Monday, May 23, 2016

My Husband's First Daughter

Almost on a frequent basis, I am asked "if I get along with my husband's first daughter," or "if I treat her well." What do I say? I can't claim perfect of a human being, or lest a good (new) mother. Let me try telling it this way.

Lekshey and I have lived together for the past seven years; I had met her when she was barely ten years old. But she was the first person I heard about when I was introduced to KP. Our common friend who took into his heart the stake of our relation said, "Karma has a seven year old daughter. I thought you must know this."

As I put down the phone, my first thoughts were not about "who" this Karma-guy was, but about his daughter. It was obvious that should I meet him, and if at all our rendezvous materialized, I may want to play honest from the beginning itself. 

Here is what I thought: How is it possible that the daughter is with him? (Usual side of the story is the child/ern stick with the mother. Seven years? How is he taking care of her? At that time, although single, I had three kids under my care - my two nieces and nephew (who was little over one year). Hence my thought, "I have my nieces and nephew under my care even with their parents around the corner. But that girl..."

She was all smiles when I met her. Later she added, "I was so happy when I heard about you."

Lekshey's life story is little different from many stories. She stood the test of time, walked tough and came thus far. I can't say her life got any better after I took charge but we are doing fine. We sort out our differences, if any, and look ahead. As such, we haven't had our "clashing moment" so far - may be because we respect our spaces. My children are still with me - and not for a single moment have I thought/ treated her any different. She gets nothing extra, nothing less but the same treatment just like the rest. She is one of them.

I am sure people expected me to change after having a child of my mine (thanks to some gruelling stories). I suspected that, too. But no, nothing happened. In fact, Lolo is all the more blessed to have a bigger sister and calls out for her "Ana Lek-say" as a priority choice in any event. When Lolo is of the age to know the truth, we will tell her. This is to say Lekshey and I don't deny facts and truths, and this keeps us intact. 

Back to the curiosity "if I treat her well", I say, "Nothing extra, nothing less." I don't have to feign my feelings just as much as she doesn't have to do it with hers. Lekshay will be an adult soon, so her choices are right in her hands. If one day she chooses to walk out of my life, she can. But as long as we are together, we will thread on in good faith of life. There is not going to be another side of the story. I can completely trust myself to see her as a human being, worthy of living a good life, and if I can be an agent, why not?

For that reason, I never call her my step-daughter, I rather say she is my Husband's first daughter. I take no offence when someone asks about us - if that person has patience to listen, I tell him/her exactly what I have written here. To that extend, I am mentally preparing to babysit all of my children, including those from Lekshey.

Would it be fair to love the father, but not his daughter? I am only human.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wild Thoughts about Death

With eerie thoughts running in my mind right now, especially after reading a FB post shared by a friend about losing one of her relatives, I am penning down what I exactly fear about "death".

I must have been less than six years (for I hadn't started schooling then) the first time I remember confronting death. There was this neighbour boy in the army family line where we grew up, who used to play with us. One day he fell sick and soon the news of his demise held us. I faintly remember going for his funeral rites with my mother to offer our prayers and condolences. That was it...for sometimes.

The hardest blow was when we lost our eldest brother to a fatal accident in December, 1990. His death shook the world out of us. Even as I child, I feared if I would live long enough to remember those days, alongside the fear of living with uncertainty. I have witnessed how a family struggles to ignore memories, puts on smiles of unknown and pretends to live like there is nothing different. My family, over the years, has tried to overcome any excuses of not standing firm, and when asked about that incident, we push it aside like it never happened. But deep within, the wound is still afresh, the pain is still intense and the tears ain't dried. 

All the way, the memories have helped me to prepare for the fears, while, you know, not the best preparation. At some points in my life, I wanted to pursue spiritualism and shy away from the mundane world. I was so scared of leaving the beautiful world and all the fascinations of the wonders. Some kind of craziness creeped in me.

