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Month: September 2016

#InfertilityNotATaboo- When it is Only About Her Womb

#InfertilityNotATaboo- When it is Only About Her Womb

She bears the brunt of infertility……almost always! A test in every way!

It was a hot afternoon in the month of April when I reached Poonam’s house in Raja Ka Tal- a small farming village in district Firozabad. The warm breeze gently swayed the trees, as their yellow leaves collected by her feet. Her body lay on the ground, a thin sheet covering from head to toe. It had thinned down considerably since I had first met her. Her husband Rajbir sat a distance away, quiet and somber.

A year back, I was part of a Rotary Club health camp that travelled across the state of Uttar Pradesh, to spread awareness about health and hygiene. It was here that I first met Poonam. “Bibiji, bachcha nahi ho raha he. Dawayee dijiye” (I am not conceiving. Give me some medicine). The treatment of Poonam’s primary infertility was beyond the scope of the mobile camp and also the tiny village Raja ka Tal. She was handed over a referral slip for a check-up at Firozabad’s Government Hospital. She faintly nodded when I communicated this to her. I saw a tear drop down her eye when she left the camp. But something in her moved me that day and I decided to follow up on her case with the village and district hospital. However, once I got back to Delhi, so caught up was I with my schedules that I just let it be, hoping that eventually things would fall in place for Poonam. A year later, I got to know about her death.

“Bimar pad gayee, khana hajam nahi ho raha tha, mar gayee”, said her mother. (She fell ill, couldn’t take food anymore and passed away). I couldn’t hold back anymore and had to get the entire story. I chatted up with Poonam’s childhood friend that afternoon, who tumbled it all out.

Poonam was married three years after puberty. A year into matrimony, and she still had not shown any signs of pregnancy. The taunts started, and soon her in-laws and Rajbir took matters into their own hands. He decided to marry again. It was for the want of a baby. The bride was none other than Poonam’s younger sister. For Poonam’s parents it was a win-win situation. Both daughters married at the cost of just one. Within a few months of this marriage, the news of her sisters impending pregnancy reached Poonam.

That was when the first signs of depression were noticeable. She would cry often, have temper tantrums, and develop low degree fever. For those around her, it meant, she had gone mad. No efforts were made to treat her. It wasn’t really a priority. She after all could not produce a baby. Within a span of four months, Poonam lay dead.

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Cut to Bangalore
I was meeting my school friend Anusha in a plush coffee shop after five long years. The first thing that I noticed was the disheveled hair and sullen eyes. “I have started my IVF and it’s taking a toll, physically and mentally”, she said.

A long silence followed. This wasn’t the same energetic woman I had known five years back.

“Ashok works late and travels often. But he still manages to be around for the IVF schedule. His presence is required, medically. Otherwise, life seems to be just going on, where we both lead our own separate lives.”

“Why don’t you adopt?” I asked. She glared back at me.

“My in-laws had been against our love marriage and, Ashok would not go against them a second time. They wouldn’t accept a baby that is not their blood. I hope God blesses me with a baby soon. I feel void and empty. It is killing me”.

Signs of depression yet again?

Whether it is Raja ka Tal or Bangalore, the brunt of infertility is often faced by women. There exists in society, a certain element of stigma when a woman is unable to conceive. At a time when she needs mental support, she gets the taunts and bears the blame.

Much as it is important biologically, for a woman to conceive, not being able to should not be the end of the road. Adoption regulations in India are getting easy, with even single women going in for one. A baby is all that matters for a childless couple. And adoption may well be the answer. It would reduce the mental trauma on the woman and provide a home to a child. It would bring about happiness in more than one life.

*This blog is to #SpreadAwareness about Infertility through Infertility Dost, India’s first website that facilitates couples to brave infertility with support and knowledge. You can find other links on Write Tribe.

Parenting Alone? It’s No Easy Job

Parenting Alone? It’s No Easy Job

    I pretend to have all the energy in the world, when all that I want to do is hit the bed…. It’s no easy job parenting alone!

