Uncategorized: de-cluttering life dealing with death of a loved one Dealing with grief dealing with separation life changing project Lifein2suitcases Pratishtha Durga The Big Purge
by Pratishtha Durga
Day two of a terrible stomach infection. And it does not help that this isn’t a great time of the year for me. All the happy posts in the past few weeks have been hard work at fighting one of the most painful memories of my life. 16th November is the first Death Anniversary of my mother. Though she breathed her last on the night of 15th November, we observe the day of the cremation as the death anniversary. It’s also my marriage anniversary. Five years ago, when we married, the wedding was a big fat monstrosity. Over a 1000 guests had attended the ceremony, and I was weighed down with tons of ugly make-up, almost 70 hair pins and the guilt of making my family go through the painful and expensive process of marrying me to the “love of my life”. The hundreds of thousands spent on my wedding did not even guarantee four years of marital bliss. My marriage ended on the day of my Wedding reception when the “best friend” walked in and I just stood, helpless, knowing what a mistake I had made.
For four years, I lived a life of emotional abuse, that was casually brushed aside as “usual family friction” that every daughter-in-law faces. I was accused of being a liar, paranoid, classless, implied to be unsophisticated, badly brought up, not cosmopolitan enough, too dark, small town, indifferent, and a bad housekeeper. Within six months of my marriage, I was cheated upon for the first time. And then, it became a regular feature. I, like a fool, kept a façade, and ate my way through unhappiness. I ate and ate and ate. Because there was nothing else to do. I did not have a job. I was a housewife. And supposedly a bad one at that. So I ate. And shopped. It became an ugly addiction. To find solace in material possessions.
By the time I tried to change things and save my marriage, it was too late. It had been poisoned far too long by too much hatred and dislike. So it broke. But it broke at an unfortunate time. It broke when I was dealing with my mother’s death. It broke after dealing the final and unforgivable insult to her memory. It broke with wounds that don’t heal and torment me night after night. Flashes of painful memories… having to leave a movie mid-way because a maid complained against me, being insulted in front of family, being taken for granted, first proofs of being cheated upon, feeling unloved, being “court-martialed” for being a bad wife and daughter-in-law… There are days when I feel I am breaking into a million pieces and will never be able to put myself back together again.
My friends ask me why I put up with it for so long. Why I did not react before. In fact, one of the people responsible for the break down of my marriage asked me if that I was so unhappy, why didn’t I do something about it. I really don’t know the answer. It’s not like I was blind to what was happening. I could see it coming. It’s just that in my world, a marriage is about a “forever after”. And that’s what I had wanted.
But today, when I look back, at what I went through, I can say in a loud voice… “It was abuse”. I let myself be a victim too long, and I will not put up with the guilt any more. I will not be ashamed to speak out against this lesser acknowledged familial abuse. I am not one of those low-resistance, post-modern wives who scream “incompatibility” at the first sign of discord. I stayed home, walked the dog when I had fever, slept alone, smiled even when it hurt, planned birthday vacations, had pretend picnics in the living room in the sad hopes of reviving a dead marriage… And now, I am done. I am free and I am single. I have no savings, no financial security, no way of knowing what my future holds. I have tons of hurt and anger that I fight hard to purge each day. And I have my dignity.
It will take years of purging and healing to be in a happy place again. But at least I am trying. I am not being a helpless witness to life’s events. I am rewriting my destiny. I refuse to be a victim any more. Today, I might weep in agony over what I lost and what will never be mine again: youth, love, innocence, naivety, trust… But I have wisdom, and I have the knowledge. I have my growing strength and resolve. And I have the love of those who matter. It’s a struggle and there are days when I am too tired to fight. And then, there are days when I know I will win.
Uncategorized: Bucket List de-cluttering life Dealing with grief dealing with separation Lifein2suitcases Pratishtha Durga The Big Purge The Big Purge Challenge Visiting Leh
by Pratishtha Durga
It was William Shakespeare who famously understood the importance of giving words to your grief. He knew that “the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.” And so I have chosen to speak of my grief. It’s very liberating. The blog has brought me in touch with so many people who are suffering silently. Who choose not to speak about it. It has me thinking. We all deal with grief and mourning in our own way. In my case, sharing it lessens it. By talking about it, I find ways to live with it, and to understand it better.
