If there’s something I know about love…it is this. You never know how much you have and how much you can give. You never run out of it. You never don’t need it. You always have it. And it may not be enough sometimes, but most of the times in life, it is enough. Love is enough.

You ever wonder that love cannot solve the practical issues you face in life? It cannot pay your bills. It cannot help you live longer.  It cannot make you more successful (i.e. by your definition). It cannot wipe away the mistakes and regrets. It cannot do so many things in life that need to be done. Well, it might not, but does it not make life more full? More fulfilling? More life?

But there’s one another thing about love that we should understand. Love without respect does not mean so much. It withers out in the end. You know, you love your pet. Women even ‘love’ their shoes or dresses. Men ‘love’ their cars, their gadgets. So when you love another person, better add respect to that or it would be as dispensable as shoes or car.

I am a believer in the power of good things in life – love being one of the most important. That’s the reason I write love stories. I even google love stories around the world and read them. I love it when someone has a happy ending in their story. In real life. It gives you something to be glad about.

There is another wonderful thing about love. It does not only grow deeper, but it also becomes better. You can sometimes be surprised by how you can simply keep on loving someone and keep on growing in love, without you even realizing it. One fine day, you just know that you might have thought that you cannot love more since you are giving enough, but somehow you still have the capability to give more…love more or love the same person in a better way. It is like when I had my daughter, I thought I could never love anyone so much as much as I loved her. I thought that was the limit of my love. But then, my son was born after just one and a half years, and I realized I was so wrong. I could love him as much as I loved his sister. Then, I thought well, I have 2 children, so perhaps I have only that much love to give. Turns out, I was wrong again! I did find much more love inside my heart when I had my third. Eventually, I realized, I loved all the 3 of them more than I could have ever imagined. And, I loved hubby more than I thought I could. Basically, I still am discovering new depths, new ways, new expressions.

So yes, the thing about love is that it is beautiful and enough.

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I thought I was a pro at being a parent. After all, I have two children – boy and girl, and I have done well with both of them, despite them being so different from one another. I have more than 8 years of experience at being a mother! So I thought I knew a lot, if not all! Well, that’s not how it is. I am sure if my parents read this, they would say they know a lot only after parenting for 34 years, but even that’s not enough. And I think they would be so right. In the last 3 months of being a mother to an infant again, I have unlearned and relearned and even learned so much.

I thought it is pretty simple and how different can it be from the first 2 times? I told myself that first one was anyways scary because of being first; and the second one was scary because I came back from dead and was practically sick for 4-5 months. Otherwise, it is not really tough to handle a new-born. Think about it – you just need to feed him every 2 hours, change him when he needs and bathe him once a day (though they say it is okay not to bathe an infant every single day but I do). Apart from that, what does a small baby need? Well, that feeding every 2 hours is round the clock, for one! Second, that 2 hours is actually not 2 hours, most of the time and then you have to take into account the time you spent feeding, burping, changing, rocking etc. And bathing such a small baby is scary (it seemed easier the first 2 times because my mom did it!). Period.

There ARE so many other things apart from that. Like, you are worried about what if you do something to the baby and he gets hurt – accidentally scratching by your nails or what if he falls when you are holding him, what if you are too tired to wake up at night and don’t feed him at all, what if he swallows some water in bath, what if he chokes on milk…the list is too long. So you end up cutting your nails too short, not really sleeping because you are too conscious, being very cautious while holding him, all the time keeping your eyes on him while he feeds or sleeps…basically, you end up crazy and exhausted! The long showers are a luxury; you are lucky if you can take a head bath once a week; you are extremely lucky if he doesn’t wake up when you decide to take a short nap; having a day without anything new in baby’s schedule (well, there IS actually no real ‘schedule’) and so many little things that you don’t notice until you actually go through the experience.

YET (a big one) it is so wonderful to do all that, despite the fact that you long for solitude; you feel like going out just on your own and know that it may not happen for another 5-6 months; and the baby might start sleeping for the whole night only after a year (you will NEVER really sleep like you used to, ever, after having children). Why is it so wonderful despite being so exhausting? Well, the list for reasons is even longer than that of learnings!