It isn’t uncommon these days, to find spouses living in two different places. The reasons may be many- better career prospects or children’s’ education. In such cases, the children end up being with one of the parent, meeting the other over long weekends or vacations. In my case, the husband being in the armed forces, is constantly away for long spells, leaving me and the kids to manage on our own in what I call our little mad home. So for my two little children I am their single parent (well, I shall ignore the parenting on the telephone done by the hubby).

So what’s the big deal here? Why does this take a toll on me?

I am charged 24/7

So here I am the super mom, charged up and on call 24/7. Of course most moms are on some sort of red alert through the day when it comes to their child’s needs. But hey think about managing the show single-handedly with no help whatsoever, making those daily small decisions on your own too. I am up and about, showing up at all school functions. I cart around them and their playmates on every single day of the week. I am the nurse, the cheer leader, the counselor, the cook; well the list just goes on…

I plan; really… even before the previous one is executed

Did you just think about planning the meals for the day? Oh wait there’s more. Like the craft activity for the younger one that involves paper quilling. And what did the older one want? A play date with her friend. What about the cycling session with both of them? Yes, that’s what I do all the time. The mind seems to be occupied, juggling various little plans.

Where did those 24 hours go?

The hours are just not enough in a day. Damn! The newspaper still hasn’t been read. Never mind, in a few hours the next day’s paper would be at the door.

Frustrations? What do they look like?

I sat with that hot cup of coffee, soaking in every bit of the aroma. The younger one decides to squeal. I rush to see what it was all about, only to realize that her little pony tail lay open. I head back to my coffee and as the first few sips go down my throat, the sound from the kid’s room doesn’t seem all too fine. I pretend to be calm, as I pull them apart after their violent fight of bites and scratches. A few minutes of consoling and I head back to my coffee which now is sans the yummy froth and aroma. Frustrated? Naah you wouldn’t spot them on my brow.

When does the day end?

And despite the tiring day, every single day, I find time to read them a bedtime story, and tuck them into bed. Bliss!!!!! The kids are asleep, the house is silent. I sit down and all I want to do is talk to someone.

Oh wait! There’s no one around!! Sigh!!

Related Posts

When Flowers Shower Their Fragrance

I Do wear his stripes

Book Review: It’s All in The Planets- Preeti Shenoy

Book Review: It’s All in The Planets- Preeti Shenoy

It’s All in The Planets!!! Is it really so? We do often find life shaping up in a way that’s almost beyond our control. I remember reading these lines from a Ruskin Bond book recently- “What are we humans really just absurd little creatures strutting about as though we owned the earth and everything upon it. An ill wind comes along and we’re finished…” Bond’s writing never fails to make me smile at life’s little inanities.

So are all things in life destined to happen? Preeti Shenoy’s latest book delves into these questions, taking a peek into the role of planets and destiny on the lives of Aniket, Nidhi and Trisha. She brings together yet another complex web- of human relationships.

Aniket isn’t those dashing, handsome hunks. He does not have a Mills & Boons kinda sex appeal. All of 90 kilograms, he is an overweight, average looking techie from our very own city Bengaluru. He is head over heels in love with the beautiful model Trisha, who well, isn’t really all that intrigued by him or his mannerisms. Yet, the two are in a relationship. Trisha wants him to change in many a way. This leaves Aniket confused and insecure. He would do just about anything to make the relationship work, and seeks Nidhi’s help in the matter.

Nidhi is free spirited and pursues her passion, working as a pottery instructor. She is in a relationship with Manoj, who seldom appreciates the nature of her job. A chanced meeting with Aniket on the train, gets them talking. They enjoy each other’s company and she soon finds herself becoming Aniket’ relationship as well as fitness coach. How successful would Nidhi be in making Anikets and Trisha’s relationship a success? Or do the planets play a totally different role in all their lives? That’s the book for you in a gist.