I feel a little too strongly about everything. I don’t know whether it’s a blessing or an affliction. But that’s how it is. When I look at pictures of mountains, I feel like my heart is breaking into two. I feel as if something is tearing me apart. Yes, that’s how much I love mountains. But I live in a city like Mumbai. A city of traffic noises late in the night, a city of no winters, a city of massive crowds. But this city has a beat, a system. It’s a well-oiled machine that runs India’s financial capital. So here I live, to earn a living. And look at pictures of mountains and want to weep. But I have learned that longing must turn into dreams, which in turn must be put into actions. Is a good salary and a great work place worth a life time of heart-breaking ache filled with longing? Or is it time I found a dream in my longing and started working towards it? Since the time I was a very young child, I have dreamed of having a small house among the hills. I love the silence, I love the peace, the luxury of space and long hours filled with nothing to do.
So as I speak of this pain, I see a dream emerging. When you mourn, you acknowledge what is missing in your life, and what you have lost. Sometimes, it’s possible to bring it into your life. And it’s definitely worth all the dreaming.
Uncategorized: de-cluttering life dealing with separation life changing project Lifein2suitcases Pratishtha Durga random thoughts Simpli The Big Purge The Big Purge Challenge
by Pratishtha Durga
Don’t you love the way life’s events tend to balance out the good and the not so good? Just a couple of days back, I was having a sodden moment, with bad throat, fever and bouts of “Ugh-ness”. And then, yesterday, just like that, sunshine was back. I went “shopping” with Roseanne. Yup, you read it right – Shopping. This is how our “shopping” trip to Bandra went. We started off a little after noon, and headed straight for “Lemon Grass” in Bandra’s Pali Hill area. We treated ourselves to an amazing “Tom Yum” hot soup, and delicious stir fry for main course. Then we went around in circles looking for a shop we never found. And then we went to a couple of our favorite stores, looked around, and came back empty-handed. Believe me, no other shopping trip has left us happier.
I left Bandra, and headed straight for Gateway of India. After braving a frustrating jam at the JJ Flyover, I arrived just in time for Sangeeta Krishnan’s “Blood Moon Rite”. Neha joined me for the Wiccan meditation and prayer ritual that took place on a boat. A small group, brought together by Sangeeta, joined us in this beautiful, spiritual rite, away from the city lights and noises. I am not a Wiccan, but will worship Nature any day. The moon was bright and beautiful, and my thoughts were calm and composed. Sangeeta asked us to visualize our deepest desires, and imagine them to be already fulfilled. I tried it and was a bit surprised by the revelations. Will share them with you soon.
So, anyways, that’s how my day was yesterday. It ended with a lazy glass of orange drink at Barista. And a lot of happy dreams. Happiness, the kind you find within yourself, is a clear and conscious choice you make. I know I am repeating my words, but sometimes, a good habit takes time to set in. I try to wake up to happy thoughts every morning. Some days, it’s a breeze. But there are days when I have to struggle to find what’s good in my life. Those days, I try and remind myself that what I choose to think will mark my days. So, nothing comes easily. If you are struggling to find your inner Zen, give yourself time. Unhappiness and feelings of victimization are unhealthy addictions that go away with a lot of patience and perseverance. We are a generation ailing with one crisis after another. A lot is stacked against us. So give yourself time and patience. And then, one day, just like that, sunshine will be back.
Uncategorized: dealing with separation Italian Themed Dinner Lifein2suitcases Pratishtha Durga The Big Purge The Big Purge Challenge
by Pratishtha Durga
I did not post yesterday. That’s because I was busy bringing a slice of Italy down to India. The pizza and pasta party eventually became a pasta party because my single microwave could not have handled the task of making enough pizzas for the bunch of friends I had invited. So, this is what the final menu looked like. Starters were sausage with pepper cheese, Bruschetta and Italian vegetables with dip. There was a tomato and basil salad with mozzarella cheese, and pasta with Mercedes’ recipe used as sauce. I did a variation by tossing in Portobello mushrooms and added some red wine vinegar to give it that added punch. The dessert was a sinful fruits with cream. And we downed it all will Sangria (I know, I know, but a bit of Spain never hurt anybody!), and juice.
