Only Timepass

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IMG_0430Its 9am and I can barely get out of bed! Ok so I’m not a morning person, never have been, not one to go for a run in the morning unless coerced to.   But wait a minute, I’m not one to wake up at 9am, or barely, in a foul mood, take an hour to read the paper and drink coffee. And then decide on how to schedule my unscheduled day.   It hits me like it does most morning for the past 3 months; I’m afraid that I do fall into the bracket of doing just “timepass” (passing the time).

In India there are thousands of timepass young people. But what I discovered there were more of us doing the same thing i.e. doing nothing really in the middle age bracket. Friends, mostly women, who like me reached the peaks of our careers in our late 20s early 30s, and for reasons only we know decided take a break.   Not always intentional but a break neither the less. And have got into the spiral of doing “timepass”. I justify it by saying my friends do it to. And while I attempt now to get back to “finding” my passion, doing something worthwhile to fulfill my pocket and time, I find myself competing with the youth of today going through the same quandary as I am.

So we are a whole bunch that is doing basically nothing.

Atleast I don’t stand around at tea stalls or bus stands pissing the day away. But that’s also because I’m a woman and it wouldn’t be ideal to do so.  As I travel across India, with the intention of documenting stories and lives of these unemployed youth, I stop, take a breath and admit to myself….. “I’m just doing timepass na”.

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My mothers daughter

I am around the same age my mother was when she died.

This is what I remember, her telling me to get along with my father, ‘talk to him’ was her precise words a week before the car she was driving crashed a tree, killing her en route to the hospital.  I would never have imagined her prophetic words would affect the rest of my life.    Her clarity of mind and tenderness even as she spoke these words, makes me wish I had a wand to pull them in, keep them with me forever.

In the disorienting years following her death, I often felt like I was drowning in loneliness.   Weeks, months and years passed during which I was simply treading the turbulent waters.    I realized in my late twenties how little I knew of my mother, how little of herself my adolescent self recognized.   Would she actually approve of this angry woman I had turned out to be.

I set out to find out what her deepest thoughts would have been her dreams, her struggles, her wisdom.  My mother was a beautiful woman with fair skin and light brown eyes.  She loved my father and loved creating drama, was a radical soul, a socialist by nature, supported the PLO, knew Yasar Arafat’s brother, and made us walk in ‘Save the tiger’ rallies – this all after watching born free.  That she loved romance books, her parents meant the world to her, she loved art and poetry, was a dreamer, was highly strung and emotional, and was a Christian.

Over the years I’ve often grudged the fact, that besides her eyes I looked nothing like her.   I was told I was like her, had her friendly personality, and like her was a trickster, full of mischief as my grandmother would say.   Now as I write on the eve of her 25th death anniversary I wonder what she would say about how we her daughters lived our lives.    What would her reaction be to her youngest sister being the head of our family, with more love to give, and had taken good care of their parents, as they grew old.    That her sisters and their family had given her 2 daughters more love and support than she would have ever imagined.   That her parents gave her daughters a place called home But most of all I miss not having her advice, her retributions about my temper, my inability to keep my emotions in check, my bouts of depression.    A hand to tell me that it was not love in my 20s, I wish I could tell her I finally found it in my 30’s with a foreigner, the radical she was I’m sure she’d approve.  But most of all I wish she would tell me how to handle my delicate sister, to stop mothering her, and how I could make my sisters worries go away.

1, to fear in this ode I’ve exposed more of myself than my mother, but I’m my mother’s daughter, and this ode is for her.