Characterization

Preeti Shenoy has her main characters depicted with perfection, believable in every way; they are people you would find around you, in everyday life. Her story brings in Subbu, a true buddy, honest and frank to Aniket when he seeks his advice on all matters related to the heart. She portrays Manoj as the abusive person, who believes in the might of the man in a relationship.

She brings in an element of sweetness in Aniket, despite him being no tall, dark, handsome kinds, making him a loveable character. Nidhi‘s carefree yet mature demeanor makes her the girl most men would want to fall in love with. Aniket’s love and attraction towards the beautiful Trisha has certain innocence to it.

Writing and Presentation:

I would give a thumb up for the cover design, layout and the zodiac predictions at the beginning of every chapter. The most unique thing though is the manner in which the story has been narrated. I have read many a books that narrate the story in first person- books where one of the key protagonists brings out the entire story in their own words. Now here’s something of a different kind in Preeti’s latest. The two key protagonists – Aniket and Nidhi- simultaneously in their voice narrate their version of the same story.

The big letdown was the way the book ended. The final unraveling was pretty clichéd and predictable. Spoiler Alert!!! There wasn’t any explanation on the mental state and turmoil of Trisha and her life. Preeti does bring in a suspense element, yet despite this, the end seemed to be all hurried up and rather inadequate too.

I wouldn’t really call “It’s All in the Planets” a disappointment! I have read an earlier book of hers, “It Happens For a Reason” (Read the review here) and wasn’t too happy with it.

But with this latest, Preeti has definitely managed to bring in a decent read. Not really a great piece of literature, but definitely worth a read.  A quick and light book that’s perfect for a lazy weekend.

Related Posts

The Secret of God’s Son-Usha Narayanan

A Forgotten Affair- By Kanchana Banerjee

Kuppies it is- For the Love of Brownies

Kuppies it is- For the Love of Brownies

“Fabulous is health, happiness, home and cake….”

Childhood memories are some of the most precious keepsakes to hold dear to your heart—especially as you grow up. And I feel that one of the best thing, to tie up our past- the dear sweet memories, is food.

A few weeks ago I attended a birthday party of a friend. Noticing the brownies that were displayed on the table, my hostess – a woman in her late thirties- and I suddenly launched into reminiscences about the cakes that we ate in our childhood. They were those yummy brownies that were baked by an Anglo-Indian neighbour of ours, in a traditional home oven. Those were the days in the eighties, when cakes would seldom be available in stores, except for a few local bakeries of course. And brownies- well they just had to be made at home. You wouldn’t find them at all.

Mrs. D’Cruz, whose generosity filled our childhood days with fond memories, used to have an old fashioned oven in her kitchen that could produce over a dozen odd brownies at a go. Moist and soft, these brownies would be a favorite of almost all the children in the colony. I still remember the aroma that wafted through her kitchen window, as we eager kids hung outside. And at first call we would line up inside. Within minutes her entire tray would be gone in a jiffy. As my friend and I sat recalling at least there different types of brownies made by Mrs. D’Cruz, our face expressions bore a strange look of dismay. Clearly, at the moment my friend (a great cook herself) was missing the experience of not only seeing such brownies, but also their taste. We hadn’t even started the meal, yet we were having a “mouth-feel memory”.

Cake is a powerful tool for memory, especially if it is a brownie. The sight of the brownie transported us back to our past. It was a complex physiological process of appetite fuelled by the anticipation of tasting its sugar- and fat-rich deliciousness, a yearning for a long gone home. Alas, nor do we have our Mrs. D’Cruz around, nor did we possess the skill to bake something like that. The store bought ones too lacked the desired texture and taste sought. We did find a few in some obscure niche bakery in Delhi, but we had to shell out an exorbitant amount to dig our teeth into it.

It kind-off seemed to me that my next gen may hardly get to indulge in this divine sweetness, of a rich fudgy chocolate brownie. Until the day I spotted Kuppies!