Since it was Dussehra, an Indian festival, yesterday, we had a great view of firecrackers being lit. It gave a sparkling, beautiful backdrop to the terrace dinner. For me, Sunday was spent buying vegetables, fruits, cheese, and flowers. In the evening, my friends Yogesh and Reema, joined me in setting the table, and arranging the flowers. It was all so beautiful! And evening with friends, spent eating, talking and looking at the free fireworks show. It got late by the time I was done with the cleaning and sorting, and I finally went to sleep by 2 in the morning.
So today will be a fruit juices and salads day, after yesterday’s excesses. And it will be a day of smiles. Because not all Mondays are blue. I had a great dinner with friends last night, and managed to get everything back in its place. The house still needs some cleaning and sorting, but it’s all good. I want to spend some time today meditating and maybe start drawing again. Yup, drawing sounds good. October is coming to an end. And in another two months, this year will be gone. But it won’t be just another year of my life. I will remember it for all that I have been able to do. And there will be days and days of memories. When it started, it was one of the worst, most chaotic years of my life. But I was determined to not let it run me down. And so far, it looks like I am winning this one.
Uncategorized: dealing with separation Lifein2suitcases Mother-daughter relationship Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
The most intense relationships in our lives have the potential to hurt us the most. The deeper the emotion, the nastier the scars left behind. My last relationship taught me that love isn’t blind. That to be in love, you need to be the right skin colour, the right size, with the right accent and diction. It’s universal, apparently. So that’s that, I guess. I am done being obsessed with how I look, and want to concentrate on how I feel instead.
I grew up believing I was beautiful. To my parents, I was the prettiest girl on the planet. My mother always told me so. She also told me that it wasn’t important. That I will have to learn to be beautiful inside, and then, it will show on the outside. And then, reality happened. I was too dark, either too thin, or too fat. Wore wrong clothes, read wrong books, ate the wrong food. And then, soon enough, I was trying to live up to what others thought of me. And since they were not my parents, they did not exactly think of me as the most beautiful girl on the planet. Some of them thought I was quite ugly. So I became that. And then, a few years back, I just started avoiding the mirror. I don’t have a full length mirror in my house. Just one small one to help me floss and apply sun screen. Even today, I can barely stand to look at my face.
Part of the reason I have too much of everything is because I was trying to define my existence based on what others thought of me. I was trying to look beautiful to them, by buying clothes I thought they’d like. By wearing perfumes I saw them appreciate. And by reading books I thought they’d like to see me reading. And within few years, I forgot who I was.
So, let’s dust off the cobwebs and bring forth the girl who was the most beautiful girl on the planet, even if just to her own parents. Pratishtha Durga, please meet Pratishtha Shrotriya. Ms Shrotriya likes long hours of uninterrupted music. She likes to spend her time reading, and notes down new words in a small pocket diary. She likes to paint and does excellent fashion illustrations. She loves to dance and is almost obsessed with working out. She has been taught that food is fuel, not indulgence, and her favorite color in clothes is black. She has black tees, black shirts, black dresses, black tunics, black jeans, black jackets, and black shoes. But that’s not because she hates color. She just likes black. Simple. Ms Shrotriya is not fussy about food, irons her clothes, cuts her own hair, does not watch television and loves fruits. She likes long hours of silence and can be often seen sitting alone, staring into the distance, as the world goes by. She does not wear make-up, wears ankle boots, walks wherever she can, and makes hand-made cards. She makes embroidered cushions and writes a diary. She does not drink tea, coffee or aerated drinks and does not see what the fuss is all about. She writes poems that she never lets anyone but her mother see. And she has a full length mirror in her bedroom.
Hmmm… Not exactly the stuff fairy tales are made of, but this girl does sound promising. I hope she isn’t dead, just in a sort of existential coma. So well, I am just going to embark on the most phenomenal journey of my life. Finding myself. And I am not going to let anyone judge me. Wrong skin colour? No problem. Wrong weight? Too bad. Wrong height? Take a walk. I am who I am, and what I am. And from now on, I will look into the mirror and face myself. For my face is a beautiful gift, and no one can make me believe otherwise.
