Between then and now
Change has not been a stranger to me. I have been receptive to it with such alacrity that my life could put to shame the rancid cliché, the only constant in life is change. It feels great to sit on the beachside of life, basking in the twilight and watching assiduously the waves of changes crashing onto the shore — one behind another — and well aware a tsunami will one day sweep away the sand under my feet. One last change.
From a teacher to a journalist; stone editor to a digital one; landlord to tenant, smoker to non-smoker; compelling flirt to unabashedly repressed; talker to listener; reader to storyteller; political to apolitical; atheist to believer; optimist to pessimist; father to father-in-law; aggressive to passive; and from the glass house to the pits — it’s been a frightful roller-coaster ride, which I have endured eyes wide shut.
These changes were gratuitous giveaways shoved into my palm, in return for my magnanimity of not living my own life. Vava said stop smoking; request was heeded. Physician said don’t get sloshed; it’s bottoms up, almost. Partner said stop clubbing and pubbing; well, I had no choice but to listen to the pearls of wisdom.
The new change that has rained down on our home is something I had wished for. High-decibel debates have been replaced by lively banter.
Hello, stop daydreaming. Chop this vegetable in cubes for sambar. No harm in lending me a hand.
Then: Who do you think I am? I’m a writer and editor, and my plates are full. Find someone else. Call your daughter.
Now: Sure, honey. Can I have the cutting board, please? I will take care of sambar. I have my mum’s... er, your mum’s recipe.
Hi there. Go scrub the washrooms. It’s your turn this weekend.
Then: No way, my dear chum. There are younger members in the family. Go tell them. My hands are tied.
Now: No problem, honey. I enjoy doing it. It clears the filth on my conscience. It makes me so positive.
Listen, how can you throw up your legs while I slog, sweeping and mopping? I have finished the ground floor. You do upstairs and balconies.
Then: You think I am your live-in servant? I’m swimming in office work. Anyway, you’ve dirtied your hands, so just carry on. Good luck, baby.
Now: So sweet of you. Why didn’t you call me? I will do the mopping henceforth. You deserve a break. Enjoy your weekend.
I’m sorry, I forgot to buy sambar powder last night. Can you go and get a medium packet? I’m halfway through cooking. I’m so sorry.
Then: Are you mad? The shop where I can find it is 30km away. Have some common sense. By the way, when will you stop drowning me in sambar?
Now: Here I go. Don’t be apologetic. I will be back in jiffy. Rest up a little.
I should have taken this perceptional U-turn long ago. I regret wasting a lifetime indulging in debates. Feels like I have just been wrenched out of a maelstrom. This is a feel-good moment. This is truly a share-the-life moment. And I’m lovin’ it.
The word “why” was given the last rites while we embraced positivity. The word “no” was shown the door while “yes” was ushered in. Calm oozed from every cell of the body until Vava came visiting a couple of days ago.
“Mum, what happened to dad?” She looked edgy and perturbed by the peace that had blanketed our home and life.
“He decided to change ultimately. I’m deeply grateful to God for letting your dad savour the fruits of love and harmony.”
“The air is thick with unease, mum. This is not my father. What did you do to him? Did you feed him grass?”
“Why? You don’t like the idea that we are finally off the web of ugly balderdash? For God’s sake, please don’t light the fire again.”
“Mum, he sounds as if he has just returned from a retreat. I can’t think of my dad without an opinion. Why did you make him a yes man?”
“I didn’t. He changed after reading something in wknd.”
“He’s like brain-dead. Typically, he feeds on chaos. He’s a dunderhead without his daily shot of chaos.”
“Let me warn you that your gain will be my loss,” wifey sounded sad.
“This calm is depressing. As depressing as a rain-soaked hill station. Mum, try to understand. He’s our sunshine. Let him yell. Let him scream. I don’t want to see him in an intellectually vegetative state.”
“Do whatever you want.”
“Dad, have a gulp from your favourite Parisian mug. I have put enough ice.”
“You know I hate more than three cubes. How many times do I have to tell you?”
The scream was loud enough to break the emotional ice.