looking there myself?
Me: Whoa, lots of sarcasm from someone who lost his workout pants last week! How does someone lose his pants?!!
R: *itwasatthegymshuddup*
Me: What was that? A little louder?
R: Pants were at the Gym. Good thing I had an extra pair, huh?
Me: Ok firstly, your pants were in the Lost and Found bin at the Gym. The gym employees and I had a good ten-minute laugh about it. Secondly, tell me all the places you looked. The phone has got to be here somewhere.
R: *counting on fingers*. Checked the gym bag, the Nightstand and my Car. Not there. Did a clean sweep of the Desk. Phone’s vanished.

A little bulb clicked in my head. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it sooner.
Now I don’t know about your husbands, but mine is blessed with a superpower. He can’t fly or turn invisible or something lame like that.
No, his superpower is far more useful.
If he insists that a missing object isn’t in a particular place and he’s “sure” because “God, I already looked a million times there, Pavi”, then you can stop searching.
Because, that missing item will be in that exact same place.
Honestly, it’s magical. Exasperating but magical.

So ignoring the nightstand and the gym bag, I walked over to his desk. Took me less than 10 seconds to find the iPhone hiding under a file folder. It grinned devilishly at me, so I jabbed it into the charging dock with a little more force than necessary.
R: So on the desk, huh?
Me: Yup.
R: Well. Hmmm. Right. I’m off to the gym. Love ya!
And with a sheepish grin on his face, my Superhero Husband drove off; his gym bag bulging under the weight of the 3 extra pairs of pants I put in.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Two Peas in a Pod

I often don’t realize how good I’ve got it. A darling husband, a couple of exciting jobs and two gooey, adorable kids. The grass is green, there’s a song on my lips and the first breeze of a lazy summer, tickles my freshly done hair.
In the immortal words of the Poet Browning,
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven
All’s right with the world!

Now because I am not an absolute idiot, the first thing I do is whip out my Gratitude Journal. I have a nifty app on my phone, where I can record events and things I’m grateful for. Two clicks and I’m in there, making a new entry. I write about Reya cleaning up her toys, without me reminding her. A good 2 minutes go in penning down my son, Nirav’s successes with long division and anxiety. My husband gets the next notable mention since he got me takeout food twice this week; and also bonus points because he’s cute. I ramble happily about our puppy and the new Coffee shop down the street; the color of my nails and how much I’m digging my exercise Playlist. Some of what I write seems silly. Airheaded even. Like who cares whether I drank 7 glasses of water every day. Or is it noteworthy that I kept both kids away from Peppa Pig for an entire week (it was so hard?). 

But even so, I jot down every tiny success into my phone. Because I know I would need it someday.

The weekend passed us by without too much incident. On Monday morning, I spotted the first gray clouds. Over Nirav’s head, as he battled a fresh set of challenges. I talked him down, worked on his fears and prayed this was temporary. 
It wasn’t.

By evening, I knew we were back in the GrumpZone. The air was different, my head hurt, and I was wading knee deep in tantrums and sulk fests. The non-glamorous parts of Nirav’s Autism were screeching for attention, and Reya? Well, she was just being a 4-year-old.
Now, I am very careful to let my kids express the emotions they feel. So tears, laughter, shame and pride are equally valued and talked about. I mean, it's such fun to see them giggle with abandon on happy days. But when they’re both upset and vocal for hours on end, it can get more than a tad gloomy.

Two days later and moods weren’t better. I was exhausted from work and putting out what seemed to be the 7324th fight of the day. That evening, Reya came up with her eyes glistening and announced,
“Amma, I really don’t like Nirav.”

I was dumbstruck. She’d never been this blunt, but I had to be honest. Chastising her would not be useful. She felt what she did. How could I deny her sentiments? And if I yelled at her, would she confide in me the next time she felt a certain way?
So I hugged her for a long minute, while she listed all the things he’d done to offend. I listened. Held back my own tears, because right now it wasn’t about me.

Eventually, she calmed down. Wiping her tears, I tickled her chin. She fiddled with her toy train for a minute before walking back to where Nirav was reading books. He looked up, guarded and still raw from their last fight. Then without a word, he scooched back and she climbed over. I saw her snake an arm behind his neck and heads together, they continued reading. Two perfect little peas in a pod.

That night, I whipped out the Gratitude app. I needed to read about happier times. To remind myself that the sun exists. Birds warbled in the trees once upon a morning and with time, they would sing again. I looked back at all the bright little things I’d jotted down. Picture after picture of toothy grins and proud faces. I smiled and my life beamed back from behind the phone screen.

I often don’t realize how good I’ve got it. So I pressed the + button and typed.

“Today my kids discovered they may not always like each other. At about 1 pm, when they were screaming their heads off, I felt the exact same way. It’s hard to like someone when they annoy you endlessly or refuse to compromise. I’m sure I drive them crazy too.
But today, we also understood what it means to love. To stick with a person, through thick and thin, no matter how angry you are with them. To always stand up for them, even though you really want to run the other way. To talk about feelings even when you’re uncomfortable, because honesty today will shield you from a lifetime of sorrows.
Love isn’t pretty with a hundred, fluffy pink bows. It’s layered and intense and such hard work.
But for the right people? For a family as perfect as ours?
Love is as easy as pie.”

They slept under a mountain of pillows, hogging all the good blankets. Sister hugging brother, sibling loving sibling.
Heart full, I clicked a picture.
Then without making a peep, I slipped away. Grateful for quiet time with my husband and Netflix.

And somewhere high above us, in the cold inky darkness, the clouds parted.