It was a visit to the largest hypermarket chain in India- Bigbaazar, that first introduced me to Kuppies. It was an attractive red box, that was hygienecially packed, each containing twelve yummy chocolate brownies. The brownies were wrapped in a single-serve package, which I quite liked as it gave the flexibility to enjoy the Brownie as per my convenience. Soft to feel, the first bite of the brownie, gave me this intense chocolate burst in my mouth Ah! It was divine. It was fudgy, moist and was loaded with choco chips. I was transported back in an instant to my child hood days. I checked the pack to see if probably it was Mrs. Dcruz making them. But how could I forget it’s been a decade since she was dead and gone.

Genie in The Box????? OH NO! They are Brownies in a Box

I did my study to understand the marvel behind the brownies. Kuppies is a Dessert Brand based in Delhi/NCR, India, which sells packaged snack cakes & similar desserts.  The packaging was hygienic and manufactured under hygienic conditions. They are 100% vegetarian and could be consumed by one and all.  Nitrogen is flushed into each Brownie pouch before sealing it to ensure freshness and longer shelf life. The three-layer packaging protects the Brownie from contaminants. Each wrapper is labeled with complete ingredients and nutrition facts all as per FSSAI guidelines.  It guarantees you freshness for sixty days. But the flavor that lingers in your mouth- well that would be for a lifetime.

I did crave for more. Kuppies brownies seemed to be the missing link to my childhood. I could now relive every bit of those days, as I bite into its soft fudgy texture. So the next time I would be at my local store or hyepermart in Delhi/NCR I would be picking up more for sure. What about you?

The Secret of God’s Son- Usha Narayanan

The Secret of God’s Son- Usha Narayanan

‘The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka. People will forget your name and your Gita!
May the world perish! May the world perish!’

This is the cruel curse Queen Gandhari throws upon Krishna. Mankind plunges into the evil of Kali Yuga. It is now on the shoulders of Krishna to reverse this curse and prediction. As he journeys through terrifying realms, he confronts Yama the Lord of Death and Shiva the destroyer and, vanquishes the Kali demon. He must lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery. And there is one powerful weapon still — the secret surrounding his origin. Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm? In the answer lies the destiny of all humanity!

The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to the highly acclaimed book Pradyumna- Son of Krishna by Usha Narayanan. After a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications Usha became a full-time writer. She is the author of several books including The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a lighthearted office romance.

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The book takes you on an interesting journey along with Pradyumna for, he is going to be the savior of all of mankind. It’s a cruel curse that Queen Gandhari cast upon Lord Krishna, and the consequences are not going to be good. Pradyumna has to save mankind from the evil clutches of Kali. He of course has the support of his loving wife Maya, yet, for Pradyumna this is no easy task. How does he do this and emerge victorious? Does he manage to reverse the curse? Loaded with the right blend of emotions, action, battle and drama, the “The Secret of God’s Son” would intrigue you right from its first few pages, till the end when you finally put down the book.

I loved Pradyumna’s characterization. He is charismatic yet has those shades of grey similar to what each one of us has within us. He asks rightful questions that stir your morals and conscious and you question yourself from deep within. Not to forget the characterization of Maya and the role of women as wives and mothers. Relevant in every way in today’s life and times.

Excerpt from the book: 

“Pradyumna smiled at Maya, knowing that this was just the beginning. Women such as those who had assembled here would provide the stability that the world needed in order to survive. Dharma could not win if half of humanity was denied their rightful place…”

The plot is strewn with twists and turns leaving you intrigued and drawing you into the vortex of the story. The climax of the book was perfect with the appearance of Kali. A visually stimulating read!

If you are a lover of the great Epics, Usha Narayananan’s The Son of God’s Son, won’t disappoint you. Usha has surely lived up to her reputation with this sequel. Rightly paced, with in depth research she knows how to bring out the best in a genre that’s generally a toughie for writers- mythology.

