Tag Archives: being human

Becoming a ‘Stay at home Dada’

I would have liked to believe that today was like any other day. Except it wasn’t. Life changing decisions had been made in the past few months and today was the of reckoning. My wife, on a sabbatical for over 2 years in which she gifted me a beautiful daughter and devoted herself to taking care of her most demanding years, was now ready to go back to work.

I could be partly held responsible for the decision. The anxiety had become unbearable in the past few months. Every morning, I would wake up at 4 in the morning with an overwhelming sense of dread on what the day held for me. My vitals seemed to be in a race to outdo each other while the exterior presented a calm stupor which belied the mess within.

I seemed to be sinking into a deep and dark abyss from where the light seemed to shrink farther and farther way.
I was desperate to find a way out . I always believed that work was meant to live a life. However, here I was, expending my mental faculties for up to 18 hours daily for work. I was irritable, moody, staring lost into space and seldom participating in any conversation. The best years of my daughter were passing by and I had no time for her nor her mother.

So, when my wife told me about this offer she had received from her previous company in Mumbai, it didn’t take us too much time to arrive at a decision. We were ready to move out as it seemed to be God’s answer to our prayers. My wife was eager to climb the corporate ladder again and I was eager to step away from it.

Leaving behind Delhi was an easy decision; we never grew too fond of the city anyway. Our previous stint in Mumbai of 5 years had convinced us that we were more Mumbaikers than Dilliwale. We loved the vada pavs, the local trains and the rains. We loved the city for its people. Behind all that garb of professionalism, we always found Mumbai to be more human.

Leaving behind our family and the relationships that we had forged in the past 3.5 years was, however, tough. Their love and affection for us is what sustained us through the tumultuous times in Delhi. I will miss my evening ‘chai with folks’, my weekly fellowships with my cousin and friends and our monthly meetings with this growing family in Church that we call the diaspora; essentially people who have been born and brought up outside Kerala. These relationships anchored us strongly to life and to the simplicity of it.

Taking up a new job wasn’t the only decision that needed to be made. We were absolutely sure that our daughter, all of 1.5 years, would not be left alone at the mercy of a nanny or a play school. One parent, as the case had been up till now, had to stay at home.  That one parent was from now on, me.

Honestly, I wasn’t intimidated at the prospect of changing diapers or singing lullabies. If a mom could spend so many hours of her day dedicated to the baby, why couldn’t a dad spend a few hours? I was more concerned about how she would react to not seeing ‘amma’  the entire day. Turns out my apprehension was baseless. Though slightly disoriented in the morning, she soon had her ‘dada’s heart melting’ smile on coupled with attempts to lay hold of my pen or mobile phone with varying degrees of success through the day.

I am now officially a ‘Stay and Work at Home dad’ or ‘dada’ as I got my baby to call me affectionately. I have help, the quintessential Mumbai nanny who seems to be around with every other kid I see in Mumbai. However, I consider myself fortunate to be able to now see her through the day; her antics clearly pointing at our genes. I am fortunate to have a wife who understood the need of the hour and did what the family needed. Much love to her. Beyond all, I am thankful to God who has taken us places and always points us towards the smaller and simpler things of life that give us more joy and happiness than all the luxuries that our money can afford.

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There are few things more irritating than people in cars splashing muddy water all over you. The situation can be even more annoying, if its raining & to avoid the pelting rain you’ve taken shelter in a bus stand and a callous driver drives by, making the most of the puddle in front of the bus shelter.

The helplessness of the situation, a combination of a bruised ego, a wet attire and an indifferent ‘prick’ driving away usually leaves you livid & a choice combination of expletives most assuredly follows the trail of the car

You feel offended, you feel violated. You’re wondering how in the world does a guy like that even manage a driving license. You might even choose to get even more personal: maybe it was inadequate parenting or maybe schooling…Whatever it be, the guy had to be lacking, right?

I, who consider myself to be fairly civilized, enlightened in the ways of ‘being human’, cultivated in etiquette, was an unfortunate participant in a similar episode that played out on a wet Sunday afternoon…and, however brash this may sound, I was the driver!

With Dengue playing out like one of the original 10 plagues, my mother-in-law (MIL) was also not spared & she had to be admitted in the emergency room of a hospital, not because it was an emergency but that it was the only remaining room in the hospice. As a dutiful & loving son-in-law, my core responsibilities included lending emotional & moral support to the family & ferrying food & family members between home & the hospital.

It was the responsibility of ferrying food that I was fulfilling when this regrettable incident occurred.  With the rain creating rivulets on my windscreen & the wipers working overtime, striking the optimum view was tricky. However, with the hazard indicators switched on & speed reduced to a snail’s pace, I was pretty confident that I was the epitome of a model citizen.

As I approached the turn to the hospital, I could see a number of people taking shelter in the bus stand. This crowd included people who were genuinely waiting for the bus, bikers (even their raincoats weren’t good enough for this downpour & frankly, I prefer having the bikers off the road!) & people who generally didn’t want to get wet. All huddled together in the temporary refuge, they made a sorry sight. While I did notice the bus shelter & the crowd, owing to the relatively clearer side windows, I failed to notice ‘The Puddle’ right in front of me (refer: rivulets, right balance etc..).

The Puddle, if it were a motion picture would have the baseline “The colossal”. Long & deep, thanks to the stellar efforts by the municipal corporation to harvest rain water, this mass of water was ‘clear & present danger’.

The reduced speed, originally meant to be a driving aid, now became my worst enemy. The car’s pace was optimum. Optimum enough to splash maximum water on all the unsuspecting bystanders. While the written equivalent of a splash is ‘Splash!’, this particular splash might be more aptly put into sound as ‘shhhhhpppplaaaaaaashhhhhhhh’

As I slowly passed through the length of the bus shelter, I could hear cries of shock ,of being confounded at the monstrosity of what I had done. An entire mass of people who thought they had made the best decision in that moment of time had obviously been proved wrong.The very space that was meant to be a refuge from the rain had become a mass shower room for them. While I hope some may have welcomed the unexpected splash, I am assuming most would not have been open to the idea.

Looking back through the rear window, I tried to get a glance at the mess I had created but was granted mercy by the very rains that had led to the creation of the puddle. Slightly perturbed but largely nonchalant, I continued my way.

PS: I humbly apologize to all who were at the receiving end of the splash. I have also learnt not to be too judgmental of driving errors, especially ones which involve splashes

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