The little bundle that hardly opens his eyes for first few days, makes you fall in love again and again, several times a day and in several ways. You do not stop thinking that you are so lucky, so very lucky, to have so much love around you. This is really what got me through the initial few weeks, since it was not easy to recover from a 3rd major surgery, and I did breakdown a couple of times, yet I would not change a bit about that. Of course, the older children and my hubby were more of a cause for that feeling of thriving in the presence of love than the baby himself, but it seemed like we were an incomplete family without him…he was the bond that made it all make sense.

It becomes more rewarding when the baby starts recognizing your voice, your smell, your presence and all that exhaustion suddenly makes sense and even adds meaning to your life the first time he smiles at you. Oh that beautiful toothless grin, just pure joy at seeing you! And you feel that it is everything in the world…and you got to experience it for the third time in your life…that’s awesome!

When he starts expressing himself through those wonderful vowel sounds, and he tries to respond to everything you say or every facial movement you make, you tend to forget the world outside this beautiful world.

Of course, there are many many more milestones to come and be grateful for, yet these days are very precious. Soon, the baby will be a toddler and then, a teenager (who might “hate” you), and eventually an adult making his own family. Then, you will miss the sleepless nights, the constant cry for attention, the beautiful toothless smile, the amazing exhausting days…

Till that happens, I intend to enjoy every single bit of this phase…it will definitely seem easier once it is gone, and I will surely miss it like I did the first 2 times…so yes, having another baby is one of the most wonderful things I did…

I might not be a pro at parenting, I might never be one, but I am hell of a happy parent 🙂

Ten years of marriage, ten years of togetherness and loving someone despite rough situations, all the ups and downs in a typical marriage – have taught me many things. The expected things – patience, putting things in perspective, seeing bigger picture, thinking in ‘us/we’, putting someone else’s needs before yours etc etc…the list could go on. Now, I am very close to my due date and very hormonal, so cannot be writing about all of those…so let me make this specific to my Indian female friends who are confused about what they married into.

If your man has been raised in a typical Indian family, chances are he is dependent on someone else for little things. He might be good at doing household chores, but you have to specifically ask. He will definitely be used to of being pampered and not taking full responsibility of another human being, especially in emotional sense. So ladies, basically, whether you have known him before your wedding or whether you are getting to know him, the first thing you should do is – STOP expecting a Bollywood kind of marriage (aka happily ever after). In fact, expect that in the least, he will be lost and hence, will be acting out every now and then (sometimes, too often). But just remember one thing – if he is not doing what you expected him to do i.e. the ever-so romantic gestures other people seem to be doing, does not mean he doesn’t care about you. In all probability, he doesn’t have any idea how to care for you and your feelings.

Let me elaborate. Think of how a boy in an Indian family is prepared for his marriage. Chances are that he has been told time and ever again one or both of the two things below:

One, that his wife will listen to anything and everything he says and will be waiting to serve him anything that he needs (she would even wash his underwear!). He will be treated like a king once he is married and his wife will be someone who feels honored to leave her family, friends and loved ones to love him and his family. From the first day into the wedding, she will feel grateful to have been given an opportunity to take care of all his needs and even those of his family and relatives.

Two, that once he is married, he will have someone to count on. This person will be there for him no matter what, even when he is least bothered about being there for them. So he can save his tantrums and demands for her and she will happily mother him like an infant.

Finally, the boy grows up with as unrealistic expectations from marriage as we girls do. Of course the difference being that our expectations center around love and romance and theirs, around pampering and being the king of the universe, without giving anything in return. What do you expect from such a guy? He will probably take years to understand that he shares some responsibility in the relationship called marriage, like it will take years for you to realize that there are some small gestures that still show you that he cares, though they might not be grand or even what you expected.

I remember attending a seminar once where a counselor  told me that it takes Indian men to accept marriage much longer than it takes women since their upbringings are so different. Yes, things are changing now, but if you were born in the 80s, chances are you could be in a similar situation or know someone who is.

