Thursday, June 19, 2008

Once upon a time...

Yaad e maazi azab hai ya rab,
Chheen le mujh se hafza mera

Three in the morning is an abysmally dejecting time, the wisest course of action, if you happen to wake at this unfortunate hour, is to turn on your side and go right back to slumber land. Not tonight. As I woke up at three to feed the Tyke I could not go back to sleep, partly because my back was shooting painful needles of discomfort up and down my spine and there was not one comfortable position to try and lie in, much less attempt sleep. Then there was the matter of a trip down memory lane…and wondering what if…it took better part of the next hour and half till I gave up on sleep altogether and came out to sit and struggle to string together my thoughts.. Write down and get those nagging self doubts out in the open to air-dry and die a natural death!
Once upon a time in the land of pure and plenty, there was a girl who had it all. And then she gladly gave it all up to get married and have Tyke. Yes, that pretty much sums up her life. She still has it all, only the ‘all’ has changed altogether.
The alarm still rings early in the mornings, but now she wakes up to fix breakfast for her husband. Once he’s been seen off to work the day takes a semi-start as the Tyke wakes up and has to be fed, changed and put back to nap till late morning. The nap over Tyke demands that he be changed again, has his breakfast, plays a while and then has to be bathed and put back to sleep again, a set of tasks that go into early after-noon. If lucky the girl manages to squeeze in some breakfast, else she has to wait and have a hurriedly fixed brunch. Whoever said anything about leisurely brunches was never in Tykesville. Post brunch is going about the house, gathering things, cleaning up, endeavoring a semblance of order and cleanliness, take a shot at cooking…trying in vain to be a picture of domesticity. Old habits die hard though and there are few breaks clocked on the laptop, browning and surfing, logging onto facebook and conducting social life online. Time that has her guilt-ridden. Then as the sun sets in, hubby comes home and takes over the Tyke and she withdraws into the kitchen and fixes dinner. Post dinner is another hour putting the Tyke to sleep, then an hour of cleaning up the kitchen and finally to bed. The times change but the drill stays in place. The girl of course is me and such a sham to be labelled a girl, I am now a certifiably over-weight matronly auntie.
Two years ago, I had a career, a social and family life I was entirely pleased with. I was the cat who was content with all the cream. And yet I complained f monotony, of going back to work each morning, and coming home to dinner, TV and sleep. But I mastered my own life and time. There were outings and shopping trips, there was not a sale in town I did not pay a visit to with friends and family. Dressing up was a seriously taken affair. I had shoes, bags, scarves and dresses; putting the right ‘look’ together was such a delightful, fulfilling task. Women, I think or at least my experience says so, dress up not to show off , but to get a sense of satisfaction themselves; that they are presenting the best and most collected face to the world. If they carry themselves with an elan that others mistake for a jaunty flaunt, tough luck.
I’ve been thinking and comparing my past life to my present more often now. And it strikes me most unexpectedly…like three in the morning. I look back to a wonderful day I’d spent with W and A, my ex-boss who’d come for a visit. I took off from work, W played hookie and we cruised DCC, shopping for shoes and bags, lunching at Ikea and talking. After we’d left A back at her hotel, W and I had gone to another mall. I still have pictures of that day somewhere at Ma’s place back in Karachi. All tit-bits of that past life, come to think of it, are stowed away in Karachi. All I carried with me when I got married last year was vague vestiges of these memories and hopes for the future.
Those hopes now lie by my side in the angelic face of the Tyke. As the grayish dawn light breaks into my dark living room, I first think that I will lie on the couch and try to sleep till the alarm rings off signaling the start of another day. Then I realize that I won’t be able to manage a wink. ‘cuz when I turn to my side, there would be no tiny little face rising out of a blue blanket to greet my sight. And then the Tyke smiles in his sleep and it washes away everything, all the bleak comparisons that kept me awake. He’ll wake up soon and flash his gummy grin at me…after that look of utter adoration that he has for me alone…followed by his adorable coos and squeals. What’s another diaper change and a slummy existence?
Dawn has broken the gloom, things are looking up and now I have to get back to be at my son’s side when he wakes up. He's not at all what I'd hoped for...he's better than anything I could've wished for myself. As I said earlier, I still am blessed with all. Just that 'all' has changed.

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