Uncategorized: Cooking for friends dealing with separation Decluttering Your Life Eat Julia Roberts Lifein2suitcases Love Pratishtha Durga Pray The Big Purge The Big Purge Challenge
by Pratishtha Durga
So, this is Day Two and I watched two films – “The Wackness” and “YPF”- in last two days. This week, I resolve to finish reading “The Beauty Game”, a non-fiction book I have been trying to read for the past two years. The house is a huge mess because I am sorting stuff. There is barely space to step around. So today’s task is to tidy up.
After a dry week, it has been raining all morning. While it’s usually a welcome change, I am a sunshine girl, through and through. I hated the grown-up knowledge that sun can cause cancer, ageing, and what not. When I was growing up, I loved playing in the sun, and no amount of cajoling and threats could get me to come back home. And mind you, I went through my teenage without sun-burns, acne, and any other skin problems that could have ruined my Wonder Years. Sunshine has always been my friend. I love rains, I really do. But come and come, come and go, like a good guest, please. Don’t STAY! Like this monsoon that just refuses to show its rear.
Yesterday, Roseanne and I saw “Eat. Pray. Love.” Well, whatever. I slept through half of it, so it would not be fair to review the movie. But I guess I will now have to read the book to know what all the fuss is about. Roseanne and I are perfect buddies. The movie reaffirmed our belief. The part in Italy, where Julia Roberts eats and eats, left Roseanne with a Pasta and Pizza craving. And it left me with an overwhelming desire to cook pasta and pizza. So here is what I am going to do. Next week, after the fasting is over, I will call my friends over for an elaborate home made meal of pasta, salads, and pizzas! Will keep you updated on the menu and preparations. And you know what! I would LOVE it if you could post a recipe or two in the comments. My friends and I would love to try it!
So well, Day Two, people. Let’s see how this goes.
Uncategorized: dealing with death of a loved one dealing with separation Lifein2suitcases living alone Pratishtha Durga Sunita Shrotriya
by Pratishtha Durga
Exactly a year ago, my life began to fall apart. Last year, on the same day, my mother fell in the bathroom. Dad wasn’t home, and hours later when he did come back, she was still in the bathroom, conscious, and in pain. I shudder every time I think about those hours she lay there, waiting for my father to come back. She died a little over a month later. Today, my father is ailing. And I live everyday with the fear of losing him.
Not that the intervening months have been any better. My marriage fell apart, I had to start my life from scratch, and I am still in a job where I mostly wonder what my contribution is. It’s not the worst that could have happened, but it’s a lot to handle. Some days, I do a good job of holding fort and smiling. And there are days, when I feel I am coming off at the seams. People who become famous off their trials, all have these sudden flashes of brilliance that no one had thought them capable of. In my case, I am at best, a mediocre writer, and my hidden genius is as elusive as a trace of normalcy in my life. The surge of enthusiasm and hope that I had felt in the beginning of the year are waning, and I am struggling on a day to day basis to keep my sanity. But, I guess, nothing comes easy.
So where do I go from here? Today, as the memories of the most trying time in my life come rushing back to me, going forward seems a tad difficult. I know that this too shall pass and all that jazz. But today, it’s a bit mind-numbing to be in my shoes, and chin up and smile. I have wonderful people in my life, and friends who make me look forward to my days. And who have put up with my whining, and my mood swings, and my tears. Who take me out for a late night cup of coffee and join me for evening walks and watch dull chick flicks with me. But in the nights, when I am alone, I can’t help it when my mind is filled with the images of my mother lying helpless, waiting for someone to come and rescue her. And it hurts so much that I wasn’t there.
I sometimes stand in the changing room of a store, and wonder what Ma would thing of the dress I am trying on. I try to remember how her food tasted, and then try and cook like her. I look at her pictures, read her letters, even look at the medical store bills from the hospital where she died. I try to keep tiny bits of her alive. And it’s more like trying to grab tiny fistfuls of thin air. It all makes me feel emptier than ever before. I have been trying to rebuild my life to where I can live with my grief. Some days, it seems like I will get though. And on some days, like today, it overwhelms.