So be patient and start looking for those little things – like he calls you from work for no reason, just because you didn’t call to ask when he will be home; when you are not well, he asks if you want to eat out (most men won’t offer to cook, owing to an “Indian” upbringing); when you are irritated for no reason, he will not react thinking its PMS (it might not be, but at least there’s no fight just because he assumes it is!). Look for the not-so-grand things he does over the weeks, and you will see a pattern emerge. In the beginning, it would be unnoticeable gestures, which might start growing over time and before you know, he would one day do something that you did not expect him to do but meant a lot to you (might even be something you NEVER expected from him).

Here is an example of what my dear hubby did recently, apart from all the wonderful things he has been doing so far. We moved twice in my last trimester and I was experiencing all classical symptoms of premature delivery (thankfully. the baby decided to stay in till it was time), so I was stressed. My husband not only calmed me in those stressful moments, but also did most of the packing and unpacking. He even asked the kids to help me around and they happily did. In fact, I never expected moving and settling down into a new house could be so easy!

In conclusion, most Indian men brought up in a typical environment will behave like jerks for at least a year into the marriage, some even longer, depending on the conditioning. The trick is to be patient and look for the good things in him, tell him about those things and over the years, you will see the benefit of hanging on to him. He will love you more and more as you grow older.

…with you!

One of those days when you want to vent out because you were anyways stressed and there come along people who judge you, criticise you and demean you for no reason! They don’t even know you…so who gave them the right!

I am a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy case and hence, have to take more precautions than any one in a normal pregnancy would. I am advised not to walk much, climb stairs or any kind of physical activity that discomforts me. And one day, I meet this woman, who has known me barely for a few seconds and she might not even know that I am not a first-time mother (she didn’t bother to ask) and she starts judging me. We are sitting side by side in a bus and circumstances become such that they don’t drop us off at the entrance of the venue of a meeting, but far away in the parking lot. I mumbled something about having to walk such a long distance. This lady, who is pregnant for the first time and does not even any idea about “almost dying in delivery”, looks at me with wide eyes, mouth open and obviously in shock and says, “You are in your 7th month and you haven’t even started walking yet!!!” I look at her with disgust and wanted to blurt out that what did she know about being a mother, but I don’t feel like explaining myself to her, so I didn’t. Obviously, she must have told her friends or whoever was willing to listen that there was this woman who didn’t walk during her pregnancy and did not even feel guilty about it 😀

I saw her again another day (can’t really avoid if you work in the same organization). Someone asked her how far along she was and she mentioned the 9th month. The other lady was like “wow, and you are still coming to work”. That must have really encouraged her and then also, she had me as an audience so probably an opportunity to prove a point, she said, “Well, this is my last week of 9th month and I am well enough to come to work.” Yeah, lady, point taken. You are the only one who has ever done that and because of your “walks”! And a poor soul like me never gave birth to a child just after completing her household work, taking care of a toddler and even preparing food! Guess why? I do not walk! 😀

And now, compare this to the several men who regularly tell me that I should not be taking stairs since there are where many accidents happen; and many other men offering their seats to me, out of courtesy.

I do not want to be given a special treatment because I am pregnant or even because I am a woman. But I do not want to be judged because I behave differently that the ‘normal’ or ‘average’ pregnant woman.

So basically, please do not judge me. You just know my name (in many cases, not even that, perhaps just my ‘tummy’), not my story!