Fast forward. I got webbed in the every day routine. Completed college, got a job, started a family and now...now dead worried about the future of my children. In fact, to the extend of drawing a mental plan of baby-sitting my grandchildren [crazy]!

Thud! 

This explains (from FB)
Well, I am still thinking about death. It is there in my everyday thought, and controls the way I live. I often dream about it - and the fear is just the same, even in the dreams. I wake up to be thankful for another day. Life is going on as it is.

All I know is while I live, I live. Should I do any day, I want no scores left to be settled. I smile at the thought that I have been one happy-go-lucky all these years. Work is fantastic, family is even more fantastic and my world a beautiful globe. Except that...I will feel sad, the way I feel sad when I hear about a dead. 

To say, I am cherishing the "GAP" between birth and death.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lessons from Singapore - The Red Dot

I am close to completing the book "Up Close with Lee Kuan Yew Insights from colleagues and friends"; the book was gifted to my husband by the team of Singaporeans who visited Bhutan last March. I am very much enjoying the book and getting to know, in bits and pieces, the person Mr. Lee was.

The first time I ever heard about Singapore or Mr. Lee was not very long ago (pardon the 'other' world I was living in then!). 

This is what I had heard: 
1) You can't chew chewing gum in Singapore or be prepared to go to prison (sounded so absurd...and wondered where in the world this place is); 
2) The leader of Singapore (must have been Mr. Lee) built a nation with the conviction that "rich must get rich so that they can bring along the poorer section of the society". I guess I was too naive to find out more than what I heard...until...

I visited Singapore, for the first time, in March, 2015 for a week long program. The visit was good enough to get a glance into the much hyped about city/ country in Asia. I was able to meet my friend Rima and her family - even got to visit her house in Punggol. I returned being fascinated by quite a lot of things in Singapore.

In October the same year, I was able to attend a Singaporean Cooperation Programme's training. This time around, the program included good mix of cultural exposure, history and "amazing facts about Singapore". I returned even more fascinated - to know that a small country can exist itself so prominent and well advanced. What I liked most was, no matter which ethnic person you met, each spoke as "we Singaporeans" or "our Singapore".

The Book. When my husband showed me the book, I jumped at it. I wanted to know the Iron Man who built Singapore to the current form; for some reasons Singapore continues to hit my favourite list of countries - more for the discipline and honesty of people. Oh yes, safety is another attribute. So, the man behind the story.

The insights shared by his colleagues and friends are evidences to the best efforts asserted by Mr. Lee in bringing up a country from (almost) scratch. Following are the top THREE "insights" I have gathered as I read the stories in the Book:

1) Mr. Lee's commitment and discipline, besides his vision for Singapore made him work tirelessly. His leadership skills are world-class - as much as people feared working for/ with him, they learnt life-long lessons from him. Especially the interesting testimonies from his Principal Private Secretaries (PSSs) bear facts to substantiate the leader in Mr. Lee.

2) After reading this book, I have begun to assess my relation with my husband from a different angel - indeed, a positive one. Here was this man who gave his cent out of cent to the development of the country - primarily because he had a "wife" in Mrs. Lee. How sweetly the writers refer to Mrs. Lee as a comfort, describing her gentle ways and motherly nature. I quite like the way she is said to sit in a corner in Mr. Lee's office knitting or reading. How sweet :)

I have asked myself, "When Mrs. Lee could stand by her husband for all the good causes, why shouldn't I be able to support KP in the few endeavours he takes on?" It makes me want to feel young and all enthusiastic about relationship.

3) A man's legacy is not only the greatness he exhibited but the parts of himself he left with each person who crossed his path. Mr. Lee was certainly that man. A true legacy. Each story had a part of him in the writer - something the person had learnt from Mr. Lee, be it a pleasantry exchange or policy matter or family concern. Salute!

And in all, the line "Singapore doesn't owe its existence to anyone" made total sense. Singapore - the red dot. Very much the real dot.