Uncategorized: Bucket List dealing with death of a loved one dealing with separation Lifein2suitcases Living in Mumbai Organizing Life Pratishtha Durga Simplifying Life
by Pratishtha Durga
Memories are like landmines.
Jump up and burst in your face.
Trigger off all the events that have gone by, and which you no longer have the power to change.
Memories are like playbacks.
You know how it will all begin and end, and yet you watch, you relive…
The bygone stories of your life that will never change.
Memories are like mothballed closets.
They reek of regrets, nostalgia and sometimes… loss.
People, places, heartbreaks, hopes.
Uncategorized: dealing with separation Lifein2suitcases living alone Pratishtha Durga Simplifying Life
by Pratishtha Durga
In a movie I recently saw, a spoilt, rich heiress pouts to her cute, rich best friend, and complains, “What do you know about girls, anyways?”
The hunk, looking dapper in his tailored suit, mutters under his breath, “Yup, I know only about women.”
Now he chooses the rich, spoilt heiress in the end anyway. But that’s what not this post is about. This is to try and define the difference between loving a woman, and loving a girl. It’s so much easier loving a girl. A woman comes with layers. She comes with longings, hurts, quirks, memories, and perhaps a generous helping of cynicism. A woman won’t love with abandon. A woman won’t swoon and gush and be overwhelmed. A woman will probably be the force of nature that men fear and revere. And reverence does not come easy to men. They are not moved by the idea of it.
A girl, on the other hand, is untainted by experience and heartbreak. She will smile and shine her way into a man’s heart, and then wouldn’t know what hit her when the relationship shifts to phase two. That’s the phase when adulation fades and reality sets in. When the flaws are magnified and you begin to forget what drew you to each other in the first place. A woman remembers. Because a woman is not drawn to a man by his smile, or his swagger, or his hair. When a woman loves, she loves the man. And that’s why, she takes longer to forget. Because there is so much to forget.
I am a woman, thank you very much. I don’t forget hurts that easily, and I don’t love that easily either. If life has taught me something, it is to let emotions take their own time. I can never plant them in my own head. I cannot make myself love or hate someone at will. I guess, no one can. It is also difficult for me to love myself while being in love with someone else. I guess I have earned this selfishness. It takes time, you know. To let go, when letting go has been so terribly bruising in the past. And when healing takes its own time. So what am I getting at? Nothing in particular, I guess. Just some random thoughts that have been floating around in my head. Thoughts and decisions take a clearer shape in my head, of late. Age, I think. Experience, I think. Life, I think. Great teachers, these three. Even for an exceptionally slow learner like me.
So well, some men love to date girls. For their smile, for their hair, for their walk. Which is why, one is never enough for them. A woman, on the other hand, will demand to be loved head to toe. Love her in parts and she will be gone. And then, even a cute, tailored suit clad hero won’t be able to woo her back.
Uncategorized: dealing with separation Lifein2suitcases living alone Living in Mumbai Pratishtha Durga
by Pratishtha Durga
Volatile as my life is, it’s the only one I’d rather live. And if I had to live it all over again, I’d live it exactly the way I did. I won’t change a thing. Loves, mistakes, choices, regrets, memories… I’d want them all… all over again. Even this painful, never ending knee injury.
These past few days, I have been sifting through my memories, wondering what to keep and what to stash away. And I have not been able to leave anything behind. Talk about emotional baggage! But then, what’s wrong with that? I happen to cherish all my experiences, whatever they might have left me with. Why should I write off even a single moment of my life? After all, it contributed to making me what I am today, clichéd as it might sound. I love my childhood. I love my teenage, my youth, and my adulthood. And now, well into my thirties, I have earned every grey hair, ever laugh line, every drop in metabolism. I have earned the need for more maintenance required to “preserve” myself well. I have earned the financial ability to buy my favorite perfume, the independence to do up my house in my favorite colors, and the courage to walk past my favorite store without buying a thing. I have earned the naughty glint in my eye, the slight upturn of my lips into a knowing half-smile, and the biting of my nails when in deep thought.
So, I am falling in love. This time, with my own life. Contrary to my previous belief, it’s a life well lived. A story well told, with gripping twists, and an intriguing plot-line. And like I said in an earlier post, I am now capable of writing my own fairy-tale ending.