One post is not enough to list down what all motherhood has taught me over the years and I am sure there are is still a lot more to learn, yet there are certain little things you will feel probably on a daily basis – some things that need to be ignored, others that need to be cherished. Here are just a few, since it’s impossible to capture all:

  • The house can be cleaned later, the laundry can be sorted later, but that moment when your child shows you that cute painting, will never happen later. Instead of thinking how you are going to clean the mess, share your child’s excitement at accomplishing a task that he/she thinks only adults can do.
  • If your child wants to wear the same dress on two consecutive days, no one is going to judge you based on that. But that smile on your child’s face when they are allowed to repeatedly wear their favorite dress, will surely make you feel better.
  • Your child cannot be good at everything that the other children are good at. Encouraging a child and forcing them into doing something are two different things and latter is never justified.
  • You believe that you turned out well and yes, your parents had an amazing parenting style. Remember that’s exactly what your spouse also believes. But for your children, you both contribute to their growing up. You both need to be a team. And it is not necessary to follow anyone’s parenting style – your parents or spouse’s parents. In fact, developing your own style is so much more fun.
  • No matter how many children you have and no matter how many times you think that you cannot have more love in your heart to give to someone, you will always have more. The phrase “love someone the most” does not mean anything! I love my two children and the third unborn one so much that I don’t understand how I can love 3 people with the same limitless depth and yet feel there is so much more I can give them.
  • Sometimes, a toy that breaks, a new bottle children lose, a pair of clothes they soil immediately after wearing it, is just that – a broken/lost/soiled thing. Every little incidence need not be turned into a moment of educating them. Sometimes, just letting kids be kids is enough to teach them something about acceptance and love.
  • Every single day is different when you are a mother, so you better not find peace in routine. You have to be prepared to learn every day, every moment.
  • Motherhood is one of those jobs in the world where no matter how much have you have read about it, no matter how much you have studied other mothers, yet you will require on-the-job training and that is the only way you will actually learn. Yet, it would be fun and worth all the worry and pain.
  • Even if you lose it with your kids once in a while and you know your treated them unfairly, it is still okay. Because as you know your love for them does not depend on their behavior, so do they. Children know you love them and your being upset with them or scolding them does not make you a bad mother. And trust me, when you apologize for your unreasonable behavior later, they will always say the same thing, “It’s okay, mama.” It is that simple.
  • Another simple fact for the children is that you are there for them, always. So you better be.
  • You will, for the first time in your life, truly understand what “crying out of joy” really means. You will have tears in your eyes on so many happy occasions that you will lose count.
  • You will feel loved all the time. You will feel proud frequently. And you will be happy even when you think you are overwhelmed. You will basically wonder what kept you busy and what made you happy before you had kids!
  • Motherhood is the most wonderful of all experiences, and there is none other like it!

As a mother, especially if you have young children, you feel overwhelmed most of the time. Most of the days, you love motherhood because you experience little miracles you wouldn’t otherwise. But some days, you just want some moments of peace, sitting silently, doing nothing. After a while, such contradictions become a part of you. As a mother, I have seen so many contradictions in my behavior that I am not even conscious of them anymore. Some of them are:

1. I am enjoying my moments of peace while the children sleep or play outside, and within 5 minutes I have the urge to wake them or check on them. I have to force myself to be where I am and relish the moment, yet my mind wanders to them every 5 minutes.

2. I keep asking kids to be quiet for sometime so that I can focus on what I am doing. When they do, I feel there is something wrong and I call them to ask what happened to make them so quiet.

3. I convince myself that they are grown up enough to take a bath themselves after a visit to hospital or park, yet I go on check on them while they are bathing to make sure they are ‘scrubbing out the germs’ properly.

4. When they ask my permission to pee, I tease them saying wouldn’t they go if I said no and then, add that they are free to pee anytime they want. But when I see them approaching the toilet without saying anything, I ask them “what are you doing?”  or “where are you going?” Of course, I immediately bite my tongue after, but it starts the permission seeking circle once again.

5. While they eat, I ask them if they want more. Mostly, they say it’s enough. Sometimes, when they do say they want another chapati, I usually say “Haven’t you had enough? Aren’t you full already? I don’t want you to complain of tummy pain afterwards.”

6. Sometimes, I tell my kids why do they keep asking/saying – mama, this; mama; that and why can’t they trouble their dad for a change. But when they do, guess what…I have to know why they didn’t ask me!

7. If something falls on the floor and I feel the house isn’t dirty and I am too lazy to go wash the thing again, I pick it up, rub the supposed dust off of it and eat it. When my son observes me doing this and does the same next time, I tell him “Do you think the thing is not dirty anymore? I think you should wash it!”