Another Excerpt from the Book:

“Draupadi will be the most beautiful woman on earth,’ declared a heavenly voice. And she will bring doom to the arrogant warrior clans.

The smoke turned black. Thunder rumbled in a cloudless sky. The priests felt a dread worse than death. Their eyes shut in fear and they failed to perceive the goddess, black as the void, who flashed out of the girl’s body. It was mighty Chandika, the fierce avatar of Durga, destined to devour the world using Draupadi as her medium.

Years passed. Blessed by the goddess, Draupadi grew into an enchanting woman. When Drupada arranged for her swayamvara, the kings who came to vie for her hand were spellbound by her charms. But she turned them away in disdain. She laughed at Duryodhana, the mighty Kuru prince. She scorned his companion Karna and called him low-born. The kings who failed to win her hand cursed her for her arrogance. And all the while, Chandika watched from above, her lips curled in contempt……”

When Flowers Shower Their Fragrance

When Flowers Shower Their Fragrance

He would be gone this time for a hundred days. It wasn’t the first time he was doing this; however, I sure was an emotional wreck. Was it because I had to manage two hyper-active toddlers on my own, in a mad city such as Delhi- getting them to school and tending to all their needs? Or was it because he wouldn’t be around to celebrate our tenth anniversary together? And why was there a strange anxiousness about his safety?

I had no answers …. I bid him a tearful farewell as my two little girls clung to me like kangaroos.

It’s not all pomp and show for a soldier’s wife, unlike what’s depicted in movies. Behind all the parties and glamour -of women draped in delicate chiffons, is the real life the wives lead. Change becomes a constant companion.  And as constant as this change is the long spells of separation. Husbands are often sent on duties to remotely accessible areas for long durations. For months together we run the show at home, being a mother, father, a teacher and a friend to our children, with no traces of worry or stress on our brows, ‘lest our kids sense it. Birthdays and anniversaries quite often become mere dates on the calendar. If I am lucky, the divine almighty may just make his mobile signals work for a day, and wishes could be exchanged on the occasion.

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On the morning of our tenth anniversary, I sat flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine, sulking on the loneliness that had enveloped my heart. He wasn’t around and there would be no celebrations. My thoughts were disturbed by the sound of the calling bell. I opened the door to an unexpected sweet surprise. There were flowers at the door- a lovely bouquet with blue orchids and white dahlias. It didn’t take me long to guess who would have sent it, ‘cause the choice of flowers were my favorite. Thanks to the internet revolution, and of course to his mobile signals.

I pulled out the little card attached to the bouquet and read the lines that were on it. It wasn’t a lengthy one; in fact, I would have been surprised if it was. He seldom expressed himself in an elaborate way. The words brought tears to my eyes.

“The flowers may soon wither away losing their fragrance. Our relationship won’t….”

I was overwhelmed with emotions yet again. All of a sudden the loneliness in my heart did a disappearing act. I felt his presence around and his laughter rang in my ears. The bouquet had given me the strength to be courageous and have nerves of steel. I seemed to fear nothing and my anxiousness had died an instant death. “He would be fine and would be home soon”, I said to myself. I smiled, my heart felt positive; as I got up to get on with my life, adorning the different caps I do for my tiny tots.

The flowers had showered me with a fragrance of a different kind.

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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A Forgotten Affair -By Kanchana Banerjee

A Forgotten Affair -By Kanchana Banerjee

“Sometimes you need to forget everything to recognize what matters the most….” One of those lines that would linger long in your mind, as you read A Forgotten Affair.

How would it feel to wake up one fine morning to realize that you absolutely have no idea about who you are, or where you are from? Sagarika Mehta is in one such complex situation in her life. A victim of the Mumbai bomb blasts, she wakes up from a deep coma, in the hospital only to realize that she has no memory at all of her past. Who was she? What was she like and who are the people she knew?