With all this happening around them, I think it’s just a matter of time before my kids turn to me one day and say “But you only said/did…” And I can imagine myself responding as “What are you talking about!”

After giving birth to two children and raising them for so many years, I thought I knew what I was doing. One difficult pregnancy and another life-threatening delivery later, I believed I knew everything there was to know about pregnancy. I was sure it would be a cake walk the third time around. So, when I came to know about this pregnancy, I was not at all worried, rather I felt so comfortable as I knew what I was supposed to do…wasn’t I? Well, I was so wrong there!

The first 3 months were hard as expected, but this time around, the nausea was as bad as it can be. And I finally realized it was much better to be throwing up all the time, than to be having the feeling without any output…errgh! I started hating food items that have been a constant presence in my life till now. I cannot even look at certain of them. On the other hand, I would sometimes have strong cravings for something and when I ate it, I wouldn’t want to have it again. I am still not able to able to understand what I like these days – sweet, spicy, Italian, Chinese…there is no constant anymore and variables are all in some other plane than my little mind can comprehend.

Anyway, I counted weeks since they say the second trimester is the easiest, and guess what…does anything in my life go as planned? The onset of fourth month brought different set of problems with it. I was even bed ridden for a week. And now, I am thinking “God, just give me the strength to go through all this with a smile.”

Then, there is the issue of finding maternity clothing….either I have too big a bump (though I see them all around, but the makers of maternity clothing seem to think so!!!) or this place is not good for being pregnant (of course another surprise since Qatar is one of those countries where people are encouraged to have more kids). Anyway, I have come up with some temporary solutions, since I know anything that I buy will anyway last only for a couple of months! I even went to the extent of using hubby’s rarely worn long and loose shirts, and I wish he was fatter 🙂 (he will hate me for this but I am desperate).

All in all, as they say every pregnancy is different…I got rid of my “know-it-all” syndrome and dealing with each day as it comes; I think this is the only way.

The best part this time is that since my other two kids are grown up enough to understand, they are pretty excited about the ‘new baby’. In fact, they are counting days and keep asking me questions – the gender, when exactly he/she will be born, how are babies born, what size are they on their birth, when can older siblings start taking care of small babies etc. Of course, their excitement keeps me excited too, and sometimes I too get impatient like them…but then I think,  it’s really easier to take care of yourself in pregnancy than to take care of a new born…so let me just enjoy it while it lasts 🙂

I have put this off for several months now…by ‘this’ I mean – writing. Perhaps I was too glad about my second book, or maybe I started thinking I am not crafted for this (imagine how that obnoxious thought entered my mind, but it did!). At first, I told myself I am taking a well-deserved break (yeah right, what exactly did I do to “deserve” it? Sell millions of copies of my books?) Then, I thought that there is so much to do at work which I was carrying home sometimes, and then…well, there were excuses and more excuses. But I did write an article for a magazine in these past 6 months (oh now that counts!!!). Anyway, I am back to writing again. I am starting with blog but am going to follow-up with the book that lies unfinished for so many months (aah!).

Okay I think the writer inside me has so much to say that there are two threads going on here…let me just catch one.

To talk about the writing stuff, I was busy but I was also self-sabotaging, by telling myself how I should treat writing only as a hobby and it doesn’t mean much if I never make it big as a writer or worse, that I perhaps was not destined to. But now, I am past all that negativity and perhaps it is time to make another promise to myself – I will always be a writer, no matter what anyone says, no matter what I think and no matter how busy I get. Being a writer is my whole being, it is my identity.

Also, I am past the stage where I could run away from commitment. I am already into this for life. It took me 20 years to actually accept that I want to be a writer and I cannot give up just in 5-6 years! I have to try harder and I have to give it at least the same time as I took to tell myself that writing was my love. So there goes that.