Reeling under the pressure of getting to know herself and those around her, Sagarika, finds herself whisked away to an altogether new place- Gurgaon- by her husband. He insists she starts life afresh. But does this really give her the answers she is desperately seeking? On the contrary she is loaded with more questions- What has she forgotten?

A debut novel by Kanchana Banerjee, A Forgotten Affair is a face paced fiction. It is the tale of the young and vivacious Sagarika Mehta, who is trying hard to piece together her life that seems crazier than a jigsaw puzzle. Would she be able to? And in the process what more does she discover?

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After writing feature articles for various publications, PR firms and companies for nearly two decades, Kanchana Banerjee decided to pursue her long cherished dream – to write a novel. She holds a master’s degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband, son and two dogs, Archie and Casper. A Forgotten Affair is her first novel.

As important as it is to have an interesting storyline, it is also necessary for authors to be able to put that storyline across to readers in an effective way. And Kanchana Banerjee scores high in bringing out the best out of the story. Superbly narrated and well-paced, the book leaves you guessing and, as you flip through the pages soaking in every bit of the narration, you are left enthralled.

Kanchana leads you into Sagarika’s world, which is as much unknown to you as it is to Sagarika. You journey with her, meeting friends and acquaintances, getting a glimpse into what her life before the accident was like. With elements of suspense well blended, you are led from Sagarika’s present to past seamlessly. No over the top dramatization and as you near the end of the book you as a reader are convincingly ably to piece together the two worlds of Sagarika.

With brilliant characterization A Forgotten Affair explores the various dimensions of relationships. It explores the beautiful friendship between Roohi and Sagarika. It brings out what it is to be in an abusive relationship. It brings out real love in a relationship.

A well packaged book-not to forget the lovely cover design. If you love contemporary fiction, then this book is a must read. Definitely Kanchana Banerjee is an author to look forward to in the future days to come.

Book Review- A Broken Man by Akash Verma

Book Review- A Broken Man by Akash Verma

What’s our country like? Look beyond the glitz and glamour of the metros, and you would find a nation plagued by discrimination, caste systems and political skirmishes. And bringing out these very shades of the country is Akash Verma’s love saga – A Broken Man.

Akash Verma, based out of Gurgaon, India has authored two bestsellers till now- It Happened that Night and Three Times Loser. His work has taken him across the country and this travel experience of his reflects in his writing.

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A Broken Man delves deep into the lives of Krishna and Chhavi- two young souls who meet in a politically charged environment of the Lucknow University Campus. From the upper echelons of society, Chhavi is the intelligent and pretty Brahmin girl who falls in love with the humble Dalit boy Krishna, from an obscure village in Bihar. Hardships and poverty are part and parcel of his life. But destiny brings them closer and nothing really can pull them apart. For Krishna, she is an inspiration to pursue his dreams, of writing. For Chhavi, Krishna is the simple and honest boy she has always been in search of. She propagates equality and is seldom affected by the caste and status of Krishna. But will the same destiny that got them together give them a future? A Broken Man is this quest of a poor and deprived Krishna who goes in search of hope, love and a meaning to his life.

A simple story, sans sub plots, sure does give A Broken Man an edge. Yet, it did seem to be yet another class based love story, which one has read earlier in books or seen in movies. What really scores for Verma, is the simplicity in his narration. It was raw and real. No superfluous language or out of the box characters. Chhavi and Krishna, the two main characters of the book are believable personalities – ones you would encounter anywhere around. I liked the fact that issues such as reservation, corruption and politics were addressed, blending well with the main story. Did notice a few minor glitches of editing though.

 Take a deep breath before you are born here, my child! You take birth in a land where I struggled; Gave it my sweat and blood. A land that I thought belonged to me..… Unbridled, uncompromising.”

-From A Broken Man

Love goes beyond boundaries- of religion, caste, creed and nations. But the pain of separation grows deep within. A Broken Man with its straight forward story line may well be worth a  read, if you enjoy reading about India, want a light read and