Now coming to the personal stuff, I want to make an announcement. God is kind enough to me to have blessed me with two angels in my life, and perhaps He thinks I need more of His love, so there is another angel on the way…yes, I am expecting my third baby 🙂

Now, I have encountered raised eyebrows and stunned reactions to that in past couple of weeks. It was not supposed to be known so soon but due to some unexpected reason, it became known to people around me. Being an Indian, where most of the people my generation opt for a single child because of financial or personal reasons; also, those who go for a third are usually the ones who are still trying for a boy, I am probably one of the very few, who just want to have another one. I am blessed with a son and a daughter, so people usually don’t understand why I decided to have one more child. So the next thought that enters their narrow minds is – it must not be planned. And some of them (i.e. those who do not fit into family or friends category) even asked me this! And I had to make an effort to keep myself calm!

I think this is a good start or restart…good news and a promise to myself. And I end with a prayer to God “Dear Lord, bless us all; those who ask for it and those who don’t; those who need it and those who don’t; those who believe in the power of prayer and those who don’t; shower your blessings and love on us, as you always have.”

I did not intend to write a second book of short stories after I published my first, ‘Love, It Is!’ (Buy it here.) But then, one fine day, I promised myself that in the year 2013, I wanted to gift myself another book. I gave myself a deadline, since I did not want to let 2013 go by. I decided to use one of the auspicious dates in my life – 23rd June. And I announced it so that I was under pressure to complete the book by that date.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to write 15 stories like I did for the first one, but I also knew these stories would be bolder and better. I understood that when I hold myself back as a writer and do not write what scares me and aim to write only happy endings, I am not being fair to the writer in me. I have no right to hold back the thoughts and plots. I have to give in to the stories…to the plot and to the reality. And that’s what I did.

I wrote these dark stories that I had heard of or read of or saw a part of, in several years. I had many stories and situations in my mind, but I chose only a few, which had affected me enough to replay the events in my mind several times. I can still write many more such stories, but I did not want the book to be a work in progress for a long time.

Also, it is a very good feeling when you write a story that ends in smiles and tears of joy. You feel good about yourself and you feel glad that you wrote something that has the potential to give hope to someone. And you forget for a while that it is just a story and life could be so different and tougher. In fact, you feel in your heart that someone somewhere would read the happy story about love and will perhaps start believing in love or maybe believe more strongly.

On the other hand, when you write a dark story that ends in a different way than you would want it to or in a way that is unfair to the character you love so much, it is painful. You keep wondering ‘what if I tweak it a bit, just a little so that the X person is happy’ and you have to stop yourself from doing it just because you know that the story loses its essence. You have to force yourself to not meddle with the story or the characters. You have to give in to the weaknesses of those characters, because that’s how they are. Perhaps you created them that way, maybe you based them on someone you knew and that’s how they are in life. But as a writer, you cannot change the character just because you want to. Hence, writing a dark story is very tiring. It keeps playing in your mind and you have to silence the voice in your head which asks you to interfere with the writing and the writer in you.

This kind of stories affect people like me even more. I am one of those people who faint at the sight of blood, who turn away their face when a nurse withdraws blood from my child’s arm, who cannot watch a movie with gross murder scenes, who are affected for weeks when they read about an abuse in the newspaper, who cry for children who are subject to atrocities by their own relatives. I am one of those people who stop reading newspapers or watching news because it’s all so sad and negative.

So, it’s no wonder that I was able to complete only 7 dark love stories for my second book. But since I am that person who loves happy endings, I threw in a story at the last-minute which ends on a happy note, so that the reader can close the book with a sigh of relief. Oh there I go…revealed the plot of the last story 😉

The second book required more effort because of several reasons – the kind of stories, the timeline, the full-time job which (un)surprisingly got busier just before the book’s publishing date, and other miscellaneous factors. Yet, I finished on time, with one story more than the number I had in  my mind. That’s a promise fulfilled – a gift to myself 🙂

‘Love No More’ was published on 23rd June, 2013 (as planned) and can be purchased from Amazon at the following link:

Love No More  (Read and provide feedback)

My Books

Read the review Love No More (Love, It Is!)

Read the review Love, It Is!

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